Mocha Chocolate Brownies

Mocha Chocolate Brownies

Mocha Chocolate Brownies

This is my go to absolute favorite #trickthemintoeatinghealthy brownie recipe. Yes there are black beans in there. No it's not weird. Try them. You'll love them. No-one will know. 


PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 20 MINUTES
SERVES: 12 BROWNIES


INGREDIENTS:


Coconut oil cooking spray
3/4 cup cooked organic black beans
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cage free organic eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar (I like Trader Joes brand)
1 tsp. expresso or instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
1/3 cup gluten free flour (I like Namaste brand)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. raw organic cacao nibs (I like Nativas brand)


DIRECTIONS:


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat a 9x9 inch square baking pan with coconut oil cooking spray. In a food processor, puree the beans with the oil. Add the eggs, cocoa, coconut sugar, expresso and vanilla. Melt half the chocolate chips and add to the food processor. Process until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and sea salt. Add to the food processor and pulse until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle cacao nibs on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before cutting. 

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Positive Habits for a Healthy Relationship with Food

Positive Habits for a Healthy Relationship with Food

Positive Habits for a Healthy Relationship with Food

There's a fine line between thinking carefully about what we put into our bodies and obsessing over it. Here’s a list of what people who have a healthy relationship with food do differently:

1. People with a healthy relationship to food eat mindfully.

The practice of engaging all our senses to guide our eating-related decisions is called mindful eating. Mindful eating can help us acknowledge our response to food without getting into judgment.

2. They swear by everything -- yes, everything -- in moderation.

If you do decide you're in the mood for fries, pizza or chocolate enjoy it, then continue to practice mindful nutrient dense eating for the rest of the day.  

3. They eat when they're physically hungry.

When we use food to try to soothe an emotion we mask what that emotion is trying to teach us, and instead replace it with regret or guilt for eating whatever we grabbed.

4. And they stop eating when they're comfortably full. 

Signals of fullness arise directly from the meal you just consumed, including memory of the taste and smell of the food, and several different hormones released from your digestive tract in proportion to the nutrients you ingested.

5. They eat breakfast.

Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus

6. They don't sit down with the whole bag.

Tip: Buying single-serving packages of your favorite foods helps to snack smart.

7. They know the difference between a snack and a treat.

A snack is something you eat to maintain energy in between main meals; a treat is purely for enjoyment.

8. They give themselves permission to enjoy eating.

Look ahead at your day and make sure you have enough time carved out to eat, rather than planning to "grab" something in the three minutes you have between meetings or classes.

9. They don't "make up" for a meal.

People with healthy relationships to food will have a lighter meal later in the day if they decide to indulge at breakfast, but they won't restrict that later meal so much that they end up binge snacking because they've made themselves excessively hungry.

10. They don't eat to see a certain number on the scale.

The scale can’t tell you about the habits needed in order to pursue a healthy lifestyle for the long haul. It also won't tell you how the foods you put in your body affects the way you feel on the inside.

11. They're not afraid of feeling hungry.

Hunger is not something to be feared. It's a sign that our bodies are working well and utilizing fuel! Eat fiber and nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts and whole grains every 3-5 hours and you'll maintain satiety.

12. Their concerns for food don't interfere with daily life.

Being too vigilant about nutritious eating could lead to orthorexia, a disorder characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating "healthy" food.  Dietary restrictions intended to promote health could paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences such as social isolation, anxiety, and the loss of ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner.

Want to learn more about how to sustain a healthy relationship with food?

Contact me for a free consultation.

Finding Your Gray Area!

Finding Your Gray Area!

Finding Your Gray Area

 

I see quite a few clients, and I’ve identified a common theme I hear when meeting them for the first time: they tell me about all the past diets, detoxes, and cleanses they’ve tried. They share that they walk everywhere, eat at Sweetgreen, and take fitness classes regularly – but they aren’t where they want to be health-wise. 

Sound familiar? 

It did for me fifteen years ago, when I kept focusing on what I was doing wrong rather than what I was doing right. 

Further, I believed in absolutes: 

I ought to have will power! 

I must never eat bread again! 

I should work out six days a week! 

When we live by should, ought, and must, we set ourselves up for failure – it’s an all or none system of black and white. 

Welcome to your Gray Area.

 

What’s a Gray Area, you ask? It’s when we allow for shades of gray, find moderation in moderation, and celebrate the success of doing something right rather than beating ourselves up for what we did wrong. By adjusting the way we think, we can create a lifestyle of health and balance. 

My BIG 3 for committing to attainable success with your health and fitness goals? 

Plan, Measure, and Log.

Plan: If you’re waking at 5:45am for a 6:30am class and have to be at work by 8:00am what’s for breakfast? Lunch? Snacks? Dinner that night? If you fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll be forced to make decisions based on limited options – and often choose what’s convenient. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you are in control and can choose your balanced meals. 

Where to start? I suggest my clients use a meal planner such as this free downloadable one to help guide their ideas. 

Choose a week’s worth of healthy meal recipes from your favorite blogs, Pinterest or the Saldare 7+7 Reboot (aim for recipes with protein, vegetables and a good source of unsaturated fat). From there, list all the ingredients you will need on the grocery shopping list. Now that you have created your meal plan for the week, there should be no guesswork and no surprises (unless you choose them). 

Measure: When you pour oatmeal for your morning breakfast or make a grilled chicken salad for dinner, do you know how much food you’re eating? Half a cup? One cup? Four ounces? Six ounces? If you’re not sure and you are actively trying to lose weight, do yourself a favor and purchase a food scale. Best purchase you’ll make! Take a week or two to measure everything.

I know it’s a pain and a time suck, but after those two weeks you’ll be able to eyeball how much you’re taking in and make informed decisions about what you’re putting in your mouth. 

Another important thing to measure? Your stress. I tell clients all the time that you can be eating all the broccoli, turkey and chia in the world, but if you are living a life with high stress, you will not reach your fitness and nutrition goals. Your body won’t let you. 

I won’t bore you with the long details, but here’s the nitty gritty: when you’re stressing out, hormones take over: adrenaline taps stored energy so you can fight or flee the situation, cortisol tells your body to replenish that energy and store fat for energy reserves, testosterone slows down so you burn less calories, and ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, increases. End game? Stress makes us eat more.  

Log:  If you know what you are eating and drinking, your water intake, and how long you are sleeping, you can assess if it’s optimal. Winging it won’t hold you accountable.

Whether you use MyFitnessPal, a basic Excel spreadsheet or a spiral notebook, log your meals, your water intake, and the number of hours you sleep.  It will make you honest, aware, and able to choose your gray area rather than having it choose you due to lack of other options. 

Can you do this on your own? 

Heck yes!

Is it easier with a nutrition and lifestyle coach? 

You betcha. 

Work with a coach and you’ll have the accountability and support to reach your goals and sustain them.


Jenn Menzer is a holistic wellness, fitness and nutrition coach who specializes in helping clients find and achieve balance to live and be their healthiest happiest selves. She meets with clients at her wellness studio, Saldare Body Therapy in the South End or via Skype. She offers a complimentary session for all prospective clients. Visit jennmenzer.comfor more information or to schedule a session. 

EASY Four Ingredient Pancakes with Smashed Raspberry Compote

EASY Four Ingredient Pancakes with Smashed Raspberry Compote

EASY 4 Ingredient Pancakes with Smashed Raspberry Compote

1 tbsp. almond flour

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 egg

1 tbsp. peanut butter, room temperature

½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

2 tbsp. water

1 tsp. lemon zest (optional)

 

Pancakes

Fiercely whisk the egg, almond flour, mashed banana and peanut butter until it creates a batter. Let rest 5 minutes. While resting, heat a pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Use a tablespoon to ladle the batter into the pan. Cook until bubbles start to form and then flip.

 

Compote

Heat a small pot over high heat and add the raspberries and the water. Bring them to a simmer, then turn the heat to low. Mash the raspberries with a fork and cook until they are soft and falling apart.  Pour over pancakes and top with lemon zest.

 

Serves 1.

Paleo Oatmeal Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies

Paleo Oatmeal Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies

I made these cookies last night based on what I had in the cupboards. They are too good not to share! Enjoy as a healthy treat :) Gluten Free Dairy Free Refined Sugar Free Deliciousness! 

Ingredients:

1 cup oats

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp butter alternative (I like MELT organic spread made from virgin coconut oil)

½ cup coconut palm sugar

scant ½ tsp baking soda

2 tbsp chopped nuts, seeds or chocolate chips

2 tbsp raisins

1/3 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup peanut butter

¾ of a whisked egg

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine sugar and butter until creamy. Add peanut butter, egg mixture vanilla and baking soda and mix well. Fold in oats, nuts and raisins until combined. Place tablespoon of dough on a rubber baking sheet or aluminum foil lined pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Makes one dozen cookies.

No Bake Energy Bites

No Bake Energy Bites

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites

235 cals 12 g fat 4 g fiber 7 g protein 71/4/1/2

Ingredients

1 cup oats

½ cup peanut butter

⅔ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup chocolate chips

⅓ cup agave

1 Tbsp. hemp seeds

1 tsp vanilla

 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Hand mix or fold with spatula until a batter forms. Place on wax paper or parchment paper, form into a rectangle and freeze until firm. Cut into 10 bars. Wrap in wax paper and into Ziploc baggie.

The Balanced Bartender's Guide to Nutrition

The Balanced Bartender's Guide to Nutrition

Today I had the pleasure of presenting “The Balanced Bartender’s Guide to Nutrition” for the United States Bartenders Guild Boston. Together we - demystified metabolism by understanding how it works and how to eat to support it, discussed when and what to eat when you are working long hours, and we got real about how the body metabolizes alcohol and how to manage consumption and still achieve nutrition goals.

There were so many great questions and cross dialog among the participants that I chose to share our gleams of wisdom.  

                        I.         Alcohol contains empty calories and has no nutritional value.

                       II.         The body can't store alcohol, so it makes metabolizing booze a priority over all other metabolic processes. When it does this, it’s a quadruple whammy that contributes to weight gain.

a.     It inhibits your body's ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins from the food you eat.

b.     Your body won't metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol.

c.     Alcohol converts to sugar and enters into the bloodstream so fast that the body desperately races to stash it somewhere it can’t do any harm – IN FAT CELLS.

d.     It causes your metabolism to slow.

                     III.         When you do choose to enjoy alcohol, the following order represents the best choices you can make based on calories and health benefits:

a.     Wine (100 to 120 calories per 5 oz., and has antioxidants).

b.     Vermouth (64 calories per 1.5 oz., and has polyphenol compounds which can promote healthy weight loss).

c.     Hard liquor straight no mixers (100 calories per 1.5 oz.).

d.     Light Beer (90 to 100 calories per 12 oz.)

                     IV.         Before drinking or a long shift at work, remember to eat a healthy combination of lean protein, unsaturated fat and vegetables.  This combination will keep you satiated and blood sugars calm.

                      V.         Have a water back. Booze dehydrates you so every time your body senses a water shortage, it quits burning fat. Aim to drink an extra 8 ounces of water for every drink.

                     VI.         Eat every 3-5 hours to keep metabolism balanced. Make these no bake energy bars to stay energized through your shift.

                   VII.         Exercise! Keep your metabolism fired up, and you’ll be able to enjoy alcohol on moderation without sabotaging your nutrition goals.

Holiday Calorie Quiz

Holiday Calorie Quiz

How many questions will you get right on this holiday calorie quiz?

Having trouble getting to the gym? Try Virtual Training!

Having trouble getting to the gym? Try Virtual Training!

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Virtual Personal Training
 
A have a client, Simone, who travels out of the state frequently for work. I gave her copies of several training programs we’d done in the past for her to follow while in her hotel room/hotel gym, but as you all can attest to, Simone felt that she worked harder and more intensely with me leading the sessions. She asked me if I would train her virtually via Skype while she was away and not able to make it in person to our sessions. I have to admit at first I was a bit skeptical, but as I would do pretty much anything to accommodate my wonderful clients I agreed. Our first session brought me to the hotel gym in Dallas, TX where we had access to several machines, hand weights, a bosu and a ball. I was amazed at the ease in which I could train her without physically being in the same room! With the laptop set in direct view of the fitness room, I could watch her form perfectly, cue exercises with ease and clarity, notice any postural changes and make corrections and make her work as hard as I would if she were on the floor at Saldare! Not only has virtual training allowed Simone to workout with me when she travels for work, but it has also allowed us to “meet” during all of the snow storms we’ve had this winter so far! Simone purchased a set of bands from amazon.com and we’ve had great success with her home workouts in the comfort of her living room! No snow boots or Uber required. Whether you live in Boston, Dallas, TX or anywhere that has internet access there’s no excuse for not getting a personalized fitness program from me. Would you like more information and rates on Virtual Training? Remember the first consultation is always FREE.

Juicy Tahini Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots

Tahini Sauce

2 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Whisk together all ingredients. Set aside.


Chicken Breast

6oz chicken breast
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup carrots cleaned and chopped into 1/2 inch discs
1 tsp garlic or 1 clove, chopped
2 tbsp Vegetable Stock
S&P to taste

1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly on both sides with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and done.
2. While the chicken is cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas and carrots, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes. Add vegetable stock; cover and steam 4 minutes or just until crisp-tender.
2. Uncover and cook 2 more minutes or until peas and carrots are tender and beginning to brown.
3. Top Snap Peas and Carrots with Sliced Chicken Breast.
4. Drizzle Tahini Sauce over the Chicken

Easy Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas

Easy Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas Adapted from Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 3-4 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Take chickpeas and vinegar and place in a medium sized pot. Add a dash of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let sit in pot for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Carefully drain chickpeas. Place on lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Massage with fingers until fully coated.

Roast for 35-45 minutes, flipping once half way through. Keep a careful eye on chickpeas after 35 minutes to prevent burning.

Energize Me Fruit Dip

Energize Me Fruit DipAdapted from Oh She Glows Makes roughly 3/4 cup

Ingredients

  •  2 frozen bananas (if serving immediately, if not, use room temp)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 heaping tablespoon nut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Directions

Throw ingredients into a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. You may need to stop several times to stir. Store in fridge. Serve with sliced fruit or crackers.

The Sweet Spot

The Sweet Spotby Caitlin Friree

Can you balance on one foot? Can you do it with your eyes closed?

Balance training is the fastest way to get your entire body strong. In order to stand on one foot, all the muscles in your body must work together to hold the skeleton in proper posture. Good posture prevents excess strain on the joints, and greatly reduces the risk of injury. Balance training also helps you avoid a fall, or fall gracefully, if you slip or trip.When all the muscles work together and do the job they were designed to do, balance feels effortless. Anyone can find equilibrium, but it isn't easy. Standing on two feet takes a lot less effort; some of the muscles have to contract in order to stand, but the majority of them relax, especially if you lock your knees. When the body is in an instable situation, every muscle must "wake up" and support the skeleton. This brings all the muscles, big and small, up to par. Balance tricks don't require exceptional strength, but they can create it.

Balance work can build a stronger body and a stronger brain. Studies show that people who challenge their minds, and get out of their mental comfort zones, are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's, dementia, and senility. The focus that's required during balance exercise is a dose of preventative medicine.

Master the art of good balance, and you will find the "sweet spot": where life is calm, strong and effortless.

How to balance on one foot with your eyes closed:

Focus your gaze on a stable spot a few feet in front of you. Make your entire body stiff as a board, arms angled down like commercial airplane wings, then slowly lift one foot off the ground. When you find the "sweet spot", where balance becomes effortless, try closing your eyes. Hold your head and arms still. Make your legs stiff and strong, add a slight bend to the standing leg's knee, and distribute your body weight equally between the ball of the foot and the heel. Don't forget to breathe...then close your eyes!

Essential Keys to Weight Loss

Essential Keys to Weight Loss Whether your goal is to lose weight, live healthier, or exercise more, you need a set of “tools” to support you everyday. The below tips are just what you need to get started on that journey. These tips are simple and easy to implement!

Stock your kitchen

Your first line of defense for treating your body well is having your kitchen filled with fresh, already prepared options, making it easy for you to grab foods at any time. Stock your kitchen, refrigerator and pantry each week and keep those foods at you fingertips.

Plan balanced, satisfying meals

Making a healthy meal can feel overwhelming. Keep it simple by planning ahead with combining fruits and vegetables, add a moderate amount of protein, an unsaturated fat and fiber rich grains.

Plan your grocery trip

Make the time to hit the store once a week and consider it a non-negotiable appointment! Set yourself up for success: write out your planned meals, make a list and get shopping

Create a schedule/routine

Changing your body requires changing how you spend your time. Decide when you are going to plan meals, prepare food, and exercise. Take small steps each week, write the actions in your schedule and stick to it!

Learn portions and measurements

Create some awareness around your portions allows you to control your choices. Take the next month to experiment: get out measuring cups, spoons, consider buying a food scale and start measuring at mealtime.

Track your food

Get a small notebook or your phone notepad and start tracking what/how much you eat, what you drink, and your mood. Tracking enables you to pick up on patterns and notice what you are consistently putting into your body.

Ask for support

Change is hard and you don’t have to do it alone. Get others involved in your health journey by asking for support. Watch how contagious the energy is!

Feast on color

Feast on the rainbow of fruits and vegetables to give your body nutrients. Sweet fruits/vegetables (apples, strawberries, carrots, butternut squash) help lower sugar cravings. Leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, kale) are energy boosters full of oxygen that fight fatigue.

Find substitutions

Write down your favorite meals and consider new ways to add fresh, whole ingredients. Use agave nectar instead of sugar, 100% whole wheat bread instead enriched, olive oil instead of butter. Be creative!

Just add water

Nothing is more cleansing and healing for our body than water, yet dehydration is very common. The headaches, fatigue, and fowl moods could be linked to water intake. Grab a bottle to keep with you and fill it up at least once a day.

Chew more and put the fork down

We are often left unsatisfied with our meal when we don’t slow down and chew each bite. This tip can dramatically change your experience with food. At your next meal, put that fork down, chew your food and enjoy every bite!



 

Amazing Protein Bites

Amazing Protein BitesAdapted from Fitnessista Makes 12-16 bites

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp vanilla or chocolate protein powder of choice
  • 6 tbsp of almond butter
  • 6 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 6 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup or sweetener of choice (brown rice syrup, honey, coconut sugar)
  • pinch of sea salt and cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a small food processor, add the protein powder, almond butter, coconut and pulse until the ingredients are well incorporated
  2. Add the cinnamon, sea salt, sweetener and chia seeds. Pulse again. The mixture will start to clump together.
  3. Add in extra mix-ins if you like: 1 square of extra dark chocolate (break it apart with your hands), dried fruit, slivered almonds, flax seeds. Pulse together one more time to finely chop.
  4. Roll mixture into small balls with your hands. Store in fridge for 3-4 days.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch thick rounds (about 4 cups)
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch thick rounds (about 4 cups)
  • 2 medium red onions (about 1 pound), peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Stir the oil and oregano in a large bowl.

Add yams, carrots, parsnips, and onions and toss to coat. Sprinkle vegetables generously with sea salt and pepper and divide between prepared baking sheets. Roast veggies until tender and brown in spots, turning occasionally, for about 50 minutes.

This dish can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Let it stand at room temperature. If desired, re-warm in 350ºF oven for about 15 minutes, or serve at room temperature.

Courtesy Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Could It Be Adrenal Fatigue?

Could It Be Adrenal Fatigue?

Daily living causes much stress, which is not easy on the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamine, including cortisol and adrenaline.

When the adrenals are tired, the body may experience a number of different symptoms. The most common symptoms caused by tired or worn-out adrenal glands are:

  • Excessive sweating or perspiration from little activity
  • Lower back pain and/or knee weakness or pain, especially on the side
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Low blood sugar
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing at night
  • A craving for salt
  • Low stamina for stress, and easily irritated
  • Excessive mood responses after eating carbohydrates such as pasta, breads and sugar
  • Chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Light-headedness on standing up
  • Tired by wired feeling, poor sleep
  • Cravings for sweets and carbs, intolerance to alcohol
  • Premature aging
  • Dry, unhealthy skin with excess pigmentation
  • Lack of libido
  • Cystic breasts
  • Tendency to startle easily
  • Negative response to thyroid hormone

If you suspect you might have tired adrenals, address it right away. Adrenal glands are extremely important to a healthy immune system. They are necessary for proper thyroid function.

Natural Ways to Support Adrenal Fatigue

  • Get some sleep. You must rest if you are going to help your adrenals get stronger. That means going to bed every night by 10 p.m. Make this a priority and stick with it. Your adrenals need their beauty sleep!
  • Eliminate sugar and processed carbs. Sugar and simple carbs (junk!) put stress on the adrenals. Adrenal glands help to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Eat clean animal protein foods, organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans and grains.
  • Quit the coffee habit and drink plenty of fresh filtered water every day.

Adapted from www.nutri-meds.com