4 Sweet Ideas for a Healthier Valentine’s Day Date

Why not try something different this Valentine’s Day ?

There is more to this day of love than expensive gifts, sugar laden chocolates and fancy, overindulgent dinners. Try something more romantic (and healthier) this year to show that special someone just how special they really are. And if you’re spending Valentine’s Day solo, plan something beautiful to shower yourself with love!


healthy valentine's day

 

INSTEAD OF AN EXPENSIVE DINNER…

Cook something fancy and fun at home. Getting busy in the kitchen can be a great way to create some special memories with your lover. What’s more romantic than a home cooked, candle lit dinner?! 

[Pinterest is always great for some recipe inspo]

 

 

STEP UP YOUR CHOCOLATE GAME… 

Forego the ordinary Valentine’s day chocolates in those heart shaped boxes. Give your valentine a healthy, indulgent superfood instead. Yeah, that’s right, these kinds of chocolates are actually good for you.

[Try these options]

 

DINNER AND A MOVIE IS SO ORDINARY…

Do something out of the ordinary! Try a hike or an outdoorsy adventure, instead. It’s a great way to spend quality time together and have some deep conversation. 

Not feeling the nature option? Then go dancing or take a dance class, heyyy! Let loose and have fun showing off those dance moves. 

 

USE YOUR WORDS NOT YOUR WALLET…

Regardless of how much money you spend on these types of holidays, what really matters is the thought and intention behind the act. Spending quality time together or expressing your love through words of affirmation (say.. a sweet note, song or a well-written card) will be treasured by your beloved more than any gift you could buy.

 

DON’T FORGET TO GIVE YOURSELF A LITTLE SOMETHING ON VALENTINE’S DAY (AND EVERY DAY)…

Valentine’s Day is not just about sharing love between couples. Show yourself some love too– not just on V-day, but everyday! #SelfCareisHealthCare  

Think things like… 

  • Decluttering your space
  • Pampering Yourself (Can you say Spa Day!)
  • Take some “Me Time” (maybe with a glass of wine good book)
  • Write Down Positive Affirmations + 5 Things You’re Grateful for
  • Get a Massage
  • Stretch it Out with some Yoga
  • Do Something FUN!
  • and just RELAX.

 

I WANT TO KNOW…

What romantic (and healthy) Valentine’s Day Ideas do you have planned?

 

 

 

sending you lots of love,

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Ever Worrying About Weight Gain

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  The holiday season has officially arrived. There is something special about breaking bread together and enjoying good food. Usually the food is a little too good and we tend to overindulge leading to that infamous holiday weight gain… or is that just what happens to me?!  

A few years ago, I would worry so much about gaining weight over the holidays. I would skip meals, so I could indulge at a potluck or obsessively exercise to mitigate the damage of a big, unhealthy meal. This was not only stressful, but totally inefficient. Every year I would end up gaining weight, feeling bloated, tired, and like a failure. Then in January I would join the masses in recommitting to healthy lifestyle changes.

This cycle was exhausting and no way to live.

I wanted to enjoy the holidays in a healthy way, including the FOOD– without guilt or stress. You, too, can make peace with your plate and enjoy a stress free holiday without worrying about gaining weight.

First, you must make up your mind and prioritize committing to a healthier relationship with food and your body.

Next, incorporate these simple strategies into your holiday social calendar and reap the benefits.

holiday weight gain

 

Take the focus OFF the food.

Focus on fun, family and friends. Often I’m so busy socializing that I forget to eat or end up eating less!

 

Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals to save up your calories for later on will backfire. You’ll end up eating much more than you normally would have, because you’re so hungry. This causes your body to store more of the excess calories as fat.

You don’t have to starve all day to earn your dinner. Before the big meal, eat lighter meals like smoothies, salads, fruits and veggies throughout the day instead.

 

Build a Better Plate

You’re face to face with a beautiful spread of delicious foods. What do you put on your plate?

Fill up on fruits, vegetables and salads to get your nutrients. These foods usually have fewer calories and will fill you up quicker, preventing over doing it on mom’s stuffing.

Go easy on the calorically dense options, specifically dessert. Of course you will and definitely should enjoy some pie but limit yourself to one slice. Try not to have one of every dessert on the table, but if you must, then at least share with someone.

 

If you don’t LOVE it, don’t eat it.

Sometimes a few bites is all you need, then move on to the next thing on your plate.

 

Don’t Drink Your Calories

Alcoholic drinks, sodas or juices are big culprits for weight gain.That wine or cocktail you’re sipping on can easily and quickly add up to the same amount of calories in a full meal.  

Sip slowly. Hydrate with water between drinks. Limit the number of drinks you consume.

I don’t know about you, but I much rather eat my calories than drink them.

 

Eat Before You Eat

Never go to a food gathering hungry. Having a satisfying snack before going out will help you have more control over your food choices and portions.  

 

Stay Consistent with Exercise

The holidays bring about a lot of stress and hustling & bustling. This is a time of year you need to workout more than ever because exercise helps you combat stress. You’ll instantly be in a better mood and equipped to handle whatever curveballs come your way. It’s also a great way to balance out some of the extra calories you’ll likely be consuming.  However, it’s super important to remember that you don’t, and should never, feel like you must exercise to eat. Exercise to maintain your weight and to feel energized, focused, strong and healthy.

 

Potlucks

If you’re going to a potluck style gathering, be that person that to bring a healthier dish. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I usually bring some fruit, a green salad, or just simple roasted veggies.

 

Eat intuitively

Listen to your body’s cues. Does it feel full? Bloated? How will you feel tomorrow?  Are you eating in a way that nourishes and honors your body, or the opposite? Be sure to chew your food and enjoy how it tastes. Eating mindfully will help you stop eating when you’re full.

 

And if you accidentally go overboard... Be kind to your body, forgive yourself, let it go, and do better tomorrow.

 

Now go enjoy that pumpkin pie, girl! Feel confident that you are going to make better choices this holiday season and maintain a healthy weight.

When you’re eating right, you feel energized and vibrant. People around you pick up on that, and without even realizing it you’re inspiring them to live better, too.

Living a healthy lifestyle is about eating well, feeling good and celebrating life, so go do that!

 

 

Happy Holidays,

signature

 


OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Travel to Cuba: The Best Recommendations

My recent trip to Cuba proved to be a beautiful mix of cultural immersion, breath taking sites, salsa and rum. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful island soon, let me share my top recommendations with you. You can find general tips on money, internet, Visa info, and more HERE.

cuba travel

 

There is more to see than the big city of Havana.

Here is the itinerary of my two week adventure in Cuba.

  1. Varadero (2 nights) – where we landed.
  2. Trinidad  (2 nights)
  3. Havana (5 nights)
  4. Viñales (day trip, ~ 12 hours)
  5. Varadero (4 nights) – where we flew out of.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Varadero –

TO DO:

  • Enjoy the beautiful beach!
  • Can rent beach chairs for 2CUC a day
  • Walk around the streets and check out souvenir shops and larger markets 
  • Take a romantic stroll around Parque Josone
  • Try the Hop-on Hop-Off bus for $5CUC a day
  • Enjoy free rum tastings at the House of Rum 

img_3249

TO EAT:

  • La Vicaria $
  • La Casona del Arte $$
  • El Amanecer $
  • Waco’s $$$

NIGHTLIFE:

  • Calle 62
  • The Pirates Cave
  • Havana Club
  • La casa de la Musica

WHERE WE STAYED:

  • Casa Magda y Gilbert
  • Norma’s B&B

img_0023

 

Trinidad –

TO DO:

  • Take a trip to the sugar cane plantations with a private driver or organize bus tour
  • Spend the morning at Playa Ancon
  • Get lost wandering the streets of this quaint town 

TO EAT:

  • Guitarra Mia $$
  • Restaurante San Jose $$

NIGHTLIFE:

  • Plaza Mayor has live music and dancing starting at 10pm 
  • Casa de la Musica  
  • Disco Ayala (Cave)  

WHERE WE STAYED:

  • Hostal Las Margaritas

img_2743-2

 

Havana –

TO DO:

  • Visit museums: Museo de La Revolution and Museo De Las Bellas Artes (Fine Arts)
  • Take a walking tour
  • Walk along el malecon 
  • Shope at the Almacenes San Jose Artisans Market
  • Walk down Obispo St. 
  • Go dancing

img_3168

TO EAT:

  • San Cristobal (where the Obamas, Kardashians, and Beyonce have eaten)
  • El Cocinero (rooftop restaurants attached to Fabrica de Arte)
  • Los Nardos (across from el Capitolio)
  • La Guarida 
  • Paladar los amigos (Anthony Bourdain ate here)

NIGHTLIFE:

  • Fabrica de Arte
  • 1830
  • Hotel Florida  

WHERE WE STAYED:

  • Casa Yadilis y Joel

 

img_2772

 

Viñales – 

We were only here for the day so I can’t recommend anything regarding night life, where to stay, or places to eat.

TO DO:

  • Visit coffee plantations
  • Walk through caves and take a boat ride through
  • Visit a tobacco farm
  • Stop at El Mirador for a breathtaking view of the landscape 

img_3099-1

I can’t wait for my next trip to Cuba. There is still more places I would love to explore there. If you have enough time, I highly recommend exploring the areas outside of Havana to really fall in love with Cuba.

 

 

Viva Cuba! 

signature

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Travel to Cuba: Everything You Need to Know

Cuba’s growing popularity as a new travel destination for Americans has left people with many questions about planning for this trip. I recently spent two weeks in Cuba, traveling through Varadero, Trinidad, Havana, and Vinales.  In preparation for this adventure, I found it difficult to obtain clear information for putting together the itinerary. I figured I would share my experiences to help out others planning to visit this beautiful country in the future. Here are answers to many common questions and tips on how to make the most of your trip to Cuba. 

cuba travel

 

Are Americans Allowed to Travel to Cuba?

YES, but there are still some restrictions…

Technically, American tourism in Cuba is still a no no but you can travel there under one of the 12 categories of authorized trips.

You’ll need to plan a “people-to-people” trip (reason #8: aka “In Support of the Cuban People”). This means you are meeting Cuban citizens in their normal daily life settings like schools and community centers, but no one will ask to see your itinerary or for proof of these activities. You may be asked, however, at the U.S. airport for your travel reason so have your answer prepared.

Do I Need a Visa?

You can now purchase flights from the USA directly to Cuba, but a Visa is required. Check with your airline first as many of them will sell you a visa at-cost (~$50) and mail it out to you. Not all airlines offer this, for example, American Airlines outsources their Visa process, raising the customer costs to $85. Many airlines will also have the option to purchase Visas at the airport the day of your flight for ~$100 (cash only).

Another option for obtaining a Visa to Cuba is through a travel agency. They can mail one out to you within a few days for around $80.

The visa process, in general, is simple but pricey.

 

How Much Cash Should I Bring and Will My Credit Card Work in Cuba?

Bring enough cash to cover all of your expenses, including food, transportation, and accommodations. American credit cards and debit cards will not work in Cuba at this time. If you run out of cash during this trip, you are SOL.

 

What’s the Cuban Exchange Rate?

Cubans use cuban pesos (CUP), while tourists use the cuban convertible peso (CUC). You’ll need your currency in CUC, which has a 1:1 exchange rate to USD.

My advice is to exchange USD for Euros or Canadian dollars (CAD) before your trip. Once in Cuba you can convert Euros (or CAD) to CUC. This will help you avoid the 13% tax, imposed by Cuba, for converting USD to CUC.

You’ll find the fairest exchange rates at local Cuban banks or cajas de cambio (exchange windows).

Beware of locals “accidentally” giving you change back in CUP instead of CUC. It happened to a few of my travel companions. Many local spots will have pricing in CUP, but will accept your CUC currency. Just be sure to know that 24 CUP = 1 CUC and that your change is given in CUC.

 

Can I Bring back Cigars and Rum from Cuba?

In the past, restrictions limited travelers to a combined total of $100 in rum and cigars. Obama recently lifted this restriction, allowing Cuban rum and cigars to fall under the same limits as alcohol and tobacco from other countries.

 

Accommodations: Hotels vs Casa Particulares

Hotels in Cuba are pretty much government-owned, resulting in lower quality service and accommodations. Expect to shell out $100+ a night for your room. Food is usually buffet style, although many hotels have restaurants inside. Usually the hotels are further away from city centers and major sites, requiring cab rides or buses to get around.

If you really want to experience the Cuban culture and support the people, casa particulares are my recommendation.

I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and comfortable the casas were. The hosts were also so friendly and helpful, giving us recommendations on restaurants, things to do, and even organizing transportation for excursions.

Many provided beer and water in the rooms for $2CUC and amazing homemade breakfasts for just $5 CUC. Breakfasts always included coffee, toast, freshly made fruit juice, a bowl of fresh fruits, and some variety of egg dish.

AirBnB’s are also an option in Cuba and will offer similar accommodations as a casa particular, but at a higher price point since AirBnB will charge you a fee aside from the host’s asking price.

 

Is There Internet Access in Cuba?

Wifi is hard to come by in Cuba…and slow. You need to purchase an internet card from someone on the street, certain hotels or the internet company ETECSA. The card is about $2-$3CUC for 60minutes. You have 30 days to use the 60 minutes.

These internet cards can only be used in a wifi hot spot. Most hotels and certain areas in the city are hot spots. You’ll know if a place is a hot spot because locals will be gathered around using their phones and computers nearby.

Here’s what it looks like..

cuba travel

 

Taxis, Travel Options, and Getting Around

We probably spent the most money in Cuba on transportation. The good news is that there are a few options to choose from. Car rentals are available but can be expensive. Book in advance.

There are plenty of taxis all over, but once they spot a tourist they hike up prices. This is where good bargaining skills come in handy. Yellow taxi cabs are government-owned, meaning drivers pay a government tax daily no matter how much business they had that day. These drivers tend to have higher prices because, naturally, they are trying to make a profit. Private drivers have more negotiable prices. You can usually ask your casa host or hotel front desk to coordinate transportation for you. There are also bus services which can be the most affordable option for solo travelers or couples, however they take much longer than traveling by car would. Get your ticket at least one day in advance and confirm departure times.

Avoid getting completely lost by downloading a map of the country in advance. Use the app called ‘maps.me’ for access to off-line searches and GPS navigation.  

 

A Few Tips:

Cuba is very safe but you should still be on guard for scams.

  • Don’t listen to anyone on the streets offering to walk you to a great restaurant/ paladar. They are usually getting a kickback and often the restaurant is no good.
  • Don’t be surprised if some restaurants are out of common things like bread or chicken. This happens often.
  • Many government owned restaurants are low quality, while paladares (privately owned restaurants) tend to be better. Finding good food at a fair price can be unpredictable. I recommend having a few restaurants picked out in advance or asking your casa host/ hotel for recommendations.
  • You’ll find many people selling “authentic” Cuban cigars in the streets for very low prices. Most of the time, if not all of the time, these are cheap knock-off cigars. The only way to guarantee good quality tobacco is to by from a government tobacco store.

 

cuba travel

 

In this next post I’ve shared my itinerary, as well as recommendations for restaurants, things to do,  night life and accommodations in each of the 4 areas I visited in Cuba. Read more HERE.  

 

Safe Travels, 

signature

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Should You Get the Flu Shot? 7 Things to Seriously Consider

It’s that time of year– Pumpkin-everything season! But also flu shot season.

This yearly vaccine is a sore subject for a lot of people. Among many questions, the biggest one is whether it’s really necessary to get the flu shot. Don’t make your decision based on what you think you know about the vaccine, what you’ve heard from other people, or what you’ve seen in the media. Get the facts, first! Before even beginning to uncover any answers, let’s expose some common myths and misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

flu shot
“I never get the flu, so I don’t need the flu shot.”

So you’ve been lucky. That’s great! But did you know you could be carrying the influenza virus without symptoms and then pass it to someone with weaker immune system? …Someone like young children, newborns, elderly, anyone with chronic disease.

“Every time I get the flu shot, I get sick”

This one is really common and the truth is, that the flu shot is not without side effects. Side effects include: itchy eyes, headache, fever, fatigue and cough. These kinds of symptoms are not the actual flu, though, because it’s not possible to get the illness from an inactivated vaccine like this one. If you do get influenza shortly after receiving the vaccine, it could be because you were already infected with the virus. The vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to be effective.

The flu vaccine doesnt really work”

I partly agree with this one. It’s said to be a “good, but not perfect” vaccine, by experts. That’s because it’s really only about 60% effective. Every year, scientists try to match the vaccine strains to the actual flu strains the best they can but they don’t always get it exactly right. It’s up to each individual to decide whether to increase their chances of preventing the flu or not.

 

“Flu shot has many dangerous chemicals in it”  

I worry about these chemicals, too and wonder what the long term effects are.  Flu vaccines contain chemical ingredients like thimerosal, mercury, formaldehyde, and Triton X-100.

Thimerosal is used to prevent bacterial contamination of the vaccine vial. It is broken down into a mercury chemical form. There has been a lot of controversy over whether thimerosal & mercury are linked to certain effects on children, but no study has definitively, without a doubt been able to prove it’s dangers. It’s used in tiny amounts in the flu shot, but I prefer to steer clear of it if I can. Just ask for a preservative-free flu shot.

Formaldehyde is the stuff used to preserve cadavers. Sounds gross, I know. I’m about to blow your mind with this fun fact though… Many fruits and vegetables naturally produce more formaldehyde than the amount found in the flu vaccine.

Triton X-100 is often confused with propylene glycol (anti-freeze) which is incorrect. There is no anti-freeze in this vaccine. It’s a splitting agent to help break down the inactivated virus in the vaccine.

 

“If I get the flu I’ll just take antibiotics”

Influenza is a virus, meaning that antibiotics won’t even make a dent if you catch this. There are two antivirals designed to fight the flu but they must be taken within 48hrs of symptoms which is challenging considering you first have to see your doctor, then likely have to wait for the pharmacy to order this specialty medication, and finally, recover from the shock of how expensive it is. Often the antivirals don’t work that well anyway. Yikes!

 

Getting the flu isn’t that bad.

Some lucky souls will only be sick for a day or two, but the majority of people are down for the count as long as a week or two. Can you really afford to be sick that long? Even worse, is that flu can lead to many complications such as respiratory issues, asthma exacerbations, pneumonia, and more. Every year thousands of people (of all ages & even “healthy” people) are hospitalized due to influenza.

 

“I can protect myself from the flu with a good diet and hygiene (like regular hand washing).” 

While I think doing these things are always important for staying healthy and keeping your immune system strong, it’s not a guarantee. The flu virus is airborne, so it can be transmitted by someone sneezing or coughing nearby. I believe in the power of a healthy, balanced diet to help you fight off disease, even if it may not fully protect you from the illness. Living a healthy lifestyle and practicing good hygiene might lower your risk of flu-related complications or duration of the flu.

To learn more about the flu vaccine and which populations and age groups are at highest risk for contracting influenza, check out the CDC website.

It’s ultimately your call whether to get this vaccine, but realize it affects other people, too. Take time to think about the possible consequences of your choice. Now that you know the real deal on the flu shot you can make your own, informed decision about it.

 

>>> Comment below on what your opinion of the flu shot is.

 

Best, 

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

How to Make the Most of What’s Left in the Year: Revisit Your Goals

Happy October! Oh my goodness, can you believe there are only 3 months left before the end of the year?! As I think back to January 2016, when it was a brand spanking new year and everything seemed possible, I get a little panicky realizing I’ve fallen short in reaching a few of my goals.  goals

 

Can you recall what kind of resolutions and goals you set for yourself back in January?

Check back in with yourself, have you reached your goals? 

It’s okay if you haven’t! The important thing is that it’s not too late to make the most of 2016. We have a brand new month before us this week, so let’s set some goals.

Ask yourself this..

What were your biggest accomplishments last month?

 

What could have gone better?

 

What are your top 3 “to-achieves” for this month? For the year?

 

What steps will you take each week that will move you closer to achieving these 3 things?

 

Now look at your calendar or planner and put in reminders for yourself each week. Write your top 3 “to-achieves” in there too.

 

Whatever goals you’ve set for yourself DO. NOT. GIVE. UP.    It’s not too late.

Remember that YOU are a #goalgetter! Just do your best and be consistent.

Here are my goals for the end of the year (in no particular order):

  1. Read 1 book a month (because personal development is everything!)
  2. Create a fantastic giveaway for you, my lovely readers, to make healthy living easier
  3. Finish crocheting some Christmas gifts (Yes, I have picked up crocheting as a new hobby– don’t judge me!)

 

YOUR TURN–

>>>> Share your top 3 to-achieves before the end of the year (or for this month).

 

 

xo,

signature

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Are Superfoods Necessary or Overrated?

Can you supercharge your diet without Superfoods? Are they really that important, or just overrated? I’m talking about all of that in today’s blog post and including a little goodie for you at the end. 

Sign Up here for a free guide of my 15+ favorite superfood staples, how to integrate them into your daily routine, and a few recipes too! 

 

superfoods

When I started my health journey about 4 years ago, the superfood label was very attractive. I was under the impression that these so called “superfoods” were the magic answer to improved health and weight loss. As I learned more and more about plant-based nutrition and functional medicine, I realized that this wasn’t so true.

But first let’s break it down for a minute and define a superfood. According to the dictionary, there is no definition for it. It doesn’t exist. That’s because we made it up as a health buzzword.

Now let’s check a less reliable source– urban dictionary.  Here the definition of a superfood is  “A common marketing buzzword that refers to any foodstuff that isn’t an artificial amalgamation of corn syrup and hydrogenated oil.”

In conclusion, the non-official and non-scientific definition is that they’re foods with some of the highest levels of vitamins and minerals. I don’t know about you, but going by this definition all fruits and vegetables are essentially superfoods!

 

Are Superfoods worth it?

Popular superfood items like goji berries, acai, reishi powder, and others, are pricey and you may be wondering if they’re worth your hard earned dollars. The short answer is probably not.

While these “super” foods have the highest concentration of certain nutrients…. Eating the right foods, the kind that are nutritionally dense, provides a balanced intake of all vitamins and nutrients needed. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about supplementing with overpriced, often overrated superfoods.

There are some affordable swaps you can make instead. Here are just a few…

  1. Goji berries:  Raspberries and blueberries have just as much antioxidants and fiber as goji berries. They actually have a lot less sugar, too.
  2. Cacao powder: While this is one of my favorite superfoods, it can be expensive so I often opt to just grab chocolate with 80% cacao content.
  3. Maca powder: This adaptogen root is great for hormone balance, energy and stress management but you can try chia seeds instead! They contain omega 3 fats, fiber and are a complete protein which will provide similar benefits to maca.

Superfoods will never counteract an unbalanced lifestyle lacking in fruits, vegetables and regular exercise. They’re a fantastic supplement to a healthy lifestyle but cannot make up for consistently unhealthy habits.  

Before you invest in superfoods, be sure to invest in mastering good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle.

superfoods

 

You can’t add one great thing into your diet ( i.e., a specific superfoods) while continuing to have lifestyle habits that are harming your health long term.

To a person who eats a balanced plant based diet abundant in fruits and vegetables, there actually aren’t any specific superfoods; And for the person who does not eat this way, no superfood can heal them.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts about superfoods.. 

What are your favorite superfoods and how do you incorporate them into your diet? 

 

Don’t forget to download the free guide of my 15+ favorite superfood staples, how to integrate them into your daily routine, and a few recipes too!

Best,

signature

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Eggplant Chickpea Stew Recipe

I like trying out new recipes in the kitchen, but I don’t especially enjoy cooking all day. And I definitely don’t like the clean up that follows! So here is a great Meatless Monday recipe that packs in veggies, fiber, and plenty of nutrients. It’s a quick one pot meal that packs big flavors. 

eggplant

 

I came up with this meal idea when I was visiting my parents in Florida this summer. My dad had eggplant growing in the garden and we were trying to figure out what to make with them. It turned out to be quite yummy and filling, too.

 

eggplant recipe

Eggplant picked straight from the garden.

 

I like to do a little bit of prep to my eggplant before cooking it. Chop it into rounds or cubes and sprinkle with a bit of salt. This will help remove moisture from the eggplant, allowing it to absorb more flavor when cooked. Let your salted eggplant sweat it out for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can even leave it over night if you have the time.

 

eggplant

 

You’ll notice water at the bottom of the container your eggplant is sitting in and on top of the eggplant itself. Drain the water and dry the eggplant off.

One more item to prepare are your carrots. Be sure to wash them well, then chop ’em up!

 

carrots

 

 

Got everything prepared? Great! Now it’s time to start cooking. Follow the simple instructions below.

 

eggplant chickpea stew

 

You can serve this stew a few different ways…

  • over a bed of spinach or other leafy greens
  • with quinoa or brown rice.
  • with a side of steamed broccoli or your favorite vegetable

eggplant chickpea stew1

 

Let me know how you enjoyed this yummy dish!

 

xo,

signature

eggplant
Eggplant Chickpea Stew
Print Recipe
This one pot meal offers great flavor and a quick dinner option on Meatless Monday (or any day!). It's packed with fiber and nutrients that will keep you satisfied for hours.
Servings
2 servings
Servings
2 servings
eggplant
Eggplant Chickpea Stew
Print Recipe
This one pot meal offers great flavor and a quick dinner option on Meatless Monday (or any day!). It's packed with fiber and nutrients that will keep you satisfied for hours.
Servings
2 servings
Servings
2 servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Sautee the onions and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil
  2. Add in chopped carrots, all the spices, and stir (you can add more spices again later as you taste it).
  3. Once carrots and onions have softened, add the cubed eggplant and tomato sauce. Let this simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning as needed.
  4. Add garbanzo beans last and let everything simmer for another 5 to 10minutes.
  5. You'll know it’s ready when the eggplant has softened and the stew has thickened up a bit.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Is Fiber Good for Weight Loss?

Always feeling hungry? Can’t control your appetite some days? Increasing fiber in your diet might be just the solution you need.

With so many recommendations on what to do, how to eat and when, it quickly becomes difficult to make the right food choices when trying to manage your weight or chronic illnesses.

 

fiber

 

Did you know boosting your fiber intake provides these benefits and more: 

  • Keeps you fuller longer
  • Helps with weight loss/maintenance
  • Reduces cravings
  • Improves cholesterol
  • Better blood sugar control
  • Regular bowel movements
  • Improves heart health

 

Closing the Fiber Gap

How much fiber should you be eating?

Ladies, aim for a minimum of 25 grams a day.

Gentlemen, aim for a minimum of 38 grams a day.

However, studies have found that Americans only average about 15 grams of fiber a day, about half of the recommended total dietary fiber intake.

Increase your dietary fiber by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Filling your plate with these whole, unprocessed foods is the first step to take toward increasing your fiber consumption. Consistently eating well-balanced meals that include these foods will ensure that your getting the right amount of this nutrient.

 

Carbohydrate:Fiber Ratio

Overconsumption of carbohydrates is a common concern for many of us, mainly because this macronutrient turns to sugar in the blood stream which then gets stored as fat, making it easy to gain weight.

It is the quality of carbohydrates that should be of greater concern, rather than the quantity. Consuming carbohydrates with high fiber content can reduce the glucose levels after a meal.  

Because fiber is not broken down by the body, it has no effect on blood glucose. Therefore, the grams of fiber can actually be subtracted from the total grams of carbs you are eating.

When making food choices seek out food options with a good fiber to carbohydrate ratio to reduce the foods impact on blood glucose levels.

 

Make it a habit to include fruits and vegetables with each meal.  

Vegetables high in fiber include leafy greens, squashes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. They can be enjoyed in stir-fries, casseroles, soups, and salads and steamed as a side dish.

 

Many fruits are also high in fiber, like apples, pears, oranges, peaches and more. Berries are an especially great choice because while they are high in fiber, they are also low in calorie.  Incorporate fruits into your diet as a convenient snack or as toppings for breakfast cereal, yogurt, salads, and desserts.  

 

fiber up

 

Whole grains are a popular and simple way to increase dietary fiber. The downfall with this is that many whole grain foods are overly processed and the labeling can be misleading.  

Beware of processed cereals and bars as they often have high sugar content and less fiber compared to other dietary fiber options. Swap the usual white bread for whole wheat bread and exchange white rice for brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley or other ancient grains. Consider different types of pasta options like whole wheat pasta, edamame pasta, or  lentil pasta.

 

Nuts and seeds also provide a great source of fiber. A handful of these packs a powerful fiber punch. They make for a nutritious snack, or extra addition to yogurts, salads and desserts.

 

Don’t forget about beans and legumes. These are one of the most naturally rich sources of fiber. If you experience gas and discomfort with high bean intake, consider starting off slowly when introducing these into your diet.

fiber beans

 

Try incorporating more of the recommended foods discussed here and notice the impact this powerful nutrient has on curbing your appetite and controlling blood sugar control.  This, in turn, helps with weight loss/maintenance and prevents/ manages diseases. 

 

Tips to Consider When Increasing Your Fiber:  

  • Increase consumption gradually (add 5g of fiber per day, spread throughout the day, until you reach your goal)
  • Keep edible skin on fruits and veggies
  • Limit starchy foods
  • Choose whole wheat over white
  • Reduce foods high in sugar (especially added sugars)
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to avoid constipation

 

I Challenge You…

to take a look at how much fiber is in your diet today. Does it measure up to the recommended minimum of 25g/day for women or 38g/day for men? 

How do you plan to increase your dietary fiber this week? –>  Here’s a great resource that might help you with that! 

 

Best,

signature

 

*** You might also enjoy my past posts on: Eating more Veggies and Fruits  AND Balsamic Roasted Carrots Recipe ***

 


 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Healthy Travel Snacks to Pack on Your Next Trip

In my last post I shared some practical ways to stay healthy while traveling. A large part of that involves being prepared with healthy snacks. Here are a few of my favorites…

healthy travel snacks

I like healthy travel snacks that are as minimally, processed as possible, will fill me up, satisfy my sweet tooth, and still be nutritious. These are snacks I typically bring along for plane rides, road trips, or weekends away. I tend to make poor food choices when I’m not prepared, so I am always careful to carry healthy travel snacks with me.  

FiggyPops-

These balls of goodness satisfy my sweet tooth without the chemicals and additives of similar products. They are sweetened with fruit juice instead of high fructose corn syrup. I especially love that they are made with whole, plant-based ingredients like:  organic figs, organic cashews, organic dates, organic coconut, organic walnuts, organic dried tart cherries (organic dried tart cherries, organic apple juice, organic sunflower oil), organic gluten-free oats, organic coconut oil, organic cacao nibs, organic maple syrup, organic cinnamon, sea salt.

 

Dried Dates-

Dried fruits can get a bad rep for being high in sugar and because of the way they are sometimes processed. These particular dates are unsulfured and taste like caramel. They are not quite as sweet as the common medjool dates, but I would say they are just as good.

To balance out the glycemic load (insulin spike) of the dates, I pair them with healthy fats like a handful of nuts or better yet a little almond butter inside the date. So good!

 

 

Roasted Chickpeas-

You can totally make these yourself at home by roasting salted chickpeas at 400 degrees until crunchy. If you want something a bit more convenient though, these Good Bean chickpeas make for great healthy travel snacks (one of my favorites actually); and they satisfy that craving for something salty. They come in several flavors, but I prefer the plain, salted one.

Suggestion: Mix them in with chopped dates, roasted edamame and nuts to make a satisfying trail mix.

 

 

Roasted Edamame –

Another great snack! This one is filling and also goes great in a DIY trail mix.

Each serving has 13g of protein per serving and 8g of fiber.

They’re also Non-GMO which is a rare find considering more than 90% of soy is genetically modified. A bit of caution with this product: if you have issues with excess water retention, high blood pressure or heart disease beware of the sodium content (150mg per serving). Always read those nutrition labels my friends.

 

 

Vegan nutrition powders –

I tend to use these travel sized nutrition powders as a quick breakfast option. They hold me over until lunch and ensure that at least one of my meals is packed with the essential vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrition my body needs to thrive.

It can also make for a great latte when mixed into coffee.

 

 

BarkThins-

I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the healthiest snack BUT a girl needs her chocolate fix ya’ know! I love the dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds because I can get my sweets AND some antioxidants, healthy fats, + a little protein. These are really good people!

 

 

 

Kind Bars-

Recently Kind Bars were ridiculed a bit for their high fat content, but looking at research I have found evidence that fat doesn’t make us fat. Sugar does!

These bars are made with wholesome ingredients and are low in sugar. Regardless, you should still read the nutrition labels because there are several different types of Kind bars with varying nutritional content. These particular ones come in several flavors and I have yet to have a flavor I did not enjoy.  I eat them for breakfast or between meals.  These are my go-to healthy travel snacks.

 

 

Chia Warrior bars-   

I recently discovered these little bars and have become quite fond of them. I usually buy a box of 5. Each bar is 100 calories. They have plenty of fiber along with healthy omega 3 fats. There are different flavor options, but I have only tried chocolate peanut butter and the superfood protein peanut butter cacao. (I have a thing for peanut butter, in case you didn’t know). Anyway, both of those flavors are yummy and I would recommend them over Kind bars if your searching for a small between meal snack.

 

 

Lenny & Larry Cookies – 

These “complete” cookies are vegan, soy free, and dairy free. They have tons of fiber and protein. I usually only eat half the cookie if I just want a filling snack. Eat the entire cookie for a meal replacement. 

 

One final tip – 

No matter where you are, access to fresh produce and water are usually easily available.

Stock up on fruits and raw veggies to complement these other snacks. My favorites are baby carrots and raw broccoli. For fruits, I usually go for berries, peaches, bananas, or apples (depending on what is in season/ available). Nothing can truly replace the nutrients and benefits from fruits and vegetables, so don’t forget to include these on your list of healthy travel snacks. 

It’s very easy to forget to stay hydrated when you’re busy sightseeing, but drinking plenty of water will not only curb your appetite but keep you energized and strengthen the immune system.

healthy travel snacks

Yes this does take a little planning, but not much! Feeling your best during and after your vacation is worth the small amount of time you’ll spend packing these snacks. Of course you don’t have to bring them all! These are just suggestions of my favorites. Try out the ones that appeal to you and take them along on your next trip 🙂

What’s your favorite healthy snack? 

 

Happy snacking,

signature


 

*** You might also like this post: ‘ How to Stay Healthy on Vacation ‘ and ‘ Eating Healthy While Eating Out ‘

 


 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram