Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quick Healthy Meal for People that Have NO Time!

Want a meal in 15 problem.

I came up with this idea for a quick meal when I was working 6 days a week and still making lunches for me and Aaron every day. It packs well for lunches and you can make it very quickly. I like to serve with this with fruit.

A couple make-ahead ideas can really help you for quick weeknight meals. On Sundays, I cook chicken breast under the broiler and keep it on-hand for the coming week for meals like this or salads. To help you during a crazy week, you can also wash and cut broccoli into florets and store in a sealed plastic bag for later use. Or sometimes, I blanch broccoli ahead of time and use for salads or other quick meals.

Broccoli, Chicken, and Cheese Baked Potato
Serves 1

  • 1 medium golden potato
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets (if using frozen, defrost)
  • 4 oz cooked and seasoned chicken breast
  • 1 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbs sour cream
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a small saucepan, add water and heat on high to bring to a boil.
  2. Scrub potato and pierce with a fork. Cover in wax paper and cook in the microwave using the "Baked Potato" setting. If you don't have it. Try for 5 minutes and add more time until the potato is soft.
  3. When water is boiling, add broccoli. Cook until bright green 3 minutes. Drain and add back into pan. Season with a small amount of butter and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When potato is cooked, season with butter and salt and pepper and put on a serving plate.
  5. Add cold, cooked chicken and cooked broccoli to the potato. Spinkle with cheese and warm in the microwave or under the broiler until the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve with a drop of sour cream and you're ready to eat.

TIP: my favorite chicken seasoning is Mural of Flavor from Penzeys Spices and it's also salt-free. The seasoning has a spring-like fresh flavor. When you buy from their site, they send you a small free sample.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Higher Worker Productivity Linked to Short Exercise Breaks During the Workday

I heard this story on the drive into work this morning on Morning Edition. They featured Dr. Toni Yancy, a former college basketball player turned physican at UCLA. It goes into the productivity and health benefits for even short 10-15 minutes of exercise during the workday. I believe that my own productivity is high at work is due to the stress-relief and metabolic boost that a lunchtime workout provides.

Interesting case study:

"L.L. Bean, the retail catalog company, instituted daily, mini-exercise breaks 15 years ago throughout its assembly plant with great results, Yancey says. The breaks were five minutes each, three times a day. At the end of the shift, the company found a 30-minute return on productivity for an investment of 15 minutes of physical activity."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Foolproof Method for Making Meatballs Fast

I've struggled with making meatballs many times on the stovetop and they turn back into ground meat again because it's a total disaster! It occured to me tonight, while making Swedish Meatballs that I should share because it could help you!

Cooking meatballs under the broiler in the oven is easy, they hold their shape, and cook evenly.

Easy Basic Meatballs
Serves 4 (or 16-meatballs)

Experiment with different variations or spices depending on the sauce or theme of your dish. For white sauces, add ground nutmeg. For marinara sauces, add basil, oregano, or red pepper flakes.


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. In a large mixing bowl, add ground turkey. If defrosting the meat, chop the onion and parsley while you're waiting. Beat egg and add to bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
  3. With your hands, mix the meatball ingredients until they are well incorporated.
  4. Form 4 sections with your hands in the bowl to roughly create 1/4 increments. Then form each 1/4 pound section into 4 equal parts. Form the meatball by rolling in your hands.
  5. Place each formed meatball on the cooking sheet 1-inch apart.
  6. Pre-heat broiler.
  7. When finished, place the cooking sheet directly under the broiler for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Use tongs to gently flip the meatballs to the other side and finish for an additional 6 minutes.

Serve with sauce immediately. The entire process will take you about 25 minutes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

In Love with Smoothies...

Smoothies are great for a quick breakfast or pre/post-workout snacks. My love affair with smoothies started in college in 1995 when I had my first Jamba Juice smoothie. I can't say the same for the wheat germ juice shot! That tasted like mowed lawn - no joke!

Anyway, here are a couple recipes for you to try. These two recipes are high in heart-healthy potassium found in melon, pumpkin, banana, and yogurt.

Smoothies are a great way to use ripe fruit. I got a over-ripe honeydew in my produce box this summer and came up an idea to use it in a smoothie. It's very mild in flavor and delicious. Also, I get tons of bananas in my box. I freeze the bananas when ripe and use them in smoothies or defrost for baking banana bread or energy bars. To freeze bananas peel, cut in half, then place in a freezer bag. It's really easy. And frozen bananas are great for smoothies to add body.

Vanilla-Honeydew Smoothie
A. Berkey
Serves 1

1 cup cubed honeydew melon
1/4 cup natural lowfat vanilla yogurt
2 tbs water
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
Dash of stevia powder or drop of honey to sweeten

Process ingredients in the blender. For colder version, add 1/4 cup crushed ice. Serve immediately.

Banana Pumpkin Smoothie
Cooking Light - "The combination of banana, pumpkin, yogurt, and orange juice gives this breakfast beverage 740 milligrams of potassium per serving. "
Serves 2

1 cup natural low-fat vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree, (chilled)
1/2 cup crushed ice cubes
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbs brown sugar (or honey)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Dash cloves
1 ripe frozen banana

Combine yogurt and next 8 ingredients (through banana) in a blender, and process until smooth. Garnish with dash of ground cinnamon, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

CALORIES 218(9% from fat); FAT 2.2g (sat 1.1g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 8.4g; CHOLESTEROL 6mg; CALCIUM 243mg; SODIUM 87mg; FIBER 5.5g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.5g

Friday, February 20, 2009

How to Make Lunchtime Workouts Work...

The key to lunchtime workouts is planning ahead. I workout at lunch during the week because I have a long commute and I can't exercise before or after work since I'm gone almost 12 hours. At previous jobs, I've worked out in the morning or evening, but for my current schedule lunch is the only way to fit it all in.
Lunchtime workouts are great if you want to be productive at work. They can help you stay on schedule with your work tasks so can make your gym-time and come back to work refocused and destressed.

Here are a few practical tips that can help you organize yourself for the lunchtime workout.
  • Book the time in your calendar: Block the time in your calendar 3-4 weeks ahead and keep to it as much as possible. Set expectations with your coworkers so they know you workout at lunch to minimize conflicts. Last minute meetings happen, but if you make it most of the time, that's what counts.
  • Be realistic on time away: Try to block out from the total time you're away from your desk so other meetings don't conflict. I give myself a 15 minute buffer time so I don't feel rushed.
  • Pack your bag: I keep a small gym bag in my car with toiletries to shower at the gym and my cycle and running shoes. Then, in my commuter bag, I keep a small zip bag with just my clothes and heart monitor. The small bag is convenient because when I get home, I replace the dirty clothese with clean clothes as soon as I get home at night.
  • Bring your meals to work: Eat a nutritious breakfast a few hours before and pack your lunch so when you get back to work you can quickly head back to your desk. If you get hungry right before your workout, try a few almonds or half a grapefruit to help keep your energy up.
  • Hydrate: Drinking water before, during, and after your workout is important. I always have a 1-liter bottle at my desk and it minimizing refills throughout the day. I aim for 3-4 liters of water per day.
  • Shower quickly: To fit in a workout in at lunch, you really have to move fast. I think of ways to be fast and efficient when I'm in the locker room. Not washing your hair after the workout may work, if you have clean hair in the beginning of the day.
  • Find a gym or outdoor trail closeby: Whether you prefer to walk/run outside with coworkers or exercise at a gym near your office, finding an option that is convenient is the best bet.

Lunchtime workouts can be your only chance you can fit in your exercise routine if you have small children or long commutes to work. Make it count. Check out these 20-minute workout ideas from Fitness Magazine, if you're really crunched for time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Try this Tasty and Healthy Quick Meal for Busy Nights

This is very quick meal that I made last week. The twist is that often times you see taco salad recipes that use bottled salad dressing and taco seasoning that has MSG. My version is very quick and easy to prepare. You can set aside some of the dressing and salad ingredients separetely in plastic containers for lunches if you don't plan to eat this all at once. This meal is very kid-friendly, too.

Beef and Bean Taco Salad
Serves 6-8

  • 1 pound ground lean beef (or turkey/chicken)
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 cloves, crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced black or green olives
  • 14 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup salsa (your favorite)
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
  • Corn chips


  1. Finely chop onion. Pre-heat a medium skillet on medium heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil when skillet is heated.

  2. Cook ground beef with onions and garlic.

  3. When beef is almost cooked, add salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder. and cayenne. When fully cooked, add frozen corn and tomato sauce. Cook on medium for another 2-3 minutes. Keep warm.

  4. While beef is cooking, wash and dry lettuce. Tear lettuce into a large salad bowl.

  5. Rinse kidney beans and drain. Add drained beans to lettuce in the salad bowl. Add sliced olives, shredded cheese.

  6. In a small mixing bowl, whisk yogurt and salsa. You may want to add fresh lime juice.

  7. Add beef and corn mixture to the salad bowl. Add 2 oz of corn chips. Toss with the dressing and serve. Garnish with additional corn chips.

Tip: Serve with fruit such as pineapple or mango to round out the meal. You can spice this up by adding fresh chopped cilantro, sliced bell peppers, avocado, or cucumbers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lettuce in a Bag?

I eat a lot of lettuce. I make salad all the time for work lunches. In the supermarket, I see tons of people buying prewashed and chopped lettuce in a bag. It's shipped in from CA and by the time it reaches Chicago, it's brown and not very fresh. And it's expensive. So, I prefer to buy a whole head of lettuce. Once you wash and cut lettuce, you need to use it before it starts to oxidize and loses its freshness. All it takes is 10-15 minutes to wash, dry, and pack clean lettuce.

I can't go without my salad spinner. My favorite is the OXO brand because it's sturdy. I've had it for a long time.

To wash lettuce leaves.
  1. Cut the bottom to free the leaves from the core.
  2. Rinse the leaves with cold water over the basket insert.
  3. Place the basket back in the bowl and dry with the spinner. Try not to overfill.
  4. Pack the leaves for the refrigerator in a resealable plastic bag with paper towels to absorb moisture.

To wash spinach, herbs and other greens.

  1. Fill a bowl with cold water.
  2. Places spinach leaves, herbs, chard or other greens in the water.
  3. Let stand for 5 minutes to let the sand and dirt fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Pull the greens out of the water and put in the basket to drain most of the water.
  5. Dry with the salad spinner.
  6. Pack the lettuce leaves in a resealable plastic bag with paper towels to absorb moisture.
Not only are you saving money by buying the whole heads of lettuce, but it will be fresher longer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Prepare A Freezable Meal Now for Busy Weeknights

I had dinner this week with my friend, Amber, who often prepares freezable meals for families in need with her church group. I told her about a recipe that I found really easy and delicious! For those busy weeknights that you have evening events, it's great to have meals prepared in the freezer that are ready to go!

It takes a bit of preparation (1 hr) to make the recipe and to wrap it for the freezer. Don't forget to write the date on the freezer bag.

Make these calzones now. Reheat them on a night when you're on the go and serve with extra marinara sauce, and a side of fruit, or green salad, or steamed veggies.
You can reheat them straight from the freezer while you're doing other projects around the house. I used pre-made pizza dough for this recipe when I made it. Making the dough from scratch is easy with a stand mixer (using the dough hook).

Sausage and Pepper Calzones
Cooking Light May 2007
Makes 8 servings

2 3/4 cupss flour, divided
1 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
Dash sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced red bell peppers
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound chicken apple sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup cottage cheese
2 teaspoons parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

To prepare dough, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl; let stand 15 minutes. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 tablespoon oil, and 3/4 teaspoon salt; stir until a soft dough forms. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

To prepare filling, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, and sausage; sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Spoon mixture into a bowl; cool slightly. Add mozzarella and remaining ingredients to sausage mixture; stir well.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Spoon about 1/2 cup sausage mixture onto half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold dough over filling; crimp edges of dough with fingers to seal. Place calzones on a large baking sheet lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Pierce the tops of the dough once with a fork. Lightly coat the calzones with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 14 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Coat a sheet of foil with cooking spray. Place 1 calzone on coated side of foil; seal. Repeat procedure with remaining calzones and cooking spray. Place calzones in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; freeze.

Preheat oven to 450°.

To reheat, place foil-wrapped, frozen calzones on a large baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield 8 servings (serving size: 1 calzone)

Nutritional InformationCALORIES 327(30% from fat); FAT 10.7g (sat 3.5g,mono 2.4g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 16.3g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 124mg; SODIUM 680mg; FIBER 4g; IRON 3.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 42g

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Need Some Motivating Workout Music?

I'm much more motivated when I workout with music. My iPod is my best motivation tool sometimes when I'm fighting the energy to exercise. I have 2 workout playlists that I manage and 1 for commuting/walking. My commute to work includes walking to/from the commuter train. I like the motivation to walk faster because why not burn some more calories. Well, mostly I walk fast to stay warm because Chicago is cold 6 months out of the year!

Here's an idea. Try to manage a playlist for the exercise routines or activities that you're doing.

  • Cycling
  • Walking/Commuting
  • Running/Skiing
  • Swimming - Kidding!!
  • Strength Training
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Yard Work/Gardening

You might find some great ideas from Fitness Magazine's Workout Music Playlists.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Workout Move to Strengthen Core and Hip

I went to my chiropractor, Dr. Wolf, a couple weeks ago. He recommended a new strength training exercise that he says has improved his skiing so much that he's a better skiier at 40 than his 20's. He suggested it for me because I need effective core exercises that can also strengthen my hip. I tried it today at lunch and it's very challenging and kept my heart rate up!
All you need is a Bosu ball. My gym keeps by the personal training area.
One Leg Squat on Upside Down Bosu
  • Place the bosu upside down in front of a mirror (it helps for balance)
  • Place one foot in the middle of the flat part of the upside down ball
  • The lifted leg should be bent behind (instead of forward)
  • Balance yourself to make sure you are stable
  • Then, with a neutral spine and hips aligned, squat with the one leg.
  • Don't go too low and hips should be even in height.
  • Alternate to the other leg
  • Sets: 3 x 12-15 reps per leg
I alternated this exercise with Lunges on the Diagonal using free weights.
My personal trainer gives me loads of balance training exercises like this one. Between her workouts and my monthly chiropractic adjustments, I have no more lower back pain!

Versatile Salad Dressing to Keep on Hand in the Fridge

Most store-bought salad dressings are loaded with artificial and unhealthy ingredients, including high-fructose corn syrup. A great tip is to make a large batch of salad dressing that is versatile that you can keep on hand for quick salad prep. I have used this dressing for coleslaw, salads for lunch, and served it to many people. It's very popular!
My friend, Catherine, shared this recipe with me and I've enjoyed it so much.

Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

1 raw egg
1/4 cups honey
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 yellow onion whole
2 cups corn oil
3 tablespoons poppy seeds

In blender, put in all ingredients through onion. Process and then slowly add corn oil and fold in poppy seeds. Put dressing in container (canning jar) and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

You might be thinking...corn oil? I've tried to make this with olive oil and it became very thick. I had to throw it away.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More research about Splenda shows harmful effects

Yes, those yellow packets are everywhere from Starbucks to office kitchens. An interesting article posted today on talks about the dangerous effects of using Splenda. So many products have Splenda from sodas to ice tea mixes. I stay away!

Dr. Mercola says it perfectly:
"It’s very important to realize that Splenda (sucralose) is actually NOT sugar, despite its marketing slogan 'Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.' Rather it’s a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame and saccharin, and with detrimental health effects to match."

I've been using Stevia as a calorie free sweetener for years. I use Stevia in my tea, coffee, and smoothies. The protein powder that I use for my smoothies does not have sugar, so I use a bit of Stevia extract to sweeten the natural sugars in the fruit.

Stevia is a natural sweetener made from a plant extract. Splenda is not sugar! It's loaded with chemicals that actually remove healthy bacteria from your body! And the article mentions something that is commonly attributed to high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the dangerous result that your body loses it's efficiency to regulate your blood sugar naturally.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Efficiently Storing Meat in the Freezer

Last weekend, my mother-in-law found skinless boneless chicken breast on sale for $1.49 per pound. She bought us a huge tray of chicken. I love the idea of buying meat on sale for those times you spot a bargain. It's easy to store bulk meat in the freezer using these tips. This entire process takes a few minutes of your time and it saves you lots of money. You pay a premium for individually frozen meat.

Write the date and contents on the freezer resealable bag.

Trim the meat. On a dedicated cutting board for meat, use a sharp knife to trim away excess fat or bones. If you use the meat in chunks or strips, it's easy to do it all now.

Wrap an individual breast or commonly used portion (1/2 lb for example) in a piece of wax paper. This makes defrosting easy when you're ready to use the meat.

Place wrapped meat in freezer bag and squeeze out excess air. Try to organize and prioritize this in your freezer so you will grab the oldest first.

To defrost, fill your sink with water and the wrapped pieces are easy to remove from the bag.

What you need:
  • Wax paper
  • Freezer plastic bags
  • Permanent marker
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
Time saving tip: Set aside the portion of meat that that you might need for the upcoming 4-5 days. I like to cook a couple chicken breasts under the broiler to have on hand for salads and meals for the week.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Smart Catering Options for Business Meetings

I just attended my company's Sales Kickoff this week. I was very grateful for the healthy food options they had at the event. Months ago, I made a suggestion to the planner to have healthier meal and snacks options. Thankfully, the planner listened and arranged full breakfasts like oatmeal, eggs, pastries, and fruit instead of the typical contential breakfast. At one snack break, we had carrots and celery and another we had make-your-own trail mix! I was so pleased. But here is the thing....I made a suggestion and they listened.

Have you been to work events and all they serve is continental breakfast and you eat fruit and pastries and 2 hours into the meeting you're hungry and distracted? It doesn't make any sense? That's why I keep snacks in my bag just in case.

When planning your work meetings and you're planning to serve food, think about what you're serving. Food is fuel. If you want people to be productive and pay attention and not fall asleep after lunch during a key presentation, you need to consider what you're serving them for a meal. Pizza? Fatty sandwiches? Fried foods? Sugary treats? All these things may taste good, but they don't provide the fuel that your body needs to focus on the work at hand.

Have a group meeting coming up? Here's what to do...
  • Make a suggestion to have healthier options for food to the event planner
  • Good meal picks are green salads, soups, build-your-own-sandwiches, fresh fruit
  • Snacks like trail mix, fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, or cheese and crackers
  • If you can't influence the food choices, bring your own snacks with you

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snacks in my purse...

I went to Aaron's grandmother's funeral a couple weeks ago. The service was long, so my stomach was growling. In the car, on the way to cemetery, I pulled out my apple and started snacking because I knew it would be over an hour before lunch. Aaron laughed at me because he wondered where the apple came from and I told him I planned it all along!

Snacks in my purse are perfect for when I'm on the way out of the house for more than 4 hours and I know I'll be hungry. Realistically, if you have a healthy metabolism and exercise often, you will get hungry while you're out for the day.

Has this happened to you? You're out running errands or at an event and there is nothing to eat, expect for monster pretzels (that really serves 3 people), candy bars or worse yet fast food! Let's face it, you're weak when you're hungry! I'm convinced if you stuff your bag with a healthy portable snack in your bag (guys, try your computer/gym bag), you will have the energy you need to keep going.

My personal favorites for portable healthy snacks:
    • Apple (cored and cut in a baggie so the apple doesn't bruise and get dirty)
    • Trail mix (Trader Joe's sells the individual servings or use "snack-size" bags to portion a serving of trail mix)
    • Dried apricots (or raisins, dried cherries, etc)
    • Baby carrots
    • String cheese (only for a couple hours outside of the fridge)
    • Larabar (mix of fruit and nuts)

The bottom line is that you need something that can withstand being in your bag for a few hours without refrigeration. It's best to pack something that you don't need utencils to eat. Plus, it's less conspicious, right!

Share your snack ideas. Add a comment to tell me your favorite non-perishable, healthy snack that is easy to eat on the go.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Power breakfast that kept me running, literally!

My "power breakfast" gave me lots of energy this morning for my workout. I jogged on the treadmill for 50 minutes and 3.6 miles. Yeah, not a fast runner! I go for aerobic endurance. Anyway, since I felt so good working out, I thought I'd share the easy breakfast. I made this for me and Aaron, but this recipe is for 1 serving. You can easily prep this for the work week by doing the broccoli ahead and cracking the eggs into a plastic container like in the picture.

Broccoli, Ham and Cheddar Cheese Omelet with Toast and Hash Browns

3 eggs (1 whole; 2 whites)
1 cup broccoli
1/2 oz ham (or turkey bacon or Canadian bacon)
1/2 oz cheese
1 cup frozen hash browns
1 slice whole grain bread
Cooking spray
Salt & pepper

  1. (Blanch Broccoli) In a small saucepan, add water (half-full) and heat on high. Bring water to a boil. Preheat medium size non-stick skillet and heat on medium high for hash browns. Preheat small skillet on medium heat (for eggs).
  2. While water is coming up to a boil, rinse broccoli and cut into small florets. Cut ham in small pieces.
  3. Crack eggs and separate 2 of the eggs into a small bowl. Discard the two yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Medium skillet should be warm. Spray skillet with cooking spray and drop in frozen hash browns. Let hash browns cook on medium and stir in a small amount of butter (1 tsp) and add salt and pepper.
  5. Water should be boiling. Drop in the florets and cook for 2-3 minutes until bright green. Drain in colander and put back in small saucepan. Season with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Keep warm. Otherwise, broccoli won't have much flavor.
  6. While hash browns are cooking, spray small skillet with cooking spray. Beat eggs with a fork and add to preheated small skillet. Allow eggs to cook in a single even layer. Pull from the sides so the eggs can fill in and cook.
  7. While eggs are cooking, watch hash browns by stirring to ensure they are cooking through and not sticking.
  8. Toast bread.
  9. Flip when eggs are set. Immediately add cooked broccoli, diced ham, and shredded cheese to half the eggs. Pull the empty side of the omelet over to cover the filling and pull off the heat onto a plate.
  10. Serve the eggs with hot sauce if desired. If the cheese isn't melted, put the omelet in the microwave for 30 seconds. Serve the toast and hash browns and you're ready to go.

For digestion, I wait 2 hours after I eat to exercise. I also had a liter of water before the gym and another liter during my workout.

Can't wait for breakfast? Here's a tip: If you're starving when you're cooking breakfast because you wake up hungry (like me!), I snack on fruit while I'm preparing breakfast. Good thing I had some cubed pineapple in the fridge!

Spend money on a good knife

Why spend money on a good knife? Your chef knife, like mine (shown here), is the single most used tool for every meal. The reason....if you're cooking with fresh produce, you need something a sharp knife to help you efficiently prep your fruits and veggies.
Look for deals on online stores to receive free shipping or discounts. Don't shy away from spending $50-$100 on a single chef knife. It will last you decades, if you care for it. I handwash with mild detergent and sharpen the knife by a professional every 6 months. If you cook every day, you will use a knife like this. I personally use the Santuko 10' inch knife with the hallow edges. I like it because it's lightweight and fits well in my hand.
Where do you sharpen your knives? If you have a local culinary program in your town, there is usually a supply store nearby. Look up chef or culinary supply stores. The place I go to for sharpening sells top of the line brands of equipment, including cutlery, and even good quality generic industrial items. It's a great place while you're there to pick up affordable and functional tools like paring knives, collanders, and other useful gadgets.

Don't cut yourself!
I see some near-misses when I see people chopping. It's also a good idea to check out knife skills videos to ensure that you're cutting safely. Here's great one I found from Bobby Flay in the Food Network test kitchens.
Remember, last tips:
  • Keep your knife sharp (every 6 months)
  • Use a stable surface
  • Good quality wood cutting board (no plastic, glass)
  • Tuck your fingers
  • Use the right knife (Paring, tomato, bread, etc) - more on that later!