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Friday, August 1, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #31: Do Unto YOURSELF

This week is all about YOU. Be kind to YOU. Do nice things for YOU. Remember what is special and what you love about YOU.

This challenge may seem easy, but I'm betting many will have a hard time with it.

Your challenge: Say one nice thing about YOU to yourself daily! Extra bonus points for writing that nice thing down and posting it where you can see it often.

There is only one YOU in all time. How amazing is that?

Have a great week!

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

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

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #23: Gear Yourself up for Success

Let's talk about your bra. Yes, you read it right - your bra.

We all know that 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong sized bra (thank you Oprah for telling us!). But did you know you may not be wearing the right sports bra?

The very first sports bra was literally two jock straps sewn together. Thirty-some years later, technology has come a long way! Scientists have figured out (finally!) that a sports bra needs to do more than stop up and down movement, it needs to take care of side to side movement as well. Most bras stop only up and down movement, which could be part of the reason more than half of women suffer breast pain during exercise. The right bra, however, can eliminate this pain for about 80 percent of women.

Most sports bras simply compress the breasts - not very comfortable and, in my opinion, not that attractive! A really good and supportive bra encapsulates each breast into its own cup (and of course, the cups have to be the right size!).

This week's challenge: gear yourself up for success from the skin out. Get yourself fitted for a new sports bra and feel the difference!

Can't get to a fitting? Here's some great information on how to measure yourself: http://www.enell.com/size_and_measurement_chart.php

Something else to think about: According to the experts at Fleet Feet, a sports bra should be worn regularly for only about 6 months before it is replaced.

Go shopping for a new sports bra - your body will love you for it!

Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #22 - Start your Day the RIGHT Way!

You know that old saying "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?" Its an old saying for a reason - its TRUE!

Breakfast is just that - time to break your fast. After not eating for at least 10 hours (because you closed the kitchen well before bedtime, and you're getting plenty of sleep, right?) your body is ready to refuel with healthy food. And you might find - as I do - that starting the day eating clean makes it a little easier to eat right all day long!

Here's a great clean meal that will get your calorie-burning engine going and set you up for a successful and energy-full day. As a bonus? It is delicious and will leave you satisfied!

1/2 c Olf fashioned rolled oats/1 c hot water
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 banana

Scrambled Eggs:
1 whole egg
2-3 egg whites
*add pepper for flavor

12-16 oz water with a packet of Emergen-C

Total Calories: 320-340
Total Fiber: 5 grams
Total Protein 19-34 grams
More than 100% of your daily vitimin C requirement
Includes potassium (banana), which is important when exercising

Your Challenge: Start EVERY day with a healthy, nutrient-rich, breakfast!

Remember: breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, and dinner like a pauper.

Eat your (clean) breakfast - your body will love you for it!

Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #21 - Use SUNCREEN

It is starting to heat up outside and its a good time to remember to protect your skin from the sun.

Sunscreen does double duty - The regular use of sunscreen helps protect your skin from cancer-causing sun exposure, and can help your skin look younger. Protecting your health AND your looks? Sounds great to me!

Your face, neck and chest need the most protection. The skin on these areas are the most delicate and are most likely to show signs of aging (due to the fact that these 3 areas typically get the most sun exposure). DON'T FORGET YOUR SCALP! Ditch those visors and wear a hat - many cases of melanoma occur first on the scalp (where you are unlikely to notice it).

Buy a sunscreen with at least SPF 15. You do NOT need to buy anything greater than SPF 45! Look for Broad Spectrum sunscreens as they provide maximum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Look for Zinc Oxide, it absorbs light, therefore reflecting UV rays. Also look for Titanium Dioxide, it provides a physical protection while preventing skin damage and excessive melanin synthesis.

Remember... you might not have early signs of aging now, (i.e. Fine lines, sun spots, wrinkles), but that doesn't mean it won't catch up with you later. If you tan easily you still need protection! One hour in direct sunlight can cause permanent damage. So keep your skin looking healthy and beautiful!!!

Mamas protect your kids too! Most sun damage is done by the time you are 18 years of age.

Your challenge: USE YOUR SUNSCREEN. Use it every single day. Your skin (and your doctor!) will love you for it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #20 - Close the Kitchen!

Late night snacking can sneak up on you when you don't even see it coming. That last bite of something left on the kitchen counter, a few cookies during the evening news, a cup of hot chocolate... Because you are slowing down for the day, late night calories don't get burned off. Instead, they go to bed with you, stowed away as fat.

To avoid late night munching, try "shutting down your kitchen" right after dinner:
  • Put away leftovers and do the dishes
  • Wipe down the counters
  • Close the blinds and turn off the lights
Once the kitchen is closed, brush your teeth. This will further discourage you from snacking!

Creating a simple evening ritual of closing the kitchen can help you to avoid excess calories and bring an organized end to busy days.

This week:  Close your kitchen right after dinner!  Your body will love you for it!

Monday, May 12, 2014

In Season- Asparagus

This week I wanted to feature the beautiful and healthy veggie- asparagus!  A wonderful source of antioxidants, plus fiber and folate, asparagus is considered a disease-fighting veggie.  It's been available in our stores and farmer's markets for about a month, get some now before the supply dwindles and becomes more expensive.

Most of the time I fix asparagus on the grill; I trim the end, place them in a dish or a zipper bag, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with a combo of salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Then when I've nearly finished grilling whatever protein we are having, I place the asparagus on and let them grill a couple minutes, gently roll them to get the other side grilled and that's all!

But, here is a fabulous gluten free and Paleo recipe for an asparagus salad.  So easy to fix some for dinner and save it for lunch the next day.  The recipe is written as a single serving, but it's so easy to increase to serve more.  But it's also very easy to have all the ingredients prepped to just fix yourself a single serving each time you want some.

Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad
219 calories per serving


  • 1 large hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced
  • 1 2/3 cups chopped asparagus
  • 2 slices cooked and crumbled center cut bacon
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • pinch salt and pepper, to taste

View the rest of the recipe on Skinnytaste

Read more about asparagus and it's important nutritional properties- 5 Powerful Health Benefits of Asparagus You Probably Didn't Know.

Friday, May 9, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #19 - Express Workout!

Think you don't have time to exercise? Guess again! In just 10 to 20 minutes, you can get an excellent full body workout. Its called the Express Workout, and you can do it wherever you are, whenever you want!

For a quick workout at home, on vacation, or even in the office, try this circuit (repetitions in parenthesis are for beginner, intermediate and advanced, respectively:

Pushups - box-style, on your knees or on your toes (20, 25, 30)
Dips (20,25,30)
Butt Bumps (20, 25, 30)
Wall Sit (60 seconds for all levels)
Flutter Kick Hold 10 kick, 10 hold (3 sets, 3 sets, 4 sets)

Repeat entire circuit 3 or 4 times.

Your challenge:  Do the Express Workout every (non-Bootcamp) day this week.  Your body will LOVE you for it!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Apple Recipes

This week's challenge is to remember to eat an apple.  I thought I would provide a few fun ideas getting your apple a day eaten in case you want to eat it in some other form and need a little variety.
  • Core the apple whole, then slice it in rounds, spread a little peanut or some other nut butter, then sprinkle with a few chopped nuts and maybe a couple of chocolate chips for a sweet treat.
  • Take an 8 oz container of vanilla Greek (or regular) yogurt, mix in a heaping table spoon of peanut butter, sprinkle cinnamon and then use it to dip apple slices.
  • On Sunday, when prepping your veggie bags for the week, chop about 5 apples, toss with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon (you can even do less sugar and more cinnamon).  Pour it into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Each morning you can heat some up to eat with oatmeal for breakfast or eat it on it's own.  Or even eat it cold with some chopped nuts and yogurt.
Enjoy apples!

Friday, May 2, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #18 - An Apple a Day

You know that old saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away?" Turns out it might be more true than you thought!

Apples are the perfect snack food. They are crunchy, sweet (but not too sweet) and delicious and also chock full of nutrition. Apples are low on the glycemic index which helps stabilize your blood sugar. They are also high in fiber which is not only good for your digestive system, but also helps you feel satisfied. As an extra bonus, apples don't need to be refrigerated and come in their own "wrapping" making them the epitome of a "grab and go" snack.

Your challenge: Eat an apple a day. When you do your grocery shopping, branch otu and try more than one variety of apple. Pay attention to what your favorites are, and make this challenge a part of your regular eating routine throughout the year. Be sure to come back to the blog and post a comment letting us all know what your favorites are so we can all try them too!

Have a great week, and remember: An apple a day DOES keep the doctor away, and so much more.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Vegetables: Artichokes

Here in California we are so lucky to have so many wonderful vegetables available to us almost year round.  And one vegetable that is very distinctly California, especially since 99% of the entire nation's supply is grown here in California, is the artichoke.  I LOVE artichokes.  On a recent trip to Monterey, where I passed through Castroville, the home of artichokes, roadside vegetable stands sell them 7 for $1.  ONE DOLLAR!!   Artichokes are actually the official vegetable of California.  And of course they are a healthy green veggie, but they actually have a specific health property; they can aid in digestion, protect your liver and lowers triglycerides and cholesterol.  A large artichoke is only 25 calories and contains no fat.

Here's how I love to prepare artichokes- I take the time to trim the leaves, cutting all the sharp points off the leaves, I remove some of the tougher outer leaves, but I certainly don't strip it down to the lighter color tender leaves like so many recipes call for.  Then I cut it in half lengthwise, use a small paring knife, cut out all the purple, fuzzy part and then wash it well to get the fuzz out and the leaves clean.  Then I take several pieces of foil, cut large enough to suite the size of the artichoke(s) and set two halves on top.  I liberally squeeze lemon juice, season with a combo of salt, pepper and garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil.  I wrap it up on the foil to be like a pouch.  Then I place it on the grill.  It's the first thing I do before grilling anything else, like chicken or other veggies.  It needs plenty of time, like 20-30 minutes.  I usually move them to not be over a high flame, the could get a burnt, with a gas grill I have it on low.  The only way you  know it's done is to just check them, open up the foil pouch and see if a leaf pulls off easily.  You can eat them with all the delicious sauce that has been created while cooking.  You can also do this same cooking method in an oven if you can't use your grill.

For more about artichokes and more recipes, you can read more on my blog, www.e-mealplanning.com

Friday, April 25, 2014

2014 Weekley Challenge #17 - Declutter and SWAP!

This week’s challenge is to de-clutter your wardrobe!

We've talked before about having too much stuff - Clutter can be draining and de-energizing. By getting more organized, you simplify and live a more meaningful life.   I don't know about you, but when I'm surrounded by crap, I feel  like crap and can't live my best life.

For this week's challenge we're going to get a little more specific.  Take a look at your closet.  Actually, take a "look" at mine.  My closet is big, huge almost.  And pretty full.  And yet, I often feel like I have nothing to wear.  Most of the things in my closet haven't been worn in years!  Too big mostly (yay!), or too business-like for my current stay-at-home-mom life.  My dresser is the same - my drawers are overflowing with good stuff that I never wear (and probably never will wear again).    How about you?

This week, pick a drawer, a closet, or both depending on your time and ambition  and get rid of the clothes that you don't love and feel fabulous in!  Give them to your Mama Bootcamp Coach or bring them to the Run,Swap, Eat event this coming weekend.  Then join us for the swap, and find some new-to-you things that fit the body and life you live right now.  Fewer things you don't need, and free things you love?  That's what I call WINNING.

Have an outstanding week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #16: The SWIMSUIT Challenge

Like it or not, swimsuit season is just around the corner. It will be time to peel off those layers, and show the world the excellent work you've been doing at Bootcamp :)  Here's a challenge to make the transition from sweaters to swimsuits even more enjoyable!

Your challenge: Set aside 5-10 minutes a day for a Swimsuit workout! Be sure to plan it in advance, and put it on your calendar.

The workout: A set of butt shapers or butt blasters, planking 3 ways (one minute facing down, one minute each side), and 20 bicycles/20 roll outs (3 sets).  Don't know what these are?  Be sure to ask your coach, or check out the VIDEO link to the right!

You'll be amazed at what a different a few minutes a day can make!

Have a GREAT week!

Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #15: STRETCH!

Taking care of your body is an essential part of any exercise program. And yet it is one of the things we are most likely to skip. Everyone knows they should stretch before and/or after exercise, and that it is a good habit to have just as a part of daily living. But really...how often do YOU do it?

Stretching keeps you flexible, prepares your muscles for exercise and helps your body heal after a tough workout. Besides being good for you, it has the extra benefit of feeling GOOD (usually).

Don't know how to start? Start by taking a look at the stretch chart in your Mama Bootcamp binder, and look for the ones that stretch the areas on your body that are tight or sore.

Your challenge this week: Spend 5 minutes at the end of your day stretching.

Pick a few stretches that target your "problem" spots (sore, tight, etc.) and do them. Hold each stretch to your comfort level, but shoot for about 30 seconds. If you're up for even more of a challenge, try to incorporate some body care into your entire day by taking a couple of minutes every hour or so to stretch. Your body will love you for it!

Have a GREAT week!

Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #14: Veggie Bags (aka Grab-n-Go)!!

Even if you only just started Mama Bootcamp, you know that one of the cornerstones in our nutrition training is eating veggies. Lots and lots and lots of veggies.

You'd have to have been living under a rock to NOT know that a healthy diet must include lots of vegetables. But let's get real - even though we all KNOW it, we don't all DO it every day. For me, a big factor is the time - those veggies have to be washed, dried, and cut before I can eat them!

The small time investment is more than made up by the benefit. By eating your veggies, you are not only loading yourself up with vitamins and minerals that are essential to healthy living, you are giving yourself so much more. Veggies not only help your body function better, but they can help you lose weight, look younger and even help prevent cancer. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Your challenge this week looks (and sounds familiar): Eat your veggies! But this week, let's work on making it part of your regular routine and making it EASY (and fast, too!). You should be eating 7-9 servings of veggies every single day. With one serving the equivalent of .5 cups, you can fit a whole day's worth of these health-making beauties into one quart-size plastic bag.

Your challenge: Make your Grab-n-Go Veggie bags. By 7pm on Sunday, have your veggie bags for the week ready to go. Pick out several different veggies, and try to be sure to cover as many "colors" as you can. Dark green, light green and red are my favorites, with a little white thrown in, too. Chop them up into the size you like best, and fill up your quart-sized bags. Put them in the fridge so they're ready to go (maybe pair them up with your favorite dip - hummus is mine).

With just a small time investment, the "work" is done for the whole week! On your way out door every morning this week you can grab a bag full of yum! Snack on it all day long, and enjoy the awesome results.

One of my favorite quotes is: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Veggies bags are a perfect example of planning to meet your goal of eating 7 to 9 servings of veggies a day.

Put together your veggie bags and eat them up!  Your body will love you for it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

Our Main Mama with her Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili!

At a recent Make Ahead Meal Session we prepped a delicious and healthy meal that is so easy.  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili.  It's really good!  You could eat it in a bowl just like any other chili, you could serve it over brown rice, you could also scoop it up with a slotted spoon to remove some liquid and wrap it in a tortilla.  Like any chili, you can adjust the heat to your own liking to make it mild or spicy.  To prep this ahead of time like you see in the photo, place the chicken into a freezer safe zipper bag or wrap with plastic wrap.  In a separate zipper bag add all the other ingredients.  Then place that bag and the chicken into another freezer safe zipper bag.  The night before you want to cook it, place in the refrigerator to begin the defrost.  The next day, put everything into your slow cooker, even if it's still frozen.  When it's cooked you can stir it all together and if you need to, pull out the chicken to shred it.

Recipe:  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

I also highly recommend using this homemade taco seasoning mix to use in the recipe.  It's very easy to make and tastes great.  Plus it's clean eating!  Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix Recipe

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #13: Appreciate your Body (Positive Self-Talk)!

In earlier challenges, we focused on being grateful and positive instead of negative and complaining. The whole purpose of those challenges was to realize that what you say and think makes a difference in how you act and feel. Whatever you focus on is what you feed, and what you feed grows. If all you think about is what you don't have, your dissatisfaction grows; if most of what you say comes out as a complaint, you forget to see the positive.

This week's challenge builds on that idea.

How many times in a day do you engage in negative self-talk about your BODY? I know I do it ALL.THE.TIME. "I can't wear those, my thighs are too fat." "I hate my arms." "My back is killing me." "I'm just not strong enough." Honestly, I've probably said each of these things to myself, in my head, just in the last 3 hours.

But what about the GOOD things about my body and all of the amazingly positive and wonderful things it has done for me? My legs are strong and get me where I want to go, and I can move around and play with my daughter whenever I want to. I may have stretch marks, but they came from having a baby - a wonderful gift my body gave me. My body may not be perfect, but it sure has served me well so far!

Your challenge this week: Positive Self Talk! Your Bootcamp coach will give you an index card. Give yourself a minute to think about the beauty of your body and then write down some positive things your body has done for you. As the week goes on, listen to yourself (speech and thoughts) and squash that negative body-talk. Use your card to write down something you love about your body, or something wonderful your body has done for you. Anytime you start having those negative thoughts, pull out your card and remind yourself how strong, beautiful and lucky you really are!

Have a great week!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kale Salad with Quinoa

Photo of Kale with Quinoa Salad from Mountain Mama Cooks

I'm excited to share this recipe with you this week because it's such an awesome complete meal.  Dark leafy greens, whole grain protein, anti-oxidants, and plenty of nutrients.  Not to mention, it can be made in advance and then eaten throughout the week.  So easy!!  Feel free to improvise and add other ingredients.  Macadamia nuts can be pricy, raw or even roasted almonds could be used instead.  I definitely love to have the crunch of nuts in my salads and for this one, if you intend to make enough to eat over several days, just add nuts to your serving.  The same goes for avocado.

Kale Salad with Quinoa by Mountain Mama Cooks

Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #12: Declutter and get ready to SWAP!

This week’s challenge is to de-clutter your closets!

The Mama Bootcamp Clothing Swap is coming soon - Sunday May 4, 2014 to be exact!  Clear your closet and bring clothing to your  Bootcamp Coach.  All the Mamas will be given an opportunity to "shop" through the donated items on May 4 and take what they need to fit their healthier bodies.  You don't need to donate to shop, but the more donations we have, the more variety and opportunity there will be.

Just to be clear - we aren't talking just workout clothes, not at all.  Any clean and wearable items you don't want anymore that are still in good enough shape can be donated. 

Clutter can be draining and de-energizing. By getting more organized, you simplify and live a more meaningful life.   I don't know about you, but when I'm surrounded by crap, I feel  like crap and can't live my best life.

This week, pick a drawer, a closet, or a room depending on your time and ambition  and get rid of anything that doesn't fit (you KNOW some of your clothes are too big now!) and that doesn't make you feel fabulous!  You can give away things you no longer use, and dust off the things you forgot you had! You will live more simply and freely as you de-clutter and, who knows - that dress you don't love might be just what another mama is looking for!

Have an outstanding week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Try a Grain- Wheat Berries

This week's challenge is to try a new grain.  So here's another recipe you should try.  It's very flexible, he provides suggestions for other root vegetables to use and even other grains. It's a hearty, "rustic" salad that you can enjoy with a protein like roasted chicken or even as a meatless meal.

Roasted Root Vegetable and Wheat Berry Salad

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #11 - Try a New Grain (or Two)!

Eating healthy, fiber-rich grains is a great way to improve your diet. Not only are they delicious and good for you, but whole grains also make you feel more satisfied and stick with you a lot longer. Because they are more filling, you usually eat less than you would a white, or refined, grain so you end up consuming fewer calories.

Your challenge this week: Try a new grain.

Here's a simple recipe to help you get started:

1/2 cup quinoa (be sure to rinse it well first, then cook it like you would rice), 1/4 cup each avocado and tomato, 1/8 cup of black olives, and 2 TB of Gerards Greek Feta Dressing and only 195 calories! BIG bang for your nutritional buck!

Post a comment here to let us know which grain you tried, how you cooked it, and how you liked it!

Eat your grains!  Your body will love you for it!  Have a GREAT week!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blood Orange Salad

We have warm sunshine!  Spring will soon be here. But we are also still enjoying delicious winter citrus.  This is a great salad from the beautiful blog, Skinny Taste for a Blood Orange Salad with Gorgonzola, Pecans and Baby Greens. This is a great lunch salad or side dish with your dinner.  Dark leafy greens, the citrus and nuts provide anti-oxidants, Vitamin E and Vitamin C.  It's a delicious source of good nutrition.  You could even add chopped turkey or chicken for protein and make it an entree salad.

Enjoy Blood Orange Salad with Gorgonzola, Pecans and Baby Greens!

Friday, March 7, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #10 - Eliminate the Frenimies

By Lorri Ann Code

Remember the weekly challenge (and all time FAVORITE), when we had you pick a physical area to de-clutter in your lives? You told me about your cars, closets, and even refrigerators! And you loved the freeing feeling of getting rid of the junk that was draining you of your energy and your time. I think this was close to one of our most popular challenges. Well, this is a de-cluttering of the spirit. An emotional kind of clean-up.

You may ask: ‘what the heck is a fenenemy’? Simply put, it is person who says they are your friend but actually is an enemy. May be conscience sort of frenemy, but more than likely it is someone who is not really there for you for a variety of reasons. It is your GF (girlfriend), who when the chips are down and you need someone in your corner…and she is nowhere to be found (either physically or emotionally). It can be disheartening, disappointing, and depending on how embedded she is in your life…downright painful!

Some not quite so painful examples might be: You come into the room sashaying your ‘new look’, fresh from the salon, and your frenemy says “did you do something to your hair?” with a straight face and squinted eyes. Quickly deflating any new sense of confidence you had just acquired through the magical hands of your stylist. Making you doubt your own taste and worse yourself. It is just how we women are built. We look to our friends for confirmation of our new looks and ourselves.

More examples: You call enthusiastically your frenemy, with great news and whole heartedly expect her to join you in your joy. She proceeds to rain on your parade with questions and comments on all the reasons it cannot possibly work or there must be a “catch”, it cannot possibly be that good, instead of enjoying the moment with you. All the while, saying she is just being “realistic” and does not want you to get your hopes up. Why not? Why not get your hopes up?! Through hope, comes change! Hope is a wonderful healing emotion and can be a catalyst for change. Quickly excuse yourself from the conversation before your frenemy quickly and efficiently douses your dreams and enthusiasm in one fell swoop!

The worst way to find out you have a frenemy in your midst is when you really need a friend. Challenge happen in life, whether it be a divorce, a job loss, death in the family, etc. This is the time when you need unwavering, unconditional support and a place to vent. You go to your frenemy looking for your ‘soft spot’ and not only is she not there but worse, she joined the other side. I am sorry to say, but she was never a friend. You actually had a frenemy on the inside (inside your home, social circle, or heart). We, as women, look to each other for positive support and encouragement. A safe place. When the people you surround yourself with are not lifting you up, it is time to cut your losses and move on.

How do you know if you have a frenemy in your life? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How do you feel when you are with your friend? Do you feel uplifted and a general sense of well-being?

Do you hear her saying small, unsupportive passive aggressive comments towards you?

Do her actions match her words?

Biggest indicator: your gut. Your intuition always knows even if you do not want to listen! Do a ‘gut check’ and see how you feel. Simply put: Do you feel better or worst after spending time with her? Best indicator of all! We always know even when we do not want too. Your intuition can be screaming at you and you are saying,’ no, not Susie, she would NEVER do that’. We have instincts for a reason, trust them.

Look around your circle of friends. You should see a wonderful group of people who you enjoy and trust and who ultimately, make your life better. If not then it might be time to do some emotional de-cluttering. We, at Mama Bootcamp, call it the ‘sister code’. Laugh with one another, cheer each other on, and support one another, knowing they would have your back, when the chips are down. Life can be challenging, you need your circle to be clean and healthy!

“Friendships can be for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”

I love that. Simple right. Oprah says (and I paraphrase): “Gayle, my best friend, cheers for me the loudest when I am doing well and is there for me with open arms when I fall”.

Your challenge: take a close look at your "circle." Does it include a frenemy? Or even more than one? If so, reevaluate her/his role in your life, and decide to make a change. Tell her what you think, and what you need. Or simply decide to elevate your circle and to no longer include her in it. Initially this might feel uncomfortable, and even scary. But ultimately, you will only be the better for it. When you are surrounded by "sisters" the world is a much more supportive and happy place.

I wish for all of you a circle of sisters, or as we say at Mama Bootcamp “sistas”. Blessings.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

These are uncooked and have marinara sauce added on top

Earlier this month Lorri Ann featured this recipe on her Fox 40 Mojo Monday segment.  We also made this recipe at our most recent Make Ahead Meal Session.
You can view the video of that segment here- Heart Healthy Meal For Your Loved One

You can learn to make other great meals like this one at our monthly Make Ahead Meal Sessions.  Space is limited so sign up today! Be sure to click on the Events tab to see the information on an upcoming session.

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
By Erika Huckaby, adapted from http://damndelicious.net/
This meatless high protein meal is incredibly simple to assemble and leaves plenty of opportunity to adjust to your tastes.  You can increase the heat adding chilies or more chili powder.  Depending on the time of year, you can use fresh cut corn and tomatoes for a fresh and sweet taste.
•    3 cups cooked quinoa
•    1 cup corn kernels
•    1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
•    1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
•    1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
•    3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
•    1 teaspoon cumin
•    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
•    1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
•    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
•    6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, cumin, garlic, and chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Spoon the filling each bell pepper cavity. Place on prepared baking dish, cavity side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes. Serve!
To make ahead and freeze:  Wrap each cooked and cooled pepper in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer safe bag.  Defrost and warm as needed.  Or, wrap each filled pepper uncooked and place in a freezer bag.  Then you can defrost and cook as written in step 3.

Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #9: Body Care!

We all know that exercise is an integral part of getting and keeping our bodies healthy. But how many of us really take care of the body we are requiring so much of? This week's challenge is all about taking care of your body.

What is body care?  Glad you asked!!!

Ice Massage: Fill a small paper cup up about half way with water, and freeze. When frozen solid, peel down the paper to just below the ice. Use this to massage areas that are tight or sore - just use the ice and dig right in. The ice acts as an anti-inflammatory to help ease the pain and inflammation that can come after a hard workout. (I especially like to do this one on my shins after a long run.)

Massage: Need I say more? Who doesn't love a good massage?!?

Ice Plunge: When you're muscles are tired, sore and have had enough, try reviving with an ice plunge. Put some ice and cold water in the tub, and climb on in. Coach Krista advises keeping some type of shirt on (good tip!) and you might want to have something hot to drink as well. Sounds crazy, and maybe a bit scary, but once you try an ice plunge you'll know for sure that there are few better ways to get your body feeling great.

Foam Roller: Using a foam roller to "work out the kinks" is a quick and easy way to release sore spots. It is great for your calves, hips, quads, hamstrings, and low back. Borrow one at bootcamp, or pick one up at the sporting good store (even Target has then recently). There is a great video here on the blog to help you get started.

Epsom Salt soak: add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for about 20 minutes. It will help draw the toxins out of your system, and as a bonus will probably make you sleep like a baby! Be sure to drink a lot of water, as this can be dehydrating, and please note that diabetics should NOT use this modality without first consulting with a doctor.

YOUR CHALLENGE:  Every day this week, take care of your body. And at least every other day, try one of the body care regimens listed above.  You'll feel great, and your body will love you for it!

Have a great week, and remember to take care of your body!

Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #8: Eat your (VEGGIE) Soup!

One of the the best things you can do for your body is fuel it right, and there's nothing better than veggies.

In the winter, at least for me, it gets a little harder to get in all 7 to 9 servings of vegetables my body needs. When it is cold and rainy outside, and all I want is comfort food, a salad or crunchy carrots just doesn't seem to fit the bill.

That's where this soup comes in. Warm and delicious, and versatile enough to enjoy as a snack or a full meal, veggie soup is comfort good that it good for your body.

Your challenge for the week: Cook up a big pot of veggie soup on the first day of the challenge. Add your favorite veggies, or add some protein to make it a complete meal. Eat it when you need a snack, or a meal, or just something warm and delicious. Enjoy your comfort food, and know that you are doing something great for your body and your health.

Have a great week!

1-2 cloves fresh garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
3-4 (or more) cans chicken broth
1 onion
1 head of cabbage
3-4 carrots
3-4 celery stalks
1 red bell pepper
1-2 yellow squash
1-2 green squash

Chop all the vegetables and saute all but the squash in a big soup pot with a little oil and add 2-3 cloves of fresh chopped garlic. Saute for about 15-20 minutes until the veggies are starting to get soft. Chop and add the squash and 1 can of diced tomatoes. Then add 3-4 cans of chicken broth, or more if you want it soupy. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

You can add whatever vegetables you like to this soup. To change it up use a can of Rotel tomatoes with mild green chilies, or add a can of kidney beans, black, beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans or potatoes. You can also add turkey or chicken for a change.

Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #7: DeClutter your Life!

This week’s challenge is to de-clutter your life!

Clutter can be draining and de-energizing. By getting more organized, you simplify and live a more meaningful life.   I don't know about you, but when I'm surrounded by crap, I feel  like crap and can't live my best life.

This week, pick a drawer, a closet, or a room depending on your time and ambition  and get rid of the junk!  You can give away things you no longer use, and dust off the things you forgot you had! You will live more simply and freely as you de-clutter one step at a time.

Have an outstanding week!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Healthy Breakast Options

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But somehow it seems to be the hardest meal for many people to eat.  They don't want to eat in the morning or they are too busy.  Kids too, they get up and rush to get dressed and off to school.  This week I wanted to offer some breakfast ideas and I also wanted to provide a clean eating option for creamer in your morning coffee.  I compiled a list of breakfast ideas on my blog, E-mealplanning.com.  You can find the list of healthy breakfasts that you can eat on the go, here.  You can also look back at all of the breakfast related posts here on this blog.

So often we are brain washed to think that fat free, sugar free is better for us.  If a food in it's whole, natural state is fat free and sugar free, then yes, it probably is.  But processed and chemical-laden food that is created to be fat free and sugar free is often no good.  Taste good?  Maybe.  Good for you?  No.  So after seeing so many Mamas listing in their food logs processed coffee creamers I went in search of alternatives.  What I discovered is that it's so easy to make something yourself!  And it's less calories and clean eating!  Creamy half and half mixed with skim milk, sweetened with sugar or honey and a little bit of vanilla extract.  Simple, not processed and 25 calories in 2 tablespoons.  Coffeemate French Vanilla creamer (liquid) is 35 calories in 1 tablespoon and contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  Hydrogenated oils contain trans fats.  In a single tablespoon it's less than 1 gram.  If you use 2 tablespoons in your coffee it becomes 1 gram and if you have that every day, it can add up.  So here is a recipe I found for clean, simple Vanilla Coffee Creamer.

Do you want non dairy?  Its simple to just swap out for any non dairy milk.  Or if you don't want to make it, Organic Valley has great products and they make a non-dairy coffee creamer.

If you need more ideas/inspiration or have questions, please comment here or email me at erika@e-mealplanning.com

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #6: What's YOUR Excuse?

This week is about excuses.

We all have them...the voices in our heads that come up with amazing reasons not to work out,  to procrastinate on a project, or to avoid someone we promised to spend time with. These voices are excuses, and we really all do have them and heed them more than we should.

How are your excuses preventing you from living your best life?  How do your excuses steal your Mojo?

If you are having a hard time getting motivated, or staying motivated, take a look at why. What are YOUR excuses and why are you sabotaging yourself?

Your challenge this week: Listen to the voices that make up your excuses and hear what they are saying. Write them all down.  Then come up with a strategy to defeat them.  Use a reward systems, an accountability partner or even a simple mantra to break through your excuses and get back to (fitness) business.

Remember this:  If something is truly important to you, you will find a way to make it happen.  If it isn't truly important, you can always find an excuse.

How important is your MOJO to you?

Have a great week!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal

This is a recipe where it's really just about the method; the ingredients should be whatever lean protein and healthy green veggies you want to use.  Increase the nutrition with super-veggies like spinach and kale.  Make it meatless using tofu or cooked quinoa.  It's easy to just increase the quantities of everything to feed more people or to ensure you have plenty of leftovers for lunch.

The basic recipe with photos can be found here- e-mealplanning Recipes or you can copy it from below.

Cheap and Easy Turkey Stir Fry


2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
2-3 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 green onion, diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 zucchini sliced and then cut into match stick size pieces (julienne)
1 carrot julienne sliced
½ lb French green beans (these are the thin kind, fresh or Trader Joe’s sells them frozen and they’re great)
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbl hoisin  or teriyaki sauce (flavors are different, just use what you prefer)

In large skillet or wok, heat oils and crushed garlic over medium heat until fragrant.  Add turkey, thoroughly break up and cook until browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.
Turn heat up slightly to medium-high, add vegetables and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add turkey back, combine thoroughly, add onion and hoisin or soy sauce, continue to stir to incorporate keeping heat up so a slight bit of carmelization occurs.  Add parsely and soy sauce, stir for one more minute and then serve with steamed brown rice with extra soy sauce on the side.

 Serves 4- Recipe as written has 274 calories per serving, 13g of fat

2014 Weekly Challenge #5: A Healthy Superbowl

The BIG GAME is this weekend, and that means party time!

Leading a fit and healthy lifestyle doesn't mean you have to forgo the celebrations this weekend.  Mama Bootcamp is not a diet, it's a lifestyle change and so you can still enjoy fun gatherings like a Superbowl Party but with delicious, healthy food.  Your challenge this week is to consider nutrient-packed healthy party foods and keep away from the over-processed junk food.  Dips like salsa or hummus are great with carrots and jicima.  Fresh salsa from the deli or dairy case is better than jarred on the shelf.  If you serve them with chips, go with the baked style instead of fried.  Every supermarket around will be featuring avocados on sale this week since guacamole is a popular football party food. 

Here is a great recipe for guacamole from our food coach Erika!

Erika's Easy Guacamole
2 or 3 medium sized ripe avocados (if avocados are from Costco, 2 makes a lot)
Juice from 1 lime or 2 tsp of lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh style salsa or pico de gallo (Casa Sanchez mild salsa is my favorite brand)
Chopped fresh cilantro, about 1 tablespoon
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder- season to taste

Remove avocado flesh from the skin and in a medium size bowl mash slightly with a fork, but leave it a bit chunky.  Mix in lime juice, salsa and cilantro.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Taste and add more of anything you want more of.  You can add more heat with a dash of hot sauce (like Frank’s or Crystal brand) or a dash of cayenne pepper.  Note:  I don't care for chopped raw onion in my guacamole, I find it too strong and takes away from the star of the show, avocado.  The addition of the fresh salsa adds just the right amount of onion and tomato as a hint of seasoning.  But if you love onion, go for it.

The most important part of your party plan should be just that:  PLAN!  Plan what you will eat, and what you will skip.  Plan to bring your favorite water bottle and use it to stay hydrated.  Plan to have a great day!  And, of course...plan to cheer on the 49ers!

Have a great week!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Slow Cooking

The slow cooker, aka the Crock Pot can be such a helpful tool in your kitchen.  Especially if you are very busy and have little time to spend cooking.  But here's the thing, there are so many recipes out there for using the slow cooker that are not clean, healthy eating.  Also, there are many recipes that require some pre-cooking like browning meat on the stove first.  As someone who understands food and the science of cooking, I completely understand why a recipe will yield better results with that method.  As a busy mom, who hates dishes, I feel like it defeats the convenience of the slow cooker.  So this week I wanted to bring you some great recipes that are very easy to assemble and they are healthy. 

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken- This recipe suggests eating the cooked chicken over chunks of raw zucchini.  But there are plenty of options for serving this.  It would also be easy to eat it over brown rice.  Or in butter lettuce cups or with tortillas as filling in a wrap.

Chicken Fajitas- This is a simple recipe for chicken fajitas that you can prep in advance, put in a freezer bag to freeze and then just defrost the night before you want to cook it.

2 peppers, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 pound chicken breast
1/2 cup chicken broth
1  taco seasoning packet (or 1 tablespoon of Homemade Taco Seasoning)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt

1.    Put all the ingredients in a large freezer bag. (Make sure you label the bag with instructions.)
2.    When it’s time to cook it, dump it all in your slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
3.    When it’s cooked, shred the meat and add it back to the pepper mixture and serve on warm tortillas and your favorite toppings.

Vegan Crock Pot Polenta Lasagna- Instead of layers of noodles, this recipe uses polenta.  Because it is vegan, it includes a recipe for a vegan cheese sauce to layer with the vegetables and polenta.  You can easily just use shredded part skim mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #4: A Complaint Free Week

In week one, we talked about paying attention to the positive things in your life. This week's challenge is a play on the same idea: Whatever you feed grows.

This week, continue to feed the positive by eliminating negative words from your life.

How many times in a day do you engage in negative self talk? "I can't do this!" "My hips are too wide!" "I'm too slow a runner!" And how often do you complain about other things? "My husband never puts his dirty clothes in the hamper!" "My mother in law calls too early in the morning!"

We all do it, and it can a hard habit to break!

Give yourself a little visual (and physical) reminder of this week's challenge. Put a rubber band around your wrist and wear it like a bracelet. When you catch yourself in a complaint, give the band a tug. SNAP SNAP!

When you stop complaining, you have no choice but to focus on the positive. And by feeding only the positive, the good stuff grows and grows.

Have a GREAT (and complaint free) week!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Healthy Party Foods

In the next couple weeks you may be faced with hosting or attending a football party, or an Academy Awards party.  I put together a few suggestions for healthy options for party food.  And actually, you will love these so much you will just want to make them "just because"!

Obvious things like fruit or veggies platters are easy, but people often pass over that for the fatty and sugary foods.  But you can make them more attractive with a delicious and healthy dip.  Hummus, of course is something we often suggest on meal plans and food logs.  Take it up a notch with Avocado Cilantro Hummus.  Another fantastic dip to serve with veggies and baked pita chips is 5 Layer Greek Dip.

Instead of a green salad, try this protein and nutrient packed Black Bean Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing.

My own recipe for Tomato, Avocado and Corn Salsa is awesome for eating with grilled chicken, tortilla chips or adding on top of salad.

Looking for a hot appetizer?  Try these Low Fat Artichoke Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms.  The recipe uses baby portabellas, you could use smaller mushrooms for bite size appetizers. 

Need more recipes or ideas for clean, healthy eating?  Email me at erika@e-mealplanning.com

Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge: Make an Appointment for Fitness!

If you ask an average woman on the street why she doesn't exercise regularly, odds are the answer will be "I don't have time." And the truth is, there isn't a single one of us who has enough time to do everything that needs doing.

Most of the important "to do's" in our lives are scheduled in advance. Dentist? Doctor? Hair cut? Lunch with a friend? Send a card for Aunt Dianna's birthday? Just about all of these things get planned in advance - written on a calendar, note, list, etc.

Something as important as your own health deserves at least equal attention!!

This week, schedule an appointment for fitness. Sit down with your calendar (or favorite tech gadget) and set the date and time for your workouts. When will you exercise? Where? What specifically are you going to do? Will you have a workout partner? Record it all wherever you keep track of all your other appointments. And then...

KEEP THE APPOINTMENT. You wouldn't stand up your doctor, boss or best friend would you? Give yourself the same courtesy and respect.

By Sunday night at 7pm, have your schedule set. For a little extra accountability, let your coach know what your schedule is, and email her after each of your appointments.

Now go get your calendar and plan for a great week!

Monday, January 13, 2014


If you were lucky enough to get a Vitamix or Ninja as a gift recently then you are probably looking for all kinds if smoothie recipes.
Here is a great little smoothie chart to give you inspiration for your own fruit and veggie combinations.

This smoothie is a little different and if you are someone who doesn't like a thick texture, you may not like this, but any good blender will make it very smooth:  Banana Oatmeal Smoothie 
It's delicious and very filling.  I highly recommend that all the ingredients be cold and/or frozen.  It's a great use for leftover oatmeal or make some oatmeal before bed, stick it in the fridge and then use it with frozen bananas.  It's perfect for after a Bootcamp session!

My personal go to smoothie that I like is very simple.  Pineapple, mango, banana, Greek yogurt (I usually have vanilla on hand) and then either vanilla almond milk or orange juice.  When I'm making it just for myself it's just two or three chunks of each fruit, two heaping tablespoons of yogurt and then I start with a 1/4 cup of liquid and pour in more as I blend until it is the consistency I like (I prefer thicker).  If I have little cutie mandarins, I'll throw one of those in too.  I don't use crushed ice because I use frozen fruit and don't want to water it down.

What about green smoothies?  Wondering how they taste or what is the best way to make one?  Here is a great one for you to start with.  Beginner's Green Smoothie.

I personally don't consider a smoothie a replacement for a meal, especially since my usual smoothie is mostly fruit with juice and a little yogurt, but it can be a great start for breakfast first thing in the morning followed with whole wheat toast and peanut butter. There is a whole world of protein powders to choose from as well as vitamin supplements that can be added to make a smoothie a vehicle for more nutrition and fuel for starting your day. 

Leave a comment and share your favorite smoothie!

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #2 - Drink your Water!

Drinking lots of a water is one of the easiest way to improve your health and change your body. We recommend that you drink 80 to 100 ounces every single day.

Other than the fact that water tastes refreshing and clean, there are so many other benefits of drinking 80 ounces or more of water every day. Here are just a few…

** Being hydrated reduces/eliminates headaches

** Being hydrated fights fatigue/give you energy

**Drinking water is an appetite suppressant (most of the time that you think you are hungry, you are actually thirsty)

** Water helps kidney functioning properly

** Water helps Liver metabolize and flush out fat and toxins

** You can burn 30% more calories when hydrated

** Being hydrated will give you beautiful skin and hair

** Your body is over 80% water (need I say more)

But wait, there’s more! Drinking water at the correct time maximizes its effectiveness on the Human body as well:

2 glasses of water after waking up; helps activate internal organs
1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal; helps digestion
1 glass of water before taking a bath; helps lower blood pressure
1 glass of water before going to bed; avoids stroke or heart attack

Find your Mojo with 80-100 ounces every day. Your body will love you for it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sweet Snacks

Something that I have noticed in reviewing the food logs of many Mamas is that in an attempt to keep the calorie intake low, but still treat themselves to something sweet they will eat 1 or 2 cookies or a mini candy or something like that.  And sure, maybe it keeps you within your calorie intake range, but it's empty calories that most likely doesn't fuel your body.  Not to mention if you are hungry, it doesn't usually satisfy hunger and it also requires plenty of willpower to limit yourself to just one or two.  It's a very slippery slope when it comes to empty calorie, processed foods.  Yes, you should do your food logs and count the calorie intake to keep yourself accountable and stay within the suggested calorie intake.  So maybe those 2 cookies are just 80 calories, or a bag of those processed 100 calorie snacks makes you feel like you had a treat but didn't eat many calories.  But instead, feed your body a snack or a "treat" that sometimes could be a littler higher in calories, but they are high quality calories.  So this week I want to share with you a couple of options for something that you could have as a sweet treat, but would also provide more nutrition than a cookie or tiny piece of candy.

1.  Fruit, fruit, fruit.  The better snacking option is natural, clean eating and wholesome fruit.  It's winter and we live in an area abundant with yummy and sweet mandarin oranges (40 calories in 1).  Or lovely crisp apples (95 cal in a medium size).   If you want, make this great dip for apples and bananas.  Mix a small container of vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  It holds up well in the refrigerator for several days; make some and pack it in small containers with your grab-and-go bags of fruit, for a snack that is sweet, healthy and a great combo of fiber and protein.  Fills you up and fuels your body!

2.  Make your own healthier cookie.  There are some good recipes out there.  I have one of my own, it's actually a no-bake cookie dough ball.  It's a good for the late afternoon if you feel a dip in your energy level, or also if you need a little sweet treat after dinner.  Check out my No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.  Taste tested and approved by our Mama Bootcamp Coaches.  Another snack that I love is from fellow Mama, Allison and it's over on her blog, Get NaturedLemon Coconut Energy Balls.  Not only can they be a healthy snack, but a great recovery food.  Pack one or two in a container and eat them on your way home after bootcamp.

For more recipes or suggestions you can email me at erika@e-mealplanning.com.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #1: An Attitude of Gratitude

Happy New Year!

The year is spread out in front of you like a book of empty pages, ready to be filled.  We at Mama Bootcamp want to help you make this your very best year ever by helping you find your MOJO in every way you can. We hope you will join us by participating in our weekly challenges, getting to Bootcamp and working toward all your goals. 

Challenge #1: An Attitude of Gratitude
Start off the year by actively being thankful for all the good things in your life. Remembering to be thankful for the good stuff - big and small - can help you get your "attitude on right." Whatever you focus on gets bigger and more important. So instead of focusing on the less positive (something you are angry about, negative feelings about a job, etc.) and making those things more important, take a minute to feel thankful for the positives in your life.

Start keeping a Gratitude Journal. Every day, write down three things you are thankful for. Every entry must be different every day.  Nothing is too big and nothing is too small - just focus on the lovely in your life.

What a great way to start 2014!

I (Coach Lara) will get you started with my top three gratitudes:

1) I am grateful for my husband and daughter, who love me for me unconditionally
2) I am thankful for the technology that makes far away friends accessible and lets me stay in touch.
3) I am grateful my foam roller!

We'd love to know what you are grateful for - will you share?