Saturday, November 29, 2008

Recipe: Agave/Flax Cookies

After some kitchen science projects with the agave nectar that ended in one whole batch of muffins down the trash, I put together a recipe for flax cookies that uses some agave nectar. I took the cookies in on Thanksiving morning for my yoga class and everyone liked them. Several even asked for the recipe. So, here it is:

Chocolate Chip, Cranberry & Flax Cookies

2 cups flour (any kind, I used unbleached whole wheat)
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup organic sugar (Sugar in the Raw is my favorite)
1 large egg
1 or 2 tablespoons of soy milk (depending on consistency of batter, may need to use a bit more)
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
Handful of white chocolate chips
Handful of cranberries

Stir flour and dry ingredients (except sugar) together. Whisk all wet ingredients with sugar seperately. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture, then add chocolate chips and cranberries. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or as long as overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Shape the cookies into one inch balls. Bake approximately 15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for an additional 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Note: The cookies never change shape or flatten. They come out of the oven looking the same as went they went in. The recipe also says to add walnuts or almonds but I didn't have any.

The recipe made a ton of cookies which I put in the freezer. These aren't kid tested but I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Go Agave!

Finally, a natural sweetener that actually tastes good! Have you tried Agave Nectar yet? You's great in oatmeal, coffee, baked goods and in almost any food that needs a bit of sweetener. I even add a squirt to B's smoothies.

And you don't have to trek to an expensive health food store to get it. At under $3.00 a bottle, it's a steal at your local Trader Joe's. Unfortunately, at our neighborhood TJ's, they've moved the agave inventory to the bottom, corner shelf so it's often overlooked. This stuff really deserves its own end-cap display!

So what is Agave Nectar? Agave Nectar is a natural caloric sweetener derived from the Agave plant. The plants are in the same family as the Blue Agave, from which tequila is made.

This nectar does not contain processing chemicals. It is definitely not in the Splenda/Nutrasweet family. Even better, because it is sweeter than table sugar, less is needed in your recipes and meals. It can be most useful for people who are diabetic or are simply watching their carbohydrate intake.

In recipes, use about 75% less of this nectar that you would use of table sugar. ¼ cup of Agave Nectar should equal 1 cup of table sugar. Due to its slow absorption by the human body, Agave Nectar works as intelligent caloric food, since it is absorbed according to the body needs.

This week, I'll be making my first attempt to bake with Agave. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, go get some of this yummy nectar and satisfy your sweet tooth in a responsible way!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'll Take Manhattan

This week, as I was marching away on the eliptical machine at my gym, I read an interesting tidbit in Women's Health magazine.

Here it is:

One hour of shopping at Wal-Mart = 220 calories burned
One hour of shopping in New York City = 200 calories burned

Finally, a good reason to shop at Wal-Mart. A whole 20 extra calories to overhear domestic disputes, unpry your feet off the sticky floor, and see more situations requiring immediate CPF intervention than in any other public place.

Who The Heck Are You?

If you've just migrated over from my "Sleepless in Sac-Town" blog, you're probably wondering what I'm doing here.

And if you've just hit on this blog from my business card, you might be curious as to what a blog site has to do with fitness.

For a long time, I've wanted to create a space where my clients, my family, and my friends (including all the virtual friends whom I haven't met in "real" life yet) could access tips and ideas that I try and integrate into my daily life. And since I'm too cheap and too much of a novice to build a web site, I figured that a blog would be the next best thing.

So what's so luscious here? Well, it's simple. When you're healthy and feeling good, it seems that lots of things start to fall in place and life feels, you know, just a bit more luscious. Or juicy. Or just pretty darn great.

You might be asking yourself at this point: "What qualifies this person as a health professional?" My answer is pretty simple. Over the last 18 years, I've lost 70 lbs, give or take a few (depending on the season and my emotional state!). Cancer has hit my immediate family twice. I've dropped out of the banking world to pursue a career in fitness. I took fitness a step further to work with clients who have special conditions (i.e. knee/hip replacements, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia). All of these steps required tons of research, reading, testing, and client contact hours.

And the learning never stops...I'm constantly on the search for the newest developments in disease prevention, I'm trying out new fitness trends, and I'm talking non-stop to people, day in and day out, about their health.

So here's an opportunity for you to take some of what I know and maybe try it on in your own life. You can also check back here each week to see what's happening in my world of yoga and pilates classes. I'll post openings in my Reformer classes and give you updates as to where you can find me teaching yoga and other group classes during the week.

It's my vision to someday have a physical space where we I can bring people together to practice yoga, learn pilates, and experience wellness from other practitioners. Once the economy gets a little brighter, I'll have more ideas as to how this venture might unfold.

In the meantime, make "Luscious Life" one of your wellness spots. I'll have some guest writers lined up, some products that you simply must bring into your kitchen, a few supplement ideas that you might consider integrating into your regime, and as always, some recommendations as to how to live a luscious life! Please feel free to email me directly with any questions you may.

Here's to luscious living.