Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Take a Hike!

A great way to stay active on a weekend or on vacation is by embarking on a hike!  Even better: hiking isn't just fun, it's good for you, too.  

Personally, I never really hiked growing up, except a few times while away at camp.  Then, in Israel, I learned how fun hiking can be!  I loved the rocks, the risk, and the reward.

Discovering how fun hiking can be

Since then, I've enjoyed hiking in other settings and even planned a whole trip around it!  Check out my old post on hiking the Sedona Red Rocks to see the awesome views that Arizona hiking can provide.

So let's get to it:

Health Benefits of Hikes: Hiking is a fun way to explore a new area, but it still comes with all the benefits of regular physical activity!
"We came from up there!"
  • Improved cardio-respiratory fitness
  • Improved muscular fitness and muscle tone (hiking engages many muscle groups) 
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Stress relief  
  • Reduced depression
  • Better quality sleep
  • Weight loss and maintenance
  • Healthy bone structure/reduced chance of osteoporosis
  • Increased levels of vitamin D 

Risks: Of course, all these benefits must be weighed against the risks.  Please make sure you are at the proper fitness level for the hike you plan on doing, wear appropriate shoes and attire, and know what to expect from this hike.  Do your research to know if there will be steep cliffs, dangerous animals, or other situations you might need to prepare or receive training for.   See safety tips below!! 

My reasons Hikes are Awesome: 
    Fake Reason #1: Great photo ops
  • Excitement: It can be exciting to take a little risk, to walk on the edge, to look down!  Just, you know... don't fall.
  • Beautiful views. 
  • Social exercise: Hiking is a fun group activity!!  It can be romantic if done with one partner, or a hilarious adventure with a group of friends. 
Hi ho, Hi ho... It's on a hike we go!
  • Reward: Nothing like reaching the top and taking in a breathtaking view.  You may be seeing a whole new place, or perhaps just getting a new perspective on your own home town.  Either way, the reward is great. 
Peace and Quiet
  • Animals: If you're lucky, you can discover some animals (not bugs. yuck) in their natural habitats!
  • Variety: No two trails are the same!  The path, the climb, the ambiance, the sounds (or lack thereof), the views, the nature... by doing hikes, you'll get an idea of what you like: flat or steep? rocks or woods? wet or dry?  Go on out and find your happy hike!
 <-- So many options! -->
  • Challenge: Each hike has its own challenges, but whatever your fitness level or hiking experience, you can find a hike to meet your needs and give you a real yet attainable challenge.  A hike can be flat and leisurely, or a hike can require careful stepping/climbing and cardio endurance.  One man's easy is another's challenge, and there's a hike out there for every mood and level.
    Weeeee are the Champions!

A few extra words on that last point: The diversity of difficulty! This is one of the best things about hiking as an outdoor activity.  Whether you're a pro or a beginner, there's a hike for you.

This past 4th of July, my friends and I hiked near a lake, and it was just about a 2-mile hike that kept mostly flat.  I wouldn't have known everyone's fitness levels or hiking experience, because it was a nice leisurely hike through nature.  Even near my family's suburban town, there are hikes through reservations and ponds to explore.  They may not heart-pumping cliff climbs, but they can be a beautiful, fun way to get active on a weekend.  So hey, why not?

Discovering the lake throughout our hike

Earlier this month, I visited Lake George, NY, which was, for the most part, a relaxing time away.  Eric and I stayed active by hiking up Prospect Mountain.  The hike was woodsier than I'd like (I prefer the rocks of Sedona to the woods--spiders! Ah!), but it was a fairly vigorous uphill climb (2,050 ft) to the peak, where we were rewarded with a 100-mile view of the trees and mountains.

Tips for New Hikers:
Snacking on a Questbar
  • Start with an "easy" or "beginner" hike.  Don't try to rush into climbing a mountain.  Find a flat, local hike you can begin with and gradually work your way up from there.  
  • Start early in the morning.  The earlier, the cooler, and the cooler, the better!  It'll be bright enough and you'll have all day, but won't have to deal with afternoon heat or the sun beating down on you. 
  • Drink water before, during, and after your hike. Hydration is key!
  • Pack wisely: Bring water, rain gear, a map/compass, GPS (your phone may do), sunscreen, and snacks as needed.
  • Use hills and/or uneven terrain to boost the intensity of your workout.  Get that heart rate up! 
  • Use poles: This one I haven't tried yet, but I read that propelling yourself forward can engage your upper body muscles and give a stronger cardio workout. 
  • Add weight: For extra burn, pack a backpack with some extra weight.  
  • Be careful!
    • As I said above, know what you're getting into.  Google the hike you plan on doing and see what other hikers--beginners and experts--have to say about it.  Know the map and terrain. 
    • Be sure you're properly conditioned for the physical demands of this hike. 
    • Dress appropriately. For some hikes this will mean layers, for others you'll be hot.  Some hikes may require you to keep your legs and arms covered to avoid certain plants or animals/ticks. Do your research to know what to wear.
    • Check the weather forecast, not only for rain, but also for extreme heat
    • Be aware of altitude changes, as these can cause lightheadedness, fatigue, and nausea if you live in an area at a very different altitude than your hike. 
    • Bring a friend or two!  Don't go it alone.  Always make sure someone knows where you're going and when you should be expected back. 

Hikes are better with friends :)

Where can you find a good hike near you?  The easiest way is to simply Google: "Hikes near..." your location, but you can also head over to...'s trail finder, for hikes near US Metropolitan areas, and for outdoor hiking, biking, and backpacking trails.  You can also track your hikes at to track your routes, hikes, activity, and food, as well as to find great hikes and to connect with other hikers.

What are you waiting for?  Dare you to round up a group of friends and plan a hike!  Summer may too soon be on its way out, but fall weather is perfect for a hike.  Get planning!

I want to know:
Do you enjoy hiking?  
What is your favorite type of hike? 
If you're a veteran hiker, what tips would you share with newbies?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lemon-Thyme Broiled Salmon with Blood Orange Salsa {The Paleo Approach Cookbook}

Remember last spring when I reviewed The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD?  I promised that a companion cookbook was forthcoming, and guess what?  It's here!

... is finally releasing tomorrow! (On shelves 8/26/14)  Here it is:

This is so much more than a simple collection of recipes.  The book--which is every bit as beautiful and heavy as the first book--includes:
  • Over 200 recipes, all of which use healing foods to help empower people with autoimmune diseases to reclaim their health by regulating their immune systems and heal their bodies
  • Hundreds of recipe variations to help you mix it up, along with tips, nutrient facts, and FODMAP alerts along the way 
  • Recipe Index to help you quickly find recipes and match ingredients
  • Meal Plans
    • Shopping guides
    • "Plan ahead" guides
  • Over 100 pages of information and resources
    • Summary of THe Paleo Approach diet
    • Food lists
    • Shopping guides
      • "How do I eat this way on a budget?"
      • Prioritized food-quality lists
      • Reading labels 
    • Cooking guides
    • Kitchen how-tos
      • Stocking the pantry
      • Storing common foods
      • Cooking tools
      • Meat cooking times and temperatures
      • Quick meals, planning ahead, leftovers
    • Time-saving tips
    • Budget tips
    • and more!
So in addition to recipes galore, you get tons of helpful information, tips, and planning guides to help you on your journey to health.

I've gotten started using this book and love it. Sarah's recipes are written so that anyone can follow the steps simply and correctly, and end up with a delicious meal.  Some recipes are a bit divergent from mainstream cooking (fritters that may replace pancakes, for example--awesome, btw), but the bulk of the recipes are simply good old-fashioned protein and vegetable combinations, stepped up with appetizing flavor combinations and subtle substitutions to keep autoimmune flares at bay.  For example, who wouldn't love salmon and salsa?  The author has kindly granted permission to share this special recipe with you!  So below, you can get a taste of how good The Paleo Approach can be:

Lemon and Thyme Broiled Salmon 
with Blood Orange (or Mango) Salsa
Reprinted with permission from The Paleo Approach Cookbook by Sarah Ballantyne

Fruit Salsa is a wonderful companion to fish or chicken.  This salmon is very simple to prepare and cook, but the resulting dish has a sophisticated flavor and beautiful colors on your plate. 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes
Servings: 4 to 8



  • 2 pounds blood oranges, segmented (see Tips)
  • Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced  {FODMAP Alert: Replace red onion with green onion (green part only) or chives or omit}
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 to 6 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine, fresh orange juice, or apple juice 


Salsa:  Combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until it's time to eat.

  1. Combine the lemon zest and juice, thyme, and wine in a small bowl.  Pour over the salmon fillets in a resealable bag or nonreactive container. Marinate 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack so that salmon will be 6 to 8 inches from the top element in the oven.  Preheat the broiler on high for 10 minutes. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  3. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place on the pre-prepared baking sheet (if the fillets have skin, lay them skin side down).  Discard the remaining marinade. 
  4. Broil 10 to 12 minutes, until the salmon is opaque throughout and the segments flake apart easily. 
  5. Serve with the salsa.

TIPS: To segment an orange, use a sharp paring knife to cut off the top and bottom. Lay the orange on a cutting board and cut off the peel all the way around. Then, holding the orange in your hand, use the knife to carefully cut out each segment by cutting down one side of the segment close to the membrane and then twisting the knife to pry the segment off the membrane on the other side.

VARIATIONS: You can easily substitute just about any other type of fish in this recipe--trout, halibut, and amberjack work particularly well.
  • Mango Salsa. In place of the blood oranges, use 2 pounds mango, peeled, seeded, and diced.  Mango Salsa is a great accompaniment to chicken, pork, and beef. 
  • Actually, this salsa tastes delicious with many different types of fruits. Other fruits that work particularly well are papaya, pear, peach, apricot, orange, grapefruit, and strawberries.
  • Lemon and Thyme Baked Chicken.  Instead of using fish fillets, use chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders.  Bake at 375 for 20 to 40 minutes, until fully cooked.
  • Truffle Salt Broiled Salmon.  Want to skip the wine? Broiled salmon seasoned simply with a sprinkle of truffle salt is absolutely divine!

See?  Sarah leaves no stone unturned in explaining the how-tos in this recipe. Don't know how to "segment an orange"? Don't worry; just check the "Tip" at the bottom.  Afraid of blood oranges like me? No biggie--sub in mangos!  (That's my preference!)  Not a fan of fish?  That's fine; just use chicken!

Look good to you?  There are SO many more recipes to be made.
If you think your autoimmune disease could benefit from dietary changes or simply want to give paleo/real food a try, then this book is a great investment for yourself, or for a loved one.

I was not compensated for this post; just happy to share a tasty recipe and a useful cookbook!  Want MORE?  You can find more free information and recipes from Sarah Ballantyne at

Please let me know if you dare to try this recipe!  
What's your favorite salmon topping?  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Features


For fun: 21 Things You Should Never Say to People Who Are Actually Gluten-Free 

For health: 
-  Five Eczema Triggers to Avoid, by Mommypotamous
"What the Government Got Wrong About Nutrition -- And How It Can Fix It", via The Huffington Post

For food: 
Tomato Basil Vinaigrette, from my friend, the Little Chef Big Appetite
Eggs Benedict from The Paleo Mom (including nut-free Paleo English muffins and dairy-free Hollandaise Sauce!).  For more recipes from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, get your hands on The Paleo Approach Cookbook:

For thought: 
- Christine asks, Why can't we own our PRs and accomplishments without always qualifying them?
- Carla asks Does closing comments turn blogging into lecturing?

For success: "Winners can tell you where they are going..."

Have a great weekend!