Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick Immune-Booster Soup

Time is precious and you want to eat the good stuff but don't know how to get it in?
My favorite is my "pumped-up miso soup." It's a great way to sneak in mushrooms, ginger, and other healthy immune-booster foods that I don't have time to squeeze into my nutrition elsewhere.

A lot of people don't know what to do with miso paste, and I say, it's just the same as a cube of chicken bouillon--just add to boiling water to your preferred taste. (Depends on the brand--read their instructions. I use 1 tbsp to start and add to possibly 1.5-2 tbsp depending on my taste). If you are still worried about "doing it right," let go of that worry and just get a dry instant miso soup packet (like from Trader Joe's--notice their brand has 2 servings in 1 packet if you're making for one person).

(takes less than 15 minutes, mostly chopping time)
* 2 c water or broth base (depends on how much flavor you want or if you need to use up leftover chix or veggie broth!)
* miso soup base (from paste or instant packet)
* 1-2 slices of ginger, then sliced thinly into strips
* 2-3 dried shitake mushrooms thinly sliced like noodles
* other mushrooms like king oyster mushrooms (slice in rounds like poor man's scallop)
* 1 c chopped up bok choy (about 3 bunches of baby bok choy) or any other leafy greens like chard or chinese broccoli
* 1 c convenient protein (leftover cooked protein like rotisserie chicken (chopped) or wild salmon (heat in soup in tablespoon size chunks), frozen seafood like shrimp or scallops)

To garnish, after hot soup is served into bowl
* fresh ground black pepper
* a small dash of sesame oil (about 1/4 tsp)
* black sesame seeds (or white if you don't have black)
* thinly sliced green onions, cilantro (if you have them--green spices pack a lot of vitamin power!)
* spray of liquid amino acids (optional: to salt my food, instead of soy sauce or salt)

Bring to boil about water (or broth) with ginger. If you have dried mushrooms and they needed to re-hydrate, it's ok to be lazy and toss them into the broth or water to hydrate. Cook dry mushrooms first until they look plump and edible. Then add free mushrooms. Heat or cook protein accordingly (depends on what you have). Add bok choy or leafy green veggies last (only cook for 45-60 secs), to cook briefly and keep the bright green colors. Garnish as desired. Make your own variations!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's Fall! Time for Quick Soups!

Fall weather makes me want warm bowls of soup. And quick soups are a great way to squeeze in lots of veggies and nutrition into a meal, and they can keep in the fridge as easy leftovers for snacks or other meals. Eating Well magazine has a great list of 30-minute Soups, and as your resident foodie chef, I've chosen my favorites for your healthier living:
Sweet Potato Peanut (make sure you have fresh peanut butter, not loaded with preservatives or sweetneers)
Chicken and White Bean (beans have great fiber and we all need more of it!)
Salmon Chowder (wild salmon, yum!)
Vietnamese Beef Noodles (you can swap out the rice noodles and use mung bean noodles for better nutrition -- and they really taste the same to me)

With any of the veggie soups, pair up with a lean protein and you've got a full meal!
Whenever they suggest pairing up their soups with caesar salad (high-fat) or garlic bread (simple carbs), please know that those 2 items are *not* slim-body friendly foods and judge your portions wisely if you eat those items.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Swimming is so good for you

Swimming is so good for you because of these benefits:
* Works your entire body - toning all muscles. Athletes like runners really need to cross-train to get core and upper body toned. Try running in water like you're using an elliptical with your arms under the water. You'll see how it's not easy to run in water and your arms will get tired too!
* Gentle on your joints (you only have 1 pair of knees for life and you don't want to join the growing statistic of increasing knee and hip surgeries). If you have joint pains, consider taking this joint support formula to help improve your recovery. Also contact us or your health professional for appropriate therapeutic stretches as necessary.
* Great for cardio because the more muscles you use, the more your heart is challenged to pump the blood around. You don't need to be a good swimmer--you can just do resisted walking or play with the floaters in the shallow end of the pool.
* Water is calming and helps de-stress your mind-body system. de-stressing is very important for healthy weight loss and optimizing your wellness.
* Pregnant women get relief from feeling heavy -- everyone feels lighter thanks to the buoyancy of the water. If you are overweight or feeling weak (recovering from injury or working on post-partum fitness), this allows you to do more exercises and spend more time progressing in your cardio.
* Play with equipment and floating toys -- it varies your workout and when you have more fun, you're likely to do more! If you're not a strong swimmer, a friend might help keep you moving more and it becomes a social occassion -- also good for de-stressing!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where to get your Omega-3s

Maybe you don't know why you want to get your regular Omega-3 fatty acids. We need them for our heart health, healthy blood pressure and blood flow, vision health, support for enhanced mood, our good brain health (I want to keep my memory!), and to minimize inflammation. It's part of the "anti-inflammatory diet" and most doctors who pay attention to prevention and wellness tell their patients to take at least these top two suggestions: multivitamin and their omega-3.

Keeping your inflammation risks down also helps with healthy skin and healthy gums/dental health as well as keeping a healthy weight. Imagine your body as a busy ecosystem: if your body is busy putting out lots of wildfires (sending its resources to fight inflammation), it can't focus on growing healthy forests (healthy cells and tissue), right?

Unless you really focus on it, you cannot assume you're getting enough from your regular food, so it's good to have a high-quality supplement to keep up your levels.

These are the best ways to get your omega-3 via the healthier and less polluted fish:
* wild-caught Alaskan salmon (the best prices are in the freezer section at Trader Joe's and at the asian markets)
* small fish such as herring and sardines (I like the canned "smoked herring" from Trader Joe's)
* black cod (the best tasting cod I have picked up are from the Asian markets).
If you are in LA, Von's supermarket has $5-Fridays where there are select frozen meats and seafoods on sale. Getting your Omega-3s can be affordable if you shop around (and check out my suggestions above).

Please limit your consumption of farmed salmon. If the restaurant does not say wild, it is most likely the common cheaper farmed salmon, and you don't want it! There have been reports on how sick these farmed salmon are from being fed corn and other kinds of drugs. Limit your consumption of large predatory fish because they are likely to have higher levels of toxic mercury and contaminants. Also, we get plenty of omega-6 in our diets so we don't need to eat fish like tilapia that have high levels of omega-6. We need to be sure that we have the correct omega-3 to 6 ratios, and as we are chronically short on omega-3, why not keep it simple and just focus on getting more omega-3 in our nutrition?

Good luck with focusing on getting your omega-3, and please send any cool recipes or ideas my way!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunscreen safety advice

Reading labels is a skill not just for food, but for anything you put on your skin. After all your skin is your largest organ protecting your other body parts from harm. As you have more sunny days, please remember to wear sunscreen, hats, and other sun protection. Here is how to be consumer-savvy and get better sunscreen:

From the Environmental Working Group
"Products that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Mexoryl or avobenzone offer some assurance that the user will have some protection from UVA rays."

According to EWG, skin cancer foundation says:
"The foundation advises consumers to protect their skin from UVA by using products with avobenzone, ecamsule, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Yet its seal has been granted to products that contain none of these chemicals."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fun in the Caribbean this July!

Many people fall off their nutrition or fitness plan when they go on vacation. However, you can choose a healthy creative spirits getaway with Embody Health and actually GET HEALTHIER. Click here to learn more about our Caribbean Getaway for July 4th weekend!

We can accommodate gluten-free and vegetarian requests. And of course, food options will be inspired by local produce and low-glycemic eating supporting anyone on the Transitions Lifestyle System.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Buying pre-packaged foods

A lot of people tell me: "I don't cook, but I eat healthy! I buy my food from (pick one: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, etc)" Where you buy your food does not signify healthy. WHAT you buy is what is healthy. You can get organic lettuce at the 99 cent store, and you can get a gluten-free high-sugar snack from Whole Foods. Which is healthier for you?

It's really hard to eat enough fruits and veggies if you don't cook. Minimally, you must wash, chop and/or peel sometimes. You really don't need to be a gourmet cook, or spend hours in the kitchen. Most of my meals take 5-20 minutes to prepare. I call it "making food" so that you know it is different than when I really hunker down to cook.

So, I have given myself the task of buying pre-packaged foods to see what my weight-loss/nutrition students really eat. Here is one example of my analysis:

---Prepackaged Rice Noodle Bowl, Mushroom Flavor, Ready-to-Eat in 3 minutes---
Flavor= good, has garlic mushroom taste from the flavor packets
Sodium= 29% RDA per serving. Here is the sneaky thing, the label says there is 2 servings per package. That means you are getting almost 60% of your RDA for sodium in one bowl of noodles! EEK! No more salty food for today!
Fiber= ZERO = Simple Carbs (bad for low-glycemic index eating)
Vitamins= 2% Vitamin C & Calcium X 2 (because I'm eating the whole bowl) = 4% Vitamin C & Calcium
Calories= 140 X 2 = 280

In all, this bowl of noodles is filling 280 calories of simple carbs.
How to make this a decent food item?
1) Get some lean protein like chicken or wild salmon
2) Cook a side of leafy green veggies and put on top
3) Treat this noodle bowl as a "side" and not an entree--the entree is the lean protein and veggies.

If you're opting for pre-packaged food, look in the deli section for more "fresh" sandwiches, hummus, sushi. If you're opting for canned or dry foods, look for veggie-based dishes like the vacuum-packed Indian eggplant dish or a carton of butternut squash soup. Ultimately, you want to put together your pre-packaged food with fresh veggies or fruit or other food (like lean protein) so that you can have a well-rounded nutrient-dense, and healthy low-glycemic meal.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

5-minute lazy healthy soup

How many of you come home from work and can't seem to think about what to eat?

This is my solution to the after-work, can't-think lazy healthy soup recipe:

Ingredients (please don't measure too precisely--after all, it is lazy!)
* Water (about 3-4 cups--depends on the size of your soup bowl)
* Miso soup base (either powder or from non-GMO organic fresh paste)
* 2 handfuls of green leafy veggies -- organic mixed salad greens, baby bok choy (1-in chopped), anything dark and green (as opposed to dark and handsome!)
* 2-3 tbls frozen peas (a little fiber boost)
* 1/2 cup pre-cooked wild rice or brown rice (I have pre-cooked rice in the fridge for lazy and emergency hunger).
* Your choice of lean protein. I use frozen seafood (scallops, shrimp, langostino) that makes my lazy soups feel like a treat. If you have leftover chicken or other leftover lean protein, this is a good excuse to eat it up.
* Optional ingredients: fresh non-GMO organic tofu (if you're vegetarian), seaweed strips, dulse, toasted black sesame, any japanese spicing that has sesame and seaweed, sesame oil, diced green onions and/or cilantro, salt and pepper.

1) Boil water. While water is heating, wash and chop your green leafy veggies. Put aside (this is last to put into the soup.
2) Add miso powder or paste to the boiling water. Put in your frozen seafood option and your frozen peas. If you aren't putting something in frozen, then put in your leftover lean protein.
3) Add rice, and fresh leafy greens. Do not overcook the greens. Turn off the stove when you see your greens are still bright green, and only slightly wilted. The broth will continue cooking the greens.
4) Put your optional flavors in the bowl before pouring in the soup. I like to put dulse and seaweed strips to help detox my body. Black sesame and a small dash of sesame oil for good hair. Green onions and cilantro if I have them in the fridge and I'm not too lazy to chop them. Freshly ground black pepper and salt (if needed--depends on your broth).

VOILA! 5-minute lazy healthy soup with minimal prep. Nutrient-dense, low-glycemic, and you're getting in at least 2-3 servings of vegetables, 1 serving of fiber (from the peas and wild rice), and your lean protein. I eat this at least 1x a week to get my sea vegetables into my nutrition. Sometimes, I eat this soup as often as 2-3x a week because I've had a long day. I feel full because of the fiber and veggies and lean protein, but it feels like a very light soup (as opposed to chili that can feel heavy).


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

8 Healthy Protein-Rich Breakfast Ideas

Many weight loss and wellness students say they don't like to eat breakfast or they don't feel hungry. Studies show that eating breakfast is important to help diminish your sugar or impulse cravings, and boost your metabolism. You're supposed to "break-the-fast" of the hours of not eating during your sleep and tell your body you are not going to fall into starvation (fat-storing) mode. Eat a healthy protein-rich breakfast to tell your body to go into fat-burning mode.

Just commit to eating breakfast 3 consecutive days, then 7 days, and then when you get to 21 consecutive days, you've created a new habit!! Of course, you want to start with things you like, and then experiment with new foods as you go along. And these breakfast ideas are good for any time of day.

Depending on your portions, you can combine ideas:
1) 2 hard-boiled omega=3 eggs + fruit + whole rye crackers
** I put 2 eggs to boil while I go take a shower. I cut up some fruit and rye crackers and this is breakfast-to-go.
*** You can switch to omega-3 free range eggs for heart-healthy eggs (yes, please eat the yolk)
2) Protein smoothie -- berries, greek yogurt, almond milk and protein+fiber powder
3) Cottage cheese with berries, plus almond butter and jam on whole grain toast
4) Veggie scramble with mushrooms, greens, onions/garlic, and herbs + whole grain toast
5) Chicken sausages with protein/whole grain blueberry pancakes
6) Leftovers of previous dinners/lunch that have lean protein and veggies, reheated
7) Veggies + bean soup
8) Oatmeal + berries + 2 hard-boiled eggs (please note that oatmeal is great fiber but not protein, so you need to add eggs or another lean protein)

Need more help with recipes? Check out Eating Well's website for healthy recipe ideas.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bad Foods We Love and How to Switch!

So many people have an addiction or craving for sodas. And what they don't realize is that soda (diet or not) is affecting the belly fat and much more (see this doctor's article on why it's bad for you). This video link to a 3-minute ABCnews episodes should be mandatory viewing for every high school kid and all adults. It shows you how the average American drinking 20 oz of soda stresses the body.

Cut down or cut out your soda for a healthier belly fat measurement. Here are some easy ideas for you to wean yourself off soda:
1) People like soda for the fizzy -- drink sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or fruit or mint.
2) Portion control -- if you're going to drink your favorite soda, drink 1/2 your normal portion. Switch to a bottled version instead of the aluminum can so you can save it for later rather than worry about finishing it because you can't save the soda in the can. (Switching away from aluminum also limits your aluminum exposure).
3) Bargain with yourself -- for every time you drink your soda, drink a glass of water--it helps dilute the sugars.
4) If you're drinking diet Coke because you're craving energy and caffeine in the afternoon, switch to an energy vitamin supplement that's GOOD for your immune system and fat-burning power instead!

Here's also the list of top 5 bad foods to stay away from. My favorite bad food is chips and you don't want the inflammation from the bad fats. Here are some alternative ideas for the crunch you're looking for:
1) Substitute crunchy chips with crunchy fruit--slice up apples and baby carrots have the crunch. They also dip well with hummus.
2) Eat fewer chips by using a dip like salsa or guacomole--never eat chips by themselves and treat them as a vehicle for healthier calories.
3) Switch to crunchy rice crackers or rye crackers -- they dip well too! Often you can find rice crackers with sesame seeds which have great nutrients.
4) Switch to baked chips-- I like the baked blue corn chips from Trader Joes.
5) Toast whole grain breads for the crunch and make yourself a real hunger-satisfying sandwich with veggies and lean protein instead of snacking.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fad Diets Slow Down Your Metabolism

I'm saddened by mass marketing that hits my inbox promoting unhealthy low-calorie plans. These quick-fix plans market quick "weight loss" but actually could damage your health and slow down your metabolism and drives sugar cravings and yo-yo dieting.

For example, Nutrisytem is promoted by the Costco emails, where their meal replacement system of shakes and high-sodium prepared meals does not teach people about nutrition or what to do at a social occasions (such as parties and restaurants). When people stop buying their meals and eat "normal" again, they gain the weight back. Yo-yo dieting.

Here's the latest one promoted by "Daily Candy" which is fun for clothes shopping tips, but this one really hurts on marketing bad eating habits--promoting Slim Fast shakes and bars that sound like candy and only *one* sensible 500 calorie meal. It makes me think of the scenes from the movie "Wall-E" of people slurping on shakes and not really eating anything healthy or fresh. Instead, we should be eating more unprocessed nutrient-dense low-glycemic food, whole grains and organic/wild fruits and veggies with lean protein. Here is an excerpt of marketing bad eating habits:

"The simple, clinically proven way to lose weight quickly includes three nourishing snacks, two shakes or meal bars (salivate over new flavors like chocolate cookie dough, chocolate fudge brownie, and rich chocolate royale), and one sensible 500-calorie meal daily."

Sure you can lose weight quickly, then what? Yo-yo back into gaining weight or hitting a wall of chronic low-energy?

Here's the science: If you eat below your RMR levels (minimum amount of calories for basic body functions--not including physical activity), you're slowing down your metabolism and telling your body to store fat instead. Calculate your individual RMR here.

Instead, we want to teach your body to burn fat. Check out how Transitions Lifestyle System is a much better option for life-long healthy eating and lifestyle choices. We teach lean body composition and how good you fit in your clothes, not just watching the number on the scale. We learn that not all calories are the same--there are healthier calories vs. calories that don't help you. Learning to do the right thing and smart food combination choices is something you can sustain for life in any social situation.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Ahead to Better Food and Health

Today, at least in California, we're changing our clocks to spring ahead. This is a great reminder that spring is around the corner and you can take charge of what you eat! Sunday is a great day to head over to your local farmer's market to get produce that is fresher than what you would find at the grocery store. Not only are you getting fresher and more interesting varieties of fruits and veggies, you have a better chance of finding organic non-GMO food that has the biodiversity that Mother Nature intended for a healthier you.

Here's the bottom line: If your food is not labeled "Organic" or "Wild", you can ask questions, but presume that it has probably been processed in ways you don't want for your health. The agricultural industry has been dominated by giants who have made their money on pesticides (Read more from a leading doctor).

While not all farmers market stands are labeled "Organic" (because it costs so much money to get the certification and the smaller farmers don't have it), you can ask if it is "No-Spray." Depending on the market, some stands are simply retailers who pick up their produce and set it up---those are likely to be conventional produce. You can strike up a conversation with people at the stand about where they grow their produce and you'll find out if they are the farmer or they are retailers.

Get your guide to eat more non-GMO produce. Why? Because there have been evidence that animals fed GMO-soy and corn have had health problems, and you don't want those problems happening to you. Get your week's worth of organic non-GMO produce from the farmer's market today and you'll have better health, simply less stress on your gut when there are fewer pesticides in your overall food.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

March is not only Women's Herstory Month, it is also National Nutrition Month.
How can you "dine well"? Challenge yourself to see if you can cover the colors of the rainbow in a week or even a day!
Studies have shown that children who are taught to eat the colors of the rainbow learn to try new vegetables and fruits and learn to eat healthier. Here's the exercise: Write down a list of colors of the rainbow (and include brown for ginger and mushrooms) and think of the foods you like to eat. If you don't have a food you already eat, think of a food you would like to try. If it works for kids, give it a try for yourself!

One of my Transitions students is famous for her "pretty salads" where she puts a lot of color and includes nuts into her salads. Here's a link to learning how to put together your own colorful salad.

I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Healthy Weight Loss Victory from one of our students

This is a great victory from one of our Transitions Lifestyle System students:
"I lost 11 lbs and 2 inches around my waist in 30 days!"

How did he do it? It's healthy weight loss--no starvation, no deprivation!
What is he doing different? He was more consistent with his exercise (strength, cardio, and stretching), he is being better about watching his portions, and he is supporting his weight loss with supplements.

He has done weight watchers, calorie counting, and other diets before, but this is a NOT A DIET! Not all calories are the same, and it is a comprehensive science-based system. It is a lifestyle change that is sustainable and he's having fun while he's learning with our coaching and group support.
Click on the link to see the intro video to the Transitions program.

*** Disclaimer: every individual's weight loss depends on a number of factors. this is not a typical or average number, simply the victory of one individual.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Every small victory

Every small victory counts to get your healthier lifestyle. Here's a quote from of our Transitions weight loss students: "Yes, I made it to the gym yesterday afternoon – woohoo! Feeling good today. Got to remember how much better I feel when I am active."

What is your victory today?

Maybe you didn't have time for going to the gym today, but what can you do to be more active?
* on your bathroom or water break, take an extra walk around the office, or go up and down some stairs for 2 minutes.
* on your break, add 10 slow belly breaths to de-stress, or do a minute of stretching. you will have more energy and you'll want to do more "active" activities.
* park your car at the back of the parking lot so you do an extra minute (or more) of walking.
* WALK to a local business instead of driving to do your errand.
* walk your dog with a different route and pick up the pace.
* clean your home (yes there will be squats and bending over--be careful to exhale and pull in your abs!)
* other ideas?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year's guided 7-day cleanse

Want to try healthier living for 7-days?
Want to clean out your body after the holiday binging?
The special package of the New Year's guided 7-day cleanse has no calorie counting, healthy real foods (lots of fruits and veggies), no starvation...just some guidelines, a book, supplement, and BONUS coaching to help you plan for your week of giving your body (and gut) a mini spa-vacation. Pick whatever week you know you have time to give yourself some self-care, and you're not traveling. You can be anywhere in the world, and your cleanse package will get shipped to you and we can do you coaching via phone.

Want to learn more about the cleanse? Check out the Embody Health workshop page. Special ends by mid-February so get started NOW!

Being happier, less stress

Stress can be a signal that something is not what you want to do, or that your time schedule is too crunched. However, too many of us have constant high levels of stress, and sometimes we just need to exhale (from that belly breath) and take a different perspective to see, are we making the choices that are right for us?

While everyone needs to manage their stress, people with health conditions and any life stressors (death or illness among family and friends, change of jobs or living situation) are much more at risk of letting stress take over their daily life, and thus put themselves at higher health risks.

Here's a quote from "Daily Om"-- a great resource for inspiration and self-help independent study courses.

"Our life's work is not always what we do to make money, although we often think it should be, and sometimes this way of thinking prevents us from seeing clearly what it is...he way we know our life's work is by how we feel when we are doing it.

When we are doing our life's work, we feel an uncanny sense of ease and alignment...When we are engaged in our life's work, our bodies feel more alive, because our energy is devoted to a cause that, in turn, feeds us. We may be tired after engaging in our life's work, but we are almost never depleted. We feel grounded in the world, knowing that we belong here and have something important to offer."