Friday, May 23, 2014

What to do with all those spring greens?

Farmer’s Market Season is in full swing and if you remember my post Top 10 Reasons to #BuyLocal you know that we participate in a CSA.   Last Thursday was the first pick-up for our summer share and I got a crate filled with greens – merlot lettuce, butter leaf lettuce, kale, spinach, turnip greens.

One of my favorite things about the CSA is it forces me to think out of the box and try new things.  A few I've shared here (including a new yummy recipe)

Spinach:  Lightly sautéed and tossed in to my go-to shrimp & whole wheat pasta with a little olive oil & garlic dressing.  Small touch – big bonus!  Love!

Kale: Don’t you know I just tried a new green smoothie and fell in love – 5 medjool dates, a handful of kale, some honey drizzled on top and Vanilla NUTRIMEAL tossed into a blender with 8 oz. of water and ice – YUM!

Butter leaf lettuce:  Let’s be honest.  By the time it came time to deal with this I was almost greened out…until I tried an awesome recipe that I found at www.therawchef.com/raw-butter-lettuce-salad 
I’m already excited about all the greens coming up in this week’s share! 

And I've saved the best for last….
Merlot lettuce:  Beautiful, bright purple lettuce.  My first thought….”it’s so pretty! What on earth do I do with it?”  Then Michael surprised me with some freshly ground gyro burgers from the Fresh Market and I got inspired…see my recipe at the end of this post.




Merlot Salad with Hibiscus Flower Dressing and Roasted Mushrooms
Ingredients:
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp spicy horseradish mustard
2 small cloves of garlic
1 TB Wild Hibiscus Syrup + 1 flower
1 TB Red Wine Vinegar
1 TB Balsamic Vinegar
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ cups baby Portobello mushrooms, quartered and sliced
2 bunches merlot lettuce
2 fresh Gyro Burgers (lean ground meat, ground lamb)
Italian Seasoning (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, parsley)
Sea Salt
Crushed black pepper
Feta Cheese (optional)

How to prepare:
Mushrooms  Preheat oven to 400F.  Toss quartered and sliced mushrooms into a Ziploc gallon baggie with 1 TB of olive oil and sprinkle in enough Italian Seasoning, sea salt & crushed black pepper to coat and season the mushrooms.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Gyro Burger  Grill burgers until they reach an internal temperature of 160.  Try to time it so the burgers come off at the same time as the mushrooms will come out of the oven.  We had to cook ours about 8 minutes on each side, but since these burgers are fresh made the size and thickness of the burger will make a big difference here.

Salad -- while the mushrooms & burgers are on:
Remove merlot lettuce from stalk and chop into smaller pieces. Rinse, dry and arrange in large salad bowl and set to the side. 

Dressing - In a dressing cruet combine: Thyme, Garlic, Spicy horseradish mustard, Wild hibiscus syrup and flower, Red wine vinegar, Balsamic vinegar, 1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Shake vigorously


Final Touches:  
Top the salad with roasted mushroom, feta cheese and dressing, toss in bowl.  Lay  Gyro burgers on top of salad (we just cut ours in half) and enjoy! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Back to Basics

With the internet and social media exposing us to virtually anything we could want to know it's no wonder people get lost on their weight loss journey.  

It's information overload!  So many route options -- vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, gluten free, low-carb, paleo....they go on and on.  

Get out of the weeds and back on track by in investing in a new compass -- one with only 2 points.  

Burn More Calories & Eat Less of them.  

It's simple.  Start there and pick up new habits along the way - the best lifestyle changes happen by making a series of small choices.  



Friday, May 2, 2014

Change One Thing

For the past several years I've come to realize that it's the small choices we make daily that matter.  They lead us to where we are -- good and bad.  In our jobs, in our relationships, in our health.  

I work daily to make the right choices and implement small changes to achieve the outcome I'm looking for.  It's not always easy.

But here's one small change that is -- switching to organic milk!  If you haven't already made the switch, Runner's World explains why its so beneficial:  Research shows that organic milk is 62% higher in Omega-3 fatty acids - which help lower blood pressure & reduce inflammation - compared with nonorganic milk.  Since milk is also a good source of carbs, calcium and protein, drink a glass postrun [or workout] to replenish those nutrients.


(Photo via DontWastetheCrumbs.com)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to whittle your middle.....

Summer is here and the most common question I've heard recently is "What is the best exercise to tone my stomach and get rid of these love handles?"

The answer is an easy one, but people always seem surprised when they hear it...not because I suggest a complicated series of ab moves that require Gumby-like flexibility & 45 minutes of their day.  They are surprised because I always say "Just move!"

It's true: planks, knee-ups and Russian twists (to name a few) build and tone muscles in your core, but trimming fat is the key to showing off those toned muscles.  And while there is no one way to target fat on one part of the body, we can engage in daily cardiovascular activity (making our heart and lungs work harder) and watch our caloric intake to melt away fat on our entire body.

By burning more calories than we take in, our bodies start to burn fat all over.  Just 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day can make a big difference - just try it and see!  Once that fat starts to melt away, that toned stomach (and legs, and arms) will start to show.

There are so many things on the market these days (I use the FitBit) to help you set goals and monitor your progress throughout the day - the FitBit tracks your steps for you and you enter your calorie intake daily.   I suggest you splurge and buy one of these to help get you on track - it's amazing how much you can learn about your daily habits by tracking them for just one week!  And with the FitBit you can follow your friends and have daily or weekly competitions to see who takes the most steps.


My Fitbit after a 10-mile hike in Sedona!  Love seeing these numbers hit 5 digits!

For a double-whammy add one (or all) of these exercises into your daily routine to work both your core and that heart and lungs:  hi-knees (with a twist if you're feeling spunky), burpees (my favorite!), and mountain climbers.

Fitness Blender created this 15 minute at home Ab-Cardio routine - try it tonight!
Warm up with at least 5 minutes of light cardio. The cardio intervals are each paired with an abdominal exercise that you will need to repeat for the indicated number of reps. Note which exercises require repetitions on each side of the body and which involve alternating limbs.
1 Minute Jumping Jacks
20 Flutter Kicks 
1 Minute Jumping Oblique Twist
20 Pilates Side Hip Raises (Repeat on each side) 
1 Minute Mountain Climbers
20 Toe Touch Crunches 
1 Minute Lateral Jumps
20 Pilates Leg Pulls (Alternating legs) 
1 Minute High Knees
20 Jackknife Crunches (Level 1) (Level 2) 
1 Minute Sumo Squats
20 Reclined Oblique Twists (Alternate reaching to each side)
Stretch and Cool Down


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