Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chocolate Shakeo Almond Butter Cups

Shakeology contains more than 70 ingredients from pea protein to goji berry, chlorella to flax, sacha inchi to coconut flower nectar. It is not only a powerful accelorator for weight loss, but it can help you fight disease. I drink Shakeology every morning; it gives me energy, boosts my metabolism, improves my digestion, provides me with my daily multivitamin while tasting delicious. I recently discovered that there's an entire world of "cooking" with Shakeology.

I have to thank John Hayes for the idea to make Shakeology Peanut Butter Cups. I'm not the best at "just winging it", so I asked The Google to help me compare existing recipes and figure out ingredient proportions. Using what I already had around the house, as well as the inspiration of the research, I decided to give it a whirl. Here's my rendition (which turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself):

Chocolate Shakeology Almond Cups

2 tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil
1 scoop (or 4 tbsp) Chocolate Shakeology
4 teaspoons Almond Butter (I used crunchy, but this is a personal preference)
4 mini cupcake liners

1. In a small microwaveable bowl, melt 2 tbsp coconut oil. (about 30 seconds)
2. Add Chocolate Shakeology and stir until mixed thoroughly.
3. In cupcake liners, pour about 1 tsp chocolate mixture, to cover the bottom of the liner.
4. Add 1 tsp almond butter to center of chocolate.
5. Pour remainder to coat the tops of each cup.
6. Place in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
7. Enjoy!

The only change I might make to the recipe is that I think it could realistically make 5 or 6 cups, which would change the nutritional values and decrease it's caloric load.  

If you try the recipe, please comment and let me know what you think. 

Contact me if you are interested in trying Shakeology

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Firefly Project: Coby Linder

Coby has been a part of my life for over a decade, but in recent years our relationship has evolved from rockstar/fan to one where I consider him not only a coach and a mentor, but a friend. When I met Coby, he was a drummer for one of my favorite bands: Say Anything. Through the wonders of AOL Instant Messager, Coby and I formed a friendship. We reconnected a few years ago over the common bond of Beachbody; we had both begun journeys to a healthier life by getting involved with Beachbody’s products and programs. I met up with Coby in LA for Coach Summit in 2011 - we sat next to one another while hearing informative and motivational talks from inspiring individuals including founder and CEO Carl Daikler. Coby was one of the first people to take a personal interest in helping me figure out how to maximize my workouts by tweaking my diet and figuring out my “why”. His passion for health and fitness was infectious and his willingness to help me, even though it benefited him in no way whatsoever, was inspiring. Years later, I am lucky enough to be working with Coby and the rest of the LEANATION team to help people find happier, healthier lives. His selfless, and genuine demeanor motivate me whenever we talk. He makes the world brighter each and everyday; he has touched many lives through various avenues and this is my small way of sharing my admiration for him. 
Coby, you make the world a brighter place.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Firefly Project: Bob Wagenaar

Papa Bob is the greatest dad on the planet - I know everyone thinks that about their own dad, but I know it to be true about mine. He is generous, caring, thoughtful, and supportive. He was blessed with three daughters, and he’s been there for each of us every step of the way. He supports all of my ventures, goals, and schemes and is first in line to celebrate my accomplishments. It means the world when he tells me he’s proud of me. He has been there for me through hardships and disappointments, and has helped me find constructive ways to deal with any obstacle that stands in my way. Papa Bob is a hard worker; he is knowledgeable about so many things and will immerse himself in things he doesn’t know, always continuing to learn. Watching the relationship he and my mom have, I’ve been blessed to see what I consider to be a fantastic marriage. I idolize their interactions and gestures and the way they support and love one another. From their dance lessons and foodie fun to their weekend getaways and household improvement projects, they have such a fun life - they are seriously the cutest! Papa Bob is not only all of these things, but he’s a phenomenal golfer and he has a pretty hefty collection of TY Beanie Babies (fun fact). In all seriousness, I couldn’t ask for a better papa. One time my dad told me that together we could make anything happen; I really believe that to be true.

My popsicle, makes the world a brighter place.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Firefly Project: Rose Wagenaar

There’s really not a way to do my mother justice, but I’ll try. She has always provided an example for me of what a loving wife, a caring mom, and a loyal friend should look like. I have always felt supported by Mama Rose, but in recent years I’ve been lucky enough to strengthen an amazing friendship with her as well. My mom has stuck with me through thick and really thin - she always finds a kind word to say or has a compassionate shoulder to cry on when I’m going through a trying time. She has a kind soul and a vibrant energy around her. Her unconditional love and unwavering support are things that I do not take for granted. She endorses and takes interest in all things that I place value on, whether professionally, personally, or in my relationship. She places a huge importance on family, and although we are sprinkled throughout the country - her consistent contact helps to keep our bond strong. She has made a huge effort to visit me in my Northern California homes, and will find any excuses to cruise up for the weekend - whether it’s an event at school or a girls weekend in Napa. Mama Rose is always up for an adventure. This past summer I got the chance to travel with her to Europe; she not only took on a huge portion of the organizing but she brought me and my sister to places that she had visited decades earlier and introduced us to family and traditions that meant the world to her. It was such a touching and memorable experience, one that I will never forget. I love my mom for a million reasons, no blog could begin to scratch the surface - but I hope to someday be as fantastic as she is in so many ways. 
As a mother, wife, coworker, and friend - you make the world a brighter place.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Firefly Project: Darrin Domingo

Darrin Domingo is a do-er. He is the kind of person who will throw himself whole-heartedly into something that he believes in (which I’m finding to be a common thread amongst my fireflies). I met Darrin when he was hired at Club One, and later had the pleasure of having him as a trainer for almost a year. A few months ago, Darrin started construction on a project that’s been a dream in development for years - his own fitness facility. While I’m sure I’ve only seen pieces of the planning and work that’ve gone into the conception and construction of Organic Fitness - I know he’s worked his tail off to create a place where fitness, nutrition, and community will all work symbiotically to help people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not only will it offer a well-balanced training program, but also a diet of nutrient-dense, organically-grown, sustainably-raised food (that will be available both through produce boxes and in their community garden). 

In addition to being totally ripped (not like anyone would know ‘cause he NEVER posts pics of his six-pack), Darrin has a huge heart and shares his passion for life with family, friends, and his beautiful fiance. They are a power couple if I’ve ever seen one; their enthusiasm is contagious and dedication is evident in everything they do. 
For all the people you’ve helped and the many you will impact in the future, you make the world a brighter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Organic?

There is widespread belief that organic food is safer, more nutritious, and tastes better than conventional food; these beliefs have fueled increased demand for organic food despite higher prices. While doing the Ultimate Reset, our goal was to remove all impurities from our bodies and thus we were encouraged to buy organic. As I live my post-reset life and create a sustainable, affordable diet, I want to know Why Organic? 

Organic produce tends to cost more than its conventional equivalent because organic farming is more labor-intensive—due in part to fewer pesticides used. Additionally, it’s expensive for farmers to maintain their organic status and those producers tend to have smaller supplies because they don’t use preservatives, causing their products to have a shorter shelf life.

Throughout my research, I found that there is certain produce that should be grown organically; it is cleverly referred to as the "dirty dozen". I found similar lists on several reputable websites. I've compiled it here, along with reasoning as to why these fruits and veggies are considered dirty - and should be purchased from certified organic sellers.

The “Dirty Dozen”

Why They’re Dirty
Due to peak consumer demand around Thanksgiving/Christmas, 75% of the crop is grown during the fall and winter, when rain and wind promote the growth of bacteria and fungal diseases. And because we eat the entire stalk, it must be sprayed repeatedly to ward off pests.
Sweet and succulent, peaches can be just as attractive to insects as to people. Farmers may spray peaches every week or two from bloom to harvest—and peach fuzz can trap pesticides.
Strawberries are not only sweet and juicy but also delicate and prone to disease, including fungal attacks that can turn them to mush during transit and storage.
Sweet-smelling and delicious, apples are susceptible to more than 30 insects and at least 10 diseases. And fungicides and other chemicals are added after picking to prevent tiny blemishes that can accumulate during storage of up to 9 months.
The berries are targets for insects such as blueberry maggots and bagworms.
Thanks to their waxy skin, they don't retain as many pesticides as peaches. On the other hand, they are more vulnerable to rot and scarring.
Bell Peppers
Unlike cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, sweet bell peppers (which are technically fruits) have no bitter compounds to serve as built-in insect repellents. They even lack the fiery taste of their cousins, the chile peppers. And the creases at their crowns may provide nooks for pesticides to accumulate
Spinach is a mere leaf that's crunched by a variety of insects, including grasshoppers. In addition, spinach tends to pull DDT residues (which remain in the earth decades after they were banned) out of the soil and into the leaf.
The outer leaves are not removed before sale, so any amount of damage will make it unmarketable. Even natural enemies of the pests that feed on kale can be considered contaminants in harvested produce, so farmers spray for all bugs, including the "good" ones.
Because cherries are a naked fruit—without peel or protection—they're vulnerable to pests such as the western cherry fruit fly. If just one of its maggots is found in a shipment, the entire load of fruit must be dumped, according to quarantine regulations, so growers spray out of fear of losing their crops.
America's number one vegetable is sprayed 5 or more times throughout the growing season to protect against various pests—and to ensure a crop of uniform shape and size for fast-food outlets and potato chip producers. After harvesting, another round of spraying occurs in the packing shed to ward off molds and sprouting.
Imported Grapes
During their long transit from the southern hemisphere, imported grapes are susceptible to Botrytis cinerea rot, which causes the fruits to split and leak. To prevent that, farmers spray aggressively with fungicides.

On the flipside there is a similiar list referred to as the "Clean Fifteen" which are usually more sheltered from pesticides and therefore if you are not prepared to go 100% Organic, this is where you could purchase non-organic produce:

onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and sweet onions

 Regardless of the produce that you obtain, the FDA recommends washing all of it (including produce you plan to peel) under running water and drying it with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria. Be sure to even wash produce that has a tough skin—such as cantaloupe, avocado and cucumbers—as the bacteria on the outside can transfer via your knife to the flesh. The FDA suggests you scrub these and other firm fruits and vegetables with a clean produce brush.

So whether you are buying organic because it's trendy or doing it for your health - you're doing it. Good for you! Hopefully this guide will help you ease into the organic lifestyle, if you're not ready to jump in with both feet (and your paycheck). But if you really want to be sure that the food you're eating is healthy and clean, why not grow you're own....

Our planter box at the Organic Fitness Community Garden.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Firefly Project: Linda Gentry

I met Linda a few years ago, when her youngest daughter was in my Kindergarten class. Linda took “room mom” to a new level - she was helpful, supportive, and spoiled me to no end. Not only did she bring me treats from tea to pizzas, shoes to gift cards but she gave me the gift of her unwaveringly honest support in both my professional AND personal life. She brought me flowers when I got dumped, talked me through stressful life decisions and has been the voice of reason more times than I care to admit. Her contributions to the world reach far beyond the capacity I have had the pleasure of getting to know her. She is a fantastically involved parent who will do anything to help her children succeed, and a loyal wife who found the perfect man to share a life and build a family with. I look up to Linda in so many ways. Linda’s sense of humor, kind heart and unflinching honesty are qualities that I admire deeply in her. For the contributions she has made in my life and so many others, I am eternally grateful. 

Linda, you absolutely make the world a brighter place.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Firefly Project: Naoko and Adrian Ott

Today’s “firefly” is actually a pair of people - Naoko and Adrian Ott. I hate to lump them together, because independently they are both absolutely spectacular individuals, but to me they’re an entity: “Naoko and Age”. I met Adrian a few years before Naoko, yet have been lucky enough to form a strong friendship with her in the past few years. While they meld so well together, they each bring unique strengths and quirks to their relationship - but the thing I love the most is the way that they interact and highlight the best in one another. Adrian is an adventurer; just a sprinkling of his interests include camping, surfing, working on his Westie, riding his scooter, and watching marathons of “Cops” or “Campus PD”. Naoko is his perfect counterpart; she is organized, stylish, meticulous and caring. She loves to cook and entertain, plus she is always up for an adventure. She is one of the strongest and most resilient women I know, as life has not always dealt her the easiest cards but she's come through all hardship stronger and with a positive outlook. Both Adrian and Naoko place a huge value on family, and have an equally impressive support network of individuals that love and care for them (as was evident at their recent wedding). Adrian and Naoko may be married, but they haven’t let that slow down their fun - they love to go “wine drinking” (cause it’s not tasting when we do it), enjoy fine culinary experiences, and of course going out with friends. While geography makes seeing these two difficult, I value and cherish the times I do get to see them. Naoko and Adrian are amazing individuals, and an even more amazing couple and they truly bring joy to anyone who’s path they cross. 
So in a double dose, Adrian and Naoko, you make the world a brighter place.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Firefly Project: George Chiampas

Today, on his birthday, I honor a man whose heart is bigger than most. George Chiampas is the father of my first firefly, and I can definitely see in him many of the qualities that I admire so much in Chris. Since the first time I met George, he has welcomed me into his family with open arms. He and his wife are gracious, kind, and compassionate. Their genuine love for one another is visible in their interactions every occasion we spend with them. George would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need, and throws himself with full dedication to any task - from maintaining his beautiful backyard to a host of do-it-yourself home repairs. He never makes judgements and truly looks for the best in every person and situation that he encounters.

With your optimistic approach to life and endless love you give, George - you make the world a brighter place