5 Recipes to Spice Up Your Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! It may still be a few days away, but that gives us plenty of time to prepare. These five fun food ideas are a great way to add some color and flare to your celebration.  Before we get into the food though, let’s start by talking about what Cinco de Mayo celebrates. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the surprising victory of the Mexican army over Napoleon III’s French forces on May 5, 1862. Now that we have had our quick history lesson, lets dive into the food, because there are plenty of tacos, quesadillas, salsa, and margaritas to prepare.

Let start off our celebration with this fresh appetizer that will have you reaching for the tortilla chips all night long.

1.) Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 2 cups tomatoes (I prefer using Roma they seem to have the best flavor)
  • 1 cup bell peppers
  • 2 habaneros
  • ½ cup onions
  • 1 large lime (juiced and zested)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Adobo
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Chop the pineapple, tomatoes, bell peppers, habaneros, and onions. Combine into large bowl. Add lime juice and spices. Mix with spoon to combine ingredients. Then enjoy the combination of the fresh sweetness of the pineapple and the spice of the habanero with some crunchy tortilla chips or on your favorite Mexican dish.

2.) Veggie Chicken Quesadilla

Ingredients

  • 10-inch flour tortillas
  • Bell peppers
  • Original Hummus (this is optional, but it keeps the inside of the tortilla soft and creates a creamy quesadilla while adding extra protein to the meal)
  • Shredded Grilled Chicken
  • Shredded Chihuahua Cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms

Start by heating the skillet to warm the tortillas. I typically warm each side on the skillet for 15 seconds each. Remove tortilla from skillet and spread hummus on half the tortilla to desired thickness. Then place desired amount of vegetables and chicken on half of tortilla. Top with shredded cheese as desired. Fold other half of tortilla over. Cook on each side for 5-6 minutes until tortilla is warmed and slightly crisped on the outside. 

*All vegetables in this quesadilla are optional and open to change. Feel free to experiment with the flavors you feel will best excite your taste buds.

**For the shredded grilled chicken, I like to use the Tyson frozen grilled shredded chicken just to save time. But you can also grill chicken breast a head of time and just shred those for your quesadilla.

Next up is my favorite taco twist. It is the perfect summer adaption of fresh fun tacos.

3.) Coconut Shrimp Tacos with an Avocado Lime Crema

Ingredients for Tacos

  • Frozen Coconut Shrimp (My favorite types are the ones from Trader Joes or Meijer)
  • 6-inch flour or corn tortilla
  • Shredded Chihuahua Cheese
  • Avocado Lime Crema

*Add any other desired toppings for these wonderful tacos. I recommend a good Pico de Gallo maybe even some avocado slices.

Cook the coconut shrimp. I recommend for the best crunch to cook in an air fryer if you have one. But the oven will work great as well. Warm the tacos on the stovetop. Fill with coconut shrimp and add toppings as desired.

Ingredients for Crema

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a blender. I recommend serving immediately for best taste. But this can also be stored in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.

Now, onto the best part the drinks. Lets start off with a fruity twist on a classic margarita.

First off, my favorite margarita mix is the Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix. It is on the lower side when it comes to calories which is great and is available at most grocery stores.

4.) Might Mango Margarita

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix
  • ½ cup of frozen mangoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup ice (use sparingly until you reach the consistency you want)
  • Margarita salt
  • Lime wedges

Blend ingredients together. Salt the rim of your glass add a lime wedge garnish. Pour your margarita in and enjoy.

This is one of my favorite cocktails of all time. It is low in calories and has amazing subtle fruit flavors. It really is the best summer drink to sip on your back porch while soaking up the sun or even floating around the pool.

5.) Paloma

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 7 oz. grapefruit soda (or whatever is needed to fill remainder of glass)

Place desired amount of ice in glass. Salt rim place lime wedge on side. Combine all ingredients and sip away to happiness.

*For grapefruit soda you can use diet squirt, grapefruit fresca, or my all-time favorite the ICE sparkling grapefruit water.

These five flavorful fiestas inspired dishes are sure to bring a smile to your Cinco de Mayo celebration. I hope these foods help to spice up your Taco Tuesday and you all have a safe fun family fiesta.

Meditation Apps To Help With Stress

We live in a world where almost any information we want, or need can be accessed or obtained through our cell phones and the internet.  Lately, every time I look at my phone, I find myself becoming so stressed with the constant news updates about COVID-19, quarantine protocols, and even the idea of a country wide lock down. We as people often fear the unknown and this virus is one giant unknown. No one knows how long it will last, no one knows if we are being overcautious or not cautious enough. No one knows. Those three words are very nerve wracking. What we all need right now, is to try and find some ways to calm down, de-stress, and keep on pushing through. This will pass we just have to ride it out. I have been working on this blog post about meditation for a few weeks and was saving it for a future post. But right now, I think we could all use a little sense of calm and peace in our lives. So, here is my review of 3 meditation apps.

Meditation sounds so easy doesn’t it. Meditation is the process in which we train our minds to focus and redirect our thoughts to help increase awareness to ourselves and our surroundings. Just sit breathe and clear your mind. I have tried and failed many a time to just freely meditate on my own. I don’t know what it is, but I just need the verbal queuing for breathing and relaxing otherwise, my mind starts to wander to the list of things I have yet to do. As a busy bee in today’s society, I always struggle to fall asleep at night. So, a big thing I was looking for in these meditation apps was a section that focused on sleep and calming patterns before bed. I was open to sleep sounds for bed, meditations before bed, and breathing techniques. All three I had the chance to try and all three brought a sense of calm before bed allowing me to slip into the slumber, I needed to recharge for the busy days ahead. How lucky are we that there are apps that will guide us through meditations, breathing exercises, and act as sleep aides?

Simple Habit

This is by far my favorite of all the meditation apps I have tried. The free version of the app offers a lot of different types of meditations. It offers series of meditations. The best one I have encountered so far is the introductory 7 session series that focuses on body awareness and breathing. Both things that re basics when it comes to mediating. I am looking forward to doing more series and continuing to learn more about meditation and how to improve my practice.  Another nice thing about this app is it logs what you recently listened to and even pauses the meditation and saves your spot so you can pick up where you left off for the next time you are ready to meditate.

I especially love the sleep section of this app. It offers 20+ sounds and music’s that help lull anyone into slumber whether it be the soft pitter patter of rain or the gentle rolling of waves, there are plenty of sounds to help even the most restless sleeper find the calm. This app also offers a few stories which are good for kids at bedtime such as the “Velveteen Rabbit” and “Cinderella”, after all, what is better than a quick story time before bed.

Head Space

This app does have some free content that is helpful when meditating but the best aspect I feel of the app is the live meditation sessions which unfortunately are a premium feature.  The free app, however, is packed with plenty of great content. The basics course in meditation teaches a lot about the basic concepts that are vital to meditation. I really appreciated the section that focused on breathing patterns and getting the most out of your breath, it felt the most effective in creating a calming sense while meditating. I wish this app did have more free content, but my favorite content of this whole app is the ‘Doze” section of the sleep music. The nice thing is this app does allow you to track your journey and even invite friends that might want to journey with you. You can take part in shared meditations series so even apart you can meditate with those you love.  

Oak

 To me, the biggest draw of the Oak app was the simplicity. It offers only three sections sleep, meditation and breathing. The meditation section was helpful for beginners and experienced meditators. It offers basic courses that are guided along with unguided meditations for the more experienced people. The nice thing about this app, is it allows you to choose a background noise if any for the meditation along with a female or male narrator and the duration of the session consisting of 10 minutes-30 minutes.

I like the adaptability of this app the most. The sleep section of the app was also highly adaptable allowing the user to choose the length of the soothing noises they need to fall asleep and stay asleep. Most of the other apps capped at about 45 minutes to an hour. The Oak app maxed out at 24 hours. If you’re looking for an app and your main focus is soothing sleep noises, then this app is the one for you.

The breathing section of the app offers changeable breathing countdowns for inhales, exhales, and rest to provide the ultimate sense of relaxation during these stressful times. Breathing exercises are helpful aids for providing a sense of calm to the nervous system.

Bonus: Eternal Sunshine

This app unfortunately is not a meditation app. But it is a positive affirmation apps that regularly sends sweet short positive affirmations to add a bit of sunshine to the gloomy days. I really like this one because it sends at a variety of times so when I get the notification and I am not expecting it I can’t help but smile down at my phone. It forces me to take a second and just refocus my day on the positivity I receive and the positivity I give out to other people.

Another Added Bonus:

A sweet 10-minute guided meditation video from none other than are amazing yoga instructor Taylor. We sure do miss her relaxing voice during the soothing yoga in studio, so this is a special treat during the quarantine.

With Love,

Nora Czupek

Best Green Health Foods For St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is one of my favorite times of the year. Every promotional ad, store and restaurant just seem to radiate green. Wherever we look we see green. It surrounds us in the Shamrock shakes, the dying of the Chicago River, green donuts, and Green Soda – everything is green. Getting in the spirit of the holiday is so fun and exciting but all that green food contains artificial dye to brighten up the color. However, there are plenty of other natural healthy foods that can create the same beautiful green color while packing a full flavor punch. Let’s paint the plates and cups green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day with these three amazing green recipes that are sure to delight all the lucky leprechauns in your life.

Green Smoothie

The power of the greens creates an invigorating wake up drink to kick start your full day ahead. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods we can fuel our body with. It provides us with plenty of antioxidants and Vitamin C. This healthy green smoothie is the perfect way fuel up for those long St. Patrick’s Day celebrations ahead.

Recipe:

1 cup kale

1 cup frozen peach slices

½ cup frozen mango

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk vanilla

Combine in blender

*You can use any milk substitute I just prefer the flavor of the unsweetened vanilla coconut

milk with the mango and peach – it gives this smoothie some amazing flavor

Kale Gnocchi with Pesto

This bag of gnocchi comes from Trader Joes and it is one of my favorite dinner choices and it is quick to make. They also come in other flavors, such as the cauliflower gnocchi which is one of my regular dinner choices. Growing up, my favorite dish in Italian restaurants was always gnocchi, it was so good, but it only kept me full for a short period of time. This Kale Gnocchi is an amazing twist on a classic Italian dish that is healthy, will leave you feeling full and packs a flavorful punch. I typically use Beyond Meat Plant Based Meatball for my dish, I have also used Turkey Meatballs in the past and even Italian Sausage chunks as additional sources of protein for my dinner. For this recipe, however, I made just the Kale Gnocchi.

*One bag serves about two people so double recipe if needed

Recipe:

1 bag Kale Gnocchi

2 tbsp. avocado oil

¼ tsp onion powder

1/4tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. pesto

½ tbsp. shredded parmesan

Instructions:

Heat avocado oil + onion/garlic powder in pan. Add gnocchi and cook for 8-12 minutes (or until cooked through)

After cooked, transfer to bowl then add pesto + parmesan

Then enjoy!

*If you prefer crisper gnocchi you can always cook in air fryer at 325 F for 6-8 minutes checking to prevent burning

Gluten Free Brownies with Matcha Frosting

These brownies really are the ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow. The flavors are not overpowering, and they complement each other so well. My favorite part of these brownies however is the frosting. The frosting is made with cashews and maple syrup and no added sugar. Normally I am not a huge fan of frosting, it tends to be too thick or sugary and just leaves me feeling ‘bleh’. This frosting is perfect. The lack of excessive sugar and the way it is whipped together creates such a light, yet flavorful topping, for these already amazing brownies.

Recipe:

IMPORTANT! Start soaking the cashews before you do anything else (listed in frosting)

Brownies:

– ½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (microwave for about 35-40 seconds)

– 1 cup almond flour

– ½ cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s because it packs a lot of flavor)

– ½ cup coconut sugar

– 1tsp. baking powder

– 2 tbsp maple syrup

– 1 tsp. vanilla

Frosting:

-1 ½ cup raw cashews (soak for four hours then rinse) *

– 3 tbsp maple syrup

– 1/4 cup coconut oil melted

– 1/3 cup almond milk

– ½ tsp. vanilla extract

– 2 tsp. matcha powder

*Certain websites will tell you to soak cashews for a frosting base overnight, I have found

through trial and error that it makes them to soggy. I would recommend for best results soaking

no less than 4 hours and no more than 6 hours.

Instructions:

– Preheat oven 350 F line 8×8 pan with parchment paper

– Whisk together eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla

– In a separate bowl combine almond flour, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and baking

powder

– Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients combining thoroughly

– Pour batter into pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes

– For frosting, add all ingredients into a blender (NutriBullet type of machine works great)

– Add frosting to cool brownies and enjoy your treat

– Store in fridge to prevent frosting from oxidizing

I got my matcha from Meijer and it was perfect. It did not have any added sugar which is something to look out for when purchasing matcha. Some companies will add additional sugar to sweeter because it tends to be a somewhat bitter powder. However, when mixed with the maple syrup in the frosting it creates a balanced flavor that pairs well with the chocolate.

With Love,

Nora Czupek

Honey Almond Flax Healthy Granola

Over the weekend, I made this delicious granola recipe from Well Plated and wanted to share with you all. I’m making 2020 all about health and wellness, especially being mindful of what I put in my body. Try it out and enjoy! Also, check out the full post and recipe from Well Plated via the link below!

PEACE, HEALTH & WELLNESS – Taylor

https://www.wellplated.com/honey-almond-flax-healthy-granola-recipe/

Yield: 4 1/2 cups, approx.

Prep Time:10 mins

Cook Time:35 mins

Total Time:1 hr

A simple and delicious healthy granola recipe made with honey, oats, almonds and flax. Easy to make and perfect for breakfast or a snack! This granola is lightly sweet, so if you prefer a sweeter granola, please see the recipe notes below.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, almonds, flaxseed, wheat germ, salt, and cinnamon. Pour in the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract and stir to coat. Taste and add additional honey if you prefer a sweeter granola. In a small bowl, briskly whisk the egg white until it is frothy. Stir into the granola mixture, doing your best to evenly incorporate it throughout.
  3. Spread the granola in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the sheet from the oven and with a large spatula, carefully flip large sections of the granola over, doing your best to keep them intact (this is what forms the granola chunks.) Rotate the pan 180 degrees, return it to the oven, then bake for 15-20 additional minutes, until the granola is golden brown and feels almost dry to the touch (it will continue to crisp as well it cools). Watch it carefully towards the end, as honey tends to quickly brown. Remove from the oven, place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the granola cool completely on the pan. Break granola into chunks of desired size, then carefully mix in the dried fruit. Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or on its own as a snack.

Meet Our New Therapist – Bridget Bates

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Bridget Bates, PT, DPT, is a graduate of the St. Louis University Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.  She has been practicing in orthopedics and sports related injuries utilizing manual therapy techniques and individualized exercise programs to assist patients in achieving their goals and minimize the risk of re-injury.

Through studies with the Herman and Wallace Institute, she is trained in the treatment of pelvic floor issues including incontinence, pelvic pain, and prenatal and postnatal care.

Bridget is passionate about treating the individual in a holistic manner, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and addressing all aspects of life potentially effecting a patient’s symptoms.

She is a member of the American Physical Therapy and Illinois Physical Therapy Associations.

To contact, please email at Bridget@orthopedicPTservices.com.

You do WHAT??….WHERE?!

What is Pelvic Floor Therapy?

A non-surgical approach to the rehabilitation of dysfunctions in the pelvis that contribute to bowel, bladder, sexual health, and pain complaints. Approaches to your treatment may include manual therapies, modalities, behavioral and relaxation strategies, therapeutic exercise, education, and functional re-training.

Common issues treated in Pelvic Rehab:

Pelvic pain

Pain with intercourse

Diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles commonly following pregnancy and childbirth)

Urinary or fecal leakage with exercise, coughing, laughing, sneezing

Frequent urge to go to the bathroom

Difficulty holding your bladder

Endometriosis

Abdominal or pelvic pain following surgery

Scar tissue following childbirth, surgery, or cancer

Tailbone pain

Prenatal and Postnatal care

Preparation for labor

Do all Physical Therapists treat Pelvic Floor?

Pelvic rehab providers are neuromusculoskeletal therapists who have taken additional specialized training to be able to effectively evaluate and treat pelvic floor pathologies.

By: Bridget Bates, DPT/Women’s Health Therapy

Breathing Easy | Meditation

Sit comfortably and relax, and bring your awareness to your breathing. As you breathe out naturally dissolve and let go of all the negative energy you wish to be free from. As you breathe in, allow the breath to naturally and effortlessly fill you with the positive qualities you want to be energized by. Allow the breath to fill you as a natural reflex to the deep exhalation.

Think of a word that reflects the quality you wish to be filled with — relaxing, harmonizing, balancing, energizing, peace, patience, for example. See this particular quality as luminous energy which rises within you as you inhale, filling and flowing through you, completely permeating your mind-body. Allow this light-energy to dissolve all your negative states of mind, tension, or pain. Allow the natural vitality of life to awaken within you.

As you exhale, say to yourself “dissolving,” “melting,” “releasing,” or “letting go.” Feel the tensions, thoughts, cares, and painful states of mind-body flow out of you and melt away. Emphasize the long, slow exhalation, then allow the inhalation to come naturally, effortlessly.

Place your hands on your belly and quietly breathe in and out. Allow your belly to gently rise and fall as the breath follows through you.

After a few minutes, as the breath naturally fills your belly, allow it to rise up to the center of your chest and fill you as though a bubble of breath were filling you from within. Exhale through an imaginary hole in the center of your chest and allow your heart to open.

Breathing into your hands… bringing the air up to fill your heart… opening the heart … exhaling… opening and letting go.

By: Taylor Brown, CYT | From: Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mind Fitness

Pelvic Floor Misconceptions with Bridget Bates, DPT

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By: Bridget Bates, DPT

The only people needing to see a Pelvic PT are women after childbirth.

Wrong! Pelvic floor therapy can help men and women experiencing a big variety of symptoms: urinary incontinence, difficulties in urination, bowel incontinence, constipation, abdominal pain, low back/SI pain, sexual dysfunction, pelvic pain or coccyx pain, vaginal or rectal pain, penile or testicular pain, as well as men and women prior to or after having pelvic surgery.

Pelvic PTs do not treat men.

False. Men have pelvic floor muscles that can cause issues as well!

If a person is leaking urine, they definitely need kegel exercises.

People need strong, but flexible muscles that tighten when they need to and relax when they need to. If a person has a shortened, irritated pelvic floor, they may have just as much difficulty holding back urine as the person with a weak pelvic floor.

If a person has tried “kegel exercises” and they did not work, Pelvic PT won’t be able to help them.

As a Pelvic PT, I take great offense to that. Rehab for the pelvis is much more involved than simply strengthening a muscle group. It involves restoring function—improving muscular support around the pelvis, improving behavioral/dietary habits, and re-training body movements to allow for optimal organ and structural function.

If your mother/grandmother/great-grandmother also had constipation/urinary incontinence/diarrhea/etc., then it must be genetic and can’t be helped.

Also, not true! Now, I won’t say there aren’t genetic components which may cause a person to be more likely to experience certain conditions than others—but that being said, there is always something that can be done to help

A physical therapist doing vaginal or rectal exams is weird and NOT conventional.

Pelvic floor physical therapists are highly trained in both internal and external evaluation and treatment techniques, and current medical research supports these techniques in the treatment of this patient population. But do not be intimidated, the evaluation and treatment plan are set to your comfort.  If you want to get better, but are not comfortable with the internal evaluation, don’t sweat it! This is all about you, your comfort, and helping you achieve your goals and live your best life.

New Year, New YOU!

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Happy 2018 Refreshers – Let’s kick off the new year right!

Upcoming events and workshops in the studio:

— Drop in for Friday Yogilates Mat class for only $20! Series dates are as follows:
Friday 1/19, 1/26, and 2/2 from 6-7pm (please click here to register online)

— Saturday 1/20 @10am | Free Low Back and Sciatic Pain Workshop and Screenings (please call the register at 708-301-2255)

— Saturday 2/10 @1030am | Acro Partner Yoga with Taylor + Toni (please click here to register online)

Warm up this season! Add Hot Stones to your massage for only $7 (org. $15) this sale ends on 1/31

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