All posts by Shannon Benedetto ACSM-cpt

Working on making myself and those around me healthier and happier one day at a time. Certified Personal Trainer through ACSM, and currently studying for my ISSA Fitness Nutrition Certification. Follow me for fitness articles, recipes, reviews, and all the latest and greatest in what is good for your body and your mind!

Healthy Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

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I absolutely LOVE pad Thai- but when you order a takeout you’re not only getting all the carbs from the noodles but also all the bad fats from the cooking oils that they use. Here is a healthier version, replacing noodles with spaghetti squash (which I also love!) and cutting back on the unhealthy fat and calories- Enjoy!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH PAD THAI

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Carb Grams Per Serving: 25

INGREDIENTS
1 small spaghetti squash (1.5 to 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 14-ounce container extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4 large eggs, whisked
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees . Prick squash all over with a knife and roast on a rimmed baking sheet about 1 hour, or until tender when pierced.
2. Whisk together lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, jalapeno and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer; keep warm over low heat, whisking occasionally.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add cabbage and saute 1 minute. Stir in tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and pour in eggs. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir constantly until eggs are just cooked, about 2 minutes more. Turn off heat.
4. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Using a fork, scrape squash from shell. Place strands in a large bowl and gently untangle with fork; transfer to skillet and fold into egg mixture. Drizzle with sauce, stirring to incorporate. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro.

Nutrition Information
Servings Per Recipe: 4
PER SERVING: 343 cal., 20 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 707 mg sodium, 25 g carb. (5 g fiber), 20 g pro.

5 Food Choices to Make You a Happier, Healthier Person

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In an age where more and more people are looking to take the easy way out when it comes to health and nutrition, poor eating decisions have led to serious health problems, because bad eating can kill you just as starvation can.

People are trading “shelf life” for freshness, “cheap” for nutritious, and “quantity” for quality without ever really knowing what they are putting in their body.

Here’s a list of 5 food choices that can change your life from Women’s Health Mag:

There is a solution to this very complex and far-reaching problem: you. By making small changes to your own diet, you can not only improve your health but also become part of the collective force needed to re-create a healthy food system that feeds the world well. Start here.

1. OCCUPY YOUR KITCHEN
By deciding how much and exactly which types of salt, sugar, and fat we will use to make our fruits, veggies, meat, dairy, and grains taste delicious, we reclaim control over our health and our weight. Cook as often as you can.

2. WHEN YOU BUY GLOBAL, THINK FAIR TRADE AND LOW IMPACT
Global certification programs like Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Marine Stewardship Council ensure that foods are grown sustainably. They also reduce the impact of chemically intensive growing practices.

3. USE WORD OF MOUTH
School gardens are cropping up, which is encouraging kids to ask for veggies at home. Millennials are teaching their parents the joys of kale and the tastiness of a veggie burger. The next time you host family or friends, serve them a grass-fed burger on a whole-grain bun along with a plateful of local vegetables. Let them see firsthand that eating in a way that changes the food system for the better can be delicious—and fun.

4. GROW SOMETHING EDIBLE
City dwellers can plant herbs in pots on a windowsill. Suburbanites can cultivate garlic and asparagus, a perennial vegetable that keeps producing for decades. Encourage your kids, neighbors, and friends to do the same. Odds are, you’ll feel more connected to your food and to your community (many food banks accept fresh produce donations from individuals and farmers’ markets).

5. REMOVE HIDDEN CORN FROM YOUR DIET
It goes well beyond high-fructose corn syrup—processed corn ingredients include dextrose, corn syrup solids, and corn-based sweeteners, as well as meat, milk, and dairy from corn-fed cattle. Nixing those products from your kitchen may encourage manufacturers to find healthier alternatives, and it’s also a great way to remove junk foods from your cabinets and make room in your wallet and home for natural, whole foods.

15 Minute Total Body Workout

So, as promised in my last article, here is a 15 minute body weight, do anywhere workout! If you want to start off slower, shoot for ten minutes. Do 10 reps of each exercise and see how many sets you can get in during the allotted time. As you get better at it, push for a longer time, or more reps of each exercise!!

1. Body Weight Squat

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How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, and slowly stand back up.

2. Judo Push-up

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How to do it: Begin in a pushup position but move your feet hip-width apart and forward, and raise your hips so your body almost forms an upside-down V. Lower the front of your body until your chin nears the floor. Then lower your hips as you raise your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Now reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

3. Sprinter Sit-up

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How to do it: Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides, keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees. As you sit up, twist your upper body to the left and bring your left knee toward your right elbow while you swing your left arm back. Lower your body to the starting position, and repeat to your right. That’s 1 rep.

Good luck and remember this is just a general outline of how you can fit a full body workout into your hectic schedule. Feel free to switch up exercises, increase reps and time, or add extra exercises in!! Do what feels good for you, the important thing is that you get up, get out and DO IT!!!!

Much love,
Shannon

How to Break the Cycle of Excuses, Over-Eating, and Falling out of Your Fitness Routine

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I totally understand, I’ve been there myself. Since I’ve started training others full time, teaching classes, and running out of time by the end of the day, I have found it incredibly difficult to stick to my healthy lifestyle. It’s so easy to say “push through”, “stick with it”, “focus on your goals”. At the end of the day, however, sometimes those motivational messages just aren’t enough. Here is how I have managed to stick with my routines (despite falling off more than once, it happens) and if this article helps even just one person then I’ve accomplished my task!

1. “I just don’t have any time”
I am a HUGE believer that you should exercise when you will get the most out of your workout. This, unfortunately, isn’t always possible with the hectic lives we all lead! No need to fear! Instead of saying “well I missed my normal workout time, that’s it, it’s all ruined for the day.” Encourage yourself to get in 15 minutes of something low intensity right before you shower (post on super quick full body exercises to follow shortly). Even though it may not be the same as killing it in the gym, it will still boost those positive, feel good chemicals in your brain, and soon enough it will become a habit!

2. “I have no time for a healthy meal”
I am a huge advocate of prepping food out once (or twice) a week. If that still is too much for you to fit into your schedule it takes approximately three minutes (and I have TIMED this) to create a healthy fulfilling salad, with a yummy healthy dressing that will both be filling, nutritious, and will make you feel good about the decision that you made!! (Recipes for healthy quick meals to follow shortly!!)

3. “I have no motivation, I feel like I just can’t do it anymore”
This is probably one of the biggest reasons people fall out of their routine, lack of motivation. I cannot emphasise enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP!!! I’m a personal trainer, it is my job to make others fitter, healthier, and feel better about themselves, but, I’m getting ready to go back and see my mentor (check out @trainingaspects – they are the absolute best!!) for one month to up my cardio, strength and get myself to that next level. Find encouragement where you can! Whether it be from family, friends, a trainer, a blog, or wherever you can! Dig deep! You have it in you and you can accomplish whatever it is you want to. Always keep your eye on the prize and don’t be too proud to accept help from others!! Even Ghandi had a spiritual mentor, if he needed it, I’m sure the rest of us can admit to the fact that sometimes we just need that little bit of extra help!

I hope some of these tips helped, if you have questions, comments, feedback, I would absolutely love to hear it!! Please remember, you are doing this for YOU! For YOUR health, YOUR mental wellbeing, and sometimes we need to take a step back and focus on ourselves a bit more and remember, we can’t help others until we are the best person that we can be!!!

Much love,
Shannon

Train, Eat, Rest & Repeat – The Benefits of drinking warm water with Lemon

Be Like Water

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It is very useful to start the day the way we are about to present to you. Regardless of whether you are employed or not, entrepreneur and athlete, the first thing you do in the morning is most important to you.

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the choice we make in terms of your daily habits builds resistance on many diseases.

Maybe in the morning your mind tells you to turn on your computer, to walk the dog or drink coffee but if you really want to improve your health consider the following:

Start your day with a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon.
The benefits are so good that it’s hard to ignore:

-It improves your immune system. Lemons are rich in vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is an excellent fighter against colds and potassium stimulates brain and nerve functions, while it is regulating…

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Exercise of the Day! Stability Ball Knee Tucks!!

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Start in a push-up position with your feet up on the ball.

Make sure that you engage your core and raise your hips so your back is flat before you begin.

Keep your back flat and try not to raise you hips as you draw your knees into your chest.

Extend both legs back out to the starting position and repeat.

Raw Food Diet… Uh?

When I tell people I follow a raw food diet and teach raw food workshops I often get a very puzzled looked followed by silence. The silence is then preceded by the question “so you eat rabbit food?” Most times when people hear the term, raw food, they assume it means just eating carrot sticks, celery, or lettuce, straight from the produce isle nothing delicious, savory, or flavorful, but that couldn’t be furthest from the truth. While it is somewhat true the food is uncooked but you are not just eating plain carrot stick or salad when eating raw food you can eat taco’s, pasta, rice dishes, sandwiches, pizza, cake, cookies, and the list goes on and on. I bet you’re wondering how this is possible.

Lets start with a little background on the raw vegan diet. Following a raw diet is the practice of eating only uncooked, unprocessed, whole, living foods to maintain…

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Exercise of the Day! Stability Ball Back Extensions!

If you think this move sculpts only your back, think again: Your glutes do the work to pull your body up.
Do it:
Lie facedown on a stability ball, hands behind your head, feet against a sturdy object. Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. Hold for one or two seconds. Slowly return to start. That’s one rep.

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Recipe of the Week! Quinoa Breakfast Bake!

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Bake up a pan of this healthy quinoa casserole for an easy hot breakfast on-the-go throughout the week. Add your favorite berries, nuts, seeds, and spices to make this recipe your own!

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon allspice 2 eggs
2 cups skim milk 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 1/2 cups frozen berries
1 apple or pear, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan, and set aside. (Note: a 9×11 works fine, too!)
3. In a medium bowl, stir together uncooked quinoa, cinnamon, and allspice to coat quinoa with spices. Pour quinoa over bottom of prepared pan.
4. In the same bowl used for the quinoa, beat the eggs until fully mixed. Whisk in the milk and maple syrup, and beat to combine.
5. Scatter the berries, apple or pear pieces, and nuts (if using) evenly on top of the quinoa.
6. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. (The milk mixture will cook the quinoa to create a very soft texture on the inside, while creating a lightly crunchy crust on the outside!)
7. Bake for 1 hour, or until casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left. Serve warm, and refrigerate leftovers.

Enjoy!

Exercise of the Day! The Superman!

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This exercise is a good supplement to all those crunches, the Superman is a great way to strengthen your lower back and tone your glutes. All you need to do this exercise is your body weight, no equipment necessary.

1. Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
2. Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked), or placing hands behind head while keeping torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated “u” shape with your body — back arches and arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
3. Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one.

Try to perform 10 reps for 3 sets. Have Fun!