FiT mOnKeY’s bLoG

Reaching our fitness goals

Best Chicken Salad Ever!!

Heavenly Chicken Salad

Heavenly Chicken Salad

Ran into a chicken salad on allrecipes.com and modified it.  The modifications have cut tons of fat and calories, and it still tastes just as great.  Trust me…I tried the full fat version and the low-fat, low-calorie version, and it’s delicious!  I would eat this chicken salad everyday if I could!

CHICKEN SALAD

(Supposed to serve 12…but don’t count on it! It’s that good!)

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups cubed chicken breast  (Use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)

1 cup fat-free mayo (could get by with less than a cup, play with it)

1 teaspoon of Paprika

1 teaspoon of Curry Powder (this is my addition, but it’s really good)

1 cup of dried cranberries (can substitute with apples/grapes)

1 cup chopped celery

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup minced green bell pepper

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon seasoning salt (don’t cut this, this actually makes the flavor really tasty)

Ground black pepper, to taste (I put a lot, I like the spice)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Chop all ingredients listed above.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine mayo, paprika, curry powder, seasoning salt, cranberries, celery, green onions, bell pepper, pepper, and pecans.

3.   Add chopped chicken and mix well, but gently.

4.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, but overnight works and it tastes sooooooo good the next day, and the day after!

This recipe is truly amazing!  I’ve made it at home and thrown it on a spinach salad, placed it in a whole wheat pita pocket, piled it on some whole grain crackers with lettuce and tomato.  I mean, I’ve made this at least a dozen different times and have never had someone say they didn’t love it.  Taste this chicken salad.  I promise that it will be the best one you’ve ever tasted!

Just to keep in mind, if you don’t have every single ingredient, you can still make this.  I’ve made it without cranberries on one occasion, without green bell pepper on another occasion.  Don’t be afraid to modify it.  Just test out this recipe, I promise it’s great🙂

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Healthy Eating, Healthy Recipes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Breakfast Cereals

Get a healthy start!

Get a healthy start

Your breakfast cereal can make or break you.  The aisle is endless, the sugary, chocolatey ones are calling your name.  I mean, can it get any more difficult to select a cereal!!!  Well, I’ve tried out several different cereals, looked at their nutritional information in my “The Calorie King: Calorie, Fat, and Carbohydrate Counter” and have made a few cereals a staple in my household.  Everyone says how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so treat it as such.  Pick something that will fill you with energy and give you the feeling of satisfaction after eating it.  Now, let’s get something straight, I like to eat.  I don’t like to feel hungry. So, because of this, I’d rather have an entire cup of cereal that’s healthy, rather than 1/2 a cup of unhealthy cereal because of the high fat, sugar, and caloric content.  If you’re like me, and want finish your breakfast feeling satisfied, keep reading my list of cereals that give you the most bang for your buck.  Ok, I don’t mean it in a financial way…cereal is freakin’ expensive!  I mean, the most nutritional value, the most quantity, and the best flavor possible.  Some cereals that I buy may not be the absolute tastiest, but I add a few simple, healthy ingredients that leave me looking forward to my breakfast on a daily basis.

Best Healthy Cereals

1.  Cheerios: 100 calories, 2 grams of fat. for a whole cup of it. S  Leaves plenty of room for adding a few almonds or strawberries and still maintaining a healthy caloric intake.  Tastes delicious with cinnamon and splenda too!

2. Special K (Original or Red Berry Flavor): These  Special K cereals are pretty low in fat and calories.  They range from 110-120 calories and about .5 grams of fat per 1 cup serving.

3.  Kelloggs Complete Oat Bran Flakes: This is one of my favorites.  It almost tastes nutty.  About 110 calories and 1 gram of fat for a 1 cup serving.

4.  Kelloggs Product 19: Another great cereal to put a few berries in or a few almonds.  100 calories and 0 grams of fat for a 1 cup serving.  Can’t beat that!

5.  Kashi Original Go Lean: Kashi has mastered how to pack in flavor while keeping the food healthy.  All of their food tastes great!   This cereal contains 140 calories and 1 gram of fat  in a 1 cup serving, and needs nothing!  (Except I throw in 1 small packet of Splenda just to sweeten things up).

As you can see I like basic, healthful cereals that are low in fat and calories.  If I have almonds or nuts to throw in, I use skim milk with my cereal.  If I don’t have nuts to throw in, I use my Light Silk Soy Milk and throw in a few pieces of fruit.  Fresh fruit makes your cereal SO much better!  The next time you go to the grocery store, check some of these cereals out.  Don’t be tempted to buy the sugar coated cereals, or the cereals that appear to be healthy, but pack in tons of fat and calories.  Read the labels and check out how many calories it contains and most importantly…WHAT IS THE SERVING SIZE?  The cereal could say it’s only 100 calories, but for only 1/2 a cup.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat 1/2 cup of cereal.I always shoot for cereals that are healthy enough to have at least a cup.  I use my dry measuring scoop and just scoop it right into my bowl.  This way, I know I’m eating the appropriate serving size.  Start your morning right!

P.S. I’m always on the lookout, will update as I run into more great, healthy breakfast cereals!

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Healthy Eating, Healthy Recipes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health & Fitness Product Recommendations

I’ve added a page to my site dedicated to products I’ve purchased and fallen in love with, called “Recommended Products“.  I’ve included foods, workout products, etc.  Check it out!  I will keep adding new products as I come across them.  I hope you find my new page to be insightful and user-friendly.  Let me know what you think!

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Health & Fitness News, Welcome | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post Workout Shakes

protein1Now that I’ve begun P90X, I realize the importance  of a post-workout shake.  I know that P90X has their own shake, but I’m sure it’s quite costly because it’s part of the whole program (and quite frankly, I’m broke).  Upon completion of my daily P90X video, I make my own protein shake, using Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein, Double Rich Chocolate flavor and 6-8 ounces of water.  If I worked out in the morning, I sometimes make it with Silk Light Vanilla Soy Milk.  This Optimum Nutrition protein blend packs 24 grams of protein per serving and has lots less fat, cholesterol, lactose, and other unnecessary ingredients that other shakes pack in.  This 120 calorie, 1 gram of fat, and 3 gram of carb shake gives you all you need to feed your muscles during that period of time that they are ready to soak in those vitamins and minerals needed to rebuild themselves.  Your muscles are fully aware that they are being worked, stretched, and torn, and are ready for all the things they need to heal themselves afterwards.  The optimal time to feed your muscles is after a resistance filled workout.  Many people wonder why a shake is suggested, and not a meal?  Well, it takes longer to prepare a meal and longer to digest it.  A shake provides protein, vitamins, and nutrients to your body in a form that is easier for your muscles to take in.

How do you choose a shake?  Well, look for the type of protein that it includes.  Whey and soy are some of the best.  Also, if you are just looking for a post-workout shake, make sure it’s not a complete meal replacement.  Women, if you are looking to get lean and drop a few pounds, buy a low calorie, low carb whey protein blend, such as the one I suggested earlier in the post.  You don’t want to consume 400 calories after burning them.  Be sure to read the labels!  Also, a simple way to avoid adding calories to your shake is to make it with water.  If you are not thrilled about the flavor…add splenda and cinnamon.  If you like it in more of a shake consistency, place it in the blender with a few cubes of ice.  Men, if you are not concerned about a few extra calories, make it with soy milk, peanut butter, or add a banana or several strawberries.  Protein shakes can be delicious…just experiment!

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Healthy Eating, Healthy Recipes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My P90X Journey…

I’ve started a page on my blog  to document my 90 days with P90X.  I am posting my opinions of the workouts, how I’m feeling the next morning (OUCH!), and what changes and improvements I begin to notice.  PLEASE CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY P90X PAGE! Like I mentioned before, I’m in pretty good cardiovascular shape, was doing weights about 3 times a week, and have now decided to take on the P90X challenge.  Keep checking back to check my progress and PAIN!  Hope to hear from you.

PS: I have my pre-P90X pictures in my camera!!!  I will post when I’m ready and feel that I’ve improved.  As of now…they’ll stay on  my memory card🙂

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Exercise/Workouts, p90x, Welcome | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ordering a healthy salad

If you’re like me, you are always scanning restaurant menus for dishes that sound tasty, but won’t run you into cardiac arrest.  What do most people think of when they think healthy?  SALAD!  Of course, lettuce, tomatoes, and all the veggies you can imagine.  The only problem is, most salads served in restaurants or fast food establishments are far worse than having a hamburger and fries!  Now, after reading countless books, health magazines, and online articles, I’ve established some tips/ideas on how to order the healthiest salad possible, while still feeling satisfied with your meal.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t stick to my diet 365 days a year, but I also don’t feel the need to pack in 2,000 calories in one meal at a restaurant.  Read below for some advice on how to order the healthiest salad possible. 

– Order low-fat or low-calorie dressings (MOST places have some form of these), if not…go for a vinegar based dressing. 

-Ask for your dressing on the side and dip the lettuce as you go, or drizzle a bit over top of the salad to get the flavor of it. 

– Go for grilled meats instead of fried or breaded (grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, etc)

– Go for the salad with the darker greens, such as romaine or spinach, instead of iceburg. (I love arugula too)

– If you’re concerned whether you’ll be full, order a side of veggies instead of picking at other people’s food or the bread basket.

– If the salad comes with fried noodles, croutons, bacon, or tortilla strips (or something of that nature), ask them to leave it out.  If you think you’re strong enough to push them aside and not eat them GOD BLESS YOU…I can’t.  I prefer to not have it on my plate at all.

I know that the salads described “as-is” in the menu sound delicious, but you’d be suprised how great the salad tastes without them as well.  Give it a try.  I have never been disappointed by using the above tips.  You get the taste of dressing, instead of it swimming in it), get the protein from the meat, and won’t even remember the toppings you’re missing because you never tasted them!  Salads can be horrible for you, or great for you.  Choose your salad wisely!

February 6, 2009 Posted by | Healthy Eating | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cardio Tips

Cardio is an integral part of being healthy.  Cardio helps you burn fat, get in shape, and keep your heart pumpin’!  There are three major components to cardiovascular exercise.  The first component is duration.  Duration is the amount of time spent doing cardio.  The second component is frequency, or how often you partake in cardio exercise.  The last is intensity, or how hard you are working during cardio.  Being aware of these three factors allows you to change your cardio up based on how hard, how often, and how long you do your cardio.  Below you will find some tips on how to get the fat burning process underway:

Tip 1: CHANGE UP YOUR CARDIO ROUTINE:  Don’t get into that “30 minutes on the elliptical trainer” routine.  Use different machines and different activities.  The different exercises utilize different muscles, targeting the ones that the other machine fails to strengthen.  With running (which I do often) I change up my runs.  One day I run slower, but for a greater distance.  Another day I run shorter distance with greater speed.  My last running day I go at a comfortable pace and do speed intervals throughout the run.   If you are a gym rat…select different cardio activities.  One day try a cycling class, another day walk uphill, another day a kickboxing class.  Change up your routine. 

Tip 2:  INCORPORATE BURSTS OF SPEED:  A simple way to burn extra calories while doing cardio, is to pick up your pace for 20-30 seconds.  No matter what activity you are participating in, you can do this simple modification.  For example, when I run, I pick up the pace during the chorus of the song I’m hearing.  This is a great way to work in those bursts of speed.  If you are on a machine, put the resistance up on the machine and give it all you go for a good 20-30 seconds. 

Tip 3: TRY AN OUTDOOR ACTIVITY:  Cardio does not need to be completed indoors.  I was actually blown away at what a great workout tennis and basketball can really be!  Am I good at either of the forementioned activities???  NO WAY!  I just run around for the ball as much as possible and try my best to get a hit or basket from time to time.  Swimming, bicycle riding, or even outdoor running/hiking are great too. 

Tip 4: WORKOUT WITH A FRIEND: Everyone comes across a day where getting done with your workout is the only thing on your mind.  The days you feel lazy, tired, or just plain unmotivated are the days having a workout partner really pays off.  It’s motivating, allows at least one of you to be in the mood to workout (hopefully), and allows the time to pass more quickly.  Meet a friend at the gym, the park, anywhere.  Having another person there to push you is priceless!

Tip 5: MONITOR YOUR HEART RATE: Knowing your target heart rate allows you to get the most out of your fat-burning cardio workout.  To find your target heart rate just do some simple math: 220-(your age) =_____.  Then take your answer from the subtraction problem and multiply it by .75 and .85.  The two numbers you get from the multiplication will tell you the range your heartrate should be in as you do cardio.  This is that fat-burning zone you should try to be in when doing cardio. 

I hope these tips help.  Don’t get stuck in a rut!  I’ve seen so many do the exact same cardio workout day after day!  Even with cycling classes!  Yes, the different instructors are different, but you need to work different muscles.  Don’t be afraid to venture out and try new cardio machines.  Change it up!!!

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Exercise/Workouts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Change Up Your Cardio

cardio2

Cardiovascular fitness is of the utmost importance.  You can lift weights and tone, but if you are not doing at least 2o minutes of cardio, you are not burning as much fat as you could be.  I run often, so the days I run, I run first thing in the morning.  This allows me to burn off the fat, instead of the calories I consumed all throughout the day.    Doing cardio at any time of day is better than doing none, of course.  But, if you do cardio later in the day, you are working off carbohydrates.  Morning cardio allows you to burn stored fat from the get-go, since you haven’t had a day’s worth of food, fat, and calories.  If you can do your cardio in the morning, do it!  However, I  know that for many, the morning is not an option.  If you visit the gym in the afternoon or evening, my suggestion is to do your cardio AFTER you lift your weights.  The reason I do it in this order is because while I’m lifting weights, my heart rate is beginning to increase.  I am already burning some calories and getting my heart pumping.  If I leave cardio for after the weight training, my body will already be in “fat-burning mode”.  Once I hop onto that treadmill, eliptical trainer, or onto that bike for a cycling class, I will be burning fat from minute one.  Cardio sessions should be a minimum of 20 minutes and should be somewhat of a challenge.  Too many times, I see people sitting on a recumbent bike pedaling like if they were strolling through a park.  If you took the time to drive to the gym…MAKE IT WORTH YOUR WHILE!  You should feel your heart rate pick up.  You should be breaking a sweat, you should feel capable of holding a conversation, but not able to sing along to your favorite song on your ipod.  So, next time you hit the gym…visit the section of the gym where the cardio machines are and work up a sweat.  You will see that the weight training will yield better results.  You will drop pounds, see more definition, and feel like you’re in better cardiovascular condition.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Exercise/Workouts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kelly Ripa’s RIPPED!

kellyKelly Ripa does not play when she works out!  Click here to watch the segment on Regis and Kelly, where she played a clip of one of her workouts with her trainer, Keith Byard.  After having three children, she looks better than ever!  I was very impressed by her toned arms in the youtube clip above.  She looks great.  She’s always been criticized for being too thin, but look at her now.  She’s glowing, she’s toned, she’s fit, she’s healthy.  What more could she ask for?  If you take a couple of minutes to watch the clip, you’ll notice that this particular workout utilized absolutely NO gym equipment.  She got a great workout with medicine balls and her own body weight.  Medicine balls are great and can be used for a variety of exercises.  Many of the exercises;however,  require a partner.

She started her workout with, well flexing her biceps to be exact!  But, she follows that with medicine ball chest passes.  These are great to work the triceps, and pretty much the entire arm.  The best part, it’s game of throw and catch!

She ten, would take the medicine ball, and spike it straight down to the floor.  The trainer would then throw it back to her.  This also works the back, shoulders and arms.

After her passes with the medicine ball, she dropped and begain push-ups.  I was impressed with her push-ups!  She has great form and can do tons of them!

Ripa worked legs next.  She did weight-free squats.  She mentioned that she had to do them until her trainer felt she had done enough.  I’m sure she does TONS of them!  She’s in great shape, so if she’s doing them without weight, she is NOT going to do just 15.  Do these until your legs are burning.

Then came my favorite exercise.  She got onto the large stability ball and go in the position to do abs.  Her trainer would throw the medicine ball above her her head, allowing her to catch the ball in the air over her head and going back into a crunch with it.  She then threw it back at him.  This looks tough!

Last but not least, she did lunges out to the side, using the same leg.  She then switched.  By that time, I’m sure she had gotten a great upper body, lower body, and CARDIO workout.  Byard kept her moving the whole time to get that fat burning (although Ripa has no fat!)

After her strength training, she went out to complete the cardio portion of he workout.  She went for a run.  Cardio is extremely important for everyone.  It gets your heart working, fat burning, and keeps you in great physical shape.

RIPA DIET

Ripa eats frequently throughout the day.  She beginw with coffee with half and half, has a sandwich on whole grain bread at around 10am, has a serving or so of almonds and a fruit for her snack, and has salad and veggies for dinner  Sounds like the meal plan I posted towards the beginning of Jauary.

All in all, Ripa looks great.  She quit smoking, and developed a rock-solid body!  She looks great and I’m hoping she will stay motivated.  Impressed that a mother of 3, that works so much, looks so wonderful! Keep it up Ripa!

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Celebrity Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fresh Homemade Non-Spicy Salsa

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I have an exact recipe for this…but it’s always tasty as can be!  This salsa is made from all fresh ingredients from the produce section of the supermarket.  I always make more than I need and store it in an air-tight container.  It’s great to throw on that “I should have used more seasoning” chicken that we make oh-so-quickly after a long day at work.  I pour this concoction over top and it tastes heavenly!  Check out the recipe.  Remember that you can modify it to your taste preferences.  If you love red onion, add more.  If you hate red onion, don’t add any!  This is a simple, basic recipe that can be tweaked as you see fit.

Ingredients:

1 firm red tomato (chopped)

1 green tomato (chopped)

1/2 a red onion (chopped finely)

1 handful of cilantro (chopped)

Juice of 1 lime

About 1 Tbs or so of white vinegar

A drizzle of olive oil

A pinch of Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Optional: A  hot chile pepper would add spice, it tastes great without any heat, but if you must…

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently.  THAT’S IT!  Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  It tastes even better once the ingredients have had time to mingle🙂

Like I said before, I pour this over anything.  I’ve had it over chicken breast, fish, steak, in lettuce leaves (like wraps), with baked pita chips.  It tastes great with anything.  Make a ton and leave it in the fridge.  Enjoy!

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Healthy Eating, Healthy Recipes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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