At Work Stretches

STRETCHING AT WORK- WHY AND WHAT TO DO

Stretching at work is a huge benefit to not only your health, but also your productivity.   When you take the time to step away from your desk, and computer, you give your mind a break to refresh and recharge.  Why not add in some stretching and a little bit of exercise throughout your busy day then to get the blood flowing throughout your body, helping to get those great ideas flowing?  If you make stretching at work part of your daily routine, then it becomes something that you will not only start to look forward to, but will also be improving your quality of work.

Simple at-work stretches and how to do them

Stand up and Sit down without using your hands:

This might sound silly, like something you did in grade school to show off with your friends, and not a stretch.  While you might have perfected this skill when you were younger, you might notice it is a little bit harder now.  This skill forces you to use those abdominal muscles and control your movement with your core in turn giving you a nice little exercise while moving your body.

 Torso Twist:

This is always a favorite and is as simple as it sounds.  Done by either sitting straight up in your chair or standing, twist from your torso to one side. When twisting be sure to grab the back of the chair with the opposite hand of the direction you are twisting, and be sure to twist to each side of the body!

 Leg Extensions:

To do this you are going to need adequate legroom, and to make sure your chair wont be wiggling around, so put that break on your rolling chair.  Sitting on the edge of your chair and place your hand on the seat to steady yourself, slowly lift both legs in front of you, making them parallel to the ground, and hold it. Repeat this a few times making sure to hold the legs out straight and lowering them slowly.

Head Roll:

We were all taught the head roll in PE class as children, and if you played on a sports team, chances are this was part of your warm up.  It is simple, all you do is slowly roll your head left, down, right, back and then switch directions after 2 or three slow rotations.

Lower Back Arch:

Simple to do when sitting in your chair in between emails, or phone calls, or even while making a phone call!  Siting down arch your back up towards the ceiling and just hold it feeling the stretch! Repeat as many times as you need.

 Hip Stretch:

While sitting up straight, put your left ankle on your right thigh and lean forward holding for about 20-30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat 2-3 times each leg.

 

Instructor Spotlight- Candace’s Passions

 

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Candace Hopkins, is not only an instructor here at Wheel House, but she is also a small business owner. Candace opened her first art studio and company in San Francisco back in 2013, which has been taking off.  She has not only been training and is team captain for the Wheel House AIDS Life Cycle

 

 What inspired you to start beyond canvas, where did you get your training, why San Francisco, why art?
Art has always been a big part of my life. I have been drawing and painting since I can remember.  I received a B.F.A. in painting and two-dimensional design from Georgia Southern University in 2010.   
In 2012 I moved to San Francisco to connect with an art-inspired community. Almost one year later, I started Beyond Canvas and began teaching painting classes out of a yoga studio. And since then we’ve moved to our own studio space on Valencia street.
 
What is Beyond Canvas, what types of programs do you offer, can you tell us about some past corporate painting gigs?
Beyond Canvas is a creative workshop space run by a group of trained and talented artists. We offer a taste of art history with easy-to-follow instruction on art fundamentals.  Our goal is to host a creative experience that’s both fun and educational.
 
We do host traditional paint and wine workshops, but we offer so much more than that.  Our workshops delve into realms ranging from street art to Japanese dyeing techniques, and everything in between.  We’re try to give people the opportunity to make something unique and artistically wholesome, which is harder to accomplish in a copycat painting. 
 
Two of our most unique corporate painting projects have been the ‘Paint Dome’ project, and a large-scale ‘Wine Painting’ project.
 
The Paint Dome project was a pop-up for an outdoor corporate event with around 200 guests.  We built an 10x8ft hinging canvas and enclosed it in a 25ft dome.  Participants were encouraged to wear a ‘paint suit onesie’ and goggles, and were then given paint balloons, and various types of water guns filled with paint.  The result was a unique piece of abstract art and a really fun one-of-a-kind experience.
 
The ‘Wine Painting’ project was hosted at Regale Winery in Las Gatos.  It started with a 3x4ft sheet of watercolor paper and a light sketch of the winery.  Participants filled in the sketch with various shades of red using Zinfandel, Shiraz, and Syrah wine, while enjoying wine tasting and live music.  After the event, I detailed and refined the painting, which was then given to the client as a memory of their unique creative experience.
 
Sign us up! How do we sign up for a class, or book you for a private event?
If someone wants to take a drop-in workshop, or book a private event, they can contact us at info@beyondcanvas.com or find our calendar at www.beyondcanvas.com.
Why AIDS lifecycle, and what made you decided to captain a team! 
I LOVE cycling (and challenges)!  I have always wanted to tour to southern California by bike.  AIDS Lifecycle provides a a great opportunity to do this – only better because I get to raise funds for a great cause and ride with a wonderful community of people.  I’m very excited about it! I chose to be Captain because I want to motivate those who are not as experienced with outdoor rides, help our team raise an exponential amount of funds, and do everything I can to help the team reach its full potential. 
 
How has training been going?
 Training is going great so far! My classes are 45 minutes and incorporate high-intensity training to help build strength for rides.  Wheel House offers 60minute Endurance rides on the weekends that are great if you miss your outdoor training. 
What can one do to get involved
The registration for Northern California riders is currently closed, however there are still opportunities to be a ‘roadie’ and join for the entire week, or volunteer on the back end.  If you are already participating in AIDS Lifecycle, and without a team, you can also join ours:)
Do you have a link to a fundraiser page so that we can donate?
The team page for Wheel House can be found here, and donations can be made through individual participants. Any donations are greatly appreciated, and every little bit counts!
What made you start teaching fitness classes?
Growing up I was always an art nerd. I never really did any sports and didn’t discover my love of fitness until I graduated college. I then realized cycling and yoga provided mental clarity just as art does, plus there are ‘healthy side effects’.  I started teaching fitness because I wanted others to love cycling the way I do.
When can members find you teaching at Wheel House
Members join my classes at:
8:15am Monday for WH Rhythm
4:30pm Tuesday for WH Smart Rhythm
and 6:00am Wednesday TRX Circuit
What is your favorite part about teaching?
My favorite part about teaching is helping others relieve stress in their daily lives while getting stronger and healthier.   What a great combo! :) 
 
How has being an instructor inspired you in other ways?  Specifically in your art?
Being an instructor means you can’t slack off.  I won’t miss a class because there’s a happy hour going on, or show up late because I don’t feel like getting out of bed.  The workout itself provides mental clarity that leaves more room for creative ideas – It’s like a way to break an artist’s block.  Pushing yourself to the limit, and being able to offer others the same tools that help you is motivating and profound in itself.
 
How is  being an instructor helping prepare you for Aids life cycle.

Being an instructor at Wheel House means you stay in shape! There is a lot of core building moves that are incorporated into classes, along with practicing proper breathing techniques that are great for preparing to bike outdoors. Focusing on proper body alignment will really help you go far on rides – These are all things I really try to focus on in my personal classes, as well as including strength building formats involving high intensity intervals-all in time with the beat!

Benefits of Spin Class

Here at Wheel House we are huge fans of Rhythm based Spin classes, not just because we have some of the best instructors, but also because of the killer workout you get from a 45 minute class.  45 minutes might seem like a long time to be working out to some, but once you step into our bike studio, and get on your bike, you will be surprised at how fast the time goes!  I still remember my first class here at Wheel House! I swore I was going to be carried out by the staff for passing out, but after those first 15 minutes I felt a sudden urge of adrenaline and eagerness to push through and before I knew it the last 30 minutes flew by and we were stretching.

Here are some of the top 5 benefits that taking a Wheel House Rhythm class will give you!

 

Low Impact

Spin class is a great alternative to your regular high impact workouts, it provides a killer workout without the strain that is put on your body.  Many people will still be able to attend spin class after having knee surgery because while the motion is still repetitive like running, the pressure put on your joints is not as harsh.

Body Workout

Spin classes, especially those taught here at Wheel House, utilize your entire body! Your legs are the obvious part that is being worked out especially those larger muscle groups- hamstrings, thighs, and calves, but those are the only muscles being worked out.  Your abs are getting a workout in- especially when it comes to standing upright with your hips hoovering over the saddle! Engaging your core is essential to getting the best workout possible when on the bike.

Mental Distraction

Jumping on to the stationary bike, listening to your instructor shout out various cues to you, and listening to the loud music with your eyes closed. That is exactly what energizes so many people who regularly attend a spin class, and is what makes this workout class so unique.  On the spin bike, you are able to just close your eyes and go to your own space in your mind, listening to your instructor shout inspirational messages, or push you harder, you have this time in a dark room, where you are working your butt off to think, to let go, and just be.  It is a great way to block out all that happened that day in the office, or the frustrations at home, all that goes away for those 45 minutes you spend in the spin room, and when it ends you walk out feeling refreshed, a little (a lot!) sweaty, and at a peace of mind.

Push your Limits

We have all gone into a workout class before not feeling our best, and just patting our selves on the back for walking in.  Those are the days when I try to push myself even harder, because those are the days we need it most. Spin class is great because you are in control of your own resistance knobs which allows you to determine what your level 1-5 is, and how hard you want to push each class. We all get comfortable and in our zone, knowing just how far to turn the knob so we get just enough workout without pushing ourselves too much. My advice to you is next time turn that knob one extra turn and push yourself up that hill that is hard because you will be happy you did!

Burn Calories

Isn’t that the point of working out? Well for some of us yes, but others it is all that working out does.  When you take a 45 min spin class you are burning at least 550 calories! Maybe you just want to be able to eat that hamburger for lunch the next day, or maybe you understand the importance of burning calories and keep track of that, either way know you are getting a pretty great calorie burning workout in!

Instructor Series – Alison C.

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Outside of the studio where can we find you on a typical day?

Baker Beach or Crissy Field, trying to live vicariously through dog owners while getting in some quality movement:)

What do you do for work?

I’m a full-time personal trainer and group fitness instructor

Why should a member take your class?

I design my programs for all levels with the goal of building strength and maintaining lifelong mobility. I believe in positivity-based coaching so you should never feel intimidated!

What people can expect from your class?

Sweat, sore glutes (I’m a butt girl), and smiles!

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

I’ve been told quirky, tenacious, and strong-willed are good ones, so let’s go with those:)

What’s your all-time favorite food?

New York Pizza

What’s your go to take out service?

GrubHub – I order so much sushi from them it should be illegal

Favorite TRX move?

Pull-ups and pikes. Both are guaranteed to make you feel like a badass!

Favorite happy hour in San Francisco?

Palmer’s in Pac Heights or The Press Club in SoMa, for when I’m feeling fancy.

Your friend is visiting what is the number one place you take them in San Francisco?

If they enjoy running then I’ll take them through the Presidio down to Crissy Field. If they are more of the walking type then the Lands’ End trail. Exercise is mandatory with me.

Where are you from? What brought you to San Francisco?

New York born

and raised, then moved to Miami to attend school. After graduation I became a flight attendant at a legacy carrier and they hired me to be based out of SF. The rest is history:)

What made you want to teach here?

I love the members, I love the studio space, and the quality of fellow instructors. There is a great energy at WH that I love being a part of.

What 3 things are always in your gym bag?

Extra hair ties, ear buds, and sunscreen. When the weather is great there is no better place to be than outdoors in SF! Heck, I’ll still workout in the crappy weather, who am I kidding? But I am pale, so safety first.

Something that you love and never gets old

chunky animals (don’t judge)

What advice would you give to a younger you?

Don’t place your value in what anyone else thinks of you and don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re stronger than you think.

What is your life theme song?

Fresh by Kool  & the Gang

What is your biggest fear?

I have a bit of a fear of heights, although I love rock climbing and skydiving . . . I just make many bold outbursts when doing either. Never let your fear get in the way of living your best life!

Who would play you in a movie?

Meryl Streep. She is a legend and I only want the best. Plus, she can play a houseplant and make it look good.

Best gift you ever received?

I’m still waiting on someone to gift me a chubby little bulldog.

 

You can sign up for one of Alison’s many classes on our schedule which you can find here.

Yoga Hints and Tips- Beginners

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At Wheel House, we aim to provide you with a well rounded workout so that you can go to our classes back to back and feel like you are working out your entire body.  Our athletic yoga classes are unique to Wheel House, and our instructors are all experts in their craft adding in their own flair here and there throughout a class.

I remember my first ever yoga class being a little petrified when I walked in not knowing a single person, or what to expect. I took my mat rolled it out and just waited for class to start, expecting that it would be a breeze, and I would just figure it out.  I was wrong, and wish I had a little guide that I could have referenced back then.  Today, this post is meant to give you a little encouragement, and guidance on what to expect and what to do in your first class.

 

Don’t Stress

Don’t stress or worry about if you don’t know what you are doing, or if others are looking at you.  First, everyone has been there before not knowing what they are doing, even your instructor! Instructors, just like those in the class with you had to start somewhere, they were beginners and new to yoga at one point too try to keep that in mind.  Second, the only person that is looking at you is your instructor, and they are watching everyone in the room to make sure you are doing the poses correctly, and are not going to injure yourself.

Check for a Level 1- or Beginner class

Here at Wheel House we offer yoga based on either a Level 1-2, or a Level 2 class.  For a person new to yoga, we recommend signing up for our 1-2 class as that is more introductory, and is tailored more for those newer to yoga.  Also be sure to talk with our front desk, they know which instructors might be best for your specific situation, and can help in assisting you to pick the class that is right for you.

Listen

Listen to your instructor, and listen to your body! Your instructor is a trained professional, and knows how each sequence they teach is meant to help your body. They are also very much aware that some people are new to yoga and might need some extra help, so they will be at the front and demonstrate for you.  Listen to what they are coaching you through, your breathing, your muscle movement, listen and focus on the workout.  Listen to your body! You know your body and you know what you can and cannot do, but don’t say you cannot do something until you try- you might surprise yourself!

Come to class Early

Just as any other new fitness class, it is important to arrive to class early.  When you get to class early, you are able to relax and settle into the class without that extra stress of not finding a spot, or walking in and disrupting others.  Arriving early also allows you to talk to your instructor before class about any questions, or health related issues you might have that they should know about.  It allows the instructor the chance to know who you are so they can be sure you are following along and in proper position throughout the class, they might even suggest a place in the room for you to practice.

Bring Water

Stay hydrated! Here at Wheel House, our yoga classes are taught in a room that is slightly heated, I am not talking 100+ degrees, but the room is warm which helps you sweat more and when we sweat we need to be sure to replenish our bodies with plenty of water!

Get to the Studio

Just showing up to the studio is the most important part! Getting to the studio can be difficult, and we can always find excuses to not workout and not put ourselves first,  but once you make that step you will feel 100 times better!

Instructor Series – Candace

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Candace is not only an instructor at Wheel House teaching spin and trx classes, but what you might not know that she is savvy business lady owning her own art studio  Beyond Canvas in San Francisco.  Candace has an amazing art talent, and teaches both corporate, and group classes across the bay.  She has a passion not only for art, but also for helping out in the community, and has been training for the AIDS Life Cycle coming up this summer!

 

 

Outside of the studio where can we find you on a typical day?

Working on an art project, outside somewhere, or taking a friend’s fitness class

What do you do for work?

I am an artist and run a studio and workshop space in the Mission district.

Why should a member take your class?

Because I love teaching and I really want to help members break away from their day and leave feeling stronger and refreshed

What people can expect from your class?

I love to crank up the music and try make my classes very difficult but also fun and upbeat

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Keep moving forward

What’s your all-time favorite food?

Peanut butter, jelly, and bologna sandwich! It’s better than it sounds

What’s your go to take out service?

I don’t like ordering in – I would rather go out and pick something up

You have people coming over/ you are going out and  have to make a dish to serve them. What you do make that you know is always a hit?

All my friends know not to let me cook….

The best gift you ever received?

Someone gave me a key necklace and told me to put it in my art studio once I got one.  I have it hanging there now

Your friend is visiting what is the number one place you take them in San Francisco?

Dolores park on a weekend

What is your life’s theme song?

Cher – ‘If I could turn back time’… only because for 6 months that I lived in Korea, every time I walked into the office it would start playing in my head. I couldn’t break it!

Biggest life changing moment so far?

I made a decision a few years ago to try and spend every moment of live doing
something I love. I have never been happier!

What 3 things are always in your gym bag?

a snack, a headband, and extra socks

If you could travel one place in world, all expenses paid, where would it be and why?

Berlin for their contemporary art scene

 

 

You can sign up for one of Candace’s many classes on our schedule which you can find here.

Market Series- December Produce

FARMERSMARKETBuy Seasonally Buy Smart:

December is here, and that means work Holiday Parties, parties with friends and family, and a whole lotta sweets. This month’s seasonal produce is hopefully going to inspire you to make something healthier for your next potluck, or party you host that is good for you and does not lack any flavor.  While cooking might not be your thing per say, I am sure these recipes will be simple even to the most novice cook.

 

December:

Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Broccoli Rabe, Burdock, Cabbage, Cardoons, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Chicory, Collards, Cress, Endive, Fennel, Garlic, Herbs, Kale, Lambsquarters, Leeks, Lettuce, Mizuna, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Onions, Orach, Parsnips, Peppers-chile, Peppers-sweet, Radishes, Rutabaga, Salsify, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Squash- winter, Sweet Potato, Turnips

December Recipe:

 

Roasted Winter Produce

Ingredients:

  • 1  Purple Sweet Potato
  • 1  Orange Sweet Potato
  • 1 large Turnip
  • 2 Carrots- I like to use different colored ones
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh sage minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove minced

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425*
  2. Chop all produce into equal sized pieces.
  3. In a bowl mix together produce and seasonings making sure each piece is fully coated
  4. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (easy clean up!) and put a single layer of mixture down
  5. Roast in oven for 25 -30 min on one side, then flip and Roast for 20 more minutes.
  6. Once both sides have crisped up, serve along side any main entree you have.

Simple Winter Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery Stock
  • 1  Sweet Potato
  • 1 Acorn or Butternut Squash
  • 1 can 28 oz of crushed tomatoes
  • 10 oz chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp of fresh sage
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 can white beans drained

Instructions:

  1. Over med high heat, heat a dutch oven such as a Le Crueset 5 quart.
  2. Add 2 tbs of olive oil, once heated add onions and garlic cook until fragrant and soft.
  3. Add in carrot, turnip and celery, being sure to fully coat with oil.  cook about 3 min.
  4. Mix in Squash and tomatoes along with herbs cook for 2-3 min until herbs become fragrant
  5. Add Stock simmer over med heat about 20-30 minutes until flavors are peaking through.
  6. Add Kale and beans cook 5 more minutes
  7. serve with toast bread.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

It is already time for Thanksgiving, which means 2015 has come and gone and we are gearing up for a new year.  Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays in my personal opinion. Gathering around a table and sharing a meal with those we love is the perfect idea of a get together!

Growing up, my family had a tradition of taking our leftover turkey, and making homemade enchiladas for dinner on Black Friday.  My grandmother and mother would shred all the turkey that was left over and I would sit and help while we laughed and talked, and this has always been a fond memory of mine.  It also had me thinking of how others use their leftover turkey and fixings from Thanksgiving, and thought I would share a few recipes that might inspire you or those you know!

Breakfast

Turkey and or Stuffing popovers with eggs

What you need:

Left over turkey

Left over stuffing

6 eggs

Directions:

In a bowl mix together shredded turkey about 1 – 2 cups, and left over stuffing 1-2 cups.

Beat 6 eggs together until combined.

In a greased muffin tin, put the stuffing and turkey mixture into the bottom of each cut out and then top with egg.

Bake at 350 until eggs are done.

Dinner

Turkey enchiladas my personal favorite

What you need:

3 tbs + 1/2 c- vegetable oil (I tend to use olive oil because that is what I have on hand)

1 large onion, maybe 2- need 1 3/4 cups finely chopped.

1 cup chopped cilantro

28 oz can enchilada verde sauce

4 cups shredded turkey

2 cups cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*

Chop up onions and cilantro.

In a pan heat up 3 tbs of oil, add onions until translucent and fragrant.

Mix in cilantro and all but 1 cup of enchilada sauce until heated through.

In a bowl with the turkey slowly spoon in sauce until turkey is coated this should be about 1 or 2 scoops.

Let turkey and sauce sit.

Heat in a pan 1/2 c of oil.  Once hot, one by one put the tortillas in, you do not want to fry them, just get them pliable so you can roll them.  Drain on a paper towel until all tortillas have been completed.

Pour 1/2c sauce onto bottom of baking dish.

I then dip each tortilla into that extra cup of enchilada sauce before filling with the turkey mixture, and rolling- placing seam side down in a cooking dish. Do this for each tortilla. Once finished, pour the left over sauce over the dish, and top with cheese.

Bake for about 20 -30 minutes until heated through.

Stock

Turkey Stock- Turkey stock is one of the easiest things you can make with Thanksgiving leftovers, and one of the most useful recipes as well.  By making your own homemade stock, you can control exactly what goes into your stock, and have the pleasure of know you made it yourself something that is used in so many recipes. It also can freeze up to 3 months!

All you need:

4 celery stalks

2 large carrots

2 large onions unpeeled

6 sprigs of sage

1 tbs peppercorn

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs of thyme

turkey carcass with some meat still attached

Directions

Roughly chop up 2 celery stalks, 1 large carrot, 1 large onion

Add turkey carcass to the pot after breaking it up to fit.

Add vegetables and seasonings.

With cold water cover the bones with at least 2 inches and bring to a rapid simmer (not boiling) over high heat.

Reduce to a simmer 2-3 hours, being sure to  skim the top occasionally, tasting the stock every so often until the turkey flavor is shining through.

Let cool to room temperature.

With a fine mesh sieve, or strainer, pour the stock into heat proof containers* and label with the date, refrigerate for use within 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months.

* I use 16 oz mason jars- that way they are frozen in portions that are commonly used in many recipes.

Instructor Series – Liza

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Liza is one of our Wheel House Spin Instructors, and is full of energy and life.  Ask her about the next piece of jewelry you might be considering, and she can give you hints, tips, and trick on how to pick the best piece for you!  She loves a great happy hour and ends her classes right in time to make it over to her favorite happy hour spots! Find our where she would travel to ride her road bike with her husband. 

 

 

Outside of the studio where can we find you on a typical day?

I am in a car, on a plane, or sitting at my desk working for a Jewelry Manufacturing company. At Jabel we design, sell, and manufacture high end bridal and diamond jewelry.

Why should a member take your class?

I try to make every class an experience as opposed to “getting your cardio in for the day.”  I’ll leave you feeling refreshed not only physically, but mentally as well.

What people can expect from your class?

They can expect great music, high energy, and a bit of pop culture.

What’s your all-time favorite food?

My mom makes the best vegetable lasagna.  In the summer when we get our farm share, she crams all the vegetables into a lasagna pan and uses mozzarella instead of ricotta.  It’s delish.

What’s your go to take out service?

My husband and I love Indian food.  When we moved to San Francisco, we learned that the food here is so much more spicy than New York City.  So, figuring out a good place that could make it East Coast spicy wasn’t that easy.

You have people coming over/ you are going out and  have to make a dish to serve them. What you do make that you know is always a hit?

Pulled pork in lettuce wraps.  You make it in the slow cooker so it makes your whole house smell so good when your guests walk in!

Favorite happy hour in San Francisco?

The best happy hour is at Palm House in the Marina.  It is close to where I live, and they ahve great food and wine!

Your friend is visiting what is the number one place you take them in San Francisco?

I take everyone to Wheel House.  Afterwards we go out downtown, but it’s important they get their exercise in before a fun night!

Where are you from? What brought you to San Francisco?

I am from Washington Depot, Connecticut.  I moved out to San Francisco with my husband, Tyler in 2014.  Tyler had a new job opportunity, and I was excited to escape the New England winters.

Favorite move on a spin bike?

In my smart rhythm class, I lead you through almost 100 push ups, then we grab our smart bells and just hold them up at face level.  Your arms are burning so bad that it feels so good.

If you could travel one place in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?

My husband and I want to take our road bikes and head to Germany.  There would be nothing better than spending the day biking the beautiful countryside.  At night we would take in all the food, wine, and beer the Germans have to offer.

 

You can sign up for one of Liza’s many classes on our schedule which you can find here.

Kitchen Staples

Not everyone is a professional chef, and the reality is most people have never had any formal training in the kitchen, but that shouldn’t stop you from feeling comfortable in the kitchen.  Confidence in the kitchen can be gained with a few simple steps, if you cannot afford to go to culinary school, don’t let that stop you from watching your relatives, or watching food network, or reading some cookbooks/ blogs.  Stop in to your local Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table and take some classes ranging from knife skills, to holiday meal preps.  About once a month I try to post one to two recipes that work with that months produce and I do my best to keep them simple.  I thought I would also do a quick kitchen staples that should help you get an idea of things I always have on hand and that will help you stock your own kitchen to eat healthy.

 

Tools and Appliances

8-10″ chef’s knife-

Having a knife that you not only feel comfortable with holding, and that you know how to use is key. Is your knife too heavy, uncomfortable to hold, you want your knife to be one you are comfortable with, make it the investment it is and be happy with it.  I can’t tell which knife to pick because it is all personal preference.  Basic knife skills are the best thing one can learn- this will not only give you more confidence in the kitchen, but will also prevent any injuries from happening.  Keeping your knife sharp is also super important, a dull knife will leave you frustrated, and can even cause you to hurt yourself while using it.  I have a friend who taught himself how to sharpen his knives with a block out of a hobby, but that might not be for you.  Getting your knives sharpened at least twice a year is going to keep them in good shape, and help ease your kitchen struggles. You will also want to keep up that sharp blade by using a honing sharpening steel regularly.

calibrated meat thermometer

This is so important, especially if you are not comfortable with the press method of telling when meat is done.  I tend to use the press method of using my finger to press down on the red meat especially while cooking, the meat thermometer is super helpful for poultry, and pork to make sure it is not over or under cooked.

tongs

I love my tongs, and know a few chefs who would agree that tongs are a must in any kitchen.  My tongs are being used every day in the kitchen, or my husband is using his grilling tongs when he uses the grill. I am sure you will find many ways to use tongs in the kitchen, and will quickly learn the reasons why I put it as a staple!

spoonula/ wooden spoon

I have friends who are chefs, and swear by the wooden spoon, and I also have friends who are chefs, that swear by a spoonula.  I think it comes down to personal preference.  I prefer the spoonula/ silicone spatula to a wooden spoon, but I have both in my kitchen.

Stainless Steal Nonstick Pan & Cast Iron Skillet

Necessary. Buy them. I think its that simple. Every person needs a great cast iron skillet, it just makes things taste better, and it is always a staple.  The nonstick pan well that is perfect for easy clean up and eggs. I tend to go between the two in my kitchen but having both on hand will allow you to make endless dishes. You can heat up your leftovers on the stove top with them, and take things from stove to oven! Searing food on the stove top and finishing off the food in the oven is what is done in restaurants, and professional kitchens all the time. This allows for a nice sear and presentation on the outside, while cooking the meat through and not drying it out.

Dutch oven

A great dutch oven will give you so much use.  Just like above it allows you start on the stove and finish in the oven, but it also lends a hand to creating soups, stocks, sauces and stews.  This is an investment piece if you get a quality brand, but it can also become a kitchen heirloom.

Sauce Pan

This is great for cooking your rice, pasta, quinoa. Or heating up your jarred pasta sauce unless you make your own.

Cookie Sheet

Lined with foil (easy clean up!) is perfect for roasting vegetables, or making cookies you pick.

Produce, Seasonings, Pantry Staples

Chicken broth

I always have chicken broth on hand! I use it in countless recipes, and as a substitute for water often when I am making rice or quinoa to give it some added flavor.

Garlic

I use garlic along with onions and fresh herbs 8/10 times I am cooking.  Fresh garlic, or garlic powder are on heavy rotation in my kitchen. Garlic is great roasted, sauteed, mixed into a salad dressing.  I love it crushed, or minced over chicken with some lemon and fresh rosemary for a simple weeknight meal.

Onion

When I was in college, in my culinary semester the first thing after knife skills we learned (which we practiced with onions, carrots etc.) was the importance of onion specifically in being a key ingredient mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery), which is the base to so many soups, stocks, and a variety of dishes.  Onions cooked or raw, are used daily in my house- from breakfast, to dinner I can almost always find a use for them.

pasta/rice/ quinoa

These three are always in my pantry, and at least one is used weekly.  I will often times cook up a batch on quinoa and reheat it throughout the week as a side to our dinners, or mix with veggies for a salad.  I grew up in a house where rice was a staple and served at almost every meal, I have since started using brown rice for the most part and will even make a pot of brown rice, and black beans when I am feeling super lazy and call it a meal for lunch.

Fresh herbs

Fresh Herbs are the best, they add dimension, and flavor to any dish.  Since moving to a larger apartment with a balcony, I have started my own herb garden that makes having fresh herbs on hand at all times even better.  I love adding the herbs to any meal I am cooking during the cooking process, and then garnishing with a few pieces at the end.

Oil

I use olive oil for the most part, but also use coconut, or grapeseed oil.  People will tell you to watch the oil intake because of fat, I use it all the time and it has been used for centuries in cooking so why not use it?  Having an oil that has a high smoke point is a staple, but also having a quality olive oil to be used as salad dressing that has a high flavor profile is important.

Cheese

I just love cheese, but having cheese on hand especially during the holidays is the perfect appetizer.  Quality cheese that you can pull out and have a decent cheese platter in minutes for those drop in guests is staple to me.

Meat

Protein, but if you are a vegetarian or plant based diet this wouldn’t apply to you.  As long as you have proteins in your diet that is what matters, and which ever way you decide to get that protein is up to you.

Greens

Greens or vegetables of your favorite pickings.  These are great for salads, quick, easy and healthy snacks or for adding into your smoothies for those extra vitamins and minerals.

Eggs

Perfect for breakfast, perfect for baking with, egg salads, anything.

 

I hope this little list of my kitchen staples helps you stock your kitchen and gives you the confidence you might need to get cooking.