simple + healthy meal ideas

Many people believe that healthy and easy can’t be in the same sentence. Why does healthy need to be paired with words like time consuming and complicated? It’s like when someone says healthy we all imagine chopping, prepping and washing veggies for hours on end. Here’s to putting an end to those thoughts and to making healthy easy, fun and SIMPLE! While there is a little bit of planning to go into eating healthier, but it will make your life so much more enjoyable if you can grab a healthy snack instead of sneaking to the closest vending machine. I’ve put together some simple steps that can help us all avoid our cravings for those tempting packaged and processed goods.

Let’s find 15 minutes in our busy schedules to make a giant batch of a high-energy, healthy treat that we can use as a grab and go. A granola with some nuts, seeds and a dried fruit is perfect to keep you going throughout the day. Peanut butter granola with pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, almonds, and dried cherries.

Sandwiches, wraps, pitas!! Start off with a wholesome bread like Ezekiel bread, whole grain or a whole wheat pita and then fill it up. I loved to spread some hummus or avocado on mine and then stack it up with veggies. Some veggies that are great are tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, sprouts, avocado and some carrots for a crunch. Another tasty and healthy addition are slices or roasted beets. The world is your oyster when it comes to building a delicious sandwich, wrap, or pita. If you want to ditch the bread try using collard greens and roll as if you were preparing a wrap. Get creative and think seasonal. If the weather is nice, head to your local farmers market for some local, organic veggies to get the optimal health benefits.

What is simpler than packing a ton of vitamins and minerals into one? A smoothie! Throw all your seasonal fruits, veggies,  a splash of almond milk, into one blender, give it a swirl and BAMB! You have a healthy cool treat that will send those candy cravings out the door. Quick and simple.

Healthy and salads go hand in hand, but salads can be easy too. There is no cooking with salads! You’re salad can have all your favorite ingredients in it and can be an on the go item. Throw it in a bowl and slap a lid on that baby and you’re out the door without any regrets or wondering what’s in store for lunch. Another idea is layering your ingredients in a jar- putting the dressing in first so Salad-in-a-JarKeeps nuts, beans and lentils on hand. They are an easy additive with what you’re making.

What takes two 2-3 minutes and is just about the best source of protein you can find? The egg! Eggs can be a part of any and every meal. You can scramble them up with some sautéed veggies, you can put it in salads, throw it in a sandy. Eggs can make your meal that much more nutritious and will fill you up. If you can, buy pastured eggs from your local farmer. If not, look for organic, avoiding antibiotics.

Cooking in large batches will help us from scavenging through the pantry then end up with chips and salsa on the couch.  Making a healthy stir-fry, salad, or salad in bulk can be saved in your fridge and brought out on a day where you just don’t feel like spending any time in the kitchen.
Have breakfast items that you can grab on the go. Yogurts, fruit, granola are all great things to have at all times so you we 1) don’t skip breakfast, then over eat at lunch or 2) end up going to the closest drive through for a breakfast sandwich or seeing donuts at the office and diving in.

Keeping fruit on hand will fulfill our sweet cravings. Apples and peanut butter, handful of strawberries, and blueberries and yogurt are a perfect fit.

Frozen veggies and frozen fruit can come in handy when we are in a pinch. Keep them on the back burner when you don’t have any produce. Just keep an eye out for sodium levels and added sugars.

clumpygranola

EASY BIG BATCH GRANOLA RECIPE
INGREDIENTS
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup small-dice dried fruit
1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
1) Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

2) Place the honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated.

3) Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, about 5 to 15 minutes more.

4) Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Note: It will harden as it cools.)

5) Add the fruit and nuts or seeds to the baking sheet and toss to combine. Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition for Stress Management

Stress is an issue that has come up with a lot of my clients lately. Whether it’s causing obvious symptoms like sleep disruption and weight gain or internal issues with the digestive and nervous systems – it can take a toll on us if we don’t manage it properly.  It is really important to understand stress, how are body reacts to it, and the harmful long-term effects it causes.

Let’s face it  – with everything going on in our lives it is hard not to experience stress in some form. Even if we aren’t physically or emotionally feeling stressed, our bodies may be experiencing it internally. I wanted to touch on nutrients that are crucial for reversing the bad effects stress has and also explain a little what is actually happening when we experience it.

When the body is under stress, vitamins and minerals are quickly utilized to try and achieve balance within. Overtime this causes us to be depleted of crucial vitamins needed to function, specifically magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins are also used more rapidly during the stress response. It is important that we eat foods rich in these vitamins and minerals to help our body cope with and also eliminate excess stress and avoid the harmful long term effects of stress (weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes).

B Vitamins are also crucial for our bodies to both deal with and prevent feelings of stress and anxiety. They help support the nervous system and are used at a higher rate during periods of stress.  Vitamins A and E are great antioxidants that protect the body against free radical damage, which stress increases. A high amount of antioxidants in our diet can help the body better manage in high stress situations.

By incorporating the proper foods, we can help our body to manage stress, which will also help with digestive issues, heart disease, anxiety, and weight gain (our bodies hold on to food and store as fat, specifically shown in the mid-section when stressed).

 

Therapeutic Benefits of Food

There are a wide variety of foods that contain therapeutic benefits which help to keep stress levels at a minimum. As I mentioned, when the human body is experiencing high levels of stress, the adrenals are producing too much cortisol and adrenaline. During this process crucial vitamins and minerals are depleted from the body, along with other negative physiological side effects. It is important to make sure there are sufficient amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium in the foods we eat, to not only replenish but also to maintain an adequate amount for when we experience stress.

Protein, vegetables, healthy fats and fruits are the most important food categories needed in a diet to enhance mood and eliminate stress. Also, complex carbohydrates are beneficial due to the slow absorption of sugar into our blood and the release of the hormone serotonin.

Protein is crucial in maintaining and building neurotransmitters, which are located in the brain and send out positive feelings. The neurotransmitters can only be made out of a few of the twenty-two amino acids. It is recommended that a person has 20-30 grams of protein in each meal. Out of all proteins, fish is considered one of the best sources. This is because most contain all twenty-two amino acids, are easy to digest, and contain many crucial vitamins.

imagesIt is important to eat a lot of fatty fish, nuts and seeds that contain Omega 3 fatty acids , which suppress the cortisol and adrenaline levels. Fish also contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are all lost during times of high-stress.  I try and incorporate fish often because of the high amounts of EPA and DHA combined, which is not found in plant sources of Omega 3 (where ALA is more apparent). However, in both plant and marine sources, omega 3s play a significant role in reducing stress. The fatty acid is extremely supportive in a healthy cardiovascular system, has cancer-fighting properties, and supports the immune system.

Stress also causes our bodies to become too acidic. A diet high in alkalinizing vegetables and fruits will help maintain balance and keep the body at optimal functioning level. Many vitamins and minerals that are important in fighting and correcting stress-induced disease and health issues are found in vegetables and fruits.

Vitamin E and C are important antioxidants needed to combat the possible diseases brought on by stress, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and a hindered immune system. B vitamins are essential in fighting stress, they also help convert L-tryptophan to serotonin “the feel good hormone.” A biochemical effect of stress is a depleted stock of serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel relaxed and in control. Another way to boost serotonin levels is to increase your intake of complex carbohydrates. Great examples of complex carbohydrates are quinoa, millet, amaranth, oatmeal and barley. The slower your body absorbs carbohydrates, the more steadily the flow of serotonin. Folic acid (helps to stabilize mood) and zinc are important to reduce stress.

What to incorporate:

  • Seeds/nuts : pistachios, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and almonds are a great snack to travel with on the go (high amounts of healthy fats, potassium, magnesium and iron)
  • Raw veggies such as celery, carrots, and red pepper are always a good option with a lot of stress reducing properties. Eat them with any nut butter, tahini or hummus for protein source
  • Foods high in omega 3s such as flaxseed, fish, avocado
  • Foods high in B vitamins
  • Foods high in vitamins A and C, folic acid, magnesium
  • Calcium rich foods : sesame seeds, yogurt, spinach, dark leafy greens
  • Anti-inflammatory foods/herbs such as ginger and turmeric

Best food choices: avocados, dark leafy greens, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, red pepper, sweet potatoes, fish, lean beef, pumpkin seeds, nuts, bananas, blueberries, rolled oats, quinoa, barley, millet, amaranth

Aside from incorporating these healthy foods into your daily diet, it’s also a good idea to do yoga, meditate, and get adequate amounts of sleep each night. Herbal teas are great too, try stress relieving teas such as chamomile, kava kava, st. john’s wort, and lavender. Start small and make little changes each day. Your body will thank you 🙂

hydrate, cleanse and debloat: simple flavored water

We all know drinking lots of water throughout the day is important for so many reasons – to hydrate, flush out toxins, regulate digestion, for heathy skin… the list goes on.

However, sometimes sipping plain old H2O can get a little boring. By using these simple ingredients you can add loads of flavor without additional sugars and calories of store bought flavored water. My favorite combination is cucumber, lemon, ginger and mint.  Not only do these ingredients add delicious flavor- they offer so many health benefits.images-1

Lemon- lemon is a powerful cleanser and also helps to alkalize your body. Lemon also contains Vitamin C, which will help boost immunity.

Ginger – ginger contains many anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps aid in digestion, settle your stomach, and helps with flushing out toxins.

Mint – mint is a natural stimulant, which helps soothe the digestive tract. It also stimulates the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and convert it into energy. Therefore, it is helping you convert the food you consume to energy rather than storing it as fat. As a natural stimulant, mint is known to naturally combat fatigue and help to recharge your batteries.

Cucumber- cucumber has many detoxifying, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also adds a refreshing taste and leaves you feeling refreshed and hydrated.

Thinly slice 1/2 a the cucumber, ginger (as much as you desire) and a lemon or two. Add in a few sprigs of mint and add all ingredients to a pitcher of water and let sit overnight. Sip throughout the day.

hearty and healthy banana bread

What’s better on a cold winter day (or any day really) than a delicious, comforting piece of banana bread? Since it is one of my all time favorite treats and I have been craving it a lot this winter, I have been been making healthier versions by using whole wheat flour, a touch of maple syrup, adding ground flax seeds and walnuts for extra omega 3s. Feel free to add some dark chocolate or cacao nibs for extra flavor and health benefits such as antioxidants, lowering blood sugar and boosting moods.

Another great thing about this recipe is it’s fairly simple and quick to make and only requires one bowl, minimizing clean-up 🙂

banana2

Ingredients
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, butter or ghee
1/2 cup maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or coconut palm sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1.5 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or butter or line with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas and add the melted coconut oil or butter.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the maple syrup, beaten egg, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix in the ground flax seeds and flour. (Do not over mix)

Stir in any additional ingredients like chocolate chips and walnuts.

To make this recipe vegan, swap the egg for a flax egg (soak 1 TBS of ground flax in 3 TBS water for 15 mins) or your favorite egg replacer.

I have been making a lot of different variations off of the above recipe. Feel free to add any of your favorite dried fruits, nuts, seeds or even swap out the flour for gluten-free variety and add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum.

Enjoy!

fall inspired repair and replenish post-workout smoothies

These three recipes are a must try! They help to replenish and repair after a workout, boost your immune system and taste delicious. They are also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, B vitamins, and much more. If you’re like me, these will quickly become smoothie recipe staples. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Powerhouse

Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A, which protects against the cell damage that occurs during Pumpkin Smoothie aboveexercise. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat—specifically oleic acid—which is been linked to reduction in inflammation.

Ingredients
½ c canned pure pumpkin, frozen in ice cube tray7 oz 2% Greek-style yogurt of almond milk
½ c water
¼ avocado
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Pear Ginger
Gingerols, compounds in ginger root, act as potent anti-inflammatories that speed your recovery time. Meanwhile, fiber-rich flaxseed satisfies hunger, so you’re less likely to find your stomach rumbling later in the day.

imagesIngredients
½ c  Greek yogurt, almond milk, or dairy-free yogurt (almond or coconut milk)
1 ripe pear, cored and cut into large chunks
1 c pear juice, coconut water, or diluted aloe vera juice
½-inch chunk of fresh ginger root or ⅛ tsp dried ground ginger
2 c baby spinach leaves
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
½ cup ice cubes

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

 

Gingerbread Smoothie

Greek yogurt provides the protein necessary for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue, and the banana replaces the carbohydrates and potassium lost during exercise. Molasses is a good source of iron that aids in the delivery of oxygen to muscles.

Ingredientsimages
7 oz Greek or dairy-free yogurt1 c ice cubes
¼ c frozen sliced banana
2 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp each nutmeg and cardamom
Pinch of clove

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

adapted from prevention.com

Aloe : skin saver or delicious and healthy beverage?

The cool, jelly like substance that comes in a transparent bottle and is usually an electric green color or a frigid blue. Give the bottle a nice squeeze and the gel oozes out with an odd squishy noise following it. It’s our dear old friend aloe that only shows its face in the summer hot months. Sticky, cold and leaves you stuck in scarecrow position for a few minutes to let it sit in and dry off, then you try to sit down and realize it’s less painful just to stay in that position because Mr. Golden Sun did a number to your skin earlier today. But, I’m not here to remind you to put your sunscreen on or to bring back painful memories of a family member rubbing aloe on your bright red back, I’m talking about drinking it. NOT the topical kind!!! Have you ever considered drinking the juice from an aloe vera plant?  Is it good? Is it healthy for us? Let’s dive on in.

ganoderma-aloe-vera-juvebrew
Benefits:
Detox: aloe works as a natural detox. Aloe contains different trace elements, vitamins and minerals that help the body flush out.

Digestion: Aloe has the power to increase protein absorption and regulates the bowel. Aloe helps reduce yeast and bacteria by moving it along the digestive system and aloe soothes heartburn.

The Immunity Booster: Full of antioxidants! Sending those free radicals away with a dose of aloe.

Anti-inflammation: Aloe Contains 12 different substances that reduces and prevents inflammation. The kind of inflammation that aloe can help with are swollenness, stiff or painful joints.

Healthy Skin: We all know aloe helps are skin on a topical level, but consuming the drinkable kind of aloe can repair out caloe-vera-juiceollagen and elastin from the inside. Aloe also helps sooth minor skin irritations, scrapes, cute and burns.

Energy: Because aloe works our digestive system, this can go hand in hand with energy. Aloe regulates the system which prevents you from feeling sluggish.

Vitamins: Aloe includes Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, niacin and folic acid. In addition chromium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, iron and calcium. Maybe it would have been easier for me to list what aloe doesn’t contain!

Amino Acid: Aloe contains amino acids which aid the process of building protein.
Smile: Aloe helps your gums and mouth hygiene. It helps with mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.

Cardiovascular Health: Aloe boost the ability to diffuse red blood cells in return aids the oxygen transportation. It improves the oxidation process, circulation and lowers cholesterol.

As you can see, the benefits of consuming Aloe Vera Juice are abundant. There are brands at local health food stores and Whole Foods that are ready to drink. Others are concentrated and can be diluted in water or juice. I love adding either kids to my smoothies as well for added benefits.

Let’s get one thing straight, we are drinking only the consumable kind of aloe, NOT the topical kind. Drink up and enjoy, let us know your thoughts on the taste, results or experience you have with drinking aloe vera juice.

Tea : Powerful Health Benefits + Recipes for Energy, Stress-relief and Detox

Next to our number one hydration buddy, water, tea is the runner up on the most consumed beverage in the world. I love this statistic! Whether you like it for the taste, the endless health benefits, the comforting warmth or just the sophistication of having a cup of tea, there are plenty of health benefits as to why we should up our tea consumption. Eastern medicine has looked towards teas and herbs for centuries, and there are proven studies to show just how powerful these plants can be in health and longevity. The 5 most common teas are black, white, green, herbal and oolong. Each tea has its own special powers  – all benefitting our body in different and powerful ways.

Tea_in_different_grade_of_fermentation

Below we give a brief summary of the main benefits of the different popular types.

Looking and feeling younger is something that we all aspire  – white tea can give us a lift here. The properties of white tea can help inhibit the wrinkle process with its power of strengthening elastin and collagen. Goodbye crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles!

Black tea is shown to lower our blood pressure, decreasing out risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Green tea is our saving grace with its ability to increase the body’s ability to burn fat. Also, with weight loss, green tea is shown to increase our metabolisms, therefore making it easier to burn off calories faster. The antioxidants in green tea help our immune system put those free radicals to rest – fighting off cancer and other harmful disease. Green tea can also strengthen our bones.

Oolong tea is fragrant with a fruity hint that includes multiple benefits to our bodies. Oolong tea can help reduce heart disease, inflammatory issues and aids with high cholesterol levels. Many Eastern practices use this for weight loss as well.

Herbal teas have endless amounts of health properties and medicinal purposes.  Depending on what you need (stress relief, sleeping aid, energy booster) specific herbs blends in can be your cure-all in a cup. From detoxing, energy boosting, nausea reducing, skin healing, constipation, even helping mother with lactation and women with menstrual cycles, different herbal teas and blends can work wonders. Do some research on what you are looking for and go to your local loose leaf supplier for the cure  (instead of your pharmacy!) Make sure to contact your physician or an experienced herbalist when consuming large amounts or different herbals teas/blends (especially when pregnant).

Also, make sure you aren’t overdoing teas that contain caffeine (green, black, white and red). Caffeine is good in moderation but can also cause added anxiety, sleep disturbances and dehydration. Feel free to sip on most herbal teas all day though!

Now let’s get specific. What do we need? What does our body crave? Check out these 3 tea recipes: one for detox, energy and last but not least a stress reliever tea!

Ginger Turmeric Detox Tea Recipe
Ingredients:
• 2 inch knob of ginger
• 2-3 inch piece of turmeric root or substitute 2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1-2 dashes of cayenne (or you could juice 1/2 a habanero or jalapeño pepper)
o Circulatory stimulant: increases pulse of lymphatic and digestive rhythms
• 4 lemons (3 for juicing and 1 for slicing as a garnish)
• 3 droppers vanilla stevia
• 2 quarts waterginger_tea

1. In a juicer, juice your ginger root, turmeric, and 3 lemons
2. In a large pitcher add your juice to about 2 quarts of water, a couple droppers of vanilla stevia to taste, a couple dashes of cayenne and your thinly cut lemon slices.
3.  Mix well with a wooden spoon and adjust flavors to taste.
4. Let sit for about 10 mins before serving to let the flavors blend. Will last about 5 days in the fridge.

Heath Benefits

Ginger:
Colon Cancer Prevention
Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Cold and Flu Prevention Treatment
Turmeric:
Natural Antiseptic and Antibacterial agent
Natural liver detoxifier
Assists in healing of damaged skin
Cayenne
Anti-Cold and Flu Agent
Anti-fungal Properties
Digestive Aid

Give Me Energy Tea
Ingredients:
• A clean glass bottle or container
• 1 kaffir lime leaf
• Organic yerba mate – about 3 tablespoons per cup of water
• A few slices of fresh ginger
• Water

1)Combine all ingredients, stick’em in the bottle.
2)Let it sit overnight.
3) Bottle up and enjoy!
Yerba mate is full of antioxidants, aids digestion, and has a natural caffeherbal_lavender_flower_tea_1ine

Stress Relief Tea
Ingredients:
• 1 Tbsp St John’s Wort (suggestion)
• 1 Tbsp Oatstraw
• 1/3 c Chamomile
• 1 Tbsp Lavender
• 2 Tbsp Lemon Balm
• 2 tsp Catnip
• 1 Tbsp Orange or lemon rind.

1. Heat 2 quarts water until almost boiling.
2. Add the St. John’s wort and oatstraw and steep for 6 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the herbs and steep for an additional 3-4 minutes.
4. Strain herbs and sweeten with honey if desired.

I love purchasing loose tea in bulk- it cuts down on price and more importantly – wasteful packaging materials. If you do prefer buying packaged bags that are conveniently prepared, make sure the tea is organic. Many commercial tea bags can contain harmful toxins and chemicals that will end up counter acting the health benefits from the teas. My two favorite brands for herbal and medicinal teas are organic Alvita and Traditional Medicinals.