Archive | March, 2014

Sushi Party, Sans Hangover

31 Mar

As far as I’m concerned, sushi ranks as one of the best foods ever. I could eat it every day, and while I don’t (mercury and such), I definitely have it once a week in some form or another- and I think you should do the same! It can be a super healthy meal option which makes me love it just that much more, but I’ve come a long way from the way I used to eat it. Once upon I time I didn’t take into account the fact that it can actually turn into kind of a caloric nightmare if you’re not careful. Enough of a nightmare that if you’re gonna go balls out, you might as well just go for a Big Mac.

As a rule of thumb, eat sushi as authentically as possible – you won’t see a lot of fried, stuffed-with-random-weirdness rolls while vacationing in Kyoto. (I know because I’ve been, so there). Fresh, clean and simple is the way to go.

To keep your dinner at an A+ health rating, minimize or skip the following:

Tempura Rolls – Tempura = fried. You could also go to KFC if you’re in the mood for fried meat. Just saying.

bad sushi

Cream Cheese Rolls – if Philly rolls are your jam, split an order among a group. But eating the just one order can cost you upward of 400 calories.

Mayo-based rolls- Often, spicy tuna is mixed with mayonnaise. Ask your server if their spicy rolls are made this way and save yourself a sushi-boatload of saturated fat.

Soy Sauce – Welp, soy sauce is basically liquid sodium, and sodium is not my friend at all. Firstly (<- word, swear), it makes my head pound. Secondly, it gives me sausage fingers. Neither of those two things appeal much to me, so I basically avoid it like the plague. Instead I ask for a lemon cut in half and squeeze the juice into a little bowl. Mix it with wasabi and ginger and Just warning ya, you may never reach for the SS again.

Soy

Watch Your Rice –  I totally get that you want some rice with your sushi, I really do. But a half cup of rice is has about 200 calories and not a lot of nutritional value, and it sneaks up fast. Many sushi restaurants now have brown rice as an option, so consider swapping out white rice for brown when possible.

Instead, fill up on the following:

Miso Soup- Miso is loaded with antioxidants and full of health benefits, low in calories, and will help fill you up.

Edamame – fun to eat, tasty, high in fiber, protein, Vitamin C + A and Iron, and low in calories.

edamame

Yakitori  – even non-sushi eaters will love protein-packed chicken or shrimp skewers cooked over an open flame.

Wasabi + ginger- don’t skip the wasabi! It has anti-inflammatory properties and is linked to lowering cancer risk, while ginger is amazing for the digestive system.

Sashimi & Handrolls. If you love rice, order a roll with rice, but consider skipping the rice on other dishes. Most restaurants will make light-rice or no-rice handrolls, and bulk them up with cucumber and avocado. My go-to’s are spicy salmon or tuna (sans mayo), albacore, & yellowtail: you’ll feel like you’ve fiested, but won’t have to deal with the hangover.

good choice 

no rice handroll

 

 

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Eat the Fat + Raspberry Muffins

24 Mar

This weekend I had just finished breakfast with my dad and stepmother, and was sipping on my 4th cup of coffee when the waitress accidentally delivered a plate of delicious-looking raspberry muffins to our table. Though our plates had literally just been cleared and we were stuffed to the gills, we somehow made silent group eye contact. We were all thinking the same thing – do we send these back?  Finally someone (not me) spoke up, informing our server that regrettably, we did not actually order 4 raspberry muffins. Which, you know, I suppose was for the better – commercial muffins can be kind of a dietary disaster, and maybe possibly I suppose not completely necessary after pancakes. However, I thought about them all weekend long, determined to find a healthy version to share with you.

So I did a little digging for the best healthy muffin base on the Internet and have to say, I’m quite alarmed by the number of low fat versions that popped up when I searched for “healthy.”

People. It’s the year two thousand fourteen.

Low fat does not (necessarily) equal healthy. Ugh.

IMO, the low-fat muffin represents everything that’s wrong with our food culture. I know that this goes against everything you learned once upon a time, and I understand that it’s hard to let go of your 30 calorie Kraft Singles and fat-free sour cream. But really guys, some things were meant to be left in the past, such as combat boots, denim on denim and fake-ass low-fat foods.

De-fatting foods is a real problem. Why? Because most of the fat in muffins comes from plant oils, a source of “good” fats. When you take the fat away, what do you have left? White flour and sugar – aka, refined carbs. So, quick science lesson, compliments of http://www.Havard.edu: When eaten without fat, refined carbs are broken down by your body in like, 2.5 seconds. When that happens you experience a quick spike in insulin immediately followed by a quick drop in insulin, and then guess what?

You’re hungry again.

If that’s not enough, in order to compensate for lost flavor and texture, extra salt and sugar are added to replace the flavor otherwise provided by the fat, leaving you potentially lethargic…bloated…must I go on? This is why cultures who eat fat – Mediterranean cultures, the French, etc – don’t get caught up in this cycle.  They eat a little fat with their meal, feel satisfied, and carry on with their day.

How tricked do you feel?!

So eat the fat. Oh, and make these muffins, because they’re gorgeous and delicious. Just like you.

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Adapted slightly from Damyhealth.com

  • 1 Cups Almond Flour (Spelt might work too, but I can’t vouch personally)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Whites
  • 1/8 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (or Other Healthy Oil)
  • 1/2 Cup mashed raspberries

Optional: 1/3 c rolled oats

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place all ingredients excluding mashed raspberries into a food processor or kitchen aid and mix until smooth.
  3. Stir in raspberries
  4. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake holders
  5. Fill cups 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes

So Hot Right Now

19 Mar

A healthy girl’s night out: Ceviche sampler at Red O…followed by grilled shrimp and chicken soft tacos, flank steak and grilled watermelon salad…and skinny margaritas (hi, duh).

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Pretty peacock print and smells amazing – who knew Target candles were so yummy? 2

My favorite workout ever, The Lagree Method, at my favorite studio ever, The Studio (MDR)

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(photo courtesy of The Studio (MDR)

Tell me that picture alone doesn’t make you want to pop right in and see what’s going on here?!? I mean, if it doesn’t, I really don’t know what to say!!! Anyway, a few of you have asked where my love of all things fitness came from, given the fact that 5 years ago, 99% of my cardio came mostly in the form of what my girlfriends and I then called “wine walks,” (yes, that would be walking with wine) and dancing in clubs until 2am.

Well, here’s the shortened version. I stumbled across this workout about 5 years ago, in a last ditch effort to get in shape for my wedding. I definitely wasn’t into working out (like, at all) back in those days but I wandered in, thinking it was Pilates (it wasn’t).  It was, however, the hardest thing I’d ever done, like “I-might-actually-throw-up-or-faint-publicly” hard, and I looked ridiculous flopping around and doing half the moves incorrectly, blinded by my own sweat. However, I was determined to at least tone up my arms for the wedding so I swallowed my pride and kept at it. But after a couple of weeks, I noticed I was getting strong – something entirely, new to me. I spent my whole life convinced that I was embarrassingly un-athletic so in hindsight, it’s not surprising that the feeling of having strength was much more motivating than being “skinny.” Not only was it was the first time since high school that I was working out consistently, but I was excited to do so. Before I knew it, I had the confidence to start running…and then spinning…and one thing led to another but the point is that despite a lifetime of thinking I was and just not a “fitness person,”  it turns out it just took was finding the right workout (and teacher) to get that particular ball rolling.

Awwwww.

A festive St Patty’s day cocktail…or two. Made in blender from basil, lemon juice, coconut sugar, sparkling water and white rum.

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The silks at Aerial Physique have been keeping me busy lately – forget a physical workout, all of the wrist and feet wrapping techniques require some legit brainpower too…seriously.

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Breakfast, Times Two

18 Mar

After significantly stepping up my workouts a couple of months ago, I was complaining to my  trainer that no matter how hard I worked out, I wasn’t seeing the muscle tone that I wanted.

“Well, what are you eating?” She asked me. Before I could even get to the lunch menu, she gave me a chilling look that made it clear something I was doing was wrong. Apparently, waiting to eat my first meal of the day until several hours after my morning workout was a serious no-no. While breakfast is my fave meal of the day and never, ever skipped, I’m an early bird and am usually working out by 5 or 6am, so breakfast at 8 or 9 always seemed reasonable.

Wrong.

Per her suggestion, I began eating both before and after hitting the gym or going on a run. Guess what? It totally helped make the difference I was looking for. As in, I started getting compliments on my muscle tone within a couple of weeks.

Soooo….now I’m a real psycho about eating before I work out, even if it’s at 4:30am. Nothing crazy, just a lil somethin’ to get the metabolism fired up and fuel my workouts.

Oatmeal is my go-to: While I go in and out of liking hot oatmeal, overnight oats are always my jam. I throw them together right before bed and put it in the fridge so it’s ready to go – no excuses to skip eating that early. My favorite version is a small mason jar with a quarter cup of oats (sounds like not a lot but it like, doubles, overnight), about a half cup of unsweetened almond milk, a quarter of a banana, sliced strawberries or some smashed black/blueberries, and a light sprinkle of hemp of chia seeds.

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Now that we’ve covered pre-workout, let’s talk post-workout. It’s totally, completely important to get some protein in within about a half hour of finishing your sweat sesh, in order for the muscles to repair themselves.  I used to be super lazy about consuming protein after workouts, but now I totally have a nervous breakdown if I don’t have something onhand. If I don’t have time to make some eggs and veggies, my second fave is simple: a scoop of flavorless protein powder, a tablespoon of cocoa powder, a half cup of frozen cherries, a cup of unsweetened almond milk and some ice thrown in the blender. Tastes like a milkshake, and can be drank from a wine glass.

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It’s a win-win situation if I don’t say so myself.

XO

M

St Patty’s Day Dinner

17 Mar

For the longest time, my favorite holiday was St Patrick’s Day – like, in a slightly obsessive way. I looked forward to it like an 8 year old looks forward to Christmas. My love for all things green began in college where there was a traditional party- which began at 4:30 am. By the time the sun rose and everyone was good and warmed up, a free pancake breakfast was served on campus (ironically, it was put on by the local police department). We’d line up in droves, starving and stuffing our faces full of pancakes, sausage, and well, green beer. Then it was usually naptime (granted, this was all at around 9am), and by noon we were all out drinking kegs of green beer and dancing outside to DJs and lining up at the bars for…more green beer.

After college, a few new traditions were born. It started with a 3-time St Patty’s Day in Las Vegas, and later replaced by a very popular house party hosted by Natalie…who eventually traded her perfect party house for an ocean-facing condo.  While I still hold a very special place in my heart for St Patty’s day, I spend it a little differently these days. But to celebrate this year, I made a batch of my newest favorite dinner – skinny coconut shrimp and (green) ginger coconut sauce over quinoa, and a green but slightly less caloric lemon basil daiquiri (just add white rum to de-virginize)

And I may even have a green beer or two, for old time’s sake.

shrimp graphic

Skinny Coconut Shrimp

  • Pre-Cooked Large Shrimp
  • Almond Flour/Meal
  • Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Egg Whites

Pre-heat oven to 425 F. In three different bowls, separate almond meal, egg whites, and coconut. Drag the shrimp through the almond meal, dip in the egg white, and roll in coconut. Place on a foil lined tray sprayed with PAM (or equivalent), and season with salt & pepper. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until your little guys turn a golden shade.

Ginger Coconut Green Sauce  – adapted from Produce on Parade

  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp.  ginger, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can lite coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, chopped
  • 2  handfuls of spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil

Heat up the oil in a large saucepan, and add the garlic and ginger. Saute 3-5 minutes until your kitchen starts to smell amazing.

Add your coconut milk, sugar, lemon, s+p and red pepper flakes, bringing to a simmer over medium heat.

Drop in the greens, turn the heat to low and simmer (covered) until the greens have wilted – about 5 min.

Carefully put sauce in a blender, taking care not to break your blender as I did (I didn’t realize this was possible). Add basil and blend until creamy.  Serve with coconut shrimp, over quinoa or grain of choice.

Drops Pounds Sans Diet

12 Mar

In case you’ve ever stayed up all night wondering about this, here’s the short list of things I don’t like:

5. Cloves (the seasoning…I once added a teaspoon of it to a smoothie thinking it was cinnamon…omg. No.)
4. Hashtags, #killme
3. Monkeys. Sorrynotsorry
2. Small spaces – I’m a raging claustrophobic
1. Dieting…do I really need to explain?

Because seriously, who likes dieting? But after spending the greater part of my adolescence through my late 20’s trying to lose weight on an ever-changing diet, “dieting” has earned itself the coveted #1 spot on my extremely short list of things I don’t like, and I’ve actually refused participation in that activity since. So after a long, caloric holiday or a no-holds barred vacation resulting in slightly tighter fitting jeans, I have a list of action items I turn to instead of jumping on the dreaded diet bandwagon:

diet ditching

The Veggie Challenge (fruit, too).

Try committing to eating 8 daily servings of vegetables, and then some. Like, really commit to it. If you’re a chronic “dieter” (you know who you are), I dare you to try this just once, instead of consciously restricting your calories.  Changing your focus from “I have to eat less food” to “I have to eat more food” feels less like a diet, even if the “more” refers to the green type of stuff. Believe me when I say that prepared correctly, veggies can downright be delicious.

Forgo telling yourself “no more pizza,” because I can almost promise you that if you grab a slice of thin crust veggie pizza but eat it alongside a bowl of roasted Parmesan Brussels sprouts or lemon thyme mushrooms, you’ll feel satiated and will probably even skip the second slice.  Vegetables are full of fiber so they’re naturally filling – so not only do you get a little bit of what you like, you’ll be satisfied with less of the other stuff.

Work Hard, Play Hard.

Often, snacking -and eating in general, for that matter- can be the result of boredom. If you’re enthusiastic about your life, the boredom will disappear. Don’t love what you do? Make the choice to hustle your ass off anyway, while looking for something new at the same time.  Even if you’re not in your dream career, you’ll feel better if you’re kicking butt and taking names. Same goes for your personal life – If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, put something fun on the calendar. Take up a new hobby with a friend or find a book you can’t put down. Whatever you do, find your motivation to do it with joy and enthusiasm.

Drink (H2O).

Sometimes, “hunger” is not really hunger at all, but the result of dehydration (not always – but if you think it might not make sense to feel hungry an hour after a meal, try guzzling some agua and see if it helps). If you’re in my camp, you probably think water is a lot less fun than say, coffee, but it really helps to drink it so look for ways to make it interesting. The last company I worked for had sparkling water in the free vending machine, and I realized that it was more appealing to me than still water. Or try infusing it with cucumber or fruit like citrus, berries, or sliced apples.

Treat Yourself Once a Day.

Allow 100-200 of your daily calories to come from something you love. My favorite is dark chocolate, because aside from being satisfying, it’s high in antioxidants and the snack possibilities are endless: Drizzle a tablespoon of melted dark chocolate over strawberries or air-popped popcorn (here’s a way to do it without having to deal with the chemicals from the bag lining), stuff a handful of raspberries with chocolate chips, or just grab a small piece from the freezer.  If chocolate’s not your thing, treat yourself to something that is, in a snack-sized serving. I can’t say it enough: refusing yourself what you love will almost always result in a binge.

Skip The Shortcuts

When I studied abroad in London, my flat was on the 4th floor. After a terrifying evening spent alone trapped stuck in a dark, coffin sized “lift” (It was totally not a full-sized elevator), I spent the rest of my time there opting for the stairs. Four flights with a backpack and groceries sucked at first, but doing it multiple times a day in addition to walking everywhere I went (I wasn’t trying to drive on the left side of the street, sorry) actually added up.

What’s the point of this story?  Skip the elevator and take the stairs to your accountant’s 3rd floor office and opt for a parking spot far away from Whole Foods. Adding little bursts of exercise throughout the day will help you get some extra movement in.

“Creamy” Broccoli & White Bean Soup

6 Mar

When I was a kid, one of my favorite foods in the world was broccoli cheese soup, particularly from Marie Calendars (yep, you read that correctly). I’d eat several bowls of it, usually as an accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich and fries.

As an adult, I definitely prefer making my own soups (saving the aforementioned grilled cheese for special occasions). Aside from having the option to forgo the 700mg of sodium, I just find homemade soup to be an entirely different entity than the watered down canned crap.

Its also a perfect comfort food you can dig into without feeling the bloaty aftereffects. While it’s back to being sunny again, we had rainageddon here in LA last week and I was craving something cozy. Naturally, broccoli cheese soup crept into my mind. I forewent the cream in this recipe, replacing it with some Greek yogurt, which you can take or leave, and added lemon, garlic, chopped kale and some white beans for a heavy dose of power foods. Croutons are optional (but not for me)

Recipe adapted from food52

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  • 2 large heads of broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups homemade or low sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups grated Parmesan (or to taste)
  • 1 lemon
  • white, beans to taste
  • 1 container (or to taste), plain Chiobani yogurt
  • several handfuls of kale, chopped
  1. Chop broccoli into florets, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and boil for five minutes. Drain it and set aside.
  2. Add the olive oil and garlic to the pot over medium heat. Give it the garlic a few minutes to soften and turn golden, then add back the broccoli, salt and pepper. Give it a good stir.
  3. Turn the heat down as low as it will go, cover the pot, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally until the broccoli is soft.
  4. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Puree half the soup in a blender or food processor. Stir the puree back into the pot, stirring in the Parmesan, lemon juice, white beans, kale, and yogurt. Go easy on the yogurt to start and add more to achieve the desired creaminess.
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