Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why girls should do push-ups and pull-ups

Push-ups and pull-ups aren't just for guys in the military! Both exercises work your arms and back and make your upper body stronger. Women are usually lacking in upper body strength and many women are afraid of upper body work because they're afraid of looking too bulky. It's really hard for women to build "bulk" like men so there's nothing to be afraid of! Since I've started actually working out my upper body, I feel a lot stronger. I can pick up heavy things, open a jar, and put my suitcase in the overhead compartment. Plus, my arms and back look very toned. You should start doing push-ups on your knees or against the wall and then eventually move to regular push-ups. Watch this good push-up video.Pull-ups are little harder to master. You should start on an assisted pull-up machine at your gym and then eventually move to kipping pull-ups. Kipping is somewhat easier than a strict pull-up because you use the momentum of your body. However, they're still hard to do if you're new at pull-ups so I would suggest using a large rubber band that you place your feet into, like in this video. I've learned to really like kipping pull-ups because they make me feel strong, you should try them too!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Pepper

I've made stuffed peppers before with rice but this is my first time trying peppers stuffed with quinoa. Quinoa is more popular in South America and was once considered the "gold of the Incas." Quinoa looks and tastes like a grain but is actually related to spinach. It is not only high in protein but also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Therefore, it is great for adding protein to a vegetarian meal. It is also a good source of manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus, making it valuable for people with migraines, diabetes, and atherosclerosis (


3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (red or white)
1 1/2 cup water
3 red bell peppers
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil (extra oil for filling and baking sheet, if need)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tbsp. basil
salt & pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste

First preheat your oven to 350 F. Then, cook the quinoa by bringing the water and quinoa to a boil in a small pot. Then, reduce heat and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

To make the filling, first heat the oil on low heat in a medium pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and spices and mix together. You may have to add some more oil to the mix if it is too pasty.

To prepare the peppers, simply chop of the top and remove the inner seeds. To cut down on baking time, you can place the peppers into boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Then, place a third of the filling in each of the peppers. Oil a baking sheet and place stuffed peppers on the sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. If you did not pre-boil the peppers, bake for 1 hour. Finally, remove from oven and serve!

This meal is filling, cheap, and healthy! You can use more vegetables, like mushrooms, in the filling too. Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

If food products were honestly labeled

Just wanted to share with you something that my friend sent me. My favorite part is the screaming kid with the "ADHD Flakes" haha

So, here are some tips to avoid eating processed foods:

  • Stick to the "outside" of the grocery store. Buy mainly fruits, veggies, fresh (whole wheat) bread, and animal products of choice (eggs, fish, meat). The only actual isle I really go into while shopping is the "natural foods" isle. Frozen veggies and fruits in the frozen section are okay too.
  • Read the label! The less ingredients, the better. Ingredients that you can't pronounce are bad.Many foods contain tons of chemicals to increase the shelf life.
  • Read the label again! "Low fat" on the front label does not necessarily mean healthy. Also double-check words like "natural" (natural what?), "organic" (who is it certified by?), "made with whole grains" (could still be mainly made out of processed flour), etc.
  • Sugar is bad. Buy food with less than 5 g of sugar per serving. Foods with natural sweeteners like honey and agave are an excellent alternative. Look for these foods (cereal, peanut butter, crackers) in the natural food isle. They may be more expensive, but you will save more money later in life on medical expenses.
  • Eat before shopping. Eat a meal or snack before going to the store and stick to your shopping list. This will help you avoid grabbing that box of cheez-its because you're starving.
  • Cook from scratch. When I first became a vegetarian, I was buying a lot of imitation meats, like veggie burgers, because I didn't know what else to eat. However, these weren't necessarily much healthier than meat itself. I now try to cook everything from scratch, e.g. lentil burgers, and only eat imitation meat and cheese in moderation.
  • No fast food. Obviously. My main weaknesses are mexican and sandwiches, like Chipotle and Subway. Some fast food meals can be okay if eaten in moderation and especially if you can choose your own ingredients. At Chipotle, you can skip the tortilla and get brown rice. Opt for whole wheat bread, lots of veggies, and mustard (no mayo) at Subway
What are your tips for avoiding processed food?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hearty Lentil Soup

Even though this winter has been pretty mild, a good hearty soup really warms you up and is the perfect comfort food. This lentil soup recipe is healthy and adapted from Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy Kotsopoulos. Lentils are a great source of fiber, protein, and iron. They also have tryptophan, which can make you feel happy. The vitamin C from red pepper helps you absorb the iron. 


1.75 - 2 cups of dry lentils
1 white onion
1 red bell pepper
4 celery stalks
2 carrots
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato
1 can crushed tomato (14-15 oz.)
5 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. kelp granules (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
juice from 1/2 lemon

First, cook the lentils by adding them to 2 cups of water and brining to a boil. Then, reduce to a simmer and let the lentils absorb most of the water, takes about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up all of your vegetables and cube the potato. Add 8 cups of water to a very large pot over high heat. You can add your vegetables to the pot as you chop them. Also add the rest of the ingredients, except for the lemon and lentils to the large pot. Go easy on the salt if you are using kelp. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about half hour or until the vegetables are soft. Add the lentils once they are cooked. Before serving, remove the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice.

This recipe makes about 6 servings and is pretty cheap. Dry lentils are least expensive in the bulk food section of the grocery store, and definitely less expensive than other sources of protein, like chicken. I like to freeze individual servings and eat them when I need a quick meal. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Post Super Bowl Detox

This weekend was really fun with the Super Bowl and my birthday but all of the unhealthy food and beer is definitely making me feel tired and bloated. It's easy to splurge in social situations but you pay for it later. Too much unhealthy food can stress out your body and even cause your skin to break out. There's a few things you can do this week (and after parties in general) to help you get back on your feet:

1. Drink Lemon Water. The vitamin C and antioxidants in lemons can help flush your system of toxins and improve your immune system. Water will obviously help rehydrate your body. Just cut a lemon into four pieces and squeeze one or two quarters into a glass of filtered water. Drink first thing in the morning and do not add sugar. Drinking lemon water is good for you at anytime so make it a daily habit!

2. Eat Fiber. Foods rich in dietary fiber naturally help cleanse your digestive tract. Eat foods such as whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa), fruits (bananas, apples, blueberries, grapes), and vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots). Adding fresh blueberries to your breakfast is delicious. Broccoli will mitigate the effects of excess estrogen produced from processed foods. (Excess estrogen promotes belly fat.) Be sure to steam broccoli to a light green color before eating to maximize nutrient absorption.

3. Exercise! Moving your muscles will burn calories and fat and sweating will get rid of toxins. Try a workout alternating in high intensity and moderate intensty work, like today's Crossfit workout. This workout includes 5 rounds for time of 21 dead lifts and 400 m run. Alternating strength training and running makes for a great workout!