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cherry almond chocolate clusters

I ended up hitting up the gym for weights tonight.  It was still so crowded!  So, I resorted to some weight machines to get my workout in.  Here’s what I did:

Upper Body Weights

  • Lateral pulldown (40 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Seated row (40 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Chest press (40 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Overhead press (20 lbs, 2 sets of 12)
  • Fly’s (20 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • 21’s (18 lb bar, 3 sets)
  • Upright row (18 lb bar, 3 sets of 12)
  • Tricep extension (10 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Tricep kickback (7.5 lb dumbbells, 3 sets of 12)
  • Back extension (10 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Abs on the ball (3 sets of 15)
  • Leg ups (3 sets of 15)

This session took me just under 30 minutes.  Good times!  Home for dinner which was leftover Wild Rice Waldorf Salad.  And, then I made the easiest and tastiest dessert ever!

Cherry Almond Chocolate Clusters

From Ellie Krieger, found on Healthy and Sane!

Makes 12 clusters (tbsp size)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds, toasted and coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries
  • 6 ounces 70% dark chocolate

Directions:

1. Mix the chopped almonds and cherries together in a medium bowl, set aside. (Tip: I buy all of my dried fruit and nuts at Trader Joes.  They sell organic raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruit without added oils.  They are so cheap!)

2.  In a double boiler, heat your chocolate over medium heat until melted. (Tip: I mixed 50% and 70% dark chocolate because that is what I had on hand)

3. Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl with the almonds and cherries and mix.

4.  Spoon out heaping tablespoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet. (Mine only made 10 clusters!)

5.  Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate is hardened.  Store and serve at room temperature.

They came out great and were very easy to make, perfect for a quick last minute dessert.  Chocolate with cherries and almonds might be one of the best combination’s yet!

Have a great night!

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ANDI scores?

Howdy!  How is everyone’s Tuesday going?  I had a great run at the gym this morning.  I completed 7 miles with 8 x 1200 in 60 minutes!  That is pretty good for me.  I felt great running, and felt like I could have even increased my speed a bit – maybe next time.  I made my way from the treadmills and into the weight room and it was packed!!!  I don’t know what was going on, but I have never seen my gym that crowded.  So, no weights at the gym for me this morning, instead I might head back tonight for a quick weight session or just skip it altogether!

After my workout, I blended up a fruit smoothie with the following:

  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2/3 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk

Not my best smoothie, but it did the trick.  I was craving fruit, so I guess I haven’t been eating enough of it!

Along with my smoothie, I had a slice of whole wheat toast with Maple Almond Butter.

After a busy morning at work, I was ready to dig into my leftover Cannellini Patties (on a bed of greens with cherry tomatoes – same deal as yesterday!).

On the side, Honey Chobani and Granola Crisps.

I wish this greek yogurt had real honey on the bottom, but instead it is already mixed in for you.  I’m going to stick with my plain greek yogurt and add my own drizzle of honey.  Yum!  The granola crisps are a little sweet, but good.

While I was shopping at Whole Foods this week, I noticed something new on the bulk bins.  We went to get some quinoa and there staring us in the face was the ANDI score.

I was not familiar with this scoring system, but I assumed that it was similar to the NuVal scores.  Remember my post about my shopping trip?  There were scores on various products all throughout the store, including a few signs to alert shoppers to the scores.

These signs caught my attention:

When we got home, I did some research on the ANDI scores.  This is what I found.  ANDI stands for Aggregrate Nutrient Density Index and was was created to identify foods with the highest nutritional value.  When giving scores they consider the most important nutrients that are vital for our optimal health.

From the Dedham, MA Whole Foods Market Blog:

And the best news is that you don’t need to count calories or obsess over fat.  The ANDI formula is very simple: ANDI = Nutrients divided by Calories.  So the highest scoring foods have the fewest calories and virtually no fat.  Foods are ranked on a scale of 1 to 1000.  Kale and collards receive the top score of 1000 while cola lands at the bottom of the scale with a 1.

Before you go jumping to conclusions, I want to emphasize once again that just because a food falls at the bottom of the list (or doesn’t make it on the top 30 list) does not mean that it is not healthy or that you should not eat it.  ANDI was not developed to be totally inclusive of all nutritional factors, but rather its focus is on micronutrients present per calorie.  Most Americans consume too many calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates while their overall diets are lacking in vital nutrients like beta carotene, folate, vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemicals.  Our bodies need essential fatty acids (from both animal & plant-based foods), amino acids from protein-rich foods and carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and whole grains.   Fat, protein and carbohydrates contain calories (they are “macronutrients”); it’s a fact of life.   Since the ANDI equation is “Nutrients divided by Calories,” foods containing the most calories score lower on the scale even though they may offer important health benefits (such as walnuts which I mentioned previously).  But that’s OK.  ANDI encourages the consumption of more nutrient-dense foods because most people aren’t eating enough of them.   You can choose to do with it what you wish.

Interesting.  I think that Whole Foods is launching a great campaign by trying to make people more conscious of the food that they eat, but I am interested to see if people can use this system easily or even have knowledge of it.  Next time I visit Whole Foods, I will definitely be watching to see if customers use it!

Top 30 Super Foods with ANDI Scores

1. Collard/Mustard/Turnip Greens…1000

2. Kale ………………………………………1000

3. Watercress ……………………………..1000

4. Bok Choy ……………………………….. 824

5. Spinach …………………………………. 739

6. Broccoli Rabe …………………………. 715

7. Chinese/Napa Cabbage …………… 704

8. Brussels Sprouts …………………….. 672

9. Swiss Chard …………………………… 670

10. Arugula ……………………………….. 559

11. Cabbage ………………………………. 481

12. Romaine Lettuce …………………… 389

13. Broccoli ……………………………….. 376

14. Red Pepper …………………………… 366

15. Carrot Juice ………………………….. 344

16. Tomato/Tomato Products ………. 190 – 300

17. Cauliflower …………………………… 295

18. Strawberries …………………………. 212

19. Pomegranate Juice ………………… 193

20. Blackberries …………………………. 178

21. Plum ……………………………………. 157

22. Raspberries …………………………… 145

23. Blueberries ……………………………. 130

24. Orange …………………………………. 109

25. Cantaloupe ……………………………. 100

26. Beans (all varieties) …………………. 57 – 104

27. Flax/Sunflower/Sesame Seeds ….. 52 – 78

28. Pistachios ………………………………. 48

29. Tofu ………………………………………. 37

30. Walnuts ………………………………….. 34

To me, it does not seem like it is as easy a system as NuVal.  If a food product is good for us, NuVal ranks is high.  I am afraid that when people see this list of superfoods with ANDI scores that they will think that walnuts (34) and strawberries (212) are not good for them because they have relatively low scores compared to kale which scores 1000!

For more information on ANDI scores, check out this article on Fooducate.

Personally, I’m not sure I would use the scores.  I will obviously look at them if they are there, but I like to think that I know enough about good, healthy, whole foods to know what is good for me and my body.  Consumers should educate themselves on what they need and go from there.  However, I hope that the many people who are unsure of healthy foods will use the scores to help them!