Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reddi Wip, the Perfect Post Workout Food

Monday, I was innocently watching the Bachelorette after eating the world’s greatest kale salad (part of our dream July 4th menu). I was in a pretty good mood until a commercial came on. Two women come in from a tough workout, they are exhausted. One of them goes to the fridge and pulls out Reddi Whip (naturally, who wouldn’t think workout then whipped “cream”). Her friend asks, “what are you going to do throw away the past hour?” With that nasty squirt sound, the fridge friend says, “of course not, it’s only 15 calories” and ruins a bowl of berries with a plop of canned crap.

Is this seriously an angle they are trying to take? I get that unhealthy products exist. I even can sort of grasp the fun factor with the desserts mentioned on the RW site such as “Berry Patriotic Pie” etc. 
This, gross as it is, makes more sense than RW = healthy
There are even some other undertones (not really sure why one friend has to lie down on the floor hmn) in the workout commercial that seem plausible than squirting some weirdly spelled faux cream at any time especially after a great workout. What’s even crueler is what this TV spot preys on. It’s very easy to fall into the “I deserve”  a treat post workout mindset. RW’s advertising company is saying now you can have your cake and eat it too.

And what exactly would you be eating for “only 15 calories?” This is where things get really funny. On the Reddi site they have a comparison of Reddi Wip to its competitor Cool Whip. Get this, RW has No Hydrogenated Fats! And, the first ingredient is “real cream”! Do they think that with cream as a first ingredient we will not notice “propellant” a few ingredients away? Or the sweetener party that will only inflame your body after that workout? This "I'm better than you marketing" drives me nuts. It's not about what's absent from a product but what worth (or worthlessness) the product contains. Does "I didn't murder that person, I only seriously harmed them" sound insane? Well this is food insanity.

When I told Carolyn about this post she asked, “do people still use Reddi Wip?” And maybe this is a desperate attempt by an ad agency to reposition a brand. I just don’t get it, Do marketers think people are this stupid? It’s like the Oscar Meyer spot that touts that their dogs are gluten free (and made from dog meat). Or wait, are there people that watch and say, wow that red can may hold the answer to my post snack workout snack question? And please, I know how you think and do not judge bachelorette viewers.
Have you seen this commercial? Do you think it’s just advertisers being advertisers or is this super sneaky? Any other commercials that bug you? Who should Desiree pick?

Monday, June 24, 2013

When the kids are away the parents will play

Friday, my boys left for 7 weeks. This is their 3rd year and while I wasn’t especially emotional, my babysitter was a mess. So as soon as the bus pulled away, I had to make sure she was OK. There we were on the steps of the Museum of Natural History, I told her we’d have fun cooking and organizing, I told her she’d have more time for herself but 10 and a half years with these boys, she really loves them.

I love them too, of course, but I’d be lying if there weren’t some things I want to complete in the next 7 weeks. While I look forward to the little things reading the paper, reading more in general and walking home from work unrushed, I also have a “Summer List”, would you expect anything less of me?
Some of it is indulgent, I want to get back to acupuncture, run more and try a few new workouts (Jumplife anyone?). I also use the time with boys away to stay on top of doctors/dental visits. Then there’s the fun, some travel, some recipe testing and plans with friends (many who are child free as well).  We’ll send out our Foodtrainers Fourth of July Party Monthly Morsels Newsletter tomorrow but here’s a sneak peak. Chef Jenna Helwig of Rosaberry (@JennaRosaberry on Twitter) developed this beet dip recipe for us. It will vary in color depending on the number of beets added. You can serve it with crudité (snap peas, blanched asparagus and cucumbers work nicely) or Mary’s Gone crackers would work well too.

Beet Yogurt Dip
This dip keeps well in the fridge overnight, although the garlic flavor does get more pronounced, a treat for those of us that love garlic.

½ cup walnuts
1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
2-3 small to medium-sized cooked beets, roughly chopped (you can use love beets or any pre-cooked beets in the produce aisle, I used 1 pack original Love Beets)
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons dill
freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Place the walnuts in a food processor (or coffee grinder) and pulse to chop finely.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to food processor (or add all ingredients to vitamix with stick attachment)  and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning adding more salt and/or pepper if necessary.
What are your summer plans, any books you plan on reading, trips you'll be going on? Or maybe there are recipes or workouts you want to try? 
Pizza to the People, mobile pizza unit: hemp seeds?

A few weekend photos, Saturday we checked out the Wanderlust Festival in VT:

I didn't do the yoga but clearly lots of other people did. 
Top of Stratton Mt, we didn't hike up but rode up to enjoy the view. 
Sat night one of our favorite VT restaurants
with skip at the guitar

Stopped at Swoon in Hudson NY oysters and kale salad,  great find and a really pretty town.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I’ll say thank you with my favorite new product

Thank you. On Monday, I floated it out there that I needed help deciding on the cover for my book The Little Book of Thin (I received a few emails that I had not mentioned the book enough, just wait). Your comments came in via the blog and Facebook and I was overwhelmed by the detail of your descriptions. The cover decision has been made and I think you’ll like it. As a display of my gratitude, I thought had to say thank you with food and tell you about my favorite new product Chia Pods from the Chia Co.

When I asked you to judge my book by its cover, I confessed to being a sucker for packaging…on anything. Today’s product totally measures up. At first glance the pods are adorable but there’s more to them than cuteness. The containers are also made with 30% recycled content and they’ve included a travel spoon. When our samples arrived at the office, Carolyn snapped the photo above with “A+ for creativity” as the caption, agreed. But as much as I love good design and pretty packages, is there anything worse that something subpar wrapped up beautifully?

Often we look at products and there’s a but, this is great but too much sugar or this is great but not gluten free or it’s a pity this isn’t single serving. There’s no but here. These pods are gluten free, non-GMO, made with a few quality ingredients and no added sugar, vegan, kosher and…incredibly tasty. There are no nasty secrets lurking in the pod.

In case you and chia, the main ingredient in the pods, haven’t spent a lot of time together let me explain why that should change. Chia is a seed that looks similar to a sesame seed. Chia seeds contain good fats (both omega 3 and omega 6); it’s high in fiber or, as Chia Co. says “aids regularity” and it’s great for athletes both for an energy boost and joint health. When chia is digested it absorbs 16 times its weight in water, this makes chia a natural appetite suppressant.

The Chia Pods combine chia, coconut milk and fruit- that’s it. Perhaps you’re familiar with chia pudding? This is ready-to-eat chia pudding made by the largest producers of premium quality chia. They're made  in four flavors, banana, mango, vanilla bean cinnamon and blueberry. It’s a new breakfast option or a cold and creamy (but creamless) snack or, if you’re desserty, it’s that too. I’m excited because it’s not just a new product; it’s really a whole new concept. I know you have high standards and I promise these pods will measure up. Let’s hope my book does too.
Have you seen these at Whole Foods Market? Do you “chia”? What do you do with it?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Of course we judge a book (and others according to Laurie Cole) by its cover.

photo via Us Weekly
I’m still editing this book though I can see a finish line in sight. We’ve been tweaking different version of the front (and back) cover and I’m fairly certain “let’s put this to bed” from my publisher means they’re annoyed with my desire to get things just right. Too bad, to me the details matter. I, for one, judge a book by its cover, a wine bottle by its label and pretty much anything else based on its design/looks. Sure, that may make me shallow but I prefer to say I’m aesthetically conscious.

As I thought about this, I was reminded of a quote from Laurie Cole a, or to many, “the” SoulCycle instructor.  I’ve never taken her class but I've seen photos and I’m judging (you can too above)- she’s gorgeous. To The New York Times, in a piece about eating habits, she said
Bottom line, I eat for fuel. I have to be in front of people in really skimpy outfits every single day."
For the record, she also mentioned her breakfast of 1-2 hard-boiled eggs. Although food to me is so much more than fuel, what Laurie said stayed with me. Thank god, I don’t have to go to work in skimpy outfits (and don’t think a nutritionist should ahem) but how I look for what I do matters. I joke that if I gain 10 pounds I’m out of business. While that may not be 100% true, it’s pretty true. And I get it because whether we’re talking books or bods, we all judge.

And I'm asking you to judge me. Here are two cover options with different fonts:

I will not give you any more information (don’t want to bias you) but please tell me, which option to do prefer? Foodtrainers will most likely be printed in white and print will be more clear in the actual book than on my screen but is there one you like better? If anybody knows me and my brand it’s those of you who humor me with a few minutes a week of reading time. I think of you as I’m writing and fighting for each silly detail.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Foodtrainers Favorite NYC places…and my anniversary

Fifteen years ago today it was raining. Perhaps you remember “El Niño”?  My brother in law carried me across the lawn in a garbage bag. Don’t freak out, he was making sure my wedding gown didn’t get dirty (and it didn’t) going from the house where we got ready in to the car. That's how awful it was out. On any other day, this self-confessed control freak would’ve been inconsolable but I wasn’t. The weather wasn’t ideal but getting married was.

Marc and I didn’t rush into marriage and had time to iron out important details. In one conversation he asked “how long do you think you’ll want to stay in the city before moving out?” I couldn’t fathom that this person I had so much in common with would ask such a thing. I said “we’re not leaving the city” and I’m pretty sure he thought I’d change my mind but he is still golf-obsessed and what can I say?
 I love NY.

A reader asked for ideas for an upcoming NYC business trip. Here are my suggestions:
Top 10 restaurants for various reasons:
ABC Kitchen- I insist on sharing whenever I'm at ABC, there are too many good things to try. My favorites are the Brussels sprouts in the winter and the  Roasted Carrot Salad. Marc's brother's girlfriend took the photos hanging in the dining room (you may recognize them from the Footrainers office)
Rouge Tomate I am not on the Upper East Side often but will make a trip for RT. If the Sorrel Soup is on the menu, it's delicious. Their interesting juices and salads with curry vinaigrette are other highlights.
Green Square Tavern- this farm to table gem is owned by our friends Gigi and John Marsh. All ingredients well sourced and prepared with love and care. Try the Kale, Shrimp and Rhubard salad.
Mermaid Inn - from the decor to the menu, everything here is right. There are 2 locations, we love the UWS restaurant. In season, the crabs are a fun dinner (a little messy) but the Calamari with Feta appetizer has my heart.
Pure Food and Wine - I've mentioned before that I'm not a sweet person, right? Well I lied. Aside the the spectacular outdoor seating and a menu that makes me contemplate being a raw, vegan I dream about the chocolate mint sundae, dream.
Gran Electrica - you may recall my Halloween cocktail was the Gran Electrica grapefruit, jalapeno margarita. While the cocktails and food are fantastic, sitting outside with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge is spectacular too.
Balthazar- always great for brunch or dinner. The Spring St Soho location is perfect and the raw bar selections are top notch. 
Tipsy Parson - if it's possible the TP menu is Southern and healthy-ish. The decor is a lot of fun (weirdly like the bathrooms too). Favorites are the Dandelion Salad but you also may want to try the spoon bread (corn, mushrooms, artichokes-insane).
Green Table in Chelsea Market always makes me happy, especially for lunch or brunch. My current order is the egg/asparagus bake thing. Go for brunch and walk the High Line afterward to work it off.
Hu Kitchen- is a gluten free paradise, try the organic vanilla chia pudding with berries and coconut crème or  quinoa veg. egg bowl . To give you an idea of taking ingredients seriously here are the milks offered with coffee:
Organic dairy and non-dairy milks available: organic coconut milk, housemade almond milk, organic grass-fed skim and whole milk. Nice.

There are also so many juice places depending on neighborhood, Organic Avenue and Juice Press are my favorites.

The sights
Reservoir- my #1 NYC spot, I find it instantly calming. Depending on where you exit you can hit 2 of my favorite museums Natural History or the Guggenheim.
I love Lincoln Center especially in the summer.
Grand Central Station-even if you're not taking a train is a fantastic building, there's a market and of course the  Oyster Bar.
Ellis Island –I went with my son's class on a field trip last year. It was my first time and it was very moving. I take NYC for granted but you can't when you go here.
Union Square Greenmarket- M, W, F, Sat. Aside from the incredible variety of offerings, you just may run into some of the chefs from the restaurants above.

Tonight we’re heading to Blue Hill,  I’ve always wanted to go, and as of now the forecast calls for rain…of course.
What are your favorite NYC places? Or places you've always wanted to go? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

When “don’t get too hungry” backfires

Open any fitness magazine and you’re likely to read, “eat small, frequent meals” and “don’t let yourself get too hungry”. These aren’t the worst pieces of dietary advice.   “Everything in moderation” probably holds that title. However, eating frequency and grazing has been taken to an extreme. This has resulted in most of us having no clue when we’re hungry because we’re never really anywhere close.

I have clients admitting “I’m scared of being hungry” or “my friends joke I never miss a meal.” I’m certainly not advocating stomach growling (there was actually a Christian weight loss program I reviewed a few years ago with some sort of a “love the growl” slogan, I swear) or starvation. And yet we need to be in touch with what our bodies need and not simply eating and “feeding” preventively.

First, regularly assess your hunger. A 1-10 scale works nicely. If 1 is very little hunger/satiated and 10 is feeling faint/not good you want to eat at a 7 or 8. A rule I use with non-vegetarian clients is the “Chicken Test”. If I ask you if you want chocolate or even cheese and crackers, you may say yes. However, these treat foods are appealing regardless of hunger. If I ask you if you want a piece of grilled chicken, you will only accept when you are hungry.

Another exercise is to pick a day and let your appetite determine when you are ready to eat. If you’re worried about your work hours or schedule, simply have your meals prepared (boiled eggs, a salad and nuts aren’t difficult to transport) ahead of time. In the morning, don’t eat at 6am on autopilot if you aren’t hungry. Wait a bit…but not too long, I’d say up to 2 hours. Try to use the 1-10 hunger meter throughout the day.

There are days I’m upper super early and it’s 11am and I decide it’s lunchtime.
Or, if breakfast is a substantial smoothie, it may be 2pm before that mid day meal comes. Don’t push intervals between meals or snacks more than 4 hours at first but learn that your appetite isn’t fixed. And now tell me the diet advice that bugs you the most or if you’re scared of getting too hungry.
“If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist.” Geneen Roth

And, the winner of our Smoothie Giveaway/ Socal Detox Powder is Randi

Thursday, June 6, 2013

You Really Need One of These

This isn't my Fitbit (mine is black) or my total today

I am lazy. I spin, I run, I do barre classes where teachers yell “abs in” but then I sit. I sit in taxis, I sit at my desk, I sit when I’m editing and I sit when I’m in sessions with clients. I sit too much. How do I know this? Well my Fitbit told me so.

I’m not generally a numbers person. I think calorie counting is a waste of time and both Marc and my accountant know I will make every excuse to avoid a meeting that involves budgets, spreadsheets or anything in that realm. So it’s a little surprising that my latest fixation involves numbers and I can’t get enough of it. I should warn you ahead of time, I've turned into a Fitbit evangelist.

What was that? You haven’t heard of a Fitbit? Fitbit is part of the new generation of pedometers. It tracks the number of steps you take in a day, the distance you cover and your calories burned. It then wirelessly syncs to your computer. You’re emailed reports, graphs and most importantly encouragement. 

All of a sudden, I find myself thrilled when I forget an item at the store and have to make a return trip. I’m now the first one to pop up and answer the doorbell and I’ll clean the kitchen or do loads of laundry if it’s nighttime and my numbers are pathetic. One evening, I contemplated taking the kids out for ice cream and it wasn’t because the weather was nice, nope. I was going to take my kids to get a sugary scoop so that I could get some steps…sounds like an addict’s behavior if you ask me.

I quickly learned that I have two types of days. On some days I have 7,000 or more of my 10,000 “goal” daily steps before midday. I’ll fly past 10,000 those days. But when I’m writing or the weather is lousy or when have to spend a lot of time in a car hitting 5,000 can be a challenge. My average daily total may be above 10,000 but it wouldn’t be if I weren’t conscious of this. 

I should mention that the placement of the Fitbit zip gets a little tricky for ladies. It’s made to go on your waistband which works nicely if you’re in pants, workout pants or pajamas (yep, put it on my pajamas and walking to brush my teeth gets me 40-ish steps). However, with the temperature rising there are maxi dresses and mini dresses. You can clip it on your bra but there are times that doesn’t work (ok there are times where a bra doesn’t work) and then I have no choice but to clip it on the side of my dress, it looks like a blackberry under my arm but what other choice do I have?

No, there’s no shot I’ll forego the fitbit for fashion. One day I found myself at a workout class and all of a sudden I realized Fitbit was at home. I was devastated. A Facebook friend said it well when posting on this topic “Lost my fitbit. I feel so… unquantified". However, another friend with a Fitbit told me she didn’t feel it changed her behavior. Whaaaatt? Sure changed mine.

There are other “fish” in the tracking sea. My children received Nike’s Fuelband as presents and we all compete with our step totals (totally unfair they have PE and recess). I just hope they can handle spreadsheets and budgets better than I can.
Do you have a Fitbit or other tracking device? Are you as crazy with it as I am (please say yes)? 
How active would you say you are in the course of your day? Could you be more active?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Workout Lingo

photo from Birchbox, commentary my own

My earliest exercise memories involve the fitness room at my grandmother’s apartment in Florida. I remember as kids playing (unattended of course) on the treadmill, stationary bike and that vibrating belt thingy (always our favorite). I joined a gym for the first time in high school. This gateway membership paved the way for step classes, powerstrike, personal training sessions, marathons and can I get a shout out for the completely underrated Reebok slide?

With every type of workout, there’s corresponding lingo. Some of it is straight forward, other times mean or simply words you would never understand if you’re among the exercise averse.

Anatomical Lingo
Abs in- maybe it’s a soft spot but if an instructor tells says “tighten your core” or “abs in” and looks in my direction, it’s enough to ruin my day. After my first son, a trainer said this to me and poked my midsection. Her “abs in” request was met with “this is in” barked in return.

Soften your knees-one of those phrases that’s counterintuitive, after all knees are hard if nothing else. Soften your knees really means don’t lock your knees (again vague) or bend your knees slightly.

Knit your ribs- when I started barre classes this one escaped me. The ballerina-ish teachers have a field day with me when it comes to posture. My shoulders are never relaxed enough and my pelvis is constantly in the wrong place. It’s a wonder I have 2 children. It’s been years but to knit ones ribs you do the opposite of sticking your ribs out; when you contract your lower stomach “knitting” is easier.

Inspirational Lingo
Set Your Intention as Carla our nutrition nerd extraordinaire said, “when you're 40 minutes in to spin class, everything seems really profound. Then you think about it later and you're like, wait, actually all they said was you can do it".

Takes change to see change- I am a sucker for some profundity when I am oxygen deprived, I like motivational clichés.

Workout Specific
Fartleks when I initially heard a running coach use this term for speed work I thought she said fart leg and logically assumed it meant running so fast you…turns out it’s a Swedish term for a certain type of an interval run.

Abbreviations are especially annoying when you’re out of the loop. In running there’s PR/PB, personal relations, peanut butter? No personal record, personal best which refers to the shortest amount of time you have run a certain distance in under race conditions. I liked a friend’s abbreviation after a race better “PW” (personal worst).

Yoga- don’t get me started on Sanskrit pretentiousness asana, basana whatever. Or the bird poses crow, pigeon and eagle not to mention the “dogs” and warrior #’s. The first 6 months I did yoga, my neck was a mess as I contorted to see what the heck all of this meant. Once I felt I was in the know I’ll admit there’s a little smugness that went along with it.

Carolyn added, “I do love being reminded to inhale to lengthen or exhale to relax 
but inhale love, exhale fear, seriously?”

We get so accustom to our workouts that we forget how silly some of the fitness lingo is. Next time you’re in a class or at the gym, listen like a newbie and see if you catch anything giggle-worthy.
What types of workouts do you do? Any phrases that either motivate you or bug you? Are you knitting your ribs right now?