Roasted Rosemary Cashews. A healthy holiday treat.

Having people over during the holiday season? Need a small homemade gift for friends, co-workers, or hosts?  These roasted rosemary cashews are perfect to have out for snacking along side cocktails and they make a wonderful little treat to wrap up with a sweet note to show your appreciation.  I just love the aroma of rosemary and they taste pretty darn good too! 

I made a couple of batches of this recipe, placed 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of cashews in a bag and tied it up with some red and white bakers twine and a happy holidays note. They looked very cute!

2 lb bag of Raw Cashews 
1/4 Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Rosemary (preferably fresh)
3 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Place cashews on a aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Cashews should be in a single layer, if needed use two cookie sheets. Roast for 8-10 minutes, stirring half way through. While the cashews are roasting, melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan. Lower the heat and add the herbs and spices. Remove cashews from the oven and place cashews in a medium sized bowl. Pour the herbs and coconut over the cashews and stir.  Serve warm, or if you are planning on bagging the cashews let cool and strain the extra oil from bowl. Using a measuring cup place 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup in each bag, tie with baker's twine and share!

Workout Plan for the Week:
(planning is extra important this week to keep stress levels low and ward off that holiday weight gain)
Sunday: 8 mile run
Monday: Shred415 Arms and Abs
Tuesday: Teach Bootcamp
Wednesday: Shred415 Total Body
Thursday: Pilates
Friday: 7 Mile Run
Saturday: Hot Vinyasa Yoga

Shaved Brussels Sprout Kale Pomegranate Salad.

Are you currently planning your holiday meals? I have the perfect salad for you; beautiful and delicious!  I love shaved vegetable salads at restaurants and I have attempted to make the perfect looking one for a long time. I struggle to be able to get the brussels sprouts to look restaurant quality... until now.  So do you use a mandolin, a food processor, or cut by hand? Now I use a mandolin but with a fork to ensure safety:-)

Brussels Sprout Kale Pomegranate Salad

(makes approximately 4-6 servings)
1 bunch of Dinosaur Kale
3 cups Brussels Sprouts
1 Pomegranate worth of arils
Optional: Shaved Pecorino Romano

Champagne Vinaigrette:
4 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small Shallot
Juice of 1 Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

Wash and chop kale into small, thin pieces and set aside in a large salad bowl. Wash and trim brussels sprouts. Place a mandolin on the counter, make sure the surface is stable and place the setting on a medium to small slice.  To use the mandolin on your brussels sprouts, place a fork into the base of the brussels spout and go back and forth to create thinly shaved pieces. Place shaved brussels spouts into the large bowl and add the pomegranate arils.  Blend the vinaigrette ingredients together using your immersion blender. Add the dressing and serve topped with a little bit of pecorino romano cheese.

This salad has great texture; a little bitter, a little sweet, a little crunch, and a lot of goodness.  I think it would look just beautiful on your holiday table!

Workout Plan for the Week:
Sunday: 8.5 mile run in glorious 50 degree Chicago December weather.
Monday: Shred415 Arms and Abs
Tuesday: Teach Bootcamp and Pilates
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: Shred415 Shredded Abs
Friday: Hot Vinyasa Yoga
Saturday: 5 Mile Run

Pilates & O+A

Exciting news! In the new year I am hosting a Pilates class on a Sunday morning to kick off your healthy habits!  Trade in your maybe more routine unhealthy Sunday brunch for some Pilates and juice with me.  Chicago's newest chef-driven juice, smoothie, and bowl shop, Owen + Alchemy will be joining me post class to serve juices and talk all things about cleansing, juicing, using herbs for detoxification and more.  I have been frequenting their shop and find that I can't keep myself away. Their juices tastes wonderful, the aesthetics are amazing and their food has so many nutritional benefits. The staff is very knowledgable and can guide you to not only one that matches your flavor profile but one that satisfies your body's needs.  I would love for you to join me! Space is limited so register soon. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below. You can register by clicking  here.  Hope to see you in January!

The Ins and Outs of Juicing.

Juicing is very "IN" right now and I love it, I consider myself to be a "juicie" for sure (think groupie but for juice :-)). I love to see healthy trends taking over and continuing to pop up, including in grocery stores.  Juicing makes getting the benefits of fruits and vegetables quick and convenient on the go.  Chicago in my opinion has been a little slow to open free standing juice shops but in the past 3-4 months they have been opening.  I was planning a post about Juice shops in Chicago for this week when Williams-Sonoma contacted me to discuss my feeling on juice, what perfect timing. They sent along some questions for a little Q and A and I'm beyond happy to share my thoughts with you, ENJOY!

1.    As a Pilates enthusiast, what are some juicing tips you can give to someone who is also passionate about fitness? Have you juiced before? What was your experience like?

My daily work routine consists of seeing clients back to back for 4-6 hours, with no more than a 2-3 minute break in between each one — which doesn't allow for much time for eating whole meals or snacks.  But juice is quick and provides me with good nutrients, which helps me stay mentally focused  and not distracted due to hunger. If you have a busy schedule like me, juicing at home is a great way to pick your favorite flavor combinations and allows you to add ingredients that accommodate your day to day needs. For example, if you're feeling bloated after a long weekend, add ginger for its detoxifying and digestive aid properties.  I'm someone who does not drink caffeine but I've found that juice, especially green juice, leaves me feeling super energized and refreshed. This is because when you drink green juice, you are flooding your body with chlorophyll, which has been shown to increase red blood cell count, improve circulation, calm inflammation, and oxygenate the body.

2.    Green juices have become very popular along with carrot juices. What are your thoughts on carrot juices? What benefits does carrot juice have to offer? What fruits would you incorporate into a carrot juice recipe, and why?

I have to say I haven't found a juice I don't like — spicy, sweet, they all taste great to me.  Carrot juices are very refreshing and almost feel like a treat with their sweet flavor. Carrots provide many benefits: yes they are higher in sugar than most vegetables but I like to use a small amount for the flavor and also because they are also loaded with vitamins A, C, E, D, K, B1, B6, and the antioxidant beta-carotene (which is great for skin and can lower the risk of coronary artery disease).The recipes below pair carrots with both fruits and other vegetables. I like to choose the pairings based on nutritional benefits but also because of flavor. It has to taste good too!  Here are a few juice recipes using carrots:

Carrot Refresher

1 cup of Carrots
Juice of 1/2 a Lime
1 cup Coconut Water

Root Juice

1 Red Beet
3 large Carrots
1/2 of a red apple
1-2 large stalks Swiss Chard
1 Tbsp size piece of fresh ginger (skin removed)

Carrot Apple Mango and Carrot Juice

3.    Do you prefer fruity juices or veggie juices? Have you ever incorporated any spices or leafy greens into a recipe? If so what have you used and how did it benefit your recipe?

I have to admit I'm pretty into all juices, but most of the time, I lean towards veggie juice.  I find that I choose to eat fruits as snacks more regularly than vegetables.  I typically have a banana in the morning, apple midday, and a side of fruit with lunch. Fruits are just easier for on the go eating than vegetables and I am always craving something sweet! So when I'm picking a juice,  I choose to incorporate more vegetables because it helps me get my servings in earlier in the day and it ensures that I do.  

When it comes to spices I'm a big fan as different spices can offer different health benefits and add interesting flavor. Here's my go to spices and their healthy benefits:

Turmeric:powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Cayenne: anti-cold, digestive aid, and detox support.

Cinnamon: improves circulation, blood sugar regulation and boosts brain function.

Ginger: aids in digestion, circulation, cold and flu prevention, reduce inflammation and strengthens immunity.

Let's get to the Leafy Greens — Swiss Chard, Kale, Spinach and Parsley. I find that most of these don't have too strong of a flavor so when paired with apples, pineapple, coconut water or ginger, the flavor of the fruit or spice takes over and you receive the benefits of the greens without the bitter taste.  For most of my juices, I use greens as the base because they provide the most nutritional benefits with the least amount of sugar.  Give this one a try:-)

Kale Apple Ginger Juice

Check out Williams-Sonoma for information on juicers and for more delicious juice recipes and ideas!