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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Got Magnesium? The Relaxation Mineral

While we hear quite a bit about the importance of Calcium, we don't hear much about Magnesium, an essential mineral that roughly 80% of us are deficient in.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, Magnesium should be called The Relaxation Mineral. "Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff -- whether it is a body part or an even a mood -- is a sign of magnesium deficiency. It is an antidote to stress, the most powerful relaxation mineral available, and it can help improve your sleep."

So what does tight, irritable and crampy translate to in medical terms? Magnesium plays a major role in the action of your heart muscle, the creation of ATP (energy) in your cells, the proper formation of bones and teeth, the relaxation of blood vessels and the regulation of blood sugar levels. According to recent studies, the health benefits of Magnesium have been grossly underestimated. Magnesium can greatly benefit those who suffer from:

* Inflammation
* Migraines
* Fibromyalgia
* Atrial Fibrillation
* Cardiovascular Disease
* Type 2 Diabetes
* PMS 

Unfortunately a simple lab test is not the best way to measure Magnesium levels. So, being on the lookout for some common symptoms of Magnesium deficiency might
be the best way to diagnose yourself. Some common health issues associated with Magnesium deficiency include:

* Coronary Spasm
* Abnormal Hearth Rhythms
* Seizures
* Muscle Cramps or Twitches
* Kidney Stones
* Chronic Fatigue
* Irritable Bladder
* Anxiety
* Angina
* Osteoporosis

Do you crave chocolate….more than the average human? Chocolate cravings are often a sign of Magnesium deficiency, as the cocoa bean contains a very high level of the mineral. One of the best ways to get a healthy level of Magnesium is actually through your diet. The whole foods with the highest levels of Magnesium are:

* Shrimp
* Seaweed
* Collard Greens
* Avocado
* Coriander
* Pumpkin Seeds
* Flax Seed
* Almond Butter
* Dandelion Greens
* Garlic
* Basil 

Of course, there are also some great Magnesium supplements on the market. My two favorite sources of Magnesium in supplement form are Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Citrate (most will benefit from 400-1000mg per day). With supplements it's important to remember that many vitamins and minerals work synergistically. So when supplementing with Magnesium, remember that you need adequate amounts of Vitamin D3 (latest studies suggest 5000 iu's per day) and selenium in order to properly absorb the mineral.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brain Food: Coconut Milk and Turmeric Marinated Chicken Skewers

I was at BiRite last week and couldn't resist trying their coconut milk and turmeric marinated chicken skewers. I had just been reading in Grain Brain about the numerous health benefits of turmeric and coconut, so I was thrilled to see both in one simple dish. Luckily, my friends at BiRite were kind enough to share their recipe with me so that I could share it with all of you. 

So why are coconut and turmeric such wonder foods?

Turmeric is a proven cancer-fighting, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal spice that has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. As David Perlmutter points out in Grain Brain, there's a direct link between diets rich in turmeric and a decreased risk of neurological disease. Perlmutter asserts that one of turmeric's secret weapons is "its ability to activate genes to produce a vast array of antioxidants that serve to protect our precious mitochondria. It also improves glucose metabolism. All of these properties help reduce risk for brain disease."

Full of heart and brain healthy saturated fat, coconut is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. In addition to being anti-viral, anti-bacterial and most importantly, anti-inflammatory, the fat in coconut is essential for insulin regulation and metabolism. It is truly a wonder food that accelerates your weight loss and reduces your risk of disease in the process. 

Simple and quick, pop these skewers on the grill or broil them for a nutritious and satiating meal. 

Coconut Milk and Turmeric Marinated Chicken Skewers


1 can of full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric 
1/2 to 1 tablespoon fish sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 lb chicken breast and/or thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes

In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, fish sauce, turmeric, sea salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the bowl and coat evenly. Cover and let marinate for at 24 hours. When you're ready to cook your meal, simply thread the chicken onto skewers and broil or grill them until fully cooked. I've been serving mine over a simple salad, but the flavor in this recipe is subtle enough that they would go well with a variety of vegetables. 

HELP! I've never seen turmeric. Can I just buy it ground up? 

Fresh turmeric is best, and it can be found in the produce section of your grocery store, usually near the ginger. It looks like this

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is Fruit The Health Food You Think It Is?

Most people who come to me for nutrition coaching make the same common mistakes when it comes to sugar: they eat fruit and grains for breakfast and they go on juice cleanses when they want to drop a few pounds. Now many of you reading this might find it odd that I put those mistakes under the bracket of sugar. Isn't sugar the stuff in candy, cookies and soda? Freshly-squeezed juice and organic fruits can't possibly be bad for you, right? Wrong. 

We've been conditioned to believe that fruit is beneficial for our overall wellness. It's continually praised as a health food, rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. Yet experts in the field of obesity and cognitive performance have found that our bodies can't necessarily tell the difference between the sugar found in fruit and the sugar found in a can of soda. When you eat sugar, regardless of if it comes from a mango or Twizzlers, it stimulates insulin secretion and consequently, fat storage. I'm not suggesting that fruit isn't better for you than candy, but if your goal is blood sugar regulation (which in turn leads to a smaller waist and a bigger brain*), you should only sparingly incorporate fruit into your diet plan.

If you're going to eat fruit, I highly suggest you eat it whole instead of juicing it. While the water and fiber in eating a whole piece of fruit dilutes its effect on your blood sugar, according to neurologist and author of Grain Brain David Perlmutter, "If you juice several apples and concentrate the liquid down to a 12-ounce beverage (thereby losing the fiber), lo and behold you get a blast of 85 sugar calories that could just as well have come from a soda. When that fructose hits the liver, most of it gets converted to fat and sent to our fat cells." And as Gary Taubes says in his book Why We Get Fat, "Even though fructose has no immediate effect on blood sugar and insulin, over time --maybe a few years--it is a likely cause of insulin resistance and thus the increased storage of calories as fat."

Even if you don't struggle with your weight, there is an undeniable link between sugar consumption and decreased cognitive performance. Surges in blood sugar levels lead to an inflammatory response that negatively impacts your neurotransmitters. According to Perlmutter, "Neurotransmitters are your main mood and brain regulators, and when your blood sugar increases, there's an immediate depletion of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine." So what's the result? Brain fog, depression, fatigue, mood swing, anxiety and over time, the shrinking of critical brain tissue. Need more evidence for the link between sugar and the brain, becoming a diabetic doubles your risk for Alzheimer's disease). 

Still Want Fruit? Some Tips:
-Only eat organic fruits
-Eat whole fruits instead of juicing them
-Stick to low-glycemic fruits such as berries and apples (if you peel the apples they will contain even less sugar)
-Always eat fruit in combination with proteins and/or a high quality fat to mitigate the blood sugar response.

*Interested? Check out Grain Brain. It's one of the most persuasive reads for the link between neurological diseases and sugar. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Summer Superfood that Packs A Punch

Often overlooked, arugula is a nutritional powerhouse, adding a potent dose of antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds to your summer meals. While other varieties of greens have been overly-farmed and nutritionally diluted over the years, according to a recent article by Jo Robinson in the New York Times, arugula "is very similar to its wild ancestor. Some varieties were domesticated as recently as the 1970s, thousands of years after most fruits and vegetables had come under our sway." 

And why is this notion of ancestry so important when it comes to your foods? According to Robinson, "if we want to get maximum health benefits from fruits and vegetables, we must choose the right varieties. Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of four of our modern scourges: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers." Wild dandelions, for example, have up to seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, the dark leafy green that is arguably most heralded for its health benefits. Arugula, being slightly more common than wild dandelions and a bit more versatile, stands out as an easy, younger-generation supergreen to incorporate into your diet this week. 

A Few Arugula Tips:

Baby arugula is slightly sweeter and more versatile than more mature arugula, which lands on the spicier side. So for those of you who think arugula is too strong, try the baby variety (hint: baby leaves are small; mature leaves will be between 2-4 inches). 

How to Buy: Arugula leaves should be green (not yellow), fresh smelling, bright, firm and lively. 

How to Store: Store arugula in the fridge in a closed plastic bag and use it before it becomes wilted. 

How to Cook: Arugula is an excellent accompaniment to a variety of meals, ranging from breakfast to dinner. Because it is so flavorful, it only needs to be dressed lightly in salads, where slightly sweeter foods (such as berries, figs and tomatoes) will lend balance to its spice. If you want to cook warm dishes with arugula, simply toss it in at the very end in order to preserve its high nutritional content (it is excellent, by the way, as a finishing garnish on soups, and in otherwise plain halibut and chicken dishes). Get too much arugula from your CSA? Leftovers can easily be transformed into pesto. In a food processor or with a mortar and pestle, simply combine 2 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of arugula, 1/2 cup evoo, 1/4 cup of nuts (pine nuts or walnuts are preferable) 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, sea salt and pepper...and enjoy. Arugula pesto over roasted cauliflower adds an unexpected twist, and drizzled on top of fried eggs in the morning -- it's one of my favorite treats. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Exercise of The Month: The Ab Push Back

Most people in the gym desperately want a flat, toned stomach. They spend about 20 minutes jogging and then about 40 minutes crunching themselves into oblivion. But as many of you know, you can't spot treat with exercise. The body is a system of systems, and an exercise like a lunge or a dead lift is a much more effective abdominal workout than a crunch, especially when combined with the valsalva maneuver. That said, at the end of a functional training session, I always like to add in some more isolated abdominal exercises, and there are quite a few fun ones to choose from, especially when you're working with a stability ball.

The Ab Push Back is highly effective and safe exercise that targets your entire abdominal wall, from the upper abs to the obliques and even into the lower abs. To start, come up into a push up position with your shins on a stability ball and your palms directly under your shoulders (see photo). Keeping your spine long (chest out, head in line with your body) simply push yourself back onto the ball as far as you can, maintaining good form. Then pull yourself back to the starting position, palms directly underneath your shoulders.

For those of you with wrist injuries, you can use a smaller stability ball and drop to your forearms. And for those of you who are beginners, put the ball under your knees instead of your feet, and work with a smaller range of motion.

In addition to toning your abs, this exercise works your entire body, and is especially great for toning your arms and shoulders.

Here's to training smarter, not harder. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 Habits for Highly Effective Weight Loss

Do you ever wonder why some people get fantastic results from their diet and exercise programs and others can't seem to lose more than a few pounds? When you ask these people why their plan isn't working, most often they will tell you that they are struggling because of their genetics, their thyroid, their metabolism, their hormonal profile, their job or simply their age. They will switch diets, switch doctors, have more tests done, try a new exercise class and ultimately end up right where they started, this time with just a little bit more frustration in the mix. 

I believe that anyone, at any age can lose weight and see the results they're after. Anyone. No matter how long they've been overweight, no matter how many diets they've tried, no matter how much they love gluten. I've helped a 58 year old woman drop six dress sizes in four months (and bring her thyroid back to optimal health in the process). I've worked with someone who was overweight for close to a decade lose 70 pounds in 6 months. So why them? What gives these people -- with menopause, stressful jobs, food addictions and a history of weight gain -- the ability to shift into a life of optimal health and vitality? 

I've noticed a few principles that these people live by, principles that are unmovable and unchanging, that when followed, have lead these clients to results even they still cannot believe. 

1. People who lose weight partner up: They surround themselves with people who support their lifestyle. Partners, friends, family, and co-workers can all play an important role in helping us stay the course, whatever that may be. However, in the case of exercise and nutrition, those same people can often be a detriment, triggering certain emotions or feelings of nostalgia, or inadvertently roping us into old behavioral patterns. Instead of sharing your new diet and exercise program with everyone around you, identify one or two people who "get it" and rely on those people for advice, motivation, or very specific technical knowledge. This person can be your personal trainer, or a friend who wants to try burst training with you, for example. 

2. People who lose weight prepare: They think ahead of time so they don't end up in a situation where they "have to eat" bad foods. Finding yourself in a terrible hotel restaurant in the middle of nowhere can certainly be challenging when trying to stick to your nutrition plan. That said, there is always something you can eat. Even if you have to order two different dishes to get what you want, or eat some almonds and Prather Ranch beef jerky that you brought with you instead of the bagels served at breakfast. If you take a few extra moments to think, you will see that you always have options. 

3. People who lose weight are after something bigger than aesthetics: They are driven less by how they look and more by how they feel. Of course it's amazing to be able to fit into a dress or pair of pants you haven't worn in over a decade, but not feeling any pain, not being short of breath, and being more active, involved, and present in your own life is the true payoff. 

4. People who lose weight don't let minor setbacks take them fully off the course. Sometimes we can't train when we planned to. Sometimes we might eat the dessert that the table ordered. Sometimes we don't feel like cooking and instead get something quick that we know we isn't quite on plan. But the key is to not beat yourself up about it, because those negative feelings will only lead to one thing: defeat. Instead of letting that dessert at dinner lead to a week of eating gluten, break the cycle. Even if you've momentarily broken away from your plan, it's not the end of the world, and tomorrow will be that much more rewarding when you motivate yourself to make it better than today.

5. People who lose weight choose their indulgences wisely, allow them infrequently, and savor them. The people I work with who have seen drastic results have gotten rid of the sense of entitlement that surrounds food ("I'm an adult, so I can eat whatever I want whenever I want!") By limiting treats to once a week, these treats take on a new meaning, and immediately taste so much better. People who lose weight choose indulgences that are still on plan (full-fat ice cream, wine, or chocolate for example) so that even their once a week treat can be guilt-free.

6. People who lose weight prioritize training and think of their workouts as a doctor's appointment that they have to make. Workouts are non-negotiable, just like an important meeting or job interview. Your health must take precedence over your work. If it doesn't, you'll soon be left without either. It's impossible to operate at your full potential without feeding your body the proper fuel and giving it the exercise it needs.

7. People who lose weight rest: They take at least two days off a week from training and get to bed on time. You lose weight when you are at rest. Losing weight is a way of the body repairing. And as much as it seems to make sense that you are losing weight while lunging or squatting, your body actually needs downtime to go through the process of burning fat and creating muscle, all of which happens when you are at rest! No pain, no gain clearly doesn't work. So give yourself a break and your body will thank you. 

And perhaps the most important principle of people who lose weight encompasses all of these principles. shift happens where training is no longer a chore, and nutrition is no longer a diet. The people who lose 70 pounds in six months don't think of their exercise and nutrition programs as "something I'm doing right now" but instead as "this who I am." It truly becomes a way of life, not a "paleo" diet or an upper-body workout. These people don't feel like someone trying out a program that they will stick to until they get to a size 4. They take responsibility for their life and their health, and everything else -- from getting up to train before a stressful day to not eating gluten at that crummy hotel in the middle of nowhere -- falls into place.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Run Like You're Being Chased

You Should Sprint: Because A Prius Won't Lose Weight, But A Maserati Will 

We've all been taught that long aerobic workouts are the only way to lose weight, and I know many of you are surprised to hear what I have to say about cardio. How can fifteen minutes of sprinting burn more fat than a five mile run? The more time you run, the more calories you burn, and the more fat you lose. That's how it works, right? Wrong. The human body is a highly adaptive machine. Quite simply, we get used to things. So if you train your body that every week you're going to go on a few three mile runs, your body will start to expect those three mile runs, and store fat (for energy) accordingly. In this cycle, you are inadvertently training your body to become calorie efficient. You are now the Prius of runners, and your body will barely burn any fuel (fat) to get you through those 3 miles. Consequently, over time you'll have to run longer and longer distances to get the same results. With burst training, on the other hand, because you shock your system over and over again, you train your body to become a calorie inefficient machine. Think of a Maserati. How quickly do you think that car would burn through a tank of fuel going 100mph every 90 seconds? The more calorie inefficient you are, the less fat your body will store and the more it will burn. 

Sprinting increases your Human Growth Hormone: The body's youth serum

"The main difference between health and disease, vibrant youth or aged frailty, is one's hormonal profile" - Robb Wolf

In addition to burning fat, burst training is highly beneficial for increasing your human growth hormone, which is crucial for developing lean muscle mass, speeding up your metabolism and even fixing DNA damage. Studies show that the body's production of human growth hormone increases by up to 771 percent during a burst training workout, largely due to the fact that such intense exercise stimulates your fast muscle fibers, which are rarely used during most exercise programs (unless your trainer throws you on the battling ropes, of course). And the higher your levels of growth hormone, the younger, stronger and healthier you will be. 

That sounds great, but I need to work on my endurance for an upcoming race! 15 minutes can't help me. 

A study performed in 2008 found that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training produced similar biochemical muscle changes and similar endurance performance benefits to 10.5 hours of endurance training. In other words, less is truly more. In fact, a similar study found that after only 8 weeks of burst training workouts, subjects could bike twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.

So What Do Bursts Look Like? 

When I want to do a burst training workout, which is usually about two days a week, I alternate 30s of all out sprints with 90s of recovery for 10 cycles. And as a simple rule of thumb for intensity: on the burst, you should feel that you absolutely cannot talk, and when you recover, you should feel like you can. Once you can do 10 bursts, start to increase your burst speed. Whether you're walking or lunging stairs, jumping rope, biking, running or swimming, the same principle of 30s burst/90s recovery will not only get you to your goals faster, but will take up less of your day so you'll have more time to do the important go to the farmer's market or take your dog to the beach. 

If your goal is fat loss, I challenge you to add two days of burst training to your exercise schedule. I'm currently doing my bursts on a treadmill, and am running 5.8 on my recovery and 8.8 on my burst. Can you beat me?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chinese Chicken Salad with Kale

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It's one of the most nutrient-dense foods around and has been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, ovary and bladder cancer. Rich in flavonoids, kale also plays a vital role in the body's detoxification system, and helps to undo the damage of oxidative stress. And because it contains more iron than beef, kale is an excellent vegetable for those of you who suffer from anemia. 

I can almost hear it now: That's great, but I don't like how it tastes! So here's my solution. For a fresh take on Chinese chicken salad, I've been swapping out the iceberg for kale, adding an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant boost to this already delicious salad.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Kale:

Salad Components:

1 bunch curly kale
1 lb boneless, skinless organic chicken breast, sliced into strips (you can bake or pan fry it)
1 cup napa cabbage, sliced
1 grated carrot
2-3 green onions 
1 bell pepper, sliced


1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted sesame oil (you might like to add a bit more if you like sesame flavor). I use Spectrum brand. 
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
Sea salt to taste
Fresh pepper to taste
The juice from one lime
1 tablespoon sriracha if you like a little kick

Bake or pan fry the chicken and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha and lime juice. Then add the garlic and ginger, and continue to whisk, adding sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Once the dressing is nicely blended, drizzle the mixture over the kale, cabbage, carrot and bell pepper and let sit for 30 minutes. Because kale can be thicker than other leafy greens, the more you let it marinate in the dressing, the better. Then mix in the chicken, season with diced green onions, toss and serve. Trying hard to avoid the cold that's going around? This salad is a vitamin pill in a bowl. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tired of Bars? Try This Protein-Packed Snack Instead

Most snack bars are loaded with sugar, fruit, low quality protein powders and soy....yet another case of junk food disguised as health food. So instead of reaching for a bar the next time you need a little energy between meals, try this recipe for deviled eggs. Many of you are probably surprised to hear that deviled eggs can be healthy, but without the mayo (which is usually loaded with canola oil) deviled eggs are actually a highly nutritious and satiating snack. 

Often called a "brain food," pastured eggs are rich in DHEA, a long-chain fatty acid that plays an integral role in neurological and reproductive health. And, because eggs are packed with vitamins A, D, E and K and iron, calcium, zinc, folate, thiamin and phosphorous, they have been proven to deliver more essential nutrients than a multi-vitamin. 


6 Pastured Eggs
2-3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil 
Celtic Sea Salt
Smoked Paprika
2 tbsp Fresh Parsley, Chopped

Just a few easy steps:

Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover them with cool water by 1 inch. Slowly bring the water to a boil and then cover and remove the eggs from the heat. Let them sit for 10-12 minutes. 

Transfer the eggs into a colander and run cold water over them until they are cool. Peel the eggs and slice them in half. Then remove each yolk and place them in a small bowl. Whisk together the egg yolks, olive oil and dijon mustard until you are satisfied with the texture and thickness of the filling. Season with sea salt to taste. Then use a small spoon to fill each of the egg whites. We all know looks are everything, so keep them tidy (this is easier said than done, so many prefer to use an pastry bag). Once you've filled each egg white, garnish your deviled eggs with smoked paprika and a bit of chopped parsley and serve. 

Want to make it into a meal? 

Serve the eggs over a bed of romaine lettuce, and sprinkle with bacon. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why Wheat Makes You Sick and Fat

"Over the past 50 years, wheat has undergone a more drastic transformation than Joan Rivers" - Davis

If you still think wheat is fine in small doses, it's time to think again. 

At this point almost all of us know that gluten, the protein found in wheat, wreaks havoc on the gut wall. It burns the sea anemone-like microvilli that line the small intestine and makes digestion of vital nutrients almost impossible. In other words, if you eat some prosciutto and high quality vegetables on a baguette, you might as well just eat the baguette, because in the presence of gluten, you won't absorb or adequately digest the nutrients from the other foods. 

Did you just read that and start craving a baguette? Are you one of those people who eats gluten and claims to feel fine? Why should you cut out wheat? The answer is pretty simple: wheat makes us sick and fat. According to cardiologist William Davis, M.D., in his must-read book "Wheat Belly," whole wheat bread (yes, we are talking about whole grain wheat) spikes your blood sugar more than table sugar. In other words, whole wheat is junk food disguised as health food. According to Davis, "Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole-wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda." He goes on to assert that the same portion of whole-wheat bread has a higher glycemic index (GI) than two tablespoons of sugar -- or even a snickers bar. 

"Modern wheat is a perfect chronic poison" - Davis

Davis' other major claim is that modern wheat has been so genetically altered that the gluten present in foods containing wheat causes a host of adverse health effects. The new varieties of wheat on the market today contain more gliadins (a gluten component) than their wheat grandparents, leading to increased cases of auto-immune disorders such as celiac disease, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism and even infertility. And what will the next generation of wheat look like? Genetically modified Frankenwheat. 

Forget about counting calories and measuring your foods with tablespoons. If you're serious about losing weight for good, it's pretty simple. Stop eating numbers and keep two bigger ideas in mind: inflammation and GI index (glycemic index really means - what will this food do to my blood sugar?) My clients who stick to low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory foods have lost up to 35 pounds in 4 months. And the best part...they don't feel like they're dieting. I don't know about you, but I would much rather eat some roasted vegetables and a grass-fed steak with truffle butter than a snickers bar dressed up as a couple pieces of bread. And then when you add in all of the health issues associated with eating gluten, you really have to ask yourself how it can possibly find its way to your kitchen, onto your plate or into your mouth. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Immune Builder Ginger Chicken Soup

Because everyone is sick, and that's gross

Tonight I'm making an immune boosting chicken soup that is incredibly easy to whip together on those nights when you're feeling like you need a little something soothing. Yes, this is a somewhat "sped up" version of homemade chicken soup, but quick and easy recipes are the ones we tend to use most during the hectic work week, right?


1-2 Organic Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 Quart Chicken Stock: I usually buy mine pre-made from Bi-Rite. I suggest keeping a few in your freezer so it's always on hand. 
1 Inch Ginger, peeled and minced 
Dill (as much as you desire) finely chopped
Baby Bok Choy
1-2 Carrots, chopped
2-3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
1/2 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
Sea Salt

Ready to cook?

Preheat your oven to 275. Poke the chicken breasts with a fork, season them with a pinch of sea salt, and place them in a dish covered with foil. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until fully cooked. While the chicken is cooking, add the carrots, onions, celery, ginger and coconut oil to the chicken stock, and let simmer until the chicken is ready. Remove the chicken from the oven and dice or shred it, and add it to the stock and vegetables. Chop up your dill and baby bok choy, and add them for a few minutes at the very end, right before you're ready to serve. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. 

Why is this so healthy? Let's look closer at the ingredients:

Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a proven antibacterial, antimicrobial and even antiviral superfood. Plus it adds a bit of healthy fat to an otherwise light meal.  

Ginger: A highly potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, ginger supercharges your immune system (plus its unique warming quality helps fight off congestion, soothes a sore throat and calms an upset stomach). 

Bok Choy: The most nutrient-dense vegetable on the planet, baby bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable that is loaded with vitamins A, C, K and even calcium. In addition to helping you fight off the common cold and flu, studies prove that this vegetable is one of the most powerful cancer fighters available. Plus it's most delicious in the winter months. 
Broth: Loaded with calcium, magnesium, collagen and gelatin, real, homemade (or Bi-Rite made) chicken stock is vital for repairing the gut wall (which most of us need from years of eating gluten and other gut busting grains). Because the majority of your immune system is in your gut, a healthy and strong gut wall helps protects you from catching the colds and flus going around this time of year. 

I hope you find some warmth and comfort in this easy and delicious recipe. Stay healthy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Officially TPI Certified - Golf Fitness Instructor

As many of you know, I recently became a Certified Golf Fitness Instructor through the Titleist Performance Institute. Titleist is the leader in Golf Fitness education, drawing its curriculum from the world’s experts in sports performance.

As a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, I am trained to take golfers through a three-step process that is designed to improve their flexibility, strength and power, and eliminate any pain that might be hindering them on the course. 

Step 1: Screen – Using TPI’s cutting edge assessment process, I screen and identify limitations in the body as they relate to the golf swing.

Step 2: Prescribe – Based on the TPI screen results, I’m trained to develop highly individualized Golf Performance Programs designed to eliminate swing faults (and the physical limitations that contribute to them) for good.

Step 3: Implement – Building on over 7 years as a C.H.E.K (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology) Practitioner and Nutrition Coach, I teach clients the most effective stretches, mobilizations and exercises to help them reach their maximum potential. At this stage I also take clients through highly individualized Nutrition and Stress Management Programs, both of which have a profound effect on golf performance.    

Maybe you’re not a golfer. Maybe you just want to get rid of your nagging knee pain and hit the slopes again this winter. Because the foundation of the TPI curriculum is based on the work of some of the most advanced experts in the areas of functional movement and sports medicine, the TPI screen can help you, too. Feel free to email me with inquiries. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Years Resolution You Can Stick With

We've all had a New Year's resolution at some point in our lives. You decide to make a change, you tell your friends about it, you write it down. A few months pass and you realize you've made that change. You feel better. And then....the inevitable happens: you backslide. Then, most likely, you feel bad about yourself and give up. Why is it that resolutions fail? Quite simply, we resist change. Our body does not distinguish between a good change (I'm going to lose weight!) and a bad change. It just resists change. 

According to George Leonard in Mastery, in order to make a change for life, we have to understand that our body will resist change. That awareness, he claims, helps us deal with the inevitable backslides that arise while we are on the path to change. So what can you do when you feel yourself starting to slip? Maybe you made a commitment to exercise and you skipped a few days. Instead of using that as an excuse to quit entirely, get back on the path of consistency. And how do you make something consistent in your life? Resolution Tip #1: Make it a ritual. Many surgeons, for example, perform the same rituals before going into surgery. They wash their hands and put on their gowns in the same way each time to rid their minds of outside concerns and focus on the task at hand.  So let's say you've committed to start working out. Try to do it at the same time each day, try putting music on while you're getting ready, get a fresh green juice right after your workout, come home and take a nice shower. These little rituals help solidify your resolution as part of your daily life. Resolution Tip #2: Develop a support system. Whether it's your trainer, nutrition coach or friends who are also trying a gluten-free diet, a support system is proven to keep you in line with your resolution. Why? Because as humans we like the feeling of being apart, together. We like to be independent but know that we are part of a team. Just knowing that there are others with similar goals will help you when you start to backslide, and encourage you when you stay on track. And finally, Resolution Tip #3: Give yourself a deadline. While health and fitness is a lifelong practice, it is without question that you will do better with tangible, reasonable deadlines in place. Within the larger goal of losing weight for example, you could commit to working out three days a week for the next eight weeks. These smaller, more accessible goals will inspire you to stay on course, and keep you from feeling overwhelmed, or feeling like your ultimate goal is too far out of reach. 

So....Want a more specific new years resolution you can stick to? 

Eat A Real Breakfast! 

Want a great resolution that will help you lose weight AND feel better? Get over the idea of eating traditional "breakfast foods" as the first meal of the day and instead, make your breakfast look like lunch or dinner. While we've been trained that cereal, oatmeal, yogurt and granola are "healthy" breakfast foods, the truth is that all of these breakfast options are one thing to our bodies: sugar. Our bodies don't know the difference between lunch, dinner or breakfast. Starting your day out with pancakes (even if they are gluten-free), fruit, dairy and grains sets the insulin tone for the rest of the day. In other words, what you choose to eat for breakfast has a profound impact on your food choices, energy levels and ability to burn fat as fuel for the next 12 hours. 

I want to eat better for breakfast but those foods just don't appeal to me! 

To most people who are new to a traditional diet, breakfast poses the biggest challenge. They know they need to eat a full meal, but the only thing that is appealing to them in the morning is toast or granola. Reaching for these foods in the morning is nothing more than a bad habit. You reach for them because you've been reaching for them every day for the last ten years. Pay attention the next time you watch TV or flip through a magazine. Breakfast foods are one of the most advertised foods in existence. Why? Because people are rushed and need something easy to eat, and it doesn't get much easier than opening up a box of cereal. 

We have been conditioned to believe that we want something sweet or bland in the morning, but just like at lunch and dinner time, our body wants protein, fat and vegetables at breakfast. What's the best way to break a bad habit? Stop buying bad breakfast foods. In order to start this new, healthier habit, it's time to get rid of all other breakfast options from your pantry. In fact, you shouldn't even want to eat something that can survive in a pantry! 

Ok, I won't eat cereal but I also don't have time to cook. I'll just skip breakfast! 

Skipping breakfast is also a really bad idea if you're interested in losing weight. Simply put, when you skip breakfast, your body believes you are starving, and consequently, you become more likely to store your next meal as body fat. So if you don't want to wear your lunch, eat your breakfast. Even though mornings are hectic, giving yourself just 15 extra minutes to cook up a quick and easy breakfast in the morning can make all of the difference when it comes to your fat loss goals. 

What should breakfast look like? A vegetable, a fat and a protein. 

Because many of you are in a rush in the morning, a simple way to get vegetables into your diet is to make a quick scramble. Here's my favorite recipe (plus the total cooking time is 10 minutes). 

Grated Zucchini, Sausage and Egg Scramble:

Put one tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan on medium heat. While the coconut oil is heating up, use a cheese grater to grate 1/2 of a zucchini. Once grated, press the zucchini with a paper towel to get rid of excess moisture. Cut up a Prather Ranch (or other high quality) sausage and sauté it along with the zucchini until both start to brown (a few minutes). Whisk one or two eggs together and pour into the pan, stirring the mixture until the eggs are fully cooked. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and enjoy. Really in a rush? You can easily grate the zucchini the night before. 

Fun nutrition fact: Zucchini is incredibly high in vitamin A, making it a powerful immune booster. It also contains high levels of potassium, which is an essential mineral for organ, tissue and cell function.  

Here's to a healthy and happy 2013! 

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." -Goethe