October 23, 2010

Getting in the Burn

My little Mia is getting so big! She turned 8 months on the 17th of October, and time is just flying by. It's getting harder and harder to work in my daily exercise, but I am still determined! Mia is busier by the day, crawling all over, pulling herself up on absolutely everything, putting everything in site in her mouth, I'm sure I'm burning a few extra calories chasing my pink pixie around the house. Since Mia is 8 months, how about we discuss 8 sprints that can change your life?


Like I said, we don’t have a lot of extra time as busy Mom's, but the time you do have to work out you want to make the most of. I get it. Well if you don’t have those extra 30 minutes to jog in the mornings, how about 20 minutes for some intense and yet incredibly effective cardio? Here are some pointers that will help you to see result when you try on your skinny jeans in a couple of weeks from now.

For starters, let’s talk basics. What are you doing before you work out?

The very best time of day that you can work out is first thing in the morning. So after you’ve been woken up at that wee small hour of the morning, such as 5:30, or 6:30am, this is when you start thinking “I’m going to get my burn in.”

Start with drinking a massive glass of water. I’m not talking one of those 12oz Crate and Barrel tumblers in your cupboard. I’m talking one of those giant 24-32oz brightly colored plastic cups you keep on the top shelf, so guests don’t see them immediately. Fill it up with room temperature or warm water, and preferably some lemon. I keep sliced lemons in a Ziplock in the fridge for just those occasions, or if lemons are out of season, I buy organic lemon juice in those squeezy little yellow plastic lemon-shaped deals and use that. I might even add a couple drops of stevia. Pound the whole thing while you are nursing or feeding baby their first meal of the day.

The best time to exercise in the morning is prior to consuming anything at all. Studies show that exercising after a night of fasting will lead to maximum fat burning. Some say that consuming high quality whey protein 30 minutes to working out is second best to fasting, and can even up your fat burning a little bit (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2010/05000/Timing_Protein_Intake_Increases_Energy_Expenditure.21.aspx). But if you’re like me and like to avoid whey, then consider a superfood made with hemp protein powder.

My favorite pre-workout snack is 2-3 of my spirulina-hemp-cacao balls (titled “Little Black Balls” under my recipes label) or a cup of my Incan Warrior Hot Chocolate. I try and go on an empty stomach, but let’s face it; sometimes we just can’t pull that off. I usually need a little “umph” to get going, especially after a rough night, so that’s when the Incan Warrior or superfood balls come in handy.

The worst thing to eat before hitting the pavement or hand weights is carbohydrates (fruits, energy drinks, a bagel, cereal, etc.). Eating carbs activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which promotes energy storage. This reduces your fat burning efforts, which is the complete opposite of what you're trying to do!

The same applies to your post-workout regimen. You must avoid the sugar/starch/simple carbs post workout (including energy drinks!), otherwise you are sabotaging your body’s HGH production, limiting your ability to burn fat. Avoid these type of foods for at least 2 hours post workout, otherwise your insulin sensitive and HGH production will be inhibited (check out Dr. Mercola’s in depth article regarding this topic here, if you are interested: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/19/post-workout-routine-and-fat-burning-strategies.aspx). So what do you eat? Eat a low-carb meal such as an egg white scramble with some vegetables, or you can also go with something like my green smoothie (under my Recipes section) which is just vegetables, fats and hemp protein powder. Try and avoid protein and other meal supplement-type bars, as they are usually loaded with unseen sugars and carbs.

Now moving on to what you should do for maximum fat burn in a minimal amount of time; “Peak 8” exercises is the absolute best. Here’s what I do. I take off from my front door, jog over to a long stretch of street with minimal traffic, and break into a sprint.
I sprint for 30 seconds, then jog or walk for 90 seconds. Repeat this 8 times (hence their name, “Peak 8’s”). If you are having a particularly energized day, try for 9 or 10 sprints. Then simply jog home.
Jogging to the street where I like to run my sprints takes about 5 minutes, then the 8 sprints take about 20 minutes, then I jog 5 minutes home, and in 30 minutes I’ve burned more fat in a day than a lot of people will. If you don’t have 30 minutes, but have 20?
Take off with your first sprint right out the front door! Don’t have 20 minutes? Try for 6 or 7 sprints… something is always better than nothing!
Your goal is to get your heart rate to its maximum (220-your age; mine is 191). If you are really getting into this and want to check your heart rate, then simple take your pulse at your wrist or neck, count for 15 seconds and multiply by four. Otherwise, I’m sure if you’re going all-out for 30 seconds for all 8 sprints, you are doing just fine. J

I don’t carry a stop watch, and usually I am giving Mia attention in her B.O.B. stroller in between sprints, so I just keep track on my phone or in my head. As soon as I start to somewhat catch my breath in between sprints, I know it’s time to go again. If you are a real hard-core runner, then you can do the stop watch and everything, or running on a treadmill, using an elliptical or stationary bike are also optimal for this kind of workout. But if you’re a Mom like me, and getting into the gym has turned into a long running family joke, then take to the streets ladies -early in the morning, baby in the stroller or napping at home with Daddy on duty.

The reason why Peak 8 exercise is so effective (also Circuit Training, same concept; Peak 8 can also be done on a stationary bike, elliptical, etc. as I mentioned above) is because it is the only type of exercise that is going to promote the production of HGH in your body. HGH is produced when your “super-fast” muscles are engaged, in contrast to engaged your “slow” or “fast” muscle fibers. For a detailed report on this concept see Dr. Mercola’s article: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2010/07/27/the-growing-promise-of-shorter-more-intense-strength-training-workouts.aspx.

This is just more proof that there is a way to get it all in. Even if you just do these 8 sprints 2-4 times per week, you will see results and feel a million times better for getting in the burn. Your clothes will start to fit a bit loser, and your daytime stamina will increase, as well as your deep sleep at night.

Now for the question you pregnant gals are dying to ask… “Can I do these sprints pregnant?” I did. They got slower and fewer towards the end of my pregnancy, and I wasn’t a maniac. I listened to what my doctor said about where my target heart rate (for pregnancy) should be, and I did what she said. I was in great shape prior to my pregnancy, so I didn’t just start all of this out of the blue once my e.p.t. test came back positive, so use your common sense, talk to your doctor about all of your questions and concerns, and go with your gut. I found the sprints to give me marvelous energy, and avoid unnecessary fat gain during my pregnancy. But only you know your body, and when/how/where to push yourself. If you have never had a consistent workout routine, and want to start one for the first time during your pregnancy, then I would consider some other options, as a beginner. Talk to your doctor about a good place for you to start, and maybe work up to some moderate sprints. Either way, stay hydrated and always use your common sense.

You can do this!



October 22, 2010

Recipe: Decadent Chocolate Layered Nut Bars


So there I was craving a decadent desert the other night... and since I am on my 100% grain free kick (usually just gluten free, and I'll eat corn, rice and quinoa, but I've eliminated those for 30 days) I had to come up with something delicious that would make me forget about the big fat gluten free cupcakes I wanted.

This is how the process works girls! You have to think of the ingredients you want, and find substitutes and stay within your range of eating style. Especially if you have dietary restrictions like I do, or are simply trying to lose that baby weight, keep from putting on the baby weight, or just want something you can devour without feeling guilty about it. =)

I was craving the flavors of chocolate, nuts and coconut. So here is what I came up with; mix, press, refrigerate, and enjoy!

1 Cup Organic Raw Cashews
1/2 Cup Organic Raw Almonds, slivered
1 Cup Organic Raw Coconut, shredded
1 Cup Organic Dates, chopped
2 Tbsp Organic Raw Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Organic Raw Honey
1/4-1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Organic, Gluten Free Vanilla (or inside of 2 vanilla beans)
1 Heaping Scoop Raw Maca Powder

Chop ingredients in food processor (depending on size of food processor you may have to do it in two batches).
Spoon nut mixture into an 8x8 or 9x9 pan or glass baking dish greased with 1 tsp. raw coconut oil. Using a piece of parchment paper (or wax paper works too) press mixture firmly into the pan, pressing on the top and edges with the palm of your hand until solid. Set aside.

Using a double broiler (a glass bowl on top of a sauce pan with a cup or two of boiling water works), slowly melt approximately 1 1/2 - 2 cups organic raw cacao butter. You will need to shave the block of cacao butter so that it melts quicker and doesn't over-heat, losing it's raw properties.

Slowly stir in:

1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. stevia powder
1 Scoop (approx. 1 heaping tbsp) either Lacuma or Mesquite powder
3-4 Heaping Tbsp. of Raw Cacao Powder

I always have to play around a bit with the amounts of cacao and sweetener... Add the sweetener and cacao powder to your liking, there is no "wrong" with raw chocolate, unless it tastes awful, ha ha. But just keep playing around with your sweeteners! Sometimes I like to add a dash of cayenne pepper or cinnamon!

As soon as all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly and clumps are dissolved, remove from heat (as quickly as possible) and set aside. Allow to cool for about 3-5 minutes.

Pour chocolate evenly over the pressed nut mixture. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool for 45-90 minutes.

Some tasty twists include spreading Nutella on top of the cooled bars (if you have no milk allergies and aren't avoiding sugar) or sprinkling shredded coconut on top of the cacao prior to cooling. Both are fun and yummy, and the bars 'naked' are my fav. =)

Enjoy your raw, gluten free, superfood packed sweet treat with zero guilt, and share with family and friends to really impress ;)




October 20, 2010

Recipe: Grain Free Granola Squares

These super chewy goodies will keep you full and satisfied while on the go, during a road trip, or a handy grab 'n nosh for the diaper bag. My husband loves them, and they don't stay in the fridge for long! I can't seem to keep them stock!

(Use organic whenever possible!)

1/2 Cup Raw Cashews
1/2 Cup Raw Almonds
1 Cup Dried Apricots, chopped
1 Cup Dates, chopped
1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
2 Scoops Raw Maca Powder
1 Tbsp. Raw Honey
2 tsp. Gluten Free Vanilla
1/2 Cup Raw Coconut, shredded
1/4 Cup Raw Sesame Seeds
1/2 Cup of dried Currants, dried Blueberries, or dried Cherries
2 Tbsp. Raw Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, possibly in 2 batches. Place mixture on a large piece of parchment paper, oil a rolling pin with raw coconut oil, and roll 'dough' out to about a 1/2 inch or so.


Cut bars into the size of square or rectangle that you desire, place in container and refrigerate. Mmmm!




October 18, 2010

Looking To Save $$$ ?

This is more of a "tip" than a blog post, but I had to pass along this great information for those of you still unaware as I was just a short time ago.

A client of mine recently tipped me off to the great savings you can accumulate by becoming and "Amazon Mom" on Amazon.com! You can sign up for free, no obligation, to have your choice of diapers, baby food, wipes and a million other wonderful, organic and baby essential items shipped to your house for %15-%30 off store prices!

You sign up for the products you want, the amount, select the frequency you'd like your favorite products to be shipped to your door, and there you go! You can change items, delete/add items, or cancel all together at anytime, again with no obligation! It is absolutely fantastic, and wow, what a time-saver!!! Forget running to the store at 10pm because you forgot to grab diapers earlier in the day, or running out of wipes at the worst possible poomergency moment. You can even order home essentials and great baby-friendly cleaning products you use everyday like Seventh Generation and more! They even carry all the on-the-go baby food I like to keep in stock, such as Ella's Kitchen, World Baby Food, Happy Baby Organics, Plum Organics and tons more.

Had to pass on the tip; I've signed up and have been loving it so far. I am currently saving almost $13 per package of diapers... I am currently using the Huggies Pure & Natural diapers with Organic Cotton, and am getting 144 diapers for $28. That is a steal of a deal! Sign up if you are interested, or share any other money saving tips in the comments section!



October 17, 2010

Recipes: Kombucha -The Making!

I've written about the benefits and power of this tasty and intriguing beverage before, and now I want to share with you how to make your very own! It is so easy, and the possibilities are endless.

Let's start with the basic recipe:

12 Cups of Water
1 Cup Organic, Fair Trade Sugar (raw is best)
3-5 Tea Bags (your choice)
1 Kombucha "Mother"


Bring the water to a boil in a giant pot. Add in the cup of sugar, stir until dissolved. Add in the tea bags, and allow the entire pot to cool to room temperature.


After it's cooled, transfer tea to a large glass bowl. Lay 'The Mother" on top of the bowl, and then cover with either a cloth, or clear wrap with many, many holes punctured in it. You can then cover the top with a cloth. If the cloth won't stay put, I like to use an old Goody hair band to secure into place.

("The Mother")




Allow tea to ferment for 7-9 days, depending on the strength you prefer.

Remove the mother and start a new batch, placing the removed tea in a pitcher, refrigerated.

After a couple of batches you can peel off layers of "The Mother" mushroom and give away or start multiple batches!

The most common tea is just a plain, organic black tea. But you can certainly mix things up! You can add an unsweetened juice of your choice for flavor, grape is my favorite. I will add R.W. Kudson's Just Concord Grape for a bit of flavor, but you can add anything you'd like. Avoid super sugary juices like mango, or purees.

My very favorite variation is "Black & White Mango" Kombucha. I use two 3 mango flavored black tea bags, and two white tea bags.
Another favorite is Pomegranate White Tea flavor. Trader Joe's carries a delicious box of Pomegranate White Tea.
For pregnant or lactating Mom's, use caffeine free tea, such as a Raspberry Flavor, or any other the caffeine free Celestial Teas... all delicious! I like using the Lemon Zinger, and adding some fresh ginger to the tea, that will take the edge off of morning sickness!
Another yummy combination is Blueberry Tea and White Tea together.
The possibilities are endless, and it is so good for your health.

You can find "The Mother" online and order it, or start asking around to see if anyone can peel you off a layer from their mushroom. You'd be surprised who has them! I got my first mother from a guy in my yoga class many years ago. I "fell off the wagon" when I moved, as my mushroom didn't make the move. But my cousin recently provided me with a new fantastic mushroom, and I'm going strong once again!
Making your own kombucha can save you BIG bucks, as they charge upwards of $3-$4 per 12oz bottles in the store.



October 14, 2010

Trick or Treat: Time to Treat Mom!

Hey, Halloween isn't just about treats for the kiddos! I know there are a million and one festive sweet treats recipes out there, candy and more that will kick your sweet tooth into over drive, but how about something easy and delicious you can enjoy after the kids are in bed?

We all need our "fix" of something sweet every once in a while, I know it better than anyone. To say I have a sweet tooth is a total understatement, but there are solutions for those of us on a gluten free diet who don't want to just inhale loads of our kids candy or (all of) the leftover gluten free cupcakes and festive rice crispy treats.

My newest and most favorite discovery is that of my (old) favorite, ice cream sandwiches! But they are organic and gluten free, and oh-so-yummy! They are Julie's Organic brand, and I found them at a Fry's Marketplace grocery store (which has a fabulous gluten free section, by the way), but I know there are elsewhere as well. They are truly delicious, and will satisfy that childhood craving for a melty-ooey-gooey ice cream sandwich:


Secondly, what is a desert treat without a light, crisp and insanely fantastic glass of wine to accompany it? It would be like peanut butter without jelly! Cookies without milk! Brownies without Nutella! I've recently discovered this delectable, slightly sweet, dry enough and reasonably priced chardonnay that is worth sticking in the fridge for a treat night like we're discussing:


And the fact that it's called "Cupcake" just makes it.

Enjoy the fall festivities, and don't forget to indulge a little bit yourself so that you don't over indulge in all the "gunk & junk."



October 10, 2010

A Few of Her Favorite Things

Since starting Mia on solids just a couple of weeks ago, we have really explored the world of baby food, baby superfoods, organic purees, the works.

I now have a freezer full of tasty baby food ranging from pureed organic sweet potatoes, organic butternut squash, organic pureed pears, and more. But what about "the others" out there? All the jars, packets, boxes and tubes of organic this and that for baby? What's good and what's "eh?"

Mia's has grown to love what Mommy gives her, pears and avocado are two of her favorite, and shockingly enough she is not a banana baby! She likes applesauce and loves carrots and butternut squash. But on the go it's hard to always pack the food you are sure will keep, or not end up with some not-yet-thawed fare when you're in the middle of the food court at the neighborhood mall. So what are some great products? We took a few for a test drive.

I decided (after a day or two on rice cereal) to steer clear of grains for Mia at this point. I have such difficulty with grains myself, and I noticed that even with a couple days of grains in her diet, Mia was showing signs of digestive distress, gas, increased fussiness, but not constipation, which is a common side effect of starting on grains. I switched immediately to quinoa flakes:


I cooked them on the stove, added a pinch of sea salt and a drop of gluten free organic vanilla, then I poured into my blender, added some of my homemade organic pureed pears, blended until smooth, and fed her about a tablespoon or two mixed with a bit of breastmilk (you can use formula if that is what baby is on). She loves it! She also loves it mixed with organic applesauce or organic pureed prunes. This is a wonderful alternative to rice, oatmeal or other baby cereals, and both my pediatrician and naturopath backed me up.

If you are not of the mind to avoid grains and would like to feed baby some rice cereal to start, this is what I used for the first two days and really liked the quality of the product, and Mia ate it up and loved it:


So when on the go, other than cereal, we test drove several jars and brands, and I'd like to introduce you to a few of Mia's favorites:


We have fallen in love with Ella's Kitchen, organic pureed baby food in these handy-dandy pouches that travel great, and taste fabulous! These are her three favorites (we try and stay away from giving Mia just fruits, and lean more towards vegetables only, with the occasional vegetable/fruit blends). Her number one favorite is the Broccoli, Peas & Pears pouch, followed by a close second with the Carrots, Apples & Parsnips. She also loves the Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Apples & Blueberries one. Pack a spoon, or pick up a pair of the easy twist-on-top spoons, and you are set to go! These packets will last 48 hours in the fridge after being opened, and Mia loves them warm or cold. These recipes are also fun to recreate at home with your blender or food processor, and the combinations are inspirational. They use only lemon juice as a preservative, so your baby is getting all wholesome goodness and no additives or preservatives at all.

I don't know how it happened, but I have the baby who's favorite fruit so far is pureed prunes! Which is great for Mom, because constipation has not yet been a problem in our household! I mix the prunes into her cereal, or with her pureed butternut squash, or with spinach. She also loves them plain, but I try and avoid giving her straight fruit. The prunes we love most are from Plum organics:


Mia also loves the Plum organics flavor or Spinach, Peas & Pears.

So from pureed butternut squash, to mashed avocado, Mia is also loving watermelon chunks (I pinch off teeny-tiny pieces) or I let her go at a whole piece, of which she mostly sucks out the juice, but has a blast holding the slice like a "big girl" and isn't thrilled when I take it away.


There are some great books out there on baby superfood recipes and more, found on Amazon.com or at your local Barnes & Noble, Buy Buy Baby, or a million little boutiques out there. Two of our favorites are Petit-Appetit Organic Cookbook and Top 100 Baby Purees, both found on Amazon.com:

Thoroughly enjoy this first eating experience with your little one. And when those mixed feelings come up of baby's getting bigger, just experience them, and then let them pass. Each day is a unique one, filled with a million amazing memories and moments. It is so hard to see them grow, and yet a fascinating and priceless journey at the same time. Being an exclusively breastfeeding Mom has brought up many mixed emotions for me as my daughter has started on solids. I feel some days like she doesn't need me as much, and a little sore that I am not her total food source anymore. But it is bound to happen, and even though I wanted to go as long as possible without introducing solids, I have to give myself credit that I was able to go 7 months. Mia has a wonderful foundation, and no matter how long you were able to breastfeed your baby, any amount at all has given them an edge in the growth and development department, so good for you!

I am still breastfeeding Mia 6 times per day, and she her best feedings are her first one in the morning and her last two at night. The rest are kind of touch and go because she is such a busy and active little girl, so she is easily distracted. Breastfeeding out and about has become a true challenge, so bringing a bottle of breastmilk in a little cooler pack is a good idea. Remember that breastmilk and/or formula are baby's number one source of nutrition for the first year, so keep up a good schedule and make sure that you offer breastmilk or formula before every "real" food feeding.