Let's talk about granola. My grandma makes an amazing granola. I use to walk to her house after school as a kid for piano lessons and pound the stuff. Recently I got my hands on her recipe and I love it, but what I love even more is making it my own. I like to eat my granola with Raisin Bran cereal, or in a parfait, or munch on it by the handful, and with those purposes in mind, I made a few adjustments. So tonight, I'm sharing my version of my Grandma's Granola recipe. It's a great foundation for granola, and can be added to, or taken from as much as you would like. Grandma always added raisins. I like raisins sparingly, but only when combining with with Raisin Bran, so I 86'ed those. If raisins are your thing, put them back in. Or dried Cranberries, that would be yummy! If you need a gluten free variety, it's easy to omit the wheat germ. Play with it, love it, make it your own. Oh, and if for no other reason, you have to make this at least once so you can smell it baking. I'm just saying.
8 cups oats
3/4 cup dry milk
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried coconut
1 cup honey
3/4 cup liquified coconut oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mixture will be fairly dry, but honey and coconut oil should be dispersed nicely.
Pour onto large jelly roll pan, and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve warm, or store in air tight container.
What did you eat today? Do you remember? I ask because I was just talking with my husband about our crazy evening, and he mentioned that he was starving and hadn't eaten more than a couple handful of Chex Mix since lunch. Not the healthiest snack, I know, but I also knew he was wrong. He had eaten more than that since lunch. I was with him when he had two cookies after a youth function tonight, but he had forgotten. We can forget what we eat so quickly, and that is why it is important to track what we eat.
In order to balance a diet you must know where the holes are. What foods are you eating too much of? What foods are you not getting enough of. Chances are, if you're not tracking your food, you have no idea. So I want to share with you my favorite program for tracking, the USDA's Supertracker. This website has all the tools you will need for setting goals, logging food, and balancing your diet. With the right tools, dedication, and support, you will see the changes you are looking for.
To check out what this site is all about, click here. First, you will want to create a profile. This involves entering some personal information about yourself. Once your profile is set, you will be brought to the home page where you will have several options that are fun to spend some time exploring, but the one that I want to talk about is the Food Tracker.
The great thing about using the USDA program for tracking your food is that anything you eat can be found in their data base. Did you have a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast today? Well guess what, they have it on their list, in the flavor that you ate. Ok, they aren't 100%, but they are pretty amazing. What does this mean for you? You don't have to stress about counting numbers in your head. Those nutrition labels are in their data base, and when you tell the system you ate a 1 cup of Cheerios with 1/2 a cup of 1% milk, it will know the calorie count. It will also graph what food category your Cheerios fall into (in this case WHOLE Grains), and the sugar, sodium, and saturated fat intake for the day.
I love the interface of this website, it just puts everything right in front of you. No, it doesn't track EVERYTHING. If you want specific stats on your iron, calcium, or vitamin levels, this program isn't the best, but let me fill you in on a little secret, if you balance your diet, you will by default balance those areas as well. There is a reason it is called a balanced diet. It is by design, intended to get your body everything it needs on a daily basis.
So this is my website of choice for anyone who is serious about making changes in their life. The website is absolutely loaded with tools, so I do recommend that you login on the computer and access the full website from time to time, but like all good programs, everything is easier in an app. Good news, there is an app to make it even easier to track what you are eating. You're looking at your phone during breakfast anyway, may as well log what you're eating and start your day off right (there are so so so many physiological advantages to eating a healthy, balanced breakfast when trying to eat right, it just sets you up for a successful day). The app and the website are linked to the same account, so everything is synced. So if you're going to use the Supertracker, get the MyPlate Calorie Tracker app:
This is just the starting point. There is so much more to come. Tips on what to eat, simple changes that don't have to turn your life upside down. Not everything about eating right has to be hard. We can make it easier than it appears on the surface. No, it won't be a walk in the park; yes, it will demand some big changes; but I promise it is not impossible. You just need to know where your starting point is. So take the step to find out where you are standing. Start tracking what you are eating, and let's go from there.
Do you know what one of the most frustrating things about winter is? Colds. We've had something yucky brewing at our house for the last couple of days. The baby came home from our weekend getaway with a drippy yucky nose, and now I'm waiting for it to roll through the rest of the family.
Everyone blames the cold weather (hence the name, right?), but is the cold really to blame? Well, yes and no. The temperature actually has no effect on your immune system at all. The reason we see a spike in cold and flu symptoms in the winter is actually because we stay inside. Indoor air quality is always poor in comparison with the fresh air of the outdoors. But when the weather is bad we stay inside, in close quarters with our family, friends, co-workers, and schoolmates. As we share our indoor air, viruses are released into the air through coughs, and sneezes, and we all breath that shared air. Not to mention all the surface germs we share. So yes, cold weather causes colds, but only because it forces us to stay inside, with each other.
While I encourage youto get outside as much as possible, we need to take other precautions to try to prevent illness, or shorten the duration of colds when they hit. So here are a few tips:
Most of these tips are easy, and to the point. Just do it. But eating a balanced diet is much easier said than done. You'll quickly learn that the number one recommendation I have for my clients is eating a balanced diet. I have no better recommendation for anyone looking to improve their overall health than to eat a balanced diet. Did I mention that I'm a fan of a balanced diet? Consider yourselves warned, I'm going to sound like a broken record on this one. Now let me help you figure out how to do that.
If you monitor what you eat, you might be surprised to find the areas in your diet that are lacking. So many people stress about getting enough protein, because protein is so important (another post for another day), however, many people are surprised to learn that they are falling short in grains, fruits or vegetables. Everyone is different, so watch what you are eating, and lets find out where you fall short.
For me it was fruits and vegetables. I love them, but I was simply not getting enough in my diet. The recommended daily intake of vegetables is 4 servings (for active adult women and most men), and 3 servings of fruit. I was closer to 3 vegetable servings and 1-2 fruit servings. I had an imbalance. My diet was too heavy on grains and dairy. So I needed to make a change. I found that I struggled in the fruits and vegetables for two reasons. I was bored with them, or they were too time consuming. It's so much easier to drink a glass of milk, or eat a granola bar, and as a mom of four, I'm all about efficient eating. But I also love good food, and variety. So today I'm sharing with you a fruit salad that I LOVE. I stumbled across it just after Thanksgiving when I made poor food choices ABUNDANTLY, and needed something to get me back on track. It is also an excellent fit for that last tip on my list for staying healthy this winter because it's about as packed with vitamin C as any recipe could ever be. It's Once Upon a Chef's Citrus and Pomegranate Fruit Salad.
I LOVE this recipe. It only has 3 ingredients. Pomegranate, Oranges, and Grapefruit. Click here for her step by step directions in preparing it. It's not hard, but she has mastered how to efficiently prepare it. I usually make a big batch and munch on it throughout the week. I'll wrap this up with a brief explanation of the benefits of this salads ingredients. Read about them, combine them in a salad, and I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong. Especially since it tastes good. You really can't go wrong when it tastes good.
Grapefruit: Rich in vitamin C, which plays a role in replenishing vitamin E in the body. It is also low in cholesterol. Grapefruit plays a role in preventing kidney stones as it contains d-limonene that prevents their formation and aids in their dissolve. It also helps reduce inflammation associated with asthma and arthritis, aids in weight loss, and is known to help prevent cancers.
Pomegranate: Rich in fiber, protein (surprise), vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. It also has rich antioxidants in that make it 3 times more powerful than red wine and green tea. Pomegranates also have an anti inflammatory effects which make them a powerful tool in preventing major diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes (type 2), Alzheimer's, and obesity. Sign me up!
Oranges: Rich in fiber, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B6. Like Pomegranate, oranges are rich in antioxidants, which promote healthy skin. Oranges also are low in cholesterol, and can help lower your cholesterol. Oranges can aid in preventing a number of diseases including lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney stones, stomach ulcers, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, rheumatism and diabetes.
I'm excited. Blogs are fun, for me if for no one else. My vision for this blog is to have a place to post recipes, fitness tips, and lots and lots of real life. Staying in shape is hard. It's hard to fit it in. For everyone. That's real life. From this blog you will get a glimps into my real life. You can see that sometimes my house is clean (heavy emphasis on the word sometimes), but my play lists are dated. Other times the laundry to be folded has enveloped my couch, and I can't find my 6 year old, but flyers are out, blogs are launched, and the studio has been restocked. Where ever I am, it will be real.
If you can't tell from that intro, this blog will be fun. But I also want it to be encouraging, and useful for myself and my clients. There will be healthy recipes, routine tips, encouraging quotes, motivational stories, and of course, success stories. Here at Iron Barre, we are a family, and I want to learn all about you, your story, and what brought you here. Stay tuned, and hold on, it's going to be a wild and crazy ride, but I promise, you're going to love it.