10 Best Oatmeal Recipes

10 Best Oatmeal Recipes

10 Best Oatmeal Recipes

I love oatmeal. I have been known to eat for breakfast (not unusual, I know), for lunch and again for dinner (now getting weird).

While some people order eggs benny while brunching with friends at a restaurant, I will ask for a big ol’ bowl of oatmeal, brown sugar on the side please.

Why am I Team Oatmeal?

Well, first off let’s start with the fibre content. One bowl has about 4 grams per serving, and we should be aiming for 25-30 grams a day.

It is a slow-releasing complex carbohydrate, leaving you fuller for longer – and with the fuel to take you through your morning and last you until lunch.

Oatmeal contains important vitamins and minerals such as iron, thiamine, folic acid, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.

A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast will also help re-stabilize your blood-sugar levels, giving you the energy needed to tackle your busy mornings and help you manage your weight.

Not all oatmeals are created equal, though. The pre-packaged, instant oatmeal packets are filled with sugar and unnecessary chemicals and additives that we just don’t need first thing in the morning.

Don’t be fooled, even the weight-controlled instant oatmeal isn’t that healthy for you.

If time and convenience are the reasons you reach for those handy little packets in the early hours, then allow me to show you how you can make a healthier, cleaner version in just under five minutes – using ingredients that you most likely already have in the cupboard!

best-oatmeal-recipes-Fitness-with-PJ

Steel-Cut Oatmeal Base

I, personally, prefer steel-cut oats because they have a higher protein and fibre count than rolled and quick cooking oats. This recipe I make on a Sunday and it provides me with 4 servings of oatmeal which I then refrigerate and re-heat during the busy work week.

Recipe #1 – the base

1 cup steel-cut oats (I love “Bob’s Red Mill Steel-Cut Oats”)
3-1/2 cups water
dash of unrefined sea salt

Bring water and sea salt to a boil, add oats and gently boil on low heat with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the burner and add the following:

3 tbsp ground flax seed (or you can use bee pollen, salba seed, chia seed, hemp protein)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 tbsp tbsp cinnamon (adjust according to your taste)

Mix the above in with the oatmeal and let it sit until thick and then place in a container and put in the fridge.

This will keep for up to 5-6 days. In the mornings simply spoon a serving into a microwaveable dish (remember, your container is now holding four servings, so simply cut the oatmeal in fours so that you get the appropriate serving amount) and microwave for 1:00.

Add milk, or almond milk until your oatmeal is at the consistency that you like and then put it back in the microwave for another minute. From there you can add any of the following to make your oatmeal even healthier AND tastier:

  • Recipe #2 Apple Walnut Oatmeal
    • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
    • 1/2 diced apple (it’s even better if you microwave the chopped apple in some cinnamon and stevia for 1-2 minutes to soften it)
    • sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top
  • Recipe #3 Banana Bread Oatmeal
    • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
    • 2 chopped dates, or 1 tbsp raisins
    • half of a banana, sliced on top
  • Recipe #4 Blueberry Strawberry Oatmeal Dream
    • 1/2 c fresh or frozen blueberries & 1/2 c sliced strawberries
    • Slivered almonds on top (if you have time, toasted almonds is really good in this)
  • Recipe #5 Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
    • 2 tbsp dried cherries
    • 1 tbsp sugar-free cherry jam
  • Recipe #6 Cranberry Oatmeal
    • 2 tbsp dried or fresh cranberries
    • 1 tbsp walnut pieces
    • a drizzle of honey on the top
    • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • Recipe #7 Super Duper Oatmeal
    • 1/2 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
    • 1 single serving, sugar-free apple sauce container
    • A sprinkle of cinnamon on top
  • Recipe #8 Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
    • a dash of nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or if you have it in the cupboard, 3 tbsp canned pumpkin pie filling
    • 1 tbsp sliced almond (if you have time, toast the almonds – yummy!)
  • Recipe #9 Yogurt Oatmeal (boost the protein and calcium of your oatmeal with these additions)
    • add a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • Recipe #10 Peachy Keen Oatmeal 
    • add some sliced peaches (drained) and sprinkle the top with a bit of nutmeg

 

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Healthy Lunches for You and Your Loved Ones

Healthy Lunches for You and Your Loved Ones

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Whether you have kids that have just headed back to school or you are tired of eating out at the office, brown bagging it is not only cost-effective, it is also a way to control your calories (if you’re trying to lose weight), eat healthier and take charge of what your kids eat during the day.

Healthy Lunches for the whole family

4 Tips to Healthier Lunches for the Whole Family

1) Include more whole foods and less processed foods. Choose lunch items that are high in fibre and nutrients, and low in sodium and sugar.

Take, for example, deli meats. Most deli meats are pumped full of sodium and nitrates. While sodium nitrite does help prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism in humans, it is also used alone or in conjunction as a colour fixative in cured meat and poultry products (bologna, hot dogs, bacon).

During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in meat to form carcinogenic compounds.

It is also suspected that nitrites can combine with amines in the human stomach to form N-nitroso compounds. These compounds are known carcinogens and have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain.

Research in Sweden found that Swedes who ate on average three ounces of processed meat each day had a 15 percent greater chance of developing stomach cancer than those who consumed two ounces or less.

Opt instead for nitrate-free deli meats (ask your deli counter person to point out which brands are nitrate-free AND low in sodium), or better yet, roast a whole chicken or roast beef on Sunday and use that meat throughout the week for sandwiches, wraps and to toss into salads.

2) Be creative.  Your kids will appreciate it if you think outside the brown-bag for their lunches, and if you’re packing for yourself, so will you.

I mean, do you really want another boring old sandwich to look forward to at lunch?

Instead, why don’t you try a fruit and cheese plate, or a pita pocket stuffed with falafel balls and some hummus? Or, how about using last night’s pasta and pack a cold pasta salad with chopped chicken.

Then there’s always bean and cheese tortillas, sushi, homemade soup (or try a low-sodium brand such as “Amy’s”, “Imagine” or “Wolfgang Puck”), or my favourite quick lunch meal of almond butter, topped with no-sugar added jam on Squirrelly bread with some raisins sprinkled on top.

3) Plan ahead. Use Sunday to plan your meals for the week and shop and buy all the groceries that you need so that you have everything on hand when you need them.

I plan all our lunches and dinners on the weekend and prepare as much as I can to give me a head start for the week. For instance, plan to make a stir-fry on Monday night and then use the leftovers in a wrap the next day.

Or, make a large salad that will carry you for the week and just add different toppings and dressings throughout the week to give you a variety of different tastes.

4) Don’t actually use a brown bag.  I know I keep referencing a brown bag, but they rip easily and won’t keep your hot foods warm and your cold foods cool.

Invest in a lunch box with insulation and with different compartments so that foods and beverages can be kept separately.

Also, purchase some small plastic containers (avoiding containers with the numbers 3 or 7 on the bottom – these have been proven to leach chemicals into our foods – yuck!), or glass containers to store each item and a freezer pack to keep the cold foods cold. This will keep your foods both fresh AND safe for lunchtime consumption.

5-Day Sample Menu of Lunches for the Whole Family

*All meals are less than 500 calories

Monday 3oz thinly sliced low-sodium nitrate-free turkey breast on 3 Wasa High-Fibre breads, a lg carrot stick & a ½ red bell pepper sliced & dipped in a ¼ c of hummus. ¾ c of 0% Vanilla Greek yogurt for dessert.
Tuesday Tuna salad sandwich: 3oz of tuna mixed with ½ c 0% fat Greek yogurt, (1) chopped hard boiled egg, 1 tbsp green relish, spread on a whole-wheat tortilla shell (such as “Weight Watcher’s” Whole Grain Wrap) and whatever veggies you want to add. 1 c blueberries for dessert. (if you prefer lower calories & 0 carbs wrap the tuna in butter lettuce instead of a wrap.
Wednesday 2c lentil soup (such as “Imagine” or “Amy’s” brand) & carrot & celery sticks & an apple dipped in 1tbsp of almond butter for dessert
Thursday Baked sweet potatoe with 0% Greek yogurt & a sprinkle of cinnamon & a side spinach salad. Chocolate Coconut “Lara” bar for dessert
Friday Pizza roll-ups: take 1-8” whole wheat tortilla shell, spread with 2 tbsp low sodium pizza sauce, 12 spinach leaves & 3 tbsp partly skin mozza cheese (note: you can also add veggies too). Roll & cut tortilla into 6 pieces. Caesar salad tossed in a home made dressing (I use 0% Greek yogurt for my Caesar dressing) & instead of croutons (which are filled with fat & preservatives) try roasted chickpeas, hemp hearts, or salad crunchies (a mixed nut blend you can buy at most grocery stores).

 

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How Bad Is Movie Popcorn?

How Bad Is Movie Popcorn?

How Bad is Movie Popcorn

Headed to go see one of the latest summer blockbusters? If so, stay away from the concession stand.

Not only are the “snacks” sold at the movie theatre unhealthy, some of them are the equal in calories of what a family of four should be eating for one meal and in fat for a whole day! And all at an 85% mark-up (mooneyland.time.com). Ouch.

how-bad-is-movie-popcorn

Here’s what you are getting yourself into if you order a movie’s most popular snack, popcorn:

Small Popcorn (9 cups)
480 calories
2 g of artery-clogging saturated fat
230 mg of sodium
134 minutes of walking to burn it off

Order the above with extra butter:

670 calories
15 g of saturated fat (3 grams over your recommended daily intake)
186 minutes of walking to burn it off

Regular Popcorn (14 cups)
780 calories
3 g of artery-clogging saturated fat
370 mg of sodium
217 minutes of walking to burn it off

Order the above with extra butter:

1,030 calories
20 g of saturated fat (almost a 100% over your recommended daily intake)
287 minutes of walking to burn it off

Large Popcorn (20 cups)
1,120 calories
5 g of artery-clogging saturated fat
530 mg of sodium (one-quarter of your recommended daily intake of sodium)
312 minutes of walking to burn it off

Order the above with extra butter:
1,440  calories (recommended daily caloric intake for a healthy female)
27 g of saturated fat (2.5 days of your recommended daily intake – in one sitting)
401 minutes of walking to burn it off

My suggestions:

  • Smuggle in your own snacks such as: Lara Bars, homemade trail mix, popcorn you made at home, fruit, water bottles. Preferably foods that you made, so not subbing in crap with more crap – you know what I mean?
  • Don’t buy the snacks. Just don’t buy the shit to begin with.
  • Drink herbal tea. Most of the time it’s boredom (and habit) that makes us snack when we watch a movie. So, replace that with a herbal tea. Sip away and walk out of the theatre less bloated than ever 🙂
  • Eat a balanced meal beforehand. Simple enough. Eliminate the need to snack by having a healthy meal before the movie. Go out for dinner, or have a nice meal at home beforehand.
  • If you crave something sweet, bring a dark chocolate bar with you. I get it, you like to munch while you watch.

 

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Muscle Imbalances and How-To Fix

Muscle Imbalances and How-To Fix

Muscle Imbalances & How to Fix

Muscle imbalances are something that I see a lot of in my business. One shoulder sitting higher than the other, one arm stronger than the other, one leg more dominant than its counterpart.

It’s a common occurrence with the human body, and one that does more harm than good.

Gray Cook, a physical therapist and leader in the field of functional movement (www.graycook.com), claims, “left-to-right asymmetries seem to be the most common problem associated with the risk of injury.”

This holds true for the athlete as well as for us mere mortals working out in the gym.

In addition to contributing to injury, muscle imbalances can also cause day-to-day pain.

For instance, weakness in certain muscles of the abdomen can create back pain because the muscles of the stomach need to be strong to help to support the back. The same holds true with the knee.

If the muscles of the front of the thigh (the quadriceps) are more built up than the muscles at the back of the leg (the hamstrings), then you may be making an appointment with your physiotherapist in the near future.

One tip to remember when training at the gym:

  • When you workout one muscle group, be sure to train the opposite muscle group immediately after.
  • For example, a chest exercise in my gym equates to two back exercises (because most people tend to have poor postures related to daily living), a bicep curl is always followed with a tricep extension, an abdomen crunch with a low back extension, and a quadricep driven exercise is always followed with at least two (and sometimes three) hamstring and glute exercises.

Why so many glute and hamstring exercises, you wonder?

The front muscles of the leg, in most people, usually tend to be stronger – while the poor muscles of the posterior are neglected and left out. This leads to everything from back pain, knee pain, and hip pain, to poor core instability and inefficient knee tracking.

All nasty little things that will put an end to your workout.

Another trick I recommend to offset any imbalances is to train each side of your body individually:

  • Perform your chest press one arm at a time.
  • Use a D-handle for your lat pulldown and work each side independently.
  • Instead of a squat, do a one-legged squat.
  • A hamstring curl becomes a one-legged curl.

One Dumbbell Workout

Give this workout a go to work out any muscle imbalances you might have. All you need is one dumbbell and 30-minutes.

 

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Shoulder Pain? Do These.

Shoulder Pain? Do These.

Shoulder Pain? Do These.

I’ve trained thousands of people in my many years of personal training, and of those thousands I would have to say at least half of them have come to me with a shoulder problem.

Shoulders, in my opinion, are very poorly designed joints.

I mean, we would never build our homes like are shoulders are built.

We would never decide to build an extension onto our porch using just one stud, some duck tape and four wood screws. Mike Holms would have our heads!

But, take a look at our poor shoulders.

One fixed bone, the humerus, free floating in a groove in our scapula, held together by a group of small, and not very powerful, muscles called the rotator cuff, with the assistance of the deltoid, bicep and tricep group.

Add to the mix an extremely powerful muscle group, the lats, pulling outwardly and down on the humeral head and you have yourself a recipe for a home reno catastrophe.

To keep your shoulder from becoming a catastrophe, try this little posture workout.

But, PLEASE if you do have shoulder pain go see your local physiotherapist. They are the best ones to diagnose and to treat your pain (and FYI – they do not require a doctor’s referral).

 

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Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

So, you’re in your 40’s or 50’s. Congrats, God willing you have reached the midway point of your life.

But, now that you are here does that mean that you need to start training your age, start training with precautions and restrictions because you might break?

First a Funny Story

My loving husband, who is 10 years older than me, gives me a heads up with every passing decade as to what to expect both physically and mentally for the years ahead.

For example, when he turned 30 he enlightened me that my body was going to start to change shape (in case you are doing the math in your head I meet the love of my life when I was 19 years old. 25 years later he’s still with me.).

Sure enough at 30 years my hips grew wider (a lot wider) and things shifted. I was happy though. Prior to that I was kinda built like a boy. Now I had me some curves.

At 40 he then warned me that simple tasks, like getting up and off the floor, was going to start getting harder. As well, things that I completely take for granted now, like reading the small print on food labels, or menus in a dark restaurant, would go the way of the dodo.

On top of that he coached me that I will also experience a big decline in my energy levels and I won’t be able to, nor want to be able to, be in a constant state of motion like I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

Sitting at 44 years now, with 45 staring me in the face, he has been, and is right on target.

About-PJ-Fitness-with-PJ

I’m Old So Therefore I’m Frail

Many people, including loving husband, think that as we age we tend to slow down and do less because of aging. For the most part this is complete and utter BS (sorry loving husband).

Much of the physical frailty attributed to aging is actually the result of inactivity, disease or poor nutrition.

The good news, many of these problems can be helped (or even reversed) by improving lifestyle behaviors, such as exercising on a regular basis and eating a whole food diet.

The Effects of Aging

Aging muscles:

  • Shrink and lose mass with age. This is called sacropenia and it is a natural process, but a sedentary lifestyle will also speed this nasty process up.
  • The number of our muscle fibers decrease as we age, which means that it takes longer to respond in our 40’s and 50’s than it did in our 20’s.
  • The water content of the tendons decrease which makes our tissues stiffer and less able to handle stress.
  • The heart muscle becomes less able to propel large quantities of blood quickly which means that we tire more easily and take longer to recover.
  • Our metabolism slows down (this is how quickly our body converts energy) which means we don’t burn fat like we used to.

Aging bones & joints:

  • The mineral content in our bones decrease (for both men and women) making our bones more fragile.
  • The connective tissue that attaches bones to bones (called ligaments) become less elastic which in turn decreases our flexibility.
  • Cartilage, which provides the cushioning between our bones and in our joints, changes. With these changes comes less water content and a joint more susceptible to wear and tear (ie. arthritis)
  • Our joint motion becomes more restricted due to these changes in our tendons and ligaments making us all around less flexible.

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

 

1. Build a fitness base.

If you are just starting a fitness program you need to build a base first. This is extremely important, especially in our later years as it is much easier to get injured and it takes longer to get better when we do injure ourselves.

Why is it easier? You can thank the decreased water in our tendons and ligaments, as well as our restricted range of motion in our joints and our loss of muscles mass and muscle fiber size.

 

My recommendation: perform a strength training workout 3 times a week, 1 set an exercise, and then the next week do 2 sets, the week after add about 10% more weight to what you are lifting and then on the fourth week add another set.

2. Lift heavy.

Once that base is built, or if you are already fit, start lifting heavier but for fewer reps. If your joints and cartilage have already encountered years of wear and tear (which we know that they have by mid-life), and they don’t have the water content that they used to, a weight training program with lots of reps will only inflame the joint further.

Instead, lift a weight that you can maintain good form with, but are starting to crack by the end of your rep range of 12-15.

3. Watch out for long distance, repetitive workouts.

Cross training is your goal in your later years. If you like running, great run but keep the mileage down and perform other activities as well. But, if you run and run and run (or bike and bike and bike, or swim and swim and swim) be prepared to hurt.

Unless you are one of the blessed individuals who can perform repetitive long distance workouts without injury you are going to inflame those joints of yours and send yourself to physio.

In fact, even my younger clients that only ran for their workouts prior to seeing me have a longer history of injuries than those who run as well as lift weights.

And if you are running for weight loss, just stop right now. Cause it ain’t gonna work as well as other forms of exercise will.

4. You ain’t dead yet.

I, personally, know that I could kick my 20-year old’s ass. I am stronger, faster and more focused at 44 than I was at 24.

So, once you have built that fitness base, layered on it for a year I want you to GO FOR IT – cause you ain’t dead yet.

With the advances in nutrition and fitness that we have seen in the last 5 years we can get better and live longer and play just as hard as we did in our 20’s and 30’s.

Keep training everyone.

 

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