Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Workout Smarter - Cardio

For many years, I would workout and not get the results I wanted.  It was so frustrating! Then I learned how to workout smarter and get the results I desired.  I want you to get the maximum fat burning power from your cardio workout.  The most efficient way to burn fat is to keep your heart rate at a steady pace while doing your cardio.  Invest in a heart rate monitor and workout at your Target Heart Rate.

How to find your Target Heart Rate
     1. First find your Resting Heart Rate (RHR), your pulse at rest, preferably in the morning before you get up
     2. Determine your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) = 220-age
     3. Then find your Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) = MHR - RHR
     Now you can find your Target Heart Rate Zone.
     4. HRR x .85 + RHR = Upper end of Training Zone
     5. HRR x .50 + RHR = Lower end of Training Zone

Find a Heart Rate between the Upper and Lower end of your Training Zone, that you are comfortable working out at, and keep your heart rate withing 3 beats of this number...and BURN YOUR FAT!
Try to workout for 30 minutes and always use the first 5 minutes to work up to your target heart rate and the last 5 minutes to cool down.  Find a cardio workout you love and have fun!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pollo e Peperoni

The view from my bedroom window this morning

These long cold winter days find me craving those one pot meals that warm you to your core...soul food... 

Pollo e Peperoni (Chicken & Peppers)
       3 lbs. chicken breast
       3 peppers - 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange
       2 cloves of garlic
       1/2 cup white wine
       1 can crushed tomatoes
       salt & pepper to taste

Cut chicken breast and peppers into bite size pieces.

Heat oil in a large pan, add garlic and saute until golden, 3-4 minutes.
Add chicken, sear, add salt and pepper.
Add white wine, cook over med-high heat until wine evaporates.
Add tomatoes and peppers.
Cook covered for 25 minutes.
Then uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.  Salt & peppper to taste.
J.A. Henckels International Classic Clad 5-Quart Saute Pan with Lid
I served the chicken & peppers with brown rice.
It was delicious.  Enjoy!

I love, love, love this saute pan.  It is my absolute favorite pan, the perfect size for whatever I am cooking.  Everything I cook in it, cooks to perfection.  It was well worth the investment.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Winter Wonderland

I have been told that patience is a virtue, so it seems those of us in New York are going to become quite virtuous this winter.  Yesterday we had the 7th snowstorm of the season, and  apparently it had two-parts. It snowed until the afternoon, then in the evening we had thunder and lightening, then freezing rain, and then it snowed...and snowed...all night.
And 18 inches later...

My house is in there...somewhere...
But oh how beautiful it is...
And in the city, Madison Square Park is truly a winter wonderland!

...time for a cup of hot cocoa!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hot Chocolate

This morning I awoke to a winter wonderland...again...our 7th in a month.

The fresh fallen snow is breathtaking...a perfect day to indulge in a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.

They say wine is the elixir of the gods...but I believe it has to be chocolate.  Chocolate is high in antioxidants and releases endorphins, the happy hormone.  Can anything be better that that???

I am a bonafide chocoholic, basically if it's not chocolate, I don't want to waste my calories.  I have tried many recipes in my quest for the perfect hot chocolate.
Thus far, this is my favorite recipe: 
                                                     1 cup whole milk
                                                     1 tablespoon sugar
                                                     3 tablespoons Ghirardelli natural unsweetened cocoa
                                                     Heat milk in a small pot.
                                                     As the milk warms, whisk in cocoa & sugar.
                                                     Whisk until well blended and hot.
                                                     Serve with a marshmallow.

When I was a child there was a commercial for Calgon bath soaps, it's slogan was  "Lose yourself in luxury. Let Calgon take you away." ...(okay, now I have really dated myself.)  I cannot think of anything more luxurious on a cold winter day than a cup of hot chocolate - and for a moment I am taken away, cherishing all that is good in my life, including the fresh fallen snow.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Put YOU on Your To-Do List

I grew up in a family where food = love.  One of my mother's greatest joys is having her family around the table - eating.  The legacy of her love is my battle with my weight.  At 14, I lost 40 lbs and kept it off for 6 years and then it slowly found its way home to my hips, thighs...well you get the picture.  And there I was with another 40 lbs. to lose.  How did I let this happen again???  It was then I decided I was never going to let this happen again.  Thus began my lifelong passion for health and fitness.  I tried countless diets and every new exercise fad.  I bought every exercise DVD that piqued my interest.  And then it dawned on me, I could learn to do this and do it the right way.  I went back to school and became a certified personal trainer.

The most important lesson I learned is to make time for yourself, put you on your to-do list.  You cannot underestimate the value of a cardiovascular workout.  Everyone knows how important a cardio workout is for weight loss, but more importantly it is training the most important muscle in your body - your heart.  By making your heart stronger, it does not have to work as hard to pump blood.  Cardio is a stress-reducer. It lowers your blood pressure, cholesterol, and reduces the risk of diabetes.  It helps you sleep better and feel better.

Choose any form of cardio that you enjoy and can see yourself doing 3 times a week for 30 minutes.  The most important thing to remember is to challenge yourself, work hard.  If you can carry on a conversation, you are not working hard enough; you need to increase your intensity.  You should feel like you can talk but do not want to, and slightly breathless.  I run on an elliptical trainer - that's where I feel the most comfortable. 

I use this trainer, but you can do anything that gets your heart rate elevated.  Take a spin class, dance, learn Zumba, go for a brisk walk - just move.  Put on your favorite music and rock it out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pizza alle Zucchine

Every time I would visit family in Italy, I would marvel at how delicious everything tasted.  Whether I was eating pasta alla chittara at Terrazzo Verde in Pescara or a panino at an Autostop on the autostrada, the flavors exploded in my mouth.  I wanted to eat this way at home...what was the secret to Italian cooking???  So 3 years ago, I purchased 3 cookbooks in Italy, hoping to come home and recreate those incredible meals.  Thus far, I have made 5 or 6 recipes.  Since my goal this year is to live bigger and better, I hope to cook 1 new recipe each week.

Appropriately, my first recipe is pizza.  Now, I have made pizza before but it is always the traditional pizza margherita - tomato sauce and mozzarella.  So today I made Pizza alle Zucchine ( Pizza with Zucchini ).
It was light and delicious!

Pizza alle Zucchine Recipe

Pizza Dough  (recipe below)
1 lb. zucchini, sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 pint ricotta
6 anchovy filets
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

     1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
     2. Saute sliced red onion in olive oil until carmelized
     3. Saute zucchini in olive oil til tender-crisp
     4. Roll out dough and place in pizza pan
     5. Cover dough with ricotta
     6. Then onions, zucchini & anchovies
     7. Drizzle with olive oil
     8. Cook at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until dough is cooked and slightly crisp

Pizza Dough
3 cups flour
1 envelope yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbs. oil
1 cup water

     1. Heat water to 110 to 115 degrees - add yeast - until it foams
     2. Mix flour, salt, oil and water with yeast
     3. Knead
     4. Let rise in a bowl until double in size

You can cook the pizza in a pizza pan or on a pizza stone.  I have the Williams-Sonoma Pizza Stone and love it!  When I cook the pizza in a pan ( as I did today ) I coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil - it makes the pie crust crispier and gives it a little extra flavor.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!     

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Beginnings

Every journey begins with step.  So I begin this blog on a day that has an abundance of ones...1/11/ begin this new journey.  In my Italian family we come together around our table to share our lives and of course our love of food.  We share terrific new recipes and treasured old ones, a great new restaurant or a fabulous vacation, a new diet or exercise plan...all that we savor in life.  Most of all we share our hopes and dreams and now I hope to share all these with you. 
My hope for this year is that I want to be inspired everyday to love better and live bigger!