Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just Keep Going

Why Vitamins?

By Lisa  & Steve VanWilliams
Why should you take vitamins? The word "VITA" means life. 

Vitamins are a group of organic compounds that CANNOT be manufactured by the body. They are required in specific amounts for special functions of growth, ,digestion, nerve function, and maintenance and repair of our bodies.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that a majority of your nutrients should be met by consuming foods, but supplementation may be suggested for sensitive populations. If you are not eating all your fruits and veggies you might need some vitamins.  If you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet your body might need more. In total, there are 13 vitamins the body needs to survive, and you might not be getting them all. Many people consume more calories than they need without getting the proper amounts of nutrients.

Review the USDA's recommended daily requirements, and if you are not getting all the food groups covered on a daily basis, you might want to consider making vitamins part of your daily routine.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do the Walk of Life

By Lisa VanWilliams

My husband and I have been taking the kids on a two mile walk every morning this week on a beautiful boardwalk on the beach.  The time flies looking out at an incredible scenery and we don't even realize how far we go.  It's nice to see the same people out there every morning focusing on fitness. 

Walking 30-60 minutes a day 5x a week can change your quality of life. It can help reduce the risks and it can help manage several health issues such as:

  • cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • obesity
  • lower blood pressure
  • increases overall bone health
  • lower cholesterol
  • it may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's
  • help lose weight
  • lift your mood
  • decrease risks of osteoporosis and arthritis

On average, 160 pound person can burn roughly 314 calories an hour walking 3.2 mph. Start with a short term goal like 10 minutes a day and work yourself up more everyday.  Walking comes with tons of health benefits and the best part is it's easy and it's free! It's a great way to spend time with the family or do spend some quality time on your own and do some reflecting. 

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What does GMO mean??

By Lisa VanWilliams

The definition of GMO is a genetically modified organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, fish, and mammals.

Are you ok with giving your family altered food? If you buy processed foods, you might be purchasing GMO products without even knowing it.  It's a science that has pro's and con's. Why would you want to alter anything natural?

WebMD did an article where they listed the risks and benefits of this concept.

Risks include:
  • Introducing allergens and toxins to food
  • Accidental contamination between genetically modified and non-genetically modified foods
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Adversely changing the nutrient content of a crop
  • Creation of "super" weeds and other environmental risks
Benefits include:
  • Increased pest and disease resistance
  • Drought tolerance
  • Increased food supply

The big debate right now is regulation. Should producers be required to tell purchasers the item they are buying was modified? Is this genetic altering an ethical practice? Most importantly, is the food safe? Right now, they do not have to tell you. Some companies are stepping up to the plate and doing it voluntarily and others are keeping quiet because they are afraid of consumer rejection.

Check out the NON GMO Project website and find out if your favorite products are on the list or not.
What is the NON GMO Project? The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. They believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Blueberry Scones

By Lisa VanWilliams

So yesterday's family blueberry picking was a success and the weather was awesome!  I just finished making these yummy blueberry scones with my 2 1/2 year old daughter.  She loves to pour everything in the bowl and stir it up with my measuring spoons.  These are gonna go great with this second cup of coffee for mommy :) 


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup blue agave
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup half & half cream
1 egg


Preheat oven at 375.
Cut butter into mixture of flour, agave, baking powder, and salt. Add blueberries and toss to mix.
In separate bowl beat together cream and egg, and slowly pour into dry ingredients, stirring with rubber scraper until dough forms. Knead just until it comes together, 3 or 4 times. Don't overhandle.
Divide dough in half. On lightly floured board, shape each half into a 6-inch round. Cut into 6 wedges.
Bake on greased sheet about 20 minutes

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bubbly Bursting Blueberries

By Lisa VanWilliams

It's that time of year in New England to get out and pick some nice ripe blueberries. My husband and I are hoping to get out there with the kids this weekend or next weekend and do some picking!  Eaten raw, blueberries are one of the top antioxidants you can have. Antioxidants help protect your cells from being damaged by free radicals that can damage cells and cause diseases. Freezing the berries does not damage the antioxidants.

Health benefits include:

  • cardiovascular benefits
  • cognitive benefits - they might improve your memory
  • blood sugar benefits
  • eye health -helps protect from sunlight damage 
  • anti-cancer benefits
  • may help prevent degenerative diseases
  • may help prevent urinary tract infections

The US produces around 275 million pounds of blueberries every year which is more than half of the worlds production (550 million pounds grown annually worldwide).  Our distant neighbors in Maine produce the largest amount of lowbush blueberries in the world, and the wild blueberry is the official fruit of Maine.  There are two types of berry bushes - the wild ones are called "low bush" and the farmed berries are called "high bush".  Try to look for the organically grown ones because pesticide residues are bad !

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flexibility and Stretching

By Lisa VanWilliams

Always warm your muscles up before you stretch them!  It's important to raise your body temp because bottom line is you cannot stretch cold muscles. Flexibility is described as the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints, and length in muscles that cross the joints. People have different flexibility levels and that varies due to the differences in muscle length of multi-joint muscles.

It can improve your quality of life by maintaining a good range of motion. Loss of motion can lead to health problems such as physical issues, pain syndromes, and balance disorders.  Stretching is a way to improve your flexibility.  The best way to stretch a muscle is to apply force to the area being stretched and hold it just beyond the feeling of pain for ten seconds.  Do not hold it for too long and over stretch the muscle. 

Improving your range of motion will give you a better posture, improve your overall performance and quality of life.  The Mayo Clinic recommends to following to keep stretching safe:

  • don't consider stretching a warm up. Do a light jog or walk for 5-10 mins to warm up muscles before stretching
  • focus on major muscle groups -calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders
  • don't bounce because that can cause tears in muscle
  • don't aim for pain -stop at the brink
  • make stretches sport specific
  • bring movement into your stretching

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Deviled Eggs or Dressed Eggs for the Church Folks

By Lisa VanWilliams

Did you ever wonder why it's called a deviled egg? 

The term was coined back in the 18th century and it referred to something as being spicy or zesty.  Some cooks add cayenne pepper, others may add mustard or Tabasco but that's what puts "the devil" in the egg.  Some people may not prefer the name and they call them dressed eggs or salad eggs instead. Either way, they are a sure party pleaser and always the first thing gone. This is an easy recipe for a beginner cook or someone that's not that great of a cook. It's really hard to mess up and a great recipe to do with the kids. People will be asking you for the mystery recipe.

1 dozen hard boiled eggs peeled & dried
1 teaspoon spicy mustard (Gulden's)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons relish
4-6 tablespoons mayonnaise (add to your liking but don't add to much! )
salt & fresh cracked pepper

Cut the eggs in half and take the yolks out with a spoon and put them in a small bowl. Break the yolks down with a fork and add the salt & pepper. Then stir in remaining ingredients until creamy. Add a heaping teaspoon of the cream mixture back into the eggs. Sprinkle with paprika chill for at least and hour and enjoy ! 

Six Pack Abs And Your Diet

By Lisa & Steve VanWilliams

Everyone has a six pack, it's just hiding! It takes more than sit ups and crunches to get there. The old saying goes "abs are made in the kitchen" and the food you eat plays a major role in how your body responds.

Help boost your metabolism by eating high quality lean protein, fat in moderation, and try to keep it low carb to maintain hunger levels.  You have to burn more than you take in so watch your calories. Also, watch your alcohol intake because booze impairs your ability to burn fat. Some other factors to consider are sodium intake, sleep, and drinking lots of water.

Fitness Magazine listed the 10 best foods for flat abs:

  • eggs
  • almonds
  • soy
  • apples
  • berries
  • leafy greens
  • yogurt
  • salmon
  • quinoa
  • veggie soup

Your ab muscles and the muscles in your back make up your core muscles which help keep the body balanced and stable.  These muscles protect your spine and help prevent injury. 

So keep in mind, it's not just the exercises your doing, it's what your putting in your mouth too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mr. Sandman..I'll take 8 hours please!

By Lisa VanWilliams

Between work, kids, busy schedules, and trying to get things done, some people just do not get enough sleep.  How much sleep do you need? There's no magic number.  Some people can function on 4 hours of sleep and others need at least 8 hours.

The National Sleep Foundation states that, "Each one of us has a unique sleep requirement. Our sleep need depends upon genetic and physiological factors and also varies by age, sex, and previous sleep amounts. However, a simple definition of sufficient sleep is a sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves one feeling refreshed and alert for the day."

Lack of sleep can cause health issues such as possible increases in heart rate and blood pressure, increases risk for coronary artery disease, impairs glucose tolerance, increases hunger and appetite, and increases risk of hypertension (diabetes and weight gain) just to name a few. In addition to health issues, lack of sleep can jeopardize your safety and the safety of those around you.

Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep states that lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events. The bottom line is that lack of sleep impedes learning and memory and it can affect your health.

It's important to let your body heal, refresh, and recharge.

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need

Monday, July 22, 2013

Papaya or Pawpaw?

By Lisa VanWilliams

We were in Costa Rica last year and we rediscovered my husbands love for this tropical fruit. Christopher Columbus called it "the fruit of the angels".  This oddly little shaped fruit grows on trees kind of like a mango and when it's ripe it turns a soft orange/yellow color.  It's believed to be originally from Mexico and Central America and explorers brought this tropical fruit with them to other lands on their expeditions.  In the States we call it papaya but in Africa and the United Kingdom they go by pawpaw.

Papaya is grown in about 60 countries with the bulk of them coming from Asia and South America. So, why should you eat this fruit? Antioxidants again sprinkled with some vitamin B, minerals, and fiber. So taking that into consideration it's good for:

  1. protection against heart disease
  2. promotes digestive health
  3. anti-inflammatory effects
  4. immune support
  5. protects against macular degeneration
  6. protects against rheumatoid arthritis
  7. can help reduce risks of prostate cancer

There are two varieties of papaya and the Mexican one is usually the bigger one, with Hawaiian being the smaller version. Pawpaw is a great low calorie snack that can be served all by itself, in a smoothie, salsa, bruschetta, or compliment your fish dinner with some chutney.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pro Surfer & Banging Body

By Lisa VanWilliams

Laird Hamilton will be turning 50 next year. For a man that battles the ocean on a daily basis, he has to maintain peak physical fitness. The Pro Surfer, fitness guru, model, entrepreneur and father got together with a few friends and started a supplement line called Truition a few years ago.

"The TRUition philosophy is based on the reality that achieving peak fitness and overall well-being must start with a personal commitment to TRANSFORM to a healthier lifestyle. Once you make this decision to improve your quality of life, the next step is to permanently EVOLVE your fitness and nutrition behaviors in order to achieve sustainable results. Through the combination of routine physical activity and proper nutrition, your body and mind will begin to THRIVE and then you will become a positive role model to your family, friends and everyone around you."

Men's Health did a article with Laird a while back and these were his recommendations on how he powers his body:
  • push start - start the day with a protein shake
  • don't graze - don't eat unless you are hungry
  • chew slowly - savor what you are eating
  • eat real food - not processed
  • be diverse - the food universe is vast, don't get stuck on what you know
  • experiment
  • listen to your body and feed it's cravings
  • don't be thrifty when it comes to food - budget so you can buy better food
  • skip starches
  • eat sustainable foods - the closer it is to wild, the better

Laird and his wife Gabby Reece (American Pro Volleyball player) are a power couple to watch out for. They also have an awesome website you can follow for more tips that's all about nutrition, fitness, and healthy living.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Healthy Choices

By Steve VanWilliams
We all make choices everyday. What time to get up, what to wear, to work out or not, fries and burger or a grilled chicken salad and so on.  In regards to a healthy fit lifestyle choices should be easy. But then again some may be difficult. When we are trying to get that happy, healthy toned body our choices on what we intake DO matter. Good nutrition is very simple. Loosing weight is a simple scientific process. Make great food choices, burn off more than you intake and you will loose weight.  So if you are in fight to battle that bulge, loose those few extra pounds or wherever you personally are - make great healthy choices. The apple on the left is around 80 calories and GREAT FOR YOU!! The bar of chocolate is around 500, full of sugar and fat, so it may not be the best. So the more you intake in poor food choices the more you have to burn off in a workout.
After training women for over 30 years I realize women CANNOT live without chocolate! So make a choice to have a taste and not a meal of it. Modify to fit your lifestyle. Life is here to enjoy and we need not sacrifice EVERYTHING to get great end results. Just make great choices -

Hiking Nature's Cardio

By Lisa VanWilliams

 Tired of staring at the TV monitor at the gym?  It's a great time of year to get out on the trails, connect with nature and plan a little day trip. A change of scenery can really make a difference and challenging yourself with different terrain will be great for your muscles. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research did a study that shows that walking or running indoors requires less effort than moving at the same speed outdoors.  On average, a 150 pound person can burn roughly 240 calories after an hour of hiking.

The United States Forest Service manages 158,000 miles of trails on more than 150 National Forests and Grasslands. The American Hiking Society lists several health reasons to get out there:
  • great way to lose excess pounds & improve health
  • reduce your chances for heart disease
  • hiking can decrease cholesterol levels
  • decreases hypertension
  • improves and maintains mental health
  • slows the aging process
  • prevents osteoporosis
  • prevent and controls diabetes
  • improves arthritis
  • helps relieve back pain

So pack up your day pack and bring the whole family. There's tons of trails to explore and nature to creep up on. You will feel refreshed and energized and your body will feel a different kind of natural sore instead of the mechanical monotonous machines :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Extreme Heat - Looking Out

By Lisa VanWilliams

Take the warnings seriously. We all are at risk but are but some need more attention during these times.
Who is at higher risk? The CDC shows the following:

People age 65 and older
Infants and Children
People with chronic medical problems
Low income
Outdoor workers

The San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences shows that 32 children were killed in 2012 due to heatstroke. The CDC reports that from 1999-2010 7,415 deaths occurred in the U.S. due to exposure and excessive natural heat. Every year thousands of dogs suffer and Veterinarians are inundated with heatstroke and burned pads during heatwaves.

Keep body temps cool to avoid heat related problems, drink more water, stayed informed and be aware. If you notice anyone struggling offer help them, if you see a dog locked in a car - call the police. If you can not walk on the cement because it's to hot, you should not let your children or dog walk on it.  Look for shady spots. It is times like this we hear more frequently that common sense is not that common - all the issues associated with heat stroke and dehydration are PREVENTABLE.

For more tips on staying cool, check out the CDC website for details.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Flip Flop Madness

Do you wear flip flops 365 days a year?  I did and I loved it but my for my ankles it was a different story.  Having worked for a Corporation for almost 20 years I was restricted to a dress code. The last day I came home from the office and everyday after, I wore flip flops.  Everyday for over two years now. Even in the brink of Winter when there was 5 feet of snow outside, I sat smugly inside with my flip flops on, only to deplore putting on "real shoes" when I was forced to go outside. Was this my way of out-lashing after having to conform to dress codes since high school? Possibly. 

Shoes are a multi billion dollar industry. Flip flops alone are billion dollar industry.  Whether your talking Havaianas, Reef, J.Crew, Sanuks, Teva, Hurley, Old Navy, Olukai, or Tory Burch they can range from $1 to $150. Every walk of life can wear them.  Rainbow Sandals is a private flip flop manufacturing company that started out of California and they make over 2 millions pairs of sandals each year and they offer a lifetime guarantee.  Choices choices choices, which one to chose? Which pair will support you the best without doing damage to your feet or ankles?

The American Podiatric Medical Association makes the following recommendations:

  • Do shop for a flip-flop made of high-quality, soft leather. Leather minimizes the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.
  • Do gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should never fold in half.
  • Do ensure that your foot doesn't hang off of the edge of the flip-flop.
  • Do wear a sturdy pair of flip-flops when walking around a public pool, at the beach, in hotel rooms and in locker room areas. Walking barefoot can expose foot soles to plantar warts and athlete's foot.
  • Don't re-wear flip-flops year after year. Inspect older pairs for wear. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them.
  • Don't ignore irritation between toes, where the toe thong fits. This can lead to blisters and possible infections.
  • Don't wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.
  • Don't do yard work while wearing flip-flops. Always wear a shoe that fully protects feet when doing outside activities such as mowing the lawn or using a weed-eater.
  • Don't play sports in flip-flops. This practice can lead to twisting of the foot or ankle, as well as sprains and breaks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lavender to Loosen Up

By LisaVanWilliams
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. They also show that 40 million adults suffer from disorders in the U.S. with Specific Phobias, Social Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder affecting the population the most.  

Lavender oil has been used for thousand of centuries to help treat anxiety and depression.  It has relaxing sedative effects when the scent is inhaled. Besides helping the Nervous System, lavender has a multitude of other claimed benefits such as:
  • helps with sleep
  • can be used to treat acne
  • provides pain relief
  • helps improve burn recovery
  • mosquitoes do not like it
  • it may help with respiratory disorders
  • good for the scalp and to treat Alopecia
  • it may help improve blood circulation
  • it can help to build immunities
  • helps in treating insomnia

France and Bulgaria are the world's leading producers of this magical floral oil. Lavender oil is made by steam distillation of the lavender flowers and the extraction of the essential oils. Make sure your getting pure essential oil and not synthetic lavender fragrance. Put a few drops in the bath, put some on that sunburn, or use a diffuser and start feeling a calming sense of relief. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gouda It's a Gooda

By Lisa VanWilliams
The well aged ones taste like toffee crystals dipped in butterscotch without nearly as much guilt. It has been described as sweet -n- salty and bursting with flavor. It's a Dutch yellow cheese made from cow's milk named after a city in the Netherlands. Made from pasteurized milk it's heated until the curds separate from the whey, then they reduce the amount of whey and add water. The cheese is then dried, waxed, and aged. 

It provides a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin A but it's high in fat and sodium so use in moderation.

We like Uniekaas brand sold at Whole Foods. The 18 month Reserve Gouda and the aged 3 years Gouda are incredibly rich and smooth. They are produced in the Northern region of Holland where they are placed on wooden shelves to age. The cheese wheels are rotated every few weeks to ensure even distribution of moisture. The longer it ages it develops a caramel sweetness and crystallizes.

Well aged Gouda's like these could be complemented with wines that are deeply flavored such as a rich Merlot or Cabernet. It can also be used as a substitute for Parmesan cheese if you like grating.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Low Carb Zuccini Lasagna

By Lisa VanWilliams
Craving Italian food but don't want to sabotage your meal plan? Try this tasty filling veggie substitute that won't have you feeling guilty by eating heavy pasta. Zucchini is in full effect this time of Summer, so go to the garden or hit up your local Farmers Market and pick a few nice ones for this recipe. 


4 small zucchini (sliced thin and lightly salted)
1 pd ground beef
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1 small green pepper diced
1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 16oz jar tomato sauce
1/4 cup red cooking wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 egg
1 small container fat free ricotta cheese
1 10oz frozen chopped spinach
1 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a deep 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. Slice zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices. Sprinkle slices lightly with salt.
  3. Start by sauteing the garlic, peppers, and onion until they are soft. Add the ground beef and black pepper & garlic salt in a large skillet over medium high and cook meat until the pink is gone. Drain excess fluid from meat. Stir in tomato sauce, wine, basil, and oregano. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Meanwhile, stir egg, ricotta, and parsley together in a bowl until well combined.
  5. To assemble lasagna, spread 1/2 of the meat sauce into the bottom of prepared pan. Then layer 1/2 the zucchini slices, 1/2 the ricotta mixture, all of the spinach,  then 1/2 the mozzarella cheese. Repeat by layering the remaining meat sauce, zucchini slices, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Spread Parmesan cheese evenly over the top; cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil; raise oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Don't let anyone steal your energy!

By Steve VanWilliams
We are all energy. Energy is all around us. Energy is us. We are matter. Stored energy. We are a vibration. We are in constant motion even when we are at rest. Spiritual, mental and physical we strive daily to obtain more and more energy. That is why people fight, argue or create havoc in your life. OR vice versa. Energy cannot be created. It is just changed or transferred. It never goes away. When a person gets close to you, disrupts your life, makes you feel bad, hurts you, harms you, they are trying to steal your energy. How many times have you argued and fought with some one so bad that when you walked away you felt recharged? or you felt so “drained”? The winner or transfer of energy feels great, while the one who looses feels drained. This does not mean anything about the subject matter, you could win the fight so to speak but loose your energy. So inevitable, subconsciously you really lost while you won. When someone starts a confrontation, yelling screaming and you do not rise, what happens? The person most often will settle down once they cannot get a rise out of you... IE.. you take their energy! How many times have you seen this? I used to get it bouncing at clubs nightly.. A guy / girl would come up for what ever reason screaming, yelling, I will kick your ass, blah blah.. and by remaining absolutely calm, cool, collected not letting my pulse rise one beat, the aggressor 99.9% of the time after a few minutes, calmed down and walked away. I felt great!! “Don’t let any one steal your energy”!

Fountain of Youth - Part 1

By Steve VanWilliams
The fountain of youth! People have searched for it for 1,000 years maybe more. That would be great, drink a glass and stay young for ever. Unfortunately people have been trying to sell this for decades. Even more so today. Every day you will see 1,000's of ads for a pill, or potion. The truth is you can find the fountain. Oh, yes there is a fountain and you can find it if you look in the right place. To find the fountain of youth you have to look deep inside yourself. You have to go inside your mind and will your body to change! Yes that is where the fountain is! Its in you me everyone can find it. You may never be able to change your chronological age, but you can definitely change your biological age...Or at least the way you look and more importantly feel! Exercise daily, relax do not stress so much, eat healthy and move, is a good way to start your journey to finding the fountain of youth. 

You can eat helathy and still enjoy it!

By LIsa VanWiliams
To eat healthy does not mean everything has to taste like tofu! Unless you like tofu! Ha... These are my wife's homemade whole grain, fresh picked strawberry muffins!! Only a few calories and are the best tasting muffins you can find!!! Try to make everything yourself. Get rid of the processed, box foods. Eat well but enjoy yourself!!!

Have you tried Quinoa instead of rice?

By Lisa VanWilliams
Another fantastic healthy dinner from my wife Chef Lisa!! So have you tried quinoa instead of rice? If you have not you do not know what you are missing! Even our two year old LOVES it!! It has a different texture and the taste is amazing. Chef Lisa cooked this awesome Carolina country grilled chicken, with steamed fresh (farmers market) broccoli and then put a twist instead of having are usual brown rice, she made up a great new dish of roasted red peppers, fresh grown basil from our garden with quinoa.... Quinoa is a species of "goosefoot". Basically a grain like crop used for its seeds. Its is closely related to spinach on the scientific side of things, but does not taste like spinach. It takes on the flavor of the seasoning you cook it with. It has been around for over 4,000 years according to history. Primarily grown in South America. The biggest exporter of quinoa is Peru. Quinoa has been known to be called a SUPERFOOD. It has a high protein content, great source of fiber, magnesium, IRON and phosphorus. I will be posting the recipes soon so keep checking back......

Cinnamon Honey Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins

By Lisa VanWilliams

A great tasty healthy dessert or snack! The is a great tasting dessert for the kids! Well me too! My wife, "Chef Lisa" came up with this awesome recipe the other night for cinnamon honey baked apples with walnuts and raisins. My 2 1/2 year old daughter and I cannot get enough of them! I have found out over all the years of training people and families, that if you get your kids into eating healthy food when they are young, the habits will continue when they are older. Finding different ways to cook and display fruit in your house is key. This was a great dish and presentation. My daughter could not wait to get a bite. Myself either! Ha!!


  • 4 medium baking apples (Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Small palmful of chopped walnuts, plus extra for topping
  • Small palmful of raisins or dried cranberries
  • Pinch of salt
  • Honey, to drizzle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a pie plate or square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Wash apples and cut into the stem of each, using a spoon to scoop out the core and seeds, but taking care not to dig or cut through the bottom of the apple.

Mix together the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until smooth. Add the walnuts and raisins or cranberries, stir and divide the mixture equally among the apples, stuffing the center of each. Place into the prepared pan.

Top each apple with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and press them into the mixture. Give a generous drizzle of honey over the top of each apple. Add just enough water to the pan to cover the bottom and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.

Cinnamon: A good source of Calcium?

By Lisa VanWilliams
Cinnamon a good source of Calcium? It sure is!!
It's true. Cinnamon can contain up to 28mg of calcium in just a teaspoon.
Cinnamon has been around for thousands of years and it used medicinally to treat many ailments. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree and most of these trees are in Sri Lanka, Indonesia. The oil is even said to be an effective mosquito repellant.

Health benefits of this aromatic spice have been shown to help people with diabetes by improving insulin regulation. It's even been said to assist with weight loss by increasing the metabolism. It been said to help with digestive ailments, inflammatory conditions,  and lowering cholesterol.  All this and it's high in nutrients as well. So get out the cinnamon and spice up your oatmeal, apples & toast with a healthy twist !

It's true. Cinnamon can contain up to 28mg of calcium in just a teaspoon.

Pumpkin Pecan Spice Muffins

By Lisa VanWilliams
Pumpkin Pecan Spice Muffins - From Chef Lisa VanWilliams

Cooking spray
1 cup whole wheat flour (stone ground)
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup vegtable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 pecans


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle pecans. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

Childhood Obesity

By Steve VanWilliams
I have been teaching children martial arts and fitness for over 30 years! I have traveled, trained and taught all over the world and have found obesity in every social class, race and country. I must say though in America it has to be the worst. Over 1 in 3 children in America is overweight!! This is NOT acceptable!! Since 1963 the rate of children who are not just overweight but obese has almost quadrupled! What is going on with America? We have becoming so EXCEPTING of this epidemic and we should not. "Obesity—One Third of All Cancers are Directly Related to It"
We need to change this. I believe we need to change the parents first. Children with follow by example. If you are overweight and not very active chances are you child will be... Get out there an move. It will help your children. 

Feeling Bloated?

By Lisa VanWilliams
Feeling bloated? Try adding some parsley to your diet. It's claimed to be a natural diuretic and flushed excess fluid from the body. Parsley contains antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin A. Its been known to assist in helping to control blood pressure and it's also used as an anti-inflammatory. 

The two most popular types of Parsley are Curly and Italian Flat Leaf.  The flat leaf is said to have a better flavor. Curly is described as being more bitter. Parsley can be added to dishes like stews, sauces, salads, sautes, rice, and even add some to your meatballs ! So sigh a breath of relief..after all the garlic, the best news is it will leave you with fresh breath as it acts as a natural freshener.

Shrimp & Spinach with White Wine Mustard Sauce

By Lisa VanWilliams
Are you tired of the same old way to cook your shrimp? Can't get the kids to like any seafood? Try this spectacular creation from my wife Chef Lisa Vanwilliams! Our daughter loved it and I can say so did her dad. This was just a fabulous dinner and yes we complemented our meal off with a nice glass of chardonnay. What a great night!!


  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons Horseradish depending on preference
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Garnished with parsley and chives
  • Lemon for flavor


  • In a blender puree the onion, garlic, olive oil, white wine, horseradish, and pepper
  • In a nonstick skillet, saute the shrimp in oil and add the wet mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shrimp; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Lastly, add bag of spinach.
  • serve with rice

Yield: 2 servings.
Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving equals 193 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 202 mg cholesterol, 598 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 23 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

Try sweet potatoes over regular!

By Lisa VanWilliams
A great twist on an old favorite!! Wow, I cannot believe something so good could be so healthy!! This is an awesome creation from my wife Chef Lisa VanWilliams. Sweet potatoes will raise your blood sugar around 30% less than regular potatoes. They are rich in  beta-carotene and are a great source of vitamin C.  The Nurses' Health Study at Harvard Medical School found that women who ate lots of foods rich in beta-carotene, such as sweet potatoes, reduced their risk of breast cancer by as much as 25 percent.

"Craving some down home comfort food but still want to be good? Try this delicious healthy twist on Shepherds Pie that will satisfy any hungry tummy and have them coming back for more". - Chef Lisa VanWilliams - 

2 lbs ground turkey
3/4 cup onion
3/4 cup green pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 scallions if you have any on hand (optional)
1 shredded carrot
1 cup chicken broth
couple shots of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen petite peas
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon garlic salt or powder if preferred
3 average size sweet potato's peeled and cut, boiled & mashed
1 can sweet corn
1 can creamed sweet corn
Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350
Cook the sweet potato's first
In a pan, saute the peppers, carrots, scallions, and onions in the olive oil until tender.
add the salt & pepper and garlic salt or powder
add the chicken broth and Worcestershire
add the turkey into the veggie saute mix and cook it until it browns
add the peas in last

Now it's time to make layers. First put the turkey veggie mix in your pan or casserole dish. Then it is time to add the two cans of corn (drain the fluid out of the sweet corn).  The top layer will be the mashed sweet potato's. Sprinkle with Parmesan and put in the oven for 20 minutes or until it starts bubbling. It may drip if you at the top of your rim, so put some foil or a pan under if you think it may overflow.

Cleaning up the messes while being Green

By Lisa VanWilliams
Looking for a great Eco-friendly household cleaner? Well, search no more, we've found this delectable cleaner that smells awesome and gets the job done.  Mrs Meyers Clean Day is the recommended pick the VANWILLIAMS FAMILY likes to use to clean up.  My wife and I  tried a few of the products but you will have to go out and smell them all to decide which one would work best for you.  We tried the Lemon Verbena which put the lime in the coconut for sure. It was like being swept away from my kitchen sink to Key West in one single wash. The Geranium scent was also spectacular.

Liquid hand soup - it leaves your hands smelling incredible and invigorating !! What's better than natural ingredients and essential oils? 
Countertop Spray - it smelled wonderful and does not leave any streaks on a Granite or wood surface.
Liquid Dish Soap -  the soap lathered well and it lasted.  Try to make the dreaded job of doing the dishes a bit more pleasant.
Glass Cleaner - worked great, smelled great, and it did not streak.
Room Freshener - Nice to keep in the bathroom and freshen it up with a light non-toxic spritzer as needed.

The line was started by Mrs. Thelma Meyer, a mother of nine and homemaker and her motto is, "Let's make cleaners that smell nice, like my mom's garden, but still work like the dickens on daily dirt and grime."

Some stores that sell Mrs Meyers are Whole Foods & Target or you can order online.

Pick some up for yourself or give them as a gift, you surely wont be let down.

Squeaky Clean with Organic Bubbles

By Lisa VanWilliams

Looking for an organic great smelling bubbly alternative for tubby time with the kids?  My Wife and I  found a couple great products we would like to share to make bath time more enjoyable for the whole family.  

California Baby has a wonderful line of 100% natural products. We use their sunscreen and insect repellent for our kids but our favorite item is their bubble bath line. We tried the Overtired and Cranky scent and the Calming scent.  The smell is great and the bubbles were overflowing. They even come with a bubble wand to make it more fun!

A health conscious California mom started this company up in 1995 out of her kitchen when she could not find non-chemical ingredients in any of the products she looked at.
Whole Foods, Babies R Us, Stop & Shop, and Target all sell California Baby.

Another product we love and use frequently are Lush Fun Bath Bubblers which are a multi-purpose moldable soap. It's soap, shampoo, bubble bath, and play doh all rolled into one incredible smelling tootsie roll. My kids smell good enough to eat when they get out of the tub and the scent in their hair actually lasts. Our favorite is the Pink Fun.

Lush started out in the 1980's making products for The Body Shop. The company is headquartered in the United Kingdom. They are against animal testing and "Lush products are 100% vegetarian, 83% vegan, and 60% preservative-free."  Lush has 830 stores in 51 countries.  Check their website for your closest store.,en_US,pd.html?start=2&q=fun

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

By Lisa VanWilliams

So, several months ago my husband and I ordered a Whole Foods olive platter for Superbowl and along with these olives came this fabulous healthy treat we can not get enough of.  It's a quick and refreshing recipe that is great for Summertime. We have some sweet pepper plants in our garden growing, but until those are ready to harvest I recommend using the pitted Peppadew Peppers (from South Africa) you can purchase at Whole Foods. But any sweet red pepper will do. Save the container from the olive bar when making the recipe so once they are done you can put your stuffed olives back in. 

1/2-1pd quart of peppers (if you think you have enough take a few more :)
1 large stick of goat cheese
1-2  scallion sticks
Salt & Pepper

Let the goat cheese get to room temp so it's easier to stuff the peppers.  Mix the goat cheese with scallions, salt & pepper in a bowl and then your peppers are ready to stuff! Put them back into container and refrigerate to snack on at any time.  You can't eat just one and being this healthy..why should you?

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

By Lisa VanWilliams


  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple slices


  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice, or orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, (not drained)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins (soaked the raisins in boiling water for 10mins and drain before adding to soften)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. To prepare topping: Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar into each muffin cup. Sprinkle nuts, if using, over the sugar. Stack pineapple slices and cut into 6 wedges. Place 2 wedges in each muffin cup.
  3. To prepare muffins: Whisk whole-wheat flour, pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in oil, juice and vanilla. Stir in crushed pineapple. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in carrot, oats, raisins and nuts, if using. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (they'll be quite full).
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch, 15 to 25 minutes. Immediately loosen wedges and turn muffins out onto a baking sheet. Restore any stray pineapple pieces and nuts. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve upside-down, either warm or at room temperature.


Per muffin: 211 calories; 6 g fat ( 1 g sat , 3 g mono ); 35 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 185 mg sodium; 152 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1 fat

Your child is over weight, what do you do?

By Steve VanWilliams
Your child is over weight, what do you do? Children follow by example. If YOU are overweight, out of shape, lethargic, chance are your kids will be to. So take charge and take care of yourself. Set a great example. If YOU are overweight get to it. As far as our children encourage them! A few minutes here and there of play adds up! The same goes for you! Children (and adults) need exercise EVERYDAY. Don’t  be easy on your self or your kids.  We live in such a politcally correct world these days, we never want to OFFEND people. GARBAGE!  To many people are excepting of being a “few” pounds overweight! Don’t kid your-self! (No pun intended) If you are fat, YOU ARE FAT! Look in the mirror. A few pounds means just that. 1 -5lbs.  But 10, 20 , 30+, YOU ARE FAT! Its not healthy and do except being less than you really can be. Everyone wants the best for their children, so be your best as well. IT WILL HELP THEM.

Low Fat Key Lime Pie

By Lisa VanWilliams
Key Lime Pie pie is a refreshing salute to Summer. A Great low-fat snack or dessert the whole family will love.
                    By Lisa VanWilliams

  • 1 reduced fat graham cracker crust
1 (1/16 ounce) package sugar-free lime gelatin
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 (8 ounce) container fat-free whipped topping
  • 2 (6 ounce) Greek key lime pie yogurt
  • Shave some lime over the top of the pie and finish it with fresh slice of lime
  • In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water.
  • Stir in yogurt with wire whisk.
  • Fold in whipped topping with wooden spoon.
  • Spread in crust.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.