Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10 Tips for Daily Health- Fall Edition

1. Pack your lunch. Save calories and cash with this tip! You control not only what you eat but also how much. Portion sizes and calorie content are astronomical in most restaurants. Pack a Flat Out wrap with low sodium turkey, spinach, your favorite veggies and a light Laughing Cow cheese wedge. Add a small baggie of carrots and you are looking at a cheap, healthy alternative to lunch!

2. Fit in exercise where you can. We hardly have time to sleep much less work out which may be true but is still an excuse. Try fitting in exercise throughout the day in unconventional ways. Take the stairs over the elevator, walk rather than take the bus or train. Do sit-ups during the commercial breaks. 50 calories burned here and there add up!

3. Snack your way through the day. Always keep healthy snacks with you. A handful of nuts or a piece of fruit at 10am will keep you from binging at noon. It will also keep your metabolism going which helps you burn calories faster.

4. Drink up! Sometimes we mistake hunger for thirst due to dehydration. Try carrying a bottle of water around with you all day. I also find that drinking a bottle of water before lunch and dinner helps to take the edge off if I’m really hungry preventing me from over eating.

5. Trick…. With all the fun holidays coming up prepare yourself for the deliciously sinful treats that come with it! Trick your taste buds by choosing a sweet fruit or low fat/low calorie treat that allow you to indulge without going overboard.

6. Or Treat! Also remember to treat yourself from time to time with something “real”. If you deny yourself certain foods they become impossible to resist and often lead to a binge. Allow yourself one “real” piece of candy or slice of pie but limit yourself to once a week.

7. Enjoy Fall Fare. Fall is full of great healthy food. Find some healthy recipes that incorporate pumpkin, apples, and squash. Apple spiced tea is also a great way to keep hydrated, keep hunger at bay, and keep warm!

8. FALL into a new routine. The best way to get consistent exercise is to plan and make it fun. Join a gym that offers fun classes and pack a bag everyday that you bring to work (or class) with you. Try something new with friends or your significant other. I went to open skating this weekend, broke a sweat and had a great time!

9. Do Unto Others….It is so easy to be consumed with stress in today’s fast paced world that we often forget to be sympathetic, understanding and patient. Do something nice for someone for no good reason. Give the bum a dollar or smile and ask the grocery cashier how his or her day is going. You wouldn’t believe how great it feels just to radiant positive vibes on total strangers. Mental health is just as important as your physical health!

10. Veggie lover. Begin to become conscious of incorporating at least one vegetable into every meal, or better yet, replace a starchy processed carb with a nutritious veggie dish. It will become easier the more you do it and veggies will actually start to taste better than that processed, fatty crap you call macaroni.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chicago's finest in health food- Part 2

One of the greatest things about Chicago is the abundance of amazing food! Well I just so happen to live across from one of the greatest foodie gems in the entire city. The French Market located in the Ogilvie transportation center is spectacular in it of itself but nestled in the back corner is a little slice of heaven called RAW. The food is prepared 100% organic raw vegan, which means nothing is cooked, seared, boiled, broiled, or grilled. Everything is in its natural state.

(This is the Collard burrito)

Now don’t get me wrong, I love healthy food but I don’t like to sacrifice taste in order to get it. RAW may sound intimidating but with just one taste of anything on their menu, you will be convinced that healthy food can actually taste amazing!! I have tried everything from their tuna pate and collard burritos, to the chocolate brownie and energy soup! The store has only been open a few months but foodie news travels fast. If you go there any day during the lunch hour and early dinner hours you will see a line of people at the RAW counter. Owners Carole and Polly are so excited about their success and have hopes for expanding the business someday soon. If you are in the Chicago area I strongly urge you to wake up your taste buds to a new kind of food that does your body good!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chicago's finest in health food- Part 1

PART 1: Element Bars

Until recently I have sworn off nutrition bars from my diet. As a consumer I always felt cheated because while the label claimed the bar provided great health benefits (low-carb, no sugar, filling, energy boost, blah, blah, blah) when I checked the back for the ingredients it was like reading gibberish. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. About two years ago Jonathan Miller felt the same way and took it upon himself to start making his own bars out of ingredients he found in his kitchen pantry. No fancy wrap needed, he would pack them in tin foil and bring them to work everyday, much to his co-workers entertainment who fondly coined them ‘space cakes’. Little did they know, Jonathan would soon turn ‘space cakes’ into the very successful, terribly delicious, and uniquely custom, Element Bars. While Element Bars does not claim to be a diet bar, it packs as much nutrition punch as you want it to and tastes like forbidden treat. The idea supporting Element Bars is simple - we all have different tastes when it comes to food (something witty about home recipes). So why not bring a novel customization idea into the food industry and run with it? And why not top that idea off with an incredibly simple user interface which allows such customization to be available to everyone? Ergo Jonathan’s internet website When you log onto the website you have four choices for the main core of the bar; chewy, oaty, chrispy and datey. Once the core has been chosen, choose which fruits, nuts, sweets and boosts you want. The right hand side of the page allows you to see how each choice affects the nutrition facts of your customized bar. Once satisfied you can name your customized bar, I chose the Messi Jessi which was a chewy core with agave sweetening, flax seeds, prunes, and a boost of soy protein.

I visited Jonathan’s bakery to catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes action going into my Messi Jessi.

Mixing the ingredients

Biggest mixers I've ever seen!

The finished product!

But it wasn’t always flaxseed and agave nectar for Jonathan. As a self proclaimed ‘serial entrepreneur’ he knew it would take hard work, patience and most of all the loving support of his wife to get Element Bars off and running. Having already started, maintained and sold a previous business in college textbooks, he knew there would be many sacrifices along the way. But to Jonathan, there is nothing quite like the thrill of “starting something from scratch,” and getting it to the point where it can thrive on its own. Spoken like a true entrepreneur, as I sat and vigorously tried to type notes on every word he said I couldn’t help but notice how passionate he was about his business. Not because he is necessarily a health food nut or because he just wanted a nutritious bar to eat but because he really believes in it and will do whatever it takes to make it succeed, including get grilled on the popular TV show Shark Tank.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Jonathan impressed judges (not an easy task) with his business savvy approach. I was perched at the edge of my seat watching the clips, actually nervous for him but he kept his cool and eventually made a deal. The return on his investment was priceless. While he did have to fork over some ownership of the company the publicity he received from the show practically “brought the website to it’s knees.” On the very same night as the infamous Kanye West rant about Taylor Swift, Element bars was third on the list of Google searches next to Kanye and Taylor.

It was an absolute pleasure getting the opportunity to meet Jonathan and check out the bakery. Whether you are a foodie or not, I encourage you to check out the site and see what creation you would come up with for your customized Element Bar. If you're stuck, the Messi Jessi is highly recommended : )

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Onion Breath!

The more I have been experimenting with food the more I have come to realize how versatile the onion is. Not only can it be thrown into almost anything, it really gives food that extra oomph to take something from blah to Oh-My-GAAHHHHH! Better yet, the onion packs an abundance of health benefits. It is known to alleviate asthma due to it’s sulfur-containing compounds, fight the flu, they are a natural source of inulin (a type of prebiotic), and they are well preserved so it’s a great ingredient to have laying around. They can be used in so many different dishes. Soups, stews, chili, sauces, dips, stir-fries, salads, sandwiches, wraps, eggs (scrambled, omelet or frittata), or throw them on your burger or mix them in with other veggies on the grill. The possibilities are endless!

Experiment 5- Egg white veggie frittata
Veggies- Zucchini, tomatoes, onions, spinach, and asparagus
Spices- Cumin, paprika, garlic, S&P
1 Egg+egg whites+skim milk+olive oil+parm cheese
Bake at 350 degrees until brown on top

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Two for one hump-day special: Experiments 3 & 4

Experiment 3: Roasted whole chicken. Now I can’t take full credit for this one, but I did find the recipe….and I did sit, drink wine and observe Corey prepare it, you know, as moral support. Anyways, he made a whole chicken with veggies. We used a turkey roaster but you can also use a crock-pot. It turned out so juicy and flavorful! And the best part is we had left over chicken for sandwiches the next couple days. This is a great one to try, highly recommended!


- 1 tbsp olive oil

- 4 lb whole chicken

- Sprigs of fresh thyme

- Sprig of fresh rosemary

- 1 tbsp salt

- 1 tbsp black pepper

- 1 lb carrots

- 1 lb assorted bell peppers

- 1 large fennel bulb

- 1 lb celery


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with half the salt and pepper and place springs of fresh thyme and rosemary on top and in the cavity. Lay chicken on a roasting rack and place in the oven. Meanwhile, chop the carrots, bell peppers, fennel and celery into 2 inch pieces and combine in a large bowl with the remaining salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss to coat. After the chicken has roasted for approximately 45 minutes place the veggies in the roasting pan and return to the oven for another 35
minutes stirring once. The chicken should register 160 degrees on a meat thermometer and the vegetables should be tender. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes so that the juices redistribute and serve the chicken sliced on a bed of the vegetables.

Experiment 4: Eggplant Pizza Casserole, courtesy of Ali from Live Laugh Eat.


- 1 large eggplant

- 1 jar pizza sauce

- 1-2 cups spinach

- 1 large tomato

-Cheese (I used mozzarella; Ali used goat; I want to try low fat feta next time)


Preheat oven to 375* F. Wash and cut eggplant and tomato into round discs. In a glass pan/casserole dish, layer ingredients in the following order starting at the bottom 1) eggplant discs 2) pizza sauce 3) spinach 4) tomato discs 5) pizza sauce 6) eggplant discs 7) pizza sauce 8 ) cheese. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 65 min. or until eggplant is soft. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes.

P.S I added basil underneath the top layer of cheese and a sprinkle of garlic salt. I also didn’t put the cheese on until the last fifteen minutes because my experience with homemade pizza has been that it burns. It came out perfectly browned on top so I think it worked!

**Photos courtesy of Google images (I will have my camera back next week!!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cooking experiments cont...Quinoa recipes

Experiment #2: Quinoa salad- if you don’t know about quinoa, you must add it to your diet regime asap! It is a whole-grain that looks similar to cous-cous. It is a great source of dietary fiber, it has an unusually high protein content and is gleuten-free so it’s easy to digest. Here are a few different recipes starting with quinoa cooked in chicken or vegetable stock and a cube of bouillon:

1. Tofu, chicken, shrimp or steak prepared how you like. Add a veggie, good choices are broccoli, mushrooms, squash or zucchini. Mix a tsp of olive oil with a tbsp of balsamic vinegar and drizzle on top. (served warm)

2. Whole foods inspired with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, low fat feta cheese and a tsp of lemon juice. (served cold)

3. Dried cranberry, chopped walnuts, green onions, garlic, and drizzle just a little bit of honey (my fav so far!)