Hiking Marin: The Dip Sea Trail

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Celebrate a Healthy Friends Day this weekend! I did this 7 mile hike a few months ago - and since Spring has officially sprung –  it’s definitely worth exploring now more than ever! This particular hike is located in Marin, past Muir Woods, and combines the Dipsea Trail, Matt Davis and Steep Ravine trails into a sweat-bustling 7.3 mile loop hike. The adventure offers a wide range of scenery and terrains: from waterfalls to redwoods to oak forests to spectacular ocean views. It’s moderately challenging, as it has a 1,60o ft elevation change, and it takes about 4 hours depending on how fast you walk.

Getting There (taken from BAHiker.com):

From US 101 in Marin County, exit CA 1/Mill Valley/Stinson Beach and drive on Shoreline Highway to the junction with Almonte, about 1 mile. Turn left, remaining on Shoreline, and drive about 2.5 miles to the junction with Panoramic Highway. Turn right on Panoramic and drive about 1 mile to the junction with Muir Woods Road; stay straight on Panoramic (right lane). Continue about 7.5 miles (past Pantoll) to the junction with CA 1, just before the town of Stinson Beach. Turn right, drive about 0.2 mile, then turn right (at the fire station) onto Belvedere Avenue. Look for parking on the left side of the road before the “do not enter/wrong way” signs.

The Hike:

From Stinson Beach’s Belvedere Avenue, start with the Matt Davis Trail. Continue along this trail and bear left to remain on the Matt Davis trail when you reach the unsigned junction at the Panoramic Highway. The Matt Davis trail will go through creeks and zigzag up the mountain. At 2.5 miles, the Matt Davis Trail meets the Coastal Trail – bear right to continue along the Matt Davis Trail. At 4.2 miles, you’ll find yourself back at the Panoramic Highway near the small Pantoll parking lot. Cross the road and head toward the parking lot. Water/food break! From here, look for the Steep Ravine trailhead (near the bathrooms). Continue through the redwoods and at about 6 miles, you’ll finally reach the Dipsea Trail. It heads left over a bridge, departing from a signed junction. When in doubt, continue straight to follow the Dipsea Trail. You’ll finally reach the Panoramic Highway once again, where you’ll cross then pick up the signed trail again on the opposite side. Continue ’till the end, where the Dipsea drops you on the side of CA 1 – where you’ll walk along the side of the road towards Belvedere Avenue. Congrats! You did it!

For your reference: here’s a map!

 

 

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Thai Red Coconut Curry – Tofu & Asparagus

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tofu-asparagus-thai-red-curry

I’ve always been such a huge fan of Thai curry, but I’m always seeking new ways to cook my own healthier version. Restaurant curry always tastes so good, but it’s also often packed with a ridiculous amount of oil and fat. So, here ya have it: my spin on a super light, low-fat healthy thai red coconut curry. Best part: SO GOOD!

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 3):

  • Light, Extra Firm Tofu: 12 oz, chopped
  • Asparagus: 1 bunch, chopped
  • Cilantro: 1/4 cup, chopped finely
  • Light Coconut Milk: 8 oz (half can)
  • Thai Red Curry Paste: 1.5 tbsp
  • Cooking Spray: 1 spray
  • Optional: Red Chili Pepper Flakes: 1/2 tsp
  • Optional: Red Cayenne Powder: 1 tsp

Chop up the tofu and asparagus into bite-size pieces.  *Don’t forget to chop off the ends of the asparagus! Next, spray a skillet or wok with cooking spray and heat up the pan on medium/high heat. Begin cooking the tofu first for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges are seared. Add in the asparagus and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. In a separate cup, mix and stir together the light coconut milk, red curry paste and cilantro – add that in next. If you’re looking for something a bit more spicy, add in the pepper flakes and cayenne powder as well. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes.

Serve immediately with a side of brown rice, quinoa or shredded lettuce. And let’s not forget our favorite last minute friend: Sriracha sauce is always a great addition to the mix as well.

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Cilantro-Lime Halibut Tacos & Fresh Guacamole

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halibut-cilantro-fajitas-tacos

Fresh, bright green cilantro cooked with flaky halibut and tangy lime = heaven in my mouth. Add in a huge dollop of creamy guacamole and I’d say you’ve reached border line foodporn. This spread is particularly great for group gatherings, since everyone can sort of pick and choose which ingredients they want to throw into a tortilla. Plus, halibut is a totally lean protein machine and people usually don’t even realize they’re “eating healthy.” Lastly, I’m not the best at sharing food, so I totally get it if you end up not sharing at all and saving the whole thing for yourself. #nojudgements

Estimated Time: 1.5 hours; includes 1 hour to marinate the halibut

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

Cilantro-Lime Halibut

  • Fresh Halibut: 12-15oz
  • Cilantro: 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Garlic Cloves: 2 cloves, minced
  • Lime Juice: 2 fresh limes, squeezed
  • Olive Oil: 1 tsp
  • Taco Seasoning: 2 tbsp
  • Cayenne Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ground Cumin: 1 tbsp

Fresh Guacamole

  • Avocado: 2 fresh
  • Red Onion: 1/8 cup, chopped finely
  • Cilantro: 1/8 cup, chopped finely
  • Lime Juice: 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • Garlic Powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp

Additional Buffet Items:

  • Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Fresh Pico De Gallo
  • Chopped Lettuce
  • Fat Free Cheddar Cheese
  • Fat Free Sour Cream
  • Low Fat Tortilla Chips

First, you’re going to want to marinate the halibut for about an hour. Cut the halibut up into small bite-size pieces and mix all the ingredients together in a large ziplock bag. Place the halibut in the fridge and let marinate for about an hour. While those flavors are blending, work on the guacamole. Simply combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Add/subtract salt and garlic powder according to taste. Don’t forget to leave the avocado bulb in the bowl with the guacamole: it keeps the guac from turning brown!

Once the fish has marinated for about an hour, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat it up on medium heat. Add in the fish and cook for no more than 5 minutes, stirring often. The halibut should cook quite quickly, and you don’t want to overcook. You’ll know it’s done when the pieces turn white and easily flake apart. Serve immediately amongst all the other ingredients.

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JUMP! The Inkwell Waterhole

inkwell-waterhole-marin

Often referred to as one of Marin’s “Seven Wonders,” the Inkwell Waterhole is one of the Bay Area’s best kept secret. The Inkwells are small, deep, dark pools beside Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Lagunitas, West Marin. You can be brave and jump into the waterhole, or just sunbathe on the large warm rocks. There’s incredible harmony between the organic rock formation, glittering waterhole and tranquil river sounds.  Definitely worth bringing some friends and a few ice, cold Pacificos  (just don’t litter!). The drive to the waterhole is absolutely gorgeous and it’s fun to check out the little towns along the way as well. Once you arrive, there are tons of great hiking trails in the area as well. Lots of fun!

Directions from San Francisco:

If you’re using Google Maps, type in: Shafter Bridge, Lagunitas-Forest Knolls, CA. Or if you trust my directions, head over the Golden Gate Bridge towards Marin. The Inkwell Waterhole is right before the Samuel P. Taylor State Park, so just continue on US 101 North for about 10 miles. Take the San Anselmo exit, and merge onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Continue on this road for about 15 miles. You’ll pass through some adorable small towns to include Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax and finally Lagunitas. Once you pass the golf course and hit Lagunitas, keep an eye out for Shafter Bridge.  As soon as you cross the bridge, turn left into the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area Parking lot. If you pass the sign on the right for Samuel P. Taylor State Park you have gone too far. Park the car, cross the street, and the Inkwells are directly in front of you under a red/orange bridge. Follow the small path on the right side of the red bridge until you get down to the waterhole.

 

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The Easy On-The-Go-Salad: Tilapia Apple Salsa

tilapia-apple-salad

Sweet, spicy, crunchy and full of lean protein. This salad is an easier alternative to the “everything protein salad” that I posted a couple of weeks ago. It literally takes 15 minutes to make, and is so satisfying once lunch time comes around. I always feel healthy and full; never guilty. I like to make this in the morning before work as I’m getting ready for the day: I’ll cut up the veggies, pop the tilapia in a small conventional toaster oven, and hop in the shower.  Pop and hop (get it). My showers are only about 10 minutes long, and by the time I’m done showering, the tilipia is ready to go. Or, try making this salad the night before.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • Salad Greens (kale, romaine 0r spinach): 2 large handfuls
  • Cucumber: 1 mini cucumber, chopped
  • Apple: 1/2 medium, chopped
  • Lemon: 1/4 slice
  • Salsa: 1/4 cup
  • Tilapia: 3-4oz
  • Salt: 1 dash
  • Pepper: 1 dash
  • Cooking Spray: 1 spray

Preheat the oven to 350 (I like to use a small conventional toaster oven to save time). Spray a baking sheet or piece of tin foil with the cooking spray and lightly season the tiliapia with salt/pepper or your favorite seasoning  (I use Santa Maria seasoning). Since the tilapia fillet is generally pretty thin, it should only take about 10-15 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when the fish easily flakes apart. Pile all the ingredients in a to-go container and enjoy the meal for lunch.

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Stir-fry! Broccoli, Brussels & Shitake Chicken

broccoli-shitake-mushroom-chicken-stir-fry

Here’s an easy Asian stir-fry recipe that you can whip up in less than 30 minutes. Great for lunch or dinner, this tasty dish combines broccoli, brussels sprouts, shitake mushrooms and chicken. Easy peasy!

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 3):

  • Chicken: 1 breast, chopped
  • Brussels Sprouts: 12 brussels sprouts, halved
  • Broccoli: 1/2 head, chopped
  • Shitake Mushrooms: 1 cup
  • Open Nature Sesame Ginger Dressing (or any conventional teriyaki marinade): 4 tbsp
  • Sesame Seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Oil Spray: 2 sprays
  • Water: 1/8 cup
  • Salt: 1 dash
  • Pepper: 1 dash

Start by slicing the raw chicken breast into small pieces. Spray a large wok or skillet with the oil spray and heat up the pan on medium/high heat. Toss the chicken pieces into the pan, sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper, and cook the chicken until it’s seared and sealed.  Add in 1/8 cup of water with the brussels sprouts and reduce heat to medium. Cover for about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining broccoli and and shitake mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Once the broccoli is half way cooked, add in the the sesame nature ginger dressing. If you don’t have that dressing on hand, feel free to use any standard teriyaki marinade. When all the veggies seemed cooked, sprinkle the dish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

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Zucchini Noodles w/ Bay Shrimp Marinara Sauce

zucchini-noodles-bay-shrimp-marinara

I decided to make this dish shortly after my juice cleanse detox, because I was looking for something a bit more exciting than steamed veggies for dinner (they advise you to only eat fruits/veggies for the first couple of days post juice cleanse). So, that meant no carbs for a couple of days. Damn. Which led me to zucchini noodles!  No, it’s not spaghetti, and it doesn’t taste like spaghetti…but, it’s sort of shaped like spaghetti which tends to satisfy my fork-twirling mental craving. The bay shrimp provides ample protein so this dish is a great light, no-carb lunch or dinner.

Estimated Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 3):

  • Zucchini: 3 medium, shredded vertically
  • Bay Shrimp: 1 cup
  • Onion: 1 large, chopped
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Baby Carrots: 8 small, chopped
  • Canned Stewed Tomatoes: 1 can
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Oregano: 1 tsp
  • Italian Seasoning: 1 tsp
  • Red Chili Pepper Flakes: 1/2 tsp
  • Cooking Spray: 1 spray
  • Parmesan Cheese: 1 good shake

Combine cooking spray, onion, garlic and carrots in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in the stewed tomatoes, water, oregano, Italian seasoning and red chili pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to low/medium and let simmer for about 20 minutes. From there, add in the shrimp and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

In the last 10 minutes of cooking, shred the zucchini with a cheese grater to create long, vertical stands. In a separate pot, boil some water and drop the zucchini noodles in and let cook for about 3-5 minutes. Do not let the zucchini get mushy! Strain the noodles and top with the bay shrimp marinara sauce. Serve and finish it all off with parmesan cheese!

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4 points plus per serving

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The Infamous Juice Cleanse Detox

detox juice cleansebex-juice-cleanse

Yep, I did it. I tried it. I gave it my all. I was committed. I didn’t cave to solid food. I wasn’t even “starving.” Yet, I both succeeded and failed at the infamous juice cleanse detox.

Why’d I do it? Well, despite my very healthy weekday meals and activities, I had spent the last few weekends with a lot of alcohol and I just felt like I needed to cleanse my body from all the toxins. I had heard about juice cleanses in the past, and had read that they often make you more productive, energetic and happy. This sounded like fun! After all, a new cold pressed juice shop just opened up down the street from my house. Why not give it a go? I signed up for a 3-day cleanse.

Here’s the truth about these juice cleanses: they’re different with each person. For me, it was a fucking disaster. Pardon my language, but this one merits some serious passion. Let me recap how it all went down with the JC:

  • Day 1: “This is fun! Sip on a juice every two hours…easy!” I was feeling confident and excited by this new project. I even went to the gym and did some cardio and weight resistance training. The juices tasted pretty sweet to me, but I wasn’t hungry or starving at all. I went to bed feeling excited to start Day 2.
  • Day 2 Morning: “Alright, let’s get to that first juice. Looking forward to a productive day of working out and running errands.” Got through juices 1-3 and completed a pretty good cardio spin class workout. Was running on endorphins around noon and felt great. Still no cravings for solid food. Go ahead and be fooled by the smile in the photo above, that’s when I thought all was bright and chipper!
  • Day 2 Afternoon/Evening: “Oh wait, I have a headache. Actually, I have like a REALLY bad headache.” I don’t know what happened here but this is where things started to spiral downhill. I completed the rest of my juices for the day, confused by what had happened to me. Honestly, it felt like I was REALLY hungover (and I didn’t even get a single glass of wine out of it! psst). Still no food in my body, but I figured it would go away with sleep.
  • Day 3: “Okay, now my head and my joints hurt. Maybe this isn’t for me.” By day 3, I decided to opt out of the juice cleanse. From here, I eased back into raw fruits and vegetables. And I was tired. Really tired.
  • Day 4: I’ve never been more excited for a kale and eggwhite scramble in my life. I made a delicious zucchini noodle and bay shrimp marina dish for dinner (stay tuned for the recipe!), and the headache was finally starting to go away. THANK G.

What happened to me? Not quite sure. But, my body was definitely communicating with me and I’m glad I listened to it. I had read that headaches are a common side effect, but these side effects were so severe that this juice cleanse only made me feel more lethargic, unproductive and sleepy. Not to mention, I don’t think my body was used to all the sugar from the fruit juices. However, this is how my body reacted to the cleanse; my sister-in-law did the cleanse with me, and she felt great the entire time. Different for everyone.

Hey man, at least I tried it: I both succeeded and failed at the infamous juice cleanse detox.

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Soulcycle Spin Class – San Francisco

soulcycle-san-francisco-window

souldcycle-find-your-soul

Everyone’s ranting and raving about SOULCYCLE these days, so I figured I’d see what all this hype is about. It was really fun! I went with my sister-in-law and a friend and all three of us enjoyed the 45 minute, music-blasting cardio spin class.

You basically spend the first 30 minutes spinning with cardio music, alternating between sprints, climbs and push-ups in various saddle positions. Then you spend about 10 minutes using 2-3 lb weights on arms (while still slowly spinning simultaneously). And then the class ends with a cool-down stretch sequence. I didn’t really “find my soul” but I definitely got a good sweat going.

My review: It was fun, I liked the overall energy and music. But it was PACKED to the brim. One class is $30 which is kind of crazy considering the overall format wasn’t that much different than other spin classes. Truthfully, my highlight of the class was getting to spend time and exercise next to my bestie!

If you’re new to spin: I would definitely recommend SOULCYCLE just because they’ve created a fantastic culture of enthusiasm and positive energy. Plus, they make you wear clip-ins!

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The Halibut Protein “Everything” Salad

hearty-halibut-protein-detox-salad

Hands down: one of my very favorite salads of all time because it’s packed with protein and colorful nutrients.  Adopted from my sister’s recipe book, this salad combines all sorts of delicious fruits and vegetables. I call it the “everything” salad because it’s got everything from brussel sprouts to avocado to orange slices to apples to mozzarella. It’s super moist and delicious, and the best part: it requires no dressing, at all! This salad is delicious and filling on its own, but if you’re looking for some extra filling, try it with the halibut fillet.

Estimated Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: add as much much/little of each ingredient as you like!

  • Kale/Spinach/Romaine Lettuce: 1 large handful
  • *Halibut Fillet: 4 oz, seasoned and baked
  • **Brussel Sprouts: 7 pieces, halved and boiled
  • Apple: 1/2 small, chopped
  • Cucumber: 1 small, chopped
  • Red Onion: 1/8 cup, chopped
  • Avocado: 1/2 medium, chopped
  • Orange: 1/2 small, chopped
  • Baby Carrots: 4 small, chopped
  • Light String Cheese: 1 stick, chopped
  • Fat Free Cottage Cheese: 1/2 cup
  • Parmesan Cheese: 1 tbsp
  • Lemon Juice: 1/2 lemon
  • Salt: 2 shakes
  • Pepper: 3 cranks

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly season the halibut fillet with your favorite seasonings (I personally love Santa Maria seasoning). Once the oven is ready, pop the fillet into the oven and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the fish easily flakes apart.

**Brussel Sprouts: I like to boil the brussel sprout halves for about 10 minutes before throwing them into the salad.

While the halibut and brussel sprouts are cooking, chop all the other fruits and vegetables up. Once all the items are prepared, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well. Enjoy!

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