Monthly Archives: June 2013

Homemade Watermelon Slurpee

It’s an excruciatingly hot weekend…well, for me anyway. I’m hot when its 80 degrees out, so 100 isn’t exactly ideal. I do have air conditioner but we are trying not to use it to keep electricity costs down, which leaves my roommate and I searching for ways to beat the heat. Slurpees and ice cream come to mind automatically, but we were looking for something a little healthier.

Then I stumbled across this blog with exactly what we were looking for. I have had half a watermelon in the fridge all week, just waiting to be cut, and limes are a staple here. And those are really the only two ingredients! Plus, watermelon is packed with health benefits.

The original recipe can beImage found here, we worked off of that but made a few adjustments.

Watermelon “Slurpee”:

-About 3 cups watermelon, cut into wedges/chunks

-1/4 cup ice

-1 tablespoon of lime juice

½ tablespoon of honey

-5 tablespoons water

We put all of the above ingredients into a blender and blended on high until it all mixed together and the ice chunks broke up. Then we zested a bit of lime onto the top of each of the drinks (this recipe made two). It was amazing! Basically the consistency of a slurpee, but with only natural sugars (dare I say paleo?), and a super sweet taste. If you want it thicker, just eliminate a tablespoon or so of water, or maybe add more ice? The only thing I would do differently next time is add a little more lime. I bet adding a few strawberries would be delicious too. The flavors were mellow, sweet, and refreshing as we made it though.

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I would definitely make these again!

Try it – leave your thoughts in the comments below! Or if you are looking for a different smoothie recipe, check out my old blog here.

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10 Quick Tips

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you start your weekend!

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  1. Condiments matter. Try to cut out the mayo, butter, ranch, and calorie-filled salad dressings. Opt for mustard, hummus, olive oil, or one of the reduced fat dressings
  2. Portion control! You can eat nearly anything as long as you use moderation. A few scoops of ice cream a day won’t cause a serious weight gain…a few pints, however…
  3. Bake rather than fry. Fried foods have so much more fat and calories.
  4. Up your intake of fish! Fish are a great source of protein and omega-3’s, with low fat.
  5. Eliminate pre-packaged foods as much as you can. Fresh fruit and veggies are a much better snack than chips or cookies.
  6. Spicy seasonings can help speed up metabolism! Keep that in mind when cooking.
  7. Drink a glass of water before eating. It fills you up and keeps you from overeating, as well as improves hydration.
  8. Aim for 75% of your plate to be fruits and veggies. Remember my blog about fruits and veggie portions.
  9. Don’t deprive yourself – allow yourself to indulge on a few things that you really love. It makes it easier to be healthy the rest of the time.

10. Negative calorie foods! Here is a list of foods that actually take more calories to digest than they contain, which means you burn calories by eating them. Gotta love that!

Hope these tips come in handy as you start your weekend! Don’t forget about the 30 day challenges and 30 Day Shred! Hope you are enjoying the work outs and seeing some progress!

Do you have any additional quick tips that you live by? Let me know in the comments section below!

Photo Credit

Turkey Burgers – Healthy and Delicious

I love meat. I could not imagine a diet without it, but beef can be high in fat and calories, and chicken isn’t my favorite. I try to do a few days a week meatless just for health’s sake, but I have a hard time feeling full or satisfied without some sort of meat. Looking for alternatives, I have come to enjoy using ground turkey in my dishes. Ground turkey is much leaner meat and can also have great flavor. Note: it is important to pay attention to the cut and color of the meat to ensure it is the leanest. Whole Foods can be a great place to purchase ground turkey.

One thing that I love about ground turkey is that it is really dynamic. You can use it in almost any recipe as a substitute for another meat, or eat it on its own. You can season it with taco seasoning for a great Mexican dish, barbecue sauce for a more Western recipe, or any other assorted seasonings you may have – or none at all if you want! Here is a website with a ton of recipes including ground turkey.

One of my favorite things to make with ground turkey is a turkey burger. Don’t groan – not every turkey burger is dry and flavorless! This one certainly isn’t. Below is the basic breakdown of how I create this turkey burger. This recipe is pretty forgiving, so feel free to substitute any spices, onion types, etc. You can add anything you like really, too.

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Turkey burgers:

1 package ground turkey (1 lb)

1 medium red onion

Your preference of herbs (I use an Italian seasoning that has parsley and basil)

Salt and pepper to taste (I prefer garlic salt for the extra kick)

Bread (I use sourdough)

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  1. Mix turkey, onion, herbs, and salt and pepper (the amounts really vary by taste, I just eyeball about a few tablespoons of each).
  2. Form into patties. Try to make them pretty flat so they cook all the way through
  3. Put on grill, pan, whatever cooking medium you plan to use – cook about 7 minutes per side. Add cheese about 5 minutes after the first flip if you plan to use cheese.
  4. Prepare bread/bun. I like to use lettuce, onion, tomato, and mustard or spinach and hummus.
  5. Take burger off the heat and enjoy!

Not bad, huh? Tastes almost like a hamburger, but way leaner and less calories!

Thanks for reading! Leave your questions, thoughts, recommendations in the comments section below! Make sure to check out my Twitter to keep up with quick health and food tips between blogs!

-Monica

Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred

How’s everybody doing with the 30 day challenge? Hopefully you’re still holding strong, its been almost a week now! I’ve been doing the challenges each morning before I take a shower, I don’t know that I’ve seen any serious results so far, but I’m definitely holding myself accountable!

If you’re ready for something a little more intense, I have the perfect thing for you. Normally, I’m a little skeptical of work out DVDs, but I will try anything to get a good, fast workout in without leaving the house. Wouldn’t you?

I tried several different work out DVDs last summer and Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred is by far my favorite. I picked up this DVD at Target for about $10. These work outs are less than 25 minutes but they’re no joke! The basic premise of the shred is a 3-2-1 combination – 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. This is the most efficient way to burn calories and put on lean muscle. The combination of eating healthy and doing the 30 Day Shred (with occasional outside cardio) helped my dad to lose over 30 pounds and me to lose more than 20 last summer. This summer, I’m challenging myself again and starting the Shred today.

Full disclosure, if you have knee problems, this DVD might not be the best for you. There are a lot of squats and jumping jacks, which can be hard on the knees. If you are just worried that you can’t keep up, not to worry, she also teaches modified moves for beginners. There are three levels, so you can progress on your own time. All you need is the DVD and a set of hand weights. You can see my own copy and hand weights below. I recommend starting with weights less than 5 lbs, because you are generally using them to tone small muscles in the shoulders and back, so heavy weights might be hard to keep up with the repetitions. You can increase weight as you get stronger! The best part is that the work out definitely delivers. You will see results and you will notice your stamina increase.

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So, a 25 minute work out, amazing results in up to 30 days, and the only required equipment is a $10 DVD and some hand weights. Are you in?

I challenge you to start today! Any thoughts or questions? Comment below. And tweet me your progress as you go!

Paleo? Or Alternatives…

I’m sure you can vaguely remember your middle school health class lectures about the food pyramid and what portions of each type of food you should be eating. I’m also sure you have heard all about the new diets lately, especially the paleo diet, that eliminate a number of the food groups from this pyramid. These diets have become increasingly popular lately, but are they sustainable for your life? Read on to find out more, as well as some healthy alternatives.

The premise of the majority of these diets is to do things the “caveman way”, and eat only foods that a hunter/gatherer would have access to. Presumably, most carbs consumed are unnatural or unhealthy carbs, which trigger the body to store fat rather than burn it. I think we can all agree that we do not want that, however, I believe that the best way to fail at a healthy lifestyle is to deprive yourself of everything you want constantly or to limit eating to the point of always being hungry. I think there has to be some sort of balance between eating healthfully and eating what you want.

My favorite trick to staying full and satisfied is to load up my plate with fruits and veggies. A full plate gives your mind the satisfaction of eating enough, but the fruits and veggies are calorie dense. They are also filling, so when you do get to the part of the meal where you are indulging a little, you will be less inclined to pig out! Your plate is supposed to be about 60-75% fruits and veggies, so try to visualize that when you are serving yourself.

I also tend to alternate days between carbs and sweets. So if I have sourdough bread for lunch one day, I won’t have ice cream or any other dessert that night. That way, I make sure not to over do it with two of the not-so-healthy food groups, but still enjoy them from time to time.

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Here is my dinner from this evening,  loaded up with fruit salad, spinach salad, and corn, with some of my favorite pulled pork on the side.

Have you tried the paleo diet? What do you think of it? Even if you haven’t, leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Maintaining Healthy Eating On The Go

Today, I went and explored San Francisco with a few family members and my boyfriend. We had a great time sight seeing and acting touristy – we also had lunch there at Cliff House. Why am I telling you this? Because it reminded me of another important tip to help with a healthy lifestyle – how to make sure you are eating healthy even at restaurants and fast food!

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When I go out, I definitely don’t want to deprive myself of eating, and it can be particularly hard in restaurants when you see the waiters carrying all the delicious foods on trays to everyone except you…who ordered a salad, no dressing. That’s why I’m here to give you alternatives – because there are alternatives!

 

  1. When I know I am going to be eating a meal outside of the house, I like to do a little preparation. I google the menu and nutrition charts. That way, I have already looked over the calories, fat, carbs, etc. Having a plan of what to eat can help you stay on track. The curly fries might look amazing after having walked around for a few hours, but knowing that they can cost you more than 1000 calories can help curb your appetite for them. This also gives you a chance to scope out which foods are healthiest and lowest of calories while still appeasing your appetite. This is a great link to use to find some healthy options at common fast food places!
  2. If I know I’m going out to dinner at say, a Mexican restaurant, where I can’t help myself but to go all out eating chips and salsa, I will eat a little lighter all day in preparation. Being extra conscious of what you eat before the eagerly anticipated, delicious-but-calorie-dense meal can help to balance out a proper diet for the day overall. Add a few extra fruits and veggies and maybe skip the midday dessert so you can fully enjoy the later meal without feeling guilty or overly full.
  3. Allow yourself one day to fully indulge! If you usually are extremely healthy, allow yourself a few days to take the day off. Really enjoy where you are and whatever food you want – you deserve it!

Hope these tips help you stay on track with your health no matter where you are dining! Do you have any additional tips? Let me know in the comments below!

-Monica

Photo credit: sanfrancisco.com

30 Day Challenge

Friday at last! This weekend, I’m headed back home to visit my family. Before leaving I wanted to make sure I got a good work out in because I guarantee I’ll do some eating while I’m there! Today I was in the mood for something new, so I browsed over the fitness section of Pinterest. I do this from time to time to find new ideas, and lots of the work outs are quick, body weight work outs which I can do in my apartment on days I don’t feel like hitting the gym.

Lately on Pinterest I have seen a ton of “30 Day Challenge” charts with different workouts or exercises to do each day for one month. I tend to always try these for only a few days, but this time I’m determined to complete the entire month! Since it’s summer time, ‘tis the season to sport sleeveless tops. Because of that, I picked the 30 Day Arms Challenge. But why stop there? I am simultaneously going to do the 30 Day Squat Challenge to make sure I am daisy duke ready also! I am not sure where these exercise regimens were created (the pin links would not trace me back to a specific website or blog), but the moves all looked pretty basic, so I decided to give it a shot. Here we go…

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Day one was pretty easy for me – arms included 6 tricep dips, 4 push ups, and 8 mountain climbers; legs was 50 squats . (Check out Youtube for videos of proper form if you are unfamiliar with these exercises). I don’t think my arms will feel the burn quite yet, but my legs did start to get tired toward the end of the squats. But the point is progress so I will continue to do this challenge daily and update you on my progress weekly as I go.

Will you join me on these 30 day challenges? Please do – and comment with your thoughts, progress, etc. as you go!