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TrainerTiff: April 2013 >

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recipe: Herb Roasted Root Vegetables

When I was a kid, the thought of eating unfamiliar sounding vegetables was worse than thought of the boogeyman that I swore lived under my bed.

A turnip? What? Um, no. Beets? Excuse me? Um, no again.

Let's face it, we like what we like. And we usually like what we're familiar with. Even as a more open-minded adult, I still find myself raising my eyebrows at foods that aren't in my regular rotation. Yup, before I tried nutritional yeast, it got a giant one-eyebrow raise (think, The Rock's People's Eyebrow).

But at least these days, I am willing to try anything once. (Well, most things. I probably will never know what lutefisk tastes like. And I'm OK with that.)

But vegetables can be really tasty, especially when roasted. The process allows the natural caramelized sweetness to come out and can make for a delicious side dish or snack.

I took a variety of root vegetables: turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets. I stuck them in the oven with some thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper and was pleasantly surprised when the family gobbled them all up.

Root vegetables contain loads of fiber, vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies functioning well. Not to mention, most tend to be slower-digesting carbohydrates that keep our insulin levels stable while keeping us full for a long period of time.

Beets are particularly awesome because they contain betalains which not only give them their bright color, but also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The betalains also trigger enzymes that bind and neutralize toxic substances in the body allowing them to exit the body.

Now, it should be noted, that though root vegetables are healthy and contain many vital nutrients, you shouldn't go all crazy when eating them. I mean c'mon, it is possible to eat too much of something -- even healthy items. They are higher in starchy carbohydrates, which should be limited. Just make sure you keep your portions in check.

If you're in a rut of eating the same 'ol stuff, give this recipe a try. You'll be happy you did.

Check it out.

What you'll need:

sweet potatoes
olive oil
dried thyme
sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil. I recommend using a cookie sheet or some other shallow baking pan/dish. Using a deep roasting pan doesn't give the same effect. Trust me, I've tried using a deep baking dish. While still tasty, you don't get the "roasting" result of browned and caramelized vegetables.

Slice vegetables in any shape you like (except the beets, I'll explain those later). I find that 1/2 inch to 1 inch thickness works well. Take some olive oil on a pastry brush and lightly coat the vegetables, on both sides. Then lightly sprinkle the seasonings over both sides.

Or use the method pictured below by adding about (I eyeball it, so I don't have exact measurements), 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and thyme to a plastic baggie. Add the vegetables, seal bag and massage oil mixture evenly onto vegetables. Repeat until done with all vegetables. You may need to make another oil mixture depending on how many vegetables you're using.

Place the vegetables on the foil lined cookie sheet. Be sure not to overcrowd the sheet, don't let the vegetables touch each other.

Now, for the beets. As pictured below, place beets with tops sliced off in foil. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme to beets. Completely seal the beets inside the foil.

Place all vegetables in preheated oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes, turning the cookie sheet lined vegetables once. The beets may take a little longer. To check beets, test with a fork. If fork tender, then they are done. If you have to put any pressure to get the fork to go through, cook a little longer.


Resouce: Dr. Weil

Friday, April 19, 2013

VIDEO: Glute Sculpting Circuit

I used to hate my butt. OK, I'll say it, my butt was flat. That's right, flat as a board. But then I found out that I wasn't doomed to a lifetime of feeling insecure every time I heard Sir Mix-A-Lot scream about his love for big round ones. I discovered strength training. And then I learned that not only can you become fit by adding some resistance to your workouts, but you can also sculpt some serious curves.


The increasing popularity with butt implants and injections is just ridiculous. I mean, don't get me wrong, do what you want. But what's wrong with putting in a little hard work to sculpt your own natural booty? After all, that is an area you actually do have control over.

I'm just saying.

This video showcases some of my favorite glute exercises that I'm doing right now. If you're looking to boost your backside, take control, and add this circuit into your workouts.

I recommend doing this routine 2-3 times a week for at least 30 days. Consistency is key. Nothing worth having comes easy. Keep at it.

Glute Sculpting Circuit

1. Leg Lifts with Extended Arm Plank, 20 reps on both legs
2. Leg lifts with Fire Hydrant, 20 reps on both legs
3. Resistance Band Kickbacks, 20 reps each leg

Do the circuit two times with little to no rest between exercises.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kale and Sun-dried Tomatoes Pasta Salad

Ever since I gave up eating meat with starchy carbs, I've found that being creative in the kitchen is necessary. I usually get a taste for something (or request) and start thinking about what ingredients I can add to it to make it interesting. That's exactly what happened here.

Hubby wanted me to include a noodle dish in our week's lunch menu. I was kind of tired of some of my usual dishes. I love my tomato basil pasta dish, but like with anything, too much, too often can leave you feeling like a break is needed. So I started thinking about what flavors would go well together and created this dish.

It's really easy to make. The dressing on here is just a light coating. If you'd like more, just double up on the dressing ingredients. Check it out.


6 oz whole wheat penne pasta
4-5 cups kale
1/2 avocado
2 tbsp basil pesto
3 tablespoons vegan mayo (I prefer soy-free Vegenaise)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup artichokes from a jar

Directions: cook pasta according to directions. In meantime, saute kale lightly in a skillet with olive oil for 2-3 minutes. After pasta has cooked, drain in colander. In a food processor, make the dressing by adding the avocado, basil pesto and mayo. Pulse for a few seconds until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, dressing, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes (cut down large pieces). Mix well. Best served chilled.


Friday, April 5, 2013

What to Bring to Hot Yoga

hot yoga essentials

When it comes to yoga, Bikram hot yoga is my absolute favorite. I remember the first class I took many years ago like it was yesterday. At the time, I had just done a figure show and felt like I could take on any fitness challenge. Surely, I could handle a little yoga. So what the room was hot. Big deal.

Boy was I in for a surprise. The heat was so intense and unlike anything I had done prior, I questioned whether I would make it through the entire class. I was plotting my escape to make a beeline for the door. But I hung in there, and made it through. It was truly a humbling experience.

I found the heat to be a new challenge. I wanted to conquer it and all those poses that I could barely do. Yes, practicing yoga in a room set to 105 degrees is mildly torturous, but I love it.

I've taken a bit of a break from yoga and am going to start incorporating it into my routine again. It made me think of all the things I need to remember to bring with me to be comfortable. In case you're thinking of adding a little hot yoga into your mix (which I highly recommend), I thought I'd share the items I find to be most essential.

1. Yoga mat. Of course, this goes without saying. I find that any yoga mat will do. You can rent a mat for a small fee at Bikram studios.

2. Towel. You can use a bath towel, and these can also be rented at Bikram for a small fee. One year I got a yoga towel for my birthday and now I can't imagine practicing without it. The towel fits perfectly to the size of a yoga mat and doesn't bunch up. A worthwhile investment in my opinion.

3. Fitted top. Because you sweat so much, you don't want a loose fitting top to get in your way. A fitted tank is the way to go.

4. Water bottle. You'll want one that has a wide mouth that you can easily add ice cubes. CamelBak makes one that's good for this use and it's BPA free.

5. Coconut water. Add this to your water bottle with a bunch of ice cubes. As you get through the class, the ice cubes will melt, keeping your drink cold. Be sure to add plenty of ice cubes. I suggest filling the entire bottle with cubes, then add the coconut water on top. Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes and potassium which helps regulate fluid balance in your body.

6. Flip flops. You don't want to leave class and have to stuff your sweaty feet inside a pair of gym shoes.

7. Yoga shorts. Like with the top, you want to wear a fitted short of some sort. I think ones with some color and flare are fun, but any will work. You definitely don't want to wear pants.

8. A clean top and short. After you're done practicing, you'll be a sweaty mess. There's nothing worse than sitting in your car, and driving home drenched with sweat. A fresh shirt and pair of shorts will make the drive comfortable. If you want to rinse off and shower at the studio, go for it (just remember to bring all of your shower goodies).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Banana Split Protein Shake

Believe it or not, you can actually enjoy your protein shakes. I do. I've heard so many people complain about how they just can't stand the taste -- that you can taste the protein too much, they're gritty or just plain gross.

Well, those unfortunate people have not had the pleasure of allowing me to make them a shake. The ones I make are downright delicious. Case in point, my banana split adaptation. I took all the great flavors from the tasty dessert treat and made it into a drink that will help you with your fitness goals and not sabotage them. Check it out.


1 cup almond milk
1/3 banana
3/4 cup frozen mixed berries or just frozen strawberries
1 tsp cacao or cocoa powder
1 tsp almond butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Directions: place almond milk in blender first, then all the remaining ingredients. Blend for about 30-60 seconds until all the frozen fruit has mixed in well. Pour in a cup and enjoy!