Arugula Salad with Halibut, Pinto Beans & Veggies

I love salads. Especially when I just spent 14 days in Morocco eating bread with numerous meals (lots of healthy stuff happened, don’t get me wrong, but bread is a staple over there). And yes, I ate the bread and yes, I liked it. And yes, I felt majorly bloated after the meal.

Anyway, here is a simple salad that will satisfy your tastebuds and also looks pretty nice on a plate. ;-) I used artichokes, avocado, pinto beans, olives, Persian cucumbers, but you can use whichever veggies you want – onions, tomatoes, carrots, or anything you fancy!

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 (or 2 meals for the single diner)

Ingredients:
2 frozen halibut fillets or of course you can use fresh (I buy from Whole Foods – open packs and let defrost overnight in the fridge)
1 T Olive oil
½ of lemon, squeezed
Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2-3oz prepared package of arugula (about half a package or as much as you want!)
5 chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 chopped avocado
1/4 cup pinto beans (strained and rinsed)
1 Persian cucumber or 1/4 cup chopped regular cucumber
6 small black olives (I used black turkish olives)
1 1/2 T Olive oil (for dressing)
1/2 T Balsamic vinegar (for dressing)
1/2 lemon, squeezed (for dressing)
Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper – topper

Cooking & Chopping:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put fish in a shallow dish and top with olive oil, white vinegar, and salt and pepper. Then place halibut on a cookie sheet with piece of foil (to save cleaning time) Once the oven is preheated, place halibut into the oven. Set timer for 25 minutes and chop up your salad toppings. Check the fish in 25 minutes – it should flake with a fork.

Place arugula in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; place on plate. Top with your veggies. When halibut is cooked, remove and separate halibut from skin carefully with a spatula (unless you like the skin). Place about 5 ounces of halibut on top of your salad and top with a little fresh squeezed lemon and ground pepper. Put on a plate and eat up! Yum!

Greek(ish) Baked Mahi Mahi

Whenever I make mahi mahi I find it incredibly hard to find a recipe that I like and I’m not sure why this happens. With this recipe, I have solved my problem. This is my version of a Greek-style mahi mahi…if you add citrus fruit, olive oil and salt, you can make anything amazing. :)

Cooking Time and Temp: 25 minutes at 425 degrees

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:
2 wild mahi filets, (also, Whole Foods has a nice wild mahi in the freezer section)
1 t sea salt
1 t coarse ground pepper
10 chopped baby tomatoes
10 chopped black olives
1/4 chopped red onion
lime juice of 1 lime
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 T white vinegar

Cooking & Chopping:
Pre-heat oven to 425. Place tin foil on baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Place fish on top and rub with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Place in heated oven. Chop tomato, olive and onion and top with olive oil and vinegar.  Mix and set aside.

Cook fish for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with tomato mixture and cover lightly with foil. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer until opaque and flaky. Remove and put over your favorite veggie or grain (I like a combination of 1/8 cup brown rice and sauteed onion and bell pepper) – photo below. For the veggies, coarsely chop and sauté in olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy!! Or if you want to get fancy, you can say it in Greek: καλή όρεξη

Adding the tomato topping

Sautéing the veggies!

The finished product!

Toast for Breakfast

I usually eat a larger breakfast because I need it to last for a few hours, but if you are in a rush or simply don’t want to spend 30 minutes preparing food, here are two options that make life easier. Both options are high in protein and healthy fats, so don’t stress about eating carbs!

#1: Toast with peanut butter or almond butter & banana
Prep time: 3 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
2 slices of Men’s Bread  (freezer section of the health food store) or other whole wheat bread of your choice
1/2 banana, sliced
1 T peanut butter or almond butter (make sure ingredients are just the nut, and in some, salt)
1 t honey or maple syrup (organic is best)
dash of cinnamon

Directions:
Toast bread in the toaster. Spread with butter and top with half banana, honey and if you like, cinnamon. Take to go our enjoy at home!

Toast w/ Nut Butter & Banana

#2: Toast with avocado, sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
2 slices of Men’s Bread or other whole wheat bread of your choice (freezer section of the health food store)
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 t sea salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 lemon, optional

Directions:
Toast bread in the toaster. Slice avocado thinly or smash (however you like it) and sprinkle salt, pepper and red pepper on top. You can also squeeze a little bit of lemon on top, which gives it a nice tang.

Toast w/ avocado, sea salt, pepper & red pepper

Happy New Year (yes, I know it’s February)

Happy 2013, everyone! I realize this post is a little past due, however, I needed some time to get my thoughts together…and a Puerto Rican vacation. For me, this year is going to signify focus – it’s a toughy, but I’ve got this. (For those of you who know me, my mind is all over the place.)

Puerto Rico during Nemo

When looking back on 2012 and the intentions I set for myself, I said, “I want to explore some of my personal goals and really focus on being happy, while still maintaining my success at ‘the office.’” What does this mean for me in 2013? Focusing on the present: there is no reason to dwell on the past or let my mind take over my state of being—this can turn into an unhealthy emotional spiral. That’s just no fun. :)

One of the most important accomplishments for my career in 2012 is graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). I am proud to say that I am officially a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and accepting new clients! If you or anyone you know wants to learn more about their health, please reach out for a free consultation! Yes, I’m shamelessly promoting myself.

In the world of Equinox, I just finished a nutrition certification through Precision Nutrition and, upon passing the test at the end of January, was just promoted to Tier 3+ (the highest level at my gym). I can now offer my clients nutrition advice, in addition to kicking their butts into shape. Next up in the nutrition world, I will be taking a three-day course to become a Poliquin™ BioSignature Practitioner. This course will allow me to provide my clients a well-rounded approach to fat loss by utilizing nutrition and supplementation. I’m super excited!

In my personal life, I went through a pretty big breakup, but was a long time coming, but I came out as a better person. I learned a lot about myself, what I want in a partner and to follow my heart in all situations. A break-up is just a stepping stone to finding the person you will spend your life with, right? And for now, I will continue to enjoy myself as a single woman in Manhattan. :)

In terms of my career, I want to begin putting together a plan to start my own company, which will combine nutritional coaching and personal training. I hope to do this with a girlfriend of mine who is quitting her job. More to come on this new development!

Overall, in 2013, I want to explore, create, and of course, focus.

INTENTIONS FOR 2013

• Enjoy simple pleasures: short trips, books, yoga, meditation, cooking

• Spending time with and visiting friends and family

• Volunteer work – in the US or overseas

• Make every moment count and use my free time productively

• Continue advancing my studies of nutrition, kinesiology and anatomy

• Finally use the art supplies under my bed (I purchased last year) to paint

• Take weekend trips (lots of them!)

• Monthly massages

• Visiting sites in NYC that I’ve yet to see

• Updating this blog!

 

Back in time: Review of 2011

I realized that I never posted my review of 2011 to my blog, so here it is…2013 to come shortly!

I can’t believe it’s already 2012; 2011 has been the fastest year of my life. Maybe that’s because I’m 30 now? I remember when I was a child and time would go by so slowly – it felt like decades before summer could arrive and I could play. Now, I celebrate Halloween, and all of a sudden there are Christmas decorations and then bam, it’s December 31st! A lot has happened this year, and instead of sending a holiday card of me doing a plank on a NYC park bench, I decided to make a lovely little blog post for you to read. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Happy New Year!

In December of 2009, I moved out to San Diego to attain my EMBA in Global Entrepreneurship from SDSU, which would have led me to Hong Kong, India and Abu Dhabi. Close to the program’s start date, it was canceled, but I decided to live in San Diego for the year with my best friend, Jodi, rather than move back to NYC. I soon realized that a career in business and marketing was just not the best path for me (with some help from my friends and family). So instead of wallowing in sadness over lost opportunities, I got my personal training degree through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

After a year of having tons of fun with my friends in San Diego, visiting family, traveling (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Italy, Hawaii and Iceland), it was time to get back to the real world…all the way across the country. I moved back to NYC in January of 2011 and just four days after I moved back to my old apartment in Soho, I accepted a position as a personal trainer at Equinox in the West Village, a short walk from my apartment. I can’t say I knew what I was getting myself into, but I knew I was pursuing this career for me and nobody else, which felt awesome (and still does).

Professionally, I have accomplished a lot in a short period of time (I like to think). I built an amazing base of clients whom I love. I’ve gained an incredible educational experience and, I really do love my job. I went through an intense education program, which took me from a Tier 1 trainer to a Tier 3 Trainer in under 10 months. I followed the advice of my managers and all the hard work paid off; for the months of October, November and December, I was the number one trainer at my club.

In the midst of my studies, I gained numerous certifications including Pre- and Post-Natal, Power Plate, ViPR (Vitality, Performance, Reconditioning), FMS (The Functional Movement Screen) and TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise). Also, in September, I started nutrition school at the Integrative Institute for Nutrition to become a holistic health counselor. The degree will finish in September of 2012, at which point I will be ready to take on nutrition clients (yes, you can refer your friends). J

In 2011, I worked a lot, sometimes not taking a day off for four weeks. Yes, I was successful, but this year, I want to explore some of my personal goals and really focus on being happy, while still maintaining my success at ‘the office.’

INTENTIONS FOR 2012

•       Love

•       Take a long vacation

•       Go on a weekend yoga retreat

•       Get monthly massages

•       Sleep more

•       Spend more time with friends and family

•       Paint

•       Read

•       Save money

Homemade Granola Bars w/ Almond Butter & Banana

I was pondering what to make for my client gifts this year…I knew I wanted to make something and wanted it to be healthy—there are enough sweets and extra calories being consumed around this time of year. One of my girlfriends suggested granola…now, I don’t really like granola, but it definitely does make for a nice gift. My first issue was that I have never made granola and my second issue with this choice was the packaging, so I figured I would go one step ahead in my culinary feat by doing granola bars…you know, to make it just a bit more complicated. :)

May have gone overboard.

I began my search with vegan granola bars, gluten free granola bars and cacao granola bars. Lots of these recipes call for different natural sugars, which is fine and sometimes necessary for the binding of ingredients, but I finally stumbled upon a bar that had no added sugar! Score! In the meantime, I had emailed myself four different recipes and proceeded to spend over 100 dollars in ingredients that I might use. Ugh. I have enough nuts and seeds to feed myself through another Sandy blackout. I figured I would just mix and match the recipes (NOTE: not a good idea when you haven’t already made the recipe). Once I got home, I realized that I was being crazy, and decided on the simple recipe I found with a base of banana and almond butter.

The bars were super easy to make and required very little culinary skills, so I recommend this for anyone who wants to make something new as a snack for you yourself, family or even as a gift. I’ve given out many bars so far and have heard good reviews, so I’m gonna give myself a 9/10 and say they were a success. Remember, when making your own, you can swap out the nuts, seeds and fruit and kind of play with the recipe as you see fit—I made them a bit differently the second time around and both batches turned out nicely.

Finished bars!

RECIPE

Prep Time: 25-30 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond butter

2 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup whole almonds

3/4 cup dried apricots or mixture of dried fruit of your choice

½ T of cacao powder

½ T ground flaxseed

½ T ground cinnamon

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or whatever you have on hand)

1 cup rolled oats

Cooking

Preheat oven to 350F. Line wide loaf tin or pyrex dish with parchment paper.

In a small pot, heat almond butter and mashed bananas on low. Stir gently until well combined. Set aside.

In a food processor, coarse chop the almonds and dried fruit (I found that with both nuts and fruit in the processor, that it didn’t chop up properly, so I did them separately). Transfer to a bowl. Mix in cacao, flaxseed, cinnamon, seeds and oats. Fold in the almond butter mixture. Press the batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool for a couple hours before cutting into bars/squares. After about 30 minutes, I took the bars out and set on a cutting board to cool, then waited another hour or so.

PHOTOS

Mashing the bananas

Food processing the nuts & fruit

Warming & mixing the banana & almond butter

Putting all ingredients in the bowl

Folding banana/almond mixture w/ the nuts, seeds & fruit

Pressing final mixture into the pyrex

All finished! Ready to cut how you like!

 

 

 

Chia Seed Pudding

The other night I was desperately searching for a dessert item in my kitchen, and unless I’ve purchased some raw dark chocolate from Organic Avenue, I typically don’t have anything to find. I guess fruit is usually what I go for when craving sweets, but I was out of stock there, too. Then, I had an epiphany (ha ha) and remembered my chia seeds could be manipulated into something dessert-like, rather than their usual place in the smoothie. I searched online for a quick recipe and came across one that I liked, and then I changed it around a bit.

Nutritional fun fact (taken from Andrew Weil’s site): When added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar (less sugar cravings and longer satiation). Yay!

Chia with just fruit

Chia with fruit and cinnamon

Benefits of Chia Seeds:

  • rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds (chia is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 in any food)
  • rich in antioxidants
  • rich in fiber and nutrients - (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber), calcium (18% daily value), phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc
  • high in omega-6
  • And…protein! :)

Ingredients

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 cups liquid of your choice – I used homemade cashew milk

1/2 T sweetener

Fruit, chopped (1/2 peach, 1/banana, 1 kiwi, or whatever you like)

2 t cinnamon

Directions:

Place chia seeds, water, and sweetener in a bowl that has an air-tight lid. Stir and cover. Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then stir again. The chia seeds will have become a gel. Put chopped fruit, a tad more sweetener and cinnamon and eat up! You can keep the pudding in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but if you use a homemade nut milk, it will only last about 5 days (from when you made the milk).

Cashew Nut Milk

I’ve been really into almond milk, but recently had a latte with cashew nut milk, so I thought I would switch things up a bit. The almond milk has a somewhat acidic and bitter taste (I don’t sweeten it) and the cashew has a more nutty, creamy consistency, which is a nice change.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic, raw cashews soaked in filtered water, overnight (8 hours)
4 cups filtered water
1 T agave or another organic sweetener (optional)

Directions:
Drain liquid from the nuts and rinse a few times with filtered water. Drain again. Place in blender with 4 cups of water and blend until smooth, maybe 2 minutes. Pour into a container and you’re all set! I usually do about half this amount of nuts because I don’t drink it every day, so make it for yourself or share with friends; they will be impressed with your skills!

Salmon & Mixed Veggie Salad

Salads are usually part of my daily routine, but there is always a way to make each one different – try changing up the greens (spinach, arugula or mixed greens) and always mix and match the veggies. Sometimes I put beans for protein instead of seafood, but my favorite version includes salmon. Just an FYI: I would normally put avocado in this salad, but unfortunately I ran out at breakfast and the ones in my kitchen aren’t ripe yet. :( Also, I like to make two servings of fish, so that I can make dinner with the leftovers; tonight I will pair the extra salmon with some quinoa and sautéed spinach with garlic.  If you’re cooking for two, just double the salad ingredients and split the salmon in half. Easy!

Ready to Eat!

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

Wild salmon fillet (I usually do about 10 ounces so that I get two portions)

1 T Olive oil

½ of lemon, squeezed

½ T white wine vinegar

Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2-3oz prepared package of arugula (about half a package)

3 cremini mushrooms, chunked

½ large carrot, chopped

5 black olives, chopped

1 scallion, diced

¼ cup organic cheddar cheese (optional)

3/4 T Olive oil (for dressing)

1/2 lemon, squeezed (for dressing)

Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper – topper

Cooking & Chopping:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon on a cooking sheet with piece of foil (to save cleaning time) and top with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Once the oven is preheated, place salmon into the oven. Set timer for 20 minutes and chop up your veggies. Place arugula and veggies in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; place on plate. When salmon is cooked, remove and separate salmon from skin carefully with a spatula (unless you like the skin). Place about 4 ounces of salmon on top of your salad and top with a little fresh squeezed lemon and ground pepper.

Eat and enjoy!

Upstate New York: Turquoise Barn

Beautiful sunset outside the barn

View from my room

Just a three-hour drive north of New York City, in Bloomville, New York, is Turquoise Barn, a vegan bed and breakfast. Now, as most of you know, I’m not a vegan, but I wanted to find a bed and breakfast that had organic food and great breakfasts (sometimes even the nicest B&Bs break out the packaged pastries from Costco and coffee from a machine). From the amazing breakfasts and beautiful surroundings to the completely relaxing atmosphere, I found exactly what I wanted!

I left NYC late Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, so I sat in some hefty traffic making my arrival time much later than it should have been (it took me 5 hours!), but once I was out of the city, the greenery around me made it all worth the hassle. Also, the rental company gave me a brand new SUV, so I wasn’t roughing it on the drive. ;-) Upstate NY is so close, I don’t know why I hadn’t made the trip out until now…eight years later!

From the moment I arrived until the day I left, Michelle and Michael, the owners of the barn, welcomed me and treated me like a member of their family. I was thier only guest for the weekend (things don’t get started up in that area until after Memorial Day typically), and so I was set up for a relaxing and quiet weekend. Breakfast was served at 8am and each day was something different—my favorite was the chia seed parfait, but I also was served a tofu scramble and a dish that I think was version of oatmeal. And, there was always a green juice with nettles (see health benefits of nettles)and tea or coffee! Yum!

"Oatmeal"

Tofu scramble

Green juice with nettles

Each day I took the opportunity to visit a different city—I saw Oneonta, Delhi, Stamford, Andes, Woodstock—and each place I went was about a 30-60 minute drive, which was somewhat far, but each drive was beautiful. The only downfall of staying in the middle of nowhere is the restaurant quality, so other than the superb breakfasts I had in the mornings, every restaurant I tried was just “okay.” If you are a vegan or vegetarian, there are definitely some options, and Michelle was really helpful in sending me in the right direction.

If you’re up for exercising on vacation, which I for sure am, there are lots of hikes to do around town. Also, TB does have bikes if you want to take a ride to the neighboring towns or just near the B&B. I was nursing a foot injury so I opted for a short hike up a farm road for about 3 miles—other than being on the lookout for bears (yes, seriously), it was serene and actually a fair workout with the incline.

Turquoise Barn was truly a glorious find—it’s a beautiful place to stay with great hosts and the food was awesome! I loved waking up to roosters crowing, sun shining in my room and just loved the overall relaxed atmosphere. If you’re looking for a weekend retreat, I would definitely suggest taking a trip to Turquoise Barn.  In the future, I would also like to try Hills Country Inn, Brookton Hollow Farm, and The Golden Guernsey, which are vegetarian.

In my hunt for a place to stay, the two websites I looked at were Happy Cow and Vegetarian USA: http://www.happycow.net/travel/bb_united_states.html, http://www.vegetarianusa.com/vegetarianbedbreakfast.html