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mexican chocolate tofu pudding
Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding. Photo Credit: nytimes.com

I once fell asleep with chocolate in my mouth.

In my defense, chocolate relaxes me. It was right after dinner and I had just unwrapped a Lindt dark chocolate truffle (for the record, I love truffles. I think it’s a beautiful word that just rolls off your tongue). So I bit into the truffle feeling the silky chocolate center ooze out of the shell, while bits and pieces of chocolate lingered on my tongue. In my euphoric state I dozed off. The next thing I knew I woke up with this sour metallic taste in my mouth AND a sore throat.

Anyway.

I’m a fan of chocolate that goes down easy–like hot chocolate, chocolate soup, the inside of Molten Lava Chocolate Cake, or chocolate mousse.  Speaking of, ever since I saw Mark Bittman’s post on New York Times about Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding, I’ve been dying to try tofu with my chocolate. And apparently the dessert gods heard my prayer because yesterday, Untied’s Katie Holloway brought tofu chocolate mousse to the web room! No, it doesn’t taste like tofu, but it does lend an unbelievably silky feel to the mousse. It was like eating chocolate icing but not as dense, and not as sweet.

We ate it with strawberries, doughnuts, chips–you name it–it was a perfect match for everything. Katie’s cousin Sara was kind enough to share the recipe. Even awesomer news-it’s incredibly easy to make:

Ingredients

1 package silken tofu
10 oz dark chocolate
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 Kahlua (optional)

Procedure

1. In a double boiler (or microwave), melt the chocolate.

2. Combine tofu and chocolate in blender and blend until fully mixed. Add syrup and Kahlua.

3. Place in a separate container and cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

You know what else is good with tofu? Fruit smoothies! I swear it makes a difference. Go on a health trip and try this strawberry-banana smoothie with honey, orange juice, and tofu.

Enjoy!

– Kris Alcantara

Today’s Sugarhigh:  Too many to mention.

Score: A

OK, I’m not saying to go caffeine crazy and drink a bunch of coffee, tea, or soft drinks. I’m also not saying down a bunch of caffeine pills, but a little bit of caffeine every now and then is actually quite useful, especially if you are going for a workout.

The only problem is that if you are a big caffeine person, then the response will be less effective versus someone who just drinks it once in a while. Once the caffeine is in the body, it’s absorbed by the GI tract and rises in the blood at 15 minutes and then peaks at 60 minutes.

This can be very helpful for creating tension during the workout and also stimulating the central nervous system by increasing alertness and decreasing drowsiness. Who knew caffeine could do all of this inside of the body?

(courtesy of google images)

An example of caffeine at it’s best would be taking it before a prolonged exercise like running because it can raise glucose levels and use fatty acid as the fuel for getting the exercise completed.


– Skylaur Morris

Menstruation isn’t usually a topic I seek out at the bookstore…but for some reason, when health advice is written out in pseudo-astrological terms, I’m all about it.

You know that mysterious week or so every month when you look in the mirror and instead of thinking, “Eww,” you think, “Hell yeah”? That’s what this book, The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…At Any Age, by Rebecca Booth, MD, ob/gyn, is about. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m thinkin’ I oughtta.

Courtesy of Tower.com

Image courtesy of tower.com

According to Dr. Booth, the Venus Week is “a cache of days, which happens around the same time each month [and is] the convergence of a woman’s mind, body, and sexuality. When women learn to lean into this tremendously powerful energy, suddenly their hormones become their greatest ally—instead of their biggest foe.”

I’ve always noticed those few fleeting days when my skin glows, acne fades, my hair feels shinier, my body feels agile, and I’m just generally at peace with the world, but I’ve never really understood what’s going on. I just chalk it up to fluke good hair days or give all the credit to some new skin product I’m using.

No, Dr. Booth says. That attractive glow and happy feeling comes from within you. And the book gives tips on how to harness that sparkle as well as to prolong it into your “waning” or “Minerva” days (also known as your “everything sucks and I hate my hair” days.)

None of the diet, exercise, and beauty advice the book offers sound revelatory, however, critics say that the tips are simple, pointed, and easy to carry out.

The monthly cycle has always gotten a bad rap — PMS horror myths, the way men wrinkle their nose at the word “tampon,” cramps, the myriad crass slang words for your period, all of that. It’s nice to have an authoritative resource that highlights the positives of a woman’s cycle.

Check out this book review from the Washington Post. And, for the technologically inclined, you can now get the book on Kindle.

– Ms. Feelgood

We all know that exercise does a body good but what about the brain? Exercise can improve the brain’s cognitive functioning, especially as we get older.

Many times you’ll catch someone doing crossword puzzles or jumping around to their favorite song, but what they don’t know is that they are stimulating the brain while doing it.

Mental (reading and writing) and physical (exercise and movement) activities become important stimulants for brain health. How many times have you seen people affected by a stroke? or alzheimer’s disease. Those are examples of not having good brain health, and can be prevented by doing daily doses of exercise and playing a fun game of scattergories.

The way it works:
Exercise improves the blood flow to the brain and promotes the functions of neurons. Many of these effects take place in the region of the brain that is used for memory and learning.

Hippocampus (responsible for memories and learning)

– Skylaur Morris

(Brain photo, courtesy of google images)

Working out takes energy away, so we must have energy to perform it. The reason why we can’t work out on an empty stomach is because our body needs to feed off something to produce enough energy for the workout. The 3 types of fuel that can be used for exercise are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Not saying, let’s go crazy and eat a bunch of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, but you need to have some in your diet in order to make progress with your workouts!!!

Fats

Using stored body fat (meaning, fat already on the body) is a great source for long periods of exercise. Usually one gram of fat has at least 9 kcals of energy and is water insoluble. The energy source is greater than proteins and carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates

Since carbohydrates are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, they are provide the fastest form of energy, although one gram of it still provides less energy than fat. Carbohydrates come in 3 forms that use simple sugars, that are made up of glucose, fructose, and sucrose. There can also be complex carbohydrates, but start of as simple carbohydrates.

Proteins

Proteins are made by using amino acids and chemical bonds. Consuming the 9 essential amino acids is a must because proteins are made up of different parts from the amino acids. Protein contributes to exercise by either directly by bioenergetics in the muscle cells or indirectly by helping synthesize glycogen to work on circulation.

– Skylaur Morris

Finally, something we all can agree that taste good and is good for you at the same time. Smoothies can become apart of your daily diet either as meals or as a quick healthy snack or dessert.

As we discussed supplements briefly in another blog, mixing them into smoothies is a great way to get all the necessary nutrients the body needs.

Fruit and vegetables are great in smoothie form and is a sure way to make something taste better that you would normally, say yuck too.

To cover all your vitamins and minerals, Here are some recipes from http://www.flowercarole.com to help create some blended healthy treats:

Banana and Mango Delish Smoothie
(serves 1)

Ingredients
2 bananas (ready to be eaten)
1 large bowen mango (any mango will do but bowens are tasty)
1/2 cup of full fat milk (2% milk is full milk is too much)

Method
Blend all ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.

Crazy Carrot Smoothie Recipe
(serves 2-3)

(courtesy of google images)

Ingredients
3/4 medium sized cup of carrot juice
3/4 medium sized cup of orange juice (or Apple Juice)
3 scoops of vanilla ice-cream (or vanilla frozen yogurt for healthier choice)
6 ice cubes

Method
Pour the carrot juice and orange juice into blender and mix gently until well combined. Add the ice cream and mix until thoroughly blended. Add the ice cubes and process until smooth.

Sweet and Healthy Smoothie

Ingredients
1 kiwi fruit peeled
1/2 banana
approx 15 red grapes
3 pineapple rings

Method
To make this free smoothie recipe, peel and dice the kiwi fruit and dice the pineapple rings. Blend together the kiwi, grapes and banana for 45 seconds then add the pineapple chunks and blend for a further minute or so.

– Skylaur Morris
(Recipes provided by http://www.flowercarole.com; images courtesy of google images)

How about a nice fun evening of playing Tennis with friends. OK, that works for a little bit…now let’s try to sweat.

Tennis is one of those sports where a person can get lazy by not running for shots out of reach, not adjusting for different shots, and not catching those drop shots or lob shots over the head. Let’s not become an old man playing tennis just yet, we can still move and shake with the best of them.

To make Tennis more valuable or I should say helpful to your health…make it a fun workout that can replace your time on the treadmill or elliptical.

If you’re a beginner, work on improving technique and hand-eye coordination. Taking beginning lessons will help tremendously.

If you’re more advanced, try working on drills and continuous groundstrokes to get the endurance up. Cardio Tennis is one of the best ways to have fun while playing Tennis, and get a workout in at the same time.

– Sky

Any kind of physical activity can be affected by sweat-induced loss of body water, which can cause dehydration.  If you’re losing 1% to 2% of body weight, your exercise performance will be slightly off.

It’s a whole new story when it comes to losing more than 3% of body weight, trust me, you’ll know the feeling.  Do you remember working out and then feeling light headed? How about dizzy? Nausea?, and then all of a sudden, puking.

All of this happens for a reason.  Your body is saying “I need more replenishing before I sweat out all of my fluid supply.”

A strenuous work out or even a medium workout requires the right preparation, which involves making sure you have enough body water to sweat off, before you get your sweat on.  Monitoring drinking while exercise is key, because if you ingest too much, the fluid will just sit and cause nausea. Drinking plenty of water and Gatorade is a sure way to keep hydrated, but this must be done days before working out, not only on days of exercise.

(Courtesy of google images)

A good way to check your hydration level would be to look at your urine.  If the urine is dark yellow or any dark color, then you are not getting enough of the right fluid replenishments. Now, if the urine color is clear or light yellowish, keep up the good work, because you are definitely staying hydrated.

(courtesy of google images)

Let’s not forget to rehydrate after exercise.  Try to drink enough fluids to equal 150% of the weight loss from sweat.

– Skylaur Morris

Supplement Time

Let’s change the stigma! Supplements are not just for big bodybuilders or people trying to gain weight…Any person can use a supplement depending on their needs.  

Following the USDA food pyramid guidelines to get your daily dose of grains, vegetables, fruits, diary, meats, and oils is of course the best way to do it…But what about if you’re on the go or struggling with time to sit down and eat 3 big meals a day, or if you’re working out at high intensities for a specific goal?

Supplements are the easiest way to get in all the nutrients and calories you need. 

We’ve compiled a list of a few supplements that are good for health and fitness:

 Protein

It provides muscle growth. Also maintains and rebuilds the protein lost during exercise periods.

Product Recommendations:

1)   SIMPLE NATURAL ORIGINAL VANILLA SPIRU-TEIN POWDER  

This product is good for just getting enough protein in the daily diet and for strength training to have lean muscle.

Antioxidant Vitamins: C, E, beta-carotene

These antioxidants will prevent muscle damage from happening after working out.

Product Recommendations:

1)   Nature’s Garden Açaí Supreme Plus

This product contains natural antioxidants and includes a super fruit formula and anti-aging ingredients.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Good for lowering cholesterol levels, blood pressure and stimulating the human growth hormone.

Product Recommendations:

1)   GNC Omega-3 Soft Chews – Citrus Flavor

Resembling the taste of starburst, it’s easy to forget that this is not candy. These soft chews support joints, brain, skin health, lowering cholesterol & blood pressure, and also reduces heart disease.  

– Skylaur Morris

Easy Warm-Ups

Before any intense workout, we have to get the blood flowing and get the adrenaline pumping. Warming up is very helpful, whether it’s ballistic stretching or more energetic activity like jogging. Try this warm-up exercises to get the body pumped up for more:

Jumping Rope

Simple, yet can be intense, depending on how you do it. Try jumping rope either for 1 minute or until you get to 100 jumps. Add double jumps, running jumps, and one foot combinations to mix it up.

(courtesy of google images)

Squat into jumps

Throwing in some plyometrics won’t hurt at all. Start down in a squat position and then instead of coming straight up, try jumping straight up into a full stretch, skyrocketing off the ball of your foot. When you come back down, land back on the ball of your foot and sink back into the squat position smoothly. Repeat this motion continuously 15 times.

Cardio Machines

Whatever you fancy the most, use it. Treadmills, ellipticals, upright bikes, recumbent bikes, rows, and stairmasters are the more popular cardio machines. When using one of these, focus on light intensity (since you’re only warming up) with medium resistance. Use one of these songs for 5 to 10 minutes depending on your exercise routine.

Push Ups &Crunches

In whatever push up position that best suits you, try to go for 2 sets of 10. Crunches can be very easy, so to get a more advanced crunch, lift the legs & bend the knees in a 90 degree angle position, and pretend to do the bicycle motion with each crunch. 15 to 20 crunches for 2 sets should be plenty to get the party started. Alternate between the push ups and crunches completing 4 sets in total.

(courtesy of google images)

Walking to touch toes

This is definitely going to get the flexibility into motion. With each walk, kick the leg straight out in front of you and try to bring your foot to your hand. Do this in a continuous motion walking in a straight line up to 8 toe touches for 2 sets.

– Skylaur Morris