Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Healthy snacks to fuel your day

For many people eating is a pleasurable thing. The key to snacking is balancing what you're eating and watching the portion sizes.

When you snack in the right way it helps you have more energy throughout the day. Your height, weight, activity level and age are also factors for how much food you need in a day. Here are some healthy snack ideas to help fuel your day:


1 medium banana with 1 tbsp peanut butter (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free)

1 medium apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter  (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free)

1 cup whole seedless grapes

3 cups of air popped popcorn [measured once out of the air popper] (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free)

1 cup sweet red bell pepper slices with 1 tbsp ranch dressing

1 cup baby carrots with 1/4 cup hummus

1 cup smoothie made with yogurt/ your choice of milk and your favorite fruit (can be vegetarian or vegan)

3/4 cup yogurt with 1/4 cup berries

1 energy bar, protein bar, or granola bar

1 scoop of protein powder of choice with 1 cup water/almond milk

1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit

50g shaved deli meat in a small tortilla shell

1 small bagel (3" diameter) with 1 tbsp cream cheese or other topping

Bedtime Belly Buster Shake (1 scoop IsaPro, 1 scoop IsaCalcium, 4-5 oz water, 2-3 ice cubes)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Green Smoothies


Green smoothies ... some of you might not have heard of this or know how to make one.
It's basically a drink that has different types of leafy greens and water blended together and often has fruit in the mix. Those who like the taste of sugar in their diet can start with a green smoothie that has more fruits to leafy greens (by weight). Over time you get used to the taste of leafy greens and can start adding more in.

The best way to see what ratio works best for you is adding some ingredients to the blender, blending, then tasting a bit to see if you like how it tastes - if not add in some more fruit. Depending on what you add to the mix the smoothie may not come out green. If you add berries it often changes it to a purple-red type of color - this can help fool others into thinking there's no greens in it.

One of the many benefits of having green smoothies regularly is that it easily helps you get in the recommended fruit and vegetable servings. It's a quick meal that you can take with you on the go. It's also easier for the body to digest.

One of the things you might notice if you drink green smoothies on a regular basis is that you feel more energetic - such a bonus to feel good throughout the whole day. There's a good amount of people out there who find they don't crave sweets and processed foods as much when they keep up their green smoothie habit.
If you get into the habit of drinking a green smoothie you'll start seeing the health benefits popping up.

Different examples of a green smoothie (blended with water):

  • spinach + strawberries + banana
  • spinach + kiwi + pineapple + banana
  • romaine lettuce + mixed berries
  • mixed baby greens + celery + cucumber + banana + apple
  • spinach + peaches + orange
  • romaine lettuce + banana + pear + mango
There's so many possibilities - add your favorite fruit with some greens you like (please use something that's not iceberg lettuce) 

Why not try taking the green smoothie challenge of drinking a green smoothie each day for 30 days , your body will thank you for it if you do

An Open Letter To All Women



To all the mothers, daughters, grandmothers, girlfriends, young girls and ladies out there:

I want to remind you how beautiful and valuable you really are - you're an important person to at least one other person. When you smile and are happy it brings more joy to the world. You don't need to let the media or other people tell you what you should look like, act like or weigh. Each and every one of you are unique and bring your own strengths and gifts into this world.

Instead of worrying about your perceived flaws look at the positive things in life and be grateful for all the good things you have. If you take time to think you'll be able to find things that you love about yourself and what nice things you do have in life. You may not be perfect but that's ok, no person is truly perfect. We each have our own problems to deal with.

When we overcome the obstacles we can become stronger and gain knowledge. The things you really want will take some effort to achieve but it's worth it. It's the journey itself and the experiences that make it feel like an accomplishment. Instead of looking for quick fixes work at the things that will last long term but may take some time to accomplish.

You don't have to do it alone either, if you reach out for support from others you can reach your goals. If your family isn't supportive you can reach out online or find others that will support you. You are never truly alone - people can relate to one another. 

Let go of worrying about what others think about you. If someone doesn't like you then you don't need to spend your energy on them. Instead focus on the people you love and those close to you. The more positive you are the more people start to be drawn to you. 

Take pride at the things you're good at and keep practicing your talents. The more you practice the better you'll get. Don't keep waiting till later to do something you want to do - take part in the fun activities instead of looking back later on and feeling regret. 

Share your love with others instead of hiding it away. When you spread love to others you often get some back. Acts of kindness can help you bond with other people in your life.

Take time for yourself where you can relax and do things that are good for you. When you take some time just for you then it's easier to be healthy. You can make positive choices that will help you live a better life. Step by step do the things that will improve your health, fitness, and personal life. You deserve to live a good life!

You are a wonderful person. 

Remember, truly love and take care of yourself, you're worth it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Do You Really Need to Count Calories ?


Chances are you've seen at least one person, website, book, or some other form of communication try and claim that their diet is the absolute perfect one - one that you should be on - one that everyone should be following. I find it very frustrating when I come across these claims because we don't all burn calories at the same rate and each of us have our own factors determining what we can and cannot eat. Not everyone is going to enjoy eating the exact same foods.

There is no perfect diet out there! Each of us have different nutrient needs as well as caloric needs.
Some people have allergies and intolerances to deal with which can make it a bit harder.


A couple diets out there that say you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight at the same time. If this did  end up working for someone it would really depend on what they're munching on. You could easily eat a bunch of vegetables and have this work but if you're eating chips and deep fried foods it's not so likely to work. The same size or weight of two different foods can have a huge calorie difference.
In an ideal world we could easily eat what we want and stay at the perfect weight.

When I've talked to others about how they've lost weight and kept it off the answer generally involves keeping track of the calories eaten per day and regular exercise.


Calories play a big role in how our bodies are going to feel throughout the day. If you're not eating enough for your physical activity level there's a big chance you'll feel tired and your performance will suffer. When you under-eat on a regular basis it starts to affect your overall health and can lead to problems down the road. If you cut too many calories or don't eat much it can lead to Metabolic Damage!


There's more and more people that are ending up in the overweight and obese categories these days which is a sign that a good number of people are eating too many calories. Part of what affects how many calories we need per day is gender, how tall you are, and age. There's a select amount of people who have a higher burn rate naturally from birth. The easiest way to tell how many calories you need is to use a health and fitness site like SparkpeopleMyFitnessPal, or Freedieting's Calorie Calculator . Once you know how many calories you need per day then you can start using a food journal to track what you're eating. Quality of calories is important 




For Losing Weight - You want to create a slight calorie deficit between what you've burned in a day vs. how many calories you've eaten (generally not recommended to exceed more than 1000 calorie deficit per day). If you use a Bodymedia or a Fitbit device then you'll be able to see if you're making a deficit and if so how big the deficit is (This works properly when you log the foods you've eaten on the programs).

Ex. A person burned 3000 calories and ate 2200 calories.
       3000
    - 2200
----------------
   =  800

The calorie deficit  is 800 in this case.

It works the best when you follow a healthy diet and getting exercise at least 3 times a week. The weight loss will last longer if you work at developing healthy eating and lifestyle habits along the way.



Maintaining Weight - You want the calories eaten and the calories burned to be the same amount. This doesn't always work perfectly when it comes into practice. The best way to see if you're truly maintaining weight is to weigh yourself once a week at the same time of day each time.


Ex. A person burned 2000 calories in a day and ate 2000 calories.
       2000
    - 2000
-------------
    =   0


If you've just finished losing weight it's better to slowly add in more calories so that your body gets used to the change. Make sure to stick with the exercise you're doing or try something new - some people find they need to exercise 2 hours x 5 days of the week. Most people are able to maintain with 90 minutes (1hr 30min) on most days of the week. If you have plenty of good habits built up by now this stage will be much easier than if you still have lots of bad habits.




Gaining Weight - To those who want to gain weight you need to eat more calories than it takes to maintain your current weight. There's plenty of ways to do this but it's better to choose healthy meals and find ways to increase the calories in that meal. Eating more frequently is another thing that helps - if you don't have the appetite you can try adding in calories in liquid form.

One of the best ways to increase weight is by gaining muscle through exercise. It's much healthier to gain muscle than it is to gain fat.

Keep in mind you don't need to have the weight added on fast. Fat is gained faster than muscle so if you're gaining weight fast it's most likely a mixture of fat and fluid. Take care of your health along the way and your body will thank you for it

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No matter what your goal is it's a good idea to choose fresh whole foods first before anything processed. The odd treat won't kill you but if you live off of a junk food diet you won't be able to reach your true potential and thrive. You're important and worth taking good care of.

Non Dairy Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of those treats that seems to taste so much better when summer is around along with the hot weather. Some people are very limited to what they can have as far as cool treats due to having milk intolerance - those of us with no allergies or intolerances can be grateful that we're able to choose from a variety of options. I was browsing Chocolate Covered Katie's blog and saw the post Ice cream Recipe – Healthy Haagen Dazs! and saw how good it looked in the photos so I decided to make some right away.


I doubled what the recipe called for and used Silk True Coconut - Original milk. I used regular sugar for the recipe and 5 tsp of vanilla extract to make it vanilla flavored ice cream. It was simple to make when following the directions and I ended up using the ice cream machine method. It's easiest to scoop the ice cream later if you freeze according to her instructions.


The ice cream after I put it in the freezer for a couple hours and then scooped it.


I gave some to my brother who's never had dairy free ice cream before and after he took a bite he told me that it was really good. He looked like he wanted more right away - he really loves his ice cream. When I tried some I was delighted at the nice rich taste and loved the different flavors. This has to be my favorite ice cream recipe that I've made at home!

I'll definitely use the batch for more than just eating alone :)

Dairy free ice creams I've bought from the store have tasted good but it's so much more fun to make different foods at home, plus you can know what's really in it if you make it home.

Different blogs I'd recommend to people thinking of going vegetarian or vegan, and people who just want to add some yummy meat free dishes to their diet are:
Chocolate Covered Katie
Vegangela
Oh She Glows
Hell yeah it's vegan!
JL goes Vegan
Melomeals
The Happy Go Lucky Vegan
Vegan Lady Eats
The "V" Word

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Running Fuel

When you're heading out for a long run that's going to last more than an hour you'll need some extra fuel to keep your workout going and avoid crashing. Here's a list of different foods/options you can use to energize yourself on the run.




1. Sports drinks - These help replenish any electrolytes lost through sweat. Use this option especially in hot humid weather since you'll lose lots of fluid through sweat. There's different brands on the market - the best thing to do is test different types out until you find which one works best for you.


2. Energy bars - These are easy to take along and consume on the go. It's best to look at the label on the bar to see the ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat it has. You'll want a bar that's higher on the carbohydrate side because the body processes them faster than fat or protein for immediate fuel.
              My favorite bars to take with me on runs are Luna Bars, Cliff Bars, Lara Bars, Vega bars, and Elevate Me! bars.


3. Energy Chews/Gummies - These tend to be closer to the candy side so if you like sweet things these would work well for you. These type of gummies have electrolytes added to them (which you wont find in regular candy). Some also have a couple vitamins added in as well.
I've tried the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews and enjoyed the Pink Lemonade and the Cherry Blossom flavors. 


4. Candy - This can be used as fuel during a long run since it has plenty of carbs in the form of sugar. Most types of candy will be digested fast and send the energy in the form of glucose to where it's needed. This option doesn't work well for all runners since some people are more prone to getting sugar crashes.

5. Fruit - Natural food like fruit gives the body a steady stream of energy. It's often easier to use fruit as fuel before a long run since there's only so much you can carry with you (unless you bring a baggie of dates or raisins).

6. Energy Gels - These can be found at sports stores or stores specializing in running gear (and the rest that goes with it). The different brands on the market all have their own consistency - some are a bit thicker than others. It's easier to consume a gel with some water when running. When picking out some flavors at the store only get one of each individual flavor you plan to buy since you may or may not like it. If you're caffeine sensitive look carefully at the labels on the package - some flavors have caffeine added to them.


There are stories of athletes fueling themselves with different things like whole pizzas or junk food but they're on a different level than most of us. The healthier the fuel you choose the better your performance is going to be. It can take time to find the combinations that work best for you during the long run but it's worth it in the end.
Keep working towards your fitness goals, you deserve the best!

Question for the readers: What's the longest run you've gone on?

Food Review: Amy's Kitchen Rice Macaroni with Cheddar Style Sauce; Alo Comfort Watermelon + Peach drink

There's different groups of people I would recommend the Amy's Kitchen Rice Macaroni frozen meal to.
The list includes: Vegans, vegetarians, anyone who cannot have gluten, anyone who loves macaroni but has milk intolerance, anyone avoiding soy, and anyone who has tried and enjoys other Amy's Kitchen products.




This was my first time trying this macaroni dish so I wasn't sure what to expect. The total time in the microwave is about 4-5 minutes (depending on how powerful your microwave is). It will take longer if you cook it in the oven or a toaster oven (approximately 30 minutes). I was hungry so I decided to follow the microwave directions. I enjoyed the aroma of the dish as it was cooking.




The above picture is how it turned out after the time in the microwave and then transferring it into another dish. The Rice Macaroni uses Daiya vegan cheddar style shreds for the cheese sauce, if you're a fan of Daiya cheese there's a good chance you'll love this meal. It has a nice rich taste to it.

The texture of the pasta is so similar to gluten filled pasta. I was happy from the first bite to the last as I ate the whole thing. The Daiya cheese adds a nice creaminess to this Rice Macaroni and it's not overly salty tasting. I've tried other gluten free macaroni packages from the store and this one is my favorite. It tastes just like the non-vegan macaroni and cheese which people tend to love. Whether vegan or not this dish has appeal for a wide range of people.




Next up for review is the Alo Comfort Watermelon and Peach drink. Some people have the view "Aloe vera?! I thought that was just for putting on skin!". Aloe Vera and aloe vera juice both have health benefits when you eat or drink them. This drink has aloe vera pieces in it so it's not a smooth drink. If chunks bother you there's always the blending option.

I had never thought of what peach and watermelon would taste like until I tried this drink. The pleasant sweetness hit my taste buds right away. I imagined that I was laying on a tropical beach while enjoying the warmth of the sun.

A while after finishing the bottle 500ml (16.9 oz) bottle I felt energized and ready to go exercise. The first flavor I had tried was called Awaken which has the aloe vera and wheatgrass. From there I've slowly been getting around to trying all the flavors available to me.

I have more mental clarity after sipping on the alo drinks and they're good at quenching thirst. 

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Question for the readers: What's your favorite pasta dish?

Food Review: Luna Bar - White Chocolate Macadamia Flavour

For those of us who like to lead an active lifestyle it's nice to have some easy options to fuel our day while getting in the nutrients we need. Energy bars and protein bars are a quick and convenient option that are easy to take along with you on the go. One of the bars I've had in the past that tastes really good and helped energize me was the Luna bar.

I've tried the Caramel Nut Brownie, Chocolate Peppermint Stick, Lemon Zest, Nutz Over Chocolate , and S'mores flavors (with my favorite being the Caramel Nut Brownie - there's other flavors out there I haven't tried yet)



For workout fuel for my run I decided to try the White Chocolate Macadamia flavor since I hadn't tried it yet. It's a portable size that I could fit into a pouch on my running belt  that I use when I go for a long run. In the past I've found Luna bars to be a good source of energy that helps keep me from getting overly hungry when doing a bunch of intense training. 



If you like the taste of white chocolate and macadamia nuts I'm sure you'll love this bar. As soon as I took a bite I could feel and taste the white chocolate and macadamia flavors swirling in my mouth. The texture of these bars is just right - neither too hard or too soft. They also have just the right amount of sweetness. 
It's a snack that isn't messy and it's so easy to eat!

 I had no problem eating this bar while running. Whether it's running on the treadmill while watching my favorite shows or running out in nature it's important to fuel yourself properly. I make sure to take care of my fueling needs so I recover properly - I enjoy staying healthy so I can go for a run when I want to. 

The Luna bar keeps the calories in a good range so it's easy to add to your daily calorie budget. It tastes just like a yummy treat. It's always a good thing when something that's good for you tastes good and gives you the energy you need. Other brands of bars can be higher in calories (250+ calories). The White Chocolate Macadamia Luna bar was a nice find for me and I'll be buying it again for sure!

Nutrition Info

Calories 190
Fat 7g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 210mg
Potassium 340 mg
Carbohydrates 25g
Fiber 3g
Sugars 11g
Protein 9g

*The bar has plenty of vitamins inside. I decided not to list it because the list is a good length.

Question for the readers:   Have you tried a Luna Bar before? If so, what's your favorite flavor? 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Food Review: Original Field Roast Grain Meat Co. Italian Sausage Links


For dinner one night I felt like having sausage but wanted to try a vegan option so that I can eat less meat while feeling satisfied with my options. Enter the Field Roast Italian Sausage Links. I thought this would be a nice little option to try.


The way that the flavor is described is "made with fresh eggplant and packed with fennel, red wine, garlic and sweet peppers". I wanted to see if this could satisfy my sausage craving compared to sausages made with beef or pork. One of the options for cooking the sausages listed on the wrapper was to saute it in a pan, that was the method I chose. There's a warning to not overcook the links. 

I turned the links in the pan until the sides started to brown up enough and then removed it from the pan.
One of the sausages broke when I tried to roll them out of the pan. That doesn't really affect the taste though - good food will still taste good even if it falls apart a little ;)



After a little bit of thinking on what to have with the sausage links I decided to slice the links up and have it in a bun with some toppings.



They had a good amount of moisture inside and the flavors burst out with each and every bite. I thought that the links had a nice texture to them as well. As someone who enjoys meat a great deal I have to say that I truly enjoyed each and every bit of the sausage link sandwich. It was a satisfying meal for me and filled me up.

Verdict: Worth the cost and would buy again

Food Review: Sweet&Sara Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

Warning: If you do not like the taste of coconut try Sweet&Sara Vanilla Marshmallows or Strawberry Marshmallows instead!!! 

A number of people I know have been telling me how good the Sweet&Sara marshmallows are (plus I've seen some of the press coverage) so I decided to buy the toasted coconut flavor. I wanted to see for myself how good they taste.



I took out some of the marshmallow pieces and put them on a plate so I could try some and let the others I live with try some as well . When you have others around that like trying new things you either learn to share or hide your stuff really well.
The idea of coconut and marshmallows sounded so good me so I had to have a bite!


After taking a bite into one of the marshmallow pieces I could taste the toasted coconut and then the texture of the soft vanilla marshmallow. It felt like a bite of pure pleasure and oh so good. You can enjoy the experience for longer if you let it slowly dissolve in your mouth. The website says that they dare anyone to just eat one. It's way too hard for me to do that. The taste delighted my taste buds right away.

The container will probably be empty soon since it's not just me that's loving the taste of these marshmallows! I'd have to say this is the best tasting marshmallow I've ever had - they're way better than the ones in the grocery store!!! From just this one pack I've got to say that they're quite addictive since right after having just one marshmallow piece I wanted another then another.

The place I bought a package from only sells the Toasted Coconut, Strawberry, and Vanilla marshmallows by Sweet&Sara. It definitely makes me think of trying the Peanut Butter Smores, Original Smores, Cinnamon Pecan Marshmallows, Rocky Road Bark, and Rice Crispy Treats sometime in the future.
Sharing the marshmallows with friends is a good idea so you don't eat the whole thing yourself ;)