My Introduction to Spirulina

Have you heard of Spirulina?  I recently tried it for the first time.

I first learned about Spirulina at nutrition school while studying the raw food diet. Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in pristine freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds.  I admit I was a little skeptical about eating algae, however, the more I learned, the more curious I became.  Spirulina is a superfood with many health benefits, including:

  1. Spirulina is most known for it’s ability to strengthen the immune system;  some reports indicate regular consumption of Spirulina will help reduce the frequency and impact of colds, flu and other illness.
  2. It is great for women:  it’s strong anti-inflammatory agents help ease symptoms of PMS, it has 26 times the calcium of milk and is also is high in bio-available iron, so it can help those with anemia or iron deficiency.
  3. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein;  gram for gram Spirulina has more protein than beef.

Here is more great information about Spirulina:

Spirulina_Guide

My first experiment with eating this algae involved adding it to a smoothie – since it is packed with protein, I knew this would be a great recovery drink after a tough workout.  How was it?  Well, the color was amazing!  I’ve never made such a deep green smoothie, even when I loaded it up with spinach and kale.  It tasted a lot like green juice, perhaps slightly bitter.  I balanced this by adding sweet fruit, like berries and banana.  Since I really like green juice, I enjoyed this refreshing and nutritious smoothie and I can’t wait to try it in my home made salad dressing next time I whip up a batch.  If you haven’t had green juice before, this may take a few taste tests.  Add less Spirulina initially and build up to a full serving and adding your favorite fruits will help a lot.  Here is my recipe for a Spirulina Smoothie:

Spirulina Smoothie

SpirulinaSmoothie

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. coconut water
  • 1-2 tsp. Spirulina
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • A handful of your favorite berries – I used a blueberry / strawberry combo!
  • A handful of ice cubes

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients, blend well and enjoy!

Questions for you:  Will you be willing to try Spirulina?  How will you add this into your nutrition plan?  Let me know!

Cheers³

Reni

Blueberry Quinoa Salad – As featured on Portland KATU News This Morning

I recently had the awesome opportunity to talk about my book, Eat Like A Champ, on a local Portland morning news show.  It was exciting, and honestly a little scary.

It helped that I brought some of my favorite foods to talk about.  Since berries are in season here in the Pacific Northwest, I was able to show off the strawberries and blueberries that I had just received as part of my CSA share.  I also brought one of my favorite summer salads that is packed with superfoods:

KATU News Guest Spot Blueberry Quinoa Salad

I’ve had a lot of requests for the recipe, so here it is:

Blueberry Quinoa Salad

Blueberry Quinoa Salad

Dressing:

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • salt / pepper, to taste

Salad:

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa:  add quinoa to pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil – switch to medium / low heat, checking and stirring every 5 minutes until moisture is absorbed, about 15 minutes total
  2. When the quinoa is cooked, set aside and allow it to cool
  3. Prep the dressing in a large bowl:  pour in lemon juice, olive oil, salt / pepper and whisk everything together
  4. Chop the bell peppers, add to the bowl and mix with dressing until evenly coated
  5. Gently stir in almonds, blueberries and quinoa into the bowl with the dressing / pepper mix
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving and then enjoy!

Variations:

  • This recipe is vegetarian (and vegan and gluten-free BTW!), but it also tastes great topped with some grilled chicken.

Question for you:  Do you have a favorite berry?  Come on over to my Facebook page and let me know – I’d love to see some pics too!

Cheers³

Reni

Mediterranean Pilaf Recipe

Did you know May is Mediterranean Diet Month?  The Mediterranean Diet associated with many health benefits, including lengthening your life, preventing certain cancers and improving brain function!  Characteristics of this diet include:

  1. Eating lots of vegetables, including at least one plant-based meal per week
  2. Serving smaller portions of meat overall and having at least 2 servings of seafood per week
  3. Sticking to good fats, such as high quality extra virgin olive oil
Do you think this is a program you could get on board with?  For a great visual of the plan, check out the Mediterranean Food Pyramid from the sponsor of this event, Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance.

The goal of this event is to generate awareness of the delicious foods and wide-ranging health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.  The Oldways website provides great resources about the Mediterranean Diet, including recipes.  I’ve been having a blast testing them out and tweaking them so I can continue my efforts to Eat Like a Champ.  Here is one that has become a new favorite in my house:

Mediterranean Pilaf

MediterraneanPilaf

Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable of broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions:
  1. Bring 1 cup water and the veggie broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat
  2. Add the rice, cover, and simmer over medium / low heat for about 30 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed
  3. While rice is cooking, place lentils in a different saucepan with 1.5 cups of water over medium heat and cover
  4. Let the lentils simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Drain lentils and allow them to cool
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice and lentils.
  7. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and garlic in a small bowl
  8. Pour the dressing over the lentils and rice in the big bowl
  9. Add the green onions and cherry tomatoes
  10. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours
  11. Just before serving, add the arugula and crumbled feta cheese and gently stir it all together

This pilaf is hearty enough as a vegetarian main dish or can be served with grilled chicken.  The zesty homemade dressing will make this a healthy addition to upcoming summer BBQs.

Question for you:  What is your favorite Mediterranean meal?  Please share in the comments – I’d love to get your recipe and include it on the blog!

Eating Like A Champ in New York City & Mediteranean Diet in May

I’m back from New York!  I had a wonderful trip and was lucky to meet so many amazing colleagues and new friends.  It was an honor to participate in the Whole Foods event with the Self Health Movement’s authors and then walk across the stage in Jazz at Lincoln Center with my fellow Launch Your Dream Book authors. 

 ReniandCynthia

ReniandAbby

OnStage

In addition to the events promoting my new book Eat Like A Champ, I was able to have a little fun!

Matt and I walked all over Central Park:

    CentralPark

Walked the full length of the High Line:

HighLine

Ran in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park:

MatandReniRun

Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge:

BrooklynBridge

We also enjoyed a ball game at Yankee Stadium and watched the Yankees win against the Mets: 

YankeeStadium

All that walking and running around made me HUNGRY so we also ate a lot of great food!  Here are my three favorite restaurants:

1)   IdeyaLatin Caribbean.  Sitting outside in the sunshine after our run was a great way to enjoy this brunch in Brooklyn.  We started with a Picante Maria (think spicy bloody Mary with tequila) and then I had the Pan Con Huevos, and egg sandwich with chorizo and a mixed green salad.

IdeyaBrunch

2)  Estiatorio Milos – Greek.  This Midtown restaurant boasts fresh food and I believe it since  the catch of the day was on display, and some of it was still moving.  Their 3 course lunch menu featured fresh, simple food at a reasonable price.  The server cut fresh oregano from a plant into olive oil to dip the fresh-bread (that was still warm when brought to our table) in.  I started with a delicious tomato and feta salad, my main was grilled salmon with broccoli, and for dessert I enjoyed yogurt with honey.

MilosLunch

3)   Foragers City Market Chelsea – Local.  Featuring food from local area farms, this small neighborhood restaurant in Chelsea was a treat.  We shared a charcuterie with “pan con tomate” – bread with tomatoes – to start.  Then we enjoyed curried cauliflower soup and white asparagus appetizers.  For a main dish, I enjoyed a grass-fed New York strip steak (I had to – I was in New York!) with potato souffle and Matt had roasted duck breast with polenta and seasonal vegetables.   

ForagersDinner

Now that I am home, my travels have inspired me to explore some new recipes from the comfort of my own kitchen.  I really enjoyed the Mediterranean fare at Estiaorio Milos so much I starting researching recipes I could cook myself and during my exploring, I learned that May is Mediterranean Diet month.  Sponsored by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the goal of this event is to generate awareness of the delicious foods and wide-ranging health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.  Their website provides great resources about the Mediterranean Diet, including recipes so I’ll be testing them out and sharing my favorites on the blog throughout the month of May.

Question for you:  Do you have a favorite Mediterranean dish or recipe?  Please share in the comments section on the blog!

Cheers³

Reni

Eat Like a Champ in the Big Apple!

I’m sooo excited to announce that I will be in New York City to talk about my book, Eat Like a Champ:  Basic Healthy Eating Habits for the Everyday Athlete.

Eat Like a Champ Photo

If you will be near Midtown Manhattan on Friday morning, April 24th, come on over to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods.  I will be with a group of wellness authors as part of the New Self-Health Movement with over 50 health professionals in attendance, each with specific areas of expertise. Each holistic health coach brings unique knowledge and insight to a specific area of expertise. The range of work they bring goes across the spectrum with books discussing everything from healthy eating to stress management to lifestyle enhancement and much more. This free public event in New York City gives health seekers a chance to expand their knowledge on nutrition and holistic wellness

I have all the details for the event posted on my Facebook page here.  If you mention you read about the event on Cheers³, I will give you a free, signed copy of my book!

If you won’t be in New York this week, I’m offering an exclusive bonus to my blog readers: a FREE excerpt of my book.  The Eat Like a Champ Playbook is yours when you sign up for my eNewletter here You will receive food and fitness tips, recipes, and more plus you will receive your bonus eBook excerpt sent directly to your inbox.

In the meantime, I’m looking for restaurant recommendation so I can Eat Like a Champ in the Big Apple…

Question for you:  What is your favorite restaurant in NYC?

Cheers³

Reni

Vegetarian Dinner Challenge + Mushroom & Lentil Soup

Happy Meatless Monday! I recently just finished a 5-Day Vegetarian Dinner Challenge program with on-line coaching and recipe support. The goal of the program wasn’t to convert everyone to vegetarianism, but to learn about the benefits of adding more plant-based meals to your diet. I provided the grocery shopping lists and recipes and the participants cooked and learned about plant-based diets. I’ll be sharing some of the most popular recipes in the upcoming weeks, hopefully inspiring more people to adopt Meatless Mondays and learn how to cook more meals without meat.

For today, if you are looking for a quick and easy, plant-based meal, this recipe is for you. Here are 3 highlights for this soup:

  1. Mushrooms – A great substitute for meat in most recipes, mushrooms are lower in calories to help with weight management. They also block tumor growth and have anti-estrogenic activity; regular consumption of mushrooms (as little as one mushroom per day) has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk by up to 60-70% – wow!
  2. Lentils – As a plant-based protein powerhouse, 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein and is an excellent source of cholesterol lowering source of fiber.
  3. Kid friendly – This recipe got rave reviews from my nephews! One in particular had 3 bowls for dinner and then wanted to bring it in his thermos for lunch the next day at school!

MushroomLentilSoup_ReniHealthCoach

Mushroom & Lentil Soup: Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup of green lentils
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley – optional
  • Salt & pepper – to taste
  • Baguette – optional

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils in cold water
  2. Bring broth to boil with lentils with 2 cups of broth, reduce to medium heat and cook until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender and remove from heat
  3. Add olive oil to a pan and heat, cook garlic and onions over high heat for about 2 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add mushrooms, salt and pepper, let cook while stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes
  5. Move mushroom and onion mix to pot with the lentils
  6. Add 2 cups of broth, bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat to low and serve
  8. Top with fresh chopped parsley – optional
  9. Tastes great with a slice of crusty, fresh bread – like a baguette

Question for you: Would you like to learn more about plant-based diets and get simple recipes to try? Join me for my next Challenge!

Cheers³

Reni

Spring is in the Air + Colorful Veggie Stir Fry Recipe

Spring has arrived in Portland! It has been so exciting to see blooming flowers and hear birds singing.  Here are three healthy ways to celebrate spring:

  1. Go outside for fresh air and a walk
  2. Make a meal with some seasonal spring veggies
  3. Stop, breathe and smell the roses (or tulips or daffodils)

SpringFlowers

I know there are many areas still thawing out from winter, but spring is coming, and boy is it great when it arrives!  If you are unable to enjoy some spring sunshine outside, perhaps you can try this Colorful Veggie Stir Fry recipe to tide you over until the snow melts.

Colorful Veggie Stir Fry – Serves 2

ColorfulVeggieStirFry

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of kale, chopped
  • 4 cups of purple cabbage, chopped
  • 3 carrots (I used heirloom carrots for an extra pop of color!), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos (optional)
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash and chop all veggies
  2. Heat oils in large skillet over medium high heat
  3. Add onion and garlic, stir for 1-2 minutes
  4. Add cabbage and kale, stir 2-3 minutes
  5. Add carrots, stir 1-2 minutes
  6. Add red bell pepper, stir 3 minutes
  7. Mix in brown rice
  8. Divide into 2 bowls, top with Liquid Aminos and green onions if desired, and enjoy!

Question for you:  What are you looking forward to most this spring?

Cheers³

Reni