Ground Turkey & Chicken Muffins Recipe

We love these muffins. So versatile: throw into a picnic basket, add to a big salad, make into meatballs for spaghetti, quick grab and go lunch.

I often make these, alternating between using ground turkey and ground chicken. If I am remembering correctly I got the recipe idea from Jamie Eason‘s website years ago. There are a lot of variations on the web, but this is my favourite.

  • 2 lbs ground chicken or ground turkey
  • 1 eggs (original recipe uses 3 egg whites, but my family like them with whole eggs)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves (original recipe uses 2 tbsp powder, but I like adding fresh cloves)
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2 celery

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Roll mixture into balls and place in silicon muffin tins. Bake for 40 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Using ground turkey: 172cal, 7.9g fat, 6.5g carb, 18.7g protein

Inner Core Stabilization, Diastasis Recti, and Flatter Tummy

Pillow belly. That is what my children called the soft, squishy area between my ribs and pelvis. When my children were little they would take running leaps, head first, into it.

During my pregnancies I developed noticeable diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is the separation of the connective tissue in the middle of your left and right halves of the rectus abdominis, the most superficial abdominal muscle, making it unable to contract properly.

My separation is quite severe. Whenever I have a physical examination with a new doctor, they are always like “Whoa! That is the worse diastasis recti I have ever seen!” I mumble a thanks…

My guess is that I had it slightly even before my pregnancies with my “outie” belly button issue, but it definitely got worse after.

The first picture was taken in the early 2000s, after a triathlon race and a year before having my first baby (notice my “outie” belly button). The second picture taken this summer (2018), twelve years after having my last baby (I like to call my deformed, wrinkly belly button my “third eye” as it sticks out when wearing slim fitting shirts). My diastasis recti is about 3 inches wide and 4 inches high separated at the belly button (with a bunch of stretch marks added for good measure!)

Once connective tissue is overly stretched it can’t go back, which is a bummer. However, while some of us will always have this condition, there is something we can do about it.

Recently my instructor at Douglas College talked about our transverse abdominis (TVA: most deep core muscle) and how sometimes we see skinny girls with bellies. It’s not that they have abdominal fat, it’s just that their TVA is weak and their organs are pushing outward. Shifting the focus to training the most deep core muscles would definitely help “hug” our organs in, which creates a flatter tummy.

When I teach Fusion Flow and Pilates, I usually start classes with Posture Pose, I cue a light “drawing in” of the lower abdominal region, like a zippering up of the lower core. That activates the core stabilizers (muscles that hug around our entire torso), which are so important when we exercise, as well as, during our daily living activities. Having strong core stabilizers will help you perform all your exercises and daily living movements with more balance, less a chance of injury and pain, and have a flatter tummy area (bonus!). Another benefit of exercising those core stabilizers is that is helps fix pelvic floor dysfunction, as our pelvic floor musculature is part of the inner most deep core muscles.

Our core stabilizers consist of the transverse abdominis (deep hugging on our sides), internal obliques (inner sides), multifidus (low back), pelvic floor (attached between pubis and sacrum, the muscles wrap around urethra and anus), and diaphragm (principle muscle of respiration).

Draw In & Zipper Up Exercise

The first exercise I suggest is one you can do in the shower. This one is so effective! It’s the drawing in and zippering up exercise, but it also adds a kegel at the same time. Draw front core muscles in towards the middle and then zipper up the core muscles toward belly button. Hold everything for ten seconds. And when you do it, squeeze tightly. I put my hands on my lower belly to help my mind activate those muscles. Do 3 sets with a 10 second hold, resting for 10 seconds between sets. You know you are doing it right, when you get a nice cramp in that area 🙂

Pelvic Tilts Exercise

The second exercise is pelvic tilts. Lie on your back with a neutral spine (slight arch in low back, pelvis balanced/neutral), with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Place hands on low belly. First move: aim the tip of your tailbone down to the floor, while your belly comes to ceiling (arching your low back). Second move: slowly draw in and zipper up the core while you flatten your low back to the floor, tilting your pelvis the other way. Squeeze tightly and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5-10 reps.

Marching Exercise

The third exercise is marching. Lie on your back with a neutral spine (slight arch in low back, pelvis neutral), with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Draw in and zipper up the core. Lift one foot off the floor only as high as it can be controlled. Your pelvis and low back area should not change position. Hold for 2 seconds. Slowly lower and repeat on other side. Do 5-10 reps on each side.

Leg Lift on Ball Exercise

Balancing exercises are amazing for working the deep inner core muscles. Sit on a stability ball with your feet flat, hip width apart. Back straight. Draw in and zipper up core. Slowly lift one leg off the floor only as high as can be controlled. Your pelvis and low back area should not change position. Hold for 2 seconds. Slowly lower and repeat on other side. Do 5-10 reps on each side. If you do not have a stability ball, you can do this exercise standing.

Joint Pain & Exercise

Several years ago I went through a stressful patch in my life with over programming (driving kids everywhere), too many volunteer commitments, selling/buying house, moving to a new city. And so, amongst all of that I wasn’t taking care of myself all that well: I ate a lot of prepackaged convenience “ vegan” foods, lived on caffeine, often skipped meals, wasn’t consistent with exercising, didn’t get enough sleep or even down time. I was about 8 pounds underweight (when I am stressed I don’t eat). So my health was at an all time low. On top of that I started having severe perimenopausal symptoms: delayed cycles, hot flashes, extreme fatigue, urgency to pee, joint pain. Fun times.

Many of those symptoms were eased by slowing down, cutting out a few programs from the family schedule, making healthy meals at home, eating animal protein, taking a compounded T4 hormone for my hypothyroid. But my joint pain remained. It wasn’t awful, just an achiness in my hands, feet, and knees, and sometimes in my low back. Especially in the mornings.

Another thing I added was lifting weights again. Light at first, 30 minutes 3x week at home. Nine months after that I progressed to the point of needing to join a gym to lift heavier weight. I noticed recently I rarely have that joint pain anymore.

All these years in the fitness industry, I knew exercise helped ease arthritis pain and stiffness, but now I had first hand experience on it, and that felt amazing! I had to research why…

Exercise helps your joint pain by:

  •             Strengthening the muscles around your joint, so the joint is better supported
  •             Movement provides nutrients to the tendons and ligaments, by producing synovial fluid to the joints so they glide smoother
  •             Provides flexibility in the tendons, ligaments, and, muscles, which eases that feeling of stiffness
  •             Helps maintain strength in your bones, weight bearing exercise builds much needed bone density
  •             Expending more energy during the day helps you sleep better at night, better sleep means less inflammation
  •             Being stronger makes daily tasks easier, hence giving you more energy to do other things
  •             Helps you stay lighter, as extra weight on your body puts more stress on joints
  •             Exercise helps balance your hormones, imbalance in hormones can cause inflammation in your joints

The trick to starting is to ease into exercise. People with arthritis should have a medical evaluation before starting exercising.

Begin with range of motion exercises that promote stability and mobility to help with posture, as alignment is crucial for strength training.

Strength training is important for those with arthritis, however start with bodyweight and progress from there, always mindful of proper form.

Moderate intensity aerobic exercise, work on building a solid, aligned body first, then add aerobic exercise, start with low impact please!

Things to Remember:

  •             Keep impact low if you have arthritis and inflammation
  •             Start with body weight exercises
  •             Apply heat to relax your joints and muscles before you begin exercising.
  •             Move gently. Make sure you warm up well!
  •             Be mindful. Proper form is needed, or you might put stress on your joints.
  •             Ice afterwards, if you need.

Egg Muffin Cups Recipe

I was diagnosed as being mildly insulin resistant last year. My doctor suggested I stop eating a high carb, low fat vegan diet and adopting more of a moderate protein, moderate carbohydrate, higher fat Paleo diet. I was vegan because my husband was vegan…for seven years, and he was stubborn about changing. I ate meat out, but didn’t cook it at home. After much research, I decided eating a higher fat, animal protein diet would be beneficial to try.

Immediately I gained 7 pounds…eek! But truthfully I needed to gain that, I was underweight. On the vegan diet, over the years I did develop some health issues: irregular cycles, fatigue, hypothyroid. Going more Paleo, I slowly gained my energy back (thyroid meds helped too!). Now I eat more of a Zone style diet: 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. Over the years since Zone became popular in the late 90s, I have always found this macro ratio works well for me. I should add that when I was eating Paleo I never cut out oats and rice, two grains that I love, and have no problems with.

Long story short: wrapping my head around what to eat for breakfast was a challenge. I ate oatmeal, buckwheat groats, quinoa, rice pudding, homemade granola. Absolutely no eggs or animal protein. Problem is I LOVE oatmeal. So I needed to have more balance in terms of macros in the morning. Enter: eggs.

But after a while soft boiled eggs can get a tad boring. Same with scrambled. I searched the internet for egg recipes and came across this one to try: easy-egg-cup-muffins.

I didn’t really want sausage and wanted to cut down the fat a bit, so I adapted it.

Here is my version of a Egg Cup Muffin:

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 pepper
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 0.5 cup lite coconut milk
  • 0.5 cup almond milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease silicone 12-cup muffin pan with coconut oil.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs, egg whites, coconut milk, almond milk and set aside.

Finely chop red bell peppers, green onions, and baby spinach and add to eggs.

Pour the egg mixture in muffin tins, liquid should just reach the top of the tins (like picture shown on the right).

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the egg muffins are no longer runny and slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, loosen the egg muffins from the muffin cups by going gently going around the egg and muffin pan. Remove the egg muffins and let cool completely before putting them in a tupperware container. Keep in refrigerator up to a week.

Calories: 63 per egg cup, Carbs: 1.4g, Protein: 5.8g, Fat: 3.5g Great addition to your morning oatmeal 🙂

Registry Tracks Successful Losers of Weight

Written July 8 2018

As I was studying to take my ACE (American Council on Exercise) Personal Trainer exam to become re-certfied (I let my certification lapse several years ago), I came across really interesting information on dieting.

In ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science textbook, their chapter on nutrition contains a summary of a very enlightening study.

The National Weight Control Registry is a database that tracks successful “losers” of 30lbs or more and who have maintained that loss for over one year. ACE’s book writes that this registry “has uncovered an abundance of tried and true tips to help people lose weight and keep it off”.

Brilliant! As I read this summary I became incredibly excited! What an amazing registry! Simple wisdom, easy to implement, and motivating as it provides confidence that following these tips have helped so many others.

Here are the 10 insights:

  • Control portions: We live in a time where our portions have expanded. Years ago, muffins were half the size, restaurant dishes were smaller, and a coffee only had a splash of cream and sugar, not a 500 calorie mocha with whip cream and chocolate sauce. Successful losers pay attention to serving sizes.
  • Be mindful: people need to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, being mindful of emotional eating. Not eating during boredom, stress, sadness, etc.
  • Exercise: 94% of participants in the registry reported that they exercised. Many exercise at least 1 hour a day.
  • Check the scale: knowing what your weight is, at least on a weekly bases, helps you know if your weight starts creeping up. It’s easier to lose a couple pounds that were gained in one week, than not checking and after a month having gained 10 or more pounds.
  • Eat breakfast: I was very interested when I read this one. I have always eaten breakfast, but my husband has not, and over the years he has struggled to lose weight. His typical pattern: skip breakfast, have a light lunch, and then be so hungry to overeat at dinner. 78% of participants eat breakfast daily, while only 4% never do. (Note: my husband would like to defend himself as over these past 3 years he currently eats breakfast and has lost over 30 lbs 😉 ) 
  • Monitor intake: This one is BIG. And one I have had a tough time convincing clients to stick with. Log intake of food. I have done this off and on for over 20 years. It’s the only thing that truly works to keep the weight off. It gives you experiential knowledge about how much food you really need on a daily basis, which is (sadly) less than most people think they need. ACE states monitoring dietary intake is “one of the strongest predictors of successful and maintained lifestyle change. While some people may find it tedious, keeping a food log is a highly effective and proven strategy”. My Fitness Pal is a very handy app for smartphones that is so easy to use. Creating recipes, scanning food bar codes, and viewing daily nutritional profiles, all at your fingertips!
  • Turn off the TV: Successful NWCR participants watch 10 hours or less of television per week. I would think the reason is that watching more than that would limit your time to do physical activities (and limit your time to log your food intake!).
  • Be consistent and start today: stick to your diet, don’t have a little nibble of cake here and a piece of pizza there. Very strict diets cause people to cheat. Instead, adopt a healthy lifestyle that you can stick to, instead of feeling too restricted and then binging. I love IIFIYM (if it fits in your macros), this link has a great calculator to figure out your individual needs. Using My Fitness Pal app, adding up daily macros is easy and allows for lots of flexibility.
  • Find fit friends: a study of 12,000 people followed over 30 years concluded that obesity spreads through social ties. ACE explains that “the study authors suspect that the spread of obesity has a lot to do with an individual’s general perception of the social norms regarding the acceptability of obesity”. Pick a friend and hit the gym together 😀
  • Be optimistic: ACE states research suggests that people who have “perceived control, positive expectations, empowerment, a fighting spirit, and a lack of helplessness” are more successful at changing their habits and losing weight.