Turning 51 this past year, I decided it was time to finally fully commit more seriously to my own health. I read many books, magazines and blogs about fitness, exercise and nutrition on my own, but craved more . . . especially with that big fat number looming over my head. I hired Nicole with specific goals in mind and, BAM, she knew, as I suspected, exactly what to do to help me achieve them. Specifically, I wanted to not only tone my buttocks and thighs, getting rid of as much signs of cellulite as I could (you know, the tell-tale signs of aging) but, more importantly, I wanted to ensure I was eating as healthfully as possible. She helped me improve in those areas and more – with amazingly noticeable physical results showing up in as little as two weeks!! That’s how exact and spot-on she is with her advice both in the kitchen and the gym – advice that are turning into life-changing habits for me.
When you hire Nicole as your personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach, you’re not just getting some new exercises to try. You’re getting a knowledgeable coach who truly cares. Through her detailed guidance over a 10-week period, I grew confident to conquer an item on my bucket list I’ve been wanting to do for some time but have been anxious over – my first fitness photo shoot with the well-respected Don Bersano!! And man, was it an uplifting experience with many wonderful shots to showcase my hard work. With Nicole’s help, I cleaned up everything from my water intake, my supplements, and my cooking and grocery shopping. Nicole even provides a comprehensive, delicious collection of recipes that she herself uses!! She offers credible articles whenever I have specific nutritional questions, and she texts just to check up or say Hey. And that’s all before we even step foot in the gym. She made me excited about coming to the gym again after quite a few years of doing the same thing!! I’ve now got a slew of targeted, varied workouts that truly give results, and I’m using equipment I was afraid to touch before. Additionally, as a super organized techie, I completely appreciated the instant share via Google Docs of those circuits for my future review.
Hiring Nicole is something that will continue to impact me. My only regret is not hiring her sooner because she’s such a wonderful soul to know!! Regardless of fitness level, age, gender, etc, Nicole provides healthful, real results. Through her all-around, positive mindset, she’s one of those people who leaves you feeling better about yourself!
Nutrition for Educators and Other Busy Professionals
Colleagues and friends often ask me how I have so much energy every day, teaching five preps, co-sponsoring the school newspaper, all while maintaining my paper grading load and still finding time to hit the gym five times a week.
A teacher’s day begins very early, and is dictated hourly by the bell. With barely enough time for bathroom breaks between classes, maintaining a healthy energy takes a little bit of planning along with a few prep steps each week. The steps may take a few minutes but will save on energy and precious time later in the week.
1. Prep food. On Sunday, wash fruit, cut and steam veggies, bake some chicken breasts, hard boil eggs, make a batch of oatmeal, bake sweet potatoes . . . the idea is to fill your fridge with as much grab-and-go healthy food that you most certainly won’t feel like preparing after a tiring day at work, when faced with those papers still waiting to be graded.
2. Snack. It’s just as important to prep the snacks. I love to prepare my own homemade trail mix. It’s much healthier, with no added salt or preservatives. I fill five small, snack size containers with raw pumpkin or sesame seeds, raw walnuts, raw almonds, dried cranberries, dried mulberries . . . whatever nuts and dried fruit I have. Here’s a post of mine telling more about mulberries. By the way, raw/no salt or added sugar is best for your nuts and dried fruit If you’re used to the salt, you will get unused to it, trust me. Give it time and you won’t miss it – either will your heart! If you don’t feel creative with mixing your own, here’s a tried and true recipe, TLC’s trail mix.
3. Eat breakfast. Here’s where preparing a batch of oatmeal comes in handy. Grabbing a cup of coffee is not enough to sustain you for that early morning class or PLC meeting. Even grabbing a banana and hard-boiled egg is much better than nothing at all, and will get you your important macros (protein, carbs and fat).
4. Drink water. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. You’ll be a reminder to the students to drink more water. If you need your morning coffee, go for it – but that’s it. Too much caffeine will cause you to crash later. Check out my Reasons to Drink more water for more incentive!
5. Graze. Studies show it’s healthier to eat smaller meals throughout the day versus three big ones. Munch on some fruit or nuts that your brought in-between classes. Spread out meals so that you’re eating every few periods – don’t wait until your last free few moments of the day to gobble.
6. Avoid mindless munching. Bringing in birthday treats is a wonderful way to celebrate colleagues, and special occasions call for a little sweet cheat. If you’re eating healthfully on a regular basis, you deserve a treat, and allowing yourself to do so will avoid an overindulgence later on. Side note: Avoid food that’s been sitting out all day – it’s bound to be spoiled with bacteria. No one wants that! So step away from the table after, say, Period 6. 🙂
So there it is, six super ways to maintain a healthy diet within even the most busy of days during the school year. Stay tuned for more healthy recipes, workouts and lifestyle choices!!
A bonus, new recipe I just created – Protein Power Balls!
- 2 Tbsp organic hemp seeds
- 2 Tbsp organic chia seeds
- 1 cup raw gluten-free, slow-cooking oats (I like Bob’s Red Mills but be sure to soak them overnight)
- one mashed banana
- 1 Tbsp raw almond butter (I like Trader Joe’s)
Mix the above ingredients. Form into 1″ balls and refrigerate. Enjoy in a couple hours as a grab-and-go energy snack.
It doesn’t get much greener than this!!
What makes this smoothie so healthful and energizing is the not-so-secret-anymore spirulina!! Have you heard about this multi-vitamin?! All it takes is one teaspoonful a day to boost immunity, increase energy and support cardiovascular, eye and brain health.
I teach for three consecutive class periods in the early morning, which means I must be on and ready to go. This smoothie not only tastes better than coffee, it’s a healthy, natural alternative to caffeine. It leaves me satisfied and energized for that first essential half of the day!
Try this combination and you won’t even realize you’re drinking healthfully ~ it’s just too delicious!
Coconut Almond Green Smoothie
- 1 tsp Spirulina
- 2 tbs raw almond butter
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 frozen banana OR 1 avocado (if you don’t want all the sugar)
- 2 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2/3 cup filtered water
Mix all of the above in a Vitamix or blender, and enjoy!!!!
A teacher’s life is often misunderstood. The illusion of the workday ending mid-afternoon along with summers off is misleading. It underscores the incredible amount of time spent lesson planning, grading, answering parent phone calls and emails, attending meetings, pursuing professional development opportunities and completing coursework to update certifications. As a result, teachers often are frustrated over scheduling time for needed personal commitments as they struggle to juggle the responsibilities outside of the classroom. Coaching and extra-curricular responsibilities often take precedence too. Add a traditional food services menu still offered in schools (high carbs, processed food, sugary drinks, etc) that most would define as less than healthful, and one can see how it can be hard for teachers to stay physically fit.
Teachers like to set positive examples for their students, and we teach the student much more than we teach the content. There can be, however, many roadblocks to teachers’ personal goals, and it’s unfortunate that fitness can easily take a backseat.
As a high school English teacher myself for the past seventeen years, I completely empathize with and understand frustrations. As a fitness enthusiast for most of my life, I’ve utilized tried and true tricks to stay in-shape even during the most stressful days of the school year.
While everyone is different, and there are a variety of specific nutritional plans and exercises that will work well for specific people, here’s a general list of simple practices anyone can incorporate into his or her daily life to promote more healthful living:
Teacher Tips for Being Fit ~
1. Schedule time for exercise. Teachers love to plan ahead and work by schedules so why not write your workouts within your weekly schedule. Scheduling 30 minutes of exercise in for three – four days a week is a good goal.
Before School Option:
Wake up a half hour – one hour early to give yourself time for a morning workout. Whether it’s spending time on basic at-home movement (such as crunches, push ups, bodyweight squats or simple stretches), partaking in a morning jog or visiting the local gym, you will be more wide awake and ready to take on whatever unfolds during the day. Also, getting up before the rest of your household might help squeeze your own needed time in.
During School Option:
If there is a gym facility available for faculty during the day, why not use your free period in the middle of the day for some movement? I know some colleagues who are completely refreshed after doing so and, thereby, combat the afternoon slump we may be susceptible to.
After School Option:
Go to the gym directly after you leave the building or go after dinner. I personally like to get my grading done before I go to the gym so that my mind is free but there’s something to be said for going directly to the gym right after you leave the building – you will get your workout over and leave your evening free for family time and any grading you may have.
3. If joining a gym is not an option, exercise at home. There are many body weight routines available online. If you can push yourself through some crunches, push-ups, squats and toe raises at home, you’re off to a great habit. For a comprehensive compilation of home exercises in one convenient place, check out the world’s largest interactive list of over 200 calisthenics exercises HERE at Man vs. Weight.
4. Incorporate more movement during the school day. Take the stairs more often, go talk to colleagues across the building rather than sending emails and make an excuse to walk around the hallways or outside of the building during a free hour. I see some staff members partaking in regular walks every day during their lunch hour. Movement encourages thought, and this can be a great way to problem-solve or generate new ideas. If you really want some motivation, invest in an activity tracker such as a Fitbit.
5. Plan grocery shopping and prepare as many meals as you can over the weekend. I never have time during the week to ponder over meal plans so this is key to keeping me on track with healthful eating. Chances are your grab-and-go meals are going to be much more unhealthful than your planned ones. I peruse favorite magazines or sites such as Clean Eating for healthy recipe ideas, write down ingredients I don’t have at home and take my list to the grocery store.
6. Consume caffeine earlier in the day before noon. There are many benefits to drinking coffee but doing so earlier in the day will help you fall asleep more soundly.
7. Get regular sleep – this one may be the toughest! You may think you are doing your students a favor by finishing that grading in one particular night but you will undoubtedly do a more thorough job as a wide-awake individual. Studies show this is true.
8. Drink water throughout the day. Stay hydrated. Perhaps keep a thermos at your desk. Yes, we live by the bell but, hey, if you have to run to the restroom in-between periods, that’s another opportunity for movement!
The very infrastructure of a teacher’s day does not cater to our health needs so it’s important that we’re cognizant of all we can do to remedy our time management and stress levels.
Try some of the steps above and you will have more energy for life both in and out of the classroom. Moreover, you will be setting a better example for your students, and will feel more positive about yourself and your life in general.
I‘ve called Life Time Fitness my gym home since 2000 but last year I was swayed by a newer XSport Fitness in my area. Now, I can thankfully say that I’ve been a pleased member from opening day at each location.
Since I’m continually asked to offer my opinion by friends and since, in this past week, referred two people these gyms, I thought I’d take some time to compare the two. Both individuals I referred told me my reviews of each were dead on so I’m offering them here.
**Please note, these are my own observations based on my own experiences only . Furthermore, I’ve kept my comparisons fairly general here to be as fair and objective as possible. Come visit for yourself – you won’t be disappointed at either one.**
My Conclusion: Both facilities offer their own special amenities and I will be keeping both memberships. Here’s why:
LIFE TIME FITNESS:
– More family-oriented. (more organized kid activities, organized birthday parties, swim classes, etc)
– More pool. There is both an outdoor and indoor pool; both indoor and outdoor pools at Life Time offer water slides, a lounge area, and small cafes. There is one indoor lap pool available at XSport. A perk to the lap pool at XSport – it is more out-of-way from the rest of the club, allowing for more privacy and serious swim.
– More organized groups and team activities (running clubs, rock climbing classes, yoga events, yoga instructor courses, etc)
– More varied free-weights. 7lb, 12.5 and 17.5 are currently absent at my XSPort.
– More cafe. Life Time offers a full menu of shakes, breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Very nice place to sit down and/or sneak in some work in-between workouts.
OVERALL: Life Time Fitness seems to be geared toward both the serious, the want-to-be serious, and the weekend warriors alike. I see more souls of all ages, shapes and sizes at Life Time. It is a great place to meet like-minded fitness folks!!! I’m lucky to say I’ve met a select few of my life-long friends there.
– More advanced equipment. At the entry level gym facilities such as mine, for instance, the Power Plate is available.
– More one-on-one training sessions. I see the personal trainers at my XSport working hard with individuals any hour – very late or very early.
– More store. XSport offers clothing, protein powders, accessories such as locks, headphones, etc.
– More salon amenities. Tanning beds and spray tans are offered at XSport.
– Side Note: The XSport that I frequent plays the BEST music – my all-time favorites included. This may seem minor but music plays a significant motivator. 😉
OVERALL, XSport seems to be geared toward the more serious fitness buff. I notice more male and female clientele who compete regularly although there are folks of all fitness goals at the club. Additionally, XSport is a great ‘get-in/get-out/get the workout done’ gym. There literally is not as much room to roam – it’s not a social hour, it’s an exercise hour. Gym class for adults!!!
BOTH FITNESS CLUBS:
– open 24 hours
– friendly, helpful staff
– ultra- clean facilities
– comprehensive, state-of-the-art cardio equipment
– great places to be!!
It doesn’t hurt to try both out and see what you think. I believe that both offer – at the very minimum – a one-day pass to check out the facilities. 🙂
There are no excuses to live unhealthful these days. With the wealth of nutrition information at our fingertips, the abundance of gyms, and the crop of clean eating recipes, we can strive for our optimum health level more conveniently than ever before.
However convenient it may be, it is never easy. Achieving our optimum weight and body fat, gaining strength and endurance, and overcoming unhealthful habits such as sugar addictions or overeating takes discipline, discipline and more discipline.
I’m a firm believer we can ALL achieve the body we desire – we just (just? you say) have to work hard at it. Over 80% of that work will be in the kitchen and a mere 15 – 20% will be in the gym or basement or wherever it is we workout. Supplements provide assistance with this along the way. They provide important nutrients our bodies may not absorb as readily with food. It’s not cheating; I call it smart body management.
Over the past year, I’ve researched supplements more than I ever have before. Just a couple of weeks ago, I received the results from my physician on my blood work; with that, I also had my body fat measured. LifeTime Fitness offers some wonderfully informative health tests. I attribute a significant portion of this success to supplements. So . . . . I’d like to pay it forward today by sharing so that may work for you as well. As always, consult with your physician before initiating anything:
First, a quick run-down of how these supplements have helped me ~ my test results: (just to affirm the supplement results):
Body Fat: 14% (down from 17% )
Cholesterol: 133 (down from just under 200)
Triglycerides: 48 (anything less than 150 is considered good)
LHD: 54 (anything above 40 is considered good)
LDL: 69 (anything less than 100 is considered good)
On to what you really are here for ~ My Supplement Diet:
~ 1. Liquid Chlorophyll – one teaspoon diluted with 8 ounces of water
I am going to devote most of this blog to this because it is nothing less than miraculous!!! Along with the proof in my blood work, I’ve recommended this supplement to two dear friends already . . . both have come back thanking me profusely – saying they’ve never felt as refreshed and “regular” :-). One of my friend’s husbands took hours to research the supplement before purchasing it – he found absolutely no negatives!!
Chlorophyll is miraculous. What is it exactly? In basic terms, chlorophyll is what makes plants green. Through photosynthesis, plants convert the sun’s energy into chlorophyll and then release oxygen into the atmosphere. Just as blood is important for human life, chlorophyll is important for plant life. (my Biology teacher friends would be proud!)
The benefits of chlorophyll are numerous – Chlorophyll is a powerful anti-oxidant, cleanser, and detox with anti-inflammatory properties. It stimulates and assists in the repair and healing of damaged tissues. According to energiseforlife.com, “Chlorophyll consumption increases the number of red blood cells and, therefore, increase oxygen utilization by the body. Chlorophyll also reduces the binding of carcinogens to DNA in the liver and other organs. It also breaks down calcium oxalate stones for elimination, which are created by the body for the purpose of neutralizing and disposing of excess acid.” Hmmm . . . .
Chlorophyll is also a wonderful filter for pollutants; in fact, regular ingestion of chlorophyll has proven to be a great neutralizer of environmental pollution. This means it would be very beneficial for smokers. Finally, chlorophyll is probably best known for its deodorizing benefits, reducing body odor and bad breath. I call it my daily detoxifier!!
~ 1. A multi-vitamin (with iron and Vitamin D added)
~ 2. Calcium (a must for women, for bone & teeth health)
~ 3. Vitamin D (my physician told me to shoot for 3000mg a day)
~ 4. Vitamin B12 (recommended to fend off Alzheimer’s and dementia)
~ 5. Vitamin C (to keep my immune system in tip-top shape)
~ 6. Omega 3s (for heart health)
~ 7. Super Enzymes (as our bodies don’t readily absorb all the needed enzymes within our foods)
~ 1. Greens (yes, even though I take chlorophyll and eat fresh veggies, I take this for added measure)
~ 2. EFAs (for cardio benefits)
~ 3. Calcium
~ 4. Vitamin D
PRE-WORKOUT (see for more detailed ideas for pre and post workout snacks that have been working for me for quite a few years now: Make or Break Your Workout)
~ 1. 1 scoop Whey Protein or Egg Protein (going to try Vegan Protein when my Whey runs out)
~ 1. BCAA’s
~ 1. 1 scoop Whey Protein
Of course, supplements are just that – supplements! These must be taken with clean, whole foods and not used in place of meals. A typical daily menu for me includes a protein smoothie or oatmeal, a tuna or tempeh/kale wrap, and chicken breast & veggies for dinner, and nut, seed & dried fruit snacks.
Do I cheat??? ABSOLUTELY! I’m teased at work for my extra clean eating habits followed by extra ditch efforts of cheating. (the roses on Costco cakes are saved for me!) Hey, we are all human and that’s why we follow a healthful lifestyle in the first place . . . so that we can afford to have fun!!!!
I hope this helps you as you stand at the vitamin aisle or stare at the screen of your go-to supplement site. Nutrition and its effects on the body fascinate me. As I state on my homepage, I’d like to become certified in nutrition and personal training when I retire from teaching. In the meantime, the research I’m doing is benefitting me . . . . and now maybe you as well. In fitness love, GG
Here is a recipe I traditionally make for Easter gatherings. My cousin affectionatey nicknamed them “deformed twinkies,” and that is exactly the color and consistency of the cake portion. They are called Cala Lillies, however, because of the similar (easy to hold) shape to the flower. Every time I bring a platter of these light and airy gems, they disappear within minutes of landing on the serving table. Check these out for a different spring treat.
~ 3 eggs
~ ¾ Cup sugar
~ 1 Cup flour
~ 1 tsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. vanilla
1 carton of whipping cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the eggs until they are frothy (this is one of the most important parts – mix on a high speed for a few minutes)! Add the sugar, flour, baking powder and vanilla. Beat the entire mixture on low for two minutes.
Drop by teaspoonful onto a greased baking sheet – only six on one sheet at a time; also, place only one sheet in the oven at a time. This will allow you just enough time to “pinch” the ends together when the little ‘lillies’ come out of the oven. (Any more than six, and the dough will cool too much to form the shape properly.)
Place in the oven for five minutes. Immediately take them off of tray with a spatula and pinch the ends together so that they look like cala lillies.
Place whipped cream inside of them. By the way, sprinkle a sparkle of sugar and a dash of vanilla into your whipped cream right before it reaches its perfect consistency . . . great way to add extra taste to the cream. May also garnish with one thin piece of pineapple in the middle of the whipped cream to emulate the yellow spadix in the middle of the flower.
A slow-cooked meal is a gift from your early self to your later self. This one makes the house smell extra scrumptious.
I made this for the first time this Christmas season. I discovered it in my latest issue of “Muscle and Fitness Hers” (Jan/Feb issue) so you know it’s healthful!! My family members tried something new this year. Rather than exchange material gifts (except for the young ones, of course), we took turns preparing special dinners for each other. Here is what I decided to make . . . it is a definite repeater. It is, in fact, the best lasagna I’ve made – and it’s healthful, on top of it!!
Slow-Cooked Turkey Lasagna
~ 6 – 8 whole wheat or whole grain lasagna noodles
~ 12 oz 99% fat free ground turkey
~ 1/4 cup red cooking wine
~ 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
~ 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~ 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
~ 6 oz low-fat part skim mozzarella cheese
~ 6 oz can tomato paste
~ 29 – 32 oz tomato sauce
~ 1 cup chopped white onion
~ 2 tsp minced garlic cloves
~ 2 tbsp dried parsley (divided)
~ Mrs. Dash to taste (or whatever spices you have on hand!!)
~ 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook ground turkey, onion, and garlic until turkey is browned.
2. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, Mrs. Dash and 1 tbsp of parsley to meat mixture.
3. Simmer for a few minutes on low. Remove from heat. Stir in cooking wine and set aside.
4. In another bowl, combine all cheeses with remaining parsley and nutmeg.
5. Spoon one layer of turkey mixture across bottom of slow cooker.
6. Add one layer of dry lasagna noodles (you will need to break them to fit in slow cooker)
7. Add a layer of cheese followed by a layer of cooked turkey.
8. Repeat steps 5 – 7.
9. Top lasagna with a pinch of parsley, cheese, and 1 – 2 tbsp of red cooking wine.
10. Cook on low in slow cooker for 7 – 8 hours.
Nutrition fascinates me – we can cure, build, and sculpt ourselves with food. When I retire from the teaching profession, I’m delving into the health/fitness world for sure. Here’s the latest research I discovered. According to MSN Health & Fitness, the key nutrients in certain foods will help you look younger. My only complaint is I don’t seem to see anything with frosting on the list.
1. Blood oranges. These are full of antioxidants which decrease aging, increase collagen production and thicken the skin.
2. Shellfish. The fatty acids in shellfish nourish the skin, help maintain skin integrity and keep skin cells performing optimally.
3. Dandelion, turnip and mustard greens. Eating these slightly bitter greens has been shown to lessen your sweet tooth. (GG hint: to get my daily dose of greens, I blend mustard greens, a freshly squeezed lemon and strawberry egg white protein in a blender. Green power smoothie without the bitter taste)
4. Oregano, thyme and parsley. If you have puffy bags under your eyes in the morning, you are likely consuming too much sodium. Instead of salt, season your meals with herbs and spices such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and garlic.
5. Crunchy vegetables. Celery, carrots, string beans and cauliflower contain cellulose, which helps scrub stains from your teeth — giving you a whiter, brighter smile.
6. Almond milk. Doctors say almond milk is a nutritious dairy alternative because of its high levels of magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, vitamin E, selenium and calcium. Its natural fatty acids will keep your mind sharp, your immune system strong and your skin glowing.
Go for it. Even if these don’t tickle your fancy at first read, we’re all looking for some form of fountain of youth, right? Try it.
My mom created this recipe recently trying hard to please yours truly during one of our visits, knowing my affinity for delicious, eat clean food. I brought a batch to work today and received some oohs and ahhs. My lovely desk partner is going to make her husband cook this for her! It’s amazingly good for such a simple little dish. Make this ahead on Sunday and enjoy healthful leftovers throughout the work week.
(got veggies? I list specifics here but go ahead and throw in whatever you have in your fridge. Any should be delish!)
4 chicken breasts
2 red, orange, and/or yellow peppers
6 sweet potatoes (do not peel – clean and scrape off bruises)
1 – 1 1/2 zucchini – sliced (do not peel)
1 large yellow onion – sliced completely into thin wedges
1 cup carrots – peeled, sliced into rounds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup grape tomatoes – sliced in half (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Dust the chicken breasts with pepper, oregano, basil and parsley. Place the chicken in an 11 X 7 glass casserole dish. Place the sliced vegetables (exeept the tomatoes) around the breasts in a single layer. Pour the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the chicken and veggies. Sprinkle the entire dish with one more dash of the basil, oregano, and parsley. (or Italian Seasoning). Place in the oven for 50 – 60 minutes, depending on how hard/soft you like your vegetables. If you are using tomatoes, throw them in during the last 10 minutes. Mangez!!
I blend smoothies almost every morning; and, on Saturday morning before working out I really experiment (such as last weekend when I combined avocado and frozen blueberries to make a refreshing green gem.) I never tire of smoothies – maybe it’s because I used to enjoy a shake literally every day for lunch in high school (my pre eat-clean days!) or maybe it’s because smoothies conveniently provide essential vitamins and supplements in one scrumptious slurp.
Well, here’s my latest invention. If you like chocolate and peanut butter, you will LOVE this. This truly tastes like a sinful shake – but it’s super good for you!!!!
Grading Girl’s Dark Coco PB Power Smoothie
~ 2/3 cup plain, nonfat kefir (I recently discovered the probiotics benefit of this “champagne of dairy”)
~ 1 tablespoon oat bran
~ 1 tablespoon chia seeds (I feel like SuperGirl after eating these. Check out how good they are for you here.)
~ 1 tablespoon wheat germ
~ 2 tablespoons Maranatha’s Dark Chocolate Almond Spread (If you go to Whole Foods for only one item, this should be it!!)
~ 1 frozen banana
~ 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
~ a few ice cubes
Blend the above in a blender and BOOM! You have a chocolate/peanut butter “shake” to blast your day off in high gear.
**Want an even stronger peanut butter taste? Add 1 tablespoon of almond butter.
**Want an even stronger chocolate taste? Add a dash of espresso powder.
I’ve been making this dish since I found it in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food a few years ago. I make it often for special people in my life! I’ve cleaned it up by replacing the heavy cream in the sauce with fat free half & half – it tastes just as scrumptious. Buon appetito!!!!
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
– 16 oz rigatoni (whole grain or wheat)
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium red onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup vodka (optional)
–1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
–1/2 cup fat free half & half
-10 ounces baby spinach
-12 ounces chicken sausage, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/4 inch thick (I use apple chicken sausage)
-6 ounces fontina cheese (4 ounces cut into 1/2 inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated)
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Boil a large pot of salted water. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Add spinach, cooking just until wilted. Drain and return contents to pot.
2. While water is coming to a boil, heat oil is a separate skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, cooking until translucent (approximately 3 minutes). Stir in garlic. Remove skillet from heat, stir in vodka, and return to heat, cooking until almost evaporated (about 1 minute).
3. Stir in tomatoes and oregano, cooking for 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are falling apart. Add half & half and cook until warmed through (5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and the cubed cheese to the large pot with the pasta. Toss with a large spoon to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into baking dishes (I use one 9 x 13 and one 8-inch square). Top with remaining shredded cheese and parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees until browned and crisp (20-30 minutes).
**To freeze–prepare dish (except the extra cheese on top) and let it cool. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. To bake, do not thaw. Remove from freezer, take off plastic wrap, cover with foil, and bake at 400F for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, top with additional cheese, and bake for 20-30 more minutes. It truly tastes just as delicious from frozen!!