Tag Archives: nutrition

What We Ate Last Week!

Good nutrition plays such a huge role in a healthy body and mind. And my job revolves largely around helping my clients promote good health in their lives through things like meal planning, learning to read nutritional labels, choosing healthy foods at the grocery store, making healthy choices at restaurants, knowing which ingredients to avoid, the list goes on and on.

During sessions with my clients, I’m frequently asked, “So, what do YOU eat? What kinds of meals do you cook at home?” I love giving my clients ideas for simple, healthy meals that can be prepped in 30 minutes or less. Even though I love to cook and relish the idea of having hours in the kitchen to make everything from scratch and present a 4-course meal to my husband every night, the reality is that I don’t have time for that. And neither do most of my clients and friends. We need meals that are easily prepped, quickly prepared, and ready to be served ASAP. Most of us have busy, hectic schedules and dinner needs to be simple and easy.

healthy-eating-ecardAlthough the ideal is that everything would be homemade, with no prepackaged foods, and only organic, locally grown produce, the reality is that most people don’t have the time – or the money – for that. Sometimes heating up a bag of frozen green beans is the only way we’ll get our veggies in at dinner. I’ve learned over several years of being a Holistic Health Coach that if I give my clients complicated recipes that call for weird ingredients and take an hour to pull together, they’ll just end up driving through McDonald’s instead.  😛

For most people to invest in cooking healthy meals, they need to be as healthy as possible while still being as SIMPLE as possible, which is where I come in. 🙂 My goal is to provide my clients with recipes that are as healthy as possible, while also ensuring that they (and their kids, which is often the real challenge) will be willing to eat the foods involved.

I thought it’d be fun to do a weekly post on here about the meals that my hubby and I are eating each week! Hopefully it’ll provide some inspiration for those who are looking for healthy meal ideas.

I haven’t done my meal plan for this week yet, so here’s a look at what we ate last week, instead:

WHAT WE ATE LAST WEEK:

Monday: leftovers from the weekend!
chicken-wings1.jpg
Tuesday:
Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings
– this is one of Rob’s favorite recipes that I make, so we eat this pretty often! 🙂 I always use drumsticks instead of wings, though (our personal preference).
– I made a pot of rice with this and some sauteed green beans for our veggie!

Wednesday: Trader Joe’s Shitake Mushroom Chicken
– about once a week we have a night where we need a super quick meal and I don’t have time to cook much of anything. Our go-to for those nights is Trader Joe’s frozen section! This was our first time trying this particular entree and it was delicious! We had leftover rice from the night before and ate that with the stir-fry.

Thursday: leftovers!lemon-chicken-veggies-1

Friday: Lemon Chicken with Veggies
– first time trying this recipe too, and it was delicious!
– I didn’t have room in my pan for everything, so I roasted the potatoes in a separate pan with just some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (our favorite way to eat potatoes!)

Saturday: out for dinner (at a friend’s adorable gender-reveal party with a Pasta House buffet!)

I’ll be back soon with a post sharing my favorite resources for healthy, easy recipes!
Time to get a meal plan going for this new week! Enjoy your Sunday, friends! 🙂

Who Keeps You Healthy?

A few weeks ago, I was approached by the American Recall Center and asked to participate in their latest campaign, “Who Keeps You Healthy?” which is a way for health bloggers, like myself, to share about the person in their lives that motivates and empowers them to be healthy. I was excited to participate in this campaign and began thinking of who in my life I would highlight in this post as the one who keeps me healthy.

My dog came to mind, because she is always eager to go for a walk, which often motivates me to get out in the fresh air. My parents have influenced my health by always having healthy, whole foods around their house and encouraging me to cook and bake since childhood. My fiancé helps me stay motivated to work out by going with me to the gym and always being up for a hike or jog at the park.  the beagle girl

However, as I thought more about all of the things that go into “keeping me healthy” I realized that the true credit for my health really goes to someone else.

I’ve been through quite a journey with my health, including a battle with anorexia, followed by binge eating, and then wrestling with poor body image for years. My weight has fluctuated a lot. I’ve gone through periods of restrictive “healthy” eating and periods of binge-ing on pizza and cookie dough. I’ve made tons of health resolutions, workout goals, and learned to give myself some grace along the way.

When it comes down to it, my health these days is the best it’s ever been, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve thought I was healthy many times in the past during my eating disorder and subsequent recovery, and I often fooled myself. But the kind of health I am living out at this point in my life is not just a healthy BMI or number on the scale, it’s a health that encompasses my emotional and spiritual life as well.

1097965_392214087544816_872314355_nThere have been many times in the past several years of my journey where I was “doing all the right things” in terms of health, but I was unhappy, stressed, hating my body, and frustrated at not being able to control my appetite and cravings. I’ve come to learn that health is so much more than just eating the right foods or getting exercise every day.

Health to me means being happy with my body, focusing on things besides how many calories I’ve eaten since breakfast or whether I worked out enough this week.  In a lot of ways, health for me is measured by how LITTLE I think (or obsess) about my health. Health for me is having a career I love, being in a nurturing relationship, and finding time to enjoy hobbies and downtime. Health is taking time in the morning to pray and be at peace, and taking time to enjoy the little things each day. It’s getting enough sleep, and letting go of worry and learning to forgive. It’s knowing when to skip a workout and read a book in the sunshine instead.

My health journey has meant letting go in so many areas, and just living life with more joy and peace. Giving up my obsessions with being skinny, learning to eat ice cream again without guilt, and finding a balanced workout routine that energizes instead of exhausts me.

And I’m not saying I’ve “arrived” at the pinnacle of health, but I’ve made so much progress from where I used to be. There were a lot of people that helped me along the way, as I mentioned above. But in the end, it was only by God’s grace that I got through the hellish trenches of my eating disorder and made it to where I am today.

1474395_10201127367930761_1712911136_n And it doesn’t end here. There are still days where I feel fat or frustrated with the size of my body. Especially since getting engaged, there have been more frequent thoughts in my head taunting me to start a diet or design a new, intense workout plan to prepare for the big day. I’ve had moments where I questioned my evening bowl of ice cream or the occasional potato chip feasts with my fiancé while watching a movie. But then I hear another voice in my head and heart, telling me to remember how far I’ve come and the work it took to get here. Reminding me that even when I was a size 0 and obsessively in control of everything that went into my mouth, I wasn’t happy.

Even when I was the epitome of a “healthy eater,” I wasn’t actually healthy. I was emaciated and depressed.

1098478_392213077544917_769335534_nThere’s no doubt in my mind that God and His grace is what has enabled me to get healthy again. And it’s His voice in my heart that keeps me healthy, gently reminding me to embrace freedom and never look back.

I’m so thankful for the many friends and family members that have been there for me throughout my journey, and above all, the faithfulness of God to lead me where I am today.

For more information on the American Recall Center, check out their website here!

4 Things That Made a Huge Difference in My Recovery

First of all, thank you all so much for your responses to my story. I was blown away by all of the encouraging emails, texts and messages that I received! I heard from some who have been recovered for years, and many who are still trying to figure out how to get started on that path. Wherever you’re at in your journey, I want to encourage you that you’re not alone. body image

I believe it’s safe to say that almost every woman wrestles in some way – big or small – with her body image and self-worth. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be blogging more about my thoughts on these topics and sharing things that have helped me along the way. I’m still a work in progress, but my body image has come a LONG way in the past 2 years (thanks to counseling and lots of hard work) and I’m excited to encourage others to move in the same direction!

Today, I just wanted to pop in and share a piece I wrote for a blog of a fellow Health Coach and friend. It’s over on her blog today, and you can check it out here.

In the post, I share 4 things that helped me make huge progress when I had reached a plateau in my recovery. Even after months of counseling, I was still finding myself engaging in old habits of over-exercising and severe restrictions in my diet. These 4 very practical tips pushed me in the right direction and I hope will be helpful to you as well!

Enjoy your day! 🙂

Calling all Chocolate Lovers!

I’ve got a DELICIOUS dessert recipe to share with you today that also happens to be really good for your health!! How’s that for a win-win?

These brownies are a huge hit at my house and they always disappear within a day or two. We like to keep them chilled in the fridge – there’s something about cool, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate that really hits the spot on a warm, sunny day.

brownies edited2Don’t be turned off by the secret ingredient in this recipe: avocados. I promise, you cannot taste the avocado at all and it makes the brownies so smooth and creamy! Plus, avocados have lots of healthy fats that are essential for good health – specifically Omega-3, which boosts your heart health and helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

I sprinkled my batch with walnuts before putting them in the oven, but if you’re not a fan of nuts in your brownies, feel free to omit that step.

 

 
Chilled Avocado Brownies

3 large, ripe avocados
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 cup honey
6 oz dark chocolate (I love these bars from Trader Joe’s)
3 TB coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 large eggs
2 TB vanilla extract
2 TB coconut flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
sprinkling of mini chocolate chips or nuts
brownies edited

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut avocados in half, peel and mash in a bowl with a potato masher until very smooth. (a food processor would also work)
3. Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil together on the stove over a double boiler. Make sure the chocolate doesn’t get scorched. (Here’s how to make a double boiler using pots you already have at home!)
4. Transfer avocados to a large bowl and add all other ingredients.
5. Use either a hand mixer or whisk to combine until smooth.
6. Grease a 13″ x 9″ pan with coconut oil (or use parchment paper) and spread batter into the pan.
7. Sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips or nuts.
8. Bake for 25-28 minutes, depending on your oven and how gooey you want the brownies to be!

Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream and a glass of milk.  And don’t feel bad if you eat half the pan in one sitting like I did.   😉

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too (without guilt!)

Since we just came off of a holiday weekend, I should probably be posting some delicious recipe I made for the 4th but instead I want to address something that’s troubled me for awhile now about holiday festivities.

No, I’m not a Scrooge and my annoyance has nothing to do with the holidays themselves. But often around the time of a holiday, I hear a lot of food and body talk that is filled with GUILT and SHAME. You’ve probably heard it too:

Pre-holiday talk:
“Oh, there’s going to be so much bad food at the BBQ tonight…I need to really work hard at the gym this morning!!!”
“I want to be able to stuff my face without guilt on Thanksgiving so I have been really good all week!”
“I lost 3 pounds last month! I’ve earned a splurge at this family dinner!”

Post-holiday talk:
“Wow, I ate so badly last weekend!! I need to get back on track first thing tomorrow morning!”
“I am so mad at myself for eating so much dessert last night!! I’ll be working out every day this week to keep off any extra pounds!”
“I was really good at the BBQ on Saturday. I stuck to the salad and veggies and passed on dessert!”

I hear these kinds of comments quite frequently and I’m guessing you have as well.

It bothers me for (primarily) these 3 reasons:

1) I used to think and talk like this and it made my relationship with food incredibly stressful!
2) The words used in these comments are associating food with being either GOOD or BAD – when really, food is just that: food. It’s not evil to enjoy a piece of dessert; and it’s not righteous to fill yourself with veggies.
3) I believe food is for our nourishment and enjoyment, and it shouldn’t be about guilt and shame. Period.

Allow me to rant for a little bit, because this is an issue that is very close to my heart…

I understand that most people these days are intent on “looking good” (however that is defined), losing weight, and being “toned.” And I think it’s very acceptable to have goals and work toward achieving them. But I have to be honest, I’m not a fan of placing all this moral value on a piece of pie or a bowl of popcorn. It’s food. Eaten in moderation, I believe even dessert and french fries have a place in our lives!

I used to be so entrenched in all of the guilt and shame myself, but it’s sure not an enjoyable way to go through life. I know this is a fine line to walk because I understand that some people have definite weight to lose in order to be healthy, and maybe others just want to lose another few pounds to feel fit and toned. And that’s okay. But please don’t beat yourself up about what you eat and feel guilty for enjoying a delicious meal or special dessert.

I think women especially have a problem with this – it’s almost a game between us sometimes to share how “bad” or “good” we were at a holiday event and encourage each other in our guilt, shame, or perhaps pride (if we were “good”).

I’m not trying to judge anyone for talking like this; I’m just suggesting that maybe we should let go of the guilt and shame and instead learn to enjoy the food we eat – whether it’s a big salad or a big piece of cake.

As cheesy as it sounds, I truly feel like life is too short to miss out on cake and ice cream.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with feeling guilty for eating foods that are “bad”?
Do you have trouble enjoying indulgences without beating yourself up about it?
Can you start today to enjoy the treats you eat and stop buying into the guilt and shame?

Yet Another Reason to Love Sweet Potatoes

I’ve always harbored a deep affection for sweet potatoes, but today I discovered yet another reason to love them.

And it can be summed up completely in three little words: Sweet Potato Chips.

sweet potato 2

You may be thinking that sweet potato chips have been around for ages – which is true – but I’d never tried a homemade version, until today. I recently stumbled across this blog while looking for a recipe, and discovered a very simple how-to post on homemade Sweet Potato Chips. “Very simple” meaning: three ingredients – one of which is the sweet potato!

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods because not only are they extremely good for you, but there are lots of ways to prepare and enjoy them! One of my favorites is to microwave the sweet potato for 6 minutes, slice into rounds, slather with coconut oil + cinnamon, and a sprinkle of sea salt. I also love to cube sweet potatoes, steam them on the stove, and toss them into a salad. And then there was the time I made sweet potato browniesmelt-in-your-mouth good.

I’ve made sweet potato fries before, but these chips were even better (in my opinion) because they got a little crunchy around the edges and really tasted like a salty, fried, potato chip. The only difference is that you fry these chips in a good-for-you fat and sprinkle with mineral-rich sea salt, so they should be enjoyed entirely guilt-free! 🙂

Without further ado, here is the recipe for this healthy and delicious snack:

SWEET POTATO CHIPS

sweet potato 3There are just a few steps to this recipe and the whole process took me less than 15 minutes. Simply slice your sweet potato (into VERY thin slices so they will cook more evenly) and heat up some coconut oil on the stove while you’re slicing. Then fry the sweet potato slices for 3-5 minutes, flipping regularly to keep them from getting overly dark like mine did. 😉 

Once they’re done cooking, lay them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, sprinkle with some sea salt, and enjoy!

sweet potato 4

 

Check out these links for more info:

Why Coconut Oil is a Good-for-You Fat!

Health Benefits of Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

Fueling After a Workout

Over the weekend, a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile was asking me for some health eating advice. We got talking about what to eat after a workout, and he asked me what I typically go for to refuel after a workout.

Refueling: What to Eat

My refueling food of choice definitely depends on what kind of workout I’ve just completed. Simply speaking: if it’s a weights day for me at the gym, I focus on protein in my refueling meal. If it’s a running day or some other form of cardio, I’m more intent on getting some good carbs in my system post-workout.

Lately, my favorite refueling protein snack is an amazing combination of Greek yogurt and fruit. I start with about a cup  Greek yogurt in a bowl and mix in some cocoa powder and a dash of Stevia…which makes it taste like chocolate mousse…yum! Then I dice an apple (Fuji is my favorite at the moment) into small pieces, toss it on top of the yogurt chocolate mousse, and sprinkle on some cinnamon. To add a little healthy fat and some delicious crunch, I top the bowl with a few peanuts or cashews and munch away!

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein – one serving can contain anywhere from 13 – 22 grams, depending on the brand. Greek yogurt has less sugar, less carbs and more protein than regular yogurt, and it’s now sold in most every grocery store. I’ve tried several different brands (here’s an article comparing the various options out there) but my favorite is definitely the Trader Joe’s brand, because of the consistency and creaminess!

For my post-run carb fueling, I usually opt for a bowl of oatmeal, with some frozen blueberries, cinnamon and peanut butter mixed in. There are lots of other good options for post-run refueling options – generally anything with (approximately) a 3-1 ratio of carbs to protein is  best! In the past, I’ve tried everything from toast with peanut butter to sweet potato fries dipped in Greek yogurt (sounds weird but tastes delicious!)  Don’t worry about getting the ratios exactly perfect…just focus on getting some healthy carbs into your system!

Refueling: When to Eat

Generally speaking, it’s best to refuel as soon as possible after a workout.  A lot of fitness experts even suggest that you start sipping on a protein shake toward the last 15 minutes of your strength training workout to get a jump-start on the refueling process and get the protein to your muscles as soon as possible. As for post-run/cardio refueling, it’s best to get the carbs (and a little protein too) into your system within 30 minutes because your muscles are best primed to assimilate and utilize the nutrients directly after a workout. Your goal is to replace the glycogen stores in your muscles that were depleted during the run, and the first hour after the workout is the best time for that! Here’s some more information about this optimal refueling window of time: Refueling at Its Best!

Refueling: What NOT to Do

Refueling can be a downfall for some people because they can easily go overboard with their post-workout feast snack. If you’re truly wanting to see results in your fitness and weight, you can’t go blowing all the progress you made during a workout with a refuel meal that sends you into a food coma! I’ve talked to a lot of people who are frustrated because they’re not seeing results from their workouts. Often, I find out that they’re going home after burning 300 calories on the elliptical and devouring a whole box of Girl Scout cookies or a huge plate of mac and cheese! Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional Girl Scout cookie or other indulgent treat, but again, if you want to see RESULTS in your fitness and weight, you need to be smart about refueling! You may feel ravenous after a long run or strength training session at the gym, but start by just consuming an average refuel meal, sipping some water or tea, and waiting for your food to start digesting. It’s easy to scarf down a lot of unnecessary calories as soon as you get home because you feel like you could eat the whole fridge. Pace yourself, eat slowly, and chew well. Listen to your hunger cues and stop when you feel satisfied – not stuffed. And in general, choose healthier options for refueling like whole-grain toast, milk, oatmeal, yogurt, and eggs, rather than hitting IHOP for a huge plate of flapjacks. 😉

Another mistake that is on the other side of the spectrum, but just as easy to do, is the mentality that because you just worked out (i.e., did something healthy) you’re going to continue your healthy habits by not eating AT ALL after your workout. FAIL. This isn’t going to help you in any way! You’ve just finished exhausting your muscles and pushing them to their limits…the best thing you can do now is give those muscles some protein and carbs to help them rebuild and grow! Don’t think you’re being “healthy” by denying yourself food for hours after a workout – get some good calories in your system ASAP so your body can start the rebuilding and refueling process.

Wedding Pics!

There’s always more to say and write about this topic, but I’ll end here and leave you with some pictures from my sister’s wedding last weekend! It was a blast…everything went so smoothly and we had a great time party-ing it up! 😀 So happy for my sis and her new husband!

My family!

My sister and I right before she walked the aisle!