Monthly Archives: June 2012

Superfoods

How did it happen that over the past decade certain foods have become “superfoods”? Has the nutritional profile of “modern food” become so poor we consider real food superfood?? True, these superfoods are healthy but they are just food. We have become so accustomed to these overly processed junk foods as passing for actual nourishing foods that we’ve become a society of people that think actual food, the stuff that has been provided by pure earth and soil, is some sort of miraculous item. It’s because the junk we eat is so void of any nutritional benefit, no matter what the package says, that anything even slightly better is miraculous.

Far be it from me to decry any marketing that highlights the benefits of fruits and vegetables but here’s the problem with the “superfood” angle. What really happens is within a short period of time, after such a study is released extolling the benefits of whatever food item was studied, the market is suddenly flooded with juices, bars, cereal, you name it,containing the miraculous item somehow stuffed into its ingredient list. So here we are, back to square one, eating a bowl full of sugar crap from a box with freeze dried blueberries because some study in Sweden said they are a “superfood”. They are just healthy, indeed very healthy but they are not going to cure you of anything. What are now being called “superfoods” are simply things that you should have in your daily diet. They are just good foods as opposed to most of the garbage being sold as food.

Here’s my take away. Buy a pint of blueberries. Roast some beets. Throw some raspberries into a smootie. In other words: EAT REAL FOOD. Then all your food will be superfood!!

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Finding Time To Move It

A common problem for many people is the lack of time they have for exercise. Most folks think they need to carve an hour or more from their day to dedicate to the gym, class or home routine. Truth is 30 minutes 3-5 days per week is sufficient and far better than nothing. Furthermore, you can break that 30 minutes into two sessions of 15 minutes or three of 10 minutes. I have found, during my busiest times, that two 15 minute sessions works best. Here’s a basic rundown of what that can look like.

For most anyone, getting up 15-20 minutes earlier, although difficult at times, is doable. Getting that first 15 minutes at the start of your day helps to wake you up, jump start your metabolism and start your day in a positive direction. I suggest these workout center around resistance training. With that in mind you should remember that your muscles will need 48 hours to recover after a workout. For example, if you work your arms Monday you won’t work them again till Wednesday, choosing instead to work a different group of muscles Tuesday. This is called a split routine. You can also choose to do a full body workout and perform some type of cardiovascular workout on the alternate days. I suggest full body with cardio on alternate days as the best format, mostly because you absolutely have to work your cardio in there, but whatever works for your schedule and goals. In any event, if you are just starting out or trying to lose weight, it’s best to get up and move everyday.

The key to maximizing short spurts of exercise is to make them count by keeping the intensity and focus high. I suggest doing this by using a technique called superset. Using this model of training you will be working muscles without any “rest” in between reps but instead working opposing muscle groups. For example lets take upper arms, do 8-12 reps of bicep curls then immediately follow with 8-12 reps of tricep kickbacks for sets each. There are several different ways to “superset” but this is the easiest for beginners to understand. Follow this method for all major muscle groups, developing the sequence that works best for you and your time constraints. I like to work a little cardio into the last five minutes of the final 15 minutes by jumping rope or performing burpees (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burpee_%28exercise%29).

An important part of any workout is your warm-up and cool-down. To optimize your time I suggest building those times into your morning routine. For example, I get up out of bed and begin by windmilling my arms as I head out, roll my neck then squat walk down the hall and do leg lifts as I brush my teeth. You can do the same thing at the end of your workout for your cool down. As your waiting for your coffee to brew, stretch your hams for example.

Don’t forget to get some type of cardiovascular workout during the week. Otherwise, all those gorgeous muscles you’re waking up 15 minutes early for will be hidden under a layer of fat.

Keep it up!

Check this out for superset training ideas and how-to:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/wotw23.htm

More is Rarely Better

We all want more and when it comes to food, having more is giving us tremendous health problems. Talk about more! More diabetes, more heart disease, more morbidly obese children and adults. That’s just a whole lot of awful.

What has gone wrong, among other things which we won’t discuss in this post, are our portion sizes. Since the ’70’s, Americans have added an average of 600 calories per day to their diet while becoming more sedentary both at work and in leisure. Most of the extra calories are being consumed as larger portions. Supersize me anyone? Think about the last time you had a steak at a restaurant. I bet the smallest cut was 12oz. Guess what? A serving size is 3oz! How about pasta, can you imagine eating just a cup? Probably not! It’s because that just hasn’t been the norm for a long time. Ladies and gentlemen, that endless pasta bowl just isn’t what it seems to be. It’s a bowl full of excess weight waiting to happen.

Keep things in control by employing a little thought and mindfulness into your meals and snacks. Will a “small” do? If you order a steak, maybe you just have a portion of it then make a great steak salad for lunch (for two) the next day – now you’re watching your calories AND stretching your dollar!

Trail mix cookies

A twist on oatmeal cookies. Good to throw in a container and take as a snack anywhere. Add some flax, chia seeds, or whatever to up the healthy factor!

4 TB softened butter

1/4 cup olive oil (or canola)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 TB of water

1/2 cup plus 2 TB flour (I use “white whole wheat”)

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1-1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick)

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

1 cup chocolate chips OR cacoa nibs

1/3 cup walnut pieces (or peanut, almond, whatever you fancy)

1/2 cup raisins

preheat oven to 375.

Beat butter, oil, and sugars in bowl. add eggs, baking soda mixture, flour, salt and vanilla until just combined. Stir in oats, coconut, chips, nuts and raisins until combined.

drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased baking sheets. Flatten into a round with wet spoon (dough is sticky and delicate). bake until golden.

Very yum. Definitely not low fat but who cares?!