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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.