Monthly Archives: April 2014

HOW TO EAT HEALTHY ON PASSOVER

Cottonseed oilI wrote this article last year for the Toronto Family Magazine, and I wanted to post it here a week ago but I have been so busy cooking and preparing that I totally forgot! surpriseops: .   Hopefully it’s not too late to incorporate some of these healthy alternatives:

Buy organic potatoes: I know what you’re thinking: “A gazillion pounds of organic potatoes will cost me a fortune!” But this isn’t the case; organic potatoes are really not much more than conventional ones.  The reason to spend a little extra? A 2006 U.S.D.A. test found 81 percent of potatoes tested still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled, and the potato has one of the highest pesticide contents of 43 fruits and vegetables tested, according to the Environmental Working Group.  So with all those potatoes being eaten, wouldn’t you feel better knowing you were giving your family a lot less potentially harmful substances?

Eggs should have no hormones or antibiotics in the feed:  While I don’t recommend buying organic eggs, because there are too many blood spots found in them, the next best thing when consuming as many eggs as we do on Pesach, is eggs with no hormones or antibiotics in the feed. The only brand I have found to specify this on the label is Earth’s Best, which is found in most supermarkets.  Note that eggs labeled Omega-3 are not the same thing and this causes a lot of confusion among consumers.  The Omega-3 label simply means that flax seeds have been added to the feed; it does not mean that hormones or antibiotics have not been given as well.

Use spelt matzah instead of wheat:  Spelt is nutritionally superior to wheat and easier to digest.  While spelt does contain gluten, the gluten content is less, and many people sensitive to wheat find they can tolerate spelt.  (Note that spelt is not suitable for those with celiac disease or those on a gluten-free diet).  Even if you aren’t sensitive to wheat, another benefit to choosing spelt instead is that it remains unaffected by concepts such as ‘agribusiness’, ‘cross-breeding,’ ‘hybridization’ and ‘genetically modified’ – words that have come to dominate our modern food supply.  What does this mean to you? Less toxic substances and chemicals being consumed, better for your health.  It is easy to find Organic Spelt Matzoh at you local grocery store.

Cook and bake with grapeseed oil instead of cottonseed oil:  According to most health experts, cottonseed oil is one of the unhealthiest oils around.  Cottonseed oil contains natural toxins because in order to extract oil from cottonseed, these seeds have to be modified genetically.  The oil also contains unacceptably high levels of pesticide residues, since cotton is not classified as a food crop and farmers use many agrichemicals when growing it.  Additionally, since there is a similarity in the molecular structures of the composition of cottonseed and peanut oil, some people who are allergic to peanuts also suffer from the same allergic reactions after consuming cottonseed oil.

In contrast, grapeseed oil is rich in proanthocyanidins (OPC) a compound that is high in antioxidants which are 50 times more effective than Vitamin E and 20 times stronger than Vitamin C.  Grape seed oil is also able to handle high-temperatures without smoking, burning or splattering.  This means it can be safely used for high-heat stir-frying and baking.  Another great benefit – Grapeseed oil has a light nutty flavor lacking the heaviness of other oils, so it will not affect the flavor of your food.  While Kosher for Passover grapeseed oil is difficult to find in Canada,  De La Rosa Kosher Italian Grapeseed Oil, which has an OU-p, can be ordered from Amazon in the U.S.

Bake, don’t buy, Pesach cakes:  In addition to saving you lots of money, baking your own cakes for Pesach has many benefits over purchasing ready-made ones.  First, you can decrease the amount of sugar in almost every Pesach cake recipe, without affecting the final result.  Second, you can use Organic sugar according to most halachik authorities, as long as it has a reliable kosher symbol, no special Kosher for Passover certification required.  Third, commercial Pesach cakes are loaded with chemicals and preservatives in order to increase their shelf life, contains food coloring, unnatural flavoring and cottonseed oil.  Baking your own allows you to use grapeseed oil and the healthier eggs discussed above, eliminates the need for chemicals and gives you the opportunity to incorporate ingredients like raw almonds or walnuts (if there are no nut allergies in the family) to add healthy fatty acids as well as fiber.  Choose recipes that have the lowest amounts of potato starch for the healthiest result.

Drink dry red wine:  Dry red wine has some antioxidant properties as well as bioflavonoids, which help to fight free radicals — the damaging agents in your body that can lead to heart disease and cancer. What this means is that the cups of wine you consume for the Seder do offer some health benefits in addition to all those calories.  Speaking of calories, avoid sweet wines, which contain more than 45 grams of sugar per liter and therefore a lot more calories, as opposed to the 4 grams of sugar per liter that dry red wine contains.

If you or your children are drinking grape juice at the Seder, brands like Kedem and Concord now make organic grape juice with no sulfites. Sulfites, or sodium/potassium metabasulfite as it is commonly labelled, are a potential food allergen that can cause headache, facial flushing and itching and are found in all wines and grape juice unless it specifies “sulphite-free” on the label.  It is more difficult to obtain wine without sulphites, but if you tend to get any of those reactions after drinking wine, you might consider making the switch. That being said, some people get a reaction due to other substances in wine.Since white wine often has a higher sulfite levels than red wines, if you don’t react to white wine, then you know that it’s something in red wine other than sulfites that is causing the problem. (Note that organic wines are not necessarily sulfite free).

Stick to whole foods:  Simply put, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, roasted vegetables, fish, chicken and lean meat and drink plenty of water.  This way, you won’t find your health adversely affected by this holiday!  Check out the Recipes page for healthy recipes suitable for Passover.  While you’re at it, see this previously written post about what to eat on Passover.

Wishing you all a Chag Kasher V’sameach! happy

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MY REVIEW OF 21 DAY FIX

I completed the 21-Day-Fix in March, along with 9 members of my Online Fitness Challenge Group (for more about our Online Fitness Challenge groups and how you can join one, please CLICK HERE).

Before I tell you about our experience with the program, take a look at this quick intro video:

Seems too good to be true, right? Well, here is the lowdown on this program as well as my overall opinion.  The weight loss in my group over the 3 weeks varied from 2 lbs. up to 9 lbs.  So I think it’s fair to say that unless you are extremely overweight or never ever cheat during this program, 15 lb. of weight loss is a little high.  That being said, from a Nutritionist/Personal Trainer standpoint, 1 – 2 lb. a week (or 6 lbs. over the 3 week period) is very reasonable and very attainable with this program.

There are no gimmicks with this program.  Autumn Calebrese is a serious, no nonsense trainer who doesn’t crack a lot of jokes and has a tendency to say “Yeah?” a lot.  She also says “You give me 21 days and I’ll give you the body you always wanted!” which is kind of irritating, because if I was 30 lbs. overweight and wanted to have the body of a supermodel, that isn’t going to happen in 21 days, I don’t care how good the program is! tongue  That being said, looking at her amazing body is motivating enough, and she does come across as being encouraging and caring, without being annoying or condescending.  She is a stickler for proper form which, as a trainer, I really appreciate since some trainers are “go go go” without taking the time and attention to make sure you are doing the exercises properly in order to prevent injury.

The program outlines the exact workouts to do each day and the exercise sessions, at 30 minutes each, were very varied and more challenging than I expected considering it is marketed to all fitness levels.  There is a modifier (Katie)  in every workout though so technically anyone CAN do it;   just don’t be discouraged if you are only following Katie all the time because eventually you will get better and be able to follow Autumn.  I found Upper Fix, Lower Fix and Pilates to be moderately challenging, while Cardio Fix and Total Body Cardio Fix were killer workouts with a lot of cursing going on (mine, not Autumn’s).  Yoga Fix was really easy, but considering it’s for the 7th day of the week, or the “rest” day, that’s to be expected.  The 10 min. Ab Fix bonus workout was pretty good but a little too much concentration on the upper abs and not much for the lower.  All the “choreography” is simple so it’s also perfect for those who have, shall we say, co-ordination challenges.

The program came with a bonus Plyo Fix workout, which is a decent workout but I just didn’t love it as much as the other workouts.  The Ultimate Kit includes 2 additional bonus DVDs, the 30 minute Flat Abs Fix and the Barre Legs, both of which are excellent and definitely worth the extra money.  They can also be purchased separately HERE if you already have the Base Kit or if you don’t need the additional extras from the Ultimate Kit (a tote bag, large to-go container and resistance band).

Now let’s talk about food, but more specifically, the infamous 21-Day-Fix containers: most of the members in my group completely freaked out when they first saw the containers that are included with the program.  They seem much smaller in person than they do in pictures and I think everyone’s first thought was “Holy crap, I’m going to starve!” but I assure you that’s not the case at all.  Not only do you get a few servings of each container per day, depending on your start weight (there’s a very easy to follow math equation that leads you to the specific calorie and container chart you will be following) but when you actually empty the contents of the containers into a normal plate, the portions are very reasonable.  The lowest calorie level for the program is 1200-1499 calories, which is very reasonable for weight loss according to Health & Nutrition experts.  I would never recommend eating less than 1200/calories per day and neither do the smart folks over at Beachbody, creators of this (and many other) programs. Personally, I found it much more difficult to be in the 1200-1499 calories range than my group did since I am used to eating close to 2000 calories a day (a necessity when exercising an hour a day and training people as well).  I ended up bumping up to the 1500-1799 calories/day and still managed to lose the 2 lbs. I gained during the previous month when stress led me to eat one to many bowls of coconut ice cream, so I was very pleased. winking

There are no weird or crazy foods to consume, no difficult recipes to follow, and you can print the super easy to follow program tracker sheets HERE.

Overall, I really enjoyed this program a lot and recommend it to anyone motivated enough to do daily workouts (it’s only 21 days!) and to lose weight in a short amount of time.  The program is definitely more geared towards women but I see no reason why men wouldn’t enjoy this program as well – just don’t expect to put on muscle as this is strictly a weight loss regimen. You can repeat the program as many times as you want if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, but I recommend to take a few days break in between each round and bump up the calories a level so your metabolism doesn’t slow down as it gets used to the calorie deficit.

Let me know in the comments if you have done this program and what you thought of it, or if you are planning to do it – I would love to help you reach your goals!

Below you will find details of what comes with the program (you can click any of the links to order):

Product Kit & Equipment Details (Base & Deluxe)

21 Day Fix Essentials (Base) Kit 30-day money back guarantee

Free Gifts Start Here Guide with Workout Calendar 3-Day Quick Fix** Eating Plan**24/7 Online Support** g

Work Outs 7 workouts on 2 DVDs (VHS not available)Dirty 30 workout** Total Body Cardio Fix Upper Fix Lower Fix Pilates Fix Cardio Fix Yoga Fix

Ultimate Workouts No

Equipment No

Nutrition Samples No

Containers 7 color-coded portion-control containers Shakeology shaker cup

**Free Gifts with purchase to keep

21 Day Fix Ultimate Kit 30-day money back guarantee

Free Gifts Start Here Guide with Workout Calendar 3-Day Quick Fix** Eating Plan**24/7 Online Support** Insulated Tote Bag

Work Outs 7 workouts on 2 DVDs (VHS not available)Dirty 30 workout** Total Body Cardio Fix Upper Fix Lower Fix Pilates Fix Cardio Fix Yoga Fix

Ultimate Workouts Flat Abs Fix Barre Legs

Equipment 1 Pro-Grade Resistance Band (Pink=15lbs)

Nutrition Samples No

Containers 7 color-coded portion-control containers Shakeology shaker cup Large on-the-go container

Recommended Equipment: Yoga Mat or Beachbody miniMAT are helpful but not required.

Required Equipment: Dumbbells or a resistance band are used in some of the workouts.

PRICES:

Base Kit: 59.85 US or 53.87 US if you are a Club Member

Ultimate Kit: 119.70 US or 107.73 if you are a Club Member

Challenge Pack is also available which includes 30 days of Shakeology (For my orthodox Jewish followers, please note: Shakeology has 2 vegan options – the others are made with whey protein – but it is NOT certified Kosher) and 30 days of Club Membership: 160.00 US

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