We Santa Monicans don’t know how great we have it. I’m reporting this week from chilly (31 degrees) weather in Point Lookout, N.Y. and I can tell you that nothing is worse than having to throw on winter gear, get in your car, wait for it to warm up, go to the gym, take off all your gear, don your workout clothes, sweat like a pig, jump in a shower, dry off, get back into your winter gear, run back outside into the freezing cold, get back in your car, wipe snow off the windshield … Oh. My. God. Winter weather is not my cup of tea.

How I miss my quick run to the gym, wearing nothing but shorts and a T-shirt, the California sunshine on my face, the amenities and cleanliness of Burn Fitness, Kejo at the front desk greeting me with a familiar smile, my trainer Keith Sims yelling at me (yes, I miss that!). I miss all that. But sometimes you have to travel for business or you have to visit friends and family and you can’t avoid being pulled away from your routine. And even though it’s icy cold here, and the gym my friend has taken me to is nowhere near as cool as Burn Fitness, I feel blessed. Why? Because I have the luxury of going to a gym while I’m on vacation. Some of you might not be staying at a place where there’s a gym, or you might not have time if you’re on a tight business turnaround (although I always say, “make time”). So when you don’t have the option of working out at a gym what’s the best way to stay on course with your weight loss program?

Come on everyone … you all know the answer. Diet. Diet is 95 percent of reaching your weight loss goal and keeping on target.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your vacation. Tom Williams, owner of Burn Fitness and I were just talking the other week about how “food centered” we are as a culture.

“What do you do when you visit people? You go out to eat? What do you do when you visit family and friends? You sit down over a meal and chat,” said Williams. Exactly what I planned to do on my trip, but I came prepared.

Ashley Johnson, one of the trainers at Burn Fitness has been printing her low carb, low- and/or sugar-free recipes. They are available at the gym. They are healthy. And, best of all, they are pretty darn good. So good, that I decided to bring several of them with me on my vacation, so I could show my friends and family, who by the way, have been stunned by my weight loss, that you don’t have to suffer in order to lose weight. You can enjoy time around the dinner table.

Johnson said, “salmon is low in calories and saturated fat, yet high in protein, and has a unique type of health-promoting fat: the omega-3 essential fatty acids. As their name implies, essential fatty acids are crucial for human health but because they cannot be made by the body, they must be obtained from foods.”

Contact Taylor at tailfish@roadrunner.com

Ashley Johnson’s Garlic Salmon

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 sprig fresh dill, chopped

5 slices lemon

5sprigs fresh dill weed

2 green onions, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Spray two large pieces of aluminum foil with cooking spray.

2. Place salmon fillet on top of one piece of foil. Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper, garlic and chopped dill. Arrange lemon slices on top of fillet and place a sprig of dill on top of each lemon slice. Sprinkle fillet with chopped scallions.

3. Cover salmon with second piece of foil and pinch together foil to tightly seal. Place on a baking sheet or in a large baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until salmon flakes easily

Nutrition Information

Calories – 169, Fat – 6.7g, Carbs – 2.1g, Protein – 24.6g

Brownie Walnut Cookie

Don’t panic! I didn’t forget desert! I asked Johnson what I could do to give friends a special sweet treat. Johnson gave me a Brownie Walnut Cookie recipe that uses evaporated cane juice instead of sugar. Johnson said, “Phytonutrient research on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of walnuts has moved this food further and further up the ladder of foods that are protective against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems, and type 2 diabetes.” Sounds like a great alternative to chocolate cheesecake! Enjoy folks and stay on course!

Makes: 24 cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 to 39 minutes

Ingredients

6 egg whites

Pinch sea salt

Cup organic evaporated cane juice

Unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp instant espresso powder (tip: Make sure to opt for instant; standard espresso will be too gritty)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 oz dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa or greater), chopped

_ cup chopped unsalted walnuts

Directions

1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

2: In a large bowl, beat egg whites with salt using an electric beater until soft peaks from. Gradually add cane juice and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add cocoa powder, espresso, vanilla, chocolate and walnuts and mix until combined (no need to fold; mixture will lose some volume).

3: Drop batter by rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets, dividing evenly.

Bake one cookie sheet at a time on oven’s middle rack for 10-12 minutes per sheet, until cookies are no longer shiny.

Nutrients per cookie:

Calories: 56, Fat: 2.5g, Carbs: 8g, Protein: 2g, Sugars: 6g