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TrainerTiff: July 2012 >

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Healthy Snack: Gourmet Guacamole

Last weekend, a friend of mine and I went out to dinner for her birthday. We went to Barrio Queen in Scottsdale, AZ which is known for its small authentic gourmet tacos. The tacos were great, but what I really loved was their guacamole. It was fantastic!

Our server brought a cart filled with little boxes containing all types of ingredients from tomatoes to serrano chili peppers to our table. Then she created a fresh and delicious bowl of guacamole right in front of us. I remember thinking, "This isn't your average guacamole." The fact that it had cubed pieces of avocado and dried cranberries in it, really stood out. 

It didn't take long -- a couple bites, when I decided that I would make my own version of it at home. I love going to restaurants and finding something I really like and being inspired to make my own version.

The main difference in my version is the tortilla chips. The restaurant used yellow corn tortillas. In my version, I use organic blue corn tortilla chips. The starch content in blue corn is lower than that of yellow corn chips, which results in less of a blood sugar spike. Keeping your blood glucose levels as even as possible helps prevent weight gain. And I prefer organic corn because most corn products that are not labeled organic, are made from corn than has been genetically modified (GMOs), which I try to avoid when possible. 

Here is the recipe. Check it out! 

2 ripe avocados
1 Roma tomato
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/2 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3-4 shakes sea salt
3-4 shakes hot sauce*
Organic blue corn tortilla chips

Open the avocados and slice lengthwise and crosswise so that when you spoon it out, it comes out in small cubes. Add the tomatoes, onion, cranberries and salt. Mix well. Lastly add lime juice and hot sauce and toss lightly. Serve with tortilla chips. 

The guacamole makes about 4 servings. 

*Instead of hot sauce, you can use any type of fresh pepper. I didn't have any on hand when I put this together, so I used hot sauce instead. 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Today's Workout: Saturday, July 21

I had a great workout today, so I thought I'd share. I've recently changed my workout split from select body parts each day to total body workouts. I always encourage changing your workout routine entirely, at least every 4-6 weeks. Otherwise, your body adjusts to the work load and it will no longer be challenging, which slows results. 

Here's what I did today:

20 min cardio: speed intervals on the StairMaster
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
One arm dumbbell rows
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
Bench knee-ups (abs)
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
Straight-legged deadlifts
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
Front squats with overhead press
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
Step-ups with dumbbell curl
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
Swiss ball crunches
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
One-legged elevated lunges
*one minute sprint on treadmill*
Roman chair knee-ups (abs)

Then I followed up with total body stretching and a little yoga.

When I got home I made a pina colada protein shake inspired by a recipe I saw in the August 2012 Oxygen Magazine. I used almond milk, fresh pineapple, shredded coconut, vanilla protein powder and ice.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Salad Prep Made Easy

Salads are one of the healthiest meals you can have. If you've been following me, you've probably seen me mention that I love them, a time or two -- or gazillion. It's true, I'm a huge fan of a bowl of greens loaded with veggies. But putting together a worthwhile mix takes time. And if you're short on time, like I often am, freshly making a salad, just doesn't always fit into the schedule. 

Each week I plan my meals ahead of time. If I have salad on the menu more than once, I find that prepping all the ingredients in advance helps save time and frustration. When I don't have everything prepped, the mere thought of freshly chopping lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, etc., is enough to make me second guess my meal choice.

I put together a photo tutorial of how easy it is to prep all of your ingredients. Check it out.

And ...

There are a couple of things I'd like to mention. One, if you don't have a salad spinner, I strongly encourage you to buy one. They make all the difference when storing lettuce in a plastic zip lock bag. If there's too much water inside the bag, the lettuce will go bad very quickly. The salad spinner knocks off all the excess water -- and I mean, all. I'm still amazed my how much water comes of lettuce that looks fairly dry to me.

The second thing I'd like to mention, is you should buy a large plastic storage container if you don't have one already. I find that storing all the ingredients in one container is so much easier. In the past, I have used two or three containers because I didn't have just one large sized one, and almost always, I'd forget about one of those containers and end up skipping some ingredients.

If you like salads or are looking to incorporate more salads into your diet, take my advice and prep in advance. It make take a little time to chop everything, but you'll only have to do in once. As soon as everything is placed inside the storage container, you pop it in the fridge and you're done. Now, anytime you want a salad, all you have to do is get a bowl and put it together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

4 Ab Exercise Mix-ins

It's easy to get into a rut with your ab routine. We end up going on autopilot and doing the same exercises over and over. If your goal is to get 6-pack abs, you have to mix things up. Our bodies adapt to the exercises that we do often, making those exercises less challenging. And when our bodies are no longer challenged, results no longer happen.

Check out these 4 ab exercises. There may be a couple new ones you haven't done before or haven't done in a long time and will be good to mix into your current ab routine. To keep seeing results with your workouts, it's important to keep your body guessing by changing things up.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps depending on your fitness level. If you can only do a few to start, that's fine. Be sure to hold your abs in tight during all abdominal exercises.

SLIDING KNEE TUCKS: These are great because they are definitely challenging, hitting the entire core area. You'll want to get a couple old towels and do this move on a tile or wood surface. You can also do this exercise on carpet if you have gliding discs.

SINGLE LEG KNEE TUCKS: Similar to the sliding knee tucks, the single leg version is the modified version, but still very effective, hitting the entire core are.

SINGLE LEG CROSSOVER KNEE TUCKS: The primary muscles targeted in this exercise are the obliques. The secondary muscles targeted are the rectus abdominis.

WALKING PLANKS: This move is a variation on the standard plank. Walking your arms up and down forces you to continually contract your abs in a different way than in the standard holding plank position. This move targets the entire core area.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Benefits of Spirulina

Photo by aria9 on Flickr
If you're looking for a food source that's a little bit off the radar and dense in all kinds of nutrients and health benefits, then consider spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in warm, fresh water lakes but also is found in saltwater and natural springs. It's what gives the water that dark green color. Once it's harvested and dried, it's  then turned into forms of powder, flakes, tablets or capsules.

Here are some of its benefits:
  • It has 60-70% complete protein. It has all 8 essential amino acids and all 10 non-essential amino acids.
  • Rich in omega fatty acids.
  • Is rich in chlorophyll which is a blood cleanser. 
  • Easy to digest, protects the immune system, reduces cholesterol and aids in mineral absorption.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduces risk of developing degenerative diseases.
  • Has been shown to help correct degenerative disease.
  • Is rich in vitamin B12 which helps the metabolism of every cell and benefits nerve tissue. It is also contains other B vitamins as well.
  • Has protection against influenza, herpes and HIV.
  • Has high amount of beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is beneficial for immune system, eyes, skin and mucus tissue.
  • Its antimicrobial properties helps fight of harmful bacteria and yeast in the body.
  • Help protect body against allergic reactions. 
  • Helps increase energy and vitality. 
Though spirulina is a good source of complete protein, it should be noted that you would need to consume very high quantities of it to yield any substantial amount of dietary protein. It should also be noted that spirulina should be purchased from reputable brands to avoid any toxic contaminants. 

That said, I think adding a little spirulina to smoothies or juices is a great way to get an added boost of beneficial nutrients into the body. I should mention that it doesn't smell or taste good, so don't be surprised if you take a whiff of it and your nose is offended. This is why adding it to a blend of fruit and/or vegetables is wise. I like using the powder form. In addition to using it in smoothies, you may also want to sprinkle a little throughout a salad -- the dressing and other ingredients will help mask the flavor. You can find spirulina in all its forms at health food stores.