gluten free pancakes, dairy free, vegetarian, summer white

NYC Vegan & Protein Powder Zucchini Pancakes

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It's tough being a vegetarian foodie, while getting fit for wedding, and living in New York! Maybe you can't imagine it being so, but the options really are endless. For me, moving to a new city is like adapting to a new culture and although I have certain limitations I'm gleefully open to exploration (and frankly, the same brand of my favorites in La, like sweetgreen, are just not up to par here in NYC and I need a new best of list).

Vegetarian fare is not always healthy; it's often smothered in marinades and loaded with starch.  I want to eat all the lentil burgers, cashew cream pastas, and black bean quinoa taco bowls but I was steady packing on the pounds and so my first weeks go-to, By Chloe, is now a fling of the past. Now don't get me wrong, this plant-based fast food joint is deliciously satisfying but I must abstain from gluten, processed vegan cheeses, and refined high fructose sugars (agave sauces) lest I ruin my vision of a bloat free belly on my big day.

The first weeks in NYC I was hotel-bound and craving a home-cooked meal. I desperately despise undercooked eggs, and a few mornings went south when 45 minutes of waiting for room service produced runny egg white omelettes.  I needed an escape! So I set out to find an approachable option (where I could show up in sweats) that calmed my fears of getting salmonella poisoning. Enter Blossom.  This casual vegan restaurant in Chelsea was actually built in a historic townhouse. Both needs met! And although I thoroughly enjoyed the tofu scramble 'country breakfast' with apple sage seitan sausage, my dining companion gave less than stellar reviews on his soy ham Blossom Benedict.   I was quickly reminded that neither gluten nor fake meat, in general, serve me well...and seitan, the wheat meat, is just that.

Next up was Dirt Candy - a self proclaimed vegetable-forward restaurant that accommodates not only vegans & vegetarians, but also those with allergies and dietary restrictions, seemingly right up my alley. I went for brunch and was pleased with my selection of the zucchini pancakes with squash blossom butter, even though I rejected the maple syrup.  After scanning the menu, I settled on it being a few months before my next visit. Food here was heavily fried and, although not big on fake meat and vegan cheeses (they serve real dairy), not really in line with my current goals.

So what's a girl to do?? I continue my quest for additions to the Soma Fit List and I've definitely found a few. But with watching my waist line comes the necessity to know what's in my food, as well as tracking my caloric intake, so off to the kitchen I go to recreate and custom tailor the dishes that have moved me. I cook another day.

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zucchini pancakes, gluten free pancakes

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gluten free pancakes, dairy free, vegetarian, summer white




1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
1/4 tsp Now Foods xanthan gum
1/2 cup organic oat flour (I blended rolled oats into flour)
1/2 cup Sun Warrior classic vanilla
2 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp Wholesome organics stevia powder
2 eggs (I used Vital farms pasture raised)
3/4 cup Califia unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp raw honey, melted
1 tbsp Bai Congo apple pear (can sub with apple cider vinegar)
1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini


Grate zucchini with a medium sized grater. Wrap in paper towel and press to remove liquid, and set aside. Mix first seven ingredients (the dry stuff) in a medium sized bowl. In a separate medium sized bowl whisk the next 5 ingredients (the wet stuff), then once thoroughly combined add in the zucchini.  Whisk together wet and dry ingredients and let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat an un-greased, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spoon out 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto the hot and gently smooth out into a round shape. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles begin forming on the top. Flip then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, adjusting temperature as needed so the pancakes don't burn.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 pancake Calories: 101 Fat: 1.8 g Saturated fat: 0.3 g Carbohydrates: 16.2 g Fiber: 2.4 g Sugar: 2.7 g  Protein: 6.5 g  Sodium: 217 mg Potassium: 52.5 mg


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Gluten-free Dairy-free Berry Muffins

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These muffins are my dream come true!!!!

I used to get so jealous of folks that posted photos of those 2 minute mug muffins.  They looked so light, fluffy, moist and quick!  A few years ago I didn't eat eggs, switched from whey to vegan plant based protein powders, and I've never touched milk, so those recipes were out for me.

Here is a bit of science - rice based vegan protein powders, like the Sun Warrior Classic that I love, generally lack casein or lecithin and therefore don't easily form emulsions with liquids. You'll notice that plant based protein powders are often quite clumpy and require high speed blenders and a little almond butter or nut milk for that smooth mouth feel.  Some plant based proteins have xanthan gum as the emulsifying agent, which helps when baking flourless treats, but you'll need applesauce, banana, chia seeds, ground flax meal, eggs, agar, or starch to help further emulsify the batter, and give support and fluff, for the best textures.

I've worked tirelessly on perfecting my own morning muffin recipe, and I knew I had to keep them protein-packed, low-sugar, and gluten-free.  They needed to be as delicious as Trader Joe's Bran muffins, but on the level of Questbar's Blueberry Muffin macronutrient ratio. I know, my taste and dietary preferences are insufferable!

I use a whopping 4 scoop serving of Sun Warrior classic vanilla, for a substantial serving of protein, for every 7 large muffins. The rice based powder acts as my flour substitute, and I just use gluten-free oat bran to balance out the carbs and fiber. A pinch of Himalayan pink crystal salt provides strength to the dough, but also a nice dose of minerals.  I've tried this recipe with a combo of gluten-free Hain brand baking powder and baking soda, but I find the baking soda alters the taste of the muffin so I've omitted it altogether.

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I had run out of olive oil, and was too lazy to go downstairs (there is literally a Whole Foods a few hundred meters away) to buy more, so I melted a bit of Earth Balance plant based spread in its place. I love the purity and richness of extra virgin olive oil, but the Earth Balance provided a buttery taste that I had to share. Unsweetened almond milk, 1 whole egg from Vital Farms pasture raised hens, and unsweetened apple sauce (to help replace the missing oil and sugar from this recipe) round out the list of wet ingredients. Make sure to whisk the egg well into the other wet ingredients so each muffin is uniform in texture. I added the softened earth balance after mixing the wet and cold ingredients, as I know coconut oil can tend to firm up in cold temperatures and the egg and almond milk had just come out of the fridge.

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I always have frozen organic berries on hand, for smoothies, and compotes. When I use them in my baked recipes, I rinse them with warm water in a strainer and will either let them air dry (blueberries) or thaw out in warm water (larger berries like strawberries and blackberries) while I'm mixing up the batter.  Once the wet and dry have been mixed thoroughly I add the berries, stir, and ready the liners in the muffin tin.

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I like my muffins large and in charge, and since these lack flour a little batter does not go a long way. I fill my muffin liner nearly to the top so they cook up slightly and form muffin tops!  I let these cook at 350 for 25 minutes or more to really firm up.  I have never tried the toothpick test on these muffins, but I do make sure the top doesn't have any moist or soft spots.  Let them cool for about 5-10 minutes and they are good to go. I use a spoon and scrape the muffin liner clean because even the crumbs are too tasty to throw away!


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Gluten-free Mixed Berry Muffins
serves 2

1 cup gluten free OAT BRAN
1 tsp baking powder
5 packets (or teaspoons) organic stevia powder
1/8 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1 whole egg
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
2 tsp softened Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup blackberries (organic frozen, run under water/strain/dry)


Preheat oven to 350. Put first 5 ingredients in medium bowl, mix well. Whisk egg, milk, and applesauce in a small bowl. Add dry to wet ingredients, and mix well. Melt butter and add to batter. Mix berries and butter into batter. Place muffin liners in muffin tin, and using a spoon fill with batter until about 1/8" from top rim. Place in middle rack of oven and bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool and enjoy!


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Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Pesto


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Last week was Snowmageddon 2017 with Winter storm Stella making its way to New York City, where I currently reside. We were told to expect between 2 to 4 feet of snow in a 24 hour period, in a blizzard that would be noted in NYC history. A state of emergency was declared, flights were grounded, and many workers were told to stay home.

So on Monday evening around 10:30 pm, in preparing to hunker down for a few days, Jake and I decided to hit our neighborhood Whole Foods. When we walked in, it was like a scene from Supermarket Sweep (i'm a true child of the 90s)! The store would be closing in 30 minutes, but crazed shoppers were running to and fro grabbing what was left of the produce, prepared foods, frozen goods, and canned items. I was shocked to find only 5 single broccoli crowns, 6 mangled carrots, 3 wilted onions, 2 spaghetti squash, 2 yellow bell peppers, 2 heads of red cabbage, and a handful of triple washed spring mix cartons.  I took nearly all, save the spring mix.

Let me digress for a minute. I absolutely hate spring mix. I find that blend to consistently have slimy baby leaves that were likely too small to sell with their adult counterparts.  When I order a salad from a restaurant that serves spring mix, I'm literally sitting for 20 minutes inspecting and picking rotten leaves from my salad.  It drives Jake nuts, but me so even more! I can't stand it, and to make a point I place all the stinky little leaves on a napkin and disingenuously smile at the server when they ask how I'm enjoying my salad.

So anyway, I'm back at Whole Foods walking though the canned food aisle and I see a sad and limp bunch of kale; I grab it nervously like a $20 bill I find in a gutter, keeping it hidden from any other spring mix hater!  I then head straight to the vegan cold food section and feel a sense of relief rush over me.  There sat several packages of organic tempeh, tofu, miso paste, kimchi, sauerkraut, and all the other undesirable items that make my little plant based heart smile.  I knew in that moment that I'd be ok, America doesn't like fermented or vegan yet and I'd eat like a queen another day!

Most of the lines to the cash registers were at least 50 people long. This Whole Foods has a pretty organized way of zooming people through the check out, but the lines were daunting and the store was short on staff as it was officially closed for the evening.  Back near the bulk food section, hidden in the back of the store, the juice bar had decided to open its register to help with those inundated at the front. This line was about 20 people long, and much more doable.  Jake was ready to throw in the towel but we persevered.  While we waited near the nuts, seeds, and grains, I flipped through old photos and inspiration hit me.


A few years ago, we attended a wedding in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I had been some years before, staying with the same couple I'd be celebrating, when I worked for their company Familiar with the lively Gastown area Jake and I wanted to see their new restaurant scene, before the weekend's festivities began.  My favorite happened to be Chill Winston that was serving up some mean spaghetti squash with what I remember to be a sunflower seed pesto.  I've only ever made pesto with pine nuts and walnuts, and that's what I planned to do last week, but alas Whole Foods was out of both options, and sunflower seeds were the last remaining option that night. So here we have it folks.  

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Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Pesto
(serves 4 as main dish, or up to 8 as side dish)

1 whole spaghetti squash, cutting crosswise into 1" round slices
8 tsp Himalayan crystal salt

Sunflower Seed Pesto
1 cup fresh basil, washed and chopped
2 cups organic kale, washed, stem removed, and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp juice from fresh squeezed lime
1-2 tbsp water

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.  Cut ends off squash. Cut squash crosswise in 1" rings. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place squash on baking sheet covered with aluminum or parchment paper and sprinkle each ring with salt on both sides. Let sit 15 minutes. Wipe away salt and bake for 30- 40 minutes (I like my squash to have a few burnt pieces for added taste).  Let cool while making the pesto. 

Place first 4 ingredients into blender or food processor, then pulse until well combined. Add oil and lime juice, and blend on low, scraping down the sides as necessary. If pesto is very chunky, add water slowly teaspoon by teaspoon until it has desired consistency. Season with salt, to taste and serve with spaghetti squash.

For any remaining pesto, save in an airtight container with a teaspoon or more of olive oil drizzled on top to preserve.

*The cut of the squash was inspired by squash guru, Beth, over at

how to soak oatmeal for better digestion

Probiotic Overnight Oats

why soak oatmeal

Does your recent blood work show that you are low in iron, zinc, calcium or magnesium?
Perhaps you're not absorbing these minerals because of gut damage or it might just be the vegetables, beans and whole grains in your diet!

Phytic acid, or phytate, is found in all plant seeds and is like a storage bin for phosphorus; which, allows for normal growth and maturity of the seed into a plant as well as photosynthesis and respiration in adult plants. Phytic acid, itself, can bind many minerals making it a very unique substance.  In humans, via plant based consumption, physic acid can be protective against kidney stones and heavy metal toxicity; but, it can be quite damaging to the absorption of  minerals in the gut, zapping the body of important digestive enzymes and nutrients.
If you are a lover of oats, nuts, seeds, and plants, in general, there are a few things you can do to improve digestibility and lessen the effects of phytate's powerful nutrient binding and anti-absorption!
1. Soak in warm water for 12 hours or more
2. Sprout seeds or buy the sprouted versions of seeds, beans, and whole grain based foods ex. Wildwood Sprouted tofu & Ezekiel sprouted grain bread
3. Ferment beans by soaking 24 hours in a warm place, slow cooking, then adding 1 tbsp of a bacterial culture like kefir, lactic acid fermented brine from store bought sauerkraut, or another store bought starter culture to 1 cup of beans and let sit in a warm place for few days. Use these step by step directions from Cultures for Health, for proper food safety!
After developing digestive disorders and bacterial imbalances from many years of acidic (dairy as a youth and whey/chicken bodybuilder diet as an adult), inflammatory and grain heavy diets, I cut all meat, most grains and beans from my diet. It took me nearly a year to heal my gut from severe Ulcerative Colitis, and several years of slowly reintroducing foods back in and repopulating my gut with friendly bacteria, but now I'm able to consume organic fermented tempeh and gluten free soaked overnight oatmeal dishes just fine. Spending a year in and out of hospitals changes you, and I no longer sacrifice my health for highly marketed junk foods/drinks/candy. I will always eat a diet for optimized digestion, so you can rely on my recipes if you are interested in doing the same! Of course I eat out locally and enjoy discovering healthy restaurants when traveling, but I choose to cook on my own and control what I consume 90% of the time.
This recipe is for a better soaked overnight oatmeal, utilizing spring water, probiotic coconut yogurt, and fermented water kefir. If you are a fan of muesli, apple pie, berry pie, or oatmeal cookies, then you will absolutely love this recipe!
 how to soak oatmeal for better digestion


1/3 cup gluten free organic rolled oats ( do not use quick oats)
1/3 cup spring or purified water (do not use tap)
1 heaping tablespoon Anitas Coconut Milk yogurt (or full fat greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons Kevita Lime Mint Coconut Probiotic Drink (can use other water kefir like Tonix)
1 packet organic Stevia (i used Wholesome organics)
1 tbsp raw unsweetened cacao nibs
2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
2 sprouted walnuts, crushed into smaller pieces
6 frozen organic blackberries
2 frozen organic strawberries

Heat the water in a small saucepan on medium low heat until a lively simmer occurs, do not boil! Let cool for 1 minute and add to heat safe glass or ceramic bowl with the oats. Let sit on counter for  20-30 min, and then add coconut yogurt and water kefir. Cover with plastic and place in refrigerator overnight for a minimum of 12 hours. In the morning, sprinkle stevia to the probiotic oat mix and stir to combine. Then, top with cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds, and crushed walnuts. Place frozen berries in saucepan with 1 tbsp purified water, and 1/2 tsp stevia and heat on low; stirring or agitating pan occasionally, until juices have released and berries soften, about 5 minutes. Place on oats with spoon, one at a time to prevent juice from splashing onto clothes. Enjoy!
Option* If you want more liquid to oats, add a drizzle of unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the morning.

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Plant Based Ground Meat - use for burritos, tacos, burgers, etc

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Plant Based Breakfast Burrito





Having ulcerative colitis, ibs, acid reflux, low stomach acid, and gastroenteritis, is no vacation to Disneyland!  For years and years I struggled with chronic digestive issues, and at times I felt hopeless.

Through food allergy testing, elimination diets, and a series of visits to the good old GI doc, I had found that a major cause of my distress came from eating meat. That definitely came as a shock to me, and transitioning to a vegetarian diet was challenging. Throughout my competitive career in the National Physique Committee and International Federation of Bodybuilders I grew to love chicken and turkey, and I created recipe on recipe to enjoy. The biggest challenge, however, was not being able to get down in my beloved Taco Tuesday rituals!!

If you're from the West Coast, I'm sure you can attest to the fact that Taco Tuesday is like a weekly holiday! All you can eat tacos, chips and salsa, and that side of guacamole just bring a feeling of joy that is unparalleled! So whats a vegetarian to do when she just wants some dang tacos?!

The flavor in this recipe was inspired by an old favorite packet of taco seasoning you can get at nearly any conventional grocery store, from way back in the day when I didn't know what maltodextrin was, ate white potatoes regularly, had no opinions on fillers like whey and corn starch in my food, and thought that pre-packaged condiments were more convenient than homemade alternatives. So please enjoy this recipe, and the evolution of the healthy, plant based taco!

makes 1 serving of 2 tacos

2 gluten-free tortillas, (I use Rudi's spinach tortillas)
2 oz avocado, peeled and smashed
2 tbsp kalamata olive tapenade
2 tbsp Hope sriracha hummus
4 large leaves Dino kale, stem removed and chopped
4 stalks asparagus, cut root to tip
For the tempeh
1/2 block organic tempeh, chopped (I use Lightlife)
1 tbsp organic smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder (omit if following low-fodmap diet)
1 tsp garlic powder (omit if following low-fodmap diet)
Himalayan salt and ground peppercorn to taste


Cut 1 block tempeh in half, and place one half to the side. Using a chef's knife or Santoku knife, chop one half of the tempeh 14 times vertically and 14 times horizontally. Then, holding knife from bolster to tip, begin mincing the chopped tempeh until it resembles fine crumbles. Alternatively you can use a food processor for this.  Heat a non stick pan over medium heat, and add minced tempeh. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until light golden brown. Lower heat to simmer and add 2 tablespoons purified water, paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion and garlic powder (if using), salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for 1-2 minutes or until desired moisture remains. Remove from pan and let cool. Meanwhile, sauté dino kale and asparagus for 7-8 minutes or until tender. It may be necessary to add 1 tbsp of water half way through cooking.  Take a gluten free tortilla and heat over low flame, flipping often, 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 the tempeh mix and arrange in a line, then 1/2 the sautéed kale and asparagus mix, then smear 1 tbsp sriracha hummus, 1 tbsp olive tapenade, and 1 oz smashed avocado. Top with a squeeze of lime juice, and enjoy!

Winter's Coming... Guide to Preparing for Battle

To lead or influence someone, particularly when they are in a state of vulnerability or in need of help.

Straight from the mouth of Merriam-Webster! Here in La, we've been seeing weather below 60!!! I'd call that a state of vulnerability. haha

Our newsletter list is nearing 1000 strong as we close this chapter of 2014! 1000 people that are empowering their lives by arming themselves with an artillery of tools to help them achieve personal greatness!!

At times, the information may not relate to an issue you're experiencing, but think about your social circle, your family members, and coworkers. We all experience challenges, fall off, or get confused, and a friendly guide can always help steer you back in the right direction! I aim to create these guides because I really just love to help! I'm a personal trainer by trade, so naturally I live to see people improve their lives.

Winter is when people usually let themselves go a little...or a lot; but, this year is going to be different, Superstars! I've armed you with the Eating Out Guide, the handy dandy Thanksgiving (or any holiday) Guide, and now you will be furnished with a super useful Winter Workout Guide. Prepare for the temptation to stay in your cozy bed all weekend long, drinking brandy hot totties, and noshing on peppermint bark. No excuses for packing on pointless pounds now - we're going to stay bikini-ready and healthy all year long!

*Gym Time:

-Who doesn't love fresh air, sun beaming on your face outdoor runs and hiking trails?! Now the cold and rain combined with less hours of natural daylight can only mean one thing - PACKED GYMS! We haven't even mentioned the New Year Resolution people that will soon join the mix in January! But don't let a crowded gym kill your vibe, my friends!


If possible, avoid peak hours; of course, everyone goes after work! Maybe this is when you try getting into the habit of going before work. Many gyms are pretty sparse until 8am. Perfect time to get in your Fasted Cardio and watch the gorgeous sun rise!

-Don't neglect your cardio, especially on the days when you've had some of Santa's holiday cookies and spiked eggnog! If you're bulking, you don't need to be doing massive amounts of plyo and hiit cardio, so stay in the grrove and spice it up a little with a fun dance, spinning, or Zumba class. Most studios offer a discount or free first class for newbies.

-Busy with holiday mall shopping? Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, and park your car a little further away when safe to do so. The extra steps during the day will add up.
*Food Time:

-Bulk up. It's always best to eat seasonal, local food because there is an abundance of the crop, making it less expensive. Also, produce that is shipped often gets zapped with bursts of radiation to kill germs, and treated with waxes to protect it during travel, this can affect flavor and nutrient quality. Winter foods include pomegranates and persimmons, collard greens and brussels sprouts, rutabagas, and squash like acorn, spaghetti, and pumpkin. These hearty choices have a little extra sugar and starch, but not to fret they are perfect pre- and pos- workout choices. Winter is a great time to increase your muscle mass before you lean out in the Spring so hit that weight room and don't be afraid to lift heavy. It will make your summer body DY-NO-MITE!

-Holiday parties and office treats have the potential to foil your healthy eating habits. No reason to be depressed and left out, just follow these suggestions:
-Remember when I encouraged you all to track your meals using the MyFitnessPal app? Well if you haven't gotten into that habit, try again now! Good or bad, tracking what you're eating is a sure fire way to monitor your consumption.  If you are feeling pressured by your boss to try one of his/her daughter's famous jelly rolls, cut off a small piece and calculate the carbs into your diet. Just skip out on your lunch toast so you don't go over your alloted carb macros for the day.
-Pack your meals for work every day. If you have healthy baby carrots and tahini dip, or a hard boiled egg whites, avocado, tomato sandwhich to reach for, you'll be less inclined to grab a gingerbread cookie your coworker baked.
-Office party? Here's a yummy recipe you can bring, and folks wont even know it's healthy!


-Libations on the holiday party menu? Avoid the empty calories if you can, or stick to clear liquors like tequila, gin, and vodka and mix with low cal or calorie free options like stevia soda water with muddled mint and lime (healthy mojito), or even stevia and fresh lime juice (healthy margarita). A small glass of champagne for your NYE Toast is okay, just pass on the bread!
*Health Time: In the wise words of Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands; they just don't." It really is true that maintaining an active lifestyle keeps you healthy and happy; but none of us are immune robots and no one is as happy when they're under the weather. Colds, the flu, allergies - winter is prime time for icky little bugs.

-It's common sense but, wash your hands often. Be sure to wipe down your machines at the gym before and after your use them.
-If you take any vitamins or supplements, remain consistent this time of year so your immune system stays strong. Food is your friend here as well - peppers (chili and bell), kale, strawberries, kiwi, and Brussels sprouts all have more Vitamin C than oranges!
-One of my all time favorite immune boosters when I feel a respiratory cold coming on is an herbal supplement called Kick Ass Immune by Wish Garden. It is loaded with the powerful elderflower, yarrow, and echinacea plants which aid in circulation, are anti-inflammatory, anti-parastic, antibiotic and much much more.


Cool off with Kumquat Mint Lemonade!

2014-04-30 14.59.23Summer-time is fast approaching which means BBQs, pool days, and beach fun. It's important to stay hydrated, and believe it or not you'll need your water to keep those gleaming abs tight when it's time for swimwear! Your body can go into a state of water retention if it's not getting enough, so keep the flow steady, especially if you know you're going to be enjoying a dehydrating cocktail...or two.

I LOVE my water but even I can use some flavor in my life so I play around with Perrier or mineral water with chopped cucumbers, citrus fruits, berries, and even herbs rather than drinking sugar-laden sodas or juice. This stevia sweetened Kumquat Mint Lemonade is inspired by a drink at the famed Nobu Los Angeles called the Kumquat Cooler. It's super simple to make and if you have  big pitcher, you can just add ice to your glass before pouring. Now doesn't it look like the mascot of a perfect picnic lunch?

Kumquat Mint Lemonade
Serves 1

8 oz purified mineral water or Perrier
1/2 juice of fresh lemon
4 Kumquats, halved
Sprig of fresh mint
stevia to taste

Muddle kumquats, stevia and mint into a shaker cup. Add the lemon juice and water. Shake till combined. Pour over ice and enjoy with a fun straw!

Garlic Basil Hummus and Baked Blue Corn Chips

Off season? Healthy house party snacks? Summer-time picnic ideas? Try organic, low fat, low salt, baked blue corn chips and this homemade garlic basil hummus.  Save a few dollars and make you own hummus, rather than splurging on store-bought brands (which just so happen to have gmo soy and milk, nightshades, strange acids, and dextrose).  For a different texture, try organic white beans! White beans are very similar in taste to garbanzos, but may be a little more smooth in texture.  This recipe is quite spicy, so if you want a more mild flavor decrease the amount of garlic by half.   

Garlic Basil Hummus
Serves 4
Each serving: 155 calories - 7 grams protein  I  21 grams carb  I  7 grams fat

1 can organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 organic fresh garlic cloves, skin removed
5 leaves fresh basil, torn into smaller shreds
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/3 cup raw tahini
1 tbsp organic onion powder
ground Himalayan salt and peppercorn, to taste

Puree all in food processor or Vitamix until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Creamy Tahini Heart of Palm Tuna Salad

Salads are my go-to when my days are tight. Too many times have I watched friends and fellow competitors munch their dry whitefish, soggy asparagus, and sad little microwaved yams when it’s time to eat on the go. It takes just a few more minutes, but I broil my fish, boil and pull my chicken, dice and roast or sauté my veggies, create delicious low calorie sauces and dressings, and toss all together with 6 crispy, delightful pieces of romaine leaves that I chop into 1/2″ thick ribbons.  I figure we are blessed with the sense of taste, so why not indulge it?!

This recipe is just as tasty with pulled chicken or sauteed tempeh (but will add extra carbs and fat), so feel free to substitute.  The flavor is very much like a creamy tuna or chicken salad you’d find at your favorite deli, but with much more quality ingredients. When on a fat-loss diet, I have to be mindful of the fats I consume so I always skip mayo and Vegenaise. Although lactose- and egg yolk-free (I don’t eat these most of the year), Vegenaise has either safflower, canola, or soybean oil which are all high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. So stick to tahini, avocado, olive and coconut oils for that essence of creaminess.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for our health, but an unbalanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can increase our health risks.  Sesame seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and when ground create tahini paste.  Tahini is most known for the flavor it adds to hummus, but it is also the base of this tuna salad!

Creamy Tahini Heart of Palm Tuna Saladno-mayo heart of palm tuna salad
Serves 1
253 calories - 28 grams protein I  16 grams carb  I  9 grams fat

8 small crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 can Crown Prince pole-caught albacore tuna in water, drained (20 g protein)
1 piece heart of palm,  sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tbsp shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp raw tahini sauce (Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dill, dried or fresh
6 leaves of romaine lettuce
1 oz avocado, sliced
fresh ground peppercorn and Himalayan pink salt, to taste

Sauté mushrooms in 1 tbsp purified water for 1-2 minutes or until mushrooms begin to reduce in size. Add balsamic vinegar, and continue to cook 1-2 min or until vinegar has reduced halfway. Remove from heat.  Flake tuna with the back of a fork in a small bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except romaine and mushrooms, and mix together till combined.  Slice the romaine lettuce from tip to stalk in 1/2″ increments. Place romaine in a medium sized bowl, top with the creamy heart of palm tuna mixture, and finish with the sliced avocado.