6 Powerful Ways to Relieve Brain Fog

people-2592247_1920.jpg

What was I doing?

I forgot what I was going to say.

Why did I come into this room?

I can’t think straight.

Have you ever said one of these lines to your self or others? Do you ever have those days where you can't seem to think straight? It can feel like your brain is actually foggy, and you can't possibly see through the fog to get to your thoughts. Fatigue often accompanies brain fog -- feeling easily irritated, forgetting things or having trouble learning new things, feeling unmotivated, anxious, lacking concentration and even insomnia. The stress of life can cause brain fog to take root, but the good news is you can do a lot to clear the fog in your head.

Here are a few simple lifestyle habits you can start implementing now to clear your mind or get rid of brain fog:

Clean up your diet. I think the single best way to clear away brain fog is to change what you eat. If you are eating processed and artificial foods, it’s time to cut those out of your life, as they can cause a host of problems including brain fog. For all of you Paleo and Keto followers out there beware of cutting carbs -- your brain needs them to feel more centered. Swap out unhealthy carbs for complex carbs made with whole grains. I like to start my morning with fresh fruits and vegetables in my smoothie (and they are great detoxing foods too). Doing these things will help reduce the inflammation that can set off brain fog.

Make friends with your pillow and your bed. Louise Hay, author, and publisher, always thanked her bed and her pillow for a good nights sleep. Isn’t that amazing. We all need more precious sleep and maybe just thanking your bed and pillow will bring a clear head in the morning because you slept like a baby the night before. Your body needs sleep, and if you’re not getting enough of it, brain fog will prevail. You can also start going to bed a little earlier each night and having a routine of unwinding at bedtime to help prepare yourself for better sleep. The more sleep you get, the better your health will be overall and the clearer your brain will feel.

Get more exercise. Because exercise helps get the blood flowing through your body, transporting more oxygen with it, it’s a great way to clear brain fog. Plus, you’ll feel better too. Try yoga, a brisk walk, an outdoor run, or a HIIT at-home workout and feel the change in your body. Exercise makes you sweat. Since your skin is your largest organ you’ll be sweating out toxins that keep your brain power on low.

Find healthy ways to manage stress. One of the best practices that have helped me sleep better is getting off all electronics at least an hour before bed. The hour before bed is a great time to take a moment for yourself. Ignore your phone and find a way to unwind that makes you feel positively fulfilled. If you don’t, you can allow anxiety and fatigue to fester which can cause your cortisol levels skyrocket. An overabundance of cortisol can prompt you to gain weight and have trouble sleeping, inducing the brain fog and feeling unwell.

Detox and cleanse. We can’t escape all of the heavy metal toxins that are in the air we breathe, the water we drink or the food we eat. When we ingest these environmental toxins, it causes inflammation in our gut and takes a toll on our body. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid them altogether, so we must be mindful of cleansing as often as possible. As a simple daily task, try flushing out toxins with more water, which will help move toxins out of the body and leave it refreshed.

Cut down on alcohol. Have you ever awakened and said, “I’ll never drink,” again because you’re hung-over or can’t function from being tired and lethargic after indulging? Many of us have had this experience. I enjoy a glass of red wine at dinner on Saturday nights but sometimes after just one glass I wake up the next with a foggy brain. Alcohol is powerful and a poison to your body so what do you think it’s doing to your brain. If you’re a person that “needs” a glass of wine at night to wind down form the day, I urge you to try other alternatives such as meditation, yoga or a nice long walk in nature to calm down after a long day.

You don’t have to suffer from brain fog anymore. Take these steps for your health, and you’ll find you’ll see everything more clearly.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you experience brain fog? How are you combating this?

Work Week Lunch Ideas: Homemade, Easy, Quick and Healthy

Collard-wrap.jpg

“I’m so busy I don’t have time to eat make myself a healthy lunch.”

I’ve heard this comment so many times. It’s a disempowering statement and puts you at the mercy of fast food which leads to weight gain, feeling like crap and accelerated aging. Yikes!

In our world today, we are all very busy and it’s so easy to grab and go, but what’s actually in that food you grab and eat? Extra fat, salt, and sugar that you don’t need.

Lunchtime can be a real challenge when you want to keep your food choices healthy. There are tantalizing treats scattered throughout your office break room and your desk is in close proximity to the vending machines that can easily tempt you and quickly veer you off of your path leaving you feeling disappointed and defeated. To avoid these negative feelings, it's crucial to be proactive about your meals for the work week.

What I think works best in this situation is to prepare your lunches, but you might have no idea what to make or feel that's too time-consuming. After all, do you really need one more thing to add to your to-do list? I hear you loud and clear.

I want to share with you some of my best and easiest lunches you can whip up in mere minutes so you can enjoy healthy lunches all week long.

Quinoa Lunch Bowl:Quinoa is a food that is easy to prepare, very nutritious and that is incredibly easy to take to work with you. Of course, you want a little more in your bowl than just quinoa, but you can add anything you want to make your bowl delicious and filling. You can steam or sauté vegetables that you enjoy - broccoli, zucchini, onion and a sauce of your choice, such as tahini or balsamic. Don’t forget to add your bean of choice for a fiber blast.

Pssst… If you don’t like quinoa try forbidden black rice, brown rice or even zucchini noodles.

Ready-To-Go Mason Jar Salads: These are so simple, delicious and you can prepare them for the whole week in one sitting. Use mason jar's to hold your salad ingredients so when you empty your jar into a bowl, it creates the perfect lunch salad for you. Start by putting dressing in first, then your toppings & veggies, and finish off your jar by adding your greens last. This will keep your dressing away from your greens, so they won't get soggy. You can store these in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Wrap It Up: Think outside of the box for this one and skip the flour tortilla and try a lettuce wrap. Simply, toss your favorite chopped veggies and any fitting leftover ingredients from your fridge in a lettuce leaf. Drizzle with a complementing sauce, wrap it up and call it a day. Wraps pair well with soup, so keep that in mind as you meal prep for the week.

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash This is definitely one of my go-to quick, affordable and healthy lunches. I always have a spaghetti squash on hand as they're so versatile. This is another great option for tossing in any leftover veggies from the fridge, mix with some marinara sauce and you've got yourself a pasta-free spaghetti that won't disappoint.

Some other ideas are soup, salads, leftover casserole, and hummus sandwiches with veggies. These are just a few examples of all the delicious meals you can quickly prepare at home and take to work without too much of a hassle. Some take a little more time than others, but you can always use Sunday to meal prep for the entire week, so you don’t have to wake up extra early on your work days. If possible, you could even leave all the meals you created at work so you can grab it during lunchtime, and you don’t have to take anything to work all week.

Do you have a lunch idea that supports your weight, wellness and time? Please leave a comment below and share.

Grab-and-Go Salads for a Spring Day

Salad-with-copy.jpg

When I mention salads many people think of a diet because that’s the only time they will eat salads. If you‘ve been with me for a while you know by now that I don’t believe in diets (psst…they don’t work). But I do love salads and all the nutrients they offer us. Salads are a suburb way to get greens into your diet and are an excellent source of nutrition, fiber, and protein, as well as, being the key to a balanced diet.

Making salads a part of your everyday lifestyle will rev up your phytochemical (chemical compounds in plants that positively affects our health) intake, offer you more digestive enzymes and help keep you healthy. They help you look and feel younger as they are great for your skin, hair, and figure…ooh, la la. It is important to be aware of what you eat to help sustain a healthy body and life and there are numerous ways you can “toss” salads into your life. J

Now that you’re motivated to eat some salad, here are three easy-to-make salads that won’t take much of your time and taste delicious. Let’s get away from the standard Caesar Salad, although tasty, it’s a bit boring.

Try the following salads and then create your own.

Arugula Fruit Salad

Serves 2
INGREDIENTS

4 cups Arugula

1 cup Cooked red quinoa

1 Apple or Pear sliced

½ cup chopped pecans

½ of a cooked sweet potato diced (add more if you like)

Directions

Mix everything together in a bowl.

Dressing

3 Tbls balsamic vinegar

1 tsp finely mince shallot

1 small clove garlic

1 tsp Dijon-style mustard

1 tsp maple syrup

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Put all the ingredients into a mason jar. Close the lid and shake for 15 seconds to combine.

Toss salad ingredient in a big bowl with the amount of dressing you desire. Serve and enjoy.

Feel free to experiment and add or minus whatever you like as long as it's healthy.

Garden Party Salad

Serves 2
INGREDIENTS

4 cups greens (Mache, spinach, romaine)

4 radishes chopped

2 carrot shredded

1 medium cucumber (peeled and cubed)

1 Avocado diced

¼ cup sunflower seeds

½ tsp Olive oil

1 Lemon (juiced)

Pinch of sea salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Mix everything together, except for the lemon, in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice on top and that’s it!

For some, it may not sound tasty, but once you try it you will love it. It will fill you up and keep you feeling fresh and energetic. Also, the combination of colors and freshness of the vegetables is quite visually appealing.

Fruit Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 Apple cubed

1-2 Kiwi cubed (or a banana sliced)

2 Orange peeled and cubed

1 Cup pineapple

Strawberries to taste

Blueberries to taste

1 Lemon juiced

2 to 3 pinches orange zest

DIRECTIONS

Mix everything, except for the orange zest and lemon, together in a mason jar. Add the zest and squeeze the lemon juice on top. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

You can add or minus the fruits you like or dislike. You can also add dry fruits as seasoning to make it a little more exciting. This is an easy, colorful, tasty and very healthy low-calorie salad.

As you can see, you can’t go wrong with making tasty salads. The options are endless. The three recipes included here are very simple and quick recipes which will help you lose those extra pounds or to help continue maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

3 Ways to De-Bloat

turmeric-.jpg

Did you know that food is not supposed to bloat you?

Did you know your suppose to be able to zip up your jeans after you eat?

Did you know you can have relief from your tummy bloat?

Bloating is an abnormal, general swelling which may cause abdominal pain, increased stomach growling and can at times be accompanied by gas, oh my.

All this can be caused by overeating, stress and/or not chewing food properly. Be aware certain foods might not agree with your digestive system and unfortunately bloat you. It’s imperative to avoid those items to remain bloat free, but if you are, here are three simple home remedies to de-bloat.

1.   Water:

I can’t say enough about H20 and all its benefits to your bodies when we drink it. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of bloating, and the cure is natural hydration. Drink lots and lots of water. It’s commonly noticed that drinking a lot of alcohol or eating foods that are too salty consistently results in bloating. Water helps wash the waste out of your system. Drink eight glasses of water daily to not only de-bloat but also for the other amazing things water does. If possible, swap all your beverages with water. Doing so will help you lose weight and have great skin.

2.   Avoid too much fiber at one time and increase potassium intake:

Too much fiber at one time when your system is not used to it can be difficult to digest and results in bloating. Don’t increase your daily fiber intake by more than 20-25 grams a day. Also, always remember to include eight glasses of water in your daily routine.

When you eat too much salt, increase your potassium intake to de-bloat. Avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas and coconut water are all rich in potassium.

3.   Warm hot water, lemon and a pinch of turmeric:

This is a wonderful trick. It’s very simple and inexpensive yet effective. If you have severe internal bruises or are suffering from bloating, this will always be your savior. It benefits every system in your body and does wonders for your long-term health as well.

The practice of sipping hot water all day long is very beneficial, as the ancient science of Ayurveda suggests. Yogi’s believe that hot water is very soothing to your digestive system and cold water hampers digestion. Try it and I think you’ll agree. Traditionally turmeric is said to work as a carminative and aid in digestion and relieve intestinal gas.

Including these three, be sure to look at your other eating habits and avoid bloating before it makes you suffer. Avoid drinking out of a straw or chewing gum. Both cause air to fill your stomach. Are you eating on the run…slow down and eat your meals in a relaxing space and pace.

If you found these tips helpful I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share which tip was most useful to you.

Spring Clean Your Every Part of Your Life (not just your closet)

Spring-Cleaning.jpg

Are you ready for a wonderful spring? There's something special about the warmth of the sun that has been absent for months. It breathes new life into us, ignites a spirit of "doing" and makes us want to make everything new. Spring cleaning isn't a new concept by any means, but viewing your entire life as something you can "spring clean" may be a new idea to you. Using this season as one to reevaluate the old and breathe in the new just feels so natural and satisfying.

If you’re wondering what you can do to spring clean your life, here are some great suggestions!

Clean Up and Clear Out

I know this is the one you expect this time of year, but decluttering your living space and giving it a good deep clean can change the entire feel of your home. Renewing your sacred space can rejuvenate you in many ways, bringing a lighter, happy feeling as the sunshine rolls in with spring. So tuck away all those winter clothes, give your living space a refresh and start Spring on a clean foot.

Savvy Fitness Changes

Have you been doing the same old fitness routine all winter? It can get monotonous, not just for you but also for your muscles that get used to it, too. Shake things up by taking a new class, trying yoga classes at the new studio in town, doing a new workout video you’ve never tried, or jogging down a new trial. I'm confident you have the itch to spend more time outdoors in the warmer weather, so the change will do you good!

Delete Negativity from Your Life

Whether that be negative people in your life or simply bad habits that you have been meaning to finally kick, use this time as an opportunity to get rid of anything that has been bogging you down. What comes to mind immediately when you read this? Chances are, that's precisely what you need to work on releasing. When you are doing this important work of releasing negativity, take the opportunity to replace negatives in your life with something positive.

Disconnect More Often

When you aren't at work, take time off from as much technology as possible. Use the time to connect with people face-to-face -- meet your friends for lunch, read a book, explore a new area, or do anything that keeps you from continually being glued to a screen. You’ll feel loads happier when you do. Even if you start with a set amount of screen-free hours per day, you'll be making a huge difference in your relationships and happiness levels.

Eat Better

It's the perfect time to give your eating habits a makeover, too. Take notice of how you feel on a daily basis, are you feeling energized? Sluggish? Exhausted by 4 pm? What you're eating is a tremendous piece of the answer, whatever you may be feeling. If sluggish is more normal than energized for you -- start by incorporating more whole foods into your daily routine. Phase out the processed foods one by one, replacing them with healthier option.

Budget and Bliss

Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality much of the population faces. A lot of the time, these situations aren't easy to fix, but we can always be making some movement toward improvement. That's what this spring renewal is all about, so take this chance to take a good look at your financial situation and notice what improvements can be made. See what extraneous expenses can be cut, how you can begin saving more for a rainy day, and what areas you can use your financial resources to give back to those in need.

Something New Enlivens You

If you don’t have a hobby, or you’re feeling like it’s the perfect time to try something new, now is the prime time. Try a painting or cooking class, learn a new language, or discover something else you’ve always wanted to try. It’s invigorating to fuel our quest for creativity. And above all, treat yourself. Find things that make you come alive, feel creative, and seek playfulness.

Take action now and leave a comment below on what part of your life you're going to tackle first and spring clean.

5 Ways to Diminish Your Sugar Habit Easily (and lose weight!)

Sugar-with-copy.jpg

For most of my life, I’ve had a love affair with sugar. I remember when I was in middle school I would eat a Little Debbie Snack Cakes every afternoon after school. I looked forward to it all day long. Star Crunch was my ultimate favorite. I think I ate my meals in order to have something sweet afterward. Basically, I ate a lot of sugar growing up and in my adult life.

Most people typically don't have a firm grasp of how much sugar we consume on a yearly basis unknowingly. It's been said that the average person consumes more than 40 pounds of sugar in a calendar year. Yikes! Quite alarming when you think of it in pounds, right?

What do you think of when you think of sugar? Sweet desserts such as ice cream, cakes, donuts, candy, and cookies come to mind immediately. But there are tremendous amounts of sugar hiding in everyday things (especially packaged items) we consume, and when we consume them regularly, they add up fast,

Making a few mindful tweaks can make all the difference.

Here are a few of my top favorite ways to keep added sugar out of my life:

Eat fruit to sweeten your life: Please, I beg you, don’t be afraid of fruit. Fruit is there to give us energy, a sweet taste, and many phytonutrients to help our bodies thrive. All ripe fruit is wonderful for you and the perfect processed sugar substitute. It takes no extra time to grab an apple rather than a pre-packaged fruit cup or applesauce. It's just as easy and doesn't contain any of the added sugar the pre-packaged items have. So, choose something fresh from the produce stand instead.

Fiber fills you up and protein gives you power: Fiber-rich foods will fill you up and keep you that way for longer so you’ll be less likely to eat something when you’re not hungry. Protein-packed foods have the same benefit. Remember protein-packed foods are nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetable, and quinoa. Combine both of these for delicious ways to stay satisfied throughout the day, and you’ll be less likely to seek out sugar.

Cut the sugar bombs out of your daily diet: If you’ve put sugar in your coffee every morning for the last ten years, start decreasing the amount until you no longer use it. You can also try kicking the habit on the spot if you’re ready for it. I know, I know Coffee had a tight hold on me for a very long time but you can let it go. I actually use Teeccino as my morning cup of joy. It’s caffeine free and has a sweetness to it so I don’t need sugar.

Be a detective and read food labels before you buy. Is your pantry brimming with pre-packaged, processed foods? Ditch them. It's time to learn to live without these foods and when you do, commit to reading all the labels of every packaged food item you buy from now on. Added sugar is in some of the most unsuspecting places so read every label before putting anything into your grocery cart. If anything you buy has fructose (sugar from fruit-when not in its whole form of the fruit it’s not good for you because it’s processed) or high-fructose corn syrup, do not buy it. It will cause disease, aging, and muddles with hormones.

Water is healing and stops cravings. I’m from the south and sweet tea is a staple at meals but it’s loaded with sugar. If you drink sweet tea or you’re a soda drinker, you can cut out quite a bit of added sugar by ditching your sweetened beverage habit. Sometimes, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty -- and other times, a stressed day makes us reach for desserts. Whatever the case, a glass of filtered water can solve the problem. Drink a cup and then wait 15 to 20 minutes. The craving will usually be gone but if not, choose a piece of fruit to satisfy the urge. I also like to add one drop of therapeutic grade lemon essential oil to flavor my water.

Trust me, it takes time to get used to life without added sugar in it, but you’ll soon feel better than ever and you’ll look better. You don’t realize how something such as sugar affects you until you delete it out of your lifestyle and then feel and see the difference. Finding the perfect sweet treats that aren't harmful to your health is a powerful way to get past the urges and learn to adapt to your new lifestyle without processed sugar.

If you're really feeling you need something sweet, and we all have those days, a few Paige Hinton approved sweet treats are one square of dark chocolate, 2 to 3 dates and fruit.

Leave a comment below and tell me how do you combat your sweet cravings.

What to Eat for Glowing Skin

pretty-girl-2219028_1920.jpg-with-copy.jpg

I turned on the TV this past Sunday, and I don’t watch TV often unless it’s the Big Bang Theory, and I look to see what infomercials were currently promoting. About 90% of the infomercials were about anti-aging skin care regimes. It a real concern for many ladies and especially women after 40 like me.

Anti-aging secrets are an extremely hot topic. We all want to learn the best tricks of aging slowly, gracefully, and most of all… naturally.   Your skin is the largest organ of your body and is in a constant battle with all the toxins we come into contact with each day. This is a battle we must be proactive in fighting.

Pollution in the air, the products we use on our skin – it’s all going straight into our bloodstream. Needless to say, the skin most unquestionably needs some attention when it comes to detoxification and staying healthy.

There are a slew of expensive creams, lotions, and potions to choose from to allegedly combat wrinkles and keep your skin looking radiant. However, these products are filled with chemicals such as parabens (endocrine disruptors), mineral oil (may cause contact dermatitis), polyethylene glycol (may be carcinogenic) just to name a very few. They're horrible for your health and your wallet. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need those pricey potions to keep your healthy glow. There are simple, everyday things you can do to work towards a healthier body and incredibly vibrant skin naturally.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking half of your body weight in water throughout the day is a fantastic way to assist your body in functioning optimally and help your skin to look great. It enhances your skin and detoxifies the body.
  • Organic face wash - Instead of washing your face with a “product” from the store, use organic jojoba oil or coconut oil. They work like a charm and moisturize too.
  • Essential oils - There are several essential oils that are great for the skin such as lavender and frankincense. Apply these oils with a carrier oil like jojoba. Essential oils were Cleopatra secret to youth.

In addition to the external elements you can use, you can also accomplish glowing, vibrant skin by adding certain foods to your plate more often -- healthy fats and protein are among some of the top ones to consider for great skin.   Below are my favorite foods I eat regularly for great skin. These are likely already in your refrigerator, which is great news – so take note, and eat up.

My Top 10 Favorites are…

  1. Avocado
  2. Coconut Water & Coconut Oil
  3. Salmon
  4. Flaxseed
  5. Blueberries
  6. Spinach
  7. Dark Chocolate
  8. Sweet potatoes
  9. Papaya
  10. Bell Peppers

Adding these organic foods to your plate often, combined with other healthy, whole foods, will put you well on your way to beautiful, healthy skin.

What are your favorites on the list? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you! Hit reply and let me know your favorite recipe that includes one of the Top 10, I’m always looking for more inspiration for the kitchen.

Potato and Kale Slow Cooker Soup

Potato-and-Kale-1.png

Wintertime is an opportunity to slow down and being more receptive and being intentional about how you want to live the upcoming year. This all sounds great in theory but if you like me, you have a list that keeps growing of things that need to be handled. This is when we find ourselves eating heavier, fatty foods that won’t support our energy or help us keep our weight at a healthy number.

This is when I turn to my slow cooker for help. Yes, you do have to do some work to chop the vegetables and get them into the crockpot with the other ingredients, but this can all be done in about 10 to 15 minutes with roughly chopped of the veggies (the soup will be blended). This will allow you to have more time out of the kitchen so you can focus on completing to-do items and spending quality time with your family.

Now, just to be clear, I am not saying you should let a to-do list dictate your life. You know that I believe we all need to take time to take care of ourselves. A great way to do this on a busy day after work is to take 5-10 minutes and meditate be still, breathe, and be grateful for the delicious meal you are about to eat. Not only did you save time cooking and allow for some healing time for yourself, your body will be ready for a healthy meal.

Potato and kale soup is a perfect hearty soup that will leave you happy, satisfied and eating a home cooked meal that leaves you nourished. Enjoy!

Potato and Kale Soup

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1-tablespoon coconut oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 cup shitake mushrooms, diced

3 medium russet or gold potatoes, diced (I used Russet)

6 cups vegetable broths

1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)_

2 tablespoons black pepper

1 bunch kale de-stemmed and chopped

Optional: Smoked paprika

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the onion garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms in a pan with coconut oil to soften. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours, or until potatoes are cooked through. 15 minutes before the time is up, add the chopped kale to the slow cooker to wilt.

TO SERVE:

Option one: In a high-speed blender, blend until smooth. This version is very silky and delicious. This is where I added the smoked paprika. Serve in a bowl. Enjoy!

Option 2: Serve as a chunky soup (just makes sure you chopped vegetables bite size. Serve in a bowl. Enjoy!

Want to freeze the leftovers? Put the blended soup into Mason jars with an inch free at the top for expansion and freeze. Just take the Mason jar out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator the night before you want to eat it.

Did you like the soup? Leave a comment below and let me know if you made the soup and how often you’ve used your slow cooker this year so far.

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

SLow-Cooker1.png

Do you ever feel like you’ve simply run out of meal ideas? You might cook the same five dishes over and over, just like the majority of us or you’re just not inspired to cook anything. Your schedule is full enough, and having the time to get creative in the kitchen seems like a pipe dream.

This is where the crockpot/slow cooker is a dream come true.

Toss in your ingredients in the morning, go to work, and come home to a healthy, delicious, hot meal for you and your family. You have enough on your shoulders already...let me help you figure out what’s going to be on your plate.

Over the next three weeks, I’m giving you a recipe a week for you to try. They’re extremely healthy and hopefully inspire you in your kitchen.

Breakfast time can be one of the most rushed times of your day which might only leave you time for pouring boxed cereal in your bowl. On winter mornings I like something warm and slow cooker oatmeal is the perfect solution

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1-cup steel cut oats

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups almond milk

2 apples, diced

3 tablespoons coconut sugar, brown sugar or maple syrup

1-tablespoon cinnamon

1/4-cup raisins

1-tablespoon coconut oil

  • Optional toppings: coconut flakes, fresh fruit, your favorite nuts (I love toasted pecans)

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to well-oiled crockpot (use coconut oil) and stir well. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until cooked through.

Add optional toppings.

Enjoy!

Use my 6 Easy Steps to Clean Eating for Miraculous Health

salad-791891_1920with-copy.jpg

By now, most of us have gotten over to post-holiday blues and back to the rhythms of life with work and family. We’re in a special time of year. It’s a time where we think big for ourselves making ambitious plans for our next twelve months and dream of the possibilities. The most popular resolution is improving health, and we usually are usually ready to do that after the holidays are over. As tasty as the holiday goodies are, they leave us feeling bloated, heavier, lethargic and a little less on track with our goals than we'd like.

Just to hare some insight, those new healthy resolutions don't have to be complicated, and they don't have to end before February even arrives. The key to looking and feeling your best is to keep things uncomplicated and simply focus on clean eating. In case you've heard the term "clean eating" but haven't quite understood what it means because it can be a loaded word -- clean eating is all about consuming healthy, whole foods and cutting out the processed junk. For me it’s a 90% plant-based diet Whether you’re ready to jumpstart your clean eating now or you’re wondering what it takes to get started, I’ve got super-simple steps for a no-fail progression into clean eating.

  1. What is motivating you from the inside?

Your motivation can be anything….running in the Boston marathon next year or maybe you have seen first-hand the damage done by not eating healthy through the suffering of loved ones. Whatever it is that is motivating you to eat clean, bring it in your direct focus so you will be more successful in sticking to your clean eating plan. Motivation is best if it’s not on focused on losing weight for a special event. Although this is a usual goal for many, one can lose sight of their health, wellness and eating clean as soon as the event is over and revert back to their normal routine that leads to eating processed foods, weight gain, feelings of failure and disappointment in ourselves. Great incentives for clean eating can be desiring to experience amazing energy, feeling younger, looking younger, and reduce your risk for disease so you can age gracefully.

  1. Take a look at what you’re currently eating

Before you begin to change your daily diet (lifestyle) and dive into your clean eating journey, it helps to journal about what you’re eating currently before beginning. This way, you can truly see what you’re eating and look for patterns. After the stressful week at the office, you might notice you’re more prone to ordering pizza. Make sure you observe only and do not judge yourself for eating the whole bag of chip, greasy takeout, or a whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (that was a confession from chocolate lover, yours truly). There is no shame in the game at all. Writing down your food intake is about witnessing your behaviors so you can change them and you can take steps to change them rather than falling into the same pitfall time and time again.

  1. Set realistic, measurable and specific goals

When people make changes to things in their lives such as their eating habits, they can set themselves up for significant failures if they don’t take it step by step. That means that if you want to be successful in the long-term, you should tackle one or two new things every 1-2 weeks, so you have a better chance of sticking to it. Don’t just say you’ll stop eating desserts forever. Instead, set a goal of only eating one small dessert per week, and go from there to decrease it further. It’s realistic, measurable and very specific. If you desire to lose, verbalize or write down your goal. For example, state, “I will weigh 135 pounds by April 1, 2018.” From here you can break down the goal into action steps you can take on a daily and weekly basis. When April 1st arrives and you hit your goal of 135 pounds, you will feel like a rock star and on top of the world. Talk about feeling good- your vibrating high.

  1. Get rid of the crap in your pantry

Sadly, most American pantries are filled with processed foods. A good rule of thumb is to cut out anything that contains more than five ingredients on the label and anything unnatural should go. If you have a lot of unopened items, donate them to a shelter.

  1. Change your grocery shopping strategy

We’re creatures of habit, every one of us. When we go to the supermarket, we usually follow the same path every time. Shake things up and head straight for the produce section. You really should avoid the majority of the middle aisles of your supermarket because that’s where those processed food pitfalls lurk! To be really bold, change the store you shop at and opt for health food stores and farmers markets.

  1. Become a meal prep master

One of the easiest ways to dive right into clean eating is to prep your meals. Write down your recipes for a time period (two weeks to a month) which eliminates the daily decision of what to eat often leading to unhealthy options. Every Saturday, go grocery shopping for the week ahead. On Sunday cook your meals. Freeze what you need to and get it out later in the week when you’re ready to eat it. If time is a factor, look for crockpot recipes that require you to prepare the food in the morning and come home to a hot, delicious, clean and healthy meal every night.

If you want a sustainable, healthy lifestyle it’s yours to live. As you’ve read, it’s all about taking small changes over time to create your healthy and clean lifestyle. I’m here to cheer you on every step of the way.

Leave a comment below and let me know how you are feeling, and what you’d like to accomplish as your first step. I’d love to hear your plans.

Winter Immune Boosters

Running-in-the-snow-with-copy.jpg

Winter is upon us! My hometown in the deep south just got blanketed with several inches of snow last week, which was a big surprise. It is always important to prepare for the winter weather…wood for the fireplace and flashlights for power loss. But even more important, we could all use a health boost to our immune systems. Holiday decorations are going up everywhere but so are cases of colds and the flu. If you don’t want that kind of gift that keeps on giving, focus on these immunity-boosting tips to keep healthy all season long.

Warm Up Inside Out with Veggie Broth

With the chilly weather getting even colder, the best thing to bring everyone to the table is warm, soul-soothing soup or stew. You can make this even more beneficial though by adding veggie broth to the mix. I know bone broth is the talk of the health industry but for a girl who will not eat animal products vegetable broth works just as well. (If you like bone broth please feel free to use it.)

Vegetable broth with mushrooms, kombu, ginger, sweet potatoes and any other veggie you like will help provide much need vitamins and minerals, which nourishes the entire body.

Ways you can use broth:

- In soups and stews

- As a standalone warm beverage

- In place of olive oil when cooking

Eat Fermented Foods

Recent research has provided us with a new astounding fact – your gut is home to a second brain. It may sound crazy, but it's true. The good news is that you can keep those beneficial bacteria that flourish there to keep you healthy thriving and strong. The best way to do this is to start developing a fondness for fermented foods. Things like kimchi, the popular Korean side dish served with every meal, as well as sauerkraut, kombucha, or even pickles, to name a few.

Fermented foods list:

-Kombucha

-Sauerkraut

-Kimchi

-Miso

-Pickles

-Coconut kefir

Make Room for Mushrooms

The kids might not be happy about this, but mushrooms have beta glucans in them, which help strengthen your immunity and block infections. You can eat whatever mushrooms you enjoy for this effect. Put them in your soups, add them to your mixed veggies, top your salad with them raw or cooked, chop them up and include them in just about anything. If you are like me and not a mushroom lover, I find chopping them up very small and adding into casseroles is a great way to get mushrooms in to non-mushroom lovers.

Stuffed mushroom recipe: Clean and de-stem mushrooms. Sprinkle olive oil inside mushrooms before stuffing. Stuff with your favorite ingredients — between 2-3 ingredients. Tomato, onion and an herb is always a great combination. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt and pepper. Cook at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Other delicious foods you can add to your diet are ginger, garlic, turmeric and the superfood spinach.

Get Some Sunshine

Most people don’t get enough vitamin D in their lives. It might be cold out, but grab your warmest coat and let your face get some sun. Committing to a ten-minute walk each day makes a load of difference throughout the winter months. I take my dog, Taz, out for a walk and make sure we are facing the sun. It warms us as and we get some vitamin D on our face as we look for squirrels. To supplement, there are certain foods you can eat. Cook up fatty fish like salmon or serve more eggs, particularly the yolks. These have robust sources of vitamin D and for strict vegans, you can supplement.

Get Outdoors

Even though it’s freezing out, there are some fun activities you can enjoy this season that doubles as exercise. Activities such as ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, walking your dog, and even build a snowman.

Get More Rest

Maybe those hibernating bears are on to something. When your immunity is wearing down, one of the best things your body needs is to simply rest. It’s during the state of rest that your white blood cells work their magic, so take a load off and get in that nap or go to bed earlier every night. Take care of your health now because if you don’t build up your immunity, chances are you’ll come down with something right before that big party you’ve been looking forward to all season. Stay healthy!

Tips for great sleep:

- Get into the routine of a relaxing bedtime ritual such as reading a book, a self-massage, breathing exercise or even the yoga posture child’s pose.

- Use blackout curtains to block any streetlights beaming in your windows. I’m sensitive and wake up easily so the darker the room the better. Some people need blackout curtains to make sure they get their 8 hours.

- Go screen-free an hour or two before you crawl into bed. I know this can be hard but make it part of your bedtime ritual. The blue light from the TV and devices disturb your sleep hormone, melatonin.

Your immune system is tough and can fight off any nasty winter bugs if you take care of it. Stay strong and well this season.

4 Ways to Sneak Healthy Foods into Your Holiday Dishes

holiday-table-1926938_1920-with-copy.jpg

The holidays are here, and it is time to savor all the joy they bring -- friends, family, meals together, giving & gratitude. Of course, along with them are hearty dishes and sweets that can certainly wreak havoc on our bodies. Casseroles laden with cream, sugary cakes and cookies, and other tempting empty calorie bombs will adorn the dining tables we surround. Unless we do something about it, that is!

But how can you make healthy decisions during the season of eating, especially without anyone noticing? Well, I have a few of my favorite tricks to share with you that I use each season, and the best part is, everybody loves it.

My favorite ways to sneak more nourishment into my holiday meals are...

Toss beans into your salads soups, or casseroles

Beans are so full of fiber they might just help you and your family from eating thirds at Christmas dinner because they are full and satiated. Legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients that include meat-free protein, zinc, folate, antioxidants and more. Adding beans to your soups and pureeing the soup give a nice velvety smooth texture too. These gems are very versatile and can replace meat in many dishes for any vegans you have visiting.

Add turmeric to your dishes

Make some of your food a pretty orange color by adding turmeric. It’s a natural, powerful anti-inflammatory that is filled with antioxidants. It is related to ginger and looks quite similar to a ginger root, and is most easily consumed in dried form. You can sneak it into dishes by sprinkling it in and enjoy the benefits it brings. Add just a little bit to your soups, sweet potatoes, salad dressings, and dips. Go easy on it since the flavor can be strong to those that aren’t used to it.

Use alternative sweeteners for your sweet treats

Don't worry -- I'm not suggesting you do away with your dessert table altogether, but those unrefined sugars are what we are trying to avoid. If you swap out the unhealthy stuff for a natural sweetener that is a better option, you’ll still get the sweet tastes everyone loves without the slew of chemicals. Try raw organic honey. Local honey is best which can typically be found at your local health food store. You can also look for coconut sugar or coconut syrup, or even use dates, which is my favorite sweetener.

Utilize fresh herbs for flavor and health benefits

Fresh herbs add a new dimension of taste to your dishes without adding fat and calories. Plus, they naturally have their own benefits from adding more antioxidants to reducing inflammation. Experiment with your favorite ones to add more zing to your mashed potatoes or liven up your veggies.

The holidays don’t have to be so heavy on the unhealthy items, particularly when you use these simple tricks for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Season Eating Tips: Quick, Healthy And On A Budget

food-1209503_1920.jpg

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year to for parties, gift giving, stuffing stockings and tree lightings. Most likely all your time and money are being spent on family and friends leaving you low on funds, little time to cook and a hungry tummy. I’m here to help you get through the holidays on a budget while eating healthy foods that can be made fast.

I wish I had a present for how many times I've heard the sentence "I can't afford to eat healthy foods." FYI, this couldn't be further from the truth -- there are so many ways to enjoy healthy foods without breaking the bank. In fact, the pre-packaged, processed foods that aren't improving your health are more expensive. They cost more per serving, and they certainly cost more in the long run if we're factoring in your long-term health and doctor bills. The good news though is with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can eat healthy and for much less than you think.

Here are 6 tips that will have you eating healthier without straining your budget...

Dust off your slow cooker. A crockpot is like having a personal chef cooking for you. All you have to do is chop some veggies of choice such as onions, carrots, garlic and butternut squash. Add some BPA free canned beans, (lentils, maybe?) low sodium vegetable stock turn the cooker on for a 4 to 6-hour slow simmer. Wa-la, you have a homemade vegetable soup that is nutritious and didn’t take any time to prepare.

Buy frozen berries.This is my personal favorite tool in my kitchen toolbox (or should I say icebox?). Berries are notoriously expensive, even when they’re in season. With the frozen ones, the nutrients are locked in at the peak of freshness. They don’t spoil, and you can toss them in with spinach and fresh bananas for a simple smoothie. I also like to put frozen berries in my hot oatmeal. They defrost quickly and add nutrients to morning hot cereal.

Quick oats for on-the-go. Morning breakfast can still be fast without those pre-packaged oatmeal packs which have additives and sweeteners. If you have to get out the door quickly, pour boiling water on your quick oats and breakfast is done. You can also toss in some of those frozen berries for good measure. Steel cut oats have more nutrients but I’d rather you eat quick oats than a donut.

Make use of kale. Kale is s superfood that is delicious and easy to use. Most people only use lettuce to make salads and those same people, despite their best intentions, become tired of those salads a few days into the week. Instead, buy kale, which is less expensive and more nutrient dense. You can make it into salads, bake it into chips for a fantastic snack, or even sauté it like spinach. I like to throw kale in a soup that has been simmering in a crock-pot the last 5 minutes to let it wilt then serve dinner.

Fresh from the farmers market. Check out the produce from your local farmer’s market. Often, the fruits and vegetables you’ll find there are considerably less than those you’ll get at the supermarket and much fresher too. Plus, many local growers will discount bruised produce even further. Don’t be afraid to check it out and score an even better deal.

Meal planning is not a dirty word. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re not planning your meals for the week, then you’re going to be throwing money away. Take the time to sit down and get organized for the holidays, prepare for leftovers to be incorporated and stick to the plan. You’ll find you’re saving a lot more if you do!

Include seasonal items. One area where you can and should be flexible is with incorporating seasonal items. If a recipe includes asparagus, but it’s not in season or costs too much, replace it with something that is in season and costs less like greens, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or beets.

If you look around your kitchen, you’ll likely find even more ways you can save on eating healthy the next time you go grocery shopping. Try out these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a holiday gathering!

Do you have any more tricks up your sleeve that I didn’t mention here? Hit reply and let me know, I’d love to add any tips to my list.

Fun Halloween Foods That Aren't So Scary

Halloween and an absurd amount of processed sugar seem to go hand-in-hand. With all of the parties and trick-or-treating in the very near future, you may be scrambling to find some healthier versions of fun & festive Halloween foods and treats. Here are some of my favorite healthy versions of Halloween foods that will look great on your food table for that Halloween party that’s around the corner. Enjoy!

Tangerine Pumpkins

Simple, healthy and fun — drawing faces on your tangerines is a great addition to your fruit bowl this season. You can use any fruit with a rind on it for this: oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, even miniature pumpkins.

 

Halloween Fruit

Creating an entire plate of Halloween goodies is as simple as peeling some fruit. Cut small pieces of celery stalk, peel a tangerine, and insert the celery piece into the top as a stem. Peel banana, cut in half and stand each piece up on your plate. Create a simple ghoul face out of melted dark chocolate. Guilt-free and festive!

 

Pumpkin Peppers

The great thing about Pumpkin Peppers is you can add anything you want for the stuffing. I’ve seen them stuffed with mini-salads, rice and beans, roasted veggies, or anything you desire. Cut the top of the pepper off and remove insides, carve your pumpkin face with a knife, and stuff with your desired toppings.

 

Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin hummus is a fun, festive and healthy addition to your table spread this season. It’s also incredibly simple to create! 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed; 1/2 cup pumpkin puree; 1 tablespoon minced garlic; 1/3 cup tahini; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 teaspoon cumin; add fresh cracked pepper and cayenne pepper if desired. Mix all ingredients in food processor, blend until smooth and desired consistency.

 

Candy Corn Fruit Cup

Using mason jars as your fruit cup holder, layer pieces of pineapple and orange slices to create a “candy corn” look. Top with a coconut whipped cream — my favorite — if you desire. These are great for parties and best of all, they’re healthy!

 

Pumpkin Bowl/Dip

It’s up to you what you’d like to put inside of it, but using a pumpkin as a bowl is as festive as you can get. These are perfect for parties — just put your dips inside of a sliced, hollowed pumpkin, and you’ll have a crowd pleaser on your hands.

 

Do you have unique and creative ideas to have a healthy Halloween? Leave a comment below and share your not-so spooky treats.

 

 

6 Excellent Ways To Sneak Wellness Into Your Workday (and stay fit)

Daily workouts can be quite difficult to fit into the busy schedule, and often, this causes us to throw our hands up and give up altogether. I understand. I’ve experienced this and know how it feels. It is easy to have an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to exercise, but this way of thinking is harming our health, so let’s put this mindset to rest today and talk about how we can move forward.

A workout doesn’t have to mean an hour and a half of sweating at the gym or hot yoga class. Although these are great if you have the time and energy, we can find ways to sprinkle wellness into our everyday lives and can even fit wellness into our workday.

Here are a few ways to focus on wellness during your workday…

 

Exercise your way to work

Your workday essentially begins as soon as you leave your home in the mornings. If at all possible, you could walk or cycle to work instead of using public transportation or your car. Not only is this great exercise, but it'll also allow you to start your day off in a much calmer way, rather than stuck in traffic. If your workplace is too far to choose this plan, decide to park as far away from the building as possible. Doing so will create the opportunity to walk a bit further allowing for extra steps. Also, ditch the elevator and take the stairs. You’ll be amazed at the difference it’ll make over time! Little steps, when done consistently, add up quickly.

 

Green up, de-clutter and biceps

An excellent way to lighten your mood at work is to make your workspace comfortable and inviting. Find some plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight and add as many as you’d like to your office area. Live plants will also assist in cleansing the air in your office, which is an added benefit to the beautiful scenery. Aside from the greenery, keeping your office space clutter-free will help you feel more productive and less stressed. So, creating an organization routine you can maintain will help keep your office space running smoothly. Don’t forget the photos of your loved ones to lift your spirits, along with daily, positive affirmations.

Buy 3, 5 or 8-pound weights and keep them in your office. Every time you come back to your office from the bathroom do some form of exercise. Lunges, bicep curls, triceps dips, squats, push-ups and shoulder exercise such as front raises and lateral raises are easy to do in a small space and are so effective.

 

Nice posture is sexy

Good posture is a conscious effort we must make, especially when we slouch in office chairs for most of the day. I know, I know — it’s more comfortable usually — but the long-term effects are not. Don’t worry, yoga to the rescue. Yoga poses for great posture include cobra pose, mountain pose, bridge pose, and cat-cow.

If you need a better chair it is well worth the investment. Look up ergonomic chairs and visit your local office supply store to try some out in person. Good posture will assist you in concentrating better and lessen those back aches you take home with you daily.

 

Healthy lunch break

It’s time to stop working through your lunch break while you munch on a snack from the vending machine. One of the best ways to add wellness into your workday is to bring a healthy lunch. It doesn’t take much effort to make meals for the week on a Sunday afternoon — so head on over to Pinterest and look up some new, delicious looking healthy lunches you can start taking with you. If there’s time, squeeze in a 10-minute walk after you eat for better digestion and a clearer mind.

 

Snacking is great for wellness.

I get it — sometimes when you’re racing against the clock to meet a deadline, you crave a sugar boost to keep you going. Keeping healthy snacks in your office will help curb your snack cravings while not having to resort to the vending machine. Fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, protein balls, healthy granola bars or trail mix are great options that will keep in your desk without going bad.

 

Hydrate your body with water

Ah, water. It’s often so undervalued, but it is truly essential. Staying hydrated will help your focus and give you natural energy. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of tiredness, headaches, and cravings. So, be sure to keep the water flowing throughout the day. You won’t regret it. If you can, drink only filtered water to lessen the chemicals in normal tap water.

 

These are simple ways to begin implementing wellness into your workday every day. You’ll find that the positive changes will reveal themselves quickly and leave you feeling great. Your body will start to crave these good feelings. Remember, it’s not about perfection -- true wellness is about finding ways to fit it into your schedule, and about making the best choice available with what you’re given.

What are a few ways you plan to add some wellness into your workday? Leave a comment below and let me know what’s on your mind.

 

 

Feel Grounded and Keep Weight Off Eating With These Autumn Foods

This is my favorite time of the year. The cooler weather, apple picking, leaves falling and the scent of roots veggies cooking bring great memories and happy time. But with autumns arrival, and the busy back-to-school season that's quickly met with the hustle and bustle of the holidays is among us. If you're anything like me, this last part of the year flies by in a blink of the eye. Because of this, it can feel like a time where your out of control schedule is controlling you. You're pulled in many different directions, and you just want to sit down for a second to catch a break.

Do you struggle with feeling grounded on most days? I know if I don’t eat healthy foods that are in season I feel unsettled in my mind, body, and spirit. Eating grounding foods, practicing yoga and meditating all help me keep calm and rooted.

There is a brilliance in nature. She knows the truth of the season. Mother Nature knows how insane this time of year gets and provides exactly what we need to bring us back to nature. So many grounding foods become available this season, and it's of our highest benefit to take advantage of them. These foods can ground us and help us to re-balance when we are feeling out of control.

Here are a few of my favorites…

 

Orange is the new healthy

These are two traditional autumn foods, but they’re also exactly what we should be eating to ground ourselves. When you want some sweetness in your meal, these are the ideal way to achieve that and a much better alternative to chemical-laden artificially sweetened items. So, the next time you’re at your local farmers market, look for pumpkins that are labeled “sugar Pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”. They have a sweet flesh inside that is perfect for roasted and making soup to create a healthy meal. You’ll feel oh so healthy and grounded while enjoying a delicious pumpkin dish. Hint… roast the pumpkin seeds with a little sea salt for snacking during the day

 

Root vegetables

Vegetables that fall into this category are sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, garlic, and ginger. They add some great flavor to your meal and will make you feel rooted and grounded. Interesting how that works, right? Foods that grow as roots in the ground are naturally rooting and grounding to us. Nature is amazing.

 

Naturally Fermented Foods

Raw sauerkraut is perfect to add some sourness to your autumn meals, while also strengthening your gut health. Fermented foods don’t only make your meals taste great and assist with grounding you, but they also act as prebiotics and feed all the good bacteria in your gut. Some other naturally fermented food items include kimchi, kefir, Kombucha (be careful of the sugar content), and pickles, to name a few.

 

Add on the proteins

Finding healthy, high-quality protein sources will be of benefit to you this time of year. Proteins that come from high-quality foods give you the nutrients you need to build strong muscle while also feeling more grounded. We tend to crave more substantial meals this time of year due to their grounding effect. Hearty stews and soups are among the most popular food items this season, and that’s exactly why. Are there any plant-based proteins you use in your meals such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, hemp seeds and milk, quinoa, nutritional yeast, spirulina (add in a smoothie) or greens and veggies? Now is a perfect time to be adventurous and try something new.

Don't pass up these delicious autumn foods that are not only enjoyable but beneficial to us in many ways. Aside from eating foods that naturally ground you, there are other ways you can enjoy feeling grounded. Being in nature has a natural grounding effect -- so take a walk outside as often as possible to breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the colorful scenery. Breathing exercises help with feeling more grounded, so focus on your breathing throughout the day and take note on if you're breathing freely or holding your breath often. When you notice you're holding your breath, take a moment to practice a short breathing exercise.

What practices do you implement to help you feel calm? Leave a comment below, I’d love to chat about it.

Got Food Cravings? Try These Food Swaps.

Have you ever suffered from a food craving? Found yourself at the refrigerator door eating with the door open? I certainly have. Food cravings can seriously take control of your life until you feed the craving.

When you think about food cravings, typically the first thing that comes to mind would be some type of junk food. Something that is high in calories, low in nutrients, processed and quite unhealthy. Is that what you tend to crave when a craving kicks in? That would be me- give me sugar, give me chocolate.  What is your go-to craving -- chocolate chip cookies? A big bowl of ice cream? I would go right for the chocolate bar(s).

I'll be honest with you -- I believe in a balanced life. I'm not saying to never enjoy a sweet treat again. The issue with ingesting processed foods and the chemicals that come along with them on an ongoing basis is the danger of addiction. We absolutely don't want that, as it can disrupt the way our bodies function and wreak havoc in more ways than you can imagine.

So, if you feel like you may be addicted to sugar and/or processed foods, there is something you can do to help break the addiction. There are many foods you can add into your diet to balance your microbiome (gut bacteria) and get your good bacteria back to a healthy place. These foods are generally fermented foods that are filled with the good bacteria that your body needs to balance itself again and rid you of those cravings.

These fermented foods can include kimchi, Kombucha (look at the sugar content as they can get very sweet), sauerkraut, fermented beets, fermented carrots and coconut kefir to name a few. I'd love for you to choose at least one of these to add into your diet this week and get the good bacteria back into your body. Some doctors recommend taking a probiotic on a daily basis to help balance your bacteria, but after years of study, I believe that probiotics are great as you start getting your gut back into shape but you don’t want to rely on them. One they are expensive and secondly, the store bought probiotics might not carry the healthy probiotics stains your body needs to thrive. Eating fermented foods is the best and healthiest choice for you precious microbiome.

Do you have other cravings? Salt, something fizzy or creamy? Keep reading for help.

Exchange popular food cravings with these genius swaps…my favorite way of combating cravings is to trade out unhealthy foods with beneficial ones.

 

If you're wanting to put your hands in the potato chip bag... Try some raw carrot or celery sticks instead for that crunch. Dip the veggie sticks in hummus for a filling snack.

If you're craving fizzy sodas... Try some sparkling water such as Perrier or Pellegrino.   There are so many flavors to choose from; you're bound to find one you love -- and you can finally ditch that soda! Add a little Pomegranate juice to the sparkly and enjoy a virgin cocktail.

If you're hungry for a milkshake... Try a green smoothie instead to quench your desire for something cold and sweet. Adding chocolate, vanilla, or any other flavored protein powder will give you the milkshake taste you love without the sugar and bad fat while filling you up with protein.

Another helpful tip that I implement is to indulge mindfully. When you do decide to have a treat, enjoy a smaller portion than you’d even like to have. Teaching yourself restraint and how to indulge mindfully is an incredibly useful tool that you will always carry with you. I always have dark chocolate every day but just two squares. I get what I want to eat, it’s a healthier option instead of store-bought candy bars or cookies with trans fat and I don’t feel deprived at all. I feel extremely satisfied.

Let me know how you have won the war of food cravings by leaving a comment below.

 

4 Simple Healthy Lunch Ideas For Your Busy Lifestyle (and more ideas for back to school)

If lunch isn’t planned ahead of time, it can be the easiest meal of the day to resort to convenience foods, which are generally junk foods. The vending machine in your office building is just one button away from a quick lunch when you’re pressed for time, right?

Luckily, it doesn’t take a ton of time to plan meals ahead of time! It only takes a commitment and a few minutes each day. I’m going to share with you some of my favorite ideas for simple, healthy lunches that I plan my meals around.

Here we go…

 

A Healthy Twist On Sandwiches

Although it’s not hard to spruce a sandwich up to be fairly healthy, you can make them even healthier by substituting any meat and cheese for vegetables of your choice. You can add things such as spinach, tomato, onion, avocado and more. Ditch the mayo and use hummus or guacamole. If you choose to use bread, be sure to choose a healthy, sprouted option, and a gluten-free option if needed.

 

A Simple Salad

Ditch those heavy salads drenched in Ranch dressing and create your own salad made up completely of raw vegetables and possibly and simple dressing like apple cider vinegar with fresh herbs.

Some great in season veggies to toss in your salads include:

  • Beets
  • Radish
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Bell Peppers

 

A Healthy Wrap or Pinwheel

These are quite simple to make and easy to transport as a lunch. Toss all of your healthy ingredients into a sprouted tortilla or even a lettuce leaf as a wrap. Enjoy it as a simple wrap with a side of your favorite fruit, or spice it up and create your wrap into a pinwheel.

Pinwheels are made by rolling your ingredients in the tortilla and cutting it into bite-sized slices. Another option is to use thinly sliced zucchini as an alternative tortilla option for pinwheels. Use fewer ingredients than for wraps to create an easier to eat and less messy pinwheel.

 

Veggie Sushi Is All The Rage

Have you ever tried to make your own sushi? It’s a lot of fun and actually quite simple. There are loads of tutorial videos online, so give it a quick search one weekend when you have some free time to experiment.

Regardless if it’s homemade or purchased at a grocery store, veggie sushi is a great, light lunch that is quick and easy.

If available, try sushi with brown rice or even quinoa instead of white rice. Enjoy!

Not only are these simple recipes ideal for lunches, but they’re also perfect for picnics. Before summer comes to a close, make sure you enjoy a picnic in your favorite outdoor area. Bring along some freshly sliced watermelon and any other fruits you love to enjoy as a refreshing dessert afterward.

 

Back To School

Back to school is my favorite time of year. The possibilities of what’s’ to come as the summer comes to an end is fun and exciting. As autumn transitions into winter, delicious foods such as soups and stews bring us back to the kitchen for goodness for our souls!

If you have kids here’s some help for the back to school.

Sometimes it’s a struggle to get back into the groove of making lunches every day, and often you can hardly think of anything other than a sandwich to make.

I know exactly what it’s like to have your mind go blank when trying to be creative with lunches, so here are a few options in each category (main dish, veggies, fruit, etc.) to choose from, so you can create many lunches to come!

Main Options:

  • Zucchini & Carrot Muffins
  • Pasta with Olive Oil & Pesto
  • Mayo-free Egg Salad
  • Zucchini boats

Veggie Options:

  • Carrot & Celery Sticks
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Bell Pepper
  • Green Beans
  • Cucumber

Fruit Options:

  • Apple (maybe handpicked from an apple orchard)
  • Banana
  • Orange
  • Peach (Get the end of summer produce now)
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple

Miscellaneous Options:

  • Hummus for Veggies
  • Trail Mix
  • Protein Balls
  • Popcorn
  • Lara bar

I would love to hear your awesome back to school healthy lunch ideas. Leave a comment below and let's share recipes.

 

Delicious and Easy Homemade Almond Milk

Almonds and milk.jpgedited blog When Life hands you almonds, make almond milk.

When you write out your grocery list I’m sure there is some sort of “milk” on the list. At the store, we’re bombarded with different types of milk, percentages, and brands. How can we be sure of what we are getting? Is it pasteurized? Is it organic? Are there additives? What type of milk is best for you and your family? Was the cow treated poorly? Did the cows utters have puss on them? Going to the grocery store for milk can be an overwhelming experience nowadays.

I am a HUGE advocate of nut milks especially almond milk, and what’s really great is you can easily make it yourself! Almonds are so good for you and have tons of extra benefits that you may not be getting from other types of milk.

First, almond milk is dairy-free so it is great for those with a dairy allergy, sensitivity, or who just plain don’t like the taste of regular cow’s milk (like me). It also acts as a complete substitute for cow’s milk because you are getting just as much protein and calcium and way fewer preservatives and additives you will find elsewhere. It’s a win on all levels of living a healthy lifestyle.

Some other benefits include:

  • Almond milk helps with weight management. One cup of almond milk contains 60 calories, compared to cow milk that contains 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories for 2%, 102 calories for 1%, and 86 calories for skim milk. I’m not a fan of calorie counting, but if you are a calorie counter, this will give you some insight.
  • Due to the lack of animal saturated fat, sodium, and no cholesterol with an increased value of healthy fats, almond milk is a heart healthy option.
  • Strengthens bones with its calcium and vitamin D content.
  • Contains 50% of your daily value of vitamin E to help keep your skin glowing and healthy.
  • Has little effect on your blood sugar because almond milk is low in carbs.
  • Helps with digestion through fiber content.
  • Lactose-free.
  • It doesn’t require refrigeration so you can take it literally everywhere since it is still great at room temperature.
  • It is super easy to make yourself!

Here is a fantastic easy recipe I use weekly to help you make your own almond milk! 

EASY ALMOND MILK

Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked for 8 hours
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 or 4 de-pitted dates or Liquid Stevia sweetener to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONSRemove almonds from the water and place in a blender. Add the 4 cups of fresh water and blend for 2 minutes or until the almonds are ground down.

Pour the almond milk into a nut milk bag over a large bowl. Squeeze the bag to allow the milk to run through and leave the pulp inside the bag.

Put the milk back into your rinsed out blender and add the dates or stevia to sweeten your milk if you desire, and blend. Place it in a container and refrigerate. The milk should be good for 2-4 days before spoiling.

Are you making your own nut milks at home> I’d love to hear from you. Which nut milk is your favorite? Do you like it sweetened or plain Jane?

Reduce Inflammation By Eating These Foods

Header It has been said that inflammation is the root cause of all disease. When your skin is inflamed it’s easy to see due to the redness, blotchiness, rashes, and hives, but how do you recognize inflammation inside your body and how do you assist your body in healing its self?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the source and the cause of inflammation. Whether it is acute or chronic inflammation caused by environmental irritants or what we're eating, many factors go into why we're dealing with inflammation. Chronic inflammation can indicate the body's inability to respond to its irritant. Infections can jumpstart an inflammatory response, along with other sources of inflammation such as stress, unhealthy habits, and other underlying health issues

The good news, though, is there are natural remedies for inflammation, and a lot of those are naturally available foods that are probably already in your kitchen.

Before we get to remedies that will help your body feel better from the inside out, I want to share some signs that you might experience if you have inflammation in your body which you can’t see.

  1. Fatigue
  2. Being overweight
  3. Aches and pains especially joints
  4. Red itchy skin
  5. Allergies and infections
  6. A diagnosed autoimmune disease
  7. Throat tickle or constant coughing
  8. Acne, cysts, hives, rashes
  9. Itchy ears
  10. Craving white flour processed foods
  11. Puffy Skin and water retention

Don’t get worried or scared if you have any of the above symptoms Just begin to use the foods in your kitchen as your medicine,

Filling your kitchen with anti-inflammatory foods will help combat your inflammation on a regular basis. Some powerful anti-inflammatory fruits include blueberries, strawberries, cherries, oranges, and pineapple. Many of these contain bromelain and quercetin, which are incredible for helping ease inflammation in the body.

 

Here are some other anti-inflammatory foods to use in your kitchen include...

 

Ginger. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory chemicals and adding this root to your routine can be quite simple -- add it to your meals, toss some in your juicer, or make some fresh ginger tea.

Green tea. This popular tea has catechins, which have antioxidant properties and power. Substitute out your afternoon coffee for a green tea to enjoy the natural anti-inflammatory benefits it provides.

Beets. In my opinion, beets are a superfood and they are oh so good for you. Filled with the betalain pigment along with countless other beneficial nutrients, beets provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that your body will love. Toss some on your salad, in a juice or in your smoothie and reap the benefits.

Tomatoes. The lycopene found in tomatoes helps provide the body with an anti-inflammatory benefit. Summer is a fantastic time to enjoy loads of tomatoes, so eat up!

Garlic. Garlic is so versatile and can be added to nearly everything. Take advantage of that and toss it in your home cooked meals or salad dressings to enjoy its anti-inflammatory benefits regularly.

Along with these important foods, sleep is another powerful element in reducing the risk of inflammation. If you’re in need of improving your sleep quality, take this as a sign to begin now. Sleep is such a crucial link in your overall wellness, not just with controlling inflammation. Making healthy lifestyle choices gives your body a better chance of curbing inflammation in the future, so start with baby steps.

What can you do this week to make healthier habits? I am currently working on my sleep routine. I’m a light sleeper and it takes me a long time to fall asleep. For the next month, my focus is on getting some deep snoozing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

** Disclaimer:   I do not provide the services of a licensed dietician or nutritionist, information received should not be seen as medical or nursing advice and is not meant to take the place of seeing licensed health professionals.