6 Powerful Ways to Relieve Brain Fog

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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

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“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.

Want to Feel Refreshed? Juice Cleanse for One Day

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In our super busy society, we are in the pursuit of having it all. As we work hard to achieve our goals, we don’t allow our bodies and psyche time to decompress and relax. In the past, I worked 7 days a week and pretty much forgot what it was like to have a weekend to myself. Have you been there or experiencing this now?

You might have the weekend off from work, but things like chores and running children around to all their activities can occupy all your time. In times like these, a vacation is a blessing and a change of routine is welcome. A day spent reading under a tree, smelling the flowers near a river or a walk in the woods can make all the difference.

Why it all matters to your overall wellness.

Have you ever thought about the foods and drinks you consume? What’s it made from, with and by whom? Many eat whatever comes their way. Because of the struggle to have time to cook at home, you may find yourself eating processed food or fast food most of the time.

Do you know that diet (what you eat on a daily basis) affects our behavior and mood? Dietary changes bring changes in our brains, which lead to change in attitude, hormones, and ability.

For many, our busy schedules don’t allow us to be as careful as we would like to be regarding what we put into our bodies on a daily basis. Most of us just don't have time to cook at home every day. In such situations, the tested and proven one-day juice cleanse is just the answer.

How does a juice cleanse work?

To lose weight, stay healthy, feel fresh, give your digestive system a break from hard-to-digest processed foods and maintain focus, you should try to go on a juice cleanse once a week. It is a rejuvenating experience. It will boost your metabolism due to the sudden change in diet and your digestive organs will thank you for a day off.

Which juices to drink?

Remember, the key is balance. Try to drink juices that leave you without an appetite. You should drink six juices a day to receive proper hydration. Play around with the four juice recipes I provide below to find out a combination that works for you and is appetizing. Make sure not to add any sugar or artificial flavors.

Remember this.

The most important factor is to not juice in a way that leaves you feeling faint, weak or so hungry that you are waking up for a midnight snack. If you do feel faint or weak you can supplement with a smoothie. If that doesn’t work do whatever you have to do to feel better (eat a piece of fruit). Juice cleanses are never about feeling deprived, they’re about being cleansed and feeling alive.

This doable and easy to follow a juice cleanse will help you succeed in making changes for one day. And when you have the discipline and the desire to implement this change, I promise many more will follow because you will feel so great. My hope is this juice cleanse will be an action you take that will propel you into other lifestyle changes creating massive change in what you put in your body and allow in your life.

Below are my 4 favorite juice recipes. I hope you enjoy them.

Juice #1

INGREDIENTS

2 Cucumbers (unpeeled)

1 Green apple (unpeeled)

1 handful Parsley

1 Lemon (juice of)

DIRECTIONS

Juice all ingredients in a juicer.

Juice #2

INGREDIENTS

3 Celery Stalks

1 Cucumber (with skin)

2 handfuls Romaine lettuce

2 handfuls Spinach

1 Pears

1 handful Parsley

1 handful Cilantro

4 ounces Coconut water

1 Lemon (juice of)

DIRECTIONS

Juice all ingredients in a juicer.

Juice #3

INGREDIENTS

4 Celery Stalks

½ Green apple

1 Cucumber (with skin)

3 Kale leaves

1 Lemon (juice of)

DIRECTIONS

Juice all ingredients in a juicer.

Juice #4

INGREDIENTS

3 Kale leaves

1cup Spinach

4 Celery Stalks

1 Cucumber (with skin)

1 Lemon (juice of)

1 Lime (juice of)

½ Green apple

3 sprigs Mint

DIRECTIONS

Juice all ingredients in a juicer.

This one-day juice cleanse will clean your internal organs and you will see the effect on your skin, overall health, and outlook on your life. The results will motivate and lead you towards opting for a healthy diet as you will feel so refreshed and healthy after this.

Grab-and-Go Salads for a Spring Day

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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

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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)

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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.

Great Substitutions for Carb Cravings that will Keep You Healthy and Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans.

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When I was a teenager carbs were all the rage. Eat carbs and lose weight. Sounds great, doesn’t it? BUT…what carbs were you eating? Pasta, bread, crackers and fat-free cookies (full of sugar)? I know I ate my fair share of all white flour carbs to stay skinny (at the time we thought that was healthy).

Times have changed, and now everyone is afraid of carbs and fat is the reigning queen. Yet we, women especially, want to eat carbs all the time, craving them and bingeing on them in massive amounts.

Let’s break down carbohydrates and help you with your cravings.

Even when you begin changing your eating habits for the better by incorporating cleaner foods and better practices, you can still fall victim to the massive carb craving. Sometimes, we attribute these carb cravings to a lousy day at work or a stressful week of deadlines, but carb cravings can also come from physiological imbalances.

When you feel stress, cortisol, the stress hormone, skyrockets along with your blood sugar. To compensate, your body releases the fat storage

hormone, insulin, to help bring your blood sugar back to stable. When that happens, the insulin tends to overcompensate, and your blood sugar dips lower than it should. Your body becomes confused and thinks it needs more energy, and thus, a carb craving is born.

Now that you know this, you can take steps to outsmart your body when it comes to carb cravings. First, you can take steps to reduce your stress or learn healthy coping mechanisms for when it arises. Next, you’ll need to change your eating habits to satisfy that carby craving without derailing your progress.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to curb your carb cravings...

Salt be gone: I know many people who have enormous hankerings for salty carb snacks. They stick their hand in a bag and don’t stop until the bag is empty. Next time you can't shake your craving for a crunchy, salty snack like potato chips, go for something that gives you what you want in a healthy way. For example, carrot and celery sticks with a side of hummus will fill you up and fuel you for the rest of your day. You can also air-pop popcorn or roast chickpeas, sprinkling each with a little sea salt to fulfill your saltiest desires.

Replace sugary sweets with natural sweets: Sweet tooth at it again? Next time you're longing for a dessert, trick your brain with something naturally sweet that isn’t full of refined sugars and processed junk. An orange, apple, strawberries or melons are a sweet swap for sugary snacks. An organic square of dark chocolate, as long as it’s at least 80% and pure, is an indulgent choice that won’t derail your habits and is very appealing to your taste buds. You could also have a banana “shake” using almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract for a treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free. Yum!

I love pasta and bread: Why can’t we all be Italian and eat pasta, risotto, and bread every day? Rice, pasta, bread, even cereal…these are all high-carb foods that will derail your efforts if you eat them too often. Luckily, there are swaps you can make that will fill you up while still being wholly satisfying. Cauliflower is a great way to make pizza crust, breadsticks, mashed “potatoes,” and rice. Using a spiralizer will help you make noodles out of vegetables that taste amazing, too. I love zucchini noodles with a homemade pesto on top. In all honesty, when I go to Little Italy in NYC, I’m going to eat carbs but I go with a whole wheat pasta and load up with more veggies than carbs to help balance out the meal. Delish and no regrets.

Remember this, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets, and carrots are all sweet vegetables that can fill your plate and offer you the sweetness you desire.

If you really can’t control a craving, suck on a lemon. It will totally clean your mouth and will help you not want carbs and the sweet flavor they offer us. Also, if carb cravings seem to be an everyday experience, be a detective and figure out if you are missing something sweet in your life such as love, healthy relationships, downtime, or time in nature, and see if you can carve out time in your day for these activities. Sometimes it’s not food were craving, but life experiences.

I would love to hear from you. Now that you've gotten some ideas on how to tackle those carb cravings leave a comment below and share what ingredients you are going to arm yourself within your kitchen at all times, so these swaps become second nature

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

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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

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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

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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.

Use my 6 Easy Steps to Clean Eating for Miraculous Health

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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.

4 Simple Ways to Not Get Sick this Winter

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Wintertime causes a yearning in my soul to warm up by a cozy fire and finally slow down with a cup of organic dark hot chocolate. Are you feeling the same? There is a reason we feel this way…we’re meant to slow down in the winter. I love that nature works like this, innately causing us to change with the seasons. Have you ever noticed? The winter brings the desire for warmer foods, connection with loved ones, and more rest and relaxation. The critical part of this fascinating natural phenomenon is that we listen and oblige.

Another tendency is to feel our desire to workout slow down this season, which is also common. I want to share with you my top way to help keep a winter wellness routine. These work for me each year, and I hope you'll gain some ideas you can use, too!

My favorite Winter Wellness tips...

  1. Slow down

If your social calendar looks anything like mine, it's jam-packed this season. We just made it through all the holiday parties, and now it's time to catch up with those we didn't have time to see last month, and of course, celebrate the New Year. However, don’t feel obligated to attend every gathering you get invited to, particularly if you’re feeling burnt out from work and your other obligations. It’s great to meet new people and socialize, but if it causes you to get less sleep or it stresses you out, decline some of the less essential offers. Don’t burn the candle at both ends.

  1. Be conscious of social settings (and your workplace)

For the events you do attend, remember that cold and flu germs often lurk without symptoms at first. There’s no need to be paranoid about shaking hands or meeting people, but be mindful of your hands before you eat and don’t touch your nose, mouth or eyes after shaking hands with someone. Keeping your hands clean is the best way to avoid a winter illness.

  1. Keep exercising and practicing yoga

Your best battle against the winter blues is to keep moving your body through yoga and your workout routine. Finding it hard to stay motivated during the colder months? Switch things up. Try a new class at your gym or take on a new challenge that will help keep you motivated. Yoga is your best friend in the winter because you can roll out your mat at home anytime and practice. Yoga will also help you stay mindful of the foods you eat too.

  1. Water, water, water.

Getting enough fluids is essential on any day, but in winter the weather is drier and so is the heat indoors. Not only that, but your skin can become parched too. Drinking more water and applying more moisturizer is a must. Here’s a trick to keep you hydrated…drink warm water. It’s nicer for your digestive system and you're not trying to drink cold water on a cold day.

So, what's the norm for you? Do you try to stay on track during the winter months, or do you put things off until it starts to warm up outside? I make sure I stay on track with daily yoga and toning exercises. I like to drink warm water to warm me up form the inside and take time to reflect on where I am and where I desire to go. I want to feel good and refuse to let the cold month (and it’s been really cold this season in NYC) bring me down.

Be kind to yourself during the winter months and the rest of the year too!

Leave a comment below and share steps you take to stay healthy this season.

Deep Nourishment for the New Year

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Hey, I have an idea…

This year instead of focusing on weight loss, let’s focus on providing Deep Nourishment to our bodies.

What do I mean by deep nourishment? It’s actually really easy if you don’t overthink it. It is taking care of your whole body at the same time.

When you nourish your body with whole, delicious foods, weight loss will be a by-product of the nourishment your giving your body.When you eat healthy foods, you’re helping your ease your mind from the stress we all feel about gaining weight. When you take your focus off dieting, you can hear your spirit talking and can follow your hearts desires instead of hiding because you're unhappy your “fat” (exact words spoken from one of my clients).

When you work on one part of your life…whether it is something to do with your body or mind… body or life every other part of your being is affected because our bodies are ONE…not unconnected parts.

Here are some deep nourishment actions to take:

  1. Instead of looking in the mirror and hating your body. Look in the mirror and give loving vibes to your body. Say “I love you” and thank you your body for being strong and supporting you on planet Earth.
  1. Instead of going on a crash diet in the New Year, DECIDE to eat more fruits and veggies…. plain and simple. When you fill up on fruits and vegetables your satisfied and actually don’t want chips and cookies or fried chicken wings. Don’t allow yourself to be another New Year’s resolution statistic on failed weight loss. Be the change your seeking by changing your approach to eating fresh whole foods cooked simply.
  1. Take time to breathe on a daily basis. Sounds kind of silly since you automatically breathe on your own. What I am referring to is deep, relaxing breathing. Breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for four counts and breathe out for six counts. When your exhale is longer than your inhale, it allows your body to slip into “rest and digest” mode instead of “fight or flight” mode. If you can do this for 5 minutes in the morning I know your day and outlook will be different.
  1. Drop the crazy gym workouts that leave you so sore that you can’t sit down on the toilet without dire pain (been there) and choose movement that works best for you. If you’re a runner and that makes you happy, do it. If you’re participating in HIIT workouts at the gym but hate it and are in pain then head to a vinyasa class or walk in the park with your friend. Not everyone is meant to do athletic intensity training such as Cross fit. Do what is right for your body.
  1. Instead of hating your life and everything that has gone wrong in your life over the last year, bless it instead. Yep, I said bless your life. Send gratitude to the lessons you had to learn the hard way that made you stronger. Be grateful for the challenges, the debt, the failed relationships and all. These experiences have given you an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself better.
  1. Take full responsibility for everything in your life. If you're not happy with anything in your life then you have the power to change it. No one or no thing has made your life the way it is. We make decisions every day that lead us up to where we are in the here and now. Don’t like it? Accept it with full responsibility, and work toward changing it. Cut the blame game and take your power back.

The last 5 tips might have been hard to take in, but deep nourishment means taking a look at your life and making necessary changes to get you to where you want to be and enjoy life. As you take the above steps, you begin to get to the roots of who you are and an amazing relationship will be created. Drop the love/hate relationship that got you to 20 pounds overweight or unhappy with your life. Blessings.

Reducing Holiday Stress

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The holidays are among us – a time of year that’s known for its busy nature that can be quite stressful. After all, you likely have several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, and the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds to find the gifts for your loved ones. All of this on top of your normal everyday life can be overwhelming, to say the least.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to navigate this busy, stressful time of year and make this season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and a time you will remember with fond memories.

The stress-free guidance I'd love to share include…

After wrapping presents be present: It can be difficult, I understand. It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room. Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones. When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses. What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I feel? Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else. It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Let go of expectations: A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect. That’d be lovely, of course, but putting your entire extended family in one house is bound to have something go awry. Therefore, dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may spring up. There is joy to be found in each situation, so even when things don’t go exactly as planned, spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoying as much of your time as you possibly can. Tis the season!

Move your body: It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel. Even if it’s just a brisk walk after waking up or after lunch or dinner. Make it a habit to bundle up in your favorite scarf and winter coat to go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or go with someone you enjoy being around. Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate up.

What are your favorite ways to get some movement in during the cold months? My favorite way to stay moving during the cold season is yoga. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. You can choose a vinyasa flow to build heat and sweat off your holiday dinners or take it slow in a gentle or restorative yoga postures to relax and renew your body, mind, and spirit.

The holidays are a time for fun and love. You can stop stress in its tracks by following the above tips and actually enjoy this jolly season.

Winter Immune Boosters

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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

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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!

Don’t get sick this winter with these helpful tips

For many, winter is a refreshing time of year that they enthusiastically wait for including me. The cold and crisp temperatures, the beautiful blankets of snow covering the earth, the festivities with family and friends, and the anticipation of a brand new year right around the corner is all so exciting. Unfortunately, along with all of these great things, colds and the flu are also rampant. You might feel yourself surrounded by people coughing and sneezing. It can often feel like germs surround you anywhere you go this time of year, but by boosting your immune system, you'll be less susceptible to catching those colds.

Here are a few of my favorite and natural ways to boost my immune system during the colder months...

 

Rest and relax. Winter is a time to reflect. During wintertime, the days are shorter and there is more darkness for a good reason, so we can reflect and take time to restore our energy for the bounty of spring. When we ignore nature’s queues to slow down, it’s easy to get run down emotionally and physically. Take time to relax, watch a movie, read a novel, get lost in a hobby or sip on some delicious tea or hot chocolate. It’s good for your body but wonderful for your soul.

Eat whole and local. Yes, I know I sound like a broken record when I keep writing about eating whole foods, especially locally- sourced, but this practice is best for maximum nutrients, flavor, and freshness. For big flavors that boost immunity, make sure you cook with immunity-strengthening items like garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Eating plant-based whole foods diet can be healing to the body.

Vitamins C and D to the rescue. Popping a vitamin is not my first choice and you can get ample supplies of vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark green vegetables, and berries. They’re all excellent sources of vitamin C. Even with the cold weather the sun still offers vitamin D and it's important to get outside in the sun for a few minutes each day, preferably in the morning when the sun will put to sleep your melatonin and raise your serotonin levels making you feel good. A short sunbath on your face is a great way to get the vitamin D your body needs. Plus, a few minutes of fresh air always boosts your mood and energy levels!

Stay hydrated. Have you ever found yourself not drinking water in the winter because you’re too cold? I have and found myself completely dehydrated. When our bodies are dehydrated, it’s much easier for us to become susceptible to illnesses and your skin gets drier making your look older. You can always add a wedge of lemon to give it more flavor, plus you’ll get more vitamin C -- a win-win. If water isn’t the answer for you then boil some water, put in a thermos with your favorite caffeine free tea and you have warm tea all day.

Lie down and get some sleep. In a society that tends to run themselves ragged, take the time to get your rest and rejuvenate. You’ll be less likely to get sick if you sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, even if you come into contact with the people that are battling an illness. Sweet dreams!

Stay active. Exercise is one of the best ways to benefit your body overall, but it also helps keep your immune system strong. Even if you only have time for a 10-minute walk after lunch, take it. It will help your body fight off illness. Yoga, restorative yoga, Tai Chi, HIIT, weightlifting or just brisk walks in the park are all brilliant ways to get moving.

Reduce your chances of being bed-ridden by being proactive about your health right now! No one likes getting sick but with the ideas above, you’re on your way to a healthy winter.

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.