7 Quick, Everyday, Easy Health Tips... Part 1

I'm going to keep it simple tonight. Understanding that if you are reading this blog, you are likely looking to find a few tips here and there that you can implement into your every day life. Here are 7 of my best tips for being healthy every day.  I labeled it "part 1" because I plan to make this a series. Enjoy!

1. Buy lemons.

I start most days with a glass of lemon water, it revs metabolism and is great for the digestive track.  To make it easy: Slice and put in a baggy for the week.  I also use the slices for dressing, etc. throughout the week.

2. Make your friends a priority and have fun.

Do I need to explain this? Probably not, but laughter and close relationships result in a longer life span, greater confidence, and (of course) overall happiness. My friends mean the world to me.

3. Work out at least 4 times per week. Mix it up and find what you love.

If you don't work out, start. Period. Get off your ass! Start with 2 days. If you work out 2 days, add a day, and so on.  I simply do not understand  how people can care so much about a their car; making sure it has the premium gas, the oil is changed on time, and scrapes are fixed immediately. Yet, they don't work out.  Your body is your machine, use it or watch it deteriorate.  I know, I'm being aggressive, but, it's so important. Start with going for walks and build up from there. I'm not telling you to jump into a boxing class or run a half marathon right away. Get up, walk, lift, do jumping jacks, run up and down your stairs 10 times, etc.  Start small and build up.

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4. Save the Drama for your Mama.

Have a rough morning? Annoyed with traffic, your boss, your neighbor? Leave it off facebook and don't complain.  First, no one wants to see it. Second, and more importantly, people start commenting and then you are reminded of your shitty morning.  Just move on... and remember "This too, shall pass". Before you know it, your day will probably have turned around and you won't be stressing and miserable all day (relating it back to health ;)

5. Indulge a little bit.

The healthiest people I know never deprive themselves.  They eat healthy most of the time and truly enjoy food. And, they never beat themselves up for it.  I eat frozen yogurt or a piece of dark chocolate almost every night after dinner.  Just make sure whatever it is, is in a rational serving and isn't loaded with fake chemicals.

6. Eat the healthiest at work.  

My cousin, Jenn and I talk about this all the time.  Why in the world would we eat unhealthy at work? 1) I like to indulge when I'm out to eat with my friends or on the weekends... not at work. 2) Unhealthy food leaves me feeling lethargic and ready for a nap.  That is no way to spend the work day.  Pack a lunch or order healthy meals.  Bring snacks such as fruit, nonfat greek yogurt, and almonds.  This should be easy.

7. Drink your coffee.

 Who is spreading the nasty rumor that coffee is bad for you? It isn't.  Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and a caffeine boost gets your body revved up.  Just don't load it up with tons of cream and sugar.  Keep it simple... two tsps should be fine.  And, try not to drink more than 2 cups per day.  Caffeine overload can have negative side effects.  Plus, a cup before a workout has been proven to increase athletic performance.  Yes!

Have an awesome week!

Simple Summer Seafood Salads

I know, I know, I have a thing for alliteration.  Anywayyyy, I was thinking my next blog post would be about the Olympics, since, if you're friends with me, you know, I am obsessed. Completely obsessed. Athletes in all of their glory, on top of the world. The world's greatest coming together for healthy competition and creating a sense of unity across the world.  It's incredible to me how it all comes together and I love every second of it. But, I think I need to gather my thoughts and wait for the closing ceremony before I share all of my views on it.  

Moving on, the last two days I've surprised myself with colorful, healthy, and tasty salads that are perfect for summer.  As usual, I encourage you to use these meals as inspiration, swap out proteins and/or add in other flavors that you love... unlike baking, there's no need to get specific when you 'cook & create' a meal. And so, I share...

Spinach Salad with Lemon Shrimp & Feta

Need:

- Large uncooked shrimp (1/4lb for 1: 1/2 lb for 2)

- Baby spinach

- Summer Squash 

- Feta

- Lemon

- Grape tomatoes (handful)

- 1/3 avocado

- Few walnuts, chopped

- Extra virgin o/o (healthy tbs)

- Salt, crushed red pepper

How:

- Peel and de-vein the shrimp, toss in o/o, lemon, and salt - put aside

(you don't want to be peeling while you're eating - take off the whole shell! - you'll thank me later - this is something I also recommend doing for shrimp cocktail - your guests will thank you)

- Turn on grill or heat up grill pan on medium heat 

- Chop vegetables/walnuts  and arrange over spinach

- Throw shrimp on grill and keep your eye on it - they cook up very fast and you don't want to overcook - they get chewy (couple minutes each side max)

- Add a few tsps of feta

- Add grilled shrimp and toss with o/o and lemon

Mustard & Brown Sugar Crusted Salmon over Fig Spinach Salad

Few things to share about this before I provide the recipe: 1) My mom has always been way ahead of the game when it comes to healthy eating.  She used to prepare salmon this way for our family back in high school (only she'd pair it with a starch and a veggie) and I fell in love with salmon.  To the point that I'd ask for it all the time and she thought I was crazy because she couldn't believe someone could like salmon that much.  The glaze I made for this is similar to hers but I know I'm missing some ingredients.  You cannot go wrong with this glaze - promise. Maybe she'll share it on fb when I post. 2) I love figs and the best way to serve them is wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with honey and a little gorgonzola cheese.  Seriously delicious - salty sweet.  When you see fresh figs - buy them. You won't regret it.

Moving on... 

Need:

- Wild salmon (no farm raised!) (size of palm of hand for each)

- Figs (2-4)

- Grape tomatoes (handful)

- Spinach

- Mozzarella (1oz for 1, 2 oz for 2)

- Walnuts (5)

Glaze/dressing ingredients: 

- Equal parts whole grain mustard, lemon, brown sugar, organic maple syrup, extra v/o/o, red wine vinegar

How:

- Arrange spinach and chopped veggies, figs, mozz, walnuts on plate

- Brush salmon with extra v/o/o and place top down on grill pan (if you have a grill you can skip this step and just grill it)

- While this is happening make the glaze: Mix  stone ground mustard (tsp), organic maple syrup (1.5 tsp), brown sugar (tsp), pinch of salt 

- Brush onto seared side of salmon and throw in the over on 400 for a few more minutes (sorry I dont pay attention to how long - I guess- you'll learn to cook this way though!)

- While it's in the oven, use the leftover from the glaze and add in o/o, lemon, a drizzle or so more of the maple syrup, and red wine vinegar - taste it to make sure it's right then toss in salad... add the Salmon and you're done!

Have a GREAT WEEK/WEEKEND!

3 Garden Dinners; Lettuce-Free & Protein Packed

I've been a bad blogger lately, I know.  I started a new job, took some time off in between and have been pretty caught up in every day life.  So to make up for it, I've been sure to take photos of some new recipes I've thrown together that I thought would be of interest.

I wrote about my patio garden a few weeks (maybe a month ;) ago and I've really put it to use lately.  The following recipes all utilize ingredients from my garden,

which has also been super convenient because I haven't grocery shopped much lately.

You'll also notice that some of the same ingredients are used in all three recipes.  You do not need to spend a lot of money to eat healthy, you just need to get a little creative and mix up the flavors.  I've made all three of these meals since last Friday, I haven't food shopped for anything extra once.

These recipes are EASY, healthy, and very flavorful. Also, the mint/cucumber salad/chicken recipe and the pasta recipe are loaded with protein.  Here's how to do it!

Caprese with Cucumber, Avocado, and Pumpkin Seeds

Why mix up an old favorite? Why not?  The cucumber adds crunch and bulk.  The pumpkin seeds add mono-unsaturated fats (lowers LDL cholesterol and helps absorb the nutrients in the veggies) and they also add crunch.

Need:

- Chicken breast

- Cherry or grape tomatoes (mine are store bought - my tomatoes aren't ready yet)

Mozzarella

-Avocado

- Basil (from the garden if you have it)

- Cucumber

- Pumpkin seeds

- Extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper, lemon, pinch of salt (mix and drizzle on top)

1. Slice tomatoes in half, dice cucumber, dice mozz, dice avocado, cut basil into strips and arrange on plate with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. 

2. Marinate chicken in olive oil in lemon, o/o, crushed red pepper, lemon, and salt. Throw on the grill pan, grill or saute pan and cook through.  Dice and add to salad.

3. Done!

Lemon Yogurt Chicken with Cucumber, Mint, Feta Salad

I have a ton of mint growing on my patio and besides mojitos (which I've made a few of) I was trying to think of something that that it could pair with easily for dinner.  I know I like cucumber mint cocktails soooo I figured they might pair well on the plate.  This recipe was very refreshing, but, you must like mint if you're going to make it :)

Need:

- Mint (from the garden if you have it)

- Cucumber

- Feta

- Juice of one lemon

- Lemon peel (use the same lemon)

- Avocado

- Chicken breast

- Non-fat plain greek yogurt

- Extra virgin o/o

1. Chop mint, cucumber, avocado, arrange in a bowl and add lemon juice, lemon peel, feta, o/o. Mix and arrange on plate

2. Cook chicken with lemon, salt, pepper, o/o on grill pan, grill, or saute pan. 

3. In a separate bowl, mix greek yogurt, the juice of one half lemon, lemon peel, chopped mint, and salt. 

4. Once chicken is cooked, add the greek yogurt mixture.  The greek yogurt adds an extra protein if you're feeling you need it! (Hint: This meal would probably taste better with pork or lamb, but, I had chicken in my freezer so I had to deal).

Done!

Caprese Pasta with Cottage Cheese (don't ignore this yet)

I came home from a pretty tough boxing class tonight and craved something that would replenish my energy (I wassss wiped).  Anyway, I figured some barilla protein plus pasta would do the trick but I didn't have the energy to defrost and cook chicken, so I used cottage cheese.  Why? You might wonder.  Well, I first read about using it in one of my health magazines a few years ago, tried it, and loved it.  If you add mozzarella or feta to the pasta - it all kind of blends.  I promise it basically takes on the flavors in the pasta and, most importantly, the protein amino acid compound in cottage cheese has been known to heal muscles faster than other forms of protein.  So try it. 

Need:

- Barilla protein plus pasta

- Grape or cherry tomatoes

- Couple/few cloves of garlic

- Fresh basil 

- Mozzarella (or feta)

- O/O, crushed red pepper, salt

- Cottage cheese

1. Boil water (with salt), and cook pasta

2. While that is happening, slice tomatoes in half, and add to saute pan with garlic, salt, tbs of o/o, and crushed red pepper (do not add basil yet)

2. Once pasta is done, add 1/4 cup of cottage cheese, mozzarella cubed, and the saute pan sauce, then sprinkle with basil and a little bit of Parmesan. 

done!

Have an awesome week, everyone!