Tag Archives: smoothie

Acai Raspberry Smoothie Recipe

6 Jul

First things first. It’s pronounced, ah-sigh-ee. Now that that’s out of the way… acai is said to be full of antioxidants and considered a “superfood”. It’s tart, so I usually like it best combined with other sweeter fruits like banana, to soften the blow.

It has been painfully hot here in NYC. The good news is that heat completely suppresses my appetite. All I want is salad, watermelon, and anything else light and cold. So of course, that means one thing… smoothies!!

After my Bar Method workout this morning, I came home and made this refreshing, fruit filled smoothie. The tartness of the acai and raspberries are balanced with the creamy bananas, almond milk, and sweetness of the agave. Plus, there’s added protein and good fat from the flaxseed oil.

Well, I’m off to LA, and looking forward to my fill of west coast smoothies!

Click here to learn more about acai.

Acai Raspberry Smoothie

3/4 – 1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy bev)

1 frozen banana (equivalent to about 1 cup)

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 packet frozen acai

1 tablespoon flaxseed oil

1/2 tablespoon agave

1. Blend all together and enjoy!

Please keep in mind I’m not a registered dietician or medical professional, I’m a cook. So if you have any health concerns or dietary questions, please consult your doctor or nutritionist.

Fresh RaspberriesAcai Raspberry Smoothie

Acai Raspberry Smoothie

I Survived Barry’s Boot Camp

19 Jun

I started “food buff” to talk about my two loves: eating, and ironically, fitness/exercise. I figured it’s about time for a fitness post or I’ll have to change my blog to “food liar”.

What better way to kick things off than with the much-anticipated, newly opened LA transplant, Barry’s Boot Camp. Holy _______ (insert favorite profanity here). I’ve tried many different workouts over the years, and I think this is the hardest yet.

Barry’s Boot Camp, which opened June 4th in Chelsea, is not what we’re used to seeing from boot camps. The studio is not covered in camouflage like a base training camp. It’s a fairly large studio, able to accommodate about 40 people, brand new Woodway treadmills, in a “club-like” atmosphere. The music is rockin’, and the dark, red lighting is figure flattering (which helps since you’re staring at yourself in the mirror all class). My instructor wasn’t yelling at us, but I’ve heard others (especially Barry) use more of a pledging approach to get you motivated.

Classes are one hour, with a combination of 25 to 30 minutes of interval training on the treadmills (a.k.a. sprinting your $ss off) and the other half focusing on strength training with free weights and other equipment. Monday through Friday the strength training focuses on different body parts each day. For example, Monday is arms and abs, Tuesday is legs and butt, etc. Full schedule is here. In theory, if you go every day, by the end of the week you would have worked all muscle groups. But if you need it all in one class, they offer full body workouts Friday through Sunday, which is what I took. The instructor had us do (four) 15 minutes segments: 15 on the treadmill, 15 on the floor with weights, 15 back on the treadmill, 15 on strength. After the first 30 minutes, I thought I was done. You can imagine my disappointment when we were told to get back on the treadmill and I realized we were only halfway through.

The idea of “shocking” the body to get the best results isn’t new. I’ve had personal trainers at Equinox and NY Sports Club, and they used the same methodology of interval training with strength. It’s a proven method and I walked out of class feeling tighter almost immediately. I was sweaty, exhausted, and could see that with consistency, this class could get me leaner, toned, and stronger.

That said, I hated every minute of running. I detest running to begin with, and was nervous about the treadmill element. The intervals were hard…high speed sprints (7-12) and high inclines (over 6). Hitting those numbers was next to impossible sometimes, and sustaining them took a whole other level of warrior. Sure there are times when you’re jogging or at a lower incline, but the peaks were brutal and even being in decent shape, I struggled. I haven’t run in over a year, so I’m sure that didn’t help. Also, there are no breaks, it’s a constant, one-hour, beat down.

The strength training portion wasn’t as brutal. They recommended 5 lb light weights and 8 lb heavy weights for women so being a little afraid of what was in store, I went with the suggestion. Perhaps I could have gone heavier now that I’ve been through it, but first class is always hard not knowing what you’re up against.

It was fun to try a new class that was challenging and totally different from anything I have in my current routine. I was completely out of my comfort zone and getting through it gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. I can’t say that this will become part of my routine, but I’d like to try it a couple more times to see. This is also a great workout to go with a buddy. Misery loves company, right?

Pros:

  • You sweat. A lot. And probably burn a ton of calories (my heart rate monitor battery died so I couldn’t calculate my workout).
  • The 50/50 cardio/strength mix makes efficient use of an hour.
  • The instructor, and being in a class setting, pushes you beyond what you think you can do
  • My class had an even number of men and women
  • New studio in convenient location. They also have electronic lockers so you enter your own 4 digit code and that’s it. No need to bring a lock.
  • If you’re a runner, you’ll probably drool over the cardio segments.
  • They also have a juice bar which is rumored to be developed by one of the folks from Greenleaf .*
I tried this Chocolate Peanut Butter smoothie. Initially it tasted good, but after a couple sips it had a little chalky aftertaste. I like my smoothies thick!! The consistency was way too thin for my taste, almost like chocolate milk. They also use “Better’n Peanut Butter” which probably appeals to people who are focused on low-fat/low-calorie. (I can picture men who can’t put their arms down, really into these). I’m more concerned with eating whole, natural foods, and would rather they use a small amount of pure, real, organic peanut butter instead of something processed.

Chocolate "Peanut Butter" Smoothie at Barry's Boot Camp

Cons:

  • As a first timer, I was shocked I didn’t receive any training on the treadmill, and no welcome, etc. When I checked in, the front desk didn’t even offer me a tour or any information on class packages. Luckily, I’d stopped in a few days prior and received one from their GM who is an absolute doll. I left class with no incentive to buy a package (i.e. discount on future package?) which was disappointing.
  • The instructor asked if anyone was new. Despite raising and waving both hands, he didn’t see me (in a class of 10 people). He seemed focused on a few “regulars”. Yes the treadmill isn’t rocket science to master, but the Woodway is a bit different, so a quick demo/tutorial would have been beneficial as there were times when I couldn’t get the stupid speed to change, and one time when it just shut off for no reason.
  • The waiver I signed before class didn’t ask if there were any injuries. In small print it says “All injuries must be reported before class.” But no one asked if there were injuries, including the instructor, so I’m not sure when this reporting should have taken place.
  • Instructor gave a couple adjustments, but guidance was minimal.
  • This is a HIGH-impact workout. In addition to running, there are lots of squats and lunges which aggravate my joints. I had surgery years ago for a torn meniscus. The day after Barry’s workout, my knee was pretty inflamed.
  • RUNNING. Did I mention, I hate it?
*I reached out to Barry’s to check details about the Juice bar. At time of posting, I had not received feedback. I’ll update the post with any other info if applicable.

Exploring Casual, Healthy Eats in LA

13 Jun

The rest of the trip to LA was fun, but not exactly the sunny week I’d envisioned. What did I expect from June Gloom? It was mostly 60s and low 70s, but I’ll take that over the 100 degrees it was in NYC any day. YUCK.

I got a lot of walking and hiking in, plus I had two Pilates sessions at Winsor. More on that in a separate post.

I love exploring restaurants/food culture in LA. It’s no surprise that I’m such a fan of California cuisine with its’ focus on local, seasonal, fresh ingredients. I had a blast trying out new places and revisiting a few favorite vegan staples. I always find it easy to eat and live healthfully when I’m in LA.  Healthy food options are wherever you turn, and although I’ve learned June weather isn’t ideal, there’s plenty of sunshine to get you off that tush and moving around outside. I didn’t hit many fancy/trendier restaurants this trip, but focused on cafes, and casual, tasty fare.

I made numerous trips to Earth Bar at Equinox for smoothies. The “Flax Master” with acai, banana, blueberries, flax oil, B-12, L-glutamine, vegan protein, and almond milk, was tasty, and thick, just the way I like it. But on a second visit, they may have been too liberal with the supplements because I was having stomach…let’s just say “issues”.

Flax Master Smoothie at EarthBar Westwood

For lunch Wednesday, I walked to Whole Foods to check out their spread. I was amazed they had pre-cut coconut meat!! I haven’t seen that in NYC. It would be so convenient for smoothies, which reminds me, I have a young coconut in the fridge probably rotting. Ugh, need to use that up pronto.

Pre-Cut Coconut Meat at Whole Foods Westwood

The organic local nectarines looked gorgeous so I grabbed two for a snack.

California Local Nectarines at Whole Foods

I spent a couple of days hanging with RealityShowChick. (Who is now my token celebrity friend after her recent segment on 20/20).  She has two flourishing tomato plants on her porch. Most are still green, but there was one, small, perfectly round, red one begging to be picked.

Tomato Plant #1

Tomato Plant #2

As you can see below, RealityShowChick wasn’t “camera-ready” and pulled a puppetry of the finger maneuver. Either that or she’s blackmailing a clown?

The lone tomato

I stopped at M Cafe to pick up dinner. The menu had almost too many options, and took me a solid 10 minutes to make a decision. I was happy to not have the pressure of a line forming behind me. Guess I’m the only person under the age of 70 who likes to eat at 6pm. The cashier was friendly and helpful.

“First time?” she asked.  “Yup. How could you tell?” I replied, going cross-eyed from studying the menu. “Can I ask you the three questions I always ask people who are struggling to make a decision?” she asked. “Sure.”  I figured what the hell, it could only help, right?

Somewhat eccentric cashier (SEC): “How hungry are you on a scale from 1 to 10? 10 being I’m gonna rip someone’s arms off if I don’t eat right now.”

Me: “7”

SEC: “Are you looking for something hot or cold?” she asked.

Me: “I’m not sure. Maybe leaning cold, although I had a salad for lunch and don’t want another one.”

I’m not sure what the third question was. Either there wasn’t one, or I’m having a brain fart. All I remember is she recommended their signature salads, an a la carte menu consisting of various sides like sauteed vegetables, and proteins like grilled fish, tofu, etc. The questions did help reinforce my initial instincts. I’ll have to remember them next time I can’t make up my mind. I went with a Garden Roll and Inari Sushi (organic brown rice in a seasoned tofu pouch garnished with veggies).

The shiitake were splendid and reminded me of my mom’s. Usually she sprinkles sugar and shoyu over the vegetables as she sautes them. It’s always seasoned “to taste” with no real recipe. The result is a sweet/salty combo that I consider one of my favorite comfort foods.

Garden Roll; Shiitake, Hijiki and Lotus Root Inari

I turned down dessert although I was tempted by the Babycakes, and opted for this bright green Kale Lemonade. It was so refreshing!!! Tart lemonade with a little agave, balanced out with earthy Kale. Really tasty stuff. I know you’re sitting there with your nose wrinkled going eewwwwwww Kale Lemonade? Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

Kale Lemonade from M Cafe

Thursday, I met a friend for breaky at Urth Caffe. They make the best latte art.

Japanese Green Tea Latte with Almond Milk from Urth Caffe

Oatmeal with Almond Milk and Brown Sugar, Granola, Raisin Toppings

We were in Santa Monica during lunchtime and passed an unassuming cafe on Wilshire selling vegan ice cream. There was no signage outside that I could find, just a couple tables under umbrellas. Inside was a small cafe that was brightly colored, unpretentious, and just what I had in mind. Menu items were printed on multi-colored paper and taped up along the top of the counter. There was a lot to read and the guy could tell I looked a little overwhelmed so he gestured to a laminated handout of the menu on a tray behind me. Then he pointed above his head to signs for soups of the day, and other specials. Why didn’t I use the three (or two) question test here?

Inside Interim Cafe in Santa Monica

Husband got the Maui Veggie Burger (supposedly what they’re known for), I got the Tempeh stuffed whole wheat pita with hummus, veggies, and a side salad. Husband also requested a “Tiger Woods” which was an Arnold Palmer without the alcohol. Perhaps it would be more fun if they renamed it “The Womanizer” or “Man-Whore” or something equivalent?

Maui Veggie Burger at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

Tempeh Whole Wheat Pita Stuffer at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

While I waited for our sandwiches, I stood in front of this damn glass case full of vegan desserts. They were calling my name, loudly, so I got the “World’s Best” vegan, gluten-free, chocolate chip cookie.

Dessert Cafe at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

I can’t argue, I don’t think I’ve had a better chocolate chip vegan cookie than this bad boy. The sandwiches and drinks were all delicious and made me wish I had something similar in my neighborhood back home.

"World's Best" Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

As the trip came to a close, what better way to end our stay than a margarita poolside at the W? I love you LA. Hope to see you soon.

Margarita on the rocks with salt at W Hotel Westwood

Eating, Hiking, Celebrity Sighting

7 Jun

I’d barely been in LA for 24 hours and already had a Native Foods Cafe Scorpion Burger on Sunday, and Veggie Grill Bali Bliss over Kale yesterday. Oh and I had to swing by Earth Bar at Equinox Westwood for a green detox smoothie yesterday morning! I’m 3 for 3.

Green Detox #1 Smoothie

Simon got to meet up with his girlfriend Lilly yesterday and nearly peed himself from excitement. Lilly’s Mom (a.k.a. RealityShowChick), Dad, and I got to catch up while the kids frolicked. If you love reality TV or just like to laugh, you have to check out her site – hysterical. Her stories as a Reality Show Casting Director will make you split (or s*it) your pants.   We went for a stroll through Larchmont and stopped at Peet’s coffee for a reboot. I was so surprised they had vegan cookies! Recharged from some seriously caffeinated espresso, we decided to go for a hike at Runyon. Of course, I wasn’t dressed for the occasion, sporting a sundress and flip-flops. (Thanks RSC for the loaner duds). I did manage to hike in flip-flops and not break my neck. As we started our leisurely hike, I spotted this guy with no shirt on and black shorts. I didn’t even notice his face because I was gawking at his chest – and not in a good way. One word, Ma-Tas. They were little and his chest was tan but they still stood out. Perhaps because he was running downhill? I digress…So, as he passes, my friends turn around all giddy and are like “OMG, Sebastian Bach!!!” Yes, of course it was. And I thought, oh yea that’s right, “I Remember You”.

Me & Simon, Sarah & Lilly at Runyon

And that’s the fun in day one! I basically hit all my fave places (and people) in the first 24 hours. Not bad. OH, and I forgot to mention my other stellar celeb sighting at the MTV Movie Awards. Ron Jeremy. I mean come on, really? I hope I didn’t catch anything airborne. Bleck.

Chocolate Nut Smoothie Recipe

29 May

Happy Memorial Day weekend, Food Buffers! It’s officially warm here in NYC. When it’s hot, I want my food cold (along with frosty beverages and an ice bath to soak in). What can I say? I grew up in Maine, I wasn’t made for high heat. I’ve had a smoothie every day this week and been playing around with different flavor combos.

This Chocolate Nut recipe is the perfect jump-start to the morning, or a great afternoon snack. It has a creamy, smooth texture that’s truly satisfying and is packed with nutrients and quality protein. I love making smoothies at home because I can control the portion/calories and quality of ingredients. Plus, they’re fast, healthy, and filling. If you buy smoothies when you’re out, be careful. They can be loaded with calories, sweeteners, and artificial ingredients. Try to see a list of ingredients in the smoothie. Stay away from anything with purees, tons of juices, added processed ingredients/sugars, or fillers like frozen yogurt. Look for organic or raw ingredients, whole fruits, etc.

I’ve used the antioxidant/health benefits of dark chocolate as an excuse to eat more of it (and I know I’m not alone here), but if you really want to reap the benefits, from what I’ve learned, raw, organic cacao is the way to go. Cacao nibs are crushed, peeled cacao beans. They’re deemed a “superfood” and are high in antioxidants so you get the good stuff without all the sugar. According to LiveSuperfoods.com, “Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and black and green teas. In fact, it has up to four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea.”

This Chocolate Nut smoothie reminds me of chocolate milk, but better. Get your smoothie-on this holiday weekend!

Chocolate Nut Smoothie

1 cup hemp milk

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

1 frozen banana

1 tablespoon almond butter

optional: add in 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil for added nutritional benefits like fiber and Omega-3s. 

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a high-powered blender (like Vitamix). Drink immediately!

Please keep in mind I’m not a nutritionist, doctor, or dietician so if you have any health concerns or dietary questions, please see a medical professional. Here are some other great resources if you want to learn more about cacao nibs and the nutritional benefits.

http://www.rawcacao.com/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/356782-cocoa-nibs-nutrition-information/

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columnnn/nn100218.html

http://www.medscicommunications.com/just_for_fun.htm

For the Love of Young Coconut

3 Apr

You already know I’m obsessed with kale smoothies, particularly the coconut kale smoothie from Naturewell in LA.

I’ve been too chicken to buy a young coconut, and mine for my own coconut meat, but Whole Foods had some in stock so decided it was time to take the plunge.

Here are a couple great links on how to do it. I took suggestions from both and the gist is, be ready to wack that knife and curl your fingers so you don’t lose a digit.

How to Open a Young Coconut

How to Open a Young Coconut – with step by step visuals

Young Coconut

Here’s what I did:

1. On a very stable surface (I used a cutting board with gripper bottom), begin cutting off the white outside layer around the pointed top of the coconut, using your knife.  Continue scraping off the outside layer until you hit the brown shell.

2.  At the base of the pointy part, strike the knife or cleaver a couple times. It took me a few hard strikes until the knife was in there. Pry the top open with your knife. BE CAREFUL with this entire process. Make sure your work surface is stable and your fingers are out of the way. When you get it open, the juice will flow out so quickly upright the coconut so you don’t lose too much liquid. The coconut is surprisingly full (mine was completely full to the top).

Opened Young Coconut

Coconut Top

Coconut Top Opening

Fresh Coconut Water - look how much was in there!!!

3. Using a spoon or ice cream scooper, scrape off the thin layer of white meat inside the coconut. Be careful not to press too hard, as you want only the white layer and not the brown stuff behind it. Cut off any brown parts so you don’t have any hard particles in whatever you end up making.

Young Coconut Meat

4, Store the coconut meat and juice in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

Benefits of coconut meat & juice:

Coconut water is high in potassium and electrolytes making it a great workout hydrator. Skip all those fake drinks filled with artificial colors and added mock-nutrients and hydrate with this amazing refreshment.

The first thing I did was make a smoothie (shocker, I know). I had some frozen pineapple which inspired a pina colada smoothie. I was tempted to add rum, but figured working out with a buzz-on probably wasn’t my smartest move.

Pina Colada Smoothie

1 cup frozen pineapple

1 frozen banana

1/4 cup coconut meat

1/4 cup milk (I use hemp – add another 1/4 if you need it)

1. Blend together until completely smooth. Add additional milk if necessary.

2. Drink immediately!

Pina Colada Smoothie

Vegan in LA: Naturewell smoothies & Bar Hayama Sushi

17 Jan

Day 15 – I’m at the halfway mark!!

Today I’m celebrating a mini-milestone. I’m halfway through my 30-day vegan challenge and can honestly say, I am proud. Thank you friends for all the support! Who knows this could become semi-permanent. OK, onto the good stuff…

I want to share a couple experiences so far in LA. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with the Kale Coconut Smoothie at Naturewell (see my 1/10 post here). So it was the first stop on my hit list. I’ve already been there twice in two days and it’s just as good as I remembered. My husband who is not a huge green smoothie fan, even loves it. A guy who works there previously recommended the Orange, Ginger, Carrot juice (which isn’t on the menu). It’s fab and when I make it at home I find I don’t need a coffee because the ginger really wakes me up.

The menu below shows their unique assortment of both juices and smoothies. These don’t come cheap… we are pigs and supersize our smoothies so they’re a whopping $7 a pop but sooooo worth it.

And here she is… introducing the lovely, bright green, sweet and fresh, Kale Coconut smoothie I’ve been bragging about. Blog readers, meet Kale Coconut. Kale Coconut, meet blog readers.

It actually is sweet and you get more coconut/banana flavor than anything else, but the kale adds an herby/woodsiness that makes it taste so refreshing. Even if you think you’ll hate it, I’d encourage you to try it, you’d be surprised how delicious it is. You can definitely make this at home with kale, coconut water, young coconut meat, cinnamon, banana and agave nectar. I haven’t gone to the trouble of digging out young coconut meat from the shell yet, but I may have to because I can’t wait until my next LA trip to have this smoothie again.

We also took Simon (our pup) on a two-hour hike up Griffith. I always feel healthier in LA. Fresh air and sunshine makes Chelsea a happy girl.

Simon was exhausted post-hike and napped all afternoon.

Next up…dinner.

I had a sad revelation this weekend. I can add sushi to the “things I miss list”.  We usually hit Matsuhisa every trip to LA but to spend that kind of money on veggie rolls seemed like a waste. Besides, I dream about their baked crab hand roll and I couldn’t torture myself by going and not getting it. The W Hotel concierge recommended Bar Hayama. They have a huge outdoor fire pit and tons of outdoor heating lamps (not that it’s really necessary when it’s 60 degrees out, wussies).

The food was fine, nothing outstanding, but it satisfied my sushi craving. We worked up quite an appetite from the hike. I had sake, edamame, vegetable dumplings (server confirmed they were vegan), cucumber roll, vegetable roll, and natto hand cut roll. This was my first dinner out in LA so it was a nice way to slowly dip the toes into dining out as a vegan.

I would have more pics but I was starvin-marvin and didn’t realize I hadn’t taken any until it was too late (sorry). This was the only pic I managed… the veggie roll and cucumber roll. Clearly, I need to upgrade to the iPhone 4 with a flash.

The server at Bar Hayama was very sweet and didn’t roll her eyes or snarf when I told her I was vegan which I really appreciated. That’s it for now, more LA updates to follow!

Naturewell

3824 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Neighborhood: Silver Lake

(323) 664-5894

 

Bar Hayama
1803 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles

(310) 235-2000

Matsuhisa
129 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills

(310) 659-9639

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