Thursday, October 27, 2011

Healthy Eating and Politics....

So I tend to steer away from politics and voicing my opinion on who I like and who I don't like...but one person that I will not keep quiet about is Michelle Obama.  After watching her in action over the past few years I cannot help but admire her.  She puts so much time and energy into helping to end the trend of childhood obiesity in our country by suggesting alternatives to what children normally eat, by promoting an active lifestyle, by speaking to her target group (kids at school), and by just being available.  I would be overjoyed it I ever had the opportunity to meet her just because she is one of the few people in the world of politics that I can honestly say that I admire...not to mention that she is in AMAZING shape!

I found this article on this morning...and I got really excited!  I love cookbooks, especially when they are cookbooks full of food that is healthy!  I will definitely be buying this one when it comes out next year :)

Michelle Obama: celebrity chef? First lady's cookbook to share homegrown recipes.

by Piper Weiss, Shine Staff

Are you ready for Michelle Obama, kitchen goddess? The first lady’s pulling a Gwyneth Paltrow and publishing a cookbook. American Grown, on sale April 10, 2012, combines veggie growing tips with recipes inspired by Michelle’s White House garden.

It’s a garden she’s toiled over since 2009. So have daughters Sasha and Malia, who help with the weeding "like it or not". Despite being a gardening novice, Obama’s laid the groundwork for over 55 varietals of veggies. Stalks of black kale, bright yellow peppers, and beams of eggplant have grown from the most expansive garden the White House lawn has ever seen.

Recipes haven't been leaked yet but it’s safe to say 100 percent of them will be extremely healthy and vegetable-based. Shine editor Lylah Alphonse already got a glimpse of what Michelle and co. can dream up, when she visited the White House earlier this month.

During a tour of the not-so-secret garden, officials passed out a pamphlet with recipes created with Michelle’s veggies in the White House kitchen, and served to the Obama family on a fairly regular basis. (The mac and cheese is the girls' favorite). These should hold you over until April.

Broccoli Soup (serves 6)

1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
3 heads broccoli
6 cups light chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in butter until translucent.
Trim the broccoli to 1-inch pieces and blanch them in salty water.
Add broccoli to vegetable mixture.
Add chicken stock.
Simmer for 10 minutes then pass the mixture through a strainer.
Season soup to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Serve hot.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (serves 4 or more)

1 pound penne pasta
1 cup 2 percent or skim milk
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. In the meantime, cook the cauliflower until soft and transfer to a blender to puree.
In a medium-size pan, combine the pasta and hot cauliflower puree. Add the milk and cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately while hot.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Herb Sherry Vinaigrette (serves 6)

2 pounds assorted seasonal garden greens like arugula and and baby spinach
6 chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon thyme
zest from 1 lemon
6 sprigs chives, chopped

For the Vinaigrette

1 cup sherry vinegar
juice from 2 lemons
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine sherry vinegar, lemon juice, shallots, oregano, basil, and honey in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until the mixture is emuslified. Chill.
Wash greens, and set aside.
Marinate chicken with lemon, thyme, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then grill.
Serve chicken on a bed of greens, drizzled with vinaigrette

Warm baked apples with dried cherries, raisins, and blueberries (serves 6)

6 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup mixed dried cherries, blueberries, and raisins
1/2 cup light brown sugar
6 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil

Brush 6 cupcake molds or a muffin tray with oil to prevent sticking.
Remove the stem and core of each apple with a melon baller. Poke a few holes into the top of the apple with a fork, and place apple in cupcake molds or muffin tray.
Place half a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate into the center of each apple. Fill each apple with dried fruits and sprinkle brown sugar over the tops. Drizzle with honey and bake at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes or until apples are soft.
Serve warm.

Fruit and oatmeal bars (serves 9)

6 tablespoons grape-seed oil, or other neutral oil, plus extra for brushing the pan
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup mixed seeds (such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, raisins, cherries, apricots, papaya, and pineapple. Use at least three kinds, and cut large fruits into dime-size pieces)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, letting a few inches hang over the sides of the pan. Brush with oil.
Spread oats and seeds on another baking pan and toast in the oven until they're golden and fragrant, about 6 to 8 minutes, shaking the pan once during toasting.
In a sauce pan, combine oil, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Stir over medium heat until smooth and hot.
Transfer toasted oats and seeds to a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the oats and seeds and stir until well combined.
While the mixture is warm, transfer it to the prepared pan, pressing it into the pan easily with an offset spatula
Bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.
Using the overhanging foil or parchment paper, lift the fruit and oat mixture out of the pan and place on a work surface. Cut into 1 1/2-inch by 3-inch bars.

*All recipes courtesy of "Healthy Recipes from the White House to You

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For those of you lacking motivation....

So I have hit a brick wall...I have had so much going on in my life recently that I have stopped putting ME first like I was before.  THIS NEEDS TO STOP!

When I was focusing on myself...and making myself better...I was a genuinely happy person!  I was positive and excited and ready to take charge of my life.  However, in recent weeks I have stopped putting ME first and I have been focusing on OTHERS instead, putting MYSELF last.  Well, this stops today!  I need to go back to worrying about ME...because quite frankly, if I don't worry about me and take care of me, no one else will. 

So from here on out...I am putting myself first...I am doing what makes ME happy and what makes ME feel good!  So take that ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Plyometric Exercises for Hockey Players

Well kids....its my favorite time of year again....IT'S A HOCKEY NIGHT IN PITTSBURGH!!!  So in honor of the start of hockey season...I thought that I would share an article that I found about some exercises that are reccommended to ice hockey players.... :)


Plyometric Exercises for Hockey Players

By Michelle Zehr


A plyometric exercise is an exercise that trains your muscles, nervous system and connective tissues to effectively complete the stretch-shortening cycle -- activities including running, jumping and rapid direction changes -- which is beneficial in performance in athletics, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Plyometric exercises for hockey players can help increase shooting power, agility and your ability to rapidly change directions on the ice.

Box Jumps

Box jumps are a lower-body plyometric exercise that can be used for beginners or those advanced in plyometric training. For this exercise, you will need an exercise step. Stand behind the exercise step with your feet approximately a hips-width apart. Slowly bend your knees and assume a half-squat position. As soon as your assume a squatting position, immediately jump up onto your exercise step. Your feet should land gently on the center of the box. Step back down -- never jump down -- and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions.

Tuck Jumps

Tuck jumps are an intermediate lower body plyometric exercise. Stand with your back straight, your knee bent slightly and your feet shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be hanging at your sides. Jump up and bring your knees as close to your chest as possible. To gain momentum during your jump, swing your arms up in the air as you jump. Land on the balls of your feet and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions. Don't stop between jumps.

Overhead Throws

Overhead throws are designed to strengthen your upper body. You will need a medicine ball to complete this exercise -- a medicine ball can be purchased at your local sporting goods store. Stand in a staggered stance -- one foot slightly in front of the other -- with your knee bent slightly. You should be standing a few feet away from a wall. Hold the medicine ball in both hands and pull it behind your head as far as you possibly can. Forcefully throw the medicine ball so that it bounces off the wall in front of you. Catch the ball after it bounces off the wall and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions. Don't rest period between throws. You can also complete this exercise by throwing the ball to a teammate instead of the wall.


Traditional pushups can be turned into a plyometric exercise. Begin this exercise by assuming the traditional push-up stance on the ground. Lower yourself to the ground -- as if you were completing a regular pushup. Push off the ground forcefully so that your body jumps from the ground and your hand are no longer touching the ground. Catch yourself using your hands and repeat one set of 10 repetitions of plyometric pushups with no rest period between.