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Nutrition

Host a Healthy New Year’s Eve Without Wrecking the Party

Written on December 30, 2013 at 10:13 am , by

Enjoy your party and your waistline, too.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Tonight is the night—a time for us to remember all of the great things that 2013 brought us, and to celebrate the fresh start that begins at the stroke of midnight! However, these fiestas oftentimes don’t factor in all of the hard work we put into maintaining our healthy diets (even through the holiday season!). With help from celebrity nutritionist Heather Wilson, we have the perfect solution to this party diet dilemma: a delicious (and surprisingly healthy) menu for your table, tips for indulging in alcohol without the caloric consequences, and ways to snack smart and stress-free at a friend’s soiree. So slide into that LBD, add a little extra shimmer to your makeup and get ready to shake it into the New Year!

First things first: the last thing you want is for your guests to feel like they have to eat before your party because of an over-the-top healthy menu. Focus on revising the classics with good-for-you ingredients so they won’t even notice the difference, and introduce a few new recipes that are loaded with flavor, along with incredible health benefits.

Appetizers:

  • Devilled eggs are a must, but swap the traditional mayo for an olive-oil based version to cut calories and fat.
  • Class up your chip-and-dip display by adding a few health benefits: trade chips and pretzels for rice crackers, which work with a wide variety of dips and give a nice, satisfying crunch. Swap sour cream for Greek yogurt in any classic dip recipe for an extra protein boost.
  • Bring on the healthy fat spreads. Guacamole is one of Wilson’s go-to spreads at holiday parties due its hefty dose of monounsaturated fats and satiety power. She also makes a chopped olive tapenade that is loaded with flavor and omega-3s (recipe below).

Dessert:

  • Fruit platters are the way to go! If you want to upgrade your spread, trade apples for Asian pears. They are in season this time of year, taste great and provide twice the amount of fiber that apples do.
  • Bust out those Asian pears again and turn them into a dessert of their own by slicing them into bite-size wedges and sprinkling them with cacau powder. So easy but so yummy!

Drinks:

  • Start with red wine—we all know about its heart-healthy benefits by now. If possible, go organic to avoid any preservatives or pesticides that could cause unintentional bloating.
  • When drinking hard liquor, go for top-shelf vodka and infuse with fruit. Flavoring it yourself ramps up the taste and removes any artificial flavoring or sweetener from the equation. Wilson serves her watermelon and pineapple-infused vodkas on ice with fresh blueberries.

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Sanya Richards-Ross’ Secrets to Training, Staying Motivated and Finding Life’s Balance

Written on December 25, 2013 at 10:31 am , by

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Legs like whoa! Strength-training is a must for the Fastest Woman on the Planet. (Photo courtesy of Sanya Richards-Ross)

The impending winter weather can discourage even the most enthusiastic runners from finding their stride—and that goes for four-time Olympic gold medalists, too. Jamaica-born sprinting superstar Sanya Richards-Ross knows a thing or two about the dedication it takes to lace up and get out there each day.

A sprinter at heart, Richards-Ross has to really push herself through long runs during pre-season training, which typically coincides with chillier months. “After my season is over, I usually take about 6-8 weeks off before we start training again, and that’s always my least favorite part of training,” she says. “It’s long runs; it’s a lot of reps and light weight in the weight room. Just really preparing myself to take training to the next level. Once my training transitions to where I’m on the track doing repeat 200s, 300s and 450s, that’s the part I do like because my body just feels great.”

Richards-Ross takes a comprehensive approach to training, integrating weight lifting and Pilates for the crucial benefits of strength and flexibility, which is why she is so powerful in her cardio-based sport. And when it comes down to it, her favorite workouts are the ones that focus on building that incredible muscle! “I love when we are doing Olympic lifts like power snatching and power cleans and squatting. I love those powerful movements in the gym and I love to really push myself. It’s so full-body and so explosive, and it correlates to the track so well,” she says.

Most sprinters are known for preferring hot, dry weather, so the upcoming months will force Richards-Ross to put her motivational mantra to good use. Whenever her training days are less than exciting or she simply isn’t feeling 100 percent, “I refuse to lose” is the mindset that gets her through it. Not to mention she really bundles up, tunes into some power songs and tries her best to forget about the cold conditions. In case you’re wondering what music inspires her (we definitely were!), she switches off between the likes of Jay Z, Drake, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Bob Marley, depending on her mood.

Her 400-meter solo and relay performances have earned Richards-Ross the reputation of the Fastest Woman on the Planet, but her talents extend past the track and into the academic setting. “My dad always encouraged me to not be one-dimensional, so even though I was having tremendous success on the track and doing really well, he always challenged me to read and do well in school because as much as I hoped to make it to the Olympics and be one of the best in the world, I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in that basket,” she says. This mindset not only helped her become a straight-A student, but also pushed her to work even harder when it came time to run. “When I had my homework and training, and I had a lot on my plate, it was easier to get everything done. When I only had one thing to do, I’d kind of procrastinate. I always just felt so fulfilled when I was able to accomplish all those tasks.”

When it comes to fueling up for and recovering from her grueling training regimen, Richards-Ross is all about the high protein diet. She reaches for protein shakes after a tough weight room session, grilled chicken before a meet and egg whites with fruit and smoked salmon for breakfast any day of the week. “I mostly juice my vegetables because I’m not really a big fan of them—I know that’s terrible for an athlete—but there’s a few I like, and the rest of them I just juice and knock them out,” she says. And even the top athletes in the world have guilty pleasures. “Mine are the purple bag of Skittles and rum raisin ice cream. Don’t put those in front of me before a race, because I’m going to eat them!”

At the end of the day, according to Richards-Ross, it’s most important to pick an activity you enjoy. “A lot of people go into the gym and bite off more than they can chew and just get totally turned off. Start at a level that is comfortable for you; do something that’s fun whether it’s Zumba or biking,” she suggests. “There are so many things you can do to be active and healthy that don’t mean you have to go and lift 100 pounds or run on the treadmill for an hour.”

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Cheer Up! How to Nix Holiday Stress and Diet Disasters

Written on December 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm , by

Keep those spirits bright! Co-author of Hijacked by Your Brain, Dr. Julian Ford has the de-stress dos and don’ts to keep you from overindulging during the holidays. (Photo courtesy of Sara Forrest)

‘Tis the season to be jolly—right? With last-minute presents to purchase, cookies to bake and traveling woes up the wazoo, the holidays can be just plain stressful. And when we’re stressed, we eat. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.

“We overeat because the alarm center in our brain hijacks the thinking center—it’s an ancient mechanism, built to protect us from danger when food was scarce,” says Dr. Julian Ford, professor of psychiatry and director of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine traumatic stress center. “It tells us we have to keep eating even if we know we shouldn’t or no longer feel hungry.”

The external “joyful” holiday pressures, in addition to those we put on ourselves, cause our noggin to go into over-drive, explains Ford. “It’s a perfect storm for putting our brain’s alarms on high alert, leading to a feeling of constant pressure, exhaustion and ultimately disappointment when we can’t duplicate the Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed wonderful life.”

Eating can be a break from the hullabaloo hassle, as well as a source of more stress. As we all know, indulging in our favorite sweets and savories can lead to a downward spiral and the residual guilt always outweighs the joy we get from that temporary fix. To make matters worse, colder temps play into these mental games, setting us up for a diet disaster. “Our bodies may need more calories to keep us warm in the cold weather,” says Ford. ”Eating more in the winter is also often a way to cope with feeling bored when cooped up inside or depressed with the long, dark nights and short days.”

So how can we stop all the stress? Follow Ford’s top tips to tackling holiday H-E-double hockey sticks and the overeating that seemingly comes with the territory:

Make Your List, Check It Twice. Write down all of the foods you enjoy—those that give you that warm and fuzzy feeling with every bite, says Ford. Include both naughty foods and nice options so that you have a complete menu of what hits your pleasure zone. Keep the “good” ones handy in times of trouble (a low-cal granola bar is the perfect munchie for those long, winding checkout lines!) and prioritize those items at your seasonal soirée.
Want vs. Need. When you find yourself about to eat as a reflex reaction, take a few seconds to get off auto pilot and focus your mind by asking yourself, “Is eating this, right at this moment, going to really satisfy me and give me a sense of personal control?” If the answer is no, don’t eat it. “Remember that it’s your choice, based on valuing yourself,” says Ford.
Silent Flight. What’s the best way to avoid temptation? Distraction. “Look for ways to free yourself from the holiday (and day-to-day) pressures and demands,” suggests Ford. Carve an hour out of your busy schedule to find your center in your fave yoga class or sweat it out with some cardio. “Besides burning calories and reducing the feeling of hunger, exercise can help focus our minds by providing the quiet time we all need to think carefully about the choices we’re making,” says Ford. It’s all about seeking enjoyment and having a sense of self control.

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Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Foods That Fool

Written on December 20, 2013 at 9:16 am , by

Go ahead, get a little nutty.

We are questioned all the time about the healthiest this or the best that.  Women in particular are looking for smart, convenient options to feed themselves and their kids. And, sure, we all know carrot sticks and hummus can be a smart, healthy snack, but there are other options that may come as a surprise…and others that you’d think would have a big red X over them, but don’t.

Nuts.  They’re tricky because they are high in fat and calories compared to other munch-worthy foods. To make sure you don’t get fooled, watch your quantity. Two preliminary behavioral nutrition studies from Eastern Illinois University found that you may be able fool yourself into feeling full by watching what you eat—literally. In one experiment, empty pistachio shells may have helped curb calories by acting as a “visual cue” of how many the subjects had eaten. Subjects in this study who left pistachio shells on their desk reduced their calorie consumption by 18 percent, compared to those who routinely removed shells throughout the day. You might look like a bit of a hoarder at your desk, but whatever works, right? Either way, we still recommend clearing it all off before heading home.

Guacamole. Like nuts, this treat from avocados is high in fat, but a super healthy one that’s good for your bod.  It’s easy to DIY: all you need is some avocado, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice. But if the thought intimidates you, Wholly Guacamole makes theirs out of nothing but pure ingredients.  Try it out as a dip for veggies, or as a sandwich topper to use in place of mayo.

Frozen Meals. These can be healthy? Yep. In an ideal world, we’d all have beautifully balanced meals on the table each night like Mrs. Cleaver.  But it’s 2013 and that’s not always realistic.  So when you are faced with choosing a frozen meal options, look for one that’s not loaded with preservatives and sodium, and has a small ingredient list. LYFE Kitchen has a new line of tasty meals, and Amy’s Kitchen and Kashi have quality options. Again, this isn’t us giving you permission to pop one of these in the microwave every week, but are they good to have on hand in a pinch? For sure.

Fast Food. We’ve told you it’s possible to do drive-thru the right way, and we’ll say it again, in case you need a gentle reminder. The key is making the best decisions with what’s available.  Subway does a good job of making that easy with the variety of menu items you’re offered, particularly when compared to many other burger or fried chicken joints. I prefer the oven roasted chicken and add spinach, tomato and olive oil.  I get the protein I’m looking for, yet it’s not fried like foods you’d find at most other quick-service restaurants.

Related: Get more nutrition and women’s health advice from Chris and Kara Mohr.

Actress Tia Mowry’s Path to Healthy Living

Written on December 4, 2013 at 10:00 am , by

Tia Mowry puts her hands together for a flu-less holiday season and a healthy 2014. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for FluMist Quadrivalent)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Actress Tia Mowry (we know you’ve seen throwback show Sister, Sister) has quite a few projects on her plate. From the premier of her new television show, Instant Mom, on Nick at Nite to the postpartum products brand she is developing with twin sister Tamera, it was amazing she found the time to sit down for a chat with us! And one thing is for sure—despite her hectic schedule, her top two priorities remain in tact: her family and her health.

Despite marrying a man with a passion for health and wellness, Mowry wanted to discover it in her own way. Unfortunately, her journey began with a sudden diagnosis of endometriosis, an extremely painful infertility disorder. She quickly gained control of her health, though, and hasn’t slowed down since. “I wanted to have kids, so my doctor told me, ‘Tia, you’re going to have to change your diet,’” she says. After following the Body Ecology Diet for a full year, which focuses on alkalizing the body, Mowry became pregnant with her son Cree. “I’m now a believer that food can be medicine.”

Mowry also decided to try veganism earlier this year to help with other physical ailments – eczema, migraines and genetically high cholesterol – and she could not be happier with the decision. “What I like most about it is the emotional benefit that I get, realizing and understanding that I am doing the best that I can possibly do for my health,” she says. “I feel better, I have more energy, my eczema has disappeared, I no longer get migraines and my cholesterol levels are now fine.”

When it comes to working out, Mowry is all about doing what she loves, thanks to the advice she got after meeting yoga pro Tara Stiles. The routine that’s captured her heart? Dance cardio. “I was the type of person who would be out on the dance floor until the club closed, so I’m doing all types of dance cardio now,” says Mowry. “I’ve done Zumba, I’ve done Piloxing—which is boxing and Pilates at the same time—and I go to classes.” Oh, and she doesn’t look to the mirror for her workout motivation. “It’s not about what I look like; it’s about how I feel. When I focus on that, I actually find that I work out more,” she says. And cute workout clothes don’t hurt! She picks her outfit the night before for a little motivational push the following morning to get up and go have fun with her fitness.

This season Mowry teamed up with Flumist Quadrivalent, a nasal spray influenza vaccine option, to address another health issue she is passionate about now that she has little Cree to consider. “In the past, I did overlook flu vaccinations,” she says. “But after understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on an entire family, I started making it part of my annual routine. I want to protect my family.”

Mowry has experienced quite the journey to health and fitness, so maybe we should take a note or two from her book. “Changing your lifestyle takes time, so don’t get frustrated,” she suggests. “We have a lifetime to get this right, so don’t be too hard on yourself—it’s not beneficial. Start out slow and then build up your momentum and endurance. And just do what you love to do! I have seen a big change in my body since Tara gave me that advice.”

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Chef Robert Irvine’s Tips for Transforming Turkey Day Leftovers

Written on November 29, 2013 at 10:13 am , by

Chef Robert Irvine makes whipping up healthy leftover dishes possible. (Photo courtesy of Robert Irvine)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and you’ve likely allowed a little (hopefully!) indulgence to occur, what are you supposed to do with all the leftovers hanging out in the fridge? Celebrity chef Robert Irvine from Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant: Impossible is here on behalf of Gold’s Gym with a few tips for making the most out of Thanksgiving scraps while leaving our diets in tact, of course.

First and foremost, think ahead when preparing each dish for the big day. Make more of the vegetable-based sides so you have healthier leftovers to work with the following day. And watch the cooking time! “I like vegetables that still have texture to them,” says Irvine. “When we cook carrots, we don’t cook them so you can actually squash them in your hand. They should have some bite to them, so when you reutilize them the next day, they still have nutrients in them.”

And on the flipside, make fewer desserts to avoid the post-holiday sweets binge. While Chef Irvine is a believer in ending every meal with a bite of something sweet (read: not a handful of cookies!), he doesn’t go to town on the holiday pumpkin and pecan pies. “I make individual servings so that everybody gets one and that’s it. There is no seconds and therefore there’s no leftovers and I don’t have to deal with it staring at me the next day,” he says. “There’s only the good stuff.”

When it comes to the main attraction, there are plenty of ways to reinvent Mr. Turkey that don’t include two slices of gravy-soaked bread. Irvine combines the star ingredient with cranberry, brussel sprouts or cabbage and mashed potatoes—white or sweet—and gives the typical potato cake an upgrade. After chopping and combining all of the leftover ingredients, form each cake, coat them in egg white and panko breadcrumbs, pan-fry and top with a runny, poached egg. Now that’s a post-Thanksgiving breakfast! Check out this version of his recipe where good-for-you collard greens take center stage.

Otherwise, try making risotto without your leftover potatoes. Chef Irvine poaches diced potatoes and combines them with chicken stock, sour cream, chopped parsley, a little salt and white pepper, and uses it as a risotto. “People look at me like I’m crazy, but it’s really good and healthy,” he says.

And as far as those leftover carrots are concerned, why not transform them into a gourmet salad dressing? Reheat them in chicken or vegetable stock and blend them in a blender with fresh, unpeeled ginger and a teaspoon of stone ground mustard. Add a little grapeseed oil and sparkling water, and voila! “You have a brand new carrot and ginger dressing for salads that will keep for a week or so. And you can do that with any othervegetable you have left,” says Irvine.

Last but not least, a solid post-workout recovery meal is key for a guy who loves fitness almost as much as he loves food. Chef Irvine uses Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables in a fresh egg white frittata, which he serves cold, Spanish-style. After letting the pie cool, he plates slices alongside fresh tomato pico de gallo and smoked salmon. “That’s our post-workout meal and it only takes 25 minutes to make,” he says. You leave it on the side, let it cool down, wrap it up and leave it in the fridge. Then it’s always there to munch on.” Maybe the day (and weekend) after Thanksgiving won’t be such a diet disaster after all.

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Tackle Healthy Tailgating With Top Chef Stefan Richter

Written on November 21, 2013 at 11:44 am , by

The pro’s tailgate time-saving trick: caramelize onions the night before the game for sweet flavor, sans stress. (Photo courtesy of Stefan Richter)

Hot dogs, nachos and burgers are tailgate staples but can lead to healthy practice turnovers. Topping them off with calorie-dense condiments and cocktails? Game over. Cheer on your favorite team (and your own self-control) with these three guilt-free swaps from Top Chef contestant and Stefan’s at L.A. Farm Chef/owner Stefan Richter. Winning never tasted so good.

Add Flavor, Not Fat. “Everyone loves Sloppy Joes!” Richter says. Use lean ground turkey meat instead of beef and add in your favorite veggies like onion, green pepper and metabolism-boosting habanero. “The spicier, the better.” Spoon onto a toasted whole-grain bun from your local bakery and you’re ready for kickoff!

Re-Think Your Drink. What kind of six-pack do you really want? Forget the heavy brews and try Richter’s crowd pleaser: Mulled Cider. “Mix together two quarts apple cider, two allspice berries, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a sliced apple and orange,” he suggests. Lightly simmer on the grill then serve, spiking with a rum or bourbon of your choice for a hot toddy.

On the Light Side. German coleslaw is a must for this Finland native who spent the majority of his childhood in Germany. “We don’t use a mayonnaise base,” he explains. Start by combining a bag of shredded cabbage with chopped onion and green pepper. “For the sauce, boil a cup of brown sugar, a cup of white vinegar, a sprinkle of celery seeds and a half a cup of oil.” Pour over the veggie mix and chill for a refreshing, better version of the unhealthy stuff.

Want to add a festive flair to your football foods? ‘Tis the season to sport your spirit by serving and eating from plates of your team’s colors and logo. “Tailgating is paper plates and Solo cups,” the chef explains. “Why make a mess out of something that’s quick, fun and easy?” Now that deserves a touchdown dance. Hut, hut, hike!

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The Dos and Don’ts of Race Day Fueling

Written on November 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm , by

Ben recently finished the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii just under the 10 hour mark. NBD. (Photo courtesy of X2Performance)

Granola-topped yogurt or smoothie? Power bar or peanut butter on toast? Coffee or juice? Why is it that, come race day, we always question fueling? Lucky for those running in this weekend’s New York City Marathon (and anyone else looking to tackle a big race anytime soon), we got the 26.2 diet dirt from sports nutrition expert Ben Greenfield. The coach, ex-bodybuilder and Ironman triathlete is the go-to pro on prepping for peak performance. Here are Ben’s top five tips on eating for the run and recovery. Hint: Carb-loading isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Stick to what you know. OK, you’ve heard this before, but according to Ben, many athletes still break down mentally and try something out of the ordinary the week—or even day—of the race. Not a good idea. “Do exactly in the race as you have practiced in training,” he says. “Remember to train with what you’re going to use in the race about four to six times before the race. That’s what it’s going to take to train your gut to get used to the fuels you plan on using.”

Carbs: A yes…sort of. “If athletes limit carbohydrates, then taking in extra during race week become far less important,” says Greenfield. Should you decide to nosh on a bagel or big bowl of pasta, two to three days prior to the race will do the trick. Ben’s easy-to-digest suggestions: sweet potatoes, taro and white rice. (Phew, I guess we can still use the excuse that we’re carb-loading…)

Rule of yum. When it comes to pre-run drinks, err on the side of caution. “Juice is simply empty calories that actually has potential to cause blood sugar spikes,”  explains Greenfield. But what about java? Stick to just one cup, so long as you have sipped on it prior to a long run in the past. No one wants an unplanned porta potty pit stop.

To GU or not to GU? That is always the halfway point question, and according to Greenfield, energy chews/replenishers may not be as necessary as you think. “The more sodium you take in, the more your kidneys are going to push out,” he says. Opt for electrolyte capsules such as Athlytes, Endurolytes or Salt Stick instead of the sugar-laden stuff. Effervescent tablets like Nuun or GU Brew are also good options.

Recover like a champ. The old school ways of thinking—foam rolling, ice bath, massage, post-workout shakes—are instilled in our brain for a reason. They work! In addition, Greenfield suggests a few options that may not have crossed your mind. “I’ve found the occasional acupuncture session to be an incredibly useful method for everything from nagging aches and paints to full-blown adrenal fatigue,” he admits. Another tactic to consider? Deload (also known as an easy “recovery week”) every four to eight weeks, according to Greenfield. Hey, it can actually improve your fitness levels, especially since it takes a minimum of 72 hours to recover from a tough run.

Still concerned about what to eat the morning of your race? Greenfield suggests blending (it’s easier on your digestive system!) an energizing kale smoothie with coconut water or coconut milk. “Blending or juicing helps to pre-digest the food so your body doesn’t have to work as hard during digestion,” he says. This frees up precious energy for you to devote to your stride! For efforts greater than three hours in duration, add 20-30 grams of protein powder to the mix (Ben’s fave is Mt. Capra’s DEEP 30 protein). Ben also swears by ATP energy sources like X2Performance to naturally increase energy, enhance endurance and improve recovery. Best of luck this weekend, runners! You’re going to kick major asphalt.

Now tell us: How do you fuel up for a big race?

The Must-Visit Site For Weight-Loss, Workouts and More!

Written on October 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm , by

Snag a copy of Mitzi’s new book for over 50 easy-to-make clean eating recipes, learn how you can “Pin 10″ to achieve your goals and more! (Photo courtesy of Mitzi Dulan, RD)

True Life: I’m addicted to Pinterest. I mean, what’s not to love? From pinning my fave workouts and recipes (courtesy of FITNESS, duh!) to saving photos on how to spin summer dresses into fall-friendly ensembles, the site has the answer to anything and everything you need to know about.

So when I heard about registered dietician Mitzi Dulan’s new book The Pinterest Diet: How To Pin Your Way Thin, I couldn’t wait to gain her insight on how to pin it to win it, wellness-wise. Known as America’s Nutrition, Mitzi has 3.5-million followers, and after trying her Skinny One Pot Chicken Caprese Pasta (a recipe she created from Pinspiration, see below) I understand why. So tasty!

So how can you use the social media platform to improve your diet? Here are Mitzi’s top three tips:

Banish Boredom. Sick of that same old salad? Time to mix things up. “One of my Pinterest Diet rules is to make at least two new recipes a week,” Mitzi explains. Use the site to keep things fresh in the kitchen and at the gym.

Motivated to Move. Create a photo and quote-filled “Daily Inspiration Board” for a friendly eye-on-the-prize reminder. Toned tri’s, here you come!

Pin 10. Swap Facebook scrolling for Pinterest during downtime. Blocking off 10 minutes helps inspire you to live healthy, eat better and exercise,” she says.

Skinny One Pot Chicken Caprese Pasta(Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken breast, cooked and torn apart
  • 13 oz whole wheat linguini
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) no salt diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 3 large sprigs of basil, torn up
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed

Directions

Add pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and cooked chicken to a large stock pot. Pour chicken broth over the top. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer on low for about 8-12 minutes, stirring often. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated or as desired. Top with fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, if desired.

Now you tell us: How do you use Pinterest for fitspiration?

Music Monday: Nelly’s In-Shape “M.O.”

Written on October 28, 2013 at 10:59 am , by

Nelly’s latest album? Perfect for long runs. (Photo courtesy of Universal Records)

Nelly was one of the first rappers I listened to. Although I consider myself more of a country girl (um, his collab with Florida Georgia Line in this summer’s smash hit “Cruise (Remix)” was the soundtrack to my windows-down car rides…), back in my early teens my friends and I would “Ride Wit” him en route to field hockey games, sporting Band-Aids on our cheeks and all—just like he did. Yes, it was a trend that lasted a few weeks in my preppy shoreline town. Don’t ask.

I’ve followed Nelly’s career ever since, and when his seventh album, M.O., was released last month, I couldn’t pop it into my running playlist fast enough. “There’s a bunch of good workout songs on it,” Nelly told me when we recently chatted. “From top to bottom, I think you’ll find there’s a lot of great music on there to do your thing.” He called me “sweetheart” at the end of our conversation, I might add, but I digress.

Featuring Nicki Minaj, Pharrell, Nelly Fertado, T.I. and others, Nelly’s newest pace-pushing beats are sure to get your rear in gear as you take your runs indoors. And if you’re anything like Nelly, maybe that athlete mentality will translate into your career. “The competitiveness, the will not to quit and basically being in attack mode definitely helped me,” he says, explaining that the new album’s title not only stands for his home state of Missouri, but also “Method of Operation.”

So what is the workaholic’s method of staying in shape? I mean, don’t mess with those biceps! “The majority of the men in my family are super duper skinny, so the hardest part is putting the weight on,” he admits. “If I’m working, I probably get to the gym three times a week. I’m not going as heavy, just trying to maintain.” And when it comes to cardio, you won’t find the singer on the treadmill, but on the court. “I think basketball is the best cardio in the world, especially with all of the movements—the stops, jumps, the agility part of it and just the constant running.”

When I asked the former vegetarian about his diet, Nelly couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of watching what you eat. To keep his pumped-up physique, the artist tries to take in a lot of protein and loves turkey burgers. “When I started filming The Longest Yard—they wanted me to play a running back—I started eating chicken and turkey again because I only had two months to get as big as possible.” Another staple in Nelly’s daily eats? Oatmeal. “I eat a whole lot of oatmeal with cinnamon. I’ll chop up some bananas and put some raisins in it.” Whoa, Nelly! We’re impressed!

In honor of his new album, here’s a Nelly-fied playlist (a nice mix of old and new) to “Shake Ya Tailfeather” to. Sporting a Band-Aid? Optional, but strongly encouraged.