Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups

Larb

This quick and easy meal also goes by the name of Larb, a thai inspired minced meat salad. It couldn’t be a more simple and flavorful meal for weeknight dinners.

We love using ground chicken in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite ground meat. Vegetarian? Check out this tofu version here.

Thai Chicken Larb (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbd. ground chicken (can sub ground turkey, pork, beef, lamb)
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons chile sauce (like Sambal Oelek or Sriracha)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (whites and greens)
  • 1 Tbs. minced chili of choice (jalapeno, serrano)
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced mint leaves
  • salt
  • 1 head of butter lettuce or romaine to serve

Directions

  1. Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, honey and chile sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat large skillet on stove. Add a small amount of olive or coconut oil to bottom of pan. Once hot, add ground chicken and brown. As the chicken is cooking, stir occasionally to break up the meat.
  3. Once almost finished, add scallions and chili and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and while meat mixture is still hot, mix with lime juice / fish sauce dressing.
  5. Mix in minced herbs.
  6. Salt to taste.
  7. Serve in lettuce cups.

Recipe adapted from epicurious. Photo from Bon Appetite.

Sugar Free September Challenge

JOIN US (1)

Join us for Sugar Free September! A nation wide challenge, where we’ll be saying no to refined sugars for an entire 30 days. This is Molly’s 3rd year doing Sugar Free September with her Gap 7am class, and this time we thought we’d ask you all to join.

Why?

According to data from the U.S. in 2008, people are consuming over 60 pounds of added sugar per year (and this does not include fruit juices) (1).  A more recent study, estimated over 130 pounds per year, per individual (2).

This comes out to about 22 tsp per day. This is far above the American Heart Association’s maximum of 9 tsp per day. Here are our top 5 reasons to cut back:

  1. Weight loss: The average person consumes 300 calories from added sugar every day (3). That’s 2,100 added calories per week!
  2. Heart health: Eating too much sugar can raise the level of triglycerides, or fats, in your blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Higher triglyceride levels may boost your risk of heart disease (4).
  3. Brain function: Research shows that eating too much sugar can cause impaired cognitive function and reduce proteins that are necessary for memory and responsiveness (5).
  4. Break habits:  Eating sugar releases dopamine in the brain, which can be addicting (5). The more you eat, the more you crave. This challenge will help you break this cycle.
  5. Better energy: Dietary sugars can decrease the activity of orexin cells, the cells that “induce wakefulness, stoke the metabolism, and keep our system movin’ and groovin’”. This explains why we can feel like a nap after an afternoon sugar binge (5).

Regardless of if you consume more than 22 tsp per day or less than 9 tsp, we challenge you to take the month of September to cut back on the sweet stuff.   Over the course of the month you’ll be surprised to discover just how often sugar shows up in our daily foods.

If you need a little extra inspiration, cozy up with That Sugar Film (streaming on Netflix) this weekend.

How?

Avoid:

  • Refined sugar at home (sweets, baking, in coffee, in recipes)
  • Added sugar in food products. There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. Look for words ending in -ose like sucrose and fructose. Other names include barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup.
  • Added sugar when eating out. Put some intention into ordering. Be aware of dressings and sauces. It can be hard to avoid sugar when eating out, even when you’re not ordering dessert. Just do the best you can and think of it as a lesson in how often we consume added sugars. We’re aiming for progress, not perfection here.
  • Honey, maple syrup, stevia and other alternative sweeteners

Go for it:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Dried fruits with no added sugar (i.e. Trader Joes’ Just Dried Mango)
  • Whole grains
  • Bread and pasta (Check labels! 90% of sandwich breads have added sugar. We like Ezekiel bread for a sugar free option)
  • Dairy (Natural dairy sugars are a-ok, just check ingredient lists for added sugar)
  • All vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, beans and whole foods.

To join us, all you need to do is:

  1. Follow BootcampSF on Instagram and Facebook, where we’ll be posting weekly tips, recipes and inspiration to help guide you through this challenge. 
  2. Post a picture of your 1st sugar free meal or snack with the hashtag #bscfsugarfree to join the group and follow along

Get ready, we’re kicking off on September 1st and hope you join us!

 

 

 

  1. https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-sugar-per-day/
  2.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/08/30/how-much-sugar-are-americans-eating-infographic/#448eaa011f71
  3. http://www.prevention.com/health/what-happens-when-you-stop-eating-sugar
  4. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-lowering-sugar-intake-4563.html
  5. http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/the-surprising-benefits-of-cutting-back-on-sugar/

Salted Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

Ice cream lovers, listen up! If you haven’t tried banana “nice cream” yet, get ready because your dessert world is about to be rocked.

By simply freezing bananas in small slices and blending, you get a rich, creamy and sweet mock “ice cream” made from only bananas. One try and you’ll be impressed with how similar the sweetness and texture are to real ice cream.

All you need is ripe bananas that you chop into small pieces and freeze and a powerful blender or food processor.

Try out our recipe for salted banana peanut butter with chocolate sauce or experiment with adding your own flavors. (Like mint, chocolate chips, strawberry or cocoa powder)

If you’re looking for a cold treat to quench your sweet tooth craving this summer, this healthy alternative will be your new favorite.

Salted Banana Peanut Butter with Chocolate Sauce (serves 2)

3 Ripe bananas frozen in very thin slices
2 Tbs. Organic unsalted peanut butter (no additives)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 Tbs. coconut oil
2oz. quality dark chocolate (70% or higher) Or 2 Tbs. Cocoa powder

Instructions
  1. Blend frozen banana slices and peanut butter in a blender or a food processor on lowest setting until creamy, adding salt to taste (if not blending well, wait a couple minutes to let them defrost a little and they will blend better. I like to leave a few chunks too. You could also add a Tbs. of non dairy milk.)
  2. In a double boiler (or carefully with a small pot or in micorwave) slowly melt coconut oil and chocolate
  3. Scoop ice cream into serving bowls and pour chocolate sauce on top
  4. Top with chopped nuts, extra chocolate, shredded coconut or toppings of choice

Six Best and Worst Protein Bars

What do you do when you’re in need of a quick snack on-the-go?

We all reach for protein bars as a quick and travel friendly snack. But, not all protein bars are created equal. So today, we’re taking a close up look at some of the most popular bars and why we do (or don’t) choose them for fueling our busy lives.

BEST

Rx Barscoffee-chocolate-rxbar

Pros: These whole food based bars use egg whites as the protein source. With few ingredients and 12g protein, these bars are as unprocessed as you’re going to find on the protein bar shelf. Also, unlike some other bars, they’re dense enough to keep you full until your next meal.

Cons: If you’re watching your sugar, there is about 12-15g sugar per bar which might be high for some folks. However, this sugar is balanced by the fat and protein from the nuts, making this bar comparable to a mini-meal.

Molly’s Thoughts: These bars are my new favorite (I love the coffee flavor). They now sell them at Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Online.

51SYqedI5qLEpic Bars
Pros: The EPIC bar is a 100% grass fed animal based protein bar with flavors like Bison Cranberry and Beef Habanero Chili. Think jerky meets a protein bar. These bars offer a nutritional bang (12g protein and about 150 calories) without using any protein powders or products.

Cons: For those watching their sodium intake, these can add up quick. They’re also pretty small for their price at about $3 per bar.

Molly’s Thoughts: If you’re a jerky fan, these will be right up your alley.

FAIR

kind-mad-vanilla-almondKind Bar
Pros: A simple and short ingredient list and low sugar (only 5g in some flavors) landed these bars in the healthy choice section for many of us. They also can be found everywhere from gas stations to Starbucks, making them a go-to when your choices are limited.

Cons: Some flavors have some red flag ingredients such as soy lecithin, whey isolate, palm kern oil and sugar.

Molly’s Thoughts: The packing on these bars can be deceiving “high protein” “low sugar” “non GMO” are all printed on the front. But when you take a closer look at the ingredients and nutrition label, they’re not all they claim to be. However, they can be a lifesaver for road trips and traveling when they’re the best option around.

Lara Bar

Pros: Similar to Rx Bars, these have an ingredient list under 5 items and all whole foods like nuts and dried fruit. They also have great flavors and are a winner in the taste department.

Cons: They can be heavy in the dried fruit, resulting in up to 24g of sugar per bar.

Molly’s Thoughts: Without the protein or fat to balance that out, these bars are better as a dessert or pre/post workout snack.

WORST

 c26-B001N2GRX8-matrix-1Cliff Bars
Pros: One of the pioneering protein bars on the market, Cliff Bars can be found anywhere from convenience to grocery stores. They’re hearty enough to be a meal replacement and taste pretty good.

Cons: The first ingredient in these bars is “brown rice syrup”, a type of sweetener. And with over 22g sugar per bar, these resemble more of candy bar than a protein bar. They also use soy protein isolate, a “not so friendly” source of protein.

Molly’s Thoughts: I’d leave these bars for emergency only situations. Or for long hikes or backpacking when extra sugar and calories aren’t a factor.

think-thin-best-protein-bars-pg-fullThinkThin Bars
Pros: At a glance, these bars look high protein, low sugar and fewer calories. They usually contain 15-20g protein per bar, which could be enough to have as an on-the-go meal.

Cons: The protein in these bars comes from whey and soy protein isolate, the most processed and cheapest forms of protein powders. Add glycerin, maltitol (both alcohol sugars), canola oil and soy lecithin to the list and these bars have no real food ingredients to be found.

Molly’ Thoughts: With few (or no) real food ingredients, these bars are all claims and no nutrition. I’d leave these bars on the shelf.

It’s ok to feel like choosing a healthy snack is confusing. With all the options, packaging and nutrition claims, it can be! So as a general guideline, look for your snacks to have about 5-10g protein, less than 6g sugar (except for dairy products or fruit which have natural sugar) and about 100-300 calories (depending on your needs).

Now, we’d love to hear from you! What are your go-to protein bars and healthy snacks? Let us know, by commenting below or on Facebook.

Fresh Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Homemade fresh rolls are an excellent no-cook recipe for summer nights. They’re easy enough to make during the week, but impressive enough to serve for a dinner party. Add a hearty sauce and pre-cooked protein to make them a meal, or leave simple for a healthy appetizer.

We love this mix-n-match recipe for being adaptable and veggie-packed. The only prep is chopping the vegetables. Ideally, they would all be julienned into matchsticks like the pros. Or you could do like us, and just cut vegetables into small-ish strips and call it good.

Ready? Here’s what you’ll need:

INGREDIENTS
1. Rice paper wrappers
2. Sauce (see recipe below)
3. Filling Ingredients (mix-n-match from below)

DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare all filling ingredients (if adding noodles, make sure they’re cool)
2. Make dressing
3. Fill a shallow pan or cookie sheet with warm water
4. Place one rice paper sheet in pan and let “cook” for about 20-30 seconds
5. Remove from pan, let drip dry and fill with ingredients of choice.
6. Spoon sauce inside and roll like a burrito. Set aside and repeat.
Note: you can make these in advance for dinner guests or let everyone make their own for a fun dinner party idea or hands on meal with the kids.

3-4 Vegetables, julienned
Carrots
Cucumber
Bell Pepper
Cabbage
Butter lettuce or romaine

1-2 Fruits, chopped small
Avocado
Mango

1-2 Herbs, minced
Mint
Cilantro
Parsley

1 Protein
Cooked, shredded chicken
Sliced, Tofu or tempeh
Cooked shrimp

Other Additions
Mung Bean Sprouts
Rice Noodles or soba noodles

Dipping sauce Recipe
3/4 cup nut butter (almond, peanut or cashew)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari (you could also sub coconut aminos or soy sauce)
2 Tbs. Honey
1/2 Tsp. ground ginger
1 clove garlic

Blend all ingredients until creamy.

We hope you enjoy this healthy summer recipe!

(Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet)

How To Become A Morning Person

Morning

Are you the type of person who enjoys waking up early? Do you feel energized and productive in the morning?Or are you a snooze-5-times and don’t-talk-to-me-for-30-minutes type?

If you struggle in the mornings, there are some proven ways on how to become a (happy) morning person.

1. Get Fresh Air:
The famed “breath of fresh air” actually has some science behind it. This study shows that breathing outside air truly does lower cortisol, leaving you feeling more relaxed and calm. While you might argue that one could get fresh air later in the morning, we think that it’s simply the association we make between mornings and feeling calm that makes, this tip a keeper.

2.  Take Your Time:
What’s your favorite thing about sleeping in? It’s that lazy, leisurely feeling, right? Instead of associating early mornings with rushing, leave yourself enough time to move slow. If you can, find a moment to be alone. Sit with your coffee, watch the sunrise, make a healthy breakfast, lay in bed for 10 minutes before getting up, say a prayer, take a warm shower. Even if it means setting your alarm for just a few minutes earlier, those few moments can make early mornings your favorite time of day.

3. Get Some Sun
There is something about seeing the sunrise in the morning that makes us feel awake and accomplished.  A study notes that exposure to orange light (like the sun’s) can increase brain activity and boost alertness. When you first wake up, immediately open the blinds or curtains to let any natural light in. Summer is the perfect time to start establishing these early morning habits since it’s bright early. During winter months, try to get outside or to a room where there’s sunlight as the sun rises.

4. Have a detailed plan:
The best thing you can do to inspire you to get up is to know exactly what you’re about to do. As that alarm goes off and your thoughts start to rush in, you’ll be much more likely to hop out of bed if you have something to look forward to. The more specific the better. For example, your plan could look like this: sit up in bed and take 10 breaths, put water on for coffee, open the blinds and splash water on your face before and enjoy coffee for 5 minutes.

5. Workout:
For most non-morning people, it’s hard enough to get up for work, let alone a workout before work. However, if you struggle with mornings, changing your workout routine, might be what helps.  Research shows that those who workout in the morning (vs. evening) are more likely to sleep better and reduce their stress. Once we start to consistently feel better (from all that good sleep and reduced stress!) waking up early and exercising will be a habit worth keeping.

Ready for  a way to do all 5 habits in one easy step? Register for our summer session! You’ll get fresh air, see the sunrise, workout, and have a morning routine you love.

Check out our schedule here.

 

10 Healthy 4th of July Recipes

4th of July

Whether your plans for the 4th of July are swimming in the sun or celebrating in the San Francisco fog, you’ll definitely be enjoying some summer food. Substitute the burgers and potato salad for these mouth watering recipes and make your party the healthiest one on the block.

Appetizers

Tomato Basil and Peach Skewers (pictured above):  Adding peaches to tomatoes, mozzarella and basil will make an impressive, sweet and savory appetizer.

Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad: You can’t go wrong with these 3 ingredients. Dress with plenty of cumin and citrus and you have an easy, versatile dish to serve with chips, on top of tacos or as a side salad.

Watermelon Feta and Mint Bites: Simple and easy to make (only 3 ingredients). Plus, nothing says summer like watermelon and mint.

Sides

Napa Cabbage and Kale Coleslaw: While coleslaw is usually one of the only vegetable sides to a traditional BBQ, it’s usually more mayonnaise than veggies. Instead, substitute a lighter (but still creamy) miso dressing and add in lot’s of leafy greens.

Fresh Herb Potato Salad: This recipe from Thug Kitchen uses fresh herbs and a flavorful vinaigrette for a fresh take on traditional potato salad.  As they say on their site “nobody needs mayo in their life”.

Entrees

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers: Easy to throw these on the grill with your meaty burgers for a hearty vegetarian option without extra fuss. This recipe also includes an avocado chimichurri recipe worth making.

Grilled Fish in Foil: Cooking for only a few? These 20 minute grilled fish would be great for 4-6 people. Easy to clean up and unlike a heavy burger will leave you with room for dessert. These also work in the oven.

Grillable Veggie Burger: The problem with most veggie burgers is that they don’t hold up on the grill, right? Wrong! Minimalist Baker has a solution with a grill worthy vegetable burger made with only 10 ingredients.

Dessert

Grilled Fruit: Try pineapple, peaches and even watermelon on the grill for a low calorie and festive dessert option that will please kids and adults, alike.

No Churn Peach Sorbet: As easy as making a smoothie. Just blend and freeze and you’ll have homemade peach sorbet.

Bring one of these recipes to your summer potluck or party and impress your friends with your healthy taste. You can even take all the credit for it, we won’t tell!

5 Hacks For A Healthy Week

Sunrise

When it comes to feeling (and seeing) the results from our health efforts, it can be hard to wait. You’re not alone if you want a little immediate gratification. Try one, or all 5, of these healthy hacks to help feel your best THIS week.

1. Plan and make your breakfasts for the entire weekCheck out these 12 ideas.

2. Stretch or foam roll while watching T.V.  The best way to start a new habit is to associate it with a habit you already have. Since many of us enjoy our favorite T.V. shows at night, use that time to stretch or foam roll (even if it’s just during commercials).

3. Put a full glass of water next to your bed at night. And drink it before getting up in the morning. With up to 75% percent of us dehydrated (1) and since we’re most dehydrated after a night’s sleep (2), drinking a glass of water first thing in the A.M. is a great way to start the day.

4. Set a “move” reminder on your phone or calendar. Sitting for long periods of time can physiologically affect your muscles and metabolism (3). And not for the better. Gretchen Reynolds, NYtimes Well columnist and The First 20 Minutes author, suggests standing up every 20 minutes for 2 minutes. Try setting an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 minutes during long work stints. Check out her interview for more on how sitting affects your body.

5. Try a new healthy recipe. Take some time to scroll through the recipes we have shared on the BCSF blog, dust off your favorite cookbook or find a new food website you like. Pick ONE new recipe to try. Just like one unhealthy meal can make us feel like we’ve fallen off track, one healthy meal can make us feel inspired to eat well all week.

And of course head out and join your BCSF class for a workout! Nothing like a good sweat and workout with your friends to make you feel accomplished for the day.

 

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393
  2. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27704531/ns/health-behavior/t/wake-up-call-sleep-deprived/
  3. http://www.npr.org/2012/05/09/152336802/stand-up-walk-around-even-just-for-20-minutes

Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel Pita

If you’re looking for something new to add to your weeknight dinner rotation, we have your perfect recipe adapted from the minimalist baker (one of our favorite resources for simple, easy meals)

These homemade falafels are…

Easy and quick to make
Kid friendly
Great for a meatless Monday meal
Full of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates
A great way to add in new flavors and spices
Made from pantry staples (canned chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices and herbs)

This is a fantastic recipe for a quick 20-minute weeknight meal. You might just need to try it tonight…

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup herbs (parsley and/or cilantro)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
Optional: cardamom and/or coriander to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, optional (if you omit, add in 2 Tbs. Tahini instead to help bind)
Oil to pan fry (we like avocado oil for this!)

Directions
Add onion, garlic, herbs and spices to food processor.
Pulse until chopped
Then add drained chickpeas (and flour and baking powder if using) and pulse until chunky mixture has formed (don’t over blend!)
(OPTIONAL STEP: refrigerating for 1 hour before cooking will help them bind)
Scoop out about 2 Tbs. at a time to form 8-12 small disks about 1/2 inch thick
Heat oil in a large pan on stove over medium heat
When oil is hot drop in patties and cook 4-5 minutes per side
Serve warm (ideas below) or store in fridge for up to 5 days

Serving Ideas
On top of a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and tzatziki (recipe below)
In a whole wheat pita with lettuce, sliced cucumber, onions and tomato and tzatziki

5 Ingredient Tzatziki
(Mix all these ingredients in a small bowl and store in fridge for up to 1 week)
1 cup greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp dill
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
Salt and pepper

This falafel recipe was adapted from the Minimalist Baker and The Kitchn
Image from Minimalist Baker

Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

Make Ahead Breakfast

Grabbing  a banana and a cup of coffee as you run out the door?

Demolishing a  granola bar in 2 bites while driving to work?

Mornings are the hardest times to eat a complete meal. We’re usually in a hurry and don’t have time to prepare a full breakfast, let alone sit down to enjoy it.

Instead, of relying on a processed protein bar or a piece of fruit, try one of these make ahead breakfasts. These recipes are full of fiber, protein, healthy fats to keep you fueled through your morning.

Check out our favorite easy, make-ahead breakfasts:

The Month Before (freezer friendly): great for preparing in advance in large batches and keeping stocked in the freezer to last a couple weeks.

The Week Before: Take some time on Sunday to prep one or more of these recipes that will last a week in the fridge

The Night Before: If you don’t have anything made in advance, take 5 minutes at night to prep one of these grab-n-go breakfasts for the next morning.