To Be a Yogi or Not To Be…

So…  I haven’t done many fitness posts in a while but I have still be quite active.

I acquired a FitBit not long ago and since then aka late January I’ve been having lots of fun keeping track of my ‘steps.’  I have the Charge HR which helps better understand my heart rate and has an amazing alarm that has the perfect buzz to help me wake up.  According to the American Heart Association walking 10,000 steps+ daily can help reduce your risk of heart disease aka number one killer of humans.  This is much harder than it looks and the FitBit offers the chance to join ‘challenges’ that can be weekly or daily with friends, family, and coworkers.  I absolutely love being kept accountable when at work or even at home.  Try it!

Crossfit – back at it about 3-5x/week since January and super happy.  For two years I was strictly doing the Crossfit Powerlifting segment and got pretty bored so I went back to the basics.  My strength is much improved as well as my cardiovascular endurance (total bonus).  The negative includes shredding my hands on my first week back but then again I should have known to pumice it up in the shower the night before.

As many know, I’m pretty busy and tend to have trouble winding down, so after much thought, contemplation, and disagreements, I started doing yoga about once weekly.  It is a good way to stay grounded – literally.  My stability is on point but can clearly get better along with my flexibility which definitely needs a boost.  I’m loving the local classes at Mobile Om due their plan to take yoga out of the typical studio with four walls and popping up at unconventional spots like the Hays Street Bridge.

As a trainer I also like to put together my own workouts that include various plyometric and core movements.  My goal is to have a strong core as well as to continue improving my endurance through various movements which include those I detest (tuck jumps, jumping split lunges, 5K runs, and obviously burpees).  Check out my Workouts for the Modern Workaholic’ for ideas.

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Post-yoga feels at the Hays Street Bridge.

Here’s a sample of what my fitness regimen looked like last week (Monday, February 29th – Sunday, March 6th):

Monday:  5:30 am Crossfit class (60 minutes) – 9,138 steps

Tuesday:  4 pm Crossfit class (60 minutes) – 7, 412 steps

Wednesday:  5:30 am Crossfit class (60 minutes) – 10,253 steps

Thursday:  Plyometrics and Core Work (45 minutes) – 7,300 steps

Friday:  Plyometrics and Core Work (45 minutes) – 8, 604 steps

Saturday:  Stairmaster (20 minutes) in the morning followed by a 90 minute hike at Eisenhower Park – 16,069 steps

Sunday:  Yoga class (60 minutes) – 11,223 steps

The takeaway, I’m trying to illustrate is that no matter what you do, stay active, it is rewarding.  You will feel phenomenal.  Let go of your fears, forget about others, forget about winning/losing, and concentrate on being the best version of yourself.  Also, make a fool of yourself sometimes and laugh – I sure do, everyday.

xxx – Sarah

Fried Quinoa Stuffed Peppers & Coconut Lime Shrimp – Serves 4

Back to the grind.  Spent the weekend brunching, laughing, and lounging.  I try to do bulk cooking on Sundays but I was a weeeee bit too lazy so meal prep day was moved to Monday.  Now I’ve got leftovers for all my lunches – perfect.

I’ll keep this educational piece short and sweet…  These recipes are super easy and the ingredients are good for you!  Yes, good for you.  The more variety, the better.  Think color, think antioxidants.  Lastly, these stuffed peppers are perfect for vegetarians – not only are they filled with varied vegetables but quinoa is a complete protein.  Not all complete proteins need to come from meat, poultry, or seafood!  However I wanted seafood so I put together the fixings for my favorite shrimp recipe.

Fried Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 colored Bell Peppers with the insides/core removed
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 cup green onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 tbsp pineapple, crushed
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • SPICES (4-5 shakes):  Curry powder, tumeric, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and ground black pepper
  • OPTIONAL:  Sea salt
  • Coconut oil – enough to coat a frying pan

Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Heat a frying pan with coconut oil under medium-high heat.
  4. Add to the frying pan the following ingredients: yellow onion, cilantro, green onion, peanuts, carrots, and pineapple.  Sauté well for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the quinoa, egg, spices, and salt (if used).  Sauté for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the quinoa mixture from heat and stuff the pepper shells.  Place the bottoms of the peppers directly on the parchment paper and allow the insides to face up.
  7. Cook for 15 minutes then set on a plate for serving!

Coconut Lime Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1# jumbo shrimp, fresh with the tails/shells removed (or frozen)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juice (the size of a golf ball)
  • Coconut oil to coat frying pan

Methodology:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Under medium-high heat add coconut oil to a frying pan.
  3. Toss in the shrimp mixture and cook until golden brown.
  4. Set aside for serving or add to the plate with the stuffed pepper – such an amazing combination.  Makes me want to go someplace tropical.

What else was on my plate?  I did add my usual staple of greens which tends to be either kale, asparagus, or Brussels sprouts.  As seen above, I added my Garlic Peppered Asparagus but unlike the linked recipe I did not add pumpkin seeds or Brussels.

xxx – Sarah

Thai Ginger Peanut Wings – Serves a Dozen+

Super Bowl.  Wings.  Those two words represent American favorites that go hand in hand. I officially coin the Super Bowl as a free pass to indulge lightly.  Those football players are burning some serious calories and shedding sodium so it’s our duty to support them by eating!

Most of my friends looooooove wings, and I was going to a party, thus culinary thoughts went wild in my head.  This dish is filled with flavor and best of all is that none of it was sodium (salt) based!

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Did you know, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, fluid retention/water weight, thirst, puffiness around the eyes, and swelling to the extremities?  Maybe rethink the salt shaker next time OR do a ‘1-2’ count when using a shaker to prevent adding too much salt.  The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for a Healthy Eating Pattern recommends consumption of less than 2300 mg of salt daily.  Here’s some food for a thought, a teaspoon (tsp) is equivalent to 2300 mg of salt.  No wonder there were times when I couldn’t bend my fingers or my eyes looked tired – I’m guilty of having a heavy hand with the salt shaker at times.  It’s a love/hate relationship.

Ingredients:

  • 4# chicken wings with the skin (dry with paper towels before using)
  • 1 large bundle of cilantro, minced (1 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large bundle of green onion (1 cup)
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp ginger, minced/grated
  • 2 tbsp apple vinegar
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • Juice of a medium lime (1/4 cup)
  • OPTIONAL or as desired: sea salt

Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large cooking pan (disposable tin) lay out the wings and top with black pepper.  Cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Separately under medium-high heat sauté the green onion, cilantro, coconut flour, sesame oil, EVOO, peanuts, garlic, ginger, lime juice, apple vinegar, and dry spices (chili powder, red pepper flakes, powdered ginger and turmeric).
  3. Remove wings from the oven and cover with the green onion and cilantro mixture.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes until desired texture/crispiness is achieved.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and/or peanuts prior to serving.  If your friends are afraid of life without salt – add it at your own discretion.
  6. Gooooo Broncos!

 

xxx – Sarah

Fudge Brownie Drops – Serves 5+

I had the whole weekend to work on my letter of intent for doctoral school but…  I had a craving for brownies which took over my Saturday.  Whoops, yet so worth it.  I had lots of fun creating this recipe using what I had at home and did lots of tasting during (too much).  Best part is that these brownies are gluten and dairy-free aka WINNING.  

Unsweetened cocoa powder packs a bitter but powerful taste and is a pure form of chocolate.  This powder is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols which are also found in another favorite item of mine — red wine.  Polyphenols are known to help reduce cancers as well as lower blood pressure and effects of aging.  Cocoa powder is a natural stimulant thus if you need an extra boost in the morning – sprinkle some into your coffee or oatmeal!  Lastly, cocoa powder contains a natural antidepressant called phenethylamine that mimics the natural ‘high’ experienced post exercise.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • 2 tbsp avocado, fresh
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (light)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 large medjool dates, mashed with the pits removed
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a blender combine the melted chocolate, eggs, coconut oil, and coconut milk, then pulse well.  
  2. Fold in the remainder of the ingredients – cocoa powder, coconut powder, almond butter, avocado, dates, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.  Pulse well until all the ingredients are one uniform batter.  
  3. Try to refrain from tasting so you have enough to actually cook!
  4. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper and use a tablespoon to drop the chocolate batter.  Leave about a quarter sized space between each drop.
  5. Cook well for 20-25 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and remove it clean.
  6. Serve when trying to distract someone…  Works every time.  

xxx – Sarah

 

Berry Good Banana Bread – Serves 12

O-M-G.  I’m obsessed with this bread – I won’t lie but it’s almost finished and I made it like yesterday.  I’ve been playing around with flavors in my kitchen since the weather has been cold…  Then again, who am I kidding, it’s like 60-70 degrees in Texas.  My mom always made banana bread when I was a kid and frankly I needed a taste of home but sans the gluten and dairy.  Basically I changed my mother’s recipe and just kept the bananas.

Potassium.  It’s a very important mineral and bananas are loaded with it!  What does potassium even do?  Well, it’s a mineral that helps to keep your heart, nerves, and muscles working properly.  Thus when dehydrated many individuals chug energy drinks with potassium but sometimes its easier, healthier, and cheaper to opt for actual food sources.  Other good food sources of potassium include oranges, pomegrante, dates, tomato and tomato-based products, potatoes, winter squash, avocados, broccoli, dried/refried/baked beans, milk, nuts and seeds, and some salt substitutes.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium yellow bananas, ripe
  • 3 frozen bananas, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp light coconut milk
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil (+extra for greasing the pan)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 or more tbsp cinnamom or pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp (or 1-2 grinds) sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (or other berries)
  • 2 tbsp mini milk chocolate chips

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a loaf pan (or pan that is about 9×5 inches) with coconut oil OR you can line with parchment paper.
  3. In a blender combine the eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, almond butter, 2 fresh bananas, and 2 frozen bananas.
  4. Fold in the coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and sea salt.  Blend all ingredients until mixture is homogeneous.
  5. In the greased pan pour half the mixture then set aside.
  6. Using a small bowl mash up the defrosted banana and berries.
  7. Evenly the mashed fruit over the mixture in the pan.
  8. With the remainder of the banana mixture, fold in the chocolate chips and mix, then pour over the berries.  Use a spatula to try and spread the mixture evenly.
  9. Cook for 60-70 minutes or until a knife/utensil can be inserted and removed clean.
  10. Allow to cool then serve with your finest tea, wine, or coffee.
  11. Bottom’s up!

 

xxx – Sarah

 

 

Vanilla Candied Brussels and Pistachio Peppered Beef topped with a Poached Egg – Serves 4

I can pretty much add an egg to everything…  And I do.   As previously mentioned, throw out the notion that eggs and their yolks are bad for you…  Totally yesterday’s news.

Egg yolks contain MORE nutrients than an egg white.  Egg whites have fewer calories and protein compared to the whole egg.  However the yolk provides extra protein along with micronutrients that include iron, phosphorus, zinc, and folate, and the fatty vitamins (A, D, E, and K).  The B-complex vitamins found in whole eggs include biotin, selenium, and choline which are crucial during the creation of the human nervous system as well as its maintenance throughout the lifespan.  

These are two incredibly easy recipes to make and/or keep for leftovers during the week.  As I always say, leftovers always taste best, plus you don’t have to lift a finger.  Basically I made both recipes and then consecutively layered them with a poached egg on top.  This can be made at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner…  Brunch was my poison of choice.

Vanilla Candied Brussels

Ingredients: 

  • 1# Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • About 1 tbsp/enough to grease a cooking sheet – coconut oil or EVOO

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a cooking sheet with coconut oil or EVOO.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the Brussels sprouts, vinaigrette, vanilla extract, and spices, then lay out evenly on the cooking sheet.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until desired texture is achieved (less than 20 minutes for more moisture or greater than 20 minutes for crispiness).  At the cooking half point, utilize a spatula and lightly toss the Brussels to ensure that all sides are cooked well.
  5. Remove from oven, set aside for use, or cool down and store.

 

Pistachio Peppered Beef

Ingredients:

  • 1# beef, ground (98% lean)
  • 1/2 cup yellow and red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced and minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup pistachios (make sure all the shells are removed – you don’t want broken teeth)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced/minced/chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • About 1 tbsp/enough to grease a frying pan – coconut oil or EVOO
  • Spices to taste (2-3 shakes):  Cumin, paprika, curry powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and black pepper
  • Optional:  Salt

Methodology:

  1. Drizzle coconut oil or EVOO in a frying pan under medium-high heat.
  2. Toss into the frying pan onions, sweet potatoes, cilantro, and garlic, and mix well for about 3-5 minutes or until onions are golden.
  3. Add pistachios,peppers, spices, and ground beef to the pan.  Sautee for 10-15 minutes until beef is well cooked or has met an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (this is the minimum temperature set by the USDA to kill E-Coli).
  4. Set aside to add to a meal or cool down to store.

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Poached Egg

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 2 cups water or just enough to cover the egg
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt

Methodology:

  1. In a saucepan bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and white vinegar.
  3. Drop one egg in and using a large spoon whip the water around the egg in circular motion until the whites are close to the yolk.  Cook for about 2 minutes then remove and repeat with the remainder eggs.
  4. Serve atop the layered Vanilla Candied Brussels and Pistachio Ground Beef.
  5. Don’t forget to poke the yolk for extra taste!

 

xxx – Sarah

Mad about Yolks

Many historical studies show that egg yolk consumption led to high cholesterol.  Rather the yolk is NOT the primary contributor for high cholesterol, it takes more than just egg yolks to cause high cholesterol.  What?!?  In other words, look at your lifestyle as a whole along with its various components rather than one particular area – what you eat daily (primary dietary cholesterol outlets include: saturated animal fats and full-fat dairy products), whether you smoke and/or drink alcohol, how you sleep, and levels of physical activity.

FullSizeRender_4If you have high cholesterol, consuming one whole egg daily in conjunction with a healthy diet, moderate physical activity, and sleep, does not warrant worry.  The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines does not specify the daily recommendation for dietary cholesterol but the Healthy US Style Eating Pattern recommends 100-300 mg daily (Key Elements of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines).  Those with or at risk for high cholesterol should follow the proposed 100-300 mg range for dietary cholesterol consumption.  A whole egg has about 2/3 of this proposed cholesterol content.

 

Time to get crackin’ with those eggs whatever your fancy may be – sunny side up, poached, hard boiled, or scrambled.

xxx – Sarah

Wellness Travel Essentials

If you’re anything like me – airports can be stressful when trying to stick to your meal plans or stay within a budget.  Let’s face it, $5.50-7.00+ for a 16-24 ounce water bottle is legit nuts.  Since air pressure can lead to migraines – I try to limit my sugar intake which would only aid and abet.   As a frequent flier fanatic, I’ve perfected my travel routine, and compiled some travel secrets that will help you to eat and drink like a champion.

  1. Reusable tumbler or water bottle (24 ounces+):  Most airports have begun to go green and offer water re-fill stations thus locate em and start walking!  This is a great way to save on expensive water purchases.
  2. Snack sandwich bags:  Great for portioning your food.  I always say – eat half on the departure trip and save the other half for the return trip.  These are some great items to toss/mix into sandwich bags:
    1. Beef or turkey jerky:  Great way to consume lean protein when on the road.  I opt for either the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s brand of basic jerky.  I love the teriyaki versions but then that means more additives – so no.  Pick and choose your poison.
    2. Nuts:  I love pistachios that are shelled since they keep my fingers busy during the long flights.  Raw nuts are also a great option (almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia, etc.) if you’re doing work or want an easy munch.
    3. Plantain chips:  Great alternative to regular potato chips and are usually just seasoned with S&P – for these, I usually go to the bulk section of Whole Foods or buy the packaged version(s) from Trader Joe’s then re portion into a sandwich bag.
    4. Protein powder:  Pre-portion one full scoop for mixing later during the trip to help meet your protein needs if you are not a meat eater nor wanting to open up a can of stinky beans or fish.
  3. Protein bars:  I love nut/fruit bars especially those gluten and dairy-free.  When choosing bars opt for those above 5-7 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar.  There are SO many out there but my favorites include: Kind and RXBAR.
  4. Sealed bag of cucumbers, basil, mint, or berries:  This is an easy way to make your plain water more ‘artisanal’ when on the road and not wanting to opt for powders such as Crystal Lite.

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Happy and Safe Travels Y’all!

xxx – Sarah

Nutty Chocolate Drops – Serves 10

This has quickly become my favorite go to when I have a sweet tooth…  It’s free of the major food inflammatory agents aka gluten, peanuts, eggs, and dairy.  Another winning bullet point is that it’s free of white refined sugar and its sweetness is derived from dates.

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Medjool dates are a great fruit to add sweetness to a dish without reaching for processed sugar or its alternatives.  Unlike other fruits, its nutrient content lacks vitamins A and C.  However they are a great source of energy due to their carbohydrate/sugar content, potassium (dates beat bananas in this department), and soluble fiber.  Therefore if you’re making a smoothie pre-or post-workout be sure to add a date or two!  Now, this may be a bit TMI but if you’re constipated be sure to add some dates into your life!  The dates work as a great solidifying agent to give your bowels a push.

Let’s get down to business.  If you are craving the sweets instantaneously, the good news is that this tastes phenomenal without being cooked and is safe for consumption.  However, if you can wait a few minutes – pop these drops into the oven for 5-10 minutes!  Also, good news, if you’re not a chocolate person that’s okay because these drops taste amazing without it!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil; melted
  • 1 cup cashews; soaked and strained (try to soak for 10-15 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter; crunchy or creamy (unsalted and aim for crunchy for some texture)
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal; dried
  • 3-4 medjool dates; remove the pits
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL but highly recommended: 1/3 cup milk or dark chocolate mini chips
  • To taste: sea salt (I added about 1-2 pinches)

Methodology:

  1. Utilizing a food processor, combine all ingredients BUT the chocolate chips.  Pulse until blended then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the chocolate chips and stir well until the mixture appears uniform.
  3. On a piece of parchment paper, create small drops/balls using a tablespoon and/or your hands to mold.  Set each drop/ball about a ‘thumb’ of distance between each other.
  4. If you want to eat right away – do so.
  5. If you want to wait and cook em – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden then set aside to cool.
  6. If you want to wait and have em cold – place in the refrigerator and nibble when ready.
  7. It’s time for some dates in your life.

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xxx – Sarah

 

Garlic Peppered Asparagus and Brussels – Serves 4

Have you been getting enough greens?  According to the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines it is recommended to consume 2.5 cups vegetables/day and within the week the intake of dark-green vegetables is 1.5 cups/week for the typical 2000-calorie American diet.  However if you’re anything like me and you’re active then I highly recommend more!  

This recipe is a sure way to reach your quota of dark-green vegetables.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to stop with one serving of these vegetables.

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If you don’t already know asparagus have been deemed as a natural diuretic and aid in excretion of fluids.  This antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient rich vegetable can be found in various colors such as green, purple, and white…  Some of benefits possibly include blood sugar reduction/decreased risk of type two diabetes, prevention of cognitive decline, assistance with food motility during digestion due to its fiber, and lowering the risk of heart disease.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus; ends trimmed off
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts; root trimmed off then halved
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds; raw with shell removed
  • 1.5 tbsp garlic; minced
  • 1 tsp black pepper; crushed
  • EVOO – enough to douse vegetables

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Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a bowl mix together all the ingredients listed above: Brussels sprouts, asparagus, pepper, pumpkin seeds, garlic, and EVOO.
  3. On a cooking sheet lay out the veggies.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes depending how crispy you want your vegetables.  Halfway through cooking use a spatula to move the veggies around so that they roast evenly.
  5. Serve with your protein and starch of choice.  As you can see I opted for a double portion of vegetables and paired with scallops (YUM x 100%).
  6. Happy bites y’all!

xxx – Sarah