High Antioxidant Superfoods Salad

Since I have been doing a lot of nutrition seminars and speaking engagements lately on superfoods and healthy eating habits, it has been so fun to experiment with various combinations of super healthy ingredients. Last week, I thew together this with this High Antioxidant Superfoods Salad. My newest favorite ingredient is broccoli sprouts, and my kids and I are infatuated with them. They are so healthy and are said to help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and even help protect against ulcers. This salad is also filled with some of my other super food favorites including berries, pumpkin seeds and colorful greens. If you want a refresher on the health benefits of blackberries, read my post on “Top 10 Health Benefits of Blackberries.”  Feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp along with your favorite salad dressing, or just simply use balsamic vinegar and oil.

10 Health Benefits of Kiwifruit

My kids absolutely love kiwifruit, and I am so glad because they have so many amazing health benefits. One kiwi has 45 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrate, 0.5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Here are the top 10 health benefits of eating kiwifruit.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Kiwi:

1. High in Vitamin C-Kiwi contains a remarkable amount of vitamin C, a water soluble antioxidant that has been proven to fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Kiwi contains 2 1/2 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

2. High in Fiber-Kiwi has a high fiber content which helps improve diabetes, controls blood sugar and protects against colon cancer.

3. Preventing Asthma, Wheezing and Coughing-Studies of 18,000 children have shown that children consuming more kiwi aided in their respiratory tracts and helped prevent asthma, wheezing and coughing.

4. Good source of potassium-One serving of kiwi has more potassium than a banana, ideal for fluid and electrolyte balance and energy during exercise.

5. Improved Vision-Studies show that not just carrots are good for your eyes, but kiwi too. Kiwi fruit is an excellent source of the phytochemical lutein which helps contribute to age related blindness. Consuming three kiwi a day can lower your risk of eyesight loss.

6. Improved Cardiovascular Health-Studies are showing consuming a few kiwi a day can lower your chances of blood clots as well as reduce your triglycerides, protecting against cardiovascular disease.

7. Source of Vitamin E-Kiwi fruit is one of the fat free sources of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps boost immunity and helps lower cholesterol.

8. Good Source of Zinc-Kiwi’s zinc content can help promote testosterone in men and promote healthy skin, hair, nails and teeth.

9. Source of Folate-Kiwi has 10% of the recommended daily amount of folate which pregnant mothers need for a healthy pregnancy, baby and prevention of birth defects.

10. Low Glycemic Index-Kiwi has a low glycemic index of 52 which is safe for diabetics, is low in carbohydrates and aids in weight loss.

No-Bake Date Nut Energy Bars

I am always looking for new, healthy snack ideas for the kids, and if I can come up with a no-bake recipe idea, then even better. My two boys love dried dates, so I thought this combination of dates, nuts and flaxseed would make a great healthy snack, dessert or breakfast idea. You’ll love these too. No-Bake Date Energy Bars are not only “no-bake”, they are also gluten-free and perfect for all of my friends following the Paleo Diet. They also make a great pre or post workout snack so enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from “The Dramatic Pancake”.

Kale Slaw

I am such a huge fan of kale. It’s truly so versatile and filled with so many health benefits. Check out my recent article on MindBodyGreen on the “Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Kale”. Spicy Kale Slaw was on the menu last week at Award Winning Chef, Frank Stitt’s, Highland Bar and Grill restaurant in Birmingham. It was so fabulous that it inspired me to come up with my own. I use a Dijon vinaigrette to flavor mine and added shredded carrots, broccoli and toasted walnuts.

Passover S’mores

Passover is coming up this week, and I know so many are always looking for new, fun recipe ideas, especially to please the kids. I made these Passover S’mores a few years ago, and they have become a Passover staple for my three children. Who doesn’t love s’mores? Just use regular sizes matzo and break it into pieces, or use the new mini matzo that is so popular this year instead of graham crackers, and you’ll have some happy kids (and adults).

Fitness Friday: The Power of Twist or Rotational Moves

I do a lot of twisting when I do abdominal workouts and strength training, but I don’t think I truly understood the power of “twisting exercises” and why rotational exercises are so valuable until now. “Twisting or throwing exercises engage more muscles, improve your balance, and build functional, real-world strength,” says Tony Gentilcore, a strength coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. “Plus, the rotation comes from the core, so you’ll gain power and carve flat abs while you’re at it.” That’s a pretty awesome bonus. Check out these moves below and do them as a circuit, going from one to the next without taking a break. Then rest 60 seconds. Do the circuit four times. These, and a few more, can be found and are courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine. Photo credit by Jeff Lipsky.

Move 1

Medicine-Ball Reverse Lunge and Shot Put

Stand 10 feet from a wall, holding a medicine ball at your chest. Step your right leg back and lower into a lunge, rotating your torso and bringing the ball to your right shoulder. Throw the ball at the wall, then push yourself back to start, catching the ball on the rebound. That’s one rep. Do five, then switch sides.

Move 2

Barbell Twist

lace a barbell on the floor in the corner of a room, and hold one end with both hands at eye level, feet hip-width apart. Rotate your hips, torso, and feet to the right and bend your knees to lower the bar, without bending your arms. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do five on each side.

Move 3

Rotational Cable Row

Adjust the cable station to its lowest setting and stand to the right of it (or use a resistance band), handle in your right hand, feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Pivot to the left, bending both knees and extending your right arm toward the pulley. Pull the handle across to your right hip as you rotate into a standing position. That’s one rep. Do 10, then switch sides.

7 Foods for a Healthy Brain

I don’t tell too many people, but both of my parents have dementia, and my mom has had Alzheimer’s disease for several years. It is definitely tough stuff to deal with, and that is why I don’t talk about it publicly. However, when I come across new information on this topic, it always catches my eye. So, I thought I would share…A new study, from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, found that people in their late 80s with higher blood levels of B-complex vitamins, vitamins C, D and E, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, showed less mental impairment and brain shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s disease.

What you don’t eat matters, too.  A recent Mayo Clinic study found that simply limiting food intake to fewer than 2,150 calories a day was linked to better brain health.

Here are 6 foods that are said to help with mental dexterity:

1. Beans– Beans and green peas provide a rich dietary source of B-complex vitamins (plus, they provide plenty of protein and fiber).

2. Citrus– Oranges and orange juice are a convenient and inexpensive source of ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), as are tangerines, limes, lemons and other citrus fruits.

3. Almonds– Vitamin E occurs naturally in almonds, other nuts and avocados, and studies have shown that people with the highest blood levels of Vitamin E have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

4 Fish– Polyunsaturated “healthy fats”, like those found in salmon, herring, and mackerel, reduce inflammation in the body and seem to help the heart function.

5. Spinach– Popeye’s favorite snack is rich in vitamins A and K, folic acid and iron, plus it’s versatile: It can be eaten raw in salads, baked, steamed or stir-fried.

6. Coffee– Amazingly, a study found that caffeinated coffee decreased blood levels of a plaque-forming protein and even reduced Alzheimer’s-like cognitive impairment.

7. Coconut oil– New studies are looking into whether or not coconut oil is helpful for brain aging and to help Alzheimer’s disease. More research is being done on this topic, but so far, so good.

See AARP for more information on this study.

Coffee photo above from Pinterest

Easter or Passover Main Dish Idea: Mahi Mahi and Vegetable Kabobs

I grill all year long, but my family especially loves it when the weather turns nice. We tend to eat outside on the deck, and it’s great for the kids to be riding bikes and playing basketball while I’m cooking the food on the grill. This is the epitome of family time. These Mahi Mahi and Vegetable Kabobs are the perfect recipe to try if you’re wanting to get your kids to like fish and vegetables. It’s colorful, fresh and full of clean flavors. Mahi Mahi is mild, a low calorie, low-fat source of protein, and it also has B-complex vitamins, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Serve these kabobs with grilled asparagus or squash and zucchini this Easter or Passover dinner for something different and unexpected. It’s a healthy low carbohydrate main dish.

Weekend Inspiration: Travel, Food, Fashion and Fitness

Wow, what a week! From Disney in Orlando for Food Blog Forum to Sandestin Resort (pictured above and below) in South Walton, my kids and I have had quite the treat. I guess this is the true definition of an “awesome” spring break. Here are some inspirations from last week from my travels as well as across the blogosphere. Let me know what fun things you are doing this weekend. Have a great one, Alison

Beach Inspiration: Beaches at the amazing Sandestin 

Travel Inspiration: Gelato from Sangelato Cafe in Sandestin

Children Inspiration: We had so much fun in Disney. Especially, Leigh.

Passover Inspiration: Flourless Chocoalte Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue Frosting via Urban Baker

Food Inspiration: Baked Whole Wheat Banana and Chocolate Donuts from Top with Cinnamon

Easter Craft Inspiration: Glittered Easter Eggs via Martha Stewart 

Fashion and Home Inspiration: Lavender  “Apartment 34” and Whitney of “The Curtis Casa”

 Workout Inspiration via “Plus One Fitness”

Food Blog Forum Orlando: Disney Fun

I had the best time this past weekend at Food Blog Forum in Orlando, Florida in Walt Disney World. I was so fortunate to get to share a round table speaking with the amazingly talented, humble and genuine, Angie of Bakerella. We spoke on “Writing a Cookbook From Two Perspectives” to four different groups.

Food Blog Forum was founded by Jaden and Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple. This one day conference is always so inspiring (this was my 3rd event), and this is the most wonderful, sharing, open and welcoming group of speakers and food bloggers. I must give a shout out to the fantastic staff at Walt Disney World for their incredible hospitality and generosity as well as to Julie, from The Little Kitchen, and Dawn Viola for coordinating this event. One the big themes of the weekend which spoke to me is: “Dream big and share your dream with others” via the man himself, Walt Disney.

Of course, there was food to be had at a “Food Blog Conference.” We had the most incredible parties, including Friday night by the beach at the Grand Floridian, lunch by a multitude of top Disney’s chefs (see above), and a wonderful Irish dessert party while watching fireworks in Epcot on Saint Patrick’s Day.

I met so many new fabulous food bloggers, and I had the pleasure to connect with old friends as well. (See Kelly, from “Just a Taste”, and me at Epcot, above).

I also had the chance to check out some of the best Disney attractions. The Epcot “International Flower and Garden Festival” (above) was this month. It was unreal!

This shot (above) from Animal Kingdom is the mountain of Expedition Everest. Doesn’t this look like I could actually be at Mount Everest?

We went on the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride (above) in Animal Kingdom, and we saw so many rare, beautiful animals. I can’t believe how close this giraffe got to our jeep.

Downtown Disney is always a blast. You never know what you might find in Disney World. Did I mention that my kids came along as well? They haven’t been there in seven years, so it was quite a treat. My son, Zachary, was a little timid of her (above).

My daughter, Leigh, (above) told me she wanted a picture with Mickey and Minnie. Honestly I wasn’t sure that it would be possible, but if there is a will, there is a way.

We loved staying at the convenient, and very, fun Polynesian Resort. Their beach (above) was so pretty, and their water slide in the pool was a hit with the kids. It’s a perfect way to spend time outside of the parks for some down-time.