Posts Tagged recipe ideas

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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Son of a Blend! (Splenda)

So, you are trying to be more health conscious now: working out more, reading my blog, watching what you eat, sharing my blog with your friends, drinking less alcohol, and posting a link to my blog on your Facebook. (Hint, hint) Then you go grocery shopping and you need to pick up some staples- sugar being one of them, and you see “Splenda Blend”.

“What’s this?? Oooh, they claim only half the calories and half the sugar that is in REAL sugar? That is the answer to my prayers! Now I can make those muffins that I like and not feel so guilty about it! Right?”

You better take a closer look at that label!

Lets compare these labels against each-other…

First, we have our regular sugar. One serving is about 15 calories and contains 4 grams of sugar. Sugar is a natural substance that tastes delicious, but needs to be used in small quantities because of its effects on blood sugar and weight gain. Diabetics need to be especially careful with the amount of sugar they consume and always need to be educating themselves on how much sugar is in the different foods that they eat.

Okay, now lets take a look at this “Splenda Blend” stuff. Okay, only about 10 calories per serving and 2g sugar. Looks like they were telling the truth, right? Not exactly…

Did you notice the serving size on both of these labels?


One serving of Sugar is 1 Teaspoon, while one serving of Splenda Blend is only 1/2 Teaspoon. So here’s the deal: Equal amounts of these two items actually have close to the same calories and also contain the same amount of sugar. What’s the difference? Splenda Blend is a mixture of sugar and Sucralose. Sucralose tastes sweeter that sugar, therefore you would need less of it to get the “same” flavor. Again, this isn’t one of those blogs where I try to scare you out of eating certain things, but it is interesting to know that a lot of the additives that the FDA approves are actually ILLEGAL in most countries. So although there is not definitive evidence that Sucralose is harmful to us, I would still recommend at least limiting the amount that you consume.

Here is what I would recommend: When you are baking with sugar, use 1/2 the amount the recipe calls for and try adding some Stevia until you get to your desired sweetness level. Stevia is a natural plant extract, and can be found in many different forms. It is very sweet and has close to ZERO calories! It doesn’t taste exactly like sugar, but neither does Sucralose; however, the long term effects of consuming synthetic sweeteners is still under debate. On the other hand, the long term effect of using Stevia is… a lot less sugar consumed, which means you will be healthier and might even lose a few pounds!

Remember- don’t believe everything you read (even my blog!), try to educate yourself. Do a little research. If your health isn’t reason enough, maybe the health of your children is…

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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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