Archive | December, 2013

Almond Joy Bark

19 Dec

Well, the countdown to Christmas is on and I’m hoping you’ve got your shopping just about wrapped up by now. I hope that for you because most naturally, I do not. I’ve tackled my husband, got some ideas for my mom and dad (thankyouverymuch express shipping), and my friends and I skip the whole gift-exchange now in favor of a handful of nights spent together during the holidays.

But sometimes I need a little inspo when it comes to the people in my life who I like a whole lot but aren’t necessarily the bestie, the fam, or the sig other.  Well, I always love a good DIY gift, and this recipe for pistachio coconut bark got me thinking that I should probably create an Almond Joy version. I mean, duh, of course. The good news is that it’s the easiest, quickest recipe with a big payoff- the bark is even more addictive than the candy bars.

Plus, unsweetened coconut, roasted almonds, and dark chocolate? Your giftees won’t even realize that their Christmas candy is full of antioxidants. Tis the season!

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Ingredients:

1 bag of dark chocolate chips

1 bag of unsweetened shredded coconut

1-1.5 cups of almonds (or pistachios, if you prefer).

Parchment paper

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 and roast almonds on a foil lined tray for about 10 minutes. Remove to cool. Pulse in food processor if you choose.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Put chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50 pct power for 30 second increments, stirring between each heating- about 2 minutes total.

Pour melted chocolate onto parchment paper and cover with coconut and almonds.

Let harden in the fridge for about an hour; remove and break into pieces with your hands.

Toss these suckers in a mason jar with a pretty bow, add gift tag, and you’re done!! Easiest DIY ever- you’re welcome 🙂

XO

M

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Trainer Tips: Holiday Health Survival Guide by Rachele

18 Dec

Guest Post by Rachele Jaegers

Happy Holidays! Wow, where has the year gone? If you are like most of us, you set all of these goals and plans last January and before you blink, it’s December and closing in on another year. In my opinion, it is more important to stay on track during the holidays with all of your health and fitness goals than at any other time of the year. Do not let 6 weeks of holiday parties, baked goods, eggnog drinks and cold, dark days derail all of the hard work you have put in this year. Or, if you are reading this and thinking you can’t undo what you haven’t done, now is a great time to start getting after your health goals! You do not need a new year or a new week to get started on a better path-right now is the perfect time!

You already know that you need to exercise and eat decently during this time of year, but you have less time than ever trying to get everything done,  so you might be perplexed about where to begin. Here are a few of my top tips I give clients this time of year. I’ll start with fitness and move on to nutrition.

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Fit tip 1 – You do not need an hour or more to get a good workout in!! The number one excuse given for not working out is lack of time. Guess what? All you need is 20-30 minutes to get a killer full body workout in. Some of my favorite quick workouts are:  Tabata Sets, HIIT Training, Sprinting and Circuit Training. Pick a few exercises such as plank, squats, lunges, pushups, jumping jacks, wall sits, arm dips, burpees, skaters and get moving! Multi-task your muscles. Hold a squat while doing bicep curls….. Plie squat while doing a shoulder press… Choose exercises that work more than one muscle group to get the most bang for your buck.

Fit Tip 2 – Park as far away from the store when shopping and use the stairs. You’d be surprised how many extra calories you can burn by adding more steps to your day. We sit FAR too much each day. Look at walking as a gift to your body to even out all of that sedentary time you spend at a desk

Fit tip 3 – Make your desk an at-work gym. Try some arm dips on your chair, pushups against the wall, hold a squat over your chair and see how long you can hold it, take a minute to hold a plank. Make up your own little circuit: 1 minute wall sit, 1 minute of jumping jacks, 1 minute of arm dips,1 minute plank and one minute of squats. Repeat a few times throughout the day and you have your workout done! It’s ok if your co-workers give you silly looks; your healthy backside will pipe them down and get them joining in before you know it

Fit Tip 4 –Instead of using a shopping cart at the grocery store, carry 2 baskets and work your upper body! I stumbled across this by accident this week thinking I was only picking up 4 items and ended up with 2 full baskets and a great arm workout traversing the aisles of the store. Make sure to try and pack an even load in each basket. People may offer you a cart, but just smile and say no thanks.

Fit tip 5 – Something is always better than nothing. If you did not have time to get a workout In all day, use the commercial breaks during your TV show to get moving and grooving. You are allowed to take a day off, and your body needs them. But, you should be trying to stay active most days of the week and 5 minute of something is lapping everyone who did not get off the couch!

Health tip 1 – Eat BEFORE you go to a holiday party. I know this sounds crazy, but it is my #1 health tip. If you prepare a healthy meal or snack for yourself before you head out to that holiday gathering, you will not be as tempted to sit at the cheese dip, shoveling loads of calories down your starving throat. We all know that the best food choices are not made on an empty stomach. Don’t set yourself up to overindulge and feel terrible the next day; treats and yummy food in moderation are always ok, but enjoy them and don’t eat out of starvation

Health tip 2 – Do not DRINK all of your calories at holiday parties. If you are enjoying some cocktails, try and stay away from the sugar-loaded drinks and add soda water and fresh citrus to spruce up your drinks. Your head will thank you the next day as well, as sugar is one of the main causes of that hangover headache.

Health tip 3 – Healthy protein and fats keep you full longer and help regulate your blood sugar throughout the day. Ever notice how much hungrier you are during the day if you start your day with a big bowl of cereal? Those carbs wreak havoc on your blood glucose. I find if I have a high fat/protein breakfast, I make much better food choices during the day that fuel my body right. I love coconut oil in my coffee, some poached eggs with spinach, tomato and fresh avocado.

Health tip 4 – FORGIVE yourself. We all overindulge once in a while. That is not a reason to chuck all of your hard work out the door and tell yourself you will be “good” again in the New Year. Just chalk it up as a bad day and MOVE ON! Flex your willpower a little better the next time temptation is staring you in the face and show it who is boss.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season and a joyous new year. If you need any help getting on the track toward better health you can find me at www.fantasticallyfreshandfit.com. I am here to take the work out of working out for you! Enjoy this season with family and friends and know that it’s the people around you who make the memories.

-Rachele

Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn & The Holiday Yacht Parade

16 Dec

The weekend before Christmas is one of my favorite weekends of the year. It’s packed with a couple much-loved events that get me off my laptop and away from the gym for a couple of days. The first of which is the Marina del Rey holiday boat parade & fireworks, a long standing tradition and cause of celebration among my best friends and I. Each year, everybody brings their favorite bottle of wine and whips up a bunch of appetizers to snack on before we head downstairs to watch a quick firework show and a lineup of incredible yachts, all dressed up in their holiday finery. Despite the fact that we have fireworks in December and the most insanely drool-worthy boats ever, the real party is always the food and drinks beforehand. There’s usually a lot of rap music, dancing, laughing (duh) and general stupidity (duh), most of which lasts throughout the night.

This year I’ve been extra into dark chocolate, so I made a bunch of deserts including a healthy and vegan spin on the famous Neiman Marcus cookie, a homemade dark chocolate dipped graham cracker, Almond Joy Bark, and a couple other random things, but my favorite ended up being the result of having a lot of leftover spare parts: Healthy Reeces Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn (recipe below). Melted dark chocolate, peanut butter, and sea salt made this air popped popcorn deliciously addictive, and so much healthier than it tastes!

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Reeces Peanut Butter Cup Pop Corn

  • 3-4 tbsp dark chocolate chips (few reserved)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • handful roasted peanuts
  • 3-4 tbsp popcorn kernels
  • kosher sea salt

To air-pop popcorn without using microwavable popcorn (the lining of the bag is questionably full of health risks, so I opt to avoid), simply put 3-4 tbsp of kernels in a paper bag, fold the top of the bag over a couple of times until sealed shut, and microwave around 2 minutes or until the popping slows to a few seconds between pops. Lay out evenly on parchment paper.

Meanwhile, put the dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 30 seconds at a time at 50% power, stirring in between each interval. It should take around 2 minutes to melt the chocolate into a liquid consistency.  Use a spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn- you’ll probably have leftover chocolate (I trust you’ll put it to good use elsewhere).

In a small bowl, microwave the peanut butter and coconut oil for 30 seconds at a time until the oil is melted, and whisk together with a fork. Drizzle over the popcorn. Add peanuts and dark chocolate chips as you please, give the popcorn a good shake of sea salt and let cool for about an hour, then go to town.

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You know you’re in for a great night when this is your December sunset:

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And when your holiday party includes yachts, Christmas lights, and Phil Jackson:

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We watched the boats float by from big comfy leather couches while sipping wine, singing along with the DJ and being generally amused with the scenery.

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couchlarge3Erin shows off a couple of her favorite dance moves:

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Another perfect night at the beach, and one of my favorite festive traditions.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

XO

M

Extreme Food Makeover

13 Dec

Hi guys! So I have a ton of stuff to cook up for the weekend. I have three (3!) holiday parties and I’m super excited to whip up a bunch of new recipes to test out on my favorite guinea pigs- my BFFs (Since I know they’ll be totally honest). I won’t give the recipes away just yet, just know most of them involve my favorite food…chocolate! So hold tight and I’ll share them soon.

Speaking of making over recipes, I had an idea. I want your feedback! What do YOU want to see made-over? I’m talking, your most terrible, processed, disgusting guilty pleasures ever – share them with me and I’ll do my best to make them over into a delish healthy version, and post them for the world to see.

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Here’s how it works:

1.Follow my group Pinterest board, Make me Over and I will add you to the group. Pin the recipe you would like to see made healthier (make sure to tag me) to that board, or

2. Simply send me a message to my Facebook.

Let me know what your parameters are -eg, vegan, paleo, GF, or just simply healthy, and I will do my best to come up with something that I will have approved by my toughest critics – basically, I want to create something worthy of your next dinner party. I will do my best to post one a week.

You guys are amazing and I always LOVE your feedback – I am grateful beyond words for your support!!

XOXOX

M

Favorite things: Fitness Food, and Festivities

12 Dec

HOLIDAZE

1. The prettiest way to keep bubbly cold

2. A friend just told me about this organic whey protein that comes from grass-fed cows and I’ve already ordered 2 cases.

3. Apparently sweats have become perfectly acceptable daytime wear now…not gonna lie, I’m super excited about it.

4. A cozy wrap in my favorite color to keep my brain from freezing on early AM runs…yep, it’s in the low 40’s here in LA.

5. A 70’s inspired puffy vest with a fur-lined hood…all of my favorite things rolled into one!!!!

6. Yes I’m still thinking about pancakes and yes these are still my very favorite recipe on earth.

7. I’m ob-sesssssed with this hot little grey dress…must. wear. to. next. holiday. party.

8. The perfect stocking stuffer for your fit friends: adorable leopard print lifting gloves.

9. Vegan chocolate pudding shots. With vodka. No explanation necessary.

The Secret Life of Lemons

11 Dec

Lemons, meh.

They say that when life gives you lemons that you should turn it into lemonade, but I know that most women in this city find lemonade too sugary to be a viable beverage option. So that aside, they’re not good for much other than the occasional martini garnish, a cheap and cheerful filling for a decorative bowl on the coffee table, or at best, a mixer for your ginger juice, right?!

Wrong. Lemons have an amazing secret life that you don’t even know about, including a laundry list of rad health benefits. They’re a renaissance fruit of sorts; they can do a lot of things very well and unlike some lists of random item upsides, this is one you’ll definitely get some use out of.

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Whiten Your Grill: Save yourself the $50 on Professional Level Whitestrips and 30 minutes a day of talking with a lisp- dab some baking soda and lemon juice on your pearly whites and leave it on for a minute (literally, a minute. Max. The acid can eat up the enamel if left on any longer than that) and remove with a toothbrush for a grill that gleams.

Banish Nasty Ass Zits Two of my least favorite words: adult acne. Something that our teenage selves were blissfully unaware of as we daydreamed of adulthood and clear skin. But ugh, zits happen…in our 20s, and 30s, and 40s..and so on. Lemons have antibacterial and fungal properties that fight acne and blackheads- apply the juice directly or mix with a little honey. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and rinse with cool water.

Superfood Hero in Disguise We don’t really think as the lowly lemon as a superfood, but it is. The health benefits of lemons include (but are not limited to):

  • They contain enzymes that help the liver dump toxins
  • Help keep skin stay clear and wrinkle free
  • Come with a hefty dose of Vitamin C – which helps fight free radicals.
  • Boost the immune system
  • Are antibacterial and antifungal
  • Are an excellent source of potassium, calcium and magnesium.
  • They’re little yellow cancer fighters, containing elements that prohibit the spread of cancer cells.

NBD.

Alkalinity Promoting Even though lemons taste acidic, they actually balance your pH level and are alkaline forming inside the body- keeping inflammation at bay.
Curb Your Anxiety and ADD This is actually a use of lemon oil, but it’s still my favorite tip of the bunch. As someone who tends to be on the anxious side, this little tip caught my attention when I first found out about it. Though it might look silly, inhaling lemon oil has an incredibly calming effect and can increase focus. Better to look like a crazy person than to feel like one, right?!
Keep Your Kisser Kissable Dry winter weather can mean nasty scaly chapped lips. It’s counter-intuitive, but rubbing lemon juice on your lips before bed will remove the dead skin while you sleep. Muah!

XO!!!

M

Dark Chocolate Maple Cashew Butter + Protein Pancakes

9 Dec

When I was a kid, my dad used to make pancakes for my brother and I on the weekends. I had an extremely impressive appetite for an 8 year old and I used to launch myself out of bed at the asscrack of dawn so I could beat my brother to the breakfast table. Needless to say, I looked very much forward to those mornings of pancakes and bacon.

Today I still consider pancakes one of my very favorite foods and constantly experiment with new recipes (you can find my favorite here). Sometimes when I’m craving pancakes during the week but don’t have time to whip up something complicated, I throw together a couple of protein pancakes- a simple recipe made of a mashed ripe to overripe banana, a half tsp of vanilla and 2 eggs. There are recipes all over the internet – these have caused quite the sensation for the health conscious.

Although I am completely partial to topping my cakes with maple syrup (my love for maple syrup is on par with Buddy the elf’s), a high dose of sugar in the morning is best left for lazy weekends when I don’t have much to do, because the crash usually motivates me to watch hours of Ghost Adventures reruns. But topping them with Dark Chocolate Maple Cashew Butter? Um, yep, that’ll do just fine, thanks. This delectable spread adds even more protein, antioxidants, and just enough maple flavor to take me back to my childhood.

pancakeSo on to the cashew butter. This may be the best nut butter recipe ever.

I have a bit of an affinity obsession with nut butters in general. But after my first go at homemade cashew butter, I knew I had finally found The One. Creamy, gooey, and mildly flavored, cashew butter quickly nestled its way into my heart. Add a little cacao powder, pure maple syrup.  and Himalayan sea salt…and we’re talking next level butter.

Trust me, you’ll be a goner, too.

  • 3.5 C unsalted cashews
  • 1/4 C dark cacao powder (plain cocoa powder works fine)
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt, or to taste
  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

Put the cashews in a food processor and blend. If you’re using a regular processor and not a Vitamix (etc), get comfortable. Expect to process around 10-12 minutes- you’ll have to scrape the sides down from time to time and may even want to allow your processor to rest every so often throughout the process so that it doesn’t overheat. Once you’ve got a smooth, creamy consistency add the cacao, salt, and syrup, blending until combined. If the butter becomes dry from the cacao, add coconut oil (you probably will not need it).

Spread on top of your pancakes and prepare to be taken back to your childhood.

XO,

M

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