Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Plank-it" Until You Make It!

Plank exercises are a popular element of isometric training, which involves contracting your muscles against stationary resistance. Isometric exercises are common for injury rehabilitation or reconditioning. Isometric exercises, such as planks, can help you get past strength-training plateaus and improve energy transference between your upper body and lower body. Plank exercises, in particular, benefit multiple elements of physical fitness and your general well-being.

Top 5 Benefits of doing Planks
1. Works your upper abs, your lower abs, your obliques, and your lower back.
2. Builds the stabilizer muscles.
3. Builds strength for pushups.
4. Promotes good posture and helps prevent back injuries.
5. Teaches your abs to stay contracted in a regular standing position.

How to Do a Plank
1. Get face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees-- an easier variation to rest on hands and knees.
2. Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
3. Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
4. Keep your back flat. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
5. Hold and aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute, as you get stronger.
6. Repeat three times.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why shop at farmers markets?

Why shop at farmers markets? One good reason is the produce is locally grown. It’s also picked when ripe instead of being picked prematurely which allows it to reach it’s full potential in flavor and nutritional value. So if you think about your fruit in this way, it’s actually cheaper to buy at the farmers market because you don’t need to buy as much food to get your daily vittles! The other important reason to shop at the farmers’ market is because the food is in season. That’s right, believe it or not plants grow seasonally and most of our produce that is available year round should actually only be around for a few months of the year. Take asparagus for instance. This delicate vegetable should only be available in early spring but is found all year round in grocery stores. If you go to the farmers’ market you will never find asparagus there other than in spring and more importantly, you will never find asparagus as tasty and fresh as at these markets. All things considered, the advantages of shopping at the farmers’ market are numerous. The food is more nutritious, fresher and most importantly – you’ll never find tastier fruits and veggies. Here is a list of fruits and veggies that you’ll find at your local farmers’ market this fall;
Acorn Squash
Asian Pear
Barbados Cherries
Black Crowberries
Belgian Endive
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Lettuce
Buttercup Squash
Butternut Squash
Cactus Pear
Cape Gooseberries
Chayote Squash
Chinese Long Beans
Crab Apples
Date Plum
Delicata Squash
Diakon Radish
Hearts of Palm
Jalapeno Peppers
Jerusalem Artichoke
Key Limes
Muscadine Grapes
Ong Choy Spinach
Passion Fruit
Sugar Apple
Sunflower Kernels
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard

Orzo Confetti Salad

Orzo Confetti Salad
1 ½ cups whole wheat orzo pasta, or Israeli cous cous
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 carrots, peeled & grated
½ cucumber, grated
1 medium golden beet, stemmed and grated
Any other grating vegetable that works
2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1. Cook orzo/Israeli cous cous in plenty of boiling water until tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain.
2. In a bowl, Whisk oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper until blended.
3. Toss all of the ingredients together. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crunchy Granola Bars - great for kids and adults :)

Crunchy Granola Bars

1 ½ cups Puffed Rice
1 ½ cups Rolled Oats
½ cup Quinoa Cereal
2/3  cup cranberries
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup almond butter
¼ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup honey
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line and 8- or 9-inch square pan with a long sheet of parchment paper (so ends extend over edges of pan).
2. Mix the puffed rice, oats, quinoa cereal, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the almond butter, brown rice syrup, honey, brown sugar and vanilla until sugar has melted and the almond butter has thinned.
4. Pour the liquid mixture on top of the dry ingredients, mixing well. When everything is equally coated, spread the mixture into the pan. Press the mixture down with the bottom of a measuring cup or the back of a wooden spoon. Bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. When you remove the pan from the oven, again use the back of a wooden spoon to press the bars flat. Allow to cool completely before touching them again.
6. When totally cooled and hard, lift the ends of the parchment and put onto a cutting board and cut into bars or squares. Store them in a ziploc bag at room temperature.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gambas a la Plancha!

A great recipe from one of my favorite shows, Take Home Chef...

3 tablespoons/45 ml olive oil
2 teaspoons/less than 2 g chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon/less than 1 g dried crushed red pepper
12 large shrimp (1/2 pound/240 g), peeled and deveined
1/2 lemon
  1. Combine the oil, tarragon and crushed red pepper in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Marinate the shrimp at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt.
  2. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and cook for 1 1/2 minutes per side, or just until the shrimp are cooked through. Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp and toss thoroughly to coat with the lemon juice. Transfer the shrimp and the pan sauce to small tapas dishes and serve.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lean, Mean and Green - a tasty breakfast smoothie

1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/2 strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
3 stalks of kale
1 serving of protein powder - I like pea protein (
1 TBS chia seeds/hemp seeds OR flax (if using flax seeds grind them in a coffee grinder first)
some honey to taste - depending on how sweet you like it
some water to thin

Blend and enjoy! This morning shake has 28 grams of protein, omega 3's and omega 6's, more than 6 grams of fiber and a cup of raw veggies!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are you ready to walk the plank?

Planks, also known as isometric exercises, are a great way to build core strength. Watch this video to assure your form is correct and then challenge yourself to a 1 minute plank. It's fun-- get someone to join you!