Welcome to Self Soul Space! This blog is designed to bring you healthy lifestyle tips. A true healthy lifestyle, embodies a healthy mind, body, spirit, and environment. Thanks for stopping by to check out my way of living.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Top 5 Organic Food Choices

Let's be honest in today's economy, most people are on a budget. Especially when it comes to grocery shopping, I know my family is! People are clipping more coupons (there's even a show about that), buying from local farmers markets, buying in bulk, doing whatever they can to save a dime. Many people are limiting, even eliminating organic products from their grocery list because of the prices. So, I have decided to share my top 5 organic food choices, that will help you save money and make budget concious decisions on your next grocery trip, without skipping all of the benefits of organic foods.

Here are my top 5 choices & my reasons why these are a must have:

1. Produce (mostly apples, grapes, strawberries, peaches, pears, spinach, potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes, squash), because we eat the whole fruit/veg which is where the pesticide & fungicide residues are.

2. Beef, because of the use of growth hormones, poor conditions in which they are kept, and the regular use of antibiotics.

3. Chicken & Eggs, because of the inhumane conditions, bacterial contamination in the coops and during slaughter, and the regular use of antibiotics.

4. Corn & Soy, because of the genetically modifications (GMO), and the herbicide & pesticide use.

5. Milk & Dairy, because of the growth hormones and antibiotics. Bonus, they have a longer "use by" date.

If your budget allows, please feel free to incorporate even more organic foods & products into your grocery cart... But if not, I hope my must have, top 5 organic food choices help you save money on your next shopping trip. One more tip: Don't forget to look for the sale!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Staying healthy on Long Work Days!

So, it's been a few days since my last post. I've been taking the time to keep myself energized and healthy on these long 14hr work days in Philadelphia. As you know, I am a spokesperson for a major automotive brand, which can mean long days with thousands of people at an auto show... The question becomes how do I fight germs and stay well?

It really comes down to the healthy living principles of Self Soul Space, eat right, stay fit & relaxed, keep my environment clean... Here's how I do it!

1. Sleep, my body and I love to sleep... I need it to rest, relieve, and repair my body from the damage & stress throughout the day.

2. I stick to eating 4-6 meals filled with a lot of fruit, vegetables, and good grains during the day... Especially, vitamin C packed citrus fruits! Keeping my blood sugar stabilzed helps me to stay energized throughut the day. Oh yeah, I can't forget my daily cup of coffee!

3. I drink tons of water! More than I do at home. First because the convention centers & hotels are always so dry; secondly, it flushes out the toxins & germs in my body.

4. I wash my hands a lot & use an obscene amount of hand sanitizer, coming in contact with tens of thousands of people each day, can bring a lot of germs your way.

5. I meditate, as normal, with additional sessions during breaks, which help to keep me relaxed throughout my day!

6. I try to keep my normal exercise routine going, it's a good stress reliever and yoga helps me wind down from a long day.

7. I don't sweat the small stuff, and Always Remain Positive!

8. I keep my hotel room organized, my bathroom neat & tidy, and my work environment just as organized & tidy.

9. I keep an arsenal of vitamins, meds, band aids, Emergen-C, cough drops, etc. to help fight any possible germ break through!

10. Lastly, I try to have a good time in the city which I am visiting, with my friends & co-workers, even though I miss my family terribly.

I hope my tips help you get through any long day at work. You can do it, before you know it the day will be over, and you will be starting a new day healthy & refreshed! Have a wonderful day at work!

For more of my tips, check out "Staying Healthy on the Road/Vacation".

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Got Water?

Water, H2O, Aqua, "Wudder", L'eau, Wasser.... Whatever you call it, your body needs it! It is imperative for a healthy Self, Soul, and Space. The human body contains about 68% of water (depending on body size). But why do we need it, and how much?

Health & Water:
Every system in your body depends on water; water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for your ears, nose and throat. Not enough water can lead to dehydration, when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even minor dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish it by consuming water, beverages, other food that contain water.

How Much Water?
So how much water does the average, healthy adult need? Research shows that the adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. The old rule of 8 (8oz) glasses of water, equals about 1.9 liters. However, this is all under optimal conditions, if you are pregnant, breast feeding, exercising moderately or at high intensity, sick, or are in hotter-more humid climates... Your water intake must increase!!

If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water should suffice for small amounts or low intensity exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (like running a marathon) requires way more fluid intake. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise. During longer time of intense exercise, it's best to use a sports drink, like Gatorade or Vitamin Water, that contains sodium, this will help replace sodium lost in sweat. Also, continue to drink fluids after you're finished exercising.

Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluids. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Higher altitudes may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.

Illnesses or health conditions:
When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade. Also, you may need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones.

In General, you should drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and you produce colorless or light yellow urine, your water intake is probably adequate. If you're concerned about your water intake, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

My Water Consumption & Recommendation:
Honestly, I try to drink 65-70oz, half my weight, of water each day. I also drink other beverages throughout the day, Starbucks coffee especially! I do not drink much juice or soda, and I occasionally enjoy a glass of wine or a vodka soda. During long runs or intense workouts, like spin, I make a 1/3 vitamin water + 2/3 ice water cocktail. For every non-water drink, I try to add another cup of water. I start my day with 1 cup of room temperature or warm water with a slice of lemon. Plus, I carry a camelback full of water wherever I go. I also keep 2 Brita pitchers full at home, so I can constantly refill, and cut costs of bottled water. When eating, I prefer water with my meals, so I can really enjoy the favors in the food. Lastly, I wrap my day with one last cup before bed.

The easiest way I found to increase your water intake, is to always have it with you. Also, switch it up out and at home; add/remove ice, straw-glass-water bottle, add fresh fruit or cucumbers or fresh herbs. When I am out to eat or at a bar, I always order water in addition to my non-water drink. Double fisting is COOL, as long one is water! As a teen & twenty-something, I used to drink as little water as possible, and my body and skin suffered. Now, water is my DOC, drink of choice! Got water? Drink up!!

Resources: http://www.Mayoclinic.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Setting & Sticking to Health Goals

Every week, I tell my twitter followers to set their Health Goals for the week.. But do they stick to them?  How about those New Year's health resolutions & goals?  Every year, month, week, and day, I set big, medium, and small health goals.  By setting smaller, attainable goals each day/week (helps get you to larger goals), allows you to see progress and stay committed to your health.

Here's how to make small goals get you to larger goals:
  • Make a list of your Ultimate Healthy Goals, and share it with someone who has similar goals, or a loved one who will hold you accountable
    1. Lose weight & How much?
    2. Reduce stress
    3. Lower Blood Pressure or Cholesterol
    4. Have more sustainable energy throughout the day
    5. Get swimsuit ready
    6. Regulate my blood sugar
    7. Make 90%+ Organic home
    8. Get off certain Medications (w/ Dr.'s Permission)
    9. Help & ease my arthritis 
    10. Run a Marathon
  • Start with one daily health goal, and stick to it, everyday for one week.  Here are some examples of daily health goals:
    1. I will drink water with every meal
    2. I will eat fruit or vegetables with every meal
    3. I will pack my lunch instead of ordering out
    4. I will eat breakfast every morning
    5. I will go to bed 15 min earlier every night
    6. I will take a multivitamin everyday
    7. I will meditate for 5 min everyday
  • Once the first goal, becomes a way on life, add another, and another
  • Now that the smaller goals are becoming easier, lets add some challenging goals, the weekly, medium sized goals:
    1. I will workout 3-4 times a week
    2. I will plan out my meals for the week
    3. I will take time for myself, quality-quiet time
    4. I will drink half my body weight in water everyday (150lbs=75oz of H2O)
    5. When grocery shopping, I will buy more organic-less processed options
    6. I will lose 2 lbs this week (setting smaller weight goals will help to obtain larger goals)
    7. I will cook dinner 3-4 nights a week, instead of eating out
  • While working towards achieving the small and medium goals, you will start to see results and progress towards your ultimate health goals.  
  • Reward yourself, for achieving your goals!
  • Your goal list should be ever changing, and evolving... no one is perfect, there is still room for more improvements to your health!
  • You will also see that the goals are no longer goals but a healthy way of life!  
Be realistic with yourself and your goals.  Consult your doctor, if your goals require changes in medication & plan of care.  Encourage yourself, and encourage others on their health goal journey.  Reward yourself for achieving multiple smaller goals, and Ultimate Goals!  Remember, water is your friend, drinking more water should be a goal for everyone.  Good Luck, stick to your goals, don't give up!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Organic Chili

Today, I woke up to a snowy-icey mess outside, which makes me want warm, comfort food.  So, tonight I decided to make Organic Chili for dinner... Here's the recipe, Enjoy!

In order to make it Organic Chili, you need all organic ingredients... plus you can make it vegetarian & vegan friendly.

Organic Chili
Serves 4- about 6 cups (for us, about 5-6 servings)
Time; Prep 20 min & cook 20-30 min

1 tbs Olive Oil
12 oz lean 96/4 ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 15oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flake
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
Kosher Salt & fresh ground black pepper

In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat olive oil. then cook ground beef, onion, green pepper, red pepper flake, and garlic until meat is browned and onion is tender (sprinkle a little kosher salt).  Stir in kidney & black beans, undrained diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, remaining seasonings, black pepper, and a little more kosher salt- season in layers.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes.

You can make this vegetarian friendly, by adding a 3rd can of beans your choice (pinto is a nice combo) or add cubed tofu.

You can also make this in a crockpot: Cook meat, onion, green pepper, red pepper flake, and garlic in a separate pan.  Add mixture to slow-cooker, then add all other ingredients & stir (plus 1 additional can of diced tomatoes & tomato sauce).  Cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.

Make a chili bar with your favorite toppings: Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream, Diced Red Onion, Avocado, Tortilla chips, etc...

All Natural, Organic, GMOs

All Natural, Organic, GMOs... What does it all mean?  Which should you eat?  I personally try to keep our house and the food that we eat 85-90% organic, with no GMOs.  I will break down what it all means, then you can make the decision for yourself.

What does All Natural mean?
Seems healthy right?  Well, the FDA does not regulate the term "all natural", so it is used at the discretion of the food manufacturers. Just think, when you pick a cooking oil or sandwich bread labeled "all natural", you think you're getting an "all natural" product, right?  Nope, most will contain ingredients from Genetically Modified (GMO) crops (wheat, corn, etc.).  Basically, "all natural" is essentially meaningless, and is a marketing gimmick.

This leads me to... What are GMOs?
GMO-genetically modified organism.  We, as consumers, are constantly reassured by genetic/biotech companies that crops derived from geneticall modified (GM) seeds are perfectly safe.  Genetically modifying technique allows plant varieties to develop at faster rates, which then allows farmers to select for more "efficient" crop varieties.  Some of these techniques include adding genes that are known to cause colon cancer to plants, also there were cases where strands of HIV contaminated soybeans.  One of the companies mostly responsible for GMOs and the growth hormone given to cows (rBGH- known to cause breast & prostate cancer), is Monsanto.  Corn, Soybean, and Canola Seeds that are available to American farmers, usually have GM seeds mixed in.  Here's a little more food for thought... China, Zambia, India, and countries in Europe will not import genetically modified foods from the United States.  Also, countries in Europe have laws requiring all GM foods must be labeled accordingly.  However, the US government refused to allow such labeling of GM foods.  There is some good news though, Foods with the USDA Organic seal or Certified Organic seal do not contain GMOs!

So, What does Certified Organic mean?  
Organic foods are foods that are produced without using synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, no GMOs, and are not processed using irradiation, solvents, or chemical food additives.  Also, when thinking of livestock, the animals are raised on or with access to open pastures, without antibiotics or growth hormones.

Why should I buy Organic?
Yes, it usually costs more, but here are some reasons why you should buy organic...
Organic products have to meet higher standards
Organic foods taste amazing & fresh
Organic production of foods reduces health risk, to non-organic processed foods
Organic farmers respect our earth, natural water sources, and work in harmony with nature
Organic farming helps to keep rural communities healthy

I try to stock my house with organic foods (produce, dairy, meat, & supplies), cleansers (for the home & body), etc... With a house full of different food allergies, and my own personal migraine triggers organic-no GMO has become a way of life.  We try to eat a restaurants that share the same beliefs.  Unfortunately, not all of my friends and family share the same thoughts, which is why we are only 85-90% organic... Plus, I LOVE mint Oreos (can't let them go)!  Healthy living embodies Self, Soul, and Space, organic foods are essential to healthy living.  They are healthier for your body (self), good for the environment (space), which put your mind & soul at ease. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Diabetes & Paula Deen

With the latest news of Paula Deen having type 2 diabetes, the news and social media has been on fire.  Critics are blaming Paula Deen and her rich foods for her diagnosis and the Obesity/Diabetes epidemic affecting our country... Let's explore what is Diabetes, how healthy living can help with Diabetes, and what is Paula Deen's responsibility...

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is the most common disorder of the hormone system. It affects over 23 million people in the US alone. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot regulate blood sugar.  There are 3 main types of Diabetes, Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes.  Type 1 is brought on by the body's inability to produce insulin.  Type 2 is brought on by the body not responding to the effects of insulin.  Gestational diabetes, occurs during pregnancy.  In a healthy person, the pancreas releases insulin to help your body use & store the sugar from the food you eat.  Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, produces only a little bit of insulin, or when the body does not respond to the insulin appropriately.

Who is at Risk?
Type 2, is the most common form of diabetes, and the more health risk factors you have, the better your chances are for developing diabetes.  Here are some of the health risk factors (via webMD):

  • A Family history of diabetes- parent or sibling
  • Over age 45
  • Race or ethnic background- risk is greater in Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians
  • Metabolic syndrome- also called insulin resistance syndrome
  • Being Overweight (BMI >25) & Inactivity- While not everyone with diabetes is overweight, obesity and lack of physical activity are two of the most common causes of type 2 diabetes.  
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Unbalanced Cholesterol levels- HDL (good) cholesterol is too low, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels are too high
  • History of Gestational diabetes from a Pregnancy
  • History of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • History of vascular disease- like a stroke
How to Prevent Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but type 2 has the ability to be prevented through healthy living.  Symptoms of all types of diabetes can also be improved by healthy living.  If you are overweight, with diabetes or a family history of diabetes, slimming down can reduce your chances & symptoms.  Exercise and a nutritionally balanced diet can greatly limit the effects of diabetes on the body.  If you smoke, Quit, smoking dramatically increases the effects & symptoms of diabetes.  If you feel you have some of these risk factors, contact your doctor for a screening.  Overall, Eat right & exercise!

Paula Deen & Diabetes:
So, yes, Paula Deen's recipes are full of butter, sugar, and mayo.  I haven't met a recipe of hers that did not taste good.  And yes, I own her one of her cookbooks, which I love to use on occasion.  But is she to blame for the obesity & diabetes epidemic affecting our country?  NO!  All "yummy goodness" is fine in moderation.  But obesity & diabetes is not her fault alone, and without us seeing her medical records, we are never going to be sure what caused her diabetes.  Will she make changes in her diet and recipes to accommodate her new diagnosis, probably, but wouldn't you? Everyone needs to be held accountable for what they put in their mouths, not Paula Deen.  She is not the only Celebrity Chef, and her recipes are not the only ones on the planet.  She is not forcing America to eat unhealthy, we allow ourselves to eat unhealthy.  We have the choice to eat or not to eat "fatness"!  It's time we take responsibility for our lives and diets, including the lives and diets of our children... Stop passing the blame, and start Living Healthy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Moroccan Turkey Meatballs

This was so yummy & satisfying! Husband & kids approved!  I also served a side of organic steamed green beans.

Serves 6
Prep time: 20 min (took me 25 min)  Cook time: 15-20 min

1/2 cup(about) whole wheat bread crumbs (2 slices of bread)
1 1/3 cup organic low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb ground uncooked turkey breast
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 jar(25 oz) organic tomato pasta sauce
Hot cooked brown rice (I used brown rice-quinoa-barley-rye mix)
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Tear bread into pieces; place in food processor; blend until fine crumbs. Transfer to bowl, add 1/3 cup of broth; set aside. (you can also sub, pre-made breadcrumbs)
2.  In a large bowl, combine turkey, onion, chili powder, cinnamon, & red pepper flake. Add soaked bread crumbs. With clean hands thoroughly combine ingredients (least favorite part). Wet hands to keep mixture from sticking. Shape into 32 1-inch meatballs (I made 6 1-inch, and 10 larger ones), set aside.
3.  In a large skillet w/ cover, combine pasta sauce & remaining chicken broth (1 cup). Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally.
4.  Carefully, add meatballs, one at a time. Return to a boil, using a large spoon to turn meatballs. Reduce heat to med-low; cover & simmer for 15-20min.
5.  Serve meatballs over hot cooked rice, garnish with parsley.

Nutritional Info:
Per Serving, 211 cal., 3g total fat (1g sat fat), 46mg chol., 685mg sodium, 20g carb., 1g fiber, 29g protein. Daily values, 23% vitA, 17% vitC, 6% calcium, 17% iron

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did... These will also make yummy appetizers for a party, serve with mini pitas instead of rice, a spin & a kick on typical meatballs (you could keep them warm in a crock pot).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meditation: Health for the Soul

"Why should I meditate?" "I'm too stressed to meditate." "I don't know how." "I can't sit still". "I'm too busy". "I've got too much to think about." "I dont have time to meditate." "I don't want to do any weird chanting!"

These are some of the excuses I hear as to why people can't meditate... So, here are reasons you CAN meditate, and how?

What is meditation?
The English meditation is derived from the Latin meditatio, from a verb meditari, meaning "to think, contemplate, devise, ponder, meditate." (from Wikipedia)

Why meditate?
Meditation has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Examples of such benefits include: reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, and elevated blood pressure. All religions believe in and practice some form of meditation. Some research has shown that meditation can also help with your metabolism, digestion, and your ability to loose weight.

How to meditate?
Time is up to you, something everyday is always better than nothing; 5 min, 20 min, an hour, or try short multiple sessions through out the day.

1. Find a quiet, dim-lit place
However, it is not necessary, one will have to focus a little harder to drowned out the sound. Some relaxing yoga music, or white noise machine can help too.
2. Comfortable position
Some ideas would be lotus pose (seated w/ right foot on top of left thigh, left foot on right thigh, palms up on knees pointer finger & thumb touching), half lotus pose (right foot on top of left thigh, left foot under right leg, hands same as lotus pose), corpses pose (laying flat on back, arms out to side palms up, feet relaxed), or cris-cross applesauce (palms up on knees pointer finger & thumb touching).
3. Close your eyes
Yes, close them, keep them closed!
4. Focus on your breath
Focusing on your breath helps you to clear your mind, and helps you to relax.
5. Check body
Do a mental check from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, make sure you are completely comfortable & relaxed. That your not holding any tension in your face or body parts.
6. Continue to breathe
Focus on the inhale & exhale only, when your mind starts to wander, distractions try to invade meditation, go back to the breath.
7. Oms
Oms are optional, as you become a seasoned meditator, you might enjoy the vibration in the throat & chest, it's like an internal massage. In a deep register, from your diaphragm, as quiet or as loud as you want, "Oohhhhmmmm", repeat. This will also help you stay focused on clearing your mind

My personal meditation:
I meditate everyday, twice a day (and sometimes more). Once in the morning, and once before bed. I prefer laying in corpse pose for my morning & bedtime meditation. If I add additional sessions, I usually sit in half lotus pose. I have meditated at home, in hotels, in yoga class, at work, on airplanes, all over. My morning meditation helps me to great the day with a clear mind and an open heart. My bedtime meditation helps me to clear my head, and to make sure the stress/negativity from the day does not interfere with my sleep. I personally choose not to use meditation for prayer, I prefer to keep them separate, so I can focus on both.

Overall, meditation is good, with health benefits, and it's not weird! Relax & enjoy the calmness it brings!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spiced Apple & Pear Crisp

I made this for the family, because I had too many apples and pears in my fridge. We paired it with a scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream! It was delicious, and low in calories... A "guilt-free" dessert!! I even ate some for breakfast the next morning. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe...
Serves 8-10

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for buttering the dish
3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used 2 gala & 2 pink lady)
3 ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger (I only used 1/2 tsp, bc of the girls)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly butter a 7-x 11-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, toss apples and pears with lemon juice, granulated sugar, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon fruit mixture evenly into prepared dish and set aside.  

In a food processor, pulse flour, oats, brown sugar and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse again until mixture resembles coarse meal. Spread oat mixture evenly over fruit and bake until fruit is tender, juices are bubbly and topping is crisp, 45 to 50 minutes.

Nutrition Info

Per serving: 270 calories (100 from fat), 11g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 70mg sodium, 43g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 25g sugar), 3g protein

Chicken, Kale & Brown Rice Recipe

This soup was very yummy and healthy, great twist on traditional chicken & noodle soup! Both kids and husband loved this it! It made more then enough for leftovers, I even froze a serving, for a quick solo lunch. Enjoy!!

Here's the recipe...
Serves 8


8 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups water
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 small chicken breast (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 bay leaf
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced


In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 7 1/2 cups broth, water, rice, chicken and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 35 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through. Remove bay leaf and stir in kale. Continue cooking just until kale is wilted and tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Nutritional Infomation

Per serving: 130 calories (20 from fat), 2.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 20mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 11g protein

For My Vegetarian Friends
To make a vegetarian version, use low-sodium vegetable broth and substitute quartered button mushrooms or cubed firm tofu for the chicken.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How My Workouts Work Out!

Many struggle with fitting workouts into their already busy schedules. I've had the same problem for years, and it got worse after I had kids. As you know, I travel a lot for a living, so not only do I have to workout at home, but I can't skip it on the road... That's like taking 1 step forward, and 3 back!

So here's how I make my workouts work out...

1. Schedule & Plan
I schedule my workouts on my calendar as I would a meeting or the kids swim lessons. Then I plan, I make sure to bring my gym clothes, bottle water, after workout snack with me, so there's no excuses! I wish I could "fly by the seat of my pants" but if I did, I would find everything else in the world to do but workout. I love it once I'm there, but just like most, getting there is the problem... So, I schedule & plan!

2. Recruit a Workout Buddy
I have a handful of friends & co-workers that I workout with. First, because I am meeting them at the gym, I can't stand them up! They hold me accountable! I also have recruited friends with similar fitness goals, so we cheer each other on (which is great motivation for those days I don't want to workout). Second, I don't feel alone when there's someone to talk to, plus it makes the workouts go by faster!!

3. Attend Group Classes
I enjoy group classes because the time is already set, and the class is planned out. So I'm not left wandering the gym trying to figure out what to do next. Plus, good music makes the classes go by faster too!

4. Trainer
I currently do not have or pay for a trainer, however I have in the past. They have designed plans for me on my days in the actual gym. I suggest, most gyms offer at least 1 free training session with your membership... Take advantage of it, and be very clear about your fitness goals! Also, if your budget permits, hire a trainer for a few sessions until you get acclimated with the exercises. If you opt to try it out on your own, remember to keep that heart rate up in between sets, switch exercises or keep it up with jumping jacks, squat thrusts, etc...

Here is my Daily Workout schedule at Home...
Monday: Les Mills Body Flow & Easy Run
Tuesday: Spin class & extra cardio during swim lessons (elliptical, cybex, swim laps)
Wednesday: Run (tempo or speed work) & core exercises
Thursday: Les Mills Body Flow
Friday: Long Run
Saturday: Yoga or an Easy Run (sporadic, family time & activities take precedence)
Sunday: Church (workout for my soul)

Here is my Daily Workout on the Road...
Monday: Easy Run
Tuesday: Xtrain Cardio (elliptical/bike) & upper body exercises
Wednesday: Run (tempo or speed work) & core exercises
Thursday: Xtrain Cardio & lower body exercises
Friday: Long Run
Saturday: Yoga in my hotel room
Sunday: Rest

With every workout day, I stretch & stretch a lot. I don't do a whole lot of weight training, I prefer to use my body weight for the resistance, which works well on the road (no equipment I have to bother with).

I hope my tips & schedule help your workouts work out in your daily life!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

How-why-what that Makes up My Day!

Many wonder what my day consists of... How do I stay so fit? What do I eat? Why are you so happy? How do you make life with 2 active, energetic kids look so easy?

Well, here's what a typical day looks like...

First things first... I view each day as a blessing, the good days and the not so good days! I thank God every morning for waking me, my family, and my friends up to see a new day! Amen!

Ok, now that's done... On with my day...

I try to wake up before everyone, between 6:45-7am, every morning. I relax for a little bit, sip on some water (keep a bottle on my nightstand), think about my day, meditate, pray, read some affirmations, then I play a little on twitter, read Delaware Online, check the weather. Usually by 7:15am, one of my darling daughters is stumbling in to my room to cuddle a little (at least that's what I tell myself), really they want to watch Disney Junior!

Once the TV goes on, I go to work... Get myself dressed for my morning workout, pick out outfits for the darling duo, wake the other half of the duo, then wake the sleeping King. My daughters are at the wonderful age (3 & 4) where they like to dress themselves & try to brush their own teeth and hair. I usually have started breakfast for them, and am eating my PB toast and warm water. Once they've done their part, it's time to get them really ready (re-do their hair & back up teeth brushing). Then it's down for breakfast, fill my water bottle, and start the coffee pot for D. Before you know it, we're off & out the door by 8am headed to my local YMCA for my daily workout.

Once my workout is complete, its one of my favorite times of the day... Can anyone guess? Starbucks! The girls and I stop on my way home for a coffee and to say Hi to our favorite baristas. I actually have a hard time drinking coffee before my workouts (acid reflux). Then we head home, for a shower & to get ready for school.

At home, I eat a quick after workout meal (Chobani yogurt & granola is a big fav), drink a big glass of water, and shower. By now, I have usually consumed 32-40 oz of water(and am peeing like crazy). Everyday, 1 of my daughters (alternating daughters + days) goes to preschool, so I get that child ready... Pack a healthy snack, search for school shoes, etc... Then I make both girls a healthy organic lunch. And we're off to drop off, jamming to Radio Disney. After drop off, it's time for the other half of Frick & Frack to have some mommy-daughter time. We run errands, clean the house, play dolls, watch a movie, read some books, and/or do a craft. I also try to plan out dinner.

I also fix another quick meal for myself, lunch & more water! I will usually eat a salad, leftovers from last nights dinner, vegetarian chili & brown rice, soup, or veggies & hummus. For me speed is the key, I don't want to spend 30+ min making lunch, so I make sure veggies are already cut, lettuce is already washed, etc...

Before I know it, 2.5 hours are up, and I'm headed back to the school for pick up. I bring a snack for me & the little princesses. Part-skim mozzarella cheese stick is a favorite & bottle of water. After sitting 45 min in the carpool lanes, we head home. The girls play & wait for their Dad, while I get started on dinner. If its a swim lesson day, then I also have to get the girls ready for that too. On swim lesson days, here comes my second workout. I try to get there 30-45 min before the lesson to do some extra cardio, like the elliptical.

Then it's dinner and family time. We usually try to eat dinner around 5:30-6 (later on lesson nights). So we can play, hang out, and spend time as a family before bath, story, & bed time at 7:15pm. The girls are in bed by 8pm, no exceptions... Because that's when I clock out, lol. It's mommy time! I hang with D a little, enjoy a glass of wine, then I'm in bed by 9 pm to read a little, work on a blog post, pray & thank God for another great day, think about tomorrow, meditate, then lights out... night-night! All to start it again tomorrow!!

Here are my daily survival tips...
1. Smile
2. View each day as a blessing
3. Drink water
4. Surround yourself with positive loving people
5. Exercise
6. Buy & eat healthy organic, No-GMO foods
7. Meditate
8. Plan, organize, use a calendar (I even schedule my workouts as an appointment)
9. Enjoy some Me time
10. Sleep

I hope a glimpse into my day helps & encourages you to live a healthy, positive lifestyle!

p.s. the glass is always more than half full!!

Staying Healthy On The Road/Vacation

Vaction or a Business trip Coming up?
Wondering how your going to stay healthy & well on the road?

I have traveled a lot as Miss Teen USA and as a Spokesperson. I spend a lot of time, almost too much time, in hotels, airports, & Amtrak stations. Here are my tips for staying healthy on the road, whether it's for pleasure or business...

Flight/Travel Day
-Pack (+ exercise clothes/sneakers, vitamins/meds, & healthy snacks)
-print boarding passes & all confirmation paperwork ahead of time;
*organization=happiness & no stress
-Get a good night's sleep the night before your trip
-Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport or your destination, to help eliminate stress & to make for more enjoyable trip
-Smile as you go thru TSA (or tolls on the road)!
-Once through security (or on the road), scope out healthy food options.
-Water, H2O, agua, water... Is your friend, drink lots!
-fresh fruit, veggies, salads, nut trail mixes, chewing gum, and protein bars are great choices
-Avoid fast foods, soda, and pastries
-While on board/road, take walk breaks- walk the aisles or at the rest stop & stretch, keep that blood flowing
-While seated, rotate ankles; up-down, clockwise + counter clockwise, it helps to eliminate cramps & blood clots
-Use antibacterial gel, to help keep hands clean especially before snacking
-Drink water... Stay hydrated!

On Your Trip
-At the hotel
-Request a fridge in your room
-Request a quiet room away from the elevator
-remember your body still needs rest, try to stick close to your wake up/bed times
-silicon ear plugs are awesome to block out noisy neighbors or crying baby
-Find closest grocery store (or Walgreens in a pinch)
-stock up on more healthy snacks & water, and meal options if sick of eating out
-locate the fitness center, and try to squeeze in your normal workouts while on the road
-something is always better than nothing
-exercise bands are great staple in our suitcase
*don't take up any space, and you can use them almost anywhere
-Continue to take your vitamins
-ask Concierge about local fav & healthy food options
-walk to discover the area & see the sights, take a walking tour of the city
-Enjoy it, even if your there for business
-At a Restaurant
-water... You must stay hydrated
-want coffee or alcohol? remember to alternate with water
-breakfast, keep it simple & don't over do it...
-Oatmeal, Eggs-turkey bacon-wheat toast, yogurt-granola, or egg white & veggie omelet
-lunch, again keep it simple...
-Salad, grilled protein & veggies, broth based soup
-dinner, be smart & realistic...
-If you kept it simple & healthy all day, splurge a little on some local favorites,
-skip the dessert, or at least share 1 with others
-Try to fill up on veggies or salad instead of bread & fried appetizers.
-Attending a conference or theme park
-pack snacks & water to avoid hunger pains, and the dreaded impluse food carts & trays

Overall, planning & organization can help with a stress free trip; be smart about what you eat; take your vitamins & rest; drink lots of water; lastly, move and enjoy the area! I hope my tips help with your next business trip or vacation!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kale Chips & Homemade Granola Recipes

Today, I made 2 healthy snacks while waiting from my 3 year old to get out of half day preschool... You don't need a lot of time to make either, and both were kid approved!
Kale Chips
Prep: 5 min Cook: 12-15 min
1 bunch of washed Kale leaves (well dried & large stems removed)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Garlic powder
1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
2. Spread kale out on a rimmed baking sheet (or a jelly roll pan for my Mother-in-Law)
3. Toss with olive oil, & sprinkle w/ salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper
4. Bake for 12-15 min until crispy,stir halfway through. Enjoy!!

Homemade Stovetop Granola
Prep: 5 min Cook: 15 min
1 tbsp Olive Oil (optional)
2 cups Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Unsalted butter
1/3 cup Brown Sugar (light or dark)
2 tbsp Honey
1/2 cup chopped nuts, like almonds (I omit bc of Nut allergies in my house)
1/3 cup dried fruit, like cranberries
1. Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat (heat pan if skipping oil)
2. Add Oats, toast & stir until golden brown & crisp
3. Remove from heat, spread out on cookie sheet to cool
4. Using same pan, melt butter over med heat, stir in brown sugar & honey, lower heat to med-low. Stir constantly until bubbly (don't burn), should resemble caramel.
5. Add oats to skillet, cook & stir for another 5 min, until well coated. Pour onto cookie sheet & spread to cool.
6. Once cool, transfer to air tight container, add nuts & dried fruit, then seal until ready to eat.

I sprinkle the granola (no nuts or fruit) on greek yogurt which cuts the calories, if you choose to eat a bowl of it as cereal the calorie count is close to 500 with the nuts & fruit.