Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Need Ideas for a Father's Day Gift?

How about Tai Cheng?
Tai Cheng is a 12-week total-body fitness program developed by martial arts  
master trainer Dr. Mark Cheng.  It uses the graceful movements of Tai Chi .  Tai Chi is a martial art practiced for its health and physical conditioning benefits, rather than for combat.  Practicing Tai Chi can aid in improvements in both physical and mental health.
Every day, the Tai Cheng program will take Dad through a gentle, energizing warm-up and the practice of Tai Chi moves. Each move will help Dad strengthen areas of weakness, tone muscles, and burn calories, while also helping Dad increase flexibility, improve balance, and reduce stiffness.
What’s included in Tai Cheng?
• 12 workout DVDs, including 1 Master Scroll reference DVD
• “Easy Does It” Fitness Guide and “Feel Better Food Plan” Nutrition Guide
• 90-day Daily Workout Calendar, Blue Foam Roller, and Tape Measure
1. 1 additional workout DVD: Applied Tai Cheng for Travel with 2 bonus workouts
2. 1 low-resistance Yellow Strength Band
3. 1 medium-resistance Green Strength Band
4. “Just Eat This” week-long menu plan
5. Adhesive tape to create the Tai Cheng foot placement grid
6. Free Team Beachbody® 30-day VIP membership
If you purchase the Challenge Pack you get the complete package, offering total support for achieving health and fitness goals. The formula? Fitness + Nutrition + Support = Success. With the Tai Cheng Challenge pack, Dad will receive the Tai Cheng fitness program, one of four delicious Shakeology flavors, and a FREE 30-day trial membership to the Team Beachbody Club, where he will find all the support he needs to complete The Challenge!
Save $90 on the Challenge Pack by purchasing it by May 31st!

Feel free to ask me questions!
To order or to check it out click here:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Easy Peasy Also Healthy Flatbreads

I love pizza.  Hey, I am originally from NYC -- home of the best pizza!  Flatbread is basically a pizza but with a little flair! Yesterday while I was at work I got a craving for veggie flatbread!  So after work I decided to stop at the supermarket to pick up some pizza dough because I didn't start any in the morning.  But when I took a peak at the ingredient list I started to think it wasn't such a good idea.  I couldn't identify about half the ingredients.  I dropped the dough and headed over to the produce section to pick up some yummy veggies and headed home to make the dough.  It is simple and takes about 5-8 minutes to prep.  I was able to get it started before I headed back out to pick up my son from day camp (school was closed for the Memorial Day weekend).


You'll need some basic ingredients:

3 Cups bread flour (or all purpose)
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast (or 1 packet)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 C warm water

I use a kitchen aid mixer using a dough hook because it is easiest but you can certainly do this by hand using a rubber spatula.  I simply added the flour, salt, and yeast to the mixing bowl and gave it a quick mix with a spoon.  After I attached the dough hook and added the oil and water (sometimes I need just a bit more water so you may need to add another table spoon or so of water).  The water should be warm from the tap.  If it is too hot it will kill the yeast.  If it is too cold it won't activate the yeast quickly and it will take forever to rise.  If you really must know, warm water should be about 95 to 110 degrees F but I rarely measure this. 

When you mix the dough it should pick up and mix into a ball.  Once the dough formed into a ball, I let rest 2 minutes.  I used this time to wash my measure cups and spoons.    I then mixed the dough again for about 1 minute longer.  You can either continue to kneed the dough with the dough hook for another 3-4 minutes or take the dough and kneed by hand. If you like to get your hands messy, go for it!  Flour your counter and kneed the dough by hand for about 5 minutes.  This is a good stress release, lol!  But sometimes I just don't feel like cleaning up the counter so I knead it in the kitchen aid!

After I kneaded the dough I took it, made a ball and placed it on a clean dish towel.  I added just a little olive oil to the mixing bowl to lightly oil the bowl and put the dough ball back in and covered with the dish towel.  I left it on my counter.  Normally it takes about 1 1/2 hours to properly rise but I got a late start so I turned on my under the counter lights to add the process. 

When I came home it hadn't risen as much as I would have liked but I used it anyway after about 1 hour of rising.  At this point you can use this dough to make 3 12 inch round pizzas.  But I didn't want pizza.  I used it to make 4 (or you can make them smaller and make more) flat breads.  2 were oval, one was a rectangle and 1 was a triangle.  I just simply pulled a piece of the dough, rolled it into a ball and then started to stretch to form the shape I wanted. If you prefer thin crust, stretch the dough thinner and if you like it thicker, don't stretch it so much.  It is up to you.

Here is where you make them your own.  Put what ever you like on them.  I used just a little bit of marinara on the bottom.  I also use fresh mozzarella on flat breads since I am going for a different feel from pizza and I don't want the ooey, gooey, stretchy that for another day.  You could also used feta cheese or gorgonzola  instead, that would be really tasty. Oh, gorgonzola and pear with arugula sounds so good!  I digress. 
I made one with only cheese for the little little.  But the others I did different variations using broccoli, red pepper, red onions and mushrooms.  Other toppings that would be nice include olives, spinach, arugula, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, etc.  Use what is in season or what you enjoy eating.  You could even add meat if you want something heartier. 

I made them into 4 fairly big flatbreads but you can make them into  smaller individual flatbreads. They make great meal or you can make the smaller flatbreads into an appetizer.  I can't wait for the rain to stop here because flatbreads are delicious when grilled.  Stay a few weeks I'll post my grilled flatbreads!

Give 'em a try.  They are easy, delicious, versatile and you'll feel pretty good serving these to your family and friends!    


Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Wanna Be A Brownie Snack Bar - But I'm Too Healthy

I am always looking for something to snack on during the day.  Ask my coworkers.  When I don’t eat regularly I can get a little grumpy.  Sometimes I bring in a small handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.  But sometimes I want something a little more substantial and that satisfies my sweet tooth.  But it also has to be easy to eat on the go as I usually have meetings all day long.  Protein bars were one of my usual snacks to turn to in these situations but sometimes I get a little nervous when I read the ingredients.

Did you ever think something was healthy for you only to look at the label and realize you don’t know what you are really eating?  There are a few protein bars that I will keep in my desk draw for emergencies but generally I prefer to make my own snacks. 

I love to cook.  But I have little children and I work full time outside of the home so I don’t have all day to play in the kitchen (I say play because I really do love to cook -- the kitchen is my playground).  Therefore, I am always on the hunt for healthy, delicious food to make from scratch that is also quick.  This recipe is all of those things!  I found it on 

Recipe: Snack Bar-O-Matic

Thanks to a date or prune base, these bars are rich in potassium, an electrolyte that is essential for healthy muscle function (including the most important muscle, the heart!). The nuts and seeds provide protein as well as good-for-you monounsaturated fats and/or omega-3 fatty acids. And the high fiber content will help keep you good. Want to really kick up the nutritional wow factor? Add a couple scoops of your favorite Shakeology.

Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Yield: 12 servings, 1 bar each


1 cup pitted whole dates or prunes for the base
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup nuts and seeds
2 scoops Shakeology (optional)
Optional flair

Choose one or more from each:

1 CUP BINDING FRUIT (these will give your bars the best texture)

Dried apricots
Dried figs
Dried cranberries
Dried blueberries
Dried cherries

Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. rum extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1–2 oz. dark chocolate chips
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

I made mine using 1C dates, 1/2C cranberries and 1/2C blueberries, 1/2C pecans, 1/4C ground flax seed, 1/4C sunflower seeds, 1/2tsp vanilla and 2 scoops of chocolate Shakeology.  I felt like it was a little dry so I added 1Tbs of water.  It probably wasn't needed but I just wasn't certain that the ingredients would press together without it.
According to the myfitnesspal recipe calculator it was about 172 calories per serving and about 5 grams of protein.  The calories and exact nutritional count depends upon the ingredients you choose.  Have fun and experiment with what you like….or what you have in the pantry, which is pretty much what I did.
Combine equal parts dates or prunes, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes. Check to make sure all ingredients are breaking down into smaller pieces; scrape sides of bowl as needed. Process 2 to 3 minutes more until ingredients form tiny crumbs that come together into a loose ball.  Turn out the Snack Bar-O-Matic mixture into  an 8″ x 8″ baking dish and press flat.  Cover tightly and refrigerate one hour.
Cut into 12 bars. Store in the refrigerator.

The bars that I made came out great.  I admit, I was a little leery.  But they almost came out like a fudgy brownie.  I think the dried blueberries provided just the right level of sweetness.

I took some to work today and enjoyed it as my midmorning snack.  It hit the spot and held me over until lunch…which was delayed because of a bunch of calls I needed to make.  Good thing it was a satisfying snack because I wasn’t even starving by the time I was able to grab my salad almost 45 minutes after I normally eat lunch.  More importantly is that I was able to avoid temptation for the rest of the afternoon because I felt like I already had something sweet and I wasn’t hungry.

So give these bars a try and let me know how you like them. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stone Soup - AKA - Homemade Vegetable Soup

I am home with my youngest son today.  He had his adenoids removed yesterday so he is home from daycare all week.  You would never know that he had a surgical procedure done yesterday.  He is doing great.  Yesterday, when we came home from the hospital, I realized that I bought lots of food for him - oatmeal, pudding, icecream, icepops, applesauce, etc but I didn't have anything for me!  I had some leftovers but I ended up picking at everything all day since I didn't have my meals planned out.  I ended up being over my calorie goal for the day.  It's ok.  It's just one day.  I didn't want the same thing to happen to me again today so I planned my meals and snacks better.

I had some veggies in the fridge and some veggie stock so I thought I would make a soup to go with some hummus and pita.  The great thing about vegetable soup is it can be different every time you make it.  Just use whatever veggies you have on hand.  I also had some barely and since I wanted to get some whole grains into the meal I  added barley to make it a Vegetable Barley soup.  You can skip it or add whatever whole grain you like.

Yesterday when I was attempting to get my son to nap (I failed miserably) I tried to read him the story Stone Soup.  So when I was trying to get my son to go inside so I could start lunch, I told him I was going to make Stone soup.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "No, I want mac and cheese, please!"  Because of his surgery, I was going to give him mac and cheese (soft food diet) anyway but I was trying to be funny.   Oh well.


2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C frozen  peas
4 stalks asparagus, chopped
1 medium sweet potato
1 can of diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 C fresh diced tomatoes
1/2 C barley
8 C of vegetable stock
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook onions, celery and carrots (trivia question -- what is this mix called?). I usually add a pinch of salt to the mirepoix (answer).  Don't skip this.  Salt enhances the flavor.  You don't need a lot, just a pinch.  I like to cook them for about 15 minutes until they have nice color and are sweet.  Add the garlic and cook another few minutes. 

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Add barely and cook on a simmer for about 20 minutes.  At that time add the rest of the veggie, except the peas.  They will  go in last.  I usually add another pinch of salt and some pepper (especially if you use a reduced sodium stock) since it will enhance the flavor.  It won't be salty but you will taste the veggies!  Cook until the sweet potatoes and barley are tender, about another 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the peas.

You can mix it up by adding a little bit of parmesean cheese or a dollop of pesto.  I just had it plain because it was accompanying some roasted red pepper hummus.  By itself it is about 150 calories.  This would make a nice light lunch.  Since I am doing the program INSANITY, I needed more calories so I added the hummus and pita.  It is pretty versitle since it would go great with a half a sandwhich, a green salad, a piece of fruit or even a few slices of apple with some cheddar cheese.  This serves 8.  I plan on freezing half of it (it will last about 3 months) and saving the other half for my lunches this week.



Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Ultimate Reset - Week 3

The last week!

I am a little behind in writing about my last week.  Maybe I was just too happy to be done with the Reset to sit down and write about it.  Just kidding.

The final week was tough.  I really missed having a cup of coffee in the morning.  It wasn't that I needed the caffeine.  Actually, one of the changes that I've made is that I switched to half decaf and I eliminated my afternoon coffee.  I'll talk more about this later when I tell you about the changes I've made after the reset.

Phase three is meant to restore your body by restoring your metabolism to maximum efficiency.  Your body can now properly use the nutrients, enzymes, and pre and probiotics it consumes.

So what was new in week 3?

 No more Detox!  Although I didn't hate taking Detox, after the full week I was tired of it.  Instead of Detox, we started to take Revitalize.   We still took Alkalinize, Mineralize, Optimize and Soothe.  Revitalize is a capsule and although you have to take it three times a day, it was a cinch to take.    

So, what did I eat?

Just like week 2, week 3 is totally vegan.   Once again, breakfast is either 3 cups of fruit or vegan Shakeology -- but only 1/2 scoop.  Most days I opted for the Tropical Strawberry shake with some blueberries and strawberries.  As an active mother of 2 kids, I needed more energy than fruit alone was going to provide.  I thought having the half a shake with more fruit than in week 2 was a good compromise.

This week was the strictest.  There were no grains except for 1 serving that was meant to be optional.  I really didn't want to lose any weight so I always opted for the grain snack.  However, instead of having it as an afternoon snack, I incorporated it into a meal.  So when the meal was roasted veggies, I served it with 1/2 cup of millet.  This was actually quite tasty!  What I also did was switch lunches and dinners a few times.  In other words, I had the scheduled plan "dinner" for lunch and the "lunch" for dinner because of time constraints like meetings after work.  Sometimes it was just easier to have a salad for dinner. 

I will also admit that I got a bit creative with the meals in week 3.  It was very hard for me to have a dinner of baked sweet potato, a side of millet and kale.  So I made a sweet potato hash with kale. Corn was an allowable snack so I roasted some cut up sweet potato, added some red peppers, onions and corn. Mentally, this was different.  It seemed more like a meal.  One time I cheated and added some black beans.  I really needed the extra energy that day and I had to listen to my body.  One of the goals of the reset is for you to learn what your body needs so I think this modification is acceptable.

Some of the meals in week three were: mix greens salads, greek salads,  Zucchini-Cashew soup, Sweet Potato-Roasted Red Pepper soup, veggie stir-fry, roasted veggies and brown rice, roasted butternut squash with tofu (I don’t like tempeh, which is what the Ultimate Reset Menu includes) and millet. 

You might not think of a plate full of veggies as dinner but if you prepare them in an interesting way, especially roasting, they are satisfying.

So, what did I learn?

I've mentioned this several times -- there are many lessons that I learned during this experience.  First, it is ok to be a little hungry.  At the first sign of hunger, I used to eat.  I learned that a little hunger is ok, so long as I know I ate as much as I should have at my last meal and that my next meal is not far away.  When I was hungry between my afternoon snack and dinner, I would drink a glass of water and wait.  More often than not, my hunger went away.  However, there were certain days when I know I didn't eat enough at dinner for my activity level that day and I had to have a snack after dinner because my hunger was real.

Another lesson I learned was about mindless eating.  Often I found myself reaching for some food and I could picture myself popping it my mouth.  I would reach for a cookie, jelly beans, chocolate chips, cheez-its, a french fry, etc.  All these things add up.  It was also interesting that I associate going to certain types of places with eating.  In the first week I took the boys to Old Sturbridge Village.  It was chilly and I really felt like I should be sipping a coffee and eating some type of pastry.  I wasn't hungry but I felt like that was what I should have done -- crazy.

The most amazing thing I learned is that I do not need caffeine.  This is different from coffee.  I need my coffee because I love how coffee tastes and I love having a mug of a hot drink in the morning.  Before the Reset I used to have several cups of coffee.  I would have 1.5 to 2 cups in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.  Sometimes I had one midmorning.  Now I've eliminated all but my morning cup and that is mostly decaf.  My husband and I also decided every third day will be all decaf so we don't rebuild our dependence upon caffeine.  Normally I don't like decaf coffee much but Starbucks decaf tastes just like regular.  So this is a change I know I will stick.

Overall I am happy I did the Reset.  I feel great.  I am sleeping better.  I actually think my skin looks better.  If I could do it all over again, would I still do it?   Yes, I think it was worth it.  It wasn’t easy mostly because of our busy lifestyles.  I cook healthy meals for my family all the time but every once in a while it has to be PB&J for dinner because someone has cub scouts or baseball or a meeting and there just isn’t time to cook.   It might not be for everyone but if you really need help in changing your eating habits and you are relying on “food” that probably shouldn’t be considered food because it has an ingredient list longer than my son’s Christmas list and most of the ingredients are impossible to pronounce, then this might be a good idea.  The “but” is that you really have to want it.  If you really want it and know why you want it, you will stick through the hard parts and succeed! 


If you have any questions about the Beachbody Ultimate Reset, just let me know or check out:


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Delicious Chicken Dinner under 450 Calories

Are you looking for a dinner that is less than 450 calories but also satisfying?  You might want to try this:  Apricot-Jalapeno Chicken with Sesame Noodles.   This recipe is from Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals.  It is really easy to make since it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients and it doesn’t take much time. 

If the word Jalapeno scares you…don’t let it.  This dish is not hot or spicy.  It is flavorful.   My three year old son had 2 servings of it the other night.

This recipe serves between 4-6 people


12 ounces of soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti
½ C sliced pickled jalapenos
1/2C apricot preserves
1/4C fresh cilantro
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp ground pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 Tbs reduced –sodium soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ C scallions (white and light green parts only)
½ -1 head of Broccoli

I think the key to keeping the calories 450 in this dish is adding lots of broccoli.  If you don’t like broccoli, add snow peas or sugar snap peas instead and portioning it out to serve 6.  It might not seem like a lot but it was really filling and very tasty so I was satisfied and didn’t need to go for more.  I might have wanted more because it was tasty, but I didn’t need more.   

Prepare whole wheat spaghetti or soba noodles according to the package.

To make the marinade/sauce blend the apricot preserves (try and get organic so there is no high fructose corn syrup – I bought Full Circle Organic Preserves), jalapenos, cilantro, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add the chicken to a lightly oiled baking dish and spread the apricot mixture on top of the chicken.  It is best to let marinade for a few hours.  If you did this in the morning before work it would be perfect.  I didn’t think about it early enough so I did it right before cooking and it was still good but the flavors would have developed more if it marinated for a few hours.

Bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes at 400 degree F.  Meanwhile, cut up the broccoli into bite sized pieces and steam (or microwave) until just tender).  Depending upon how big the broccoli is you may only need ½ a head of broccoli but remember you want a lot of veggies for this dish.  When the spaghetti is done, mix with sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions and broccoli.  Season the noodles to taste with salt and pepper.  When the chicken is done serve the chicken over the noodle mixture.  According to myfitnesspal recipe calculator this dish is 448 calories with 26.8 grams of protein.  You might not want to make this every night but this certainly can be a treat that is tasty and healthy.