Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Wigs Original Recipe

Greetings all!

Sorry I've slacked in the posting department...but allow me to share one of my absolute FAVORITE recipes (and one I made up all by myself)! 

I call it the Quinoa Veggie Bowl! 

I know what some of you are thinking:  what the heck IS quinoa?  And more importantly, why am I telling you to eat it? 

Quinoa has long been classified as a "super food"--meaning it's pretty much perfect in terms of nutritional value.  Most people think of it as a grain--but it's actually a seed.  Additionally, it contains all 9 amino acids, which makes it a complete protein.  It's easily digestable, gluten-free and pretty inexpensive.  One cup of quinoa yields about 4 servings cooked (and way more when you add all these veggies).  So here you go...


1.) 1 c quinoa

2.) Any vegetables you like--and as much as you want.  This is a great way to use up any fresh vegetables you have on hand (especially at the end of the week when you need to eat them or they'll go bad), BUT you can also make use of the frozen vegetables in your freezer.  I've used broccoli, asparagus, peppers, carrots, corn, soybeans and eggplant.  With that many vegetables, I do about a handful of each.

3.) The zest and juice of 1 lemon (optional)

4.) Fresh herbs--basil, chives, parsley, etc. (optional)


1.) Cook quinoa according to package instructions.

2.) While quinoa cooks, saute the veggies in a pan over medium-high heat.  For frozen, I don't put anything in the pan, since the water coming from the frozen veggies is usually enough.  For thicker vegetables, like carrots and broccoli, put them in the pan first and give them a minute or two extra to cook before you add thinner vegetables.  For fresh vegetables, like mushrooms, sautee them in just a splash of olive oil until cooked to desired consistency.  I also like to add brussel sprouts (see previous entry for directions). 

3.) Combine vegetables and quinoa in large bowl.  If desired, zest and juice 1 lemon and mix in with quinoa/vegetables.  Also add in herbs.  I don't usually add any salt or pepper, but if your meal seems naked without them, feel free to sprinkle them in there too.  

4.) Serve hot and enjoy!

(Note:  If you WANT to add some meat--go for it!  Sliced grilled chicken would be a fantastic addition.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's Easy Being Green

I admit I was a weird child, but even when I was growing up, my motto was "the more veggies, the better." 

Now that I'm older, nothing's really changed.  Vegetables should ALWAYS be included as part of your lunch or dinner--and the best part is, there are a ton of options.  Plus, it's ALWAYS healthy.  You get tons of vitamins and fiber without massive amounts of carbohydrates.  Just make sure you're not drenching them in butter or oil or fatty salad dressings--that defeats the purpose.   

Here's a tip from my favorite (Dr. Oz) about salad dressings: 
try an oil-based, reduced-fat dressing

"Look for salad dressings that contain heart-healthy oils like olive or canola oil, and 2 to 4 grams of fat per serving. Two teaspoons (a serving) of this kind of dressing will count for 150 calories; these 150 calories will serve you better than the hundreds more you consume between unhealthy snacks later."
I love pretty much everything, so feel free to pick and choose from any of the ideas below.

1.) "30 second salad":  One of the easiest ways to get your vegetables is to throw together a salad.  For me, this is where a little advance preparation comes in.  Every week when I have fresh veggies and start chopping for a salad, I just chop up everything and drop them in Tupperware containers (I keep different veggies separated).  I also take advantage of bagged lettuce (usually spinach).  My favorite salad toppings are bell peppers (green, red, yellow, and orange) and cucumber and sometimes I'll do mushrooms too.  That way, no matter when I get home, I can ALWAYS have a salad with my meal. 

2.) Frozen anything:  Easy, cheap and long-lasting.  I love frozen broccoli or green beans, frozen peppers, asparagus--really anything that looks good.  My freezer is stocked with different bags of things--I always have a variety of choices and I don't have to worry if I can't eat it all at once.  I just open the bag, put what I want in a microwave-safe bowl, and stick it in the microwave for about 3 minutes.  Occasionally, I add a splash of water for added steam, but usually it isn't necessary.  Add a little salt and pepper and/or a splash of lemon juice for a little extra flavor.  The other way to do it is to just drop the veggies in a skillet with a little olive oil and cook them through--but what's easier than in the micro? 

3.) Brussel Sprouts:  I am a new convert to these, thanks to a coworker (You rule, Sally!).  This one requires slightly more effort (and you can roast them in the oven too, but this is how I like to make them)...but I am happy to do it because they're delish!  First, bring a pot of water to a boil and then drop in the sprouts.  Let them boil for 3-4 until they are bright green and slightly tender.  Drain them, cut them in half and put them in a skillet (with a little olive oil) until they start to char (make sure you do both sides).  I can eat them just like that and a little salt and pepper OR with lemon juice of course.

4.) Carrots on-the-go:  Baby carrots are one of my staples.  I bring some with my lunch almost every day.  Did you know that 3 oz of baby carrots (1 serving) gives you 120% of your daily Vitamin A?!?!  That blew my mind.  And in case you didn't know, Vitamin A is one of the key vitamins that provides anti-oxidants, which are crucial in preventing cancer and aging.  You can buy a big bag and portion it out in snack bags or even sometimes buy individual portions already done for you. 

5.) Fresh pea pods or snow pea pods:  Crunchy and easy to eat...there are bags of them in the veggie aisle and I do the same thing I do with the carrots and portion them out. 

The last thing I would say is MIX IT UP!  Not everyone likes everything, but don't get locked into eating the same thing over and over--that's boring and more importantly, you're more likely to get sick of it and then you won't eat ANY vegetables.  Buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies instead of just broccoli, grab some edamame and boil them in water, grab something fresh and throw it in your cart. 

Also, feel free to leave a comment and share what your favorite vegetable recipes are!   

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Healthy on the Cheap!

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday evening is make a huge pot of something on the stove, let it simmer and allow the warm, delicious smells fill up my apartment. 

I got this recipe from a Dr. Oz episode featuring plant-based nutrition...It's healthy, delicious and CHEAP.  The best part about it is that if you don't like something in here veggie-wise, you can just leave it out OR swap it for something you do like.  I am copying the original recipe...what I added or substituted in parathenses.  ENJOY!

Dinner: Beans and Greens Chili

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed  (1 15 oz. can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
8-12 medium baby bella mushrooms
1 (15 oz) can corn, rinsed and drained
2-3 tbsp chili powder  (a couple of shakes of crushed red pepper flakes)
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper  (1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper)
1 tbsp curry powder  (did not use; added 1 tsp kosher salt)
4 cups leafy green vegetables, chopped  (I used kale)

In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté onions, carrots and celery in 1/2 cup vegetable broth for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add kidney beans, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms, corn, chili powder, black pepper, curry powder and remaining 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When chili appears soft, mix in leafy greens and turn off heat. Serve warm.

**Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Work It Out!

I LOVE a good workout.  For me, there's no better feeling than the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you just had your butt kicked.  Additionally, I find that working out that way is extra motivation to make better choices with food too.  After working as hard as I do, I don't want to ruin it by eating tons of junk.  Plus, it's the healthy stuff that gives me more energy and helps fuel me for a better workout. 

It's taken me a couple of years to really find my balance of what works for me and what I like to do.  Based on my experience, I give a few pieces of advice for regular people like me who want to start a workout routine.

**ONE NOTE:  Please make sure you talk to your doctor and/or a fitness professional before starting ANY fitness routine.  Safety first!

1.) Start slow.  When I first decided to get into the habit of working out, I tried to go full throttle and do something 5 days a week.  That lasted about a week and a half.  The truth is, if you don't consistently work out, that goal is not feasible right away.  Your mind, your body and your schedule will turn on you VERY quickly.  Instead, set a goal to workout 3 times per week for 30-40 minutes.  Try that for about 2-3 weeks.  As your fitness level increases, you can work out longer (start at 30 minutes, then go 45, then go an hour) and/or add days.  Pretty soon, your body starts to crave that activity and it becomes much easier to prioritize your workout.  My personal goal is 4 days per week for an hour or more (when I have time I will go longer).  If I can, I'll do 5 days--but I don't stress about it.  I commit to my four days and put in the maximum effort.  Anything else is a bonus--but it takes time.  Allow yourself to work up to it.   

2.) Find what works for you.  I love to mix it up.  I do muscle endurance and muscle definition, step aerobics, cardio kickboxing, water workouts, running, the elliptical, yoga--I've even tried boxing and the occasional dance class.  I usually take classes because the gym I go to has fabulous instructors and their classes push me harder than I would push myself.  Plus, you get the added benefit of form cues and variety to keep you from getting bored.  But remember--not every workout is for every person.  I know a lot of people who LOVE Zumba, but I personally don't care for it.  I feel awkward and stiff and a little silly trying to pretend I have rhythm.  Conversely, my favorite format, Turbo Kick, isn't enjoyable for other friends who prefer simply running on the treadmill.  The most important thing is to find what you ENJOY doing.  If you don't enjoy it, you won't do it.  It's that simple.   

3.) Get your heart rate up.  I know it's easy to take a stroll to the bus stop and count it as "exercise."  But the reality is if you're looking to improve your health or lose weight, that most likely won't be enough.  It's important to do something physical that makes your heart beat a little faster and break a sweat.  If you DO go walking, don't stroll.  Walk as fast as you can to the point where it should be a little difficult to hold a conversation (not impossible.  Just tougher). 

4.) Build some muscle.  An important component of getting in shape is your muscle mass.  The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate (meaning your body naturally burns more calories when you're sitting around watching TV).  And don't worry about bulking up.  If you're a female lifting 3-5 pound weights, you aren't going to look like a bodybuilder.  You'll just look more toned.  And if you're not sure what to do, check out fitness magazines for exercises, take a class, or buy a workout dvd and a pair of weights from Target.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Most Important Meal of the Day

I'm sure everyone has heard it:  one of the best things you can do for your health is to EAT BREAKFAST.

I'm a big believer in this one--I don't EVER skip breakfast.  That said, I'm not a morning person by ANY means and frankly, I refuse to get up early to make something complicated or time-consuming. 

I know a lot of people feel rushed in the morning and some that just aren't hungry right when they wake up.  And that's fine.  Figure out what works for you, but that morning meal is super important--it gets your metabolism going, gives you energy and keeps you from making bad choices later in the day when you feel desparate for food.  If you don't eat before you leave the house, most of these things can easily be brought to work and eaten a little later in the morning.  :)   

Here's a few of ideas for healthy breakfasts that I use during the week.  Some take 2 minutes in the morning, some can be prepared the night before.  As a sidenote, I usually try and get some kind of healthy carb AND a protein in my breakfast choices:

1.) Hard-boiled eggs:  Easy, low-calorie and nutrious!  I usually make 5 of them on a Sunday night and stick them in the fridge for the week.  It's an easy grab-n-go morning protein and take almost zero effort.  Put eggs in a pot and add enough water to cover them.  Place on the stove, uncovered, and bring to a rolling boil.  Once they're boiling, remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 12-15 minutes.  I drain the water and let them sit to cool for a bit before sticking them in the fridge.  Eat one combined with a whole grain and/or other complex carb.

2.) Whole grain cereal with skim milk (you can't get any easier than that)

3.) Non-fat Greek yogurt and fresh fruit (look for Greek yogurts like Fage and Chobani...be careful because some of the flavored Greek yogurts can have a LOT of added sugar.

4.) Old-fashioned oatmeal:  Try to avoid "instant" or "quick-cooking" oats which tend to have a lot of added sugar.  Regular, old-fashioned oatmeal can be cooked in the microwave in about 1-1 1/2 minutes depending on your desired consistency.  If you want a little sweetness, try adding a pinch of brown sugar.  I love to mix in some raisins and sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Or, if you want your protein, mix in a leveled teaspoon of all-natural, unsalted peanut butter. 

5.) Steel-cut (also called Irish) oats:  This is another one I make the night before--but once you do, it yields 4 servings.  Just follow the package directions.  In the morning, I add a splash of water and microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  I add a leveled teaspoon of natural, unsalted peanut butter and a few raisins--DELICIOUS.  A friend of mine who's husband runs triathalons informed me it's what professional triathletes eat for breakfast.  Yum! 

6.) Whole-wheat English muffins or whole-wheat waffles with any kind of nut (almond, soy, peanut) butter

7.) If you're REALLY lazy or don't like any of the above, opt for a protein (NOT granola) bar.  Brands like Zone or Clif are my favorite--and again, make sure you read the labels.  Some protein bars can have HUGE amounts of fat in them--not exactly what you're looking for. 

Finally, really try to cut out the "candy bar" coffee drinks--you know what I mean.  Anything with carmel, chocolate, whipped cream, etc.  They tend to have loads of empty calories and sugar and just aren't worth it, even if they are "non-fat" or "skim."  You'll save the calories for a real dessert later in the day and your wallet will also thank you. 

Happy eating!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ready and Willing

Here's the thing about being healthier:  you have to be ready to commit. 

Yes, we're all busy.  I get it.  But change can't happen unless you have discipline.  A lot of the suggestions and ideas I post here are pretty simple--but they DO require some small adjustments on your end in order to make it work.   

Most of my food/cooking suggestions require some advance thought and preparation.  But if you're willing to take 5-10 minutes in the morning or at the end of ONE day a week, I promise you can accomplish any and/or all of these things.  And for the most part, all the advanced work will save you time in the end.  And I'm not just talking the talk--these are ALL things I have incorporated into my daily routine. 

The exercise/fitness side of things does require some sacrifice--the only way to make time to do it is, frankly, to give up doing something else.  But hopefully the suggestions I post here will help make it easier to get into the habit--and once you're used to it, I feel confident you'll start MAKING the time for a fitness routine. 

The most important thing to remember is that it CAN be done--just start small and do what you can, when you can.  As it becomes a habit, the adjustment doesn't need much thought.

So let's do it! :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Thanks for checking out my blog! 
I wanted to use this first post as a way to introduce myself and explain a little bit about what I hope this blog can mean for you.

Anyone who knows me now sees a woman in her late 20s who loves healthy food and (gasp!) actually loves going to the gym--but it wasn't always that way. 

I was an athlete for most of my life--I played sports year-round right up until college and even though I loved fruits and veggies, I always ate whatever I wanted because I was young and it didn't matter.  Once I hit my freshman year of college though, I stopped working out, started studying all the time and paid zero attention to my eating habits...and packed on the pounds accordingly.  I didn't feel that great about myself, but at a certain point, it wasn't about physical appearance.  I didn't feel good because I wasn't taking care of myself.  I dropped a few lbs. that summer and slimmed down in the years following, but it's really been the last year or two that I've started focusing on overall health.

The people around me know I have an extremely busy life--I work in television which sometimes requires long hours, I have a big family with whom I'm very close, I do a bit of volunteer work for my sorority and I'm lucky enough to be friends with lots of amazing people who for some reason seem to enjoy spending time with me. Translation: I have a lot going on and every day, week and month is a balancing act to figure out how to do all the things I want to do. It's no different for most of the people I know.

The more I learn about the human body, the more I understand just how much of a gift it truly is.  There are so many things I want to see and do and learn in this world--and I want to take care of my body so I can do all those things for as long as physically possible.  Additionally, the confidence and security that comes with being healthy is priceless.  I don't by any means have a perfect body, but I do feel comfortable in my own skin.  I do the best I can with what I have and the rest just falls into place.   

Because of my own personal interest in health and fitness, I've come across a number of resources that have not only helped me get to where I am now, but inspired me to surpass my own expectations.  Because I'm a nerd and constantly trying to learn new things, I love to swap tips and tricks with friends and fitness professionals and I also love to share everything I learn with others.  I also talk to a lot of people who WANT to make healthy choices but don't exactly know where to start. 

That's why I'm saying: START HERE.  I'm not a dietician or a nutritionist or a personal trainer--I'm just a regular, busy person who wants to live a healthy lifestyle.  I'm hoping I can share what worked for me and hopefully help others along the way.  I'll have healthy recipes, personal stories and interviews with fitness professionals.  Feel free to share your own knowledge--recipes, articles, websites--anything that aides and inspires your fitness journey. 

Thanks for reading!