Peanut Butter Banana No Bake Energy Bites

Energy bites.jpgCheck out this great, heart-healthy recipe for a quick pick-me-up!


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 banana chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon Monk Fruit in the raw sweetener


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Using a fork, stir until ingredients are well combined. Add more oats as needed if the consistency is too sticky.
  2. Place bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove and roll “dough” into 1 inch balls.
  4. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Yoga with Jessica: Meditation

Recently we have been covering different yoga poses, but I want to switch gears for this month’s blog. In my second blog, I noted that yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago for the purpose of exploring your inner awareness through poses and meditation. We have taken the time to look at just a few of the poses, so now I would like to take a look at the meditation piece.

icebergHave you ever seen the bilateral picture of an iceberg? If not, take a look to your right. We know that icebergs have just a fraction of its ice showing on the surface, while the majority of the ice is unseen underwater. I am going to touch on the tip of the meditation iceberg this month.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “meditation?” When I first started practicing yoga, I wanted nothing to do with meditation. At the beginning, yoga was all about the poses and the movement for me. However, yoga is a never-ending journey. There is always something to learn as you become more aware of your body, mind, and soul.

Meditation actually means “to spend time in quiet thought for religious purposes or relaxation.” However, meditation is not equated with a particular religion. You do not have to believe in a deity or God to practice meditation. Meditation is a simple, but life changing, tool that can help you relax, improve your understanding of yourself and expand your natural potential. Meditation requires you to quiet your mind.

It is important to note that there is no “right” way to meditate. It is also important to be patient with yourself when beginning meditation. Meditation is much like tending to a plant. The growing process does not happen overnight. It is a slow process, but it is, no doubt, happening. You can never waste the minutes you put into quieting your body, mind, and soul.

How to meditate:

When you have the time and are ready to begin, find a comfortable seat. You can be on the floor seated upright or in a chair with both feet planted firmly on the floor. Whatever you decide, it’s important that you are comfortable and are not slouching. Breathe naturally, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Allow for more air to fill your lungs each time you inhale. This gradually allows your breath to become deeper and fuller. Try to make your exhales as long as, if not longer than, your inhales. Exhale more “used” air so that you can make more room for fresh air to fill your lungs on your next inhale. To begin, repeat this process for 5 minutes. As you become more comfortable, move to 10 minutes then maybe 15 minutes. There is no “right” time frame.

Eat Healthy and Enjoy It!

Eating Healthy.jpgA healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eating” makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—

  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Fruits ― don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exotic” fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables ― try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with a herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
  • Calcium-rich foods ― you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.” But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
  • A new twist on an old favorite ― if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!

Do I have to give up my favorite comfort food?

No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while, and balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Some general tips for comfort foods:

  • Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You’ll be cutting your calories because you’re not having the food as often.
  • Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
  • Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size. For more ideas on how to cut back on calories, see Eat More Weigh Less.

The point is, you can figure out how to include almost any food in your healthy eating plan in a way that still helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Source: CDC

Indoor Family Activities

dreamstime_s_13819505.jpgWhen the weather is cold and blustery, try these indoor activities with your family!

Marshmallow Tinkertoys

A bag of marshmallows and some thin pretzel sticks are all you need to build the perfect puffy pal, a 3-D house, or tepee. Your child simply skewers the marshmallows with the sticks to create his own masterpiece. Add to the fun by placing toy pigs or other animals in the house and challenging your child to be the big bad wolf and blow it down.

Family-Photo Bingo

Improve your child’s memory and help him learn who’s who in your family tree with this photo game. Take nine family photos and arrange them into rows of three, then give your child nine playing cards or checkers pieces to serve as bingo chips. When someone calls out “Daddy” or “Grandma,” your toddler covers the photo with the card. Whoever gets three in a row wins.

Sugar-Cookie Pizzas

Even the most domestically challenged chef can pull off this sweet and simple project. Slice several thick cookies from a roll of refrigerated sugar-cookie dough. Gently flatten them a bit on a cookie sheet to widen them, bake, and cool for about 10 minutes. Next, your little Mario Batalis can decorate their pies with strawberry jam or red icing for sauce, shredded coconut for cheese, and red M&M’s for pepperoni.

Grandparent Greetings

Haul out the craft supplies and set up a home Hallmark business. First your toddler creates the card with stickers, glitter, cut-out magazine photos, or whatever else he likes. Then you ask him what he wants to say to the recipient, and you write it inside. (I once received one of these from my then 2-year-old nephew that said, “Dear Aunt Isadora, I like to bite my piggy toy. Love, Jared.” That was one card I never tossed.) The icing on the cake? When the weather clears up, let your child stamp the envelope and slide it into a nearby mailbox.

Signature Storytelling

This is a trick I use at bedtime to give new life to old stories. Start reading one of your child’s favorite books. When you get to a critical point in the action, challenge him to take charge of the tale and add his own twist. For example, if you’re reading Cinderella and the mean stepsisters have torn up her dress, ask your child, “What would you do if someone did that to you? Should Cinderella just run away and cry, or should she do something else?” It teaches kids to think on their toes.

Create a Sensory Table

Remember the slimy thrill of sifting your hands through a bucket of ersatz eyeballs (aka peeled grapes) at the local haunted house? This activity offers the same thrills without the nightmares. Fill a series of bowls or washing basins full of textured objects — peeled grapes are still a good choice, as is cold cooked spaghetti, steel-wool pads, cornstarch, or dry beans. Blindfold your child, have him sift his hands through, and describe what he feels. Then challenge him to guess the object.


Small, empty water bottles and a rubber ball are all you need to transform the family room into a bowling alley — sans silly shoes, of course. Six bottles should suffice for bowling pins; if the bottles fall over too easily, fill them up with a little water or dry pasta for some extra weight.

Disco Down

Disco has been dead and resurrected so many times, I’m not sure if it’s in or out anymore. But I do know that young kids love to dance to it, even if they think that “Bee Gees” is some sort of sugary snack you’ve been denying them. Dim the lights, close the blinds, hand each child a flashlight (for the full disco effect) and a small scarf to twirl around. Cue up some classic tunes like “Dancing Queen,” by ABBA, and “I Will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor, and watch the disco magic unfold.

Barbie Beach Party

Grab a collection of bikini-clad Barbies, beach towels (wash cloths), sunscreen (baby lotion), and perhaps a yacht or two (some Tupperware), and head for some fun in the tub. Hint: most Barbies really dig the diving board (faucet). My daughter’s opinion: Sunglasses and a tropical beverage (iced juice in a sippy cup) make the experience tantamount to a holiday in St. Tropez.

Mini Car Wash

Gather up your child’s fleet of cars, trucks, and spaceships for a detailing job that’ll put your local garage to shame. Load them all into the tub and give them a cleaning with plant sprayers and empty squeeze bottles.

Pirate Play

Somehow, Pirates of the Caribbean fever has trickled its way down to the toddler set. Doing anything even remotely pirate-like sends many into paroxysms of joy, so give this treasure hunt a try. Wrap a bunch of wooden blocks in aluminum foil, and hide them around the house (don’t get too clever — remember whom you’re dealing with). Give each child a flashlight and a small paper bag, and challenge them to find the buried silver.

Masking-Tape Marvels

Who would have thought that a humble roll of masking tape could provide so much fun? Make a hopscotch pattern or mock balance beam on the living room floor. Or have your child color pieces of tape with markers and use them to “design” his own T-shirt. My personal favorite: the invisible dollhouse. Lay down a “floor plan” on the rug, and furnish the house with doll furniture.

Family-Room Picnic

Change things up by serving lunch outside of the kitchen. First, grab your basket (you don’t need a real picnic basket — a laundry basket will do) and assemble some picnicky foods that the kids can “pack” themselves — juice boxes, water bottles, packets of raisins, string cheese, paper plates, napkins. While the kids are busy filling the basket, spread a blanket in the family room and put together some sandwiches. Then unpack your picnic and watch the lunch disappear.

Movie Time!

At some point even the most creative parent is going to have to resort to some good old TV time. Keep a hidden stash of DVDs that you only pull out during cruddy weather so rainy-day television is truly a treat. The same old Wiggles story is doubly boring for a child whose play options are limited.

Build It Together!

I had long intended to build a doghouse using plans purchased on the Internet. I had the lumber waiting in my workshop. When a bad-weather day arrived, I got my son interested in the project and broke open the box. We built a doghouse in about three hours.
— Josh Gonze, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Slow-Motion Tag

Chasing my 18-month-old around the house (especially if I do it in slow motion) and tickling her when she gets caught can keep my daughter endlessly amused.
— Daniel Feld, Brooklyn, New York

Family Cozy Time

On a rainy day our 15-month-old son usually keeps himself occupied by bringing us lots of books to read to him. We also have two large dogs that go stir-crazy in the house and provide him with hours of entertainment!

Source: Parents Magazine

3 Reasons You Should Kick Your Diet Soda Habit

Soda.jpgYou kicked your regular soda habit, and now you’re sitting on cloud nine. But if that cloud is made of diet soda — a replacement for the real thing — you may have just created new problems.

Switching from regular to diet soda may offer a short-term cut in calories, but your body won’t be fooled for long. Research suggests it reacts to certain nonnutritive foods, including the artificial sweeteners in diet soda, in ways that may harm your health.

Here are three reasons to kick your diet soda habit for good.

“Quitting a habit is never easy. But for my patients — and for you — I recommend kicking soda all the way, whether it is regular or diet.”

1. “Diet” soda is associated with weight gain

Current research suggests the brain reacts to artificial sweeteners much like it does to sugary sweets. Ingesting them frequently may result in an increased desire for high-calorie foods such as sugary treats, putting you at a greater risk of both weight gain and consumption of low-nutrient-density foods.

One study even found that overweight individuals who switched to diet soda were more likely to consume more calories in food than overweight individuals who drank regular soda. Further, those who drank diet soda had a higher BMI than their counterparts. And other research has suggested that the rise in diet soda consumption positively correlates with increases in our weight as a nation.

2. Diet soda may cause insulin confusion

The brain normally associates “sweet” with calories. In the realm of human physiology, that’s a good thing. It drives your body to release insulin as sugar’s chaperone to the cells to create fuel. In the past, people assumed this process could not occur when we consume artificial sweeteners because calories don’t follow the sweet flavor.

However, a 2013 study found the process could very well happen. In the study, individuals who consumed a specific artificial sweetener (sucralose) had increases in both insulin and blood glucose levels. Further research is needed, but the findings were significant. Why? Because frequent rises in insulin have been linked to insulin resistance and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

A more recent study in mice resulted in similar findings related to glucose intolerance. And past research has associated artificially sweetened sodas with increased risk of stroke and a greater chance of being obese.

3. Diet soda may change your brain’s reaction to sweetness

A 2012 study compared MRI results in college students who drank diet soda (averaging at least eight per week) with those who drank regular cola. Both groups activated similar reward areas in the brain. But students who drank the most diet cola each week had the least amount of activity in an area of the brain associated with the desire to consume “palatable” foods — often those high in fat and sugar. Put simply, those who drank the most diet soda seemed to alter their brain’s sweet-sensing reward center. That could change how the brain reacts to cravings for high-calorie foods.

So is it better just to drink sugar-sweetened soda in the first place? Not so fast. There is abundant data that tells us that sugar (even when it’s “real”) is not necessarily a sweeter alternative, at least where health is concerned.

If you crave caffeine (in moderation, of course), you are likely better off with plain coffee or tea. If you savor flavor, try freezing raspberries, blueberries, cucumber, mint, lemon or lime pieces in ice cubes to add zing and a hint of sweetness to water. You can even use them in soda water to recreate soda’s bubbly appeal.

Quitting a habit is never easy. But for my patients — and for you — I recommend kicking soda all the way, whether it is regular or diet. Doing so can have profound effects on both your weight and your health.

Source: Cleveland Clinic Blog

Do you have nagging thigh or hip pain?

Bursitis.jpgDo you tend to bump the car door shut with your hip? Don’t be surprised if your bursa complains.

Bursae are small sacs of fluid cushioning the bones, tendons and muscles near joints. Acute injury, overuse, or degenerative arthritis in the hip or back can lead to bursitis.

This painful inflammation of the bursa and surrounding tissue commonly targets the hip and its many bursae. Typically, the bursae cushioning the greater trochanter, or outward portion of your upper thigh bone, are affected.

“Trochanteric bursitis can affect anyone. Middle-aged and elderly women are especially prone to it, but people with very physical jobs, such as carpenters and house painters, are also at risk,” says Scott Burg, DO. “Hobbies and activities that involve repetitive twisting or rapid joint movement, or acute or prolonged pressure on joints, can also lead to bursitis.”

Gardening, raking, jogging, bicycling long distances, and playing tennis, golf or even a musical instrument can increase your odds of developing bursitis.

What bursitis feels like

Trochanteric bursitis brings warmth, swelling and pain to the outer thigh that can spread down to the knee. Walking intensifies the pain, limping is common, and climbing steps can become difficult. Tenderness on the side you’re lying on may interfere with sleep.

“But everyone’s response to pain is unique,” notes Dr. Burg. “Some people feel minimal discomfort that annoys them, while others sense pain more intensely. That’s why some people don’t need much anesthetic when a tooth is pulled, while others need a truckload.”

Home treatment with rest, ice and anti-inflammatories can help. It’s also important to avoid any activities that cause pain, including excessive standing.

When to seek help

Most trochanteric bursitis resolves on its own after two weeks. If home treatment hasn’t relieved your discomfort after two weeks, it’s time to see a doctor. A specialist in orthopaedics, rheumatology, 0r physical medicine and rehabilitation can help.

You doctor may ask you questions like:

  • Do you remember bumping your outer thigh or hip?
  • When did the pain begin?
  • Did you scrape your skin?
  • Did you get a fever?

Sometimes, physical therapy can be prescribed. If that doesn’t help, steroids can be injected into the bursa to relieve the inflammation.

Injections aren’t for everyone

“Injections can bring long-lasting and sometimes permanent relief,” notes Dr. Burg. “But they won’t be effective if you keep doing the work or activity that caused your bursitis in the first place. You have to eliminate the source of the problem.”

In the rare cases where trochanteric bursitis persists after 12 months of medical therapy, surgery can be considered.

But chances are, with proper care, your bursa will stop complaining long before that.

Source: Cleveland Clinic Blog

Yoga with Jessica: Savasana

corpse-pose-2Can you believe it’s January 2017? A new year is upon us- a new year to begin anew or to continue the journey. Whether this is your year for a healthier lifestyle, conquering those financial barriers, mastering yoga or one of the many other challenges life throws at us, open your heart and mind, and be receptive to the lessons you may learn.

This month, I would like to focus on the practice of savasana, or the corpse pose. Savasana is used at the end of your yoga practice, and it symbolizes the death of your current yoga practice.

Physical Benefits:

  • Ability to lower your blood pressure
  • Ability to relax and rejuvenate your body
  • Ability to reduce fatigue

Mental Benefits:

  • Ability to reduce stress
  • Ability to reduce mild depression and anxiety
  • Ability to reduce insomnia
  • Ability to calm and center your mind

For some people, this is the most difficult yoga pose because it asks you to surrender, to be still and to be present in the moment. Once we reach the end of our yoga practice and come to savasana, many let their thoughts wander back to the to-do lists, meetings the following day, or the next sporting event for their child.

I ask my students to bring their attention and awareness to their breath during savasana. I ask them to witness their breath- each inhale and each exhale- while they are in savasana. If you are focusing on your breathing, it is much more difficult for your mind to wander to those other thoughts.

You do so much for others throughout your day and week. Why can’t you devote an hour to yourself? It’s not selfish by any means. It’s giving back to yourself and nurturing, revitalizing and relaxing your body.

To end this month’s blog, I’d like to quote an old yoga saying. “Yoga is in the present. Yoga is presence. When the past and the future dissolve into what’s here, right now. It’s coming into a place of peace and calmness and integration.”


Recipe: Skinny Chocolate Cream Pie

Recipe: Skinny Chocolate Cream PieThis heavenly dessert is also surprisingly healthy thanks to fat-free half-and-half and dark cocoa powder — offering unexpected calcium and antioxidants.



10 whole chocolate graham crackers
2 tablespoons light butter, cold
1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten


1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons light butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 1/2 cups reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
chocolate curls (optional)



  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Coat a 9-inch pie pan or plate with nonstick spray
  3. Process graham crackers in food processor until finely ground
  4. Add butter, pulse until coarse crumbs form
  5. Add egg white, pulse until evenly moistened
  6. Press crumb mixture evenly and firmly over bottom and sides of prepared pan
  7. Bake 8 minutes and cool on a wire rack


  1. In a bowl, whisk cocoa powder and cornstarch, add 1 1/2 cups of the half-and-half and whisk
  2. In saucepan or a double boiler, heat remaining 1 cup half-and-half and the sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved
  3. Whisk in cocoa mixture and melted chocolate
  4. Cook, stirring, until filling begins to bubble
  5. Continue to cook, whisking, until very thick, about 2 minutes longer; use caution as this mixture can easily scorch
  6. Remove from heat, whisk in butter and vanilla
  7. Spread filling in crust
  8. Place plastic wrap onto surface of filling; refrigerate at least 4 hours
  9. To serve, remove plastic wrap; spread whipped topping over filling

Nutrition information

Makes 8 slices
Serving size: One slice

Calories: 260
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Sodium: 90 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 41 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 5 g

Source: Cleveland Clinic Blog

Taco Salad with Beef and Avacado

" Recipe: Taco Salad With Beef and Avocado"Who doesn’t enjoy a good taco salad? This version asks for grass-fed beef cooked in cumin, coriander, chili powder and oregano. It tops a delicious, nutritious mix of greens and veggies.


1 tablespoons coconut oil
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove
juice from 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
7 to 8 cups mesclun
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 carrots, scrubbed and shredded
1 large tomato, cut into large chunks


  1. In a large skillet, warm the coconut oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, stirring frequently and breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the avocado, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cayenne, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup of filtered water in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Transfer the dressing to a small serving bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the mesclun, cabbage, carrots, and tomato and toss to combine. Divide the vegetables among four plates and top with the beef mixture. Serve, passing the dressing on the side.

From the book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, by Mark Hyman, MD

Source: Cleveland Clinic blog

Yoga with Jessica: The Tree Pose

dreamstime_32841657I’m sitting at home on this cold, quiet Saturday morning. The sun is shining bright and the ground is white with snow. As I gaze out my windows at the woods behind our house, the majestic trees remind me of the tree pose. The tree pose replicates the graceful, steady stance of a tree.

How much thought do you give to the trees you see each day? Personally, I never gave them much thought before yoga. They were just always there, part of the landscape, and taken for granted like so many other things.

The tree:

  • stands tall, reaching toward the sunlight and toward the deep blue skies
  • has a strength that withstands strong winds, changing temperatures, seasons and disastrous storms.
  • is flexible as its branches are able to sway gracefully with the wind
  • is giving, providing shelter, shade, activity (think climbing a tree), scent (think Evergreen or Cedar trees) and beauty.

The tree pose:

  • strengthens the arches, ankles, calves and thighs
  • lengthens the spine
  • improves balance
  • opens the shoulders, chest, thighs and hips
  • improves circulation
  • brings balance and equilibrium to the mind, therefore, calming the mind
  • cultivates poise and focus
  • improves concentration

The tree pose is considered a balance pose. As we age, our balance tends to become unsteady. Regular practice of tree pose can help revive that balance. Don’t let this picture scare you off. There are modifications and props that are always available to help you slowly achieve this pose. Like a real tree, you start off small and grow stronger and stronger. The tree pose gives us strength and slowly but gracefully gives us what we need at the exact moment we practice it.

Discover, rebuild and expand your strength and balance through the simple practice of tree pose. Namaste my yoga friends. Have a blessed holiday season.