Farmers Market Finds for September

September at the Farmers Market is a perfect mix of summer and fall. There are still plenty of summer favorites like zucchini and peppers with a few tomatoes too. Next to them you will find the beginnings of the fall harvest, which includes two of my favorite vegetables: butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes can be found at the supermarket all year long. While their appearance may be less appealing during the spring and summer, their taste is usually consistent no matter the season. Butternut squash, on the other hand, is a vegetable that only reveals its true nature during its peak season. I’ve tried to make some of my favorite dishes like butternut squash soup or butternut squash bread pudding with store bought squash during the off months. Let’s just say the results were a bit underwhelming.

You MUST take advantage of the bright orange and naturally sweet flesh of the butternut squash NOW. I’ve been making my favorites as well as experimenting with new recipes. These Butternut Squash, Kale and Crunchy Pepita tacos are divine!

I’ve also learned that butternut squash can be eaten raw! I made Butternut Squash with Cream Sauce using the Spiralizer. It’s a very fall dish that includes apples and cranberries, slightly sweet and very crunchy. Just be warned: making butternut squash noodles is an arm workout.

Speaking of apples, they made their first appearance at the market in late August. Not only will you find my favorite, Gala, you’ll find other sweet varieties like Honeycrisp, Fuji and Ozark Gold. These apples can help satisfy your sweet tooth and meet the need for something crunchy with your lunchtime sandwich. I’ve been experimenting with a new apple recipe or two but they aren’t quite ready to share. Stay tuned!

Besides my fall favorites I’m also loving the fresh Portobello mushrooms. I keep making these Bistro White Bean Burgers because they are easy  and I have most of the ingredients in my pantry at all times. I keep buying kale too and adding it to my chocolate and peanut butter protein shakes and green monster smoothies.

I’m going to be sad as peak farmers market season starts approaching. I am already morning the loss of the white peaches and blueberries. What seasonal favorite passed too quickly for you this year? What fall produce are you looking forward to?

Gluten Free Granola, Veggie Noodles and My Other Favorite Fit Things

IDEA World Fitness inspired me in so many ways. There was food blogger Laura Klein who gave me great ideas on how to step up my food photography. Jillian Michaels made me ponder the question WHY NOT ME? How I as Health Coach fit into the changes with the Affordable Health Care Act became more apparent after understanding all the programs it supports.

I also go to try A LOT of new cool things, some of which I want to share with you. Which gave me the idea to do a My Favorite Things post each month. I want to share with you things that I am loving at the moment. I want to share things that will make your life easier, your workouts better and overall make you feel healthier. Some of these things I may receive for free, some of them are purchased with my own hard owned cash. But it won’t make the list unless I really love it or think YOU might really love it.

Ready to hear what’s making me happy this month?

  • Leslie Sansone Just Walk: Mix & Match Walk Blasters. I received a copy of this DVD in my Blogfest goodie bag. I must admit I was skeptical about a workout based on walking. My curiosity finally got the better of me when the humidity and heat were too much for an evening walk. This DVD features 10 mini workouts that can be done in any combination or you can choose one of three planned workouts. It is more than just walking but it’s all low impact making it a great tool for regular walkers, those new to fitness or anyone who can’t do jumping or hoping high impact movements. I use it for 10-minute activity breaks on days where I am at my desk. Sansone’s patient and easy to follow style is perfect for me and my two left feet.
  • Larabar Renola Coconut Cocoa – I am in love with this low sugar and gluten free granola! I brought some with me to IDEA World Fitness but I shouldn’t have bothered. They were handing it out at the Expo! I may have made multiple daily visits to their booth. I had it for breakfast on top of Greek Yogurt before bootcamp. The combo was the perfect to keep me energized and my blood sugar stable. Did I mention it comes in single serving packs so it’s perfect to grab and go?
  • Lorna Jane Active Wear – I had heard of this Australian brand before Blogfest but I had never worn any of their clothing. We were pleasantly surprised on the first morning with lovely Lorna Jane tank tops at our seats and a visit from Lorna Jane Clarkson herself! She was amazing and I am now totally in love with her, her philosophy and her clothes. The tank is soft with just the right amount of stretch. It forms to my cuves but not in a way that shows off bulges (like my insulin pump) that I might prefer to hide. My favorite part is the messages. What do you think?
  • The Spiralizer – I’ve wanted to get one of these ever since my friend (and client) Stephanie started to tell me about her noodle salad creations. I was spurred to action when she agreed to share her Garlic and Dill Cucumber Noodle Salad recipe on the blog. I know this kitchen tool looks a bit odd but it really works! I’ve been working my way through the cookbook that came with. It’s easy to do with so many “noodle worthy” vegetables at the farmers market right now. You don’t have to order from the infomercial either, just hit up Amazon. (Always LOVE the almost instant gratification of Amazon Prime!)

I want to know what YOU are loving this month (and every month). I need your ideas and suggestions too! This month I need help being distracted. As we move to fall with its shorter days and cooler temps I will probably be spending more time on the treadmill and elliptical. I have to have something to watch to get me through my time and I am almost out of Mad Men episodes. What TV series do I need to watch to help me get through my indoor cardio session?

The Fit Girl’s Guide To O’Hare

You have a six-hour layover in Chicago. You don’t have access to the Admiral’s Club or free Wi-Fi so forget binge watching Orphan Black. What do you do?

You workout.

You have a healthy lunch with a garden view.

You get your Zen on with some yoga and a massage.

It’s true! You can do all of these things (and more) if you happen to have an extended stay at O’Hare.

I had long layovers on both legs of my recent trip to IDEA World Fitness in Anaheim. Instead of sitting around, I took the chance to explore and find the best go-to options for fit women (and men) passing through one of the busiest airports in the world.

Get Your Workout

  • The easiest workout is a walking tour of the airport. You can transverse the many terminals to get your 10K steps. Stop and browse Barbara’s Bookstore or get a souvenir at the Field Museum store while you’re at it.
  • On my way to Anaheim, I used my break to do some strength training and cardio on the elliptical. The O’Hare Hilton Health Club is located between terminal 2 and the parking garage. It’s $20 for a day pass which gives you full access to a huge selection of free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment, sauna, pool and showers. That’s $30 cheaper than the Admirals Club and much better for you than endless glasses of wine with Chex Mix on the side.
  • My first leg of my flight home was 4 hours, most of which I spent reviewing BlogFest notes and writing. My shoulders and back needed a good stretch on my way home. The Yoga Room in the Terminal 3 rotunda is the perfect place to work out the kinks after a long flight. In case you don’t have your own flow, you can follow along with the video playing.

Grab a Healthy Meal

  • My favorite place for healthy bite at O’Hare is Argo Tea. There are several in the airport but I prefer the one near security if you’re going to terminals H and K. They are great about giving you a sample of tea if your not sure what blend to try. Their products have calories, carbs and other nutritional information (an essential for diabetics like me)  on the package. The quinoa salad made with chai is divine!
  • Next to my favorite place in Terminal 3 is CIBO Express. You can get grab and go healthy food options like tofu and veggies, Greek Yogurt and ready to drink protein shakes. Make sure to think about how long you will be on your flight too. The food you can get here (and carry on) will be much better than what you can buy on the plane.
  • Starbucks is in every terminal! It’s a good option to get their perfect oatmeal or breakfast sandwiches. Try the egg white and feta sandwich with some Awake English breakfast tea if you’re still trying to wake up after an early flight.
  • You can find hidden healthy meals in unexpected places. On the way to Anaheim I desperately needed a hearty breakfast to get me through my planned workout. At Stanley’s Blackhawk Bar I found a veggie omelet with whole wheat toast that did the trick. One the way home I had a lot more sitting time and didn’t want anything super heavy. Manchu Wok has spicy tofu with mixed vegetables. You can do a double serving of veggies when you order the three item plate.

Where to Relax

  • I already mentioned the yoga room but I did mention the garden outside it? On the mezzanine in the Terminal 3 Rotunda you will find an indoor garden and comfy chairs. It makes the perfect place to enjoy your lunch or catch a quick nap.
  • You can get a massage at the XpressSpa, a staple of many airports. The Stress & Tension Eliminator focuses just on the facial and head muscles, perfect if you have sinus issues that have been aggravated by flying.
  • Sometimes nothing but a little chocolate will do when you’re having a bad day. Don’t waste your calories on a Hershey bar for the newsstand. Try Matcha Green Tea & Spirulina Super Dark Chocolate Bar from Vosges Chocolates in Terminal 1 or 3. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and the green tea will help bring you to a more calm state.

Don’t think of the airport as a “necessary evil”. Turn your next layover into a fun part of the travel experience if you’re stopping in O’Hare. Remember you have to enjoy the journey as much as the destination!

Garlic and Dill Cucumber Noodle Salad Recipe

I love it when my clients start getting creative in the kitchen. Most of them are much more talented when it comes to creating recipes than I am. When Stephanie started making noodle creations with zucchini and cucumbers I had to ask her for a recipe to share. Thankfully she said yes! Enjoy!
– Pamela

School may be back in session but that doesn’t mean the cool temps of fall have arrived. The generously warm temperatures we can experience the first part of September can be absolutely miserable. When you are miserable from the heat you don’t want to slave away in a hot kitchen to prepare a healthy meal. So how about a fresh, cool and simple dish that is full of flavor?

Ixnay the Astapay (Pig Latin for Nix the Pasta) Pasta Salads are some fun dishes I invented in my kitchen this summer. I am excited to share one of them with you today, Garlic and Dill Cucumber Noodle Salad.

There are only 6 simple ingredients to this dish.

  • Plain Yogurt (I use Greek but feel free to use your favorite)
  • Organic Garlic Paste (If you can’t find this at the store just use some fresh garlic on a mircoplane grater)
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Dill
  • 3 or 4 medium to large cucumbers
  • Optional: Red Pepper Flake or Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning

In a medium size bowl measure out:

  • 1/2 cup of yogurt
  • 1 TBS Garlic Paste
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dill
  • 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • If you choose, red pepper flake or Mrs. Dash Seasoning to taste.

Mix well.

Julienne your cucumbers via your favorite method. (I personally love the Veggetti.)

Sometimes I peel the cucumbers and sometimes I don’t. Occasionally I will run across a cucumber with a very bitter peel, in which case I peel it. I always test the cucumber by tasting an end piece before I slice it up.

Once your cucumbers have been noodled, just toss them with the yogurt mixture and chill!

Yield: 1 Salad
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour to Chill

Per Serving: Calories 170; Total Fat 1.3g; (Sat Fat 0g, Trans 0g, Poly Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0g); Protein 17g; Carb 24g; Fiber 6g; Sugars 16g; Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 55mg

I hope you enjoy this salad and are inspired to start experimenting in your kitchen!