Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

5 Feb

Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge

This week, bust your butt to bust your gut. Exercise every day. Park your car way out of sight. Surprise the dog with an extra-long walk. Make television commercials your own personal sit-up special. Bike with the kids. Walk after every meal. Make activity your middle name this week. Now get moving!

2 Feb

Sisson’s Super Bowl Tips

And we were just getting over the carb onslaught of the holidays. The Super Bowl presents a little dilemma for guys (and gals) who are health-minded: how to simultaneously hang with buddies, drink beer, maintain healthy eating habits, not feel like a pig, avoid celery and carrot sticks, and all without spending the entire time manning the kitchen island. It can be done.

Here’s what I plan to make (or enlist the rugrats to make while I mess with all the electronics after suffering through customer service in vain for two hours).

I have a strict 20-minute prep rule for all game day foods, but I also like to eat food that tastes better than greasy pizza, stale chips, and dips that all taste pretty much like flavorless goop.

The following things are really easy to make. They taste great, and you can mess around with seasonings and extras as much as you like without really ruining anything.

Here’s how it works:


Plan on at least one avocado for each guest.
Halve and peel avocados.
Plunk in large bowl.
Mash with utensil.

Add in a few tablespoons of salsa, a teaspoon or so of salt, and juice of one lime or lemon (or a few squirts of ready-to-go lemon juice). Stir.

Result for 5 minutes of effort: completely healthy dip everyone loves, and enough Omega 3’s to write home about.

now THIS is a good thing

What to dip into this? Veggies, veggies and more veggies.

Spinach and artichoke dip

Most spinach-and-artichoke recipes are really just mayo and parmesan with a little green stuff thrown in. I do the opposite for a result that tastes just as good but is a lot healthier.

You’ll need:

1 bag of frozen spinach (partially thaw in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes)

1 bag of frozen artichoke pieces or hearts (thaw these puppies, too)

1 cup of parmesan (any kind, but I like fresh grated)

1 teaspoon of salt (any kind, but I like coarse)

A few tablespoons of olive oil (enough to help mix all the ingredients)

Dump it all into a medium-size glass or metal dish, mix, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Total prep time to get to your mouth: 13 minutes. (Don’t forget to pre-heat that oven.)

For extra flavor: chop up some garlic, or, if you’re really, really lazy, when you’re picking up all your game day groceries, toss a small container of truffle oil or pre-chopped garlic into the cart. Add all you want into the mixture for awesome flavor.

Lonely for spinach

20 minute chili

For 6 guests, you’ll need:

2 pounds of fresh ground beef (I go for organic)

1 big can of chopped tomatoes (fresh is best, but hey, we’re being lazy this weekend)

1 big can of tomato paste

1 big can of chicken or veggie broth (again, organic)

1 or 2 cups of water (just eyeball it until it looks right, remembering that the meat will add juices)

1 chopped onion (you can buy this pre-chopped)

1 can of sliced jalapenos (don’t drain)

Seasonings: I like to add about a teaspoon of paprika, some crushed garlic cloves, a few teaspoons of chili powder, and several dashes of tabasco. You can fool around with different spices – I’ve even heard of some people adding mole sauce and others adding dark chocolate. It’s hard to mess up chili.

Brown the meat (you know how to do this, right? It should take you about 10 minutes). While that’s going on, in a big pot, dump in all the other ingredients. Once the meat is browned, drain it and add it to the mix. Cook the whole thing on medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir a few times, turn the heat down to low, and by the time your guests arrive, the chili will be perfect.

This is filling, totally unprocessed, easy to make, and tastes great. Don’t forget bowls, genius.

Not the 20-minute version. Thanks to Farl on Flickr for this photo!

Garlic lime chicken skewers

This is one of those recipes that is really easy and always impresses guests. They’ll think you’re a rock star in the kitchen…if only they knew. You do need to start this one on Saturday.

Here’s what to do:

Buy a bag of free-range chicken tenderloins or chicken breast pieces. Thaw.

Next step: place pieces in a big dish. Drench with the juice of four or five squeezed limes (lemons are okay, too).

Next step: drench with several tablespoons of olive oil. I never measure.

Next step: sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of salt.

Next step: sprinkle with a handful of chopped garlic (you already bought some pre-chopped at the store)

Next step: enlist your teenager to get in there and mix it all up. Remember, kids love chores.

Next step: Let sit in fridge overnight.

When your guests arrive and complain of starvation, run some skewers through those tenders, grill a few minutes on each side, and serve. Cooking time is about 8 minutes. Depending on how fast your teenager moves, prep time isn’t much longer than that. The result is a high-protein finger food with zero processed junk in it.

Too easy!

Mango salsa

Another “exotic” recipe that takes a joke of an effort.

You’ll need:

A jar of salsa.

A package of fresh chopped mango (available in most produce sections now for about five bucks. It’s worth it to save the peeling and slicing time).

Ready for this? Mix them together in a bowl.

Time to get to your mouth: about 30 seconds. Salsa is almost negative when it comes to calories, and a little mango is a nice twist that doesn’t add too much sugar.

Toss in some chopped ginger, if you like

If you’re not a total crudite-phobe, you can put out some fruit and veggie platters care of the local deli, too. It takes about 10 seconds to whip up an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip (bowl, I’d like you to meet olive oil and vinegar).

Live a little


This takes a lot longer than 20 minutes to make, and it’s also not technically healthy (though a guy can always hold out hope), but if you stick to the vegetable and protein based snacks above, a few cold ones will not be a problem.

2 Feb

Do Anti-Cellulite Shoes Work?

Several Apples have written in wondering about MBT and other supposed jiggle-reducing shoe brands, so in the interest of truth and avoidance of unattractive footwear, let’s set the record straight. Do anti-cellulite shoes work?

No, no, and no. Here’s a great article that debunks this ridiculous shoe trend. Not only are the numerous health and figure-fix claims about cellulite shoes total baloney, these kicks are expensive and super-ugly.

MBT, the main anti-cellulite shoe maker, even has an African myth of sorts to complete the marketing lure (check out Mark’s post on hoodia for another example of emotional bait).

These sneakers will make you wobble, feel dizzy, and possibly fall (so you can have a big bruise in addition to cellulite). What they will not do is cure cellulite.
I'll stick with Prada, thanks

Unfortunately, there’s just not really a “cure” for cellulite. It’s genetic, like bone density, skin tone and hair color. Of course, you can lift weights to build bones, fry in a tanning bed, and dye your hair, right? Ah, modern technology. There are things you can do to reduce the appearance of cellulite – but it will never go away with a magic cream or a funky pair of shoes.

If you’re really in angst come bikini season, these things can help:

– My personal theory: lay off the sugar, processed foods and trans fat, and make real fat your friend. Fat does not cause cellulite, but eating weird, unhealthy and processed foods does do weird things to our cells. I’m not saying sugar causes cellulite, but it certainly doesn’t help, either. Enough with the fat-free dairy, ladies (which just has sugar in place of fat). Sugar stores itself as fat and expands existing fat cells. Aha!

– The appearance of cellulite can be reduced if you have good, lean muscle tone and less flabby fat. So yes, you need to work out once in a while. Plenty of muscle tissue on that booty of yours will help “smooth” the external layer of skin and fat cells a little bit. Men don’t tend to have cellulite because they have more lean muscle mass, and their fat cells tend to be smaller and more flexible. So, reducing your overall body fat and increasing muscle mass will help in your quest to be as smooth as a baby’s behind.

Increase circulation. This is where those creams and gels come in. Most of them “work” by temporarily stimulating circulation to fat cells that go so long without seeing so much as a blood platelet, they wouldn’t know what to do if one stopped by. (Okay, my doctor friends are rolling their eyes right now, but you get the idea.) If you can increase your circulation – often a problem with women (cold feet, anyone?) – you can potentially help nourish and smooth those outer cells a bit more. But no amount of cardio is going to totally eliminate cellulite.

Two things to remember:

1) If you’re reasonably fit and healthy, just revel in that figure. Do what you can, and don’t stress the rest. Guys really don’t care as much as we think they do. Seriously, they don’t – men’s eyeballs are wired differently, and detail is not a strong suit (they have better depth perception, while women see certain colors and details better). Whew.

2) As Cindy Crawford once famously said, “Even I don’t look like Cindy Crawford in the morning.” There are very few photographs that are not airbrushed to perfection these days. Women on the covers of magazines are beautiful, yes, but perfect? Nope.

2 Feb

200 Calories, 200 Ways

What does 200 calories look like?

Thanks to the tofu-loving folks over at SoulVeggie for leading us to this great link.

I'm so much more than a wannabe tree.
1 Feb

Juicy Picks

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

All the news, none of the partially-hydrogenated soybean oil!

1) Every name under the sun…

These guys have a great piece on shedding pounds by becoming aware of “liquid candy”. You’ll want to check it out – you’d be surprised at what can sabotage your weight-loss goals!

Crush the habit.

2) All y’all can stop worrying about Nicole Richie

Because this is far more of a health problem. Disturbing. But with things like fried cheese balls being offered at major restaurant chains, are we really surprised?

People actually pay to eat this.

3) Breaking girls’ hearts…sort of

Women’s heart health is rather overlooked, although the recent PR campaign to raise awareness has helped offset that somewhat. Women are at equal risk for heart disease, stroke and heart attacks – so take care of yourself, ladies! You can’t always trust a doctor to think about your heart, evidently.
Kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? Plant some trees.

Hysteria? Nerves? Is this a joke? Doctors revert to 19th century views on women’s health.

Women's hearts need love too

4) Another great plan from Uncle Sam

This time, on a potential flu epidemic. We hope it includes a color-coded bar alert. No, seriously, we do. We’re rooting for turquoise and magenta. (Dissenter: Elliott votes for taupe.)

Great, who's gonna put them back in the box?

Be sure to stop in tomorrow, when Mark will be posting his easy (almost brainless, really), healthy-yet-still-not-embarrassing-for-the-guys Superbowl food tips.

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple

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