The Lesser-Known Pain-Relieving Properties of Caffeine


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Pain is a common sensation experienced by many people, and it can range from mild discomfort to severe agony. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin are readily available and can be effective in treating mild to moderate pain. Heat and ice may also be applied to relive or reduce pain and so can soaking in magnesium or Epsom salts.

However, some individuals may experience chronic pain that requires additional relief and want to avoid taking prescribed pain meds. One potential option to consider is caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in a variety of sources such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and dark chocolate, which has been linked to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. In addition to this and its well-known effects on one’s energy and endurance, caffeine also has surprising pain-relieving properties and may be a key staple to your pain management treatment plan.

I stumbled upon this discovery to caffeine as a pain reliever personally after finishing an ultra-marathon and continuing to eat one to two packets of Clif black cherry energy blok chews a day, which contains 50 milligrams of caffeine per 2.1-ounce packet. As a non-coffee and non-tea drinker, it was great boost for my morning runs and the perfect lift in the afternoons before an afternoon athletic activity. At the same time, I noticed my longstanding leg and back pain that I had leading up to that race had disappeared post-race and I didn’t know what to contribute as the reason. I had stopped physical therapy and not added any other pain relief treatment. It wasn’t until I stopped taking the energy bloks that the pain soon returned thereafter is when I made the dotted line connection and did some research.   

How Caffeine Relieves Pain

It turns out that caffeine has been shown in studies to have pain-relieving effects by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. Who knew? Adenosine is a chemical that plays a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal, and it is also involved in the regulation of pain. When caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, it can reduce the perception of pain.

All of this was quite a surprise finding for me. As a person and athlete who has had my fair share of injuries that have caused pain over the years, my treating healthcare providers and physical therapists have only suggested pain prescriptions (which I always turned down), physical therapy (a hit-or-miss), and sometimes injections (also a hit-or-miss) but never suggested to add caffeinated foods to my daily diet. This, I had to discover on my own.

Caffeine can also enhance and boost the effects of other pain-relieving medications. A study published in The Journal of Pain found that combining caffeine with acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) resulted in a more significant reduction in pain compared to acetaminophen alone.

“The involvement of caffeine in pain management has gotten minimal attention in the past, but it is getting more attention now,” wrote Sri Harsha Boppana, Michael Peterson, Austin Du, Simhachalam Kutikuppala, and Rodney Gabriel in the published Caffeine: What Is Its Role in Pain Medicine?, a medical article written with the purpose to clarify the role of caffeine as a pain reliever and to stimulate the interest of researchers like myself.

Safe Daily Intake of Caffeine

While caffeine has benefits like improved mental alertness, enhanced physical performance, reduced risk of certain diseases and pain relief, it is essential to consume caffeine in moderation. It is important to follow the recommended daily intake of caffeine based on your age, gender, and individual tolerance, which is usually specified on the packaging.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that most adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is roughly the amount found in four 8-ounce cups of coffee. Studies have found 100 to 130 milligrams of caffeine added to drugs, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, is a safe and effective dose. If you are consuming caffeinated beverages to alleviate pain, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider regarding appropriate dosage. Additionally, some individuals are sensitive to caffeine or have underlying medical conditions and may need to consume less. I, myself, can only tolerant about 100 to 125 milligrams of caffeine total a day.

Sources of Caffeine

Below is a list of beverages and foods containing varying amounts of caffeine. It’s worth noting that the amount of caffeine can vary widely between different brands and types of food and drinks, and can also depend on factors, such as the brewing method or preparation technique.

  • Coffee drinks: A typical cup of coffee contains around 95 milligrams of caffeine. The caffeine content in coffee can vary depending on the type of coffee bean, brewing method, and serving size. Specialty coffee drinks can contain significantly more caffeine due to added espresso shots or other sources of caffeine.

  • Teas: The caffeine content in tea can vary depending on the type of tea, the brewing method, and the steeping time. Black tea, which is made from fermented tea leaves, contains around 47 milligrams of caffeine per cup versus green tea, made from unfermented tea leaves, contains approximately 29 milligrams.

  • Sodas: Sodas, such as colas and other carbonated drinks, often contain caffeine as a flavoring agent and a stimulant. One of the most popular brands, Coca-Cola, offers regular and diet varieties that contain around 34mg and 46mg of caffeine per 12 ounces serving, respectively. Another well-known brand, Pepsi, offers similar caffeine levels in their regular and diet drinks, with around 38mg and 35mg of caffeine per 12 ounces serving, respectively.

  • Energy drinks and powders: Energy drinks can contain high levels of caffeine, with some brands containing up to 500 milligrams per can. There are many brands on the market, such as Red Bull, CELCIUS®, and Liquid I.V.®. After a bad reaction to Red Bull years ago, I personally stay away from energy drinks and powders.

  • Energy bars: Select energy bars can contain varying amounts of caffeine. Popular brands include Clif Bar Energy + Caffeine and KIND Energy bars have 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving and Better Than Coffee, French Roast and Julian Bakery Paleo Thin Protein Bar, Espresso, each contain 100 milligrams.

  • Energy liquid gels and gel blocks: Energy liquid gels and gel blocks, a popular choice among endurance athletes and runners, contain different amounts of caffeine. One popular brand, GU Energy, offers a “GU Energy Gel” that contains 20mg of caffeine per serving while CLIF offers a “Shot Energy Gel” that contains 50mg of caffeine per serving. Energy gel blocks by Honey Stinger contain around 32mg.

  • Chocolates: The amount of caffeine in dark chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate and serving size. The darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. Brands such as Lindt Excellence 85%  and Green & Black’s Organic 85% have 23 to 24mg of caffeine per serving. Other brands, such as Hershey’s Special Dark, contain around 20mg.

  • Ice creams, frozen yogurts and dairy drinks: Caffeine in ice creams, frozen yogurts and dairy drinks is more commonly just adding a flavoring agent like chocolate or coffee rather than for its stimulant properties. Brands include Oikos Pro Fuel (10 milligrams per 10 ounces) and Bang! (125 milligrams per scoop).

  • Chewing gum: Caffeine in chewing gums is a relatively new product on the market and is a convenient way to consume caffeine on the go. Caffeine amounts greatly vary in the caffeinated gum brands and includes Awaken gum (12 milligrams), Jolt gum (45 milligrams), and Military Energy Gum (100 milligrams).

The Dangers of Caffeine

There is also a flipside to consuming caffeine and it’s important to be aware of caffeine’s potential negative health consequences. Excessive caffeine consumption can have adverse effects on some people, such as restlessness, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. It may also not be not suitable for those with certain medical conditions such as acid reflux or anxiety disorders who may need to limit their intake or avoid it altogether.

Caffeine can be addictive and disrupt sleep patterns, leading to chronic sleep deprivation like insomnia and additional health problems. When stopping, it can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Excessive consumption can also have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, cause dehydration, worsen psychiatric conditions, and lead to anxiety and panic attacks.

Certain sodas and energy drinks contain very high levels of caffeine and other stimulants, which may increase the risk of adverse effects, like rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and anxiety. I had bad reactions to Diet Mountain Dew (90milligrams per 20 ounces), which gave me exploding headaches, and Red Bull (80 milligrams per 8.46 ounces), which gave me my first and only case of vertigo after developing a habit of drinking it daily. I stopped cold turkey both and never had the migraine-like headaches or vertigo ever again. (Side note, I immediately sought treatment for vertigo from an ENT specialist and was completely healed after receiving the Epley maneuver.)

Key Takeaways on Caffeine

Caffeine can have surprising pain-relieving benefits, but it is essential to consume it in moderation and to consider other factors, such as potential side effects and interactions with other medications or medical conditions.

If you choose to use caffeine to manage your pain, it is recommended that you first consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure that it does not interfere with any other medications you may be taking.

Below are five key takeaways to adding caffeine to your diet for pain management.

  1. First and foremost, consult with your GP before adding caffeine to your diet to determine if caffeine is ideal to help alleviate your pain.
  2. Determine which caffeinated food or beverages you will be consuming and if it will be in combination with any caffeinated medications.
  3. It’s crucial to always consume caffeine in moderation. Know your intake limits to caffeine, how much to digest, and how often.
  4. If needly, adjust the amount of your caffeine intake and frequency based on your reaction and results.
  5. If you having any adverse reactions to caffeine, contact your GP immediately before completely stopping as your GP may suggest tapering down your caffeine intake to reduce the possibility of withdraws side effects.

By understanding how caffeine works to relieve pain and being mindful of safe intake levels, you can use this popular stimulant to your advantage.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

The Hidden Health Risks of Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time


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Every year, most of the 196 countries observe daylight saving time, where clocks are adjusted to move one hour up in the spring and one hour back in the fall. This practice is designed to extend the amount of daylight in the evening, but it can also have significant effects on one’s health.

The following is insightful information as to when and why Daylight Saving and Standard Times started, where it is practiced, the pros and cons, and the hidden health risks of simply changing the clock by one hour.

When DST and ST First Began

The concepts of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Standard Time (ST) was developed independently by different individuals in different countries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to help regulate and standardize timekeeping across regions.

Standard Time was developed in the late 19th century in response to the growth of rail travel, which required consistent schedules across different regions. Prior to the establishment of Standard Time, each town would set its own time based on the position of the sun, which made it difficult to coordinate travel and communication.

A Scottish Canadian engineer and inventor named Sir Sandford Fleming proposed dividing the world into 24 time zones in 1879, with each zone using a standard time one hour apart, which would make it easier for people to synchronize schedules and avoid confusion. He coined the word “Standard Time” and his system was eventually adopted by many countries around the world, and is still in use today.

Daylight Saving Time is credited to a British builder named William Willett, who proposed the idea of moving the clocks forward in the summer months to take advantage of the longer daylight hours. He first presented the idea in a pamphlet in 1907, and campaigned for it until his death in 1915.

The idea was eventually adopted by several countries in 1916 after Willett passed and during World War I as a way to conserve energy. Germany became the first country to adopt Daylight Saving Time and other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, soon followed suit. The idea was that by moving the clock ahead one hour during the summer months, people would use less electricity for lighting in the evenings, since there would be more daylight.

Changing the Time Around the World

The timing of Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time varies by country and region, rather than by continent. Some countries, like the US, observe Daylight Saving Time and switch to Standard Time on specific dates each year, usually in the spring and fall. However, the dates and times of these changes can vary by country.

For example, in the European Union, Daylight Saving Time starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. However, individual EU countries can choose to opt out of Daylight Saving Time if they wish. In Russia, there is no Daylight Saving Time, and the country observes Standard Time all year round.

Similarly, countries in the Southern Hemisphere may observe Daylight Saving Time during different months than those in the Northern Hemisphere, as their seasons are opposite. For example, Australia observes Daylight Saving Time from October to April, while New Zealand observes it from September to April.

Several countries around the world do not observe Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time altogether. Some of these countries include:

  • Brazil: Certain regions of Brazil do not observe Daylight Saving Time, including the states of Bahia and Goiás.
  • China: Does not observe Daylight Saving Time, although it did briefly experiment with it in the past.
  • Iceland: Does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
  • Iran: Stopped observing Daylight Saving Time in 2021.
  • Japan: Used to observe Daylight Saving Time, but it was abolished in 1951.
  • Nepal: Does not observe Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time.
  • Russia: Abolished Daylight Saving Time in 2011 and now observes Standard Time all year round.

Changing the Clocks in the Untied States

Every year, twice a year in the US, we experience the shift from daylight saving time to standard time and vice versa in most states and territories. For most people, this is a minor inconvenience that requires them to adjust their clocks by one hour. However, this seemingly insignificant change can have significant effects on our health.

As of 2023, there are two US states and several US territories that do not observe Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time:

  • Hawaii: Hawaii s located near the equator, so it experiences very little variation in daylight hours throughout the year. Therefore, there is no need to adjust the clocks for Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time.

  • Arizona: Arizona also does not observe Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time, except for the Navajo Nation in the northeast corner of the state, which does observe Daylight Saving Time. The decision to not observe Daylight Saving Time was made in 1968, with the goal of avoiding the need for residents to adjust their clocks during the hot summer months when air conditioning usage is high.

  • In addition to these two states, there are several US territories that also do not observe Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time. These territories include: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

The Impact of Daylight Saving Time on Health

Right before spring season starts, we “spring forward” in great anticipating in leaving behind the long winter months (especially for those living the colder US regions) on the second Sunday of every March. We move our clocks one hour ahead and lose an hour of valuable sleep.

This loss of sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep and wake cycles. Our bodies are accustomed to waking up and falling asleep at a certain time, and when this rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to fatigue, irritability, and decreased productivity. Some of us can change with the one-hour difference right away, others cannot and it may take days or weeks to fully adjust to the change.

The shift to daylight saving time has also been linked to an increase in accidents and heart attacks. Studies have found that the loss of one hour of sleep in the spring can lead to an increase in traffic accidents and workplace injuries. There is also evidence that the disruption of our sleep patterns can increase the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

The Effect of Standard Time on Health

In the fall, when we “fall back” on the first Sunday in November, we move our clocks one hour back and thankfully gain an hour of sleep. While this may seem like a good thing, suddenly going to bed and waking up an hour earlier can surprisingly lead to fatigue and difficulty concentrating. This can also disrupt our circadian rhythms, leading to problems with our sleep and wake cycles.

Moreover, the shift to standard time can also have negative effects on our mood. The shorter days and longer nights can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is related to the change in the seasons. Symptoms of SAD can include fatigue, sadness, and difficulty sleeping.

Tips for Coping with the Time Change

To minimize the effects of daylight saving time and standard time on your health, here are several suggestions:

  1. Gradually adjust your sleep schedule: In the days leading up to the time change, you can gradually adjust your sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier or later each day until you are back on our normal schedule.

  2. Get plenty of sunlight: Exposure to sunlight can help regulate your circadian rhythms and improve your mood. During the fall and winter months, when daylight is scarce, it may be helpful to spend time outside during the day or invest in a light therapy box.

  3. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends. This can help regulate your body’s internal clock and make it easier to adjust to the time change.

  4. Practice good sleep hygiene: Establishing good sleep habits can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. This can include things like avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and avoiding electronic devices before bed.

  5. Be mindful of your health: Pay attention to your body and any changes in your mood or energy levels. If you notice any persistent symptoms, such as fatigue or difficulty sleeping, talk to your healthcare provider.

The transition from daylight saving time to standard time and back again may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it can have significant effects on your health. By taking steps to minimize the disruption to your sleep patterns and mood, you can make the transition easier and reduce the risk of accidents and health problems.

So, the next time the clock changes, be mindful of how it may be affecting your health and take steps to mitigate any negative effects.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Cryotherapy: Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Exposing Your Body to Extreme Cold


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Just a few months ago, I was training for an ultramarathon and suffering from back pain that was preventing me from fulling preparing for the race. The race was a longtime bucket list item, so I was determined to run it. But what about the pain?

The pain was a result from shoveling snow in January 2022. Here it was December, and I was still dealing it. I had tried physical therapy and received two injections, but neither brought relief.

Then a friend recommended cryotherapy. While I had heard of it before, I never considered as a pain treatment. At that point, anything was worth a try since I was only weeks away from my race.

Fast-forward today, I am pain free. Cryotherapy did the trick after just two weeks of daily treatments. I was able to race and have since returned to a normal active lifestyle. I continue to go to cryo weekly, since there are many benefits of continuing the treatment.

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy has been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to promote healing, reduce inflammation, and improve overall health and wellness. Some use it for longevity. It involves wearing minimal clothing and stepping into an upright chamber-like tank where your body is exposed to extremely low temperatures of -100°C and -140°C for 3 minutes. The cold air that you feel is liquid nitrogen, which cools the air to the desired temperature.

How does Cryotherapy work?

The theory behind cryotherapy is that the extreme cold temperature triggers the body’s natural healing mechanisms. When exposed to the cold, the body goes into a “fight or flight” response, which causes blood vessels to constrict and redirect blood flow away from the extremities and towards the vital organs. This response can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and increase the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

Potential benefits of Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy has been promoted as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Here are five benefits:

  1. Pain relief: Cryotherapy can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.
  2. Improved athletic performance: Many athletes use cryotherapy to help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time after intense workouts.
  3. Skin rejuvenation: The extreme cold temperature can help stimulate collagen production, which can improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.
  4. Boosted immune system: Some studies have suggested that cryotherapy may help stimulate the immune system, which can help prevent illness and improve overall health.
  5. Longevity: There is some evidence to suggest that cryotherapy may help promote longevity by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Potential risks of Cryotherapy

While cryotherapy is generally considered safe, there are some potential risks to be aware of. Here are five risks:

  1. Frostbite: Exposure to extreme cold temperatures can cause frostbite, which can damage the skin and underlying tissues.
  2. Headaches: If you head is not high enough from the rising liquid nitrogen, you may experience a short-lived headache shortly after treatment.
  3. Burns: Liquid nitrogen can cause burns if it comes into direct contact with the skin.
  4. Hypoxia: In rare cases, cryotherapy can cause a decrease in oxygen levels, which can lead to lightheadedness or fainting.
  5. Claustrophobia: Some people may feel claustrophobic inside the cryotherapy chamber.

Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves exposing the body to extremely low temperatures for a short period of time. While it is generally considered safe, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with this treatment. If you are considering cryotherapy, it is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider first to determine if it is a safe and appropriate treatment option for you.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

The Rise of Pickleball: Exploring Why this Fun Sport is Taking the World by Storm


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I have played pickleball for over a decade and people are always surpassed to learn this since most have never heard of the sport before until recently

Pickleball was created in 1955, by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and his friend Bill Bell. The story goes that one summer day, they couldn’t find their usual equipment for badminton, so they improvised by using some plywood, a perforated plastic ball, and some paddles that they had lying around. The game they invented was an instant hit, and they soon began refining the rules and equipment to make it more fun and competitive. The name “pickleball” is said to come from Pritchard’s wife, who thought the game reminded her of the pickle boat in crew, which is made up of leftover oarsmen from other boats.

Today, pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing sports and is played all over the world with a growing number of tournaments, clubs, shops, and professional players. This fun and easy-to-learn sport is enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels, and it can be played indoors or outdoors. In this piece, I’ll explore some of the reasons why pickleball has become so popular.


One of the main reasons why pickleball has grown in popularity is its accessibility. Unlike some other sports, pickleball can be played by people of all ages and skill levels. It’s a low-impact sport that is easy to learn, and it doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or a large playing area. This makes it a great option for people who want to stay active but don’t have the time or resources to commit to a more demanding sport.

Social benefits

Another reason why pickleball has become so popular is the social aspect of the sport. Many people enjoy playing pickleball because it allows them to meet new people and make friends. It’s a great way to stay connected with others and to enjoy some friendly competition in a relaxed setting. Pickleball is often played in a doubles format, which means that players have a partner to talk to and work with during the game.

Physical benefits

Pickleball also offers a number of physical benefits. It’s a great way to get some exercise and stay active, and it can help improve cardiovascular health, flexibility, and balance. Because pickleball is played on a smaller court than tennis, players have to move quickly and be agile, which helps to build strength and endurance. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, which can make it easier to stick to a regular exercise routine.

Easy to learn

One of the biggest draws of pickleball is how easy it is to learn. Unlike some other sports, you don’t need years of practice or specialized training to become proficient at pickleball. Most people can pick up the basics in just a few minutes, and with a little practice, they can start playing at a competitive level. This makes it a great option for people who want to try something new or who are looking for a sport that they can enjoy without a lot of fuss.


Finally, pickleball has become popular because it’s an inclusive sport. It’s a great way to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together, and it can be adapted to suit different skill levels and physical abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner, you can find a way to enjoy pickleball and get involved in the community.

In summary, pickleball has become popular for many reasons, including its accessibility, social benefits, physical benefits, ease of learning, and inclusivity. Whether you’re looking for a fun way to stay active, a chance to meet new people, or just a way to enjoy some friendly competition, pickleball is a great option that is sure to continue growing in popularity in the years to come.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Getting through Holiday Eating: 10 Survival Tips to Avoid Weight Gain


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week111Holiday eating. You know that time of annual time of year when you are around family, friends and co-workers and celebrate the festivities with food; lots of it.

It really starts with Halloween. All the extra candy you have from not enough ghoulish goblins and fairytale princesses appearing at your front door. All that sinful chocolate and sugary candy is too good to go to waste, right? So day after day, you work at emptying the candy bowl until it’s empty.

Next, just when all the candy is gone and you are feeling guilty for your overindulgence on sweet treats, it’s time for some turkey and trimmings, not to mention the endless choices of pies and desserts. Were stuffing, mash potatoes, corn bread and lots of leftovers mentioned? Then come Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. More celebrations and more food! An extra bite of cheese, another sip of alcohol, one more cookie…who is going to notice? Before you know it, your waistline to clothing is snug. Ugh!

While tasty and mindfully rewarding during the moment, eating mindlessly or emotionally for pure enjoyment or release during the holidays is neither wise nor healthy. It easily can play havoc on your body, put on extra inches on your waistline, and possibly throw your regular eating habits so far off that it’s tough climb to get back on track. Then, before you know it, it’s New Year’s Eve and one of your very first resolutions, as it is every year, is to lose the weight.

Let this holiday season be different. Resist overindulging and packing on the unnecessary and unwanted pounds. Here are 10 survival tips to make through the holidays.

  1. Awareness
    You’re reading this article so you are cognizant you may fall victim to holiday overeating and acknowledgement is a positive start. Realizing and admitting are the first steps in any prevention. Start planning and get prepared. The road is about to get bumpy!
  1. Discipline
    Your mind is powerful and deep down, you know you have what it takes to be in control. So, use it. When wanting to eat, use your hungry scale. On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry are you? Is it mealtime? Are you actually hungry? Is your body actually thirsty? Use the determination and restraint powers you have from within and resist eating when you’re not and overindulgences.
  1. Diet
    You are what you eat. Maintain a healthy balanced diet with the proper food intake quantities and calorie count and avoid trigger foods, sugar, refined fructose, grains, and processed food. It may help to keep a food journal since recording your food intakes will make you more conscious and personal feeling of accountable. If you’re hungry in between meals, find a health 150-calorie snack to hold you over.
  1. Exercise
    With the onset of fall and winter comes the nature desire to want to stay in and hibernate. But don’t! Continuing your workouts is a must. The inclement weather and shorter days are all the more reason to keep exercising. Maintain regular strength training to fight off muscle loss and boost metabolism plus cardio for the calorie burn. If extra incentive is needed, add a new class or sport, such as aerobics and kickboxing or skiing and ice skating for a new fitness surge.
  1. Activities
    Less ideal weather should not equate to less activities. When at home, don’t get too comfortable on your couch. The last thing you want to do is fall into a rut of watching TV as your main activity with a big bowl of munchies in your lap. Instead, get moving and get involved. Stay active and keep busy to prevent snacking to sooth your boredom and winter blues.
  1. Parties
    Never EVER go to a party hungry or once you arrive you will head straight to the table of food and gorge on all the bite-size snacks with sneaky mounting calories. Instead, and before you feel guilty for overindulging, chow down on high-fiber fruits and vegetables to curb your appetite beforehand. Once you’re at the party, select from the healthiest selections, stop when your stomach feels full and put physical distance between yourself and the food.
  1. Alcohol
    It is the time for holiday cheer. But unfortunately, alcohol is just loaded with high calories, especially mixed cocktails. Without realizing it, you can easily drink as many calories that you consume in one meal, and perhaps more. Instead, it’s best to avoid alcohol and it’s empty calories all together. Or limit your drinks and sip a glass of water in between to help dilute calories.
  1. Sleep
    Get on a regular sleep pattern and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Not enough shuteye causes an imbalance with of the ghrelin and leptin hormones, which normally work in harmony in maintaining weight. Consistent less sleep causes an imbalance. Also, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and avoid eating 3 to 4 hours before bed for a solid good night’s rest.
  1. Friends
    Watching what NOT to eat can be hard when temptations are almost everywhere you turn. So, surround yourself with family and friends who encourage your goal of not gaining. The emotional and mental support from a friend or family member who is cheering you on just might be the added incentive you need to make it through the holiday season.
  1. Damage Control
    Overate? Not enough exercise or sleep? Don’t beat yourself over the slip and don’t continue on the path of construction. Just make up for it right away by cutting calories from you day, adding extra exercise, and getting to bed earlier for a couple nights.

Keep a commitment to yourself to nourish your body with only the healthiest foods available and without the unnecessary and unhealthy overindulgences. The more you succeed, the easier it will become. You have one body so keep this in front of mind so true and good to yourself!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Preventing the Winter Blues


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week109With the clocks turned back last weekend and the days getting shorter and shorter with each passing day – not to mention the first snow has already fallen before the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday – it’s unfortunately that time of year when many people fall victim to the winter blues.
Like clockwork every year, many experience this mood disorder starting around the end of October, or beginning of November, and lasting through the start of spring. Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this condition of the winter blues can include mild depression, low energy, lack of motivation, increased sleep, social withdraw and a tendency to overeat.
Yikes! Not a fun set of symptoms and not a way to live year in and year out.  Fortunately, there are preventive steps one can take to stop the winter blues and not fall victim to the Snow Miser. But it will need a conscious effort throughout these months to keep the winter blues at bay.
First, lets take a quick look at SAD and then let’s see what can be down to fight and prevent it from ruining your winter and waistline.
With SAD, the lack of sunlight can cause your brain to work overtime producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body clock and sleep patterns and a hormone that has been linked to depression. So no, the winter blues is not in your mind; it’s a reality. In fact, approximately a half million of the U.S. population suffers from winter SAD! Three-quarters of the sufferers are women and onset is typically early adulthood. For me, it started in my 20’s.
Ok, how to fight it. I’ve broken it down to easy areas that one can adjust your daily life to conquer their blues.
You have to have a positive state of mind that you will not let the lack of sun effect your mood this year or next or ever! Make a promise to yourself, that this winter, you take the necessary preventive steps to combat this and not succumb. The mind is a powerful thing and can empower you to accomplish anything you set your mind to achieving.
The lack of sun is the main culprit here. Sunlight provides Vitamin D and releases the necessary neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood in a positive manner. Hence, seeing the sun and feeling it’s rays every day is just as important as someone who gets seasick who needs to see the horizon when sailing at sea. So make an effort to get outside every single day – even if it’s bitter cold – and connect with the sun. Soak up that sunlight. Push back your window drapes to let the sun shine into your home and sit near a window when at the office. Also, start your day with a morning walk or run outside and take stroll outside during your lunchtime. You can also try using full spectrum light bulbs at home, which mimic natural light, and invest in a 10,000 lux light box for added light therapy.
Location, location, location! Yes, this definitely makes all the difference in the world for SAD suffers. The farther north from the equator you reside, the greater the risk you are to experiencing some degree of winter depression as SAD is more common with those living in cloudy regions or at high latitudes. Only about 1% of Florida residents have some winter-specific discomfort or depression compared to 10% or more with those living in Pennsylvania and north. So if you can live closer to the equator, than do so. If you can’t, just be ready every season with your fighting attitude and take the necessary steps to combat.
What you eat makes all the difference in the world, especially in the wintertime when the blues can set in and cause weight gain. By all means, try to limit your alcoholic consumption – which can bring you down – and avoid processed and refined foods. While they may feel comforting to a person feeling down, they actually can affect your mood swing and zap your energy levels. So be certain to eat as healthy as you and stay hydrated. Also, keep a food journal, if only for this time of year. “Reporting” should make you more conscious of what you are putting between your lips and help you to stay on track of not overeating.
If you ever need a time to get out and exercise, wintertime is the time! For a minimum of 30 minutes a day every day. Yes, it’s cold outside and the last thing you might want to do is exercise, but you simply must. Exercising will release that much-needed endorphin high, lower your stress, anxiety and depression, and burn calories. You will also gain more energy for your day and a more positive attitude.
Even though bears love to hibernate in the winter, there is no real biological need for people to get extra sleep during the winter despite feeling sleepier and having less energy. Resist the urge to sleep more. Your body clock is triggered by light and dark so make to make a conscious effort to get your sleeping habits into a regular sleep cycle. Go to bed at approximately the same hour every night and wake up the same time the following morning with a solid 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep.
Final recommendation is to stay connected with family and friends. Remaining active and social interaction is very important, especially at this time of year. So no matter how cold it is outside and how early the sky gets dark, make plans to get out of your home and stay involved with your inner social circles and regular activities. Perhaps now is the time to take up a new hobby or join a new activity group. Snowed in? Make a simple phone call, chat through Skype, get connected with social media, and don’t forget to a walk in the fresh snow with our next-door neighbor. Remember, never underestimate the power of friendships and fun activities!
Follow the above measures every day and your winter blues should be greatly diminished. Note I said “every day” as since this is a seasonal disorder, you will need to follow the above remedies every day until springtime. Skip a day or two and you’ll begin to feel yourself plummet back into the blues. So stay ahead and above. You can do this. You’ve got this!
Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

My Favorite Paleo Recipes – Part 6: Desserts


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week109When I was little, I loved walking into our house and smelling scrumptious desserts baking in the kitchen. Chocolate Wacky Cake was one of my mom’s specialties, so was her Apple Cake! But those yummy desserts call for white flour, white sugar and other no-so-healthy ingredients. So while I have yet to replicate and perfect Mom’s recipes with healthier ingredients, I have discover other yummy desserts that I have made for my family and friends. And they include some of our favorite foods – chocolate, peanut butter, apples, bananas and ice cream – but of course not mixed together. Enjoy!

Baked Apples
Total comfort dish! Cut and core 4 large golden delicious apples and place in a crockpot. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Toss with spoon so all apple pieces get the cinnamon and nutmeg. Turn crockpot on to high. In a blender add chopped 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup pecan halves, mix so they are finely chopped. Add nut mix to bowl and add 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1/4 cup almond flour, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and mix with fork. Spoon topping evenly on the top of the apples in the crockpot, cover and let sit on high for 2 hours. After 2 hours remove cover from crockpot and turn crockpot to low and let bake uncovered for 30 more minuets. Enjoy!

Banana Ice Cream
This is a must make! Peel 2 medium bananas and cut into medallions. Freeze until it hardens, about an hour or two. Remove and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. Add 3 tablespoons almond butter and teaspoons honey and blend OR add 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons coconut milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Both combos are delish or toss in fresh berries. You can also just eat just plain. Transfer to freezable container and freeze for a few more hours. Then serve and indulge!

Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Now you can indulge without the guilt. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving flaps overhanging the ends. In a food processor or Blendtec, pulse together 1 cup fine almond flour, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and pulse until it is the texture of coarse sand. Add in 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1/4 cup honey, and 9 Medjool dates (pits removed, soaked 1 hour and drained) and pulse until combined. It won’t be very smooth yet. Add 3 large omega-3 eggs and 1/2 cup softened or melted coconut oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Smooth into corners and flatten the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking occasionally after the 20 minutes to see if the center has set (it shouldn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pan). Once the center is set, remove from oven and let cool in pan, on a wire rack, for 2 hours before cutting. Eat as is or frost with peanut butter frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting
Beat 3/4 cup palm shortening and 3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter (no sugar added) on high speed until creamy and smooth. Add 1/3 cup raw honey, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Beat on medium speed for about 45 seconds to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue beating on high speed until the frosting is thick and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. You can use right away or place in the refrigerator for about an hour to let it firm up. Frost brownies and serve.

Pumpkin Tarts
Love, love, love pumpkin. Hence, this is a favorite of mine! Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 24 cup mini muffin pan with ghee (or butter if you eat dairy). Combine 2 cups fine ground almond flour, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine the wet crust ingredients. Add 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, 5 tablespoons raw honey and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined and you have a smooth dough ball. Using a small cookie scoop, drop a ball of dough in each mini muffin cup. Press down with a tart tamper, dipping the tamper in almond flour after every 2nd or 3rd tart to keep it from sticking. Bake the tarts in the pre-heated oven for exactly 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. The tarts will have puffed up quite a bit. Poke a hole in the bottom of each tart with a toothpick to release the steam. Go back and press each tart back down with the tart tamper. Let cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Do not remove the tarts from the pan. While the tarts are cooling, combine 1/2 of a (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree (about 1 cup), 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned, full-fat), 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, pinch of sea salt, 1 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup, 1/2 tablespoon arrowroot powder, 1 omega-3 egg and 1 omega-3 egg yolk in a medium bowl. Using the same small cookie scoop, fill the cooled tart shells all the way with the pie filling. Cook for 10 minutes, the centers will still be slightly wiggly. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Use a small paring knife to separate the tarts from the muffin tin and serve with a dollop of whipped crust.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

My Favorite Paleo Recipes – Part 5: Dinner


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week108On Sunday mid-mornings when I was growing up, my brothers and I were not allowed to watch television after returning home from morning mass. Mom simply did not want us to get all caught up in a program or movie that could possible prevent us from sitting down to the table when she called us for dinner around noontime or shortly thereafter. As an Italian-American family, dinner was always served midday on Sundays and it was always pasta.

Needless to say, after growing up eating pasta twice a week (Mom also served it every Thursday), plus eating the same weekday dishes week in and week out (beef stew on Mondays, stuffed chicken on Tuesdays, homemade pizza on Fridays, etc.), all I wanted when I moved out was a variety to my dinners with little repetition and no white carb pasta ever again.

Now that I eat Paleo, I love exploring new recipes and finding ones that replicate the not so nutritious meals I once ate. Often my dinner guests will say to me, “This is Paleo?” I think they anticipate a plate of blandness with no pizazz. That is far from reality! Below are just a few of my favorite Paleo dinner dishes. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and friends.

Bruschetta Chicken with Zucchini Pasta
A twist on Chicken Parmesan! Make the bruschetta ahead by combining 3 chopped large heirloom or garden grown tomatoes, about 15 chopped basil leave strips and 2 to 3 peeled garlic cloves into a bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Gently mix together just to combine flavors.  Let set a couple hours for flavors to mix. For the chicken, mix together the juice and zest from one lemon, 1 garlic clove crushed, 3 tablespoons fresh basil finely chopped, 1 walnut oil, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Marinade 4 chicken breasts in the ingredients for 30 minutes to 24 hours then grill until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Lastly for the zucchini noodles, slice 4 medium to large zucchinis thinly. Melt 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a pan and sauté zucchini until warmed throughout but al dente, approximately 2 minutes. Season with garlic salt and drizzle with olive oil. To arrange, place a small amount of noodles on a plate, then top with the chicken and bruschetta.

Lamb with Spaghetti Squash
A healthy makeover to spaghetti with meat sauce! Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut 1 small or medium spaghetti squash in half length-wise with a large knife or cleaver. Place cut side down in a shallow baking dish. Add 3/4″ of water to the dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is soft to the touch. After 30 minutes of baking, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Add 1 pound ground lamb (elk or bison), 1/8 pound ground liver (optional), 1/2 diced yellow onion, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional), 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon oregano and cook 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Add 8 medium white button or cremini mushrooms sliced and continue to cook until lamb is fully done, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside. When squash is done cooking, remove it from the oven and cool until it can be comfortably handled. Turn the cut side up, and remove from the rind with a fork. This should be done cross-wise, so the strands of squash fall out like spaghetti. Spoon lamb mixture over spaghetti squash to serve. Top with either a Paleo Pesto or Mojo Verde sauce.

Mojo Verde Sauce
Place 1 bunch cilantro, 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 to 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt into a food processor. Blend until desired consistency is reached. Makes approximately 1 cup.

Paleo Pesto Sauce
Place 2 oz. fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup packed full), 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup raw cashews, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon coconut aminos, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional), dash cayenne pepper, and 1/2 cup olive oil into a food processor. Blend into a smooth paste. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl down to get an even texture several times during blending. Add more or less olive oil to reach desired consistency. Makes about 1-1/2 cups. Double or triple the recipe and freeze leftovers for future meals.

Steak with Pineapple Salsa
This is a neighborhood cookout favorite! Prepare grill or turn broiler on high. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon chipotle powder together in a small dish. Brush onto both sides of 1 pound beef flank steak. Grill approximately 5 minutes on one side and 3 more minutes on the other. Or broil 3 minutes on one side, and 2 minutes on the other. Remove to a plate. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Grill 4 slices fresh pineapple rings for 2 to 3 minutes per side (or broil for 45 seconds to 1 minute per side). Cut the pineapple into small chunks and place in a medium bowl. Add 1 diced large red bell pepper, 1/2 diced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and juice of 1 lime. Mix together. Slice the steak thinly and top with pineapple salsa.

Tilapia Wrapped in Bacon
This recipe is really easy and always a big hit with guests. Wrap each piece of tilapia with one strip of bacon. Place fish in a medium-hot skillet and sauté a few minutes on each side or until bacon is crispy. When cooked, place fish on a plate with a paper towel to soak up any bacon grease and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

My Favorite Paleo Recipes – Part 4: Appetizers


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week108Sweet, salty, crunchy, soft, gooey, hot or chilled, who doesn’t love tempting appetizers to pick at and on before your long awaited dinner is served? I am definitely guilty as being one of those dinnertime eaters who will indulge in so many appetizers that by the time the main course arrives I am way too full to eat any further (Doggie bag, please?). Why even order an entrée when you can make a meal just on eating delicious apps when you are sitting at the table famished, right? Or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who can eat both appetizers and a main course meal with plenty of room still for dessert! Whichever eater you may be, just make certain the apps you devour are healthy and nutritious like some of my favorite Paleo appetizer recipes below. Inbox me with your own favorites!

Avocado Deviled Eggs
This recipe can easily be doubled! Peel 3 omega-3 hard-boiled eggs. Slice long ways in half. Give a gentle squeeze into a small bowl to pop out the yolk. Use a fork to mash the yolk, 1/2 avocado and salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lime and add hot sauce to taste. Mix well and spoon mixture into a Ziploc baggie. Cut off the tip and piped it into the egg halves. Sprinkle with a little paprika for garnish. Chill until ready to serve.

Bacon Meatballs with Mango Honey Mustard Sauce
These are always a hit! Preheat your oven to 350° F. Place 6 slices of pork or turkey bacon (cut into 1 inch pieces) into a large skillet and cook over medium heat. Once bacon has rendered some fat in the pan, add 1/2 diced yellow onion. Mix together and poke at it randomly to be certain the bacon and onions don’t brown too much or burn. Once bacon is cook through, place bacon and onions on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up some excess fat and cool. Next place 1.5 pounds ground beef or turkey into a large bowl. Add cooled bacon and onions, along with 1 omega-3 egg, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to mix together thoroughly. Then roll into little bite size balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for around 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs. Enjoy!

Shrimp Cocktail
Great for dinner parties!Combine 6 ounces tomato paste, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup water, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice and salt to taste to create a Paleo ketchup. Add 1 tablespoon grated horseradish root. Taste and adjust seasonings to suit your taste. Chill until ready to serve with 30 to 40 pre-cooked deveined shrimp.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sausage and Spinach
This is a good amount of prep but worth it in the end. Preheat oven to 400° F with the rack in the center of the oven. PART 1: Place a foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack to preheat. Wipe the tops clean of 5 medium Portobello mushrooms with a damp cloth. Remove the stems then the gills with a spoon. With a sharp paring knife, cut a shallow “X” on the top of each mushroom. Brush avocado oil (or your favorite fat) all over the mushrooms and season the tops and bottoms with salt and pepper to taste. Place the mushrooms on the preheated baking sheet in the oven, gill side up, and baked for 10 minutes. Flip each mushroom and bake gill side down for 10 additional minutes. Remove tray from the oven and let the mushrooms cool to room temperature. PART 2: While the mushrooms are baking, make the stuffing. Heat a couple tablespoons of ghee (or your favorite fat) in a large skillet over medium heat and sautéed 1/2 small onion minced with salt and pepper until soft and translucent. In a medium bowl, add 1 pound raw pork or chicken sausage (removed from casing) plus the following seasonings: 1 teaspoon green peppercorns, 1 teaspoon dried chives, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon tarragon, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dill weed and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Mix in 2 large omega-3 egg lightly beaten, 8 ounces fresh spinach, 1 tablespoon coconut flour (optional), salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mushrooms onto another baking sheet lined with foil and tope with stuffing on each cap. Pressing stuffing down to make more compact. Baked at 350° F for 45 minutes. Top with your favorite marinara sauce and serve immediately.

Zucchini Roll Ups
This recipe is super delish! Heat grill. Remove ends and slice 2 zucchinis into 1/4 inch thick strips lengthwise with a knife or mandoline. Place zucchini in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Mix using your hands, coating the zucchini. Place 4 Italian sausages on the grill along with zucchini. While the zucchini and sausages are cooking, make the pesto. Add 1/2 cup walnuts, 1 garlic clove and1 cup fresh basil to a food processor. Add 1/3 cup olive oil while the food processor is running. Next add juice of 1 lemon and salt and pepper to taste. After zucchini has cooked 4 to 5 minutes and has begun to show grill marks, flip over. Once zucchini and sausage are completely cooked through, remove and cool. After cooling, use a spoon to spread the pesto down the center of the zucchini strip and cut off an inch or so piece of sausage. Place the sausage in the middle of the zucchini so the cut sides are facing toward the outer ridges of the zucchini. Wrap the zucchini around the sausage and use a toothpick to hold it in place. Makes 11-12 rolls.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

My Favorite Paleo Recipes – Part 3: Lunch


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week107I must admit, I’m a pushover for salads. They truly are one of my favorite meals, especially when it’s made with fresh spinach and lots of healthy goodies tossed in – such as chicken, shrimp, eggs, nuts, tomatoes, citrus and other endless options. So having a salad when eating Paleo is actually pretty easy for me. But there is more to lunch choices than just salads, right? Check out the Paleo recipe suggestions below that perfect for lunch. I’ve included just one salad must-have and other options – all delish!

Almond Flax Crust Pizza
Heat oven to 425° F. Combine flaxseed 1-1/4 cups flaxseed meal, 1 cup almond flour/meal, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoon natural baking powder and 1 teaspoon Italian mixed dried herbs together until lump-free. Beat together 3 omega-3 eggs, 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 cup water until smooth. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture. Blend well until smooth. Press into desired shape. Place on a pre-greased or non-stick pizza pan or sit on a silicon baking mat. Bake for 15 minutes in the center of the oven until cooked. Add favorite toppings of choice – such as grilled chicken, green peppers, red onions and marina sauce – and then return to the oven to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Yum!

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Perfect for a chilly day! In a large pot, sauté 1 diced onion, 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms and 1 diced celery stalk in 1 tablespoon of organic butter or coconut oil for 5 minutes until translucent and tender. Add 6 to 8 cups of homemade chicken stock or 2 quart of organic chicken broth and 15 to 20 chopped asparagus spears, 2 cups of chopped chicken. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach, 1 can of coconut milk and turn heat up to return to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Grilled Chicken Salad Wraps
This recipe is super easy! Mix 1/2 cup chopped grilled chicken, 3 tablespoon chopped Fuji apples, 2 tablespoon chopped red grapes, 2 teaspoon honey, and 2 tablespoon almond butter together in a bowl. Place filling onto individual Romaine leaves and wrap around close. That’s it!

Spinach and Salmon Salad with Arugula Pesto
In a food processor, blend 2 cups packed fresh arugula, 1 clove garlic and 1/4 cup walnuts until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the 1/2 cup olive oil, processing until well blended. Transfer pesto to bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste. A quick side note, the pesto can be made a couple days in advance, just cover and refrigerate! For the salad, combine 3 cups spinach, 2 cups micro greens, 1 cup shredded cabbage, 1 carrot shredded. 1 cup chopped steamed green beans, and 1/2 cup pepitas in a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of pesto and toss greens until well combined. Place in refrigerator or set aside while you prepare fish. Finally, for the salmon, salt and pepper both sides of 2 freshwater salmon filets and lay on baking sheet. Top each filet with 1 tablespoon of arugula pesto and spread over the top. Cook the fish under a broiler for approximately 5 minutes, depending on how thick filet is, or until fish is flaking and opaque. Top salad with fish.

Turkey Sliders
In a large bowl, combine the 8 to 10 ounce ground lean turkey meat, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano and 2 minced garlic cloves, and mix with your hands until fully combined. Form into two patties and set aside. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Spray 4 thick slices of zucchini (or eggplant, summer squash, etc.) on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grill zucchini 2 to 3 minutes each side until there are nice grill marks and the zucchini still holds its shape. Add the turkey burgers to the grill, cooking 3 to 5 minutes per side, until cooked. Serve between zucchini slices and add your preferred toppings (sliced tomato, avocado, etc.). Serves 2. Enjoy!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.