Food & Fitness

About 15 years ago, I decided to change careers.  I used to work at a well-known animation studio.  I loved my job. I worked with great people and enjoyed the creative process.  But there were a few problems.  One, I had intermittent back pain from sitting all day.  Two, my eyes were gradually getting worse the more I stared at a computer screen, Three, I had digestion issues probably from stress and not moving around enough.  I also worked long hours at times.  I realized that I didn’t see my future doing this.  

The two things I loved outside of work were Pilates and cooking.  My husband had signed me up for some cooking classes at a local culinary school.  One of the things I don’t always talk about on my blog is that I LOVE TO EAT.  I really do, I’ve had a healthy appetite ever since I was a kid and I can’t make a meal without adding some fancy ingredient or altering a recipe to try a different flavor.  Most of my friends and family know that I am the “Go to” when it comes to a good meal. 

I also love working out and Pilates.  So I didn’t know which one to pursue.  I realized that Pilates was probably the healthier choice long term and if I wanted to have a family that meant I needed to think about what motherhood would look like as a Pilates teacher versus a chef.  The decision was made and I ended up following the path of fitness.  However, I never stopped cooking or learning new recipes.  So when my girlfriend suggested that I start sharing some of them online, I decided OK.  



As a wellness coach, Pilates teacher, Massage therapist, and general health enthusiast, you might think I follow this crazy life style and only eat organic and never eat sweets or drink beer or eat fatty food.  That is so untrue.  I love cheese and wine and moose popcorn. And who doesn’t love margaritas and chips and salsa.  I am a real person, and I don’t like to restrict myself, but I have learned balance and what works for my body. I splurge here and there, but I am careful to look at the overall arch of my health.  I eat mostly healthy foods, which I like to say is just “REAL FOOD.”  I have eliminated the things that don’t work for my body and my health such as gluten and processed foods and sugar.  I move everyday, I get to sleep at a decent hour and try not to sweat the small stuff. 

Since I don’t eat Gluten, breakfast can be kind of tricky - at least a quick breakfast.  Eggs are still my favorite when I have time, but lots of mornings I am rushing.  Coffee is a staple for me and I absolutely love it. So over the past couple years I have created a coffee shake that gets me going in the morning, fills me up, has good whole healthy ingredients, and is convenient and tasty.  

So here is the recipe plus some information on the benefits of the ingredients in the shake.  I recommend you try it, but know everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you.  Have fun and enjoy!


Maria’s “Get me going” Chocolate Coffee Shake - around 275 calories

Fresh Brewed Coffee Hot - 8 to 12 oz (more or less)

Grass Fed Chocolate Whey Protein Powder - 1 scoop

Raw Cacao Powder - 1 heaping teaspoon

Tumeric - 1/2 to 1 tsp (more or less)

Cinnamon - 1 tsp

Organic coconut oil - up to 1 TBS

Grass Fed Butter - up to 1 TBS

Pour ingredients into blender and blend on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Now a little bit more on the benefits of these amazing ingredients:

Coffee - Coffee is high in Antioxidants, higher than tea.  It improves energy levels and mood. Many studies say that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Dementia, Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and even “death,” noted by a recent study of the National Institute of Health. Well if that hasn’t convinced you, I don’t know what can! 

Whey Protein powder (Whey is the liquid remaining after the milk has been curdled & strained.  It’s converted into a powder form) - Protein provides the building blocks for strong muscles and bones. It is essential for metabolism.  Whey protein is a complete protein as it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.  It can aid with weight loss by creating the feeling of fullness and help build lean muscle mass.  There have been lots of studies on the benefits of whey protein.  This article is great for all things whey.  

Also, there are different opinions about whether you should use grass fed.  I have tried both and honestly I do notice a difference in the quality of the powder.  It could be that there are other factors here, not sure.  Do your own research and make the decision that is best for you.  

Raw Cacao Powder - So I really didn’t know the difference between Cacao and Cocoa.  Look at the spelling, how would I know?  When I did a simple search on the difference so much more was revealed than the spelling.   Raw Cacao powder is super high in antioxidants, is the highest plant based source of iron, has more calcium than cow’s milk, and is a natural mood elevator. Unsweetened Cocoa powder still has many of these properties but you could say it’s on the “B team” because the roasting process has decreased its benefits. 

Turmeric - Some of you may not know, but turmeric comes from the ginger family.  Turmeric has been used in India as a medicinal herb for years.  The main compound found in it is curcuminoids (sounds like an alien race from Star Trek).  Curcumin is the super star of these curcuminoids and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.  Inflammation leads to all kinds of problems for our bodies, e.g. heart disease, cancer, degenerative diseases, etc.  Turmeric really only contains about 3% of Curcumin, but I like the flavor and not everything is about health!  If you want to know more about inflammation and curcumin, here is a great article.  Benefits of turmeric  

Cinnamon - I buy this spice in bulk and put in just about everything.  I love the flavor so I was happy to hear how beneficial this little spice actually is.  A quick research online concludes that it is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, immunity boosting, etc.  As little as 1/2 teaspoon a day can have these benefits.  I feel like it’s my new super hero spice, I imagine it running around in my body beating up bad guys.  So glad I have been eating it regularly! 



Coconut Oil - If you haven’t heard about the benefits of coconut oil by now, I would ask where have you been hiding? It’s in everything from skin and hair products to drinks and health bars.  As with everything use wisely.  It is a saturated fat which we need to help build a strong immune system, improve heart health and brain function.  A certain amount of saturated fat is needed for our bodies functions.  Healthy fats are good, so it’s important to know the difference and NOT go overboard. Eat good fat in appropriate portions and here is something to ponder.  Heart disease increased drastically during the fat free craze.  Check this site for some healthy fats

Grass-fed Butter - I am so glad that people are eating butter again.  What the heck was that margarine craze all about….yuck!!  Butter is a great source of fat and for those that have a lactose problem, they should try Ghee which doesn’t have the lactose and has a higher smoke point, so it’s great for cooking. Grass-fed butter has a slew of health benefits.  Just read this

Note:  I will say again….moderation is key.  I use at MOST a tablespoon in my shake. Look at your day and diet as a whole.  If you already eat a lot of Saturated fats in your meals, you might want back off on the quantity or consider which ones are more important to keep in your diet. 

Healthy diets and lives don’t have to be complicated.  Have fun, dance in your kitchen, eat real food, and spend time with those you love!!!

See you soon.