What Oils Do You Use Most Often?

What oil(s) do you generally cook with?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a great option to keep around for dressings and marinades.

Coconut oil and sesame oil are great for sautéing veggies with — the added flavor is delicious.  Coconut oil will add a bit of sweetness, while sesame oil will have your house smelling like Chinese takeout.

Avocado oil is an excellent option since its smoke point is so high.  This means cooking and baking with avocado oil will not cause the oil to breakdown during the cooking process.

With so many oils to choose from, what’s your favorite to use?

What’s Your Favorite Leafy Green?

Ever wonder why leafy greens are so good for you?

There are numerous dark leafy greens to choose from such as kale, spinach, arugula, collard greens, chard, turnip greens, the list goes on…

These superfoods are beneficial for your whole body – inside and out.

One of the most appealing benefits of dark green leafy vegetables is their low calorie and carbohydrate contents, and their low glycemic index. These features make them an ideal food for achieving and maintaining healthy blood sugar.

They help to fight everyday toxins our bodies are bombarded with, assist with healthy digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals, and help keep your immune system robust and healthy.

What’s your favorite dark leafy green?

The Healthiest Stuff at Starbucks

How often do you visit Starbucks?! Drop a comment below and let me know your go-to order.

With a Starbucks on every corner, it’s likely Starbucks is a part of your regular routine. Perhaps it’s your Monday reward to start the work week or the start to your weekend as you pop in the drive-thru on the way home on Friday. Humans like routine and we like to know what to expect, so when given the opportunity to stop at an unknown coffee shop or a Starbucks on our road trip, we’ll likely choose what we know.

If you don’t watch what you order, though, you may be gulping down more sugar than you’ve bargained for. Next time you stop into a Starbucks, here are the healthiest things you’ll find that you should order instead of those sugary frappuccinos.

– Brewed Coffee
Simple and classically delicious. A cuppa joe is the healthiest way to get your Starbucks fix without ruining your healthy lifestyle efforts. Drink it black for the healthiest option, but if you can’t stand it that way, just add a dab of stevia or raw honey. Because their fresh-brewed coffees are only a few calories, if you do add a dab of sweetener, you won’t be adding so much that you’re turning your simple coffee into the caloric content of a meal. Slowly decrease any sweetener you are adding over time, and before you know it, you’ll be loving your black coffee.

– Brewed Teas
Freshly brewed teas at Starbucks are the perfect flavor sensation with added antioxidants. Get them hot or iced for a refreshing way to power through your day.

– Nitro Cold Brew
It’s smooth and frothy, and it tastes fantastic! Change up your order from a hot coffee to a cold brew on those days you’re in the mood for a cold drink.

– Caffè Latte and Almond Milk
If you want something that tastes more indulgent, get this iconic Starbucks drink but have them make it with almond milk. It’s creamy and sweet, and it’s a nice indulgence every so often.

– Spinach, Feta, and Egg White Breakfast Wrap
Made with cage-free egg whites and tucked into a whole wheat wrap, it’s a hearty breakfast that will fill you up without guilt. Much better than eating one of those paltry pastries that will leave you hungry for more, or zipping through a fast food drive-thru.

– Protein Boxes
For a great to-go lunch, this box has a fantastic mix of carrots and apples along with a protein of choice large enough to satisfy but portioned properly so you’re not left stuffed.

– Latte Macchiato
Macchiato lovers, I’ve got you covered. Try this offering which takes espresso shots over aerated almond milk to get a frothy caffeinated treat.

– Evolution Fresh Sweet Greens and Lemon
If you’re more in the mood for juice, try one of the Evolution drinks Starbucks carries. They’re made with all kinds of fruits and vegetables that will give you a power boost for your day.

So go in and grab a table or roll through the drive-thru. You can even set up your favorite orders in the Starbucks app, so they’re ready when you get there. Now that you know your healthiest Starbucks items, you don’t have to feel guilty!

 

Juicing vs Smoothies

Is there a Difference?

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about juicing and green smoothies, especially with the celery juice trend happening right now. Have you ever wondered if there are any notable differences between juicing and blending, and what those differences could be?

With juicing and smoothies, the similarities are simple…they’re both healthy ways to get in more fresh nutrients from fruits and vegetables. The key differences are how they’re prepared.

Juicing separates the indigestible fibers from the juice itself. This helps your digestive system avoid strain so it can focus on absorbing the benefits of the nutrients left in the juice. These nutrients absorb very rapidly into your body, faster than you’d get from eating the same fruits or veggies you put into your juice. If you have problems with fiber irritating your digestive system, then juicing is a great way to get what you need.

With smoothies, you use your blender to pulverize your produce whole. You use the entire fruit or vegetable and all its fiber (after peeling fruits that you typically peel). The blender helps break down the fiber for easier digestion and makes smoothies a good choice since they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar. They’re fast to make and ideal for replacing a meal because they’re quite filling.

To get the full benefits from your juice or smoothies, there’s something very important to know –

Drink them immediately
When you blend or juice, you get the most nutrients from drinking it as soon as you make it. It’s ideal to consume within 15 minutes, before those essential nutrients you’re trying to provide your body with begin breaking down from contact with the air and light. Pack your produce into a sealed mason jar the night before so you can simply dump and make your fresh juice or smoothie first thing in the morning without any preparation. This will be the fastest way to get the freshest, most nutrient-dense juice or smoothie on your way out the door.

Get the right equipment
The differences indeed are a bit subtle, and both require the right equipment to make it happen. If you prefer juicing, find yourself a quality juicer.

Most people have a blender in their home, but if yours is a bit subpar, replace it with a top-of-the-line model, and you’ll be amazed how much better your smoothies are.  I love my Ninja blender!

So, what’s the verdict? Do you prefer juicing or smoothies?

Do you use fresh herbs when you cook?  Dried herbs are great to keep stored in your cabinets for recipes, but nothing quite tastes as delicious as fresh herbs right out of your herb garden.

Using herbs in your cooking is an easy way to add flavor to any and all dishes. On top of that, these fresh herbs are adding extra nutrients and vitamins to your dishes.  They’ll pack in flavor far superior to any sugary condiments you can find on the condiment aisle.

So, what are the top 5 herbs for cooking?

1)    Parsley

2)    Tarragon

3)    Thyme

4)    Basil

5)    Oregano

Pair any of these with some fresh garlic and black pepper, and you’re off to the races.

What’s your go-to herb for cooking?

Do you deal with comfort food cravings during these cold winter months?

Aside from staying inside more often than usual, these frigid months can cause us to desire heavy, warm foods that will ground us.

Luckily we live in a world where Pinterest exists — you can find a healthy swap for just about any comfort food craving you can come up with.

So go ahead – drop me a comment below letting me know what your favorite comfort food is, and I’ll comment back a healthy swap recipe for it.

Healthy Snacks to Fuel You All Week Long

There comes a point when you feel tired of eating the same snacks over and over again. Prepping them each week can become mundane, and that trip to the vending machine to make a snap decision seems exciting, easy, and spontaneous. Undoubtedly, the snack you’d get from the vending machine may momentarily taste good, but your returning hunger and sugar crash an hour later will remind you why you need to pack a healthy snack.

As long as you keep a variation, you can rotate these snacks to keep things interesting. They’re easy to put together, easy to take with you, and they don’t need to be kept cold, so if you’re on the go, you won’t have any excuses to run to the break room for free donuts.

1. Apple Sandwich
Take an apple, cut out the core, and slice it horizontally so you can layer it with almond butter, bits of dried fruit, and chia seeds, and it’s a gourmet treat for the taste buds. Plus, with all that nutrition, you’ll feel full and completely satiated.

2. Trail Mix
I love the variety with trail mix, there are so many different types you can create. Switch it up each week to keep things interesting. Your best bet is to mix up a great big batch at home on the weekend and portion it out into ¼- cup servings. Bag those up and have them ready to go. Stash them in your purse or gym bag, and you’ll never have a reason to eat unhealthy snacks again. Choose your own nuts, dried fruits, and other tidbits, plus you can add seasonings to make it even more exciting so you’ll never grow bored. Savory
or sweet, what will it be?

3. Roasted Chickpeas
Add spice to make them extra tasty, or even try them with a mild, ranch flavor. However you roast them, you’ll forget all about chips. You can snack on these guilt-free and get all the fantastic antioxidant benefits to boot.

4. Hummus Pockets
Grab a whole wheat pita and stuff it with hummus. Add cucumber slices, carrot shreds, and anything else you like. You can prep your veggies at the beginning of the week so it can be a quick grab-and-stuff snack to run out the door with. For a grain-free option, use large lettuce leaves instead.

5. Baked Sweet Potato Chips
All you need is a good-sized sweet potato, a little olive oil, and sea salt, or a little curry powder if you’re adventurous. Slice thin and bake for 40 minutes at 275F. Flip them over, and bake 40 more minutes and you’ll have heavenly preservative-free and healthy chips to snack on for the week.

6. Scaled-Down Skinny Bistro Box
If you tend to flock to certain chains for coffee and café eats, try making your own protein-filled box to go. Make it full-size to serve as lunch, or create a smaller version for a snack. Take it to Pinterest to find some perfect box combinations for your preferred way of eating — there are gobs to choose from.

With snacks like these, you’ll never want to stray from your healthy path. What are your go-to snacks currently?

Not sure what fat is good fat?  Here are five facts about fat to help you understand which is which and where to get them:

  1. When it comes to fat, there are both good and bad. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are healthier fats. Always look for these!
  2. Monosaturated fats are great for improving your cholesterol levels and decreasing your risk of cardiovascular issues.
  3. These are found more commonly in nuts and oils like almonds, cashews, peanut butter, vegetable oils, and also in avocado. Try to incorporate these nuts into your snacks and meals.
  4. Polyunsaturated fats are the essential fats because they are not made by your body, so they are important to seek out.
  5. Omega 3’s are a type of polyunsaturated fats that help lower blood pressure and can be found in fish, which is why it is so important to incorporate it into your diet.

Whenever possible, avoid the unhealthy fats and reach for healthy fats instead.  They’ll fill you up longer and keep your cravings at bay.

Is there anything better than a hot cup of coffee on a cold Winters morning?

One cup of organic coffee a day isn’t against the rules — it’s the additions we dump into our mug that poses the problem. These sugar and cream alternatives will still satisfy your cravings, with less of a burden.

Substitute cream with almond or coconut milk.

Substitute sugar with a dab of raw honey or a sprinkle of stevia. Adding spices such as cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or cacao can add great flavor without all the sugar.

How do you take your coffee?

If you want to get into a fun debate, ask your friends if they crave carbs or sugar more.  You’ll be surprised what kind of conversation sparks — but one thing is for sure, carb cravings are a real struggle for many.

There is no doubt that carb cravings are a hard obstacle to overcome when wanting to eat healthily.  First of all, making sure you are getting enough rest will impact your cravings immensely.  Steering clear of unhealthy carbs will keep your cravings at bay, as well.  We seem to crave more of what we’ve been eating recently, so the further you get away from those types of junk foods, the less they will appeal to you.

When you do eat, make sure you are eating healthy fats, good protein, and colorful veggies to fill up on.  These healthy foods will keep your blood sugar stabilized, lessening your cravings.  Keeping your body hydrated will aid in this, as well.

Pro tip: when a craving strikes, pop a peppermint in your mouth.  This change of flavor in your mouth will help snap you out of craving mode.