Batch Cooking Beans


Making your own beans from scratch/dry may seem like a time-consuming task. Though it may take up to 24 hrs from start the finish, most of the work is hands-off and totally worth it!

Canned beans are a great option if you’re in a pinch. However most canned beans have other added ingredients and preservatives such as salt, sugar, calcium chloride, and calcium disodium (what is that??). Plus, why buy a dollar can of beans when you can make 4 times the amount of beans for the same price or maybe even less?!

Here is how I make my beans from scratch!


(recipe makes about 5 cups of cooked beans)

1 lb beans of choice (kidney, black, pinto, red, chickpeas, lima, fava)



Soak dried beans of choice in room temperature water for 12 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse beans. Place in a thick pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours on medium-low heat or until soft. Adding water as needed. Drain and rinse beans again.

Spread beans evenly on a large cookie sheet and allow to cool and air dry for about an hour. Try to keep beans from overlapping. After one hour, place entire cookie sheet with beans in freezer for 2-3 hours (this allows for the beans to freeze individually instead of in a large block). Using a spatula, scrape frozen beans off of cookie sheet and transfer to a freezer-safe ziplock or container. Work quickly as beans can start to thaw.

Note: When boiling beans, you can add herbs and spices to give flavor, such as garlic, onion, cumin, rosemary, sage, thyme etc. If you would like to add some salt, add at in the last 15 minutes of boiling, as salt can prevent beans from cooking all the way through.


Seasonal Gardening with Samira


Get the most out of your gardening year by planting your garden according to the season. Knowing what and when to plant certain fruits and vegetables can have you harvesting food in every season of the year!

Asparagus, Rhubarb, and Strawberries

These three are the first to start providing in the year. These plants are perennials that go dormant during the coldest months of the year but begin to thrive as soon as the ground begins to thaw. Get these planted in your garden ASAP, as soon as the ground is thawed and soft. They will produce more and more every year! No need to replant!

Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, etc (Brassicas)

The brassicas belong to the cabbage family. These can tolerate freezing temperatures in the early spring. Get seedlings transplanted in late February to early March for a mid to late May harvest. These plants actually prefer cold weather as hot temperature can cause them to flower and go to seed.

Peas, Beans, Carrots, Radishes, and Lettuces

Another spring crop that prefers cool weather. Directly sow you seeds in thawed, evenly moist soil in mid March through late April . These will germinate within 2 weeks and be ready to harvest by late May through June, before the weather gets too hot.

Potatoes, Onions, and Corn

Get these planted in early April as they need a long growing season. You won’t be harvesting these until end of August to early September, but the longer they are in the ground the better.  A light frost won’t harm them.

Squash, Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Cucumbers

These summer vegetables love heat and do not tolerate cold weather. Wait until the end of May or early June to get them in the ground. Peppers are especially sensitive to temperatures below 50 so wait a little longer to plant your peppers.

Cabbage Family

Time to get your winter veggies in the ground again so they can get established before the days become too short. The cabbage family will survive through the winter and grow slowly but you can get harvests as early as January if you get your seedlings in the ground by end of September.


Pop these in the ground no later than Halloween for a mid-summer harvest! Garlic needs to establish it’t roots over the winter and a cold snap to grow big bulbs!

There you have it! Vegetables for every season! HAPPY GARDENING!!!

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Benefits High Intensity Interval Training


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a super-efficient workout. Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (this happens when you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). During HIIT, you work very hard in short intervals and then you recover.

You burn more calories during a HIIT workout, more muscle is preserved, and also HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. HGH is responsible for increased caloric burn and slows down the aging process. Calories burned from HIIT come from a higher metabolism, which lasts for hours after exercise.

Overall, HIIT produces many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise such as reducing inflammation in your body, improving heart health, lower body fat, heart rate, and blood pressure, in a shorter amount of time. Intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive and as a consequence you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after a steady-pace workout such as running.

A study recently published on shows that HIIT is more effective than weight training or cardio for improving metabolic health, is superior for fighting age related decline, and may yield anti-aging benefits down to the cellular level. HIIT was found to be even more effective at improving mitochondria biogenesis.

All cells in our bodies contain mitochondria. They produce energy that powers everything your cells do. HIIT boosted the ability of the mitochondria within cells to generate energy by 69 percent in older volunteers, and by 49 percent in the younger group. Mitochondrial activity declines with age, which may aggravate fatigue and reduce the size and ability of muscles to burn excess blood sugar – a risk factor for diabetes. But this decline was halted and even reversed with HIIT after three months of interval training in older participants in the study, where everything converged towards what they saw in young people. Interval trainers also saw surges in the amount of oxygen they could inhale and consume, another indicator of higher metabolism.

New research also found evidence of the HIIT effect on the aging process by measuring the structures at the end of chromosomes, known as telomeres. Telomeres are a kind of “junk DNA”, which does not encode protein sequences and whose function is not well known.  Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide; it becomes inactive or “senescent” or it dies. This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death.

We know that our telomeres start to shrink as we age, but we also know that older people with longer telomeres don’t experience vascular aging as rapidly as people with shorter ones. This means their veins are generally in better shape and they are less at risk for conditions like heart disease and stroke. Researchers found that the people in the aerobic and HIIT groups experienced more telomerase activity. Telomerase is an enzyme that adds nucleotides (the molecules that form DNA) to telomeres. This process causes chromosomes to become longer. In other words, HIIT acts “like a drug” protecting your telomeres, producing the anti-aging effect.

Gabriela Brochu, Biologist, Ph.D.

Gabriela Brochu is a College Professor by day and Group Fitness Instructor at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center by night. She teaches HIIT a couple of times per week. Her classes can be found under the class schedule on our website: 

Whole Grain Sourdough Crackers


Ever thought about making your own crackers? It’s a lot easier than it seems and its a great way to have total control of the ingredients inside! Plus, lower phytate levels due to fermentation make sourdough bread and crackers easier to digest and absorb minerals! Sourdough also contains natural prebiotics and probiotics and may even help break down gluten which allows some gluten sensitive folks to be able to enjoy sourdough items! Yay! So many benefits!

Read on as Samira shares her go-to sourdough cracker recipe below.  Yum!

Whole Grain Sourdough Crackers


  • 1 cup (180g) “fed” or “unfed” sourdough starter
  • 1 packed cup (150g) whole grain flour
  • ¼ cup (70g) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Optional Ingredients (up to ¼ cup total):

  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sunflower/pumpkin seeds
  • Slivered/chopped nuts

Optional Seasonings (to taste):

  • Granulated garlic
  • Granulated onion


Preheat oven to 300° F. Whisk sourdough starter with water and olive oil. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and optional seasonings. Mix until just combined, but do not over mix. Take dough and roll out as thin possible on silicone mat or parchment paper that fits two standard sized cookie sheets. Make sure to sprinkle flour on top of dough to prevent from sticking. Using a rolling pizza cutter, cut into 1”x 1” squares. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pan and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Turn off oven and allow crackers to completely cool INSIDE of the oven. Store in a jar or glass container to prevent the crackers from breaking.

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Using the Pinky Ball for Trigger Point Therapy & Self-Massage.

The Pinky Ball is a portable massage aid that can go anywhere you do. Ideal for self-massage of chronically tight muscles in the feet, glutes, hips, back, shoulders, forearms and more. It can also help with the prevention or relief of plantar fasciitis by rolling it under the foot to stretch the plantar fascia.

These irritable, painful areas of muscle are often referred to as trigger points.  Chronically tight muscles tend to have restricted blood flow causing reduced oxygen and nutrients in the muscle as well as increased levels of metabolic waste products. This leads to pain, irritability and localized areas of pathological contractions within the muscle. Trigger point therapy uses steady pressure applied to the muscles to force stale blood out of the muscle, stretch the muscle fibers and restore normal blood flow.

Watch the video below as Rori demonstrates various ways to use the Pinky Ball to  release tension in your body and reduce pain in tight areas.

We hope you found this helpful!

Please feel free to contact Rori Lee, Health Coaching & Corporate Wellness Supervisor if you have questions! 775.770.7503 or

Saint Mary’s Fitness Center Celebrates American Heart Month!


February is American Heart Month and we’ve got a bunch of ways to help bring awareness to the issue of heart disease here at the Fitness Center!

Heart disease is the #1 killer in America, accounting for roughly 23% of all deaths in the US each year. There are a lot of things you can do to take control of your health and heart to prevent having issues in the future.

Luckily, by coming to the gym regularly, eating a well-rounded nutritious diet, and keeping to a healthy weight, you are already doing the right thing for your heart!

Here are some of the ways that you can participate with us this month and do a little extra to take care of yourself in the years ahead!

  • Friday, February 1st: National Wear Red Day – Wear red to the fitness center– we will be!
  • Join the Cardio Challenge! Anytime you participate in any of our cardio based classes (aqua fitness, cycle, cardio dance/Zumba, or a Cardio Quickie) and log it on our trackers (on the 3rd Floor by group ex and 1st Floor in the hallway to the pool!) The top 3 cardio hours logged will win some great prizes!
  • Try a Cardio Quickie Class – New in February! Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from noon-12:30 pm we have some brand new fun Cardio Quickie classes for you! Tuesday is Plyometrics with Christina, Thursday is Boxing Drills with Zach, and Friday is Mixed Bag Cardio Quickie with Rori! These classes begin February 1st and will run all month long! Let us know how you like them and maybe we’ll add them to the schedule!
  • Join us for the Hands Only CPR clinic on Wednesday, February 13th from 9-10 am in our lobby. This is free and open to the public. Learn the basics of CPR and be prepared to save a life if needed!
  • Sweat with your Sweetie Week! February 10-16th, members may bring their non-member sweeties to any Group Exercise classes (reformer Pilates & master swim excluded) for FREE! Be sure to check them in as a guest at the front desk on the way in!
  • HIIT it with Hanna begins on Friday, February 15th! Morning people looking for a quick pre-weekend morning workout on Friday mornings are welcome to join us in the group exercise studio from 6:30-7:15am. A combo of HIIT & Plyo drills, this class is not for the faint of heart and is designed to be an intense way to end your work-week!

Whatever you do, we hope you’ll use American Heart Month as a reminder to take care of your ticker, and to take preventative measures now, so you can live a long, active, and healthy life!


3 Ways to Save on Groceries & Eat Healthier

Don’t break the bank by choosing to eat better and more wholesome foods. More importantly, don’t let large grocery bills keep you from feeding your family with good, nourishing food. Grocery stores as well as food producers have become more health conscious and put out more products that are made with better ingredients. Though these better options can be very convenient, the bills can add up quickly.

You can offset these costs by choosing to make some of your weekly staples at home. A dollar saved here and there can really add up over the course of a week, month, or even year!

In our household, our lunches consist of a lot of sandwiches, peanut butter, almond butter, and granola bars to keep us energized.

Let’s do a little accounting….(Depending on where you shop prices may differ slightly, however the prices listed below are the average prices in your most common grocery store or value supermarket)

Comparison #1 – Bread:

1 loaf of whole grain seeded sandwich bread                               $4.99


1 loaf of homemade whole grain seeded sandwich bread                      $1.23


13.4oz Flour                                                                                      $0.66

10g Yeast                                                                                           $0.09

7g Salt                                                                                                 $0.05

2oz Flax seeds                                                                                   $0.15

1oz Pumpkin seeds                                                                           $0.35


Comparison #2 – Fruit & Nut Bars:

5-pack 1.7oz natural fruit and nut bars                                         $5.00 or $1.00/ea


5 1.7oz homemade fruit and nut bars                                            $2.50


(This makes 24 1.7oz bars)

200g rolled oats                                                                                $0.68

625g pitted dates                                                                              $9.77

50g peanuts                                                                                       $0.21

100g agave                                                                                        $0.89

100g quinoa                                                                                      $0.40

Total                                                                                                   $12.02

Price per bar                                                                                     $0.50


Comparison $3 – Nut Butters:

16oz jar of natural unsalted peanut butter                                 $3.29


16oz bulk unsalted dry roasted peanuts                                       $1.88


16oz unsalted natural almond butter                                             $6.37


16oz bulk unsalted raw almonds                                                    $4.60

Total cost of grocery store products                                          $26.60            


Total cost of equivalent homemade products                         $10.38

Total savings                                                                                       $16.22


Let’s say you consume these items in 2 weeks (our average for a 2-person household), this adds up $422 in savings per year!

If this doesn’t convince you to try making some of your weekly staples at home, maybe these recipes will…

Homemade Whole Grain Seeded Sandwich Bread


When making bread, I highly recommend using a kitchen scale.


  • 3 1/8 cups whole grain flour (375g)
  • 1 1/8 cups room temperature water (272g)
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast (10g)
  • 2 tsp salt (7g)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds (56g)
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds (1 oz)


Mix flour and water until well combined. Cover and rest for 30 minutes – 2 hours, the longer the better! Add remaining ingredients and knead by hand for 12-15 minutes or by mixer on speed 2 for 5 minutes. Cover and let double in size for 45 minutes.

Note: The temperature at everyone’s house is a little different, therefore the time it takes for your bread to double in size may also vary.

Preheat oven to 425.

Transfer dough onto floured surface and punch down to flatten into a square. Roll dough into a smooth 3”x 8” log and place seam-side-down into a greased 5” x 9” bread pan. Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes until ½ above pan edge.

Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then drop temperature to 375 for another 25 minutes.

Note: Oven temps also vary, bread is done when golden brown all around.

Remove from pan and place on cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing.


Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars



  • 2 cups pitted dates (625g)
  • 2 cups rolled oats (200g)
  • ¼ cup peanuts or preferred nuts/seeds (50g)
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (100g)
  • ½ cup agave (100g)


In a food processor, process dates until sticky paste forms into a ball. In a separate bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix oats, nuts/seeds, and quinoa. Wet hands and break up date paste into smaller chunks over dry ingredients. Pour agave over all ingredients and mix using paddle attachment or hands until fully mixed. If using hand, make sure keep slightly wet to repel the sticky dates. Remove dough and press into a 9”x 13” baking sheet line with parchment paper or plastic wrap until evenly dispersed to all corners of pan. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and cut into 24 bars. These bars don’t need refrigeration, however they keep their shape better when cold.


One-Ingredient Homemade Peanut Butter or Almond Butter


Peanut Butter:


  • 4 cups (1lb) unsalted, dry roasted peanuts


In a food processor or high-speed blender, puree peanuts until smooth and creamy. This can take up to 5 minutes, depending on how smooth you prefer it.

Almond Butter:


  • 4 cups (1lb) raw almonds


Preheat over to 350. Place almonds on a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, mixing/flipping almonds half way through baking time. Allow almonds to cool completely.

**Tip: You can use roasted almonds to save time, however roasted almonds are typically a little more expensive that raw almonds**

In a food processor or high-speed blender, puree cooled almonds until smooth and creamy. This can take up to 7-10 minutes, depending on how smooth you prefer it. Stop food processor after 5 minutes and allow to rest before resuming.

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.