Posts Tagged healthy recipes

Peach-Banana-Flax Muffins

The better your food tastes, the higher likelihood you have at succeeding at your fitness goals. Sometimes it is not just taste, but time that is a factor. I have been eating steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast every day for quite some time. I enjoy the taste, especially with some blueberries and the occasional scoop of vanilla protein mixed in. The problem for me is time. I wake up as early as 4:00am to get to my first client at 5, so between packing up my meals, showering, the other 2 S’s, and sometimes even hitting snooze, I just don’t always have time to prepare oats… And then my wife got on a baking kick that changed everything!

Lilia started baking muffins on the weekends for fun and when I asked her to create a healthy version for my subscribers, the challenge was on! I am sharing my favorite muffin recipe so far (there have been several versions) and will also share a couple of side notes:

Peach-Banana-Flax Muffins


  • 1 cup Oat Bran
  • 1 cup Steel Cut Oats (blended in food processor until it looks more like oat bran)
  • 3/4 cup Flax Seed Meal (helps keep moist and adds healthy Omega-3’s)
  • 3 medium Bananas (7″)
  • 2 medium Yellow Peaches (also helps keep muffins moist. You can sub for 1 more banana)
  • 5 tbsp Honey (or Agave Syrup for Bee lovers)
  • 1 lg Egg
  • 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt (protein!)
  • 1/4 cup water (or less… just until you have a good consistency)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • “a pinch” of Apple Pie Spice, or to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together flax meal, fruit, yogurt, water, honey. Combine oats, oat bran, spice, baking soda, salt, then stir into the wet mixture. Spoon into muffin pan (use Pam or lightly grease first!) DO NOT USE MUFFIN PAPERS, AS THEY WILL STICK!!! Bake for 20-25 minutes. This makes about 14 muffins.

Note: You can use 2 cups oat bran instead of 1 cup oat bran & 1 cup oat meal. This will drop the muffin to 145 calories and add 1 gram of fiber! You can also use 2 cups oats if you prefer a heartier consistency.

1 Muffin:

150 Calories

3.5 g Fat (Omega-3’s)

26 g Carbohydrates (Same as 1 serving oatmeal!)

10 g Sugar (You can substitute some of the honey for Stevia or Splenda to cut down on the sugar a bit… currently you get 6g sugar from the honey)

4 g Fiber

6 g Protein

I still get all the benefit of my oatmeal in the mornings, except now it is not only more convenient, but better tasting too! If you have any variations of this recipe that you want to share, please do!


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I’m a Breast Man… Only Because They’re so Easy to Grill!

Chicken breasts are a common food among us gym-goers because they are a great source of (lean) protein, they are cheap, and they are easy to cook. Today I am going to give you a quick how-to when it comes to grilled chicken breasts. Grilled chicken breasts can be hit and miss depending on who is cooking them and how the stars are aligned that particular day…

It doesn’t need to be complicated, but there are a couple of steps that will guarantee perfectly grilled chicken breasts every time!

We are gonna start  with 1 or 2 packages of thawed, boneless, skinless chicken breast. This stuff goes on sale for $1.97/lb, and if you don’t mind pulling the skin off and de-boning it yourself, you can find it for less than  $1/lb! Make sure to get chicken that is as natural as possible and doesn’t contain a lot of “solution”, because it will be harder for you to add your own flavor.

Here is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS when it comes to guaranteeing that your chicken doesn’t come out dry.

Filet it! One reason that a lot of people have problems getting their chicken breasts to turn out is because of the shape of the chicken breasts themselves. They are very thick on one end and thin on the other. By the time the thicker part is cooked through, most of the chicken is over-cooked and dry… Just keep your palm flat against the chicken and use a SHARP knife to gently “saw” the chicken into two (almost even) pieces.

Now for the marinade… I used this one because not only did it sound good, but there were no “weird” ingredients, the sodium levels were pretty low, and there was no sugar. Your marinade must contain some salt, however, or the chicken will not absorb much of the flavors. I also recommend getting something with a vinegar base or adding a vinegar to it (like white or red wine vinegar) for a little tang. Place chicken in a large mixing bowl, add enough marinade to coat the chicken, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until you are getting ready to grill.

Take the chicken out of the fridge before you start to light the charcoal, or at least 30 minutes prior to grilling if you are using a gas grill. If the chicken is too cold when it goes on the grill the muscle fibers will tighten up and the chicken will get tough. I use 100% natural hard wood charcoal because it doesn’t have all the added chemicals that some charcoal does (especially match light) and it has a better flavor to it. Imagine that- better flavor AND better for you!

Once your charcoals are ready and you have spread them out, make sure to do this one thing before you add your chicken…


Let the charcoal cool down for 5 minutes so that you don’t scorch the chicken. Now because there is oil in the marinade, I am not going to oil the grate on the grill, but you can if it makes you happy 🙂 Just place the chicken directly on the grill and try to spread them out evenly without having them touch. Mmm, now doesn’t that look good?

Pay attention to where the hot spots are on your grill. As you start to flip the breasts over (about 5 min), you will notice that some of them are cooking faster than others (example: the 2nd one from the left). Move them around to share the hotter and cooler spots so that they finish cooking at the same time. You can use a meat thermometer to see if they have reached 160 degrees, or hey, just slice one open and check! When they are about ready to be taken off they will become slightly stiffer and not as “squishy” to the touch and, when cut, the juices will run clear.

So they are now ready to come off the grill. Are you ready to eat? HOLD YOUR HORSES! There is still one more step to make sure that these things turned out perfect.

Tent it!

Place the chicken in a glass dish and cover with foil for about 10-15 min. This is a perfect time to set the table, prepare your salad, and grab a healthy (ish) drink like a Vodka/Soda to enjoy with your meal. It will go perfect with your lemon-herb chicken!

So remember:

  • Start with natural, 1% solution chicken
  • Filet the breasts for quicker, more even cooking times
  • Marinade
  • Let them come to room temperature
  • Let the charcoals “calm down”
  • Tent it!


Happy Memorial Day Weekend! 🙂

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Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

I made this today for the first time and liked it so much I had to share it with you. Remember, this is based on MY body and goals… You can make alternations as necessary or even cut my portions in half to get a lower calorie version (250 cals).

1 cup water

7 oz Yam (Orange/Red)

1 cup Fage Nonfat Greek Yogurt

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (whey)

A light sprinkle of Nutmeg and Cinnamon

Blend. Add additional water until you have the consistency that you want, or to increase volume.

Total calories- 505

Total carbs- 65g

Total protein- 58g

Total Fat- 1g

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Nobody Likes Sloppy Seconds!

Has this ever happened to you:

You go to a restaurant and enjoy half of the massive serving that they gave you. You ask for a “to go” box, and you are already fantasizing about how great it is going to be tomorrow for lunch. But the next day you go to reheat the food and it looks like a completely different dish!

What happened?!

Oil and salt happened. When you go out to almost any restaurant (even when they claim to be healthy), they cook with massive amounts of salt and usually use a lot of oil. When your food has had a chance to sit overnight, the salt has also had a chance to pull the water out of the food. This, combined with the oils that have solidified underneath your food, makes for a disgusting and pathetic looking meal. This is why most people don’t like “left-overs.” This is also why it is hard for me to get some of my clients to prepare their meals ahead of time.

The most successful clients I have ever worked with are the ones who log their food, and prepare it themselves. But let’s face it: most of us don’t have the time to cook every day. Especially multiple times per day! If you want to be healthier, lose weight, and save money, then you really need to consider preparing your meals ahead of time.

The chicken I grilled for this week!

But John, what about the “salt and oil” bit that you were just preaching about??

That won’t happen. (At least not  so noticeably) Healthy cooking should mean more than just buying natural, whole foods. It is also knowing what amounts of those foods go into your meals. For example, do you want to cook with less oil? Then let it heat up first! It is very common for people to drizzle  oil into the pan (which hasn’t finished heating up) and immediately place in whatever they are cooking. It sticks. So the next time they use more oil. The cycle continues…

Really, try first letting your pan heat up, then the oil. I promise you wont need as much, and you will cut down A LOT on the extra calories! (Oil contains about 120 calories/ 1 TBSP)

Here is your challenge: next Sunday try cooking some extra food to bring to work for the week. Trust me, it will only seem like a pain in the ass until you notice that your pants are getting loose and your wallet is getting bigger. Then you can email me a “Thank You” letter!

Looking forward to your responses!

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You Butternut Add Any Cream!

So… I have been trying to cook some different foods so that I can share the recipes on my blog. (I normally eat the same foods all the time) I have been wanting to try to make a Butternut Squash soup for a long time, and I finally did this weekend. There are so many different ways to prepare this soup, but almost all of the recipes that I found called for butter, cream, cream cheese, or cream of coconut (delicious, I know). Well, lets see if we can make it taste good without all of the ingredients that make us jiggle when we walk!

Here’s what I did:

Peel & cube 1 large Butternut Squash. (I now realize it would be easier to bake, then scoop out…)

Toss with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt

Roast in oven @ 400 degrees for about 30 min or until cooked through, turning once during.

Bring 32 oz Low Sodium Chicken Stock to a boil, add squash and reduce to a simmer.

Blend with an immersion blender, or in blender and add back into the pot.


1 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tbsp agave nectar

Sea Salt to taste…

Then let it simmer for a bit so that all of the flavors can come out. I really enjoyed this- it is like a dessert!

Only about 50 calories per cup. What do you think?

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Roast This!

Veggies can get boring if you are not creative. Because of this, a lot of us just don’t get enough of the stuff. That means that we are also not getting enough vitamins and minerals from our food, and we suffer for it.

We all know that I don’t need to explain all the benefits of eating vegetables, but what this Newport Beach personal trainer CAN do is help you find ways to get more of them onto your plate tonight. Why are vegetables so boring? Because WE are boring! We boil them, steam them, and eat them raw… that’s about it. What other food source do we prepare with such low levels of creativity?

No wonder your kids don’t want to eat their broccoli- it tastes like broccoli!!!

I want to share a recipe that my wife found for a Roasted Eggplant Spread. The recipe is from Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa,” and it is AMAZING.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Chop your veggies into 1 inch cubes (roughly). And you may want to peel the eggplant if you are not a fan of the skin…

Toss the veggies, garlic, and pepper with the olive oil, then place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, then roast at 400 degrees for about 45 min. It should smell great and be slightly browned.

Then all you have to do is toss it all in the food processor with the tomato paste and pulse a couple of times ’till you have the consistency that you want.

That’s it!

My wife also likes to add some crushed red pepper before she processes it to add a little kick. Trust me, this stuff is crazy good and your kids will be more likely to eat it as well.

Add this spread to your rice or your meat of choice for dinner, or enjoy with some pita chips. Want a low-carb option? Peel some red cabbage and use the thicker ends as you would a chip! Say what?!

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Spaghetti is a Vegetable?

One of the most common foods people crave when they are dieting is- you guessed it- pasta. Mmmm… Well now you can have your cake and eat it too!

Ever see this guy at the grocery store?

He’s a “spaghetti” squash! He is loaded full of vitamins and minerals including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, and potassium.

You can pick him up at your local grocery store for about $4 and make a few meals out of him.

“But John, it looks so scary and mysterious! How do I cook it?”

Take it easy; he’s not going to hurt you. I have turned a few of my clients on to this stuff and they love it.

There are a couple of different ways to cook this squash. You can bake, steam, boil, or microwave. Something about the microwave freaks me out, but it is the quickest way if you have a tight schedule.

These are the 2 most popular methods of cooking…

How the Jetsons would do it:

  • Peirce skin (not yours) with a sharp knife.
  • Microwave for 10-12 minutes.

How your grandma would do it:

  • Cut in half length-wise.
  • Spoon out the seeds/pulp.
  • Place face down in a glass dish with 1/2 inch water.
  • Bake @ 350 for 1hr.

After you cook the squash, let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then use a fork to scrape out the flesh.

You can use in place of regular pasta for dinner tonight and let me know what you think!

Why am I making such a big fuss about this stuff?



Check this out:

1 cup spaghetti (Boo!) vs. 1 cup spaghetti squash(Yay!):

Calories= 220 vs. 42

Carbs= 43 vs. 10

You do the math. Oh, and enjoy your dinner!

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