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.

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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

The importance of anti-inflammatory foods

Recently I’ve had a lot of client and readers ask questions about inflammation and what are the most anti-inflammatory foods they should be consuming, as well as those foods to avoid.

Trying to keep it in the most simple terms as possible, below is the main difference between acute and chronic inflammation.  I have also included a list of foods to totally avoid, as well as those you should be consuming daily. It’s so important to include foods these foods that promote the anti-inflammation to avoid illness, fatigue, chronic pain and more.

Acute Inflammation

Acute inflammation is a natural defense mechanism that is initiated when body tissue is damaged.  Typically, inflammation is a healthy immune response to injury, illness, or infection. “Healthy” inflammation carries isolates, identifies and removes bad bacteria and cells. The inflammatory response prevents the spread of damaging agents to nearby tissues, disposes of cell debris, and sets the stage for the repair process. It is crucial for our bodies in recovery and healing to experience acute inflammation to encourage recovery, as well as to protect surrounding healthy cells and tissue. The redness, swelling, and pain are all signs of healthy inflammation when our bodies are recovering.

Chronic Inflammation

After the healing process has come to an end, the inflammation response should too. However, in many cases inflammation continues, whether it was brought on from trauma or was present before any healing process has even begun. Chronic inflammation is when our body is unable to turn off the inflammatory response and starts to attack the surrounding healthy tissue. It can manifest in your gut, destroying stomach lining and causing digestive issues, may attack arteries causing heart disease, or in your joints, resulting in arthritis. Many of us experience chronic inflammation, whether we are aware of it or not. Chronic inflammation in our system is caused from poor diet, high stress, and an imbalance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. Chronic inflammation is the number one factor for numerous health issues and is the culprit for most illness and disease such as cancer, joint disease, autoimmune disease, and heart disease.

As you can see, it is crucial to keep inflammation under control. Be sure to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, get adequate rest, and aim to reduce stress in all areas of your life.  It is also a good idea to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar, refined grains, alcohol, processed foods, among others. Also, lifestyle suggestions that will help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system are meditation, yoga, exercise, any stress reducing activities, acupuncture, and massage.    TopAntiInflammatoryFoods

  Top Anti-inflammatory Foods

Ginger

Turmeric

Garlic Leafy Greens (spinach)

Beets

Fatty Fish (wild caught Alaskan Salmon, Sardines, Black Cod)

Healthy Fats (Avocados, extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed coconut oil, nut: walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seed/oil)

Berries and Lemons

                           Pro- inflammatory Foods/Additives to Avoid

Processed Foods

Refined Grains (white bread and pasta Sugar Feed-lot raised meat (fed soy, corn and processed grains) Dairy (limit)
Alcohol Gluten Trans Fats

Omega 6 Fatty Acids (found in low quality oils used in most packaged foods)

MSG

 

 

          List of Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Alfalfa Alfalfa Sprouts Almonds Artichoke Avocado Barley Grass Basil Bee Pollen Beef-grass fed, organic Beets
Boy Choy Boston Lettuce Brussels Sprouts Buckwheat Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Cayenne Pepper Celery Chard
Cherries Chives Cilantro Cinnamon Cucumber Cumin seed Eggplant Endive Fennel Seed Figs
Garlic Ginger Horseradish Root Jicama Kale Kamut Lemons Lentils Leeks Limes
Mushrooms Mustard Greens Navy Beans Onion Oregano Onion Oregano Parsnips Peas Pecans
Pumpkin Radishes Rutabaga Salmon-wild caught Sardines Sea Vegetables Seaweed Sesame Seeds Spelt Spinach
Sprouted Seeds Squash Sweet Potato Tomatoes Turmeric Turnips Walnuts Wheat Grass Yams

 

 

Superfood Profile : Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an amazing superfood, especially for athletes. As athletes, we strive to achieve optimal endurance and strength, proper hydration, and muscle building and repair.  Chia seeds can help you attain all of these.

The tiny black and white seeds come from an ancient plant used for its nutritional benefits and medicinal uses.  The seeds were used by the Incans, Mayans and Aztecs and were considered a magical seed, providing strength and stamina over long periods of times.  The running messengers relied heavily on them, carrying a small pouch around to provide sustainable energy on their long journeys. The word “Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength.

As scientists and researchers are realizing the lack of certain key nutrients in the Standard American Diet (SAD), they are turning to history for natural solutions.  There has been much research over the past few years on the powerful nutritional benefits of the chia seed.

Chia seeds are rich in trace minerals, vitamins, fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and much more. They have a rich concentration of essential fatty acids, with an almost perfect ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 for healthy tissue and muscle maintenance and repair. Chia seeds are considered to be hydrophilic, meaning they absorb large amounts of water quickly (10x their weight). Thus, they are great enhancers of hydration, as well as promoters of electrolyte balance-  key elements for peak  performance.  Chia seeds are a great pre-workout superfood for the obvious endurance and hydrating benefits.

In addition, they contain large amounts of calcium, potassium and iron. These are essential vitamins and minerals that are lost through sweat and muscle contraction, making chia seeds a great post- workout and restorative snack as well. They are easily absorbed and digested, resulting in quick transportation and utilization of the tissues and cells. Chia seeds also contain protein, also essential for post-workout recovery –  aiding in muscle building and repair.

I’ve touched most of the benefits this powerful little seed has to offer. You can see why these are a great addition to any diet – especially for athletes and those looking to improve stamina and performance.  Try for yourself first hand and start reaping the benefits of this mighty little seed!

How to incorporate chia seeds:

  • Put 1 tsp in glass of water and stir. Allow to sit for about ten minutes. Sip pre- or post- workout.
  • In a seal tight container, add ¼ cup chia seeds to 1 cup water. Refrigerate overnight. This will form chia ‘gel’ which is great for smoothies and yogurt parfaits.
  • Add to any of your favorite granola, granola bar, or overnight oats recipes.
  • Make chia seed pudding (recipe below).

magic-chia-seeds3

 Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 cups almond milk (could also use coconut milk or soy milk)
¾ cup chia seeds
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. maple syrup or agave

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
  • Stir for about 1-2 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken
  • Stir every 5-10 minutes over an hour
  • Can be stored in the fridge or eaten immediately
  • Serve plain or topped with fruit and whipped cream