Sunday, November 21, 2010

A New Kind of "Meal"

I am a huge breakfast fan. Anything from pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon, toast, scrambles, muffins... everything! Though I do create times where I can consume most of that (in my refeeds or cheat meals), I have done a few things with a new favorite ingredient of mine that mimics breakfast in a way. Mostly in the form of a pancake or english "muffin" like you would use for an egg sandwich.

The ingredient is Almond Meal.
I have been switching back and forth between Trader Joe's brand Almond Meal and this Bob's Red Mill package. The taste might be a LITTLE different but nothing to harp on. Bob's is 160 Calories per 1/4 cup and Trader Joe's is 180 Calories per 1/4 cup so alter according to your goals.

So on to a few things I have been making with this new ingredient. The first is a pancake style "muffin". (seen pictured below)

Here are two pictures that I took after making these meals. It is basically an egg sandwich (one looks a little cleaner than the other) and they were DELICIOUS! So here is what you do to make this Almond Meal Pancake/Muffin:

1/4 cup Almond Meal
1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
1 Egg (or 2-3 tablespoons of egg whites)
*cinnamon optional, this gives more of a pancake taste.

Whisk all of the ingredients together until you get a "pancake batter" like substance. Cook on a skillet with a little butter or coconut oil. Boom! There you go... a low-carb alternative to flour/gluten containing products. This might work well for those on a "rest" day who are trying to go lower on the carb side of things but still want something like this to eat. By the way, I obviously enjoyed both of these "open-faced" style. I put another cooked egg over the top with some sliced tomato and avocados and onions.

Another option to use almond meal for is breading chicken!! (check out below):

So I basically did the same thing you would do in order to bread some chicken and throw it in a skillet. Follow these instructions to create what I did above:

1/4 cup of Almond Meal
1 Egg or 3-4 tbsp Egg Whites
Chicken Tenders or Chicken Thighs (I used Organic Thighs from Costco here)

Setup 2 shallow plates near your skillet. Put a couple tbsp of coconut oil in the skillet and set it on med-high heat. Smother the chicken in the egg plate so that it is covered and then move it to the Almond Meal plate and cover the chicken entirely with the almond meal. Put the chicken in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side until the almond meal seems to have set and harden. I enjoyed this chicken with a simple array of steamed vegetables.

Boom! There you have it, breaded chicken. It reminds me of chicken fingers without the wheat flour and whatnot. I will probably try this with coconut flour as well and see how those turn out!

I hope you get a chance to try these recipes out and give almond meal/flour a try and let me know what you think! It might be a good idea for you during these non-carb intensive months. :)

In Health,


Saturday, October 23, 2010

3 Ways to Curb Your Carb Cravings

Have you ever seen the show "Curb Your Enthusiasm"? If not, go out to your nearest blockbuster, redbox movie rental or netflix and get it. Then watch it. Then continue to talk about it with your friends because everything that happens in that show has most likely happened to you at some point in your life. It's like Seinfeld (shocker... same creator) but on another level... About 7 more levels.

That had nothing to do with this post except for the fact that the title of this blog post reminded me of the show. But on to more important things. Cravings.

I could never understand why the holidays were such a hard time for people trying to lose weight. I mean, everyone is so happy around thanksgiving and christmas being around lots of friends and family, and if we are happy then usually that means we will stick to our goals and lose that body-fat or get stronger, whatever it is you want! But a light bulb went off while doing some research and I think I found out...

It's the cravings we fight, and often submit to during this SEASON of the year. During this season, we all experience shorter days, low sun exposure and a DIP in SEROTONIN. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the body that can elevate our mood and provide a sense of well-being. The happy drug. A totally legit drug that we can't get enough of!

Since some of us experience a drop in serotonin levels during this time of year, we turn to a lot of carbohydrate-rich sources of food because carbohydrates give an instant lift of the feel-good drug, however it also can lead to a little extra pounds during this time. I love me some ugly christmas sweater parties, but I don't want to be rockin' a large sweater because I'm trying to hide my christmas gut. This lift is also very temporary and we want a sustained release of the feel-good drug, right? So let's get to my top 3 ways to increase serotonin and make you feel good AND look GREAT!

3. Eat Protein

Lots of different sources of protein are high in tryptophan(an amino acid) which is a precursor to serotonin. Consume various sources such as: turkey, fish, chicken, lamb, veal, lean cuts of pork, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese and eggs.

Plus, protein will help you get big muscles and look like this...

2. Revitalize

Engage in some kind of activity that helps get you to that relaxed, meditative state. I am not a "meditator" per-se but I do love me some yoga (especially in a heated room) and when I leave I can't deny that I feel absolutely AMAZING and ready to charge forward the rest of the day/night. Also try listening to relaxing music in a natural environment like in the woods, forrest or at the beach (bring a sweater okay). Basically try to be at peace...


This is the most important one because I find this to give the most serotonin inducing effects. Exercise is a natural stimulator of not only serotonin but dopamine as well. Don't think of this as a chore but rather as a chance to get the feel-good neurotransmitters fired up! A short 15-20 minute workout can get you to a calm and happy place.

The greatest thing about these other 3 options is that you won't have to turn to carbohydrates (or crave them, even) because your serotonin levels will be boosted from these alternate sources. No more holiday onset weight-gain! If we aren't movin' too often then we don't need those carbos! I have a job for each and every one of you; on a rainy day this season, wake up early and hit the gym, then refuel with a protein rich meal and maybe even a small cup of joe. Get your yoga session in (or any mode of revitalization) and then come home and pop in your favorite movie with a special friend while sippin' on hot cider (home-made = less sugar) and some roasted nuts! I don't know... just an idea.


How can I forget.... SLEEP! This is an extra one for all of you out there who don't get enough sleep, which is me included. Get your 7-8 hours of sleep a night and try to stay on a regular wake-sleep cycle. If you need, I would also get a nap in mid-day. Your body will thank you, in many ways.

Now get out there and curb those carb cravings! I know you want to!

In Warm Health,


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Salmon & Omega-3s

I just got done having possibly the best, most spectacular APPEALING lunch ever. As seen in this pic...

...It is a 5oz filet of Wild Atlantic CoHo Salmon (about 14$/lb..yikes) with steamed mixed vegetables underneath and sauteed spinach with garlic and shallots over the top. Oh my goodness gracious.. I sat in spectacle of this dish and Ooo'd and Ahh'd over it wishing I could show someone. Luckily I have this blog to show all of you.

I didn't even realize this but I seemed to have something in front of me that was Omega-3 heaven. Some of you might still be in the dark but lately you may have heard something about Omega-6s not being as good as Omega-3s. Well it seems to be true. Perhaps it is more in the ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3One thing that Omega-6 can do on a cellular level is cause inflammation. Inflammation can be bad when it occurs in the body and can lead to diseases such as arthritis, cancers, atherosclerosis or heart disease. Inflammation is a normal response to injury. It is when our white blood cells consume foreign materials or debris (bad stuff). If our body mistakes our own healthy tissue as a foreign invader, the protective immune system can damage its own tissues; that is an autoimmune disorder.

To fix the omega imbalance, there is 2 things that we need to do. Increase omega-3 and decrease omega-6. If you remember me calling my meal from above an omega-3 paradise, it is because salmon is chock full of the good stuff (Just under 4 grams of omega-3s) and what did I cook it in? The almighty BUTTER; which is actually fairly low in omega-6s.. (less than a gram). I used no vegetable oil which can be high in omega-6 content and if I do cook with oil, I primarily use organic refined coconut oil. The stuff is GREAT and great for you! 

A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who consumed 1.9 grams of omega-3s daily with some cardio, noticed a reduction in body fat, lowered triglycerides, and raised the good HDL cholesterol. Way to go omega-3s... I now shall call you the superman of fats!

There you go people, try to get more O-3s and less O-6s (I got tired of typing omega..) by consuming more grass-fed beef, coconut oil and organic butter and less pre-made salad dressings or mayonnaise (I like mustard anyway)! Check out this link for more food ideas at 180 degree Health, about 3/4 the way down the page in a post called, "How to Reduce Omega 6 Tissue Concentration"

Time to get my omega on and sprint a lil' bit...

In Omega Health,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Warming Up Is Cool

When did it become that the "cool" thing to do is to not warm-up before your workout? Didn't we learn in grade school that you have to do your jumping jacks and run around the track once before you start the calisthenics, mile run or play your sport?

No matter what organization you look at, you will find a protocol that recommends you do something before you engage in your exercises. But what exactly does a warm-up consist of? Walking, jogging, pushups, stretching? Which one and how many of each? So many questions!

I don't think people quite understand the importance of a proper warm-up. I have had clients compliment and enjoy way more workouts when a proper warm-up is performed before our session. So lets chat a little bit about what might be included in a good warm-up.

Someone who I think has the warm-up down is Todd Durkin. I have had the recent pleasure of purchasing and reading through Durkin's new book and it is AWESOME. All trainers out there I think would really dig it.. tons of useful information presented in a very comprehensive manner and easy to flip through. If you are a weekend warrior or an everyday athlete looking for some new routines take a peek. 

This statement says it best, "The purpose of a warm-up is to get your body moving, begin raising your body temperature, stretch your muscles, move your joints, and get the energy pathways working so that the proper fuel is getting to your muscles. A proper warm-up will prepare your body for the workout, and will make the work feel easier than it would if you started out cold."

It is understood that increasing the body and muscles temperature is important in the warm-up but remember that when you increase blood flow throughout the body and to the working muscles, you increase the delivery of oxygen because oxygen is transported in the blood (our main transport system) along with other nutrients. So if you are doing a total body workout, be sure to warm-up your ENTIRE body and all of your joints. If you are doing an upper or lower body workout, warm-up each respectively. More blood = more oxygen and nutrients = better workout = faster results!

Try something like this:

Cardiovascular warm-up for 5-10 minutes
Dynamic warm-up including different multi-joint movements
Mobility drills for the hips, shoulders and spine (especially thoracic)
Foam Rolling!!!
Perhaps even a few core exercises (plank or side planks are good here)

A very underutilized piece of equipment in the gym! The all mighty foam roller!

Please consider foam rolling extensively.. we really should get in the habit of keeping our fascia healthy (that is a whole other blog post..)!

 Here are a couple of my favorites:

This is for the thoracic spine (T-spine)

This is for the Tensior Fascia Latae (main hip flexor)

Get in the gym and crush it - go from good to great! - but remember the cool thing to do is to warm-up first. Cheesy yes.. but I love it. 

"The only time that success comes before work is in the dictionary." -Vince Lombardi

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What is The Health Chase?

After trying to think of an original and creative name for what to call my blog, I ended up at this... The Health Chase. I am on a constant journey to better health and well-being and I for one don't want to do it alone! Better health can mean so many things to so many different people. My goal is to provide a platform full of motivation, inspiration, education and most of all positivity and fun for all.

I graduated from a university studying fitness, nutrition and health and that is exactly what I learned. A well-rounded compilation of each of the three areas. I heard it said time and time again that experience is more valuable than education and after years of experience, I completely agree. I learned a wealth of information in my studies at school but nothing compares to being in front of another person, one-on-one, trying to apply knowledge or protocol that you know "should" work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. That is what makes my job as a personal trainer, a coach, so exciting!

I love to kill it in the gym, go on hikes, run by the beach or bay (you can't beat sunny san diego weather!) and cook! I am a nutritional freak and I freaking love food that tastes good and is good for you so expect lots of fun food stuff to be floating around here!!

Moving on to our "temple" because that is exactly what it is, right... The human body is such an extravagant machine with so many parts that work together for the same purpose... Optimal Health. We can't complete the puzzle without all of the pieces that's for sure. It just doesn't work well without each part of our body functioning as it should.

So whether you are my friend, family, follower or client and your goal is to build muscle, lose fat, get lean, look good, be healthy... whatever! Let's do it together! I hope you enjoy the chase with me and I apologize for any humor that is well...not funny, haha.. Let's do this!!