Live Healthy With Laura

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Every week or so, I will try to update you on the latest health tips, recipes and articles that I find interesting and useful. Please keep reading and checking back for my updates!

 

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Gluten Free (Almond Flour Based) Banana & Walnut Muffins

Posted on May 21, 2017 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Good morning friends!


This morning I felt the urge to whip up something yummy, comforting and healthy for my busy week ahead. Playing and making up healthy recipes in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do and one of my favorite ways to unwind!


Juggling two kids keeps me busy especially in the mornings! Planning ahead and meal prepping is what SAVES me and keeps me healthy and on track! I am a "grazer" meaning I eat several small meals throughout the day to keep my metabolism chugging along and my blood sugar stable. I usually eat eggs with sauteed veggies, a healthy fat of some sort, fruit and coffee for my FIRST breakfast but then I always eat again mid-morning!


These muffins are delicious and full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein (and are simple to make)! I make a batch of these or something similar on Sundays and store them in the fridge for me and my daughter too much on during the week ahead. I hope you try them and love them as much as we do!


Remember being healthy is NOT about depriving yourself, going to extremes or calorie counting! It is all about balance and eating real and whole foods! These muffins are delicious and they will give you energy all morning! ENJOY! 


*Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas (pureed)
  • 2 cups of almond flour
  • 5 packets of "Stevia in the Raw"
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds 
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon 
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of melted coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts 

*Directions: 

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees. Then in a medium bowl, simply and thoroughly mix all of the above ingredients. Evenly distribute the mixture into 10 individual paper muffin cups. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes and ENJOY!

Embracing Early Mornings and Becoming a Healthier You!

Posted on March 22, 2017 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Early mornings…they sound cringe worthy don’t they? That second that alarm rings and you have to roll out of your comfortable bed and start your day can be brutal can’t it? Well, in my experience it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can become your most productive time of the day and a time to even look forward to!


A few years ago you could have easily caught me sleeping into 11:00 AM at any given opportunity. I thought it was amazing (at the time) but then I became more focused on my health and I realized that I had to MAKE more time to take care of myself else it just wouldn’t happen! 


Flash forward a few years to becoming a mother I had to face the cold, hard fact that my time was no longer just my own. As many of you already know, once the baby (or kids) are awake they require A LOT of attention. So, what is a momma to do who STILL wants to be healthy and have alone time? The answer is you guessed it: to wake up before your little ones do and sneak that time in before it can get away from you! That is the secret!


I’ll admit that when I started doing this, it was NOT easy in the beginning. However, as a few weeks went by my 5:45 AM alarm clock was not so bad. In fact, I saw a huge improvement in my mood, my health and my overall productivity throughout my day!


Now listen, you don’t have to be a “morning person” for this to be possible. In fact most people that are weren’t always like that. They had to acquire that lifestyle. Anyone can truly become a morning person with practice! I promise you it is worth the shift in your schedule and those tough, first few weeks!


Waking up early allows me and will allow you to take care of yourself in three, vital ways:


1. Physically: It allows me to fit in at least a good 45 minute workout ALONE and before anything comes up that keeps me from it later in the day (something always does and would).


2. Mentally: It allows me some peace and quiet “ME time” that is often so coveted and unheard of for many mothers. That early in the morning it is just me, myself and I and I must say… I love it! This time allows me to start my day with my daughter with a genuine, unfrazzled smile. Motherhood is beautiful but demanding and I need this time to think and just be still. Needless to say, it is unnegotiable!


3. Spiritually: Time with God in the mornings truly changes my whole day! It gives me peace and direction in my life. However, if it isn’t a “quiet” time and I attempt to read my devotion and pray with my two-year-old up running around, I really do not get as much out of it! So, before my feet hit the floor I start my day with scripture and a prayer. It is awesome!



Once again I will stress that I was NOT a “morning person” naturally in the past. It took time and practice but I will tell you that it has been so worth it!


I want to share with you a few ways you too can become an enthusiastic morning person!:


1. Go to bed earlier! You want to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. No TV show is worth sacrificing your sleep (just record it and watch it another time)!

2. Put your alarm clock (most likely your phone) across the room so you have to wake up and walk over to get it. This may sound silly or extreme but it works!

3. Set out your workout clothes and tennis shoes by your bed.

4. Do some simple stretches upon waking up to help rejuvenate and wake your body and mind up.

5. Write down or type up what you would hope to accomplish each morning by waking up earlier. Then, see how much you can get done by breakfast! Make it a game!

6. Follow this mantra: “Don’t think about it…JUST. DO. IT.” You will always thank yourself in the end.



Give it a few weeks of waking up early friends and I can bet you will find that you are less stressed, more productive, healthier and feeling better about yourself and your day to day routine! Remember, the first 3 weeks of anything are the hardest but after that it will become easier. I can’t wait for you to discover the beauty of early mornings as I have. It truly is amazing what you can accomplish and how much better you will feel when you wake up before the sunrise!


*picture source: www.maxedmuscle.com

Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

Posted on March 9, 2017 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I have always been a fan of oriental food however hibachi style fried rice is on the top of my list of favorites. This week I came up with my own healthy version with a cauliflower base and it was amazing and full of veggies, protein and healthy fats! I hope you will give it a try!


*Ingredients: 

  • two cups of cauliflower rice (I like the "Green Giant" brand)
  • one cup of organic mixed veggies (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup of a diced, yellow onion
  • one egg (scrambled)
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 2 tsp of garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of crushed bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of crushed basil
  • a few grinds of seasalt and black pepper 

*Directions: 

Steam the cauliflower rice for two minutes in the microwave. Then (while that steams), add the egg to the heated sesame oil in a frying pan scramble it. Then, toss in the cauliflower, mixed veggies and onion and sautee on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Lastly, add the garlic, bay leaves, basil and salt and pepper and sautee for another 5 minutes. Then, all that is left is to eat up and ENJOY your healthy creation! 

The Many Health Benefits of a Gluten Free "Diet"

Posted on January 12, 2017 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (1)

 

What is gluten? It is simply the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Shockingly, this protein has now been linked to nearly 60 diseases and illnesses. That is crazy! However, don’t let that scare you. Even if you have eaten gluten your entire life it is never too late to make the switch and reap the many benefits of doing so!

 

 

How did I become so passionate about the effects of gluten? Well, a few years ago I woke up one morning and had that “ah-ha” moment. I decided I was sick and tired of finding myself so easily sick and tired and run down. I then made the decision and commitment to start taking care of myself as I never had before. I decided to start a workout routine and evaluate everything I ate. I also began researching my blood type and ingredients in my foods etc. It became a passion of mine that eventually led me to pursuing a career in nutritional consulting. When I started evaluating my diet and (at the time the lack thereof) physical activity I quickly made some experimental changes to see what I could change to feel better. I made lots of changes in the way I ate but the most predominant one was taking gluten out of my diet. The more I researched it the more it made sense (and the more it scared me). So, I gave it a go and I can’t even express to you what a difference it made!

 

 

After a few weeks of going gluten free, not only did I find myself with more energy but I was able to think clearer and drop some stubborn pounds that I had been holding on to! My digestion improved as did my sleep. After a few months of seeing these benefits I just KNEW that there really was something to this “gluten free thing”. Then I researched and researched on this topic even further (and I challenge you to the same) and I found study after study including testimonials about the amazing results of a gluten free diet. There are SO many reasons to make this (easy) swap that I will elaborate on in a moment, but the one main thing I kept coming back to was inflammation throughout the body.

 

 

Gluten can have SUCH an impact on the brain, nervous system, hormones, gut, mood and digestive patterns of ANY individual. It was once thought that only those diagnosed with “Celiac disease” were to avoid gluten for these reasons. Now, studies have shown that a much larger portion of the population are at some level “gluten sensitive” yet go undiagnosed. When I kept reading about this I decided that I wanted to know if and how gluten impacted me and so I eliminated it from my diet. Without a doubt, I found myself feeling completely different! Also, the changes I made were simple! With SO many gluten free products available I can promise you from experience that the food swaps and substitutions are nothing to stress about!

 

 

Whether or not you are eating gluten on a daily basis and feeling "fine", I urge you to give a gluten free diet a try!

 

 

Once again, the benefits of going gluten free are endless! Here is re-cap of the many health benefits reported:

 

 

 

• Weight loss

 

• More energy

 

• Improved digestion

 

• Improves cholesterol

 

• Less joint and muscle aches and pains

 

• More stable mood and better memory

 

• Improvement in severity and frequency of migraines

 

• Less inflammation throughout the body

 

• Clearer skin

 

• Promotes hormonal balance

 

• Better sleep quality

 

*Remember, SO many delicious foods are gluten free and so many restaurants now offer gluten free pastas and breads as well (just ask)!

 

 

A few of my favorite gluten free alternatives are:

 

• Oatmeal

 

• Quinoa

 

• Brown rice (plain, crackers or pasta)

 

• Red Lentil pasta

 

• Popcorn (lightly seasoned and NOT drenched in butter)

 

• Almond flour (great for baking)

 

• Coconut flour (great for baking)

 

 

Now of course, I don’t follow a gluten free diet perfectly. As I have blogged about many times before a healthy lifestyle is all about BALANCE and an 80/20 mentality. It really is so freeing! Yes, I do make as many gluten free substations when possible but there are those occasions that I do indulge in that amazing piece of bread at my favorite Italian joint or that brownie. However, the next day I am back on track! It is simple as that! So I urge you to NOT stress about making this change but to simply step back and evaluate your day to day meals and snacks and just make the necessary swaps. I really believe you will see and feel SUCH a difference in your overall health if you do! Now, isn't that sounding like a fantastic way to start off your New Year?

 

*picture source: http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2016/09/nutrition/whole-grains-runners-eating_65755#bz2lpimEYw0hpzJA.97

 

 

 

 

"Gluten Free Protein Packed Mug Brownie"

Posted on December 8, 2016 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The other day after coming in from a walk on a chilly afternoon with my daughter it was time for her nap and I was craving a sweet and chocolaty treat! As usual, I set out to be creative and grab a few things out of my pantry and make something indulgent but healthy at the same time. (Experimenting in the kitchen is actually one of my favorite ways to unwind these days! I find it very fun and relaxing!) Needless to say, after browsing through my various pantry items I pulled these ingredients and came up with the most delicious and simple microwave brownie recipe! I have been making it about once or twice a week ever since...it is really THAT good! Did I mention it is gluten free, low sugar, and full of protein and all real, wholesome ingredients? Please try it out and leave a comment below with how you liked it!

 

*Ingredients:

 

•1/4 cup of almond flour

•1/8 tsp. of baking powder

•1 packed tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder

•1 ounce of good quality dark chocolate (I use two Ghirardelli squares)

•3 tbsp of egg whites

•2 packets of Stevia in the Raw

•3 tbsp of coconut milk

•1 tbsp of natural peanut butter (softened for 30 seconds in the microwave)

 

*Directions:

In your favorite Christmas mug combine the above ingredients. Then, swirl in the softened peanut butter on top and cook it in the microwave for two minutes. Then...ENJOY!

Staying Healthy And Fit Throughout The Holiday Season

Posted on November 18, 2016 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Well, it's that time again! Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner! Can you believe it? It really is such a wonderful time of the year!  Unfortunately though, it can leave us feeling worn down and holding on to a few extra pounds (that is IF we are not careful to maintain our health). As I always say, a healthy lifestyle has to be a priority each and every day. There will always be a “reason” during a busy season to skip a work out or fill our body with less than wholesome garbage. This however, will only leave us feeling sluggish, blue and more susceptible to getting sick.

 

So how can we avoid this holiday slump? In my book, it all comes down to three things: discipline, planning and balance.

 

Let’s first talk about discipline for a moment shall we? The truth is, a healthy lifestyle does NOT just happen. We have to put effort into eating well and staying active! We have to make the time to plan for healthy meals around our holiday gatherings and splurges (aka “20” meals) and we have to make it a point to lace up our sneakers and move every day! Despite how crazy this time of year may be,  it is  MY responsibility to schedule in my workouts and to make sure that I am eating well each and every day. I may not always "feel" like waking up early to exercise or to make a wholesome breakfast but I know my health and well being will thank me if I do and suffer if I don’t. My health mantra is simple and short: “Don’t over think it and just do it!” You will always thank yourself in the end!

 

Now how do we go about planning to stay healthy throughout all of the hustle and bustle around the holidays? For me, the answer is to sit down with a pen and a note pad and map out the upcoming events and the obligations I have. Then, I look at my upcoming schedule and decipher which days I am most tied up and which days I am most available to grocery shop (and ensure my fridge stays stocked with healthy food) and which days I can meal prep to stay home to cook healthy dinners for my family. Then I look at my upcoming schedule and I write down for each day when exactly I plan to fit in a workout and/ or go for a walk with my daughter (I aim for at least 10,000 steps a day) . Yes, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas I make a point to stay active because I know how much my health depends on it. Also, keep in mind that a typical Thanksgiving or Christmas Day is going to bring on average 3,000 MORE calories than any other given day so staying active is vital to help counteract the extra indulgences and comfort foods!

 

 

Now last but not least let’s talk about how to balance these upcoming indulgences while maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the same time. Let me start off by saying that I’m a firm believer in indulging (in moderation) around the holidays and throughout the year! Part of a healthy lifestyle is about having a healthy relationship with food and giving yourself permission to indulge in your favorite foods! That being said, one of the biggest health mistakes I witness around the holidays is that moderation goes OUT the window. Instead of a Thanksgiving and Christmas splurge meal it turns into a splurge MONTH! One or two splurge meals a week is not a problem. A few splurges on holiday sweets every day with exercise on the back burner? Now, THAT is a deal breaker! We truly have to want to be healthy and feel our best each and every day. We cannot be okay with letting our health go at any one point in the year (no matter how crazy the time of year is)!

 

 

 

Over the years, I have found that there are certain things I MUST do to stay healthy and keep my immune system strong and my weight stable during the holiday season.

 

Here are my “Healthy, Holiday To-Do’s and Dont’s” :

1.) Schedule grocery shopping trips, meal planning and work outs as if they were non- negotiable work meetings or doctor appointments.

2.) Don’t over think your healthy plans and spend too much time stalling…simply, JUST DO IT. You will thank yourself later!

3.) Remember to ENJOY your all time favorite holiday indulgences but with moderation in mind. Practice portion control and try to stick to one plate or your favorite foods to avoid feeling “stuffed” like a turkey!

4.)  Make it a point to do something active daily (especially on a day where you will be indulging such as Thanksgiving and Christmas) to help balance out those extra carbs, fats and sweets.

5.)  Drink lemon water during your holiday dinners and parties. This is one of my favorite ways to beat the bloat when I am eating a rich meal. Lemon water actually works to increase your stomach acid and aid your stomach in digesting your meal. It also lowers the glycemic index of your meal and therefore will help keep your blood sugar more stable during and after the meal.

6.) Park as far away as possible at the grocery store, department stores and malls etc. It may sound a little silly but those couple hundred extra steps at every stop will really add up to quite a few calories burned (that wouldn’t have happened if you had parked in the closest spot available).

8.)  Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night. This will keep your immune system strong and your metabolism up and running as it should and it will keep the hunger hormone “leptin” stable. Studies have shown that when we skimp on sleep we crave junk and indulge much more than if we had been properly rested.

9.)  Remember that the holidays are about SO much more than food. Family and the celebration of our Lord are much more important. Enjoy the fellowship and remember the true meaning of each holiday and that in itself will help keep you from just “letting go”.

10.) Stop eating when your stomach has told you it is satisfied and has had enough. There will always be left overs the next day and there is no need to go around feeling sick, bloated and lethargic. Slowing down during the meal to engage in conversation and making sure to have a healthy snack an hour or two before the meal will definitely help you practice self control!

 

 

 

Friends, I hope this holiday season leaves you feeling healthy, strong and revitalized! Remember, life will always have its hectic seasons but it is OUR job to maintain our healthy lifestyles throughout those times. I want to encourage you to use this Thanksgiving and Christmas season as an opportunity to take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Please remember, there is never a season or a time of the year where it is okay to not nurture the body God gave us. With all of that said, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year!

*picture source: www.kendavis.com

 

How To Get Your Picky Toddler To Eat Well!

Posted on October 16, 2016 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (1)

 

 

 

 

Toddlers…they are picky little things! When I became a mother I honestly didn’t plan or think ahead on this 2 year old “I’ll eat this not that” stage. We as mothers work SO hard to prepare healthy, balanced meals for our children and then (if your child is anything like my daughter) they end up eating the carbs and/or fruit and leave the protein and the greens behind! It can be hard to not become frustrated and concerned when we don’t feel that our little ones are eating a balanced diet. Well, I am writing this blog to encourage you that there IS hope and there ARE many ways to get even the pickiest of eaters to eat well!

 

It all comes down to learning to disguise foods with another of a stronger taste, smell and more vibrant color until you gradually add less and less of what I call the “camouflage” foods over time and eventually get them to eat the ACTUAL food. I promise you within a few weeks this tactic does work! My daughter for instance, used to absolute abhor spinach or green veggies of almost any sort but now she is requesting bites of my omelet (loaded with spinach) AFTER she has finished hers! She also used to never touch meat (especially beef) and now she will (the majority of the time).

 

So, I won’t hesitate any further! Let me introduce you to what I call the sneaky “5 Camouflage Foods” that have helped me help my daughter eat what she needs on a daily basis:

 

Bananas (to mask the taste of greens, the tang of Greek yogurt and the texture of seeds and grains especially in smoothies)

Cheddar Cheese (to mask the taste of greens, meat and the texture of whole grains)

Gluten Free, Seasoned Bread Crumbs (to help mask the texture and taste of meat)

Natural Ranch Dressing (to mask the taste of raw veggies)

Natural, HFCS free Ketchup (to mask the taste and texture of meat)

 

If your child is resisting greens, I suggest you make my toddler omelet recipe (posted on my website)! I add loads of spinach to this recipe and my daughter still gobbles it up all thanks to cheese! Always be looking for ways to sneak those greens into casseroles, smoothies, eggs, muffins etc. They will never know!

 

As I said, protein has been one of my biggest challenges with my little one. As you know, Greek yogurt is packed full of protein and calcium but my daughter hates the taste of it! So what do I do? I make her a smoothie and I sweeten it naturally with stevia, some pureed banana, avocado and chia seeds and she usually will slurp up whole thing! The taste of banana is over powering and totally takes the sour tang away!

 

 

Meat (also a great source of protein) was totally a no-no with my daughter for the longest time but what I have found is that it was all due to texture! That’s when I started coating the chicken, turkey and pork with whole grain, GF bread crumbs and then letting her dip it in ketchup. And to my surprise, she ate it!! With beef of any sort, it has a layer of cheese she will generally eat it too (especially when ketchup is offered alongside it). Once again, it was all about texture for her.

 

Raw carrots and broccoli? Ha! A few months ago I would have told you to forget even trying to put in front of my daughter. However now, I have found an amazing natural ranch dressing my Newman’s Own that she LOVES! I give her a little bowl of each the veggies and the dip and she now will sit and dip and munch for just about as long as I will let her!

 

Lastly, presentation of food with a toddler is HUGE! My daughter loves everything in colorful, individual little bowls with matching lids. This may sound silly but I promise you it works! Of course there are times we are in a rush and everything is served on the same plate, but as often as we can we serve her food in the most fun way possible. Pinterest is a great way to discover new, fun toddler meals for kids. “Ants on a Log” or celery topped with peanut butter and raisins is one of my favorite, fun toddler snacks!

 

Truly, feeding a toddler a healthy, balanced diet is all about experimenting, disguising, dressing up and compartmentalizing the foods in many different ways. The more you try these mechanisms the more you will discover what works for your child. I promise, it gets easier over time! Remember, toddlers typically aren’t going to eat three entire meals a day perfectly but just keep remembering to focus on quality of the food you are serving them and not the quantity. My little one has almost always been in the 10% on the growth chart (she was SO picky when it came to solids) but I am happy to say that now she has reached the 25% on the growth chart! The moral of the story is you are doing great mama! Keep trying, don’t let this stage get you down and remember it will get easier over time!

 

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Posted on September 22, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I absolutely LOVE the Fall and everything that comes with it...especially anything to with pumpkin! This past weekend I was needing pumpkin bread in my life so I played around a bit and came up with this amazing, gluten, sugar and dairy free loaf! Did I mention that it is full of fiber and protein as well? I hope you will give this cozy recipe a try and love it as much as my family did!

 

*Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup of almond flour
  • 1 and 1/4 of pureed pumpkin (from the can in fine!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 packets or 1 1/2 tbsp. of Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)

*Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small mixing bowl combine the above ingredients thoroughly. Spray a Pyrex loaf pan and fill it with the mixture. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes...and ENJOY!

Note: This is GREAT with a cup of coffee!

 

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan Over Spaghetti Squash

Posted on August 23, 2016 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)


As always, Italian cuisine is calling my name! Since mine and my hubby's trip to Rome a couple years back I have developed even more of a taste and love for Italian food! That being said, it can be loaded with gluten, sodium and saturated fat. Challenging myself to come up with a healthy version of a yummy, indulgent dish is one of my favorite hobbies in the kitchen! Last night's chicken paremsan was out of this world delicious! If you are an Italina lover like I am I urge you to give it a try!

*Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken tenders (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper 
  • basil
  • a jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I love Newman's Own natural tomatoe & basil sauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 spahett squash 
*Directions: 
 
Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your spaghetti squash in half and place face down in a pyrex dish coated with coconut oil. Cook the squash for 45 min or until soft.  Then, in a seperate frying pan heat your conconut oil on medium to low heat. In a small bown whisk two eggs together. In another seperate bown combine the bread crumbs, the parmesan cheese and the salt and pepper. Dip each, indivual piece of chicken in the egg batter and then in the bread crumb and cheese mixture and place it in the pan. Cook and brown the chicken thoroughly on each side for about 15 minutes. When the spaghetti squash is cooked, scrape out the seeds and throw them in the trash. Then scrape out the squash with a fork and place it on a dinner plate. Top the squash with the marinara and then the chicken. Lastly, add a few dashes of basil top and then voila! You're ready to eat! Enjoy!


Coconut Milk Chocolate & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Posted on August 23, 2016 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)


As always, I am in need of my weekly ice cream fix! This week I had fun playing in the kitchen and coming up with this super healthy treat! It totally took care of my cravings and did not impact my blood sugar...a double win! Please try it out! You won't regret it especially during these hot summer days!

*Ingredients:
  • one can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp of unsweet cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp of stevia or 5 packets 
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
*Directions: 

In a small bowl, mix the above ingrients and then seperate the mixture into two small bowls. Freeze for 45 min. to one hour and enjoy! (makes 2 servings)


Vegan Kickstart Muffins

Posted on July 24, 2016 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

 

 

A few months ago I was experimenting in my kitchen with a few random ingredients. I was determined to come up with a simple batch of vegan muffins that would provide my family with protein, fiber, whole grains and a fruit group (without any added sugar). Boyyy, did I hit jackpot with these babies! They are seriously amazing you guys. We all need something quick and healthy to grab with us before we go out the door on those busy mornings. I personally always seem to be on the go and food prep on the weekends is essential for me in order to ensure that I'm eating clean throughout the week! I urge you all to please give these muffins a try! 30 seconds in the microwave and they taste like they are fresh from the oven! Pair them with a cup of hot coffee and you have the perfect, wholesome breakfast on the go! Enjoy friends!

*Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of quick oats
  • 4 tbsp. of natural peanut butter (melted)
  • 4 tbsp. of coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries (or any berries that you have in the fridge)
  • 4 packets of stevia
  • 3 tbsp. of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. of ground cinnamon

*Directions:

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, in a large bowl add the oats, cinnamon, stevia and chia seeds. In another small bowl combine the coconut oil and peanut butter and then cook the mixture in the microwave for 45 seconds. Then, in a food processor or blender, puree the bananas and berries together until it resembles an applesauce like texture. Lastly combine the fruit mixture and peanut butter and coconut oil with the dry ingredients. Then evenly dispense the batter into 10 paper muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let the muffins cool and then ENJOY!

Cinnamon and Blueberry Power Oats

Posted on July 23, 2016 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)



I am all about quick, easy & nutritous breakfasts! I like to know I am eating well despite my busy schedule. Often times I make eggs and veggies but on mornings that I don't have the time then this is my go to! This amazing oatmeal recipe that I have come up with is full of healthy fats, omega 3's, fiber, whole grains, antioxidants and vitamins! Please try out my "Cinnamon and Blueberry Power Oats" recipe the next time you are in a pinch!

Ingredients:

*2/3 cup of quick oats

*1 cup of water 

*1 tbsp of coconut milk

*1 tbsp of coconut oil 

*1 tsp of cinnamon 

*1 tbsp of chia seeds 

*1 packet of stevia

*1/2 cup of fresh blueberries


Directions: 

In a small bowl cook your quick oats for one minute. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and stir well...and that is it! Enjoy!




Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice

Posted on July 19, 2016 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

"Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice"

 

 

 

Last night I decided that I really wanted fried rice but without all of the excess calories and simple carbohydrates! Instead, this recipe is what I came up with! It was delicious and full of protein, veggies and healthy fats! It totally hit the spot and I felt like I was eating fried rice! I hope you will try it out as well!

 

*Ingredients:

  • two tablespoons of sesame oil
  • one tablespoon of low sodium teriyaki sauce
  • black pepper
  • one cup of thawed mixed vegetables
  • one head of cauliflower (finely chopped in a food processor)
  • about 16 thawed shrimp (with the tails off)
  • 1/3 cup of chopped green onions
  • one scrambled egg

*Directions:

Add the sesame oil to a medium sized skillet and turn the stove top to medium heat. Then, after you have chopped your cauliflower, add it to the pan along with the veggies, scrambled egg, onion and shrimp. Then evenly coat the ingredients with the teriyaki sauce and black pepper. Stir every 3-5 minutes or so and cook for a total of 15-20 minutes. Then...enjoy!

(Note: this recipe makes 2 servings)

 

 

Why You Need Healthy Fats Every Single Day

Posted on July 18, 2016 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Fat…to some it is a scary word. In fact, many were brought up hearing “fat-free” this “fat-free” that and thinking it somehow must be the best choice. I am here to tell you this is not the case. Fats for one are NOT all equal and they are NOT all bad. Certain fats are actually incredibly beneficial to our bodies in many ways!

 

         There are a total of four different types of fats: saturated and trans fats (the bad guys the clog our arteries and help us pack on unwanted pounds) and mono and poly unsaturated fats (the ones we want to load up on daily). Our brain, heart, skin and metabolism NEED healthy fats on a daily basis in order to function properly and at their optimal rate.

 

          Studies show those who consume healthy fats on a daily basis actually weigh less than those who don’t or those who consume more saturated and trans fats. Studies also show that healthy fats work to lower our LDL (artery clogging) cholesterol and raise our protective HDL cholesterol levels. The vitamin E and antioxidants in healthy fats also give our cells a healthy barrier or protection against cancerous, free radicals that want to damage our healthy cell’s DNA. Lastly, they help protect and feed our brains. Alzheimer’s and dementia are ongoing epidemcs and though there is not a “cure” as of yet, eating healthy fats are a way to ensure our brain is being nourished properly! Many other cultures eat loads of these healthy fats on a daily basis and so should we. The Mediteratean “diet” is truly how we should be eating in my opinion. I could go on and on for hours about why we need healthy fats.

 

 

Simply put, healthy fats keep our engines primed and running at it’s optimal rate. So without further ado let’s break down which fat sources are beneficial for us and which are not. The “Healthy” Fats are: “Monounsaturated Fats” found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil and avocados.They are liquid when at room temperature and solid when they are put in the fridge. & “Polyunsaturated Fats” found in fish, flax seeds, egg yolks, canola, sunflower, and soybean oils and walnuts. Within the polyunsaturated fat family there are two groups Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s that work hard to keep our cardiovascular system healthy and our cholesterol in check. I recommend two to three servings of healthy fats on a daily basis.

 

Now, allow me to address the NOT so healthy fats that we should limit and or try to avoid (keeping the 80/20 mentality in mind of course). First up is “Trans Fat”. These are basically chemically altered oils that give a food a longer shelf life and a better texture and flavor. They are in NO way benifical to our health and can be easily avoided by simply eating clean, whole foods. I am not one to say that every packaged food is unhealthy for you.

 

 

 

However, reading food labels is vital in order to decipher which foods to buy and which foods to put back on the shelf. Lastly, let’s talk about “Saturated fat”. They are almost exclusively found in animal products and foods such as dairy and meats. In general it is important to buy the leanest meat available and purchase only skim or low fat dairy products. That being said there are two excptions to the rule: palm oil and coconut oil. Palm oil and Coconut oil are the only two types of plant based saturated fats that are extremely beneficial to us and are in the “good” group of oils. They are medium chain fatty acids and they are sent directly to the liver to be converted into energy (instead stored as fat). My simple trick to buy products at the store remembering to not just look at the total fat. Always subtract the saturated and trans fat from the total. That number will leave you with the amount of health fat in the food. For instance peanut butter and mayonnaise and guacamole are actually wonderful for your health and full of health fats!

 

Know the difference!:


So please, just take a moment to read your labels and don’t be afraid to eat the different variants of these wonderful, healthy fats! Your health, mind and waist line will grateful you did!

 

 

 

*pic source: http://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/eat-these-healthy-fats-live-longer.html/?a=viewall

https/montereybayholistic.wordpress.com/tag/monounsaturated-fat/

 

Staying Healthy & Fit While On Vacation

Posted on May 15, 2016 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (1)



Well it's that time again when vacations are being booked and bags are being packed! Vacation is a much needed retreat I believe we all benefit from both mentally and physically. That being said, it is easy to let our healthy lifestyle slide when we are out of our usual routine and setting and surrounded by family and friends.  It is my belief however, that you do not have to come back from an enjoyable vacation weighing a single pound more and/or feeling sluggish and weighed down. I truly believe that when you stay mindful of how active you are and what you're eating on a daily basis you will be amazed at how wonderful a vacation can be for your health...and your waist line!

 

I remember a time a few years back where I didn't have a healthy routine (not at home and definitely not while away on vacation). I used to eat a bit of whatever, whenever and I truly didn't think much of it. I would go away on vacation and eat more yet move less. Inevitably I wouldn't feel so great upon my return. Once again, I had no routine and so it ended up costing me. I typically came home weighing more and with less energy. It wasn't fun and this yo-yo lifestyle wasn't really how I wanted to live.

 

One day (about a year after I married my husband) a light bulb came one and I simply decided enough was enough and I wanted to get healthy. I started studying nutrition and it's impact on the human body. It truly changed my outlook and my relationship with food and physical activity. Now, I love to eat well and I love to always be on the move (gotta love those Fitbits that keep us accountable)!

 

Flash forward a few months after I had converted to a much healthier lifestyle and it was time for our yearly, family vacation! I was excited to see what improvements I could make to mantain my health while away. I made up my mind I was not going to "punish" my body ever again just because I was going away on vacation. I had worked too hard to feel amazing and be at a healthy weight to throw it out the window in a seven day period! Turns out, I enjoyed that vacation way more and I came home feeling way better than I ever had! I didn't feel bloated and fatiged. I felt fit and energized and ready to get back to work! I want you to feel the same when you return this Summer from your adventures.


So without further ado, here are the changes I made and continue to make while away on vacation:


• I PLAN and I pack as many non perishable mini meals and snacks possible. Some of my favorites are a sandwhich bag of unsalted natural nuts and an organic apple, natural peanut butter to go cups, my power muffins (I make a batch of these each week) and hard boiled eggs.


• I make a trip to the closest grocery store in the area as soon as we arrive to our destination and stock up on my usual foods that I do at home.


• I purchase LOTS of water and always carry a bottle with me.


• I bring some type of workout equipment that is small and easy to travel with such as my yoga mat and my dumbbells (word to the wise...do NOT attempt to bring these on a plane. I learned the hard way and my husband will never stop teasing me about it!)


(early morning yoga on the dock)


• I bring a mini cooler to take with me to the beach or where ever we will be during the day.


• I make a point to wake up at my usual time and do 5-10 minutes of yoga and then I look for a pretty place to walk for 20-30 minutes while most everyone (including my little one) are still sleeping. I then do a short variation of arm workouts, bicycle crunches, and squats. By breakfast time I have already worked out! Then I give myself permission to be as lazy as I want the rest of the day.


• I do not snack after dinner despite what others around me are doing. After dinner the kitchen is closed. Like I always say, why fill up a car if it is going to be in a parking garage all night? This is one of my lifestyle "rules" that I swear by to maintain a healthy weight!


• I drink a glass of water with a full squeezed lemon at or after dinner to flush out toxins and to help my body process what I ate that day.


• I follow an 80/20 lifestyle so I allow myself a small dessert each day and ONE portion of whatever is cooked for dinner that night. It may be slightly more indulgent than what I typically cook at home but that is okay! I enjoy it and try to keep my meals during the day almost the exact same. Dinner on vacation tends to be my "20" meal...and I enjoy every bite of it!



(One of the healthy breakfasts I made on vacation)


• I try to get 8 hours of sleep per night. This is essential! Though others may want to stay up and visit or play games I know that the next day I will not feel my best if I sacrifice my sleep. Not to mention that sleep helps your body burn fat and balances your hormones. Please, do NOT sacrifice it!


• I relax as much as possible! Life can get chaotic so I think it is important while away to let go in the sense of chores and daily to do lists. If we never let ourselves and our minds unwind and we are always on the go then our stress hormone "cortisol" can start to climb... and that in itself has been proven to lead to weight gain! So please, try and chill out! 



I hope that you go away this Summer and come back feeling better than ever. Remember, even if your surroundings change your health doesn't have to suffer! Healthy living is a CHOICE. Please, take the time to sit down and write down how you will take care of yourself on your vacation. Decide what foods you will bring and buy when you get there and decide where, when and how you will keep moving through out your vacation. This may sound tedious but I promise you will feel such a sense of accomplishment on your return knowing you took care of yourself while away! Truly your health, energy and waistline will thank you! Cheers to a happy and healthy Summer friends!

 

Let Go Of Stress, Lose Weight And Feel Revived!

Posted on March 18, 2016 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (1)


In our culture, we are constantly on the go. We push ourselves to an extreme and yet give ourselves inadequate time to rest. I am not just talking about the 8 hours of sleep we should all have as a goal to get each night. I am talking about taking time out of your day to really put your feet up and rest! Babies require a nap each day else they become cranky. Adults require down time too. We just have stopped making it a priority. In result, our cortisol (the body's main stress hormone) builds and builds over time and we find ourselves feeling sluggish and unable to lose weight. Why is this?


Well, it really is quite simple. The body is very protective of itself. If it thinks we are in a dangerous, stressful setting it will conserve (instead of burn) our calories as fat in preparation for a period of starvation or a time when fleeing from danger is necessary. So, the simple truth is we must stress less to effectively use and burn our calories effectively! It sounds simple doesn't it? Well, it can be however in our culture stress is often at its peak with our high demand jobs and our busy family lives.


The truth is we are just too busy! We need to "hurry up and slow down" as the old saying goes! We need to LISTEN to our bodies and stop saying yes to everyone and every event. In our culture, the idea of resting in the middle of the day is almost unheard of. That is truly a shame because even 10-15 minutes a day of rest and solitude can benefit our body and mind immensely! It is important to stop our cortisol levels from climbing and reaching an unhealthy peak by breaking up our day with a short "siesta". This in itself will help your body burn more efficiently and help feel more relaxed and energized.


So, allow me to get personal for a moment and tell you how I make time to rest. I myself am a busy working mother. Often times I feel as if I do not have enough time in my day and taking a few minutes to relax sounds almost impossible. However, I have chosen to make it a priority and I. just. do. it. I find the yoga post "Viparita Karani"  or the "legs up the wall" pose to be incredibly beneficial for my mind, body and energy (read more about the benefits of this amazing pose here: http://yoganonymous.com/yoga-pose-breakdown-viparita-karani-legs-up-the-wall ). Each day (in the middle of all the craziness) when my little one goes down for her nap I almost immediately practice this for 10 minutes each day...no matter how busy I am! It doesn't sound like a long time but I promise it makes SUCH a difference! Now, not everyone has the same schedule and at times it may take some creative schedule maneuvering to find and make the time...but I believe everyone has 10 to 15 minutes a day! Whether you are resting on the couch or your legs are up against the wall just make sure to turn off your phone and electronics. I promise, the more you do this the better you will feel!




Here are a few other ways to lower your cortisol levels are:


*Stop over scheduling yourself! (Remember, you don't always have to be busy or have plans)


*Make sure to have at least one hour of complete solitude once a week


*Limit your caffeine and sugar intake


*Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night


*Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed


*Use aromatherapy and relaxing essential oils like eucalyptus and lavender


*Practice deep breathing in through your nose and out of your mouth a few times a day

 


Remember friends, our bodies deserve respect, love and nourishment each and every day. When we help it relax and repair itself it will function and burn for us at it's optimal rate. When it is overwhelmed and over worked our metabolism and overall well being suffer. We must make an effort each and every day to keep our cortisol levels from building. We must give ourselves permission to rest. We must stop putting ourselves last if we are going to give our best to our jobs, family and loved ones. I want to encourage you to MAKE the time to rest today. Trust me when I tell you that the benefits go way beyond weight loss and increased energy!


*picture sources: 

http://yoganonymous.com/yoga-pose-breakdown-viparita-karani-legs-up-the-wall

https://ethansblogforblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/

 

 

Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Brownies

Posted on February 16, 2016 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

 


In honor of February, the month of LOVE I wanted to share with you a few reasons on why I believe a daily indulgence in dark chocolate is not only acceptable but also necessary! I eat about one ounce daily and I enjoy it immensely!

*Here are some of the top health benefits of dark chocolate (and an amazing brownie recipe to follow...):

• It is FULL of antioxidants and flavanoids which help fight against cancer and diseases

• It boosts our happy hormones such as serotonin in our brains (acts as a natural antidepressant)

• It lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes

• It is much lower in sugar than milk chocolate

• It reduces cortisol within the body (the bodies stress hormone)

• It helps reduce cravings


Okay, so with that all said I want to share with you a new, tasty and nutritious Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Brownie Recipe. I came up with this yesterday while having fun in my kitchen during the snow storm =). It is gluten free and very low in refined sugar (I used other, natural alternatives) It really is simple and only takes a few minutes to prepare and bake! My little one and I loved them! Please try it out and let me know what you think! =)

 

 

*Ingredients:

-1 cup of gluten free baking flour

-1 bar of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

-8 packets of Stevia in the raw

-3/4 cup of organic, light agave nectar

-3/4 cup of water

-1/2 cup of coconut oil

-2 eggs

-1 tsp of baking powder

-3 tbsp of cocoa powder

-1 cup of unsweetened apple sauce

-1/2 cup of crushed walnuts

 

*Directions:

In a small saucepan melt and mix the coconut oil and dark chocolate together. Then add the coconut oil and chocolate mixture to the remaining dry ingredients in a separate, large bowl. Pour the brownie mixture into a Pyrex dish and then top with the crushed walnuts and cook for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Once the brownies are cooled, top and serve with a small scoop of your favorite natural gelato or ice cream and ENJOY!

 

**NOTE: I will say this dessert is not OVERLY sweet but just right for my taste! Feel free to add more Stevia or agave if you feel the need! =)

 


~Laura

 


 


 

Sugar...Don't Let It Get You Down!

Posted on January 30, 2016 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (1)


Sugar, it is sneaky and it is everywhere! However, sugar is not ALL bad and is not all equal. It is important to be able to decipher which sugars and foods our bodies can tolerate the best and which ones we should stay away from if we want to feel our best, have optimal energy and stay in the "fat burning zone".


I think it is vital that we understand how exactly the body converts high GI (glycemic index) foods into stored fat within the body. I believe that when we educate ourselves on how are body reacts to certain foods we will be more conscientious about our food choices.


So here it is in a nut shell:


When we consume any form of food the body's cells work hard to convert it into "glucose" (the body's number one source of energy). Then after the body has used all the glucose it needs at that time it sends the "left overs" to the liver to be converted to another form of stored energy called "glycogen". This "glycogen" is then stored in one's muscle mass. After the muscles have stored all of the glycogen possible the rest gets pushed into the blood stream and then unfortunately gets stored as fat.


Primarily, it is important to understand the difference between the types of sugar: sucrose and fructose. Sucrose is basically table sugar. Fructose is fruit sugar. Sucrose has a different chemical make up and has a greater chance of spiking your blood sugar (glucose). Fructose is treated and used differently by the body due to the presence of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The body absorbs it at a slower rate and it is not considered an "empty calorie" source as sucrose is.


Learning which fruits, vegetables and grains are highest and lowest in the glycemic index chart are important. However, it is almost impossible to remember them all.


Therefore, I have come up with a list of the top 5 food "groups" that are known to spike your glucose the most and offer the least nutritional value:

1. White carbohydrates (White bread, rice, chips, crackers etc.)

2. Sugary Beverages (Soda, Juice, ice cream, candy etc)

3. Junk Foods (ice cream, candy, cookies)

4. Honey (yes, I know this is a bummer)

5. Dried Fruits



**Here is a sample GI chart to help give you some more perspective:

Even if you work diligently to avoid the above foods and beverages I cannot stress enough how important it is to include protein with EVERY meal to help stabilize your glucose (at least five grams per snack or meal)! As I have blogged about before, it takes ones body much longer to break down a protein rich meal and therefore including it with every meal or snack is essential.

If you work hard to eat clean (5 ingredients or less) you will find that most whole foods are naturally lower on the GI chart. Therefore, you will expiernce more energy, less food cravings and be less likely to store fat. Also, remember that when you do indulge (the 80/20 lifestyle allows this daily) I recommend doing so in the middle of the day (when you are more likely to burn it off) and directly following a meal.

Remember, you are what you eat and you thrive or crash depending on what you eat as well! Stay close to nature, load up on protein and remember to graze and don't let sneaky sources of sugar get you down!


picture sources:

http://www.vivecenter.com/what-is-glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load/

http://physrev.physiology.org/content/90/1/23

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Difference-Between-Natural-Added-Sugar-30778049

 

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Posted on January 28, 2016 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)
There is no time like a cold, winter morning to dive into a cozy bowl of quinoa
packed with nutrients, antioxidants and protein to give you a boost for the day! 
Here is a quick and easy recipe I came up with in my kitchen that I fell 
in love with and hope you will try!



*Ingredients: 
-1/3 cup of organic quinoa 
-1 tsp of cinnamon
-1 packet of stevia in the raw
-1 tbsp of chia seeds
-1 tbsp of coconut oil
-1/3 cup of fresh berries

*Directions:

Cook the quinoa as directed. Then stir in the following ingredients and cook 
on low for another 3-5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and top 
with fresh berries. Now...eat up and enjoy a wholesome, hearty breakfast! 

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