Lean Girl Peppermint Cafe Cocktail

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Even a Lean Girl needs to untie her running shoes and let a little loose once in a while. A colleague was kind enough to gift a bottle of Cafe XO Patron so I had some fun playing mixologist for one night and experimenting.

Peppermint Cafe Cocktail

*1 oz cafe patron or other coffee liqueur
*5 oz vanilla almond milk
*peppermint stick for garnish
*ice

Optional:
Whipped cream
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions:
1. Mix ice, cafe patron, and almond milk. Shake.
2. Pour drink in chilled glass.
3. Garnish with whipped cream, peppermint stick, and dust of unsweetened cocoa powder or crushed peppermint stick.

Calories: 162

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How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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‘Tis the season for holiday parties, gingerbread men, and cocktails. It may be fun to celebrate the past year of successes with a night of splurging but don’t compromise the hard work you’ve put into your body all year. Here are some tips for staying lean this holiday season and avoiding the holiday party blubber.

1. Eat Dinner. Most holiday parties are in the evenings so folks starve themselves and “save” their calories. But that will slow your metabolism and you’ll be more likely to over eat at the party. Be fashionably late by grabbing a healthy dinner beforehand. You’ll have less room for the junk if you load up on lean protein and veggies. Tell your host/ess you’ll be late and that you will have already eaten dinner. Telling someone will also hold you accountable from stuffing yourself. Also, arriving late also ensures that everyone will have sampled all the dishes. By the time you get there they’ll be sure to tell you what you absolutely “must” try.

2. Bring something you’ll snack on. Chances are there will be a crudités platter at the party but bring something else that’s healthy that you would want to eat and that others would too. Show others that eating clean and healthy is not boring by bringing fruit dipped in dark chocolate or homemade hummus. My friend Bri makes an amazing fruit drizzle.

3. Pick 2. Allow yourself two treats for the night. Something sweet and something savory. Maybe it’s a drink and a dessert? Or an appetizer and dessert? Or just two desserts. Select the two most delectable things you absolutely must try. Skip the items you “could” eat any other day and indulge in seasonal or “special” foods.

4. Size matters. Use the small, cocktail plate and not the dinner plate. It will trick your brain into think you’ve eaten more than you think.

5. Clear liquids. Stick with seltzer, vodka, or champagne as they have the fewest calories. Nothing is more celebratory than a bubbly drink.

6. Limit alcohol. Stick with the “two” rule. Have two drinks max. The more alcohol you intake the more likely your inhibition drops and you’ll cave into poor choices. Tell yourself you must drink a glass of water or seltzer after every non-water drink. Not only will you curb any cravings but you’ll be hydrated and less bloated than others the next day. Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with not drinking. Pour yourself a seltzer with a lime slice and no one will know the difference.

7. Meet everyone. Meeting new people and talking to everyone will keep you preoccupied and less likely to nibble. Make a point to leave the party having made two new connections, or learned something new about old friends.

8. Plan something for early the next day. Schedule a session with your trainer or run a race the day after the party. You’ll be less likely to overindulge or stay later than necessary and be tempted by junk food if you know you have to get up early the next morning.

9. Wear a form fitting dress. You’ll not only look great but You’ll be more aware of your body and less likely to indulge if you’re wearing a form fitting dress. Boyfriend jeans and a t-shirt will make you feel relaxed and give room for your belly to expand. Besides, you should be dressed up for the party anyway.

10. Remember that you have fitness goals. While it’s great to celebrate the season with a drink or yummy goody, remember that you don’t want to set yourself back and start 2013 with the weight you had originally lost in 2012. If you haven’t lost any weight this year, remind yourself of your goals in 2013. If health or weight loss is one of them, start now rather than waiting for January 1. We are not promised tomorrow so start living the life you want today!

Share your tips. What are some tricks that have worked for you?

photo credit: Hotels Unlimited Banquets

Post-Thanksgiving Detox

I don’t regret all the starchy, fatty things I ate during Thanksgiving. Not one bit. Not even the red velvet pancakes I made from scratch (I’ll be sharing the LGC recipe next week). I didn’t over do it this Thanksgiving, but I do feel a bit puffy from eating out of my normal regiment.

If you feel the same, the good news is that you still have time to do something about it. The puffiness is usually a result of the excess salt, starch, and sugar that retains water. It’s not permanent unless you let it be!

To help get rid of that holiday bloat and get back into your regularly fancy and fit self, join me in detoxing. I started this week and I promise it gets better by Day 3, which is today for me. Usually Day 1 is the hardest for me because breads and sugary goodness (and wine) seem to chase me down the halls, call me name, pin me down, and insert themselves into my mouth. I can’t help it!

To be clear, a detox is not a cleanse. I’m not drinking my food for the next week. I’m just eating clean, which means protein, lots of clean veggies, and a grain. I need a grain. You may not think you need the carbs, but I do in order to push myself in my workouts.

I personally love green juices after a weekend of gluttony. They’re quite purifying, especially one that’s made with kale, spinach, carrot, lemon juice, and ginger. Mmmm.

Are you detoxing this week? How’s it going? Let me know and I’ll make sure to check in on you!

Recipe: Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake

Sweet Potatoes are my favorite starch and the perfect time to have them is during the holiday season. I love sweet potato casserole but hate the high sugar in canned yams, marshmallows, and cinnamon sugar seasoning. Here is a LGC exclusive recipe for you Lean Girls who are looking for a healthier alternative to the traditional sweet potato casserole.

Ingredients:
6 sweet potatoes
6 oz fresh cranberries (or half a bag)
1/4 cup of raw pecans
1/2 cup- 3/4 cup raw agave nectar
1 tbsp cinnamon
Cloves

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into 1″ pieces.
2. Combine chopped sweet potatoes, pecans, and cranberries in baking dish. Mix 1/2 cup agave nectar with 1/8 cup water. Stir mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon and cloves in baking dish.
3. Bake in oven for one hour or until sweet potatoes and soft. Stir occasionally ensuring that potatoes are covered and baking in agave syrup.

4. Serves 8-10. 154 calories per serving.

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheeze

My eating has been the cleanest it’s ever been. I haven’t had any alcohol in 40 days (I love wine – this is a big deal) and very little to no bread, flour, white sugar, and anything that’s considered “bad” for you. I really do believe one of the reasons I feel prepared for the NYC Marathon in 11 days is because of the clean eating. I don’t have the sugar or salt weighing me down. My palette is super sensitive to things and certain things that I used to like, like the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, don’t taste good to me. And I thought my palette was sensitive before! So when a eating lover as myself can’t find pleasure in food, she gets creative ad tries new things like this vegan Mac and Cheeze.

The pasta is a brown rice elbow macaroni (who knew there was brown rice pasta?!) and the Cheeze is puréed butternut squash, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, Earth balance, and almond milk. It isn’t cheese but it’s a good alternative. I also added some raw kale and crushed red pepper flakes. In the future I think I will add some meat or beans…obviously the meat will not make it vegan!

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Recipe: LGC Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes

My oatmeal raisin pancakes were inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe. This LGC recipe skips the butter, eggs, salt, oil & and everything else. You’d think it would taste like cardboard but it does not. Goes to show you that you … Continue reading

Ask Questions…Always

I think you all know about my love for oatmeal. On days when I couldn’t make it, or didn’t want to make it at home, I would treat myself to oatmeal from my favorite local deli “Brooklyn Bagel &  Coffee Company.” Contrary to its name, it’s neither in Brooklyn (this particular location is in Queens) and I rarely go there for the bagels (although I can’t say I’m not tempted when their flavor of the week is Nutella or Red Velvet cream cheese). Instead, I go for the oatmeal. It’s the most delicious oatmeal in the world. It’s hearty, steel cut, organic oatmeal that’s made with water. I love the texture, the taste, and I love adding berries to it. Drool. I love it a little too much, which is why I had red flags going off in my head.

I know what organic oatmeal made with water tastes like. And this kind from BBaCC tastes nothing like what I make at home. So I began to question.

On my first investigative trip, I asked what kind of oatmeal they use and how they make it.

“Steel-cut organic oats with water. It’s on the sign.”

“What’s the brand?”

“I don’t know. Just regular oatmeal.”

I went back a week later and asked the same questions.

“They’re organic oats made with water.”

“Really? You don’t put anything else in it? I just want to know how you make it so much better than I do at home. It’s just oats and water? Nothing else? No cinnamon? No nutmeg?”

“Yes. It’s just organic steel-cut oatmeal. Made with water…………………and a little bit of…….butter.”

(gasp)

That day, I gave my large cup of oatmeal with blueberries and strawberries to the homeless man on the subway and have never walked into Brooklyn Bagel & Co again.

 

I don’t think butter is the enemy. I love butter and I don’t think it’ll kill me if I have it within moderation. The reason I was so upset was because I was lied to and sold something that was not true. What if I had been vegan? Or lactose intolerant? I once ordered a blueberry milkshake and my boyfriend and the waitress thought I was crazy because I said it didn’t taste like a blueberry shake. I was right. She came back and told me the kitchen had made it with blackberries because the blueberry extract tasted awful and they’d been doing this all season. (Since then, this restaurant has removed this item from their menu).

I don’t mention this to you to tell you how great my palate is. Because it’s not. But never hesitate to ask questions about your food. Not only did you pay for it with your hard-earned money, but it’s something that’s going IN your body. If both of these restaurants had easily hidden these small additions or switches, what else have they hidden from us?

We Americans trust our food handlers way too much when in fact, we should be most suspicious of them. Remember the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me?” Well actually in this case, when you assume you just make an ass out of yourself 🙂 If you’re at a restaurant, don’t hesitate to ask if the chicken is grilled or fried. No one is judging you for asking as long as you ask politely. And if they do, so what? They don’t have the same goals as you do.

Here’s a challenge for you this week: think of one item you eat/drink all the time that you think is healthy or not-so-bad-for-you. Ask the preparer how they make it. Is it with canned tomatoes? How many shots of pumpkin spice do you actually put into the pumpkin spice latte? Do you grill the chicken with olive oil, butter, lard, what? Is that actually fruit or fruit compote? Is that 100% whole wheat? How many sticks of butter do you use? Prepare yourselves for some shockers. You may not like the answers. Even if the answer isn’t what you expected to hear, at least you know and will make better decisions in the future. Please report back and email me at leangirlsclub (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d love to hear/feature your story!

 

 

 

Monday Motivation

 

Big shout out to my friends Liz M. and Liz T. for sharing this on their Facebook pages. Click on their names to check out their blogs! You may also remember Liz M. from one of the last few “This Lean Girl Rocks” features.

I like Chipotle. It’s one of my favorite fast-food alternatives because I can pick and choose what goes into my meal. Chipotle isn’t perfect, though. Burritos are the size of small children and can cost you your day’s calorie allotment. But if you choose wisely, Chipotle is a good choice as it offers a healthy assortment of organic meats and produce. I always get the salad with chicken, peppers and onions, a little hot sauce and pico de gallo. No rice, no dressing, no beans (high in sodium), no cheese. Sometimes I pick up some brown rice from the store and mix it with the salad for a balanced meal. Chipotle even has the CleanPlates seal of approval.

Whatever your opinion is of Chipotle, consider the message of the ad. Our food is not supposed to be processed in a plant. There’s supposed to be balance in our eco-system. We’re supposed to love animals and take care of them before we eat them. We used to be at peace with food and it used to love us back. What happened?

So today’s Monday Motivation: do you “love” the food that is on your plate? Did it bring you peace?