What’s Your Favorite Condiment?

I’m very picky about my condiments. Maybe you are too. So when I do a nutritional intake with a new client I pay close attention to their use of condiments because we all have our favorites. Some are healthier for you than others.

In making suggestions to clients it becomes a “use this, not that” kind of idea. And it helps to think outside the condiment box.

So what would I say are the five best condiment choices?

1. I have to start with MY favorite one…….MUSTARD!

Mustard is absolutely one of the healthiest condiments! It has no added sugar.  Also, mustard seed itself is a source of powerful antioxidants.  In addition to the antioxidants in the mustard seed, most yellow mustards also contain tumeric and paprika, which both contain powerful antioxidants as well!

2. Guacamole.

It has lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Remember to use it as a condiment, so keep your portion size appropriate.

And it makes everything taste better. Use it instead of mayo in egg salad. Make your own. It’s fresher and fast to make.

3. Salsa.

Although ketchup might be on an unhealthy list due to the sugar content, salsa makes the super healthy list as it almost never has added sugars.  Salsa is mostly just vegetables and it mixes well with guacamole!

4. Hummus.

Hummus is mostly just chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, and olive oil, and is easily one of the healthiest condiments. Or you can use it as a separate snack by itself.

The main thing to look for when buying a good hummus is to make sure it’s made with olive oil. Unfortunately most brands use cheap soy or canola oil, but if you’re a label reader, it’s easy to find a brand that uses solely olive oil.

However, I suggest making your own. I do and it’s easy and you can control the ingredients and make it just to suit your taste. I’ve tried many different store-bought hummus brands and I simply prefer my own!

One of my favorite snacks is just veggie sticks with hummus. However, hummus is also a delicious condiment to go with sandwiches or used as a salad dressing.

5. Pesto.

Pesto is generally a mix of garlic, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and grated cheese.  It’s a great source of healthy fats and also powerful antioxidants, mostly from the garlic and basil, but to some extent from the pine nuts and olive oil too.

Pesto goes incredibly well with sandwiches, on meat dishes, or on eggs.

Surprised you didn’t see hot sauce on this list? Let’s call it #5A.

I’m not much of a hot sauce user but hot sauce is fairly healthy. Most hot sauces don’t have added sugars.  And the hot peppers are actually good for you and could even cause a slight and temporary metabolism increase.  The only drawback to most hot sauces is a moderately high sodium content. Unless you go nuts with loads of hot sauce on every meal, the sodium content in hot sauce will not be an issue.

So that’s my list. You might have your own, so let me know if I left anything off this one!

How To Make A Super Shake

One of the questions I get asked over and over again is, “What am I putting in my super shakes?” While I change up the ingredients quite often, here’s what I’m using these days.

  • Step 1: 5 ice cubes
  • Step 2: ½ frozen banana & 2 pitted dates
  • Step 3: 2 kale leaves & 1 tsp of powdered greens supplement (there are many good kinds of greens supplements)
  • Step 4: 2 scoops of plain pea protein powder (I try different kinds of protein powders to see what they taste like)
  • Step 5: Handful of walnuts
  • Step 6: Water (just enough for it to mix)
  • Step 7: Top with a few sprinkles of coconut or a teaspoon of coconut oil
  • Step 8: Drink and smile. You’re getting more nutrition in this shake than most people get in one week.

And one other tip. Someone emailed me and told me their blender was smoking! At first I thought this was a joke until I realized what they were saying. Blenders do smoke. It means it’s time for a new one!

Keep in mind, not all of the steps are mandatory.  If you don’t want any fruit, leave it out.  If you are using almond milk and don’t want to add extra nuts, leave them out. You get the idea.

In the end, select some of the fruits you enjoy, with vegetables and proteins that seem to work best for you. Feel free to experiment. I do recommend that you add your ingredients in the order listed. I find this gives me the best consistency and easiest blending. That way my blender doesn’t smoke!

Are You Getting The RIGHT Things Done?

A friend asked me the other day if I’d read Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!, Tracy is a personal effectiveness expert.

Her question reminded me of one very important principle Tracy and so many other effectiveness and efficiency experts talk about.

It’s called the law of forced efficiency. It says: “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”

Interesting law and well worth applying.

The fact is that the average person today is working at 110-130 percent of capacity. And the jobs and responsibilities just keep piling up. One recent study concluded that the average person has a backlog of 300-400 hours of reading and projects at home and at the office.

What this means is that you will never be caught up. Get that out of your mind. That’s a hard one for me and sometimes I think I write about what I most need to learn!

All you can hope for is to keep on top of your most important responsibilities. The others will just have to wait.

If we follow that reasoning, the key question we can ask is: “What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?”

Every hour of every day, there is an answer to this question. Your task is to ask yourself that question, over and over again and to make sure you’re always spending your time working on whatever is most important at that particular moment. Right now for me it’s writing this article and enjoying my coffee! See? It’s not all bad!

The more accurate your answer is to this question, the easier it will be for you to set clear priorities and overcome procrastination. It helps you stay focused and you’ll not only get more done faster, but you’ll also get the right things done! Getting things done is great….but getting the RIGHT things done is even better!

Take Your Exercise Routine Outdoors!

Here’s a simple and fun exercise routine that you can take outdoors.

Here’s the routine:

Do each exercise one after the other in a circuit. Modify the routine and the weights to your current level of fitness. Take no more than 60 seconds of rest between exercises.

  1. Walk, jog or run for 3 minutes
  2. Walking lunges – 20 reps total (10 each leg)
  3. Pushups – 10 reps
  4. Step ups – use your body weight or hold on to two dumbbells – 10 reps each leg. Step up and down on to a high bench.
  5. Squat with Overhead Shoulder Press – 15 reps – (Hold on to two dumbbells. Squat down and then press the weights overhead as you come up from the squat)
  6. Tricep Pushups – 10 reps

Take a 1-2 minute breather, drink some water and then repeat the circuit for a total of 3-4 times.

I find that the trick to keeping my workouts consistent is to always keep them fresh and interesting. Don’t get into a rut of doing the same thing all the time, especially when you can take your workouts outdoors.

Have You Ever Eaten Candy To Relieve Stress?

I read an article recently that said that the economy is wreaking havoc on Americans’ health. And, according to the findings of a landmark Gallup poll, Americans’ stress levels soared in 2008 and continue to rise each year.

But one economically related health risk mentioned in the article really jumped out at me.

It said that more and more Americans are turning to a tried-and-true stress reliever for comfort: CANDY.

Auto manufacturers and insurance companies may be struggling. But candy companies are thriving. Cadbury’s profits rose 30 percent in 2008 and continue to increase. Nestle’s increased by nearly 11 percent. And Hershey’s profits surged by 8.5 percent in the last quarter of 2008 and its stock price has been soaring.

Sure, indulging in sugary foods may make you feel better temporarily. But in the long run, it’s going to ruin your health.

According to organic chemist and nutrition expert Shane Ellison, “If left unchecked, an addiction to sweets spikes blood sugar and the fat-storing hormone insulin, disrupts satiety (causing you to overeat), and gives rise to age-accelerating molecules known as AGEs (advanced glycation end products). AGEs are responsible for causing wrinkles and age-related blindness, as well as premature heart attacks and stroke.”

And interestingly enough, I was just reading about AGEs detrimental effect and its link to Alzheimers.

Eventually, too much sugar can result in SERIOUS health problems, including insulin resistance, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

If you’re turning to sweets to feel better, I recommend that you try confections made with “safe” sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, agave, xylitol and luo han guo. Or stick to dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants and has a host of other health benefits.

Of course I always recommend that you monitor your TOTAL sugar intake because sugar is sugar is sugar, even if it’s the “healthy” kind. I also recognize that most folks are going to eat some form of candy or sweets, so it’s helpful to pass this information along to you so you make better sugar choices.

How To Visualize For Goal Setting

Visualization, or imagery, whichever word you prefer to use, is an excellent tool for accomplishing any goal.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:

  1. Do create an image in your mind as vividly as possible of what you want to achieve in your sport, in your health, or in your life. Just let distracting thoughts and feelings float away as you refocus on your image.
  2. Do bring in all five of your senses so you can see, hear, and feel what it’s like to have already obtained your desired result. Sight, hearing, and touch are the most powerful senses for incorporating day-to-day imagery into your life. Bring the scene into the present tense so you are totally focused on the task at hand.
  3. Don’t just visualize the end result; focus on seeing the process. Focus on what it takes to get there. In a sport for instance, that would be your form, your breathing, your pacing, your confidence.
  4. Mentally rehearse your actions at the same rhythm and pace that you want in actual execution to establish the appropriate neurological patterns within the brain.
  5. Don’t replay your mistakes. This is a challenge, I know. You want to remove the memory of errors. If you see yourself doing something incorrectly, edit the film in your mind and replay it exactly as you wish it to happen. Imagine that you’re performance is equal to or better than your previous best.
  6. Use visual models. Before going to sleep at night try watching a video of a superior performance (e.g. get out your recordings from the last Olympics). Then visualize yourself moving just as fluidly and powerfully as your visual models. I use this with my swimming and IT WORKS!

Give visualization a try. It’s a powerful tool to have in your self care, performance enhancing toolkit, no matter what goal you’re working towards.

Spice Up Your Life And Burn Fat At The Same Time

Want to spice up your life AND burn some fat? Who doesn’t, right?

Not only can spices save an otherwise boring, though healthy meal, it turns out certain spices can help you burn body fat through the process of thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is heat. And since a calorie is a unit of heat, more thermogenesis equals more calories burned.

A recent issue of The Journal of Physiology and Behavior cited numerous studies on several spices that increase thermogenesis, including these findings:

  1. Capsaicin: This compound gives red chili pepper its heat and increases energy via heat expenditure by up to 23 percent after being ingested at breakfast.
  2. Black pepper increases body heat by bonding to TRPV1 receptors in the brain.
  3. Turmeric has both anti-cancer and pro-thermogenic properties.

Learn about these three spices; red chili pepper, black pepper, and turmeric, and use them liberally. Just be careful not to overdo it. If you do, you’ll likely end up with heartburn instead of fat burn!

Do You Have A Sense Of Urgency?

Listen up! I have an urgent message.

I’ve noticed there’s one thing that all people who are successful at creating abundant health have in common.

A sense of urgency.

Their desire and need for achieving health and fitness motivates them to turn their ideas and knowledge they’ve acquired into action.

On the other end of the spectrum are “passive” people. Maybe they know and maybe they don’t, but they don’t take action. They somehow hope that even though they keep doing the same things over and over again, they’ll get different results. They keep hoping something good will happen.

All of us have that passive person inside us. Even I’m a living, breathing example of a former passive personality. I’ve had times in my life when I allowed my fitness and self care plans to slip by the wayside.

Something always shakes me from the doldrums and forces me to take that first step to get back on track. And when I start to see results, I’m a force to be reckoned with!

Why? Because successful people act from a sense of urgency and when we feel that urgency, we take action!

So today, I want you to do exactly what I did. Let go of your passive nature and begin looking at your health and fitness goals with a SENSE OF URGENCY.

Tell yourself, “Today, I’m going to make a change and act from a sense of urgency. And these are the first two actions I’m going to take…

How To Keep The Proper Acid/Alkaline Balance

I’m going to ask you to go way back, and for some of us that’s WAY back, to science class in school.

Do you remember using litmus paper in science class to test the pH of a liquid? You dipped the strip into a solution of lemon juice or baking soda to see if it was acidic or basic.

Now, however, a better use for that litmus paper may be to test your pH. Why?

Because knowing your own acid/alkaline balance is key to optimizing your health. Let me explain.

Without the proper acid/alkaline balance, enzymes don’t work, oxygen delivery to cells suffers, and the body struggles to complete vital biochemical processes.

The culprit? Our modern diet.

Our meals are packed with acid-forming foods, especially sugars and refined grains, along with too much meat. And we eat too few alkaline-forming fresh foods like greens, vegetables, and fruits.

Enhance your alkalinity by making sure that at least 60 percent of your meals are fresh and unprocessed foods. Make sure your meals are loaded with these foods:

  • Greens
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Citrus fruits (especially lemons)
  • Fermented veggies (like sauerkraut)

Paying attention to alkalinity will ensure you create the environment needed in your body for great health and proper biochemical function.

Food Trends To Watch For

I thought this week we’d have some fun and discuss an article I read called Food Trends To Watch.

I’ll tell you about some of them and you can see what you think.

While you don’t all live in the same area of America that I do, and in fact many of you live outside the U.S., I’d be curious to know if you’re seeing any of the trends this article mentions in your own backyard. Give it a read and let me know!

Apparently, last year was the year of bacon! Bacon with anything (chocolate and even gluten-free foods). I don’t live in a very trendy area so I didn’t notice this, but maybe some of you did.

1. The cupcake craze is winding down but PIES are all the rage. Years ago when I lived in San Diego there was a restaurant in my neighborhood called House Of Pies. Everything was homemade and seasonal. I don’t live in San Diego anymore and House Of Pies was long ago replaced by a (you guessed it) Starbucks, but much like most folks, I do enjoy fresh homemade pies so I’ll be on the look-out for this upcoming food trend.

2. Have you noticed that menus are full of adjectives and descriptions about how the food is cooked? Meant to impress us, I suppose. Well now we’ll see less of that and more useful plain talk that will let us know about ingredients.

3. Say good-bye to burgers and hello to hot dogs. Seems like hot dogs will get an upgrade and come with all different kinds of toppings.

4. Meatless Mondays and Fish Fridays will be new additions in many restaurants. It’s not just to serve vegetarians, but also to help “healthy-minded” people eat less meat.

5. Apparently there is going to be a yogurt revolution! Yogurt is already a go-to ingredient, but now you’ll see sun dried and freeze dried, smoked and pressed yogurt. I have noticed many new yogurt stores opening up around town. I’m not much of a frozen yogurt girl and frankly, sun dried and smoked yogurt sounds awful. But if I happen to pass a yogurt shop that offers these new trendy yogurts and they’ll give me a sample, I wouldn’t refuse!

Let me know what new food trends you notice and keep an eye out for these.