Time to Exercise

You don’t need an expert to tell you that secret to feeling great is a strong 1-2 punch of eating right and exercise. We’ve got you covered when it comes to food, but when we are looking for a little inspiration in the workout department, we turn to our good friend and partner Dani Tsukerman, Founder of Very Personal Training.

If you have been thinking about training or nutrition consultation recently, here is your motivation to start now: tABLE health and Very Personal training have teamed up to offer a special 50% off deal on Yelp. Once you’ve snagged your deal, you can book sessions with Very Personal Training AND with tABLE health right on VPT’s site! There are a limited number available, so get yours before they are gone.

In celebration of this amazing deal, this edition of our blog is about prioritizing fitness and is guest authored by Dani. Check it out:

Time to Exercise
I know what it is to be busy.  With the New Year only a month in, you’re probably still going strong on your New Year’s resolution to get fit or lose weight. The initial rush of finally succeeding at a goal you’ve been wanting to achieve for so long keeps you at the gym day after day, chugging away like a donkey plodding through the desert drooling over a dangling carrot. It’s so close yet so far and all you have to do is work out. You’ve made resolutions before, but this time it’s different. You just know it is. You can do it. You can set your mind to it. You can work out 5 times a week for an hour at a time. All you have to do is keep it up and you’ll finally be able to say that you stuck with your New Year’s resolution and succeeded!

Until you realize you can’t (um, won’t). That upbeat attitude won’t last. And here’s why…

The number one excuse I hear from people about why they don’t exercise regularly is, “I don’t have time and can’t fit it in”.

That’s a load of garbage. You’ve got to lose your excuses. The only reason you’re not seeing the results you want is because you don’t take responsibility for your actions. I know it’s harsh and it may be hard to swallow that the only thing holding you back is you, but you have time, you just don’t have your priorities straight. I get it, you probably work 10 hour days minimum, which leaves little time to get chores done, and leaves you exhausted and feeling entitled to that manicure, happy hour, shopping, a movie, lazing on the couch, and dinner out with friends.

That’s the problem.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think you are entitled to those things and have earned it with all your hard work, but if you want to succeed you have to delay that immediate gratification of rewarding yourself until after you work out. And, I absolutely think that a healthy dose of loafing around is necessary and allowed, but you have to earn it.

Yes, we are all busier than busy and barely have a moment to ourselves, but still, if you want what you want then you have to do what needs to be done to get it. And that doesn’t mean just working out. You need to learn some time management.Here’s what I do and recommend you do too:

Take a look at your schedule for the upcoming week and pencil in the days and times you’re going to work out ahead of time. You have to think about working out like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. You wouldn’t skip those, so don’t skip a workout unless you’re sick or injured. And that excuse of not having any time? Throw that out the window. You don’t have to work out in a gym to consider it successful. There are so many fitness DVD’s on the market that you can get through Netflix, HULU, and cable OnDemand channels (channel 1023 in Brooklyn) that you don’t even have to put on clothes to do it (although I highly recommend at least a sports bra!). When my baby was 3 weeks old and I was given the go ahead to resume working out I did it in spurts between her cries (working out 10 minutes here and there 3 times a day is just as effective for your bottom [line] as it is doing it for 30 minutes total), in my living room, in my pajamas if I didn’t even have time to change. I let the vaccuming go undone, I let laundry pile up, and decided what I could let go of for a bit and just let it go. I couldn’t let actual work and some other important “must be done” things go, so I decided that my house doesn’t have to look immaculate all the time, that I don’t have to cook dinner every night, and that I can wake up an hour earlier if it’s the only way I can fit a workout in that day. The only reason this works though is because I’ve decided that working out is a part of life for me and MUST be done. It keeps me sane, makes me a better mother, improves my clients’ sessions, and makes me feel good. When I feel good everything else is good.

So, lose your excuses and keep to your word this year.To make it even easier and save you time, here are links to the essentials:
Resistance Bands
20 Pound Dumbbell Set
32 Pound Dumbbell Set
Chris Freytag’s work out DVD (I love this one!) >
Cardio Kickboxing DVD(For all levels. You can do just one 15 minute workout or select multiple workouts for a longer session.)
YogaWorks For Everybody: Slim Down DVD

Delightful Holiday Dips

The arrival of the winter holidays usually also means the arrival of lots and lots of guests. And since those guests are going to want to eat, we are giving you the gift of some tasty and innovative ideas for delicious dips that will keep your nearest-and-dearest healthy and happy. Not only is our Smoked Salmon Walnut Dip mouthwateringly tasty, it is an Omega-3 powerhouse. And serve up our Thai Peanut Dip with some chopped up veggies for a protein rich treat.

Thai Peanut Veggie Dip
Serves 1

3 tablespoons fat free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon red curry paste (or more if you want it more flavorful!)
¼ teaspoon fish sauce
¼ teaspoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon soy sauce
Mix all the ingredients together and dip your favorite veggies in! (Green beans, jicama, carrots and red pepper work really well)

Smoked Salmon Walnut Spread
Serves 5-6

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup reduced fat goat cheese
4 ounces smoked wild salmon
1 ¼ cup freshly roasted walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined.


Pantry Basics

My friends and family often laugh when they look at my pantry.  “There’s nothing to eat!” they inevitably exclaim.  Other than pretzels, cereal and some nuts, they’re right- I don’t generally keep a lot of ready-to-eat food around.  Even my fridge and freezer are packed with raw ingredients rather than bags and packages of snacks and meals.  This isn’t just because I love to cook.  Having a pantry stocked with raw ingredients and not pre-made foods can not only save money, but can also help you eat healthier by cutting out on preservatives and calories.  There are certain staples that most of us know to have by now:  brown rice, whole wheat pasta, olive oil, vinegars, natural peanut butter, and milk to name a few, but I’d like to give you a list of 7 key things every healthy pantry should have (even though there are many, many more).  All of these items are versatile and pack a huge amount of flavor and nutrition for a relatively small amount of calories.  I’ve included a quick recipe idea after each one and encourage you to stock up and get cooking!

1.  Canned beans are perfect for spreads, thickening soups, quick bean salads, topping to a green salad, or…

A delicious side dishSaute onions, garlic and white beans for 15 minutes and top with fresh chopped basil.  Just make sure to rinse your beans thoroughly to get rid of the excess sodium.

2.  Canned tomatoes can be used in soups, quick pasta sauces, a base for a sauce for meat or chicken, or…

Salsa…Puree 1 can diced tomatoes with diced red onion, fresh garlic, lime juice, hot pepper and cilantro.

3.  Dried fruits are a great addition to savory chicken and meat dishes, rice, fresh green salads, trail mixes, or featured in…

An easy yogurt topping…Cook 1 cup chopped dried fruit in 1 tablespoon white wine, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of honey.

4.  Low fat/fat free yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream, heavy cream or buttermilk for dips, dressings, marinades for chicken and meat, or can be used as…

A sandwich spread…Mix 1/2 cup yogurt with 2 tablespoons mixed herbs, 1 clove chopped garlic, salt and pepper

5.  Frozen spinach is a healthy addition to soups, sauteed vegetables, spreads, dips, and sandwiches or…

With some delicious pasta…Defrost and squeeze out spinach and saute with 1 bunch chopped scallions, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, and 3 cloves of sliced garlic.  When done add 1/4 cup cooking water from pasta, toss with pasta and add a light sprinkling of fresh parmesan cheese.

6.  Low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock is ideal for sauce, soup, rice, beans or…

Cooking down hearty spring greens…Saute 1 bunch greens with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 sliced sweet onion just until the greens begin to wilt, add the stock until it just covers the greens and cook partially covered until the greens are very soft and very delicious.

7. Vinegars add lots of flavor to food without any calories and are great in sauces, dressings and marinades.  Or try…

Balsamic caramelized onions…Thinly slice 2 sweet onions and saute with 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally and when nicely browned turn the temperature to high.  Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and let bubble until most of the moisture cooks off.  Use to top your favorite chicken or meat!

Healthy flavor combinations

You know that you’re doing a great job leading a healthier lifestyle, but its starting to get boring and bland, and the fried chicken is looking ever-more appealing.  Finding new ways to cook the same chicken, beef, veggies and grains can be exhausting and annoying, there is a simple an easy way to literally spice things up- think ethnic!

Below I’ve listed some classic flavor combinations for many major ethnic foods.  You can double, triple or halve these basic recipes (keep in mind that 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon and 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup) and use them on anything from baked chicken to sauteed vegetables, to roasted potatoes to rice pilaf.  If you don’t have some of these spices, they can easily be found at your grocery store.  I should also note that if you have cumin or paprika (or anything else, for that matter) that you haven’t used since the last Presidential election its time to get a new jar.   Just remember to add kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a bit of oil and enjoy!

Moroccan: 1 teaspoon cumin + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, coriander and turmeric

Indian: 1 tablespoon curry and cumin + 1 teaspoon turmeric, coriander, cardamom and ginger

Thai: 1/4 cup peanut butter + 2 tablespoons light coconut milk + 1 tablespoon soy sauce, fresh ginger, cilantro and chopped scallion + 1 teaspoon fish sauce

Italian: 1/4 cup fresh basil, 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped sun dried tomatoes and grated parmesan + 2 cloves garlic

Mexican: 2 teaspoons chili powder, cumin and lime juice + 1 teaspoon dried oregano + 2 cloves minced garlic

Middle Eastern: 1 teaspoon cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric and dried mint

Greek: 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, lemon juice + 1 teaspoon paprika + 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg + 2 cloves minced garlic

Cajun/Creole: 1 tablespoon smoked paprika + 1 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme and dried oregano

For more inspiration check out this amazing site for flavor inspiration: tastytogether.com

Bits and scraps meals

Going grocery shopping can be exhausting.  Between making a list, carving out the time, doing the actual shopping, waiting in line and then finally unloading and putting away the food we are often times too tired to cook or prepare anything when we are done!  Enter a scraps and bits meal to make life easier.

While a leftovers meal combines all of your cooked food from the past few days, a scraps and bits meal encourages you to use the leftover raw or plain foods you have with a few pantry and fridge staples to create an interesting and otherwise impossible meal (and avoid a third trip to the grocery store in five days).  For example, I recently had an excess of leftover cooked kabocha squash.  I also happened to have some milk and mozarella cheese that was on its way out, so I combined it with onions, some dried herbs and lasagna noodles I had on hand and made a delicious and low fat squash lasagna.  If you follow just a few simple steps and guidelines I promise that weekly scraps and bits meals are within your reach.

Make three lists of what you have .  Make nne list for raw ingredients (zucchini halves, plastic bags of diced onion, frozen wild salmon, spare ounces of goat cheese), one for basic cooked ingredients (steamed brown rice, grilled chicken pieces) and one list for pantry items (diced tomatoes, canned beans, vinegar, etc).  If you need help with the pantry part, we’re posting on that in a few weeks!

Think about the food groups.  Consider which of the items you have on hand are proteins, which are starches, and which are veggies.  Choose one or two from each that are basic enough to go well with lots of flavorings.

Salad and soup are always good.  When you’re stymied by what to make, consider a quick salad or soup- most things go well in either one or the other and they are healthy and delicious!

Don’t be afraid.  Bits and scraps meals require you to generally go without a recipe and create a meal on the fly.  I promise that you can do it and it won’t be nearly as bad as you fear it could be.  Just taste your food as you go and that you can always make a dish saltier, spicier or more flavorful…making it less seasoned definitely presents more of a challenge.

Remember Cooking basics.  You don’t need any fancy techniques to make a bits and scraps meal, you just need to be able to saute, steam, roast, grill and pan sear in order to create culinary magic.  Check this out for a refresher on some of those methods.

Season it up.  Use different spice and flavor profiles to turn your ingredients that would otherwise go to waste into an ad-hoc, impromptu culinary masterpiece.  Check out our next post for a comprehensive flavor pairing list!

For some inspiration, check out my ingredients and latest bits and scrap meal below!

Raw ingredients…

…make a delicious, steamy soup (hence the blurry appearance)