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!

How To Stop Stress Eating This Holiday Season. You Have The Power.

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The holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, this is a time filled with anxiety and stress. Sometimes, even for those that love the family get-togethers, the stress of holiday shopping, finances, and hosting relatives can tear them apart. When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of Christmas cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you for your life choices the way your family will.

But that’s not healthy and you know it. Plus, you’ll feel even less joy when you realize you’ve undone the whole year’s worth of fitness you’ve worked so hard for. If you find the holidays cause you to gobble down more than you should as a way to cope with the stress, I present to you these 5 ways to stop the stress eating before the first tray of cookies is hurried out to the company break room.

Meditate

Meditation is a tool that will help you handle any stress that you have to face. Sitting still, in silence for 5,10,or 20 minutes is the one spiritual practice I never stop. If you commit to meditating just 10 minutes a day, your outlook, reactions, and over all wellness will change for the better. Meditating is stress-reduction superstar.

Activity

When your boss announces there are no bonus checks this Christmas or your running behind on shopping for your Christmas list, instead of reaching for the holiday goodies, get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit the gym, take a yoga class, or just do something physical that appeals to you. You’ll release the stress and the exercise will help release the proper chemicals in your brain to make you feel better.

Stimulate your brain

The brain needs exercise too. Instead of letting it harp on the negative things that cause you to stress-eat, give it something constructive to do. Take 10 to 20 minutes to yourself to read something you want to read, work on a crossword puzzle, participate on a ballroom dance class or do something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way. It will help you feel refreshed.

Focus on healthy eating

It’s true the holidays are certainly a time for more indulgent meals. When you focus on healthy eating on a daily basis, prior to the big family dinners, it won’t be such a shock to your waistline. Make sure you’re eating meals as you would normally without skipping them. If you starve yourself all day because you get busy with your job, family and gift shopping, you’re more prone to stuffing yourself at dinner with things that aren’t very healthful. Don’t fall into this eating trap because if you do the only thing you’ll feel is stuffed, bloated and regret.

Practice mindful moderation

To be honest, I believe eating in moderation can send you into an eating nightmare. During the holiday, eating in moderation can become more ‘frequent eating” with all the holiday events so one must be careful in deciding what to eat. Yes, there are certainly foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year like holiday cookies and cakes. But again, eating all of them isn’t going to do any good. So indulge mindfully and moderately. If you always look forward to your sister’s famous pecan pie, then focus on eating that when the time comes and say no to treats that aren’t as delicious like boxed cookies that you can get any time of the year.

Darling, forgive yourself

No one is perfect so if you find you caved into peer pressure at work and ate holiday treats you promised yourself you wouldn’t, forgive yourself and move on. The next moment is different and you can choose to stop eating the snacks and sip tea instead. Make the next thing you eat healthy and get moving on your exercise. But above all, keep your head up because that is the key to getting through the stress of the holiday season.

I personally love the holiday season…the crowded lines at the airport and shopping list that goes on forever. I find this time of the year to be magical and full of love. Yes, things don’t always go as planned but the way I handle the stress during the holidays is by chanting this a mantra in my head:

I got this

Or ask yourself this question:

What would love do?

I’ve given you many ways to help you handle the holiday stress but here’s the kicker: You create your own stress. I know, nobody wants to take responsibility for their own stress. It’s much easier to blame on a boss, family member or horrible customer service agent. Stress is not a real tangible thing. It’s your reaction to things. Our reaction can be stressful or calmer. You choose.

Let me know how you handle stressful moments by leaving a comment below.

Effortless Dinner Bowls

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There have been so many times after a long day I’ve walked into my front door later than expected, starving with no inspiration of what to cook because I was so hungry I couldn’t think straight. Have you been there too?

If you struggle with fixing home-cooked, healthy meals because you have limited time, having no ideas when it comes time to cook and resorting to the same three meals you cook over and over or lack confidence in the kitchen — I have the perfect solution for you! Effortless, recipe-free dinner bowls are always the ideal solution to each of these problems. I’m going to take you through creating your own quick and simple dinner bowls, and even give you some of my favorite recipes, too.

Here’s the best part. There are no recipes to follow! My favorite way to craft the perfect dinner bowl is to mix raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, a little sauce, and a grain — usually quinoa or brown rice. You basically put what you like in a bowl, toss it together and eat…easy, healthy, quick and delicious. Keeping your meals simple takes a huge burden off of you and lightens your stress load tremendously. That’s what I’m here to help you with — having a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t add stress but takes it away. Next, I’ll go over my favorites in each category to inspire your creativity, and then will give you 6 of my favorite dinner bowl “recipes.” Enjoy!

RAW VEGGIES

Broccoli

Bell peppers

Tomatoes

Celery

Kale

Beets

Carrot

Cucumber

Onion

SAUCES

Tahini

Avocado oil

Guacamole

Hummus

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Liquid aminos

Toasted sesame seed oil

COOKED VEGGIES

Zucchini

Red onion

Eggplant

Mushrooms

Asparagus

Green beans

Brussels sprouts

GRAINS

Barley

Amaranth

Millet

Quinoa

Brown rice

Kamut

Buckwheat

* If you don’t eat grains substitute steamed greens for a nice healthy base.

TOPPINGS

Chickpeas

Sprouts

Lentils

Flax seeds

Nuts

Fresh herbs

Spices

VEGETABLE MORNING BOWL

Some mornings are best started with a grounding, hearty breakfast that warms you from the inside out. This bowl does just that for me.

Ingredients: sautéed mushrooms and onions cooked in olive oil with spices of choice, a small amount of quinoa or brown rice, atop a handful of fresh spinach. I also like to toss chickpeas in my veggie sauté for a tasty high fiber protein addiction.

(egg cooked how you like it if you want animal protein)

FALL INTO AUTUMN BOWL

Fresh and nourishing, such a great option for a chilly autumn day.

Ingredients: fresh cucumber, raw spinach, black beans, carrot ribbons, roasted beets, brown wild rice blend, and a heaping spoonful of your favorite hummus on top.

FRESHLY GRILLED VEGGIE BOWL

Grilling vegetables is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them. So this grilled veggie bowl is among one of my top favorites, for sure.

Ingredients: grilled zucchini, grilled red bell peppers, grilled cauliflower, fresh raw cherry tomatoes, fresh radish, over quinoa. Top with a squeeze of lime and fresh cracked black pepper.

AVACADO BLISS BOWL

Who doesn’t love avocado? I can always find a way to incorporate it into a meal, just like this bowl!

Ingredients: raw carrot ribbons, fresh romaine lettuce, grilled red bell pepper, red cabbage, quinoa and half an avocado on top.

HEART HEALTHY MEDITERRANIAN BOWL

These bowls don’t always have to be a one-dish meal -- you can also create a variety plate with a dip in the middle. This Mediterranean bowl is perfect for that.

Ingredients: roasted chickpeas, roasted zucchini, steamed green beans, raw onion, corn, tomato and your favorite hummus as your dip.

NO PASTA ZUCCHINI NOODLE BOWL

Zucchini noodles are so delicious and easy to add to meals.

Ingredients: zucchini noodles, raw cherry tomato, fresh avocado, red cabbage, carrot ribbons, romaine lettuce, and pomegranate seeds on top. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs and seasonings.

the best part of making dinner bowls is it's everything that you want to eat and nothing else.

Are you creating dinner bowl at home? What ingredients are you using? Leave a comment below and share your creativity in the kitchen.

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

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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.

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.

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 Delicious Breakfast Ideas To Keep You Healthy While On-The-Go.

 

Do you skip breakfast in the mornings? I know people who love to eat breakfast and others who don’t need anything until lunchtime.

When you feel overwhelmed by your schedule and you’re constantly racing from one appointment to the next, it’s an incredibly popular decision to skip breakfast entirely. Mornings truly can be a rat race that we feel we’re constantly losing, so I understand the reasoning behind feeling like there’s no time to have a breakfast. After all, when you’re already scurrying around in a race against the clock, it seems impossible to find a chance to sit down for breakfast on top of everything else.

I’ve been there, too. We’ve all been there. I have certainly felt your confusion and frustration. I’m sure your mother told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, but in case you need another reminder… it’s time to stop skipping breakfast!

Now, with that said, I don’t recommend a huge breakfast for anyone. Eggs, bacon, and toast is not a well food combined meal and instead of fueling you will take away your precious energy for digestion.

So what is a good breakfast? Something light, healthy and full of nutrients for you. Below I’ll share some simple ideas that you can incorporate into your morning routine.

Eating breakfast helps improve concentration, memory and even helps boost your mood but if you eat a heavy pancake breakfast you’ll feel weighed down and lethargic. Finding a simple, healthy breakfast that works for your busy schedule is quite easy, and we’re going to do that today.

It’s essential to find time to eat a breakfast that is right for you. Personally, I can drink a green juice or smoothie and be great until lunchtime. However, others need something with a little bit more sustenance. You just went the entire night without eating, (or practicing intermittent fasting- not eating for at least 12, 16, or 18 hours) and you need to refuel your body for the day ahead. Breakfast is the perfect time to get in those important vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function well throughout the day.

Here are a few of my favorite healthy and simple breakfast ideas that fit perfectly into a busy schedule…

 

1. Toast with avocado and tomato. This breakfast tastes great and can be made within a couple of minutes. The avocado is full of healthy fats, and the tomato provides lycopene, which is an antioxidant that is brilliant at scavenging for cancer-causing free radicals. You can also add a boiled egg if you want more protein to fuel your body.

2. Fruit, Nut and Yogurt Parfait. Parfaits are a fun way to start your day. You simply layer up some yogurt, nuts, fruit, nut butter and honey to create a delicious breakfast full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Kite Hill is a delicious plant-based and dairy free yogurt that you must try if you haven’t yet. If you don’t like yogurt, then use homemade almond milk or organic store-bought brand. I go heavier on the fruit than nuts because it’s a lighter option and works best for me.

3. Make-Ahead Smoothie. When you have absolutely no time in the morning, prepare smoothies the night before. I like to use two bananas, at least a cup of berries, a few dates and a lot of greens. Blend and store in 2 16-ounce mason jars. This makes two big servings so you have breakfast for two mornings.

4. Overnight Oats and Chia. Mix in oats, chia seeds, honey and some nut-milk into a jar and then leave it overnight in the fridge. You can add other ingredients you may desire to make this to your taste, like cacao, blueberries, almond or peanut butter.

Do your best not to overcomplicate it – that’s exactly what causes the feeling of overwhelm that holds you back from eating breakfast daily. Save the heavier breakfast foods for your lazy day Sunday brunch.

I understand some people need food when they wake up because their digestion is a little off, but if you can, drink warm water and wait till you eliminate before you start feeding your belly again. This way you're not stuffing more food into your digestion system on top of what is still in your digestive tract and overwhelming your system.

Do you ear breakfast or skip it? Do you practice intermittent fasting? Leave a comment below and let's chat about it.

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.

 

Adrenal Fatigue, Do You Have It?

In this day and age of the hustle and bustle lifestyle, being tired is something we all deal with – a part of life that we cannot seem to escape. But how do you know when your tiredness is normal or something you should pay more attention to? Adrenal fatigue affects a significant number of people in various ways, and you could be dealing with it right now without even knowing.

Maybe you’ve heard of adrenal fatigue but didn’t think it was affecting you. You might be unsure of what the adrenal glands do, or where they even are? Don’t worry – you aren’t alone. The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and they are responsible for producing important hormones - cortisol and adrenaline. When the adrenal glands are unable to work as efficiently as they should, problems arise. This is common with people who are struggling with stress of all kinds – mental, emotional, and physical. When the adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, the glands aren’t producing their important hormones. When this happens, the body feels the effects in various ways.

Are you just tired? Or do you think adrenal fatigue might be the culprit to your exhausting days?

 

Here are a few ways to notice if you may be struggling with adrenal fatigue…

Getting Out of bed is difficult. Insufficient sleep is one of the leading causes of adrenal fatigue. Without quality and adequate sleep, the adrenal glands will collapse. A patient suffering from adrenal fatigue often wakes up in the morning feeling extremely tired regardless of the amount of sleep they had.

Unbelievable Fatigue. High levels of tiredness or fatigue each day isn’t something to take lightly. Although aging can cause a significant drop in energy levels, there is still a distinct line between normal tiredness and something more. If you can’t get any relief from your exhaustion, no matter how much sleep you get or how well you eat, be sure to see your medical professional.

Unable to handle stress. It’s true that many people seem incapable of handling stress well. Some people seem to suddenly be incapable of handling stress when they were once very good at it. When you begin to feel a sudden change in your ability to manage stress, seek the attention of your medical professional and let them know about your change in stress.

Out-of-control craving for salty foods. Keep a close eye on your cravings. If you crave salty foods regularly or have a new craving for salty foods that you can’t kick, your body may be telling you you’re your adrenals are suffering. When your adrenal glands are depleted, your sodium levels drop, causing the craving for a substitute – salty foods.

High energy in the evenings. A person with adrenal fatigue may have too much energy in the evenings. Cortisol levels are high early in the morning, drop during the day, before peaking again in the evening. Often, this can lead to trouble sleeping at night.

 

Other symptoms you should watch out for include:

  • Joint pains
  • Low libido
  • Dizziness when standing up
  • Dark circles forming under the eyes
  • You get sick easily
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If any of this sounds like something you’re dealing with, please be sure to see your medical professional and let them know what you’ve been going through. The health of our adrenal glands is crucial in our overall well-being, so treating them well is of utmost importance.

I think one of the best daily rituals for self-care is Abhyanga, self-massage with oil. Your slowing down for the massage and giving your body deep comforting touch it needs. You don’t have to do this practice for a long period of time but just commit to 5 minutes every night before you go to bed.

How to practice Abhyanga:

Put a clean towel on the edge of the bathtub to sit on. Warm some oil (coconut for warmer months and sesame for colder months) in a bowl with water that has been warmed on the stove. Let the oil sit for about 5 minutes to makes sure it’s is warm to the touch but not hot or burning.

Begin to massage your body with long strokes on your arms, legs and torso and circular movements around your joints. If you’re going to wash your hair, massage your scalp too. It feels divine.

Sit with the oil for as long as you can and then wash off in the shower with just water and no soap or if you feel too greasy use very gentle natural soap such as diluted castile soap.

Adrenal fatigue will take time to heal from but it is possible. A good recipe that relieves adrenal fatigue symptoms is slow down, eat really good food and laugh.

Do you think you have adrenal fatigue? Let me know in the comments below the practices you have implemented in your life to help your body heal its self.

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.

 

5 Tips for Eating Healthy On A Budget

Header What is the number one reason complaint I receive about eating healthy? It is too expensive! I completely understand and it can certainly appear that way at first glance -- but after a bit of evaluating, you soon realize that eating healthy is absolutely possible on a budget. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it can be quite simple!

I'm going to share some of my tried-and-true tips on how to eat healthy without breaking the bank. Take these tips and make them habits in your life and you'll soon find you can successfully have a healthier kitchen without sacrificing a large chunk of your bank account.

Shop the perimeter of the store. Stay out of the inside isles. Think about it -- all of the healthy items are on the outside perimeter of the store. For the most part, the inside aisles are the pre-packaged, boxed foods that typically aren't ideal for a healthy lifestyle – and they’re more expensive per serving. There are certainly some items you'll need from the inside aisles, but the majority of the cart can be filled with items from the store perimeter. So always start by shopping the perimeter of the store before you dive into the inside aisles.

Skip the pre-cut items. Yes, it takes extra time and elbow grease, but buying pre-chopped onions or cut-up fruit costs a significant amount more than buying a full cantaloupe or butternut squash and cutting it yourself.

Shop and spend your hard earned money at different places. Wholesale stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club may be most beneficial to shop at for some healthy items, but probably not your entire grocery list. Scope out where you can get your staple items weekly. Are your veggies most affordable at the Farmers Market or Trader Joes? Is it most economical to get your grains and beans in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods? Shop around and find the best deals for what you need on a weekly basis.

I always buy local and recommend to everyone to buy local when you can.

Get your green thumb ready and start a garden. Are there some items you frequently eat that you can grow in your backyard or on your balcony? There are a tremendous amount of foods that you can easily grow at home, many of them you can even grow from scraps. Free is always great, right!? And when you grow it yourself, you know your food isn't laden with harmful chemicals. So, what can you look into growing yourself - leafy greens, strawberries, herbs, carrots, cucumbers…the list is endless.

Eat and buy in season. In season vegetables and fruits are far less expensive, more nutritious and easier to find. Fruits are almost always on sale at conventional grocery stores so check online to see where you can get berries half off or where you can stock up on fruit for the week.

Some produce costs more than others. Making the bulk of your produce the least expensive ones can keep your grocery bill down each week. Greens, carrots, apples, bananas, and celery are among a few very inexpensive options. Balance those out with some more expensive broccoli, brussels sprouts or berries, and you're well on your way to eating healthy on a budget.

Here is a big tip; the best way to get produce that is in season is through CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. Go to localharvest.org to find a CSA near you.

I personally buy what I need and do my best not to fill up my grocery cart with foods I don’t need to eat such as snacks, cookies or chips. These items add up quickly at the register and on your waistline.

Do you have a great way to save on your health and wellness producing grocery bill? Please leave a comment below and share.

Healthy Summer BBQ Recipes

FB Header The hot days of summer are a time of celebration, holidays and backyard barbeques.  You may feel like you have to ditch your healthy eating when you commit to attending or throwing a BBQ, but that couldn't be further from the truth!

There are countless ways to eat healthily at your friend’s BBQ. If you are hosting the event, you have a tremendous amount of healthy and delicious options to choose from while planning your menu.

Here are a few healthy menu options for your summer BBQ. These recipes are slimming, filling, tasty and perfect for weight loss goals and overall wellness.

 

APPETIZERS

 

Guacamole

Ingredients:

3 avocados, mashed

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tomato, diced

2 tablespoons lime juice

Jalapeños (optional)

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

 

Watermelon Pizza

Slice watermelon and cut into triangles, like a pizza.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle feta cheese (optional), sprinkle almonds or walnut slices. Top with any other desired fruits such as pomegranate seeds, strawberries or blueberries.

 

ENTREES

 

Grilled Vegetables

Simple as that, but oh so delicious! Drizzle veggies of choice (I highly recommend zucchini, red pepper, and tomatoes) with olive oil and fresh herbs. Grill to preferred tenderness.

 

Portobello Burger

Drizzle olive oil over Portobello caps and grill until cooked through. Use Portobello caps as a burger bun. Place burger of choice (veggie, black bean,) between Portobello caps. Top with toppings of choice and enjoy!

 

SIDES

 

Cucumber Dill Salad

Ingredients:

3 cucumbers, sliced

1 white onion, sliced

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 stalk green onion, sliced

2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill (if you don’t like dill use mint).

Directions: Toss all ingredients and chill before serving.

 

Chickpea Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1/2 red onion, sliced

1 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 cup cucumber, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Freshly cracked black pepper.

Directions: Toss all ingredients and chill.

 

Avocado Potato Salad

Ingredients: 2 pounds small red potatoes

3 avocados, mashed

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions: Cook potatoes until tender. Cut potatoes and stir in remaining ingredients.

 

DESSERTS

 

Chocolate Banana Nice Cream

Ingredients:

2 bananas

3 tablespoons cacao powder

Directions: Slice bananas and freeze for 30-45 minutes. Blend frozen bananas with cacao powder. Blend until smooth and top with any additional desired toppings.

Grilled Pineapple A La Mode 

Ingredients:

Pineapple cut into rings

Vegan Coconut milk Ice Cream

Directions: Slice pineapples and grill briefly until warm. Top with your favorite vegan coconut milk ice-cream and sprinkle with honey.

 

Now it's your turn. Let me know what you think. Did you try any of the recipes? Leave a comment below and share your favorite healthy BBQ dish

Detox Spinach Bowl for Summer Weight Loss.

Detox Spinach Bowl I am a huge fan of detoxing. I offer guided detox several times a year and it’s a wonderful way to cleanse with the support of a group and coach.

Your body is meant to detox on a daily basis but we keep clogging it with wheat, dairy, processed foods, and sugar. I’m raising my hand in guilt right now. Many people think of detoxing as lacking but here are my thoughts on keeping your body clean as you can.

Detoxing is not about self-deprivation.

Detoxing is a way to reduce aging, have more energy, and eliminate toxins that are directly linked to several health challenges.

When you detoxify your body, you’ll look and feel better. You’ll begin to awaken your senses and vibrate at a higher energetic frequency, increasing your desire to live life to the fullest. Detoxing gives you more energy, improves your sleep, and makes your skin radiant.

You’ll also get rid of familiar aches and pains. Even the symptoms of tiredness, headaches, and digestive disorders can be reversed after detoxification.

You’ll start to lose weight once your body starts to detox. Once you remove inflammatory foods like wheat and soy, processed foods, and foods that are high in sugar, you will find that weight loss happens naturally.

Detoxification is also a great way to hit your body’s “reset” button. Our busy lives sometimes force us to make unhealthy food choices. Seasonal detoxing is the perfect time to hit the reset button and incorporate self-care into your daily routine, identifying the right foods to help you reboot and beautify your body.

Detoxification speeds up your digestive system and makes it more efficient. You will find that you have more energy because your body is better able to absorb essential nutrients.

The benefits of detoxification are undeniable. It is the perfect solution for common health problems in men and women in a fast-paced world.

I want to give you a recipe that will help your body detox even if you’re not actively on a detox plan right now, but enjoying the summer and eating lighter meals.

 

Detox Spinach Bowl

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

6 cups spinach

Sea salt and black pepper to taste*

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup sprouts

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

1 avocado

Juice of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

Melt coconut oil in large pan. Add chopped garlic. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the spinach. Let the spinach wilt for about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve in a bowl with chickpeas, sprouts, hemp seeds, avocado, and lemon juice. Top with your favorite salad dressing.

* I love adding spices to any and all dishes. This dish would be great with Italian spice mix, paprika, or even a little chili powder if you want to experiment with the flavor.

I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share with the community if you made the above recipe and added any extra spices to the mix.

 

Roasted Chickpeas- A Great Snack for Your Summer Travels

Roasted Chickpeas I’ve talked many times about how I love snacks on my blog. My favorite snack is fruit, which is so good for you! Plus, it’s so easy to take a banana, apple or orange on the road with you.

Many people have asked what I snack on besides fruit so I wanted to share my favorite, easy to travel with and high fiber snack…Roasted Chickpeas.

When you roast chickpeas, they become a crispy, crunchy treat that you can eat by the handful (or on a salad if there are any left). This savory snack helps you keep your healthy lifestyle while you are on the go and can easily be carried in your purse or bag. These slightly addictive roasted chickpeas are low calorie and perfect for your fit figure and weight loss goals

Fair warning- be careful not to eat the whole batch in one sitting or you’ll be a little too gassy for you’re the other travelers around you!

Roasted Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix until chickpeas are well coated. Spread the chickpeas onto a baking sheet. Roast until slightly crisp, about 45 minutes. Store in a baggie for travel or store in a glass mason jar for home.

Do you have a go-to travel snack that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below and share.

 

Healthy Hormones With Food

carrot-1085063_1280 Having balanced hormones such as estrogen, adrenaline, testosterone, and insulin is an integral part of enjoying a healthy life. When our hormones are functioning properly, our bodies can operate at optimum levels and to our greatest benefit keeping us healthy. When we struggle with out-of-whack hormones, it can indeed throw our health and lives for a loop and this seems to be happening more and more lately. Luckily, there are simple things we can do on a daily basis to help our hormones stay on track and these easy things involve the foods you put into your mouth.

Before we begin getting into different foods that are helpful for balanced hormones, let’s dive into the importance of hormones to our health.

So what do hormones do? Hormones are tiny molecules that function as chemical messengers and triggers all sorts of responses in different parts of the body. There are various types of hormones, but here, I want to share about five important types of hormones.

 

  1. First, we have cortisol, the stress hormone. When you’re in a stressful situation, this hormone raises your heart rate, provides your brain with extra oxygen and releases energy from fat and glucose. Many of us have constant high levels of cortisol due to stress. This is the hormone that will leave a ring of belly fat around your stomach and it’s hard to get rid of the fat if you stress levels stay high.
  1. Secondly is testosterone, a hormone that we commonly know as a male hormone, but women have it too. Testosterone influences your sex drive, muscle mass, and brain function.
  1. Moving on to melatonin-- this hormone regulates your sleep cycle. Melatonin is activated by the pineal gland in the brain later in the day when the sun begins to set.
  1. Next up is estrogen, which is responsible for the growth and development of female characteristics and reproduction. Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissue.
  1. Lastly, adrenaline produced in the adrenal glands participates in the body’s fight-or-flight response. This hormone allows us to cope better with stressful and dangerous situations.

 

Foods That Help Balance Hormones Naturally

 

  1. Fats

Healthy fats are the building blocks of many different types of hormones. Some sources of these important healthy fats include coconut oil, avocado, eggs, and certain kinds of fish such as salmon and tuna.   Consuming these healthy fat sources allow you to fuel the healthy hormone production you need.

  1. Nuts

Walnuts are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a building block of hormones, and it also helps reduce inflammation in the body. Additionally, Omega-3's are excellent at promoting cell-to-cell communication.

Other nuts and seeds high in Omega-3's include pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and beechnuts.

  1. Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that encourage a healthy gut. The link between probiotics and a healthy gut is that these two balance important hormone levels in the body. Several foods provide probiotics naturally. Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut have live probiotics. Liquids such as Kombucha and bone broth are also filled with essential probiotics.

  1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that's extremely beneficial to you. This spice helps to balance your hormones naturally, and luckily, it is very versatile for how it can be used!   Turmeric is also an incredible anti-inflammatory that can assist you with having healthy digestion. You can use this spice in your meals, take it in capsule form, or even create a turmeric latte and enjoy it as a hot beverage.

  1. Green Veggies

How many times have you heard it's important to eat your greens? This isn't new information, for sure -- but it certainly is ever so true.   Green veggies including things like Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus help metabolize estrogen and balance hormones. So try to find a place for green veggies on your plate as often as possible.

 

What To Avoid

 

Now that we know some foods that will help balance your hormone levels, it’s also important to know which foods you can avoid so they do not interfere with your hormone levels.

  1. If you consume caffeine, be mindful not to overdo it. When you do consume too much caffeine, to the point that it interferes with your sleep, this can cause your cortisol levels to increase and your hormones to fluctuate as a result.
  1. Alcohol can be a deal-breaker too. Besides the fact that consuming high levels of alcohol can damage your organs, it can also interfere with your testosterone and estrogen levels.
  1. Sugar is typically a good thing to avoid anyway -- but indulging in processed sugar is another way to throw your hormones into a tailspin potentially. Sugar can be tough to kick, but lowering your intake over time is better than nothing at all. You can do it!
  1. Eliminate toxic bath, household and beauty products. The toxins in these products create havoc on your hormonal system. Switch to all-natural products.
  1. Reduce stress. We all know too well how we feel when we’re stressed and it doesn’t feel good.

 

Overall, add in more hormone balancing foods into your daily routine (all natural foods grown from the Earth) and begin reducing the "avoid" list. It's okay to make this change over time to make it last, so start one step at a time.

 

I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share how you keep your hormones happy and healthy.

 

 

 

 

8 Ways To Feel Forever Young Overnight

person-731141_1280 Close your eyes for a moment and imagine waking up feeling five or even ten years younger in your appearance, confidence, weight loss and aura. Ahhh… that feels so good, doesn’t it? The secret to feeling and looking 10 years younger is reducing gut inflammation. Yes….I am serious. Gut inflammation can result in a lack of motivation and an increase in autoimmune disorders, tiredness, and irritability, leaving you feeling worn-out and exhausted. These three simple steps will have you feeling younger, more vibrant, and healthier overnight.

1. Eliminate sugars, bread, and pasta from your diet. Replace those unhealthy carbs with natural options like berries or starch vegetables. Gut inflammation is often exacerbated by food sensitivities. Some food sensitivities are so hidden you may not know you have one without a food sensitivity test. Proactively removing unhealthy carbs and white flours from your diet will aid in the replenishment of your gut lining and reduce the inflammation in your gut.

2. Try some bone broth. Now, please know that I’m a vegetarian, 99.5% vegan, but know many people who have used bone broth with amazing results and that’s why I’ve included it here. Grass-fed bone broth helps to build antibodies, tighten skin cells, and can even reduce the appearance of cellulite. It’s packed with gelatin and collagen which rebuilds your gut lining and helps to strengthen your immune system. Bone broth contains potassium and glycine which aids in liver detoxification. Enjoy it warm for dinner in a soup. Grass-fed bone broth can be found at your local health food store.

3. Eat probiotic foods. Do you like sauerkraut, kimchee or coconut keifer? These foods are said to be healing for your gut and full of probiotics, which replenish your good gut bacteria. Can I just take a probiotic pill? Yes, but probiotics pills have only about 20 different strains and your body might need a different strain (plus supplement pills scan get expensive fast). Go ahead and take a probiotic pill but also have fermented foods with your meals at least once, preferably twice a day.

4. Eat dinner early and eliminate snacking before bed. If you keep eating before bedtime you only extending the time your body has to work at digesting the food you ate that day. When you keep your body working to get rid of the food you ate late night, it has no time to actually go into healing mode as you sleep. Personally, I made this change when I was in my 20s’ and have never looked back. I wake up refreshed, with a flat belly, feeling full of energy and refreshed.

5. Laugh, laugh a lot. Laughing is pure joy and keeps you in a high vibration. Laughing makes you feel wonderful and is healing for your soul. Talk to a toddler (kids say the funniest things). Play with puppies and laugh at how cute and clumsy they are. Watch good clean comedy (Big Bang Theory anyone!) or remember past events with loved ones that made you chuckle.

6. Slow down and enjoy the simple things. Take time to read a book or a slow walk in the park. Don’t move too quickly from one task to another (something I need to work on) and be grateful for the moment. Slowing down makes you feel younger at heart when rushing makes you feel stressed. Always remember, stress will age you quicker than anything.

7. Decide to be happy. I know this is a hard one for many people, including me, because we determine our happiness by external events and people but true happiness is an inside job. You have the capacity to be happy right now if you choose. Happiness makes you smile form your heart and nothing makes you look younger and feel young than a happy smiling person. Every day for the next 40 days, at one point during your day when things may not be going the way you want them too, choose to just be happy right then and there. It doesn’t matter what going on in your external environment. If you’re stuck in traffic choose to be happy and sing along to the radio. If someone is upset with you, know that it’s not about you and send them a blessing and choose to happy. If something happened at work, do your best not to get in a tizzy, take a deep breathe in and remember in the big picture… YOU ARE OK… don’t let anyone, anything or situation rock your boat. Choosing to be happy can be done and the more you try the easier it gets.

8. Last but not least, establish a regular, calming evening routine. Brushing and flossing your teeth every night is crucial to feeling better the next morning. Your mouth is the gateway to your overall health! Spend a little time before bed winding down, reading a book, or writing a journal entry. Meditate or go for a moonlight walk. Ensure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, and commit to taking a little time out of every day for yourself. I personally love an essential oil infused coconut oil self-massage with an inspiring and spiritual book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Gabrielle Bernstein or Marianne Williamson or a short mediation to relax my body. The greatest change comes from within and the willingness to commit to the change

  These five simple steps will usher in a big difference in your overall health and wellness. I recommend committing to these lifestyle changes for at least 21 to 40 days to really begin to see changes and fully repair the inflammation in your gut. By then, you will already have forgotten about those old habits that used to be your norm. That feeling of lethargy and lack of motivation is in the past. You’re well on your way to a healthier, younger you!

Remember, change can be uncomfortable especially if your use to eating late, drinking wine before bed to unwind or staying up watching late night T.V, but you can do it. Stay committed. To your goal of feeling better and looking better and close your eyes for some ZZZ’s.

Now it's your turn. Do you have a Forever Young ritual you do that keeps your body, mind, and emotions forever young? Leave a comment below and share. I'd love to hear it.