Healthy Breakfast Recipe: Pumpkin Waffles

The third healthy breakfast recipe I want to feature this week is one you can make ahead of time and keep in the freezer until you are ready. We regularly make extra batches of waffles and pancakes on the weekend to pull out on busy weekday mornings. These waffles are gluten-free and paleo friendly (even though we are neither in our household). To add a bit of extra protein to your breakfast, I would suggest a serving of chicken breakfast sausage. I really like Applegate. Their chicken apple link sausage only contain Chicken, Dried Apples, Water, Honey, Salt, Spices and Parsley. 3 links are 120 calories and will add 9 grams of protein to your meal.  They are pricey, but because I eat mostly vegetarian and my husband does his own thing for breakfast, we use them sparingly.

If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can use this as pancake batter instead.  Enjoy!

pumpkin-waffles

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Healthy Breakfast Recipe — Tuna Stuffed Avocado

Healthy Snacks

Healthy Breakfast Recipe — Tuna Stuffed Avocado

I recently created an educational handout for healthy breakfast recipes with lots of protein. Because here’s the deal: if you notice yourself craving carbs and sugar throughout the day, many times it’s because you aren’t getting enough protein at breakfast. A bowl of cereal with lots of refined flour or grains is satisfying at first, but really it doesn’t sustain you for long.  You ideally should be having high quality protein, healthy fats, and quality carbs (this can be in the form of vegetables or fruits) at breakfast. So, an avocado filled with tuna has healthy fats (tuna, avocado), high quality protein (tuna), and healthy carbs (avocado,which is also high in fiber, and red bell pepper).

If you have a problem controlling yourself around sugar, don’t blame your lack of “willpower”. When your caveman brain is telling you it needs sugar, it’s very hard to resist. But you can help to quiet that voice by setting yourself up to avoid those cravings in the first place. A savory breakfast can help. If you have a sugar problem, but you start your morning eating something really sweet, even if it’s a healthy smoothie, you’re just feeding into it. If you start with a savory breakfast that has fat/protein/healthy carbs, you might find yourself slowly craving sugar less and less.  Just a note: fruits and smoothies aren’t “bad”. But if you are having trouble with sugar, it’s best for a few days to skip the sweet breakfast.

I’ll post one breakfast recipe each day for the next three days. Just give them a try for the next few days and let me know if you notice any difference! This first one couldn’t be any easier, and will take just a couple minutes more than pouring a bowl of cereal.

Enjoy!

 

tuna-stuffed-avocado

Let’s Talk About Stress

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Several of my friends and acquaintances have recently talked to me about how stressful and busy their January has been so far. And I agree with them. I’ve taken on a lot of new responsibilities, but also still have all the usual ones. It’s been a flurry of activity. The coziness and fun of the holidays is long gone, and here in the frozen north, we are now left with a lot of winter still to enjoy endure.

So, how do we not just cope, but thrive? That’s the key, isn’t it? We don’t want to just slog our way through our days.

If we are constantly stressed out, we will have too much cortisol, the “stress hormone”, pumping through our systems. This can lead to disruptions in sleep, metabolism, energy levels, blood sugar regulation and serotonin levels (which help keep our mood stable), amongst other maladies. However, cortisol isn’t the enemy. In fact, it’s a necessary hormone for a lot of reasons. It will give us a quick burst of energy in the event of an emergency (like running away from an attacker). It helps up our immunity and resistance to pain in acute situations. But it’s when we have constantly high levels of cortisol that our bodies do not function properly.

So how do we keep our stress levels in check? Here are some things I recommend:

  • Turn off the news. Now more than ever, it’s important to periodically turn off the 24 hour/day news channels full of constantly “Breaking News”. This goes for Twitter and other social media. Turn off your phone. Turn off talk radio. Turn off the t.v. It’s called a news fast, and I think it’s vital to our mental well being.
  • Exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean running full steam on the treadmill or doing extreme cardio classes. If your stress levels are really high, high-intensity exercise probably isn’t your best bet. Activities like yoga, barre, hiking outside and swimming might be better for the time being.
  • Rest. Give yourself some time off. Read a book, have a cup of tea, take a nap. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Seriously.
  • Get plenty of sunshine. Even in the dead of winter, getting outside and seeing the sun is important. Even on my most anxious of days, if I walk the dog in the fresh air and sunshine, I always feel better. Check out my post about the importance of getting outside here.
  • Magnesium. You can read the post on magnesium I wrote last year. (Never take a supplement or over the counter medication without approval from your practitioner). I take 200 mg of magnesium citrate each night before bed. It helps relax my muscles and my nervous system. Start small on dosing, as it can cause, ahem, loose stools.
  • Cut back on alcohol. I know. But it works.
  • Eat regularly. Skipped meals can cause blood sugar irregularities and contribute to excess cortisol. Make sure you keep your blood sugar in check by eating regularly.
  • Meditate. Check out my post on meditation here. I swear by it.
  • Give yourself a break. It sounds so superficial, but you *must* take time for yourself if you hope to have the energy to take care of everyone else in your life.  Whatever helps you feel calm and centered, do it on a regular basis.

We live in a culture where being constantly busy and stressed is valued. Why is that? It’s silly. We’ll all wake up in our 80’s or 90’s (God willing) and wonder what the heck happened.

I’m constantly struggling with maintaining some sort of homeostasis, just like everyone else. Just because I have all these tools doesn’t mean I’ve mastered any of it. But it has helped me to identify where I can make some tweaks and changes. Maybe this post will help you too!

Is there something that works for you that I haven’t listed? Please leave a comment! And as always, please share this post if you liked it. You can also sign up to receive all my posts in your email inbox. How great is that?! Just click where it says “Follow Blog Via Email”.

 

 

These are a few of my favorite things

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things-2

It’s almost New Year’s Eve, and for many people that means making resolutions. Studies have shown that by June, the majority of people have given up on their resolutions. Bummer. People love making lists, though. I know I do.

So, instead of a list of things you think you should be changing about yourself, might I interest you in a list of some of the thing that have made my life better and/or easier?  Bonus: no trips to the gym necessary. Double bonus: You might find some things on sale now that the holiday shopping season is over!

1.) Ninja® Professional Blender & Nutri Ninja® Cups. If you’ve been reading my blog or my Facebook page (pssst have you “liked” my page yet?) you know how much I love my green smoothies. This blender makes my life so much easier, and it’s simple enough for my 12 year old to use by herself. It’s not nearly as expensive as some of those fancy blenders/extractors and that’s just fine. I’ve been using it nearly daily since July and it never disappoints.

2.) Clairsonic Mia. I got this several years ago as a birthday gift. I use it twice a day, without fail. I get a lot of compliments on my skin. Maybe it’s the green smoothies. Anyway, I know this handy little face washing device cleans my skin far better than my weak little fingertips can. Love it, wouldn’t think of leaving it behind when I travel.

3.) Mr. Coffee mug warmer. $10, people. It’s a game changer for me. No longer is my morning coffee a game of “wait. too hot. wait. too hot. wait. too hot. SORRY TOO COLD”. Never before has a $10 item brought me so much joy. Ever since I got it for Christmas, I’ve been able to drink my entire mug of coffee from my bed without having to get up to microwave it, which if we’re being honest makes it taste horrible.

4.)  Aaptiv personal training app. You guys, I have a problem with motivating myself to go to the gym. Which is kind of a problem when you’re a wellness writer and nutrition student. I decided to try Aaptiv after reading about it several months ago and I was instantly hooked. They’ve worked out some of the earlier kinks and have added meditation to the mix. You can plug into a personal trainer-led workout on the elliptical, treadmill or bike, as well as be guided through yoga, meditation, and outdoor running routines. I’ve been going to the gym way more, have pushed myself out of my comfort zone every time, and am motivated to keep going back. It’s all audio based, and I love that the trainers interject helpful tips like keeping my shoulders relaxed when I’m running. Not only that, but all the workouts are set to great music you’ll really enjoy listening to. It’s $9.99/month, or if you sign up and pay for a whole year, it is $4.16/month. Totally worth it in my opinion. Read this Midweek Mashup for more on my Aaptiv obsession.

5.) Clean Freak dry shampoo. I have oily hair. And I’m always fiddling with it which makes it even oiler. I’m not one of those “I only wash my hair once a week” kind of gals. If I did that, I would look like Danny Zuko in Grease. So I keep this dry shampoo in my bathroom cabinet and use if for when I don’t have time am too lazy to take a shower but don’t want to scare the people around me. It’s got a really nice clean scent and doesn’t make your hair look like a powdered wig. Plus, it’s a mere $4.79 from Target.

So, there you go. Some of the things I love to use. Keep a look out for more lists in future weeks and months. I love trying new products and services, and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm.

***I was not compensated for writing about these products. I just truly enjoy them!

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Cooking? What’s that?

It occurred to me recently that I have done very little actual cooking. If you know me at all (like, AT ALL) you know I love cooking. I love reading recipes and chopping things and creating something nourishing and delicious for the people in my life.

But it’s December. And it’s hectic. I have one child who isn’t even close to being over scheduled, I work part time from home and go to school part time online, and yet here we are, running around all over the place. If I’m busy, just imagine what most other families are feeling.

Last night we got home from the third event of the day totally wiped out. We had gotten seven inches of snow the night before and during the day, so my husband went outside to start the cleanup. I had a Blue Apron recipe waiting in the fridge for me to make. It looked delicious — General Tso’s chicken. And yet. I was so tired I just couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, which was to open some containers of soup, throw together a salad from a bag, and pop a frozen multi-grain garlic baguette into the toaster oven. I microwaved some edamame that was leftover from God knows when (there was no visible mold so it was good enough for me) and sliced a single yellow bell pepper for the kid who at 12 still hates salad. And that was dinner. And it was good! Just as I was putting everything on the table a good friend texted that she had just enough leftover fruit crisp and vanilla ice cream for our family of three, and would we want it? She was going to take her dog for a walk and would pop over with it. It took me less than a heartbeat to accept her offer, and it was by far the most delicious ending to a meal we’ve had in a long time. It was so tasty, and better yet, it was such a kind gesture and just what we all needed at the end of our day.

So, I have no recipe for you today, no health snippets. I guess all I’m saying is sometimes the best meals are the ones that you throw together with what you have, and that canned soup might just be the perfect dinner when we are all doing the best we can.

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Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

It’s the most wonderful time of the…

You know how the rest of it goes. Is it truly the best time of the year? For many of us, yes! The beautiful lights, the nostalgic music, the opportunities to spend time with people we love. For many others, not so much. So much stress, so many additional responsibilities, poor eating habits, a few too many extra cocktails, and obligations, obligations, obligations.

Wherever you land on the spectrum of Holiday cheer, one thing is for sure: we all need ways to help manage it all. I like to ramp up my Green Smoothies this time of year. I feel like no matter what else happens on any given day, I’ve at least had lots of veggies and fiber. Sort of like a little insurance policy.

Some years I’m simply too overwhelmed to consider adding intentional exercise to the mix. This year I’m feeling like I really want to get to the gym a couple of times a week in addition to walking my dog and playing platform tennis. I have been using Aaptiv on my iPhone and love it. It’s full of personal trainer-led workouts that can be customized to your level of fitness. Choose from treadmill, outdoor running or walking, yoga, indoor cycling, strength training and even 5k, 10k, half and full marathon programs. All workouts are set to really great music you actually want to listen to.  It’s not cheap. At $75/year it’s a commitment. But I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth since I got the app this summer. (I was not compensated for recommending this app. I just really like it!)

And finally, here is an easy recipe for zesty three bean salad. I made it for a party in October and loved it. It’s the perfect healthy dish to make on a Sunday to eat all week for lunch.

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Headspace

Headspace

meditation-cairn

It’s been quite the couple of weeks, hasn’t it? I think it’s safe to say that many of us are feeling a little bruised and battered by the contentiousness of the recent elections. Many people are frightened, worried, angry, anxious. When you add Thanksgiving travel, cooking, and spending a lot of time in close proximity to many other people to the mix, it can feel completely overwhelming for many of us.

Because like me you might be feeling overworked and short on time, I want to take just a brief moment out of your week to tell you about something that I have found very helpful for a few years now. It’s an app called Headspace. It guides you through mindfulness meditations in a way that I find really helpful and comforting. You can choose different tracks like Self Esteem, Performance, Anxiety, and even Running. There are also two minute “S.O.S.” meditations you can do if you are feeling on the brink of disaster (hint: it’s pretty easy to slip away from talking politics with your great Aunt Ida for a few minutes to hit the reset button and gather your wits).

Various studies have shown that meditation slows down the heart rate and the autonomic nervous system, decreases cortisol levels (that’s the stress hormone), improves our working memory, helps us cope with pain, helps us sleep and may even boost our immune system.

You have to pay for Headspace after finishing the 10 day free trial, but my  opinion is that it’s totally worth it. If you want to avoid paying for guided meditations, YouTube is full of them. Promise me you won’t think that meditation is only for “those other people”. Trust me, it’s for everyone. Kids who are being taught mediation in schools have exhibited fewer discipline problems and higher grades, as well as lower anxiety and depression. It really does work, if only to help you quiet your “monkey brain” for a few minutes every day.

This week might just be the best time to give yourself a little bit of a respite from all that stress and worrying. If you do, I’d  love to hear how it worked for you.

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*Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for mentioning Headspace in this post. I truly love this app and just wanted to share.