The Scorpion Core Exercise

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20150311_165702The scorpion is a challenging, comprehensive core exercise designed to develop a stronger core, increase power, speed, strength, flexibility, mobility and prevent injury.

It is an advanced version of the plank exercise that adds two significant challenges: controlling rotational forces while stabilizing with your shoulder muscles. Before you attempt this you should already be able to hold a straight-arm plank position while maintaining proper form for at least a minute.  If you have a history of shoulder problems, be very careful with this exercise.  For those with good shoulders, this will really bring your shoulder stabilizers and abs to the next level.

Here is how to do it: Get into straight arm pillar plank position with wrists directly under your shoulders (or wider if its more comfortable) with your feet (in order of difficulty) on the floor, a bench or a stability ball. If you are using a stability ball begin with your shins on the ball or to make it more challenging, your toes as Joetta is shown doing in the photo.

Bend your left knee, now rotate your hips under your body to the right so your knee moves to the right and then rotate your hips to bring the left knee to the left towards the ceiling.

Keep your spine in straight alignment and your head in line with your spine. Brace your abdomen the whole time.

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After School Snack Attacks

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SONY DSCAfter school snacks are more than just a habit, most kids really need that middle of the afternoon fuel. Afternoon snacking helps refuel kids and may also help them study better. Kids generally eat smaller portions than adults and need to refuel more often.

Good-for-you snacks start with a proper pantry. Stock your refrigerator and shelves with foods that are fast — not fussy.

These ideas for healthy snacks keep fat and calories at bay and maximize whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Best of all, you can make them all in 10 minutes or less.

Some ideas include:

  • Toast one-half of a whole-wheat English muffin. Top with Canadian bacon, a tomato slice, and low-fat cheese. Microwave until the cheese melts.
  • Mash a half banana into peanut butter and spread on a whole-grain bagel. Be aware that large bagels can have up to 400 calories each, so choose a small — 2 ounce — bagel.
  • Mix cold leftover chicken or convenience-type chunk chicken with seedless grapes, sunflower seeds, plain yogurt and a dash of curry powder. Stuff into a hollowed-out green pepper or whole-wheat pita pocket.
  • Spread one-half of a small cinnamon-raisin bagel with part-skim ricotta cheese. Top with apple slices.
  • Layer soft mini corn or flour tortillas with shredded low-fat cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Microwave until the cheese melts. Slice into bite-size pie shapes.
  • Spread a brown rice cake with ricotta cheese and fresh strawberries or low-sugar, spreadable fruit. Or try spreading it with herbed goat cheese and sliced olives.
  • Top a baked potato with plain yogurt and Cajun seasoning. Don’t like spice? Top with cottage cheese.
  • Spread raisin toast with apple butter.  Serve with a string cheese stick.
  • Spread a slice of whole-grain crispbread (Wasa crispbread, Ry-Krisp, others) with fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt or 100 percent fruit jam.
  • 100% Whole Wheat crackers with mozzarella or low fat cheese
  • Make regular oatmeal in the microwave and top with dried fruit and skim milk.
  • Serve low fat graham crackers with peanut butter with a glass of milk, dried fruit mixed with sunflower seeds.
  • Make a sandwich of a whole wheat tortilla rolled around low-fat cheese, salsa and lettuce.
  • Baby carrots and dip in low fat salad dressing.
  • Pop popcorn and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Blend nonfat yogurt and frozen mango chunks into a smoothie.
  • Peel bananas, wrap in plastic and freeze.
  • Berries, 1 tsp ground flaxseed and 1 cup plain yogurt.
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Meatless Quinoa Vegetable Lasagna

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quinoaMakes: 8 servings Active time: 45 minutes Total: 1 1/2 hours

This recipe has become a favorite meatless recipe. It uses highly nutritious quinoa in the most delicious way: paired with red sauce, vegetables and cheese! Quinoa provides all essential amino acids so its protein is like eggs and meat.

Its easy to mix and match vegetables. I have successfully made it with roasted eggplant, instead of zucchini or spinach and have also had success if I didn’t happen to have either the mushrooms, zucchini or spinach on hand. Power greens (baby spinach, kale and chard) also work well in this.

If you do choose to add some meat, use half a pound of browned and cooked lean ground beef or lean ground turkey breast.

And this reheats in the microwave so leftovers can be taken to work for lunch.

(Adapted from “Quinoa Revolution” by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming; Pintail Books, 2012.)

2 cups water (use a tiny bit less water)

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil 1 cup chopped onion 1 cup sliced mushrooms 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 ½ cups tomato sauce or 1 jar prepared pasta sauce

2 cups no-salt-added low-fat cottage cheese

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 cups sliced zucchini

2 cups packed fresh spinach, tough stems removed

1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  1. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 13 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Evenly spread the quinoa in the prepared dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. 3. Wipe out the saucepan you used for the quinoa, then add oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until transparent and starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are softened and very little moisture is left in the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauce. Stir until hot. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine cottage cheese and egg in a medium bowl; mix well. Stir in Parmesan, basil and oregano.
  4. Spread one-half of the sauce over the quinoa. Make a layer of all the zucchini, then all the cottage cheese mixture, then all the spinach. Finish with the remaining sauce and sprinkle the mozzarella on top.
  5. Bake the lasagna uncovered until it is hot and the cheese is melted and slightly browned around the edges, 35 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
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