Archive | February 2013

Grapefruit Smoothie Explosion

Grapefruit Green Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

1 grapefruit (with juices), peeled and sliced

1 pear, cored & sliced

1 frozen banana, halved

3 leaves of kale, stems discarded

1-2 tsp. fresh grated ginger

3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/3’s

 

Combine all ingredients in blender. With the frozen banana, mine was the perfect consistency, but feel free to add ice and/or water to get your ideal blend. This smoothie was the most delightful burst of citrus and gave me so much energy all morning – no coffee needed!

 

Quinoa, Kale & Sweet Potato Hash

Two things I love – sweet potatoes and kale. Quinoa is also in incredible grain that serves as a complete protein and is naturally gluten-free. I don’t obsess over anything being gluten-free or not, but let’s just say, texture and taste-wise, I tend to lean towards quinoa and brown or wild rice over pasta as a personal preference. This dish could be great as a full meal or play fiddle to a protein-centered dish. It’s also a great leftover that you can transform – like, for example poached or basted eggs over it for breakfast! Whenever you choose to eat it, know it’s a great go-to, as it takes under 15 minutes!

Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Kale Hash        SPQK 2

INGREDIENTS:

2 (thinner) sweet potatoes/yams, washed well & sliced horizontally [thinner in size are easier to slice; be sure to choose ones with red garnet colored skin]

1 Tbls. coconut oil

1 bunch of kale leaves, ripped & stems discarded

½ cup quinoa, uncooked

1.5 cups water

Handful of parsley, stems discarded & chopped finely

Juice from ½ lemon

Sea salt + pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, add quinoa and cook until water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Once quinoa is done, stir in parsley, remove from heat, cover and set aside.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, place sweet potatoes in sauté pan with coconut oil. Cook for 5 minutes, evenly coating. Add kale and a splash of water, then cover. You want sweet potatoes to steam, but stir occasionally and add water (as/if needed) so that SP’s don’t stick to pan. Cook until they are soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add quinoa to sauté pan, add lemon juice and season to taste with sea salt + pepper.
  4. Great additions (any or all): avocado, crushed nuts, sliced olives, raisins or eggs on top!

Mo Tacos

If you know me, you know I LOVE tacos. And mexican food in general. However, when you go out to eat at Mexican restaurants, you’re not always in for the healthiest of fares. I have a few different taco variations, but this is one of the classics. With everything prepped, takes about 15 minutes. Set your turkey breast out to thaw in the morning and enjoy the leftovers over spinach for lunch the next day.

Mo Tacos

INGREDIENTS:

Half package of organic ground turkey (or beef), thawed

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained & rinsed

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies

2 bell peppers, sliced into strips & seeds discarded

2 tsp. each of: cumin & oregano

1 tsp. each of: cayenne pepper (more for desired spiciness) and minced garlic

Frontera Organic Green Tomatillo Salsa

Shredded pepper jack cheese (full fat & check ingredients – I used Tillamook)

100% sprouted corn tortillas

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Plain, full-fat Greek yogurt, 1 tsp. per serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place ground turkey in a large sauté pan and cook until meat is browned, stirring often to break up the pieces. Drain and turn heat to medium.
  2. In a separate sauté pan, add sesame oil and minced garlic, cooking for 2 minutes.
  3. At the same time, add green chilies, cumin, oregano, cayenne and black beans to the meat with 2 Tbls. water.
  4. After 2 minutes, add peppers to garlic and sauté covered for 6-8 minutes (until soft), stirring occasionally.
  5. Heat tortillas in a touch of olive oil in a grill pan or heat in the microwave for 20 seconds.
  6. To construct tortilla, start with meat, add peppers, then dress as desired with salsa, 1 Tbls. of cheese per taco and yogurt as “sour cream” if desired (I like the taste of Greek yogurt better than sour cream, but there’s nothing wrong with small amounts of full-fat, organic sour cream).
  7. Additional taco toppings if desired: lettuce, tomato or olives.

Spicy Chicken Salad

This is one of my favorite go-to quickie meals. Easy to whip up for any party or a meal in itself, it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes!

Spicy Chicken SaladINGREDIENTS:
1 chicken breast, thawed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lime
2 tsp. each of: chili powder, cumin, oregano and minced garlic

  1. Fill small sauce pan half full with water and add chicken breast. Boil for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Drain and rinse off. Using a fork, shred chicken and set aside in serving bowl.
  2. Drain and rinse black beans. Combine with chicken and add red pepper
  3. Whisk together last 5 ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to chicken mix and stir to combine. To make mix spicier, add more chili powder.
  4. Can serve over a bed of spinach, in heated 100% sprouted corn tortillas or use as a “dip” for chips (I like Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips or Rye with Caraway Seeds Triscuits).

Old School Tuna Casserole, Revamped!

Tuna CasseroleTuna Casserole:

Half package brown rice penne noodles

1 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

10 crimini mushrooms, sliced

½ cup white wine (or vegetable broth)

2 Tbls. brown rice flour

3 cups whole, organic milk

2 cans white chunk tuna (drained)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

5 Rye with Caraway Seeds Triscuits, smashed into “crumbs”

Sea salt + pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions until just tender. Drain, rinse and set aside in a big mixing bowl.
  2. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.
  3. Heat oil in a sauce pan, then add onion and mushrooms, cooking until onion is softened but not browned (about 5 minutes). Add wine and cook until evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables in saucepan; stir to coat. Add milk, bringing to a slow boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in tuna and peas. Transfer sauce into mixing bowl with noodles and stir until evenly coated. Put entire mixture into greased pan.
  6. Sprinkle the casserole with crushed Triscuit and then grate fresh Parmesan over top.
  7. Since everything is already cooked, broil until top is crispy and dish starting to bubble – about 3-4 minutes.

Hearty Apple-Butternut Squash Soup

BS

INGREDIENTS:

1 butternut squash, halved and seeds scooped out

1 apple, diced

1 onion, chopped

2-3 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbls. each of: olive oil, sage and maple syrup

1 tsp. thyme

Sea salt + pepper to taste

4+ cups vegetable broth to blend

For more creaminess: blend in 1/3 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lay butternut squash out on baking sheet. Brush maple syrup onto both halves, then season with sea salt + pepper. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes or until completely cooked.
  3. When squash is done, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Add apple, onion, minced garlic, olive oil, sage and thyme to a sauce pan. Cook for 7-10 minutes (until apple & onion are soft).
  5. Once cooled, scoop flesh out of squash and put into pan with apples mix. Add vegetable broth to mix and stir to combine. If you’re going to use Greek yogurt, add it now as well.
  6. Transfer all ingredients to a blender to puree. As needed/desired, you can add more broth or yogurt. Season with sea salt + pepper to taste!

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

One of my all time favorites – banana, peanut butter and chocolate. Great for breakfast, lunch or post-workout snack if you’re on the go.  You will need:

1 banana
5-7 ice cubes
½ cup organic whole coconut milk (homemade or store-bought)
1 organic, free-range egg yolk
1 tsp. each of: cacao powder, ground flaxseed and raw honey
2 Tbls. hemp seeds
1 Tbls. peanut or other nut butter (can also do 1/3 cup of raw nuts)

Put all ingredients in blender, then mix. If it’s too thick, can always add some water or a touch more coconut milk. Enjoy!

Chicken Carbonara

 

Chicken Carbonara

This is my take on an old classic. Big crowd pleaser and only takes about 20 minutes to cook!

1 chicken breast, thawed
4 slices bacon
10 crimini mushrooms, wiped with wet towel & sliced
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/8 cup white wine (or vegetable broth if not available)
2 Tbls. brown rice flour
¾ cup organic, whole milk
Half package brown rice penne pasta (recommend Lundberg brand)
1 Tbls. olive oil

  1. Cook brown rice noodles according to package instructions.
  2. You will want to prep all food first: (1) cut chicken, bacon [when it’s done] and mushrooms into bite-size pieces and (2) chop onion & basil.
  3. You will need to two sauté pans — you will be ultimately combining all ingredients into “VEGETABLE” pan, so use bigger one (with higher sides) for that. Start by cook bacon until starting to get crispy, then add chicken and cook through (then set aside if need be).
  4. Once chicken is almost done cooking, combine olive oil, mushrooms, onion, garlic and basil into other pan. Cook until onion & mushrooms soften. Then add brown rice flour to “vegetable” pan and stir to coat.
  5. Add wine, bacon and chicken to vegetable pan and cook for 1 minute. Last, add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring to mix. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir frequently for 2 minutes. Serve carbonara over noodles!
  6. Option to grate fresh Parmesan cheese (1 Tbls.-ish per serving) over top.

Green Power Salad: Seaweed + Kale

Seaweed + Kale Salad

I’ve been eating a lot more greens lately – like a lot. Smoothies, salads and soups, you name it. One superfood in particular that I’m trying to incorporate more is seaweed. Did you know that nori and kelp contain up to ten times more calcium than milk and up to eight times as much as beef? Also rich in vitamins A, B, E and K, nori additionally helps boost the thyroid gland, which is responsible for breaking down food before it can be turned into fat. Not a bad rap for one little plant, right? However, I don’t like the taste of the “dry” nori sheets – they have just never struck my fancy. So I wanted to find a way to incorporate them into a salad. I have a recipe for an Asian-Inspired Kale salad, so that combined with some inspiration from some new books I’ve been pouring over (Healthy for Change by Colquhoun & Bosch) resulted in this delicious morsel. So, without further ado – here’s my newest green salad: Kale & Seaweed Salad…

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of organic kale leaves, stems discarded

5 nori sheets, sliced into small 1” pieces

2 whole organic carrots, peeled

1 organic cucumber, peeled & sliced into cubes

1 avocado, meat sliced into chunks

Sea salt

DRESSING:

2 Tbls. gluten-free organic Tamari sauce

2 Tbls. toasted sesame oil

1 Tbls. black sesame seeds

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. honey

1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 Tbls. apple cider vinegar

  1. Wash kale and rip leaves from stem. Place in a large bowl and dust with sea salt. Using your hands, massage kale to soften. Kale should turn a slightly darker green. Alternative to raw kale is to boil or steam it for 3-4 minutes. To boil, bring slightly salted water to a boil, then add kale (let water return back to a boil). Cover with lid slightly offset so steam can escape. Once done, strain & run with cold water.
  2. You can either grate the carrots by hand or toss them in a food processor (I chose the latter) until they’re fine chunks/pieces.
  3. Toss nori, cucumber and carrots in with kale.
  4. Whisk all dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Toss salad ingredients with dressing and make sure to coat all pieces.
  5. Last, add the avocado and sea salt + pepper to taste.

How Do You Get “Those” 6-Pack Abs?

6-Pack Abs are perhaps the ultimate buzz word in the fitness world. The most sought after physical trait, the holy grail of fitness. And everyone wants to know the secret on how to get them. To solidify this argument, just check out the buzz over the 2013 Calvin Klein Super Bowl commercial. ABC News ran an entire piece called “Abs-olutely Fabulous! The Best Abs in the World?” Tuesday all dedicated to the advertisement. And it’s this segment that got me thinking – or rather, got the attention of my client Anne, which sparked this discussion. And from such, comes the inspiration for this blog post.

Calvin Klein

So, back to finding the answer you’re waiting for — how do you get those 6-pack abs? First, I’ll let you in on one little secret…(drum roll and spoiler alert, please). It’s not what you think and it’s ten times better…

You already have them! 

Really. We all do. Anatomically, the rectus abdominis muscle’s Imageshape IS a “6-pack” (reference the picture to the right). All the muscles you see defined on Mr. Terry above are all visible on our anatomical figure as well. Problem is — most of us just have too much extra padding over top to let the muscle show it’s true form.  😉 Not the answer you were looking for? Don’t worry – just keep reading.

If you’ve trained with Regan and I before, you’ve heard us talk about engaging the core through every movement – be it a squat, lunge, plank, crunch, sprint, bent over row, push up; literally EVERY movement. When we first start working with people, most don’t fully get what this means – both in terms of muscle activation and the limitless potential of muscular strength & development.

In the post-Super Bowl media frenzy that Matthew Terry’s ab-tastic commercial caused, everyone wanted to know his secret. His answer? Plank. You might be thinking, “What?! But there is no movement in plank. There’s no way that’s how he got all that definition!”

And so in comes our second secret to a creating a strong and defined core — the most important function of the core during movement or exercises is not to move at all. In an article written for our Macks Mo Get Mo(re) Challenge, Regan explains:

“When we exercise, we typically move at our JOINTS, including the: hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrists joints. These movements allow our body to travel through space. In all exercise aside from rotation, keeping the spine completely still while our arms or legs move should be a primary focus. As an anti-mover, a stable core allows you to transfer energy and power between your upper and lower extremities safely and efficiently. In this respect, all power, quickness and even strength starts and ends with a strong core.” By stabilizing the spine against movement, the core is creating resistance for your extremities to move against and vise-versa. When a force is applied to the core (through movement of other body parts), it grows stronger – and accordingly more defined, through this resistance.

Coming full circle and back to #1 washboard abs & #2 plank, let’s experiment in your body. First take a look at the picture of your core’s anatomy (above) so you have a visual of what the muscles look like. Now, try these two exercises to train maximal core activation through compression and an isometric (non-moving, but active) contraction:

  • Supine Compression: Lay flat on your back, feet on the ground under your knees. As you visualize the different layers of your core with eyes closed, press your sacrum (bony triangle at the base of your spine, inside your hips) and bottom of your rib cage into the ground, leaving the natural pocket of air underneath your spine. Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders into the floor. As you exhale, first kegel the pelvic floor up, then compress (pull in + down) through your abdominal wall – drawing the belly button towards the ground. Think of your core like a shoe’s laces and pull the two sides of the core IN like you’re lacing up the bottom to top of your shoe. Take 10 deep breaths and with every exhale, try to contract the core tighter 360 degrees around the spine. Imprint this feeling of compression into your mind.
  • ImageMoving on to plank, once you’re set, make sure the shoulders are over wrists and feet in line with hips. Create length in the body by reaching both the crown of the head and legs away from the belly button. As you do this, take a deep breath. On the exhale, press your foundation points (hands & feet) into the ground then lift “up” through the abdominal wall + postural muscles of the upper back, again compressing the core towards the spine and drawing the two sides together and in. Soften the shoulders down the back away from the ears and imagine being suspended in space just by your core – as if your arms and legs weren’t there. Hold for a count of one-one-thousand to 30. Every breath focus on getting lighter on your hands/feet and tighter through the core. Try to emulate the SAME contraction you had when you were lying on your back.

Okay, now it’s go time. How your core felt in both the supine compression exercise and plank is how your core should be engaged 100% of the time – during every exercise and throughout your day. Try it – right now. See if you can do a squat or a lunge and focus on engaging and moving from the core first. Can you feel a difference? If you do this, it means your core is working ALL the time. And this will take your fitness and body to the next level, while intensifying every workout.  When you layer on movement – like a lunge, etc. to the already intense “plank” contraction of the core, you get…BINGO! The developing strength, definition and power of your abdominals. You don’t need to do 1000 crunches per day.

Instead:

  1. Learn to stabilize through the core, practice the two exercises above until you’ve mastered the contraction without changing your posture or bringing tension to anywhere else in the body.
  2. Practice breathing while holding the core in these isometric contractions. Always exhale on the “effort” – the push or pull of an exercise.
  3. Start every exercise movement or daily activity by engaging the core: front, side and back. Move with intention. Power and initiate all movement from the core and then transfer that energy out through your extremities.

And last (you may have guessed this was coming) – you must master your nutritional habits. Like I said earlier, we all anatomically have a 6-pack. It’s the layer of fat over top that’s hiding our most coveted asset. My one rule: eat 100% real food. Food you can make in your own kitchen, not a science lab. No matter how hard or how long you exercise or what your movement of choice is, your body composition will not budge if your eating isn’t on track. 90% (or more) of how you look isn’t done in the gym, it’s that “fork to mouth” exercise that is the game-changer. I’m not talking about a diet, I’m talking about a lifestyle of eating delicious, good-for-you food that nourishes you from the inside-out.

And THAT, my friends is the winning formula –>

Take your plank with you every day in every way you can + eat 100% real food

= YOUR MACKS MO SIX-PACK ABS FORMULA.

Image

And no, that’s not the Calvin Klein model – that’s my Regan. Un-enhanced by any photo program or color (just saying – check out the difference between the advertisement picture and the video where Matthew Terry shows his abs on camera – slightly different I’d say). These are just the results of using the said Macks Mo Formula.  🙂  And you can find yours too! If you need help, we can get you there. Shoot any questions our way: whitney@macksmo.com or post below.

– Put Mo(re) In, Get Mo(re) Out. In your workouts, through your nutrition and into your life. –