From Average to Athlete – Taking your fitness to the next level

1.24.2013

This is a follow up post of my article from last year “How I Got in Shape after Kids, The Healthy Way!” . I was reading that post and I realized I had accomplished most my fitness goals. Wow! It’s weird to think doing a 5K and climbing 5.9-5.10 solid were my goals because now that I can do them I realize I need to update my goals for the coming year! I think this post will relate to many people that are setting new fitness goals themselves. If you’re trying to shed baby weight this year read the post above! If you are trying to take your level of fitness up a notch and you are already a healthy weight, keep reading!

” ALSO I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH – If you are overweight, please read the article above. I STRONGLY believe in a two phase program to get in shape. FIRST, getting to a healthy weight and THEN doing the harder work it takes to get into that athletic category. MANY people make the mistake of doing the same intense program a person that is already at a healthy weight is doing to get into that athletic physique category which is not feasible for LIFELONG fitness. If you are overweight and trying to get to a healthy weight – Be glad, because as will see below – going from Average to Athlete is NOT easy!! “

I just realized this post is SUPER long so here’s the main points:

 – If you are a healthy weight but looking to get in peak shape it is more complicated and difficult.

1. Go to your local gym and get a Body Composition Test and Fitness Assessment.

2. Figure out your specific goal.

3. Figure out exactly what you are going to change to reach that goal with both diet and exercise.

4. If you are unsure how to do that, invest in Beachbody Coaching, a fitness program such as T25/P90x or Insanity. You can check out my website here and contact me to get advice on what program to choose to fit your lifestyle –www.beachbodycoach.com/KRISTINICOLE87

(Here is a photo I got taken of me shortly after reaching my postpartum fitness goals. Idk why I’m so shy about posting full body photos of myself…but it kinda weirds me out!! I was really proud of what I had accomplished up to that point. THIS was my STARTING POINT . I was AVERAGE – about 24% body fat. My goal was 19% to become athletic)

Since that post last March I’ve kept a very regular range of 110-115pds. (Usually I am 112pds) This is obviously a very healthy average weight for me. (I am 5’2”) Now that I have reached a regular healthy weight and met my fitness goals I’ve started to wonder..now what? If I don’t have a visible goal to work for I get lazy. So I asked myself what do I want to accomplish? For one, I want to be able to run longer and faster. I’d like to make a goal to run a 10K which I have never done. I’d also still like to do a sprint tri as well as do more lead climbing.

One thing I know about climbing is that weight to muscle ratio is very important. This is why professional climbers are never bulky. Lean yet muscular is the way to be for long multi-pitch endurance routes which is what Alex and I enjoy to do. So the first thing I decided I need to do was get an in-depth calculation of my body fat percentage and go from there.

First I went to my gym, the YMCA and completed a free fitness assessment and body comp. Through this I learned a lot about myself that can’t be seen on a scale alone. I learned that my bone density is a bit low so I should be taking calcium. I also learned that my body fat percentage was 23.5% and I am a #5 Physique Rating (Shown below) This kinda sucks because it means I need to slim down a bit as well as put on more muscle…makes me wish I was a #7!! Dang you skinny people!

Physique Ratings

1. Small Frame Obese     

        Hidden Obese (“Skinny Fat”)  

               

2.     Medium Frame Obese 

          Obese

                        

3.     Large Frame Obese  

          Solidly Built

                 

4.     Low Muscle &

        Average Body Fat Under Exercised

      

5.     Average Muscle &

        Average Body Fat

          Standard 

6.     High Muscle & Average Body Fat       7      Thin Low Muscle &  Low Fat      8      Thin & Muscular (Athlete)

  

9      Very Muscular (Athlete)

      

After looking at that and doing a bit of research I found that an athletic body fat percentage is between 14-20%. Also on the physique rating a #8  means you have lower than average body fat and adequate muscle. A #9 is lower than average body fat and higher than average muscle. Those were the only two “Athlete” categories. This has helped me to narrow down my goal for what it is going to take to get into that “Athlete” category. (As a side note I never plan on making 14% my goal. I’ll be shooting for 20%)

I thought this diagram was pretty cool because this body type looked very similar to mine. (Mesomorph Body Type) If you are not sure about your body type you should research that! It will help you to learn more about yourself and set realistic goals based on your body type. Most models are ectomorphs not mesomorphs but most of the population are mesomorphs…true!

Here is a great resource that gives information on body shapes vs. body types and what it means for you.

http://www.femaleforlife.com.au/Body-Shapes-Types/

And a calculator for those that love quizzes:

http://www.femaleforlife.com.au/Body-Shapes-Types/Calculator.htm

Now..whats the plan??

Most people when making fitness goals find out what they need to change but don’t make a concrete plan of how to do it. If your answer to how your going to get in shape sounds like, “I’m going to go to the gym more.” or “I’m going to eat clean” your most likely not going to keep it up for long. If you want to reach a goal it’s much easier with specifics such as “I will run ___ times a week for a total of ___ miles and do interval weight training ___ times.”

After doing a TON of research as well as FINALLY popping in my p90x CD that I’ve had for 3 years I am totally inspired! One thing I love to do is find patterns in things and apply that in my own way. One major pattern I’ve noticed in ALL fitness programs is eating a low-carb diet. No I’m not talking about Atkins Diet stuff and going into Ketosis and all that crazy crap. I’m talking about simply being more aware of the amount of carbohydrates I eat. Paleo, P90X, Nutrisystem, Sarah Dussault of sarafit.com, Jillian Michaels and many more all have lower carb intake as a normal part of their meal plans. If you look closer into P90X’s nutrition plan it doesn’t bump up the amount of carbs until you have reach an Athletic physique. And only for the sole purpose of being able to push the body even harder and further! So really, unless you are an elite athlete you should be carb conscious…for life!!

This is phase 1 of the P90X nutrition plan based on your energy level. I like this because it can be applied to anything you eat.

I know this might be too much information BUT after doing this for a couple weeks I started to get confused. I looked at nutrition labels like crazy and would read, “Carbohydrates – 20g 7%” OMG that’s a lot of carbs! But then I started to wonder what is a lot of carbs in grams? This is what I found:

How Many Carbs per day Should You Eat for Weight Loss?

<50g carbs = fast weightloss, Ketosis, Atkins Diet

50-100g carbs = moderate weightloss, Paleo, healthy

100-150g carbs = gradual weightloss, healthy

 http://www.livestrong.com/article/223225-how-many-grams-of-carbs-per-day-to-lose-weight/

 As I have talked about before, I truly feel like anything that allows for fast weight loss is either not healthy or is weight you will put back on easily when you stop , as in fasting for example. So try not to go below 50g of carbs per day.

Through all this research and defining my own goals I have come up with my own meal plan complete with original recipes and photos which you can view [HERE]. And guess what?? It’s FREE!! LOL I think it’s funny that if you try to look up these fitness guru’s meal plans they cost $$. I guess everyone has to make money somehow… but seeing as I’m not famous yet…you can have my meal plan for 0$! Now that’s a good deal hahaha. Basically I started this because as a foodie, I’ve got a big problem… I have to eat food that tastes good. I know…sounds crazy. But after trying to make some of the foods from P90X and others I was grossed out and unsatisfied! One fitness guru I love is Sarah Dussault from sarafit.com. She is so real and seems so approachable. I can see how she has gotten so popular! BUT her recipes?? Not so good. Her pancakes are always burnt (medium heat honey!!) and all the recipes with canned tuna is just totally EW!! I know I sound like a food snob but in a way I kinda AM!! I like food that is fresh and delicious and I’ll be bringing that to YOU with my own kitchen tested healthy recipes!

So in a nutshell, am I happy with my body? YES! I love my body, and yes it has many flaws, and I’m not trying to look like someone else. But with my goals being to get in even better shape and go from “average” to “athlete” these are the changes I’m making to get there! Like Jenzten Franklin always said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done!”

Wish me luck and good luck to all of you in your journeys to reach your own fitness goals !!

I would love to hear your comments or questions or just hear about your own goals for 2014!!

AND FOR AN UPDATE!! I DID IT! After 5 weeks, I went from 24% Body fat percentage to 19%. I felt and looked great and even reached my functional fitness goals of being able to climb 5.10 routes.

Before and After

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How to Get Your Body Back Post-Pregnancy, and NOT Go Insane

How I got back in shape after 2 pregnancies…the healthy way!!!

I’d like to start by talking about my own fitness background so you can kind of see where I’m coming from. I am a mother of two boys, ages 1 and 2. Previous to having kids, I participated in my highschool swim team and dated an amazing runner who helped me achieve some crazy goals such as completing my first sprint triathlon. (When I started running I could barely run a mile!!) I’ve also rock climbed on and off since highschool but was never able to dedicate a ton of time to it. So I’ve been athetic for a while, but was also never extremely fit.

As  many other moms can attest to, after having 2 kids in 2 years my body was totally rocked. I seriously had no idea where to begin. I had gained 35 pounds with both of my pregnancies (I’m only 5’2” so that a lot!!) and immediately wanted to be back in shape. I saw women who had babies and bounced back in a matter of weeks, looking like they had never gone through pregnancy at all! I wanted that, but it was useless to want something that wasn’t going to happen. My biggest goal was, how can I lose weight and get back in shape in a safe and healthy way free from obsessions about weight loss?

The best thing I learned was to…let it go. Not – let myself go – and eat whatever and however much I wanted – but to let any guilt associated with food go. It’s impossible to have a healthy body image if I beat myself up every time I ate a cupcake or some cookies! Rather, I ate a cookie or two, or enjoyed some dessert but tried to make other choices to balance that such as, ordering salad instead of fries with a burger or running an extra mile the next day.

(This was shortly after I had a VBAC birth with my second son Danny. I looked pretty rough, but didn’t care at all! I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of my body!)

 I recently got onto this website through Pinterest called BODYROCK.tv I thought it was really cool because it is all about people getting in shape at home with the help of this online community and the people hosting this site are freaking RIPPED! Like, this girl could crush a coke can between her butt cheeks! LOL Well, I randomly clicked on a video link of this girl speaking about emotional eating. All was fine until this girl, 1% body fat, seriously starts crying when talking about “turning to foods you shouldn’t because it gives you false happiness.” Honestly, that is the sickest thing I’ve ever seen! If anyone could spare a donut it was this girl! Maybe I’m being mean, but really I think to avoid obsessions about weight loss we need to be ok with indulging every now and then…I know I am!! :) The fact is, it IS possible to get in shape and not have to live on a diet of steamed vegetables and boiled fish (who wants that anyway?) you just have to be ok with losing weight slowly.

(Me 6 months post-partum. I was losing weight slowly but wasn’t totally satisfied yet! Time to hit the gym!)

 Have you ever seen a diet that was advertised as: Lose weight with the SLOTH DIET – it only takes 1 to 2 years to reach your goal!!! YES!…no. Instead you see: Lose weight NOW, with minimal effort!! Only work out 15 minutes a day! Get RIPPED in 6 weeks!!! Add that to all the advertisements for weight loss pills and surgeries and you have yourself a great recipe for unhealthy weightloss. Anything that advertises “Quick Weight loss” has damaging effects to your body, no matter how beautifully it is wrapped up. Not only that, but these techniques rarely stick and usually end in rebounding back to weight gain and lead to an even worse body image. The truth is, the best diet is no diet. It takes slowly changing the way you eat and exercise – for LIFE.

(This is me 9 months after. If someone had asked me if was I happy with my body at this point I would say YES! The only reason I continued to get in shape was because I had good food and exercise habits!)

You know what really grinds my gears? (Family Guy anyone? lol) Is that we as a society have a very skewed perception of what an “in shape” person looks like. Every month last year I got a FITNESS magazine in the mail and every month it would go straight into the trash. Why? Because on every page was a woman who looked like she could barely lift a five pound dumbbell plus, on every other page was an advertisement for weight loss pills and fad diets. Is this what fitness is now? It’s an easy lie to believe when every advertisement for swimwear has a woman with a body like this, but these are models, not people we should look up to for our fitness goals. One thing I liked that I read on the BODYROCK.tv’s “About US” section was that they talked about working towards a fit body is all about becoming the best YOU. (If that doesn’t sound like the title of a self-help book I don’t know what does!! haha) But really, for such a simple statement it has such a great message that I have to remind myself a lot! It means that getting in shape isn’t about looking like your neighbor, your friend or a girl in a magazine. It’s about just being you. Doesn’t that just feel so freeing? No pressure to look like someone else, because the most beautiful you, is when your happy just looking like yourself and being happy with your own body! The fact is, yet so many times we forget, that people come in many shapes and sizes. So, no matter how much we work out, some will be tall, some will short. Some will be naturally skinny and some will be stalky. Although media many times makes us feel there is only ONE right body that is such a lie!

(This is one of Victoria’s Secret Models in a not usually seen modeling shot. It’s easy to think when they stick their butt out for a pose that they actually have one but the truth is, in the real world, this looks emaciated. )

 So now to the good part. I’ve had many people ask me, “What did you do to get back in shape after having kids?” Usually I answer, “Uh…idk!” or “Work out?” So I sat down and actually took time to think about all the things that have led to my success in getting back in shape in a healthy, gradual way. The last thing I want this to be is a HEY look at ME, type thing, but rather me just being honest and possibly even helping someone else to attain their goals in the process. So here are my personal 10 ways I got in shape after having kids.

  1. Do Something you LOVE – This is my number one thing for a reason! If you get involved in a physical activity you truly enjoy, and hopefully develop a passion for, you will get in shape and stay in shape for life. Also, you will automatically get involved in a community of people that share that same passion! For me, that is rock climbing and now snowboarding. So now I have a winter and summer sport I truly love. I’ve met many friends at the rock climbing gym, as well as my husband, so there’s nothing to lose! The options are endless and I’m going to list some that you pick out yourself!  Go find YOUR fitness passion you’ll make some great friends in the process! Don’t let insecurities get you down – commit to trying something out!!

Try:

  • Road Biking/Cycling
  • Tennis
  • Mountain Biking
  • Soccer
  • Dancing – Salsa, Ballroom, Belly Dance…etc
  • Triathlons
  • Swimming
  • Muddy Buddy/Adventure Races
  • Rock Climbing
  • Local 5K’s (Google: Couch to 5K)
  • Pilate’s
  • Duathlons
  • Zumba
  • Pole Fitness/Dancing
  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Step Classes
  • Rowing
  • Kickboxing
  • Walking with other moms/friends

2. Tweak Your Diet – I say tweak, not overhaul, because it takes small changes to make a gradual, healthy change. Find a couple things you can change easily and cut them out of your diet. For me that is salty snacks and soda. I don’t like them much anyway so, really, they’re never in the house. Reduce your salt and refined sugar intake and increase the amount of complex carbs and veggies you eat. If most of what’s in your cart was made in a factory it’s probably not very healthy. Find one thing that is your weakness to keep! Mine is chocolate! So I drink chocolate milk or try to eat dark chocolate to satisfy that craving. I think it’s funny that just before writing today this article titled, “Could Eating Chocolate Make You Thinner?” was on CNN:

Anything that backs up eating chocolate is awesome!

3. Work Out…Like a Dude – You know that song, “Look at that body… I work out!” Yea, that should be you. I think many women are afraid to work out like men because they think they’ll end up looking like one. That is one huge misconception that is keeping you from the best workout of your life!! So put on your big girl panties and trade the elliptical for some serious treadmill running. Go fight the boys for some mirror space, grab the free weights and go to town! Make doing one full pull-up your goal! Any fears you have about working out in the “guy” area of the gym should be left at home. It makes me nervous sometimes too but honestly I kick that thought in the butt and go do it anyway! If your not seriously sweating at the end of your workout, you should go back and try again. It’s good to do lower intensity workouts too, but you should shoot for 2 intense workouts a week. Think: talking easily=low intensity, starting to not talk well=medium, can only think about the task at hand=high intensity. Reaching your “threshold” is key in building muscle and improving your cardiovascular health. (A trainer once told me that you’ve reached your treshhold when your body physically can lift no more. In anything cardiovascular such as running, it’s when your mind starts trying to find a way out. You might start thinking “I want to stop.” or “Why did I do this?” ) If you aren’t confident using weights pay 50$-100$ on 1-2 personal training sessions. It’s much more worth your money than that bottle of alli you had your eye on. ;)

4. Wait to Weigh – Commit to only weigh yourself once a month. I hear a lot of diet programs that require you to weigh yourself everyday and I really think that promotes obsessions about weight. Your weight fluctuates a lot depending on how much water you drink to the amount of muscle you are putting on and it can be really discouraging to see your weight stay the same or even increase! If you weigh yourself once a month you will see the bigger picture of your progress.

5. Muscle Memory is the KEY! This to me is the coolest thing EVER!! In a nutshell when we get in shape our body creates neurological pathways which enable the growth and repair of muscles associated with exercise. Muscles remember this after the first time, thus making it easier to get back in shape the second time, third time, and on! We often hear women say in reference to their husbands later in life, “Oh, he can just THINK about losing weight and do it!” We’ve always believed that guys just have an easier time getting back in shape, which might be true but this could be one reason why. Did you know “only one fourth of girls participate in sports in high school compared to one-half of boys”(CDC)? Not only are girls less likely to participate in sports in high school, they are more likely to lead a sedentary life in adolescence (Lench). If you combine that idea with the idea of muscle memory, yes, guys more often have an easier time getting back in shape that women. If you haven’t gotten in shape for the first time I hope this doesn’t discourage you, but encourage you to get out there and do it! It will be worth the hard work! Here’s an article from Women’s Health if you’d like to read more:

6. Breakfast is NOT That Important – Ok, I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of flack for this one, but hear me out! I’m sure many of you have heard these statements that are a result of recent studies:

  • People who eat breakfast tend to have a lower BMI than people who skip breakfast.
  • People who skip breakfast tend to over eat at lunch and dinner than those who eat breakfast.

Honestly, I’m still not convinced, because you know as well as I do that anyone can make a study to validate an idea.

“Unfortunately, people usually skip breakfast because they have to be at school  or at work very early in the morning and didn’t get enough sleep, not because  they’re trying to lose weight…so that doesn’t tell us much other than stress is  related to obesity, which we already know.” – Gnolls.org

The reason I’m not a believer in breakfast is because if the saying “eat when you are hungry” is true, then I’m not going to eat when I wake up. “Morning cortisol explains why we’re not hungry immediately  upon waking: not only are we already burning our own fat for energy, our  liver has already gone to work making glucose for us.” (Gnolls) Also, skipping a large breakfast and eating small will give you more energy for your morning believe it or not! So this is what I do for breakfast: I drink a big glass of water mixed with orange juice and make some coffee. I drink my coffee and when I’m hungry I eat a small bowl of healthy cereal/meusli or toast topped with natural peanut butter, banana slices and honey.(Just an example) Sometimes this isn’t until 10am and I wake up between 6:30-7:30!  I know most people are pressed to get to work so think ahead and whip up some healthy breakfast bars to grab and go! I’m not saying this is the perfect way to do things I’m just sharing that this is honestly what I’ve done for years now. It works for me, that is all! :)

7. Drink Your Coffee – The issue of coffee has always been a tug of war in the heath world. One day it’s good, the next it’s bad. Here are some facts about caffeine.

“Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants tend to increase the calories you burn. One likely reason is that they give you the short-term impression that you have more energy, which could mean you move more. Caffeine may also cause metabolic changes in the body that can result in more calories burned. Even older studies have suggested that 250 milligrams of caffeine consumed with a meal can increase the calories spent metabolizing the meal by 10%,” says Jamie Pope, MS, RD, LDN, a nutrition lecturer at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Over time, this could be significant, Pope says in an email interview: “About 75 calories per day translates to over 2,100 calories in a month’s time” (medicinenet.com)

So go grab a green/black tea, coffee or espresso and brush your shoulders off to all those haters that say caffeine is bad. Everything in moderation, right?

8. Skip the Fast Food – I feel like this is one of those things like where your mom tells you “Don’t eat candy before dinner!” But you do it anyway. We have been told this time and time again but do you really take the advice? I can honestly say I rarely eat fast food. It is one of the sole reasons I dread road trips. The longer I go without eating fast food the more I dislike it! (And the less it agrees with my stomach!) If you do go, keep you portions small and try to make healthy choices. For example at McDonalds I always get a grilled chicken snack wrap and/or fruit parfait. I will have to say that not having a chik-fil-a around has greatly decreased my fast food eating!! (Miss those chicken sandwiches!) “and the amount of trash in her car.”(husband) – Thanks Alex that’s the last time I ask you to edit my posts!!

9.  Get Some Support – This one was easy for me because Alex keeps me challenged and is my workout buddy, when he can be. Your significant other can be your biggest ally in achieving your fitness goals. You can also rely on a friend or even an online community such as LIVESTRONG. Also, check out groups at your local gym. Go get involved!

10. If you are a new mom, breastfeed the entire 12 months! My friend said to me, “That sounds like a prison sentance!” I thought that was so funny because when you breastfeed it can really feel that way, I think even more so with young moms. When you breastfeed, you are very bound to your baby. You can forget any long vacations away (you can only pump so much!) and many babies actually start to refuse a bottle when they become more aware of what is going on (around 3-4 months). It is a huge sacrifice of your body and time especially when you see other people who are formula feeding drop their baby off with a mom, grandma or babysitter without having to stress about getting back in time to nurse. BUT – I did it with both my boys and I will never regret it! Not only did it help create an extremely strong bond with my boys, the amount of milk you start to produce around 6 months is significant and can really aid in shedding some extra pounds! (The main reason I breastfed a year, though, had little to do with weightloss. It was because I’m cheap as crap!)

(OK, I know I look like I’m a party girl here, but I was actually working my butt off as a Guinness Promoter on St. Patty’s! …Those people were craaaazzzyy! lol)

Here is a summary of my weight gain and loss through my pregnancy and after. Although getting in shape was never focused on losing weight it is very interesting to see my overall progress.

Weigh-in Summary

(Remember I am 5’2”)

Pre-Pregnancy – 115

At Danny’s Birth – 150

1 week postpartum- 135

6 months after – 122

9 months after – 117

14 months after – 112

In conclusion, if you are a new mom or pregnant and are thinking…”I’m never going to look the same again!!” I hope this is an encouragment for you that you can and will get back in shape over time! You’re right that your body won’t be the same and thats ok, no one comes out of pregnancy unscathed. They’re your “battle scars”- be proud of them!

I’ll be posting my progress on here from time to time so be on the look out!! My new goals are to do a 5K and then a sprint triathlon!! Also, I would like to be able to climb 5.9-5.10 solid and do more lead climbing….Here I go!!!

Make a comment or post a question! What were your little tricks for getting back in shape after pregnancy? I’d love to know!

No-COOK Coconut Chia Seed Pudding with Berries

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This recipe’s photo looked too pretty in Giada’s “Feel Good Food” cookbook… I just had to try it. I’d never used Chia Seeds before and found that although they are expensive they go a long way.  I used only 1/4 cup of seeds and they expanded into 4 servings of pudding. Someone told me this is like tapioca…although it looks like dark tapioca, it’s not and the taste and texture is different. My kids beg my for  this recipe… I think it’s because it looks so fancy. It’s like a special treat everytime I make it and even my husband who does NOT like greek yogurt, likes this! I also like to make this for family and guest that stay at the house. It looks like something you would get at a gourmet restaurant, but it’s so easy a kid could make it!! I love the fact that I don’t have to cook anything. ;)

This a great way to jump start your day packed with lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber and  omega-fatty acids!

Enjoy!

** This recipe has ingredients that can be expensive in regular groceries. Try Trader Joe’s or a comparable Co-op for cheaper Chia Seeds, Almond Milk, Greek Yogurt, Maple Syrup/Agave) **

IMG_3504

There are SO many ways to make this recipe, so have fun with it! You can use regular unsweetened Almond milk, maple & pecan, blueberry  almond,  “pina colada” with pineapple and papaya or heated frozen blueberries and flax as I did here. 

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk (OR try the new Coconut-Almond Milk in this!! YUM!)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (0-2%)
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup/agave nectar/honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional!)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups blueberries/other fruit
1/4 cup sliced almonds or sprinkle of flax

Directions

In a medium bowl, gently whisk the almond milk, yogurt, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, and the vanilla until just blended. Whisk in the chia seeds; let stand 30 minutes. Stir to distribute the seeds if they have settled. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, in a medium bowl, toss the berries with the remaining 2 teaspoons maple syrup/honey. (TIP: if you buy frozen fruit you can nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds and you won’t need to add any syrup at all!) Mix in the almonds.

Spoon the pudding into 4 bowls or glasses; mound the berry mixture on top and serve.

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My kids LOVE this stuff!!! 

Recipe from; Giada’s Feel Good Food – modified by Kristi Nicole climbinginthekitchen.com
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chia-seed-pudding.html?oc=linkback

AND… Possibilities….

Frozen???

raspberry-coconut-chia-pudding-pops

CHOCOLATE??? 

logo-chia-pudding-4

nom nom nom….

Wonder what would happen if I sweetened it with Chocoloate Shakeology?? :o

Giada’s Stuffed Bell Peppers – (Vegetarian, Gluten Free!)

I made this last night and it was a BIG surprise. (A good one!!) I read the ingredients and was slightly skeptical that it would be that good but was interested in trying it. This is one of those meals that you eat and don’t realize there is no meat! In her book, Giada related the sauce to a ratatouille and I totally agree.  Alex went back for seconds and even my son Danny (3yrs) ate up a stuffed pepper! This fed our family with enough leftovers for 2 lunches! This recipe goes a little further if you boil up pasta to serve with it. (I recommend whole wheat/gluten free) There is extra sauce that goes nicely over the whole thing.

Also, this was another recipe that we ate before I could take pictures. (I need to get better about that!!) Anyway, this recipe is from Giada’s new cookbook, “Feel Good Food”. There are a lot of great recipes but for a quick book review – most recipes are pretty expensive to make because they include expensive healthy ingredients. If you have a trader joes or food co-op near you, check those our for things like chia seeds, spices, almond flour, gluten free…etc. at a fraction of what main stream groceries charge.

This recipe is actually pretty cheap, especially if you use the parm that comes in a shaker. Also, you could use green peppers for this and it would still be great! Oh and last comment – stuffed peppers really help with portion control!! Enjoy this delicious, healthy meal!!

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

                             Photo – vegetariantimes.com
Peppers
Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 medium red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, cored, and seeded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Filling
2 (8-ounce) Japanese eggplants, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces firm tofu, drained and patted dry and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 (26-ounce) jar tomato-basil sauce
20 pitted medium black olives, chopped
20 pitted medium green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Topping
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese/shaker parm

(http://www.giadadelaurentiis.com/recipes/1011/stuffed-bell-peppers)

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Directions – 
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Peppers
Spray a small baking dish or baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Arrange the peppers, cut side-up, on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake until the peppers are tender but still holding their shape, 30- 35 minutes.
Filling
Drizzle the eggplant pieces with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Place in a 9- inch pie dish and roast next to the peppers for 30 minutes.In a medium saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, tofu, olives, capers, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 15 minutes. Stir in the eggplant.
Topping

In a food processor, blend the almonds and cheese until finely ground.Preheat the broiler.Spoon the filling into the bell peppers and sprinkle each pepper with 1 tablespoon the topping over the filling. Drizzle with the olive oil. Broil until a golden crust forms, 2 to 3 minutes.