Holiday Madness

“I’m going to start eating healthy in January.”

“I need to get back on track after the holidays.”

Sound like you?

I hear this. Every. Single. Day.

How about staying on track and starting 2016 with a healthier you?

Rather than digging yourself a deeper hole, why not take advantage of the season and work on your personal health goals?

The holidays really are a special time of year; it’s a great time to focus on time with friends and family. Unfortunately, most of us find this season loaded with sugary foods that leave us feeling tired and full of more cravings. Coupled with the added stress, this can really be a recipe for disaster (and sickness, bloating, and weight gain).

Most common complaints over the holiday season:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Bloating and digestive issues
  • Weight gain

Here are my tips to keeping healthy over the next several weeks

1.Scope it out. Don’t just start loading up your plate. Check out your options and know where you want your “treat” calories to go. Keep portions realistic—no need to keep eating once you’re full. Plan on your plate being mostly protein and vegetables. If you know that your favorite sweet potato casserole is at the end of the buffet, then you can make sure you skimp on the stuffing at the beginning.

2.Plan your beverages.Keep track and know how many you are letting yourself have. Bring something you know you can drink if there won’t be anything else you like available (bottled or carbonated water). DO NOT drink the sugary beverages (and that includes juice)! Go in with a plan.

3.Don’t give up your exercise routine!If you’re short on time, split it up or add in some extras during the day. Holiday party after work? Take 15 minutes in the morning to squeeze in some squats and push ups, take another 15 at lunch for a brisk walk. Exercise increases metabolism, decreases stress hormones and reduces cravings- all MUST haves during these winter months.

exercise-2.jpg

4.Grab a healthy snack before you get to the party! This will help you to make more rational decisions during the festivities. When you show up starving you're much more lively to fill up on "carbage." We'll talk more about that shortly.

5.Starving when you get to the party? Load up on protein. If you made the mistake of not having your snack, fill your plate up with chicken, turkey, fish, beef, etc. Don’t fill up on high-carbohydrate foods (stuffing, potatoes, casseroles) that won’t keep you full for very long and don’t provide many nutrients.

6.Don’t chat near the snacks. Standing near the snacks and appetizers is going to increase the chances that you will eat more of them (and you know you probably shouldn’t). Keep social hour away from the cheese ball.  You want to fill up on the nutrient dense stuff (turkey, meat, veggies), not the nutrient poor snack items.

7.Avoid the snacks completely if possible. These tend to be loaded with empty carbs and inflammatory oils (corn, canola, soy and “vegetable" oil).  These aren't only bad news for your waist, but also for your heart, brain and joints. 


8.Carry mints and gum.Want to decrease the likelihood that you will eat more cookies? Chew on some minty gum or mints.

9.Share a healthy treat you like. Bring something you know you want to eat! If you're brining a dish to share, make sure its one that you know you can enjoy in excess.

10.Make the most of the meals you ARE responsible for.If you know you and your family will not be eating the “best” over the next several weeks, make the most of the meals you serve at home. Leave the "treats" to the parties and social events, keep them OUT of your house. Keep up with your healthy habits at home and leave the holiday madness to others.

11.Don’t be afraid to say “no, thank you.” Its okay to say NO. You are doing what’s best for your health. Hosts will survive if there are cookies and cakes left over. Sorry food pushers, but no thank you.

12.Support your stress response. Magnesium or adaptogenic herbs can help promote relaxation and a feeling of calm if you are under additional stress. Adaptogenic herbs are those that can help you “adapt” to stress better. The most common are ashwagandha, ginseng and rhodiola. My favorite is rhodiola, but you should always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new regimen. Magnesium can act as a natural muscle relaxant and also promote a feeling of calm.

13.Get enough sleep! Sleep has an impact on stress hormones, cravings, and more. Aim for 7–9 hours in a dark room. Turn off your T.V. and smart phone 1-2 hours prior to bedtime if you're having trouble falling asleep.

14.Relax. Try to enjoy the holidays! You should be enjoying this time! If you're not then you have some work to do!

Good luck! You can make the most of this holiday season and start off 2016 with a healthier you.


Paleo Shake & Bake Tenders (21DSD Friendly)

You need these in your life. I love chicken tenders. I don't know why, I always have. If I'm going to eat something I know I shouldn't be eating, it's chicken tenders hands down.

Of course I'm going to find a tasty way to eat them!

These are SO easy! I want to say that they kind of remind me of "shake & bake" chicken, but considering I have no recollection of what that tastes like I can't say for sure.

 
Paleo Shake & Bake Tenders (21DSD Friendly) 

Makes: ~10 tenders

Prep: 5-10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

What you need-

  • ~1 pound raw chicken tenders (you can cut up breasts yourself or be lazy like me and buy them pre-sliced)
  • 1.5 Cups Almond Flour/Meal (I highly recommend Now Foods Raw Almond Flour because its heartier than some of the others out there, this makes for a better tender)
  • 3 eggs
  • Seasonings, seasonings, seasonings
  • I used ~1Tb sea salt, and ~1-2 teaspoons of each of the following: pepper, cayenne, paprika, garlic granules

 

  1. Place aluminium foil over a cookie sheet. Set your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place almond flour in a large bowl and mix in seasonings.  Im heavy with the cayenne in this because I love them a little spicy.

 

3. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl to dip your chicken.

4. One by one dip each piece of chicken in the eggs and then the almond flour mixture. Place them on the cookie sheet equal distance apart.


5. Bake for ~25 minutes (at 375F) or until chicken is cooked!

6. Throw some veggies on a plate (because whats a meal without veggies) and a dipping sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

These store okay in the fridge, but are best immediately after cooking. They never last long in my house, my husband is already finishing up the batch I made today.

Let me know what you think!

It's Fall! Time for Chili!

The start of fall food prep!

Chili is a pretty popular dish in my house; when I make it I have to make a lot of it. We basically eat from a large batch for days; while Im prepping to cook such a large amount I always think, "we are going to be so sick of chili by the time this is gone." But we never are. In fact usually it's requested just a couple weeks later.

When there is an item that everyone likes I think of two things-

1. Is it healthy?

To meet my requirements there cannot be any added sugar (bonus for no sugar at all), artificial colors, flavorings or things I cannot pronounce. There cannot be any "unstable" or oxidized fats (see blog post on fats- search fats), or empty carbohydrates (carbs that don't have the nutrients to obtain the energy from them, also known as "carbage").  Major bonus points for the item/meal containing high quality protein, vegetables and healthy fats.

If the answer to question 1 is YES, then I move on to question 2 (see below).

If the answer to question 1 is NO, then I have to "reformulate" the menu item/meal to meet the above requirements.

2. Can I make it healthier? Usually yes. Can I make it healthier without anyone noticing or without altering the taste in a "bad" way? Mmmmm thats a different story.

This is the tricky part. Sometimes I think something taste good and my husband informs me that it may taste good to me, but probably not to the general population. My goal for this question is to make a healthy, nutrient dense, delicious dish even more nutrient dense...all while keeping its taste scores up!

I did it with the chili.

Let's just take a moment to review the "requirements" of question 1 in regards to my chili-

  • No added sugar
  • Only natural sugar from the tomatoes
  • Nothing artificial
  • No oxidized fats
  • Rich in naturally occurring healthy fat
  • No empty carbohydrates
  • Nutrient dense carbs in full force
  • High quality protein WITH vegetables all in ONE meal

Changes made to make it even better...

  • Add butternut squash. Boom.
    • More healthy carbs, phytonutrients and soluble fiber.

 

I made this knowing that we would eat it daily for a couple days, with the option to freeze some (always think about meal prep).

Hidden Butternut Chili

Prep time- 30-40 minutes

Cook time- Varies (~30 minutes, but some people let it simmer all day in a crock pot), its up to you. This time I cooked it and immediately removed from heat to cool for storage, it was just as delicious.

Serves- 5-7? (Im guessing because chili portions vary greatly)

Ingredients-

1 large butternut squash

2-3 Tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)

2 leeks

1 onion

1 large garlic clove

2-3 bell peppers

~3lbs ground turkey (I used 85/15) or protein of your choice

3 cans diced tomatoes (yes I used canned tomatoes, I need convenience sometimes)

6oz can tomato sauce (splurge and get organic, it tastes better- trust me)

2 cans beans (I used 1 can kidney and 1 can black beans)

salt & pepper

~2 ounces chili powder

*you will also need a food processor of some sort

  1. Preheat oven to 375'F
  2. Slice butternut squash lengthwise and clean seeds out. Place flat side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes to until tender. While this is cooking you will continue making your chili!
  3. Slice and dice your leeks, onion and garlic clove.    Add coconut oil to a large pan (what you plan on making your chili in) and heat over med-high heat until melted. Add leeks, onion and garlic, stir until cooked almost through.      

4. Add the ground turkey along with some salt and pepper. Stir well and continue to cook on med-high heat until turkey is cooked.

5. When the turkey mixture is cooked through you are going to add the bell peppers, 2 cans of tomatoes (set the 3rd can aside), 2 cans of beans (drained) and chili pepper.

6. Check on squash. Get food processor set up.

7. Keep chili mixture over medium heat and stir once in a while.

8. Squash should be done, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Carefully (its still super hot) take out the insides and place into the food processor, add the last can of tomatoes and the can of tomato paste. Blend until smooth.    Do not let your typically chili eaters see this step, it may detour them from trying the chili (they won't be able to tell that you added this gem).

 

9. Add squash mixture to chili mixture and stir well. Add additional salt, pepper, cayenne and/or chili powder to your taste.

DONE. You have a healthy, nutrient dense meal to serve your family and friends. 

Or you have lunch for the week!


You could transfer this to a crockpot if you were serving over the course of several hours, or serve immediately. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think!

Sugar, is it dangerous? Part 2 of 4 (so I don't overwhelm anyone)

Sugar...we know that's it hiding everywhere (see previous blog post about sugar, search "sugar"), but does it matter?

Yes. It really does.

In fact it drives ME CRAZY when people try to shove sugar down others.

Do I want a piece of birthday cake? No. "You should really just have one piece..." Should I?

If someone is trying to reduce their sugar intake you should support that person in any and everyway possible- because it's SO difficult to cut back on sugar and SO beneficial. The peer pressure we put on others to consume CRAPPY food shocks me. In 50 years we could be looking at it the same way as pressuring people to smoke cigarettes. When someone tells me that they are cutting out sugar I give them the same support and encouragement as someone telling me they have quit smoking. So don't pay attention to food pushers if you know you're making the right decision. AND IF YOU'RE A "FOOD PUSHER" YOU NEED TO LAY OFF.

So whats wrong with sugar? In a little bit I'll address the sugar from whole fruits (which are absolutely okay with me, but juice is on my NO list).  We are going to go over 8 reasons why you may want to rethink that sweetened latte, but this post only has 4. I think fewer shorter reads is better than 1 extremely long one!

4 (of 8) Reasons why your morning latte, donut, whole grain cereal, or sweetened yogurt could be affecting your health

1. It's robbing your savings account.

  • Your nutrient savings account to be exact. Tired all the time? Looking for something to get rid of that "dragging" feeling? When people ask me what they can do differently because they're tired all the time, my first response is- stop eating added sugar. When you drink a sweetened beverage, a flavored yogurt or pasta with sauce (that has added sugar)...what happens? Your body wants to use that sugar as "fuel" to produce energy...but it takes A LOT of tools (nutrients) to break down that sugar as fuel. If the sugar doesn't come "prepackaged" with those tools (nutrients) then it has to find them somewhere (your nutrient savings account),  depleting your stores. That is one of the differences between the doughnut and the apple. The (WHOLE FRUIT) APPLE comes with everything it needs. It's naturally packed with B-vitamins and minerals for your body to use the sugar from it as FUEL. The donut does NOT. It only provides sugar...and that sugar wants to be used as fuel. So what does it do? It "robs" your B vitamin and mineral storage tanks...resulting in fatigue. The juice from that apple also DOES NOT provide all the materials to access that fuel from the apples- robbing your tanks. Whole, natural fruits are great...processed foods from fruits are NOT (juice, packaged items advertising "sweetened with fruit juice"). This is where the term "empty calories" come from. These sugars provide calories, but nothing to help them break down and be used as fuel.

 

  • Take away...
    • A lot of B-vitamins are required for carbohydrate and sugar metabolism. The more sugar you eat, the more B vitamins you need. Mother nature is SO great, she packaged whole foods with the B vitamins they need to metabolize and break down. If you eat whole foods (not in a package, bag, box) you don't have to worry about this. When you eat carnage (carbohydrate rich garbage) or foods with added sugar you do need to worry (cereals, granola bars, juice, soda, sweets). Tired? Stop eating so much sugar and carbage.

2. It's affecting your immune system.

  • Sick all the time? Want to give you and your families immune systems a boost? You guessed it, CUT BACK ON SUGAR. Why is this? For several reasons...
    • Eating or drinking too much sugar can limit your immune system cells that attack bacteria. YES, consuming too much sugar can potentially not allow your immune system to work the way it wants (1).
    • 1 teaspoon of sugar could potentially impact your immune for up to 5 hours!
  • The FIRST thing I talk to people about when they ask me to "help them not get sick this winter" is their diet. You can't eat sugar all the time and expect to be well. I don't just mean cookies and ice cream- there is sugar hiding in everything that comes in a bag/package/box.
    • Zesty low fat italian dressing (1 teaspoon per 2 Tablespoons)
    • Organic, low sodium tomato soup (6 teaspoons per can)
    • Whole grain "protein" cheerios (4 teaspoons per 1 1/4 cup)
  • Side note- there is NO way you can eat cold cereal everyday and stay under the recommended sugar intake

 

3. It has a large impact on your cardiovascular system.

  • Remember the original visual from PART 1 that talked about limiting sugar? That's from The American Heart Association (AHA). Yup. The people who are making nutrition recommendations to reduce cardiovascular disease have pretty strict guidelines when it comes to sugar intake. That's because it's now widely noted that excess sugar can increase your overall risk for heart disease.  In fact they recommend that you limit added sugar to <5% of your total calories, that's MORE restrictive than their recommendations for saturated fat.
  • Their recommendations include:
    • No more than 6 teaspoons/day for females and no more than 9teaspoons/day for males

How does sugar effect your heart? For several reasons, but we don't even know all of them yet. Here are a few:

  • It may affect the pumping mechanism of the heart, increasing your risk for heart failure (2)
  • Are you skinny? Doesn't matter. One study showed that consuming excess sugar can increase your risk for cardiac issues EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT OVERWEIGHT (3)

The AHA came out with these sugar recommendations because of a large study that showed an increased risk of death from cardiovascular issues with excess sugar consumption (4).

4. Its promoting your addiction to sugar.

  • Sugar cravings? They are NO JOKE. Sugar can cause a surge in dopamine in the "reward" center of your brain. This can cause a viscous circle of cravings. Find someone who loves their sweets and/or soda and ask them to give it all up cold turkey. I bet they only last a couple days, it really is difficult.

When you eat sugar (even when its hidden) several times a day, everyday, it creates a steady flow of pleasure hormones being released and a constant increase in blood glucose. This is an addictive feeling. The amount of sugar that our body was naturally meant to handle should be coming from a piece of fruit, NOT a piece of pie or cup of soda. This is why it's difficult for people to "get off" sugar, it's a huge adjustment for their body. This is one of the reasons why I offer a sugar support group, where we complete the 21 Day Sugar Detox together with daily support. Check out more information HERE.

 

Even if you think you don't "eat any sugar," you probably do. Buy anything in a package, box or bag and there's probably some hidden sugar. Most items that advertise "low-fat" or "low-sodium" are fixed up with some hidden sugar to make them taste better.

For example, Amys Kitchen makes an Organic, Low in Sodium, Tomato Soup.

Turn it around and check out the nutrition facts label...

There are 13g of sugar per serving, with 2 servings per can.

I think most people can eat the entire can, so 26g of sugar PER CAN! That's 6 teaspoons of sugar per can of Organic Low Sodium Tomato soup.

How much does the AHA recommend to limit our intake before increasing our risk of cardiovascular disease?

6 teaspoons.

One can of tomato soup and you're at your limit.

Stay tuned for part 3 of 4 of the sugar series! In the mean time cut back on your packaged/processed goods and reduce your sugar intake!

 

 

 

Meal Prep on The 21DSD!

Do you meal prep? My week is a disaster for 2 reasons if I don't.

1. I don't eat as well as I know I should. This creates a chain of events...making poor choices, feeling worse, throwing a pity party  for myself...

2. It cost more money. If I don't bring my lunch and/or snacks I'm probably going to eat out ($$), or run to the store and get things that are conveinenet that I normally would not have purchased ($$).

So what do I do to prevent this? I spend at least 2-3 hours setting myself up for success. Considering how much better meal preparation allows me to eat, and how much money it saves, its actually worth the few hours. Not to mention the HEALTH BENEFITS. I also know and understand that people are stressed for time. I get it. I have a baby, a house, work more than full time and try to get some workouts in...BUT MEAL PREP IS A PRIORITY. Its just something thats on my "to-do list," like laundry...but its so much more rewarding. This week I'm preparing to start The 21 Day Sugar Detox with some fellow coaches, so things are a little more strict than normal. Im really excited because I think I need a "refresh" from this past month of summer parties, BBQs and treats. Next month I'll post a non-21DSD meal prep session, but its not too different. Here are my steps to "prepare for food prep."

  • Check out what you have
    • This may also involve considering whats coming that week from your farmers market, CSA, etc. if you don't already have it in your possession
    • I look in my freezer, fridge and cupboards to get an idea of what I need to use up
    • I know that this week I have a TON of veggies to use (overload from my garden and from my CSA box this past week)
    • I also know that I have fresh ginger and a bag of sesame seeds that I got on sale randomly last week
    • DON'T get discouraged if you're new to eating whole foods/paleo/allergen free, I have a lot of things in my kitchen that I never thought I would. Sometimes when I would look at recipes everything would seem so odd/expensive, but once you "get going" your pantry builds up! Rarely are you ever buying those "expensive" ingredients.

  

  • Make a list of what you're going to eat this week
    • This is really keeping in mind what you have already, you don't want anything to go to waste
    • This is as complicated as you make it- I don't like complicated so I keep it pretty simple
    • I make a list of veggies (salads, sides) that I can prep ahead, protein (eggs, chicken for lunches and some main courses for dinner) and snacks or "extras"
    • Snacks can be things prepped or easy grab and go items (sometimes I grab a piece of chicken as a snack), changing your mindset of "snacking" works wonders. I'm prepping some extra snacks this week because of The 21 Day Sugar Detox
    • Check out this weeks list....
img_9187-0.jpg

I know I have eggs. I also know I have a busy week and probably won't have time to make my lovely fried eggies, so Im going to cook them all ahead of time. Plan is to steam 1 dozen and then make egg muffins from the other dozen-

BREAKFAST ✔️

I also know I need protein for my salads and veggies Im prepping for lunch- chicken breasts and salsa in crockpot, hard boiled eggs, canned tuna... I'm going to make the mason jar salads last because I can throw all my leftover veggies In them. Here are the ones I made last week-   

LUNCH ✔️

Dinner? Im going to have a few different options (21DSD are from The 21 Day Sugar Detox Guidebook)-

  • Shepard's Pie 21DSD style (I need to use up that frozen cauliflower, and I already have carrots)
  • Beef and Broccoli  21DSD style (I already have broccoli and ginger)
  • Burgers on cabbage leaves (always fast and easy...maybe I should make ketchup and mayo)
  • Cucumber salad (I have SO MANY cucumbers...this would work with burgers or lunch
  • Asian style meatballs with ground turkey

I checked out the ingredients of each recipe to see what i would still need from the store...I tried to pick out items that I wouldn't need much more for.

DINNER ✔️

Snacks...check out this fruit basket, I just need some green apples and green tipped bananas to go with this grapefruit (fruits allowed on the detox). The lemons and limes will be used for some recipes and IN MY WATER. I love citrus in my water. I also have pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut and sunflower seeds to make a trail mix.

SNACKS ✔️ 

And...Im making Lemon Vanilla Meltaways from The 21 Day Sugar Detox Guidebook. Because Im awesome.

NOT SWEET TREATS ✔️ 

  • Make your grocery list and STICK TO IT. Unless you see something that is an amazing deal, you need to stick to your list.

My list.

Its SUPER short this week because I have SO many veggies waiting for me. I also already have a lot of paleo staples- coconut oil, coconut butter, nuts, seeds, etc.    Sooo...that gives me breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for at least 4 days. It will probably last me 5-6 days, because I'll probably have an "off plan" meal or two at some point. Stay tuned these next few weeks! Ill try and post about my own 21DSD and recipes/meals that Im eating.

I'll also try to share more about food prep, I know I've been getting some messages and questions about it.

Happy meal planning!