Posts filed under Nourish Tips/Advice

6 Tips to Give Up Sugar

1. EAT.
Make meals a priority and don’t let yourself get hungry. When you’re hangry and desperate, packaged snacks are quick, cheap, and usually full of sugar. Plan ahead and pack nuts, an apple, avocado, anything healthy that could tide you over.

2. ADD Fermented Foods into Your Diet.
Sugar puts our bodies in an acidic state that cries out for MORE sugar. Fermented foods ALKALIZE our bodies restoring balance and kills the strong cravings. Kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, kimchi, and pickles are all fermented items you can incorporate into your diet.

3. Be a Detective. Sugar is in so many foods that you wouldn’t expect so it’s important to be an avid label reader. This is a personality trait of a healthy person and is a habit that you can start today! Things like ketchup, tomato sauce, dips, peanut butter, dressings, energy bars, and marinades are foods that usually have unsuspected added sugar.

4. “ Out of Sight, Out of Mind”.
This tip is simple: don’t buy it. When it’s in the house it calls out to be eaten. If it’s not there, you can’t have it. So at work kindly ask the token candy-bowl-keepers to place their stash under wraps to help you out.

5. Eat Healthy Fats.
When I upped the avocado, olive oil, nuts, and coconut oil in my diet, I noticed I was more satisfied after each meal and I stopped craving something sweet afterwards. These are not the fats that make you gain, these are the ones that make your skin glow, waist shrink, hair shine, and control your sweet tooth.

*Coconut oil is used as instant energy by your body because it’s made up of medium-chain-triglycerides (same as sugar) that your liver processes right away without the insulin spike/crash. So if you’re reaching for sugar to get a boost, try 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil instead. Put it in a smoothie or eat it right out of the jar with a spoon! BONUS: coconut oil is also linked to weight loss especially in the belly area.

6. Choose Quality over Quantity.
OK, so you’re having an attack. You Must. Have. Sweet. Now. What do you do? Reach for a high quality, naturally sweetened treat. Near a health food store? Even better. Choosing naturally sweetened items that use raw honey, maple syrup, agave, etc. is better than something with the refined white stuff.

As always, the important thing is about making the best choice in any situation you’re put in. If you often find yourself craving sweets, the first step is to admit you’re addicted (kidding… maybe), and the second step is to get prepared. Preparation is THE key. Put the tips above into practice to give yourself a fighting chance against free donuts and birthday sheet cakes at the office.

Here are a few swap ideas to get you started on your sugar-free journey! Do you crave….
Gummy/fruity candy? Pick up pints of berries and grapes.
Ice Cream? Freeze bananas and whip em in the blender w almond milk and PB!
Chocolate? Make this recipe with 3 ingredients.
Cake? Try these fruit sweetened brownies 

More sugar-free recipes are coming your way! Please share any of your favorites below 

6 Reasons to Give Up Sugar

I really don’t love using the scare-tactic when it comes to helping others to live well, but sugar is SO bad that I’ll do it with no shame. As an ex-addict I can tell you the only reason I’ve been able to stay off the ‘juice’ is because I’ve realized that it absolutely does all of the following things to our bodies and emotional well being. I now experience fewer colds, my moods are stable, I’ve lost stubborn weight, and overall, feel freaking fantastic. Cutting sugar is one of the most drastic things I’ve done to take my health to the next level, but it’s also been the most impactful. Check out some scary side-effects & facts that finally gave me reason to quit.

1. It intensifies anxiety.
I say ‘intensify’ in place of ‘give’ because we all have anxiety on some level. The conversation has thankfully become less hush-hush but we need to start talking about how we can manage it, sans prescription.

2. It makes you gain weight.
Sugar when not used as energy is converted to fat. So that Twizzlers package that says “A Fat-Free Food!” is complete bull in reality.

3. It kills your mouth game.
Not only will sugar ruin your teeth and 100-watt smile, but it will also give you bad breath. Sugar increases bacteria in your mouth and erodes tooth enamel.

4. It messes with your hormones.
Which means it effects/intensifies PMS symptoms, mood swings, infertility, energy levels, and so much more.

5. It’s not food.
Ever notice that on a food label there is not DV% (daily value) listed? Yeah, that’s because you don’t need added sugar to survive.

6. It makes you age
by damaging and lowering collagen- that stuff that keeps your skin supple and wrinkle-free. And that’s just the visible sign- so many age related diseases have been linked to sugar consumption that it warrants it’s own post.

Want to know how to crush that sweet tooth? 6 TIPS are coming your way next!
Have you yourself given up sugar? What made you quit and what can you share with others about your experience? Let’s talk about it!

Flour Power

A huge part of improving our diet starts with making healthier swaps for the foods we love. One awesome way to do this is with flour! In place of refined white flour, use an alternative whole grain, bean, or nut flour to supercharge your baked creations with flavor and nutrition. Making pizza? Try making a Greek style pie with a chickpea flour crust; you’ll get more protein, fiber, and it’s flavor appropriate! I call this getting the most nutritional bang for your buck. Check out some of my favorite off the grid flours, and swap one in next time you pre-heat the oven!-

Coconut Flour 
With a low glycemic index, higher protein, and lower carbohydrate content, coconut flour is Paleo-diet and waist watcher approved. It works great for those morning biscuits and cacao nib cookies because it naturally has a slightly sweet taste. Did I mention it’s also gluten-free?
Tip: Swap up to 20% of the flour in a recipe with coconut flour (but make sure to add the same amount of liquid!)

Teff Flour 
Teff is a tiny grain that originates from Ethiopia and boasts high contents of dietary fiber, protein, amino acids, iron, vitamin C, and calcium. The flavor is light and a bit nutty. It’s a great gluten-free and nutritious addition to any baked good. Sub about ¼ of the flour in your favorite recipe with Teff.
Tip: delicious in anything that also calls for nut butter! 

Garbanzo Bean Flour 
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are super creamy beans that make a wonderful protein packed flour! Use as a wholesome breading substitute, to thicken sauces and gravy, or blend into breads for incredible flavor with more fiber to boot.
Tip: Replace 25% of flour called for with chickpea flour.

Hazelnut flour/meal 
Infamous for it’s chocolate pairing in Nutella, hazelnuts have a rich nutty flavor that work beautifully in baked goods or for crusting fish and meats. Hazelnut flour (or meal) will add healthy monounsaturated fats, protein, vitamin E, and luxurious flavor to your culinary creations.
Tip: Pass on the Nutella and use up to 30% hazelnut meal in leu of the flour called for in any of your favorite recipes. 

Spelt 
Spelt is an ancient heirloom grain that has never been altered or hybridized. This means it’s a reliable source for hearty flavor and a dense nutritional profile. While spelt isn’t gluten-free, it is easier to digest than conventional wheat and some who are sensitive to gluten can tolerate it (similar to sprouted grains). Add to breads, crackers, and muffins to get a high dose of fiber, manganese, and iron.
Tip: The nutty flour can be swapped for the equivalent of wheat flour called for in a recipe.

In the comments below, share how you plan to use an alternative flour (or how it went) to inspire us all! 

Posted on March 12, 2015 and filed under NOURISH, Nourish Tips/Advice.

My Go-To Travel Snacks

Being healthy on the go is a skill. An acquired skill. It took me many trips, business and pleasure alike, to really catch the hang of it. There are SO many variables involved that make it really hard to generalize the art of healthy travel. You’ve got airport restaurants and convenient stores, hotels, cafeterias, transportation limitations, and the list goes on. That’s why its such a challenge where one could easily be tempted to throw their hands up in defeat at a Bojangles while layover-ing in Charlotte (not this health angel though ;-)). I’m going to give you my list of go-to’s to keep you on track throughout your journey to prevent any junk-food acts of desperation.

This week I am doing some freelance work out of town and refuse to buy multiple $10-$20 meals that I don’t really know what they contain or how they’ve been prepared. In an effort to stay healthy and thrifty while on the job, I hit up the local grocery store for some lunch and snack options that are low-maintenance and doable for this specific trip. Below is a list of things I usually pick up or pack when I know options will be limited:

• Apples
• Baby carrots
• Avocados
• Nuts & Seeds
• Granola
• Nut butter (look for packets)
• Bars (the ones with whole ingredients you can pronounce)

There are many other options depending on the circumstances but this is my essential hit list. These  items are great to have on hand to supplement or serve as small meals when the pickin’s are slim. Because I knew I would have access to a microwave, (even though they are evil and zap food’s energy!) this time I picked up some soup and spinach to throw in there too. Although I didn’t have a bowl (note the coffee cup) and got lucky with a spoon, I still made a healthy lunch happen to keep my physical and mental state steady for a long day’s work.

Your body is your temple and only you can control what you put in it regardless of your geographical location. Hopefully this gives you some inspiration on how to prep and get creative on your quest to stay healthy while traveling!

Tame Sugar Cravings by Balancing your Body’s pH

You may not have thought about the pH scale since biology class dipping test strips in soda, coffee, and the like. As it turns out, that lesson is actually applicable to your life outside of the classroom! We all know sugar has addictive properties so it’s no wonder that eating it only makes us want more. Let’s talk about one of the scientific reasons behind this connection and explore ways to break out of the cycle. Sugar is one of the most acid forming foods that you can eat and the acidic state it creates in your body is partly responsible for leaving you wanting more. Having a more alkaline, balanced pH is vital to your health because it enables all of your cells, organs, and systems to function at maximum performance. If you struggle with sugar addiction, this could be your entrance onto the road to recovery.

One way to alkalize your system is to get moving! Your cardiovascular system helps regulate many body components including its acidity levels. Taking deep breaths also aids in removing excess acid from the system through the release of carbon dioxide. Make sure to get a good dose of fresh air and exercise for a non-edible way to help balance your system.

Adding more fermented foods and beverages to your diet is also a great way to level your pH as well as assist in digestion and nourish the gut – another culprit for sugar cravings when not functioning properly. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is actually acidic; however, as it reacts in your body it becomes alkaline, similar to lemons.  This increasingly popular drink is now bottled and even comes flavored for those who don’t like its natural, sometimes bitter flavor.  Other great fermented food options include kefir, a fermented milk drink; kimchi, Korea’s national dish of seasoned fermented vegetables; and sauerkraut, fermented cabbage most popular on hot dogs at the ballpark. Experiment by adding these into your diet (in moderation) and see how you feel. Pay attention to your energy levels, digestion, and of course, sugar cravings.

Dark leafy greens are pretty much the key to optimum health all around so it’s no surprise they are extremely alkalizing to boot. Getting your ‘five a day’ and sticking to a clean diet is your sure fire way to maintain good pH balance and keep those pesky sugar at bay. Sugar addiction can’t be cured in a day so do your best and be proud that you are taking yet another step in the right direction!

If Sugar is the Crack of Food, Cereal is a Gateway Drug

To avoid this being another commentary about sugar addiction, I am going to focus on a particular meal that includes not only sugar, but also its 2 partners in crime; wheat and dairy. They are the 3 most addictive foods on earth and combined they make a lethally delicious and naturally profitable combo that is, the cereal industry. Sugar, dairy, and wheat all activate pathways in the brain that signal pleasure and reward. These are the same pathways that drugs like heroin or cocaine follow.

Cereal doesn’t last a week in my house. I’m not talking about Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms – I can’t even keep the Bran and granola types. I was so ashamed of my cereal addiction that I would leave an empty box on the shelf to hide the fact that I had crushed it within 2 days until I felt it was a reasonable time to have finished it. Finally recognizing my weakness, I stopped buying cereal full stop. Cold turkey is how I do things of this nature.

Because cereal is usually made of wheat, coated in sugar, and bathed in milk, it’s no wonder it had an addictive effect on me! I can’t believe millions of Americans start their day with this narcotic-esq meal that sets the stage for cravings, consumption, or withdrawal systems like headaches, moodiness, and lack of energy. Sugar consumed at breakfast- or anytime- creates an acid state in your body, which suppresses your immune system and feeds the bad bacteria in your intestines causing you to crave even more sugar throughout the day.

I know some of you are thinking ‘well I eat the healthy cereal so this doesn’t apply’ but take a look at those Nutritional Facts, actually account for how much you eat (3/4 cup is a joke serving size), and then evaluate those stats – and don’t forget the average 20g of sugar in your milk. Just because a cereal’s ingredients are of a higher quality doesn’t mean it should still be your #1 breakfast choice.

Wheat, dairy, and sugar can be found in most of our processed foods and all cereals so “staying clean” couldn’t be harder. However, since these are foods and not illegal drugs, my point is to simply expose cereal as the nutritional phony that it is and help people realize it is by no means the healthiest way to start the day.

Fun/Scary Cereal Facts:

  • Breakfast cereals contain more sugar than some donuts
  • Yankee pitcher, Carsten Charles “CC” Sabathia lost 25 lbs. by cutting Cap’n Crunch out of his diet
  • Americans consume 101 lbs. or 160 bowls of cereal per person each year
  • Honey Smacks have the highest sugar content per serving

Better Breakfast Options:

  • Quinoa Flakes! 90 seconds to make, high in protein, gluten-free, and whole grain
  • Eggs – if you are pressed for time, make a veggie frittata Sunday night and divvy out portions for the week
  • Oats – Great source of fiber and whole grain. Try slow cooking a batch in the crock-pot overnight to avoid the instant stuff!
  • Almond butter and banana on sprouted grain toast
  • Fresh fruit smoothie – get adventurous by adding greens like spinach and superfoods too!

And yes, there are cereals out there with little to no sugar, without wheat, that can be eaten with milk substitutes. But let’s be real, they are pretty tasteless and if that’s what America was eating instead, I wouldn’t have a reason to write this post. Make your breakfast fun and tasty while figuring out what YOUR body needs to get going! Check out this Breakfast Experiment to get in tune with what works best for you.

And remember, Yoouu’rree Grreeaatt!! 

Posted on March 12, 2015 and filed under breakfast, Nourish Tips/Advice.

Could Your Meals Use a Makeover?

 

Do you find yourself eating for comfort or making the same staple dishes over and over again? Well if TLC and Food Network ever had a sitcom-child it would be “What Not to Eat”. Imagine pantry clean-out scenes with minute rice and ranch dressing flying into the trashcan. The food victim would then be educated by natural food chefs, taken on a tour of Whole Foods, and given boku bucks to blow on quinoa and goji berries. But since I have yet to be recruited to start this show, let me give you 6 steps to update your plate.

1. UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE (Pantry)

Throw away the food that is not flattering for any human such as; processed grains, packaged snacks, sugary treats, etc. and replace with healthy alternatives! Food staples like whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, spices, and wholesome condiments will make curating a healthy plate a snap.

2. ACCESSORIZE (Tools)

Jazz up your meal by using fun tools like a spiralizer for zucchini pasta, a peeler for carrot ribbons, a grater for lemon zest on your salmon, or a mandolin slicer for baking sweet potato chips! A dish with fun textures is more visually appealing which makes eating it that much more satisfying. Even functional pieces like a salad spinner, food processor, and an immersion blender can make smart cooking look and feel effortless.

3. EXPERIMENT WITH COLOR & PATTERNS (Eat the Rainbow)

Get adventurous and try new vegetables and fruits as they come into season. Having more colors on your plate means you’re getting a wider spectrum of nutrients (i.e. orange foods have high beta carotene). By doing this you’ll avoid the monochromatic white meal, which is definitely a healthy “Don’t”. Execute this tip by including 2-3 veggies per meal as a rule of thumb and get creative with your combos!

4. SWITCH UP YOUR STYLE (Cooking Methods)

Try to use more than one cooking method per meal to keep it fresh and widen your options. Select from steaming, sautéing, baking, broiling, grilling, boiling, roasting, raw, frozen, or chilled depending on the season or the “it” method of the moment. I think we all can agree that roasted veggies are killing it on menus this season.

5. SPICE IT UP (Seasonings)

There’s nothing like the perfect herb or spice to turn a drab dish into a fierce crowd pleaser. Spices also come in handy post-cooking allowing you to style a classic dish many ways throughout the week. My favorite way to do this is by making a pot of plain brown rice and pairing it with combos like; cinnamon and almond milk for breakfast, shoyu and an egg for fried rice, or cumin with black beans for a side dish.

6. PICK OUT YOUR OUTFIT THE NIGHT BEFORE (Food Prep)

Having healthy foods prepped for the week is a no-fail way to stay nourished despite any hectic schedule. By having big batches of soups, whole grains, and beans already made in addition to prepped salad greens, vegetables, and fruit, you have no excuse for resorting to take-out or frozen dinners. Make this tip even easier by stocking up on high quality tools like a good knife, cutting boards, and glass storage containers that keep the food fresher, longer.

And that’s a wrap! All you need to know to revamp your meals into a healthier, flawless version of your daily dining experience. Because yes darling, saying “I just threw this together” never could be so true. Now get into that kitchen and MAKE IT WORK! (Tim Gun voice)

*Did this post inspire a fun healthy meal? Snap & share to show friends and family your new look! And tag me @thatlushlife #curateyourplate 

 

Health + Technology

I don’t believe in counting calories, eating for ‘points’, or focusing too hard on any quantitative data around health for weight loss. However, in this technological age it would be ignorant not to agree that new apps, websites, and gadgets, have SERIOUSLY increased everyone’s health mojo.

Having tools at your fingertips (literally) help to make staying on your health game easy, cheap, and convenient. And where those words once described the advantages of fast food, now fit the description of monitoring, meeting, and exceeding your health goals by using technology. Pepper in some friendly competition by comparing your progress with others, and you’ve got the motivation factor covered.

Below are some of the tools I personally use or know people who have had major success with. They cover fitness, food, spirituality, education, and even an app with brain games (bye bye Candy Crush). You may already use some of these apps but haven’t used them to your healthiest advantage…

WEBSITES/APPS

Yelp! I’m constantly using Yelp to find healthy restaurants or grocery stores no matter where I am. You can enter food allergies or diet type and are given a list of options with price range and distance to help you narrow down your choice. A must-have for travelers! www.yelp.com
Clean Plates: If you live in NYC, LA, or Austin this site/app only features healthy options. www.cleanplates.com
Whole Foods Market: Cooking in? This recipe app lets you select ingredients to find recipes you can make with what you have on hand. www.wholefoodsmarket.com/apps
YouTube: So many options. Workouts, meditations, cooking demos & recipes, nutritional advice, and beyond. Tip: find a few favorites and subscribe for email alerts. www.youtube.com
Crunch & Crunch Live: Access amazing group fitness classes right in your living room or hotel room. As a member of this gym I also use their app to find new classes, reserve my spot, and check in. www.crunchlive.com
GAIAM TV: Explore channels like Yoga, Health & Longevity, and Spiritual Growth to feed your body and mind on your own time. www.gaiamtv.com
Lumosity: This site and app created by neuroscientists keeps your brain smart with games that improve your mental sharpness, attention, and memory. The health of your brain is extremely important and needs to be worked out just like your body! www.lumosity.com
Calm: An app that provides you the perfect way to zen out on the go. With a menu full of meditations and soothing sounds, you can manage stress and center whether you’re at your desk or on the subway. www.calm.com
Nudge: Do you use a fit bit? Track your food? Water too? Nudge will combine all your tracking madness in one app that scores your health. The score, or “The Nudge Factor” rates how healthy you’re living from 1-110. This could be helpful in continuously improving and not getting satisfied simply with a daily target of steps, water, or calories. nudgeyourself.com
Spotify: Just like a teacher can make the class, music can make the workout. The site/app has tons of curated-for-you playlists that can get you through any sweat session. Need some white noise or peaceful tunes? They’ve got you covered there too. www.spotify.com

GADGETS

Fitbit/Jawbone/Misfit: Activity and sleep trackers that are normally bracelet style and have an accompanying app that you also can track food and
weight. These have changed lifestyles. I know friends and family who were once sedentary go from ‘getting in their steps’ to running in long distance races. A rare micromanaging tool I can get behind since it’s been a catalyst to so much more. Perfect if you are just starting out on a health/fitness journey.
GOOD head phones: Whether you’re jamming out on the treadmill or trying to gain peace during a mid-(work)day meditation, good headphones can make the difference. Get a pair that stay in, are super comfortable, and keep outside noise to a minimum. Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are where its at.

 

Do you use technology to stay active, eat clean, sleep deep, and get zen?
Sharing is caring-Let us know below!

7 TIPS: Healthy on a Budget

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When I hear “eating healthy is too expensive” my inner Elle Woods gears up to deliver a strong closing argument to shut down the case. This is because I am living proof that its not. About 2 years ago I left a cushy 9-5 to pursue my dream without a savings account or plan. With one paying client and rent to pay, I know all too well how to make it work on a tight budget. As a health coach yes, I made nourishing food a priority over bar tabs and trips to the shore. But on any healthy eating journey, choices need to be made. Below are the tips I personally followed to stay healthy no matter what.

1. Know your staples
Identify the 5 items you buy almost every time you’re at the grocery store and get to know their average prices in relation to amount (ie per pound, count, etc.). Without memorizing every price in the store, you can know when to spot a deal or a markup on your usual items. Just like its important to read nutritional labels to be healthy, you have to read the prices to be thrifty.

2. Choose where to buy
Are your staples best bought in bulk, fresh, frozen, or in a can? Think outside of the grocery store and consider your favorite type of wild rice could be cheapest on Amazon.com or Vitacost.com. Knowing the prices will help you figure out if the bulk section of your store or pre-bagged is cheapest. While bulk is usually always cheaper, be cautious for exceptions (ahem, chia seeds at Whole Foods).

3. Be realistic, not perfect
Eating healthy doesn’t mean all or nothing. I believe fresh, organic, local, and seasonal is the optimal way to eat, however, I know it’s not always possible and that’s OK. Get familiar with the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to see what’s most and least effected by pesticides and toxins. If you can’t go fresh and organic, go fresh. If canned and frozen makes sense for you right now, go for it. The goal is to stick to whole foods and veggies at your price point.

4. Shop outside of the box
Box meaning literally, boxes of processed foods. Prepackaged snacks are not only unhealthy but also expensive! If they make health claims expect them to be even more. Shop the perimeter of your store to stay near fresh produce, meats, fish, and frozen goods. However, the middle does contain whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and condiments so dip in when necessary.

5. Eat seasonal
Seasonal eating has an expensive sound to it, but in fact is the most affordable way to eat. When fruits and vegetables are in season, they are growing in abundance and need to sell! Without being too tied to your staple list, buy produce on sale or what’s in season to get the best nutritional and monetary bang for your buck.

6. Stock condiments
When you have a kitchen stocked with herbs, spices, condiments, and sauces, you can make any meal new and exciting. Give a simple meal of brown rice with vegetables an Asian flare with tamari, sesame oil, and sesame seeds or go Italian with oregano, garlic, and a chunky marinara. Seasonings make throwing an affordable, healthy, and delicious meal together a snap.

7. Go meat-less, more
Take the “meatless Monday” concept and run with it. Meat and animal products are expensive! Buy half the meat you normally buy and replace it with beans, tofu (1x per week), seeds, nuts, nut butters, and protein-rich quinoa. Contrary to popular belief, plants DO have protein! I challenge you to limit your yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, deli meats, and fresh meats for a month and watch your grocery bill go WAY down. Also, your pants size!

Do YOU have any tips to stay thrifty at the grocery store? Share with us below!

Posted on March 10, 2015 and filed under Nourish Tips/Advice, NOURISH.