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Get your Body Prepared for the Holiday So It Keeps Working As You Keep Drinking

June 29th, 2015 No Comments

(Photo by Kelly Fajak) 

Holidays seem to be relaxing for our heads, but not really for our bodies. Yes, we decrease the physical exercise, but at the same time we intentionally increase the caloric intake.  Laying out on the beach, we absolutely need a margarita in hand.  The hot weather insists on cold beer.  How could we not eat burgers at a pool party?  And yes, I’d like cheese on that.

So while we’re not holding on to a ton of guilt, we’re demanding our bodies work overtime to allow us to relax.

You might think I’m going to tell you NOT to do any of those things.  You would be wrong.  I’ll be right there with you pouring the tequila and making patties.

So our plan should be to get our metabolism in gear before the festivities begin.

Here is the plan of attack:

1.  HITT – High Intensity Interval Training.

Taking your heart rate to its max and then dropping it down again.  You can do this in so many way: spin class, boot camp, boxing, circuit training, running up a hill, etc.

It’s not easy, but it’s effective in spiking your metabolism.

FullSizeRender

2.  Keep Eating!

To prep for days in bathing suits, we usually starve ourself.  Bad idea.  If you stop eating now, your metabolism will slow down.  When it’s hit with the onslaught of goodies, it won’t be prepared.

Keep it moving at regular pace by eating 5 small meals a day.  Each including protein, carbs, and fat.

3.  Drink lots of water.

Sunshine and booze are satisfying and depleting at the same time.  Hydrate your body now!

The additional water will help control your portion control at meals as well.

4.  Plan ahead.

Plan one day when you will exercise.  Make it your favorite workout so you’ll want to do it.  You don’t have to make it a killer workout, just one to keep everything in motion.

I promise you now, you will feel AMAZING after you’re done.

A few of my vacation workouts here:

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Make the best guac ever

June 25th, 2015 No Comments

Mary Rambin Guacamole

Coming from Texas, I hold a very high standard for fresh guacamole.  At this point, I think I’ve perfected my recipe.  Honestly it’s not much of a recipe, but each component is important.

1.  Ripe Avocados

Since avocados ripen from the inside out, you’ll know it’s ready to go when the point farthest from the core is soft.

At home, cut them down the center and cut into cubes.  Do not stir the guac at all until every component is in the bowl.

2.  Cherry Tomatos

Small tomatoes have a lot more flesh and  less liquid and seeds that you would have to clean out of larger tomatoes.

3.  Sweet Onions

Most people use white onions and they dominate the dip.  A milder onion has proven to keep the bite but not distract you from the avocado.

Chop them up small and remember less is more.

4.  Garlic

You don’t need much, just a clove or two depending on how much you’re making.

5.  Cilantro and Lime

Yes, you need them both.  I cut the leaves of the cilantro in half.  Cut the lime in half and just squeeze half.  Add more to taste from there.

4.  Make Your Own Chips

This might be the most important step!

In a large pan, heat up canola or EVOO, to the point that if you splash water on it, the oil sizzles.  While it’s heating, cut up flour and corn tortillas into strips or triangles. Lay out some paper towels and put some sea salt in a bowl.

Fry up the chips, turning them only once so they’re brown on both sides.  Remove from oil and lay them in a single layer on the towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Test out one chip from your first batch to make sure they’re fully cooked and not chewy.  When they’re cool, place in separate bowls if you’re doing corn and flour.

Here’s a shot of the last batch I made for fight night at Kitty’s house. Six people ate the whole bowl!

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A guide to restaurants in West LA (Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu)

June 12th, 2015 No Comments


When summer hits, so do the requests for best restaurants to visit while you’re in Los Angeles.  I don’t know much about the new places east of the 405 (Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Downtown) anymore, but I have a handle on what’s happening on my side of town, west of the 405.

Below you’ll find restaurants and hangouts you should visit that are unique to this area.  There are tons of other great places, but if you only have half a day or a weekend on the Westside, these are where I would recommend you go.

My list is divided into themes and what each place is renown for…they might be open at other times and offer other things, but I would suggest you go to each spot for it’s specialty.

You’ll find all of these places in these neighborhoods:

  • Montata = Montana Ave in Santa Monica
  • Wilshire = Wilshire Blvd runs from Ocean to the 405
  • Ocean = Ocean Ave to 2nd Street in Santa Monica
  • SOW = South of Wilshire, Main Street to the Ocean
  • Brentwood = San Vicente from 26th to the 405
  • Venice = South of Santa Monica and Abbot Kinney (AK)
  • Malibu = North of Santa Monica

MAKE SURE YOU GOOGLE THE LOCATION AND SEE THE MENU FIRST FOR PRICING.

If you are likely to see a celeb there, I’ll  put a * by the name.

via @AlfredCoffee

Coffee

  • Primo Passo (Montana) Best Americano
  • Demitasse (Wilshire and 3rd) Best cappuccino and latte
  • Cafe Luxxe* (Brentwood)
  • Alfred (Brentwood)
  • Intelligencia* (Venice, AK) Best cappuccino and latte
  • Blue Bottle (Venice, AK) Best cappuccino
  • GTA – Gjelina Take Away (Venice, AK) Best nut milk cappuccino

via @KreationJuice

Juice Bars

  • Kreation (Montana and Venice AK)
  • Juice Crafters (Brentwood)
  • Moon Juice (Venice)

@Malibu.Farm

Breakfast

  • Gjelina* (Venice AK) – my favorite in town, sit on back patio
  • Kreation Kafe* (Montana and Venice AK) – omelettes, fresh juice bar, smoothies
  • Huckleberry (Wilshire) – farm to table, seasonal cafe
  • Courtyard Kitchen (Montana) – delicious breakfast options
  • Farm Shop* (Brentwood) farm-to-table, seasonal cafe, more expensive
  • Malibu Farm* (Malibu) farm-to-table on the pier

@farmshopla

Lunch

  • Gjelina* (Venice AK)
  • Farmshop* (Brentwood)
  • Gjusta (Venice AK)
  • Kreation (Montana)

via @artstablesm

Dinner Casual

  • R + D Kitchen* (Montana) locals love this bar and restaurant
  • Art’s Table (Montana) Gastro-pub
  • Sugar Fish (Santa Monica and Brentwood) Sushi
  • Father’s Office (Montana) American
  • Mercado (Santa Monica) Modern Mexican
  • Blue Plate Taco (Ocean) Mexican
  • Milo + Olive (Wilshire) Pizza

@Baltaire

Dinner for a Night Out*

(I like sitting at the bar all of these places)

  • Boa (Santa Monica) steakhouse
  • Mastro’s Ocean Club (Santa Monica) steakhouse over the water
  • Nobu (Malibu) Japanese on the water
  • Baltaire (Brentwood) steakhouse
  • Rustic Canyon (Wilshire) farm to table amazing food and wine bar (sit at the bar!)
  • Tasting Kitchen (Venice) farm to table gastro pub
  • Scopa (Venice) farm to table gastro pub
  • Little Door (Brentwood) farm to table french
  • Giorgio Baldi’s* (Ocean) Italian, you need a reservation in advance

 

Bars/Hangouts/Sunsets

If you see a ^ at the end, it’s a good place to watch the sunset.

  • Bungalow at The Fairmont Hotel^ (Wilshire) outdoor club from 5 – 2am
  • R + D Kitchen* (Montana)
  • Brick and Mortar (Santa Monica Main Street) sports bar
  • Sonny McLean’s (Wilshire) sports bar
  • The Lobster^ (Ocean)
  • Harvel’s  (SOW) blues, rock, dancing
  • ShangriLa Roofdeck^ (Ocean)
  • Shore Bar (Ocean) nightclub
  • The bar at Casa Del Mar^ (Ocean)
  • Nobu Bar^ (Malibu)
  • Penthouse Bar at The Huntley Hotel^ (Ocean)

Late Night Grub

  • Swingers (Santa Monica)
  • Iggy’s Diner (Wilshire)

Coming Soon!

  • Red O (Ocean) Mexican
  • Estate (Wilshire @ 16th)
  • Forma (Montana @ 17th)

Stay Away

Restaurants you’ll hear about that you shouldn’t waste your time on.

  • The Ivy at the Shore (Ocean)
  • Water Grill (Ocean)
  • Fig (unless you’re doing the happy hour from 5-6pm) (Wilshire)
  • Feed (Venice)

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the Santa Monica Pier or Third Street Promenade.  Both are nice to see, but I wouldn’t stop to eat while I strolled there.

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My granola recipe

June 11th, 2015 No Comments

My granola company never took off, but I’m still cranking out batches of this stuff and people are always wanting the recipe.

It’s a great summer snack to have in the glovebox instead of bars.  With the nuts and oats, after a handful you’re satisfied until you can get some real food in you.

My recommendation is NOT to mix this with yogurt or milk.  In comparison to other granolas, this blend doesn’t have a lot of sugar, so any addition dilutes the barley-there sweetness.

My Famous Granola

Yields about 9 cups or 3 mason jars.

Preheat oven to 325.

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped almonds seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Parchment Paper
  • Big baking pans with sides (Glass is best, but metal will do)

Additions

Don’t add them altogether, use each bullet as one blend.

  • Dried plums chopped
  • Currants (instead of raisins)
  • Dried Apricot + Hazelnuts
  • Dried and flatted bananas – sliced
  • Pistachios (just the meat)
  • Raw cashews
I didn’t measure any additions.  You just have to make sure not to put in too much.

Cooking

Line the pans with parchment paper and make sure you have two sides long enough to grab.

Total cooking time varies on what kind of pan you use (metal or glass), what size each pan is, and how they’re placed in the oven.  In other words, you just have to watch it for about 45 minutes.
Sit by the oven and stir it about every 10 minutes to avoid the bottom burning.
When it turns golden brown, pull out a spoonful, let it cool, and try it.  If it’s still chewy, put it back in the oven.
You’ll know when it’s done.
Take the parchment paper out of the pans and let the granola cool flat on the table.

Gift It

Pack it up in mason jars or cute bags and gift it to friends, co-workers, teachers.  Use it for party favors. People love it!

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Peachy suggestions for your summer table

May 28th, 2015 No Comments


Peaches, my favorite fruit, are back in season! And while I love to just devour them straight from the fridge, we should have a little patience and incorporate them into some dishes.  A few of my favorites along with other ideas below.  The best thing about peaches, they don’t need much!

  

  • Appetizer: served on toast with salty blue cheese
  • Salad: chopped with arugula, avocado, toasted sliced almonds, and a tangy dressing. Protein of your choice!
  • Dinner: Peach chutney over chicken (Recipe is from Cardamon Hill, AMAZING Indian in Atlanta)
  • Dinner: Grilled with grilled shrimp or PORK CHOP!
  • Dinner: Sautéed with my pork tenderloin
  • Side: Grilled or lightly sautéed with green beans, toss with slivered almonds and sherry vinegar (via bon appetite)
  • Dessert: Don’t fuss over cobbler or pie. Roast sliced peaches with butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, and agave. Served with cashew ice cream, sprinkle sea salt. Or with homemade whippedcream. My easy instructions for both here.

 

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My bikini diet isn’t so bad

May 21st, 2015 No Comments

I’ll be honest with you…I’ve been hiding under slouchy tanks and sweaters since I saw you last.  Thankfully my limbs are pretty lanky so no one can tell what has actually been going on underneath my clothes.  One guy I dated recently called my body soft and I almost started crying…not really, but I complained to my trainer for weeks about it.

In my heart I believe that the extra weight around my tummy has come on because:

  1. I don’t teach as much as I used to (I’m burning about 1000 less calories/wk)
  2. I eat out and drink more than should.  Hey, I’m still single over here.
  3. I’m getting older.  Technically, the body’s metabolism isn’t supposed to slow down until 35, but I’ve always been one to jump the gun.

Instead of FaceTuning all of my photos this summer, I’ve decided to take a little action and get the look and feeling I really want out of my body.

That being said, I hate to diet, so I’m just going to clean up my act.  From my experience, the smallest changes can be the hardest and always pay off the biggest.

Here’s my plan:

1. Eat cleaner.

None of this:

R+D Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Some of this:

Seabass with Mushrooms at Baltaire

More of that:

Roast Deli Brentweod Tuna Salad and Veggies

And of course more cooking at home.  I also want to eat less bars.  As clean as they are these days, there is always more nutritional value and fiber to fill me up in real food.

 2. Exercise with a mission.

I’m strapping my heart rate monitor back on and committing to 600 calories per workout.  Three days in Zone 3, the fat burning zone, and 3 days (7 classes, 600 per class) in Zones 4 – 5. So total, I’m at about 6000 calories for the week.

3. More water during the day.

I don’t know why, but I absolutely hate drinking water.  Unfortunately, I think it’s finally affecting my digestion, if you know what I mean (TMI sorry!).  Arrowhead’s Black Cherry water has been a good way to ease into this new habit.  It’s really flavorful and filling.

4. No wine at night.

Come on, you know you’re with me when I say it’s sooo nice to unwind at the end of the day with a glass of wine. These days, I’ve been unwinding to the tune of 2-3 glasses a night! EEK.

Soooo, instead, I’m going to hit up Kreation daily and pick out ANY juice to drink at dinner.  Yes, they’re loaded with sugar, but they’re alcohol free :)

Last night I only drank half of one juice….and then ate half a cookie.  But I was happy, and I think that’s an important factor when you’re making changes.

Because this diet is not about abstinence, the rule is drinking only on the weekends.

5. In bed by 10:30pm.

More sleep makes your body more efficient and everything somehow becomes easier when your rested. Nothing is more powerful than natural energy.

And ta dahhhhhh!

 

Holiday weekend is the perfect time to start, right?! Who’s with me???

 

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Hands down the best yogurt on the shelf

September 11th, 2014 No Comments

Greek Pastures Yogurt

 

Flying through the Whole Foods in NYC, I did a 180 when I spotted my FAVORITE yogurt on the shelf.  “Greek Pastures” used to be “Atlanta Fresh” so to my knowledge it was only sold there.  Until now!!!! Thankfully when I got back to Los Angeles, my little cups of protein were also stocked up in my local Whole Foods.

Besides tasting like dessert, they’re a healthy choice for  snack:

  • Made in small batches from grass-fed cows
  • 130 calories + 15 g of Protein + 11g of sugar per cup
  • The fresh berries are stewed in just a touch of sugar so there’s no “syrup”

I mix in a little plain yogurt so it’s not so sweet and increases protein.  Raw almonds add crunch and good fat.

My favorite of the flavors is the mixed berry.  Port wine and cherries I’ll eat for dessert :)  Unfortunately they no longer seem to be making Vanilla or Plain or Low-Fat….Check out their website for more info and locations.

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The key to the perfect smoothie

September 5th, 2014 No Comments

smoothie with protein

Ideally a smoothie is packed with nutrients, satisfies our hunger, and tastes great.  So…how do we go about making that happen?  Well, taste is a matter of…taste.  I tend to think if you add a little banana it will be manageable.  In this post, I’m focusing on the other two parts.  However, should you make the smoothie above, I can assure you it’s yummy.

As we learned years ago, each meal and snack needs to have the same number of protein, carbs, and fat to fill us up and keep our metabolism in gear.  (Click here to read about figuring out portions) For my body and activity level that’s:

  • 20-30g of protein
  • 25g carbs
  • 7-10 g of fat
  • About 250-300 calories total

After a workout, we need to get this in our body within 45 minutes.  Honestly, the sooner the better.  It’s also important we feed our body with protein it can easily absorb and dispatch to our muscles asap. A smoothie is our best option!

So let’s break down my smoothie:

Protein: Grass-fed organic whey is 20g of protein. If you ‘re dairy free, look for pea protein and avoid soy.

Carbs:  1/3 of a banana (9g carbs and potassium), a few frozen blueberries (10g carbs and antioxidants), and 1/2 pack of sugar-free Acai (superfood with 2g carbs, 2.5g fat).

Fat: 1/5 Avocado is 4g fat.

You need the fat to satiate your hunger.  It also slows down your digestion so your body has time to absorb the nutrients.  Since I’m incorporating two handfuls of spinach (one veggie serving for the day), I use avocado as my fat source.  Besides the fact it makes the drink super smooth, avocado has also been proven to help your body absorb 200-400% more of the nutrients in vegetables.  Another option is a dollop of coconut oil or flax seed oil.  (I try to stay away from nut butters because I eat almond butter and nuts throughout the day.  They’re really hard to digest and high in calories.)

Now that the nutritional portion is taken care of, I can add on things like glutamine or Philosophie  superfood powders which taste so good on their own.

Vega Protein Performance Pack

If I’m on the run and can’t get home to make a smoothie, I take a Vega Sports Protein Performance pack and a bottle and shake it up with cold water.  Don’t worry, it tastes great!

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