Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall Soup Strategies

Fall is here (at least it is cooling down at night!) and that always makes me think of soup. Everyone who knows me understands I do not like to cook but I do like to eat healthy food. I have two easy "go-to" soups that I like to make every couple of months. They are very similar - I just change up the seasonings - and I can freeze them to pull out for simple dinners and lunches.

I really do not like to follow a recipe. I guess I just feel like it takes too much time to measure everything. Here is how I make lentil or split pea soup.

1 bag gray green lentils OR split peas
1 potato - leave the peel on if you use organic
1 onion, sliced in chunks
Some chopped garlic
a handful of baby carrots
salt  - about a teaspoon

I fill the big pot about 3/4 full of water and dump everything in. I know the cooks out there are gasping in horror. But you like to cook and I don't and this actually does work.

I bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 40 minutes. You just want to make sure the vegetables and lentils are soft.

Then I add seasoning. Sometimes I want a curry flavor. Last time I had fresh savory. You could try sage or thyme. What flavor does your family like? I always add fresh ground pepper.

Put a couple of cups of the soup in a blender. Put the lid on, leave the center section off and cover with a clean cloth, then blend the soup. Pour into a second bowl or container. Do this until all the soup is smooth. If you have an immersion blender, use that.

Divide into BPA-free plastic containers according to how you will use it. I usually fill one large container for a dinner and then divide the rest into single servings for lunches. Label the container. It might not be recognizable in the freezer.

To use, take it out of the freezer the night before, thaw in refrigerator. Pour/dump the soup into a saucepan and heat on low. You can microwave, if you want. You might want to add more water if it seems too thick. Taste it to see if it needs more salt. Easy dinner prep! Serve with whole wheat pita, rolls or cornbread.

Vegan, no cholesterol, no oil, low sodium, gluten-free, dairy-free - and easy. What more could you ask?

Happy Autumn and Enjoy your Food!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Boot Camp Bounce

Great fun and exercise last Saturday at Fall Boot Camp!

This week at Fall Boot Camp I added a rebounder mini-trampoline to the circuit. Participants bounced, or rebounded, during the first circuit section. Then I tilited the trampoline up sideways and we used it as a total body cardio/strength tool by twisting and throwing a medicine ball against the flat surface. By using different equipment and movements each week, we "confuse" the muscles causing them to work harder, burn more calories and develop faster.

Check out my blog from April 18th on rebounding. Urban rebounding is a unique way of jumping on a mini-trampoline. It is a fabulous workout that can add high intensity to your exercise program without high impact. In addition, this form of exercise can stimulate the lymph system and challenge your core strength as you balance on the trampoline.

Next Saturday we will rebound again and add unique strength moves with the jump box. Join us next week for the second session of the two-week Fall Boot Camp.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Hiking in the Foothills

We have a fabulous, free resource right in our hometown. The city of Burbank maintains two wonderful hiking trails in the foothills which connect to longer trails that can challenge all hiking levels. Now that the weather is cooling a little bit, it is the perfect time to explore the heights of the Verdugo Hills and become familiar with Stough Canyon Nature Trails and Wildwood Canyon. Always hike with a partner and carry water.

My post from January 18 gives you an overview of the two main trails, directions and hiking suggestions. Today I want to share three group events centered on our local trails. It's been proven that people imitate the behaviors of the groups they spend time with. What a great idea to spend time with people who model healthy lifestyles.

The Verdugo Hills Community Hike and Trail Run is November 8 at 8:00am. This annual event offers two different starting points and challenge levels. Partner with a friend or two, enjoy a morning hike and breakfast refreshments at Ridge Trail Summit. If you would like to join my walking group, Smilers, for the hike that morning, email me here and I will send more information. For general information and to sign-up for the community hike visit burbankparks.com.

Weekly Fitness Hikes leave from Stough Canyon Nature Center every Tuesday at 6:30pm. Hike length and difficulty may vary and usually lasts 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Call to confirm. 818-238-5440

Full Moon Evening Hikes celebrate our skies and our hills. Since the moon's cycle is a little different each month, the date, time and location of the hike may change. This would be a wonderful family hike that could provide an opportunity to teach your children a little about astronomy. Call to confirm. 818-238-5440

Have fun hiking in Burbank!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Halloween Candy Horrors

October is here and that means Halloween. Halloween means candy - and lots of it. When you are on trick-or-treat duty, it's hard to resist dipping in, but those fun-sized bars can add up to hundreds of calories. Here are four tricks to fend off those little treats:

Put empty wrappers on display. A Cornell University study found that people who left these visual reminders ate nearly half as many candies as those who tossed them out.

Don't buy your favorites. Stock a treat that you don't particularly love, so you won't be so tempted to go overboard.

Promise yourself a future treat. In exchange for avoiding the candy you don't really like, promise yourself that you will get to eat a fun-sized version of the treat you REALLY want at another time. And then keep your promise!

Hide the candy. Use an opaque container with a lid to stow your stash so you won't snag a piece each time you walk by. Make it more difficult to get to the candy so choosing one piece is a conscious choice.
You can be successful in conquering your sweet-tooth this Halloween. Identify the cues that lead to nibbling Halloween candy, make a plan and follow through! As always, Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall Boot Camp Coming Soon!

Moms, this is your chance to make time for yourself and prioritize your health. Ask Dad to take the kids to soccer this time or carpool with another mom - she can drop off, you can pick up. There will never be a time when the kids will not have some activity. Make a plan and join us! It's fun when you work out with friends.

The first Boot Camp was so amazing that I have chosen to offer another Boot Camp mini-session in October. I mentioned it in my blog a couple of weeks ago and was confused on dates so please note the date change below. We will meet earlier this time and it will be cooler for our workout. I am looking forward to working with returning students and welcoming new participants.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brain-boosting Benefits of Exercise


We all know that exercise improves our cardio-vascular efficiency and our muscle tone. But does it improve brain function, too?

A recent study suggests that exercise can re-wire the brain and train it to ward off the effects of stress. In the May 10th blog, I wrote in more detail about this benefit. Here I will remind you that regular exercise provides an instant release from stress. In addition, Princeton researchers recently found that stress-related activation of neurons in the hippocampus actually disappeared after the subject ran when they wanted to during the six week study. The brain was conditioned so that it did not produce the stress response. Sounds like just what we need to deal with LA traffic!

Exercise has been shown to make us smart. Working out increases production of a brain chemical that multiplies the connection between brain cells. This communication in the brain is what increases intelligence. Work up a sweat and stimulate those synapses.

A recently discovered substance, irisin, is produced by muscles during exercise. This component fights obesity by burning calories throughout the body. It may also slow aging of individual cells. An additional study showed that exercise reduced brain deterioration by 50% in 300 senior adults. Slowing aging and brain deterioration can help ward off strokes, a major contributor to dementia.

Regular exercise at a moderately vigorous intensity can reduce stress, improve intelligence and slow brain aging. Maybe I won't have to do those Sudoku puzzles anymore!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back to School Boot Camp Success


Today we concluded the first-ever Priority Fitness Burbank two-week Boot Camp mini-session. The Back to School Boot Camp was an amazing success. The participants worked hard to burn calories, gain strength and they had fun. Each week I offered different cardio circuit options for fun and intensity. We did one Tabata HIIT section every time to get our bodies working at their highest intensity. We did some individual strength exercises focusing on form. We did some partner strength training for fun and variety.  We even got to try some really effective TRX exercises.

Plan to attend the Fall Shape Up Boot Camp mini-session October 11 and 18 at 8:30am. This can be the booster you need to continue the exercise schedule you started this school year. The class will be limited to 8 participants to allow for individual attention to form and modifications for all levels.

Looking ahead, I plan to offer a Prepare for the Holidays Boot Camp mini-session November 8 and 15. Get motivated to maintain your weight and stay in shape during the holiday season this year.