Friday, August 3, 2012

Find your greatness....What will your greatness be?

The Olympics are just incredible to watch; the dedication of the athletes, the intensity of the competition, the national pride, and the incredible bodies!  There are the elite few who reach the top three and are awarded with a medal, whether it be bronze, silver, or gold.  These athletes stand proud and grateful for the ability to have obtained this level of success for their hard work and dedication to their sport.

These athletes that stand out for their greatness in their sport are the ones that many people consider to be the greatest, however, many of the commercials and news articles are helping us to remember that earning a medal in your sport is not all that makes up greatness.  These commercials and articles remind us that we all have greatness within us.  Greatness is not in a rare DNA strand, reserved for prodigies or superstars. We all have greatness within us, we just have to find that greatness and do all we can with the greatness that God has placed within each and every one of us.  What is your greatness?  What is the greatness that you wish to be? 

This NIKE commercial that has been playing during the Olympics has me crying like a baby each time I see it. It is a perfect model of one boy's quest to find his greatness.  Eristeo and I know we will never be the fastest or longest runners or cyclists that ever lived, but to us, trying our hardest each and every time we go out there is our way of finding our greatness. 

Most of us will never have the opportunity to stand on a podium or win a race, but we can all find our greatness within us by digging deep and doing our very best in pursuing our inner greatness.  What is your greatness?

The script for the ad reads:
It’s just something we made up.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few, for prodigies, for superstars, and the rest of us can only stand by watching.
You can forget that.
Greatness is not some rare DNA strand, not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.
We’re all capable of it. All of us.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Chicken Salad

A good friend asked me to post this salad recipe that I had given her a while back.  It is VERY flexible in how you make it, based on what you like in it.  Here is the base recipe.  You can give or take based on your taste.

Summer Chicken Salad

Grilled chicken breasts
(This is where your seasoning comes into the salad. Season your chicken with some seasoned salt, pepper, or whatever seasoning you would like to use for the flavoring of your salad.)
(Amount of breasts depends on how much you want to prepare.)
(You can cook your chicken another way, but I like the flavor that grilling gives the chicken.)
Red grapes cut in half, or dried cranberries
(I use about 1/4 the amount of this as I use chicken.)
Walnut pieces
(I use about 1/2 the amount of this as I use of the above fruit.)
Celery cut in small pieces
(I use about the same amount of this as I use of walnuts.)
Low fat/Non fat Plain Greek yogurt
(I use just enough of this to wet the dry ingredients.  Use as much as you need to make the salad as "wet" as you like it.)

This salad is best if it sets overnight to allow the flavors to blend, but you can eat it right away if you just can't wait!  I serve the salad on either bread of some of my favorite crackers. 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Corn, Bacon, and Potato Chowder

I made this wonderful chowder for dinner tonight and wanted to share it with you all!  It is a Weight Watchers recipe that I tweeked a bit.  I had it solo and Eristeo coupled it with a few deli turkey sliders.  It was so yummy, filling, and nutritious that I wanted to pass it on.  I hope you enjoy!

Summer Corn, Bacon, and Potato Chowder

3 large red potatoes
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 stalks uncooked celery, chopped
1 medium red onion uncooked, chopped
4 corn on cob, kernels removed with a knife
1 sweet red bell pepper, diced
6 oz uncooked Canadian-style bacon, diced
2 cups unsweetened original Almond milk
1 cup oranic fat free Chicken broth
Season with salt, fresh ground pepper, hot pepper sauce to taste

* Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork; microwave on high power until tender, turning over once, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool; peel and mash.

* Meanwhile, coat a large saucepan with olive oil.  Add garlic, celery, onion, corn, and bell pepper; saute over med-high heat for 5 minutes.

* Stir bacon and milk into saucepan; stir in mashed potatoes and mix well.  Season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce; stir to combine.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes (do not allow to boil).


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nutritious Chocolate Shake (Smoothie)

So today after my workout I needed something fast, cool, and nutritonally balanced for a recovery meal.  I didn't have much time, so I decided on a smoothie, but, I didn't want my traditional fruit smoothie.  So I threw together a few ingredients that I know are good recovery foods, and all I can say is YUM! 

You can vary the items I used, but the nutritional values below are based on the ingredients listed.  When you get a 'hankering' for a chocolate shake or Wendy's Frosty, try this recipe instead. It's guaranteed to please, and won't add those empty calories that an ice cream shake will.

Nutritious Chocolate Shake (Smoothie)

1 cup Silk Pure Almond Dark Chocolate Milk
       (120 cal/3g fat/45% Calcium DV/1g protein/1g fiber)
1/4 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
      (28 cal/.5g fat/7% Calcium DV/4g protein)
1 medium banana
      (105 cal/0g fat/1g protein/3g fiber)
2.5 tablespoons whey protein isolate
      (nutr. facts-Sprouts bulk-35 cal/0g fat/9g protein)
1 cup ice

Blend all ingredients except for whey protein isolate in blender until well blended and no big chunks of ice remain.  Add whey protein isolate and blend about a minute more. Enjoy!!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Fruits

It's hot outside and a nice cold piece of fruit is a wonderful treat to cool you off.  And as an added benefit, summer fruits are packed with tons of nutrients.  You may be surprised by some of the benefits of eating certain summer fruits.  Read on and then try different fruits to cool you down instead of reaching for a bowl of ice cream or a piece of cake.  (OR, you can top your favorite frozen yogurt with some of these wonderful fruits!)

* Apricots - This is not a fruit I normally reach for in the store, but a while back, Dr. Oz featured dried apricots and pistachios as an easy go to snack for busy days, and I got to thinking about the nutritional benefits of this fruit, and was surprised.  Apricots are packed with vitamins A & C, as well as the minerals calcium and iron.  They contain no fat, and just a small amount of carbs.  Surprisingly, apricots are good for earaches, overall digestion of food, and they also aid in preventing cancer.  They help in preventing dehydration on a hot summer day, since they provide necessary water to the body.

* Cantaloupe - Cantaloupe is a staple around our home in the summer.  We cut up a couple of them at a time and keep them in a big bowl that is easy to grab during a snack attack or as a sweet dessert after a meal.  Cantaloupe contains a large amount of vitamin A, C, and B6, along with various other nutrients.  It is most helpful in preventing lung cancer.

* Blackberries - I must confess, I do like this fruit, but it does tend to be a bit pricey, so I don't buy it as much as I would like to.  However, researching the benefits of blackberries, they certainly seem to be worth the extra money.  Blackberries contain polyphenol antioxidants that protect the body from damaging oxidative stress and they also reduce the risk of esophageal cancer.  Eating blackberries has been found to be beneficial for relieving discomfort from intestinal inflamation and diarrhea.  They are also used to treat mild infections like sore throats and mouth irritations.  Another awesome benefit for some people, I have no idea who :), is that ageing can be delayed with the regular consumption of blackberries. 

* Strawberries - The heart shape of the strawberry is very appropriate since it is very potent in protecting your heart.   Strawberries increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer.  They are packed with vitamins, fiber, and, like blackberries, are particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants known as polyphenols, ranking among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity.  They are also a good source of manganese, potassium, and in just one serving (8 strawberries) there is more vitamin C than an orange.  (Side note: An interesting fact about strawberries, they are actually a member of the rose family and aren't actually a fruit or berry, but are actually the enlarged receptacle of the flower.
* Plums - Plums are rich in dietary fiber, which, of course, helps improve the digestive system.  They contain vitamin C which is good for the body tissue and the immune system.  Vitamin C also prevents the flu and colds.  The body mainly uses plums to prevent diseases like colon cancer, rheumatoid athritis, osteoarthritis, and asthma.
* Watermelon - Watermelon is such a super sweet treat in the summer time!  It is 90% water, so it is a terrific treat for those hot summer days to help us keep hydrated and re-energized. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, B, carbohydrates, potassium, and antioxidants.  They also contain amino acids which can help keep arteries and blood flow to our hearts in fine order, as well as being an excellent source of lycopene (higher than any other fruit or vegetable) and vitamin A which are excellent nutrients for improving the health of our eyes. 
So, the next time you visit the grocery store or local farmer's market, consider the benefits of these awesome summer fruits as a wonderful way of getting your sweet tooth cravings satisfied as well as get all the health benefits from these wonderful desserts of nature!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

LaTortilla Factory Wraps

So, in the quest to reduce the carb intake and up the protein and fiber intake, we found these awesome wraps.  We have only been able to find them at Sprouts, and they are a little pricey, but they are WELL worth it!  There are several different types of them that have various amounts of fiber, protein, fat, etc., but these are my favorite. 

We use these wraps for multiple things, hamburgers, hotdogs/smoked sausages, sandwiches, etc, but our favorite is a homemade mixture that Eristeo developed.  We have found it is an awesome dinner the night before a big workout the next morning. The recipe filling and is packed with nutrients, protein, and enough carbs to load us up for the next day's workout. 

The great thing about the recipe is that you can really tailor it to whatever you want to add or take away.  We have made it with shredded chicken, smoked sausage pieces, and lean turkey/ground beef.  We have also added multiple kinds of vegetables, a lot of times whatever we have on hand.  Basically, it is just a smorgasboard of whatever ingredients you want to add to your liking.

Here is our basic recipe. Some suggestions on other things you can add are in parenthesis.  If you have any questions on what would work, or anything at all, let us know.

Awesome Wrap Concoction
(Cause I couldn't think of a better name for it! :)

1 bell pepper (chopped)
1-2 portabella mushrooms or Baby Bellas (chopped)
Saute the vegetables in a splash of olive oil al dente. 
(We have used fresh corn cut off the cob, tomatoes, celery. You can add whatever veggies you like that would suit your family's taste.)

16 oz your choice of meat
(shredded chicken, very lean ground beef or turkey, lean smoked sausage pieces)
1 pepper with 1tsp sauce Chipotle Chile in Adobo Sauce
(This adds a bit of spice. It can be left out if you do not want the extra spice.)
Add meat and chilis to vegetables and continue to cook in pan. If using precooked chicken, just toss with veggies until warm.

16 oz brown rice (pre-cooked to directions)
(We use Chipotle boullion cubes in the water when making the rice. It can be found with the Hispanic food at the grocery store.)
16 oz black bean (either canned or homemade)
Add the rice and beans to the mixture and heat through. 

Heat the tortillas slightly in the toaster oven or microwave, slightly.  Add the desired amount of filling to the wrap.  We add a little 2% shredded Mozzarella or Mexican cheese and some salsa on top before we wrap it up.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eristeo's Favorite Things

Okay, so we didn't do so good at doing our blog regularly this week....ooops!   Well, we will work harder, hopefully, to do a better job.

As promised, here are Eristeo's favorite things:

1. Riding my Bicycle - As a “Slow-Poke” I like the speed of gliding up and down hills and it’s a great fun way to exercise. Here are some benefits of riding around the block:

Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise - You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending a fortune. Many people put off doing certain sports because of the high level of skill that seems to be required, or perhaps because they can’t commit to a team sport due to time pressures. Most of us know how to cycle and once you have learned you don’t forget. All you need is a bike, a half an hour here or there when it suits, and a bit of confidence.

Cycling builds strength and muscle tone - Contrary to normal perceptions, cycling is not a fitness activity that solely involves the legs. Cycling builds strength in a holistic manner since every single part of the body is involved in cycling.

Cycling increases muscle tone - Cycling improves general muscle function gradually, with little risk of over exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. You will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, rear end, and hips.

Cycling builds stamina - Cycling is a good way to build stamina. It is very effective in doing so,
because people enjoy cycling and they wouldn’t really notice that they have gone farther the last time they went cycling.

Cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness - Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardio-vascular fitness.  Studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups the legs, raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness.

Cycling eats up calories - Cycling is a good way to lose those unwanted pounds. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day you would burn 11 pounds of fat in a year. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride.

Cycling improves heart health - According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.

Cycling improves coordination - Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body. Therefore, arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are improved.

Cycling reduces stress - Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve well being and self esteem.  Cycling outdoors is also a good way to be one with nature and to feel the breath of the earth. It takes one’s mind out of everyday-life stress and rejuvenates his soul.

2.       Apples – I love them and they are a simple snack that's quick and easy to eat. 
Here are some benefits of eating them:

Bone Protection - French researchers found that a flavanoid called phloridzin that is found only in apples may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones.

Asthma Help - One recent study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice on a daily basis suffered from less wheezing than children who drank apple juice only once per month. Another study showed that children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have lower rates of asthma than children whose mothers ate few apples.

Alzheimer's Prevention - A study on mice at Cornell University found that the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer's disease.

Lower Cholesterol - The pectin in apples lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol. People who eat two apples per day may lower their cholesterol by as much as 16 percent.

Lung Cancer Prevention - According to a study of 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer. Researchers believe this is due to the high levels of the flavonoids quercetin and naringin in apples.

Breast Cancer Prevention - A Cornell University study found that rats who ate one apple per day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent. Rats fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent and those fed six apples per day reduced their risk by 44 percent.

Colon Cancer Prevention One study found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 43 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Other research shows that the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Liver Cancer Prevention - Research found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 57 percent lower risk of liver cancer.

Diabetes Management - The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body's need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes.

Weight Loss - A Brazilian study found that women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight while dieting than women who did not eat fruit while dieting.

3.       Playing the Guitar – Ok, I might not be very good at it but it’s a great way for my brain to be creative and still be able to relax.  I currently listen to YouTube and play along to create a “Karaoke” style of fun.  Here are some benefits of playing the guitar:

Better intellectual capacity - One of the most obvious benefits of instrumental music for students is that you can get a better mark in music class, but did you know that making music can help you in your other subjects as well? Many studies have shown that students who play music have generally higher test and IQ scores than students who aren’t musical. If you’re past your school years, countless other studies have proven that practicing musicians of any age are more alert, which can lead to better memory retention.

Discipline and patience - Patience and discipline are virtues that so many of us lack in today’s world. Music, however, is known for its ability to lengthen attention span for its player. The discipline required to master guitar is also helpful in your everyday life when coping with tedium or difficult tasks...

Relieves stress - Had a bad day? Pick up your guitar! Creating music can soothe the mind, calm tempers and even lower blood pressure.

Sense of achievement - Nothing can beat the feeling you get once you conquer a difficult passage in a piece you’ve been working on. Hard work pays off in music, and you’ll often feel a sense of accomplishment if you dedicate yourself to the study of guitar.

Communicate your emotions - Ever been told to find a better outlet for your emotions than a punching bag? Playing guitar can be the answer to your problems. If you’ve been heartbroken, play something sad and slow. If you just got a new job and you’re over the moon, play something loud and joyful.

Emanate your personal style - Not all music is classical and two hundred years old, written by some dead European guy. Other genres of music are out there for all types of instruments. Ever heard a guitar play Metall? Try it out! You might like how it feels under your fingers and how it sounds in your head.

Teamwork - One of the most rewarding things about being able to play guitar is being able to play with other musicians like you. Not only do you get to show off your amazing musical skills, but you can combine your talents and make music that you could never dream of playing on your own. In order for your group to find their groove, you’ll need to work together on sound, tempo and style; in expanding your musical horizons together, you’ll grow as a musician and as a person.

Physical workout - Music isn’t just for the mind and soul-it’s good for the body, too! By playing guitar you are strengthening your arms, your fingers and hands, and even your legs (playing guitar burns approximately 90 kCals an hour).

Bragging Rights - Say you’re at a party, and a handsome man/beautiful woman/cute guy/hot girl asks you what you do. Once you play guitar, you can truthfully say, “I’m a musician”. Let’s face it: how many people do you know that would look down on you if you told them that? Music is in, and it always will be, so cherish the fact that you’re a part of the never-ending trend.

Fun! - That’s right, fun. Music is fun, and everyone accepts this. Listening to music is fun, so your friends will appreciate the fact that you’ve got a great way to entertain them. Playing music, though, is the most fun you can have. There’s no denying it. When you really let yourself become one with the music, there’s nothing in the world that can stand in your way. Music is the key to life, and it will always be one of the most worthwhile hobbies/careers ever invented. So go ahead! strum those strings and make some music!