Gluten-free does not equal healthy

I got a wonderful and thoughtful question from a blog reader last week, and I thought I’d answer it in a post because I am sure there are a handful of people that are confused about the same thing.

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I know there has been a lot of confusion over the past couple years about gluten free diets and whether or not they are healthy. Let me start by saying I have had my own experience eating gluten free and eating normally over the past few years, and have discovered that, for me, gluten free/paleo-ish is the healthiest way for me to eat for my health, digestion, and mental wellness. BUT, that does not mean that when we eat gluten-free, our diet is automatically healthier.

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One of my blog readers sent me a message last week stating that she saw that I eat gluten free, and that she tried going gluten free herself a few years ago but found that the gluten free breads, pastas, and mixes were all high in carbohydrates from rice and potato flours, and that they weren’t actually healthier. She wanted to know if she was right in thinking this and basically, what the deal is with gluten-free!

I’ll start by saying that this reader is SO smart to pick up on the fact that gluten free products are not healthier than their wheat flour counterparts. Just because a product is labeled gluten free does not mean it is healthier or a better alternative. And frankly, most of the time, it is higher in carbohydrates and sugar than the regular products. All foods are a mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals, so whether or not it has gluten in it does not change this fact.

Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat, and when people have allergies, they are typically reacting to the protein in a certain food. Gluten free products are substituted (most of the time) with rice flour or potato starch, plus are found to have even more sugar in them to make them taste good. They are still just has high (or higher) in carbohydrates, are often times devoid of fiber, and are still a treat. Gluten free cookies are still cookies, and gluten free pancakes are still pancakes.

 

My favorite  paleo cookie recipe  from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

My favorite paleo cookie recipe from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy these foods. I love gluten free toast from Trader Joe’s and Pamela’s gluten free pancake and baking mix! But these gluten free treats should still be treated as TREATS. They should be eaten just as often as you would eat a regular pancake or regular cookie. Not an everyday food, but a sometimes food.

So be a savvy shopper. Just because something is labeled gluten free doesn’t mean that we can have bowls and bowls of gluten free pasta and still think that’s a “healthy” food choice.

And if you want to go gluten free, the best thing to do is replace your usual breads, pastas, or cookies, with plants. THAT is the healthiest way to go gluten free. So instead of having a hamburger, have a lettuce wrap with an additional side salad. Instead of having a cookie with your salad, have some more vegetables on the side or some fruit.

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And most importantly, if you don’t have negative symptoms from eating gluten, there is no reason for you to go gluten free. Yes, gluten is inflammatory over all, and I don’t think there is any harm in cutting it out (if done right like I mentioned above, with the addition of plants). BUT if you don't experience any negative side effects from consuming gluten, there is no need to cut it from your diet. It won’t automatically make you healthier, especially if you are still consuming gluten free noodles, cookies, pancakes, and more.

I personally gravitate towards a gluten free diet because it helps me with my digestion issues and my anxiety. I even tried to incorporate some back into my diet as recently as last week (kodiak pancakes are a favorite of mine!) and starting feeling those similar symptoms return. For me, I have a clear reaction to consuming gluten, which is why I avoid it unless a food is absolutely worth it (and trust me, it rarely is worth it for me!) But just because I eat a gluten free diet does NOT automatically mean I am healthy. I eat a ton of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and gluten free grains from time to time, along with those occasional gluten free/paleo treats, and all of that contributes to a healthy diet.

I hope this helps you become more aware of your food choices too and learn to be a detective in the grocery store and not just fall for any marketing that is slapped on our food products nowadays. The more we know, the better we do. And if you all have any more questions, please send them in! I love answering these types of questions I get, so please don’t hesitate!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

 

 

The Mind, Food, and Mood Connection

It is common knowledge that what we eat affects our body and appearance. If we eat too much of the wrong foods, we tend to gain weight. If we eat more nourishing foods, we tend to lose weight. But what has been more interesting to me is how the food I have been eating lately has been impacting my MENTAL health, not just physical health.

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**Now, as a disclaimer, mental health has a WIDE spectrum, and I am not assuming that food can cure any mental health disorders. I am just sharing my experience and how changing what I’ve been eating has been helping my mood and my mental state. But PLEASE seek medical advice and attention if you are struggling with mental health, it is real and it NEEDS to be taken care of.

This post is going to be raw and real, because I’m all about sharing my real life with you guys and not hiding anything. I've learned that vulnerability is a part of healing, and also helps inspire others to make changes and grow as well. It’s been no secret that going back to work after Emma was born was rough on me. I only work three days a week, but those days were filled with panic attacks in the bathroom, crying on my way to work, crying when I picked Emma up from daycare, and LOTS of oreo purchases to “get me through the day.” I thought that I could only make it through the emotional ups and downs of the work day by numbing myself with food. But in reality, it just made it worse.

The anxiety and sadness got out of hand. I would burst into tears during work meetings and have to excuse myself. If I wasn’t eating, I was crying. Food was DEFINITELY my coping mechanism, but it also just seemed to numb the pain for a little while, and then it would return with a vengeance and my moods would spiral down again. The days that I was home with Emma were filled with tears as well because I knew that I would have to leave her the next day. I wasn’t being able to actually ENJOY my baby and the time I had with her. I knew this cycle had to stop.

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Being the dietitian and holistic-health proponent that I am, I began doing research on different foods and how they can impact our mind-body connection. One of these foods is gluten. Gluten and I have had a tumultuous relationship over the years. I have a gluten sensitivity and have been told by my doctor over and over again that I need to be on a gluten-free diet. But, I have always told myself that I loveeeeee gluten too much. Such as excuse, you guys. Ready for a science lesson? I hope so!

The thing about gluten is that it stimulates the release of a protein that can actually cause permeability in our gut. Our gastrointestinal (or GI) tract, is considered to be OUTSIDE of our body. It is lined very carefully to protect the INSIDE of our body (anything other than our gut) from receiving undigested food particles, germs, or anything else we ingest. But gluten causes the secretion of a protein called zonulin, which can cause permeability in our gut, allowing particles to pass through and enter our body, where they don’t belong. Food should go straight to our small intestines to get “digested” properly so our body can use the fuel safely. But, with zonulin, the permeability can cause undigested food particles to enter our bloodstream, cause inflammation since these particles are not digested yet, and can also cause symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, and even depression. This is all new and up and coming research, but it fascinated me and makes sense from what I’ve learned in my seven years of schooling to become a dietitian and get my masters in nutrition. Our gut is considered our “second brain” and impacts how we think and feel SO much, so this finding is super interesting to me and motivated me to cut out gluten  with a  new motive: not only to alleviate my stomach issues and bloating, but also to alleviate the mental ups and downs I had been experiencing.

I have also read the book “Grain Brain” in the past, which I highly suggest for anyone wanting to know more on this topic! The author discusses how not only gluten, but also grains, can impact our mental health and lead to issues such as depression, alzheimer's, and other mental health concerns. Of course, following a certain diet is not going to magically cure these issues, btu they can alleviate symptoms, which is what I experienced.

I started back on my gluten free diet on October 29th, and since then, I’ve been happier and more energetic. Yes I've lost some weight and bloat, and my jeans fit again (YAY!), but I am more amazed by my mental shift. I am just HAPPIER. I have been getting creative in the kitchen and am not missing any of my favorite treats thanks to Danielle Walker and her amazing paleo recipes (check her out here!) My husband has been enjoying our meals and my happy moods more, and we’ve spent LESS on groceries and eating out because we always have food ready and are buying less junk! I have SO much energy for my workouts, for my patients and clients, and for my family, and feel like I am finally living each day to its full potential.

Another change I’ve made is increasing my healthy fat intake. I have always been a fan of eating more fat, but I’ve been incorporating these fats into practically every snack and meal. I'll have grain free baked goods made with coconut flour, almond flour, grass fed butter, and coconut oil, I'll add avocado to my salads and lettuce wrapped burgers, and I am not afraid to eat yolks scrambled in ghee. I've been getting a variety of healthy fats in my diet, which boosts brain function because our brains thrive on healthy fats! 

The BEST  cookies  I've ever had! I've made countless batches already because my husband and now, our extended family, can't get enough!

The BEST cookies I've ever had! I've made countless batches already because my husband and now, our extended family, can't get enough!

 

Overall, I am enjoying this journey and am embracing this life of mine, being a working mom and a stay at home mom in the same week, which I am learning is SUCH a blessing! I feel so much better and didn’t cry at all at work this week! (WIN!) Of course I still miss my baby girl like crazy, but I focusing on taking care of ME because this way, I can be a better mom for Emma. I am working out daily, drinking my superfoods (which are full of adaptogens, which also impact your brain chemistry! But I'll save that scientific post for another day!), and am eating foods that I know will nourish my body, my soul, AND my mind.

If you want to get involved with eating for your BRAIN health too, I would love to go through the Grain Brain book together in a virtual book club format! Warning, this book is definitely for nerds, so come ready to learn and grow! Contact me above if you want to be part of the book club! We'll start the first week of December!

ALSO, I am planning on doing more cooking demos and recipe videos in my free facebook community that I run, so if you want to join, contact me! I can add you and you can get access to the meals I’ve been planning, as well as get meal prep and planning tips and tricks from yours truly! Meal prep has been my saving grace for sticking to my gluten free diet, so I am passionate about making it a regular part of my life, as well as yours!

Thank you for reading and for supporting me through the ups and downs of this journey. At times, I don't want to share what I am going through, because I feel that my journey has been such a crazy ride. But, I am a real person, and real life is a roller coaster! What may work in one season of life (ie. my vegetarian diet last year), may not work in another season of life, like this one! My goal with this blog and platform is to share my nutrition knowledge based on research but also my own personal experiences too. Because we are all scientific experiments and each body is so unique and different. So keep figuring yourself out, get curious and find what works for you! And if you need some guidance along the way, I am always here to lend an ear! Feel free to contact me with any questions!

 

 





 

Catching up...Foodie edition!

Hello out there!! I am alive, and I have missed writing to you all! I thought I would just do a catch up edition of my blog posts, since I am home sick today :( I got some kind of stomach bug and it has not been friendly, let me tell you! I have been an absentee blogger, and for that, I apologize! 

But rest assured, life has been pretty awesome lately! I have been getting used to my new job and absolutely love it. I have also been working hard at my side job as a Beach Body Coach! God has been so good to me and has blessed this "hobby" of mine immensely, and for that, I am grateful! I have so much fun working with people and helping them achieve health and vitality. I firmly believe God created me to do this, and I am so excited to see where this all goes! So I am loving work, loving my patients, loving being a beach body coach, and loving this green vest which I have been wearing way too much this summer!

Meals have been on point lately. I'm happy with the way I have been sticking to my goals! I have also had a rude awakening as of late, and since writing helps me think things through, I have decided to share my thoughts and revelations on my blog.

As most of you know, I have been on and off a gluten free diet for a couple years. Per my doctor, I have a severe gluten sensitivity and must stay away from it.

This is the rx my doctor wrote me back in November, when she kindly reminded me that I NEED to be gluten free! I found it this week in my wallet, and realized that I need to start taking care of myself and my body, and treat it the way it needs to be treated. 

This is the rx my doctor wrote me back in November, when she kindly reminded me that I NEED to be gluten free! I found it this week in my wallet, and realized that I need to start taking care of myself and my body, and treat it the way it needs to be treated. 

I basically have been eating gluten like there is no tomorrow, even though I know that I feel 100% better in all aspects of my life when I am totally gluten-free. But, my friends...bread is my favorite. Like, I used to live for free bread and butter at restaurants when I was growing up. I believe in honesty, and I believe in sharing my story, which is why I am sharing this all with you today. I have been in denial for a while about my need for a gluten-free diet, and even wrote a post about being in denial back in November. It's been a roller coaster for me really, especially because I do have emotional connections to my favorite foods! And since getting married in April, I have just really enjoyed having a morning toast with my hubby, sandwiches at lunch, pastries at parties, and all things gluten.

SO, I have decided this week (aka yesterday as I was nursing my unhappy tummy), to go back to a gluten-free diet, and I am hoping that you all will keep me accountable! I need to accept that I have an intolerance, and I need to take care of it. 

I realize now that thinking that I can't live without (insert food here), is just giving food too much power. And ain't nobody got time for that when trying to serve the Lord, serve my husband, and serve people in the best way possible! So, yet again, I am going to follow a gluten-free diet, and will post about my journey, in hopes of regaining my health, my clear skin, my happy tummy, and my overall well-being! And, you know, to listen to my doctor too! :) 

And, since this is a catch-up post, foodie edition, here are my eats as of late!

My husband BBQ'd the most perfect chicken for us last Sunday after church. Paired with some rice and yummy kale salad!

My husband BBQ'd the most perfect chicken for us last Sunday after church. Paired with some rice and yummy kale salad!


Lazy girl meal: chicken, black beans, quinoa, and enchilada sauce

Lazy girl meal: chicken, black beans, quinoa, and enchilada sauce

Kale salad yet again, with a lentil, brown rice, and spinach mush!

Kale salad yet again, with a lentil, brown rice, and spinach mush!

Last, but not least, SHAKEOLOGY! The superfood shake I never leave home without! :) 

Last, but not least, SHAKEOLOGY! The superfood shake I never leave home without! :) 

As far as workouts go, I have been doing the 21 day fix program and love it! There is actually a huge sale going on right now on the 21 day fix + shakeology! They are being sold together at an all time low price! If you are interested, I would love to coach you though the program! Please go through the "Contact Me" tab and send me a quick message if you would like some more info. If you order the program through me, I get to be your coach and help you every step of the way! 

I have also been running more lately. I have really and truly missed running. I used to run half-marathons and live for my 7-8 mile daily runs. After busting my knee a couple years ago, I just can't run like I used to. But I am determined to get back into running shape, at least for shorter distances, since it used to be a huge part of my life and I want to bring it back! 

Ok, random ramblings over. I really hope to be more on top of blogging for you all! I have a few posts in mind that I would like to bring to fruition! Stay tuned, and thank you all for following and reading! 

March Maddness...Wedding Style 

49 days until my wedding and I already know that this month is going to be INSANE. Yesterday was my bridal shower and it was literally the perfect day. I had a tea party with all of my friends and family, and I couldn't have asked for a better time!

Photo credit so my cousin Lara and my friend Jessica!!

It was such a beautiful day and I will never forget it. Now on to the maddness of only having 49 days left! Even though life has been crazy, and is going to continue to be crazy, I've still been doing my best to make my health a priority. I've been working out and feeding my body nourishing, whole foods. I definitely don't want to get sick yet AGAIN (I still have my cough from the bronchitis I had 4 weeks ago), so lately, I've been making yummy green smoothies in the morning.

I've also changed up my workouts completely. Last week, I wrote a post about PiYo, the new workout program I'm doing. I'm loving it SO much, so I decided to discontinue my personal training sessions at the gym, save that money (woohoooo) and do PiYo along with some run/walks outdoors or on the treadmill. I still have my gym membership of course, but I am loving toning my body with PiYo instead of heavy and strenuous weights. And an added perk is that I can just roll out of bed, press play, and call it a day!

 

I have a few goals set out for March and I really am going to strive to meet them all. Here are some of my tentative ones, but as always, goals grow and change and progress as time goes on!

1. Keep up with my PiYo workout schedule.

2. Complete my special project training program that starts tomorrow! (more info coming soon!)

3. Keep my gluten-free diet going. I have been sticking pretty closely to gluten free except for yesterday at my shower where I had scones and tea sandwiches and other yummies...my tummy is mad at me this morning, but I have no regrets!

4. GET MY GREENS! Lately, I've been having way  more veggies than I usually do, and I seriously feel like wonder woman. Increased energy, happiness, and it has even helped my skin. My green smoothies have been so simple too! Spinach, kale, juice of 1 lemon, and ice. And I'll occasionally throw in a few berries. They are so refreshing and delicious, and I want to drink these at least 4x/week, in addition to the other veggies I have.

5. Add more variety to my meals. I wrote a blog post on this a couple weeks ago, and I want to continue with adding more variety to my diet. The restriction of being gluten-free is hard enough, so it is even more important for me to add variety so I don't get bored. I DO have go-to staple meals that I love and rely on, but I've been experimenting with new meals, new breakfasts, new things to pack for work, and adding more spice and flavor to my meals.

6. Continue on with spiritual and personal development. I want to continue my quiet times with Jesus in the mornings no matter how busy I am, because I know that without Him, I am nothing! I also want to finish 2 personal development books I'm reading: "PUSH" by Chalene Johnson and "Girl Boss" by Sophia Amoruso.

7. Continue writing my book! I have been compiling some recipes and things for an eBook coming out soon. That is why I haven't been sharing as many recipes on here lately! It's a work in progress, but I am so excited for this adventure! I have always loved writing, cooking, and all things food, so isn't an eBook the perfect blend of all three? I think yes.

 

I think that's a pretty good list for the next 31 days! Of course I also have some more personal goals, but that's another blog post for another time. Now off to our brand new apartment to get our furniture and enjoy this rainy SoCal day!! Happy March everyone!

3 Tips for Morning Motivation

IMG_5535 Mornings are hard for so many people. It's hard to drag yourself out of bed, get yourself together, and gear up for the day. For me, I've never had a problem with getting out of bed. When I wake up, I hop out of bed and am ready to attack the day. Even on a weekend. This morning (Saturday), I woke up around 6:15 without an alarm and got to work on my day. I had some quiet time with Jesus, and felt so blessed by reading Romans 8. It took me a while to get past even the first verse. God is SO good to us, and we don't even deserve it.

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"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Wow. NO condemnation, even though Lord knows we deserve it. I felt so free after reading that verse this morning, even though I have read it time and time again. Trusting Christ will never disappoint us, for when we are in Him, we find life and peace. I urge you all to read Romans 8 today. It will bless you as it blessed me this morning.

ANYWAYS, back to being a morning person. After my quiet time, I decided to bake some muffins. These turned out delicious!

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Gluten free, high in protein, and SO YUM! :)

Then, I did my PiYo workout of the day (my thoughts on my first week are coming soon to the blog!) Next, I decided to go on a nice stroll outside. First, my fiancé and I went to the farmers market and I got the most delicious looking asparagus, red bell peppers, and broccoli! I can't wait to cook with them this week! I then walked around our neighborhood for about 30 minutes and had some time to reflect. God has been SO good to me. I walked through a park by my house and came across the bench that my fiancé first told me that he loved me, over 3 years ago.

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I got nostalgic and had my own giddy girly jumping up and down party that I am getting married to this man in less than 2 months! All alone, in the park, I just felt SO incredibly blessed and happy. God has brought us so far, and I am so thankful that we have reached the point that we have in our relationship to soon become husband and wife.

After my walk, I came home, got ready, and started working on some bridal shower and wedding things. And this is all before noon! I just love being productive and getting things done in the morning. Now, I know that, for most people, this seems impossible. But for people who want to wake up early sometimes to have time to reflect, cook, workout, or just to get errands done, here are some tips for how to become a morning person:

1. See it as a challenge that you CAN conquer.

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When you start to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, you begin to grow as a person. I have read so many articles and behavioral papers proving time and time again that morning people are happy and more productive. You get more done in the morning hours than most people get done in the night hours. I'm sure exceptions exist, but I know that for me, I love enjoying my mornings and getting things done! It wasn't too hard for me to get used to being a morning person; it just takes prioritizing yourself and your goals.

2. Sleep, sleep, and SLEEP. If you want to start waking up earlier, you HAVE to start sleeping earlier. You don't have to get into bed at 7 or 8pm, but at least my 10pm, I start winding down and getting ready for bed. I change into my PJ's (but most of the time I do this the minute I get home from work...sooo yea...), do my nighttime routine (taking off make up, putting on face lotions, teeth brushing, etc), and get into bed without any distractions. I used to play with my phone in bed, and that really activated my mind and kept me up. So I've eliminated all distractions, and I've been sleeping way better! This helps me be ready and energetic the next morning.

3. Lastly, and this is especially for those wanting to workout in the mornings, lay out your workout clothes before going to bed. When I wake up, I see what I am going to wear lying on the chair next to my bed. This motivates me to get up, get changed, and get moving. I also look forward to my workouts (you shouldn't do workouts your dread by the way...but that's another post for another time) so the excitement gets me out of bed too! Plan something exciting to do the minute you get out of bed, so you will be ready to jump out of bed with enthusiasm. And even if it isn't your workout clothes, even laying out what you plan on wearing for the day will help you get out of bed and be more productive.

As a disclaimer, there are some days that I just want to stay in bed, and I do. There is nothing wrong with that! But I also do love being able to get things done earlier in the day and having the rest of the day to work without thinking of all the things I have to get done when I get home. Hopefully these tips will motivate and help someone out there who wants to start become more of a "morning person."

Have a great rest of the weekend everyone!

Adding Variety to Meal Planning

I've heard it said time and time again that the more simple you keep your meals, the higher the chances that you will stick to your healthy eating goals. While I agree with this to some extent, I do think there are a few exceptions to this piece of advice. Keeping meals simple helps us when we are planning because we don't have to overthink what we want to eat. I know that I do this from time to time, especially during busy weeks. If I have some of my beloved frozen turkey burgers from Trader Joe's in my freezer, BOOM, meals for the week. If I have some sausage and sweet potatoes, I whip up a casserole and call it a day. But sometimes, especially when you are finding yourself eating out of boredom and dreading your next meal, it's time to rethink the mundane simplicity of your every day, go-to meals. IMG_5483

I've been feeling this kind of boredom lately. And I am a big lover of food, so when I don't look forward to my next meal...it's a problem. I realized that all I've been eating are salads with the same dressing, and some kind of protein, usually my turkey burgers. I love those turkey burgers, but sometimes, a girl needs some variety! These past few weeks, I have been giving myself so many more options when it comes to my meals. My only "rules" are gluten free (I started sneaking that pesky bugger in during and after the holidays...not a good idea), and minimal sugars, processed carbs, and processed foods in general. All else is totally game.

Let's start with breakfast. Usually, I eat veggie scrambles. Every. Single. Day. And while I love eggs, eggs every day can get a tad bit repetitive. Last week, I made some protein pancakes instead. I hadn't made pancakes in FOREVER, and I decided that I would make them again. They don't take that long to make, and are still healthy when you pack them with some protein (I used Jaime Eason's Lean Body for Her Vanilla Whey; best whey I've ever tasted!). These turned out great and added some nice variety to my morning.

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I also hadn't had oats in what felt like a very long time, so yesterday morning, I microwaved my oats (short-on-time syndrome) and topped them with some chopped walnuts and blueberries. This kept me full for a WHILE and I thoroughly enjoyed my warm mushy breakfast.

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And speaking of blueberries, I've just been having them as a snack lately too! On Saturday, I was pretty hungry in the mid morning, but it was almost lunch time and I didn't want too much to fill me up. So I opted for a nice bowl of bloobs and they hit the spot!

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Lastly, last night, I decided to have a vegetarian dinner. I am a huge, HUGE, meat eater. I was actually vegetarian a few years back in grad school, but because of some of the health problems I experienced, I decided to add meat back into my life, and I have never looked back. But as much as I love meat, having it at every single meal can get annoying and kind of gross. Last night, I heated up a can of Amy's Organic low sodium lentil vegetable soup. I added a WHOLE lot of spinach to the pot to make it more vegetable-y (yes, it's a word), and the spinach of course shrank. Then, I added a bag of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice. The whole meal was ready in about 5 minutes, made two servings so I am all set for lunch today, and is the perfect winter stew!

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If you want to add more variety to your meals while still keeping them healthy, I recommend getting started in a few easy steps:

1. Take inventory of what you have at home. I realized I have so much frozen tilapia, chicken, grass fed beef, and a mahi mahi burger that are just waiting to get eaten. You can season these meats up differently every time you cook them and get a different flavor each time.

2. Make a list of all the meals you could make adding and combining these foods. I brainstormed that I could use the chicken as a stir-fry with vegetables and some coconut aminos, I could make it into a vegetable casserole, or I could eat it with some marinara sauce and lentils (such a great combination!) I could make the grass fed beef into taco meat, or into little sausage patties. There are so many things we could create if we actually knew the foods we had on hand!

3. Start today. Start changing up your schedule today. You can still eat healthy foods while adding variety to your meals and not getting stuck in the same patterns every day. For me, getting stuck causes me to reach for variety in the form of not so healthy foods. I'd rather change up my daily meals knowing that they are still healthy and look forward to eating every day of my life!

 

I hope this helps someone out there who finds themselves in a food rut! What is your go-to meal every day, and what do you think you could do to spice up your meal plan a bit?

 

 

Changing Things UP!

Good morning everyone! It really feels like Monday today, even though it is Tuesday, and for that, I am grateful! This long weekend was just what I needed, to not only rest but also get a ton of stuff ready for my bridal shower coming up. I am getting married in 62 days and can't believe all the things that still need to get done. But I know that everything will happen in time, and in a little over two months, I will be in Hawaii with my hubby and we will be beginning a new phase of our lives together. I can't wait! So many things have changed about my food and fitness routine in the past couple weeks. I am really trying to discover what works best for me, my body, and my mind. I've dialed back the intensity of my workouts and have been doing a lot more light walking. I also ordered PiYo, which came in the mail yesterday! It was perfect because it arrived on a Monday, and the program calendar starts on a Monday with their Align fundamentals workout, so I did that yesterday.

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I am looking forward to this program because I feel that it is exactly what my body needs at the moment; some hard core toning work without jumping up and down and killing my knees. I've had so much knee soreness and pain lately, even thought I haven't been running nearly as much. My cardio has been walking, elliptical, very SLOW and SHORT runs (like 5.0 mph for 10 minutes or so), walking, and more walking. Did I mention...walking? I've been walking outside, on the treadmill, and on my breaks from work. It's really helped keep me active and motivated with my steps (I bought a Fit Bit a few weeks back and love it!) and it's been easy on my knees. This is me taking a nice sunny walk last week on my 10 minute break at work!

 

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Like I said, I bought a FitBit and it has been really fun to use! I love seeing how many steps I've taken and how active I've been. This morning's workout set me up pretty good, all before 7am! I did a 40 minute elliptical workout and did a slow 12 minute run. I plan on doing the PiYo lower body workout tonight when I get home from work!

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Food wise, I've been letting myself have a little too many treats and sweets lately, which is ok in moderation, but not ok every day! I'm trying to move forward and have been keeping things pretty healthy the past few days. My fiancé and I did get Pinkberry this past weekend on Valentine's Day, but hey...we were celebrating!

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As many of you know, I've been on a journey of no more calorie counting. I can't help but think that maybe I need that structure back in my life, especially with my wedding coming up and all the stress eating/not eating that tends to happen around this time! I've been playing around with the idea of keeping track of myself again, but I'm not too sure about it yet. But that's another post for another time...

Lastly, I bought this new journaling Bible that I am IN LOVE with. I am a huge margin writer, underliner, and highlighter when it comes to reading my Bible. I love that this Bible leaves room for me to write!

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Life has been great lately. Things have been good, and I am looking forward to my wedding in just a couple short months! But things have also been stressful. Which is normal when you are going through any exciting time in your life. I've just learned that I can't rely on my own strength to get through. I definitely need Jesus and the people around me. Don't think you have to do things all on your own...we have a God who loves us and wants to strengthen us, as well as a God who puts people around us to help us through our stressful and exciting times!

 

Well, I am off to work and to conquer this busy day ahead of me. I plan on writing up some meal plans and recipes this week, so I will hopefully make the time for that soon! Happy Tuesday everyone!

Food essentials to ALWAYS have on hand!

Hello out there! I hope everyone is having a fabulous week. Mine has been busy but in such a good and challenging way. Stresses have turned into joys, and thoughts have turned into actions, and I am just so happy to see what the Lord will bring me in the days, weeks, and months to come! I decided to take a rest day today from my workout since I've been feeling kind of sick and don't want to come down with a full blown flu, which apparently everyone has! I started off my day with this yummy and huge breakfast, my favorite!

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Eggs, taters, veggies, and fruit. Never gets old!

I thought I would drop in just to talk about a few essential foods and snacks I always, and I mean ALWAYS, make sure to have at home. When it comes to hunger, I'm no nice girl. I want food, and I want it now. The best way to ensure eating healthy foods is to make sure these foods are always on hand. I compiled a list of foods I always make sure to stock my fridge and pantry with so I don't find myself in a food emergency and reaching for whatever seems to be around.

1. Hummus and carrots. I pretty much eat this combination every single day. It's the perfect mid morning snack and yes, I usually smell like garlic for a while, but it's so worth it. It's a great way to get some veggies and fiber in and keeps me full until lunch time!

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2. Nuts. I am nuts for nuts. I go crazy for them. Nuts are usually my afternoon snack. Afternoons are tough since I have lunch and then find myself feeling snacky by 3pm. Not fully hungry mind you, just snacky. Nuts are perfect since they take a while to eat, and all that healthy fat keeps me full and happy until dinner time! I know what you're thinking; it is SO easy to overeat nuts! I've solved this problem by keeping a 1/4 cup measuring cup in my container of nuts to make sure I always have an appropriate portion!

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3. Hard-boiled eggs. I would not survive without these beauties. Hard boiled eggs are probably the easiest things to prepare and the most versatile food to carry around with you that has a great nutritional punch!

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Eggs are packed with healthy fat and protein that keeps you going for a while. I usually have them as a pre-workout or even as part of my breakfast. To prep, I will boil 5 to 6 eggs at the beginning of the week, usually while getting ready for church on Sunday morning and have them ready for me throughout the week. My little trick to make them easy to peel it's to dump them in some ice water immediately after then they are done boiling, and then store them in the fridge.

4. Larabars.

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I'm a big proponent of eating whole meals and whole food before eating convenience foods. But, if I were to pick a bar, I would definitely pick Larabars. Larabars usually have between three and five ingredients and are made from whole foods, no added junk and no chemicals! I keep a few at work and at home for a quick preworkout meal or an afternoon treat.

Those are just a few of my favorite food essentials that I keep on hand! The more healthy foods you stock up on, the healthier you will eat! I hope this post gave some easy and convenient meal and snack ideas for you all! Have an awesome Wednesday!

Pieology Pizza Dinner

I don't think I've met a single person who does not like pizza. People all have their different tastes and preferences. For me, I LOVE the crust. The thicker, the better. It is probably because I love bread more than a "normal" person would. However, when I had to give up gluten, one of the hardest things to give up was pizza from my favorite place because of their thick and delicious and bready crust.

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I'm pretty sure this pizza is 90% bread, 5% cheese, and 5% sauce and veggies. Which is precisely the way I like it. I'm not even pretending it's healthy because it's NOT, but it is definitely delicious.

ANYWAYS, since going gluten-free, no pizza has measured up to the amazing gluten-filled pizza shown above. And with good reason, since most gluten-free crusts taste like a cardboard cracker. However, this past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised with my experience at Pieology. They just opened this place by my house and my fiancé suggested we try it out Friday night. I got my usual pizza with bell peppers, olives, and pepperoni.

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My fiancé basically got every topping they offered....he is definitely a toppings man and could care less about the bread. Oh, how I wish that trait would rub off on me!

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As I took my first bite, I expected the cardboard and the crunch and not the soft crust that I was accustomed to in my pro-gluten past. However, even though this was a thin crust pizza, the crust actually tasted like bread!! I was so excited when I took my first bite. I even had my fiancé try it and he agreed with me; the gluten free crust tasted great! I don't think anyone would have even noticed it was gluten free if they hadn't been told. I ate half the pizza and was so satisfied with this meal. I didn't miss my fluffy gluten crust...ok maybe I did a LITTLE...but this pizza definitely takes the prize of one that is similar to usual thin-crust pizza while actually tasting like bread. I would definitely try this place again and know that I would feel like I was eating normal, delicious, savory pizza. Thanks, Pieology!

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First Week of 10K training! Food & Fitness Plan 12/8-12/14

Hello all! I am sooooo excited about this coming week! Not only are we getting closer to Christmas, I am officially starting my 10K training this week! I posted a couple of days ago about my training plan, and this week will be week 1. I'm excited to see how actually following a plan that not only includes running, but also strength and endurance training, will effect my training and proneness to injury. I am so excited about meal prepping this week because my friend Hanna and I are planning to go grocery shopping Wednesday! I LOVE GROCERY SHOPPING! And especially going with someone else and taking your time and discovering all these new foods. I'm a nerd and I know it, but I love it!

Here are my meal options for the week:

Pre workout: * gingerbread bars * hard boiled eggs w/nuts * banana w/nuts or nut butter * gluten free toast w/nut butter

Breakfast: * sausage and taters * scrambles/hard boiled eggs * waffle/pancake Wednesday! * quest bar (if in a hurry!)

Lunch/Dinner: * turkey or beef patties * turkey/mahi mahi burgers * sausage and taters * healthy Parmesan chicken (I want to experiment with a recipe I've been concocting!)

Snacks: * hummus with carrots or GF crackers * Larabars or quest bars * fruits/veggies * nuts * banana chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming soon!)

Fitness Plan:

**F means fast/short run, M means moderately paced, and L means long endurance run. See 10K training plan post for more details!**

M: 3 mile M run, abs, personal training session T: 4 mile M run, plyometrics, circuits with Hanna W: Circuits with Hanna, abs Th: 2 miles F (intervals), personal training session F: Log book workout from trainer, lateral elliptical, plyometrics S: 5 mile L run Sun: rest?

I'll share my progress with my training and let you all know how it goes! I'm looking forward to getting started and seeing how my runs improve with this plan!!

Lastly, this is my inspirational quote for the week:

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Humbleness is something I pray for, as well as the worth ethic to work hard and do it all for God's glory! I also want to enjoy my work and be kind to everyone I come into contact with. These things are only possible through God and His work on my heart.

Well, I'm off to an early start this Monday morning and headed to the gym! I hope you all have a great Monday and a good start to the week!