4 Mins to Solid Abs

Abs…abs…abs… It’s Spring time and “rock hard abs”, “pilates abs”, “tight tummy”, “slim middle”, “sexy abs” are once again all the rage. Yes bathing suit season is coming but it is so important to keep these abs all year round as they are truly our body’s power house- the connecting unit between the lower and upper extremities. Crunches or planks? Well what do you think of as core? Do you think only of your stomach? Do you only look at the front of your bod in the mirror and skip the back? Well then crunches may work for you…but I choose a well rounded approach. Your “core” is compromised of your stomach, obliques, back and glutes…yes much more than just that “pooch” to worry about now. Moreover, let’s go beyond the visual appearance and into stability. A solid core not only helps increase your strength in your overall fitness routine but also helps in everyday activities like proper posture!

My favorite exercise to do myself and with my clients is called “planks around the world”….I can hear all my clients whining :). Yes they are a challenge but it is only 2 minutes of work! You can do anything for 2 minutes! These are a great day to start and end your day, reminding your body of proper posture. I know everyone’s mornings are cramped but set your alarm just 2 minutes earlier and you can squeeze them in! Get the full series in for 4minutes!

Let’s get started!

Hold each of these exercises for 30 seconds…you can also watch the video by clicking on the link below

2 Mins to Solid Abs

Front Elbow Plank

Front Elbow Plank

Left Side Elbow Plank

Left Side Elbow Plank

Back Elbow Plank

Back Elbow Plank

Right Side Elbow Plank

Right Side Elbow Plank

Front Full Plank

Front Full Plank

Left Side Full Plank

Left Side Full Plank

Back Full Plank

Back Full Plank

Right Side Full Plank

Right Side Full Plank

No excuses! You can do this anywhere and pretty much anytime! No gym or equipment needed.

Eat Healthy. Do Healthy. Be Healthy.

An Afternoon Pick Me Up

By the time 3pm rolls around I often find myself a bit sluggish…especially if I’ve spent a day in the office. Often times most of us find our tummies grumbling for some sugar filled treat, hoping the instant sugar rush will wake us up during this afternoon lull. However, as we all have discovered that “sugar boost” lasts 30minutes to an hour and then we often find ourselves with less energy and more tired then before the snack :(. So what’s the best snack to keep the energy up and prevent an instant crash? Well, any snack that is rich in protein, balanced by carbohydrates and fat.

“Keep it simple”, my 2013 resolution. So one afternoon I decided to do just that and mix almonds (fat and protein), coconut flakes (a nice crunch), and semi-chocolate chips (a dash of sweet). Super simple and quite delicious! Great for a snack on the run, sitting at the computer or on a weekend paired with a chilled Chardonnay :)!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s are vegan)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes20130422_164922IMG_5697IMG_5694

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients. And Done! One and done ;).IMG_5688

 

The Vegan “Amazeballs” Chocolate Shake

Mmmm….who doesn’t love a rich and creamy chocolate shake? What if you could have one that is healthy for you and actually tastes good!? Too good to be true right?….not in my book! One of my missions in life is to create food that is healthy and delicious!

With my life being as on the go as it is I have to say probably at least one of my five meals a day is a protein shake. To keep it interesting I’ve come up with several recipes depending on my mood :). This has become one of my top. It also works as a delicious guilt free dessert!

First things first if you don’t have a great protein powder, find one! I have tried several throughout the years; some good, some bad…some crazy expensive and some more affordable. Last year I finally found mine, PlantFusion. I love it because it is free of most allergies (including my dairy and wheat sensitivities) and tastes delicious! PlantFusion can be pretty $$ at WholeFoods but is a great deal on Amazon.com and Vitacost.com. Whatever protein powder you find make sure you shop around!

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp gluten free oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp unsalted raw almond butter
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 2 tbsp shaved coconut flakes20130416_16383520130416_16405120130416_163846
    Chia Seeds

    Chia Seeds

    Raw Cocoa Powder

    Raw Cocoa Powder

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    Coconut Flakes

    Coconut Flakes

    Directions:

  1. In a blender, use the ice crush function to break down the ice and banana chunks (this makes the blending process so much smoother).
  2. Add protein powder, chia seeds, oats, vanilla, almond butter, cocoa powder, and almond milk. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add coconut flakes and blend for another few minutes to desired consistency. I love add a few extra on the top of mine!

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Polenta Paradise

Going completely gluten free can be rough sometimes because I miss things like Italian soft Focaccia Bread. I have tried some of the gluten free copy cats and honestly none of them have been spot on. About a year ago I stumbled across this yellow tube at Trader Joe’s. This yellow tube, also known as polenta, became my golden treasure. At that time I have never made or even eaten this foreign substance. I usually do tend to keep the amount of corn in my diet low because most of the stuff is usually genetically modified. And I selfishly save my corn allowance for chips and salsa…aka my crack :). But this I just had to give a chance.

The first time I made this polenta it turned into a gooey mess…a mess that had an interesting flavor but certainly was not something I would serve to guests or Mr. Picky (Anthony). After some experimentation I discovered the proper baking for polenta…. bake first with only a dash of rock salt and olive oil and then add toppings! And this is what I came up with…so amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube of polenta, sliced into ¼” thick slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp rock salt
  • 1 c chopped mushroom
  • 2 c chopped spinach
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • Goat cheese (optional)

    Ingredients

    The fixins

  • 1 package of pre-cooked chicken sausage; love the spicy Italian

    Vegans! You can always pick your fav vegan protein!

    Vegans! You can always pick your fav vegan protein!

Directions:

  1. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Wrap a baking sheet with foil and coat with olive oil.
  2. Place polenta on baking sheet, leaving a space between each piece. Drizzle each piece with olive oil and a bit of rock salt. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

    Polenta-ness

    Polenta-ness

  3. In a fry pan, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and chopped shallot on medium low. Stirring occasionally until shallot has cooked down.
  4. After 3-5 minutes, add mushrooms and turn heat up to medium.
  5. Once mushrooms have softened add spinach and reduce heat back down to low. Stir until spinach has wilted.
  6. Finish mixture with white balsamic vinegar and cook for another 3 minutes. Once complete pour into a heat safe bowl.

    The veggies are ready

    The veggies are ready

  7. Once polenta has finished baking (should be crisp to the touch). Pull out of the oven and top with veggie mixture and a bit of goat cheese. Put back in the oven and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  8. Take the veggie fry pan, coat with olive oil and heat to medium. Cook sausage, turning frequently to get a nice even brown.
  9. Plate up and enjoy!
    mmmm..

    mmmm..

    I love how easy and how delicious! For you vegans or vegetarians… this can always be made simply by removing the goat cheese and replacing the chicken sausage with vegan/vegetarian sausage.Also play around with your toppings! I love polenta because it is so versatile. It works great as an appetizer as well!

A Birthday Picnic with Vegetarian/Vegan Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

I absolutely love picnics….so much simpler with my klutzy eating habits, haha. When it came to planning our friend, Erin’s birthday we picked Malibu and Vine. Malibu and Vine Wine Bar is located at the Malibu Golf Club snuggled in the Santa Monica Mountains. This is probably one of my favorite picnic spots in LA, complete with tables, umbrellas, live music, gorgeous surroundings, and of course a wine bar.

This gluten free pasta salad is unlike any other. When I think of the common pasta salad, I think heavy mayo, a bit of veggies, and topped with cheese. Not healthy whatsoever. But this pasta salad is the reverse….no unhealthy fats, full of colorful veggies and packed with flavor!

Ingredients, feel free to get creative and toss in other leftover veggies:

  • 8-12 oz gluten free pasta; cooked
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp dried basil (or fresh if you have it!)
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper
  • 3 c chopped spinach
  • 3-4 stalks of green onion
  • ¼ c sunflower seeds
  • ½ c crumbled goat cheese (vegans- leave it out or swap with chopped almond cheese)
  • 6-8 stalks of asparagus; baked or steamed and chopped
  • 1- 1 ½ c chopped artichoke hearts
  • ½ c chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Let's add some color!

Let’s add some color!

Season All!

Season it Up!

Directions, keep it simple and plan ahead:

  1. The night or a few days before cook your pasta to the directions on the package and steam or bake your asparagus. Toss the pasta in 1 tbsp of basil and olive oil, so that pasta is not sticky but slippery. Cool and place in the fridge.

    Pasta

    Pasta

  2. Once all ingredients have been chopped combine pasta, spinach, green onion, goat cheese, asparagus, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes in a large bowl.
  3. In a small dish combine the juice of the lemon(s), minced garlic, basil, and oregano. Pour over the pasta and veggies and mix.
  4. Top with fresh cracked black pepper and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Mix and let sit 30minutes to an hour at room temperature.
  5. Taste check the salad and add whatever is needed; not moist enough? = olive oil, not enough spice? = lemon or cracked pepper, not enough flavor? = basil and oregano
    Full of color, flavor, and health!

    Full of color, flavor, and health!

    This place is amazing. As you enter you are literally transformed!

    Malibu and Vine!

    From left to right: Ashley, Erin, Cheri, and me

    Time for a taste. As a member of Malibu Wines you get two free tasting every time you go! Great opportunity to try both flights of the day. Great wine and incredible customer service. We went with the sauvignon blanc on this toasty day.

    Toasting time!

    Toasting time!

    The picnic set up here is so easy! No need to worry about chairs, tables or umbrellas. We filled our table with my pasta salad, hummus, gluten free crackers, salami and some delicious cheese. As if the atmosphere couldn’t get any better the live music starts!

    The delicious grub!

    The delicious grub!

    It’s time to dig in! Mmmm.

    Gluten Free Pasta Salad...delicious!

    Gluten Free Pasta Salad…delicious!

    It’s a birthday so of course the afternoon would not be complete without some gluten free cupcakes!

    The Bday Girl!

    Happy Birthday Erin!

     

Wine and Food….how to transform a simple Saturday night-in into a fancy Saturday night-in without breaking the bank or stretching your belt!

Wine tasting is probably one of my favorite things to do and thank goodness Anthony and my best friend Lindsey (since 3rd grade) share the same passion. Monthly the four of us (plus Lindsey’s sweetheart fiancé, Chris) get together for a food and wine pairing; four bottles of vino, four delicious appetizers, and some sort of fun dessert, I mean really who could ask for more!?

The key is to keep appetizers simple and healthy. Remember this is supposed to be a fun night, not one you spend slaving over a stove.

And make it interactive; the goal of food and wine night not is not just to eat but also to learn about…wine and food pairings. Each couple brings their own “Wine Note Book”…discover wines you may have never known you liked! Cheers to that!

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Here’s the deliciousness that Anthony and I brought….

App #1: Callaway Chardonnay paired with Goat Chevre and a Spicy Red Pepper Jam

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This is one of my go to appetizers. I love it because it is amazingly delicious and super simple. We even bring it on picnics!

Ingredients:

  • 1 log of Trader Joe’s plain goat chevre
  • ½ jar Spicy Red Pepper Jam (my fav Cost Plus) or other flavored jam
  • Rice Crackers or whole grain crackers

Simply take the plain goat chevre and top it with the spicy red pepper jam. Serve with the rice crackers.

App#2: Black Mountain Fat Cat Cabernet Sauvignon with Chicken Italian Sausage and a Spicy Goat Cheese Marinara Sauce

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Mmmm…this is a great protein focused appetizer. It is important when creating a healthy Wine and Food event that you make sure everyone is not surviving off cracker and cheese!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Italian chicken sausage, I go with the Trader Joe’s gluten free
  • ½ jar marinara sauce
  • ½ c or ½ log plain goat chevre
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried basil
  • Olive oil

Coat a fry pan with olive oil and heat to medium low.  Slice the chicken sausage into bite size pieces and put it into the fry pan. In a sauce pan heat marinara sauce, red pepper flakes and basil (season to taste). Stir/flip sausage bites as needed. Place the goat cheese in the center of a serving bowl. Once sausage is cooked through pour marinara sauce over goat cheese and place sausage bites on a serving plate. Use little tooth picks for easy grabbing!

Dessert!: Fresh Strawberries with Vegan Chocolate Mousse

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I absolutely love dessert! One of my favorites would have to be strawberries with any sort of rich silky chocolate; it’s just so sexy! This mousse is one that I did find online and tweaked a bit. I tried to at first eat it as a mousse but it is way too rich but is perfect as a dipping sauce! Be sure to make the mousse the day or morning before your Food and Wine night.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream/Milk (full fat)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • ¼ c cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • Fresh strawberries

Open the can of coconut milk and put it in the fridge for AT LEAST 12 HOURS before prepping. In a large bowl mix the vanilla agave and entire can coconut milk; use a FORK! In a small bowl mix cocoa powder and powdered sugar then add to the coconut milk mixture and mix. Using a spatula pour into a zip lock bag. Place the silky heaven back into the fridge until ready to serve.

When ready to plate cut a corner of the zip lock bag and pipe mousse onto a plate. Serve with any fresh fruit; strawberries are a must!

Lindsey and Chris kept it simple and delicious with these appetizers….

App #1: Italian Pinot Grigio paired with Avocado Quarters stuffed with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto

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App #2: French Red Blend paired with Warm Mediterranean Flatbread and an Olive Hummus

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Dessert: Raspberry Gelato floating in Limoncello and Prosecco

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So throw on some classy clothes and throw your own Wine and Food night! I promise you and your guests will not be disappointed. (And no Lindsey and I did not plan out our outfits…this is just how ridiculously similar we actually are…always fun to show up and feel like you are looking in a mirror)

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