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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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! 

Healthy Recipes To Start Off The New Year!

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, Christmas is over and the New Year is right around the corner! It's time to reevaluate how we are treating our bodies and get in the kitchen to makes some healthy food for fuel! Today, I am sharing with you two of my favorite go-to healthy recipes that are simple yet delicious! I am sharing a quick smoothie that works as a wonderful breakfast or lunch on the go as well as one of my favorite healthy yet decadent cookie recipes! 


First up is my "Blackberry and Banana Power Smoothie":


*Ingredients: 

-1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt

-1/2 cup of quick oats

-1 pkg of Stevia 

-1 small, ripe banana

-1/4 cup of blackberries

-1 tbsp of chia seeds

-1 cup of ice

-3/4 cup of water


*Directions:

In a food processor or blender combine all of the above ingredients, pour into your favorite glass and ENJOY!


Next up is one of my favorite desserts that I tend to make around the hollidays however they can be enjoyed all year long.If you are a chocolate lover as I am then these gluten free "Nutella No Bake Cookies" are for you:


*Ingredients: 

-3 cups of quick oats

-3/4 cup of Nutella

-1/2 cup of natural peanut butter

-3 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder

-5 packets of Stevia in the Raw

-3/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)

-1/2 cup of gluten free rice baking flour


*Directions:  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and then place medium sized spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet (preferable with waxed paper) about 1 inch apart and set it in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. ENJOY! 

Note: Makes about 16 cookies


I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my family does! Remember, healthy eating does not have to be boring or bland! Have fun in the kitchen and get excited about eating well in 2016! 



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