Never Buy Ketchup Again: Here’s a Recipe

Super Easy Ketchup

I’ve been meaning to start making my own condiments for over a year now. It comes down mainly to being able to control what goes into it, as I have some issues surrounding gluten (and gluten free packaged foods are very expensive) and I’m also avoiding hidden sugars. Each tablespoon of ketchup has a teaspoon of sugar in it, so I decided this was a good place to start. This is a combination of some recipes I found online and the ingredient list of my favorite ketchup, Stonewall Kitchen Country Ketchup. (If you do have to buy ketchup, you should buy that kind!)

This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to throw together and then an hour or more simmering. It comes out kind of chunky, which I like, but if you want it smooth you can zip it in the blender or food processor either before you cook it or after it’s cooled. It’s also just a good starting point, so feel free to tinker around with the ingredients and spices. I’m going to try another version this summer with fresh tomatoes when they’re in season and I’ll post that one too.

Ingredients:
12oz (2 little or 1 big can) tomato paste
14.5 oz (1 can) diced tomatoes in juice (I used fire roasted)
1 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar ( I used a combination of red wine and white vinegar)
1/4 cup stevia (you could use honey, agave nectar, or brown sugar, but it’s back to the sugar issue)
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground chiles (optional, I put these in everything I eat)
1/4 teaspoon allspice (every recipe I read had this, but I didn’t so I didn’t use it and it came out fine)

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Use a splatter guard if you have one; once this heats up it spits tomato sauce all over the kitchen. Simmer for an hour or more, stirring periodically. It’s done when it’s the consistency you want it at, which may take up to two hours.

When it cools, get it into a bottle or a jar and refrigerate. It’ll be safe in there for a long time.

Light and Easy Asian Slaw

Here’s a super light, easy, and delicious spring and summer salad perfect for parties, bbqs, or even with quick weeknight dinner. This recipe makes a lot so you might want to cut it in half (or smaller) if you’re serving a small group or don’t want leftovers.

Salad:
1 head Napa (Chinese) Cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup Snow Peas, sliced in a diagonal
1 cup fresh bean sprouts (you have to keep these very cold or they spoil quickly)
1 cup matchstick- cut jicama
1 red (or yellow or orange) bell pepper, sliced thin
4 tablespoons sliced green onions
4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Dressing:
4 tablespoons stevia (or sugar)
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or red wine or cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 clove minced garlic

Dash of ground chiles

Gently toss salad ingredients. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss to coat. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Makes 10 1 cup servings;
Calories 60; Fat 3g; Carbs 8g; Fiber 2g; Protein 2g; Sugars 3g

Goals and Resolutions: Why we Fail and How to Succeed

Goals and Resolutions: Why we Fail and How to Succeed

 Have you ever made a resolution that you didn’t keep? Is it something you’ve tried a few times now? Any idea what went wrong? Have you ever looked at someone who has succeeded and wondered what they did differently?  Do you know what separates the people who achieve the goals they set and those who are stuck in the place of same old hopes and dreams? One word: action. Action is required to create change. And although (I firmly believe) any action is better than no action, smart action is really the way to go.  It was Albert Einstein that defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Ever done that? I have. Now I know better. If you want to create change in your life (keep a resolution or achieve a goal) you need to take action to make that change a reality.

 

3 Steps for Success

 1)  It has to be SMART.

The first thing you need to do is look at the resolution. Is it specific? Measurable? Action oriented? Realistic? Can you break it down into steps you can put in a time frame? Write your resolution down. Tell people, the more the better. This makes it real, gives it life.

2) It needs to be actionable.

The next thing you do is break it into actionable steps. Let me give you an example of the one resolution I failed to act on last year and what I’m going to do differently this year to create success. Last year I decided to switch out the canned beans in my diet for dried ones (a bit healthier and cheaper). It was so simple that I overlooked creating the action plan necessary.  What will I do differently this year?

 Buy the damn beans. I’m going to start with black beans and kidney beans. I’m going to get them by January 3rd. (Specific, action-oriented, and within a time frame).

  • I’m going to cook these beans on January 8th when I’m batch cooking for the week, then freeze them in little containers. I’ll repeat this every week with different kinds until I have a little stockpile going. Since I tend to plan out my meals a week in advance, I can make more or less depending on what I’ll be cooking that week. I’m pretty sure this is going to work. I’ll let you know.

 

3) It must be reassessed often.

Finally, you need to check in with your new habit. Do this weekly at first, then monthly. What’s working? What’s not? It’s better to reassess and make an adjustment than it is to fail miserably and wait a year before thinking about it again (like I did with the beans…). What action steps can you take to make an adjustment? Do you need to call in some reinforcement? If you’re on track what can you focus on next? Write down your focus and keep moving towards your goals. Enjoy the journey….

 Remember, and this is super important—write your goals down, and tell people. If you don’t, you’re making it easy to fail yourself. Feel free to start by sharing your goals and resolutions with me… I love to hear from you! When you know the first action step towards your resolution, do it right away. Why wait? And if you need any help, let me know.

The Travel 300: A Workout You Can Do Anywhere

The Travel 300 Workout

 

Stay Fit and Blow Off Some Steam ANYWHERE

Have you ever looked at your weekly calendar in despair, scanning for some time, any time, to get that quick workout in? When you factor in the commute to and from the gym it can be enough to turn your schedule against you. What if you’re traveling for work, on a vacation or visiting relatives? No space or equipment? No problem. This Travel 300 requires a space no bigger than the footprint of a twin bed and the only equipment you need is your body and gravity (excellent if you’re stuck in an elevator or jail cell).

 

Get it Done

The Travel 300 is an equipment free workout designed to get you moving and work your muscles. It’s not ideal on its own for prolonged periods of time, but it is a great supplement to a good program. Within the context of desperate times calling for desperate measures, I’m an advocate for the idea that some is better than none. The Travel 300 is definitely some, and it gets it DONE.

 

Keeping it Simple

This workout is comprised of 3 simple exercises. All you have to do is run through the 3 exercises without resting in between, then rest 15 seconds. Repeat that 10 times. Three exercises, 10 reps each, 10 sets = 300. Done. Here they are:

  1. High Plank to Low Plank
  2. Bird Dog Back Extension
  3. Burpees (with a pushup and a jump squat)

 

Breaking it Down

To break it down a little further, here’s some instruction on each exercise (I know many of you know all three of these…)

  1. High Plank to Low Plank:  Hold your body in a straight line in pushup position, with your weight on your hands and toes (or knees, to modify intensity), elbows directly below the shoulder joint, your eyes looking at the floor and your bellybutton pulled in. Lower yourself onto your forearms, pause, then press back up to your hands. Keep your hips and shoulders as level as possible through the movement.
  2. Bird Dog Back Extension: This starts on your hands and knees, with your knees stacked below your hips and your wrists under your elbows under your shoulders. Lift and lengthen your left arm so you’re pointing straight ahead, lift and lengthen your right leg so it’s pointed back. You’re balanced on one knee and the opposite hand. Stay as stable and level as possible while you alternate sides. That’s one.
  3. Burpee: This is the nickname for a squat thrust. Start standing, and bend down to touch the floor with your hands. Jump your feet back so you’re in a pushup position, DO a pushup, jump your feet forward, and jump up to a standing position, squatting after you land. That’s one.

 

If you keep moving with minimal rest, this workout should come in under 30 minutes. If you need pictures or video, let me know and I’ll get something up!

You- 1, Halloween Candy- 0: 5 Ways to Keep it Real at the Battle of Halloween

Sugar Wars

What’s the scariest holiday I know?  It’s Halloween, and for reasons other than zombies and clowns. It’s the candy—it’s everywhere, and not only that, but it’s in those tiny little packages that say “I’m so small, what harm can I do?”

 Actually, candy says much more than that to me. Those of you that know me know I’m a crazy-eyed candy freak. Or more accurately, I can become one if I don’t have a plan of attack. One year on The Night Ride (a cycling event) with my friend Suzanne, one of the “pit stops” had a disco party with music, dancing, and tons of candy everywhere. Struck by surprise, I dug in. I remember Suzanne saying “I’ve never seen anyone eat that much candy in my life.” It’s that bad. Or the time my husband, Shawn, told the entire boot camp group I was teaching that he went to work one night and came home to find me asleep in bed surrounded by tiny candy wrappers.

 We all have weaknesses and nobody’s perfect. If we acknowledge our minor transgressions we can learn from them and move on. I don’t eat much candy these days— it’s simply not a healthy choice and it doesn’t serve us in any way. In fact, after 10 years in the fitness profession, I can tell you that sugar and alcohol are, hands down, the two factors most likely to derail a person from their weight loss program.

 As with anything in life, you have to have a plan to achieve success, and that means also having a “Plan B” for when you face the unexpected. What kind of planning can you do to make sure you don’t go overboard at Halloween? I’ve heard a lot of ideas about this, mostly from people who just don’t get it. What I can give you (having learned the hard way) is a few tips that actually do work. Try them all or just the ones that sound best to you. Let me know how it goes.

 

#1. Give your Favorites the Immunity Idol:

That’s right, don’t forsake your favorites. Pick the ones you love the best and set a limit. This year for sure I’ll have a couple Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and some M+Ms. They’re a treat. Set your limit and stick to it. If you skip it all you may break down later. Just have what you like best and forget the rest—it’s not worth it.

#2. Try Kid-Cool Candy Alternatives:

If you can keep candy out of your house entirely, choose some prizes that kids actually love (just don’t be that asshole passing out stale raisins). A few things kids actually love:

  • Silly Bandz (these have been outlawed at most schools but kids still love them at home)
  • Chinese Erasers
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Pre-pasted Toothbrushes (kids love those little Wisp brushes)
  • Granola Bars

All of these items can be found at your local “big” store—most can even be found at smaller grocery stores like New Seasons. And in honor of sustainability, try to make it something that’s useful, not just plastic junk that’ll go in the trash.

 #3. If you Must Buy Candy to Pass Out, Choose a Kind you Don’t Like:

Forget temptation. Leave it at the door. If you love chocolate, buy those nasty little lollipops or gummy bears (this works great for me, I’d never bother to put anything like this in my mouth). If it’s jelly beans for you, give out junior mints. There’s nothing worse than being left with a shitload of your favorite candy (it talks, remember?) Why torture yourself? When I was growing up, we didn’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters. Every year though, without fail, my mother would buy a big bag of mini Snickers and one of M+Ms. She’d leave the front light on until about 630, then she’d shut it off, say “Well I guess that’s it” and proceed to dig in. Don’t plan ahead to buy extra candy for yourself. Don’t buy candy for your “family.” That’s the mindset of a person who doesn’t want to succeed, not you.

 #4. Reward yourself for Sticking to the Plan:

It is bribery and it does work. Plan a reward for sticking to the script: clothes or accessories, a new fitness gadget or equipment, new music or a trip. Let the reward be worthy of the effort. I have monthly rewards that are smaller than my quarterly rewards. If you want to roll staying healthy this Halloween into an even greater goal, the reward might be bigger.

 #5. Carry your Internal Motivation with you at All Times:

Bribery is external motivation—it works, but only goes so far. To maintain long-term focus, you need to look within. Why are you making this effort to stay healthy? What compelling reasons do you have to stay at it? Dig deep. For me, everything in my life is better when I’m feeling my best. To be fit enough to do any activity that comes my way, to have confidence that carries over to every other area of my life… I could go on and on. What drives me is the desire to help people realize how much they’re capable of, how good they can feel, and for me to do that I need to be at my best all the time. So thank you—you guys help me stay motivated. To take that internal motivation a step further, write your compelling reason on a note card and stick it in your wallet. Take it out and look at it any time you feel your motivation waning. My card says “Lead by example.” It helps to keep me focused. When you make your card, tell me what it says.

 The key to maintaining focus with your goals is finding what works for you, making a plan, and sticking to it. You can keep the sugar zombies at bay this year by making a pre-emptive strike and implementing a few of the above strategies. Got any other great ideas that work for you? Please share—you know some of us need all the help we can get. Have a safe and happy Halloween.

 Big Big Love,

~Kathy