Cooking healthy in the new year

Date Published: 
January 10, 2014

Noel Bowman is a busy guy, so when I asked him to be my New Year’s fitness professional, guiding us on a healthy path in 2014, I was delighted that he agreed.

Noel has lots of letters after his name — AFPA and MMA. AFPA stands for American Fitness Professionals & Associates, and MMA stands for mixed martial arts. Noel has been a certified personal trainer for more than two years. He also owns and operates Bowman Systems MMA Academy, where he teaches the combative sport that utilizes many different martial arts disciplines in order to compete in hand-to-hand combat in a ring or cage.

Special to the Coastal Point • Marie Cook: Hayden, Chelsea and Noel are armed and ready. The family shared their favorite recipes with Marie for this week’s Marie’s Kitchen.Special to the Coastal Point • Marie Cook: “I teach my students not only how to fight,” he said, “but also how to deal with everyday conflicts, boost their confidence and their fitness levels.”

He said he decided to become a personal trainer because it offered him the opportunity to manage his time better, in order to run his MMA school and spend quality time with his family.

“It also brings me much joy, having one-on-one interaction with my clients,” he said, “building relationships with them and watching them make big improvements in their health and fitness levels.”

I asked Noel about his clients — who hires him and why? Is there a common denominator?

“There is one common denominator in the people who hire me,” he said. “They don’t like where they are in their fitness levels, and they want to improve themselves. I work differently with every client, because they are all individuals with different fitness goals and have different medical and fitness levels.”

Noel’s definition of fitness is: A balance of physical strength, muscle endurance and cardiovascular endurance and strength. If someone is really out of shape, the client’s first session consists of testing. Noel assesses how far he can go with each client without causing exhaustion or injury.

“Every exercise is done slowly and lightly,” he said. “I increase the weight little by little with each set, until they can’t do the required repetitions with proper form. I will not let my clients sacrifice their form in order to get total reps. In this way, it provides me with the gauge I need to determine a comfortable resistance level for each person.”

Along with weights, cardio is also important. Because Noel has already run each client through initial testing, he is prepared to place them on the cardio equipment that will best serve them. Considerations include joint problems, physical capabilities and medical issues.

“I make sure to move them slowly and easily in the beginning, checking for exertion levels and loss of breath. We may need to avoid some machines and exercises altogether and come up with alternative methods to work the desired muscle group,” he said.

Nutrition is also a key component in Noel’s training.

“I discuss nutrition with all of my clients and often prepare meal plans for some of them,” he said. “Each client has different goals that they want to meet, which require different foods. But the one thing that I stress is the need to drink lots of water. Most people do not drink enough water and do not realize how important proper hydration is for the body.”

Noel’s guideline is: Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. That may sound like a lot of water to down in one day, but Noel said that it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. He said, “Drinking enough water has so many health benefits. It prevents dehydration, helps prevent muscle cramping, flushes out retained water, regulates body temperature and helps with digestion.”

Noel and his wife, Chelsea, have a young son, Hayden. I asked Noel for advice for parents with young children, to encourage them to lead healthier and more physically active lives.

“The best advice is to set a good example for them,” he said. “Parents must be physically active themselves and let their children watch them in fitness activities. Our son, Hayden, sees his mommy and daddy exercising, and because we are his first and main influences, he wants to do what we’re doing.

“When we go for a run, we put him in his stroller and take him with us. I also let him watch me train martial arts students. He’s already trying to mimic our movements, and his favorite toys are my boxing gloves and punching bag. If you live an active lifestyle and include your children, they will follow that path as they grow and develop into young adults.”

Many of you have made your annual New Year’s fitness resolution. We’re about 10 days into the new year. How’s that resolution working for you? Noel minces no words when it comes to New Year’s fitness resolutions: Do not make any!

“Nine times out of 10,” he said, “you will not keep them. If you’re going to do something about your fitness level, do it now! Waiting for specific dates to do something is just an excuse to keep doing the same-old-same-old.

“If someone is really serious about making a lifestyle change, they will start immediately. Those who do the resolution thing start out with a bang, but they overdo it and crash and burn, or they’ll deprive themselves of required nutrients and they’ll give up. The key,” he said, “is to start off easy, allowing your body time to acclimate to the new normal of a healthy lifestyle.”

Noel eats three or four meals a day. Many of the foods on his daily list include oatmeal, almonds, bananas, berries, eggs, Morningstar meatless breakfast patties, brown rice, mixed vegetables, mixed nuts or beans, apples and 74 ounces of water — which is about half his body weight in ounces. He said he cooks in bulk so that there’s always something on hand when hunger strikes.

If getting into better shape is one of your goals for 2014, Noel Bowman can set you on the right path. Contact him at (302) 858-2941 or by email at

I made a deal with Noel. If he provided the healthy advice and guidelines, I’d provide the recipes, but the first recipe is Chelsea’s creation. It’s one they both enjoy, and now we’ll enjoy it, too. But we all laughed when Chelsea said she doesn’t really measure when putting this simple fish dish together, so if you make it and it turns out great, it is her recipe; but if it bombs, it’s Noel’s.

Chelsea’s Fish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.


• Thawed flounder fillets

• Extra virgin olive oil

• Fresh lemon juice

• Honey

• Salt and pepper to taste
(or sometimes garlic/pepper)

Method for Chelsea’s Fish:

Spread a bit of olive oil in a pan and place fish fillets on top. Drizzle fish with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and honey; sprinkle with salt and pepper or garlic/pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. She often serves the fillets with broccoli.

After my morning workout, I usually fix a large smoothie. To avoid the need for ice cubes, I always add a frozen banana to my container. I buy a large number of bananas, peel them, cut each one in half and put them into a freezer zip-top bag, using two halves per smoothie.

I use organic produce, fruits and berries, Miracle Whey Chocolate Protein Powder from Dr. Joseph Mercola (, a superfoods greens powder made with organic vegetables and 2.5 tablespoons raw chocolate cacao powder (not cocoa), which is a Mayan superfood.

I buy Navitas organic raw cacao powder at Good Earth Market in Clarksville and use it in every smoothie. I learned about the benefits of this powder in a new book titled “Superfood Smoothies” by Julie Morris. Cacao powder is high in calcium and iron, and is the highest magnesium food. Plus, it’s off the charts in its levels of antioxidants, almost doubling the score of antioxidant-rich acai powder in ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) measurements!

My liquid of choice for smoothies is unsweetened Almond Breeze Almond/Coconut milk blend — soy free and lactose free, and only 45 calories in 8 ounces. Depending on the day, I may also add organic nuts and seeds and/or a teaspoon of Maca Magic — a powder made from the maca root (also available at Good Earth Market).

Some people get turned off when I tell them that I add organic baby spinach leaves to my smoothies, but you can’t even taste it with all that delicious healthy chocolate and a few dashes of cinnamon. The South Coastal Library has a copy of Julie Morris’ book, so you can check it out at no cost.

If you’re serious about changing your lifestyle, what you eat and the size of the portions you eat are critical components in realizing change. I suggest investing in life-changing books written to guide you in this endeavor.

Two of my favorites are “Mindless Eating,” by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., and “The Volumetrics Eating Plan,” by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D. Wansink’s book provides a perfect understanding of why we eat more than we think we eat. And Rolls’ book offers techniques and recipes for feeling full on fewer calories. When I’m into serious portion-control eating, I like books that provide nutritional values per serving.

The following recipe for Corn and Tomato Chowder is from Rolls’ book. The chowder, thickened with potatoes instead of cream, freezes well. If you prefer a vegetarian soup, instead of chicken broth, substitute 1 cup vegetable broth and 1 cup of water. A portion is one cup, which has only 105 calories, 19 grams carbs, 2 grams fat, 5 grams protein and 2 grams fiber.

Corn and Tomato Chowder


• Cooking spray

• 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

• 1 cup chopped onions

• 1 cup chopped celery

• 3 cups peeled, diced, boiling potatoes

• 1 bay leaf

• 2 cups nonfat, reduced-sodium chicken broth

• 1-1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with liquid

• 1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

• 1-1/2 cups nonfat milk

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 cup chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method for Corn and Tomato Chowder:

Lightly spray a 4-to-5-quart nonstick pot with cooking spray. Add the butter and place over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add the celery and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Add the bay leaf and broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Remove the bay leaf, puree 2 cups soup in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.

Stir in the tomatoes, corn, and milk. Return the soup to a simmer, stirring, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in a few grindings of black pepper, ladle the soup into 8 soup bowls and serve, garnished with parsley. Yield: 8 servings of 1 cup each.

Those of us who love to exercise would prefer to see the following percentages reversed: Losing weight is 80 percent what you eat and 20 percent exercise. One of my favorite recipes in Rolls’ book is her All American Hamburger. You do not have to live on rabbit food to lose weight; you can still enjoy most foods in moderation, albeit in smaller portions. One burger with roll has 310 calories, 34 grams carbs, 7 grams fat, 28 grams protein and 3 grams fiber. And if you eat the burger open-faced, you’ll cut the carbs almost in half.

All American Hamburger


• 1 pound 95 percent lean ground beef

• 1/3 cup chopped onions

• 2 tablespoons ketchup

• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

• 1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce

• 6 split, 2-ounce, wheat rolls (I prefer wheat-free/gluten-free rolls.)

• 1-1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

• 2 tomatoes, cored and sliced

• 1/2 cup sliced red onions

Method for All American Hamburger:

Combine the beef, onions, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and hot-pepper sauce. Form into 6 equal-sized burger patties. Cook the burgers in a large, nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium to medium-high heat until no longer pink, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Place one burger on the bottom half of each roll. Divide the romaine, tomatoes, and red onions evenly over each burger and cover with the roll top. Yield: 6 servings.

In her Volumetrics Eating Plan, Rolls offers delicious salad recipes. One of my favorites is Fresh Fruit & Spinach Salad with Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing. You can substitute canned pineapple and mandarin oranges in place of fresh fruit. The salad has 150 calories, 30 grams carbs, 2 grams fat, 4 grams protein and 8 grams fiber. Two tablespoons of dressing has 45 calories, 8 grams carbs, 1 gram fat, 1 gram protein and 0 grams fiber.

Fresh Fruit & Spinach
Salad with Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing


• 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt

• 1/4 cup nonfat milk

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

• 2 tablespoons orange juice

• 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

• 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

• 1 orange, peeled and segmented

• 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

• 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

• 1 tablespoon toasted almond slices

• 8 cups baby spinach, preferably organic

Method for Fresh Fruit Spinach Salad:

Place the yogurt, milk, sugar, vinegar, juice and poppy seeds in a screw-top jar. Shake vigorously until blended. Set the Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing aside.

Combine the prepared fruit and toasted almonds in a medium-size bowl and mix well.

Divide the baby spinach evenly among four salad plates or bowls. Top each with a quarter of the fruit mixture (a little over half-cup each).

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the dressing over each salad. Yield: 4 servings of 2.5 cups each.

Another favorite cookbook is Pam Anderson’s “The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great.” She offers an interesting array of recipes that you can mix and match. For example, she lists meats, poultry, fish and shellfish to bake in foil packets, providing six different sauces from which to choose. She does the same for those who like to grill their entrée, offering a choice of eight different rubs and pastes.

While I’m cooking dinner, I often like a crunchy snack. One of my favorite low-fat, low-calorie snacks is from Anderson’s book — I Can’t Believe They’re Not Fried Tortilla Chips. Six wedges contain only 61 calories, and six wedges is enough to supply my crunch fix. I store the chips in a tightly sealed container.

I Can’t Believe They’re
Not Fried Tortilla Chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.


• 12 corn tortillas from an 11-ounce package

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• Kosher salt

Method for Baked Tortilla Chips:

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Leaving tortillas in a stack, cut into 6 wedges. Toss tortilla wedges in the oil and arrange in a single layer on two cookie sheets. Bake, rotating each sheet from front to back and from upper to lower positions after 8 minutes, until crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes total. Season hot chips with salt and serve.

(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)