ChocoBananaNut Smoothie Recipe

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My friend from way-back-when, Jennifer Menzer, is in incredible shape. So much so, that it begs the question: “Girl, what do you eat?” As a Nutrition, Fitness, and Lifestyle Coach for Boston Health Coaches, in Boston, Massachusetts, there is no question that she is in peak form, in part, through exercise; however, it is Boston Health Coaches lifestyle approach that got my attention. They advertise the belief that “food, health, and life should be savored.”  How opposite to what we normally think about diet. Their approach is not about deprivation, but about making the right choices instead. Brilliant.

So back to the question about what she eats. This foodie wanted to know. She gave us this wonderful recipe for the ChocoBananaNut Smoothie. Visit her website at to learn more information and connect with Jennifer and her counterparts at Boston Health Coaches.

Makes 1 serving

1 frozen banana (freeze it with the peel off!)

1 tsp peanut or almond butter

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp chia seeds

small handful kale

Cover with a bit of Almond Milk, blend, and enjoy cold.

As an aside, I served it to my kids, and they had no idea that they were drinking veggies. Bottoms up!

30 minute Abs

Building and maintaining a strong body core is essential for balance, posture and back health. Your core is the “foundation” of all your body’s movements, whether you are walking, lifting your child, or learning a new exercise routine.

I like this 30 minute abdominal routine because it can be done anywhere and at anytime. All you need is a mat, a soft rug, or even a towel for the floor portion of the exercises.

The routine is broken up into a 5 minute warm-up followed by 12 abdominal exercises. Do each exercise for one minute. Once you complete the circuit repeat the exercises! Remember to always keep your core engaged. Tighten those muscles to protect your back. Don’t forget to breathe.

Each exercise in the warm up is one minute. Start by marching in place at a brisk pace. Bring your knees up toward your chest and swing those arms. Time for jumping jacks. Get those arms straight above your head. Butt kicks are next. Jog in place bringing your heals as close to your butt as possible. To get that core ready to work, stand with your legs slightly wider then hip width apart. Slightly bend your knees. Engage your core and clasp your hands together. Twist that core side to side. Lastly, keep your legs wider then hip width apart. Bring your arms in front of you for balance. Keep your back straight and your weight in your heels and start your squats. Look up toward the ceiling for balance and squat back as if you were sitting in a chair.

Standing abs.

1. Standing with your legs spread hip width apart and toes pointed out, place your hands behind your ears. Bend your knee up toward your elbow while bringing your elbow to meet your knee. Repeat on opposite side.

pose 1

2. Leave your feet planted on the ground. Keep your hands over your ears, elbows pointed out. With an engaged core bend to one side. Squeeze your obliques during the contraction. Alternate sides.

pose 2

3. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and hands over your ears, bend your knee up toward your chest while pulling your upper body to meet the knee. Squeeze your abdominals and exhale as your body contracts. Alternate sides.

pose 3

4. Sit on the floor with your feet on the ground, bent at a 45 degree angle. Cross your arms across your chest. Slowly lower your upper body toward the floor until you feel your abdominal muscles engage. Should be at about a 45 degree angle toward the floor. Pulse back an inch and then back up an inch. 60 counts.

5. Lay your back flatly against the mat. Bend your knees. Arms behind your head with elbows straight out. Pretend that you have an orange between your chin and your chest and don’t pull at your neck. Crunch up, lifting your upper back from the mat. Squeeze and release. Be sure to pull your belly button toward the floor to support your lower back as you perform these moves.

pose 5

6. Stay flat on your back lifting your legs to a 90 degree angle with bent knees. Arms behind your head elbows out. Crunch up until your opposite elbow touches your opposite knee. Alternate sides.

pose 6

7. Lay flat on your back with your legs straight in the air. With your heels pointed toward the ceiling, slowly lift your hips off the floor and contract your lower abdominals. If you need the extra support you can place your hands beneath your buttock and lower back. Exhale as you lift up.

new pose

8. Laying flat on your back, bend your knees to a 90 degree angle. Hands behind the head. Crunch your upper body up while lifting your hips toward the ceiling. Do as many as you can in 60 seconds. Form is important so take your time.

pose 8

9. Laying on your right side, place your right elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Do not lean into your shoulder, rather use your strength to stay as upright as possible. Slightly bend your knees. With your left arm placed behind your head, elbow pointed out, crunch up into your left side while raising your left knee to meet your left elbow. Again do as many as you can in 60 seconds.

pose 9 10

10. Repeat exercise on your left side.

11. Lay flat on the mat. Press the bottoms of your feet together forming a “V” shape with your legs. With your arms behind your head crunch up. Don’t forget to exhale as you contract.


12. Sit up on the mat bending your knees to a 45 degree angle. Grab your opposite elbow with your opposite hand. Lean back until you feel your abdominals engage. Twist side to side. Try to have your elbow skim the floor as you twist.

pose 12

It is vitally important to use your last minute to stretch out all those muscles that you just worked. Lay flat on the floor raising your arms above your head. Reach your hands and your toes to opposite sides of the room. Breathe and stretch. Arch your back and release. Pull you knees to your chest and give yourself a big hug. You did it!


This is not not food…

bar article

I am not a breakfast person.  In the morning, time is at a premium. Kids are awoken, dogs are fed, lunches packed. The thought of sitting down to eat rarely crosses my mind.  For a while, I picked up breakfast on the way to work, but the options were so carb-y.  Roll and butter? Bagel? (I live in New York, that’s how we do.)  Even if I would indulge in such a bready breakfast, I would find myself hungry about an hour later.

Enter the protein bar. They come in all flavors and even resemble more of a food item than something an astronaut would eat.   Most days, I throw one in my purse and eat one on the way to work or at my desk.  But caveat emptor,  these little treats can vary vastly in nutritional content. There are bars packed with up to 20 grams of protein. These will keep you full but may be tough on the tummy.  Some are very sugary.  It’s important to read labels.  The following are some of my favorites:

Cliff Bars: These have a chewy cookie-like consistency, and the Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin flavors will have you swearing you are devouring a cookie for brekkie. They are packed with vitamins. Try Chocolate Brownie, too. They are high in fiber (20%DV) and packed with vitamins. 240 calories

thinkThin: This is the one packed with protein (20g) but it also has 0g sugar.  The Chunky Peanut Butter flavor resembles a peanut butter cup, and it’s coated in chocolate.  It’s also got some calcium (10%DV). 240 calories

Balance bar Gold: The Chocolate Mint Cookie Crunch bar tastes like a girl scout cookie (Thin Mint) and has 14g protein.  Additionally, it’s packed with vitamins and antioxidants.  200 calories

What healthy items do you enjoy for breakfast?

Half-Hour to Health

What if half an hour of exercise a few times per week could reduce your blood pressure and risk of stroke, calm anxiety, lift your mood, keep you within optimal weight range…? In short, save your life. Would you commit?

Our newest topic here, Fitness, is geared toward you, Mom. We know you can’t spend hours at the gym. Maybe you can and you don’t want to. That’s understandable.

Committing to short half hour sessions will make exercise more palatable.

To this end, we will be publishing exercise routines designed to fit in within a half hour by our associate, Fitness Beth.  Be on the lookout for those in the coming weeks.

Not as self-directed? Find a gym with classes that fits your needs.

Crunch Fitness has started a new trend, recognizing the needs of busy women on the go.  Make your health a priority. Whether you love kickboxing, fat-blasting Pilates, or a “Beach Body Boot Camp” that combines aerobics with light (think 5 lbs or under) weights, there’s a class just for you. The instructors offer modifications to suit all skill levels. You don’t have to be a professional athlete or dancer to take these classes. Only a half hour will leave you feeling inspired, excited, and proud that you invested 30 minutes in your health and well being. You owe it to yourself.