February 15, 2015

Quinoa Balls with Cauliflower and Cheese

I get the magazine, “Food & Wine.” I enjoy browsing through the pages and looking at gourmet dishes in large metro cities alongside fancy wines I’ve never heard of. However they have interesting articles and tips, and I like looking at the recipes. Well I was reading my Feb 2015 issue and the recipe was Quinoa Balls with Cauliflower and Cheese, and I thought “yum.” So I followed the recipe but I made tweaks along the way. My toddler made this with me too, so it’s also kid-friendly. 
2/3 cup quinoa, already cooked
1 large egg, beaten
8 oz (or around 1 1/2 cups) grated cauliflower florets 
6 oz (or around 1 1/2 cups) finely shredded mozzarella cheese
3 T. flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
Makes 2 dozen
1. Cook quinoa. (I just prepare according to my box directions). Let it sit to cool. 
2. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, egg, cauliflower, cheese, flour, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 
4. In a separate small bown, mix baking soda and lemon juice. 
5. Add lemon juice mixture to larger bowl. Mix well.
6. Scoop out 2 T. of mixture and form little balls. Arrange on baking sheet.   
7. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and firm. Serve hot. 
PS- These freeze really well too! They serve well heated up for snacks and lunches on the go! I really like these and will be making them again soon!
February 13, 2015

Healthier Apple Spice Muffins

Recently I was brainstorming how I could make a healthier muffin that my toddler would eat and provide some substance. In the end I came up with this. I didn’t follow a recipe, I just created it on my own and I have to tell you- bravo to me! Now, unfortunately I did use a cake mix so in time I may alter this recipe to eliminate the mix but it was helpful because this recipe is quick and easy. My toddler loved them best right out of the oven, and ate about 7 from the mini muffin tin immediately. 
Spice cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
3 eggs
1/2 scoop of vanilla (whey) protein powder
1 1/2 T. Chia seeds
1 1/2 T. Flaxseeds 
Instant oats to garnish (optional)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Prep muffin tins with either muffin cups or spray. 
Mix all ingredients together (except the oats). Pour into muffin tin(s) so they are 2/3 full. 
Optional: sprinkle muffins with instant oats on top. 
*I used a mixture of mini muffin tins and regular sized muffin tins. 
The regular muffins bake for 10-12 minutes, mini muffins bake for 5-7 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Voila! For the mini muffins, I didn’t sprinkle any oats on top by toddler request. 
PS… Extra’s freeze well too!

February 9, 2015

23 1/2 hours

What’s the single best thing we can do for our health? This video answers that question. It’s easy to follow and appropriate for every learner. It’s 10 minutes long.
February 4, 2015

Top 5 Things To Do For Your Health

When it comes to our health, much comes from our lifestyle which is controllable and modifiable. However there is a piece which we have no control. Our family ancestry. The cholesterol, diabetes, heart health, chronic illnesses that our ancestors had/have which is a precursor for us.
So what can we do? Learn and recognize the health conditions, identify behaviors to counter or help reduce our risk, AND ACT.
Interestingly we often times think we know about our family health (the health of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents) and depending on the communication and closeness of family members, sometimes we really do know accurate information about our family ancestry’s health. Other times, we perceive ourselves to be knowledgeable about our family’s health when really we don’t know the important details.
There are many, MANY things we can do in our lifestyle to counter the family health history which we have no control over. I will tell you the TOP FIVE things we can do:
1. Avoid Tobacco. Using it, being around secondhand smoke, etc. It is the most preventable cause of death (but it may be replaced with overweight/obesity soon).
2. Eating Healthy. This includes eating fruits, vegetables, lean protein and fiber rich foods. It also includes portion sizes. And limited alcohol consumption.
3. Move More. Engaging in 30-40 minutes of exercise most days of the week, at least. Ideally a couple of these days should be strength training to build muscle since adults start losing muscle mass in their 30’s.
4. Get Regular Checkups and Health Screenings. Every year, check in with your Physician to stay on top of your health. Every two-five years, get a health screening to identify your cholesterol numbers (LDL, HDL, Triglycerides) and fasting blood sugars in regards to diabetes. Get mammograms and colonoscopies.
5. Manage Your Stress. This is perceived as “easy” but how do we deal with everyday stress. Are we constantly on alert? Can’t go to sleep? Mind is racing? Stress directly influences our health. Identify strategies that work for you.
So call some family members soon and ask how they are doing. Ask about their health, or of the health of past family members. Learn and refresh your memory… for your health.
February 2, 2015

Females Should Fuel up with Flavonoids

The goal is to be healthy and strong as we age because this helps us in all walks of life. And nicely enough, we have much control over our lifestyle which can be modified however we choose. With improved strength, we are more likely to have the energy to engage in physical activities as we age, more easily perform basic life skills without fatigue, and it also encourages other healthy behaviors.
Therefore one method women can employ to encourage healthy aging is by eating more flavonoids in their diet. Despite continued research in regards to whether or not there are many benefits of consuming flavonoids towards reducing cancer or even if flavonoids alone are cardioprotective, there are many articles and studies that have encouraged the consumption of flavonoids for healthy aging, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and to improving mental health and physical functioning with a higher consumption of flavonoids.
For example, in THIS article the authors shares the importance of women consuming flavonoids after conducting a 15 year study with over 13,000 women. The author shares:
“Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties and are found in many fruits and vegetables (berries, grapes, oranges, onions, celery, to name just a few).”
Oregon State University presented information in a chart format to help showcase the various common dietary flavonoids.

Table 1: Common Dietary Flavonoids
(Select the highlighted text to see chemical structures.)
Flavonoid Subclass
Dietary Flavonoids Some Common Food Sources
Anthocyanidins Cyanidin, Delphinidin, Malvidin, Pelargonidin, Peonidin, Petunidin Red, blue, and purple berries; red and purple grapes; red wine
Monomers (Catechins):
Catechin, Epicatechin, Epigallocatechin Epicatechin gallate, Epigallocatechin gallateDimers and Polymers:
Theaflavins, Thearubigins,Proanthocyanidins
Catechins: Teas (particularly green and white), chocolate, grapes, berries, apples
Theaflavins, Thearubigins: Teas (particularly black and oolong)
Proanthocyanidins: Chocolate, apples, berries, red grapes, red wine
Flavanones Hesperetin, Naringenin, Eriodictyol Citrus fruits and juices, e.g., oranges, grapefruits, lemons
Flavonols Quercetin, Kaempferol, Myricetin, Isorhamnetin Widely distributed: yellow onions, scallions, kale, broccoli, apples, berries, teas
Flavones Apigenin, Luteolin Parsley, thyme, celery, hot peppers,
Isoflavones Daidzein, Genistein, Glycitein Soybeans, soy foods, legumes
So ladies, go ahead and eat your berries, oranges, broccoli and kale! Do it for your health!

January 30, 2015

How to Make HEALTHY Smoothies

Smoothies are all the trend. Smoothies to replace meals, to consume after work outs, to cleanse, as a dessert, and everything in between.
Here’s the deal. Smoothies are great… Depending on what is in them and the purpose of the smoothie. Sometimes smoothies can be so calorie packed that they can put a dent in our daily calorie consumption. Other times, we have no substance in them. For example, sometimes we need to be aware of how much produce we put in our smoothies because it’s likely that we wouldn’t normally consume.
So here is what I do to ensure that I get a healthy smoothie with plenty of nutrients and I’m not drowning in calories:
1. Pick one fruit. I typically use blueberries, strawberries, apples, pineapple, or a banana because it’s what I usually have on hand.
2. Pick at least one vegetable. I typically use spinach or kale just because it’s what I have on hand and because we all need more vegetables in our diet. Other times I have used celery or carrots.
3. Add fiber and/or protein. I typically use a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder because I like it and I get a lot of bang for my buck (meaning- lots of protein and “substance” to my otherwise “liquid” smoothie). I also like adding 1-2 T. of chia seeds for fiber (another “bang for my buck” item). Other items I have used include almond butter, almond milk, etc.
4. Add ice and water. This is to help mix everything together. Plus every little bit of water is good for us.
Other options- depending on how much of the items above you added, you may or may not choose to add yogurt (if so, try Greek yogurt for protein!), or a 100% fruit juice (just be careful because this adds lots of additional calories FAST), or a splash of milk.
Again the more you add to your smoothie, the more calorie packed your smoothie where it could easily turn into a 500 calorie drink.
Personally I made smoothies often and my toddlers even request to make and eat them too! We make it fun. If you want to follow me on Instagram, you will find some of my smoothie pictures. I will post some of my favorite smoothie recipes soon.
January 26, 2015

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

I was on the search for a Quinoa Black Bean Burger recipe and I found one that I really liked. However I made some adjustments to that recipe, which are detailed below.
This recipe is perfect for a meatless dinner, lunch or snack… Even toddlers as finger foods… Etc. I tried this recipe with my family and I will be making it again.
15 oz of black beans (Note: I used dry black beans from a bag… Once I soaked them and cooked them. Then I am able to control the salt and “freshness” of the beans. Plus they are cheaper! But you could certainly use a can of black beans)
3/4 cup of Quinoa (Note: I used a Garden Vegetable flavor of boxed quinoa I had on hand. I prepared the quinoa as directed on the box, then added 3/4 cup to the recipe)
1/2 cup of instant oats
1 1/2 t. of cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup of chopped tomatoes (Note: I had a container of mild tomato pico de gallo in my refrigerator and I used that… It had some onions in it. It was a perfect replacement! …therefore I didn’t add additional onions)
3 T chopped onions
2-3 t. Red hot sauce (like Franks Red Hot sauce, and I included 3 t.)
1 egg
2 T. Olive oil
1. In a large bowl, mash up most of your beans with a fork. Some beans can be left whole.
2. Add all remaining ingredients (except the olive oil). Mix together (it’s helpful to use your hands to mix)
3. Form small patties. Place on a plate and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. In a skillet, add olive oil to heat and cook burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side.
To serve, I added a little shredded cheese on top of my toddlers burger. You could also add tomatoes and onions on top too. We didn’t use buns, but you could always add whole wheat burger buns too.
Note: I had extras, so I packaged them up for the freezer to use at a later date for lunches, a mid afternoon snack, etc.

January 24, 2015

Strength Training for your Health

I recently conducted a peer evaluation for a fellow faculty member and the topic of his lesson was Principles of Strength Training. While I was listening and evaluating his teaching specifically, I was reminded of how this content could be transferred easily from the Exercise Professional perspective to the average American. Because let’s be honest, sometimes a little reminder about the importance of strength training is needed.
From his presentation, I will identify FIVE key points which I believe are important for the Average American to know about Strength Training effectively.

1. Strength Training is a Skill. We must practice proper form and technique first to ensure we are participating in safe and appropriate movements. If you don’t know what if you are in the right position, then ask a professional around you. I caution saying, “Ask someone!” because anyone can give you an answer but it doesn’t mean it’s the right answer. But by ensuring we have proper form, then we can forcus on strength and not injury. But it takes repetition to learn a skill in order to become familiar with form and technique.

2. Don’t workout, instead TRAIN. Who cares if you say “workout” or if you say “train.” The question is- Are you moving towards a goal? How are your movements progressing you towards your goal? Or, are you just moving some body parts around with no real goal? Move towards a goal. May it’s jogging a mile in __ minutes… Or bench pressing your body weight… Or to do a pull up without any assistance. Whatever it is, TRAIN towards it.

3. Build Muscle. Muscle allows you to burn calories at rest. Wouldn’t it be nice to burn calories when you are doing nothing at all? When you are sleeping? Well it is possible… With muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn at rest.

4. Lift heavier weights. Unless your physician does not give you clearance, the Average American can/should lift heavier weights. Not the little pink weights with a rubber covering. The little one pounders. We can do more. The human body was made to lift more. To lift heavier. If you want to lift little weights for dozens of reps, that’s fine, but you are practically wasting your time. To maximize your time, lift heavier weights for less reps to improve your health. We can give into specifics in another post , but gradually increase your weight as you gain strength.

5. Women need to lift too. Many women avoid the weight room. Maybe they are intimidated, feel unknowledgeable, do not feel confident, they don’t want to “look like a guy”, etc. I understand. I work with many women who experience these feelings. But exposure, knowledge and practice will help you become successful. But let’s be clear- you won’t look like a guy. Just by lifting weights will not mean you will look like a guy. You may see bodybuilders or fitness models looked jacked. The Average American will not look like that… CANNOT look like that with basic lifting. But here’s the deal… Strength training is so important for women. Even young moms are lifting their babies up and down, carrying them everywhere, and after a while it can be tiring. Or if you think of adults in general who start to lose muscle mass in their 30’s, it’s even more important to build muscle and be STRONG.

So be active… Train towards a goal… And seek assistance from a professional to guide you to health (and not injury).
January 22, 2015

Making Health a Priority

We live a society where we hear “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And sometimes there is truth to that statement. And when we DO need to fix “it” (injury, illness, ailments, etc) we thankfully have outstanding physicians, nurses, athletic trainers and health care professionals to care for our injuries and ailments all around us.
But what about preventative care? Let’s focus on that. Preventing injury, illnesses, ailments, and promoting strength, healthy eating, and peace of mind. Because we all know that preventative care is typically cheaper and its outcomes can be sometimes priceless In order to avoid or reduce tertiary care (illness, injuries, ailments). Many times, the outcomes of preventative care are lifelong lasting.
What is preventative care? Here are a few examples…
It’s exercise- strength training, building muscle, stretching your muscles, movement.
It’s eating healthy most of the time. Yes, I said it. Most of the time. Ideally we should eat “clean” or healthy at least 80% of the time (or day, to be time specific).
Avoiding tobacco use and secondhand smoke (or quitting now). There is some data which shows that exposure to secondhand smoke can be hereditary, especially for young women.
Preventative care is my passion. Preventative health care is a priority.
We all know why. Really, we do.
So what don’t we do it?
It takes effort, time, energy, and sometimes planfulness. Effort and energy to move and exercise when we don’t want to because we are a tired, we don’t have time or the resources, we are not confident in how to begin, etc. We have to do research to find out what is best for us, or the best healthy decision for us- and that takes time and energy. And realistically, many times it takes intention of being planful- sometimes intentionally in your calendar or planner, but more so as a mindset.
We all have priorities. In order to have food on the table, we must get groceries. So we make time in our day to ensure we have the food to put on the table or in our mouths. Priority.
In order to pay the bills, we must work. Priority.
But what about our health? What are we doing everything to prioritize our health?
Here is what I have learned in my field of preventative health care and it continues to repeat itself.
We KNOW we should engage in preventative health care practices. We KNOW that. But that doesn’t mean we DO IT (for reasons mentioned above, and more). Or, it doesn’t mean that we will invest in our health despite KNOWING what’s good for us.
But ultimately, if we don’t have our health then if can be very difficult to do much else… So why not make it a priority?
Make small steps toward health. What is your biggest obstacle? Weight loss? Tobacco use? High caffeine consumption? Poor nutritional habits? Which one is your biggest challenge on your road to health? Let’s make steps to change. Change our behavior. Because ultimately, our health comes first and we must make it a priority.

January 21, 2015

Eating Breakfast

Eating breakfast is key to start our day. It provides us a jump start after sleeping for 7-8 hours. Ideally we wake up hungry because it has been hours since we last ate.
Waking up and eating something within 30 minutes is a good routine… Even eating a breakfast with some protein and carbohydrates. And having a breakfast with requires chewing would be ideal, as opposed to just drinking breakfast (I.e. In a shake or meal replacement).
A typical breakfast for me when I start my day are these homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites that I make in advance and freeze. I also enjoy it with my cup o’joe. These little bites provide protein, chia and flax seed for fiber and nutrients, some banana for fruit, and some chocolate and honey for sweetness.
Maybe you don’t like eating breakfast in the morning. The thought of eating breakfast in the morning does not appeal to you. That’s ok, but identify if there are some small changes you can make to adjust that…
Is it because you are not hungry in the morning? (Are you a snacker in the evening? You just don’t feel like eating?)
Or maybe you are not sure what to eat? (Try plain yogurt with fruit and low fat granola, or a hard boiled egg with a slice of wheat toast and 1/2 cup fruit)
There is no need to have a BIG breakfast right when you wake up. But a little somethin’ is good.
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