Everyone seems to be in the mood for lists right now. A handful of bloggers that I adore have published list posts lately: The Life & Lessons of Rachel Wilkerson’s What I’ve Been Eating, What I’ve Been Reading, What I’ve Been Writing, What I’ve Been Wearing, Holly Would If She Could’s 16 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me, and SnackFace’s This Week’s Sounds, Scents, Sips, Snacks & Sights…
And with my hectic schedule lately, both at work and personally, I’ve been living and dying by my daily To Do lists. First thing in the morning I make a list of all the things that need to get done that day and before I leave the office for the day I take the list of tasks and put them in chronological order. Don’t worry, I’m not going to share my daily To Do lists with you. I thought I’d take a cue from my blogging idols though and share some of the details of what’s going on in my life these days.
What I’ve Been Eating:
I didn’t do a great job following a healthy diet in April or May, as I confessed, so I’ve been doing my best to rectify that over the last few weeks. Tons of fruits and veggies, and smoothies galore. Green smoothies, berry-based smoothies, and even peanut butter smoothies. Yum!
What I’ve Been Reading:
My boyfriend’s mother insisted that I read The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato, and I ended up reading all 544 pages over the course of a weekend because I couldn’t put it down. Botticelli’s Primavera has been my favorite painting of his since I saw it in Florence when I was 21 so I was especially drawn to the storyline. I’ve also just finished Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink and was stunned by how much I related to each and every study that he discussed. Definitely keep an eye out for a Book Report on this! I’ve also just started Add More -Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein, which isn’t a self-help book – I swear – it’s a self-transformation book. 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing how it impacts my daily approach to life as part of my #1 2012 goal to Be Positive.
Oh, and I have a serious fashion magazine problem. Like a – I need a 12 step program type of problem.
What I’ve Been Writing:
One of my goals for 2012 is to publish a piece of my writing and while this has been a personal goal for years, this is the first time I’ve officially written it down. Not to make excuses, but as a result of my spinal injury and my laptop dying earlier this year, I haven’t worked on this goal much so far in 2012. Hopefully this post will serve as motivation for me to start editing my first novel, I started writing it when I was 20 and wrote a large chunk of it while I was traveling around Europe by myself when I was 21.
What I’ve Been Wearing:
During May I submitted a handful of looks to a fashion challenge run by Definitely RA, you can so you can check out some of those looks – Mission: Put Together 2012 – Part I and Mission: Put Together 2012 – Part II. The challenge was great and I wish I’d had time to participate more, but even putting together a few looks was fun. And as part of my goals for June I wanted to make an effort to wear less black, especially on sunny weekends, so that’s been a major factor in choosing my daily looks. Definitely an adjustment not to automatically reach for the black pieces!
Some Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me:
- I don’t actively follow astrology but I’ve always believed that I embody many of the traits of my Scorpio sign – Determined, loyal, suspicious, discreet, introverted, dramatic, passionate, possessive…
- I originally hurt my back springboard diving in college when I was 18
- If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life it would be sweet potatoes. There’s an endless number of ways to cook them… Chips, fries, baked, mashed, in pudding. They can be sweet or savory. Hmmm… Now I kind of want to spend a weekend eating only sweet potatoes and blog about all the recipes I come up with! 🙂
- Sometimes I forget that I don’t really “know” bloggers. I begin to feel like I’m friends with people whose lives I read about every day. Does that happen to anyone else?
- I have three tattoos.
And so that we can continue to get to know each other, I’m going to re-start my short-lived Les Confessions series, where I post some “confessions” about myself and my life on a regular basis.
I’ve been listening to 70’s and 80’s music non-stop. From vintage Bon Jovi, Kenny Loggins, and Twisted Sister to fabulous 80’s movie soundtracks – Footloose, Pretty In Pink, Breakfast Club. The upside is that it’s really upbeat music that wakes me up and makes me smile every morning, the downside is that I dance at my desk. A lot.
I’m a peppermint junkie! Candles, air fresheners, essential oils… Whatever I can find. I’ve also been baking up a storm and I love the scent of raw cacao and carob powders as their heating up.
Peppermint tea – duh – and I have to confess that my guilty pleasure these days is Cherry Coke Zero or Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper. My boyfriend is horrified by the red color from the syrup but I treat myself to one a week! I’ve also rediscovered the Synergy Kombucha drinks, and I laugh every time I get carded buying them!
I seem to have almost forgotten about hummus when the weather was cooler but now that it’s warming up I’m craving hummus daily. Carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, and radishes dipped in spicy hummus is favorite after-work snack. I’ve also been eating my bodyweight in fruit on virtually a daily basis – pounds of grapes, cherries, apples, and bananas. Just can’t get enough!
This Spring was amazing with weekends in Sonoma, San Diego, and Sea Ranch, but June has been a gorgeous month in San Francisco and I’ve been really enjoying spending time in my favorite city. Walking everywhere, trips to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, lazy days spent shopping and wandering around the sun-drenched streets… Amazing!
So tell me, what have you been up to? Do you like to make lists to ensure that you get everything done that needs to be done each day?
No matter how healthy our daily food choices are, there will always be things that we can’t bring ourselves to say “no” to. For many people I know the treats they can’t deny themselves revolve around sugar, they crave chocolate, candy or sweets. For me its salty all the way, if you put potato chips or French fries in front of me you better watch your fingers!
One of the biggest issues with giving in to your cravings is the landslide effect. After one piece or one handful you think “why not have a little more?” and before you know it you’ve consumed 5 servings. From there it’s incredibly easy to just write the day off and indulge all of your cravings.
We’ve all done this. Some of us more than others (read: me).
When I read magazine articles or surf online on the topics of eating and snacking, experts always tout the moderation method. Buying 100 calorie snack packs or having “just one” piece of dark chocolate etc. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been satisfied by small processed snacks masquerading as healthy food and I’ve certainly never consumed just one piece of anything.
I want my snacks to be satisfying and filling, and I want them to provide my body with real nutrients. My solution? Fake it! I’ve come up with alternatives to my favorite crave-worthy snacks. Some are portable and easy to keep at the office or in your bag/car, while others I save for weekends or when I have a full kitchen at my mercy.
Tote-able salty/savory snacks: Mixed nuts, trail mix, Raw Revolution bars (Spirulina & cashew), veggies or crackers w/ mini Sabra hummus tubs
Quick, but cooked salty/savory snacks
- Mini Pizzas: Buy pre-made polenta logs (or make your own if you’re feeling like a rock star), slice into thin pieces, bake for 10 minutes at 350 on each side, add some cheese and a tomato slice or salsa & broil for 3 minutes. Voila! Delicious mini pizzas with a fraction of the fat and calories of a slice of pizza. And depending on the brand of polenta that you use these can easily be made vegan and gluten-free, just use soy cheese or daiya.
- Wraps: Tortilla + spread + toppings. Easy peasy. (These are a great alternative to sandwiches and can be easily made gluten-free with the use of brown rice tortillas.) First start with your favorite tortilla, good options to try are whole wheat, spinach or sprouted brands, or lettuce, collard greens or kale. Second, add a spread of some sort, I prefer hummus or “cheese” sauce, but you could easily use marinara, curry, creamy salad dressing, nut cheese etc. Finally, add whatever toppings you’re in the mood for. I like a little crunch so raw veggies are my go-to, but you could add cheese, roasted or sautéed veggies, quinoa, rice… The list goes on! If you’re interested in trying a delicious raw wrap, here’s an excellent recipe from Gena at Choosing Raw – Zucchini Wraps.
- Quesadilla: Tortilla + toppings. Couldn’t be easier! Pile on anything that sounds yummy, from the traditional to the inventive: cheese, rice, beans, meat or sliced seitan/tofu, crumbled tempeh, sautéed veggies, cubed roasted veggies… So many choices, so few tortillas!
Tote-able sweet snacks: Homemade trail mix with carob/chocolate chips or granola, dried fruit, Larabars (coconut!), apples w/ nut butter
Quick, but “cooked” sweet snacks:
- Chia Seed Pudding: The consistency is similar to tapioca, but this pudding will really stay with you. For hours. Great for a mid-morning snack or a pre-workout pick-me-up. Mix 3/4 cup of raw chia seeds with 2 cups of liquid (almond milk, coconut water, water…) and allow to sit for roughly 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The natural flavor of chia seeds isn’t potent so you can add any flavors you’re craving. My favorite recipes are: (1) Mix in nut butter (I’m loving sunflower seed butter right now) and cinnamon to taste and top with a sliced banana. So. Good. (2) Add Stevia or agave nectar and lemon juice to taste. This is tangy and refreshing, and quite similar to the way the Tarahumara consumed their chia seeds.
- Smoothies: See Smoothie Love for some ideas of smoothies you can make.
- Soft Serve: A lot of vegan/raw recipes for soft serve and pudding treats rely on avocados for their creamy texture. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of avocados, so when I’m looking to up the creaminess of a dessert, I reach for bananas. 2 frozen bananas + blender. Done. This is seriously quick and seriously delicious, you can even top with chocolate sauce! However, if you’d like to try an avocado-based pudding, please take a look at this recipe to give you a starting point.
So tell me, what is the snack that you just cannot say no to? Take my lead and try to make a healthy, whole food version to satisfy those cravings and let me know what you come up with!
My first meal at least five days a week is a smoothie. It’s a great way to get easily digestible whole foods first thing in the morning and is an especially nutritious way to hydrate after a sweaty AM workout.
As the early morning workers at my office can attest, my smoothies are either green, or not. “Not” encompassing a wide range of colors, from purple to a delightful dirty snow/sludge color, depending on what I add to my own personal Frankenstein’s Monster of a drink.
I never follow a recipe and my ingredients are usually based on my mood and what’s in the immediate vicinity. Below are a variation of my green and my “not” smoothie.
- 3 cups of spinach
- Coconut water as needed
- 1 scoop of Sun Warrior protein – Vanilla flavor (ridiculously expensive, but after extensive personal research I’ve found that this works best for me, you can obviously substitute the protein powder of your choice)
- 1 tsp Maca
- 1 apple (I’m on a Pink Lady kick, even the name is cute!)
- Fresh lemon juice
- Ice cubes
- 1 banana or apple
- 2-3 cups of fresh or frozen mixed berries
- 1 scoop of Sun Warrior protein
- Water as needed (I like the natural tanginess of the berries so I use plain water, but if you prefer a sweeter smoothie feel free to substitute coconut water or aloe vera juice)
- Dash of cinnamon & maca
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Ice cubes
Breakdown of properties in these ingredients:
Spinach: As with many leafy greens, spinach is high in antioxidants, Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium, folic acid, potassium, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Spinach is most easily absorbed by the body when consumed simultaneously with a good source of Vitamin C, such as lemon juice or berries. If you’re not a spinach convert, try adding a few leaves of romaine lettuce, collard greens or kale.
Coconut Water: Coconut water provides simple sugars, electrolytes and minerals, naturally replenishing your body’s hydration. It’s tasty, refreshing and perfect after a workout. If you don’t love the taste, popular brands O.N.E., Vita and Zico offer flavors like passionfruit and pineapple. [Note: Coconut water and coconut milk are two VERY different beverages. Coconut water is found inside a coconut, while coconut milk is produced by pressing liquid out of ground coconut meat, which means that it is much higher in fat and calories.]
Maca: Touted as a “superfood” maca is a Peruvian root, usually ground and sold as a powder. Maca contains amino acids, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron and Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C & E. Maca affects the endocrine functions of the body and the benefits can range from hormone stabilization to digestion to sexual function and fertility.
Cinnamon: Not only is this spice tasty, it has been used to combat colds, nausea, menstrual pain and digestive distress in eastern medicine for years. It’s also believed to help with circulation and have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. Chemically cinnamon contains calcium, iron, fiber and Vitamins C & K.
Apples: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Well… It can’t hurt, right? Apples are high in antioxidants and fiber and studies show that they may help reduce the risk of various forms of cancer (like prostate, lung & colon).
Berries: Different berries have different nutritional benefits, but across the board they’re high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They’re thought to be beneficial in the fighting of different types of cancer, boost cardiovascular functions and improve vision.
Bananas: In additional to adding great taste and texture to smoothies, bananas add a healthy dose of Vitamins B6, C, manganese and potassium. Similar to the health benefits listed above for apples and berries, bananas contain vitamins and minerals which may help the body ward off various types of cancer.
Chia Seeds: Yes, as in Chia Pets. Consumption of this Aztec superfood is on the rise in the United States with books like Born To Run advertising the unique properties and amazing benefits. Chia seeds contain protein, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium, similar to other seeds, but are completely atypical in their reaction to water. Add them to any liquid and leave for 20+ minutes and you’ll return to find a glass full of a gelatinous substance not unlike tapioca. Now imagine adding dry seeds to your stomach. That’s what the ancients are said to have done, subsisting on teaspoons of chia seeds for days at a time. There are some other great recipes that include chia seeds, which I’ll touch on at a later time.
Ginger: To be honest, I can’t stand ginger. But given its rock star benefits, I needed to find a way to get a little ginger in my life. And luckily for me, the tart berries and spices in this smoothie make the ginger barely detectable. Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for a host of ailments, including: ovarian cancer treatment, colon cancer prevention, heartburn, menstrual cramps, inflammation, migraines and relieving digestive/stomach conditions like morning and motion sickness.
Benefits of smoothies:
- By blending the fruits & vegetables you’re breaking down the tough outer cells of the plants and making the nutrients more easily accessible to your body, reducing the amount of work your body wastes on digestion
- Tasty way to hydrate your body first thing in the morning, especially if gulping down water isn’t your favorite AM activity
- If you’re not a fan of breakfast, this is a great way to get in multiple servings of fruits & vegetables in a quick and painless way
- Like soup, you can add whatever ingredients you have available: nut butter, strawberries, spirulina, almond milk, frozen veggies, carrots, celery, cashews… Clean out your fridge!
- If you don’t love greens and have trouble getting your daily recommended amount, you can add them to a smoothie and just get it over with!
Now go forth MCLV readers, power up your blenders and make me proud!