Fitness

Five Ways to Become a Better Cook

Five Ways to Become a Better Cook

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“Cooking is one failure after another, and that’s how you finally learn.” 
– Julia Childs

World famous chef, Julia Childs, hints at the patience required to master the art of cooking. For some, it comes naturally, for the rest of us, success is a process. If you’ve repeatedly attempted to prepare a delicious meal for your family, only to end up ordering take out, rest assured – there is hope. Here are five ways to become a better cook.

1. Professional Classes

Luckily, plenty of professionals are willing to share their expertise. Look online or at a community center near you to find a culinary class that ranges from basic to advanced. If you have a favorite discipline (like cake making, pastry work or bread making), feel free to start there. Enrolling in a culinary course will ensure that you learn how to do things properly, while granting you the liberty of asking questions in real-time. Upon graduation, you’ll leave with both confidence and know-how, starting you on your way to becoming the cook of your wildest dreams.

2. Media

Fortunately, there are many media forums that can help sharpen your kitchen skills. Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are perfect for collecting recipes. Simply search relevant hashtags to instantly receive hundreds of posts to inspire your home chef pursuits. If you’d prefer explanatory videos, YouTube has countless channels to teach you the ins and out of cooking.

But let’s not forget about the most traditional cooking inspiration in media: television culinary demos have helped millions of people all over the world impress their families with tasty dishes. Whichever your preference, you’re bound to find whatever you need through culinary media.

3. Hands-On Practice

There’s no better method than practice. Undoubtedly, cooking can be daunting and overwhelming when you don’t have a ton of experience. But the only way to conquer that setback is to get in the kitchen and get to work. You may not knock it out of the park on your first, second or third try, but eventually, your efforts will pay off. Don’t give up!

4. Start Slow

Because we have so much experience eating complicated dishes, it can be tempting to start out by cooking similar dishes. However, taking things slow is a better approach. Start with the basics. Practice boiling water, making one dish at a time instead of multitasking, and getting familiar with staple ingredients. Although perfecting these elements may not be the most fun part of cooking, doing so will help you in the future.

5. Get a Tutor

We all know someone who dominates in the kitchen. At family events or holiday parties, you can bet that everyone will be raving about their food. Instead of simply dreaming you could cook like your favorite chef, be bold and ask them to be your cooking tutor! Go to their house and watch them cook. Take note of how they set up their kitchen, how they pace themselves, and what resources they use. Interview them about their growth and best practices and ask for hands on help.

No matter how many times you fail, remember cooking is a skill and all skills are strengthened through experience. Continue to invest time and dedication in the kitchen, and little by little, you will grow. Keep in mind, cooking is a lifelong pursuit and there will always be more to learn and new tricks to try. Use these five cooking tips to get started!

Howie and Theresa DanzikFive Ways to Become a Better Cook
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Colorful New Foods to Try in the New Year

Colorful New Foods to Try in the New Year

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With the new year comes new dietary choices. If you have decided to recommit to healthy eating, why not add some color to your resolutions? Eating healthy doesn’t need to be dull. Below are four foods that are visually intriguing while still being nutritiously beneficial.

  • Seaweed
    Who knew that the slimey underwater plant that unnervingly brushes across your feet in the ocean would taste so good? This deep green treat is packed with fiber, iron and calcium and can be roasted, fried, pickled or steamed. Some people even eat it raw. Seaweed is used to wrap sushi, thicken sauces and to top dishes. Its flavor profile ranges from delicate and mild to sweet and savory.

*Seaweed can also be red, purple, brown and black.

  • Spirulina
    Spirulina is a microalgae that touts an impressive blue-green hue. Because of its long list of vitamins and nutrients that include protein, B12 and calcium, this superfood has gained traction amongst the health community. For some, it has an acquired taste that can be described as earthy or sulfuric. Spirulina fans add its powder form to just about anything, but its most notably added to smoothies and vegan ice cream (affectionately known as nicecream).

 

  • Edible Flowers
    Much to our parents disapproval, many of us experimented with eating plants or grass as children. It’s no secret that the majority of wildflowers and blossoms found in the plant sections should not be consumed. Some variations are toxic or covered in pesticides, but some flowers are edible. Increasingly, chefs are revisiting an old tradition of using flowers to create plated art for a memorable wow factor. However, culinary professionals never plate items that cannot be eaten, so here are a few flowers that make the cut.
    Culinary Lavender (mint family): Has a floral flavor and can be paired with other herbs for a savory dish, or used alone for garnish or steeped for tea.

    Roses (closely related to apricot family): Rose petals have a fragrant flavor and can be used for rose bud tea, salads and candy.

    Violets
    : Blue and white violets are frequently adorn desserts but can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Violets have a sweet and tart taste and have been known to have medicinal properties.

  • Dragon Fruit (Pitaya or Strawberry Pear)
    Dragon Fruit is a magical looking tropical fruit with a bright pink exterior. The white flesh found inside is freckled with small black seeds and has a very mild sweetness. Texture wise, dragon fruit lies somewhere between a kiwi and a pear. It boasts a high level of fiber, magnesium and vitamin C. Dragon fruit can commonly be grilled or cut and added to foods like smoothie bowls, yogurt and salads. This fruit can be expensive and some people claim that its appearance is more appetizing than its taste, but it’s worth a try.

*Dragon fruit can also be red and yellow

Growing up, our parents always told us not to play with our food. But with snacks as beautiful as these, it’s hard not to. Next time you visit your local market, check for natural foods that catch your eye. Enjoy your health and continue to intrigue your palate with fun foods.

Howie and Theresa DanzikColorful New Foods to Try in the New Year
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5 Habits That Will Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals

5 Habits That Will Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals

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Fitness is defined as the strength of the body, but it is achieved through the strength of habit. Your health will excel, only after your conscious choices become a way of life. Keep reading for 5 habits that will help you achieve your fitness goals.

Maintain a Structured Schedule for Responsibilities

Finding the time to workout will never be a long-term solution to your health; making the time, will. The fittest among us have mastered this detail. Life’s responsibilities are time-consuming – they rarely leave excess time to throw at hobbies or leisure. Consequently, you must make fitness a responsibility because it is one. You have a responsibility to your loved ones to live as long as possible. You have a responsibility to your body to make the choices that will help you remain healthy. You have a responsibility to yourself to be the best version of you that you can be. To do these things, a structured schedule is in order. Plan ahead to make sure that your gym time, sleep time, and cooking time fit comfortably into your day. If you don’t have the time, rearrange your schedule to make these elements your priority.

Cook (Consistently!)

Diet is an integral element of fitness. You don’t want to cancel out all the work you do in the gym by failing to be mindful of what you put into your body. Once you’ve decided to be intentional about devoting scheduled time to living a healthy lifestyle, it’s time to get in the kitchen. While it is possible to eat well without cooking the food yourself, it’s much easier to remain consistent about your diet when you prepare your meals at home. To start, each day should begin with a nutritious breakfast. Think fuel. Choose foods that will give you the best head start to get you through your morning with a clear mind and lots of energy to spare. Don’t forget to pack healthy snacks to hold you over between meals. Next, lunch should be light but filling. Fruit, salads, wraps, and nuts all provide the vitamins you need to get through the remainder of your workday. Once you’re home, finish strong with some protein and grains.

Sleep Well

We’ve all heard time and time again that we should get 7-8 full hours of sleep, but getting the proper amount sleep isn’t enough. The type of sleep you are getting also matters. Do you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day? If not, maybe something is interrupting your ability to get the restful sleep that you need. Common issues like snoring, teeth grinding, improper bedding, the wrong pillow and even the wrong room temperature can cause tossing and turning throughout the night fighting against the rest that they were designed to restore.

Stay Optimistic

Optimism does wonders for the mind, but it can also help you along your fitness journey. Staying in the right headspace gives health seekers the proper perspective when things get tough. You will encounter periods where frustration, fatigue, and impatience try to steal your productivity. It’s important to recognize that these negative thoughts require nothing more than a shift in perspective. If you find yourself comparing your body to others’ or feeling down on yourself about your progress, remember that you are strong, capable, and determined. Don’t let small setbacks define your next steps. Shake it off, focus on the good, and move forward with gratitude for how far you’ve already come.

Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Fitness requires discipline, and discipline is strengthened through accountability. Of course, you are totally capable of holding yourself accountable, but everyone has weak moments. It’s during those moments, that your support system matters most. Surround yourself with people who know your fitness goals and will do all they can to help you reach them. That means surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you to do the right thing, rather than tempt you to stray. Being supportive sometimes means that your friends and family are willing to sacrifice time together, to make sure that you’re committed to putting in time at the gym. Other times, the people around you will have to change their own habits to help you be more successful with yours. Whatever the case, a group of supportive people can make all the difference in whether staying fit is difficult and lonely, or easy and fun.

Staying fit becomes increasingly important as we age. It’s much easier to maintain good health than it is to improve failing health. Master these 5 habits, and you will be well on your way to being not only fit but full of life as well.

Howie and Theresa Danzik5 Habits That Will Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals
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4 Pointers To Keep Your Fitness Goals In Perspective

4 Pointers To Keep Your Fitness Goals In Perspective

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Waking up on a Monday morning can be buzzing with eager intentions or leave a feeling of dread. There is no doubt that a long week is looming ahead, but if done properly, the seven upcoming days can be overflowing with potential to accomplish and surpass your fitness goals. If you are organized going into the week, it is feasible to intertwine little victories amongst work and family chaos. While diet and exercise vary in effectiveness per body type, here are four tips that can amplify your chances of success in creating your best self.

Figure Out Your Why
Workouts carry weight only when they are appropriately executed in a routine. Jumping on the treadmill for an hour isn’t going to be your saving grace if you’re looking to build large amounts of muscle. Calorie surplus is sometimes the opposite of what you need when losing weight. You have your heart set on a new you. So, what does that mean in one idea?

Figure out your why for the process and decide what your “finish line” will be. Whether it’s weight, health concerns, self-confidence, children, or a miscellaneous reason, jot a complete thought in a place you will need to see it often to act as constant reminder of why you initiated a change. Guilty of secretly hitting the drive through on the way home? Pop a sticky note on your steering wheel. Late night snacking? Yep, you guessed it – put that note on the refrigerator door. Remember, it’s not punishment. It’s a promise to a better you.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
At the start of a fresh fitness cycle, outline your workouts. If you’re rising before the sun or wrapping up a work day, you may not be in a state to compose an effective workout. Or even, you’re flat out too tired. Remove unnecessary stress by preplanning what you will focus on with each visit. Prolonging the decisions, or worse – showing up without a plan – can lead to lost idling wandering in between machines. Avoid losing valuable time at the gym. As little as 30 minutes a day can lead to tremendous results.

Don’t Spread Yourself Thin
We’ve all read an article or seen a person that sparks our desire to change. Our eyes are skimming the page, but our minds have already thought of a dozen things to give the boot to have our dream self. Don’t put more weight on the bar than you can lift. During your workout planning, also make note of one aspect that you desire to change each week. They could be as simple as making it to the gym three times the first week for 30 minutes, and increasing it to 45 minute sessions the second week. Make them realistic in order to keep your energy and motivation high. Wins in your fitness journey should always be recognized.

Good Old R’n’R
Refueling and refreshing your body is as essential as training your muscles. Fueling your body with proper nutrients and replenishing your muscles after workouts are key to maintaining high energy levels and reducing damage in muscles. Connect with a local trainer or nutritionist to learn how to supplement your fitness journey internally. Growing stronger does not make you invincible against exhaustion.

It takes nearly a month for your body to adapt to changes and before you begin to see results. Define what you aspire to be and take the challenge little by little to lead to the biggest transformation to the best you. Want to push yourself on a daily basis? Take a peek at our tips on how to increase your daily exercise doing what you already do.

Howie and Theresa Danzik4 Pointers To Keep Your Fitness Goals In Perspective
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5 Easy Ways to Fit More Exercise Into Your Day

5 Easy Ways to Fit More Exercise Into Your Day

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How many times have you told yourself that your new exercise routine starts next week? Chances are, probably more than you’d like to admit. And we get it. It’s hard to make time for fitness when your life is already busy as it is. But maybe you’re overthinking it. You don’t have to attend a circuit workout class five times a week to live a more active life. Make a commitment to yourself to just incorporate more exercise into the day-to-day activities you already do. Here are five easy ways to fit more exercise into your day.

Stretch

Start each day the right way with some morning stretches before you open your phone and check your email. If you make an effort to move right when you wake up in the morning, you’ll give your body a jumpstart to your movement goals for the day, and you’ll get into the habit of moving from the get-go.

Park farther away

Increase your walking distance wherever you go. If you’re doing some grocery shopping, park in the back of the parking lot. If you’re headed to the office, switch up your normal parking spot with one that’s a bit farther away.

Speed walk your errands

Burn more calories throughout the day by speed walking whenever possible. If you need to run errands, speed walk from store to store. On your lunch break? Speed walk to the coffee shop across the street. The faster you move, the more activity your body will complete each day.

Take the stairs

Skip elevators altogether––or at least whenever possible. Take the stairs at the office, at the doctor, and at the mall. It may not seem like a trip up the stairs will make much difference in your daily activity, but a little cardio is better than no cardio at all.

Make the most of stationary time

If you find yourself sitting at your office desk for too long or you’re waiting for dinner to finish cooking in the oven, make the most of stationary time. Keep some dumbbells at your desk for some added exercise on long conference calls or do some calf raises, squats, or lunges whenever when you’re waiting for dinner to be ready. Bottom line? Just move whenever you can.

If you make small changes to fit more exercise into your day, you will start living a more active lifestyle with almost no effort at all.

Howie and Theresa Danzik5 Easy Ways to Fit More Exercise Into Your Day
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3 Active Traditions You Can Start With Your Family

3 Active Traditions You Can Start With Your Family

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There are so many traditions that get passed down from generation to generation. Whether it’s how you set the table or the way you tell certain stories, every family has their own quirky, unique way of doing things. Where do all of those traditions stem from, though? Someone had to start them. If you want to leave a legacy of being a fit, health-conscious family, you can start right now by instituting these three easy, active traditions.

On your marks, get set, let’s go get fit together!

Go on Family Walks Once a Week

Walking is a great form of mild exercise that you can do, no matter how exhausted or overworked you feel. Going for a quick 30-minute walk with your entire family at least once a week can be a restorative and rejuvenating experience for everyone involved.

You can get away from your screens, and really connect with and talk to your spouse and your kids on a meaningful level. Setting up the tradition of going on weekly walks with the whole family sets the precedent for positive connections for years to come.

Find a Team Sport You All Love

It’s perfectly healthy and normal for each of your kids to explore their own interests and to thrive in different areas. It’s actually encouraged that they develop those fundamental differences, so they can form unique senses of self.

But, if you really want to bond with your family and start a new, active tradition that sticks, try finding common ground in the form of a sport you all enjoy. You’ll love being able to look back fondly on memories of the whole family playing badminton together—or whichever sport you end up choosing!

Stay Zen Together

Modern life is hectic enough. Not every activity you pick to try out with your family has to be 100 percent go-go-go. Try slowing things down once in a while and get in touch with your inner zen as a family.

You could try family yoga, look into pilates, or give something way out there like synchronized swimming a try. The point is to make a lasting connection with your spouse and kids that centers around getting healthy together and finding active traditions. However that looks to you is perfectly wonderful.

Howie and Theresa Danzik3 Active Traditions You Can Start With Your Family
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