Make Your Own Healthy Ice Cream

Choco PB Banana Ice Cream 1

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, but I had to share this one because I LOVE Ice Cream. I know most diets out there don’t allow you to have ice cream on a regular basis, mostly because it is high in fat and sugar. Fear not, because I have found the recipe to help your ice cream craving. Although you may not believe me, this ice cream actually tastes really good, and just like any ice cream sundae, you can add whatever ingredients and toppings you want to make it your own.

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream
INGREDIENTS:
Makes 1-2 servings
2 Chopped Frozen bananas
1/4 cup of milk (skim, almond, or soy)
1 scoop of Chocolate Protein

(Optional Ingredients:)
1 tsp. of Natural Peanut Butter
Banana Chips

Choco PB Banana Ice Cream 2

DIRECTIONS:
1. Peel, cut, and freeze 2 bananas in a zip lock bag.
2. Once the bananas are frozen (at least a few hours), place the bananas in a food processor or blender.
3. Add a splash of milk. DO NOT add all of the milk at once.
4. Blend the bananas and milk, slowly adding the rest of the milk in as you continue to blend and obtain the desired consistency.
5. Add and blend 1 scoop of Chocolate Protein Powder. Mix well.
6. Scoop Ice cream out into a bowl and add any extra ingredients. I added a peanut butter drizzle and banana chips on top.
7. ENJOY!!!

TIPS:
1. Chopping the bananas into smaller pieces makes the blending process a lot easier. Blending a whole frozen banana can be much more of a hassle.
2. It is important to add the milk in slowly. If you put it all in at once, you can easily make a mess… Trust me.
3. The 1/4 cup of milk measure measurement is an estimate, but usually I just eyeball it. Sometimes I use more and sometimes I use less. The less milk you add, the thinker the ice cream will be.
4. You may have to use a spoon to mix the ingredients around in between blending. Because the ice cream is thick, it can stick to the side of the food processor/blender. Just push the mixture back down toward the blade while the machine is off and then blend again.
3. If you make too much, put the rest in the freezer, and enjoy it at a different time. If you save any in the freezer, however, you may need to let the ice cream thaw for a little before you get the right consistency back.
4. This recipe can be altered to make many different flavors and varieties of ice cream. Try adding different toppings like cashews or coconuts flakes, or even try adding frozen fruit into the mix or changing up the flavor protein powder that you use. BE CREATIVE!!!

Do you like this recipe? Do you have any creative ingredients you add to make your own unique Ice Cream concoction? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, and ideas for new topics.

Feature Friday: Jen Piccolo

Jen Piccolo 2

First name: Jen
Last name: Piccolo
City: Wolcott
State: Connecticut
Age: 23
Height: 5’3″
Weight: I choose not to share my weight on any of my social media platforms. I’m a big advocate of self love and not letting the scale determine your worth. I want to inspire people, young girls especially, to focus on the healthy, not the skinny.

Follow Her:
Twitter: @JenTheFitFoodie
Instagram: @JenTheFitFoodie
Youtube: Youtube.com/IAmJenPiccolo
Website: www.JenTheFitFoodie.Blogspot.com

Jen Piccolo 1

When did you start working out?:
I started working out in 2009, right after I graduated high school. That’s when I decided to make a lifestyle change and start living healthier.

How many days a week do you work out?:
I workout 6 days a week. I have 1 active rest day where I typically practice yoga or go for a hike.

How long is your average workout?:
My workouts range from 45-60 minutes.

Favorite muscles to exercise:
I love to exercise my arms! I’m actually really proud of them. When I was at my heaviest weight I absolutely hated my arms. I would never wear anything that was sleeveless or showed anything more than my forearm. Now my arms are my favorite body part! They have definition to them now and I definitely have a lot more upper body strength. I do various arm exercises utilizing light weights and high repetitions.

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
Two words. Leg Day. haha. I’d say its a love/hate relationship.

Jen Piccolo 3

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
I would like to lose more body fat and continue to improve my strength while building lean muscle.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
I absolutely love Daniel and Kelly who run FitnessBlender.com. They provide free at home workouts for every fitness level. They advocate clean eating and exercise. They do not use supplements or endorse any products, which I think is awesome. Their main goal is to show you that all you need to change your body is a clean diet and exercise.

I also really admire Karena and Katrina who run ToneItUp.com. They upload free workouts to their youtube channel and post weekly workout schedules for you to follow. They also offer a nutrition plan!

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
I have actually been following celebrity trainer, Chris Powell’s, carb cycling plan. I eat 5 meals a day and alternate between low and high carb days. I typically stick to lean meats, tons of fresh veggies, and healthy fats. I do my best to choose things that are minimally processed. I have one treat meal a week… and it’s always Mexican food! My absolute favorite!

Jen Piccolo 4

You have made a huge transformation in the past few years. How long did it take and how much weight did you lose?:
I have lost 70 pounds. It took me a little bit over a year to lose the weight. Since I lost the initial 70 pounds I have just been working on building lean muscle and dropping more fat.

Do you think diet or exercise played a bigger role in your weight loss journey?:
Although both play a huge part in living a healthy lifestyle, I would say diet played a bigger role. I’m a firm believer that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. I’m actually proof of that. I was a competitive dancer growing up. It was a great form of exercise. However, I had a poor diet and large calorie intake so I was always overweight.

What is one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your transformation?:
I wish I knew more about “clean eating”. When I first started losing weight I did it by counting calories. It would have been a lot easier for me to just cut out the processed garbage and focus on eating nutritious foods!

How did/do you stay motivated?:
When Im not feeling motivated I look at old pictures of myself. By doing so I can really see how much I have changed. I realize how much I enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. I love feeling healthy, strong, and confident; I want to keep it that way!

Jen Piccolo 5

What is your favorite cheat meal?:
As I already mentioned, Mexican food! I love fajitas and beef burritos. And churros. I really love churros.

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
I always love HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). They are quick, effective, and perfect when you’re short on time.

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
My tip would be to stay consistent. Make small changes over time and stay consistent with them. Integrate them into your lifestyle. Don’t change your diet so drastically or you’ll never stick to it.

Do you have any other things you would like to say?(Comments, suggestions, etc)?:
I have lost 70 pounds without a gym! You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership to get fit. There are so many great platforms to obtain free workout plans. Utilize whats already out there and invest in some free weights!

Did you like this week’s Feature Friday, Jen Piccolo? Would you or someone you know liked to be featured? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.

Oatmeal Energy Breakfast

Recently people have been asking me to post my meal plan on here for them to follow. I would really love to do that, but I honestly don’t follow a strict diet plan. I eat things that I know I like and that I know are healthy for me. I don’t count calories, I don’t even count my macronutrients, instead I eat what I think my body needs.

This meal is one I like to have in the morning when I know I have a big day ahead of me. It gives me a nice energy boost and keeps me full for a few hours.

PB Oatmeal

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of rolled oats
3/4 cup of Skim Milk
Dash of Cinnamon
1 tsp of Peanut Butter
1/2 tsp of coconut oil

Instructions:
1. Put 1/2 cup of oats and 3/4 cups of skim milk in a bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes
2. Stir the oats and milk and microwave again for an additional 45 seconds.
3. Let the oatmeal sit for 2 minutes.
4. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir in a few dashes of cinnamon, 1 tsp of peanut butter, and 1/2 tsp of coconut oil.

Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 275
Total Fat: 8g (3g of saturated fat)
Carbs: 38g
Protein: 13g
Fiber: 4.5g

Tips:
1. Sometimes I like to stir in a few Tbsp of non dairy vanilla coffee creamer to add to the taste, or I may stir in a scoop of vanilla protein powder. If I do stir in protein powder, I usually add a little more milk to get the consistency I like. If you do add protein powder, make sure the oatmeal cools before you add in the protein, otherwise the protein can denature making it less effective.

Do you have any healthy recipes you would like to share? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

Coconut Turkey Bacon

It may sound weird to some of you, but I promise that it is delicious. If you like Coconut and you like Turkey Bacon, then you will LOVE this recipe. I will admit right now, it is not the healthiest snack you can have, but can make for a nice treat once when you are really craving something both sweet and savory.

Coconut Turkey Bacon

Ingredients:
8 Turkey Bacon Strips
3 oz. of Shredded Coconut
2 tbsp. of Coconut Oil
1 egg

Directions:
1. Crack 1 egg in a bowl and stir with a whisk or fork.
2. Place the shredded coconut on a large plate and spread it out evenly.
3. Oil a frying pan using 2 tbsp. of coconut oil and put the frying pan on the stove top at low-medium heat.
4. Coat one strip of turkey bacon at a time with the egg that was mixed in the bowl. This can easily be done by dipping the entire turkey bacon strip in the bowl.
5. Place the coated turkey bacon strip on the plate with the shredded coconut. Coat the strip on both sides with shredded coconut.
6. Place the turkey bacon strip on the frying pan and let it sit for about 1 minute. After one minute, flip the turkey bacon strip and cook for an additional minute. The reason we do not fry the bacon for too long is because the coconut will easily blacken if cooked too long. We want the coconut to be golden brown.
7. Remove the strip from the frying pan and place it on a plate that is covered by a paper towel.
8. Continue the process from step 4-7 for the other 7 pieces of turkey bacon. Once you have finished cooking all of the pieces, you should have 8 coconut coated, turkey bacon strips on one plate.
9. Place a paper towel over the turkey bacon and put the plate in the microwave. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes or until the turkey bacon has a consistency you like.
10. Let the plate cool and ENJOY!

Do you like this recipe? Do you have any recipes you would like to share? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs

Let me be the first to say that I am not a great cook. I have a really bad habit of over cooking food, I don’t usually know what spices go well in what recipes, and I tend to ‘eyeball’ measurements incorrectly. With this said, my turkey meatball recipe is really easy and it makes a pretty tasty and healthy meal. This recipe makes 12-15 meatballs.

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs 1

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs 2

Cranberry Meatballs:
Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb of extra lean ground turkey
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 egg
1 egg white
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
Pinch of Salt

(Optional Ingredients)
4 TBSP of Parmesan Cheese
Shaved Carrots
Dash of Rosemary

Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a large pan with olive oil or cooking spray, and place it in the oven while preheating.
2. Quickly dice the dried cranberries on a cutting board.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, oats, egg, egg white, cranberries, and any other optional ingredients.
4. Using your hands, or an ice cream scoop if possible, form the meat into golf ball sized meatballs (about 1-1.5 inches in diameter). Place the meatballs about 1 inch apart on the pan.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn them over, and continue baking for 5-8 more minutes. The meatballs should look light brown on the outside. Cut into one meatball to make sure they have been cooked entirely through.
6. Let the meatballs cool and serve with vegetables, pasta, or any way you would like it.

Tip:
– I like to double the batch and save the meatballs for my meals for the week. The cranberries make the meatballs a little sweet, so when I reheat them, I like to rub a tiny bit of coconut oil on the outsides of the meatballs and heat them up in the microwave or oven. I usually have about 5-6 meatballs with a side of vegetables (asparagus or green beans with a little coconut oil are my favorites to have with these meatballs).

Let me know if you like this recipe. Do you have any healthy recipes you would like to share? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, and ideas for future topics.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

goodandbadcarbs
I think most of us have heard the terms ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’ before, but do we actually know what they mean. To make it as simple as possible, ‘Good Carbs’ come from foods that also have a good source of fiber. For example, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc. ‘Bad Carbs’ come from foods with little to no fiber content, such as white bread, white rice, etc. Fiber allows the body to slowly digest the carbs that we consume which leads to more stable blood sugar. If we eat food high in carbs and low in fiber, we quickly digest the carbs which then causes spikes in our blood pressure.
One other major thing to understand about good carbs and bad carbs is the composition of the carbs themselves. When carbs are digested, they are broken down into glucose (sugar) which the body needs for energy. During digestion, the body will break down any carb it is given into glucose; however, because of the fiber and other nutritional value with good carbs, the body is taking in more than just glucose. With bad carbs, the body is only quickly converting the carbs to glucose with no other vitamins or minerals to digest; therefore the calories being consumed can be considered ’empty’ calories and not beneficial.

The moral of the story is:
1. Stay away from foods high in carbs, but low in fiber.
2. It is healthy to eat ‘good carbs’ (aka. foods with vitamins, minerals, and fiber)

I hope this article helped. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or ideas for other blog post, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com .

Bruschetta Spinach Omelette

Bruchetta Spinach Omelette

This omelette is not only a delicious breakfast, but it also is a great meal for any time of day. For anybody out there on a low carb diet, you need to try omelette recipes like this! The entire omelette has less than 5g of carbs, about 20g of protein, and a good amount of healthy fats (which you need on any diet!). Another reason I love this meal is because it takes only a few minutes to make. All you need to make this is 1 egg mixed with 2 egg whites, 1 cup of spinach, 2 tbsp of Parmesan Cheese, and a half cup of Bruschetta (plum tomatoes, garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and other spices depending on what recipe you may try). Mix the egg and egg whites in a bowl and cook in a pan. Once most of the egg is cooked, flip the omelette over and add the spinach and cheese on top. Fold the omelette over and finish cooking until the omelette in golden. Place on a plate and add the bruschetta on top. Thats it! Try it out and let me know what you think!

Like this recipe? Have any you would like to share? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

A Better Way To Eat Almonds

Did you Know…

You can get more out of your almonds by soaking them in water.

Almonds are one of my go to foods to snack on because they are high in protein, fatty acids, omega-3 and fiber. Almonds are also considered a Superfood because of the high levels of Vitamin E, Antioxidants, and they help curve your hunger. After doing some research I found out that soaking almonds actually helps you absorb more of the nutrients the almonds have to offer, but how?

Almonds2

The brown skin on an almond protects it until the correct levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Because of this, eating an almond without allowing it to get proper moisture makes it harder to digest. When the almond is soaked; however, the outer brown skin is penetrated and the almond releases enzymes. When eating an almond that has been allowed to take in such moisture, you are able to digest the almond more efficiently and absorb the healthy nutrients the almond has to offer.

How to soak an Almond:
This is very easy. It is recommended to put the almonds in a bowl of purified water. Cover the almonds with 2 cups of water per 1/2 cup of almonds. Soak the almonds in the bowl overnight (10-12 hours). After the 10-12 hours, drain the almonds and eat or store them. You can store the almonds in the refrigerator for about one week. The almonds are soft, sweet, and they taste great!

Apparently, if you would like to sprout your almonds, simply soak you almonds overnight and place them in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. After a few days, the almonds should begin to sprout (about 1/8-inch sprout should show). A sprouted almond can be more beneficial than a soaked almond because they are easier to digest and they also release lipase (an enzyme that helps digest fat). I have not tried this, but would like to very soon. If you have, please let me know what you think!

Do you like this post? Do you have any other ideas for posts? If you have any questions or comments please email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com!

Men Need Zinc!

fit man

I was confused at first as to why men needed higher amounts of zinc than women. I honestly didn’t even really know what Zinc did for your body. Here is what I found:

HOW MUCH DO WE NEED:
The recommended amount of Zinc for the average male is 11mg per day and the recommended amount of Zinc for the average non-pregnant or breast-feeding female is 8mg per day. Males need more Zinc than females not only because they generally have larger bodies, but a sexual active male also looses zinc through ejaculations.

WHY DO WE NEED IT:
Again, I knew that Zinc was important, but I had no idea why we needed it. After researching I realized that Zinc is actually quite crucial for your health and well-being! Zinc is found in almost every cell in your body. It helps activate the enzymes that improve your metabolism, fight off infection, improve the strength and complexion of your skin, and play an important part in reproduction. If you do not have enough Zinc in your diet, you may experience fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, and many other unfortunate symptoms.

steak

WHERE CAN WE GET IT:
As I said in an earlier post, most nutritionists suggest getting your nutrients from food rather than supplements. Zinc can be found in many foods such as oysters, red meats, fortified cereals, peanuts, some seeds, dark chocolate, and many other foods. If you believe you are not getting enough Zinc in your diet, consider taking a zinc supplement to try and reach the 11mg per day.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH:
Be careful!!! Zinc is one of those nutrients that you can overdose on! It is suggested to have no more than 40mg of Zinc a day. If you end up going over the 40mg recommendation, many side effects can occur. Some side effects include headache, dizziness, and loss of muscle coordination, nausea, loss of appetite. Too much Zinc also can lead to anemia because zinc interferes with the absorption of iron and copper.

Do you think you are getting enough Zinc in your diet? Do you take a Multivitamin or Zinc Supplement? Do you have any other questions for me? Contact me at Corestrengthalec@gmail.com!

Book Review: Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual

Michael Pollan Food Rules

Because I am considering going into the health and fitness field as my career, and because this blog is getting a lot of views, I thought I should try to start really researching more into Health and Nutrition. A friend of mine on the tour recently lent me this book called Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan. Featured at #1 on the New York Times BestSeller list, this book shares basic rules and guidelines for making better choices while eating.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to improve his/her diet. Now I will be completely honest, I am NOT a reader. I have the hardest time focusing while reading, but with this book, it was so easy to get through (Besides, it is only 139 pages, some of which only have a few sentences on the them). Even though this book may be short, it provides 64 general rules that help you make better food choices and help improve your eating habits.

I don’t want to give too much away in my review because I want you to go buy this book and read it yourself, but from what I took away, Michael Pollan suggests many beliefs of those who may follow a Paleo diet (The same diet Tony Grecco, my last Feature Friday Inspirtation, tries to follow). While reading, he frequently points out his golden rule to eating: Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants. It sounds very easy, but he goes into much further detail on what this saying actually means, and how to follow this eating habit. Now from the saying, you may be thinking, “Oh, he is suggesting that I become a Vegetarian or a Vegan,” but fortunately he is not saying that at all! I love the fact that he is pro-omnivore! He tells you to eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. The rules are not aimed toward changing what foods you eat necessarily, but rather toward opening up your mind and observing what you eat. When you observe what you eat, when you are more knowledgable of how the food gets from the farm to your table, and when you are aware of how you are actually consuming your food, that is when you may actually question and consider changing your eating habits.

Heart Healthy

For the three sections of his golden rule, Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants, Michael Pollan gives a set of guidelines in order to help you follow these three steps. He knows that following every rule and guideline he suggests can be hard and a huge change from what you are used to, so he openly suggests picking at least one rule from each section and practicing those in your daily life. For example, the rules I would like to try to follow are:

    Eat Food – It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car AND Avoid foods that have some sort of sugar listed among the top three ingredients
    Mostly Plants – Drink the Spinach Water
    Not too much – The banquet is the first bite

I am not going to explain exactly what these rules mean and how to follow them since I want you to go get the book, but just by reading about how these rules work, and applying them to my diet, I hope to start eating healthier and smarter. I recommend you find which rules you are willing to try out. Some may sound farfetched or too hard to do, but I can guarantee you that you will be able to find some rules that you would like to try. He makes some excellent points and backs up most of his guidelines with reasonings that should hopefully help you better understand the importance and benefit of each rule.

Now go out there and purchase Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan if you would like to start changing some of your eating habits! If you have any questions about this book or my review, please feel free to email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.