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Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #30: BAM (Back and Arms)

It is tank top season, and nothing makes a tank top look better than toned arms and a strong back. This week's challenge will help you get both in just 5 minutes a day!

Here's the workout:
Single leg rows (20 each side)
Rip curls (to center with knuckles facing, to front and to sides, 20 each)
Hammer curls (20)
Single leg kickbacks (20 each side)
Dips (20)

 Your challenge: Grab your hand weights and do the BAM series every day this week. Your back and arms (and tank top!) will love you for it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #29: A Salad A Day

Summer is the perfect time for salads. The veggies and fruit are so tasty and fresh, and it is usually just too darn hot to heat up the kitchen.

One of our very own Mamas, Kim Box, has written a cook book all about the beauty of the salad. Here's a little bit about her:

Kim Box is an inspirational leader, writer and speaker. Kim is passionate about creating gourmet meals that are simple and healthy. Salad Inspiration was a collaboration with her daughter Nicole who did all of the photography of the salads. Kim has also written a book on leadership and the power of diversity – Woven Leadership. Kim is an inspirational speaker on leadership, diversity and living a life that is aligned with your passion and purpose. She is active in the community serving on various nonprofit boards and as Executive Director of the non-profit Pathway to Prevention. She lives in Granite Bay, CA with her family and achieves life balance by pursuing her passions of watercolor, creative cooking, and competing in triathlons.

Your challenge this week: Make and eat a salad a day! We suggest using these yummy recipes from Kim, but any healthful and nutritious salad will do.

Day 1: Spinach with Mandarin Oranges, Walnuts & Feta This salad is one of my ‘signature’ salads. It is a favorite at every gathering, and a recipe that has been shared with many of my guests. The dressing is a sweet and sour flavor that ties all of the ingredients together. There is one short cut that I’d like to share. If you like fresh red onion, you can skip the step of cooking the onion and leave it uncooked without the brown sugar.

15 oz fresh baby spinach
1 15 oz can of mandarin oranges
4 oz crumbled feta
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Sweet & Sour Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seeds

On a baking sheet, roast walnuts in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes then set aside to cool. Slice red onion about 1/4 inch thick. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put the onions in the pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes until onions are wilted. Cook until slightly translucent, but do not overcook or they will caramelize. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel to dry and remove excess oil.

Combine the dressing ingredients and stir well with a whisk. Place in the refrigerator to chill. In a salad bowl place the spinach then layer the mandarin oranges, feta, walnuts and onion. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Drizzle on the dressing before serving. Serves: 10-12.

Day 2: Aloha Caesar The Aloha Caesar is an inspiration from vacationing in Maui. We’ve enjoyed many tropical holidays with my sister, Leslie, and her family. Fresh pineapple and Maui onion are so delicious; along with the roasted macadamia nuts which bring together all the flavors of the island. The dressing below gives a tangy flavor or you can use a classic Caesar dressing.

1 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup fresh mango, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 small Maui (sweet) onion, sliced
1/3 cup parmesan, shredded

Dressing:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 egg
1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced Maui onion

Mix together the dressing ingredients and chill in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the macadamia nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until just starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Put the lettuce in a salad bowl, top with the remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately. Serves: 8-10.

Day 3: Seared Ahi Salad This is a very special salad inspired by Hailey Holesapple, a friend of my daughter Nicole. Hailey was describing a salad that she thought would be very good for the book. So, I got the ingredients and she supervised while I put the salad together based on her inspiration. When it was completed, it met Hailey’s approval and was even better than she expected. Thanks for the inspiration Hailey!

1 lb ahi (uncooked tuna)
12 oz baby greens
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 red or orange bell pepper
1 small red onion
1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sesame seeds
4 oz goat cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Mix the dressing ingredients and put in the refrigerator to chill.

Prepare ahi by slicing into long steaks that are 1 inch by 1 inch around to prepare to sear. Place the greens on four dinner plates (or 6 salad plates for smaller portions). Core the bell peppers and thinly slice, thinly slice the red onion. In a large frying pan heat the tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the peppers and onion in the frying pan, stirring constantly, add the balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon) and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Sauté until vegetables are wilted, but not caramelized – about 8-10 minutes. Remove the vegetables onto a couple layers of paper towels to cool and let some of the oil absorb. Lay the sesame seeds out on a plate and roll the ahi on the seeds to coat all sides. Using the frying pan that the vegetables were cooked in, turn the heat to high. Sear about 5 to 10 seconds a side so the outer sides are cooked, but the inside is still raw. Remove from the pan onto a cutting board. Slice the ahi about 1/4 inch thick. Layer the sautéed vegetables on the greens, then the goat cheese, then the kalamata olives. Lay the ahi in a row on each salad. When ready to serve, drizzle with the dressing. Serves: 4-6.

Day 4: Raspberry, Tarragon & Chive Salad
This salad is great for a fresh summer meal or any season. The fresh tarragon and chive give the salad a unique flavor. The raspberries and goat cheese finish it off with a nice blend over the butter lettuce. The dressing is light and tangy. A perfect blend of flavors!

Salad Ingredients:
10 oz butter lettuce – loosely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives – cut to 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2 oz chevre/goat cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts

Dijon Dressing:
3 oz extra virgin olive oil
2 oz red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Put the lettuce in a salad bowl; layer each of the salad ingredients on top of the lettuce. Next, mix all of the dressing ingredients with a wire whisk. Chill the dressing until ready to serve. Before serving, mix the dressing then drizzle it onto the salad and enjoy! Serves: 6-8.

Day 5: Spinach & Orzo Salad If you are looking for a perfect companion to your grilled meat (chicken, pork, beef, or whatever sounds good for dinner!), this salad can complete the meal with the great array of vegetables and a little bit of pasta. It is also a wonderful lunch salad with fresh bread. You can add sliced roasted turkey to make the salad a main meal as well.

1/2 lb (1 cup uncooked) Orzo pasta
1 large bunch of fresh spinach or 2 bags of baby spinach
1/3 cup julienne sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook orzo according to directions on package, leave to cool down. In large bowl combine all the remaining ingredients, mix well. When orzo is close to room temperature, combine with the other ingredients. Mix well; the spinach should wilt a little bit from the orzo. Serve immediately or refrigerate to chill before serving. Serves: 10-12.

Day 6: Avocado & Tomato Salad This salad is one that is a staple at my family’s dinner table. We are fortunate to have tomatoes and avocado all year round but the tomatoes are definitely best when they come from our summer garden or the local farmers market.

12 oz field greens
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and sliced
6 medium tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 shallots, thinly sliced

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of dried oregano or 2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Place baby greens in salad bowl. Layer the tomato, avocado, feta, pine nuts and shallots on top of the greens. Chill until ready to serve.

Combine all of the balsamic vinaigrette ingredients and mix with a fork or wire whisk. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, drizzle on the vinaigrette and enjoy! Serves: 6-8.

Day 7: Spring Greens with Strawberry Vinaigrette We are so lucky to have fresh strawberries all summer long in our region of Northern California. I can’t get enough of this salad and it’s fresh set of flavors. It is so easy to make and always a favorite with guests!

10 oz spring greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup almond slivers
1 apple, sliced with a touch of lemon juice

Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 cup fresh strawberries (halved)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend the vinaigrette ingredients, mix well. If you want to make the salad in advance, put the sliced apple in the vinaigrette as well so the flavors can mix and the apple will stay fresh. Place spring greens in a salad bowl with the dried cranberries, almonds and apple (if you haven’t already put them in the vinaigrette). Pour vinaigrette over the salad and serve. Serves: 6-8.


Eat and enjoy a salad a day. Your body will love you for it!

Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #28: Random Acts of Kindness

Being kind is probably a part of your every day life. After all, you have to be nice, in general, to get what you want and to keep the people you love happy.

But what about being kind simply for the sake of being kind? What about doing something kind for someone you don't need anything from, or even someone you don't know?

Practicing kindness, and passing it on to others encourages other to do the same thing. If we're all being kind, and doing kind things for each other, the world is bound to be a better place. And doing something nice for someone "just because" creates a feel good moment for the giver and recipient!

This week's challenge: Do something kind for someone at least once daily! Offer kind words to a stranger, offer a helping hand to someone who needs it, pay for some one's coffee(remember when that went on at the local Starbucks?!), mow someones lawn, move some one's trash can in on garbage day, leave a kind note on someone’s door, etc. Have fun with it!

Need some good ideas? Check out some ideas posted by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (yep, there really IS such a thing!) here!

Have a great week!

Friday, July 4, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #27: The Sensational Swimsuit Challenge!

Now that it is finally, officially, summer, who doesn't want to look better in a swimsuit? Just 5 minutes every morning is all it takes!

The Sensational Swimsuit Series:
30 Toe taps
Flip over for the swim (count to 30)
30 double pump bicycles
Super woman (hold for a count of 30)

Your Challenge: every morning, take 5 minutes to do the moves above. You'll be looking sensational in that swimsuit, and your body will love you for it!

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #26: Eat LOCAL!

You hear it all the time: Eat Local! But why?

Here are 8 reasons to eat local foods (taken from about.com):

1. Local Foods Are Fresher (and Taste Better)
Food that was picked within the last few days tastes way better than food that was picked (unripened) and trucked thousands of miles to get to you. And fresh food lasts longer, too.

2. Local Foods Are Seasonal (and Taste Better)
It must be said: Deprivation leads to greater appreciation. When does a cozy room feel best? When you've come in from out of the freezing cold. Fresh corn in season tastes best when you haven't eaten any in 9 or 10 months--long enough for its taste to be a slightly blurred memory that is suddenly awakened with that first bite of the season. Eating locally means eating seasonally, with all the deprivation and resulting pleasure that accompanies it.

3. Local Foods Usually Have Less Environmental Impact
Those thousands of miles some food is shipped? That leads to a big carbon footprint for a little bunch of herbs.

4. Local Foods Preserve Green Space & Farmland
The environmental question of where you food comes from is bigger than its "carbon footprint." By buying foods grown and raised closer to where you live, you help maintain farmland and green space in your area.

5. Local Foods Promote Food Safety
The fewer steps there are between your food's source and your table the less chance there is of contamination. Also, when you know where your food comes from and who grows it, you know a lot more about that food.

6. Local Foods Support Your Local Economy
Money spent with local farmers, growers, and artisans and locally-owned purveyors and restaurants all stays close to home, working to build your local economy instead of being handed over to a corporation in another city, state, or country. Since the food moves through fewer hands, more of the money you spend tends to get to the people growing it.

7. Local Foods Promote Variety
Local foods create greater variety of foods available. Farmers who run community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), sell at farmers' markets, and provide local restaurants have the demand and the support for raising more types of produce and livestock. Think Brandywines, Early Girls, and Lemon Boys instead of "tomatoes."

8. Local Foods Create Community
Knowing where your food is from connects you to the people who raise and grow it. Instead of having a single relationship--to a big supermarket--you develop smaller connections to more food sources: vendors at the farmers' market, the local cheese shop, your favorite butcher, the co-op that sells local eggs, a local café that roasts coffee.

Your challenge this week: Eat LOCAL by shopping at a Farmer's Market near you. Take a look around and choose food that is seasonal, local, delicious and healthy. Your body will love you for it!

To find a Farmers' Market near you, visit: www.cafarmersmarkets.com

Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #25: The Power of Encouragement

G. K. Chesterton, an English journalist, once wrote, “The really great person is the person who makes every person feel great.”

When two people interact, they are both changed. The change can be for the better, or not. Whether our influence is helpful or hurtful, positive or negative, depends on whether we give each other the gift of encouragement.

When you interact with someone, are you an encourager or a discourager?

Encouragers are pleasant to be around. They are enthusiastic, and optimistic. Encouragers have the self-confidence to be other-focused rather than self-centered and attention demanding. Discouragers, on the other hand, lead us to doubt ourselves, to put our dreams on a shelf, to focus on our weaknesses and dampen our spirits.

How often do you save your kind words, nice manners and encouragement for strangers, while sending discouragement to those who are closest to you? Funny how the family dog usually hears "what a good dog you are!" while the kids and spouses hear "no you can't" and "why don't you?"

Who needs encouragement? Anyone who is breathing! We live in a discouraging world, looking for an encouraging word.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Encourage someone every single day. It can be anyone - a friend, family member, your hubby, your child, or even a stranger! Do it by cheering someone on, giving a compliment, providing a supportive ear, or giving some positive reinforcement. They will feel uplifted, empowered and motivated. And you will benefit too - it feels great to lift someone’s spirit. That's what I call a total win/win!

Have an excellent week!

Friday, June 13, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #24: Built a New Healthy Habit

Your challenge this week is to create a new healthy habit (or break an old unhealthy one). Here's a great article on the topic:

"Research has proven that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Habits are an essential part of our life, without them we would fail in most things we try to accomplish. They help us to reach specific goals, stay focused along the way and keep on pushing when the going gets touch. At the same time, non-supportive habits can keep us from moving forward or even hurt our well-being. As Dr. Andrew Weil says, anything you do with repetition and emotion will become your reality. If you’re not satisfied with your current experience, examine your habits.

Athletes know too well how important it is to stick to habits, especially in training. But most people struggle with their day to day practice of habits and if you are one of them fear no more. You too can change your bad habits into a good one, just take 21 days and you will be well on your way to become a changed person.

Whether you want to practice personal journaling or learn how to play the violin doesn’t matter. Even to change negative habits into positive ones takes time. The problem for most people is that they actually try to attack their issues with too much fervour in the beginning and then give up if they don’t see instant results.

I can’t recount how many times I have tried to lose weight in the past. The problem though was in me simply trying and not doing. It’s kind of a wishful thinking phenomena where we wish for the best but fail in the actual doing part of the whole situation. Please feel free to use the suggestions below to help you get on track and use the next 21 days to form a new habit.

The 21 day habit practice
1.First of all, you will need to be clear on your intentions. Do you really want to play the violin? or was this wish merely conceived when your best friend showed you their instrument.

2.Once you are absolute certain you want to follow through with this, here is what you do. First write down your intentions. It is important you use positive affirmations to write these goals.

3.It helps if you can identify your why. Why do you want to play the violin, lose weight, run a marathon, etc. The bigger your conviction, the easier it will be be for you to make the transition.

4.Create diversions to help you stay on track. If there is a specific weakness you battle that stops you from progressing and practicing every day, try to find ways to distract you from the negativity. It will help to keep you on track. Total honesty with yourself goes a long way here.

5.Celebrate each step, regardless how tiny it is. You need all the help you can get to keep motivated. It also helps to enlist the support of friends or family members. People who can motivate you to keep on going.

6.Stay clear of negative people. There will be those who try to sabotage you. This doesn’t even have to be intentional. It could evolve from a negative statement aimed at you, or even a deep rooted belief you had since you can remember. Any trigger that could bring this out should be avoided.

Use the following tools to help you on your 21 day mission
Positive affirmations are a great tool to keep you mentally stimulated. Practice them daily by saying “I am thankful for having lasted another day”. Before long, the 21 days are over and your new habit is cast in stone – or close to.

You can also use the power of gratitude quotes or pictures to keep you visually empowered. Stick them on your fridge, in your office, next to your bed, in the loo or wherever you will be reminded that it only takes 21 days to form a habit."

SOURCE: http://www.iamthankful.com/science/21-days-to-form-a-habit-you-can-do-it