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TrainerTiff: February 2012 >

Monday, February 27, 2012

Recipe: Oh So Good Vegetarian Chili

For years, I've been trying to perfect my chili recipe. I just wish I knew back then, what I know now -- skip the meat.

Yup, that's right.

I know for many it seems that chili just isn't chili without some ground beef or other type of meat added to it. I used to think that too. But since I started reducing my meat intake, I decided to try to make a vegetarian chili for the heck of it.

And boy was I surprised at just how tasty it was. Hubby was happy too -- win win!

To come up with my recipe, I did like I always do -- I searched around and looked at multiple recipes to create one that fits my tastes. This particular recipe I use hasn't changed too much from the one I found on, so I feel it necessary to include a link -- check it out here.

But I did put my own twist on the recipe, giving it a little more kick. Check it out.

1/2 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup water
1 can chili beans, drained
1/2 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons vegetable base*
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

In a stockpot on medium heat, add oil. Saute onions, garlic and green pepper for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sherry and water. Stir until completely blended. Let simmer and get beans together. For the kidney beans, after they are drained, put in a bowl and press them down with a potato masher. This will release the starch and will help thicken chili when they're added to the pot.

Drain and rinse the black beans. Only drain the chili beans because you want to retain the chili flavor from the juice as it will add a little more flavor to the chili.

To the pot add the beans, vegetable base, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Mix well. Turn heat to medium high and let pot come to a slight boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer it can simmer the better it is for all the flavorings to meld together.

*If you want to make this recipe vegan, just swap out vegetable base for vegetarian vegetable base.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Quick and Easy Green Juice

Green juice is a great way to get extra vegetables in your diet. The nutrients from the juice are easily absorbed in the body because the juicing process pre-digests the vegetables reducing the work your body has to do to break it down.

What's really great about making your own juice is the enzymes you get from the vegetables and fruits. Enzymes are present in all live foods and act as a catalyst for numerous cell functions in our bodies -- and are absolutely necessary for a proper functioning system from brain function to metabolism and much more.

With store-bought juice, the enzymes are destroyed by the high temperatures used to process it and cannot be replaced. Natural vitamins and minerals are lost as well which is why the juices are fortified -- to add them back. And these juices tend to have really high concentrations of sugar and added sugar -- which we want to avoid.

If you're feeling like some juice, make your own. It's really easy and is best for your body. Here's my recipe:

5 leaves romaine lettuce
2 stalks of celery
1 pear

Makes 1 serving, about 8 oz

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recipe: Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

I'm a huge fan of salads. I swear, some days I think I could eat one for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm always experimenting with different ingredients to blend different flavors to keep things interesting.

It's often thought that salads are diet food and you can't possibly get full by eating a salad -- but quite the contrary. Unlike most other foods, you can eat huge amounts of lettuce and vegetables with almost no effect on weight gain.

Because salads are so simple, it's important to use fresh and high quality ingredients for the best taste. I came across this Lucini brand of extra virgin olive oil and love its rich taste. It's also first cold pressed, which means it's less processed than other oils and is a better quality.

This spinach salad is one of my favorites. I like the tanginess from the blue cheese against the sweetness of the raisins, all brought together with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette (which I recently put the finishing touches on). Check it out.

2-3 handfuls organic spinach
1-2 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
1-2 tbsp raisins
5-6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Raspberry vinaigrette ingredients (yields about 3-4 servings):
3/4 cup raspberries (fresh or thawed frozen)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (first cold press)
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup water

Mix all dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. To assemble, place spinach on plate, drizzle a couple spoonfuls dressing onto spinach. Top salad with tomatoes, blue cheese and raisins.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Morning Mini Blast Workout

Good morning!

After a couple of suggestions about adding videos, I decided to start adding video posts here to the blog. Here is my first one -- a mini workout that you can do to start off your day. It's quick, just 5 exercises, 10 reps each.

Jumping jacks
Jump squats
Alternating lunges
Mountain climbers

The goal with this workout is to kick-start your day. Sometimes a little boost of a mini workout will help you stay focused on your eating plan throughout the day and encourage you do a longer, more intense workout later. Check it out.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nope. I'm Not Perfect

Photo by Mylyn Ramos on Flickr
I never advocate perfection. Let's face it -- it's unattainable, nobody's perfect.

Over the weekend I indulged in some goodies that won't appear on anybody's list of diet foods. Potato skins, fried cheese and McDonald's -- oh yes. I indulged.


The Hubby, twins and I decided to go out and stray away from our usual diet of fruit, veggies and baked meats.

Our first intention was to try out Joe's Farm Grill -- essentially a burger joint complete with all the delicious sides like french fries and onion rings. But what's great about Joe's is that they use fresh and natural ingredients that come from the farm situated right behind the restaurant -- a neat aspect that probably added to the reasons why they were featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-in and Dives."

But when we got there, the line was way out of the door! We were too hungry to wait. So, we decided we'll have to try Joe's another day.

After a short drive, we ended up at Chili's. There wasn't a wait and they quickly accommodated our table with two high chairs for the little ones.

We started with mozzarella sticks and potato skins. I love potato skins and was just about in heaven. But, in an effort to not be totally ridiculous, I had a salad for my main meal.


The indulgence continues. For lunch, the boys and I picked up some lunch to drop off to Hubby who had to go into work.

We stopped at Phoenicia Cafe, a Middle Eastern restaurant, which has recently been added to my list of places for good food. Back home in Michigan, I was a little spoiled because there are a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants and I could easily have my favorite, a chicken shawarma sandwich. But since moving from Michigan and living in several different states, it has been tough finding places that make a good shawarma, until now.

After picking up the food and dropping off to Hubby, I decided I wanted something sweet. So, I stopped at McDonald's (gasp!). I had never tried any of their McCafe coffee drinks. And since I wanted a little caffeine and something sweet, I thought it ought to do the trick.

Unfortunately, the coffee was way too sweet for me. I never thought this was possible, but it actually tasted like fast-food coffee -- all super sugary syrup and hardly any coffee taste.

That's it. That wraps up my weekend of indulging in fried foods, sweets and bad food combinations. As I write this, it's Monday and I've been back on track. Fruit in the morning and a giant salad for lunch.

It is important to realize that you're not perfect and as such, you won't eat perfectly all of the time.

Make sure you eat well the majority of the time, that way when you do indulge it's not so bad. And for goodness sake, don't allow a little indulgence turn into weeks and months of ongoing indulgences.

Find a balance that works for you -- and for your goals.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Random Day Food Journal

One of the most common questions I get is, "what do you eat?" I decided to share my food choices from yesterday, Friday, February 10. Check it out.

Meal 1: 9:00 am

For breakfast, I juiced. I tried a couple of different combinations. One was orange and pineapple, which is pretty delicious. The other was a blend of carrot, apple, celery and some of the pineapple orange. The second was alright -- celery has a pretty strong flavor. But, I always feel refreshed after having freshly juiced juice, so I was happy.

Oh, and I also nibbled on some of the raisins and pineapples my twins were having. 

Meal 2: 11:45 am

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal with a spoonful of brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. 

Meal 3: 3:00 pm

Large salad with flaxseeds, cucumbers, red peppers,  tomatoes, blue cheese, cheddar/monterey jack cheese, avocado, red onion and ranch.

Ranch trick: I typically opt for homemade vinaigrettes, but I like ranch from time to time. I like to dilute the bottle with water and apple cider vinegar so I get more dressing with fewer calories. 

Treat: 4:30 pm

While out and about, I stopped at Starbucks and got some coffee. I got a short regular coffee with three sugars, light cream and whip.

My Starbucks trick: I hardly ever get the mixed drinks. Instead I get regular coffee and doctor it up a little. This way I save a ton of calories and still get to have a treat. 

Meal 4: 6:30 pm

Green smoothie

I was out running errands. I made a stop at the house, picked up the smoothie and kept it moving. 

Meal 5: 9:30

Baked hoisin chicken leg (skin removed), green beans and tomatoes sauted in olive oil.

Dessert: 10:00 pm

Glass of red wine and dark chocolate. I almost ate the whole bar, but managed to leave some a few pieces. I curled up on the couch and fired up Netflix, watched an 80s classic, the movie Big and relaxed!

There it is, my meals for the day. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Reason to Get Sweaty

Photo by lululemon athletica on Flickr
If anyone has ever questioned the benefits of hoping on a treadmill and sweating it out -- there is now new evidence that physical exercise not only helps with weight loss, but also rids the body of disease causing waste products.

Ah, an incentive for those who only focus on eating better and avoid exercise at all costs. Nice.

Research done by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, found that exercise increases cells' ability to get rid of waste products.

The study, published on January 18, 2012 in "Nature," describes how this works. Through a "self-eating" process known as autophagy, our cells have an amazing inter-working system that is able to engulf waste products (that can lead to cancer and other diseases) that enter our bodies through the environment and poor eating habits -- and eliminates them.

The human body at work never ceases to amaze me. So, to recap: our body can eliminate waste products -- great! But here's the rub -- everyone's cells may not work as optimally as possible and without extensive testing, there's no real way of knowing this. Therefore, some people are more susceptible to disease.

Here's where working out fits in. Exercise increases the cells' ability to remove the waste -- for everybody. So, whether your system works great or if you're system needs help -- exercise works.

This is especially great news for people who are more prone to disease due to unhealthy eating habits and family history.

The more one exercises the more benefit there is to their cells' ability to clean out waste which results in a reduced risk of developing disease -- and that has to be encouraging for anyone -- especially those who question the benefit of exercise.

The New York Times

Monday, February 6, 2012

Running Hills ... Um, Yes Please!

Over the weekend the family and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful 70 degree Arizona weather and get outside -- little did I know I'd be running hills while setting an example for my 19-month twins.

We put the boys in their stroller and off we went. First stop, we walked up to our neighborhood tennis court and played around a bit. I'm no good at tennis, but I like pretending that I could potentially be the next Serena. Ha!

Next, we trekked up to the park where it was packed! People were out barbecuing, kids were practicing their skateboard tricks at the skate park, the baseball field and basketball courts were packed -- and lots of people out walking around, just enjoying the sun.

We were those people, just walking around, until Hubby challenged me. We approached a set of hills that he runs regularly and he wondered if I could do it at all. Humph, the nerve. So I told him "of course I can do it, hello ... I do workout, bring it on."

So he said "let's see if you can do two." I thought that was too easy, and in no way a challenge. But in an attempt to show him up, I didn't protest. So, I set out to do it. What the heck, why not.

Running downhill is always easiest and at that point, I was actually enjoying myself. It wasn't until I started running uphill that my opinion changed. The hill was deceptively steep. It didn't look like it from afar, but it kicked my butt, and I still had to turn around -- run downhill -- then run uphill again -- before I was even done with the first hill. Ugh.

As I dragged myself along and completed the first hill run, I approached Hubby and my boys completely out of breath, panting and shaking my head. Nope. That's it. I'd had enough. That was hard!

Hubby said "oh c'mon, that was only one." And in the back of my mind, I knew. I knew I had to finish or I wouldn't hear the end of this. Plus, what kind of example would I be setting for my boys (though they're too little to really get it, but still).

So, somewhere from deep within, I mustered up the energy to do it again. And this time I set out to do two hill runs (making my total 3) -- and I'd do the next two runs, back to back, without a break.

"It's mind over matter," I told myself.

I took off and did it. Ran the first one, then the second. This time around I knew what I was in for, so that made it a little better. Also, I paced myself. I wasn't about to win an Olympic medal for this, so I decided there was no need to do the whole run in a sprint. A nice jog did the trick. I finished and patted myself on the back. Whew! I'm actually eager to do it again and see how many more I can do the next time around.

Throughout the run, when I got to the top of the hill, I'd see my little boys -- they had curious, puzzled and skeptical looks on their faces as they watched Mommy disappear below the hill and reappear soon after -- and repeat. They'll get it one day. They were born into a family that doesn't mind a challenge here and there. They too, will have their chance to run hills -- one day. Mwuahaha.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Recipe: Black & Chili Bean Nachos

Nachos with all the fixings on blue corn tortilla chips.
Finally, nachos you can enjoy without having to hold your head down in shame afterwards. One of my favorite treat dishes to eat is nachos -- Hubby's too. But go to any restaurant and order them and they are beyond unhealthy. In fact, I only make them at home and would never consider ordering them out.

I've taken the classic nacho recipe and put my own spin on it. The result is a reduced guilt treat that is way better than anything you'll find dining out.

I like using blue corn tortilla chips and I make a homemade salsa topping & guacamole. The main difference is that I don't use meat. Instead, I use a homemade black and chili bean spread (my version of refried beans). And don't you worry, it's good. Really good. This recipe is Hubby approved -- and that's saying something.

Normally, I say avoid anything that comes in a crinkly package and to be cautious of anything labeled natural, but I was really happy to find these by Tostitos. They're made with organic blue corn which is a big bonus since most corn products on store shelves are made with genetically modified corn. And these chips don't have preservatives or artificial junk in them. Take a look at the ingredients.

Nice, right?

Though this recipe is better than most nacho dishes, it's still a treat. I wouldn't recommend having this all of the time, but on occasion is fine. There are a bunch of ingredients, but it's actually really quick and easy to make. Check it out.

1 bag of organic blue corn tortilla chips
1/2 can chili beans, drained
1/2 can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemon if that's all you have, I frequently do)
jar of jalapeno slices
1 can sliced black olives
shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
light sour cream (optional)

To make bean spread: place chili beans, black beans, olive oil and a couple shakes of garlic powder into a food processor. Pulse until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

To make salsa topping:  in a small bowl combine the tomato, onion, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Set aside.

To make guacamole: scoop out the avocado and mash. Add the remaining lime juice (1 tablespoon). Set aside.

To assemble: No measuring here, just use as much as you like of everything. On large plate, add a couple handfuls of tortilla chips. Spoon a couple spoonfuls of the bean spread over the tortilla chips. Sprinkle desired amount of cheese over beans. Microwave for about 45 seconds until beans are hot and cheese is melted. Add jalapeno peppers, black olives, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.