Post by Pamela Hernandez | December 5th, 2013
The holiday season is in full swing, smashed into a smaller than normal window of time due to a later than normal Thanksgiving. All the festivities are crammed into just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. You’re going to need to be smart in navigating all the ornament exchanges, open houses and holiday candy overflowing from your office mates' desks. You don't want erase all the hard work from the rest of the year in a matter of weeks.
My Island of Health has some simple rules for navigating the holidays in a fun AND fit way.
- If you really enjoy it, eat it.
I love deviled eggs. I get them once, maybe twice, a year. I will eat too many of them but I will enjoy every bite.
- Say no to the crap.
Let’s be real for a minute. Those popcorn tins and chocolate gift baskets in the office break room or you “win” at the white elephant gift exchange don’t taste good. Don’t waste your calories on low quality foods. If you’re going to have chocolate, have some small bites of the good stuff. You’ll be much more satisfied.
- Choose wisely.
If something happens everyday it’s not a treat. It’s a habit. You can’t go to every party you’re invited to and indulge at each one. Pick one or two that mean something to you and enjoy. You’ll need to say no to the others or have a strategy to keep it clean while you’re there.
Need some options to help you enjoy without going off the deep end? Here are some ideas to enjoy the festivities without going overboard.
- Do you have a neighborhood cookie party like I do? Try my Vegan Pumpkin Cookies to satisfy your cookie craving. They are based on my great grandma’s cookies, a childhood favorite, and you’re friends will love them with a cup of hot tea.
- Maybe coffee is more your thing? Skip the coffee shop mocha and try this lighter version from Well of Health. This version of the Skinny Peppermint Mocha has a lot less sugar than the kind in the red cup.
- The office potluck is coming. You can bring the veggie tray or you can bring this Butternut Squash Cranberry Oat Bread from Fit Happy Mama. No one has to know it has extra veggies in it to make up for the oil.
- Need something easy and crunchy for the ornament party or book club? Try my own Special Party Mix. The crunch comes from puffed wheat, which can easily be subbed with puffed rice to make it gluten free. The sweetness comes from carob chips and dried fruit. Simple to make and simple to eat.
What’s the treat you indulge in every year? What’s a classic you’ve figured out how to make healthier?
Post by Pamela Hernandez | November 7th, 2013
I fell in love with poached eggs in London. Starting the day with a poached egg on toast with breakfast tea felt like perfection.
After returning home, I decided to learn how to poach an egg.
I have an old and battered copy of the classic red and white Better Holmes and Garden cookbook. But I am a modern woman. I turned to YouTube to figure out how to poach an egg.
After watching three different videos I learned that poaching an egg is not as hard as you might think (or as hard as Alton Brown makes it out to be). Bring water (with 1 tsp of vinegar per egg) to low boil, carefully slide the egg(s) in, cook for 4 and half minutes and you there you have it.
Alas, my rushed mornings don’t allow me the luxury of a poached egg for breakfast. Dinner, however, is another story. Instead of toast I’ve paired the poached egg with a lightly dressed bed of greens and a couple fall favorites – cranberries and pecans. Enjoy this simple supper with or without a cup of tea.
Poached Egg and Autumn Greens Salad
- 2-3 cups of mixed greens
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp pure maple syrup
- 1 egg, poached
- ½ cup edamame, shelled and cooked
- 2 tbsp dried fruit juice sweetened dried cranberries
- ½ oz chopped pecans
- Mix olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and maple syrup on a small bowl with a whisk. Toss with greens till well coated.
- To greens add the edamame, cranberries and pecans. Toss well and transfer to a dinner plate.
- Top with poached egg and serve.
Yield: 1 Salad
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Per Serving: Calories 489; Total Fat 32.3g; (Sat Fat 4.5g, Trans 0g, Poly Fat 4g, Mono Fat 8g); Protein 16.6g; Carb 36g; Fiber 6g; Sugars 15g; Cholesterol 210mg; Sodium 110mg
Post by Pamela Hernandez | October 10th, 2013
I am not a coffee drinker. Tea is my hot beverage of choice. Therefore, when I go to Starbucks I am a venti Zen kind of gal.
However, not too long ago someone introduced me to a Dirty Chai. A dirty chai is a chai latte with a shot of espresso. A chai latte is truly a treat for me because I prefer to eat, not drink, my calories. However, this caffeine concoction sounded like the perfect way to kick off my birthday celebration/road trip last July.
Well, maybe that much caffeine wasn’t such a good idea for 3 hours in car because I did get a big boost of energy. Without any place physically to burn it off I had plenty of power to sing along with the tunes on the radio and brainstorm business ideas with Brian while he drove.
I thought, to myself, this could be a dangerous find. There’s no sugar free version (like some of the other tea lattes) and this much caffeine on a regular basis might cut into my beauty sleep. I also said to myself this might be a good idea before a workout.
Let me introduce you to the Dirty Chai protein shake. My version has less sugar, more protein and doesn’t require any special equipment – not even a blender. Any shaker or a BlenderBottle will do.
Dirty Chai Protein Shake
- 1 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Praline Protein Powder
- ½ cup prepared chai
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- ½ packet Starbucks Via Italian Roast Extra Bold
- Sweetener to taste, if desired
Add all ingredients plus 3-4 ice cubes to shaker. Shake till blended and enjoy!
Yield: 1 Shake
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: NA
Per Serving: Calories 142; Total Fat 5.5g; (Sat Fat 1g, Poly Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0g); Protein 19g; Carb 4g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 2g; Cholesterol 60mg; Sodium 180mg
If that doesn’t get you moving nothing will!
Post by Pamela Hernandez | September 19th, 2013
Want to know the secret to willpower?
It’s true. In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength the author, Roy Baumeister, gives a great explanation of the willpower/glucose connection. To sum up, your brain runs on glucose. If you lack glucose you get fuzzy, you get angry and you have a really hard time making decisions. The brain begins searching for the easiest and quickest source of glucose to right the situation. What’s the quickest source of glucose in your impaired state? Chocolate!
Eating on a regular basis helps strengthen willpower. I suggest my clients eat about very 3-4 hours. Depending on your day this means three meals and one or two snacks. When one is used to snacking on vending machine fare or just grabbing a piece of fruit, picking balanced snacks can be hard. We want the good carbs to fuel the brain but we also need protein and/or a little healthy fat to keep blood sugar levels stable. I have a few combinations that help fill the gap between meals and fuel the willpower reserve.
- Luna bar and carrots: When I first started my fitness journey I found Luna bars to curb my afternoon hunger. For years my afternoon bar got me through work, school and afternoon shopping without succumbing to the vending machine or food court. Try Caramel Nut Brownie or Chocolate Dipped Coconut to satisfy a chocolate craving. The carrots give you a bit of added crunch.
- Greek yogurt and frozen berries: I miss Greek Yogurt. My sinuses won’t let me consume this creamy protein packed concoction every day as I would like to. If you crave ice cream, this pair will satisfy but without the added sugar and with plenty of protein.
- Dry roasted edamame and an apple: This combo is going to give you 14 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. For an amazingly small amount of food your hunger will be completely satisfied. This one is very portable. You can keep it your purse or back pack without worry.
- Protein shakes: Are you a milkshake lover? Make my Iron Woman Smoothie. It looks like a Shamrock shake but it’s so much better for you with spinach, mango and vanilla protein powder. The ice gives it a cold creaminess and volume so you feel fuller. Or to satisfy a sweet tooth try my Carrot Cake Protein Shake. The carrot juice is sweet enough on it’s own so no need to add sugar (or icing). If you need something super portable go simple and try DesignerWhey Protein2Go. Just add to a bottle of water and grab some fruit on the side. These tiny packets of fruity protein flavor are great for travel.
What’s your snack drawer at work filled with? What snacks do you pack to avoid the mall food court?
Post by Pamela Hernandez | September 12th, 2013
I love eggs. They are inexpensive, available pretty much anywhere you choose to shop and easy to cook. It’s a shame they’ve gotten a bad wrap for so long. Everyone focuses on the cholesterol and saturated fat (of which we do need a little bit of by the way) that they forget about the positive nutritional benefits. For only 71 calories you get:
- 6 grams of protein
- 2.8 g of unsaturated fat (the good kind of fat!)
- 128 mg of choline (an essential nutrient for muscle control and memory)
- 41 IU of vitamin D (one of a few good food sources of this important vitamin)
All of this in a neat little package.
While I love eggs anytime of day, breakfast seems to be the logical place for eggs in the daily diet for most people. There are 2 very simple ways you can enjoy eggs at breakfast.
- You can hard boil a dozen on the weekend and enjoy one or two of them with a piece of fruit.
- You can scramble eggs in the microwave. Crack two eggs into a ramekin or small glass bowl. Cook in the microwave for 60 seconds, stir and then cook another 10 to 15 seconds. Add a slice of avocado and salsa.
If you have a little more time for breakfast try my Strawberry Egg Crepes. It only has the whites but you’ll get your healthy fat from the milled flaxseed and coconut. If you’re on the go I love the Starbucks Egg White, Spinach and Feta wrap (which they serve all the day, by the way).
How do you do eggs? Or are you burned on eggs? If so, what’s your breakfast protein of choice?