Vegan Mexican Casserole Recipe

vegan-mexican-casserole-recipeThis is the easiest Mexican casserole and what I love about it is that it can be used as a main entree or as a dip for chips and veggies at a gathering.  I chose organic ingredients for this meal.  In many cases, organic canned beans are just about $.20 more than regular canned beans.  For corn, organic non-GMO is always a must. Even choosing organic, this was a very cheap dish to make.  Enjoy! We enjoyed ours with Sea Salt & Lime Tortilla chips and guacamole.

This will make about 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 x 15 oz can black beans, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 cup salsa of choice ( I used milld)
  • 2 cups of Daiya vegan shreds + another 8 oz for topping (I used a combination of Cheddar, Pepperjack and Mozzarella)
  • 1 x 10 oz can of Rotel tomatoes with chiles (I like the cilantro/lime variety. If you like SPICY – the fire roasted variety will add a good kick)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (Wegman’s sells frozen organic rice that is already cooked. I didn’t even have to defrost it–just added it right to the bowl of ingredients)
  • Optional- 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (I happen to love smoked paprika so I add it to many Mexican dishes.  It tastes amazing but is not necessary)
  • Optional- sliced olives as a toping for the casserole

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 11 baking dish with Olive oil baking spray. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl (except the 8 oz of cheese for topping). Transfer to baking dish.  Sprinkle the 8 oz of cheese on top and sliced olives if you are using.  Bake for about 50 minutes.  Let cool a little before you slice it. It will be ‘gooey’ so you may need to use a spatula along with a large knife for serving if you want to try to keep the ‘square’ shape. Otherwise, spoon it onto plates.  Serve with tortilla chips, avocado or guacamole.

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Recipe: Polenta with Spanish Rice and Beans



spanish-polenta-recipe-1I found this recipe in The China Study Cookbook and thought it looked so tempting! I was right!  It’s amazing and my husband loved it too. I made a few changes from the original recipe.  Mainly just doubled the amount of polenta because I wanted a thick layer underneath the beans and rice and I love smokey flavors so I added in diced smoked tofu (organic, non GMO variety).  Also, I used organic frozen brown rice (it’s already cooked) instead of regular brown rice because that cut the cooking time down by 45 minutes. What you see below is my slightly revised recipe from the original.

Polenta with Spanish Rice and Beans

Ingredients:

For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups waterspanish-polenta-recipe-2spanish-polenta-recipe-3
  • 1.5 cups polenta corn grits
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

For the spanish rice and beans:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic (or use 1.5 teaspoons mince garlic or 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 x 14.5 ounce can diced tomato ( I always try to get a brand that says ‘BPA Free’ on the label
  • Some vegetable broth (just for sautéing so the onions and rice don’t stick to the pan)
  • 1 tablespoon (or less) chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen, organic brown rice
  • 1 x 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinse well!!
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Guacamole (to add when serving)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

To cook the polenta, bring the water, polenta and salt to a boil. Lower, stir often for a few minutes. It will thicken quickly. Transfer the polenta to a baking dish (I used a square dish about 13×13 or so…) and spread it evenly into the dish. (Spray baking dish with non fat cooking spray. I use olive oil spray). Leave that there and go work on the rice and beans.

Sautee your onion, garlic, and chili powder for about 3 minutes to soften onions.  Use your vegetable broth to prevent sticking. Then add in the frozen brown rice.  If anything is sticking, add another splash of broth.  Sauté another 2 minutes to mix all flavors together.  Stir in the tomatoes, then the black beans. Mix all together.

Pour the rice and bean mixture on top of the polenta mixture and smooth out with a large spoon.  Spread salsa on top of the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  remove from oven.  When serving, add a dollop of guacamole on top.   I served mine with marinated kale greens.

 

 

Barbell Babes at Ultimate Fit Zone

The women impressed again at last week’s double AMRAP session with a deadlift/box jump AMRAP and a row/dumbbell snatch AMRAP that followed.

Looking good ladies!

Deadlift, box jump. Snatch, row. Two different AMRAPs going on together. #crosstraining #fitfam #ironwomen #barbellbabe #deadlift #boxjump #snatch #monmouthcounty #fittest

Ultimate Fit Zone is a Cross Training Boot Camp in Monmouth County.

Yoga For Beginners

yogaComplimentary Yoga for Beginners – Pre Registration Required

Taught By Alexandra Jacob

This is a Five Week Karma Yoga class beginning Sunday February 15th 8-9 am at Ultimate Fit Zone in Ocean Township.    Each class will be an hour long.  Karma yoga is of no charge to you.  It is completely complimentary.  A course for the yoga beginner, including all the inside information you need to feel comfortable when you are starting a yoga practice. Find out how to pick a yoga style, observe proper yoga etiquette, and avoid injury. Each week you will also get the answer to a frequently asked question (FAQ). At the end of this five-week course, you will understand the principles and origins of yoga, and know how to practice beginning-level poses.

This class is great if you have never taken a yoga class or if you are looking for a better insight within yourself.

Alex is studying to become a certified yoga instructor by Yoga Alliance. This is a part of her clinical study, in which she will ask you to complete a form about how the class benefited you. Supplies needed:  Just you, a towel (large), men’s tie (for strap work) and a water bottle. 

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

To register, please visit https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/home?studioid=129958

If you are not a current Ultimate Fit Zone client, please create an account and book yourself in for any Yoga sessions you may be attending.  If you are unable to attend please make sure you remove yourself from the class you are booked in for.

Ultimate Fit Zone is located in Middlebrook Plaza at the corner of Deal Road and Highway 35 South in Ocean Township.

1466 Highway 35 South – 732-428-2111 – www.UltimateFItZone.com

Meatless Monday Meal Plan 10-20-2015

We’re thrilled that so many of you have taken an interest in Meatless Monday.  this is a worldwide cause to become healthier individuals, protect our planet and protect animals.  Yes, not eating meat for just ONE day can do all of that!!!  Our goal is to spread awareness of the cause throughout Monmouth County and get more businesses, schools and organization supporting the cause!

Some of you asked what types of meals to prepare, so we created a sample Meatless Monday meal plan for you.  We will publish more each Monday.

Meatless Monday Meal Plan

Breakfast: Sunwarrior Protein shake blended with ½ frozen banana, 1 tbspn natural peanut butter, 8-10 ounce mix of unsweetened almond milk and water

Snack: 1 slice Ezekiel toast (get this in Wegmans in the frozen aisle across from the almond milk) with hummus

Lunch: Giant mixed green salad ( I get the organic Spring mix in Wegmans) tossed with ¼ c chick peas, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, olives.  Topped with light Balsamic Vinagrette dressing.  Side: ¼ cup cashews (or walnuts or almonds)

Dinner:  Sautee: ½ eggplant (peeled and cubed), 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup mushrooms sliced.  I like to season mine with some cumin, curry powder, garlic, pepper and a light mix of marinara sauce thinned down with some water.

On the side: Cauliflower rice:

Recipe:

This will make the whole head of cauliflower, chop ingredients in half if you don’t want to make it all. But I would make it and keep the rest in the fridge so you have it for the week)

  • 1 medium head (about 24 oz) cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • spray
  • 1/2 small onion, diced fine
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • optional- add about 1 cup sliced mushrooms if you like shrooms ☺

3 tbsp Braggs Liquid Amminos, or more to taste (Tamari for Gluten Free)

Chop head of cauliflower into smaller florets, place florets in food processor and pulse until it is about size of brown rice (careful not to over process) – set aside

In large sautee pan, add 1 tbpn coconut oil, garlic and ½ small onion. Sautee about 5 mins until onion is soft (also add mushroom if you are using)

Add cauliflower ‘rice’ to pan along with the Bragg’s amminos and sautee about 2 mins on high heat.  Then lower heat and cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.

 

Do You Need More Salt In Your Diet?

9 out of 10 of us probably get too much salt in our diets.  Many of the foods we eat today are LOADED with salt, especially packaged and canned food.  But for some of us, the health benefits of moderate salt are missing from our diets.  I also want to be clear that when I talk about salt, I am NOT referring to table salt.  I am referring to natural sea salt or iodized salt.

health-benefits-iodized-saltWe never hear about the health benefits of salt because so many of us are eating too much of it which is having negative consequences on our health.  However, in moderation, natural salt in your diet is good for you.

I never realized this until recently.  I have never used salt in my diet at all and I rarely eat anything canned or processed. For the most part, I eat whole, natural foods.  I have always had very low blood pressure, naturally.  In 2012 when I started Cross Training, my blood pressure became even lower. I specifically remember going to the doctor one time for a check up. They took my blood pressure and then looked at me with a strange face.  He said to me, ‘Do you feel ok?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I feel great, why??’ It turns out my blood pressure was pretty low. Something like 108 over 60.

For the most part, even with very low blood pressure, I felt great.  One thing that did happen to me quite often, though, was that I would get very quick flashes of dizzy spells.  They would come and go very quickly.  I never thought too much about it. But then, another uncomfortable symptom appeared and that was an irregular heart beat.  Every now and then it would feel like my heart was skipping a beat. I went to the cardiologist, wore a heart monitor and was diagnosed with Premature Ventricular Contractions.  Nothing dangerous. They weren’t concerned about it at all. They just told me to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they are stimulants.

Time went on and the irregular heart beat got a little better as I was off caffeine. But the dizzy spells remained. I decided to investigate further.  Went back to my primary care doctor and told her about the dizzy spells and continuing episodes of irregular heart beats.  After an echogram turned up normal, she suggested that I add a little bit of natural salt to my diet to bring my blood pressure up a little bit.

Why Salt Is Important In Our Diets

Sunwarrior Liquid Light replaces electrolytes in the body

Sunwarrior Liquid Light replaces electrolytes in the body

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride.  Sodium is an extremely important electrolyte that is necessary in our body.  When the amount of electrolytes in your body is too high or too low, you can develop dizziness, cramps, and problems with an irregular heart beat (heart rhythm) and more.  For me, my salt intake was so low combined with the fact that I lose electrolytes from sweating so much during my rigorous cross training workouts. I believe my electrolytes were imbalanced which was causing my  irregular heart beat and also my dizziness.

I never knew that not eating salt/sodium could affect my health negatively.  I have learned how important it is to regularly replace fluids if you sweat or are physically active.  For me, I also needed to replenish my electrolytes.

What I did was I added iodized salt to my diet (read more about the health benefits of iodized salt) and I started taking a supplement that would add natural minerals and electrolytes back into my diet.  Using healthy salt and taking the Sunwarrior Liquid Light minerals, my symptoms are virtually GONE. I can’t tell you the last time I had a dizzy spell— MAYBE once in a blue moon where I used to have them every day, a few times a day.  My heartbeat has also been very regular.  I rarely notice any sort of disturbance at all.

******If you have symptoms that you may suspect are from an electrolyte imbalance or lack of salt- first talk to your doctor.  Never diagnose yourself based on someone else’s experience or what you read on the web. I saw my primary care doctor and a cardiologist first.   The Sunwarrior Liquid Light is available at Ultimate Fit Zone.  This is a great product for ALL of us who participate in UFZ training to take.

My Best ‘Worst’ Workout

I had my best ‘worst’ workout tonight.  And even as I type this- I’m completely exhausted.  I felt pretty good all day.  A few sore spots on my body from the last few workouts that I’ve done but nothing that really stuck out to me.  I went to do the 5:30 boot camp and felt ready to tackle the challenge.   It was a high rep workout so I didn’t go too heavy- but still took decent sized weights that I knew (or at least thought) I could manage based on previous workouts.

I made it past the push-ups without problem but as soon as I got to the thrusters that’s when it all fell apart.  All of a sudden I felt soreness in many parts of my body that didn’t feel sore to me that day.  My shoulders were killing me, quads here and even hamstrings were tight.  I also just felt tired. It was hard for me to get the weight up and I wasn’t even squatting to parallel- not typical for me.

boot-camp-fitness-njRight away I knew I was going to have a real hard time. I pretty much felt exhausted.  As I continued to struggled through my reps I contemplated quitting or dropping to lighter weights. It was a 25 minute AMRAP and I knew I would not get many rounds at all with the pace I was going.  I was pretty disappointed.  I decided to stick with my current weights and just slow my pace up. I was going to take it real slow, nice and easy, throughout the 25 minutes.  I didn’t even mark my rounds on my dry erase board, I knew I wouldn’t get many at all.  I set myself a goal to at least get 3 rounds in, which was manageable. Others were doing 5 or 6 rounds.

Even though I had made up my mind about how to handle the AMRAP- I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.  Did I feel like I quit or gave up?  Or did I feel as though I was making the right decision for my body.  There are always times when we feel a little tired and feel like giving up.  And pushing through is what makes us stronger.  But there are also times when our body is legitimately tired and needs to rest.  Becoming a stronger, faster and better athlete means understanding the difference between needing to push harder and needing to rest.

Rest is an integral part of our developments as Cross Training athletes.  Without rest, muscles can not repair themselves to function at their optimum capability.  They (and you) need rest and recovery time. Resting allows your body to repair damaged tissue and replenish energy.  And there is also something to be said about the metal aspect of resting. It feels good mentally to know I am allowing my body to recover from the stress of training I put it through.

So today I waived the white flag and surrendered to my body.  Even though it was one of my worst workouts as far as performance goes- it was the best thing I could have done for my body.

–Stacey

Which Diet Is Right For Me?

With so many diets out there to choose from (Paleo, Vegan, No Carb, High Fat, The Grapefruit diet, The Skinny Bitch Diet, Mediterranean…..etc etc) people often as us which diet would be best for them.  Their is no real short answer for that question because their is no one size fits all diet.

We tend to not tell people to prescribe to any ONE particular diet. Instead, the simplest solution is to make healthier choices, reduce your portion sizes, eat small meals frequently and make sure you get enough protein and fiber.  Probably not the answer you were looking for but it’s the truth.

The problem with many of these main stream ‘diets’ is that they don’t work great long term.  Even Paleo, and we’ll explain why.

The Problem With Paleo

We absolutely love the Paleo diet since it stresses the elimination of processed foods, a leading cause for chronic illness in our country.  We also like the emphasis on choosing fresh, organic foods.  The Paleo diet allows you to eat more fat than an average diet since it eliminates carbohydrates and legumes.  The idea is that your body will use the fat for energy instead of the carbs.  While this is true, we find that most people who do the Paleo diet long term do not succeed in losing weight.  Key word here, *most. Not all people.  There are plenty of athletes who do phenomenally well with the Paleo diet and are in excellent shape. BUT- most people end up having a hard time completely eliminating carbs.  What happens then is that they increase their fat intake and don’t completely eliminate the carbohydrates, making it difficult for them to lose weight.

We love the Paleo diet as a 14 or 21 day cleanse. It eliminated toxins in the body, hormones and sodium which can result in weight loss and a significant decrease in bloating.  At Ultimate Fit Zone in Monmouth County, we offer a great 14-day Paleo Cleanse for anyone interesting in jumpstarting their weight loss and cleaning out their body.

Going Vegan?

Going vegan has become a huge trend in Hollywood with celebrities like Samuel Jackson, Beyonce, Jay Z and now even Jennifer Lopez announcing their adoption (or temporary adoption) of the vegan diet. Vegan food is not only delicious but it’s incredibly nutritious.  Plus it gives our bodies plenty of plant based nutrients which we all need more of. If you are going to go vegan, you most likely will not get enough protein to keep your body fit and lean.  Listen carefully to what we are saying – it IS possible to get plenty of protein on a vegan diet. There are hundreds of bodybuilders and professional athletes who are vegan and get more than enough protein.  The problem with most people though is that they won’t take the time needed to ensure their vegan diet contains enough protein to help them lose weight, stay fit and healthy.  Many vegans I know are struggling with their weight because they simply replace meat or other animal products with simple carbohydrates.  That is not a healthy eating plan.  You have to research, find the best sources of vegan protein, and make sure they are incorporated into your every day diet.

Mediterranean

This is perhaps one of our favorite diets because it emphasizes modest amounts of all things good; meat, fish, poultry, nuts, healthy oils, grains, vegetables, fruits and even cheese.  The best of all worlds.  Things can go wrong however, if you indulge in too many of the good fats.    You know the saying, ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’? Well- that’s not so true.  While nuts and certain oils contain good, heart healthy fats, they are very high in calories and if you don’t balance them into your diet carefully along with reduced complex carbohydrates, you could end up packing on the pounds instead of taking them off.

Conclusion

If you want to lose weight, unfortunately there is no magic pill in a bottle.  Eating healthy, fresh foods and increasing your protein intake (whether it be meat or vegan forms of protein) is the best way to shed pounds and keep them off. We typically recommend people do three things when they come to use to lose weight:

1. Increase protein intake

2. Increase water intake

3. Increase meal frequency

 

If you would like help losing weight and getting on a new eating plan that you can make a part of your lifestyle, take a look at our customized weight loss programs.

 

Health Benefits of Eating Eggs

Anyone on our 28 day Fat Buster weight loss program knows that we believe eggs are an excellent choice as part of your breakfast.  They provide protein and essential vitamins as well.  But you may not know that eggs offer your body many other health benefits, including reducing your cravings for snacks, reducing the risk of cancer, reducing risk for heart disease and much more.

To read the full article that outlines 5 Smart Reasons to Eat Eggs – click here.

Click here for more information on our 28 day weight loss program.

Cross Training in Monmouth County NJ

Ultimate Fit Zone in Ocean, NJ is a true cross training facility featuring 25 yards of real turf, two rigs from Rogue Fitness, more than a dozen medicine balls from Dynamax, a giant selection of kettle bells ranging from 18 pounds to 70 pounds, barbells for men and women, an enormous stack of plates, boxes, giant tires, a full dumbbell rack, ropes, sledge hammers, rowers, jump ropes, squat and press stands, and plenty, plenty more..

The cornerstone of Ultimate Fit Zone is our original Zone 360 boot camp workout, a unique, Cross Training boot camp system.

Our group training sessions are offered in varying levels of difficulty to accommodate all fitness levels. It’s never too late or too early to get in the Zone! For our smallest fit zone members, we have a kids fitness boot camp program that teaches agility, speed, coordination, confidence and leadership skills!

Kids Fitness at UFZ in Monmouth County

kids-fitness-programs-monmouth-countyOur Kids Fitness program at UFZ in Monmouth County is so much fun! The kids are having a blast running through the obstacle courses, racing each other and just getting their energy out!  Our bright atmosphere is the perfect environment for energetic kids who want to be fit and have fun doing it.

Our kids fitness program goes a step beyond fitness and burning calories though.  We  help kids build confidence, coordination, balance and agility skills.  Such a vital part of growing up healthy, happy and confident!

Kids are taught by a range of different fitness professionals from our UFZ family who are all enthusiastic and energetic.  This Kids Fitness program is structured for kids ages 6-12, however, if your child does not fall within that age range, please contact us as we may have another program that is a fit for them.

Kids Training times are as follows:

Wednesdays @ 4:15-5pm and Sundays @ 11:30-12:15pm

Kids Fitness Trainers

Chris Marzarella is a former special needs teacher for children and has been a personal trainer for over 10 years.

Eddie Albert is the owner of UFZ and Ultimate Fitness (our sister facility in the same plaza). He has been personal training for over 25 years and has worked a lot with developing, young athletes.

Enzo Franze is a speed & agility specialist in the Monmouth County area and works extensively with young kids who are budding athletes.

For more information about enrolling your child in our program, please visit our Kids Fitness page on our website or fill out the form to the right.  You can also caller text 732-428-2111.


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