KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Recipe of the Week
Pecan & Toasted Oat Nuggets

Pecans are ground into a delicious nut butter to form the base of this whole some and nutritious treat. Using a mini muffin pan for baking will help to control the portion size, but if one is unavailable, spread the batter into a 9in x 13in baking pan (coated with cooking spray) and bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the pan to cool and then cut into 24 squares.

Nutrition Profile: Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low sodium, heart healthy and healthy weight appropriate.

½ cup water
½ cup dried figs, finely chopped
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, or walnuts
1 large egg
½ cup packed light brown sugar or ¼ cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 24 mini (2 inch) muffin cups or baking pan with cooking spray.

Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat, stir in figs and set aside to plump.

Spread oats in a small baking pan and bake, stirring twice, until light golden and fragrant about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Grind pecans (or walnuts) in a food processor until they form a paste. Add egg, brown sugar (or Splenda), oil and vanilla; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add to the dry ingredients. Add the figs (with liquid) and oats; stir just until combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups or baking pan.

Bake muffins until the tops spring back when touched lightly, 12-15 minutes. Let them cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges and turn out onto the right to cool slightly before serving.

Nutrition Information Per Muffin: 102 calories; 5 g fat (1g sat, 1 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 58 mg sodium; 60 mg potassium.

Fit Tip of the Week:

“Game, Mission and Life” is the guiding principle behind CrossFit™, a unique training approach to building a broad, general, but inclusive definition of fitness. Essentially, it is a form of functional training that utilizes constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement patterns to improve activity of daily living (ADL) efficiency. Or according to CrossFit™, these workouts are designed to “prepare the body for any physical contingency-not only the known, but also the unknown.”

CrossFit™ is built upon three fitness standards that embody their training approach:

1.The true definition of fitness encompasses 10 parameters of physical fitness. This means health related parameters (cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle endurance, strength and flexibility) and skill related parameters (agility, balance, coordination, speed, power, and accuracy).

2. True fitness implies the ability to perform as many tasks as possible, efficiently and effectively. This “generalist” approach is reflected in their assertion that “our specialty is not specializing. This concept advocates for universal scalability, where the same exercises are sued for everyone regardless of experience, but scaled by load, intensity (with some accommodation for substitution), rather than by program.

3. Energy required for all human activity draws upon three energy pathways and true metabolic conditioning targets all three in a balanced and coordinated manner, much like we utilize these systems in life.

Although these principals speak volumes of truth at the same time they raise legitimate concerns. My purpose is not to endorse or oppose CrossFit Training (as I have not personally participated in this program), but to highlight keep benefits while identifying concerns that merit consideration for individuals participating or thinking about participating in these workouts.

Let’s start with benefits this program can deliver. It is worth noting that one can burn and impressive number of calories with these high intensity workouts. On average women can burn104-120 calories in an eight minute circuit and men can burn 120-144 calories in an eight-minute circuit, plus additional bonus calories during recovery following high-intensity workouts. High-intensity, multi-joint movements compromise the bulk of CrossFit exercises. These exercises are not for the week at heart and as some individuals will say these workouts will “wreck you”. That being said, you can get hurt due to the stresses placed on the joints and muscles. While this raises a significant concern with respect to technique and injury (often associated with high-intensity workouts), it is also important to recognize that CrossFit does place value in the importance of safety, which is evident in their website. Because of the injury risks associated with high-intensity workouts I would highly recommend to those seeking to start this program to find CrossFit coaches to ensure safety and use of proper techniques.

Another aspect that catches my attention with this program is the difficulty. Of all the individuals who start and quit an exercise program, 56.2 percent cite program difficulty as the number one reason for quitting. CrossFit is generally geared towards those who are an athlete or ex-athlete with a competitive background. Although CrossFit does offer beginner workouts, pushing someone to complete a 500m distance on a rowing ergometer as fast as possible on day one is a little excessive. For the general public who feels compelled to exercise to maintain their health, improve aesthetics, or simply because their doctor advised them to do so, CrossFit’s high-intensity approach may not be an ideal match.

Bottom line, this program does give you results but there is a high risk of injury. Also people who start this program may quit because they simply find it too difficult. There are both benefits and concerns to this method of training. If you are a seasoned exerciser seeking a multi-faceted, challenging workout that will prepare you for life’s’ challenges, and allow you to savor some good old muscle soreness (and a healthy dose of competition), then CrossFit might be a fit for you. If you are someone just getting started in a healthy lifestyle then I would suggest seeking an alternate form of circuit training to kick start your fitness routine.

A quick note:

This week’s article is unfortunately my last article. The upcoming demands of school and work in the next semester will unfortunately leave me with little free time. I would like to thank CurlyNikki and the CN Community for allowing me the great pleasure and opportunity to serve and educate. My sole purpose was to empower readers with the knowledge to make smart decisions towards a healthier life. If I have helped just one person in some small way then my goal has been accomplished. I wish everyone a beautiful, bright and healthy New Year and the best of luck on their healthy lifestyle and natural hair journey. Blessed be to all!

Very Respectfully,
G. Nicole Shea, BS, ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week:

I can’t think of a better way to gain the necessary strength and energy to carry myself though a hectic morning than with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal. Especially when waking up to frosty mornings this time of the year. Oats are a hardy cereal grain that gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process that they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Although oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ allowing oats to retain a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients. Health benefits from the nutrients found in oats include the ability to lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as a enhanced immune response to infection, to name a few.

Oats also contain unique antioxidants that aid in the reduction of cardiovascular disease and the prevention of heart failure, due to the added benefit of being a whole grain. Research has shown that eating whole grains, such as oats, at least six times per week is especially helpful for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease. The beta-glucan found in oats and other whole grains are beneficial in diabetes as well by helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. Oats also help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, when ingested on a regular basis. Oats are also a good source of fiber, which also helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

You may notice that your local grocery store may carry different types of oats. Different types of processing are used to produce the various types of oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods and stuffings. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of oats you may encounter. Keep in mind that different types of oats require slightly different cooking methods for making hot cereal or porridge.

  • Oat groats: unflattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread.
Oats are a great nutritious way to start your day or as an additive to your favorite baked goods for an extra nutritional boost. Try adding oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins or using oat groats for stuffing your Christmas turkey. Or you can try a classic favorite of adding your favorite nuts and fruits to a hot bowl of oatmeal before dashing out the door to finish up your holiday shopping.

Fit Tip of the Week:
The Caloric Expense of Alcohol During the Holidays

During the holiday season three things typically come to mind: family, food and (if you’re over the age of 21) drinks. For those of you wanting to drown your sorrows of the holiday season gone made with copious amounts of spiked eggnog like actor Chevy Chase in the movie Christmas Vacation or bringing good cheers by combining large amounts of high-fat treats with high-caloric alcohol, the New Year may start with a rather rude awakening.

Researchers have found that combining high-fat foods such as glazed ham, stuffing and pecan pie with alcoholic drink causes people to put away many more calories that eating fatty foods with nonalcoholic drinks, or eating low-fat foods with our without alcohol. Considering that a traditional Christmas dinner can easily add up to more than 1,500 calories- a plate of filled with ham, cornbread (yes, the cornbread!) with butter, a slice of cheesecake, mashed potatoes with gravy, a salad with croutons and vinaigrette, (are we hungry yet?) and a glass of beer- consuming additional calories from alcohol is likely to put extra pounds on your frame. Some alcoholic beverages are more forgiving than others. In general, hard liquor and cocktail drinks tend to have many more calories than a glass of beer or wine, but having one cocktail or multiple drinks can easily add up to a meal. Let’s take a look at some popular seasonal choices for alcoholic beverages:

Eggnog: One of the more popular drinks of the holiday season. One cup of eggnog (250 ml) contains 160-290 calories and a shot of spirits (typically spiced rum) adds about another 60 calories, a fine dessert in itself. You can try to cut calories by looking for low fat or even fat free eggnog to add spirits to save yourself a few calories.

Wine: Red and white wine have about the same amount of calories, 121-125 calories per 5-ounce glass. Dessert wines tend to have more calories. A 3.5-ounce glass, for example, has about 165 calories.

Beer: Among the popular non-light beers on the market, a 12-ounce bottle of Corona Extra (148 calories) is the “lightest” pick.
When it comes to hard liquor 1.5-oucne glass of 53-proof Kahlua has 170 calories (which, by the way, is only 10 calories shy of a whole wheat Krispy Kreme doughnut). A frozen margarita made with 2-ounces of tequila, 4.5 ounces of Jose Cuervo margarita mix, and salt will set you back about 246 calories. That’s about as much as a 4-ounce serving of Baskin-Robbins Cherries Jubilee ice cream. How about a rum and coke? Well, a 12-ounce serving will set you back about 361 calories about as many calories as a Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich.

If you're in the party mood and want to enjoy a good cocktail without undoing your fitness goals, fear not. There are ways you can enjoy your spirits during the holidays without dire consequences. Instead of regular beers try reaching for “light beers” such as Beck’s Premier Light with 64 calories, Michelob ULTRA with 95 calories or Amstel Light with 99 calories to help save your waistline. Instead of drinking a full serving a wine, cut down the calories in wine try adding diet ginger ale or seltzer to half a serving of wine. Look for quality spirits without artificial sweeteners and colors and use fresh fruit juices instead for sweetness. Also, look for low calorie mixers as syrups are loaded with sugar and calories. Also to help combat extra calories don’t forget your fitness routine. Try going for a walk, a bike ride, or any type of physical activity that keeps you on track with your fitness goals. Being physically active before or after a meal will not only help burn calories, but is a great way to deal with holiday stress and lift a different kind of spirit.

Until next week...

Very Respectfully,
G. Nicole Shea, BS, ACSM-CPT (aka KinkySheaPT)
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Recipe of the Week:
Warm Beet & Spinach Salad

Nutrition Profile: Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low sodium, heart healthy, high fiber, and healthy weight appropriate.

8 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups steamed beet wedges, or slices
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Place spinach in a large bowl
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion starts to soften (about 2 minutes). Add tomatoes, olives, parsley, and garlic and cook, stirring, stirring until the tomatoes begin to break down, about minutes. Add beets, vinegar, salt, pepper and cook, stirring, until the beets are heated through (about 1 minute more). Add the beet mixture to the spinach and toss to combine. Serve warm.

Nutrition Per Serving (2 cups): 122 calories; 5 g fat (1g sat, 4g mono); o mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber; 729 mg potassium.

Fit Tip of the Week: TRX Suspension Trainer Professional Review

Many fitness enthusiasts today are looking for effective, space saving and cost effective ways to bring the gym into their very own home. Many have turned to TRX Suspension training, specifically the TRX Suspension Trainer Professional product. Originally born by way of the Navy SEALS, the TRX Suspension Trainer Professional kit is composed of 12 feet of industrial-grade nylon webbing equipped with handles and foot straps. It looks similar to resistance tubing with handles but a little more advanced in design. The kit also comes with instructional DVD's and illustrated workout as well as a storage bag. The manufacturer promotes the product as being highly portable, versatile, and appropriate for all fitness levels. This device can be anchored to a door frame, exercise machine frame, or other sturdy weight bearing structure and uses a combination of the exerciser's body weight and gravity as resistance to perform various exercises. Because the body is partially suspended, the exercises requires the user to draw on the core and other stabilizing muscles through each movement.

Pros of the TRX system:

1. The TRX is lightweight and portable, allowing the exerciser to work out in a variety of locations and in a small amount of space.
2. The system encourages exercise in all three planes of motions, providing a functional challenge to the body's core muscles. Our bodies move in several planes of motion throughout our daily activities so it makes perfect sense to be functionally strong in all said planes of motion.
3. The TRX allows for the performance of each exercise at various skill and fitness levels and the exercises performed on the TRX can add an element of variety to any fitness routine.

The Cons of the TRX system:

1. The TRX is a bit pricey for a light weight, portable piece of exercise equipment. Prices range from $149.99-150.00.
2. Initially, the exercises can be awkward and challenging to master for new users.
3. The DVD and instructional brochure that accompany the system are well-produced, but I would have liked to have seen a larger variety of exercises.
4. Many of the exercises promoted for the TRX can be performed more comfortably and with less confusing using other equipment, such as stability balls and elastic tubing.

Would I recommend the product? Yes, I would, if it's in your budget. The TRX system provides great benefits in lightweight resistance training and flexibility. I find this product being used more and more by athletes, fitness enthusiasts of all levels, and even physical therapists. It is great for those who are looking to sculpt, tone, and build muscle endurance as opposed to actually building muscles (or "bulking up"). It's also great for the days when you just can't get to the gym for your strength training session as well. Many fitness clubs are offering TRX Suspension Training as apart of their group fitness schedules, which is perfect for those new to the system and exercises. A TRX group fitness class will allow a trained fitness professional to help you perfect your form and technique. In all, outside from the price, this product can definitely a great and challenging lightweight resistance workout.

Very Respectfully,
G. Nicole Shea, BS, ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week: Beets

Beets became popular thanks to all those legendary Russian centenarians. Beets, which are frequently consumed either pickled or in borscht, the traditional Russian soup, may be one reason behind their long and healthy lives. These colorful root vegetables contain power nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

The most striking fact about beets is not the fact that they are rich in antioxidants, but it is the unusual mix of antioxidants that they contain. We’re used to thinking about vegetables as rich in antioxidant carotenoids (for example beta-carotene), but in beets the claim to fame antioxidant is actually not beta-carotene. Beets contain two different antioxidant carotenoids in addition to obtaining their red color from a different antioxidant that most red vegetables do. Research on the antioxidants found in beet are still in the early stages there is evidence that beets provide special benefits for eye health and overall nerve tissue health. Beets also contain a significant amount of anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help with heart disease and arthritis. Beets have also been noted for providing detoxification support.

There are to other areas of potential health benefits associated with beets: anti-cancer benefits and fiber-related benefits. The combination of anti-inflammatory molecules in beets makes this food a highly-likely candidate for risk reduction of many cancer types. Beet fiber has also been a nutrient of increasing interest in health research. While many may limp all food fiber into one single category called “dietary fiber”, there is evidence that suggests that all dietary fiber is not the same. Beet fiber may provide special health benefits, particularly with the health of our digestive track and our cardiovascular system.

When shopping for fresh beets choose small or medium-sized beets whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine as they will retain their flavor and texture. It also should be noted that beet juice can satin your skin, so wearing kitchen gloves is a good idea when handling beets. Should your hands become stained during the cleaning and cooking process, simply rub some lemon juice on them to remove the stain.

Fit Tip of the Week: Girl Power

It is no secret that many preteen and teen girls struggle with negative body image, eating disorders and inactivity. With the media constantly promoting distorted images of beauty (often in an unhealthy sense) it has become increasingly harder for girls (and even grown women) to grow to love and accept themselves. So, how can you foster self-esteem in girls and encourage them to lead healthy lives? These are a few suggestions in ways you can help girls incorporate fitness and self-esteem building activities into their lives.

1. Recognize that many girls have low self-esteem. According to a study conducted by Vagisil Women’s Health Center, teen girls who seem to know it all may actually be struggling with low self-esteem. In the study, health educators working with teenage girls reported that while they were more independent than their parents were as teens, today’s girls have less self-confidence and a weaker self-confidence and self-image.

2. Realize that fitness and sports can improve self-esteem. Authors of a report commissioned by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports found that exercise and sports participation can enhance girls’ mental health. It works just the same in girls as in adults by engendering a positive body image; improving self-esteem; offering tangible experiences of competency and success; and increasing self-confidence. Just as physical activity can help adults reduce stress and depression the same happens among girls.

3. Encourage girls to get active. If girls show any interest in sports, do what you can to help them participate. They will benefit greatly from being part of a team, learning to be good winners and losers, and taking risks. If they don’t like sports then steer them toward other empowering fitness activities. Ask them about their interests and suggest ideas such as kickboxing, circuit training, stepping, hip hop, Nia and yoga.

4. Look for girls’ programming. Search for girls-only exercise classes or fitness clubs within local fitness facilities. Girls may feel more comfortable sweating when boys are not present! If a nearby facility doesn’t offer girls’ programming, then invite your daughter (s) - or girls you know-to attend fitness classes with you.

5. Focus on wellness behaviors. Share information on topics like healthy eating and nutrition, smoking prevention and healthy body image. Discussing these issues works well in tandem with exercise.

6. Focus on achievements, not appearance. Unfortunately, girls are often harshly judged by other girls, as well as written off boy boys, if they don’t fit within the bounds of our society’s narrow definition of beauty. To help a girl develop a healthier self-image, complement her for her achievements, thought and actions. Also help girls to criticize the media as young people often think media images represent perfection. Help them to look for positive ads in publications.

7. Look for further resources. Check out organizations such as Melpomene Institute (, which features sports and fitness resources for girls; and the Women’s Sports Foundation (, which offers a quiz to help girls find a sport that will be a good fit for them. Also, taking girls to women’s sporting events helps to provide exposure to active female role models.

Until next week…

G. Nicole Shea, BS, ACSM-CPT
Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food and Recipe of the Week: Green Beans and Healthy Green Bean Casserole (From

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I thought it would be helpful to arm you in your holiday cooking with at least one healthy remake of a traditional Thanksgiving dish. Green bean casserole has graced many a table every holiday season. The green beans itself plays host to an impressive list of nutrients including vitamins K, C, A, B2, and B1, as well as omega 3-fatty acids, fiber, iron, calcium, protein, and potassium. Green beans provide antioxidant support, cardiovascular benefits, bone health benefits, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Although readily available canned, fresh green beans provide the most health benefits.

The typical green bean casserole bathes ingredients in a heavy cream sauce and tops them with buttered bread crumbs and cheese. This healthier version saves about 160 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat compared to a more traditional recipe.

Nutrition Profile: low calorie, high fiber, low saturated fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, high calcium, heart healthy, diabetes and healthy weight appropriate.

2 ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white or black pepper
2 ½ cup low-fat or fat free milk
1 ½ cups fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs or ½ cup shredded or crumbled low fat cheese.


Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F.

Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

When the green beans are done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.

Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.
Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Per Serving (1 cup): 170 calories, 7g fat (1g sat, 4g mono); 4 mg cholesterol; 23g carbohydrates, 7g protein; 5g fiber; 303 mg sodium.

Fit Tip of the Week: 10 Survival Tips for Holiday Parties

Parties are an enjoyable and festive way to celebrate the season, but party-goes often find their resolve weakening in the face of bountiful and calorie-laden food spreads. The good news is nutrition experts agree that all holiday foods can easily fit into a healthy diet- if eaten in moderation. Here are some effective tips for controlling calories at those notorious holiday feasts.

1. Create and stick to a plan. To help maintain healthy habits, identify potential problem areas and anticipate solutions that may present challenges. It is ok to allow yourself some slack and not to aim for perfection (which honestly is impossible during the holiday season). Choose to focus on two areas at most. For example focus on sticking to a firm workout schedule and avoiding the cheese and sausage tray if that is a weakness. By recognizing and anticipating your primary weakness, you are more likely to stick with a plan.

2. Maintain a regular schedule. The holidays can be hectic, but it is important to continue to eat at normal mealtimes. Don’t try to make up for bad eating by skipping breakfast or lunch. This will set you up for poor energy, hunger and bad food choices at whatever party or dinner you are attending. Instead have a plan. For example if you’re going to an evening event, eat a balanced, lighter lunch such as a mixed green salad with fruit and grilled chicken. High fiber snacks can also be helpful in the midafternoon to avoid showing up at the party starving.

3. Practice mindfulness. Before you pile any party food onto your plate, scan the offerings on the table. Take a look around the buffet to see what is being served. This will help you make better choices. Also savor both the food and the conversations you have with other guests; eating slowly will help you become more aware of when you are satisfied and feeling full.

4. Be selective. It’s normal to want to sample everything, but you may want to consider “saving” your calories for those favorites that come around only once a year. In other words, skip the mundane chips and dip, and go for a small serving of Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving.

5. Beware of Beverages. Limiting alcoholic beverages can save a tremendous amount of empty calories. Limit them to 1-2 drinks per day. The same goes for sweetened, nonalcoholic beverages. Instead of punch, choose sparkling water and sugar-free drinks.

6. Practice portion control. The bigger the plate, the more you’ll want to put on it and with an endless supply of tempting foods filling up a large plate is very easy to do. It also easily leads to unknowingly consuming fare more than your normal daily allowance of calories and fat. A trick that I always tell clients to use is reach for a small salad plate rather than the large dinner plate. Smaller plates help to regulate your portions as there is only so much that can fit on a small salad plate.

7. Fuel up frequently. Never, EVER, leave the house hungry. If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping hungry you know where this is going to lead. You’ll end up eating more food then you realize before you even know it. Grab a quick 150-200 calorie snack, preferably a combination of high fiber and protein to stabilize blood sugar and appetite. Carry power snacks such as nuts and dried fruit as well as a bottle of while shopping and running errands.

8. Practice self-monitoring. Set a simple fitness and eating goal at the beginning of the holiday season, and monitor yourself. Stay on track by using a tool that works for you, such as a food log or a fitness journal. Use the log to record how much you eat, and don’t forget to include anything you had at parties. To remind yourself of the pay off, identify your own reason for staying on track, then put it in writing and repeat it like a mantra each day.

9. Be a social butterfly. Remember the holidays are about being with those you love not as a free ride to consume all the food you want. That being said, heading into holiday parties with the mindset that you are seeking companionship and to reconnect with family and friends may help you eat less.

10. Don’t diet. Yep, you read that correctly. Starting a weight loss program at the start of the season is a recipe for disaster. Attempting to diet in the face of holiday feasts can actually backfire, causing you to binge when presented with such temptation. Instead, create a plan for success at the start of the season and stick to it.

Until next week!

Very Respectfully,
G. Nicole Shea, BS, ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Bison Steak with Radicchio-Beet Skewers

This is one of my all-time favorite steak recipe. The rich flavor of the bison steak is complemented by the bite of radicchio. The flavor is mellowed a bit by the grill and earthy-sweet beets and creamy goat cheese dressing. Bison is a wonderfully nutritious alternative to beef steaks, but because bison steaks are so lean they are very easy to over cook. Bison steaks are best when cooked rare to medium-rare.

Nutrition Profile: Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low sodium, heart healthy, healthy weight appropriate, and gluten free.

¼ cup crumbled low fat goat or feta cheese
4 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 small heads of radicchio
1 15-ouce can baby beets, drained
1 pound bison steaks, trimmed of fat and cut into 4 portions.


1. Preheat grill to high

2. Place cheese in a medium bowl and mash it with the back of a spoon until creamy. Add vinegar, dry mustard, shallot, parsley, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Whisk to combine. Continue and slowly drizzle 1 tablespoon oil until blended. Set aside.

3. Cut each radicchio head in half, core and quarter each half. Thread radicchio chunks and beets onto skewers. Drizzle skewered vegetables with 1 ½ teaspoon oil. Rub steaks with the remaining ½ teaspoon oil. Season steaks and skewered vegetables with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.

4. Grill steaks 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Grill vegetable skewers, turning frequently so the radicchio doesn’t burn, until the radicchio is wilted and lightly charred (5 to 7 minutes total). Transfer the steaks to a plate; let set for 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skewers. Serve the steaks and vegetables drizzled with sauce.

Nutrition Per serving: 222 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 55 mg cholesterol; 0 g added sugar; 25 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Fit Tip of the Week Product Review: Vibram FiveFingers Classic

I’ve seen this shoe’s popularity grow increasingly in popularity in the fitness world. Barefoot-style and minimalist shoes are one of the hottest trends to sweep the footwear category since Nike Waffle Trainer running shoes and Crocs. The Vibram FiveFingers Classic is a minimalist athletic shoe designed to mimic the feel of being barefoot during activities such as running, fitness training, martial arts, yoga and Pilates. The manufacturer claims that by putting your feet in touch with the earth, you can move in a more natural, healthy way. They describe that their customers report an increase sense of balance, greater agility, and visibly improved posture. The Vibram FiveFinger Classic is one of several designs Vibram offers that adheres to the minimalist principle. The shoe features a sculpted, non-marking sole that wraps around the bottom and sides of the food and a stretch polyamide fabric that envelopes the toes and top of the foot. The shoe is completed with an elastic band that fastens at the heel allowing users to adjust the coverage and fit. Like gloves, each toe has it own little slot (just like toe socks).

This isn’t your typical shoe and needless to say, they do take some getting used to and may not appeal to everyone. The shoe does provide some arch support and the sole is thick enough to minimize the feel of rocks or pebbles under foot. Being water-resistant and machine washable, the Vibram Five Fingers is ideal for walking along rocky shorelines or climbing over boulders. There are many that wear these shoes for long distance running and give the shoe rave reviews.

One feature of the shoe that could pose a challenge (and certainly did for me) is its molded shape, which makes it difficult to fit those who don’t have “standard” shaped feet. For example, if someone has a second toe that’s larger than their big toe they may find the shoe doesn’t fit correctly or feels uncomfortable. The high heel tab may irritate those with heel spurs or other issues. Also those with problems with their arches may have problems with this shoe. People with fallen arches may find that this shoe may not have enough arch support to see them through a long run.

So are these worth looking into? This product should be reviewed on an individual basis. Everyone’s feet are different and have different needs. Personally, after trying these on walking for fifteen minutes my arches and ankles weren’t having it. I could barely walk around in the store let alone go for a run in them. For me running in these shoes would not be an option. A yoga or a Pilates class or strength training maybe be a more appropriate use of these shoes for me. Others may find these to be the holy grail of running shoes depending on their individual needs. Others find improved balance during strength training while wearing the Vibrams. Some physicians have voiced their opinions against this shoe and others fully support it. There are a lot of mixed reviews, research and opinions on these, most of which are positive. That being said, I would offer the same suggestion on this shoe as I would in buying a sports bra or any other shoe. Think about the activity you’ll be using the shoe for, know the kind of support you need, and find the right fit for you and your needs. If this shoe is able to meet your needs then it may be well worth a shot.

Until next week…

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week:

Bison is a nutrient dense food thanks to its proportion of protein, fat, minerals and fatty acids to its caloric value, making bison a great alternative to beef or pork. Bison also trumps turkey and chicken in terms of calories, protein and total fat. A 3.5 oz. of bison meat provides 146 calories (less than lean beef, pork, and turkey), 20.23 g of protein (more than beef, pork, turkey, and chicken) and 7.21 total grams of fat (less than beef, pork, turkey, and chicken). In addition to the minerals found in bison meat, bison is also grown without growth hormones and are grass fed, making bison providing much healthier alternative to other types of meat sources for those with concerns of steroid fed animals.

According to the University of Michigan, bison is a rich source of iron providing 36% of the recommended daily intake for iron according to the USDA. Bison has been listed in “Readers’ Digest” as one of the five foods women should eat because of its high iron content. Iron is an important part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health, circulate oxygen in the blood, and is important for hair health. Often hair loss is linked to an iron deficiency.

One serving of provides about 20 g of protein and according to the Mayo Clinic, this is about 40 percent of your daily recommended intake of protein. Protein, as we well know, plays an important role in maintaining healthy nails, skin, hair, and is also necessary for healthy muscle growth and repair in the body. With a low fat content, bison is considered a very lean source of protein, more so than chicken and turkey.

Bison is also a rich source of vitamin E, an important antioxidant that helps provide immune support in the body. Vitamin E may also play a role in preventing heart disease and certain types of cancer, including skin, prostate, and breast cancer. Vitamin E is also important for skin, helping to provide anti-aging benefits, and maintaining healthy hair. In addition to vitamin E, bison a single serving of bison also contains 36.5 percent of the recommended daily value (RDV) of vitamin B-6 and 53.8 % of the RDV of vitamin B-12.

Bison can be used in place anywhere you would use beef or chicken. Bison can be added a stir-fry, salads, burritos, and pretty much any meat dish. You can even find ground bison meat to make leaner, more nutrient rich burgers.

Fit Tip of the Week:
Shaking Down the Shake Weight

I’ve been hearing about this “fitness product” for some time now and upon seeing the comical and awkward demonstrations in commercials I had to do some research.So what is it? The Shake Weight is a “dumbbell” in which the weights on either end are attached to the handle by a spring. It’s sold by a company by the name of Fitness IQ. It can be purchased on-line, in some retail stores, and from television infomercials and usually includes one Shake Weight, and a workout DVD with instructions. But does it work?

According to the advertisements, the Shake Weight works by a method called “dynamic inertia”. The weight bounces off the ends of the handle by the spring as it is shaken back and forth. The user performs this shaking motion in various positions to target the major muscles of the upper body (chest, shoulders, and arms.) The movement is solely user generated. Basically, you shake it and it moves. The DVD included with the Shake Weight includes a 6-minute workout DVD that focuses only on upper body exercises. In between “shaking sets”, an active recovery is done, which involves either some type of stretch or a movement similar to traditional dumbbell training while holding the Shake Weight. There are no instructions about how often the workout should be performed.

First let’s analyze the pros. The Shake Weight is affordable with a price of $19.99-29.99. The exercises are easy to do and the weight can be carried almost anywhere. The exercise plan offers a quick workout and the weight is very light (about 5 pounds for women 10 for men.)

Now for the cons. For a muscle to be fully stimulated, resistance must be applied though a full range of motion. The Shake Weight does not deliver this and will not result in the same muscular activity as traditional exercise, no matter what the company says. Also, additional weight cannot be added to the device and it offers limited exercises. A muscle improves in strength and endurance when it is continually challenged with increased resistance and a variety of exercises. That being said, very little (if any) results should be expected with the Shake Weight. The company that manufactures the Shake Weight claims that for women the Shake Weight will result in lean muscle (implying fat loss) and men can expect an increase in muscle mass. A quick workout is a pro for anyone with a busy life but the Shake Weight's quick workout is a little too quick. Six minutes is not enough exercise to actually burn a significant amount of calories, nor is there enough weight to increase muscle mass with the Shake Weight. My last con (and my biggest vexation) with this product is the use of words for marketing. The “Dynamic Inertia” concept may sound unique, complex, and ten kinds of awesome, but it’s really none of the above. The word dynamic is used in relation to energy or objects in motion. Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in motion. Basically, ALL forms of resistance training involve dynamic inertia, so there is nothing really new or innovative about this concept.

So, what’s the take home message on the Shake Weight? Save your money and skip it. Honestly, you would probably get the same type of workout by adding chocolate syrup to a half gallon container of skim milk and shaking it vigorously for 6 minutes. Then when you’re done you can pour yourself a glass of chocolate milk to help your muscles recover from your strenuous workout. All joking and sarcasm aside, the hands-down best way to sculpt your arms, tone your muscles, and decrease body fat is the usage of a well-designed workout routine that offers a variety of aerobic and traditional resistance training exercises.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 2-3 days per week of total-body resistance training exercise for most people who want to increase or maintain muscular fitness. In addition, the ACSM also recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week for improvement in overall health. Although it may be better than no exercise at all, the Shake Weight simply does not come close to meeting the researched, published and well-respected scientifically based exercise guidelines. Keep the purse strings tight on this one.

Until next week…

Very Respectfully,
G. Nicole Shea, ACSM-CPTACSM
Certified Personal Trainer

Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Recipe Of the Week:
Chicken and Spiced Apples (from

Butter apples are a wonderful complement to thinly pounded chicken breast. This recipe can be served with any roasted meat or veggies.

Nutrition Profile:
Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low saturated fat, low sodium, heart healthy, healthy weight appropriate, gluten free.

2 Braeburn apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/8 teaspoon herbes de Provence, divided
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest


1. Toss apple slices with lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.

2. Mix 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound meat with a meat mallet or the bottom of a small sauce pan to ½ -inch thickness. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with the seasoning mixture.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pin in the center, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter to the pan; heat over high heat. Cook the remaining chicken in the same manner.

4. Add broth, lemon zest and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon herbes and any accumulated juices from the chicken to the pan. Cook, stirring to scrape any browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and served with the sautéed apples.

Nutrition Per Serving: 191 calories, 6g fat (2g sat, 2g mono), 72 mg cholesterol; 6g carbohydrates, 27g protein; 1 g fiber; 292 mg sodium; 342 mg potassium.

Fit Tip of the Week: What to Look For In a Weight Loss Program

Every year consumers spend billions of dollars on weight loss programs and products, many of which leave them empty handed (and with an empty wallet). With a huge variety of weight loss programs available, I’m often asked how to choose the right one that will help provide safe weight loss and keep the pounds away for good. To answer this question, I put together a list of key elements to look for in a weight loss program:

1. Safety.
This goes at the very top of my list. A sound weight-loss program will encourage you to check with your healthcare provider before you get started. This visit allows your provider a chance to offer any special precautions or guidelines based on your health status and should include a screening to assess your readiness for exercise.

2. Credibility.
This ranks right up there with safety. For the best results, and to further help ensure safety, the program should have credentialed providers such as registered dietitians, certified fitness professionals, certified wellness coaches, behavioral specialists (licensed psychologist or counselors0 and such licensed medical professionals such as physicians and registered nurses. Always use caution with peer-led programs (that is people who claim they have lost weight successfully). Although such programs can offer support and guidance though the program functions, they often don’t have a staff with educational background in exercise, nutrition, or behavior change to offer sound professional advice.

3. Flexibility.
Programs that demand a rigid diet or exercise pan set you up for failure before you even begin. Often these guidelines are just too difficult to stick with for even the most disciplined and dedicated individuals. Look instead for programs that integrate your food and physical activity preferences. Perhaps a program that will teach you how to cook your favorite dishes in a more healthful way. To be successful in the long-term, you’ll need to adopt lifestyle changes that you can live with.

4. Realistic outcomes. It absolutely drives me up the wall when I see commercials or hear claims on the radio of someone saying, “Lose 20 pounds in 1 week.” Believe it or not I’ve actually heard claims like this and my immediate thought was, “Why isn’t this person in the hospital?” Although this might catch your eye, the truth is safe and permanent weight loss happens slowly. The recommended (by fitness and medical experts) weight loss rate is ½ pound to a maximum 2 pounds per week for lasting results. You should ask to see program outcome data regarding average amount of weight loss and long-term follow up results. If no data is available, or they won’t share it… HUGE RED FLAG!

5. Self-monitoring. One study found that people who kept a daily food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. Writing down what you eat keeps you accountable and makes you think twice about going back for seconds. Keeping exercise records can be helpful as well. Self-monitoring offers an objective look at how you’re doing in relation to your goals and is very helpful especially when you hit a plateau and need to adjust your approach.

6. Sensible nutrition. Avoid programs that eliminate entire food or nutritional categories, such as fruit, grain, fats or carbs (which are everywhere!). According to the American Dietetic Association, all foods fit in a healthy diet. Plans that advocate special combinations of foods, certain foods in unlimited quantities, or are too restrictive don’t work. Eat a variety of whole grains, colorful veggies and fruits, low-fat dairy products and lean sources of protein and you’re instantly on a path to a healthier diet.

7. Regular exercise.
Programs making claims that weight can be loss “without exercise or change in physical activity” is another one that drives me crazy. Getting active and staying active is the cornerstone of maintaining a healthy body weight. In addition, exercise optimizes conditions in the brain for enhanced learning and decision-making. It’s a great mood-elevator, metabolism booster and can help counteract emotional eating. A weight loos program should encourage you to find ways to make physical activity apart of your daily life.

8. Cognitive changes.
A good weight loss program will help you learn to think in new ways that is essential for long-term success. A reputable program will help you replace faulty thinking patterns with positive, productive ways of thinking that support your health goals.

9. Believable claims and no pressure. Walk (or better yet run) away from any program that pressures you to buy special foods, supplements, pills, or gadgets or promises a quick fix. There are no magic pills to “melt your fat away”. Sustainable weight loss requires a significant effort and a sensible approach and with the right support, expertise and guidance, you can make it happen.

Until next week…

G. Nicole Shea, BS, ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week:

Apples are the main reason why fall is one of my favorite seasons. There’s nothing quite like going down to the local orchard with friends and hubby and picking my very own fresh apples. Apples come in an array of colors with corresponding tastes. Red and Golden Delicious apples are among the sweetest apples where Braeburn and Fuji apples are slightly tart. Pippin, and Granny Smith apples are the most tart, but retain their texture best when cooking. Needless to say there is a variety of apples to satisfy almost every pallet. Nutrients tend to vary in different varieties in apples but the most common nutrients are fiber (about 15% of the daily value) and vitamin C (about 11% of the daily value). Eating apples provide health benefits such as antioxidant protection, cardiovascular benefits, blood sugar regulation, anti-cancer benefits. So there may be some truth to the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Apples are a source of polyphenols which function as antioxidants, as well as vitamin C. These antioxidants are beneficial to the cardiovascular system by preventing atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems. Studies have shown that the antioxidants and the water soluble fiber in apples help lower the risk of asthma and lung cancer (one of the few fruits that demonstrate this ability). There is also evidence that the antioxidants in apples may provide protective benefits against colon and breast cancer in preliminary studies.

Studies on apples and blood sugar regulation are relatively new, but are catching plenty of attention. At various levels, the polyphenols in apples are capable of influencing our digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and the impact helps to naturally improve blood sugar regulation. Impacts observed via research are: the slowing down of carbohydrate digestion allowing carbohydrates, reduction of glucose absorption, the stimulation of the pancreas to release more insulin and the stimulation of insulin receptors. All of these factors play a role in regulating blood sugar.

While not as developed in research as other aspects, health benefits of apples have been established for several age-related health problems, to include macular degeneration of the eye and neurodegenerative problems (like Alzheimer’s disease). Researchers are also breaking ground in studying apples and the prevention of bone loss.

Apples can be found in local grocery stores year round but apples are normally in season from late summer to early winter. Apples can be enjoyed diced in fruit or green salads or sliced with cheese.

Fit Tip of the Week: Exercising in Cold Weather (Updated)

This article was originally posted last fall but with colder temperatures approaching and safety always my number one priority I thought it would be a good idea to repost the article with a few updates.

With autumn officially upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to start thinking ahead to the colder months and the things that you can do to stay safe if planning on exercising or spending time outdoors this fall and winter. Most people don’t realize that exercising in cold weather can be just as dangerous as exercising in hot weather. The biggest concern for exercising in the cold is hypothermia, or too much heat loss. When exercising in a cold environment you must consider one primary factor: How much heat will your body lose during exercise? One of the easiest ways to control heat loss is though insulation.

Clothing is generally a good insulator because it has the ability to trap air which is a poor conductor of heat. If the air trapped by the clothing cannot conduct heat away from the body, temperature will be maintained. However, water is a rapid conductor of heat and people will of course sweat while working out, even in cold temperatures. With this is mind, you want to choose clothing that can trap air but allow sweat to pass through and away from the body. It is important to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water. These materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin and they can increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise. Also keeping hands and feet warm is also important when out in the cold. Lower temperatures can cause blood to be rerouted to the core of the body to protect and keep internal organs warm. This rerouting of the blood can cause tissue damage in the extremities. So keeping the body’s temperature stable throughout the entire body is important. When not in my Zumbawear®, my all-time favorite, holy grail brand of fitness gear is Under Armor. Under Armour's ColdGear® line provides moisture wicking material and an insulating material that helps to trap air and keep you warm. The collection features base clothing as well as outerwear (including gloves, socks, and hats) that help keep you comfortable in cold weather without bulkiness weighing you down (even when layering).

Rules to remember when exercising in the cold:
  • Check the temperature and wind conditions before you go out and do not exercise if conditions are dangerous. Your better option might be heading to the gym or working out in the warmth and comfort of your home.
  • Keep your head, hands and feet warm.
  • Dress in layers that can provide a trapped layer of dry air near the skin.
  • Warm the air you are breathing if temperatures are below your comfort level. This can be done by wearing a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth.
Regardless of if you’re working out in the cold or taking a fall stroll or enjoying the first snowball fight of the season, these tips will help keep you safe and moving.
You can find Under Armour online at, at your local sporting goods or Under Armour store, or TJ Maxx or Marshalls.

Until next week…

G. Nicole Shea, B.S., ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Recipe of the Week
Tomato Soup

This is one of my favorite tomato soup recipes. This easy low calorie soup is perfect for the fall/winter months and pairs wonderfully with a grilled (low fat) cheese sandwich or garnished with low fat shredded cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers. You can even make a double batch and freeze the extra for rainy-day (or in my case “lazy day”) emergencies.

Nutrition Profile:
Low calorie, low saturated fat, low cholesterol, heart healthy and healthy weight appropriate.

1 tablespoon of light butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme or parsley
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with juice
1 14-ouce can whole peeled tomatoes, with juice
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, “no-chicken” broth, or vegetable broth
½ cup fat free half-and-half (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat until the butter melts. Add onion and celery; cook stirring occasionally, until softened (About 4 to 6 minutes). Add garlic and thyme (or parsley); cook stirring until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
2. Stir in canned tomatoes (with juice). Add broth and bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Puree soup in the pot using and immersion blender or in batches in a blinder. Use caution when pureeing hot liquids. Stir in half-and-half (if using), salt and pepper.

To freeze, spoon soup into quart or gallon sized Ziploc bags, making sure to remove as much air as possible before closing. Lay flat in freezer until frozen then stack bags (if using multiple bags) for space saving storage space. The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Per serving (1 cup):
69 calories; 3 g fat (1g sat, 2 g mono); 4 mg cholesterol; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Fit Tip of the Week: Chocolate milk vs. Recovery Drinks: Which is better?

Multiple studies have been published over the past few years showing why chocolate milk is such an effective recover beverage after muscle-intense workouts. Although chocolate milk and milk clearly have post workout benefits, sports beverage companies are in the business of selling beverage products as “post-game protein recovery” or “post-workout recovery drinks” with electrolytes and carbohydrates. So which is better? What’s in it, what’s not in it, and is it worth the price is pretty much the determinant.

So why is chocolate milk so special? Chocolate milk’s recovery benefits seem to be due to the three nutritional attributes:
  • It has the idea 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate grams to protein grams, which help to enhance glycogen replenishment into the muscles post workout.
  • It contains whey protein, which is absorbed quickly, getting essential amino acids into the blood stream quicker. Whey protein is also thought to enhance the building and repair of muscle. About 20% of the protein in milk is whey protein.
  • It also contains the protein casein, which is digested and absorbed more slowly than whey protein and sustains amino acids in circulation many hours after consumption. Casein is also thought to reduce the amount of muscle breakdown.
Then there is the cost analysis. An 8-ounce serving of low fat chocolate milk costs about 44 cents per serving (a half gallon typically averaging about $3.50). On the other hand a 16-ounce bottle of Gatorade Recover sells for $1 on average. The cots and savings add up over a month. If you opt for a serving of chocolate milk each day after an intense workout instead of a bottle of Gatorade Recover, you would save about $20 per month.

My bottom line comes down to nutrition. In comparison to nutrition 1% chocolate milk is higher in calories (190 vs. Gatorade’s 130), a better protein-carbohydrate ratio in addition to the added benefit of higher amounts of potassium, calcium, and vitamin D than Gatorade Recover. Also missing from chocolate milk are the artificial sweeteners and dye/color additives found in Gatorade Recover, as well as the upset stomach that can accompany Gatorade Recover. An added edge for chocolate milk is the added benefit of Omega-3s.

My opinion? Chocolate milk has my vote. Not only is it more nutrient dense and appropriately balanced it's also cost effective.

V/R G. Nicole Shea, B.S., ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Licensed Zumba® Fitness Instructor

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week:

Tomatoes are a jackpot of riches when it comes to their antioxidant and nutrient benefits. In terms of antioxidants, tomatoes provide a great source of vitamin C and beta-carotene in addition to being a good source of vitamin E and cancer fighting phytonutrients including lycopene. Other nutrients found in tomatoes include vitamins A, K, B-vitamins, potassium, dietary fiber, folate, iron, protein, and so much more for hair and health support. Tomatoes are enjoyed all over the world to the tune of about 130 million tons per year. Tomatoes provide cardiovascular support, support for bone health and anti-cancer benefits.

Tomatoes have been repeated linked to improved heart health by two basic lines of research: antioxidant support and the regulation of fats in the blood stream. The cardiovascular system has the greatest need for antioxidant protection in the entire human body. The heart and bloodstream are responsible for delivering oxygen thought the body and antioxidants are needed to keep this oxygen in check. Vitamin E and C and lycopene are the premier antioxidants and heart-supportive nutrients in tomatoes. Lycopene helps to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels in the blood, thereby helping to prevent heart and cardiovascular diseases. Lycopene has also been linked to bone health and is a growing area in research.

Tomatoes’ track record as a cancer-preventing food is no surprise given the list of 15+ antioxidants found in a serving of tomatoes. Risk for many types of cancer start with chronic oxidative stress and chronic unwanted inflammation and for this reason foods that provide us with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support are often foods that show cancer prevention properties. Tomatoes are the total package in this area. Prostate cancer is the most researched type of cancer in relationship to tomato intake with research having found that tomatoes can help lower the risk of prostate cancer in men.

When shopping for tomatoes chose one that have rich colors. Deep reds are a great choice but tomatoes of all colors provide outstanding nutrient benefits. Whenever possible, try to develop or find recipes that make use of the whole tomato to get the most antioxidant benefits. Tomatoes can always be added to a salad, but they are also a great addition to bean and vegetable soups and sandwiches.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

If you’ve noticed everyone wearing a lot of pink over the last few days it’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone one from NFL players to local community health clinics are going pink to raise awareness and show support in the fight against breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women following lung cancer. It is predicted by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation that an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in among women in the United States this year with an estimated 39, 520 deaths. The five year survival rate of breast cancer is over 90% when caught early.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help lower your risk of breast cancer as well as other diseases. Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight is the first steps. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to less than one drink a day for women and fewer than two drinks a day for men. Also breastfeeding is linked to a lowered risk of breast cancer. You should also know your risk of breast cancer though family history and talking with your provider about your personal risk of breast cancer. Getting screened for breast cancer is also important as well. Speak with your doctor about which tests are appropriate for you if you are at a higher risk. Regular yearly mammograms every year starting at age 40 is often recommended if you’re at average risk. Starting at age 20, having a clinical breast exam at least every three years and doing monthly self-breast exams are essential to early detection and thus a higher survival rate. Monthly self-breast exams allow you to know what’s normal for you. If you notice any changes in your breast (lumps, change in size, discharge or a new pain) you should see your health care provider. If you’re worried about developing breast cancer, or if you know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, one way to deal with your concerns is to get as much information as possible. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States thanks to awareness, early detection and research.

Breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease, it’s everybody’s disease. Even men have been diagnosed with breast cancer. There are many organizations that are leading the fight in against breast cancer though research and promoting awareness. If you would like to show your support in the fight against breast cancer and help raise awareness there are literally thousands of ways to do so. People have joined the fight by making donations to research and participating in fundraisers, purchasing items whose manufacturers donate a portion of the profit to breast cancer research, and something as simple as wearing a pink ribbon. Even being a product junkie can help fund breast cancer research and raise awareness as companies that make products for naturally curly hair are getting in on the fight as well.

For more information on breast cancer or ways you can help join the fight you can visit the following websites:
Susan G. Komen for the Cure:
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website:
National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc:

For Zumba ® Fitness lovers who want to join the fight:

For products for naturally curly hair that support Breast Cancer Awareness visit

Pink is more than just a color, it’s the power to save lives.

Until next week…

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Recipe of the Week:
Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad

Crisp pears meet with celery, cheddar cheese and pecans for a delicious side dish for dinner or lunch. You can shake up the flavors a bit by adding Parmesan cheese with pine nuts or crumbled Stilton with walnuts.

Nutrition Profile: Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low cholesterol, low sodium, high calcium, high fiber, gluten free.

4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe pears, preferably red Bartlett or Anjou, diced
1 cup finely diced white Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see Tip)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce

Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for about 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry and cut into ½ inch pieces.

Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears and gently stir to coat. Add celery, cheese and pecans and combine by stirring. Season to with pepper. Divide lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

To toast chopped pecans, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until fragrant and lightly browned (about 2-4 minutes).

Nutrition Per Serving (1 cup):
215 calories; 13g fat (5g mono, 4g sat); 20 mg cholesterol; 20g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 240 mg sodium.

Fit Tip of the Week:
Strength Training: The Basics

Strength training is an important part of any fitness routine and you don’t need to be a body builder to benefit from strength training. A well designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues, also leading to a decreased risk of injury. For women this also means a decreased risk of osteoporosis.

Increased muscle mass. Adults lose about ½ pound of muscle per year after the age of 25, mostly due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (aka your basal metabolic rate). As muscle mass increases, so does your basal metabolic rate, thus making maintaining a healthy body weight easier.

Enhanced quality of life. As strength increases, the performance of every day routines (carrying groceries, working out in the garden, playing with your children) will be less taxing.

To get started with a strength training routine I would recommend getting one-on-one help with a qualified fitness trainer who can help you meet your personal goals as well as address any limitations. A fitness trainer can also help ensure you’re using the proper form and technique to avoid injury as well as find equipment that you’re most comfortable with, be it strength training machines, free weights, weighted balls, or resistance tubes/bands or a combination of equipment. For starters usually one set of eight to 12 repetitions of a particular strength training exercise is usually sufficient for beginners. Good technique, not heavy lifting, should be the primary goal when starting a strength training program. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is generally effective. When you’re able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating that is) increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making a safe progression.

An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that typically you’ll experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone. However, don’t be discouraged if visible improvements begin to taper off after a few weeks. It’s only natural, as your fitness level improves improvements in strength and appearance will come slightly at a slower pace. If you’re having problems keeping your motivation up then you should look into getting a partner to train with you. You should aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the benefit may not be worth the added risk of injury.

Free weights, machines, resistance tubes, and weighted balls are all effective tools for strength training and using a combination of equipment is often recommended. Utilizing two types of strength training equipment provides variety to your workout which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons. Variety helps to reduce boredom and provides subtle exercise differences that will in enhance progress.

Questions of the benefits of strength training have long been put to rest. Research continues to demonstrate the various benefits of adding strength training to a fitness program. A safe strength training program combined with cardiovascular training and flexibility training will give you the benefits of a well-rounded, total fitness program.

Until next week...

KinkyShea's Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week: Celery

Along with carrots, onions and potatoes, celery has become a common household staple. Its crunchy texture and distinctive flavor makes celery a very popular addition to salads, soups and other cooked dishes. Although available throughout the year, you’ll find the best quality celery during the summer months when it is in season. Locally grown varieties can be easily found in the markets. Celery has a laundry list of nutrients including vitamins K, C, B6, B1, A, B2, as well as potassium, fiber, calcium, and iron. All assist to promote health, lower cholesterol, and maybe useful in cancer prevention.

Celery is an excellent source of vitamin C, which we all knows helps in supporting the immune system. Vitamin C- rich foods like celery may help reduce cold symptoms or the severity of cold symptoms which could be very useful with fall fast approaching. Vitamin C also helps prevent free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory reaction, and is therefore associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions. Vitamin C is beneficial in promoting cardiovascular health and research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C are associated with a reduced risk of death from all cases of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Celery’s potential for reducing high blood pressure has long been recognized by Chinese medicine practitioners. Western researchers may have recently identified the reason why. Researchers credit the compound phthalides found in celery which can help relax the muscles around arteries and allow those vessels to dilate. Giving more space inside the arteries allows the blood to flow at a lower pressure. Another contributing factor could be the diuretic activity of celery. The potassium and sodium found in celery helps to stimulate urine production, thus helping body to red excess fluid and causing the blood vessel walls to relax. In addition celery can also lower cholesterol by increasing bile acid secretion.

Celery had a long history, first as a medicine and then later as a food. Celery’s vitamins and minerals help to give our bodies protection from diseases in addition to required nutrients for everyday function. Celery, like cucumbers, also has a high water content that can help keep us hydrated as well. To kick up your celery intake you can add chopped celery to your favorite tuna fish or chicken salad recipe or enjoy the simple snack of eating low-fat peanut butter on celery stalks.

Fit Tip of the Week:
The Most Effective Exercises

Often times, I’m always asked what are some of the most effective exercises. People want to work out but they also want to get the most out of their workout for their time. So here a some of the most effective exercises:

1. Walking. Some might be a little surprised to see this in my list but there’s a reason why it’s here. You can walk anywhere, anytime, either on a treadmill or with no equipment other than a good pair of shoes. It’s great for beginners to start a fitness routine or for those that are more seasoned exercisers to alternate their routine between high and low impact activities. Beginners should start by walking five to ten minutes at a time gradually moving up to at least 30 minutes. As you progress, lengthen the time of your walks before increasing your speed or incline.

2. Interval Training: Adding interval training to your cardio workout can boost fitness, burn more calories, and help you lose weight. The basic idea is to vary the intensity of your aerobic workout to challenge your body instead of cruising in your comfort zone. Kick up your pace for a minute or two, and then back off for 2-10 minutes depending on the length of your workout and how much time you need to recover.

3. Squats: Squats work multiple muscle groups( the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals) at the same time. To correctly perform a squat, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your bottom as if you were sitting in a chair, taking care to keep your knees over your ankles. You can practice this with a real chair to master the correct technique and posture.

4. Lunges: Like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of the lower body, with the added benefit of improving your balance. To correctly perform a lunge take a big step forward keeping your spine straight. Bend your front knee to about a 90 degree angle. Keep your weight on your back toes and drop the back knee toward the floor, but do not let the knee touch the floor. Return to standing position.

5. Push-ups: Push-ups strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles all at the same time. Push-ups should be done with the hand placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place the toes (or knees if you’re a beginner) on the floor creating a smooth line with your body from shoulders to feet. Keeping rear-end muscles engaged lower and left your body by bending and straightening the elbows keeping the torso stable.

6. The Bicycle: This abdominal exercise targets the rectus abdominis (the “six pack”) and the obliques (the waist). To execute this exercise start by lying on your back and place your hands behind your head lightly supporting it with your fingers. Bring your knees to your chest and left the shoulder blades to the floor without pulling on the neck. Bring your opposite elbow to the knee. Example: Bring the right elbow towards the left knee and straighten the other leg. Switch sides and continue alternating sides in a “pedaling” motion.

7. Bent Over Row: This exercise works all the major muscles of the upper back in addition to the biceps. For proper technique, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then bend knees and flex forward at the hips. Tilt your pelvis slightly forward, engage the abdominals and extend your upper spine to add support. Almost like you’re going to sit. Hold dumbbells or barbell beneath the shoulders with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Bend the elbows and lift both hands to the sides of your body, pause and then lower. Beginners should start without weights.

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