Category Archives: Diet

Fruit – Should You Eat It?

I get lots of questions about fruit. Should you eat it? How much should you eat? When should you eat it?

The Food Pyramid tells us that fruit is essential…more essential even then meat and beans.

While fruits do have vitamins and minerals and many have antioxidants that are good for you, fruits are all carbs….

So essential to your diet?…Honestly, not really.

Vegetables can really give you the exact same nutrients you will find in fruits.

For instance, we always turn to oranges or orange juice for Vitamin C. But bell peppers actually have MORE Vitamin C than oranges do.

HOWEVER, fruit is delicious and nutritious so can be included in moderation.

local and fresh produce

Fresh local fruit, in season.

Here are my guidelines for including fruit in your diet.

  • Eat seasonally and locally. Eat fruits that are in season and local. When fruits are in season, they are going to be at their peak…aka pack in the most nutrients. And when they are local, you are also get them the freshest.
  • Eat organic if thin-skinned.  If your fruits have a thin skin that you don’t peel off or can be easily penetrated by pesticides, buy them organic. Or from a farmer’s market since most of the stands there carry local produce even if they can’t afford to pay for the label.
  • Treat it as a treat and snack. Fruit is sweet and higher in carbs. Use it as a sweet treat to curb cravings. It can also be a decent snack especially when paired with a fat to help hold you over so that you don’t just get hungry a few minutes later. Try an apple and almond butter…Or a banana and almond butter…YUM!
  • Don’t make fruit the basis of the meal or treat it as an “unlimited” food. I personally try to avoid smoothies for breakfast unless mixed with fats and protein. Alone fruit won’t keep you feeling full for very long, which can cause people to consume more calories than they actually need. And again…It has lots of carbs and those add up quickly, which makes it a food you can’t just eat as much as you want of….unlike vegetables…and even protein. It is hard to eat “too much” protein or vegetables. It isn’t hard to eat too much fruit.
  • Make lower carb fruit the fruit you consume most often. Just like proteins, vegetables and carbs in general are not created equal, neither are fruits. There are some fruits that should be included more often than others. Tropical fruits, for instance, should be included only every so often. While berries can be eaten more often. They are lower in carbs and are super nutrient-dense with lots of antioxidants. Choose your fruits wisely. As with all foods you consume, you want to get the most bang for your buck possible!
  • Eat fruit on carb days. Fruits are great for carb days. They are healthy and nutrient-dense. Cycle your fruit consumption just like you cycle your carbs.
  • Fruits and fruit juices are not the same thing. Consume fruit in its natural state. Juices with anything added, even if they say all-natural, contain way more sugar and crap. And it is way easier to consume way too much fruit when it is in liquid form. Avoid juices as much as possible.

The fruits I indulge in most often are berries and apples. They are my favorite…especially apples and almond butter.

What fruits do you include in your diet?

Alcohol and Health

Alcohol comes up often in discussions of health and healthy eating.

mimosas

Is drinking ok? What should you drink? Is there a certain amount you should drink? If you want to be healthy and lose weight should you drink?

While I believe that alcohol can be a part of a healthy diet, moderation must be exercised.

Here are the guidelines I follow when considering if, when, and how much alcohol to include in a healthy diet.

  • Alcohol, in general, is empty calories, which isn’t exactly helpful when trying to lose weight. Yes, wine does have antioxidants, but it is not a necessary, nutrient-dense food. So if your goal is weight loss, you want to keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. However, if you really enjoy a glass, don’t deprive yourself for so long that you end up binging. Just do not binge on alcohol.
  • Do not let alcohol interrupt your schedule. Binge drinking and the hangover the next day really throw your body off and generally interrupts your diet and exercise routine. If you want to stay on track, binge drinking is not recommended. Enjoy a drink or two but be moderate. The pain and horrible feeling the next day really aren’t worth it. And they really do nothing to further your goals, let alone make you feel good.
  • If you can, make healthier switches. While a strawberry daiquiri or frozen blended margarita may be delicious, it probably isn’t the healthiest choice. A great indulgence but not a healthy every day drink. Make simple switches and choose healthier options. Wine and even certain hard alcohol drinks (with out the sugary syrups) can be good in moderation.
  • A healthy diet should make you feel GOOD. If your alcohol consumption isn’t making you feel good, it is way too much. If it is hindering you from reaching your goals, it is too much. There is no set number, no exact right amount of drinks. Just really consider whether or not it is helping or hurting you.
  • Do not drink alcohol before food right after a workout or competition. The alcohol will prevent the absorption of nutrients your body needs and reduce your ability to recover.

Alcohol CAN be a part of a healthy diet but only in moderation. It can be enjoyed but should never leave you feeling anything but refreshed the next morning.

You want to eat and DRINK to support your goals.

Planning for Success – Making Things Easy

For the first few days after you set a New Years Resolution, you are generally pretty motivated to accomplish it.

But as early as a week later, that initial motivation has already dwindled.

And things that seemed easy to do, like cook meals and eat clean, stop seeming as easy because you aren’t as motivated to do them.

If you don’t have a solid plan in place and haven’t done the proper preparation, you are going to slip back into old habits.

We will find any excuse to not make changes.

Therefore we have to make things as simple, and as idiot proof, as possible for ourselves.

So if you want to make some healthy changes to your diet this New Year, how are you going to make your plan excuse proof?

These tips below may just help….These tips are meant to help us create healthy habits so that we don’t have to think or use as much self-control to stick with the new program.

Because our self-control gets depleted as the day goes on, especially if we’ve had a stressful day. And the more things are in place so that we don’t have to use self-control, the more likely we are to stick with our plan and accomplish our goals!

5 Tips To Make Changing Easier

1. Meal Prep (Make Lots of Leftovers and Cook When You Have Time) - The easiest way to change-up your eating habits is to have healthy foods already cooked when you get home tired from work. The last thing most of us want to do when we are tired and hungry is spend even 10 minutes making food. That is why meal prep is so important. Pick a day when you are around the house anyway. It can even be a day when you are around the house RELAXING because if you pick a few recipes for the oven or crockpot, you don’t even have to stand around and stir them or anything. Find a few recipes that allow you to make meals for a couple of days. For instance, bake a chicken or some chicken breasts. You can simple throw them in the oven and go do something else while they cook. Or make a chili in a crockpot. You can throw in all the ingredients and even go out and do whatever you want all day. You will come back and have numerous meals! Eating clean really doesn’t have to be a horrible chore. Make it easy and make it work for you.

Cooked chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, dressing and cut up veggies for the next couple of days to make cooking quicker and easier!

Cooked chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, dressing and cut up veggies for the next couple of days to make cooking quicker and easier!

2. Don’t Keep Temptations In The House - When we get stressed or upset, we are going to reach for comfort. And if we have those old comfort foods around, we are going to reach for them EVEN if we can resist on a normal day. When you are trying to create new habits, don’t keep things around that may derail those habits. Out of sight, out of mind. Very rarely will you make an effort to go get those unhealthy foods when emotional. And if you do, then accept it and move on. Just make yourself have to really work for it in hopes that it will give you time to reconsider. (Because more often than not, you will simply do what is easy and stick with the clean food you have around.)

3. Don’t Wait Till You Are Starving To Eat – While I do believe in intermittent fasting and that you don’t need to eat a certain amount of meals everyday, you also don’t want to just starve yourself to lose weight or wait to eat till you are super hungry. We tend to make horrible decisions when we get super hungry. We tend to not care what we eat and we tend to eat too much. Listen to your body and recognize when you are getting hungry. Then eat!

4. Always Have Healthy Snacks Around – For one, like I said above, you don’t want to get to the point of starving so that you seek out ANYTHING to eat. Plan and have snacks around for those times when you may need a quick little bit. Also, many people are emotional eaters or eat when they get bored. Most of us are guilty of it at some point at least. And while that is an issue we do need to deal with, a great way to prevent our emotions or boredom from derailing our new healthy habits is to have healthy snacks around so that we don’t munch on something worse. At least then we are reaching for something healthy and not something that may make us feel even worse, which could lead to the binge eating cycle.

5. Know Your Restaurant Options - While yes, often the healthiest option is to eat something homemade, that isn’t always an option. Plan for having to go out. Know the restaurants near your home and work so that if you do WANT to go out or get asked to eat out, you know the healthy options. Prepare yourself with go-to eating out options so you aren’t taken off guard or persuaded to eat something that derails your progress when you don’t want to cheat. I have a few restaurants that are my go-to when I want to eat cleaner but either have to go out to meet people or my meal prep wasn’t perfect and I need a meal in between. (Note: You can also choose not to eat out at all. While often this isn’t something we want to do, you can give yourself permission to join people out and then go back and eat the meal you planned to eat. It is just good to recognize this is an option even if people may make you feel guilty for wanting to stick with your plan.)

BONUS:

SET AN END DATE! I’ve been harping on this a lot with people lately, but even when you are trying to create habits for a healthy lifestyle, you need to set an end date. We don’t mentally do very well with FOREVER. So maybe set up a reward at the end of each month. Maybe you go shopping or do something special with friends and family. Or maybe you simply switch up the recipes you use every 4 weeks. Whatever it is, make there some sort of “end date.” Some time where you can pat yourself on the back for completing what you set out to do. And then at that time, you can adjust your plan a bit for the next month or so to keep you moving forward!

Once healthy habits are in place, you may find you don’t need to be as diligent with these tips because the ideals are engrained. Till then though, make it as easy as possible for yourself to stick to your new habits.

The more you prepare against the excuses, the more likely you are to create habits that LAST!

Bacon Ribeye Tacos with Avocado Salsa

There is this local, family-owned restaurant called Taco Mesa here that has amazing Alambre Steak Tacos.

We are like OBSESSED with them.

These Alambre tacos are corn tortillas filled with steak, bacon, onions, peppers and cheese.

AND THEY ARE AMAZING.

They are even better with Taco Mesa’s amazing Avocado Salsa.

So yesterday Ryan decided he was going to try to make a variation of them and the salsa.

Here is his Bacon Ribeye Tacos with Avocado Salsa.

bacon ribeye tacos with avocado salsa

Ingredients:

TACOS:
3/4 lbs Ribeye Steak
5 pieces of nitrate-free bacon
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chili Powder
2 tbsp Tomatillo and Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa (from TJs)
1 tsp Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce (TJs)
7-8 Corn Tortillas (Homemade recipe here otherwise buy ones that are only corn, water and lime!)
1/2 cup Shredded Cabbage
1/4 cup Raw Milk Cheddar Cheese

AVOCADO SALSA:
2 Avocados
2 tbsp Cream
2 tbsp Salsa Verde (TJs)
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Cilantro

Cook the bacon in a skillet on high. Once the bacon has browned, remove to a plate. Place the chopped ribeye into the pan with the bacon grease. Add cumin, paprika, chili powder, hot sauce and salsa to the steak in the skillet.

Lower the heat and let the steak simmer in the salsa and spices. Add back in the bacon.

While the steak is cooking, add the avocados, cream, salsa verde, olive oil and cilantro to a food processor. Process until smooth. Then put the salsa into a bowl.

Once the steak mixture is almost ready, heat the tortillas in a skillet or microwave to warm them.

Shred the cheese and cabbage.

Then divide the steak mixture between the 7-8 tortillas. Top with cabbage, cheese and avocado salsa. Sprinkle with more hot sauce if you would like.

Enjoy!

Makes 7-8 tacos and lots of leftover Avocado Salsa.

What restaurant meals do you enjoy making variations of at home?

How do I avoid gaining weight during the holidays?

Eating well this time of year is far from easy.

While that is a lot, there are still over 300 other days a year to create and instill healthy habits!

It is doable, but not easy.

People are constantly bringing in treats to work. You have tons of holiday parties to go to. And everyone seems to always want to go out and eat and drink.

Because this seems to be the season of eating, I then see a ton of clients stop tracking their food and complete give up on all the great habits they’ve developed.

But honestly the worst part is, they start making excuses and feel guilty every second of every day.

Which just makes them stress more and enjoy themselves even less, keeping them in a negative downward cycle that leads to binging and completely giving up on their goals.

So of course at some point someone will say, “Well there just is no way to continue to lose weight during the holidays.”

And yea…losing weight during the holidays can be difficult to do. It most definitely takes a lot of planning and self-control.

But reaching your goals and staying on track during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to continue to move forward by leaps and bounds.

Too often we only think of success as moving forward.

But maintaining the progress we’ve already made is also a victory, especially during times when it is tougher for us to strive for perfection.

So when it comes to holidays, healthy eating and weight loss, I think the proper question to consider is , “How do I avoid gaining BACK the weight during the holidays?”

(Notice I’m not talking about losing more OR about starting a healthy diet during the holidays. Sorry but I’m just not big on trying to start creating new habits at a time when most people can’t even stick with well ingrained habits…)

How do you balance life with your goals to MAINTAIN the progress you’ve already made?

Well for one….If you’re going to cheat…ENJOY IT!

Even worse than the bad food is the stress and guilt that accompanies breaking with our plan or diet.

So just don’t feel guilty. If you make the decision to cheat, ENJOY IT!

For two, just because a food, a treat, is there, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Pick and choose the things you truly want to eat and don’t feel obligated to eat the other things just because they are there.

You don’t have to deprive yourself of every treat or avoid eating at every holiday party; however, all too often people just eat because it is there even though they don’t truly want it.

Don’t do that. Eat the foods you truly want and exercise the self-control to avoid the foods that are “just there.”

That will help you control your portions to prevent weight gain AND prevent you from entering a downward negative spiral.

It will give you something to enjoy AND BE PROUD OF. You will not feel deprived because you got the food you wanted; however, you will also be able to be proud of the fact that you didn’t let a little treat completely derail all your progress.

For three, life interferes all the time and we have to learn how to deal with it.

We have to find the balance.

If we want to reach our goals, we can’t constantly be like, “Well there is just too much going on right now.” We can’t just say that every time something comes up…Because let’s face it, something comes up like every week!

We have to learn how to balance life with our goals.

We have to understand that our mental attitude is more important even than the foods we eat.

We have to know whether even a small indulgence will lead to us falling off the wagon or if it will keep us from feeling deprived.

We have to learn to deal with the unexpected and not only make choices, but not dwell on them.

If you want to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, and please note I’m talking about MAINTAINING the progress you’ve already made not about losing more weight or starting a healthy diet, you have to remember that reaching your goals isn’t about perfection – that every day you don’t need to be moving forward.

That sometimes it is simply about not doing too much damage to the progress we’ve already made so that we keep our healthy habits intact.

Enjoy the holidays. Don’t stress over a cookie. Just don’t feel obligated to eat everything you see!

Buffalo Beef Spaghetti Squash Pasta Recipe

I’ve always loved anything with buffalo sauce on it.

I make buffalo wings and even buffalo cauliflower all the time. Actually I’m not sure which I love more…buffalo sauce or cauliflower!

While I wasn’t feel cauliflower today, I thought it would be delicious to make Buffalo Chicken “Pasta” using spaghetti squash since I was in the mood for spaghetti squash AND buffalo sauce.

However, I quickly realized we didn’t have any chicken…only some ground beef.

So instead of a Buffalo Chicken “Pasta” recipe, Buffalo Beef “Pasta” was born. And boy was it delicious!

Buffalo Beef Spaghetti Squash “Pasta”

buffalo beef spaghetti squash recipe

Ingredients:
1/4 can Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp Frank’s Hot Sauce
1 medium Spaghetti Squash
1 lb Ground Beef
1 clove garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbsp heavy cream
2 oz blue cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Slice spaghetti squash in half and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and some garlic powder. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Once spaghetti squash is done, let cool and then scrap out with a fork. Place in a bowl and save until meat and sauce are done.

Heat a skillet on high. Place meat in skillet and begin to brown. Add garlic, salt and pepper.

Once meat begins to brown, add tomato sauce and hot sauce. Cook on high until meat is browned. Then simmer for a few minutes on low.

While meat is simmering, add spaghetti squash and mix well.

In a microwave, combine cream and blue cheese. Melt blue cheese.

Once spaghetti squash and the beef sauce are combined, top with a bit of the melted blue cheese sauce.

Serve. Should make about 4-5 servings.

Thinking about this meal now….It could be yummy after Thanksgiving when you have leftover turkey to use up!!! GOING TO HAVE TO TRY THAT! YESSS!

Thanksgiving – To Indulge Or Not To Indulge…INDULGE

I’m a firm believer in practicing what I preach.

And one thing I believe in is “cheat days/meals” (or whatever you choose to call them).

A day, a meal, to indulge and simply enjoying any foods I want, in any quantities I want.

I especially believe in doing this over the holidays.

BAHA!

While I believe that all too often our social gatherings are centered around food, there are certain holidays where food is part of the tradition and where food is a big part of what truly makes the day special.

So if food is a big part of what makes the day special, why miss out? Why deprive yourself of that once-a-year-meal if it is truly meaningful to you and you really enjoy it?

Because you are trying to be healthy? Because you are trying to lose weight?

There are over 300 other days a year you can worry about that.

Thanksgiving is not the time to start.

But today…This week…BEFORE Thanksgiving…This is a good time to worry about eating well.

Eat clean in preparation.

Eat extra clean so that the day or two of indulgence doesn’t truly have any affect on your progress. Eat extra clean so you feel ready to fully relax and indulge. Eat extra clean to strengthen your resolve to return to your healthy lifestyle after the day or two of enjoyment.

And then on Thanksgiving, STOP WORRYING. One day, even two days, won’t really matter.

Health is a LIFESTYLE! It is about eating well and living well a majority of the time, not every single day.

A couple of days of bad eating won’t matter especially if you eat well before and return to eating well right after.

Actually especially if you return to eating well right after.

So instead of depriving yourself of the Thanksgiving meal you love just don’t indulge for days or even weeks right after or before.

Days like Thanksgiving don’t cause you to gain weight.

Not getting right back on track is what adds up and causes us to truly gain weight.

So if you are searching for tips to help you diet on Thanksgiving or eat clean at holiday parties, you won’t find them here.

Nope…I say eat those stupid holiday cookies at the holiday party.

Just don’t eat them for days and weeks before and/or after the celebration.

If you want to be healthy over the holidays, start eating well today.

Then forget about your healthy lifestyle on Thanksgiving IF you will feel deprived if you don’t indulge. Because deprivation causes way more problems than one day of bad eating.

For me Thanksgiving isn’t a day to diet. Eat well before. Eat well after.

But on Thanksgiving…ENJOY!

Do you do the eat clean “sandwich” aka eat clean before, indulge and eat clean after? Or do you search for tips to help you eat well even on Thanksgiving?

Your Go-To Healthy Dish

I think everyone needs at least one dish that they just always have the ingredients for lying around.

Those ingredients that you always have stocked in your cabinets or buy each week at the store just to make sure you never run out of them.

A dish, while maybe not the most delicious dish you’ve ever eaten, is something you can enjoy every time and not be so bored with that you would rather go eat out then quickly make it.

A dish that you can quickly make if you haven’t been able to do any meal prep and have no leftovers to quickly heat up.

For us, omelets (or scrambled eggs) and chili are our healthy go-tos (and I don’t mean the super long cooking chili…I mean the dump everything into the cast iron and let it simmer for 10 minutes and then devour chili).

We always have ingredients for both around – eggs, tomato sauce, some sort of vegetable and ground beef.

Since we usually have at least a pound of ground beef lying around, if we make a quick chili, there are even leftovers to eat later!

Below is the basic quick chili we make along with a link out to my favorite cauliflower chili (which is a bit more time-consuming).

Quick and Basic Beef Chili

beanless chili recipe

While a few basic spices are listed below, you can add in others like chipotle powder.

Ingredients:
1lb grass-fed ground beef
1 can organic tomato sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
OPTIONAL…AKA if we have them around:
Onion, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, sausage, bacon, olives

Heat a skillet, we use our cast iron, over high heat and add the ground beef. Add some salt and pepper and break the beef up. (Can add in sausage and onion at this time if you are putting them in.)

When the beef is still a little pink, add in tomato sauce and spices. Stir.

Add in any vegetables and bacon if you are adding any. (Cook bacon before adding beef to the skillet. Let bacon cool and then crumble.)

Mix vegetables into the sauce and then lower heat to low. Let simmer another minute or two, stirring everything together occasionally.

Serve with maybe some grass-fed or raw milk cheese on top. If we have the ingredients for guacamole, we will also usually top it with that.

This basic chili recipe can also easily be served over spaghetti squash as a “spicy” meat sauce if you have any lying around!

And if you happen to love cauliflower as much as I do and have a bit more time to cook, try this chili variation – Cauliflower Chili.

What is your go-to healthy dish? What ingredients do you always have lying around?

Salted Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter Recipe

While I’ve been enjoying an assortment of nut butters from Ingr-EAT-ients, I couldn’t help but want to try to make some of my own again.

Ever since I made the macadamia nut butter about a month ago, I’ve been wanting to try a nut butter variation of one of my favorite healthy desserts – Salted Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark.

Which when I tried making it the other day, along with a plain Macadamia Nut Butter and a Vanilla Honey Cashew Butter (which reminded me of cookie dough), ended up sort of tasting a little like Nutella. Not exactly like Nutella, although I’m sure you could make something even closer using hazelnuts, but enough that it really really REALLY tasted like a treat!

Although I could simply eat the chocolate macadamia nut butter by the spoonful, it was also great on an apple. And I can’t wait to try it in the Yonanas later this week…Just image….Salted Chocolate Macadamia Nut Banana Ice Cream….DROOL….

Anyway, here is the Salted Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter recipe!

Salted Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter

salted chocolate macadamia nut butter recipe

Ingredients:
10 oz Unsalted Roasted Macadamia Nuts
About 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate chunks
1 tsp Sea Salt (can use less or more to taste)
1 tsp Coconut Oil

Place nuts in a food processor. Process until a fine powder. Add in chocolate, salt and oil. Continue to process until smooth. This will take only a minute or two.

If you would like it to be chunky, put in a few nuts at the very end and blend for only a second or two.

Have you ever made a chocolate nut butter at home? What would you eat the Salted Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter on?

Healthy Comfort Foods: Recreating Foods From Your Childhood

There are certain comfort foods, certain meals, from my childhood that I crave when I get stressed.

However, some of them don’t fit the way I like to eat on a regular basis…which means that if I really want them, I have to find a way to make them healthy.

So the other day when I was craving one of my favorite meals growing up, “Green Olive Pasta,” I had to find a way to make a healthy, gluten-free, variation of it. (I think I was a bit obsessed with green olives in general growing up actually…But anyway…)

If you love or crave garlic, olives and pasta, you may just want to try my Healthy Comfort Food Green Olive “Pasta.”

Green Olive “Pasta”

spaghetti squash pasta

Servings 3-4
Ingredients:
4 cups cooked Spaghetti Squash
3/4lb Chicken Breast
1/4 cup green olives, sliced
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 large clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp+1/2 tbsp oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut chicken into chunks and sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp oregano, 1 clove garlic and salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in a skillet until browned and cooked through.

While cooking the chicken, slice olives and tomatoes. Dice garlic. Add olives, tomatoes and 1 clove garlic to a bowl with olive oil, 1 tbsp oregano, salt and pepper.

Add cooked spaghetti squash to the mix as well. (To cook spaghetti squash, preheat oven to about 375. Cut in half and spoon out pulp and seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the size. The squash is done when you can easily scrap out pulp into strands using a fork.)

Add chicken to squash mixture once cooked. You can either serve the dish hot or as a cold “pasta.”

I find that the longer everything sits in the olive oil sauce, the more flavorful the dish becomes even if you choose to reheat it later!

What comfort foods from your childhood do you occasionally miss? Have you found a way to make a healthy variation of them?

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