What is Bok Choy?

I must confess, leafy greens are my nemesis; I know they are among the healthiest foods available (superfoods anybody??), easy to find at the store and keep well in the fridge, but I just can’t get excited about kale (even fresh from our garden), spinach is only edible when cooked into a lasagna, and chard is just fancy spinach. With these unfounded biases firmly in my head as I perused this week’s box list, I saw bok Choy and immediately lumped it in with these other leafy greens. It took some coaxing and ridicule, but I was persuaded not to remove it from the list. Now, after using it for several different recipes this week, my initial apprehension has been upgraded to ‘this is pretty good…for a leafy green vegetable’ (just have to remember to say that last part).

I found it to be mild in flavor, although I don’t foresee myself eating it raw, as well as meaty enough to stand up to cooking while retaining some texture and flavor (unlike spinach, it is easy to pick out even when cooked along with other veggies). We got a single plant, which grows in a bunch, kind of like celery, but leafy, with stems wider than chard. Because the stems are wide and close together, a lot of dirt was caught on the inside of the lower stems, and definitely took some washing to avoid an extra crunchy meal.
Last week I made a sort of stir fry thing, combining it with other vegetables, then heaping over quinoa. I also added it to a tomato sauce used in an eggplant lasagna. Both dishes were well received at my house, so I am excited to add it to other dishes!

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Along with my recipe research, I have uncovered some other fun facts about this exotic vegetable:

1. Bok choy is in the Chinese cabbage family, which also includes Napa cabbage. It is sometimes referred to as white cabbage, but be sure not to be confused it with Napa cabbage (a serious faux pas in vegetarian circles I am sure).
2. There are many kinds of bok choy that vary in color, taste, and size, including tah tsai and joi choi. Bok choy can also be spelled pak choi, bok choi, or pak choy.
3. The Chinese have been cultivating it for more than 5,000 years.
4. Although the veggie hails from China and is still grown there, it is now also harvested in California and parts of Canada.
5. Just like for most fresh vegetables, don’t wash until you’re ready to use it (don’t ask me why, but my thoroughly unscientific testing has shown it to be true). Unused parts can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
6. Bok choi is packed with vitamins A and C. One cup of cooked bok choy provides more than 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of A, and close to two-thirds the RDA of C. This is a huge natural boost to the immune system, and I am a firm believer that consuming vitamins directly from vegetables are superior to taking a multi-vitamin, but that’s another blog post….
7. If you are thinking of growing your own, it takes about 2 months from planting to harvest, and thrives best in milder weather (shucks, not suited for the Reno climate).
8. Finally…..Bok choy is sometimes called a “soup spoon” because of the shape of its leaves.

The bottom line is I foresee more bok Choy on my families dinner table in the future, and recommend giving it a try as an alternative to the more common leafy greens.

Please share any bok choi recipes that I should try!


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Welcome 2016

It’s that time of year again where the Christmas tree and decorations come down, weight loss goals come into play and the gym is full of people wanting to lose weight for their New Years resolutions. Welcome 2016! Yes, I’m sounding cliche, but what can I say, it’s true about the beginning of the year.

I know how it goes, I’ve been there with the best of intentions, blowing dust off of long unused gym memberships, treadmills (even workout DVDs), eyes bright with resolutions and hope for the new year. Those extra few pounds didn’t stand a chance this year!

Then life steps in (or is it just the end of January that signals the end of motivation), and, like the Swallows leaving Capistrano, the gym empties….at least that’s how it looks when I would drive by, promising to go again tomorrow.

The last couple years I have been able to keep motivated through January, and I think it is mostly because I can work out at home when it is convenient and takes way less time than going to the gym.

So, if that list of standard cliches isn’t motivation enough, I will share my resolution with all my loyal readers in hopes that it will motivate me… It looks a lot like last year; workout regularly, but also make each workout count! No point in wasting time doing a half assed workout!

What are your New Year’s resolutions/goals for 2016?


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Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and wanted to give y’all an update on my current workout and healthy eating scheme….

First, I have been trying to be extra diligent about eating well, because everybody knows that this is the time of year where, held gallantly held in check for 11 months, temptation rears its fat head, and those pesky lbs can sneak up and stick in all the wrong places. My main goal to counter this well-publicized phenomenon has been to avoid having sweets (or other empty calorie goodness) around where I can just grab one or two as I walk by. This seems to be cutting down on the temptation, as well as the unwanted aftermath.

Our Thanksgiving was a certain victory over temptation, even though we had two separate family Thanksgiving dinners (on different days of course). First, a big thanks to my brother in law Tom for suggesting and preparing a fantastic middle eastern feast! I don’t actually remember the names of the delicious courses, but there was cardamom rice, lamb tart, squash something-or-other, and pumpkin pie. All the credit for the second round of Thanksgiving goes to my sister Page, who prepared two different wonderful soups and all the extra goodies to go with it. I’m not sure how I didn’t overeat since both meals were fantastic, but somehow I managed to end up feeling satisfied without bursting.

Thanksgiving is sort of a warm up for the indulgence that is December. With shortbread cookies and See’s candy lurking, I have been staying strong for the most part, so far…..

As for my workouts…I have been mixing up the sweating between bouts of PiYo, the HIIT workouts from TurboFire, P90X3, Body Beast Lucky 7 and especially chasing around a toddler (is there such thing as a runn-ler? She isn’t toddling as much as running). That counts right?

Not that anybody asked, but my second piece of advice is to practice moderation in the face of overindulgence (that See’s candy isn’t going to eat itself, plus everybody else is doing it!), and have that occasional sweet to cut down on the craving and hopefully avoid the shame that comes with an empty shortbread cookie tin and nobody to blame it on but the dog.

How are you staying healthy this time of year?

Homemade Baby Food

When our pediatrician said we could start giving Addison solid food, I was ecstatic because all I saw was the end of pumping!  My excitement lasted right up until she gave me the informative baby food pamphlet and saw that the restricted/suggested food list was gonna take some work to follow.  My excitement returned when I went shopping for baby food and saw the great assortment of creative and wacky flavors available (apple peach oatmeal; spinach lentil brown rice; pumpkin and spinach).  At the register my excitement went away when I calculated the cost per ounce, and further inspection didn’t reveal any hidden gold or diamonds in the jar.  After feeding her a couple jars (and tasting for myself), I wasn’t impressed with the ingredients or sources for the common, supermarket baby food; they all seemed bland and processed.

With that low level of excitement, and some spare time, I busted out the baby Breeza we got for a Christmas gift.  The helpful pamphlet made setup easy, and the basic baby food recipes made for a good starting point to start creating homemade baby food.  The BB is great, it is like a food processor that steams as well as purées all in the same container.

In the summer our garden produced almost all of the raw ingredients for baby food, but now that the garden isn’t producing, we rely on organic produce to keep the baby fed.  After some trial and error (and a few messes), I am now freezing the semi-liquid baby food in ice cube trays, then transferring to freezer bags when it is frozen.  This allows for easy measuring (that is if you measure in cubes), easy transport (mason jars work well), and quick defrost in the microwave.

On any given day Addison gets sweet potatoes (her favorite), yams, rice, quinoa, ground turkey, fresh chukar, apples, beets, chard, and kale.  She really enjoys my concoctions, and I know exactly what she is eating, which makes me feel good.  Exact comparisons are not very easy, but cost wise the homemade baby food pencils out a little bit cheaper than store bought.

Hopefully she will get a taste for these healthy ingredients and be on her way to a lifetime of healthy eating.

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New Products

Last month BeachBody announced three new products that I am excited to share with you-PiYo, 3-Day Refresh and P90.
The highly anticipated PiYo is now available and brought to you by my favorite workout video celebrity Chalene Johnson, creator of TurboFire, Turbo Jam and Turbo Kick. At this point you’re probably wondering what kind of crazy name is PiYo? No, its not math slang for saying hi to a bro, But is actually a mix between Pilates and yoga. It is unique in that Instead of holding poses forever, like in yoga, it moves quickly enough to incorporate cardio as well as strength and flexibility. What do I think of the workout? As a coach I am super excited because it gives me a great low impact workout to recommend to all types of fitness enthusiasts, but I haven’t tried it personally because i prefer faster workouts. Several clients with bad knees have been raving about it!

Here is the blurb I stole from the beach body website (couldn’t have said it better myself):
“Who should buy the program? PiYo is for: Men and women who want to get the results of an extreme program without the jumps, weights, or joint strain. This program is perfect for people of all fitness levels; people who want to build lean muscle without the bulk; those who love the benefits of pilates and yoga, but feel these programs lack the cardio they need to burn fat and calories; and people who want a workout that doesn’t require a lot of equipment.”

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Next, I’m excited to announce the 3-Day Refresh. The 3DR is a healthy cleanse that includes supplements and healthy meals. not surprisingly, it lasts 3 days and will clean out your system and help lose A few pounds in the process. it isn’t one of those scary “only drink lemon juice for two weeks” cleanses that are doomed to end in extreme hangryness (hangryness is the act of being hangry, and is the serious medical condition of Being angry cuz your Hungry) and binge eating. There’s a healthy meal plan to follow along with supplemental shakes, so no risk of completely irrational hunger related outbursts!

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Last but but not least is P90! P90 is by the creator of P90X, X2 and X3, Tony Horton. He has created an “easier” version of P90X for the person who is just starting their fitness journey with a mix of cardio and weight training, done in 30 min (or a little less) and will include more modified moves. If you’re familiar with Power 90, which was released before P90X, P90 is a more up to date version and not as “extreme”. I really like the sound of this workout, and wish it would have been available when I first hauled my butt off the couch and started working out for real. because i have done p90x and p90x3, I feel very comfortable recommending this workout to anybody wanting to start out with an easy workout before moving up to a more extreme version. The release date for this workout is around September; I’ll put the exact release date in the comments when I find out for sure.
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If you’re interested in any of these new products or have any questions please visit my website: beachbodycoach.com/ryannford (you’ll have to copy/paste) or send me an email: ryannkford@gmail.com and I would love to help you get started or choose a workout that best fits your goals!

Homemade Bread

To me there is a distinct difference between being “fit” and being “healthy”. Working out regularly is very important, and will lead to being fit, but not necesarily being healthy. Being healthy is a full time, full body commitment, both inside and out. In order to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle for my family as well as myself, I have been trying to cut back on the preservatives consumed in our house.
Ever read the ingredients on the “healthy” bread? Take a look and try not to be shocked, but our healthy bread had a lot of the unhealthy ingredients I try to avoid otherwise like this. Also check out this link here about bread having the same ingredients as yoga mats.
The solution was to either buy the really fancy, expensive bread from the bakery, or learn to make our own. Being heavy on time and short on money, we decided to start making our own. Coming from someone who is not a baker, and can really screw up simple things like cookies (nobody likes my blackened, crispy sheet cookies, how can butter and sugar taste that bad??), learning to bake bread has been surprisingly easy.
From beginning to end it takes about 3 hours, which seems like a lot of time, but the actual time spent “working” is only about 15 minutes, the rest is rising time and baking time.
The benefits are that the homemade bread definitely tastes better if I do say so myself, the house smells awesome for hours afterwards, and I know exactly what the ingredients are, and it is a much shorter list than on the store bought bread.
I make the recipe out of a cookbook but have “perfected” it a little bit. There are tons of recipes out there so I won’t bore you with a recipe, just play google roulette with “wheat breat recipe”.

Until next time…Ryann

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P90X3 Review

It has been 9 months since I’ve done any intense workouts and now it’s time to get back to it and start P90X3! I’ve been wanting to do this workout ever since it was released in December. Through some subtle and not so subtle hints, my wonderful husband got it for my Christmas present.
I have said it before, but the most exciting aspect for a new mother (besides the fact that it is fun) is that it only takes 30 minutes. I don’t know of a better way to get a full body beat down and be back to changing diapers in the time I used to take to warm up. The workouts may be quick, but afterwards I attack the poop blowouts and projectile puking with renewed vigor.
Enough with the background, here comes my review from the first full month of regular use: the first workout is called Total Synergistics (works all body parts), and afterwards I felt fantastic all over (the next day was a different story, can you say sore without laughing?)! Some of the moves were a little difficult, like push-ups, not because they are complex, but because my upper body strength has dropped to the point where I feel like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory trying to do pushups. Not to worry, soon I will be back to the toned, rock crushing, one-armed push-up doing workout monster I was before this baby nonsense.
The nice part is that for those Sheldon moments, I was able to modify and keep up with the others in the workout and pause when I needed.
I have noticed about other workouts in X3, is that there are hardly any breaks, except usually one 30 second rest or a minute and then it’s go time again. This is nice because there isn’t any time to be bored (or realize how winded I am). Most of the exercises are either a minute long, or doing a set number of reps so it is easy to keep up with the video.
Personally, I have a hard time following schedules, but after completing several sessions with P90X, I have found following the scheudle that is included really helps get the best results. After day one I was starting to feel sore and can fully sympathize with anybody who is starting a new workout regime in the new year. The nice part is, after a few days the soreness has mostly gone away and I can attack each workout with full intensity, which is key to getting maximum benefit for the time spent.
So if you haven’t figured it out already, I highly suggest this workout for anybody, not just people with a time constraint. Remember, Christmas and the New Year snuck up like nobody’s business, and beach season is slyly peeking around the corner waiting for us to turn our backs for one second.

5 things I am LOVING about P90X3
1) Workouts are short and to the point. No need for long hour long sessions of cardio/weights
2) Tons of new moves
3) Yoga is shorter (this way i actually do the whole workout)
4) There is a Pilates workout now!
5) There’s a separate warm up DVD that’s included on the main menu of each workout

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Drop me a line and let me in on your favorite workout and why….

Until next time…Ryann