All posts by Christine Avanti


About Christine Avanti

Christine Avanti is a best-selling author of Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads (Rodale 2009) and Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food (Rodale 2013), Certified Nutritionist, TV personality, lifestyle expert and philanthropist.Her advice has been featured on the Today Show, Dancing with the Stars, Rachael Ray, The Doctors, Good Morning America, Oprah’s All Stars, Vogue, W, New Beauty, Women’s Health, US Weekly, Health, Fitness, InStyle, and dozens of others.

Celebrating Summer and Freedom

The Fourth of July is a very special day for our country, and it is also a special day for family and friends to get together and observe long-held traditions together. Some traditions like fireworks, parades, and cookouts have been consistently associated with the Fourth of July since the country’s founding in 1776. Here is a look at some of those traditions and some tips on how to celebrate the holiday safely this year.

Fourth of July Traditions

Did you know that the very first parade was celebrated just two years after the Revolutionary War ended and this year will be the 234th year? What started as a “patriotic exercise” in Bristol, Rhode Island has turned into a procession of parades, music, food, and community activities. Another big tradition on the Fourth of July are the Fireworks. Congress authorized the first firework displays in Boston and Philadelphia in 1777. Now, just about every town, big or small, has a parade and firework show and they still fun traditions we share with our families today.

Parades are normally done in the peak heat of the day and when the sun is at its highest. It only takes 20 minutes of sun exposure to burn the skin, don’t get sunburned this year. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher if you will be out in the sun for an extended amount of time. Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours. You can read more about prevention guidelines and information about sunscreen application on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website.

Although setting off your own fireworks can be a fun activity to enjoy together if not going to see a large firework display, remember to follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks and older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors and only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks

The Spirits

Drinking was always a large part of the Fourth of July Celebrations. On July 4, 1778, George Washington ordered a double ration of rum for his soldiers. It was traditional to drink 13 toasts, one for each state in the union. The drinking of patriotic toasts were carefully thought about and prepared and often published in the local newspaper.

I’ve got some great recipes for drinks that are sure to big hits at your Fourth of July get together this year, and any of the cocktails can be turned into delicious mocktail:

Mojitos Flaquitos

Ingredients

Mojitos

  • lime wedge
  • fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 strawberry
  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 3 1/2 oz club soda
  • 1 teaspoon Palm Sugar Simply Syrup

Simple Syrup

  • 1 teaspoon evaporated palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

Click for Directions and More Information

Pummelo Fruit Martini

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pummelo juice (or grapefruit)
  • 1 shot Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • fresh mint leaf

Directions

  1. Stir juice and Grand Marnier in a high ball glass.
  2. Top off with sparkling mineral water.
  3. Garnish with fresh mint leaf and a twist of pummelo skin

Click for Nutrition Information

Watermelon Coconut Granita

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

Directions

  1. Place fruit in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Add coconut milk, lime, and sweetener and blend for 10 more seconds. Do not blend too long because the mixture will turn foamy.
  3. Pour mixture into 8×8 inch metal baking dish.
  4. Freeze for 2 hours and scrape mixture with a spoon until the whole dish is “scraped” into frosty granules.
  5. Return to freezer and continue to scrape every 30 minutes for another 2 hours and serve.

Click for More Information


The Food!

This is definitely my favorite tradition of any holiday! America has always done everything to the extreme when it comes to food. Even in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Parades and public readings of the Declaration of Independence were traditionally followed by large town-wide feasts. We’ve even named the Fourth of July National Hot Dog Day, where around 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on the Fourth alone.

I do love food, but I love good nutritious food. Check out these easy meals you can whip up in no time for your Fourth of July party this week:

Steak Chimichurri

I like recipes like this. You throw everything into the food processor or the blender – and hit the switch. You can’t go wrong. It’s so easy it seems like it ought to be illegal.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 medium Meyer lemon)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Italian parsley (fresh)
  • 3/4 cups cilantro (fresh)
  • 1/3 cup mint (fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce

Click for Directions and More Information

Grilled Portabello Caprese Salad

There is nothing better than fresh grilled vegetables, especially when they are seasoned with just the right herbs and spices. In this recipe I use loads of fresh organic basil because the taste and health benefits are endless!

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced long ways
  • 4 Medium tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 4 rounds

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic mashed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Click for Directions and More Information

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Acai Icelandic Yogurt Dip

Another soon-to-be Summer classic that is bursting with flavor – and SO easy!

Ingredients

  • 8 cubes watermelon (4 oz)
  • 8 cubes honeydew melon (4 oz)
  • 8 cubes cantaloupe (4 oz)
  • 8 Large strawberries (4 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom honey
  • 6 oz Siggi’s Icelandic acai berry yogurt (Greek yogurt will work too)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • 8 lemongrass sticks (or bamboo skewers)
  • mint leaves (for garnish, do not chop)

Directions

  1. Mix the fruit together and cover with the honey and chopped mint; marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. Assemble the kabobs by alternating the fruit with mint leaves on the lemongrass sticks/skewers.
  3. Grill fruit kabobs over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve with Icelandic yogurt (or Greek) in individual bowls for dipping. Garnish yogurt with a mint leaf.

Click for Nutrition Information

Cocoberry Cupcakes

Freedom! Not just freedom to light fireworks and live in a free country, but freedom from fats and calories and freedom to shamelessly run around in your swimsuit!

Ingredients

Reduced Coconut Milk

  • 2 13-14 ounce cans unsweetened light coconut milk, preferably organic) (Available at many supermarkets and at Indian, Southeast Asian, and Latin markets.)

Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/3 cup cups organic coconut sugar (available at Wholefoods or Asian Markets)
  • 3 Large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature

Frosting

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced light coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)
  • 1-pint organic blueberries
  • 1-pint organic raspberries

Click for Directions and More Information


There are so many other traditions that I’ve seen families come together and do for the Fourth of July. Some of my favorites are learning about the history of Independence Day together, going to a baseball game or playing baseball as a family, hanging the flag with the family and being thankful for freedom, playing patriotic music, or even catching fireflies at night.

I think my favorite has to be making care packages or writing letters to send to soldiers overseas. I know that this is done a lot during Veterans Day, but during Independence Day it is good practice to be thankful for the freedom we have. What better way to do this but to say thank you to those who are currently serving in the military and fighting for that freedom?

You can send a care package through Support Our Troops. They list out what is needed and guidelines for care packages here. They also have some great ideas for writing cards to troops. You can read more about that here. Operation Gratitude has a lot of ways to support troops. You can write a letter, send a care package, volunteer, or get more information on other programs. Go to their website and see more about their programs here.

I’d love to know what traditions your family has for the Fourth of July. Let me know on Social Media! Have a Happy and Healthy Fourth of July!


“For you have been called to live in freedom. Use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

 

 

Christine

 

avocado and tomatoes

Christine Avanti’s June 2019 Newsletter

June is here with its long days and warm nights. Some of the best things about June is all the fresh produce and sunshine – oh, the wonderful sunshine! I am looking forward to using all the fresh local produce from my Farmers Market this summer to make some amazing dishes and enjoy some laid-back summer meals outside. Do you know what is in season this month? I have a few favorites I’ll share with you.

Avocado! I’ve talked about how much I love avocado and that it is number one on EWG’s Clean Fifteen list, so you know you are getting some quality nutrition when using this ingredient. In the grocery store you can get avocados from Mexico where they are in season year-round, but in California they are in season right now! You can add avocado to just about anything: add slices to toast, tacos, sandwiches, or even your breakfast omelet.

This is a perfect meal for the beginning of summer. This recipe includes avocado and mango, which are both in season for June! Fire up the grill and try these fajitas that are super simple yet full of flavor and perfect for entertaining guests.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas with Mango Salsa

From my book “Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads”

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 14 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 3/4” wide strips)
  • 2 cups sliced red bell peppers (cut into 1/2” strips)
  • 2 cups sliced onions (cut into 1/2“ strips)
  • 1 cup fresh salsa
  • 1/2 medium mango, chopped
  • 1/2 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • High-heat nonstick cooking spray
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill
  2. Whisk the first 6 ingredients together in a small bowl. Divide into 2 large plastic bags.
  3. Add the chicken to one bag and the peppers and onions to the other. Shake the bags to coat thoroughly. Let marinade for at least ½ hour.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the salsa, mango, and avocado and set aside.
  5. Season the chicken and vegetables with the salt and black pepper. Spray the grill with the cooking spray.
  6. Grill the chicken until cooked through, approximately 4 minutes on each side.
  7. Grill the vegetables until brown, 10 to 15 minutes, turning frequently.
  8. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the grill until warmed, 3 to 5 minutes.
  9. Stuff the tortillas with the chicken, peppers, and onion, and top with the mango salsa.
  10. Garnish with the lime slices and serve with the sour cream.

Nutrition facts per serving: 417 calories, 30 grams protein, 56 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat. Serves 4

Avocado-Tomato Salad

From my book: “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food”

Ingredients

  • 2 Hass avocados, diced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss gently to coat.

Nutrition facts per ½ cup serving: 170 calories, 3 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fat (all good fats!)

Beets are also in season this month. Beets are deliciously earthy and can be eaten fresh, cooked, or roasted. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and low in calories and fat. They also contain inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which have a number of health benefits.

I this recipe, the sweetness of the beets with the peppery arugula is a wonderful palate pleaser. Sometimes I add goat cheese to this salad, and it’s amazing! If you don’t have time to roast the beets, you can often find vacuum-packed roasted beets in the produce sections of better supermarkets. Arugula is also in season this month, so make sure you look for this in your local Farmer’s Market!

Arugula and Beet Salad

From my Book “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food”

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beets
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Fine sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Trim the stems off the beets and lightly scrub with a vegetable brush. Wrap in foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into ½-inch (you can do this up to 2 days ahead of time.)
  4. Toss the arugula and beets in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a small bowl until emulsified.
  6. Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper to the dressing.
  7. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

Nutrition facts per serving: 90 calories, 1-gram protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat

Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

30-minute baked beet chips infused with rosemary and speckled with sea salt. Perfectly crispy, simple to make, and a healthy snack on the go. From the Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large beets (rinsed and scrubbed)
  • Olive or avocado oil
  • 1 pinch each sea salt + black pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary (roughly chopped)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Thinly slice beets with a mandolin (or a sharp knife), getting them as consistently thin as possible. They should curl a little when cut. This will ensure even baking and crispiness.
  3. Divide between two baking sheets and spray or very lightly drizzle with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and the rosemary. Toss to coat. Then arrange in a single layer, making sure the slices aren’t touching.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and slightly brown. Be sure to watch closely past the 15-minute mark as they can burn quickly.
  5. Remove from oven. Let cool. Then serve.

Nutrition per serving: 70 Calories, 4.7 grams Fat, 0.6 grams Saturated Fat, 95 mg Sodium, 293 mg Potassium, 8.6 grams Carbohydrates, 2.5 grams Fiber, 6.1 grams Sugar, 1.5 grams Protein, 1% Vitamin A, 7% Vitamin C, 1% Calcium, 4% Iron Serves 3

There are so many other fruits and vegetables in season this month! Blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, green beans, kale, leeks, peas, radishes, rhubarb, strawberries, and more! You can check what is in season by your region by clicking here.


With the weather being warm and the days getting longer, it’s the perfect time to plan for more outdoor activities. More children are home during the day in the summer and playing outside; it is a great time to make sure you are aware of safety issues that may arise.

June is National Safety Month. It’s an opportune time to take inventory of safety protocols and first aid procedures:

Do you know what to do in an emergency?

Protect your children from injury by being prepared. The leading causes of injury and death for children include car crashes, drowning, accidental poisoning, fires, suffocation, and falls.

Here is what you can do to be prepared and reduce the risk of injury:

There are many other ways we can educate ourselves to be prepared during National Safety Month. Here are some other helpful resources:

  • Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,166 lives in 2017 alone. Get the facts, get involved, and help us keep America’s roads safe. Click here for more information.
  • If there is a fire, you may have less than 3 minutes to get out of your home. Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do if there is a fire. Click here for a fire safety checklist for homeowners and renters.
  • All Americans should have some basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency occurs. Click here for Fema’s Emergency Supply Checklist.
  • Wildfires can ruin homes and cause injuries or death to people and animals. A wildfire is an unplanned fire that burns in a natural area such as a forest, grassland, or prairie. Click here for more information on how to be prepared for the upcoming wildfire season.

Studies are confirming that community parks and recreation, green space, and time outdoors is critical for creating healthy, active, and sustainable communities. You can experience the benefits by visiting your community parks and recreation any time of the year, and especially on Family Health and Fitness Day. Family Health and Fitness Day is this Saturday, June 8th! Participate in the 2019 Family Health and Fitness Day Challenge at noon ET (9 am PT) on June 8th. The National Recreation and Park Association challenges everyone to “Get Fit” With Parks and Recreation by doing a minute of jumping jacks (regular or modified) with family and/or friends at a local park or recreation center. Families are encouraged to share photos and videos of the challenge online using #NRPAFamilyFitDay.

You can also participate in the Family Health & Fitness Day by:

  1. Taking a Walk
  2. Going for a Swim
  3. Enrolling in a Fitness Program
  4. Creating Your Own Exercise Routine
  5. Playing Outside

I’d love to see what you and your family do for Family Health & Fitness Day! Share your pictures with me on social media; you can find links to my social pages at the top of this newsletter!


“Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.” – Al Bernstein

 

Christine

Christine’s May 2019 Newsletter

We are one month away from summer and I have already been thoroughly enjoying the sun! Have you been getting your daily Vitamin D? I love the next couple of months because the Farmer’s Markets start making their way to the downtown streets and fresh farm produce is readily available in just about any neighborhood – big or small!

Some people don’t have the privilege of having fresh farms that are super close and rely on their grocery store to provide fresh produce and sometimes it is really hard to determine which fruits and vegetables have the lowest risk of being exposed to harmful pesticides.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been putting together some educational lists for quite some time and updates them every year. Their lists help guide consumers to pick produce that have been found to have the lowest exposure to pesticides overall. There have been many health risks linked to pesticides in our food. You can decrease your risk by buying organic produce, especially on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list (below) and washing your fruits and vegetables properly before consuming.

The Dirty Dozen:

The EWG recommends buying organic forms of the following fruits and vegetables to avoid toxic chemicals in your produce:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarine
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen:

The EWG states it is safe to buy conventional versions of the following fruits and vegetables as it will help your wallet and that items on this list are likely to contain fewer pesticides and less of each one:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplant
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew Melons

You can learn more about what the EWG does, get your questions answered, download their shopping guide and see the full lists they publish on their website. Their FAQ section is full of great information.


Do you know how to wash your fruits and vegetables properly? There is a lot of misinformation out there about what you should use, how long you should wash or soak for, or even what kind of scrubbing should be done. In a study done using detergent and 4 different vegetable washes in comparison with regular tap water, the tap water did just as well as the other agents as rinsing off the pesticide residues from the produce. The lesson here? We don’t need to invest in fancy solutions, we simply need to know how to rinse our produce.

So here is my suggestion for rinsing your produce:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Rinse produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  • Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  • Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
  • For berries, rinse right before you intend to eat them so you do not encourage bacteria growth. You can soak them in water for a few minutes and strain or rub gently under running water for at least 30 seconds.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • For leafy greens, remove the outermost leaves. Fill a salad spinner with greens, then fill with water. Let soak for a few minutes and spin. You can use a paper towel to further dry if needed.
  • Store perishable produce in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees.

This shouldn’t be something that is over complicated! The rule of thumb is – simply soaking your vegetables for a few minutes or rinsing your produce in running water for at least 30 seconds will help the food you eat and serve be safe.

Of course, if you want to avoid pesticides altogether, or at least have control over what you grow and what goes into your soil and onto your plants, a home garden is the perfect way to do that! You can grow produce in minimal space with a little creativity.

You can grow vegetable gardens in just about any space when you do vertical gardening. This literally means growing your plants upright! You can grow along a fence-line, in hanging pots, even mounted on your wall indoors. Look at these creative ideas for growing your produce in limited spaces.

If you have a little more space and want to start your own garden outdoors, you can buy or make garden boxes. Garden boxes are great because you don’t need a lawn, a large space or a farm to do it. These boxes come in many shapes and sizes and they can also be raised or made directly onto the ground. This article I found has so much information about not only the boxes themselves, but what to plant, when to plant, and a lot of other information needed to start your very own garden at home.

What if you don’t have any space outside at all? That’s OK, you can still nurture your green thumb inside your home while brightening up your place with beautiful plants. There are a lot of varietals of produce that you can grow indoors and I’m not just talking a small herb garden. This article from Country Living will spark your imagination and give you some ideas about where to begin your indoor garden.

I know that growing your own garden can be a daunting task, but once you get the hang of it, you will certainly have fun. The satisfaction of growing your own food and preparing a meal from that harvest will feel incredible! As you know, just because you grow food at home doesn’t mean the pests will stay away – there are natural ways to keep them at bay. Check out these homemade ideas to keep the pests off your beautiful produce. And remember, just because you grow your food at home, doesn’t mean you don’t have to rinse your produce 😉


All this talk of fresh fruits and vegetables is making me hungry! I think with all this fresh produce in season this month, you should definitely incorporate that into your home cooking. I’ve got some recipes using some of the produce from the EWG’s Clean Fifteen list:

This one is a little on the gourmet side and takes more time than most of us have on a typical weekday. But that’s why we have weekends and holidays and (hint, hint) Mother’s Day is coming up; show your mom some love! Asparagus is number 8 on EWG’s Clean Fifteen list and Onion is number 5!

Asparagus Mini-Fritattas

Ingredients

  • 3 whole eggs (Preferably cage free)
  • 9 egg whites (Preferably from cage free eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/2 lb asparagus
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Click Here For Full Recipe and Directions

Grilled Fruit Kebabs with Icelandic Yogurt Dip:

This is a great summer snack or also fantastic as a dessert – loaded with flavor. Cantaloupe is number 12 on EWG’s Clean Fifteen list, honeydew melon is number 15 and watermelon just missed the 15, coming in at number 16.

Ingredients

  • 8 cubes (1″ each) watermelon
  • 8 cubes (1″ each) honeydew melon
  • 8 cubes (1″ each) cantaloupe
  • 4 tablespoons orange blossom honey
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 lemongrass sticks to use as skewers
  • 32 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 4 whole mint leaves

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix the fruit together and cover with the honey and chopped mint.
  • Marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • Assemble the kebabs by alternating the fruit on the lemongrass sticks.
  • Grill over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
  • Serve with the yogurt in individual bowls for dipping.
  • Garnish the yogurt with the almonds and mint leaves.

The recipe has been modified from the original recipe to exclude strawberries from the ingredient list, #1 on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

Holy Guacamole with Skinny Chips

You can’t get any better than this – Holy Guacamole! Avocados are number 1 on EWG’s Clean Fifteen list. They contain more potassium than bananas, they are loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and are also loaded with fiber (just to name a few health benefits). Can you tell I love avocados? Not only are they healthy, but I love the color of fresh, ripe Avocados for Spring. This would be a delicious addition to any weekend get together.

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium avocados
  • 2 teaspoons red onion, finely diced, divided
  • 2 teaspoons jalapeno, seeded and minced and divided
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro, divided
  • 1 bag white corn tortillas (10 in a pack), cut into eighths
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Click for Full Recipe and Directions


The Dream Center’s annual “Fostering Hope” Women’s Luncheon is on May 8th. I look forward to this event every year because The Jonathon D Fischer Foundation (JDFF) has had the privilege of sponsoring the private reception that includes lunch, entertainment, inspiring messages from women in leadership, and a live auction to support the efforts of the Dream Center.

This program is just one of the Dream Center’s many outreach programs that partners with the Department of Children and Family Services to prevent families from being separated in Los Angeles. Loving, hardworking moms are literally watching their children go into Foster Care because of a lack of basic necessities. The Dream Center will stand in the gap and supply those needs in order to keep healthy families together. They provide furniture, food, clothing, appliances and other basic items needed to allow parents to retain or regain custody of their children.

This year marks the fifth year that JDFF has had the opportunity to sponsor the luncheon and this year I have been honored to keynote the event. We hope that this program will become an anchor in Los Angeles’ philanthropic priorities. All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Dream Center’s Foster Care Intervention Program. You can learn more about it on their website here.

The Jonathon D. Fischer Foundation will be receiving the 2019 Innovative Philanthropy Award at the American Icon Awards on May 12th. We are honored to be receiving this award and are grateful not only to the American Icon Awards but also to the many charities that share our vision of inspiring and empowering people to make the world a better place by providing a hand up, through education, kindness, and generosity.


 

Don’t forget to show a little extra love to your mom this month – it is Mother’s Day on May 12th!

To all the Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Sisters and other women in our lives that care for us and love us unconditionally – Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Christine

Spring Recipes and Easter Alternatives

April is an important month for awareness. In the United States, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of the month is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. Sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem. In the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, it states that nearly one in five women in the US have experienced rape or attempted rape at some time in their lives, and one in 67 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is about more than awareness — the ultimate goal is prevention. Consent is a clear, concrete example of what it takes to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, and so this year’s theme – “I Ask” centers on empowering all of us to put consent into practice. I Ask is the statement by which individuals will demonstrate that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions – whether it be asking to hold someone’s hand, for permission to share personal information with others, or if a partner is interested in sex. I Ask is the statement by which we will uplift the importance of consent and transform it from being prescriptive to empowering. For more information you can go to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center website and follow me on Twitter and Facebook as I share more information this month.


Easter is just around the corner and that typically means chocolate, marshmallows and jelly beans everywhere! Although sweets in moderation is ok, it seems like every holiday revolves around candy, chocolate, and rich foods and we overindulge in food rather than appreciate the traditions the holiday brings. If you have children, you may be stuck with a surplus of sugary snacks after the day is over. I’m hoping that some of the ideas below can help you enjoy your holiday without overindulging this Easter (and some fun Easter facts you may have not known about to go with them!):

Eggs

In many cultures and religions eggs have been symbolic of new life, fertility and rebirth. During the Easter holiday the egg is used as symbolically as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Chocolate eggs are now very common to see around Easter – even peanut butter eggs. The first chocolate egg actually dates back to the early 1800s. Remember when picking up a package of those chocolate eggs that most chocolate we have now is highly processed, high in saturated fat and refined sugars and those ingredients are not good for your health! Here are more tips on how to incorporate the tradition of the Easter Egg into your holiday celebration:

  • Don’t graze on those chocolate eggs all day, keep an eye on your portion sizes and go for dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa which have more health benefits.
  • Why not go for the real thing? Don’t forget that real eggs provide nutrients including zinc, selenium, vitamin D and protein.
  • You don’t have to eat all the chocolate in one weekend! Save your chocolate eggs for another day – don’t overindulge.
  • The internet has so many ideas for crafts and activities for kids. If you have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or simply want to get crafty, look them up! It is a fun way to represent eggs without eating them.

Easter Baskets

At some point, the Easter Bunny was introduced to the Easter holiday. As far back as the 1600s, German Protestants began telling their children that a hare would bring colored eggs to baskets the children would leave out overnight. These baskets were “nests” made out of hats, bonnets, baskets, etc. The hare would supposedly lay the eggs in the baskets but just like Santa Clause would only leave them if the children were well behaved. The “Easter Hare” tradition was brought to America and became the “Easter Bunny” and the baskets were soon filled with candy and toys. Many other countries have their own variations of this tradition.

Now, with commercialism in full swing, you can’t go into any store without something being marketed towards Easter leading up to the holiday and most of the time it is SUGAR! What if there were better ideas for those baskets? If you are still leaving baskets out this year, here are just a few ideas to get you started and spark your imagination. You know your child best and what is suited for their age-level and what they like (and try not to go overboard – that is a topic for another newsletter!):

  • Eggs! You guessed it – real hard-boiled eggs 😉
  • Filled Plastic Eggs – Fill them up with dehydrated fruit, nuts, granola, cocoa nibs, etc.
  • Goldfish or Bunnies – Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies are a great organic choice.
  • Carrots – The Easter Bunny loves them, right? Wrap a few up with ribbon or put them in a cute bag.
  • Dark-Chocolate Covered Fruit – Any fruit is fun to do this with, even dried fruit. Check out my recipe for Dark-Chocolate Dipped Apricots.
  • Sidewalk Chalk – They even have egg-shaped chalk. Perfect for Easter.
  • Fitness Gear – it is so important to instill an active lifestyle at an early age, and as kids it is still fun! What about fun socks and headbands, a jump rope, or a soccer ball? Anything to get your kid moving!
  • Art Supplies – paint, color crayons, paper, etc. Spark some creativity and get them off electronics for a while.

Easter Activities

Stay Active! There are a lot of activities that happen around Easter Break/Easter Weekend. The Easter Egg Hunt is extremely popular, and its roots come from the Easter Hare that I mentioned above where children would “hunt” for the eggs it would leave behind. Easter Egg hunts now can be found all over your community, or you can do one right in your own backyard.

Staying active over the Easter holiday is important especially if you are consuming more sweets and food than you normally would. Here are just a few ideas to keep active:

  • Go for a walk with family and friends – the weather is getting so nice! Spring is officially here; take advantage of the sunshine and soak up that vitamin D your body has been missing.
  • Find a community Easter Egg Hunt.
  • Have a BBQ – get people together, play games, be active together.
  • Have a relay race – this is fun at a family gathering or simply if you have kids. Use those hard-boiled eggs you have made for Easter, grab a spoon and create your own relay.

Easter Dinner

Roast lamb is a popular choice for many people on Easter Sunday. The tradition of eating roast lamb at Easter comes from the Jewish celebration of Passover, which occurs at around the same time.

Lamb is a source of protein, vitamin B12 and zinc however it can be high in saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet can raise your cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. I have a delicious recipe for lamb that I love making on Easter and for other special occasions that I will list below. Some things to note, and ways to make a healthier Easter Sunday Dinner:

  • Larger chunks of potato absorb less fat so cut your potatoes into bigger pieces before roasting them and use olive to roast them in rather than or goose/duck fat (high in saturated fats).
  • Include lots of fresh vegetables – cabbage and kale are both in season at this time of year – these vegetables are rich in vitamin C and a source of folic acid. Kale is also a source of calcium.
  • Cut off any visible fat from the meat and try not to add too much extra oil or fat –cook meat on a wire rack so that excess fat can run off. (if not cooking in a pan as specified in my recipe below).
  • Use herbs and spices for flavor instead of butter and salt when serving and cooking vegetables.

Here is my recipe for a high-presentation, high-flavor Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Acai Berry Sauce for a special occasion such as Easter. Acai berry juice is available in many forms in your local supermarket. If not available, try 1/3 cup of lingonberry preserves instead.

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Acai Berry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
    if you cannot find purple)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 1 1/2 racks of lamb with 8 ribs each, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup acai berry juice
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Click Here For Full Recipe and Directions


Spring Recipes

I love the colors of Spring: the fresh greens, the bright oranges, the crisp pinks – your food can definitely reflect the colors of the season! If our food looked as wonderful as it tasted, we would probably love cooking and creating these works of art much more than we do. I wanted to share some spring recipes that I have found with some beautiful colors and flavors to start the season. Take some time to appreciate the colors and flavors of these amazing dishes!

Watermelon Radish & Avocado Rolls

Although these are called “Summer” Rolls, they scream “Spring” to me! Consider the fillings in this vegan summer roll recipe as a starting point–papaya, snap peas and shrimp are all good alternatives. The first thing you layer on the rice paper will be what shows through on the finished roll, so vary what you start with for stunning, Instagram-worthy results. How beautiful are these rolls??

Ingredients

  • 12 rice paper wrappers
  • 3 ounces thin rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
  • 2 Persian (mini) cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small watermelon radish, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium ripe mango, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups fresh mint leaves
  • 1½ cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, halved and sliced into 12 pieces each
  • 4 large leaves butter lettuce, torn into 3 pieces each

See full recipe and directions on EatingWell.com

Fennel Crusted Halibut with Asparagus

This is a bright green Spring dish with accents of pink and red that give it beautiful color. It is a simple, healthy, paleo-friendly dinner that features spring asparagus in two ways – in the sauce and on the side and it can be made in just 35 minutes – but it definitely looks restaurant quality and that you could have been spending all day prepping for this dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, rough diced
  • 1 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus ( divided)
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock or broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/8 white pepper (optional)
  • 2–3 tablespoons fresh tarragon ( this makes the sauce!)
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (or a mix is nice)
  • 2 thick filets of halibut, cod, black cod or sea bass
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • light sprinkling of fennel seeds
  • 1 lemon
  • Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves

Click for full recipe and directions on feastingathome.com

The last recipe I want to share with you is a lovely mixture of carrots in a variety of colors. The key is picking different colors for your carrots, without this your Tart will come out a little one-dimensional and won’t look as stunning coming out of the oven! These piles of colorful carrot ribbons—which skew more savory than sweet, thanks to a lemony coriander-flecked dressing—come out of the oven glistening and retaining some of their bite. For a gluten-free crust, substitute the all-purpose flour for your favorite gluten free brand.

Shaved Carrot Tart with Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 medium carrots (preferably a mix of colors), peeled, with greens removed and reserved juice of 4 lemons, plus 1⁄8 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. coriander seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground caraway
  • Cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Flaky sea salt, to finish

See full recipe and directions on saveur.com


Stay tuned in the next coming weeks as I will update you as I will be representing The Jonathan D Fischer Foundation (JDFF) and hosting the 5th annual “Fostering Hope” Women’s luncheon for The Dream Center LA next month on May 8th. This luncheon benefits The Dream Center’s Foster Care Intervention Program.

The Department of Children and Family Services reported that nearly 200 kids are separated from parents simply due to poverty-related issues every month. To help prevent families from being separated, the Foster Care Intervention Program assists these families by providing furniture, food, clothing, appliances, and other basic items needed to allow parents to retain or regain custody of their children. This program is so important to the community of LA and JDFF is proud to partner with The Dream Center and help with this program.

Take some time to enjoy the sunshine! Enjoy your meals outdoors, take a walk, take in at least 10 minutes of sun everyday – your body and mind will thank you.


 

Happy Easter

“He is Risen!” Matthew 28:6

 

 

Christine

Lower Your Health Risks During National Nutrition Month

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the third month of the year is National Nutrition Month. At this point, we’ve all gotten our feet wet and have acclimated to the new year. Those of us who have made resolutions have either stuck with them and developed good habits that (hopefully) will last the whole year and others have decided some of their resolutions were maybe short-term and have gotten back into their normal schedule. As we head into the third month of the year, we are ready to learn more about the foods we eat and are a bit more disciplined to put better nutrition into practice.

National Nutrition Month is important because it dedicates an entire month to making people aware of the issues that arise when we don’t eat nutritious, real foods. Food should be our first line of defense for our bodies and we need to improve the way we feed our families.

Did you know according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the typical American diet exceeds the recommended limits in four categories of nutrition: calories from solid fats and added sugars, refined grains, sodium, and saturated fat. About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet and fewer than 1 in 3 adults get the recommended amount of vegetables each day. Either we aren’t reading our labels, or we don’t understand what we are eating and the consequence for eating more than recommended in those categories.

The consequences of poor nutrition can be seen in adults and children. More than 1 in 3 of adults and nearly 1 in 5 children or adolescents are obese. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, which are among the leading causes of illness and death.

The good news is that you can lower your health risks by eating healthy and there are many reasons why you should:

  • Choosing healthier foods can help you lower your risk for chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Healthy foods have the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to stay strong and live a longer life.
  • A healthy diet and physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight.
  • Set a positive example! If you have children, the healthy food options your child sees you make now can impact their eating patterns throughout their lifetime.
  • When a person eats healthy and lives a healthy lifestyle, he or she is less likely to develop costly chronic illnesses in life. A healthy lifestyle can help you avoid spending thousands of dollars on doctors’ visits and medications later in life.
  • What you eat has a direct impact on your brain which regulates your mood. Also, eating healthy foods can help to keep your mind from feeling foggy and distracted.
  • People who avoid large amounts of caffeine and foods high in sugar and fat are more likely to have higher quality sleep, eating healthy can improve your sleep.

There are so many reasons to eat healthy, and I’ve only listed a few. It starts with a first step. Here are just a few changes you can start making in March during National Nutrition Month to improve your overall health. Start small and keep at it! Your body and mind will thank you:

Prevention is Key:

Eating healthy begins at home and parents can teach their children by first setting an example. Here is a summary of nutrition and healthy eating-related obesity prevention recommendations for parents and families from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine:

  • Promote healthy eating by stocking a variety of nutritious foods at home-fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy sources of protein, and low-fat dairy.
  • Keep high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks out of the home-especially sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Model healthy eating for children by choosing a healthy diet for yourself.
  • Encourage children to try a variety of new healthy foods, such as vegetables; remember that it can take multiple tries for kids to accept a new food.
  • Eat dinner as a family at home and get children involved in shopping for and preparing meals.
  • Eat breakfast and encourage children to eat breakfast daily.
  • Limit eating in restaurants, fast-food restaurants and limit takeout food.
  • Teach children to pay attention to feelings of fullness: offer smaller portions, allow them to choose their own portions, and don’t force them to “clean their plates.”

The Centers for Disease Control has a ton of information for parents outlining how to prevent childhood obesity with ideas how to encourage children to be active and also ways to develop healthy eating habits and more. For those resources, head over to their website here.

Here are some Kid-Friendly Meals that are nutritious and delicious for the whole family:

Purple and Sweet Potato Fries with Herb Dip

Ingredients

Fries

  • 1 lb purple potatoes (or sweet potatoes
    if you cannot find purple)
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • cooking spray

Herb Dip

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley

Click Here For Full Recipe and Directions

Corn and Broccoli Calzones

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1½ cups fresh corn kernels, (about 3 ears)
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ⅔ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Click Here For Full Recipe and Directions

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables:

It may be hard to get your fruits and vegetables in every day. Statistics actually say most people don’t eat as many as they should. Getting creative with your food and hiding your veggies isn’t just for the kiddos, you can do the same with your meals. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Add minced broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach to scrambled eggs.
  • Add steamed or sautéed veggies or sliced fruit to your oatmeal instead of brown sugar and butter.
  • Add pumpkin or butternut squash puree to pancake or waffle mix.
  • Add greens to your smoothie.
  • Mix regular and sweet potatoes for amazing mashed potatoes.
  • Add veggie puree to soups!
  • Get that spiralizer out and create noodles out of zucchini, squash, asparagus, cucumber, etc.
  • Sneak them into your main dish! Add peas to mac and cheese, shredded zucchini to casseroles, tomato to grilled cheese, avocado to quesadillas – the possibilities are endless.
  • Turn your veggies and fruits into “junk” food. Slice zucchini, avocado, carrot, or green beans, lightly bread, and bake until crispy. You can even turn kale into chips!
  • Upgrade your desserts by adding banana or zucchini to bread and cookies or add avocado to pudding.

I would love to know how you add more fruits and veggies into your diet. Tag me on Twitter or Facebook and show me your dish! Here are some fun recipes to easily add a few more veggies and fruit into your meals:

Guiltless Grilled Cheese with Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Organic Oregano

Ingredients

  • 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
  • 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
  • 1 1/2 Slices low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
  • olive oil spray

Click Here For Full Recipe and Directions

Steel Cut Oats with Fresh Cherries, Blueberries and Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Celtic Sea Salt)
  • 2 dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup cherries
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (I also use light coconut milk)

Click Here For Full Recipe and Directions

Lower Your Sodium Intake:

Another big issue to tackle is eating less salt. On average, people are eating five or more teaspoons of salt each day which is 20 times as much as the body actually needs. Our bodies only need 1/4 teaspoon of salt a day. Sodium is found naturally in foods but is added during processing and preparation.

You may not think salt is a big deal, however sodium controls fluid balance in our bodies and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. Eating too much sodium may raise blood pressure and cause fluid retention, which could lead to swelling of the legs and feet or other health issues.

It can be tricky to limit sodium in your diet, especially since foods can have added sodium in them and not even taste salty. Here are some helpful tips for reducing salt in your diet:

  • Eliminate salty foods from your diet and reduce the amount of salt used in cooking.
  • I recommend swapping out regular table salt for Celtic Sea Salt- it contains over 84 trace minerals and is lower in sodium than table salt. Click here for more information on Celtic Sea Salt.
  • Choose low sodium foods. When reading food labels, low sodium is defined as 140 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Be creative and season your foods with spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar and pepper.
  • Remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • Read ingredient labels to identify foods high in sodium. Items with 400 mg or more of sodium are high in sodium. High sodium food additives include salt, brine, or other items that say sodium, such as monosodium glutamate.
  • Eat more home-cooked meals. Foods cooked from scratch are naturally lower in sodium than most instant and boxed mixes.
  • Don’t use softened water for cooking and drinking since it contains added salt.
  • Avoid medications which contain sodium like Alka-Seltzer.

There is a great shopping list for low-sodium foods that you can print from healthfinder.gov – Find it online here.

The hardest step for many people is reducing their sugar intake, but it can be done! There is a great article I found that outlines not only the reasons why too much sugar is bad for your health, but also gives some great ways to reduce your sugar intake. You can find the article on healthline.com here.

Changing your dietary habits may seem like a daunting task, but the benefits will impact your health and your quality of life. Everyone should try not only to eat well but also engage in physical activity. These habits are beneficial to everyone; whether you’re overweight, underweight or at a healthy weight. Simple changes can make a big impact on a person’s well-being. Let March be the springboard to your future nutrition success!


 

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well” -Voltaire

 

 

Christine

Christine Avanti’s February 2019 Newsletter

There is almost a palatable feeling of love in the air when February begins. Stores begin a bit early with their displays, marketing all the Valentines in mid-January. Have you completed your Valentine’s Day planning or are you stumped on what to do?

There can be a lot of pressure to buy the right gift, plan the right date, pick the perfect card, even say the right thing and these things can come with a high price tag. But as the saying says, “money can’t buy love.”

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t break the bank. Here are some ideas to treat your significant other without spending more than you can afford:

Acts of Service

Does your significant other love it when you pick up extra tasks around the house? This may seem like a small act but will be greatly appreciated and can certainly be romantic. Take the extra step and take over all the chores for Valentine’s week.

Take an Electronic Sabbatical

We are so fortunate to be able to have the technology that we have, however, sometimes it can take over and be a distraction from our loved ones. On Valentine’s Day, take a break from your phone and all electronics and give your significant other your full attention for 24 hours.

Plan an Oscar Movie Marathon

Oscar season is here and most of the movies for best film are out for rent. Pop some popcorn, get a cozy blanket for two and cuddle up on the couch. If you would rather, pick your favorite movies instead and watch those together.

Have a Game Night

Spend the evening at home playing your favorite games together. Board games or video games are both fun to play together. Turn off all other distractions and spend the time together laughing and having fun.

Make Gifts for Each Other

It is especially romantic to get a hand-written card or letter that expresses just how your significant other feels. This is something you can go back to and read over and over again. You can make a picture frame with your favorite picture of the two of you together, write a poem, record a song, make a playlist – the possibilities are endless!

Create a Scavenger Hunt

Hide candy, notes, small gifts (could be dollar store items or inexpensive gifts), or a combination of the three around the house and come up with clues to find them. Give the clues to your significant other and have them hunt for the items on Valentine’s Day.

Go on a Walk or Hike

This is both something that costs nothing, is quality time together, gives an opportunity to talk, and is exercise all at the same time! Being active together is always fun, and you can end your walk or hike with a picnic.

Go on a Picnic

If weather permits, pack a picnic lunch or dinner and eat your meal outdoors. If the weather is too cold to be on the ground for a picnic, find a place where you can eat by a firepit or do an “indoor picnic” right in your living room.

An Inexpensive Night Out

There are places that have low-cost cover fees and can be cost efficient dates. Go see a local comedy show, play games at an arcade, go to a local museum, sing karaoke at a local club, go dancing, see a matinee, or go to a roller rink. All of these are great ideas for a fun night out!

Make Dinner at Home

Instead of spending a large amount of money and making reservations (or trying to get in last minute) at a fancy restaurant for Valentine’s Day, what about trying to make dinner for your significant other? Better yet, making dinner together can be both romantic and fun. You can step it up a notch and get out your best dining set and cloth napkins and tablecloth and dress up in your fanciest attire.

After enjoying a candlelit dinner at home, you can choose some other activities above to do together. Move the coffee table to the side and turn on some music and slow dance.

If you need ideas on what to make for your night in, I have the perfect recipe sure to impress: Filet Mignon with Sautéed Mushrooms, Arugula Salad with Figs & Pomegranates, and Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots & Sea Salt!

Dinner For Your Valentine

Ingredients

Filet

  • 1 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 3-oz organic top sirloin steaks
  • cooking spray

Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 8-oz package presliced mushrooms (baby bellas or shitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay (or sub white grape juice)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup dried or fresh figs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked pepper

Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt

  • Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Filet

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients. Coat both sides of steaks with cooking spray; rub steaks evenly with thyme mixture.
  2. Place steaks on rack of a broiler or roasting pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 450° for 8 minutes on each side, or until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 145°F for medium-rare, 160°F for medium, or 165°F for well-done.
  3. Remove from oven; keep warm.

Sautéed Mushroom Sauce

  1. While steaks are cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add thyme, mushrooms, and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Cook until reduced by half (about 10 minutes).
  4. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  5. Add cornstarch mixture to mushroom pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  6. Serve ¼ c mushroom sauce with each steak.

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  1. Toss arugula and figs in a large bowl. Whisk lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl until emulsified.
  2. Pour dressing over salad and serve. Makes 5 servings.

Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, place rack in lower third of oven.
  2. Cut cauliflower lengthwise into ¾ inch thick slices.
  3. Put into a large bowl and spray generously with olive oil.
  4. Add minced shallots, salt and pepper and toss until evenly distributed.
  5. Spread onto a large sheet pan (covered with foil for easy clean up).
  6. Roast turning once, until golden and just tender, about 25 minutes. Serves 4.

I would love to hear about your Valentine’s Day. If you choose to cook at home, share with me on social media how it turned out!


 

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” – Oscar Wilde

 

 

Christine

Christine Avanti’s January 2019 Newsletter

It is the New Year and the perfect time to reflect on the year past and set your intentions for the year to come. As we ring in the new year, take some time this week to journal and reflect on the year past:

  • What were your fondest memories of 2018?
  • How was your year successful?
  • Did you accomplish the goals you set for the year? What were they?
  • What was the most successful year you’ve ever had? What made that a success?
  • What were some failures from 2018 and how can you learn from them in 2019?
  • Are you sad to see 2018 pass?
  • 2018 was a year of…?

Looking forward to the new year, set some goals and intentions for 2019:

  • Why is the new year a good time for resolutions?
  • Do you need a new year to make a change?
  • What are you most excited for in 2019?
  • What does the new year symbolize?
  • How can you improve your life in 2019?
  • By the end of the year I will…?
  • Make resolutions and outline a plan for how to stick to them.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years; 10 years?
  • 2019 will be a year of…?

The top New Year’s resolutions somehow involve diet and exercise, maybe because the new year brings thoughts of new beginnings. We know we need to be healthier and everyone wants to start the new year with a clean slate, and we want to begin anew starting with our bodies after a long holiday season of indulging.

I have a couple of recipes that will help you with those resolutions.

It’s not for the faint of heart but this detox shot is loaded with all-natural, potent superfood detoxing nutrients to get rid of the toxins of 2018 and get you started on a healthy 2019.

The New Decade Diva Detox Shot

Ingredients

  • 1 beet, roasted
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 handful broccoli florets
  • 1 handful spinach leaves
  • 1 handful dandelion leaves
  • 1/4 cup green onion
  • 1 cup skinny chicks detox tea (recipe below or find it here)

Directions

  1. To roast beet: Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash and wrap beet tightly in foil.
  3. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 1 hour or until tender enough to poke through easily with a knife.
  4. Blend all ingredients in a blender.
  5. Chill for 1 hour to overnight.
  6. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Facts per shot: 21 cals., 1 gm protein, 5 gm carbohydrates, 0 gm fat
ALL-NATURAL DETOXING POWER: FULLY LOADED.

Serving size: 1 shot

This tea, featuring ginger, lemon, dandelion root tea and artichoke extract (you can find it here), this zero-calorie tea is the perfect beverage for a cleanse. Drink it hot or cold!

Christine’s Detox Tea

Ingredients

  • 3 oz fresh ginger (peeled and sliced)
  • 3 dandelion root tea bags
  • 3 milk thistle tea bags
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 30 drops artichoke extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Combine 5 cups of water and the ginger in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil and boil for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the tea bags and cinnamon sticks.
  5. Cover and steep for 15 minutes.
  6. Strain into a large pitcher.
  7. Add the artichoke extract and lemon juice.
  8. Stir and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.

Nutrition facts per 1-cup serving: 4 calories, 0 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrate, 0 grams fat

Don’t forget to set intentions for the New Year. Make them attainable goals. If you don’t feel like you can stick with a resolution for an entire 12 months, break them down into smaller milestones and celebrate them along the way. Another important part of setting yourself up for success is finding an accountability partner. You are more likely to reach your goals and stick with your resolutions if you have a cheerleader, helping you along the way!


 

Wishing every day of the new year to be filled with success, happiness and prosperity for you.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Christine

Gifts That Give Back

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” ‘Tis the season for giving and it’s my favorite newsletter of the year! Every year I dedicate my December newsletter to finding the best “Gifts that Give Back” and I have found some excellent ones this year! We all do a little bit of Christmas shopping, why not buy a present for your loved ones that also benefits a wonderful cause at the same time? These suggestions below are great ways to do just that – they are two gifts in one!


BeadforLife has had an incredible impact on many women and their families. They believe that in order to end poverty, they must have the ability to empower women to transform their lives. BeadforLife has 15 years of experience helping women build sustainable futures, having worked with the very poorest, yet hard-working women in Africa. They employ talented artisans who are earning income to feed their families, send their children to school and want to create better lives.

If you have someone on your list that loves jewelry, these beautiful hand-made beaded creations will not disappoint. There are a wide variety of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, giftbags and loose beads for sale on BeadForLife.com. By purchasing a fair-trade product from BeadforLife you are not only providing increased income for the artisan to meet their immediate needs, it also allows them to offer their business training to other women. You can find all their products for sale on their website here.


This next gift is for the kid on your Christmas list and although it is a cool gadget, it will get any kid moving and caring about the impact they are making. The UNICEF Kid Power Band was created to help solve the global challenge that almost 1 in 4 kids around the world is malnourished, while only 1 in 4 American kids is getting enough physical activity.

The UNICEF Kid Power Band gives kids the power to save lives by connecting their physical activity to social impact. The device syncs with an app that encourages kids to take steps and earn Power Points. The more points kids earn, the more food they can help UNICEF deliver to malnourished children around the world. It helps kids become more aware of the world around them and are empowered to solve the challenges they face in their own communities. You can purchase online here. $10 of every purchase goes to directly to UNICEF.


The Citizenry has something for everyone on your list. There are beautifully handcrafted home goods. From kitchen and bath, textiles to furniture – every dollar you spend supports fair wages, safe working environments, and a direct investment into artisan entrepreneurs. They have a wide selection for everyone on their holiday 2018 collection. You can shop online here.

The Citizenry believes their collections are only as beautiful as the environments they spring from. They invest 10% of all proceeds directly back into artisan communities through Entrepreneur Development Grants. These grants help their partners take their businesses to new places. You can read more about the company’s philosophy and their social impact here.


Parker Clay founders, Ian and Brittany Bentley, wanted to help mothers who were being lured into prostitution as a way of supporting themselves and their families. Parker Clay, named after two of the founders’ children, partners with the non-profit Women at Risk to help women in Ethiopia. With every apparel or accessories purchase, Parker Clay sends one Ethiopian woman through a prostitution prevention training program.

They hand select each piece of leather to ensure the best quality, using and often exceeding fair trade practices. They source directly from rural farmers and work with traditional tanneries that have been perfecting their craft for generations. They have a wide variety of gifts and I thought this beautifully made wallet would be a wonderful choice for the special someone on your Christmas list.


Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that helps empower others to live independent lives — free from poverty, disease and hunger. To date, Convoy has helped more than 100 million people throughout the world. They provide food, water, emergency supplies and agricultural know-how to those who need them. They partner with churches, businesses, individuals and other humanitarian organizations who are intent on doing good work among the impoverished and suffering. You can read more about the organization and what they do online here.

They have an online shop that has apparel and jewelry that have great impact for each purchase. You can purchase feedOne merchandise and Convoy of Hope will ensure that a child in our that program will receive warm, nutritious meals for an entire month. Making a purchase through Convoy:Women supports ardent advocates striving to bring strength and dignity to women all over the world. You can browse all their merchandise online here.

The Convoy of Hope also has volunteers helping in response to the California wildfires. If you are looking to simply donate to a worthy cause, you can find more information about that here.


The last gift idea on my list is from Feed Projects. Feed Projects was started in 2007 and a portion of each bag is donated to the United Nations World Food Programme to feed children around the world.

FEED states that by delivering nutritious meals and micronutrients, they invest in the health of local families and communities and that consistent access to nutrient-rich food and supplements helps children learn, grow, and thrive. Each purchase also helps provide school meals and helps invest in education. By doing so not only do guaranteed nutritious meals give children the energy they need to focus and learn, but these meals also incentivize parents to send their children to school.

The really incredible thing about these gifts is that they let you know exactly how many meals your gift is providing. Take for instance the Harriet Tote. This tote provides 100 school meals and is such a beautiful gift. You can find this lovely tote and many other bags, gift sets and more for Christmas online. Don’t forget to read more about the impact that FEED Projects has made around the globe here.


If you aren’t looking to buy a gift that gives back to charity and want to simply donate directly to a great cause, don’t forget about the link to the California wildfire donations through Convoy of Hope above. This has been devastating for many families and they are having to rebuild from scratch during the holiday season. There are also two organizations that I’d like to highlight and often work directly with through the JDFF Foundation; they rely on the support of donations to continue their incredible work:

Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides

“Lions Foundation of Canada’s mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them Dog Guides at no cost.” You can learn more about them here.

You can donate directly to them by going to their donate page here.

The Dream Center

“The Dream Center is a faith-based charitable organization that finds and fills the needs of struggling people from all over the United States. Since 1995, thousands of individuals and families have found hope and healing through the programs that only the Dream Center offers. The Dream Center aims to not only meet the immediate needs of communities like providing food and clothing, but also focuses on the full successful transformation of people’s lives, all free of charge.” You can learn more about them here.

You can donate directly to them by going to their donate page here.


 

May you be blessed
With the spirit of the season, which is peace
The gladness of the season, which is hope
And the heart of the season, which is love.

Merry Christmas

 

 

Christine

Christine’s November 2018 Newsletter

I have seen, for a few Novembers now, a trend of gratitude journals circulating on social media. I think it is important to take time out to express gratitude to those around you and for the things you have been blessed with. Thanksgiving is a time when most of us reflect on these things with our family and friends. Sometimes it is hard to find the words or actions to express gratitude to those around us. Here are some ways you can do that this season:

Bake something or cook something: This is my personal favorite (of course). Whether it is a parent, friend, coworker, or neighbor, a home cooked meal or fresh baked goods is such a great way to express your gratitude. And don’t worry, if you don’t do very well in the kitchen, stopping by a local bakery or ordering out is never frowned upon!

Bring someone a hot treat: If a co-worker, spouse or friend has a favorite drink at a local coffee shop, liven up their day and show them some appreciation by bringing it to them first thing in the morning. If you don’t know how they take their coffee (or tea), a gift card is a perfect substitute.

Bring Flowers: Flowers brighten up any space. Whether it’s a hand-picked bouquet from your garden, a delivered surprise to a loved one or friend in another state, or some beautiful stems from local grocery store, flowers are always a wonderful way to show appreciation and will bring a smile to the recipient.

Roll up your sleeves: Sometimes the best way you can show your appreciation is simply to roll up your sleeves and do something for someone that they need help with. This could be cleaning their house, taking out the trash, going grocery shopping, watching the kids, etc. If you don’t know how you can help – ask!

Write a thank you card: Thank you cards aren’t just made for gifts. You can write one to anyone who has influenced your life in a positive way. A friend you are grateful for, a parent, or someone you simply want to tell you love them and want to tell them you appreciate them being in your life. Words can be super powerful; don’t underestimate the impact they have!


At the end of this month, most families will get together and have a feast with their families and loved ones. A typical Thanksgiving meal will have turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, rolls and enough leftovers to feed another family! But what about those who don’t have the means to buy food for a Thanksgiving meal?

No one should have to worry about whether they will have food on their plate or a roof over their head. But the reality is that hunger and homelessness are widespread problems that affect far too many people.

The fact is that many Americans are living on the edge, forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying rent, or going to the doctor. 43.1 million Americans live below the poverty level. 549,000 Americans are homeless on a typical night. 42 Americans are at risk of suffering from hunger, and 1 in 5 children in the U.S. live in poverty.

You can help! This month, as we are doing things to express our gratitude, think about adding giving back to your community to your November activities. Here are some things to consider:

Give to a local food bank. Food banks need more than canned goods. Feeding America did an article earlier this year about three items you may not know food banks distribute. You can read that here. If you don’t know where your local food bank is, you can find one here.

Teach your kids about hunger. Talk about how you can help as a family like starting a donation jar or planting a family garden and donating the food. Read more ideas for discussion here.

Help urge Members of Congress to prioritize fighting hunger. As them to visit a food bank in their district to see how programs are making an impact in your community. Send them a message.

Be an advocate! You can learn how to advocate for a hunger-free America here.

Volunteer locally. How awesome would it be if your family pledged to volunteer every year together? You can volunteer with a group volunteer experience, or research local charity organizations in need of help. Feeding America has resources to search for volunteer opportunities in your area here.


As I mentioned above, there are usually so many leftovers on Thanksgiving. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to do with all that Turkey. You don’t have to settle for a week of turkey sandwiches, I’ve got you covered! You could also take your leftovers and give them to a family that may not be as fortunate, or better yet – invite them over to celebrate with you!

Gobble Up These Turkey Wraps

Ingredients

  • 3 Slices turkey
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves
  • 2 Slices tomato
  • 1 Slice red onion
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 Small orange

Click Here For Directions and More Information

After the holidays, you want to eat something pure, healthy and fresh so you can recover as you venture out into the cold and shop your heart out. And there’s still no better feel-good meal than a homemade soup to warm you up.

Low in fat and high in nutrients, perfect for detoxing from a food hangover. Add some toasted sourdough bread for the perfect PC Combo (if you don’t know what a PC Combo is, check out my book Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads).

Day-After Detox (Chipotle Mushroom) Turkey Soup with Rice

Ingredients

  • 32oz chicken stock or broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chipotles in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1lb roasted turkey, or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges for garnish

Click Here for Directions and More Information

Here is a bonus recipe! Instead of the same pumpkin pie recipe, or the frozen store-bought pie, try this! I made over this fantastic Thanksgiving treat. Now it is super-quick and delicious. For this high-protein, healthy alternative I use the fantastic honey vanilla bean flavored Greek yogurt from Voskos (available in most grocery stores). It actually stands alone as a balanced, healthy half-meal on its own! So prepare this in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Then a few hours after the turkey dinner you can whip this one out and never interrupt your healthy eating plan. Your guests will love it.

Pumpkin Ginger Parfait

Ingredients

  • 1 Small 0% Voskos Greek Yogurt, Honey Vanilla Bean Flavor
  • 2 tablespoons Canned pumpkin
  • 1 Ginger Snap, crumbled
  • 1 Individual Weight Watchers carrot cake
  • Nonfat whipped topping, spray can

Click Here for Directions and More Information

Watch my Facebook and Twitter pages for more ideas for turkey leftovers this month!

May you be blessed this Thanksgiving season!


 

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

Christine

Christine’s October 2018 Newsletter

“I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze. The sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sunburnt leaves.” (author unknown) Fall’s official beginning was September 21st. October is really where we begin to see changes in weather and it really kicks off the holiday season, starting with Halloween. The next few months are definitely busy, full of festivities, fun, and food.

A lot of people associate fall with the beginning of pumpkin season and that also comes with pumpkin spice everything. But allow me to let you in on a (not so) little secret – those coffee shop pumpkin spice lattes are full of processed ingredients and a horrible amount of sugar. Here are just some of the ingredients I found by looking through the most popular pumpkin spice lattes’ nutritional info:

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte:
Ingredients: Milk, Espresso, Pumpkin Spice Sauce [Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% Or Less Of Fruit And Vegetable Juice For Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Salt, Potassium Sorbate], Whipped Cream [Cream (Cream, Mono And Diglycerides, Carageenan), Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid)], Pumpkin Spice Topping [Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, And Cloves].

Example drink: A tall (the smallest size) pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk and whipped cream has 310 calories, 12 grams fat (7 grams from saturated fat), 40 total grams carbs, 40 grams sugar, and 11 grams protein.

Peets Coffee Pumpkin Latte:
Ingredients: Milk, Espresso, Pumpkin Spice Flavoring: [pure cane sugar, water, natural and artificial flavors, salt], *Ground Nutmeg Topping (optional)

Example drink: A small pumpkin latte with 2% milk has 240 calories (50 calories from fat), 5 total grams of fat, (3.5 grams saturated fat), 37 total grams carbs, 33 grams sugar, and 11 grams protein.

Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Swirl Hot Latte:
Ingredients: Brewed 100% Arabica Coffee, Pumpkin Spice Syrup [Skim Milk, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Brown Sugar, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt].

Example drink: A small pumpkin swirl hot latte with whole milk (2% not listed) has 230 calories (60 calories from fat), 6 total grams of fat, (3.5 grams saturated fat), 36 total grams carbs, 36 grams sugar, and 7 grams protein.

McDonald’s McCafe’ Pumpkin Spice Latte
Ingredients: Milk, Espresso, Water, Pumpkin Spice Flavored Syrup: [Fructose, Water, Nonfat Dry Milk, Propylene Glycol, Contains 2% or Less: Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Xanthan Gum, Salt, Sucralose, Extractives of Annatto (Color).]

Example drink: A small McCafe’ pumpkin spice latte (no choice of milk) has 270 calories (80 calories from fat), 9 total grams of fat, (5 grams saturated fat), 41 total grams carbs, 39 grams sugar, and 10 grams protein.

“What should I take away from this,” you ask? Some places use more natural ingredients than others. For instance, Peets Coffee’s syrup has only a handful of ingredients; however, it lists “natural and artificial ingredients”. We really don’t know what those artificial ingredients are and the sugar and calorie content are still very high. Doing your research and making sure what you are putting in your body is truly the lesson.

Sometimes, we don’t realize the beverages we drink may have more calories or sugar than the desserts we indulge in because the nutrition facts aren’t on the cup we drink it from. I have a great alternative – making your own Pumpkin Spice Latte at home! Here is a healthier alternative to the list above, and if you do end up making one, let me know how it goes!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte:

Ingredients

  • 0.5 cup almond milk (nutrition facts based on Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk)
  • 0.5 cup hot strong brewed coffee or espresso
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (my favorite is Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin; can be found at Whole Foods or online)
  • 0.25 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • *Sweetener of your choice (try a low-glycemic sweetener like stevia or monk fruit

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender on high speed and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Adjust sweetener and pumpkin pie spice to taste and serve warm.
    (Note: A high-speed blender should keep the contents hot enough to serve immediately, but if you like your coffee piping hot or don’t have a blender handy, move to step 3.)
  3. Transfer the contents to a saucepan and warm over the stove top before serving. If you are skipping step two altogether, whisk the ingredients together in a pan over medium heat and make sure it is whisked briskly to combine well.

Nutrition Facts (1 serving): 36 calories, 1.5 grams total fat, 5.5 grams total carb (2 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar), and 1 gram protein *nutrition facts do not include sweetener

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, try making your own: Blend together 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon, 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger, 2 teaspoons Nutmeg, 1.5 teaspoon Ground Allspice, 1.5 teaspoon Ground Cloves


Speaking of pumpkin…. did you know that they are loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene? The orange color may give it away as carrots have the same important ingredient. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which performs many important functions in overall health.

Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and may also privide protection against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases, as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.

Just one cup of cooked pumpkin contains 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 37 grams of calcium, 1.4 mg of iron, 22 mg of Magnesium, 564 mg of Potassium, 1 mg of zinc, 12 mg of Vitamin C, 1 mg of Niacin, 21 mcg of Folate, 2650 IU of Vitamin A, 3 mg of Vitamin E and 0.5 mg of Selenium. With all of those nutrients packed on one vegetable, it’s amazing that we decorate with them more often than we cook with them. That is one vitamin packed squash!

With Halloween just weeks away, the candy is already on the shelves. It’s the time of year where we start to celebrate everything with sweets and trick-or-treating can bring a lot of junk food into the house. If you are taking your little ones out this year, focus on trick-or-treating after your child has eaten a good meal to help prevent them from overeating on candy or treats. And who says your meals have to be boring? Make them festive and fun! Take a look at this healthy Halloween dinner recipe from liveeatlearn.com that takes vegetables and turns them into spooky treats:

Halloween Roasted Veggies

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • 4 carrots peeled
  • 3 red beets large, medium
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp rosemary
  • ½ bulb garlic cloves separated with skin still on
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey, or maple syrup for vegan option

Click Here for Full Recipe

These easy French bread pizzas from SkinnyTaste.com are perfect for your next Halloween party, or for Halloween dinner before trick-or-treating. Just 4 ingredients and about 15 minutes to make!

 

French Bread Pizza Mummies

Ingredients

  • 8 oz whole wheat French bread baguette
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 8 black olive slices (from 2 olives)
  • 4 slices (0.75 oz each) mozzarella cheese

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut the bread in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise in 2 pieces to give you 4 pieces total. Slice the cheese into strips.
  3. Place the bread, cut side up on a baking sheet. Spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce on each piece.
  4. Place 2 slices of olives on each pizza to make eyes. Randomly lay out the mummy cheese strips over the sauce. Bake in the center rack until the cheese is melted and bubbling, and the bread is crisp, about 8 minutes.

Click Here for Full Recipe

If you are looking for a healthier option that isn’t a trick but definitely a delicious treat for Halloween, I’ve got the perfect recipe! These dark-chocolate dipped apples are a great alternative to sugary sweets and easy enough for the kids to help with!

 

Dark Chocolate-Dipped Apples

Ingredients

  • 8oz dark chocolate
  • 8 Medium apples
  • various toppings as desired
  • 8 bamboo skewers or wooden pop sticks

 

Directions

 

  1. Wash and dry apples.
  2. Arrange toppings in medium sized bowls
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper coated with cooking spray.
  4. Insert wooden stick into apple cores.
  5. Fill a medium sauce pan half way with water.
  6. Bring water to a boil and place a medium glass mixing bowl over boiling water and immediately remove from heat.
  7. Melt chocolate in the glass bowl over the hot water.
  8. Coat the apple with a thin layer of chocolate by gently spooning melted chocolate on to each apple starting about one fourth inch away from apple top working downward.
  9. If you are using additional toppings dip apples into topping bowls or sprinkle toppings over apples.
  10. Place decorated apples onto parchment paper and refrigerate for fifteen minutes to harden.

Click Here for Full Recipe


 

Although the weather changing, everything pumpkin, and Halloween are all fun things to celebrate, a very important thing to remember is October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation states that:

  • One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today.

 

The good news? Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

Nutrition is also extremely important in the fight against cancer. Keeping a healthy weight is important, because obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. Diet can also directly affect cancer risk. No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But research shows that a diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other plant foods helps lower risk for many cancers.

Here are just some foods that studies have shown may lower your risk of cancer:

 

Cruciferous Vegetables:
Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to cause tumor cell death and reduce tumor size in test-tube and animal studies. A higher intake of cruciferous vegetables may also be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Eat veggies raw or lightly steamed because they lose powerful phytochemicals when overcooked.

Incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet with this yummy recipe for Raw Cauliflower Couscous with Kale and Cabbage from eattobeat.org

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables:
These veggies contain folate and carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that aid cell-to-cell communication that controls cell growth, while folate is essential to protect our DNA, the starting point of any change that leads to cancer. These veggies may lower your risk of breast, skin, lung, stomach, mouth, pharynx and larynx cancer.

Incorporate dark green leafy vegetables into your diet by making homemade pizza and adding lots of fresh spinach! You can try this recipe from Food Network at home or your own (I would also add mushrooms or big slices of fresh tomatoes).

Legumes:
Beans are high in fiber, which may be protective against colorectal cancer. Human and animal studies have found that a higher intake of beans could reduce the risk of colorectal tumors and colon cancer.

Incorporate legumes in your diet by trying this recipe for Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa from onegreenplanet.org

Berries:
Berries contain antioxidants compounds, which may protect your cells from damage linked to cancer. They may also boost your immune system. They are also brimming with other potential cancer-fighters such as vitamin C and fiber. Some test-tube and animal studies have found that the compounds in berries may decrease the growth and spread of certain types of cancer.

Incorporate berries into your diet with my super easy recipe for Acai-Blueberry Anti-Aging Smoothie from my website, ChristineAvanti.com.

Fatty Fish:
Fish consumption may decrease the risk of cancer. In particular, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and anchovies contain important nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked to a lower risk of cancer. Aim for two servings of fatty fish per week to get a hearty dose of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, and to maximize the potential health benefits of these nutrients.

Incorporate fatty fish into your diet with this recipe for Simple Grilled Salmon & Vegetables from eatingwell.com.

Oats:
Antioxidants, such as those found in oatmeal, might help fight cancer and neutralize toxins in your body that increase the risk of cancer, known as free radicals. These free radicals can damage your DNA cells, which may lead to cancer and antioxidants are believed to block them. There are just over 2 grams of dietary fiber in one 1/2-cup serving of dry oatmeal. Numerous studies suggest a connection between high-fiber diets and fighting rectal and colon cancer.

Incorporate oats in your diet by trying my recipe for Steel-Cut Oats with Fresh Cherries, Blueberries and Walnuts from my website, ChristineAvanti.com. Bonus: cherries, blueberries and walnuts are all on the list of cancer-fighting foods!

There are many other healthy options that have had research linking to a reduction in risk of cancer such as: Olive oil, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Citrus Fruits, Whole Grains, Flaxseed, Tomatoes, Garlic, Carrots, Tea, and Cherries.

You can find more facts, stories, resources, and how you can help spread awareness about Breast Cancer this month, and every month on the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website here.


 

“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.” – Stuart Scott

 

 

Christine

Christine’s September 2018 Newsletter

Labor Day is on Monday, September 3rd – that is just a few days away! Can you believe that Fall officially begins this month? Where did summer go? Most people celebrate Labor Day, but do you know exactly why (other than getting a 3-day weekend and a good excuse to BBQ)?

According to dosomething.org, the first US Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. 10,000 workers from the Central Labor Union marched from City Hall all the way to 42nd Street and then met with their families in Wendel’s Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. Labor Day started as a part of the labor union movement, to recognize the contributions of men and women in the US workforce, and in 1884 congress passed a law to make the first Monday in September a legal holiday.

Another fun fact: Traditionally, people did not wear white clothes, particularly shoes After Labor Day. This comes from the tradition when the upper class would return from their summer vacations and stow away their lightweight, white summer clothes as they returned back to school and work. Really, there isn’t any rhyme or reason to it now; it’s a very old tradition that is rarely held onto these days.


Not only is September host to Labor Day (3rd) and the first day of Fall (22nd), It is also National Breakfast Month and National Pancake Day is September 26th – how cool is that? Breakfast is such a fun meal. Not only can it set precedence for the day, but there are so many delicious recipes for breakfast. This may only be my opinion, but I love having breakfast food for lunch and dinner; on the other hand, it’s hard for me to have lunch or dinner recipes for breakfast. Breakfast is an “anytime” type of food!

I have an amazing pancake recipe that is so delicious it could double as a dessert. It may look decadent, but these delicious fresh baked treats are naturally good for you (like always). Oh, and did I mention apples are in season?

German Apple Flax Pancakes

Ingredients

Batter

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apple Mixture

  • 3 cored, halved and thinly sliced green apples
  • 1/4 cup Z sweet (a fantastic natural sweetener you can find at Whole Foods)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Click For Directions and More Info

I love French Toast, but when you add all the powdered sugar, butter and syrup, I’m not sure if there are any nutritional benefits left in the meal; you’re simply left with a sticky mess and a sugar crash later in the day. In my book “Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads”, I have a recipe for Protein-Powered Vanilla French Toast that is a balanced PC combo, which is simply eating a combo of protein and carbs (if you don’t know how to do this effectively, pick up a copy of one of my books, it’s so easy and it will change the way you think about carbs).

Protein-Powered Vanilla French Toast

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ cups liquid egg whites
  • ½ cup vanilla-flavored egg white protein powder, Jay Robb’s brand (found at Whole Foods stores)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup omega-3 light spread
  • 8 large slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup fat-free whipped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 3 ingredients and set aside.
  2. Melt the omega-3 spread as needed in a large nonstick pan over medium heat.
  3. Dip the bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides of each slice well.
  4. Cook the bread approximately 2 minutes on each side, or until golden.
  5. Top with the strawberries and whipped topping

Nutrition facts per serving: 360 calories, 25 grams protein, 47 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat Serves: 4


September is a significant month for honey producers as well, as it is the month that marks the end of the honey collection season for many beekeepers in the United States. Raw Honey has a lot of health benefits. It can aid in cough suppression, is a natural source of energy with 17 grams of carbs per serving, it can be used in cooking, baking, an additive to drinks, skincare, and even has a variety of medicinal uses (we are talking raw honey, not processed).

There are many varietals of honey out there, but if there is one type of honey I would recommend, it would be Manuka honey. You can do your own research on Manuka and find that it is exceptional, with uses varying from improving sleep, IBS remedies, burn treatment, to allergy relief. There is an article on WebMD that outlines the science behind using Manuka honey as medicine and . It can be pricey (and well worth it!). I just got a great deal on Manuka honey at Costco recently, if you have a membership head on over!

Everyone knows that bees make honey. Honey bees collect nectar to create honey and store as food because it provides the energy for bees’ flight muscles and provides heating for the hive in the winter. The good news for us is that the honey bees make more honey than the colony needs, so it is necessary for beekeepers to harvest the excess. Did you know how else they contribute? Bees are responsible for one in every three bites of food: from almonds to berries and the alfalfa that feeds dairy cows, our diets and agricultural economy depend on a healthy bee population.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the honey industry faces many challenges: hive loss, drought, colony collapse and shrinking collection areas. The honey bees actually need our help; here is how you can contribute:

  • Plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and yard.
  • Reduce or limit the use of chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn or garden while plants are in bloom
  • Bees are thirsty. Put a shallow basin of fresh water with marbles or rocks in it for the bees to land on outside your home.
  • Learn how to be a beekeeper with sustainable practices.
  • Donate to an organization dedicated to helping protect and promote honey bees and other pollinators.

Here is a honey recipe from honey.com that will inspire you to protect and promote these pollinators:

Going along with our breakfast theme, this first one would be a great breakfast or even a mid-morning snack or dessert. If you have mason jars lying around, you can make these ahead of time and grab breakfast on the go. (I would substitute fresh vanilla if you have it.)

Honey Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 6 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh berries

Directions

  1. Combine the coconut milk, chia seeds, vanilla and honey in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix well until the honey has dissolved.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferable overnight.
  4. Stir well and divide the pudding into individual portions.
  5. Serve with fresh berries. Add granola, if desired. (yields 4 servings)

Another great way to use honey is in your beauty regimen. Honey can be used to help the skin in many ways. It can reduce acne, shrink pores, give you a glowing complexion, and may even help the aging of your skin.

Honey makes a great cleanser for the face. It actually dissolves makeup very easily, especially if you mix it with a natural oil that doesn’t clog the pores like coconut oil (which is my favorite) or almond oil. It doesn’t do well on eye makeup, so I would steer clear of that delicate area of the face.

Mix your honey and oil together to form a soft texture that is slippery enough to slide across your face. You can add in essential oils, or a pinch of cinnamon or turmeric for a fragrant treat. Massage your mixture all over your face, avoiding the eye area. You’ll start to see your makeup loosening up and your skin will be moisturized at the same time. Rinse off with warm water. Your face will look amazing and feel amazing, too!

This is just one of the things you can do with honey in your beauty routine. This article from Women’s Health about the beauty benefits of honey has some practical ideas of how to use every day. You can also use honey in your hair! Since honey is an emollient, it seals the moisture inside your hair, it also strengthens, cleans, and helps with re-growth. You can read all about those benefits in this article on stylecraze.com.


 

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Christine

Back to School Lunches

We are down to the last month of summer and at the end of the month most kids will start going back to school. Do you have a nutrition plan for your child’s lunches this school year? Packing lunches can certainly be a challenge, especially for picky eaters and sending the same ‘ole sandwich and chips every day is definitely not nutritionally balanced.

It’s much easier to make lunches (just like dinners) if you plan ahead. Throwing together a lunch last minute as you are running out the door in the morning is a recipe for disaster. Planning ahead is crucial. You can even prep all your lunches at the beginning of the week!

Some picky eaters don’t like their food to touch, so buying divided lunch containers to keep food separate is a must! This also adds an element of fun and helps with portion control. Don’t forget to add an ice pack for foods that need to stay cool, such as yogurt, cheese, etc. Food safety is important, especially in August when it’s still warm outside.

If you’re running out of ideas to make for lunch, or have a kid with a particular palate, I’ve got some ideas for how to “brown bag” a nutritious lunch this school year:

  • Include a main dish, veggie, fruit, and “snack” in each lunch.
  • Ideas to include for main dish: eggs, rollups/sandwiches (ham, chicken, cheese, hummus, beans, turkey, avocado), salads, hummus.
  • Ideas for veggies: cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, snap peas, tomatoes, carrots, celery.
  • Ideas for fruit: bananas, apples, berries, peaches, grapes, applesauce, melon, mango, oranges.
  • Ideas for “snacks”: cheese, yogurt, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), raw nuts, dried fruit, nut butter.

Here is what a week of meals could look like:

  • Turkey and cheddar cheese roll-up (on whole wheat tortilla), fresh berries, yogurt, homemade trail mix (this may need to be peanut-free; check your school nut policy)
  • Hard boiled eggs, baby carrots and ranch, pretzels, fresh cut peaches
  • Homemade pizza “Lunchable” with whole-wheat pita, pizza sauce, grated cheese, pepperoni (or chicken), grapes, black olives, broccoli and ranch
  • Sunbutter and multi-grain crackers, green/red pepper slices, nectarine, cheese stick
  • Hummus, pita bread, cucumber slices, snap peas, almonds, (check school’s nut policy), fresh berry mix

**Don’t forget about leftovers! You can send your child’s favorite dinner leftovers to school for lunch.

As an added bonus, keep your child’s nutrition on track with these healthy snack ideas from Jaime Oliver. Make them ahead of time and have snacks ready for an after-school treat! You can see them on his website here.

Did you know that August was National Sandwich Month? It is appropriate given how many kids have sandwiches for lunch every day and they go back to school this month. I prefer to use them as part of an amazing weekend treat, or an easy weekday dinner.

What is your favorite sandwich? Grilled cheese is a comfort food favorite of mine, but you might know that this fried-in-butter sandwich is usually very high in fat. That’s why I decided to make it into a healthy version while keeping all the melty, gooey goodness. Using fresh, organic ingredients will take it from “ho-hum” to haute.

You can also use a Panini Maker to make your grilled cheese (or any sandwich) healthier. I use my Panini Maker to make vegan grilled cheese sandwiches all the time! Here is one at Target for only $29.95!

Guiltless Grilled Cheese with Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Organic Oregano

Ingredients

  • 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
  • 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
  • 1 1/2 Slices fat-free Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
  • olive oil spray

Click For Full Recipe on ChristineAvanti.com

One of the best things about summertime is ripe, fresh, sweet fruits. In August one of my favorites are peaches. You can broil or grill them to bring out their natural sweetness, freeze them and put them in smoothies, or even eat them fresh right off the tree! Either way you eat them, they are delicious

You could try to make this dessert in the winter and it would be pretty good. But in the summer, when the peaches are just bursting with sweet juice and the cherries are blossoming your taste buds are going to freak out!

Peach-Cherry Cobbler

Ingredients

Filling

  • 4 Medium white peaches, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 2 cups Bing cherries, pitted
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup organic palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Topping

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup organic palm sugar (or ZSweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar in the raw (also called turbinado sugar)

Get Full Recipe on ChristineAvanti.com

In California we’ve literally got fresh organic peaches falling from the trees here in the Summertime. The only challenge is to figure out more delicious ways to eat ’em. Here’s one more peachy treat, for breakfast this time.

Peach-Raspberry Parfait

Ingredients

  • 6oz low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Medium peach, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, dried and unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use organic ingredients whenever possible)

Get Full Recipe on ChristineAvanti.com

Even though it will most likely be warm for a couple of months (at least on the West Coast), enjoy the last “official” month of summer. Take some time to soak in the warmth and the beauty of God’s creation this month and appreciate all the wonderful things we have around us.


 

“Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August… “- Denise Levertov

 

Christine

Red, White, and Blue Recipes

With the month of July comes beautiful sun and warm weather; it’s no wonder this month is observed as National Picnic and Parks month! Make sure you get off your devices and go outside. There are so many incredible parks you can explore, and don’t forget to pack a nutritious picnic lunch; you can stop and enjoy a meal in the fresh air.

Independence Day is in a few days away; did you know that 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth of July? According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, that’s enough hot dogs to make a line from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles more than five times. That is a lot of processed meat! Americans consume more hot dogs on July fourth than any other day of the year.

Although traditionally, hot dogs seem to be the winner for 4th of July barbecues, I’ve got some healthier recipes that will be just as popular with any guest at your holiday gathering. Not only that, but they are ALL red, white, and blue! You can try one of these recipes alone or combine them all and your menu is covered for your patriotic themed party this year.

This burger is colorful and perfect for 4th of July. It’s better for you than hot dogs, and much more flavorful too! I would personally use “Beyond Meat” – they are vegan, yet very delicious! A great alternative for anyone pursuing a plant based diet. You can substitute this or any veggie burger of your choice for the ground sirloin in the recipe below.

Red, White, and Bleu Burger

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 large sweet white onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Click For Full Recipe on GeniusKitchen.com

Dressed with a tangy lemon vinaigrette and fresh mint, this healthy red-white-and-blue potato salad makes the perfect potluck contribution. Make it the day before and stir in the peppers and herbs right before you serve it.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds baby potatoes, a mix of white and blue (or purple)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers, rinsed
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Click For Full Recipe on EatingWell.com

You can put these in individual cups as a side dish or dessert at your barbecue or start your 4th of July out with a Red, White and Blue breakfast! It is super quick and easy and who doesn’t love a creamy, fruity treat? Better yet – with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, it is high in animal-friendly protein.

Wild Berry Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups low fat cottage cheese (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Small banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

Click For Full Recipe on ChristineAvanti.com

You can’t forget the sweetest part of the meal, and these are a real treat. Freedom! Not just freedom to light fireworks and live in a free country, but freedom from fats and calories and freedom to shamelessly run around in your swimsuit! You have to try these to believe how amazing they taste!

Cocoberry Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/3 cup cups organic coconut sugar
  • 3 Large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature

Get Full Recipe on ChristineAvanti.com

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy the sun and the fresh air – soak in every moment; don’t take anything for granted!


 

“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.” -John Dickinson

 

 

Christine

Grilling Tips and Recipes

June is one of the best months for breaking in the outdoor grill. It’s just warm enough for outdoor gatherings and it’s not too hot to be unbearable yet for those sensitive to the heat. Memorial Day was just earlier this week and that normally kicks off the official grilling season. How was your first barbecue of the season?

What I love about grilling is that you don’t have to be a professional chef to have serious grilling skills, but it doesn’t help to have a few pointers! Experimenting helps, and if you fail the first time and come back with charred meat, it’s ok – that’s how you learn!

Here are some simple tricks to help you start grilling in the right direction this summer:

Season It Up: Whether this be a marinade or a dry rub, don’t put your meat on the grill without some sort of flavor. My favorite is a simple marinade because marinating does more than give your food flavor; it also inhibits the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines), which form when grilling “muscle meats” like poultry, red meat and fish. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent.

Here is a simple marinade for steaks you can try:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic. Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat Your Grill: Treat your grill just like your oven and preheat your gril about 15 – 25 minutes before you start. This is not just to get your grill to the right temperature but also to kill off any bacteria left on the grill. The temperature you should be aiming for is 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. And don’t forget to clean your grate with a wire brush to get a clean start before putting food on your grill.

Grease It Off: Remember to grease your grate! This is super important to prevent your food from sticking. You can use a paper towel dipped in oil and use tongs to rub the towel lightly on the grate to evenly coat with oil if you don’t have a brush. Using cooking spray on a hot grill is dangerous, so I would not recommend using spray.

Cooking Tips:

  • Before putting your meat on the grill, take the chill off it by letting it sit about 20-30 minutes in room temperature. This will give you a juicier, more evenly cooked meat.
  • Lightly coat veggies in olive oil to prevent sticking or use a grilling basket!
  • After marinating meat, pat dry. Wet meat doesn’t sear; it steams.
  • Resist the temptation to lift the lid and turn meat over and over. Time them! You develop the richest flavor when you leave them alone on the grill and only turn them once or twice.
  • If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat.
  • Let your finished meats rest on a clean plate or platter for at least 10 minutes, tented with foil, before carving so juices can redistribute evenly.

Safety Tips:

  • Reduce flare ups on the grill by selecting lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and removing skin off poultry. When flare ups happen, place the lid on the grill to extinguish flames, or use a squirt bottle of water handy to douse small flames.
  • The best way to know if your protein is fully cooked is to check its internal temperature with a thermometer. This is the safest way to help prevent food poisoning.
  • Make sure you keep things separate. Use fresh plates, utensils, and cutting boards to prevent raw meat, poultry, and fish from contaminating cooked food. And remember to wash your hands and surfaces frequently.

I have some delicious recipes for grilling and have found some others you may enjoy this summer. I’d love to hear your favorite grilling recipes!

There is nothing better than fresh grilled vegetables, especially when they are seasoned with just the right herbs and spices. In this recipe I use loads of fresh organic basil because the taste and health benefits are endless! So when you enjoy this caprese salad this summer you can be confident that you are serving your friends and family a delicious gift of health.

Grilled Portobello Caprese Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced long ways
  • 4 Medium tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 4 rounds

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic mashed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Click For Directions and More Information

This is another soon-to-be Summer classic that is bursting with flavor! Great as a side dish, an easy snack or a light dessert. You won’t believe how amazing fruit tastes on the grill!

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Acai Icelandic Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 cubes watermelon (4 oz)
  • 8 cubes honeydew melon (4 oz)
  • 8 cubes cantaloupe (4 oz)
  • 8 Large strawberries (4 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom honey
  • 6oz Siggi’s Icelandic non-fat acai berry yogurt (greek yogurt will work too)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • 8 lemon grass sticks (or bamboo skewers)
  • mint leaves (for garnish, do not chop)

Click For Directions and More Information

Grilled chicken used to be drab. Not anymore – now it’s bursting with Mediterranean flavors. I know you will love this recipe I adapted from Epicurious

Greek Grilled Chicken with Oregano & Mint Leaves

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 12-inch metal or wooden skewers

Click For Directions and More Information

The last recipe I want to share with you for barbecue season is so easy, there is virtually no cleanup involved! Using foil packets right on top of your grill, it holds in all the flavor and juices of the meal. So easy, you can use while camping, or at home – and you can use this technique with other recipes!

Barbecued Lime Shrimp and Corn

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ears corn, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 cups cooked couscous

Get Directions on MyRecipes.com


I hope you enjoy barbecue season and the recipes I shared with you, I know I will be taking advantage of the warmer weather! It’s not too late to plant a garden this month either, saving money on your own produce, and adding a little organic home-grown touch to every meal.

If you are in Southern California, try planning beans, beets and carrots this month. In Northern California, it’s not too late for corn, cucumber, eggplants and more! No matter where you are, peppers and kale are a great choice of the season. It is never too late to start growing summer herbs and add them to your own recipes. Start with some basil or cilantro to get the hang of it; you never know, you may just develop a love for gardening!

If you have questions about what you can grow in your area, Click Here to find what plants, fruits and vegetables are best to grow at what time of the year for your region.


 

“Friends, sun, sand, and sea, that sounds like a summer to me.” – Unknown

 

 

Christine

Mother’s Day Recipes

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, and that is perfect because in just two short weeks, it will be time to celebrate Mother’s Day and flowers will definitely brighten her day! Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May, and people world-wide will be making a special effort to show their love and support for their mothers by giving gifts, sending cards, spending quality time or my very favorite ideas: making a special Sunday Brunch for that special mom in their life.

I think one of the most special gifts you can give is your time and something homemade from the heart. One way I know how to give a gift from the heart is making a nutritious meal and sharing it with family. This year, consider doing that for the mother figure you are celebrating with on Mother’s Day!

May also has some great national nutritional months to celebrate – National egg and asparagus month! I have an amazing recipe for Asparagus Mini-Frittatas that brings both these foods together and would be incredible for a Mother’s Day surprise. This recipe is a little on the gourmet side and takes more time than most of us have on a typical weekday, so it’s perfect for this special occasion. These nuggets are just delicious and look as gorgeous as they taste If you don’t have a sturdy muffin tin, no worries: I find that the aluminum muffin tins from the grocery store make perfectly baked mini frittatas. Pair them with a piece of toast, and you have the perfect meal and a great PC combo! (to learn more about those, check out my books here).

Asparagus Mini-Frittatas

Ingredients

  • 9 egg whites (Preferably from cage free eggs)
  • 3 whole eggs (Preferably cage free)
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/2 lb asparagus
  • 1 Small onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Click For Directions and More Information

If you are looking for something a little easier, and just as delicious, I also found this great recipe for a Crispy Breakfast Pita on the Food Network’s website. It looks beautiful, only takes 20 minutes to make, and is also a great PC combo!

Crispy Breakfast Pita

Ingredients

  • 6 6-inch pita breads
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • Grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 packed cups (3 ounces) arugula or baby spinach
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Get Directions on Food Network’s Website Here

For another healthy option, you can look on Health.com for their vegetarian omelet That is low calorie and low fat but packed with protein per serving:

Artichoke, Goat Cheese, and Potato Omelet

Ingredients

  • 1 small unpeeled Russet potato
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 drained canned artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat cheese

Get Directions on Health.com’s Website Here

What is a Sunday Brunch without a little bubbly? Your mom deserves to kick her feet up and relax on Mother’s Day and I have two drinks that are amazing substitutes for the traditional mimosas that are sure to “wow” her on her special day. My recipe for Skinny Pomegranate Bellini is an antioxidant-loaded sparkler to help fight off those pesky free radicals and with fresh pomegranates, which are some of the best superfood available, it’s not just beautiful to look at, it’s delicious as well!

Skinny Pomegranate Bellini

Ingredients

  • crushed ice
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (orange flavored liqueur)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 20 oz champagne
  • 8 thin orange slices
  • fresh pomegranate arils (seeds)

Click For Directions and More Information

I found another amazing recipe on Health.com for a yet another great substitute for the traditional mimosa, and it’s another light and refreshing drink loaded with antioxidants that your mom will be sure to enjoy! Add the sophisticated taste of Bergamot and the beautiful color of citrus and it will be a new favorite.

Bergamot Sparkler

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Earl Grey tea bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds/li>
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle prosecco

Get Directions on Health.com’s Website Here

If you are looking to send your mother a gift for Mother’s Day, I found a good article on gifts under $50 that could inspire you to find the perfect gift this year! You can find it on Mashable’s website here.


This month, hopefully where you are, the sun is starting to come out! And with more sun, that means people are starting to venture out more and do outdoor activities, which is so good for your overall health. Because this is the beginning of the outdoor season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have named May National Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes ticks, also known as deer ticks, and on the West Coast, black-legged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. Although people may think of Lyme as an East Coast disease, it is found throughout the United States, as well as in more than sixty other countries [lymedisease.org].

Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The CDC notes that it is most common in children, older adults, and others such as firefighters and park rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks. If you think you have been exposed to a tick, you should always talk to a healthcare professional. You can also check the symptom checklist online to document your symptoms and take that to your next appointment for discussion.

Prevention is key! Here are some helpful tips to help you this summer, and to help you spread awareness for Lyme Disease Prevention:

  1. Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  2. Apply repellent before participating in outdoor activities.
  3. Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check using a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the underarms, belly button, behind the knees and on the scalp.
  4. Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  5. Check pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible if one is present. Pets can carry ticks inside homes as they hide in their fur.
  6. Protect pets by reaching out to your local veterinarian. They usually offer a variety of products for protecting animals from tick-borne diseases.
  7. Consult a licensed and trained green industry professional to spray the yard’s perimeter to reduce tick populations.

You can learn more about Lyme Disease and about personal protection on LymeDisease.org.


 

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” —Maya Angelou

 

 

Christine

Embrace Your Voice in April

April is a month full of hope; spring is officially here! Spring can represent so many things: hope, new life, reflection, transformation. There is a beautiful quote from Harriet Ann Jacobs that says: “The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” Easter also represents that same thing: hope, transformation, and new life!

There are some amazing foods that are available in spring! As the winter ends, the season gives new life to some really delicious possibilities. Just look at how many fruits and vegetables that are in season during this time of year:

Apricots
Mangos
Artichokes
Morels
Asparagus
Peas
Avocadoes
Pineapples
Carrots
Potatoes
Chives
Radishes
Fava Beans
Rhubarb
Fennel
Spinach
Leeks
Watercress

I am loving what you can do with spring peas! Just look at this incredible recipe I found for Green Pea and Parsley Hummus on CookingLight.com:

Green Pea and Parsley Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups thawed frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Raw vegetables

Get Directions on Cooking Light’s Website Here.

There is another great recipe on Food & Wine for a flavorful falafel using spring peas, and instead of deep-frying the falafel patties, this recipe calls for sautéing them in a lightly oiled pan. They are also served with a low-fat yogurt sauce instead of the usual rich sesame-based tahini.

Spring Pea Falafel with Marinated Radishes and Minted Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried green split peas
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Get Directions on Food & Wine’s Website Here.

This Easter, do a little something different with your eggs! I found this recipe for Turmeric Deviled Eggs on Cooking Light’s Website that are not only beautiful enough to put on a centerpiece but tasty, too!

Turmeric-Pickled Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric or 1 Tbsp. dried ground turmeric
  • 2 3/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 12 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon Madras curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Additional chopped chives (optional)

Get Directions on Cooking Light’s Website Here.

You can find more recipes for spring on Cooking Light’s full article online here.


This month I wanted to also write about giving hope to those that may not yet found that. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month, I want to encourage my readers to “Embrace Your Voice” and inform others how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens. There is hope! The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has many resources, including the following about Sexual Violence and Awareness:

WHAT IS SEXUAL VIOLENCE:

  • Sexual Violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact – including sexual assault and rape.
  • This can include words and actions like sexual harassment, catcalling and nonconsensual sharing of private images like “revenge porn”.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE IMPACTS EVERYONE:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 67 men in the U.S have experience rape or attempted rape some time in their lives (smith et al., 2017)
  • Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and senior citizens.

VICTIMS OFTEN KNOW THE PERSON WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED THEM:

  • People who sexually abuse can be family members, friends, romantic partners, or other trusted individuals.
  • They may use coercion, manipulation, threats, or force to commit sexual violence.

VICTIMS ARE NEVER TO BLAME:

  • It doesn’t matter what someone was wearing, how they were acting, if they were drinking, or what type of relationship they had with the person who abused them.

SEXUAL ASSAULT IS OFTEN NOT REPORTED:

  • A person may not report what happened for many reasons:
    • concern they won’t be believed
    • fear of retaliation
    • distrust of law enforcement
    • shame or fear of being blamed
    • pressure from others

HEALING AND JUSTICE LOOK DIFFERENT FOR EVERY SURVIVOR:

  • A survivor may or may not choose to move forward with the criminal justice system.
  • Healing is an ongoing process. Everyone heals in their own time and their own way.

YOU CAN SUPPORT SURVIVORS:

  • Chances are you know someone who has experienced sexual violence even if they haven’t told you.
  • They are listening to how you talk about the issue, and hearing that you understand and believe survivors may help them feel safe.

EMBRACE YOUR VOICE:

  • Sexual violence thrives when it is not taken seriously and victim blaming goes unchecked.
  • Your voice is essential in setting the record straight on sexual violence

You may be wondering how you can get involved to help end sexual violence? The movement to end the crisis relies on people who’ve made a choice to do something and get involved, and there are many ways you can begin work to support survivors and preventing sexual violence before it ever happens.

Volunteer: There are many community rape crisis centers locally in your area that you can get involved in. Whether that be answering phone calls, talking to students, or helping implement programs in your area, there is always a need to be filled. You can check out the nearest crisis center to you at NSVRC’s website online here.

Organize: Throughout the country, passionate groups of community members organize events, plays, and rallies to raise awareness about sexual violence. If there isn’t an organization in your town, you can rally together like-minded individuals and start your own organization; your nearest community rape crisis center can often give advice and point you in the right direction.

Learn: There are a lot of local and online resources to help try and understand the root causes of sexual violence. Learning about sexual violence and becoming part of the national conversation and becoming an advocate for survivors is an important part of prevention.

Donate: Working to address sexual violence, like most social change efforts, takes funding to function. Finding a local cause that is working toward the same goal and donating to that cause is crucial to moving this effort forward.

Some amazing foundations that JDFF and I have worked closely with that play an important role in ending sexual violence globally and locally are:

The Dream Center LA:

Currently, JDFF is hosting the 4th annual “Fostering Hope” Women’s luncheon for The Dream Center LA. Right now, the Dream Center has 30 families that are in their homeless family floor, their goal is to get 12 of those families sponsored in the program for one year as they transition from the program into independent living. For example, they currently have a mom with her two children living at the Dream Center who was rescued from human trafficking. She was trafficked from the age of 13 years old. To date they have helped her get on her feet, get her GED, medical care, and schooling for her lovely children. It’s women like this that we support and help on a daily basis at the Dream Center.

Thorn:

Thorn joins forces with the sharpest minds from tech, non-profit, government and law enforcement. They work to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and stand up to child traffickers. They are also uncovering new kinds of abuse, and fighting those too.

There are many resources you can find online that can help you learn about sexual violence and talk about that with your children, family and loved ones; here are a few of many resources available that you can use this month for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and beyond:

Learn the Facts About Sexual Violence
Healthy Communications with Kids
Everyday Consent

Together we can “Embrace Our Voice” to inform individuals on how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens!


 

Isaiah 40:31
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

 

 

 

Christine

Go Further with Food in March

I am so passionate about educating people in proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. March is recognized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as National Nutrition Month and 2018’s theme is Go Further with Food. This is an important theme for many reasons. The foods you prepare at home have a positive impact on you and your family, so the food choices you make are super important!

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and come back home with a ton of food and then nothing to make for dinner? All those ingredients but not a well-thought out plan of what to do with them? Having a lot of great nutritious food is great, but without a plan, you could still end up wasting most of what you purchased.

Did you know that it’s been estimated that Americans throw away 90 billion pounds of food each year either at home or when eating out? Not all food that is wasted can be saved and eaten, but it’s been proven that a lot of food waste could be prevented, especially at home. Having a plan will help you Go Further with Food.

You should be cooking at home more and eating out less. Most foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. A well-thought out list will help your budget and get you through your grocery store faster.

A good place to start is right in your own kitchen. Here are a few tips that will help:

Plan Meals Based on the Foods You Already Have on Hand.

  • Look in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry for foods that need to be used up.
  • Write a list of the ingredients you still need
  • Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days. It is especially important for perishable foods, like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and seafood.

Eating healthy plays an important role in not only in watching your weight, but can only help with cholesterol, blood pressure and an overall healthy lifestyle! This can be a first start to prevention.

Here are more tips to help you shop smarter:

Plan Out Your Menu: Go through and plan what you are going to have each night of the week. This is your “menu”. You can do this for breakfast, lunch, and dinners; this way, you have planned out all three meals. Try for a 5 or 7-day menu plan. Write down each meal you are going to prepare and serve. Browse cookbooks or online recipes for inspiration. I have many ideas on my website here.

List Ingredients: Under each meal, list all ingredients and how much of each ingredient for every meal. You can leave out the things you already have in the kitchen (for example, if you already have salt and pepper, you won’t need that at the grocery store).

List All Misc. Grocery Needs: You already have more than half your grocery list done! Now that you have a menu and those items on your list, write out everything else you need on your list. This can be things like milk, coffee, eggs, etc.

Organize List: Now, if you are anything like me, I like to organize my grocery list into sections: dairy, vegetables, toiletries, etc. This way, it is easier to find in the store. Plus, the more times you spend on your list, the less likely you are to need to look at it while in the store.

**Don’t forget to write down your menu and links or page number and cookbook where you found recipes, so you remember what you are cooking for the week!

Now you have an organized list, a menu plan for the week and you are ready to go to the grocery store. I always have a healthy snack before I go to on my shopping trip, so I don’t make impulse buys. Remember, you’ve already done the hard part; you’ve made the healthy food choices, written them down and now you just need to follow through on those good choices in-store!

Eating Right on a Budget:

You can add to your arsenal of tips with even more budget-friendly tips from eatright.org:

Decide How Much to Make: Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later on. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use. Plus, foods purchased in bulk are almost always cheaper.

Determine Where to Shop: Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales and coupons, especially when it comes to more expensive ingredients, such as meat and seafood. While at the store, compare prices of different brands and different sizes of the same brand to see which has a lower unit price. The unit price is usually located on the shelf directly below the product.

Shop for Foods That are In Season: Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Your local farmer’s market is also a great source of seasonal produce. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Focus on Nutritious, Low-Cost Foods: Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Make Your Own Healthy Snacks: Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one- cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to pre-packaged items.


Here are some recipes from my website to help you this month make healthier food choices and Go Further with Food:

Grilled cheese is a comfort food favorite, but you might know that this fried-in-butter sandwich is usually very high in fat. That’s why I decided to make it into a healthy version while keeping all the melty, gooey goodness. Fresh organic ingredients take it from ho-hum to haute. This is also an easy go-to with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, which makes it budget-friendly recipe for lunch or dinner!

Guiltless Grilled Cheese with Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Organic Oregano

Ingredients

  • 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
  • 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
  • 1 1/2 Slices fat-free Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
  • olive oil spray

Click for directions and more information


This recipe is great for leftovers, getting the most out of your turkey. You can substitute turkey for any leftover meat that you have, but I find that turkey works best. Great for lunches or dinner, your whole family is going to love these spicy Chimichangas!

Turkey Chimichangas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup leftover turkey (finely chopped)
  • 1 packet low sodium Taco seasoning mix (any brand)
  • 2/3 cups water
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup prepared fresh salsa
  • 2/3 cups fat-free refried black beans with jalapenos
  • 2 tablespoons diced green chilies (canned)
  • 2 Large whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/4 cup non-fat sour cream

Click for directions and more information here

You can also check out my Crispy-Chewy Chicken Tacos and use leftover chicken in the recipe for another way to repurpose leftovers.


So excited for you to Go Further with Food this month, starting by planning well thought-out meals for you and your family! It’s a perfect time to start making changes in your nutrition that will make big differences in your long-term health!

Christine

Get Heart Healthy in February

February is American Heart Month and tomorrow, February 2nd is National Wear Red Day, in hopes of raising awareness for Women and Heart Disease Prevention. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Heart disease is classified as any heart condition that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. These can be anything from Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, congenital heart disease, Arrhythmia, and more. You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Manage stress.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

Eating healthy plays an important role in not only in watching your weight, but can only help with cholesterol, blood pressure and an overall healthy lifestyle! This can be a first start to prevention.

Here are some heart-healthy foods to look out for and incorporate into your diet:

Salmon: According to the Mayo Clinic, Fish contain unsaturated fatty acids, which, when substituted for saturated fatty acids such as those in meat, may lower your cholesterol. But the main beneficial nutrient appears to be omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.

Walnuts: In an article on Webmd.com, Nibbling on 5 ounces of nuts each week may cut your risk of heart disease in half. Walnuts have lots of “good” fats. When you use these monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats (such as butter), you cut your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol.

Berries: According to studies, berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries) are loaded with polyphenols — antioxidants that basically soak up damage-causing free radicals in your body. They also deliver fiber and vitamin C, which are both linked to a lower risk of stroke.

Oatmeal: If you start your day out with oatmeal, you are getting a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. Oats are fiber-rich and can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.

Avocados: Avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. Avocados are also a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. If that wasn’t enough reason to eat them, they provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids!

Pomegranate: According to Health Magazine, pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries. One study of heart disease patients found that a daily dose of pomegranate juice over three months showed improvements in blood flow to the heart.

Potatoes: As long as they aren’t fried, potatoes actually have a lot of health benefits. Potatoes are cholesterol-free and have zero saturated fat and diets low in both may reduce risk of heart disease. Potatoes are also rich in potassium (which can help lower blood pressure), low in sodium, a good source of fiber (which can lower the risk for heart disease), and a good source of both Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.


If all that made you hungry, I’ve got a few of recipes that include some heart-healthy foods mentioned above that will help get you started on the road to good heart-healthy nutrition this month!

Two of the highest ORAC superfruits are blueberries and acai berries. This smoothie combines them both into a single, nutrient-balanced and delicious drink that is a great breakfast or even a post-workout meal replacement.

Blueberries are excellent for the skin and acai berries are known for their super-high antioxidant power, and as we’ve learned, may reduce the risk of heart disease. I’ve also included some monounsaturated fats (healthy fats) and great-tasting egg white protein to keep you full longer. Enjoy!

Acai-Blueberry Anti-Aging Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic blueberries, frozen
  • 1 scoop protein powder, Jay Robb’s egg white
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup acai berry juice
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 10 ice cubes

Click for directions and more information


This new spin on fries is super high-presentation and surprisingly easy. No peeling necessary. You can even bring these as a super easy, heart-healthy Super Bowl snack this weekend to your party – no deep frying with these fries!

Purple and Sweet Potato Fries with Herb Dip

Ingredients
Fries

  • 1lb purple potatoes (or sweet potatoes if you cannot find purple)
  • 1lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • cooking spray

Herb Dip

  • 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley

Click for directions and more information here


This recipe is super quick and easy and who doesn’t love a creamy, fruity treat? Plus, it’s combined with heart-healthy berries – you can’t go wrong!

Better yet – with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, it is high in animal-friendly protein.

Wild Berry Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups low fat cottage cheese (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Small banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

Click for directions and more information


Don’t forget to wear red tomorrow to raise awareness For Women and Heart Disease Prevention. You can make a difference in your community: Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives!

You can learn more about heart disease online here.

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” Nathaniel Branden

Christine

A Year In Review

It’s a New Year! Last year went by so fast! It was filled with so many things, both challenging and exciting. I was blessed to be able to be part of so many incredible things with the Jonathan D. Fischer Foundation.

If you don’t already know what JDFF is, A number of years ago my wonderful husband and I created our foundation – JDFF (www.jdff.ca) out of our mutual philanthropic passion – we wanted to inspire and empower people to make the world a better place by providing a hand up, through education, kindness, and generosity. We kicked off 2017 with Jonathon participating in the World Marathon Challenge – 7 Marathons in 7 Days on 7 Continents, it is the only event that offers the opportunity to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Participants run 295 km (183 miles) over the seven-day period, spend 59 hours in the air and fly approximately 38,000 km. You can read more about JDFF’s participation in the race here.

Jonathon had to withdrawal early from the race due to injury, but we were so honored that Mike Wardian, Marathon champion and World Marathon Challenge leader, wore his bib (#10) on this back for the duration of the race and set a new world record during the marathon. All his Marathon family wrote his number on their hands so he could be with them in spirit and finish the race; what an amazing gesture by such a close knit-group of people.


In February Jonathon and I traveled to Guatemala for the John Maxwell Team Leadership Conference and Missions Trip where we were able to give away Spanish bibles to thousands of people.

We were also able to meet with the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales and Guatemala Prospera – an organization that works with communities across Guatemala. They have been training with John Maxwell’s Leadership program called Equip for 3 years. Guatemala Prospera then passes on the Equip leadership principals to the Guatemalan communities.

Think of Guatemala Prospera as the “boots on the ground” in Guatemala for positive change. They help build schools, water wells, job training with faith based principals. It was an honor to begin our partnership with the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation and Guatemala Prospera to transform Guatemalans into strong leaders.

Here we are at The Dome in Guatemala City, filled with over 8,000 “Equip” leaders who teach leadership in their local schools, community centers, churches and work places- 8,000 leaders each teach 10 leaders in training which creates 80,000 new leaders, who then teach 10 leaders- for a total 800,000 new leaders in Guatemala- teaching morals, values, work ethics, small business skills etc. This is how a country can transform into a prosperous nation!

We are so excited for the future of Guatemala!


In May, we were so encouraged by the women who joined us for our Annual Women’s Luncheon benefiting our Foster Care Intervention Program! We also had the pleasure of presenting an incredible woman of God, Roma Downey, with the 2017 Women’s Impact Award! Roma uses her platform to glorify God and positively influence others. We’re honored to have women like her supporting the vision of the Dream Center. JDFF had the honor of sponsoring this incredible event and I love attending this every year! You can learn more about the Foster Intervention Program here.


In September, we were excited to be able to attend the celebrity fight night charity event in Italy. Since the first event they have raised $142 million that has provided valuable support to many charities, primarily the Barrow Neurological Foundation. Barrow Neurological Institute is the world’s largest neurological disease treatment and research institution. In 2017 in addition to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, they have added the support of the BNI’s Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Disorders Program. It is always an incredible night, full of laughter, fun and friends. JDFF loves being part of this, and Jonathon and I are proud to be supporters of such are great organization. You can learn more about Celebrity Fight Night here.


In October, we were back in Canada and I was able to visit another place that is dear to my heart – Dog Guides Lions Foundation of Canada. From guiding their handlers through their daily lives to getting help when it’s needed most, Dog Guides play a crucial role in the lives of Canadians with disabilities. Their mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them Dog Guides at no cost. This is such a great organization and I love the heart behind it. I love visiting them, and I had such a fun time. JDFF was proud to match donations on Giving Tuesday for any donations giving to LFC Dog Guides. They are incredible people, doing amazing work. You can learn more about them here.


If you haven’t yet, you should take a look back on your year and look at the blessings, challenges, excitement, highs and lows. Learn from the challenges, soak in the blessings and be thankful for the rewards.

Maybe last year wasn’t as wonderful as you’d like it to be. Take note of that, make changes in 2018 year based on 2017 – This year is new and full of possibilities! If you are needing a little detox in your life, both mental and physical, let’s start with the physical. It’s not for the faint of heart but this detox shot is loaded with all-natural, potent superfood detoxing nutrients to get rid of the toxins of 2017 and get you started on a healthy 2018. And while you are waiting for the recipe to chill, try some mindful meditation and detox the mind:

THE NEW DECADE DIVA SHOT

Ingredients

  • 1 Beet, Roasted
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro
  • 1 Medium Tomato
  • 1 handful Broccoli Florets
  • 1 handful Spinach Leaves
  • 1 handful Dandelion Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Green Onion
  • 1 cup Skinny Chicks Detox Tea

Directions

Step 1 – To roast beet: Preheat oven to 375.

Step 2 – Wash and wrap beet tightly in foil.

Step 3 – Place on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 1 hour or until tender enough to poke through easily with a knife.

Step 4 – Blend all ingredients in a blender.

Step 5 – Chill for 1 hour to overnight. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Click here for nutrition facts and more info


Here is the recipe for the detox tea that is called for in the Detox Shot:

CHRISTINE’S DETOX TEA

Ingredients

  • 3oz fresh ginger (peeled and sliced)
  • 3 dandelion root tea bags
  • 3 milk thistle tea bags
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 30 drops artichoke extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Step 1 – Combine 5 cups of water and the ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and boil for 1 minute.

Step 2 – Remove from the heat. Add the tea bags and cinnamon sticks. Cover and steep for 15 minutes.

Step 3 – Strain into a large pitcher.

Step 4 – Add the artichoke extract and lemon juice.

Step 5 – Stir and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.

Click here for nutrition facts and more info


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

Happy New Year!

Christine

Gifts That Give Back

Every year in December, I love to dedicate my newsletter to “Gifts that Give Back” and this year is no exception! Christmas is especially significant; gift giving, family getting together, Christmas dinner, and the feelings of love and joy are even more vivid this time of year. When gifting, I think it is even more significant when your gift is impacting another, and so I started sharing my ideas with you, my readers! How awesome is it when we can give back to those who may not have as much as us in a season of giving!

Here are a few gifts I’ve found that were unique and memorable to me. I hope you find them just as special as I did.

SOAP CO.

The Soap Co. aims to create products “which are good and do good”, employing people who are blind, disabled or disadvantaged to make their soap-based products and putting all their profits back into the business. So although they don’t “donate” to a charity, their entire business model is providing opportunity to those individuals that would otherwise may not have that chance. You can learn about the impact they make here on the page about the people that make their products possible.

All their products are made in the UK, paraben free and are never tested on animals. They have a selection of 5 different fragrances and all collections are eco-friendly; all are available as a hand wash or hand lotion – but their new collection also includes body wash and body lotion. They even have a special collection for Christmas. You can find that online by clicking here.


PHILOSOPHY

Any Philosophy product purchase that you make actually goes toward the greater good thanks to its Hope & Grace Initiative. The brand has made a commitment to support women’s mental health care, with one percent of all net product sales going to community-based mental health efforts. I really believe this is an important cause and think it’s amazing that all purchases go toward this, and not just a select few.

For Christmas, they have some of their bestselling skin-care products in one set – “Glowing all the Way”. But Philosophy doesn’t just have skin-care products, they have fragrance, bath & body, and even makeup, so any beauty purchase you make, you know your purchase will be giving back to support woman’s mental health care.


GOOD CUBED

There is another beauty company I love that gives back part of all purchases made to their company. This Company is called Good Cubed. This company was founded by a husband and wife team and are life-long animal lovers so their mission is to give animals a greater voice while connecting consumers with beauty products that are 100% cruelty free. So not only are all the products on their site cruelty free, over 60% of their products are completely vegan.

They have a variety of beauty products on their site that are all environmentally conscious. Check out this Vegan Lipstick Fundamental by Axiology. This is a great color for most skin tones and it is made of all natural ingredients. It even has elderberry extract and sweet orange oil in it! And the best part? 1% of all purchases go to the Beagle Freedom Project, and will help save as many Beagles from laboratories as possible so that they may be given a chance at life.


FIRE DEPOT COFFEE

I love a good cup of coffee, and it’s hard to find a good, smooth bean. I love that Fire Depot Coffee is made by Firefighters and Military personnel. Direct from their website: “if there’s one thing we learned during our years in the military and the fire service, it’s that a good cup of coffee and a well-timed jolt of caffeine are essential for long nights and high-octane lifestyles.”

They have a Christmas Blend that is described as smelling like “Christmas morning” – who wouldn’t want to drink that? And, they even have Bourbon, Rum, and Tequila-Infused Coffees. Every order is fresh roasted, meaning they are small-batch roasted to order, it isn’t sitting around forever; these are fresh beans! And a portion of every order goes to support firefighter and military charities. It’s great coffee for a great cause. You can check out their charities page to find out how they are helping take care of our nation’s heroes through their organization.


GOOD SPREAD LIFESAVING PEANUT BUTTER

I love what this next company is doing. Good Spread’s Unsweetened Probiotic Peanut Butter is USDA organic, no sugar added, Ganeden BC30 Probiotic mixed in! (GREAT for your digestive health!), super creamy and smooth, sustainably sourced, and Non-GMO. Now before you ask “how can I give this as a gift?” What kid doesn’t like peanut butter? This is a great stocking stuffer! And it’s healthy and tastes great! This is my absolute favorite, but if you are looking for something else, they have other lifesaving flavors available (hint, there’s chocolate).

What is so great about this product (aside from the amazing health benefits)? When you buy a jar of Lifesaving Peanut Butter, you provide Lifesaving MANA (a ready-to-use Therapeutic Food – fortified, peanut butter-based medicine) to a malnourished child. The effects are lifesaving. In less than 6 weeks, 96% of children are completely cured. Simple and magical, just like peanut butter. You can even track your impact!


BLOOM & GIVE

At Bloom & Give, their mission is simple: Girls Education Matters – and yes, I believe it certainly does! In developing countries like India, education is the most effective way for a girl to escape the cycle of childhood marriage, pre-teen pregnancy, and abuse. Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to programs that send girls to school. That means 10 – 20% of your purchase goes towards two different programs that they donate towards, one of which targets entire village communities, and the other that directly fund schools. You can learn more about how they give online here.

Every cook needs an apron! Why not buy one that will send a girl to school? This apron is hand-woven and even comes with its own gift bag and card. They are made from scratch and beautiful. If the special cook in your life already has an apron, you can check out these beautiful chef’s towels. They get softer with each wash, and you know when you’re baking all those Christmas goodies, things are bound to get a bit messy =)


FREE THE CHILDREN

This charity is close to my heart because I work with them directly with The Jonathon D Fischer Foundation, and I have seen first-hand the impact they have on the communities they serve. Free The Children has a way to give directly to the WE charity, or shop by the different collaborations they have put together. You can even track your impact after you give to the organization on their website. How incredible is that?!

They have a holiday gift guide that has gifts for every budget. Every gift in this catalogue empowers a child, family or entire community with the tools and resources to create a better life. By giving gifts of impact and intention this holiday season, you can help break the cycle of poverty. You can shop the ME to WE holiday gift guide online here.


THE ETHICAL SILK COMPANY

The Ethical Silk Company has a variety of silk products, from sleep masks to robes. All silk used by The Ethical Silk Company is Ahimsa peace silk, a 100% eco-friendly mulberry silk, supplied by Ahimsa Silks. You can find out more about their eco-friendly silk here.

What I love about their products and this company (and the reason why they made my list this year) is not only are they eco-friendly, but they give back to not only one, but TWO organizations! You can read about how they give back from the Social Responsibility section on the about us page of their website: “On one trip to India, I visited the Jeevan Jyothi AIDS Centre in Theni. Having seen the tireless work carried out by the staff, I decided to pledge 5% company profits to the centre. Focus Ireland, a charity that works to prevent people becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness, also receive 5% company profits.”

To see all products, and to order from their website, you can shop their website online here.


WORLD VISION

The next group of gifts that made my list are all beautifully handcrafted by World Vision. Each gift purchased includes a card explaining how that gift will help children and families around the world. All proceeds benefit World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian organization which partners with children, families, and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

There are so many gifts from jewelry to coffee, and you know that your money is going to a great cause, benefiting children and families in need all over the world. You can find these gifts online by clicking here.


SONGA DESIGNS

I came across these beautiful necklaces that are very unique. Each one is different; no two are the same. These necklaces are sold on songadesigns.com – ‘Songa’ means ‘the path forward’ in Swahili. All of the designs are handcrafted by women in Rwanda. It is typical for many women in under-resourced countries to depend solely on their husbands for financial needs. The mission of Songa is to create independence through steady employment where the women can earn money on their own, so each design the women make furthers them along the path of financial independence.

Designs can take a woman between 3 – 5 days to create depending on how intricate the weave is. Songa’s designs are created using carefully selected natural materials that are locally sourced and eco-friendly. This particular design pictured is called the Arabella Choker and many others can be found on their website here.


SUDHARA

The last on my list is definitely not the least! They are Punjammies Pants by Sudhara. I love a pair of comfy pajama pants, and these pajamas are as comfortable as they are stylish. They have a loose fit and are 100-percent rayon fabric. Each pair is made proudly in India by women working to forge a new path, free from sex slavery.

From the website: “Our punjammies inspired by the beauty, colors and textures seen throughout the local culture and are crafted by brave women in the community who wish to remain free from the trade they escaped,”

You can find these punjammies on their website, and other products by clicking here.


If you are traveling this holiday season, and want to dine out at a local restaurant that is socially responsible and gives back to their community, check out this awesome article I found that lists out these amazing restaurants all over the United States that do some incredible philanthropic work and give back! (Don’t miss slide #3, Homegirl Café, right here in Los Angeles, that empowers at-risk local women to leave gang life, build professional expertise and receive other service from legal aid to GED prep!)

If you aren’t looking to buy a gift that gives back to charity, and want to simply donate directly to a great cause, here are a handful of amazing charities that I have worked directly with and rely on the support of donations to continue their incredible work:

Sick Kids Foundation:

Their vision is simple: Healthier Children. A Better World. “We believe fighting for the health and wellbeing of children is one of the most powerful ways to improve society.” You can learn more about them here.

You can donate directly to them by going to their donate page here.

Thorn:

“We join forces with the sharpest minds from tech, non-profit, government and law enforcement. We work to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and stand up to child traffickers. We’re also uncovering new kinds of abuse, and fighting those too.” You can learn more about them here.

You can donate directly to them by going to their donate page here.

Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides:

“Lions Foundation of Canada’s mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them Dog Guides at no cost.” You can learn more about them here.

You can donate directly to them by going to their donate page here.

The Dream Center:

“The Dream Center is a faith-based charitable organization that finds and fills the needs of struggling people from all over the United States. Since 1995, thousands of individuals and families have found hope and healing through the programs that only the Dream Center offers. The Dream Center aims to not only meet the immediate needs of communities like providing food and clothing, but also focuses on the full successful transformation of people’s lives, all free of charge.” You can learn more about them here.

You can donate directly to them by going to their donate page here.


The blessings of peace,
The beauty of hope,
The spirit of love,
The comfort of faith

May this be your gifts this Christmas season.

Christine

Christine’s 2017 November Newsletter

The end of the year is almost upon us, and just as yesterday came with loads of candy, the holidays will keep coming, and with them, a never-ending supply of yummy food! It is understandable to have some anxiety with the holidays; big family gatherings, planning, financial stress – but if you stick to your goals and plan your food, you can keep your food stress to a minimum. Yummy food doesn’t have to be unhealthy and you can definitely enjoy healthy food – with no guilt or anxiety attached!

Since there is so much food talk in November, it’s no surprise November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, specifically because type 2 diabetes is on the rise. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. One in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. And another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Depending on your age, weight, and other factors, you may be at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that making healthy changes can greatly lower your risk. To help prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Watch your weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Get more physical activity

You can learn more about type 1 and type 2 diabetes on the American Diabetes Association website by clicking here.


Apples are in season this month, and it’s quite fitting that it’s also National Apple Month. I have this amazing recipe for German Apple Flax Pancakes that are delicious and also delightfully nutritious. This would be an amazing addition to a Thanksgiving breakfast:

German Apple Flax Pancakes:

Ingredients

Batter

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apple Mixture

  • 3 cored, halved and thinly sliced green apples
  • 1/4 cup Z sweet (a fantastic natural sweetener you can find at Whole Foods)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Click for full recipe and directions


Did you know that November 16th is National Fast Food Day? Around here we think of fast food as something that is quick to make, provides a PC combo (if you don’t know what a PC combo is, check out my books by clicking here) and gets you out the door and on with your day – without having to stop at the traditional fast food places. For a great fast recipe try my Pumpkin Pie Cottage Cheese.

Side note: Have you ever been to a holiday party or a Thanksgiving gathering where everyone brings pumpkin pie for dessert? If you are wanting a different take on pumpkin pie, or wanting a faster alternative, you could also bring this instead. And, depending on the ingredients you use (read your labels), this is a great gluten free alternative!

Skinny Pumpkin Pie Cottage Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups nonfat cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cups organic packed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon organic raisins
  • 1 tablespoon crushed walnuts
  • Cinnamon

Directions

Step 1 – Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

Step 2 – Mix well.

Step 3 – Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.


After a big meal like Thanksgiving, you want to eat something pure, healthy and fresh so you can sort of recover as you venture out into the cold and shop your heart out (is this just me 😉 ?). And there’s still no better feel-good meal than a homemade soup to warm you up.

This recipe is low in fat and high in nutrients, perfect for detoxing from a food hangover. Add some toasted sourdough bread for the perfect PC Combo. What is also perfect about this recipe, is that you can use your leftover turkey! What’s not to love about that?

Day-After Detox (Chipotle-Mushroom) Turkey Soup with Rice:

Ingredients

  • 32oz chicken stock or broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chipotles in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1lb roasted turkey, or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges for garnish

Click for full recipe and directions


Psalm 100:4

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christine

Nutrition Tricks and Treats

It is officially sweater weather! But don’t let the holidays coming up let you slip back into unhealthy eating! Fall into healthy eating, and feel good all year round.

This month, Halloween sneaks up fast with all the yummy goodies. Since Halloween is the kick-off to the holiday season, it is a great time to practice mindfulness and portion control. Some easy ways to do that is plan your meals, eat a healthy snack before you go to parties (or before you go trick-or-treating) so that you won’t over-indulge, stay active, and read your labels. It’s ok to indulge! But don’t over-indulge. Instead of eating a full-size candy bar, eat a fun-size candy – you’ll thank yourself later!

If you’re carving pumpkins this year – don’t throw out those seeds! Keep them for a toasty treat.

Did you know that in just once ounce (about 86 seeds) of pumpkin seeds there are 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of fat? Pumpkin seeds are also rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and many other nutrients. An ounce (28 grams) contains about 126 calories.

There are many health benefits of pumpkin seeds:

  • Heart Healthy Magnesium
  • Zinc for Immune Support
  • Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats
  • Prostate Health
  • Anti-Diabetic Effects
  • Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
  • Heart and Liver Health
  • Tryptophan for Restful Sleep

To toast your pumpkin seeds, rise them off well. You want to make sure they are rinsed well to get all the pulp and strings off. Spread all the seeds on a baking sheet that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray or drizzle a small amount of olive oil over seeds and mix well. Bake at 325°F for about 30 minutes or until toasted to your desired color. Make sure you stir them occasionally during the cooking process so they cook evenly.

Try spicing them up and seasoning them with garlic powder or Cajun powder to give it an extra kick!

If you aren’t a fan of roasted pumpkins on their own, or you want to make a kid-friendly snack with your pumpkin seeds, try adding them with a few ingredients and you have a fun, easy, on-the-go snack for anytime.

  • 2 Cups of Wheat or Rice Square Cereal
  • 1/2 cup roasted whole pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy. You can separate in snack baggies and grab on the go when you need a quick snack.


Speaking of healthy snacks, sometimes the most delicious treats are made from the most simple ingredients. When you feel your sweet tooth coming on, instead of reaching for your Halloween candy, try my fast, easy recipe for Dark Chocolate Dipped Apricots. It doesn’t get much easier to make than this. Low-effort, high-presentation, high-taste, and high-health – just how I like it!

Dark Chocolate Dipped Apricots

Ingredients

  • 8oz Dark Chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao) (finely chopped)
  • 18oz Dried Turkish apricots

Directions:

Step 1 – Melt chocolate in the microwave. Try running at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between.

Step 2 – Work quickly and dip half of dried apricot into chocolate.

Step 3 – Transfer to parchment –lined plate.

Step 4 – Refrigerate until chocolate has set, about 1-2 hours, preferably overnight.

Step 5 – Wrap in recycled brown paper dessert boxes purchased from your local restaurant supply store. Tie with ribbon and recipe gift tag.


October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.

The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

  • If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
  • If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.

Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.

I encourage you to talk to the women in your life and help spread awareness about the risk of breast cancer – October is a great month to do that! You can find more about breast cancer on the Breast Cancer Foundation’s Website and find more information on their Health Education Resource guide online.


Have a safe, healthy and happy Halloween!

Christine

Back to School Nutrition

In September, you can almost hear a collective “sigh” breathed together by parents around the globe as their children go back to school this month. Summer is great and most kids get a break, but by the end of August, everyone is ready to get back into the swing of things and back to a routine.

The biggest question I get when everyone goes back to school is “how do I make healthy, quick meals for me and my family during the week?” That is an excellent question! Considering September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and 1 in 3 Children are obese, it is great month to make changes! It is very important to make sure you’re not only preparing meals that are appealing for your family, but nutritious. If your family is busy and you have less time to prepare, it is hard not to fall into the fast food trap, here are some ideas to keep your family healthy:

  • make small changes, like keeping fresh fruit within reach or going on a family walk after dinner.
  • Use your crockpot! It is easy to put protein and veggies in first thing in the morning and have dinner done when you get home.
  • Go for homemade lunches, instead of hot school lunch. You have more control over your nutrition this way. Pack lunches at night before bed, get your kids involved.
  • Prepare double batches of food when you’re less rushed so you can cook once, eat twice.
  • Keep it simple. Family meals don’t have to be elaborate to be healthy and effective. Come up with easy ways to balance your meal with simple vegetable side dishes or fruit and yogurt for dessert.
  • One of the best ways to ensure a healthy meal is to plan it out ahead of time. When people are short on time, exhausted from a long day, or overly hungry, they often reach for food that cooks quickly with little effort or simply order out. Unfortunately, these quick and easy foods are often frozen convenience foods that are high in sodium or have little to no nutritional value.

Some of the tastiest recipes can be the easiest! Next time you want an easy, nutritious meal that will get rave reviews from the family, try my recipe for this hot & healthy Asian stir-fry dinner that you can get on the table in under 10 minutes (and only 1 pan to wash!).

Chicken Teriyaki

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1lb Foster Farms frozen grilled Chicken Breast Strips,
  • Kirkland Select Stir Fry Vegetables (Costco)
  • 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce (Iron Chef or Island Soyaki from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked (I highly recommend Village Harvest brown rice from Costco if you can find it)

 

Click for Complete Directions

 

Dessert doesn’t have to be elaborate either! Remember the sound of the Ice Cream Man? I remember all us kids went running for a dollar and our bicycles when we heard those chimes. Remember Rocketpops? Well here’s my little healthy throwback.

Watermelon Coconut Creamsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh watermelon
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or ZSweet

Click for Complete Directions

 


September is also National Yoga Month! I love Yoga; it’s a great way to balance body and mind, center yourself, and it’s an incredible way to strengthen your body. Here are some other health benefits of Yoga:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Greater flexibility
  • Enhanced brain function
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Better skeletal alignment
  • Strengthened bones and joints
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased Stress
  • Deeper peace of mind
  • Mental focus
  • Mind-body integration
  • Deeper Spirituality
  • Happiness & Inner Peace

During this month, did you know you may even be able to receive a free Yoga class in your area? You can find out more about Yoga and it’s benefits online here.


Enjoy the last few weeks of summer, as it officially ends on September 21!

Here’s to Fall and new beginnings!

Christine

Grilling Tips for Summer

We are in the last month of summer (and more than half way through 2017, can you believe it?) and if you haven’t yet, this month is the perfect time to fire up the grill. You can grill almost anything. What I love about grilling is that you aren’t using a ton of added fat to get the job done, and you can almost guarantee that it is going to taste fabulous. On top of that, who wants to heat up an already stuffy house in the summer with an oven or griddle? Keep the heat outside, and fire up the grill. Want an even more low-key summer meal? Take out some recyclable paper plates and skip the hot water cleanup 😉

What are some things to grill? Chicken, Steak, Pork, Ribs, Lamb – Everything!! You can grill corn, just about any vegetable (try skewers!), and foil can be your best friend to keep juices in squashes and even fish. Even Fruit can be put on the grill; talk about a yummy dessert or snack – the possibilities are endless.

One of my favorite surprising meals that is great on the grill and a huge family hit is Pizza! Who says you can’t grill everything, right? Try this recipe out and let me know what you think:

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!

Ingredients

  • 1 Package whole wheat frozen bread dough (I love Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 cups pizza sauce
  • 1 4-ounce package basil leaves, chiffonade (cut into razor thin strips)
  • 8oz container fresh mozzarella in water – cherry size, halved
  • 1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes (usually called black cherry), halved
  • olive oil spray

Click for Complete Directions

Here is another one of my favorite grilling recipes. Turn your drab chicken into a meal bursting with Mediterranean flavor with this recipe:

Grilled Greek Chicken with Oregano & Mint Leaves

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 12-inch metal or wooden skewers

Click for Complete Directions


Just because you’re cooking outside, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice safe food handling and be health conscious. It is still very important to be careful as food poisoning from undercooked food or from poor food handling doesn’t just happen indoors =)

Here Are Some Tips For Grilling This Summer:

  • Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer when clean water isn’t readily available where you are grilling.
  • Keep food cold until you are ready to put them on the grill. Letting them sit allows bacteria to grow.
  • Don’t mix raw and cooked foods. Keep raw foods separate from each other. Once cooked, use a clean dish to place final masterpiece. The bacteria from the raw food will contaminate the freshly cooked meal.
  • Keep hot food warm to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit until ready to be placed in a cooler with ice or refrigerator to prevent bacteria growth. For salads and cold foods, keep them chilled on ice.
  • Clean your grill! Keep your grill clean by scrubbing with a brush before and after grilling food. Scrubbing keeps the buildup of carcinogens left on the grill grates to a minimum and makes your food taste so much better.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure your food is cooked to optimal temperature internally! You can check out this article to see what those temps should be:
  • This article from Rodale explains how to reduce carcinogens that can develop while grilling and how to avoid them – lots of good information in here!

This summer, sometimes it’s nice to have a refreshing cocktail to relax during the weekend that isn’t loaded with sugar or calories, and is made with real ingredients! Sometimes, a mojito just sounds great on a warm summer day.

Here is my recipe for Mojitos Flaquitos Skinny Mojito; enjoy while relaxing by the pool, waiting for your dinner on the grill this Saturday 😉

Ingredients

  • lime wedge
  • fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 strawberry
  • 1 1/2oz white rum
  • 3 1/2 oz club soda
  • 1 teaspoon Palm Sugar Simply Syrup

Click here for complete directions


“The summer night is like a perfection of thought” –Wallace Stevens

Happy Grilling!

Christine

Are You Ready For Summer?

Men, have you had your yearly checkup? June is Men’s Health Month, and it is pretty important that there is a month dedicated to Men’s health – do you know why? According to Everyday Health, Cleveland Clinic surveyed more than 500 men ages 18 to 70 across the United States and found that only three in five men get an annual physical, and just over 40 percent go to the doctor only when they fear they have a serious medical condition. Did you know that Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men? It’s time to change those statistics!

So in honor of Men’s Health Month, here are three things you can start this month to “celebrate” your health and raise awareness:

Get it Checked – This is the perfect time to set your routine doctor’s appointment and get peace of mind! Prevention is key; don’t be like 40 percent of men and wait until a problem or symptom becomes unbearable before having it checked by a physician.

Exercise Regularly – The right kind of exercise is the best form of prevention for many health conditions – and not only that, it helps maintain a healthy weight. The CDC recommends a cardio routine that is 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. That’s only 20 minutes a day!

Eat Right – Depending on age and level of physical activity, men should eat between 2-2.5 cups of fruit and 2.5-4 cups of vegetables every day. People who eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthful diet are likely to have a lower risk of chronic diseases than people who eat only small amounts of fruits and vegetables.

You can find more information about Men’s Health Month online here. Don’t keep the information to yourself, be sure to share with those men around you; you could help save a life!


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just launched a one-of-a-kind collection of 10 essential personal care products (toothpaste, shaving foam, shampoo, face wash, lotion, deodorant and more) especially for Men’s Health Month and it is the first ever EWG verified Men’s Health Pack. Being verified by the Environmental Working Group means that these products meet EWG’s most stringent requirements for your health.

That means all the products included in this pack avoid EWG’s ingredients of concerns (like phthalates, which have been associated with lower sperm counts and sperm damage, including impaired movement and abnormal shape). They also provide FULL transparency and use good manufacturing practices.

With Father’s Day being only a couple of days away, this may not make it in time to be a gift for your dad, but it is a great gift for any man in your life. This was made in limited quantities, so if you are interested – check out all the products and more information on their website here.


Remember to stay safe out in the sun. Clothing and shade are the first line of defense against UV rays (think big hats and beach umbrellas!), but sunscreen works well if you apply it correctly. Reviews.com came out with 2017 best sunscreens for this year along with some really great reminders about how SPF works, how often to reapply your sunscreen, and a host of other really important information. You can find the whole article here.

Something that the article above does not include is the ever-so-popular spray sunscreen. It is especially popular with kids because it is (seemingly) easy to apply. I’ve been on the beach where you see a mom running after her child spraying sunscreen as he is running into the water. Well, that really isn’t efficient. If you are going to use spray sunscreen, remember to spray close to your skin – don’t allow the wind to take off with your sunscreen! It is best to shake the contents, and also to rub it into your skin after spraying. And again – reapply every couple of hours.

The report I always look forward to every year is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) report on sunscreens. In addition to loads of information of low-chemical sunscreens and lots of helpful information, they also list the best sport and beach sunscreens, the best scoring kids sunscreens, the kids’ sunscreens to avoid, and even a downloadable guide to safer sunscreen.

There is a lot of really good information out there on sunscreen and a lot of opinions as well. Bottom line – protect your skin. There is no such thing as safe tanning without sunscreen. You have one body given to you at birth; take care of it!


Speaking of the sun and all the heat that comes with it – June is National Tea month! Tea is so much fun, and in the summer you can do so much with iced tea.

Sun tea is pretty amazing. No boiling water, no measuring, no nonsense. Just take your favorite tea bags, put them in your favorite (closed) glass container and put it on a sunny area outside on your porch. You let the sun do the work from there. Leave it out for a day and transfer to your fridge overnight.

Black tea and lemon is always a great go-too, but what about Peach tea, Ginger, mint and lemon? Yum! Adding fresh watermelon and lime to green tea is a refreshing drink in the summer as well.

You can also try my popular recipe for Detox Tea. It is a cold tea that will get you moving through the day and help jump-start your metabolism:

Christine’s Detox Tea

Ingredients

  • 3oz fresh ginger (peeled and sliced)
  • 3 dandelion root tea bags
  • 3 milk thistle tea bags
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 30 drops artichoke extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice…

Click here for full recipe and instructions


June is an amazing month for fresh fruits and veggies. Local Farmer’s Markets are open and the variety is awesome. In June, just look at the incredible things you can find in season:


One of the best things about summertime is ripe, fresh, sweet fruits. You could try to make this dessert in the Winter and it would be pretty good. But in the summer, when the peaches are just bursting with sweet juice and the cherries are blossoming your taste buds are going to freak out! So, after visiting your local store or Farmer’s Market and picking up some fresh, in-season fruit, treat yourself with this incredibly tasty (if I do say so myself) recipe for Peach-Cherry-Cobbler.

Peach-Cherry-Cobbler

Ingredients

Filling

4 Medium white peaches, peeled, pitted and cubed
2 cups Bing cherries, pitted
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup organic palm sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground…

Click here for full recipe and instructions


“Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year — it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.”~Author Unknown

 

Christine

Tips for a Healthy, Confident Body

Bikini season is just around the corner and I know a lot of people start frantically finding the fastest way to lose weight to get ready for summer. STOP! Don’t jump on the fad diet bandwagon. The truth is, every body is bikini ready – you simply have to put on a bikini to have a “bikini body”. However; it’s this time of year that women (and men) start starving themselves to change their bodies in a short period of time to try and feel more confident on the beach. Instead, wouldn’t you love to find a way to eat right and be at a healthy and confident weight all yearlong? I’m going to let you in on a little secret – it IS possible!

By making small changes in the way you eat and snack you can cut the fat, slim down, and be healthy. A healthy body is a confident body! Here are some tips to get you strutting your stuff on the beach this summer:

Eat Less Meat – Research has shown that eating meat has been linked to obesity. Eating less meat may not only help you slim down, but studies have shown that a plant-based diet can also reverse the progression of heart disease.

Increase Your Protein Intake – Women need about 46 grams of protein a day (56 for men), and it’s important to hit that goal if you want to keep your weight in check. Your body needs more time and energy to digest protein than fat or carbs, so you feel fuller, longer and also burn more calories absorbing the nutrients in the process. That said, you don’t want to OD on protein, either—if you have too much, the excess gets stored as fat.

Wait…Eat Less Meat but Increase My Protein Intake (How does that work?) – There is more to protein than meat, I promise! For example:

  • Did you know that Edamame has a whopping 17 grams of protein, only 189 calories and 8 grams of fiber per cup? That is a high protein snack!
  • Quinoa has 8.1 grams of protein, 5.2 grams of fiber and 222 calories per cup. The awesome thing about Quinoa is that it takes on the flavor profile of whatever you cook – the possibilities are endless!
  • Lentils, at one cup have only 230 calories but 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber! The best part…Less than 1 gram of fat in one cup of lentils. No wonder why it’s called one of the “World’s healthiest foods”.

These are just three examples of foods that are high in protein. Eggs, nuts, cauliflower, potatoes, eggplant, tofu, mushrooms…these are all examples of meat substitutes! Reducing your meat intake and increasing your protein can definitely be done with planning and creativity!

Eat 30 Grams of Fiber Per Day – In my book, “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food” I have workbook pages that include checklists that help you find your optimal fiber intake.

Wean Yourself off Any Beverage That Isn’t Water, Tea, or Coffee – Did you know that according to one study, having a cup of coffee may also jumpstart your metabolism by 12% for 3 hours? Now, this is black coffee – no adding tons of sugar or creamer to this 😉

A German study found that people who swigged two full glasses of room temperature or cold water experienced a 30% spike in their metabolic rate in just one hour. It was discovered the subjects’ bodies had to expand energy to warm the water to body temperature.

Tea is another substitute for those sugary drinks. Try herbal tea for times when you want some flavor, and green tea for an extra boost in your metabolism (and studies say it just may help burn fat).

You may be thinking, “All these tips are great, but what do I eat, now?” That’s a great question! Here are some tips for healthy eating and smart snacking to get you through the day:

Snack on Pistachios – I love this tip from Health.com. Foods that require peeling, shelling, or individual unwrapping—like pistachios—force you to slow down your eating, and may help you consume less overall. Plus, a 1-ounce serving of pistachios provides 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber for just 159 calories.

Fish, Fish, Fish! – Salmon, tuna, herring, are just some examples of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and these omega-3’s may just help amp up your body’s fat-burning power. These heart-healthy fats balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, which helps regulate metabolism – and this is what you are aiming for throughout the day. Healthy balance means no binge eating or splurge decisions because you’re “hangry” mid-day.

Quinoa is Queen – Initial research shows that eating quinoa can lead to an increase in energy expenditure, which means it may help burn calories and rev up metabolism.

Blueberries are Boss – Eating blueberries may help improve insulin sensitivity and lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Spinach is Spectacular– Contains a fair amount of B vitamins, which support healthy metabolism. Also good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc that also support a healthy metabolism.

Say it With Me – EAT MORE MUFAS!! (Pronounced “moo-faahs”) –

This is probably the best advice I could give you, and the best food you can eat. When researchers asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie diet high in MUFAs, they lost a third of their belly fat in just 4 weeks – now THAT is incredible news, right? Some of the foods above I’ve mentioned are MUFAS (quinoa, pistachios, salmon).

Why am I so excited about them? MUFAS are: Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. Simply put: MUFAs are a healthy type of fat. Not all fats are bad! These fats actually keep you fuller, longer and can help you lose weight in the process. I found this great article that explains MUFAS and better yet, lists some incredible foods that are in that category! You can read it on GetHealthyU.com here.


To start of grilling season, here is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes for the barbecue and some of my recipes using the foods I’ve mentioned above (you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging did you?) =)

Portobello Caprese Salad:

There is nothing better than fresh grilled vegetables, especially when they are seasoned with just the right herbs and spices. In this recipe I use loads of fresh organic basil because the taste and health benefits are endless!

Ingredients:

  • 8 Portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced long ways
  • 4 Medium tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 4 rounds…

Click for full recipe and Instructions

Another Favorite of mine that uses Quinoa and is fantastic for a hot day is my recipe for Quinoa and Parsley Salad. It’s vegetarian and uses a fabulous MUFA! You can find the recipe on my website here.

Another salad that has walnuts (another great MUFA) and spinach, as it’s main ingredient is my fast an easy recipe for Cranberry Walnut Salad with Rice. You can find it online here.

The last one I’ll share combines two of the highest ORAC superfruits, blueberries and acai berries, into a single, nutrient-balanced and delicious drink that is a great breakfast or even a post-workout meal replacement.

Acai Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic blueberries, frozen
  • 1 scoop protein powder, Jay Robb’s egg white
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup acai berry juice
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 10 ice cubes

Click Here for Full Recipe and Instructions

With all these incredible lifestyle changes, you are going to feel so healthy and self-confident this summer – and beyond! Own that bikini body, and continue these food choices throughout the year; no one regrets being healthier.


 

Christine

Christine’s April Newsletter

While reading though a recent issue of Women’s Health, a few things really spoke to me and I wanted to share some thoughts with you. There is still a lot of misleading information about what gluten is, what it does to your body and who should be avoiding it. I am not a fan of anyone going on a “Gluten-Free” diet, unless of course you are part of the 1% of the population that actually has celiac disease.

That does bring to question why gluten free is so popular and mainstream if only 1% of the population suffer from this serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Some say that gluten causes inflammation so simply ditching the gluten makes a difference. Others claim that cutting things like gluten out of your diet can help lose weight.

In that same issue of Women’s Health, it says most of these claims have scant, if any evidence, according to Siddhartha Angadi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of cardiovascular physiology at Arizona State University. Most people, in fact, have the opposite affect when eliminating gluten and they actually gain weight. “Gluten-Free” doesn’t mean low-calorie. Some of these commercially packaged foods are loaded with added sugar, carbs, and ingredients that most people cannot even pronounce – and they contain more calories than the products that contain gluten. When people without celiac are avoiding gluten without good reason, it isn’t going to come with health benefits because most likely they are also cutting out foods that contain other vital nutrients like B vitamins and fiber. Other studies show avoiding gluten may kill off gut bacteria that defend against weight gain.

Think you may have celiac disease? The classic symptom is diarrhea; other symptoms can include bloating, gas, fatigue, headaches, weight loss, and a full range of others depending on the individual. The process of being diagnosed is not so simple. You could have gene testing to see if you carry the gene, or blood tests to see if you have certain antibodies. Most likely the best way to diagnose celiac is an endoscopy / colonoscopy where biopsies can be taken to see if damage has been done to the intestines. Bottom line, is don’t ditch the gluten unless you’ve got a medical reason to do so, it may not be so great for your waistline, or your overall health.


In December, I did a newsletter all about gifts that give back – but did you know that people need donations past the holidays? We are now well into 2017 and food banks need help past Thanksgiving and Christmas.

13% of United States households did not have enough to eat last year – that means, you can give year round to make a difference in another family’s life.

Next time you go through your pantry to give your expired soups and pasta to the latest school food drive, why not take a different approach? People in need also need healthy food. On your next shopping trip, spend an extra $5 – $10 on whole-wheat pasta or whole oats, canned produce or canned salmon or tuna. Drop them off at the next food drive, or at a local food bank. These not only all have a long shelf-life but will provide nutrition and nourishment a family in need.

If you are unsure of where there is a local food bank in your area, search Feeding America’s database online by clicking here.


World Health Day was April 7th and this year the WHO has a focus on spreading awareness regarding depression. Just because it isn’t “World Health Day” anymore, that doesn’t mean we stop caring about our health or the health and well being of others. I feel like mental and emotional health is just as important as our physical and nutritional health. If we don’t take care of our minds, our bodies cannot be fully healthy. The theme “Depression: let’s talk” recognizes that depression is a treatable condition and seeks to address the fact that, despite this, about 50% of cases of major depression still go untreated. This is significant since many people don’t see the signs of depression in their loved ones until it’s too late.

For people living with depression, talking about it can be the first step towards recovery. If you feel that you may be suffering with depression, talk to someone; there is hope! If you feel you may know someone suffering from depression, there are signs you may not be aware of and ways you can help them.

The WHO has information that could be helpful to you or a loved one. This doesn’t have to be a one-day event. Share the information you learn; you can visit their website for more information on this important topic. Click here for more.

 

Can you believe Easter is this week? On April 16th many families will be gathering together for their traditions of egg hunts, Church services, sunrise masses, family lunches and outreaches around the globe.

One of my favorite recipes to have for Easter is my Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Acai Berry Sauce. I hope you find it just as flavorful and special as your Easter celebration this year.

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 1 1/2 racks of lamb with 8 ribs each, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup acai berry juice
  • 1 teaspoon butter

About This Recipe

This is a high-presentation, high-flavor dish for a special occasion and special people. Like you and your family. Acai berry juice is available in many forms in your local supermarket. If not available, try 1/3 cup of lingonberry preserves instead

Nutrition Facts per serving: 220 Cals, 22 gram Protein, 7 grams Carbs, 11 grams Fat

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400°.

Step 2 – Remove the fat from the top side of the bones by keeping the knife blade flush with the bone and follow the contour of the bone.

Step 3 – Trim the fat from between the ribs and scrape the bones clean for an elegant final presentation.

Step 4 – Combine oregano, parsley, thyme, Dijon, garlic and one tablespoon of vinegar in a bowl. Next sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

Step 5 – Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.

Step 6 – Cook lamb for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Step 7 – Place lamb on a cutting board and pat herb mixture over lamb. Return lamb to pan and place into the oven.

Step 8 – Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 138°.

Step 9 – Remove lamb from pan and let cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully cut into chops.

Step 10 – Return pan to medium heat; add remaining vinegar, port and shallots.

Step 11 – Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Stir in broth and reduce again.

Step 12 – Add salt, pepper acai berry juice and reduce by half.

Step 13 – Add butter and stir until butter is melted. Serve sauce with lamb.

Click for full recipe and details…

While you are cooking an elegant meal for the family to enjoy, don’t forget to add some colors and fun. I found this super easy and festive recipe for Naturally Dyed Picked Easter Eggs (pictured above in the featured image) on Epicurious.com the other day. They are not only delicious, but you can use them for a bright, beautiful [and edible!] centerpiece for Easter! You can find the recipe online by clicking here.


Happy Easter!

….“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said!…” [Matthew 28:5-6]

Christine

Better Food Choices for a Healthy Future

It’s National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme given by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, which reminds that we all hold the very tool to help us to make healthy food choices.

Small changes we make now can really shape our future nutrition. One way to make a change now that will help your future nutrition is to eat more fruits and vegetables. A question I get a lot is “how do I eat more fruits and vegetables?.” It can be really easy if you get creative! Here are some easy ways to incorporate them into your everyday menu:

  • If you are eating a salad, add baby carrots, tomatoes, spinach or arugula leaves, beets or onions to your salad.
  • Mix up a breakfast smoothie with your favorite fruit and low-fat milk – here is my favorite recipe for an Acai-Blueberry Smoothie.
  • Try crunchy vegetables for a snack instead of chips like cucumber, snap peas, bell peppers, celery, or cauliflower.
  • Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla for lunch or dinner.
  • Try veggies instead of your regular meat-topped pizza. I love making pizza at home; I have a recipe for it here. You can add more vegetables like broccoli, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms and zucchini for extra nutrients!
  • Stuff your breakfast omelet with vegetables like broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions or tomatoes.
  • Try fruit on kabobs as a fun dessert for the family! Pineapples, peaches, and bananas are great together; try grilling them for an extra special treat!
  • Add fruit to your oatmeal. It is super easy and delicious.
  • Add fruit and oats to yogurt for a quick and nutritious parfait; great for a snack or breakfast!
  • If you have a hard time keeping fresh vegetables in your fridge, stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side-dish.
  • How about this fun and easy snack/side dish. It’s a spin on a caprese salad, but these are skewers; check out the recipe here.

There are other small ways to make changes in your eating habits to ensure better nutrition for the future. One hard habit to break, for a lot of people, is snacking on the wrong things. Making healthy substitutions for your favorite unhealthy snacks is a step in the right direction.
Did you know that March 14th was National Potato Chip Day? I think that we may have a problem if we dedicate a whole day to the potato chip, right? 😉 Well, in honor of the day that just passed, here are my two favorite healthier alternatives to chip snacking that won’t leave you feeling guilty after eating.

Good Health Avocado Chips Sea Salt

These are potato chips, so you can still celebrate next year on 3/14, but they are cooked in avocado oil, have less sodium, and are about 30% lower in fat than traditional potato chips. Not only that, they taste incredibly good! You can find them on Amazon here.

Lundberg Fiesta Lime Rice Chips

These chips are a wonderful substitute for tortilla chips. A lot of people cannot digest corn well or have sensitivities/allergies to it. These are corn free, wheat free, and gluten free chips that a great alternative to traditional chips. You can find these on Amazon as well here.


Another question I get asked a lot is how to eat right on the run. Since this month is National Nutrition Month, I thought I would share some tips on how to help you eat healthy when eating out:

  • Plan Ahead!! This is so important. Look at the menu, and see if there is a selection for “lighter” options.
  • Choose items on a menu that are baked, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted or steamed.
  • Stay away from items that say fried, buttered, creamed, crispy, or breaded.
  • Don’t order appetizers in addition to your meal and stay away from bread or chips beforehand – only eat what you order, the “pre-meal” can fill you up and can cause you to eat too much before your food arrives. This can lead to poor food decisions and overeating.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol can increase your appetite and provides empty calories.
  • Split your order. Share with a friend, or when your food arrives, immediately split your food in half and place in a to-go container to bring home.
  • In place of fries, choose a salad, fruit or baked potato.
  • Order any sauces on the side, this way you can control how much sauce you are putting on your food.
  • In ethnic restaurants, choose a vegetable dish or stir-fry choices.
  • When eating out at breakfast choose a wrap, or go with an egg skillet with vegetables instead of breaded items liked muffins or pancakes.
  • If you are always eating on the go, keep a thermal with you! Tuck in some fruit, peanut butter, granola, trail mix, pouch of tuna, single serve whole grain crackers and water. Bring with you so you don’t make unwise food decisions on the go. This is especially helpful so you can snack before going grocery shopping, when running errands, etc.

If you are tempted to celebrate National Waffle Day on March 24th, try a healthier version! My recipe for Pumpkin Vanilla Pancakes with Ginger Butter can also be put inside a waffle maker and turned into delicious and fluffy waffles. Try it out this month and let me know what you think!

  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light vanilla soy milk
  • 2 scoops Jay Robb’s vanilla egg white protein powder
  • 1/4 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt (about 1 small 5.3oz container; Voskos Honey Vanilla Bean is my favorite)
  • 3/4 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 Extra Large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted but not bubbling hot)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 Quarter-sized slices of candied ginger (minced)

Directions
Step 1 – In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and set aside.
Step 2 – Pour the soymilk and protein powder into a blender and mix for 30 seconds then pour into a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, pumpkin, melted butter and egg whites and mix well.
Step 3 – Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and stir just until moistened; Don’t over mix the batter (it’s okay if there are some lumps – this helps the pancakes become lighter).
Step 4 – Stir the minced ginger into the softened butter, mix well and set aside.
Step 5 – Spray a heated griddle or large skillet with cooking spray. Pour the batter onto the heated griddle, using ¼ cup of batter for each pancake, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Step 6 – Spread lightly with ginger butter and drizzle each pancake with ½ tablespoon of syrup.

About This Recipe

Think these look good? Wait until you taste them. This is one of the most luscious, mouth-watering breakfasts you’ll ever make for Thanksgiving or Christmas. The real surprise is that they are good for you. As seen on my appearance on The 700 Club.

Nutrition Facts per serving: (2 pancakes): 372 cals., 20 gm protein, 53 gm carbohydrates, 10 gm fat.
Serves 4


I’d love to know how you “Put Your Best Fork Forward” and made healthy food choices this month. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and start the conversation on social media.

For more information on National Nutrition Month® you can visit the website for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics by clicking here.

Here’s to a healthier you!

Christine

Dinner For Your Valentine

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I find romantic dinners at home super special. No rushing, no need to make reservations, and you control the environment. Plus, you definitely can’t go wrong with amazing ingredients and step by step instructions. Throw in your favorite music, candlelight, handwritten card and maybe even a movie on the couch and you have the perfect evening – straight from the heart and everything made by your two hands!

How would your sweetheart like you to cook a dinner of Filet Mignon with Sauteed Mushrooms, Arugula Salad with Figs & Pomegranates, and Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots & Sea Salt all from your kitchen at home – Sounds delicious, right?

I’ve got the food covered…the rest is up to you 😉

Dinner For Your Valentine:

Don’t be intimidated by the steps and ingredients, it is super easy, I know you can do it! Plus, your Valentine deserves a little extra effort on this special day =)

Ingredients

Filet

  • 1 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 3-oz organic top sirloin steaks
  • cooking spray

Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 8-oz package presliced mushrooms (baby bellas or shitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay (or sub white grape juice)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup dried or fresh figs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked pepper

Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

valentine-filetDirections:

Filet

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients. Coat both sides of steaks with cooking spray; rub steaks evenly with thyme mixture.
  2. Place steaks on rack of a broiler or roasting pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 450° for 8 minutes on each side, or until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 145°F for medium-rare, 160°F for medium, or 165°F for well-done.
  3. Remove from oven; keep warm.
Mushroom Sauce
  1. While steaks are cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add thyme, mushrooms, and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Add broth and wine; bring to a boil.
  4. Cook until reduced by half (about 10 minutes).
  5. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  6. Add cornstarch mixture to mushroom pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  7. Serve ¼ c mushroom sauce with each steak.
Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils
  1. Toss arugula and figs in a large bowl. Whisk lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl until emulsified.
  2. Pour dressing over salad and serve. Makes 5 servings.
Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, place rack in lower third of oven.
  2. Cut cauliflower lengthwise into ¾ inch thick slices.
  3. Put into a large bowl and spray generously with olive oil.
  4. Add minced shallots, salt and pepper and toss until evenly distributed.
  5. Spread onto a large sheet pan (covered with foil for easy clean up).
  6. Roast turning once, until golden and just tender, about 25 minutes. Serves 4.

Nutrition Facts:

  • Filet and Sauteed Mushroom Sauce: Nutrition facts per serving: 360 calories, 27 grams protein, 47 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat (includes 1 serving of mashed potatoes) Serves 4
  • Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils: Nutrition facts per serving: 117 calories, 1 gram protein, 19 grams carbs, 6 grams fat
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt: Nutrition facts per serving: 60 calories, 0 fat, 12 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm protein

I hope you and your Valentine enjoy the recipe!

I would love your help. By filling out a very brief four question survey, you would be providing me with valuable insight to what you would like to know and learn more about in 2017; I would love to know how to better help you in the coming year. Thank you for subscribing to my newsletters!

You can find the survey by clicking here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Christine

Christine’s January 2017 Newsletter

Now that the holiday rush is over and the novelty of the New Year has passed, it is a good time to look at the year ahead. At the two-week mark in January, statistics show that nearly 50% of all people that make New Year’s Resolutions have abandoned them at this point. I tend to think this is because most “resolutions” aren’t realistic and cannot be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.

I love the idea of reflecting on the year past and setting realistic goals for your year rather and incorporating them into your schedule, so they become part of your lifestyle, rather than making resolutions. Your goals can be reevaluated on a regular basis; make your goals attainable and integrate them into your every-day life.

Here are some practical tips:

  1. Find an Accountability Partner – Making changes is hard enough, but doing it alone is even harder! Find a partner that you can connect with, one that will motivate you, inspire you, that will be an ear when you need someone to listen, a shoulder when you need it, and someone who isn’t afraid to give it to you straight. It is helpful if this person is going after the same goal; you are stronger together!
  2. Set Attainable Goals – Setting realistic goals is important. If you want to run a marathon, you may want to set milestones to get there. Going from vegging out on your couch one week to a full marathon the next is not realistic. This is how people break resolutions. Set a long-term goal and milestones along the way. For example, if your goal is to eat more real food and you’ve never cooked anything outside of a frozen meal, start with integrating one fresh meal a day, look up recipes online, plan your meals, shop smarter, and you’ll be a real food expert in no time!
  3. Make Your Goal Part of Your Day – If you set a goal, you need to schedule time to accomplish it; what you make time for is your priority. Set a reminder in your phone, write it in your calendar, block out the time in your schedule. This is how your “goal” becomes part of your lifestyle; you integrate it into your daily life!
  4. Document Your Success…and Failures – Let’s face it, there will be good days and bad days. Write them down: the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will be able to modify your milestones and your end goals by this documentation. If you failed one day, write down why. You’ll be more successful if you learn from your mistakes…and don’t forget to celebrate your successes!
  5. Believe in Yourself! – This is hard to do sometimes; this is why it is important to have a support system (see #1 above). If you set the goal, you can modify it, you can create milestones, you can set your own pace. Focus on your progress, not just results. Just because you slip up one day, doesn’t mean you are starting over – it is a lifestyle change, not a simple one-time resolution, right? You can do it!

January is generally a very cold month and because of that, not only is it National Soup Month, but it is also National Oatmeal Month. Did you know that more oatmeal is sold in January than any other month in the year? I am a big fan of Oatmeal for breakfast and I love making a big batch of steel cut oats and eating them throughout the week, mixing in different fruit each morning. Here is my go-to easy recipe that is sure to keep you full of energy for whatever your day brings, and especially perfect for these extra cold January mornings.

Steel-Cut Oats with Fresh Cherries, Blueberries and Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Celtic Sea Salt)
  • 2 dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup cherries
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (I also use light coconut milk)

About This Recipe

There’s a great outdoor cafe in Los Angeles called Urth Cafe and you might have seen it on Entourage – Vinnie and the boys eat there in nearly every other episode. It is a major celebrity haunt. Anyway they serve this amazing bowl of steel-cut oats with all the fruits, nuts and milk served on the side as you see here. It is one of the better breakfast dishes in town and now you can bring this celeb-favorite home for yourself.

Nutrition facts per ½ cup serving:
200 calories, 9 grams protein, 34 grams carbs, 5 grams fat

Directions

Step 1 – Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add salt, cinnamon, and steel cut oats.
Step 2 – Reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3 – Serve ½ cup cooked oats with a bit of walnuts, blueberries and cherries.
Step 4 – **Alternatively follow package directions, top with your favorite nuts and fruits.


In honor of it also being National Soup Month, I’m sharing one of my favorite soups that is sure to warm you up and give you the energy and motivation you need to get out of the house on these blustery days (when I’m sure you’d rather be home by the fire reading a good book). On second thought, this soup would go great with a warm blanket by the fire… 😉

Chipotle-Mushroom Turkey Soup with Rice

Ingredients

  • 32oz chicken stock or broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chipotles in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1lb roasted turkey, or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges for garnish

About This Recipe

After the holidays, you want to eat something pure, healthy and fresh so you can sort of recover as you venture out into the cold and shop your heart out. And there’s still no better feel-good meal than a homemade soup to warm you up.

Low in fat and high in nutrients, perfect for detoxing from a food hangover. Add some toasted sourdough bread for the perfect PC Combo (if you don’t know what a PC Combo is, check out my book Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads or the Flat Belly Food System).

Serving size: 1 medium bowl

Nutrition facts: 150 calories, 17g protein, 15 grams carbs, 2 grams fat

Directions

Step 1 – *If you are using raw meat, cube the meat and marinate for at least one hour with minced garlic, sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, extra virgin olive oil and dry thyme.
Step 2 – Sauté in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and set aside until the last five minutes of cooking the soup.
Step 3 – Combine first 13 ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil.
Step 4 – Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Step 5 – Add turkey and rice and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Step 6 – Stir in fresh parsley. Season soup with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Step 7 – Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and serve.


Something very exciting is happening this month! My incredible husband, and chairman of JDFF, Jonathon Fischer, is running The World Marathon Challenge! I am so excited and very proud of him. This is something that he did not just “decide” to do last minute; he set a goal, then smaller milestones, and worked very hard to get here. You can read a personal note from Jonathon and how he trained for the marathon here. This is a huge encouragement for anyone trying to set goals for 2017.

The World Marathon Challenge is this: 7 Marathons in 7 Days on 7 Continents! It is the only event that offers the opportunity to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Participants run 295 km (183 miles) over the seven-day period, spend 59 hours in the air and fly approximately 38,000 km (23,612 miles).

What is distinct about the 2017 event is that it will be the first time a Canadian will participate, which in prior years only allowed 15 runners due to the logistical challenges. This year the number has skyrocketed to 30 runners and Jonathon is honored to be amongst an amazing field of champions (a few are outlined below):

  • Ryan Hall is a two time Olympian (2008 & 2012) who also holds the U.S. ½ marathon record (59:43), he is also the only American to run a sub-2:05 marathon
  • Michael Wardian won the 2008, 2009 and 2010 US 50 km championships and the Washington D.C. Marathon in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
  • Chile’s Silvana Camelio, winner of the 2015 Antarctic Ice Marathon
  • Luke Wigman, winner of the 2016 Volcano Marathon in the Atacama Desert
  • Ireland’s Sinead Keane hopes to become the first blind person to complete the World Marathon Challenge

The race will begin on January 23rd and conclude on the 29th. Here is a brief schedule of races and the charities Jonathon will be racing for on those particular days:

#1 (1/23) Antarctica – Running for Sick Kids Hospital www.sickkids.ca
#2 (1/24) Punta Arenas – Running for MPCF www.pinballfoundation.ca
#3 (1/25) Miami – Running for Thorn www.wearethorn.org
#4 (1/26) Madrid – Running for Dog Guides www.dogguides.com
#5 (1/27) Marrakech – Running for Free the Children www.we.org
#6 (1/28) Dubai – Running for Dream Center www.dreamcenter.org
#7 (1/29) Sydney – Running for other JDFF charity recipients www.jdff.ca

To read more about the race, you can view the full press release on the JDFF website. You can also connect with JDFF for updates on Twitter and Facebook the week of the race – send him your well wishes and encouragement on social media!


I would love to hear what goals you are setting for the New Year; connect with me on Facebook and Twitter to get the conversation going.

Here’s to a Happy, Healthy 2017!

Christine

#webelieve

Gifts That Give Back – December Newsletter

It’s that time of year again when the weather is cold, snow is falling, family is gathering and giving gifts is tradition. I love giving gifts to loved ones and what better way to give gifts by buying from companies that give back to charities and organizations that make a big difference in the lives of others?

This is the third year that I am dedicating my December newsletter to “Gifts that Give Back”. Here are some organizations that I think are pretty amazing and also have pretty incredible gifts that anyone would be excited to receive this Christmas.

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Thistle Farms:

Thistle Farms is an organization led by a community of women healing from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. Buying from Thistle Farms provides the funding for women coming out of jail or off the streets with clothing, basic necessities, and more. Through product sales, employees earn income and move towards independence and financial stability. A stable income allows Thistle Farms employees to purchase their own cars, pay their own bills and taxes, and support their families, their health, and their continued recovery. This past year, residents and graduates received over $600,000 in income through Thistle Farms. As a result, graduates have purchased their first home, driven their first cars, and dropped their children off at school for the first time. They have a range of products from bath products to greeting cards. My favorite is their lavender gift set. You can find it on their website and more information about their company by clicking here.


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Conscious Step:

Conscious step is an “ordinary purchase with extraordinary purpose”. This company is pretty incredible. Everyone needs socks, right? And they make great stocking stuffers. This company makes socks that you can choose what cause you want to donate to. They have a collection of socks that fund organizations that Fight Hunger, Socks that Give Books to Educate Kids, Socks that Fight Poverty, Socks that Protect Oceans, Socks that Provide Water, Socks That Treat HIV, Socks that Plant Trees, and if you can’t make up your mind, they have collections of boxes that gives to more than one organization. I love this concept – an ordinary product that gives back to so much. You can find out more about this organization on their website here.


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Love your Melon

Love your melon has been raising money for research on pediatric cancer since 2012. Started by two Minnesota college entrepreneurs, they have raised over 1.5 million dollars to research and donated over 80,000 hats to children with cancer. 50% of all proceeds go to various nonprofit partners that fight against pediatric cancer. This is another product that is great for Christmas because the weather is chilly and everyone could use a hat to keep his or her head warm and cozy. Check out all their products and read about their amazing story on their website here.


screen shot 2016-12-05 at 8.40.52 pm.pngThe Doll Kind

If you are looking for a gift for your child, this just may be the answer. For every doll that is purchased, a doll is also donated to a less fortunate child in the United States and around the world. Not only are you providing a doll for a less fortunate child, but your child’s doll comes with 10 “tokens” that teaches your child about spreading kindness to others. What an incredible way to not only give companionship of a doll, but give a gift of empowerment and teach love and kindness to your child at the same time. To learn more about how it works and how this company is spreading kindness across the globe, click here.


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Charity Water

Charity water is a non-profit organization that gives 100% or their public donations to fund clean water projects. Not only do their donations go towards clean water projects but also 100% of the profits from their goods go directly to funding clean water projects – that is pretty incredible. They have got some awesome things in their store from sweatshirts, bracelets, candles and even bicycles! These are all great gifts for Christmas, and knowing that your gift is funding clean water for those who may not otherwise receive it, is a gift in itself! You can shop their online store here.

welights1.jpgWE Lights

This last gift is two-fold. I absolutely love and believe in this organization and support it wholeheartedly. This holiday season help The We Movement light up the world with positivity. We lights are all about making the world a better place. It’s about coming together this holiday season. That’s the heart of the WE Movement. 
WE lights were created to raise awareness. For most children, the holidays are synonymous with gifts – making lists, writing letters, being nice – all in the hopes of getting that ‘IT’ present. And while gifting is a wonderful tradition, the season can have more meaning and that is what this project is about. Start this discussion while planning and crafting your WE Lights and take the focus off “me” and onto the “we” this Christmas season. To learn more about how We Lights can be part of a new family tradition, click here.

You can also give with ME to WE. When you shop their give guide, you help empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Through products that make an impact, families in developing communities are given the resources to build a brighter future, and you are also helping the women in Kenya to earn an income through these handmade gifts. You can shop the Me to We gift Guide by clicking here.


During the holiday season it can be a struggle to eat healthy, especially when you have decided after that big Thanksgiving dinner two weeks ago that you were going on a diet. But remember, dieting is about deprivation and healthy lifestyle is about learning how to properly feed yourself delicious and nutritious foods while maintaining balance. This can be done year round – even during Christmas when there is good food everywhere, I promise! Here are some tips that you can use right now, even during the holidays, and use them year round:

  • Eat Breakfast! This is very important. You want to be eating meals every 3-4 hours, not starving yourself for one big meal at the end of the day. This leads into my next tip…
  • Eat Regularly. Start eating ‘PC’ (lean protein with healthy carbs) or ‘FC’ (unsaturated healthy fats – like olive oil, avocado, or nuts, combined with healthy carbs) combo meals every three to four hours, so you are no longer fighting off food cravings and extreme hunger. Then, when you arrive at a holiday gathering you have more control over food choices and portions! You can learn more about these combos in my books.
  • Eat Real Food. Avoid refined sugars, fats, and salt, and foods with ingredients you do not recognize or cannot pronounce.
  • Stay Hydrated! Being hydrated curbs sugar cravings and often prevents overeating. If you notice a craving for junk food use that feeling as a trigger to first drink a full glass of water. Then, re-assess your craving before indulging in the treat.
  • Don’t Drink Your Calories. Try to keep your drink intake to 1-2 drinks per event and even try a lower calorie option. In my last month’s newsletter I shared a video where I talk about some recipes for  alternatives to those high-calorie drinks.
  • Plan Your Meals. Planning your meals in advance can often help you make good food choices. When you are faced with a holiday party and you can’t plan ahead, fill up on the “healthy” food first – this can help you make better decision when it comes to the treats later. It’s ok to indulge and eat what you love, and if you are keeping your blood sugar stable through the day and making good food choices before the party, you’re less likely to binge when you get there.
  • Create Healthy Versions of Your Holiday Favorites. This is what I love to do, and this is what I share with others! I have a variety of recipes on my website that do just this – they take classic recipes and put a healthier spin on them.

Speaking of creating healthy version of holiday favorites, here are three of my favorite recipes for Christmas that I’d love to share with you that do just that. Not only are they a wonderful addition to bring to a party, or simply for Christmas dessert, they make wonderful gifts to give to your friends and family this Christmas. You can see some of my gift ideas during my appearance on the 700 Club that features some of my cookies and an Avanti family tradition: The Holiday Pumpkin Mini Loaves! (Recipes below) Watch the full video here.

Holiday Pumpkin Mini Loaves

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup egg whites (raw)
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin (canned)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cups sugar (white)
  • 1/2 cup Splenda for baking
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts (chopped)

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 5 mini loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
Step 2 – Combine first six ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3 – In a separate mixing bowl combine baking soda, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and flour.
Step 4 – Pour liquid mixture with dry mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into mini loaf pans, filling pans half the way to allow room for bread to rise. Bake for 25 minutes or until you can poke a toothpick into center that comes out clean.
Step 5 – Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, wrap loaves in colored plastic wrap and tie with a festive ribbon.

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/2 mini loaf): 162 cals., 5 gm protein, 35 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fat.
Serving size: 1/2 mini loaf.


Chocolate Chip Christmas Balls

chocolate-chip-cookie-balls.jpgIngredients

  • 8 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/4 cup low fat cream cheese softened ((2 oz.))
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 – 12oz miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk

About This Recipe

A few less calories and a little more taste make these guys an instant favorite. As seen on The 700 Club.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 106 cals., 1 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 4.5 gm fat.
Serving size: 2 cookies.

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350 F.
Step 2 – In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
Step 3 – Add sugar and salt. Mix until combined.
Step 4 – Beat in egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in flours. Stir in chocolate chips.
Step 5 – Shape dough into 1½ inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Step 6 – Bake for 15 minutes, until bottoms are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Step 7 – Meanwhile, combine confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of soymilk at a time until icing reaches desired consistency.
Step 8 – Dip each cookie into frosting presentation side head first into frosting. Lightly sprinkle with green and red sugar crystals for a more festive design (note: the frosting dries quickly).


Persimmon Party Cookies

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups persimmon pulp ((from about 4 medium persimmons))
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 cup Z Sweet
  • 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter ((preferably organic), at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Large Eggs ((preferably cage free))
  • 2 Egg Whites ((preferably from cage free eggs))
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins

About This Recipe

We had a huge persimmon tree on our ranch and when they were ripe my grand- mother would simply dig a spoon into one and enjoy it as if it were a cup of pud- ding. She also used them to make smoothies. However I liked them best in her famous persimmon cookies. I’ve altered her original recipe here to offer a lighter, lower-sugar version and I must admit they taste just as delicious as Nonna’s.

Nutrition facts per 3-cookie serving: 140 calories, 3 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat

Makes 60 Miniature cookies

PFC Hint: Indulge after a PP meal or omit the carb from a PC meal.

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 2 – Combine the persimmon pulp, sugar, Zsweet, butter, and coconut oil in a blender and process until well blended but not frothy. Pour into a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the eggs and egg whites.
Step 3 – Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg and baking powder in a separate medium bowl. Add to the persimmon mixture and mix well. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.
Step 4 – Drop the batter by the teaspoonful about 1 inch apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Step 5 – Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. The cookies should be a little soft so be careful to not over bake.
Step 6 – Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Have a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year!

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

     Christine

Christine’s November Newsletter

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The last two months I’ve been super excited to share about co-chairing an incredible event with my husband, Jonathon Fischer. On October 22, the Susan G. Komen Culinary Showdown led off with Chef Tyler Florence, Chef Michael Voltaggio, Chef Ben Ford, Chef Elizabeth Falkner and Chef Antonia Lofaso mentoring teams for the evening’s showdown event.

christine-tyler-florence.jpgDuring the main event these teams, along with their celebrity chefs, cooked up appetizers, a main course and dessert for a panel of judges. The dishes were judged based on taste and presentation. The evening also included an auction during the cooking challenge intermission. This auction raised money for Susan G. Komen Los Angeles County. These christine-chef-ben-ford.jpgfunds, along with the fundraising the 50 participants raised with their teams for the event, will go towards supporting the fight against breast cancer.

It was such an exciting and lively event. There was delicious food and drink, incredible people, and everyone had such an amazing time. You can find out more about Susan G. Komen and their organization on their website here and Lempereur Magazine put together a wonderful photo recap of the event as well as a good written summary and more photos of the evening here.


morning-run-wellarticle.jpgDo you have anxiety about overeating during the holiday season? Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that normally means food – and a lot of it. Recently, I read an article that outlined a study explaining what time of the day is best to exercise (which is a question a lot of people have). Peter Hespel, a professor in the Research Center for Exercise and Health at Catholic University Leuven in Belgium and author of the article, agreed that the best way to prevent weight gain and maintain a healthy weight (and help achieve weight-loss), is a well-balanced diet and daily physical activity. But if you are cheating on the healthy and well-balanced diet part (like some people tend to do during the holiday season) his study showed “that early-morning exercise in the fasted state is more potent than an identical amount of exercise in the fed state” for maintaining healthy waistlines.

What does this mean? It means that people who worked out in the morning before eating maintained their weight as apposed to those people who exercised after eating, even after more calories were consumed than normal. So if you are eating a little more than normal the next two months during all your social get-togethers, set your alarm an hour earlier, get out of bed, and exercise before you start your day; you may just be able to maintain your weight a little easier. You can read the full article about this study here.


I love Thanksgiving! There is something about this time of year that makes everyone especially grateful. It makes people more willing to help their neighbor, more generous to their community around them, and even willing to travel to be with those they love. The food during this time is comforting and something alone to be grateful for. Pumpkin pie is something that is a staple for most Thanksgiving dinners. If you are looking for a healthier alternative, or even just looking for a new spin on an old favorite, I’ve got two recipes for you to try out this holiday.

Healthy Holiday Pumpkin Mini Loaves

pumpkin-bread-s.jpgIngredients

  • 1 cup egg whites (raw)
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin (canned)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cups sugar (white)
  • 1/2 cup Splenda for baking
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts (chopped)

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 5 mini loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
Step 2 – Combine first six ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3 – In a separate mixing bowl combine baking soda, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and flour.
Step 4 – Pour liquid mixture with dry mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into mini loaf pans, filling pans half the way to allow room for bread to rise. Bake for 25 minutes or until you can poke a toothpick into center that comes out clean.
Step 5 – Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, wrap loaves in colored plastic wrap and tie with a festive ribbon.

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/2 mini loaf): 162 cals., 5 gm protein, 35 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fat.
Serving size: 1/2 mini loaf.


Skinny Pumpkin Pie Cottage Cheesepumpkin_parfait.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups nonfat cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cups organic packed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon organic raisins
  • 1 tablespoon crushed walnuts
  • cinnamon

Directions:

Step 1 – Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
Step 2 – Mix well.
Step 3 – Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 333 cal, Protein: 23g, Total Carbohydrate: 49g, Total Fat: 8g
*Based on a 2000 calorie diet


And just because I think these are delicious and everyone deserves an amazing breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, I’m sharing this next recipe with you. Wait until you try these pancakes! Not only are they tasty, but they are also good for you! Get the whole family and make them together; it will become a new tradition.

Pumpkin Vanilla Pancakes with Ginger Butterpumpkin-pancakes-s.jpg

Ingredients

    • 1 cup whole grain flour
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup light vanilla soy milk
    • 2 scoops Jay Robb’s vanilla egg white protein powder
    • 1/4 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt ((about 1 small 5.3oz container; Voskos Honey Vanilla Bean is my favorite))
    • 3/4 cups canned pumpkin
    • 2 Extra Large egg whites
    • 2 tablespoons butter (melted but not bubbling hot)
    • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
    • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 2 Quarter-sized slices of candied ginger (minced)

Directions:

Step 1 – In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and set aside.
Step 2 – Pour the soymilk and protein powder into a blender and mix for 30 seconds then pour into a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, pumpkin, melted butter and egg whites and mix well.
Step 3 – Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and stir just until moistened; Don’t over mix the batter (it’s okay if there are some lumps – this helps the pancakes become lighter).
Step 4 – Stir the minced ginger into the softened butter, mix well and set aside.
Step 5 – Spray a heated griddle or large skillet with cooking spray. Pour the batter onto the heated griddle, using ¼ cup of batter for each pancake, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Step 6 – Spread lightly with ginger butter and drizzle each pancake with ½ tablespoon of syrup.

Nutrition Facts per serving (2 pancakes): 372 cals., 20 gm protein, 53 gm carbohydrates, 10 gm fat.
Serves 4 


christine-holiday-drinks.jpgNot only is there a lot of food during the holidays, but also during this season, there can be parties or dinners with a lot of drinks. I have come up with some alternatives to high-calorie cocktails and mocktails that I promise you will love. Check out my video clip from CBS Los Angeles News where I demonstrate some of my recipes. Click on the image, or click here to watch on YouTube

 

 

 

“The best way to start each day is with gratitude and thanksgiving. Truly thankful people do not complain. They are too busy being grateful for the good things they do have that they have no time to notice the things they could complain about.” Joyce Meyer

I’d love to hear what you are thankful for! Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Happy Thanksgiving,

     Christine

Christine’s October Newsletter

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October is an important month to me as it is the month chosen to educate and raise awareness for Breast Cancer. Everyone in one-way or another has been affected by this terrible disease; whether you have known someone affected, or been affected yourself – no one is a stranger to Breast Cancer.

Last month I shared some information about an incredible event that benefits and raises awareness for breast cancer. On October 22, my wonderful husband, Jonathon Fischer and I have the privilege of co-chairing the Susan G. Komen Culinary Showdown. This event is fast approaching and it is well worth mentioning again.

On Saturday October 22nd, an all-star lineup of celebrity chefs including Tyler Florence and Elizabeth Falkner, will join the Top 50 Fundraising foodies to compete in the inaugural Susan G. Komen Los Angeles Culinary Showdown. This amazing challenge gives culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to fundraise for a chance to cook alongside these celebrity chefs in the type of team cooking challenge you normally only see on TV! By participating, these team members will also be supporting the fight against breast cancer, a very important cause that affects 1 in 8 women in her lifetime.

Click here to learn more about the Culinary Showdown


Since food is a vital part of our existence, it is also important to ensure we are eating the right kinds of food. Good nutrition can improve health and wellbeing. Not only that, but proper nutrition can be an important part of preventative medicine; helping your body stay well. There are several foods that have been known to fight Breast Cancer, but here are two of my favorite from an article I have read recently (you can read the full article Here):

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  • Fiber has been known to reduce the risk of breast cancer by reducing the absorption of free estrogen in the gut. Studies suggest that women who consumed 30 grams of fiber per day (or more) had a significant risk reduction (32%) of breast cancer.
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy and kale are rich in sulforaphane – one of the primary phytochemicals that studies have shown help prevent cancer. Recent studies suggest that sulforaphane can selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells healthy and unaffected.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation has an amazing website with so much information, including what questions to ask your doctor, an early detection plan, educational resources, and even a guide about breast health. To learn more about Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and more, you can visit their website here.


Halloween is coming up at the end of the month, and it is not just for the kids! What a fun time to have a masquerade ball, throw a fun party, take your kids trick or treating, or even simply pass out treats to the neighborhood kids. Halloween doesn’t have to mean unhealthy, either. If you get invited to an event and are expected to being a treat, why not bring a healthier option instead? I have two recipes that are still delicious and sweet, but a healthier option that kids and adults will love.

Honey Almond Popcorn Globes

popcorn-globes-l.jpgIngredients

  • 20 cups air popped popcorn ((about 2 packs of microwave able popcorn or 2/3 cups kernels))
  • 1 1/4 cup organic butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 1 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter (cut into cubes (this will be used on hands for making globes)

About This Recipe

Nutrition facts per popcorn globe: 64 calories, 7 grams carbs, 4 grams fat

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 325°
Step 2 – Put popcorn in a large deep baking dish or roasting pan. Also, line a large baking sheet with waxed paper.
Step 3 – In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together butter, the honey, and salt until butter is melted. Increase heat, boil honey mixture gently one minute. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
Step 4 – Slowly pour honey almond mixture over popcorn in baking dish and stir gently to coat. Bake popcorn, stirring every 8 minutes, until deep golden all over, about 24 minutes.
Step 5 – Let popcorn stand 5 minutes, until it is cool enough to handle. With lightly buttered hands, press small handfuls of the mixture into 1 1/2-in. globes. If mixture cools too much to be malleable, return it to oven for about 45 seconds to soften.
Step 6 – Put popcorn balls on prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Dark Chocolate-Dipped Applesapples-chocolate-l-300x201.jpg

Ingredients

  • 8oz dark chocolate
  • 8 Medium apples
  • various toppings as desired
  • 8 bamboo skewers or wooden pop sticks

About This Recipe

Jackson Pollock made splatter-painting a contemporary art phenomenon. Now you can start an artistic Halloween phenomenon of your own with these healthier-than-caramel dark chocolate treats.

Makes 8 servings. Serving size: 1 apple.

Nutrition facts: 221 calories, 2g protein, 41 grams carbs, 9 grams fat

Directions

Step 1 – Wash and dry apples.
Step 2 – Arrange toppings in medium sized bowls
Step 3 – Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper coated with cooking spray.
Step 4 – Insert wooden stick into apple cores.
Step 5 – Fill a medium sauce pan half way with water.
Step 6 – Bring water to a boil and place a medium glass mixing bowl over boiling water and immediately remove from heat.
Step 7 – Melt chocolate in the glass bowl over the hot water.
Step 8 – Coat the apple with a thin layer of chocolate by gently spooning melted chocolate on to each apple starting about one fourth inch away from apple top working downward
Step 9 – If you are using additional toppings dip apples into topping bowls or sprinkle toppings over apples.
Step 10 – Place decorated apples onto parchment paper and refrigerate for fifteen minutes to harden.

 

There are many more ideas on how to keep your Halloween healthy; you can find an article on natural and healthier Halloween candy options (that are allergy free!) by clicking here.

Or even a great article of healthy (and adorable) Halloween treats for kids by clicking here.

Do you have any Halloween healthy treat ideas? I’d love to hear them! Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Stay Safe and Healthy,

     Christine

Be A Part of the Culinary Showdown

 

 

The Susan G. Komen Los Angeles Culinary Showdown is Coming!
christine-jon.jpgI am super excited to share some information about an incredible event coming up on October 22 that my wonderful husband, Jonathon Fischer and I have the privilege of co-chairing.

 

The Susan G. Komen Los Angeles Culinary Showdown is not like any other event I’ve been to. I’ve been to a TON of galas, events and fundraisers, and this one by far is my favorite. It is SO much fun.

 

Susan G. Komen 2016 Culinary Showdown

Click Above Picture to Play Video

On Saturday October 22nd, an all-star lineup of celebrity chefs will join the Top 50 Fundraising foodies to compete in the inaugural Susan G Komen Los Angeles Culinary Showdown. This amazing challenge gives culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to fundraise for a chance to cook alongside celebrity chefs in the type of team cooking challenge you normally only see on TV! By participating, these team members will also be supporting a very important cause that affects 1 in 8 women in her lifetime.

Click Here To Register and Begin Fundraising!

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Celebrity Chefs’ School
Celebrity chefs like Tyler Florence, star of several Food Network shows including “Planet Food” and Chef Elizabeth Falkner, voted as one of America’s Top 10 Pastry chefs, will teach the qualified fundraising participants and their teams the tricks of the trade and how to become a culinary master. These participants will learn some great trade secrets on food prep, knife skills, and even cooking methods. Their skills will be put to the test later in the evening in a live showdown event. There will be several other well-known celebrity chefs! Click below for a complete list.
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The Culinary Showdown
The event will start with a cocktail reception where invited guests have the opportunity to take photos with the celebrity chefs, bid on silent auction items and mingle with other guests. Following the cocktail reception, the main event will begin! Audience members will enjoy a delicious dinner as the celebrity chefs and their teams take the stage. 50 fundraisers will be split into 5 teams, each team led by a celebrity chef, and will compete under the spotlight to create three dishes each and applying the skills mastered during the Celebrity Chefs’ School earlier that day.
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Facts About Breast Cancer
About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and in 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed, along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
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Susan G. Komen
Susan G. Komen is the ONLY organization that addresses breast cancer on multiple fronts such as research, community health, global outreach and public policy initiatives in order to make the biggest impact against this disease. To find out more about this organization and the difference they are making – click below.
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Christine’s August Newsletter

hydrate.jpgCan you believe that it’s already August? It’s that time again, preparing for back to school by shopping, making lunches, writing schedules and filling up the calendar – the busy season is coming quickly!

Your nutrition is important during this time. With temperatures still high, it is important to stay hydrated and that can be hard to remember when you are busy. Water makes up 60 percent of your body weight – it helps transport oxygen, fat, and glucose to your muscles, regulates your body temperature, and even helps in digestion. Your body needs water to function! Drinking water may be the first line of defense for dehydration, but you can also incorporate hydrating foods that are also good for you – eat your water! 😉

watermelon.jpgThere are a lot of fruits that are wonderful for you, but also have high water content to keep you hydrated. Watermelon and strawberries have one of the highest water content by volume. In fact, they have about 92% water and are both packed with nutrients like vitamin C, B5, and B6 (to name a few!). Watermelon contains only about 48 calories per cup, so you can quench your thirst without feeling guilty. Strawberries are also a great alternative to your typical dessert or candy when you have a sweet tooth.

If you find vegetables more appetizing than fruit, try cucumbers or lettuce. They both contain 96% water content. 95% of zucchini, radish and celery is actually water content, and even vegetables like cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage and spinach contain a whopping 92% water. So the next time you need to up your water intake, don’t grab a sports drink, replenish your body naturally with fruits and vegetables that not only will hydrate you, but leave you feeling full (without all the calories).


While your preparing for school to start, you may be also scratching your head for healthy meal ideas for the student in your house. Ditch the potato chips because I’ve got a bunch of ideas that your kids will love to eat – and make.

Breakfast:

For breakfast the whole family needs brain food, especially the little ones going off to school first thing in the morning. Instead of reaching for the cereal, here are some healthier alternatives that will keep their tummies feeling full long after the first bell rings.

Try some steel cut oats with fresh berries and nuts. You can even soak the oats in coconut milk the night before with some chia seeds – it’s delicious! Experiment with your favorite flavors. Here is a recipe that I love (and it’s super easy!) Try making a larger batch to use for more than one morning:

Steel Cut Oats with Fresh Cherries, Blueberries and Walnuts

steel-cut-oatmeal-2-l.jpgIngredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Celtic Sea Salt)
  • 2 dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup cherries
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (I also use light coconut milk)

Directions

Step 1 – Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add salt, cinnamon, and steel cut oats.
Step 2 – Reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3 – Serve ½ cup cooked oats with a bit of walnuts, blueberries and cherries.
Step 4 – **Alternatively follow package directions, top with your favorite nuts and fruits.

Here are some other great ideas for breakfast: 

  • Yogurt parfaits – add your favorite fruit! You can find my favorite recipe here.
  • Avocado on whole grain toast is simple & quick – mash the avocados, drizzle a little olive oil, add lemon juice and salt/pepper and you’ve got a yummy treat!
  • Eggs! – Hard boiled, scrambled, poached, or sunnyside up, these are a great part of a nutritious breakfast. For a quick alternative, make multiple hard-boiled eggs and grab on the go!
  • Homemade Granola – I have the perfect recipe for this, too! It is hearty, low in calories and can be eaten for breakfast or a snack.

Lunch Ideas:

Sending kids to school with healthy food in their lunch boxes is important. Sandwiches are definitely easy (and kids love them). Try switching up the old turkey and mayo with a healthy and nutritious wrap!

Gobble up These Turkey Wraps

turkey-wrap-l.jpgIngredients

  • 3 Slices turkey
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves
  • 2 Slices tomato
  • 1 Slice red onion
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 Small orange

Directions

Step 1 – Spread cream cheese in the center of the whole wheat tortilla.
Step 2 – Layer with turkey, spinach, tomato and onion.
Step 3 – Wrap and enjoy with orange slices.

Here are some other fun and healthy lunches for this school year:

  • PB&J – this is one of my favorites! Full of protein and super filling! Try using sunflower, cashew or almond butter as alternatives to peanuts.
  • Pinwheels – Another sandwich alternative that is fun to eat! Roll up your favorite protein with some cream cheese and veggies in a spinach wrap or whole-wheat tortilla and slice for bite-sized pieces.
  • Pasta Salad – this is a great way to use leftover chicken, ham or turkey. Add some cubed cheese and vegetables, toss with vinaigrette and a whole-grain pasta (use different pasta shapes added fun) and you’ve got an easy meal the whole family will love to eat.
  • Quesadillas – these are so quick and versatile! Cheese alone or with meat, they can be enjoyed cold or hot.

Healthy Snacks:

How many times has your child come home from school famished from all the activity of the day? It is important to have some healthy snacks either pre-made or ingredients handy for your kids. It is equally important for you to bring healthy snacks with you to work. These ideas are great for both!

Blueberries are one of the world’s most powerful and antioxidant-rich superfoods. Summertime is berry season and there’s still no tastier way to enjoy super juicy fresh blueberries than good old-fashioned blueberry muffins. My recipe for blueberry muffins as high in fiber, low fat and sugar free as well! Make a batch on Sunday, and they will be this week’s go-to snack:

Blueberry Muffins:

blueberry-muffins-l.jpgIngredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ZSweet natural zero calorie sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light soymilk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • cooking spray

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400°.
Step 2 – Combine flour, ZSweet, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3 – Combine light soy milk, applesauce, egg and lemon zest mix well with a whisk.
Step 4 – Add flour mixture to liquid mixture; stir with a large spoon until moist (don’t over mix).
Step 5 – Gently fold in blueberries.
Step 6 – Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Step 7 – Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until you can poke with a tooth pick and it comes out clean.
Step 8 – Place on a wire rack to cool.

Here are some other nutritious snacks for the whole family:

  • Banana Bread – My recipe for Bangin’ Banana Bread is not only tasty but also incredibly healthy. This is great for breakfast or a healthy snack.
  • Skewers! – Whether you put cheese, meat, vegetables or fruit on them, food on a stick is a win for any kid. Try these Caprese Skewers or come up with a combo of your choice. You can make them ahead and refrigerate for another day.
  • Fruit and peanut butter – try having apples with peanut butter, or bananas dipped in peanut butter (you can even drizzle with a little honey). Almond butter is great peanut-free alternative for this snack.
  • Ants on a log – celery and peanut butter, topped with raisons or dried blueberries. A good nut-free version of this is called Egg Salad Boats. Use egg salad instead of peanut butter and tomato instead of raisons! If your child is a fan of cream cheese, you use this instead of peanut butter, too.
  • Fresh Fruit Pops – Try these during the warmer weather. They are healthy, sweet and hydrating all at the same time!
  • I found this awesome article that has a ton of veggie snack ideas as well. Try adding some of these to your snack rotation.

I hope that with these suggestions, you are inspired this upcoming school year to create some yummy and healthy meals and snacks! I’d love to see your creations and hear what your favorites were. Tag me on Facebook, or post on my wall here. If you’re in the twitter-sphere, mention me there (@ChristineAvanti) and I’ll be sure to check it out!

Here’s to enjoying what is left of this fabulous summer!

     Christine

Christine’s July Newsletter

We are well into summer and I am definitely enjoying this beautiful sunshine! Being in the sun frequently during the summer led me to find the best skincare products that are organic, free of preservatives, and actually nourishing for my skin while protecting it from the sun. I was actually quoted in New Beauty magazine this month about this very topic. I am currently on the New Beauty magazine advisory board, below is my quote for the Summer-Fall 2016 issue:

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COOLA has so many products in their line and they are all amazing. You can find them online here. This issue of New Beauty is out on newsstands now!


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Everyone needs a good hair care product for summer. With the heat and humidity, it’s hard to find something that works well, and is good for your hair. Have you tried Intelligent Nutrients hair care line? Whether you have straight or curly, thick or thin, short or extra long hair – they have an extensive line of products that are Non-toxic, Certified organic products that work! Their website even filters your search based on hair type or concern. This company is environmentally conscious and lists every ingredient in their products. Check them out online here

Another good product for summer isn’t necessarily for your skin or hair, but it is called a “beauty food” for a reason and it can give you a boost of energy to go out and enjoy those outdoor activities. Everyone needs a good probiotic in their diet and Moon Juice makes one that is water soluble and super easy to take. Not only is this product organic, but ALL Moon Juice products are organic and plant derived. This is something worth trying! Find these probiotics and other products online here.

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I’ve always looked for a self-tanner that is free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates, is easy to apply and is affordable. Sounds impossible, right? Wrong! It exists! St. Tropez has an In Shower Tanning Lotion – kind of amazing. You put on wet skin, leave for a few minutes and rise off. It’s as easy as using body wash. It’s a gradual building tan, and it leaves you looking sun-kissed. Try it out and let me know what you think

Don’t forget about your lips in the summer! With sun exposure, your lips can get chapped and dry and no one wants that. I love lip oils. YESto has a line of cooling lip oil that is organic and all natural. It feels fabulous on your lips. It hydrates and restores and it’s so natural you could eat it. The coconut lip oil has eucalyptus oil blended with it as well that leaves your lips cool, tingly and refreshed.

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I use this Sun Bum lip balm when I’m in the sun – usually while playing tennis and I know I will be in the sun for a long period of time; it’s ranked as one of the safest, SPF lip balms by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Not only do you need to protect your lips from the sun, but it is also very important to protect your skin from the sun. There are many ways to do so without using sunscreen like planning your outdoor activities around the sun, staying in the shade, or even by wearing more clothing. When you are in direct sun, a good sunscreen is so important. The EWG has a guide that lists sunscreens and their safety ratings to help you make a smart purchase. You can find that information online here.

I know a lot of people who subscribe to various beauty boxes that are super convenient for trying new products in trial sizes (and sometimes full size) before making a financial commitment. If you are looking for a great organic and natural beauty box, here is an article in Eluxe magazine that describes 12 of them to try out!


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Good nutrition is essential for the summer (and every season!). Shop organic and local when possible. Your local farmer’s market will have affordable fruits and vegetables along with other products that are organic and grown right in your area! It’s fun to see the various farms and what they provide each week. If you haven’t found a local market yet, check this link out – it helps find a farmer’s market in your area

If there isn’t a farmer’s market that is local or convenient, you can always try a coop service or a local delivery service. I stumbled upon a really cool Fruit Share service that delivers fresh fruit and veggies right to your door. Their “Best of Summer” box is 7 weekly deliveries that equals just about $50/week. You can’t beat that for organic, local and delivery! You can see if it’s available in your area online here.

I would love to hear about your favorite organic beauty products. Send me a message, post a message on my wall or tweet me! I would love to share ideas with our social community. If you have topics you’d like me to address in my next newsletter email me, I’d love to hear them.

Soak up the sun and enjoy your summer!

 

     Christine

Christine’s June Newsletter

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Summer! The season for sand castles, flip-flops, vacations and farmer’s markets! With the temperatures warmer and the sun brighter, the great outdoors is much more inviting. Being prepared is important; safety is key.

Staying cool and hydrated during the heat of the summer is important. Drink water – about half your body weight in ounces – and even more on days when you’re sweating and active. Protect yourself from too much sun exposure by wearing a high SPF sunscreen and wearing a hat when outside.


With the weather being so nice, it is the perfect time to explore your local farmer’s market. Try new things; eat locally and in season! Eating foods that are light and cooling are great for the summer heat. Pick up a watermelon at the Farmer’s Market and try cooling off with my recipe for a perfect summertime frozen treat –

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Watermelon Coconut Granita:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or ZSweet

Directions:
Step 1 – Place fruit in a blender and puree until smooth.
Step 2 – Add coconut milk, lime and sweetener and blend for 10 more seconds. Do not blend to long because the mixture will turn foamy.
Step 3 – Pour mixture into 8×8 inch metal baking dish.
Step 4 – Freeze for 2 hours and scrape mixture with a spoon until the whole dish is “scraped” into frosty granules.
Step 5 – Return to freezer and continue to scrape every 30 minutes for another 2 hours and serve.


With June being National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, I wanted to share some other great recipes that you can use for your next picnic, barbecue or potluck!

This recipe is so simple anyone can make it, yet they look amazing on a plate and taste incredible! A great appetizer or side dish that won’t have you sweating in the kitchen during a hot summer day:

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Caprese Skewers:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint part skim mozzarella ball
  • 2 grape tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions:
Step 1 – On toothpicks, place organic basil, grape tomato, and ½ a ball of part skim mozzarella. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar for taste.


If you are looking for something that tastes super fresh, is loaded with fiber and antioxidants, AND tastes amazing, try my Artichoke & Asparagus Pesto Pasta. Not only is it delicious, but the color combos on this dish look fantastic, too! This is a perfect seasonal dish for National Fruit and Vegetable Month.

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Artichoke & Asparagus Pesto Pasta:

Ingredients:

Spring Vegetable Pasta

  • 1lb asparagus, trimmed, blanched and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2lb artichoke hearts, quartered ((fresh or packed in water))
  • 1 red onion, cut into thinly sliced rounds
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 3/4 cups mozzarella, reduced fat, shredded (c)
  • 1lb whole wheat penne ((I like Barilla Plus which is packed with fiber and protein))
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable broth ((your favorite))
  • 2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil
  • 2oz fresh pesto ((use commercial pesto if you don’t want to make it homemade))

Christine’s Pesto

  • 2 cups basil, tightly packed ((about 1/2 of a 4 oz. box of fresh basil leaves))
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, reduced fat
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Spring Vegetable Spring Pasta

Step 1 – Wash, trim and blanche asparagus. Save the water you boiled the asparagus with for cooking the penne.
Step 2 – Cook penne according to package directions using asparagus water. (This will boost the nutrient value of the pasta.)
Step 3 – Set range to medium-high heat. In an extra large frying pan sauté asparagus, artichoke hearts and red onion in olive oil until onions begin to caramelize. If you don’t have an extra large frying pan, do this in batches.
Step 4 – Deglaze pan with vegetable broth or your favorite white wine scraping all the brown bits from the pan. Deglazing simply means adding the vegetable broth to the hot pan and scraping the brown bits loose from the bottom with a spatula. Next add 2 tablespoons of pesto and lightly sauté until pesto is evenly distributed.
Step 5 – Add pasta and grape tomatoes and lightly toss with a set of tongs.
Step 6 – Plate and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Christine’s Pesto

Step 7 – Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor or blender. Slowly pour olive oil into mixture as it is processing. Blend for about 45 seconds or until mixture looks bright green and thick.


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This month is also a great time to start making sun tea. Sun tea is so easy to make, and very versatile. Try adding your favorite fresh fruit for added sweetness and flavor that is both good for your body and your taste buds! I’d love to know what your favorite recipes for sun tea are – tag me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so I can see your creative drinks.

While you’re trying new things, try a new exercise program. Take your routine outside the gym: jog, hike, swim or try an outdoor sport like tennis. I am partial to tennis – it’s my favorite outdoor activity; plus, everything is more fun in pairs =) Grab a friend and find a court near you.

 

Good-bye Spring and hello summer! Keep active, and stay hydrated!

 

Christine

Christine’s May 2016 Newsletter

christine-motherhoodIt’s Mother’s Day this weekend and this day is a wonderful time to honor mothers. In fact, celebrating the women in our lives is so important that this whole newsletter is dedicated to them! For some, this day comes with different emotions. Whether you are a first time mom, full-time mom, adoptive mom, single mom, the “mom-friend” of your group or even if Mother’s Day is hard for you, this day gives us something to celebrate. You can celebrate your mother, your significant other’s mother, your friends who are mothers, and yourself as a mother.

Does it take Mother’s Day to join us together? No. But, it is a good reminder for all women to celebrate with each other, for each other, and maybe even comfort each other; because on this day, we realize that we are not alone.

 


I love the idea of making a home cooked meal to show my love and gratitude. It is hand-made, it nourishes and it comforts! Treat your mom to a healthy breakfast in bed with Low-Cal, Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins & Mini Frittatas for a Mother’s Day brunch that’s less than 400 calories!

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Lowfat Blueberry Muffins:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ZSweet natural zero calorie sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light soymilk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • cooking spray

Makes 18 muffins; serving size 1 muffin

Nutrition Facts per serving: 100 Cals, 4g Protein, 19g Carbs, 1g Fat

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400°.
Step 2 – Combine flour, ZSweet, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3 – Combine light soy milk, applesauce, egg and lemon zest mix well with a whisk.
Step 4 – Add flour mixture to liquid mixture; stir with a large spoon until moist (don’t over mix).
Step 5 – Gently fold in blueberries.
Step 6 – Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Step 7 – Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until you can poke with a tooth pick and it comes out clean.
Step 8 – Place on a wire rack to cool.

 

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Asparagus Mini-Frittas:

Ingredients:

  • 9 egg whites (Preferably from cage free eggs)
  • 3 whole eggs (Preferably cage free)
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/2lb asparagus
  • 1 Small onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Nutrition Facts per serving: 171 calories, 16 g Protein, 7 g Carbs, 9 g fat
Serves 4. Serving size: 3 mini fritattas

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin tins pan with cooking spray.
Step 2 – Wash and trim ends off asparagus.  Boil asparagus until tender, approximately 6 minutes, blanch in ice water, pat dry, and cut in to 1 inch long pieces.  Set aside.
Step 3 – Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
Step 4 – Beat together the egg whites, whole eggs, half-and-half, and cheese in a medium bowl.
Step 5 – Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 6 – Divide the vegetables among the muffin cups; they should be about half full. Ladle the egg mixture over the vegetables; do not fill the cups more than three-fourths full, as the eggs will puff up as they cook
Step 7 – Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a frittata comes out clean, about 15 minutes.


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Giving a gift of flowers, a spa day, a homemade coupon book, mug or even a photo are great ideas for gifts. If you are still looking for the perfect gift to give this weekend, you may want to consider giving something that also gives back to an organization or charity. I love gifts of this nature because they don’t just brighten the day of the recipient, but you are also donating to a cause at the same time.

Charity by Design empowers non-profit organizations to reach their goals by capturing the power of positive energy through innovative, creative designs. A portion of proceeds are donated directly to each organization, enabling them to contribute to the lives of others and make our world a better place. They have beautiful jewelry, and it shows the organization you are donating to in the description of the piece. You can find all these designs online from Alex and Ani here.

For the wine lover; half of the profits from this 2011 California Pinot Noir from One Hope goes to the ASPCA to help fund pet adoptions nationwide. Click here for more information.

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With a minimum donation of $50, the Conservancy will plant your daffodils, tulips or mums in New York’s Central Park. For your donation, you or the person(s) you are honoring will receive an eCard online or physical certificate indicating the flowers planted and the date of the gift. Check out more information here.

If you want more options, here are 10 more Mother’s Day Gifts that show the moms in your life how loved and valued they are — while also providing hope and opportunities for mothers and children in poverty.


I would love to hear your stories of how you celebrated women in your life this Mother’s Day, or how others celebrated you! Let me know on Facebook or Twitter – I’d love to celebrate with you!

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: Be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.” –Serena Williams


Happy Mother’s Day!

     Christine

Christine’s April Newsletter

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Is it true that “April Showers Bring May Flowers”? I hope so! I am so excited for all the beautiful blooms, farmer’s markets, beach weather, and the great outdoors. It’s officially spring and that means summer is almost here.

It is no secret that I absolutely love coconut oil, but I have been finding new and amazing things to do with it and have a growing appreciation for this wonderful oil! Did you know that it could be used in just about anything? So far, I haven’t gone a day without using it in some way.

Coconut oil doesn’t just taste yummy in recipes; it contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal qualities. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats around. Research shows that medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) actually use up energy when they are metabolized. The calories the body uses to oxidize the fatty acids in coconut oil is greater than the calories they provide. Coconut oil also has the “thermogenic effect,” which means it raises your body temperature and boosting your metabolism and energy level.

I could go on and on about the benefits of coconut oil, but instead I’ll give you the highlights:

  • Coconut oil can increase energy
  • It has been known to have therapeutic affects on several brain disorders like Alzheimer’s (read one study here)
  • Can actual help ward off infections by killing bacteria, viruses and fungi (More info here)
  • Can curb hunger
  • May even lower your risk of Heart Disease by improving blood cholesterol levels (read one study here)
  • Can protect hair against damage
  • Moisturize skin (and you can even function as sunscreen)
  • Can help regulate daily digestion of foods; ie: makes you regular (everybody wants that!) (more info here)
  • Can help you actually burn and lose fat, especially around the mid-section, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise – bikini season is coming, so this is great news!

coconut-oil.jpgWow! Those are just some of the health benefits of coconut oil. Now, what about other uses? Here are some other things I have found coconut oil can be used for (and most of which I’ve tried!):

  • Makeup remover – it can be used to take off stubborn eye makeup (and has been known to help improve wrinkles and skin elasticity)
  • Dandruff remedy
  • Shaving – doesn’t leave skin irritated or dry!
  • In cooking – doesn’t break down in high temps, so is great for virtually any cooking use.
  • Butter substitute
  • Skin lotion (you can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a great scent)
  • Massage Oil
  • And my favorite…try putting a teaspoon or so in your coffee or tea in the morning. It can replace your creamer – and is an easy way to enjoy those health benefits I pointed out 😉

Don’t take my word for it; here is an article that I found listed 77 (Yes, SEVENTY-seven) uses for coconut oil. I would love to know what you use coconut oil for; tag me on Facebook or Twitter with your favorites!


I have many recipes on my website that use coconut oil; you can check them out to find your favorite. I have one in particular I’d love to share with you. Here’s one of my first recipes I’ve created combining coconut oil with a unique Asian Flair. You’ll love it.

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Cilantro & Lime Shrimp over Rice Noodles:

Ingredients:

  • 8oz rices noodles
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Sriacha
  • 1/4 teaspoon wasabi
  • 2 Large shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Medium limes, zest and juice
  • 1lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

Step 1 – Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring, until tender, 2 minutes. Drain.
Step 2 – In a medium bowl, combine 2 tbsp of the oil with soy sauce, tamari, agave syrup, sriracha and wasabi.
Step 3 – Add the noodles and toss.
Step 4 – In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil.
Step 5 – Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, 3 min.
Step 6 – Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to paper towels.
Step 7 – Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over low heat until golden and crisp, 2 min.
Step 8 – Transfer the garlic to paper towels.
Step 9 – Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a bowl, combine the lime zest and juice with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil.
Step 10 – Stir in the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.
Step 11 – Grill the shrimp over high heat, turning once, until glazed and just white throughout, 3 min.
Step 12 – Arrange the noodles on a large platter.
Step 13 – Sprinkle with the scallions, cilantro, crushed red pepper and the fried shallots and garlic.
Step 14 – Arrange the shrimp on top, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges alongside.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories 580, Fat 16g, Carb 72g, Protein 39g


img_3580.jpgOn Easter weekend, JDFF had the privilege of being part of the LA Dream Center’s Easter Extravaganza!  The people that we served were incredible families with children battling very serious health conditions. Often times they rarely get to leave the hospital, but the Extravaganza made Easter different for these families as they came to be blessed with loads of eggs, candy, food, activities and friends! It was awesome to celebrate Jesus together on Easter Sunday. You can see all our photos from the event on JDFF’s website here.

Another exciting event coming up this month that I have the honor of participating in with JDFF is the Free the Children’s “WE Day” on April 7th. WE Day is a powerful, life-changing event that combines the energy of a live concert with the inspiration of extraordinary stories of leadership and change. WE Day brings together world-renowned speakers and award-winning performers with tens of thousands of young people to celebrate their contributions and kick-start another year of change.

w-i-w-we-day.jpgWE Day has evolved from a single event nearly eight years ago into a series of 14 stadium-sized events held across Canada, the United States and the UK. This past year, 200,000 students attended WE Day and left inspired to create change at local and global levels. To learn more about WE Day, you can find information on their website here. JDFF is proud of the work we have done with Free the Children and continue to be impressed by their impact on young people across the globe. You can read about JDFF’s work with Free The Children on our website here.

Next month, JDFF is hosting the second annual women’s luncheon at the LA Dream Center. Last year, the event was a huge success! Joyce Meyer delivered an incredible message of hope and encouragement and ladies left feeling rejuvenated – in addition, we raised funds for an amazing cause! You can see pictures of last year’s luncheon here.

18942644128_d9043b90e8_o.jpgThis year, “Fostering Hope” is the theme for The Dream Center’s annual women’s luncheon. The event will be held on May 4th and is geared towards  raising funds for The Dream Center’s Foster Care Intervention Program. Our Foster Care Intervention program provides food, clothing, diapers, cleaning supplies, appliances and furniture to assure that homes with minor children meet the requirements of Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services. In some cases, the simple addition of a bed or safe crib is all a home needs to welcome back their child.  To learn more about this amazing program, see the full details on The Dream Center’s website here. If you live or plan to be in the LA area on May 4th, and would like to attend please shoot me an email and I will send you a personal invite. Tickets are $50 per seat. Check back on JDFF’s website, Facebook, or Twitter for more details.


 

health-screening.jpgLast month, I had a routine checkup that resulted in unexpected surgery. Don’t worry, it was minor and everything is fine – but it did get me thinking. We can never be too careful with our own health and I have learned the importance of regular checkups and screenings. Do you know what kind of screenings to get at your age? Do you know what questions to ask your doctor? These are very important things to ask yourself, and it is vital to know your own body and pay attention to what it is trying to tell you! I have found this super helpful article on 10 screenings every woman should have – I think everyone should read and do their own research as well!  Men, I haven’t left you out! Here is an article just for men’s health pointing out some vital facts you should know and talk about.


 

Be happy and healthy!

     Christine

Christine’s March Newsletter

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How is the weather where you are? On the west coast, although weeks away, Spring is in full swing! Are you ready for the sun? I am!

March is National Nutrition Month, and of course, I am super excited about this month! Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics comes up with a theme and focus for the month and this year’s theme is “Savor the flavor of eating right”. Eating real nutritious whole food is so important and who doesn’t love to love what they eat? You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to eat well. Enjoy the process of picking out your food, preparing, cooking, and savoring your meal.

Nutrition should be fun and should taste good! You can make small changes to your diet and lifestyle to become healthier. For instance, I have found this great handout From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that gives some incredible tips on how to eat more vegetables. You can click here to find the full details. If you want further advice on how to make changes to your daily nutrition routine, you can read more in my books (found on my website here). You can also find several recipes on my website here, and if you’re in the delivery area you can jumpstart your nutrition plan with a Real Food Meal Delivery plan. There are options for just about every budget, preference, and diet out there – no excuses; start making changes today!

I would love to hear how your month is going and what changes you’re making to your daily nutrition. Find me on Facebook or Twitter and post your meals and update me on how you are “Savoring the Flavor of Eating Right” during National Nutrition Month!


Daylight savings begins March 13th, so don’t forget to set your clocks forward an hour. When you wake up without that extra hour of sleep, don’t forget your nutritious breakfast. If you’re running late, I’ve got the perfect recipe that is quick, yummy, nutritious, and will still get you out the door on time:

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Wild Berry Yogurt Parfait:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups low fat cottage cheese (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Small banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

Directions:

Step 1 – In a medium bowl combine cottage cheese, fruit and sprinkle with almonds. I told you it was quick and easy!


March 14th is National Pie Day. Why do you ask? Because it’s 3.14! (How many digits after can you name?) But have you tried cobbler? Cobbler is a favorite of mine and it is so similar to pie, yet it is missing one thing that makes it pie – a bottom crust!

Although pie is more popular than cobbler, I think cobbler is under-rated because it can be baked in many more shapes than pie – it’s versatile. On National Pie Day, try a little Cobbler instead; I’ve got a great recipe for it 😉

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Peach-Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler:

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 4 Medium white peaches, peeled, pitted an cubed
  • 2 cups Bing cherries, pitted
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup organic palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Topping

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup organic palm sugar (or ZSweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar in the raw (also called turbinado sugar)

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400°.  Coat an 8”x8” square baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray.

Filling – Step 2

In a bowl combine peaches, cherries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and cinnamon.  Toss and coat fruit evenly.  Pour into a prepared baking dish.  Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.

Topping

Step 3 – While the fruit is baking make the topping.  Combine dry ingredients into a medium size mixing bowl.

Step 4 – Add chilled butter by cutting it into small pieces with a pastry blender or by cross cutting with two knives.

Step 5 – Next, add reduced fat buttermilk and water stirring until the batter is slightly moist.

Step 6 – Remove fruit from the oven and using a medium sized serving spoon place 8 dollops of topping evenly over fruit.

Step 7 – Leave a one-inch border around the baking dish. Sprinkle dough with sugar in the raw (also called torbinado sugar).

Step 8 – Bake for an additional 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling.


March 20th this year is the first day of spring! Have you been waiting for the fresh bloom of flowers, the shorter days, the sunlight, and the warmer weather? I have! Spring means new beginnings; it means that the winter is finally over and we are well on our way to summer. How exciting is that?

Not only is the 20th the first day of spring, but it is also the “Great American Meat Out”. This is the one-day where everyone joins together and becomes a vegetarian – of sorts. It’s a day where everyone cuts meat out for just one day – if you choose, of course. Since it is also the first day of spring and the perfect day to fire up the grill for the first time this year, I have the perfect meat-less, grilled recipe for your menu that is not only delicious, it is the perfect comfort food to usher in the new season.

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Guiltless Grilled Cheese w/ Roma Tomatoes:
(and fresh organic oregano)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
  • 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
  • 1 1/2 Slices fat-free Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
  • olive oil spray

Directions

Step 1 – Place the Swiss cheese on one side of a slice of bread. Then place sliced tomato on top and sprinkle with oregano.

Step 2 – Follow with the Cheddar cheese and second piece of bread.

Step 3 – Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray the outside of the sandwich with olive oil spray. Cook sandwich 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and bread is toasty. If cheese isn’t melting, cover the pan and check every minute until done.


Easter is in March this year and falls on the 27th. There are a number of traditions that are celebrated around the world and some of them can seem a bit strange to our culture in the United States. For example, In Poland, pouring water on each other is an Easter tradition called Smingus-Dyngus. On Easter Monday, boys try to drench other people with buckets of water, squirt guns, or anything they can get their hands on. Legend says girls who get soaked will marry within the year.

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On the morning of Holy Saturday, a tradition called “Pot Throwing” takes place on the Greek island of Corfu. During this ceremony, people throw pots, pans, etc. out of their windows, smashing them on the street. Some say the custom comes from the Venetians, who on New Year’s Day used to throw out all of their old items. Others believe the throwing of the pots welcomes spring, symbolizing the new crops that will be gathered in the new pots.

In Norway, Easter is a popular time to read crime novels.  Publishers actually come out with special “Easter Thrillers” known as Paaskekrimmen. The tradition started in 1923 when a book publisher promoted its new crime novel on the front pages of newspapers and because the ads looked so similar to real news stories, people didn’t know it was a publicity stunt – the tradition has stuck with them ever since.

There are so many traditions around the world that are celebrated on Easter – I wonder if other countries think that a bunny and chocolate eggs are a strange tradition? Do you have any traditions that you celebrate with your family? I’d love to hear about them! Facebook or Tweet them to me! It would be fun to see how many different traditions are out there.

A tradition of our family’s is to attend church on Easter Sunday and share a meal together afterward. One of my favorite meals to prepare on Easter Sunday is rack of lamb and I have a great recipe that I’d love to share with you and your family for this Easter:

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Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb w/ Acai Berry Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 1 1/2 racks of lamb with 8 ribs each, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup acai berry juice
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400°.

Step 2 – Remove the fat from the top side of the bones by keeping the knife blade flush with the bone and follow the contour of the bone.

Step 3 – Trim the fat from between the ribs and scrape the bones clean for an elegant final presentation.

Step 4 – Combine oregano, parsley, thyme, Dijon, garlic and one tablespoon of vinegar in a bowl. Next sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

Step 5 – Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.

Step 6 – Cook lamb for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Step 7 – Place lamb on a cutting board and pat herb mixture over lamb. Return lamb to pan and place into the oven.

Step 8 – Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 138°.

Step 9 – Remove lamb from pan and let cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully cut into chops.

Step 10 – Return pan to medium heat; add remaining vinegar, port and shallots.

Step 11 – Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Stir in broth and reduce again.

Step 12 – Add salt, pepper acai berry juice and reduce by half.

Step 13 – Add butter and stir until butter is melted. Serve sauce with lamb.


 

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

“God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’” – Billy Graham

 

     Christine

Christine’s February 2016 Newsletter

chocolates“Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.” ~ Barbara de Angelis

February is the month that gives us an excuse to love a little more, express our love more extravagantly, and hold on to our loved ones a little tighter. It also gives us an excuse to eat more chocolate…right?  I say, absolutely! Everything in moderation, though and you need to know specifically which chocolate is best for you.

The easiest thing to remember is the higher the cocoa content, the more nutritious it is for you and according to authoritynutrition.com, a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-80% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 67% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Iron
  • 58% of RDA for magnesium
  • 89% of the RDA for manganese
  • plus, it has potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium!

Dark chocolate is also a powerful source of antioxidants, it may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, it may protect your skin against the sun, and may even improve brain function.  And did I mention it is delicious?

Of course you need to be careful; 100 grams of chocolate is a lot and you probably shouldn’t go around eating this everyday because the sugar and caffeine content in that much chocolate can be pretty high – not to mention the calories. However, a square or two savored after dinner periodically is definitely a delicious treat.

So, if you are buying your sweetheart chocolates this Valentine’s Day, do your research and read the nutrition labels! Buy high quality, organic dark chocolate with high cocoa content (70-80% or more). The higher the cocoa means the less sugar you’ll get and the higher the health benefits you’ll receive. It’s Valentine’s Day after all, and nothing but the best for your dearest!

Read this article for more information on the health benefits of dark chocolate.


If you are looking for a meal to really wow your Valentine (and still be super healthy), you don’t have to make reservations; I have a recipe that you can do at home! This is a high-presentation, high-flavor dish just for this occasion.

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I’ve got your menu covered: Filet Mignon with Sauteed Mushrooms, Arugula Salad with Figs & Pomegranates, and Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots & Sea Salt – are you hungry yet?

Dinner for Your Valentine:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 3-oz organic top sirloin steaks
  • cooking spray…


Click Here for full recipe and details


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There are so many recipes for desserts on my website that would be wonderful for your Valentine’s Day dinner but cheesecake is always a favorite! I love my recipe for Cran-Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake.

However, since chocolate is a staple for this holiday, you’ve got to try these amazing brownies. Healthy never tasted so good =)


Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies with Organic Raspberries:

Ingredients:

    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 2/3 cups unsweetened coco powder
    • 1/2 cup gluten free flour ((Bob’s Red Mill brand is available at most markets))…

 

Click Here for full recipe and details


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If you don’t have a special someone for Valentines Day, be special TO someone! I will be with the Jonathon D. Fischer Foundation celebrating Valentine’s Day with the women that are part of the Dream Center’s Women’s Discipleship program.

These are women who are coming out of alcohol and drug addiction and are changing their lives dramatically and it’s a day where they get to be pampered and loved on. We had such an amazing time last year simply being able to bless them on a day that is all about LOVE. (you can see pictures of the event last year on JDFF’s website here).

 

 


 

Be a blessing to someone this month; love each other!

Happy Valentines Day!

1 Corinthians 13:13 “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

     Christine

Christine’s January 2016 Newsletter

It is a new year and this is the time that people normally reflect on the last year and make new resolutions for the upcoming year. Do resolutions really work? Did you stick to your resolutions last year? Some research points to New Year’s resolutions not working because people either don’t allow themselves to fail (and try again), set unrealistic goals, or never even try once they make their resolutions!

Why not make a resolution this year to not have resolutions, but to make life changes! Allow yourself room to fail, and then pick yourself up and try again. Learn from your mistakes and become stronger for them. Set realistic goals that you can see yourself doing for life, not just or the short term. Let 2016 be the year you change your life, not simply stick to a set of unrealistic boundaries you set for yourself on January 1st.


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By the end of the month you will probably be planning your Super Bowl party. The big game is being played on February 7th this year. Super Bowl parties are normally filled with fried foods and loads of grease. What if I told you that I had some amazing alternatives that you could make from home, with real food that is healthy for you and just as tasty? It’s true!

My favorite is my recipe for Super Bowl Sunday Nachos; this is a great stand-in for a balanced meal  at any Super Bowl party!

Super Bowl Sunday Nachos:

Ingredients:

  • 3 Large whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups caned pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 10 oz lean ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, 2% fat
  • 1/4 cup diced canned jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

About This Recipe

This is a great stand-in for a balanced meal at any Super Bowl party!

Nutrition Facts per serving: 381 cals., 28 gm protein, 45 gm carbohydrates, 10 gm fat.

Directions

Step 1Preheat oven to 375°F.
Step 2 – Cut each tortilla into 16 chip-sized pieces
Step 3Spread the pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp.
Step 4 – Remove the chips from the oven, leaving the oven on.
Step 5 – Transfer the chips to an oven-proof serving dish and spread the beans evenly on top.
Step 6 – Coat a skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium high heat.
Step 7 – Add the turkey and taco seasoning and cook, stirring to break up the turkey.
Step 8 – When the turkey is still slightly pink, add the crushed tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Step 9 – Simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until turkey is fully cooked and any liquid is cooked off.
Step 10 – Spread the turkey over the beans and chips, the sprinkle with the cheese, chilies, green onions, and cilantro, in that order.
Step 11 – Bake the nachos for approximately 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.


sweet-potato-fries-l.jpgInstead of greasy, full-fat fries, why not try these; a new spin on fries that is super high-presentation and surprisingly easy – and no peeling necessary!

Purple and Sweet Potato Fries w/ Herb Dip:

Ingredients:

Fries

  • 1lb purple potatoes (or sweet potatoes if you cannot find purple)
  • 1lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • cooking spray

Herb Dip

  • 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley

About This Recipe

This new spin on fries is super high-presentation and surprisingly easy. No peeling necessary.

Nutrition Facts per serving (serves 8):
120 cals, .5 g fat, 23 gm carb, 5 gm protein, 3 gm fiber, 27 mg sodium

Directions

Fries
Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut potatoes in to 1/2 inch wide pieces, each piece cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips.
Step 2 – Place strips on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle herbs de Provence, sea salt and pepper over potatoes and lightly toss potatoes to evenly distribute seasonings
Step 3 – Spray potatoes with cooking spray.
Step 4 – Place baking sheet at the top 1/3 of the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
Step 5 – Using a spatula gently turn over fries and coat again with cooking spray. Roast for another 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Herb Dip
Step 6 – Combine all ingredients into a medium bowl and mix with a spoon until herbs are well blended.
Step 7 – Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 8 – Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley and serve with potato fries.


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Instead of ordering delivery or take out, add this to your menu! Pizza. It is one of those soul-satisfying foods that is generally the enemy of weight loss due to the huge amount of fat and calories in most pizzas. But when you need it there just is no substitute. That’s why I had to create this quick & healthy version.

Mini Bagel Pizzas:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Toaster size whole wheat bagel
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce, divided
  • 2 black olives sliced
  • Onion
  • mushrooms
  • bell peper
  • basil

About This Recipe

Pizza. It is one of those soul-satisfying foods that is generally the enemy of weight loss due to the huge amount of fat and calories in most pizzas. But when you need it there just is no substitute. That’s why I had to create this quick & healthy version.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 382 Cals, 24 gram Protein, 49 grams Carbs, 11 grams Fat

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 375°F.
Step 2 – Spread ¼ cup marinara sauce on each half of bagel.
Step 3 – Add cheese, olives, and your favorite veggies and place on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil.
Step 4 – Toast in over for 10 minutes or until desired doneness.  *Can also be done in a toaster oven


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This month is Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month. This cause is near and dear to my heart as a lot of the work I do with The Jonathon D. Fischer Foundation (JDFF) is devoted to partnering and funding organizations that have programs, research, and facilities dedicated toward ending trafficking in the United States and around the world.

The only way to end trafficking is to first make people aware of what it is, the dangers it brings, and how individuals can get involved.  Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain; most commonly we hear of those who are forced into the commercial sex industry like prostitution or for the purpose of creating pornography and of the individuals who are forced into hard labor. There are over 300,000 victims of trafficking in the United States alone and the average age of a victim is 13. You can find out more facts here.

I have had the privilege of working with the LA Dream Center and Project Hope, Their residential recovery program for adult female survivors of domestic human trafficking is based in Los Angeles and is making a huge impact on many women who have been rescued from trafficking. By giving these girls a safe and protective environment, support, and education they are giving them a hope for their future. Find out more about this program by going to their website here.

Here are some facts in one infographic that the LA Dream Center put together on their website on a page called The Facts. You can also see it in picture form by clicking here. This is a great image to share on social media during the month of January (and every month!) to spread awareness.

If you would like to see my work with JDFF and the LA Dream Center, you can visit the JDFF website and see my full story here. You can also learn more about Project Hope and our involvement by clicking here.

Another organization that is making a huge impact on taking a stand against human trafficking is Thorn. Thorn tackles another aspect of this battle by taking a stand against the sexual exploitation of children. Since there is an ever-growing concern of technology and the use of the Internet to victimize children, Thorn is using the same technology to fight back. Taken directly from their site: “We partner across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children.” You can learn more about this issue and how you can contribute on their website here.

To learn more about what human trafficking is, how you can spread the word and how you can get involved, you can visit EndCrowd.org – a great source of information.


 

Be Happy; Be Healthy – Here’s to a great 2016!

     Christine

JDFF Ladies High Tea Event

The original blog post can be found on JDFF.ca

JDFF President Christine Avanti-Fischer introduces Kyla Smith, director of Project Hope

JDFF President Christine Avanti-Fischer introduces Kyla Smith, director of Project Hope

On April 5th, 2014 JDFF held it’s inaugural Ladies High Tea Event – Tea Talks if you will. The first, in a series of events to come, the Ladies High Tea is designed to bring together women from all walks of life – each bringing with her a unique perspective and expertise. Each event will include presentations from experts who represent organizations that JDFF supports and will feature an issue that JDFF is passionate about and falls under one of our five pillars: Education, Medical Needs, Water projects, Animal Rights and Human Trafficking Prevention and Recovery.

For our first event we chose to highlight the issue of Human Trafficking and were pleased to welcome presentations by Kyla Smith of Project Hope and Julie Cordua, Executive director of Thorn.

 

Merrilee Kaszacs, Director, Dream Center Network, Christine Avanti-Fischer, President, JDFF, Julie Cordua, Executive Director of Thorn and Danise Jurado, Dream Center Volunteer

Merrilee Kaszacs, Director, Dream Center Network, Christine Avanti-Fischer, President, JDFF, Julie Cordua, Executive Director of Thorn and Danise Jurado, Dream Center Volunteer

Both women presented powerful information about the work their organizations are doing to combat human trafficking – one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. They also relayed startling and sobering statistics about the amount of human trafficking happening here in Los Angeles.

In attendance that afternoon were representatives of several organizations – engaged in various causes such as providing solar lights for kids in impoverished nations (Unite to Light) or building schools in India for girls and boys who would otherwise be sold into slavery (Not Today Coalition)

After the presentations, the ladies were able to mingle, exchange ideas and make plans to connect in the future. Who knows what next great plan of action will come from one of these meetings!

 

Kyla Smith (left) with the staff from Project Hope and the Dream Center.

Kyla Smith (left) with the staff from Project Hope and the Dream Center.

The event was underwritten solely by JDFF and we asked only that each attendee bring a small donation of clothing to the event. The response was overwhelming, and we are happy to share that we collected over 30 bags and boxes of clothing and supplies that went directly to women who have been rescued by the team at Project Hope. These women are on a long, but loving road to recovery and we are humbled by their strength.

We are excited to see where this informative series leads, and are hopeful that by continuing to bring together like-minded organizations for in depth discussions about these tough issues, the result will be rewarding partnerships that will impact the world and start to produce the change JDFF believes is possible when efforts are combined.

 

Guests and presenters mingle and share stories of impact and resource.

Guests and presenters mingle and share stories of impact and resource.

Christine with Dawn O’Bar, President of Unite To Light.

Christine with Dawn O’Bar, President of Unite To Light.

 

Representatives of Zoe Organization, Betsy Meenk, USA Regional Director, (left) and Program Services Manager, Marji Iacovetti pose with Christine (center) at the Ladies High Tea event.

Representatives of Zoe Organization, Betsy Meenk, USA Regional Director, (left) and Program Services Manager, Marji Iacovetti pose with Christine (center) at the Ladies High Tea event.

The ladies of Project Hope standing with some of the bags collected from the event. The clothes collected were given to the women rescued by the Project Hope team.

The ladies of Project Hope standing with some of the bags collected from the event. The clothes collected were given to the women rescued by the Project Hope team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about human trafficking and the work that Project Hope and Thorn are doing please visit: Project Hope at their website here, and Thorn at their website here.

Read the United Nation’s Global Report on Trafficking In Persons By Clicking Here

 

Christine’s Skinny Pumpkin Pie Cottage Cheese

Christine’s Skinny Pumpkin Pie Cottage Cheese

Meal type Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Casual Party, Thanksgiving
Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Per Serving
Calories 333 kcal
Protein 23g
Total Carbohydrate 49g
Total Fat 8g
November 16th is National Fast Food Day. Around here we think of fast food as something that is quick to make, provides a PC combo and gets you out the door and on with your day - without having to stop at the traditional fast food places. For a great fast recipe try my Pumpkin Pie Cottage Cheese.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups nonfat cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cups organic packed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon organic raisins
  • 1 tablespoon crushed walnuts
  • cinnamon

Directions

Step 1
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
Step 2
Mix well.
Step 3
Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.

Holiday Guests With Dietary Restrictions? Bring it On!

At the holidays more than any other time, we gather together family and friends from different backgrounds and with diverse tastes and dietary needs. Allergies and food sensitivities are nothing to fool with, and preparing a tasty meal that respects your guests' health risks will make for a memorable and happy occasion for all. Following are some tips to help you make it through the social season without feeling like a short order cook!Giving the gift of a gluten-free holidayStuffing sans the bread? But of course! Simply make stuffing with a rice or quinoa base instead of bread cubes or crumbs. First, I sauté a few links of spicy Italian sausage, sliced at an angle for a little design flare. Next I add a little garlic, sage, diced red and green bell pepper, onion, carrots and celery. Sauté everything in a little olive oil until the vegetables are slightly translucent, then throw in a splash of wine (my personal choice is Skinny Vine's Slim Chardonnay at only 86 calories per 5 oz. glass -- I sip on it as I cook; after all the holiday cook deserves a little guiltless indulgence every now and then!)While my veggies are marrying themselves to the amazing flavour of my fave wine, I start cooking my rice. You can use white rice, brown rice, or quinoa, whatever you have in your pantry. Once the rice is cooked simply toss into the veggie mixture. For fun, you can toss in sliced almonds, dried cranberries or diced apple (honeycrisp is my recommendation because they taste insanely wonderful).Lactose-free mashed potatoes made with love.How could a holiday meal be a holiday meal without those delectable mashed spuds? It can't! What is a holiday host or hostess to do if entertaining folks with a lactose allergy or intolerance? Swap out the cream, butter and all dairy for mayo. Yes, you heard me right...hail, hail to marvellous mayo. I love it, I love it, I love it. So smooth, so creamy, yet no milk or lactose involved in its creation. And believe you me, it's amazing folded into mashed potatoes. Here is how I pull off my "dairy-free holiday mashed spuds." Mash or use a ricer to deconstruct those cute little Yukons. Next, throw in one half cup chicken broth, one cup mayonnaise, fresh minced thyme, sage or rosemary, salt and pepper. Using a rubber spatula gently fold in all the additions until they are well combined into your potatoes. Serve warm.Vegetarian/vegan holiday mealThere is really no way around making two main dishes unless all of your guests are vegetarian. I propose a simple Italian solution....just as my grandfather Luigi would say, "make some lasagna and fuhgetaboutit!" Over the years I've noticed that most of my friends and clients who are vegetarian also like to eat gluten-free, thus the inception of my yumm-o-licious roasted vegetable lasagna. It's made with layers of extra-thinly sliced potato, eggplant, zucchini, onion, my homemade pesto and goat cheese. (By the way, most people who are lactose-intolerant can eat goat cheese without any issues. Cha-ching!)Although this recipe might sound painstakingly difficult given the "extra thin" sliced vegetables, it's really über simple if you invest in a mandoline -- no, not the musical instrument, it's a kitchen gadget, people! I have a super mega-cool mandoline that I bought from Williams Sonoma for a zillion dollars (well...$150 really, but it was expensive). Given that I'm always cooking, teaching cooking classes or developing recipes, it was an investment. The good news is you can find a decent mandolin in the kitchen gadget section of your local supermaket for around $10. This tool will slice the potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and onion in a snap. If you want to try my Roasted Vegetable Lasagna recipe, see below. By the way, it pairs well with my beloved Skinny Vine Slim Chardonnay!Buon Appetito! ;)
Christine's Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (Serves 10)Olive oil for greasing the dish 6 medium red potatoes, very thinly sliced Christine's Pesto (see below) Sea Salt ¾ pound eggplant (about 1 large), unpeeled and thinly sliced 2 medium golden zucchini, thinly sliced 1 large red or yellow onion, thinly sliced 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce 12 ounces soft goat cheesePreheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil. Arrange half the potato slices in the dish. Season each potato with a small drop of the pesto. Top each potato with a slice of eggplant, zucchini, and onion. Using half of the goat cheese, place a bit of cheese onto the top of each vegetable stack. Pour half of the marinara over everything. Make a second layer of potatoes, pesto, vegetables, and sauce. Lastly, drop mini dollops of the remaining 6 ounces of goat cheese over the top of the lasagna.Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the lasagna is bubbling and the top has browned, about 10 minutes.Nutrition facts per serving: 297 calories, 12 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fatChristine's Pesto (makes about ½ cup)2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves ½ cup grated Parmeson cheese ¼ cup pine nuts ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 garlic clove, crushed with the side of a knife ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt and ground black pepperCombine the basil, cheese, pine nuts, cayenne and garlic in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil. Blend until mixture looks bright green and thick, about 45 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Nutrition facts per tablespoon: 71 calories, 1 gram protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, 7 grams fat (mostly good fats!)
**See original post on Huffington Post's website here

Don’t Overindulge This Holiday Season

1. Enjoy some active family time! The holidays are about getting together with loved ones we don't get enough time with in our day-to-day lives, right? Rather than sitting around the table in a turkey coma, awkwardly running out of small talk and mindlessly helping yourself to a third helping of dessert, how about a game of touch football, visiting a local rock wall or simply going for a walk in the neighbourhood? A board game like Cranium will exercise your brain and get you away from the leftovers! Not only that, physical activity and mental distractions will help dissolve stress for the host and hostess and should placate any strained family dynamics.2. Think outside the box. This not only means avoiding pre-packaged, processed foods like dehydrated dressing and frozen prepared perogies (between the preservatives and the inevitable added sodium and sugars, they're just not good for you!), but also cutting the calories in your classic holiday favourites. Read up on how to make substitutions of healthier ingredients in your recipes that will achieve just as tasty results, or find new ones like my Butternut Squash Soup with Niman Ranch Bacon Bits or Fire-Roasted Salsa Verde with Skinny Chips3. Eating out doesn't have to mean pigging out. During the holidays, we have a lot more social obligations -- office parties, book club outings, guests from out of town who want to treat us to a special dinner...it's even harder than usual to keep a handle on our intake. Firstly, start the day off with a low-fat lean protein and healthy carb combo and eat regular snacks or meals every four hours before you go out. It'll set you up for the rest of the day so you don't end up with a crashing metabolism. A lot of people make the mistake of "saving up" their calories all day before going out to dinner and then feel justified in feasting indiscriminately.4. STOP EATING when you're full! Much more easily said than done when the table in front of you is laden with freshly-made, steaming dishes, some of which are reserved for special occasions such as this! However, at the end of the day if you can't button your shirt, have to consume a whole bottle of antacids before you can fall asleep and experience physical pain, is it really worth it? Practice mindful eating and not only will you enjoy all the pleasures of that lovingly cooked meal, you'll have more leftovers which can go in the freezer to be brought out for the end of a hectic workday weeks later.5. Give it a rest. Some people try to squeeze every ounce of partying and visiting they can into the holidays. Workaholics become "wake-aholics." The truth is, getting enough sleep is key to overall health and wellness, not to mention your ability to maintain your ideal weight. Think about it -- when you're on the go but having a hard time focusing because you've been burning the candle at both ends, you reach for a rapid sugar-spike, right?How about using the time away from the office to re-balance your lifestyle and look after yourself? Sleep well, eat well and enjoy what the holiday has to offer, without the drama.View the whole article on Huffington Post here

Five Ways to Stay Healthy on Halloween

For most of us, Halloween is synonymous with massive consumption of sugar and orange food colouring. Candy corn, anyone? Thirty-nine grams of these little cavity-kernels contains 28 grams of sugar and 36 grams of carbohydrates. Refined sugar belongs in the category of "white death" that all simple carbohydrates inhabit -- eating too many of them has been directly linked to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, bone loss, tooth decay and even mood swings and hypertension, among other things. However, you can't be expected to substitute your favourite candy bar with an apple on a holiday that practically demands your participation in this candy orgy. So what's a Skinny Chick to do? Here are some tips that will keep you from blasting off on a sugar high that will have your dentist rubbing his hands together in evil glee. 1. Go for small sweets. Typical shell-outs with less than 50 calories are a mini 3 Musketeers bar, Chuppa Chups Lollipop, a roll of Pez Candy, one mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or one Kraft caramel, a mini Hershey's Milk Chocolate or Kit Kat bar, a mini Snickers or Butterfinger, a strawberry-flavoured Twizzler. FYI, the 'fun size' of most popular candy bars has more than double the calorie count of a mini! And beware of those Cadbury 'Screme' Eggs, which cost you a frightening 170 calories each!2. Add fiber to your favourites Of course, the apple in the classic candy apple is a good source of fiber and vitamin C, but how about cereal squares made with a couple of spoonfuls of all-bran? That perennial fall favourite, pumpkin is also a good source of fiber and vitamin A and its smooth, sweet flavour is terrific in cookies, dessert loaves, tarts and even the roasted seeds make a tasty Halloween snack. Popcorn makes a great low-calorie, high-fiber treat for both kids and adults!3. Harness the power of pre-packaged portion control Finally, brand marketing managers are catching on to the fact that consumers want some better choices in the grocery store without feeling deprived, and are packaging both sweet and savoury snacks in handy 100-calorie portions. You'll find everything from Pringles to Oreos to Turkey Jerky in these snack pack sizes - the advantage is that the indulgence is controlled. Just remember that the small package isn't a license to eat 10 at a time!4. Dark is delicious Dark chocolate -- that is, anything with 70% or more cocoa content -- can be an acquired taste for those who've known nothing but milk chocolate with added sugar all their lives. Once you've experienced the smooth richness just one ounce of decadent dark chocolate provides, with its anti-oxidant and cholesterol-lowering benefits to boot, you'll be hooked. Just one small piece of a premium brand can satisfy your sweet tooth and elevate your mood a whole lot sooner, with a lot less damaging fat and additives.5. Indulge Halloween is as much an excuse for adults to have a party these days as it is for kids, yet anyone who is trying to watch calories is probably already getting anxious about December's holiday feasting. It is possible to be festive without falling off the wagon! I don't advocate the eat-tonight-starve-tomorrow mentality anyway -- if you really want a treat, enjoy a small portion of the exact thing you're craving.Otherwise you're bound to eat twice as much of whatever else is at hand, and though the substitute may technically be "healthier," you'll still feel unsatisfied, not to mention miserable. If you are the social host, though, that means you are in control. Remember, there are healthier ways to make delicious party foods -- check out my recipes for Santorini Lemon-Feta Dip and Whole Wheat Pita chips, Fire-Roasted Salsa Verde with Skinny Chips, Ole Guacamole and low-fat, low-sugar pumpkin bread, not to mention my Espresso Martini, Mojito Flaquito, Pomelo Martini and Skinny Pomegranate Bellinis! You'll find all these recipes and many more in my books, "Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads" and "Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food."**See original post on Huffington Post's website here

Five Ways to Cut the Fat this Thanksgiving

Turducken and Gooducken -- turkey or goose, respectively, stuffed with a duck which is, in turn, stuffed with a chicken -- may sound like excess, but a chef in Devon, U.K. boasts having made a multi-bird roast using up to 12 types of fowl! This monstrous feast served 125, took eight hours to cook and, had 50 thousand calories all told. That's 400 calories per person, without the gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, casseroles, pumpkin pie, wine...Studies show that the average person consumes 3,000 to 4,500 calories at a traditional (single bird!) thanksgiving dinner. That's up to double the amount most people should eat in one day! Let's do the math on a few more conservative choices: One glass of wine, one cracker with cheese (who does that?) and half a cup of mixed, raw veggies as an appetizer, three cups of salad with low-fat dressing, six ounces of white and dark turkey, half a cup of stuffing, half a cup of mashed potatoes without gravy or even a pat of butter and one slice of pumpkin pie comes to 1165 calories. According to About.com, you'll be walking 11.65 miles, or 23,300 steps to work that one off!American Thanksgiving is widely known for its beginnings in 1621 in Plymouth where, having experienced a successful growing season, the Pilgrims gathered to share a 3-day celebration of the harvest with the Native Americans. However, thanksgiving services were documented as early as the beginning of that century. Abraham Lincoln declared it an official "day of thanksgiving and praise" in 1863.Thanksgiving in Canada originated with Martin Frobisher, who had endured harrowing weather and perilous icebergs crossing the Atlantic from England in his endeavor to forge a Northwest Passage to the Pacific. In 1578 after surviving his third such journey, Frobisher hosted a feast of thanks in what is now known as Nunavut. The tradition grew as settlers from France, Germany, Scotland and Ireland arrived and colonized Canada, bringing with them their native traditions. The foods that constituted the feast were, naturally, taken from the settlers' own harvested crops and included large pots of baked beans, meat pies, fruit pies, squash, turnips, home-made pickles and salads. Turkey doesn't appear to have been part of the festivities in Canada until the later 1800s!So, at first glance the traditional thanksgiving turkey dinner appears innocent enough -- turkey is one of the leaner sources of protein, lots of healthy vegetables and fruits are available. That is until we pour on the gravy, cream sauces and melted cheese or, God forbid, deep fry that poor innocent bird!A popular cooking method in the southern United States, Canadian Chef Michael Smith offers his version on the FoodNetwork.ca website with the following caveat: "Make sure the fryer is positioned well away from any children, teenagers, pets or flammable structures." If seeing that at the beginning of a recipe doesn't raise alarm bells, maybe this will: 1 serving (1/16th of a 12 pound bird) of deep-fried turkey contains 603 calories, 33.6 grams of fat and 228 mg of cholesterol. In actual fact, that's not far off an equal portion of roast turkey.If you really would rather not wake up next Tuesday with a tryptophan hangover and a shock when you step on the scale, here are a few tips for trimming the fat, Skinny Chicks style:TEXT CONTINUES BELOW SLIDESHOW 1) Turkey is one of the leanest sources of protein available, so you want to prepare it in a way that doesn't turn it into an oil sponge. The simplest way to avoid extra calories is to leave the skin on the plate. In my book, Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads, you'll find a recipe for Baked Turkey, Sweet Potato and Steamed Broccoli that boasts 32 grams of protein and just 6 grams of fat for only 396 calories.2) Most modern-day thanksgiving meals begin or end with alcohol, and some connoisseurs will pair a wine with each course. Not only does alcohol impair the liver's ability to metabolize fatty acids, it diminishes will-power! A two-ounce glass of the best wine you can afford sipped slowly shouldn't dampen your holiday spirit or throw a bucket of water on your weight loss.3) There are plenty of tasty ways to prepare fresh vegetables that are probably closer to the methods the original settlers used, without the rich and caloric additions our culture tends to glorify in the name of gastronomy. Not only are fresh-cut, steamed vegetables crisper and brighter in colour, they retain far more of the nutrients that satisfy your body's health needs.4) So much of what defines the North American Thanksgiving Dinner is about the "extras" -- the cranberry sauce, warm crescent rolls dripping with butter, nuts, pickles, celery stuffed with cream cheese, chips, cheese and crackers and of course, the gravy. Sadly, these add-ons may enhance the meal both visually and taste-wise, but they really add on the pounds. Returning to the handy-dandy calorie calculator from About.com we used earlier but choosing only the "extras" listed above, the astounding total is 1,405 calories of basically nutrient-free fat-snacks! No holiday is an excuse to eat everything in sight -- think before putting food mindlessly in your mouth and remember, it all adds up!5) Desserts...ah, the pumpkin pie with whipped cream, the deep dish apple pie with ice cream, the nanaimo bars, the plates of cookies, fudge and brownies...divine decadence, or too much of a good thing? Temptations are everywhere and all I can do is encourage you to check out the recipes in both of my books Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salad and Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food. They include delightful concoctions such as Raspberry Chambord Trifle, Hi-Protein Pumpkin Ginger Pancakes, White Peach and Bing Cherry Cobbler and even low-fat, low-sugar versions of pumpkin bread, cheesecake and banana bread.Remember, thanksgiving may be only once a year, but so is Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, your birthday, your anniversary...there are a million and one reasons to celebrate with food, but one very good reason to think like a Skinny Chick...your health!**See original post on Huffington Post's website here

Back By Popular Demand

After multiple emails, phone calls, facebook posts and tweets, I’ve listened to your requests and I’m bringing back my recipes for all my Skinny Chicks.

Check my site every Monday for a new recipe posted just for you.

https://www.christineavanti.com/recipes

Try them out and don’t forget to share them, tweet them, pin them…but most of all, enjoy them!

xoxoxo
Christine

12 Tips to Get a Sexy Beach Body

Spring is almost over and bikini season is here! That means we basically have only four weeks to get "Brooklyn Decker"-ready. (Side note: if you don't know who she is, do yourself a favour and don't Google her. It is kind of depressing unless you're a supermodel.)C'mon let's be honest, if you're going to hit the beach, you don't want to look like a blowfish who did a five-day Atkins crash diet -- a smaller, puffy version of your former self. Because believe you me, that's exactly what you will get! Been there. Done that! I have the deflated booty stretch marks to remind me of my former yo-yo dieting days that I gave up on over a decade ago.Don't pout, there is hope for those of you who did not come out of the womb with a Sports Illustrated bikini body. Not matter what size, shape or height you are, it is possible to look toner, leaner, and more physically fit in just four short weeks if you do it right. I've even seen it happen for women going through menopause who would gain weight by simply looking at a piece of pizza. Total body transformation? No. You will probably not see yourself go from a size 26 to a size 8 in just four weeks -- HELLO you are not naive enough to believe that anyway! But you might see a reduced muffin top, no more bloating, and drop a few sizes. That is, if you commit to the following tips 100 per cent for the next four to five weeks.The following are tried-and-true diet and fitness tips that actually work for my readers, clients, and me personally. EAT BIKINI-FRIENDLY FOODS TIP 1 -- EAT COCONUT OIL Eat it, breathe it, smell it -- swim in it for goodness sakes! OK, maybe I'm a bit overzealous about coconut oil, but it's for good reason. The stuff works!THE SKINNY: This is kind of old news, but obesity researchers at McGill University found that medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), the type found in coconuts, actually use up energy when they are metabolized. The calories the body uses to oxidize the fatty acids in coconut oil is greater than the calories they provide. KAACHING! So it's possible to burn more calories digesting coconut oil than you get from eating it. Dr. David Brownstein uses coconut oil as a part of his weight loss program at the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, MI.One final fascinating fact about coconut oil: The primary fatty acid in coconut oil, lauric acid, which is highly antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, is also found in human breast milk -- which, let's face it, is the perfect food!TIP 2 -- EAT ARTICHOKES These beautiful vegetable flowers (as I call them) are amazingly filling and are inexpensive right now because they are in season!THE SKINNY: Artichokes contain inulin, which is a type of carbohydrate that has been shown to decrease the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Artichokes also have active compounds called caffeoylquinic acids or cynarin, which are found in highest concentrations in the leaves but are also available in the hearts. These liver-friendly compounds found in artichokes prevent the build-up of fat and toxins in the liver, reduce gallstone formation during weight loss, promote growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, and act as a gentle laxative by increasing bile secretion. I know, I had you at "laxative" right? Me too! Wink, wink.TIP 3 -- EAT DANDELION GREENS Buca, a cool little Italian hot spot in Toronto, is serving the most delicious dandelion green salad right now. These slightly bitter greens pair well with a sweet dressing such as reduced balsamic fig vinaigrette. I also use them in my infamous "Veggie Detox Shots" recipe in my new book (originally created as a hang over cure) -- they are good, green, and packed with bikini-friendly nutrition.THE SKINNY: These edible weeds are not just ugly lawn intruders -- they are spring leaves packed with vitamins A, B, C, D, and fiber. If you know anything about nutrition, you know that all those nutrients help with... you guesses it, WEIGHT LOSS. BTW, skinny people love dandelion greens because they work as a natural diuretic to help reduce bloating and detox the body. Coolest of all, dandelions contain taraxacin, a chemical that is thought to speed up fat digestion and liver sluggishness. I don't know about you, but I'm in the market for a dandelion field!INCORPORATE REAL FOODS INTO YOUR DAILY DIET TIP 4 -- Shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store. TIP 5 -- Read your labels; look for foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar. TIP 6 -- Choose foods that offer healthy fats such as omega-3 like cage-free eggs and olive oils. TIP 7 -- Build each meal starting with a lean protein, next add a healthy carb such as fresh produce, and always consume at least 16 ounces of water with each meal. TIP 8 -- Consume grass-fed or free-range meats as often as possible. TIP 9 -- Consume a fermented food or beverage once a day or take a daily probiotic. Fermented foods include: coconut kefir, dairy kefir, kombucha tea, homemade sauerkraut, kimchi (made without MSG). TIP 10 -- Consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids daily, or take an omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 rich foods include: fatty fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds and raw tofu.TIP 11 -- STEER CLEAR OF FAKE FOODS Avoid all foods that are made from refined sugars, refined flours, refined salts, and refined fats. They slow down metabolism, increase hunger, and disrupt sleep patterns.TIP 12 -- EXERCISE AS IF YOU LOVE IT It is incredible the difference a little exercise will make. Start exercising a minimum of 30 minutes every day and you will see quick results. The weather is getting really nice, so now is the perfect time to take up an outdoor sport or simply meeting a friend for a daily walk/chat session. Oh, and if you are in a total rush to see some pounds drop, I highly recommend a hot yoga class. Although you will lose mostly water, it's a great way to get addicted to sweating and see a lower number on that dreaded bathroom scale.See you at the beach, hotties!**See this original post on Huffington Post's website here