8 Tips to Grocery Shop Healthier:

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Show of hands, here: when shopping, who gets to the grocery store, readies their cart, and then feels totally overwhelmed with all of the different selections? I know I used to, back before I learned how to shop! It is no secret that a healthier you starts with a healthily-stocked kitchen. It is much easier to have will power in the grocery store than to force yourself to have it at home, at 8 PM, when your inner snack junkie rears its head!

In hopes of helping you shop successfully, I have put together this list of the eight things that I do, every time I make my (usually weekly) trip to the grocery store:

  1. Make a list. Think of this as your battle plan. The purpose here is twofold: one, you want to leave the store with everything you need, to avoid return trips. Two, having a list will actually help you to avoid making impulse buys—think sweets that are on sale, or junk food. If you didn’t need it when you were making your list, you don’t need it at check-out.
  2. Stick to the outsides of the store. In general, this will help you to avoid the processed, packaged foods that are kept primarily in the interior aisles of the store. Up to 80% of packaged foods now contain added sugar, and it may be lurking where you least expect it! I have found sugar on the list of most canned sauces, most yogurts & cereals, and even in some canned veggies and basic kidney beans. The tip here is to thoroughly read your labels, and select only those foods that have a few simple ingredients that you can pronounce.
  3. Fill your cart like you want to fill your plate. Start with the type of food that you want to eat in the largest quantity. www.eatchicchicago.com offers some great guidelines on how to fill a plate:
    1. Fats: 1-2 servings per meal (1 tbsp. is a serving) Think: butter, ghee, coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, avocado oil
    2. Starches: 1 serving per meal (a serving is ½ cup) Think: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, peas, root vegetables
    3. Green Veggies: at least 2 servings per meal (a serving is considered ½-1 cup) Think: broccoli, lettuce, leafy greens, cabbage, green beans, cauliflower, peppers
    4. Protein: 1-2 servings per meal (a serving is considered 3-4 oz.) Think: salmon, eggs, beef, lamb, bison, venison, pork, shrimp, lobster, eggs, chicken, turkey       As you can see here, you probably want to fill your cart with primarily vegetables and meats. But don’t forget to consider snacks! 1-2 servings of fruit per day (a medium-sized piece, or a fist-sized portion), an ounce of cheese, if you tolerate dairy, a handful of nuts or seeds are all healthy options!
  4. Be selective with what items you pay more for! Big-name companies will slather their products with words that they think you, the consumer, wants to hear. It is your job to avoid their gimmicks! How? You need to educate yourself on what these words truly mean.
    1. Sugar-free: This label usually means one of two things. Either the food didn’t contain added sugar to begin with, or the manufacturer replaced the sugar in the food with something else. Hint: it is probably chemicals.
    2. Cage-free: Do your research when it comes to this word. With most companies, cage-free does NOT mean that the chickens are actually free-roaming. Also, this qualification speaks more to their living environments than their diets.
    3. Grass-fed: This is a label that you will see primarily on beef. Why is the diet of the animal you consume actually important? Because it can affect the optimal balance of fats in the animal.
    4. Organic: Now HERE is a word with actual USDA regulations and requirements. If you’re going to pay more money for something, make sure it is certified organic. The easy tip on what is important to buy organic, in terms of produce? If you eat the skin, opt for the organic option, if that is within your budget. Foods that you peel, you can probably get away with conventional.
    5. Fat-free: Again, either the food probably did not contain fat to begin with, or they have stripped it of the fat and added something else in to make it taste good. Hint: it is usually sugar. Side note: It is no longer 1980, and fat is not your enemy!
    6. Natural: There are almost NO qualifications for a company to label their food/product “natural”. Don’t pay more for anything under this premise.
  5. Take your time. This might sound funny, in a world where time equals money. Why “waste time” at the grocery store? Because building a healthy shopping cart is actually an art. If you are rushed, you’re going to throw foods in haphazardly, without reading labels. Make your shopping trip about the experience. Yes, I realize this is next to impossible to do when the kids have to come along. 😉 That is why I save the bulk of my shopping for a time when someone can watch my kiddos.
  6. Don’t shop on an empty stomach. This one is not new advice. Once again, it leads back to resisting the impulse to buy something because you are starving. We have all been there! Seriously. Step away from the Snickers Bar. If you HAVE to buy something to devour the instant you get to the car, grab some jerky, or some nuts, or an apple.
  7. Buy foods you like. This seems like a no-brainer. But if you buy spinach, just because you think you should eat it, but you actually hate it…guess what?? Odds are, it is going to sit in your refrigerator until it gets slimy. The same goes for foods that require a lot of prep work just to eat. If you know that cantaloupe is going to sit in the back of fridge until it spoils, buy apples instead.
  8. Save the treats for special occasions. Think birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays. The plus side here, is that this will reduce the amount of candies, cookies, etc., that you are consuming. Which means that when you DO buy treats, you can afford higher-quality ones! In fact, at our house, we try to make treats about an experience together.

In terms of this vs. that quality, here are some examples:

Blue Bunny Ice cream three times per week, vs. a local creamery twice per month

A Hershey Bar daily, vs. quality truffles on special occasions

Pizza Hut Pizza every weekend, vs. homemade pizza or a local pizzeria once per month

Whenever we choose to have pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, or cakes, we make our own. I started doing this because I don’t tolerate refined sugars and my son and husband don’t tolerate gluten/wheat. Now my son, who is six, loves to help in the kitchen! When we make a birthday treat for ourselves or someone special, he feels like he contributed.

I realize that this is a lot of information to take in all at once. My intentions aren’t to overhaul your diet in a day, but if you are able to gradually implement a few of these pointers into your shopping and change your bad habits, you will improve your health, along with the health of your family. Remember, it is easier to have will power in the cookie aisle! Better yet, avoid the cookie aisle altogether.

Yours in Health,

Angie

 

Feeding Baby

babyfood

If you clicked on this post, chances are that you have a new baby. Congratulations! Parenthood is one of the most rewarding things that this life has to offer. It can also be a bit confusing and frightening, at times. The parenting decisions you make now can affect your littles for the rest of their lives!

I don’t want to put too much pressure on you as mommies when it comes to foods and food choices, but I also want you to avoid making the same mistakes that I made. With baby number one, I introduced the wrong foods into his diet, far too soon, setting him up for a myriad of problems. These included seasonal allergies, multiple food sensitivities, a clingy, nervous temperament, and poor sleep habits. So, let me start this post by apologizing to my five-year-old son. Dear Colin, Mommy is sorry that she had next to no knowledge about the best way to feed you when you were a baby.

But, as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can do, until you know better. Then do better.”

Now that that is out of the way, we can get started. I want to touch very briefly on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding vs. formula debates can get pretty heated. We aren’t going to talk about this much today, if at all. Most moms know that breast is best, simply by nature’s design, but the important thing is for you to make the right decision for you and your baby. Whether your baby’s primary fuel is breast milk or formula, this post is designed to help you introduce the best solid foods, in the correct order, to optimize baby’s health.

The exact right time to start solids may vary from one child to the next. This depends on the size and maturity of your baby. The minimum age suggestion by Weston A. Price Association is four months old and a weight of at least twelve pounds. Many other sources suggest waiting until six months of age to start solids. When infants are ready for solid food, they will stop pushing their tongue out when a bit of food is placed in their mouth. (This is a reflex that disappears around four-six months of age.) They do not need to be able to sit entirely unassisted, but should be comfortable in a seated position.

All babies should be ready to start solids by six months of age. This is the only effective way for them to get adequate iron in their diets. (Symptoms of low iron in infants can include: fearfulness, unhappiness, fatigue, low activity, wariness, and clinginess.) We will discuss what types of iron-rich foods you should strive to introduce first in a minute. First I want to talk a little bit about most commercial baby foods.

Many commercial foods have only fruit or vegetables and water for ingredients. For starters, these foods are in a canned state to create shelf-stability. This removes many nutrients vs. fresh or frozen foods. Beyond the nutrient factor, how would you feel if you could eat only fruits and veggies? Chances are, you’d soon be whiny and cranky from low blood sugar and crying for more food. Think about eating a breakfast of a big omelet and bacon, which will tide you over until lunchtime, or a bowl of nothing but carbohydrates, like Rice Chex with a banana, which is apt to leave you hungry in a couple hours.

If you must use commercial foods, opt for simple choices. Read the label. There should only be two or three ingredients. Avoid foods with a lot of ingredients, or with grains. (We will talk more about this in a minute.) If there are too many ingredients, and baby has a reaction, it will be difficult to pin point the culprit. Heat the foods gently, under warm running water, or on low on the stove top, and add butter or cream and a pinch of salt.

So if commercial foods are not ideal, what foods are?? Here are some basic guidelines on what foods to introduce at what age:

4-6 months (Minimal solid foods, as tolerated.)

Egg yolk, lightly cooked and salted

Banana or avocado, mashed

Organic liver, grated and added to egg yolk

6-8 months

Pureed meat: turkey, lamb, beef, chicken, or fish

Bone broth

Raw, mashed fruits: banana, melon, mango, papaya, avocado

Cooked, pureed fruits: apricots, peaches, pears, apples, and berries

Cooked vegetables: zucchini, squash, sweet potato, carrots, beets

8-12 months (Continue to add variety and increase thickness of foods.)

Creamed vegetable soups

Homemade meats or stews, all ingredients small or mashed

Dairy such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and cream (Be careful, as this is a common allergen.)

Fermented sauerkraut, pickles, etc.

Over one year 

Grains & legumes

Crispy nut butters (Be careful to give small amounts, to avoid choking hazard.)

Raw salad veggies, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.

Citrus fruit, fresh and organic

Whole cooked eggs

Meats such as bacon, smoked salmon, natural salami

Important foods to avoid:

Up to 6 months: Raw and cooked veggies, that are difficult to digest

Up to 9 months: Citrus and tomato, which are common allergens

Up to one year: Honey, because of the potential spores that babies cannot digest

Introduce foods slowly. With the increasing amount of food sensitivities, it is important to go slowly with food introduction, and to be observant. A basic timeline is to introduce new foods one at a time, and feed that same food every day for at least four days, without introducing any other foods during that time frame.

Here are some signs of intolerance to watch for:

redness around the mouth, abdominal bloating, gas, irritability, fussiness, over activity and awaking throughout the night, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, frequent regurgitation of foods, nasal/chest congestion, and an eczema-type skin rash.

If your baby experiences any of these symptoms before introducing solid foods, baby may have an intolerance to his/her formula, if formula-fed, or potentially some food that mom is eating that is getting passed through the breast milk to baby. Dairy foods and gluten-containing foods are the most common offenders in that situation.

Know that babies have limited production of enzymes necessary for the digestion of foods. It takes at least 16 months for amylase, a carbohydrate-digestion enzyme to be present. This makes cereals, grains, and breads very difficult for babies to digest. Introducing these foods too early can cause digestive troubles and increase the likelihood of allergies, both food-wise and environmentally. (Again, sorry, Colin!)

Babies do have functional enzymes (HCL & Pepsin) that digest proteins, and lipase enzymes that work on fats. 50-60% of the energy in breastmilk is fat, which is critical for growth, energy, and development. What does all of this mean? It means that a baby’s earliest solid foods should be mostly animal foods, because the digestive system is better equipped to supply enzymes for digestion of fats and proteins than carbohydrates, and especially grains.

Before, I mentioned adding cream or butter to baby’s fruits and veggies. This may sound odd, but fats, even saturated ones, give energy and help children to build muscle and strong bones. Animal fats and butter provide vitamins A, D3, and K, which are all necessary for growth and hormone production. In a study with European children who were raised on low-fat, low-cholesterol diets, the children showed poor growth and motor development and many nutrient deficiencies.

If you choose to avoid commercial foods and prepare your own at home, cook and puree a selection of fruits, veggies, and meats in adult quantities. Then you can freeze them in glass dishes or ice cube trays that can be placed in the fridge for thawing or quick reheating. (Thawing in the fridge saves the most nutrients.)

Lastly, let’s touch briefly on water. Water with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt will hydrate baby better than plain water when it is hot outside. Generally, more liquid will be needed for hydration and digestion around nine months when solids become a bigger part of baby’s diet. Offer extra water in extreme heat. Keep in mind that too much water for baby can be as dangerous as not enough, but babies will usually drink to their thirst.

I realize that this is a lot of information to digest. (No pun intended!) I have the timeline for food introduction recopied on my home refrigerator, to prepare for the next six months. (My daughter just turned four months.) If you are eager for more info on this topic, I would recommend getting your hands on a copy of “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care” by Sally Fallon Morell. It has been a huge help to me!

Yours in health,

Angie

How to bounce back from a sugar binge…

candy

It’s that time of year. The time of year when all of the Halloween/Christmas-themed seasonal candies show up on the shelves of your local supermarket. No matter how determined you are to not cave to your sugar temptations, white-knuckled will power can only carry you so far when your children bring buckets of chocolate-coated confections into your home. So here are six steps to help get your diet back on track after a derailment:

  1. Start over today. Do NOT talk yourself into another day of poor eating. Do NOT tell yourself it is okay to start over on Monday, or the first of the month, or the first of the year. You see the problem here? If you allow one day of poor choices to turn into two months of poor choices, you’re going to wake up with a migraine headache and the flu, on the second of January, weighing twenty pounds more than you did a month earlier. It is a slippery slope, my friends.
  1. Get any offensive foods out-of-sight. Or, better yet, get them out of the house altogether. Assuming that you didn’t eat the entire bag of fun-sized Snickers last night, put them away this morning. If you can, I recommend actually throwing them away. The money is already spent, but that doesn’t mean you have to do further damage to your body because of it. If you feel like throwing them away is too wasteful, pawn them off on someone else. If they are in your house in a moment of weakness, it probably won’t end well. If you are unwilling to get rid of them (Or, if they actually don’t belong to you…anyone else steal a few pieces of their kiddo’s stash?) at least get them off of your kitchen counter.
  1. Don’t weigh yourself. Look, I know it is tempting. You want to see what damage was done by eating half of a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups last night. And seeing that number on the scale is sure to scare you straight. But there are two possible outcomes, here. Let’s explore them.
  1. You weigh yourself, and you gained six pounds. Since it is highly unlikely that you actually consumed six pounds of food that your body instantly converted to body fat, you probably weigh more because you are retaining water and increased your inflammation level and/or glycogen stores. Seeing this “false” weight gain is probably more likely to discourage you than to motivate you.
  1. You weigh yourself, and you didn’t gain, or actually lost weight. Trust me, this one is worse. You will reason with yourself that your binge was okay, simply because you didn’t gain weight. (Never mind the fact that you feel like crap.) And if you “got away” with eating garbage once, you could get away with it twice. Right??

Just trust me on this. Get your eating habits back on track for a couple days, and then you can assess the damage.

  1. Eat small, frequent meals in the days following a binge. So, when you take in a large amount of sugar or carbohydrates in one sitting, your pancreas must create and release insulin into the blood to help process the sugar. This can cause a spike in your blood sugar, which is usually followed by a rapid fall. Eating small, frequent meals following a binge will help to stabilize your blood sugar and get your cravings back on track. Have a couple eggs for breakfast at 8:00, some almonds and an apple at 10:00, a chicken salad at noon, etc. Eating every couple hours is ideal. The goal here is to eat before you are hungry. Because once you are hungry, the carbohydrate monster in your head will start trying to talk you into all sorts of things.
  1. Eat some superfood. Consuming sugar and grains creates inflammation in your body. Inflammation can lead to bloating, joint pain, constipation…a whole myriad of unpleasant symptoms. In fact, inflammation is at the heart of almost all disease. Every taken an ibuprofen to get rid of your headache? There is a reason those drugs are called “anti-inflammatory”. The cool thing is, you can reduce your inflammation with foods, too.

Here are the seven best foods to reach for, to reduce your inflammation: Salmon, Leafy Greens, Blueberries, Green Tea, Fermented Veggies, Shitake Mushrooms, and Garlic. (Read more on why these foods are anti-inflammatory at www.mercola.com.) Including as many of these foods as possible throughout the days following a binge will help reduce your sugar withdrawal symptoms. Personally, I like to throw a few of these foods in a blender and make a smoothie or two.

  1. Get moving. Chances are, you woke up the morning after a binge feeling bloated, sluggish, foggy, and lethargic. This would be the time that you feel least like exercising, right? Which is exactly why you should. I am not necessarily talking about high-intensity cardio here, either. Some yoga, a walk, or a hike might serve you best, if your inflammation levels are high. www.marksdailyapple.com talks more about the link between inflammation and exercise, but regular exercise tends to lower markers of systemic inflammation, generally speaking. Another bonus: exercise releases endorphins in the brain that can help improve your mood.

Which brings me to…

  1. Identify any emotions that could have triggered the binge. Unfortunately, this is one of the aspects of poor eating habits that is less-focused-on. And it actually may be one of the biggest reasons for failure. Many of the clients whom I see for nutrition coaching, experience some type of emotional connection to their (unhealthy) foods. Lonely? Grab some cookies. Stressed? Try some potato chips! Depressed? How about a pint of ice cream?

It usually works, too! At least for a while. You see, sugar is a temporary mood-booster. But, “according to a 2012 article in the journal Nature, it is a toxic substance that should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol.” (www.webmd.com) “It also wreaks havoc on (y)our liver, mucks up metabolism, impairs brain function, and may leave us susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”

So what can you do instead when you’re feeling down? I think that the most important thing to do is to recognize the emotion and experience it. I am going to use a personal example here, because it’s relevant.

My husband leaves for two weeks at a time. He has been doing this for five years now. I have found that I am most likely to reach for unhealthy comfort foods the first day after he leaves. (Chocolate and kettle chips are my weakness!) I want these foods because I am lonely, and I know I will miss him when he is gone. But a way of coping that is more effective than chocolate, is for me to acknowledge my emotion. I recognize that I feel lonely, and find a healthy behavior to cope with that emotion. Some of my favorite coping mechanisms are exercise, texting friends, reading, writing, or listening to music. I avoid watching TV, because I have noticed that that makes my emotional food cravings worse.

Until you explore your emotional food triggers, you will have a harder time making healthy choices.

The holiday season is upon us! I wish you luck, and the will power to treat your bodies right! But the next time you find yourself on the other end of a candy-bar bender, use these tips to prevent a total dietary landslide. 😉

Yours in health,

Angie

The top five reasons that those shiny, New Years’ Resolutions are going to FAIL:

confetti

Hey, everyone! Long time, no see! I hope you all made it safely and successfully through the Fall Holiday Season. I had every intention of starting the blog back up as soon as my November novel project concluded, but I got sidetracked by holiday festivities, cooking, and eating. So Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and New Years’ Blessings to you all!

Now to get down to the nitty gritty. So. I realize how negative the title of this blog post sounds. I am not trying to be a pessimist here, folks. But, let’s face it: each and every year, millions of people set goals for themselves at the beginning of the year. And each and every year, most of those same millions lose steam after week two and talk themselves out of making the life changes for themselves that they had in mind.

I, too, used to fail at my resolutions. One of the quickest ways to succeed is to keep your mistakes close by you. Not to hang them over your head and make you feel horrible. But so that you are able to evaluate what portions of your actions and inactions resulted in success and which resulted in failure. I have summed up a few of the things I have learned over the years and condensed them down into what I consider the top five reasons that people abandoned their resolutions. I hope that this list will help you re-evaluate your goals, if necessary, in order that you might be successful in 2015. 🙂

1. You didn’t actually make your resolutions for yourself. This is the number one way to ensure that you will not be successful. Whether you’re resolving to lose fifteen pounds so that your husband finds you more attractive, or resolving to exercise more because your doctor told you you should, those are not likely to be successful goals. What is it you really want? Like, more than anything? Maybe it is a trip to Paris, to run your first half marathon, to write an original song, to acquire a new hobby, or to eat more fruits and vegetables. There is no wrong answer, as long as your goal is one that is important to YOU. Because if it isn’t, it is that much easier to talk yourself out of. After all, you have been fine for the last however-many years of your life NOT doing that thing, right? Fine, maybe. But if it is still on your mind after all this time, think how good it would feel to actually accomplish it.

2. You weren’t specific enough when you set them. One of the biggest reasons that people fail in their goal attainment is because of broad generalizations. Don’t make a nonspecific goal, such as, “I want to eat healthier in 2015.” Instead, make a goal that leaves little wiggle room: “I want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day this year, and reduce dessert to a once-a-week indulgence.” Instead of, “I want to run more in 2015,” try, “I want to increase my mileage by 10% each month so that I am ready to try a 10k this July.” Better yet? Sign up for the race! The more specific you can be in your goal setting, the less room you leave for error.

3. 365 days is too broad of a time frame. A year seems like a long time. The problem is, to most of us, it’s not. It is kind of like when you were a college student. Remember that final you “had all semester” to study for? Yet, somehow, the night before you are slamming coffee and cramming your brain full of facts? This works kind of like that. So, if you have bigger resolutions, try breaking them down on a timeline. Your goal is to eat healthier? In January, start eating a high-protein breakfast. In February, include raw veggies in your afternoon snack. In March, limit dessert to one night a week… and so on, and so forth. By the end of the year, your diet will have had a major overhaul, one sustainable step at a time. This is true of any of your goals. If your goal is to write a novel, aim for writing one morning each week. It all adds up! I like to write my goals down and re-read them at the beginning of every month to see how I have progressed. It is a good way to stay on track.

4. You didn’t share your aspirations. Many of us are reluctant to tell others about our resolutions because we have failed so many times in the past. But did you ever think that maybe you failed because you didn’t rally the support of friends and family around you? My best example of this is my novel writing project this last November. Right around the third week in November, I was done. I was days and days behind on my 50,000 word count. My brain had no words, and it felt like the plot of my story was going nowhere. Still, I went on to complete that project. Why? Certainly not because I wanted to in the moment! (Although I truly did want to finish.) The end seemed insurmountable. But my husband asked me daily how my progress was. My parents called to ask how the novel was coming. My best friend talked through some kinks in the plot with me as we lunged until our legs were rubber. And, I had posted the commitment to do the challenge on Facebook. Sometimes, when the going gets tough, we need to rely on those around us to get us through. Believe me, if you share a goal with people who love you, and let them know how important that goal is to you, they will hop on board your support wagon. And, when all of that new-found ambition wears off, you will be glad to have them there.

5. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Lastly, but not least of all, a major reason for failure is that your resolution is just too big. I am a dreamer. I am known to set lofty goals. After all, the idea is to make ourselves work, right? Well, yes and no. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, eliminating fast food from your diet completely is probably an unreasonable aspiration. Technically, it could be done. But when you forget to pack a lunch on a busy Monday halfway through January, and you swing through Subway for a sandwich, it really isn’t fair to say that you failed, when that would mean that you successfully went 14 meals without eating fast food. But, as humans, we see it that way. And then? All bets are off. So reach a little. Make yourself work for your resolution. After all, that is the point. But don’t set yourself up for failure. Be reasonable. Set resolutions that are realistically attainable for YOU. And, if you slip up, take a step back and look at the big picture.

So, there you have it. Those are a collection of the largest reasons that I have failed in the past and the lessons that I have learned from each of them. If you don’t have a list of 2015 Resolutions yet, I would highly encourage you to go make one. You can have one item on it, or fifteen. Just make sure that all of these improvements are about the most important person you know: yourself.

Happy New Year!

Yours in Health,

Angie

How to fight your favorite cravings (You HAVE to try #2!):

coffee

This week, I decided to do a fun little post on combating common cravings for high-carbohydrate foods. I have plenty of other posts out there on how carbohydrates are processed just like sugar in the body. Excess carbohydrates can make us feel sleepy, raise our inflammation levels, and lead to an increase in body fat. I don’t intend to go in-depth with those issues today. Instead, I want to delve right in to some delicious substitutions for your favorite decadent treats.

In my nutrition coaching experience, I have found that for people to improve their health, they cannot rely solely on will power. Sheer fortitude alone will only carry you so far. If you feel deprived of your favorite foods on a daily basis, sooner or later, your efforts will backfire, often resulting in a binge on the very foods you were trying to avoid. The most effective way to eliminate unhealthy foods is to replace them with foods that contain better nutrition.

I see hundreds of food journals each month. For this post, I have chosen from the top ten junk foods that people crave. From there, I narrowed it down to five foods that can be easily made in your home inexpensively, without special equipment or strange ingredients.

Your Craving:

  • McDonalds French Fry

1. Medium fry contains 380 calories & 48 carbohydrates. (Not to mention rancid oils.)

Eat This Instead:

Potato slices, pan-fried in coconut oil, lard, or butter, and salted. Pre-heat 1 tbsp. of your choice of temperature-stable cooking oil in a skillet on medium-high. Slice a russet potato lengthwise, into oval disks. Fry on each side, salting liberally, until the outside of the potato is browned and crispy and the inside is soft.

Recipe contains 260 calories & 32 carbohydrates.

Your Craving:

  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

2. Grande contains 310 calories & 49 carbohydrates. (Also contains artificial flavors & colors.)

Eat This Instead:

You will need a blender. Add 8 oz. hot coffee, 4 oz. unsweetened almond milk, ¼ cup fresh or canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and 1 tbsp. honey to the blender. Blend well until mixed & enjoy! If you crave a richer latte, sub canned coconut milk for the almond milk. If you crave one that is sweeter, add more honey. You could also use espresso and add more milk.

As written, recipe contains 145 calories & 23 carbohydrates.

Your Craving:

  • Lay’s Potato Chips

3. 30 Chips contain 320 calories & 28 carbohydrates.

Eat This Instead:

Roasted & salted pumpkin seeds! Trust me on this one. If you love crunchy, salty foods, pumpkin seeds are great! You can buy them at the store, but I prefer to roast my own at home. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Toss the seeds in a bit of oil—I like red palm oil for its nutty flavor—and salt. You can also add any other seasonings you like, such as a packet of ranch dressing. Bake until golden brown, usually 10-12 minutes.

½ cup contains just 150 calories & 11 carbohydrates.

Your Craving:

  • Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

4. 1 cup contains 720 calories & 52 carbohydrates.

Eat This Instead:

Peel a banana, break it into chunks, and toss it in the freezer for four or more hours. (This one requires a little bit of forethought. Or you can just keep frozen bananas on-hand all the time…) Throw frozen banana chunks into a blender, along with 2 tbsp peanut butter, a splash of almond or coconut milk, and a bit of vanilla extract. Blend on high until the mix forms a consistency like soft-serve ice cream, then stir in a tbsp. of chocolate chips. If your ice cream is too runny, you can toss it back in the freezer for a little while to solidify.

The entire bowl of ice cream contains about 350 calories & 30 carbohydrates.

(Note: you can use the banana/almond milk/vanilla base to create other flavors as well. Add mint extract and chocolate chips and a few spinach leaves for a delicious chocolate chip mint, or add pecans, coconut, and pineapple for a tropical twist!)

Your Craving:

  • A Great Big Bowl of Granola

5. 1 cup of Quaker Natural granola contains 446 calories & 70 carbohydrates. (Milk not included.)

Eat This Instead:

You can make your own version of grain-less granola at home. This one is my favorite: Take ¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds, ¾ cup sunflower seeds, 1.5 cups unsweetened coconut, 3 cups almonds, 1.5 cups almond meal, 3-4 tbsp pumpkin pie spice, ¾ cup raw honey, ½ cup raisins, ¾ cup melted coconut oil, & 3 tbsp pure vanilla extract. Stir all ingredients together and spread onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees, turning halfway through.

1 cup contains about 400 calories & 20 carbohydrates. (Much fewer carbs than its oat-filled alternative, and this version has more protein and healthy fats. And my cereal-obsessed father didn’t notice the difference!)

So, there you have it! Five this for that swaps that will have you eating healthier, without feeling deprived.

Yours in Health,

Angie

How to form a Winter exercise routine (& stick with it!):

When it comes to exercise, it seems like most people fall into one of two categories: the well-intentioned exercisers and the successful exercisers. The former group always has the best intentions, and may start in with a workout regimen for a week or two, only to fizzle out and spend his/her time in other ways, always feeling a little guilty over skipped exercise sessions. The latter comprise the group of people out there whom are actually successful exercisers.

Whichever of these two groups you fall under, Winter can be a tough time of year. On those cold, snowy mornings, it is so much easier to stay huddled up in your house with a cup of coffee or three! Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t do that: (This list is borrowed from http://www.familydoctor.org & expanded upon by personal experience.)

• Exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity. All of these health problems are going to impede your quality of life in one way or another in the long haul. Not to mention, many of these maladies can result in premature death.

• Exercise keeps your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Cleaning house? Moving furniture? Playing with the kiddos? Mowing the lawn? All of these activities require a certain amount of physical strain. If you are mostly a sitter at work and in your spare time, you may struggle to move comfortably when you actually want or need to.

• Exercise contributes to mental well-being. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins give you a temporary mood boost that can carry you through days until your next workout. Regular exercisers are better able to cope with both physical AND emotional stress than non-exercisers because of these mood-lifting benefits. Suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? (SAD is when you suffer from depression that is worse seasonally.) Exercise has been shown to improve SAD symptoms as well.

• Exercise improves your sleep quality. You may not always be able to get more sleep, but better-quality sleep is always a plus!

• Exercise can increase metabolism. (I add CAN as a qualifier here. If you are interested in fat loss, be sure you are doing the right type of exercise to facilitate those results. See my post “Are you Exercising Yourself Fat?” for more info on this.)

• Exercise sets a good example for kids. The more often your children see you being active and enjoying it, the more likely they are to develop those same habits. I treat my run time as my sacred time. My son knows that I love it, and as a result, sees going for a walk or getting out and moving as a privilege, not a chore.

• Exercise can form some wonderful social bonds. Some of my very best friends have been made through exercise. Even if you typically fly solo, try to find a workout buddy for at least one session a week. There is just something about airing out your problems while lunging until your legs are noodles that forms a pretty strong bond. Plus, the accountability of a workout buddy never hurts either!

Chances are, the majority of these exercise benefits are not news to you. In fact, many of them you have probably heard before from your doctor, spouse, television, or a fitness magazine. I wanted to touch on them because they are SO important. But I am guessing that if you’re reading this blog post, you are really interested on how to find a Winter-time routine that is actually workable for you. You’re in luck! I have six simple pointers to share with you on how to do just that.

1. Plan, plan, plan! I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Sit down with your schedule, at least a week at a time. I do mine by the month. Carve out exactly what times you will exercise, write them on a calendar, and hang it on your refrigerator. This is especially important for beginning exercisers, who do not already have a workable routine, and for those who have kids who need care. Shoot for at least three times per week of some kind of physical activity. Recruit help from your spouse, a family member, or a friend. Maybe you can swap days with another mom or dad in your neighborhood? Either way, set that time aside and then honor it!

2. Do what you love. Take all of those notions floating around your inside your head of what you should be doing and throw them out the window! What do YOU want to do? This can include any combination of yoga, pilates, running, strength training, walking, fitness classes, home DVDs, but it can also include outdoor recreational activities like skiing, hiking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or even vigorous play with your kids. The most important thing here is that you actually like what you are doing so that you will stick with it.

3. Set a goal! This can be whatever you like. Maybe your goal is to work out three times per week without fail. Maybe there is a 5k or a half marathon you really want to train for. Maybe you have a goal to tone up, to lose a pant size, or to normalize your blood pressure. Whatever your goal is, write it down. It is the thing that will get you out the door on those days that you would rather stay home.

4. If your plan gets interrupted, go with the flow. This is the item that I struggle with the most. It is all too easy for a skipped workout to snowball into two skipped workouts, then three, then four, and then, all of a sudden, you’re waiting until after the first of the year when the holidays are over to start back up again. Just remember:

5. Something is better than nothing. So you originally had two hours set aside to hit the gym, but now your kiddo is barfing and you’re trapped at home. Don’t focus on what you can’t do; focus on what you can do! Maybe it is a good day for push-ups and abs! Every hour for ten hours do ten push-ups and ten sit-ups. You might not have logged the time you wanted, but 100 sit ups and 100 push-ups beats nothing, right?

6. Take a rest day when you need it. Adequate rest will ensure you don’t do too much too soon, resulting in burnout or injury. You should have a bare minimum of one rest day per week built in to your exercise plan. I usually have at least two and sometimes three. So it can be frustrating when I start to come down with a cold on a day I am supposed to run 6 miles. Experience has taught me, however, that taking one rest day when I need to gets me back into my routine sooner. Most the time some gentle yoga or a short walk can speed up the healing process. (Aside: How do you know if you need a rest day? The method I use is tracking resting heart rate. My normal resting heart rate is about 46 beats per minute. As little as a 5% increase in resting heart rate can signify that your body is struggling to fight off a bug. For me, that means that if my resting heart rate is 55 BPM or higher, my body is definitely asking for a break. If you’re interested in using this method, try taking your heart rate first thing in the morning—before you get out of bed—for seven days. Average that, and you will have a pretty good idea of your resting heart rate. Keep in mind, as your fitness improves, this number may go down.)

Implement these six tips this Winter, and you will be sure to belong to the group of successful exercisers!

Happy sweating!

Yours in Health,

Angie

Could veggies actually be harming your health??

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The vegetable group to which I am referring is the nightshade family. What on earth are nightshades, you ask? They are part of a botanical family of plants that are more technically referred to as Solanaceae. Huh? Yeah, I can’t pronounce that word correctly either. Basically, what you need to know is that these plants all have certain characteristics in common. A couple of which include that they grow in shady areas and flower during the nighttime.

Commonly consumed plants that fall into the nightshade category include:
• Bell Peppers (Any & all colors & sizes.)
• Eggplant
• Goji Berries
• Hot Peppers (Including chilis, jalapenos, habaneros, chili-based spices, red pepper & cayenne.)
• Paprika
• Potatoes (NOT including yams or sweet potatoes, but all other varieties.)
• Tomatoes
• Tobacco

Lesser-known nightshades:
• Gooseberry & garden huckleberry
• Cocona
• Kutjera
• Naranjillas
• Pimentos
• Tamarillos
• Tomatillos

This may seem like a fairly small list, but these foods are found in many places!

But should you care what a nightshade is? Maybe yes, maybe no.

According to http://www.paleoleap.com, “The best evidence for the health risks of nightshades is connected with autoimmunity.” Experiencing symptoms such as joint pain, arthritis, or diagnosis of any auto-immune-related disease should certainly leave you suspect of whether or not nightshades may be a problem for you specifically.

The same is true for people who frequently suffer digestive duress, or may have damage to their intestinal walls. Nightshades are known to contain alkaloids that help defend the plants from pests and molds that could kill them. Healthy guts are able to handle these alkaloids just fine, but people who have an already-compromised digestive system have trouble processing them.

It is important, as well, to note that some individuals are only slightly sensitive to nightshades. For those folks, it may be effective to simply reduce the amount of nightshades in their diets, or to be careful when preparing them. As an example, under-ripe nightshades tend to have a higher alkaloid content than veggies that are fully-ripened. Also, cooking and/or peeling the nightshades reduces their alkaloid content even further.

The most common reaction I get from my clients when bringing up the topic of nightshades is a quizzical sort of expression. An expression that seems to say, “So wait, now we’re restricting vegetables??”
I understand. If we are down to debating this vegetable over that one, we are in the nitty gritty of the diet-refining process. I will say this: I cannot emphasize enough that the ill-effects of nightshades are only relevant to those individuals who are sensitive to them. If that isn’t you, there is no reason to eliminate these healthy foods from your diet.

But if you suffer from ANY autoimmune disease, or are trying to heal your intestines from an inflammatory or leaky gut situation, you may want to consider a two-week elimination diet. This is where you cut all nightshades from your diet for a period of 14 days. If, after two weeks completely and totally off of these foods, you re-introduce them and feel worse, you would then know your body may not handle them well. If you notice no difference in symptoms on vs. off of these foods, you have the go-ahead to consume them as you please. (Keep in mind that food reactions can take up to 72 hours to fully manifest.)

Arguably the hardest part of eliminating nightshades from your diet is the restrictions of different spices and/or the elimination of tomato sauces. For individuals following a Paleo-type diet already, don’t despair! There are many resources available to you to help eliminate nightshades. “The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook” by Mickey Trescott and “The Paleo Approach Cookbook” by Sarah Ballantyne are two that I would recommend. Both are available on http://www.amazon.com.

If you feel well already, and are eating a variety of fruits and veggies, keep up the good work! However, if you feel like you’ve tried other dietary improvements and find you still suffer from autoimmune-type symptoms, this may be the answer for you.

Yours in Health,

Angie

Why You Should Be Juicing

Today I want to let you in on a super-secret health tip: eat your fruits & vegetables. Okay, so seriously…you probably already knew that, right? Most people who are even remotely interested in fueling their bodies appropriately have figured out that fruits & vegetables are a big part of that equation. The problem is discovering how you can incorporate more of these healthy foods into your diet without spending all day in your kitchen or taking three hours to consume a lunch that includes 8 servings of raw plant matter.

Enter juicing. Throw multiple servings of the fruits and/or vegetables suited to your personal liking into the blender, and voila! You can drink them on the way home from the gym. Or on the way to work. Or at your desk. Or on your lunch break while you run other errands. Seriously. It is SO convenient. And with some of the emerging options on today’s market, it is actually affordable. (I just looked up a Ninja blender system on Amazon and found one as low as $39!) My Vitamix is my favorite appliance—that said, it took 18 months for me to take the $399 plunge and buy one. For most juice recipes, a Ninja will work just fine!

Here is some more information on WHY you should be juicing, if you aren’t already doing it:

Joel Fuhrman, in his bestselling book, Fit For Life, estimates that the average American Diet is made up of an average 62% refined and processed foods. He claims that the majority of Americans are eating a mere 12.5% of their daily calories from plant-based sources. Does that statistic scare you? It should! Take a look at this graph:

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Note that the countries with the lowest incidences of heart disease, cancers, and obesity consume more than 75% of their calories from unrefined plant substances. How does your own diet measure up?

Let me take a second to clear something up, however. I absolutely do NOT support and advocate and entirely vegan diet. There are essential amino acids, proteins, and other nutrition that can only be obtained through the genuine replacement parts found in animals. I like the Weston Price Association’s stance on this subject. Dr. Price examined healthy diets of indigenous populations and determined that based on genetics, food availability, and location, a healthy diet can be comprised of anywhere from 10-90% animal-based foods.

What I like I about this figure is that it allows for all of the variables. So a vegetarian who consumes eggs and/or small amounts of dairy may be fueling optimally. A big-burly power lifter who eats meat at every meal may also be fueling optimally. Persons of an A-blood type typically feel best with a higher ratio of plant matter. Persons who are of an O-blood type feel best fueling with red meats. (This has a lot to do with the acidity of your stomach and balance. More on blood-type diet variances to come on a future post.)
Whether you feel best eating more meat or less of it really isn’t my point here. My point is that, either way, fruits and veggies are important! The different vitamins and minerals in varying combinations of these healthy foods are your best bet at being able to detoxify your body from the toxic environment you live in.

Okay, so you’re on board! Maybe you have thought about juicing before, but you just never got the ball rolling in that direction. There is no time like the present! Let me get you started with a few items you can include in your juicing to optimize the flavor and your results:

Apples, Asparagus, Avocado, Beet Greens, Beet Root, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Coconut, Collard Greens, Cranberries, Cucumber, Fennel, Grapes, Grapefruit, Kale, Kiwi, Lemon, Lettuce, Lime, Mango, Melon (all types), Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Sweet Peppers, Pineapple, Pumpkin, Spinach, Spirulina, Strawberries, Sweet Potato, Tangerine, Tomato.

Different spices can also be delicious and detoxifying. Some of the ones I experiment with are:

Basil, Cayenne, Vinegar, Cilantro, Garlic, Ginger, Scallion, Pomegranate, Radish, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Vanilla/Peppermint extracts, Pumpkin Pie spice, Nutmeg

Yesterday’s juice in our house was comprised of a golden apple, a beet (root), carrots, purple kale, mango, and raspberries. My entire family (including my four-year-old) loved it! I usually prefer one or two fruits to three or four vegetables. This makes for a less sweet juice. If I am making it for my family, I use a higher fruit ratio so that it will appeal to them. This morning we tried grapefruit, carrot, and mango juice to complement our bacon & eggs breakfast. What it really boils down to here is personal preference. Not every combination that you try will be one that you love, so once you find one that you like, don’t be afraid to stick with it! But as a general rule, try to use an array of different colors because each color group of produce boasts different nutrition. Juice the rainbow!

A couple last notes on juicing:

There are actual juicers out there on the market that remove the pulp from the juice part of the fruit. (As opposed to a blender, which is what I use.) This is healthy, but a lot of the nutrition and fiber from plants is in that portion. So unless you are very sick or under digestive duress, I would use the whole fruit.

If you are juicing for a meal, find yourself a quality protein powder and consider including a healthy fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, flax oil, hemp oil, macadamia nut oil, chia seed, or nut butter in your smoothie as well. (See my post “The World of Protein Powders” for more info on selecting the right protein for you.) The protein and fat will help ensure you stay full through your next meal.

Yours in Health,

Angie

Dos and Don’ts for Healthy Lunches your Kids (and you) will Love!

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Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to school we go! I don’t know about you, but I am having a hard time believing that Summer is winding down already. At any rate, I find myself on the horizon of sending my son off to a full day of preschool. The only thing more daunting than letting him go for the first time is trying to pack something he will enjoy and compete with other kids’ lunches, all while still providing him a healthy lunch that I know he will eat.

So why not school lunch, you ask? Well, I am not here today to bash the various school lunch programs out there. And I do realize that many improvements have been made to those lunch programs. That said, the fact of the matter is, there are very few FRESH choices provided. Also, in my case, I have both a kid with food sensitivities and one who can be a selective eater. I would hate to pay for a lunch, only to have him dump it in the trash, just as I would hate for him to come into contact with a food that disagrees with him and get sick.

I would like to also note that the benefits of packing a nutritious lunch carry on into adulthood. Otherwise, unless you have enough time to go home and prepare something over the noon hour, you will probably find yourself on the other end of a burger and French fries. Or a taco. Or maybe a sub sandwich. (Okay, so there are some veggies involved here…but there are still a lot of carbs!)

If you have a child who is resistant to packing a lunch, a fun lunch box and asking his/her input for food choices can go a long way. My son loves to pick out the healthy foods for his lunches from the store! He also likes feeling like he is in control of what he eats, since for supper, it is mom’s way or the highway. 😉

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As far as lunch boxes go, it is easiest to find one that is fun and then put a LunchBot or Planet Lunch insert inside of it. These are stainless-steel spill proof containers that have multiple compartments. Good for the environment, and easy clean up! Plus they won’t leech plastics into your food. Is your household busy in the morning, or do you like to sleep in until the last minute? I highly recommend packing lunches the night before, so you can just grab and go!

Okay, so no more excuses, right? If you choose to pack a lunch, your reasons may differ from mine. This much is for sure though: a fresh, healthy, and tasty lunch will leave you energized to power through your afternoon. It will also prevent a blood sugar crash that results in glomming down a package of Oreos in between work/school and suppertime.

I have broken these ideas down into four basic groups: protein, fruits, vegetables, and dessert. Usually I pick at least one thing from each category for my son. For myself, I tend to stick to just meats and veggies. A packed lunch can be as simple or as complicated as you make it, but here are some basic ideas to get you started:

 

Proteins:

Pre-cooked shrimp

Leftover meatballs

Roll bell pepper strips in deli meat

Cucumber sliders or cucumber sub sandwiches (The cucumber slices are the buns.)

Sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds

String Cheese

Hard-boiled eggs

Homemade trail mix

Almond butter between apple slices (Slice apples the round way so it resembles a circular sandwich.)

Hot dogs sliced lengthwise, filled with your favorite goodies

Your favorite deli meat and veggies inside Paleo coconut wraps (Available at www.amazon.com  & in stores.)

Portable Fruits:

Berries, any & all kinds

Grapes

Tangerines or Cuties

Apples

Bananas

Nectarines, sliced in half and in a container

Portable Veggies:

Carrots

Celery

Sliced cucumber

Cherry tomatoes

Olives/Pickles

Snap Peas

Desserts: (Often, we just use fruit. But if your kiddo has a sweet tooth, or you want to include something special, these are some great ideas.)

Purchase or make 100% fruit strips

Pack a few dark chocolate chips

Dates rolled in shredded coconut, or other dried fruits

Bake healthy cookies/muffins to your child’s liking

Chia pudding (Use chia seeds to gel up some almond milk and add in flavors/sweeteners of your liking.)

Hail Merry Macaroons (All natural, grain & refined-sugar free. Available on www.amazon.com. The chocolate chip cookie dough flavor is to die for!)

Lastly, here are a few foods you should avoid packing regularly:

Crackers & Chips—these are mostly empty calories and can be fried in rancid oils.

Soda & Sugared Juice—if your child is a juice drinker, consider diluting 100% fruit juice.

Prepackaged foods with unpronounceable ingredients—this one is obvious. The advantage of packing a lunch is getting away from chemical additives, transfats, and preservatives.

Breads—once again, these are empty carbohydrates that won’t help sustain even energy levels.

Regular baked goods—these should be saved for special occasions only. They are sure to provide and energy spike and subsequent crash later in the afternoon that can lead to brain fog, fatigue, or behavioral issues in children.

 

Hopefully these ideas get you started on the road to packing a healthy lunch for both you and your kiddos. It is a fantastic, healthy, cost-effective habit, and you can never start too early!

 

Yours in Health,

 

Angie

11 Healthy Breakfast Choices

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Breakfast. The first meal of the day. It breaks  a fasting period of twelve hours or more. It sets the tone physically for how you will feel all day long. Eat a sugar-filled breakfast of Special K cereal, orange juice, and coffee with caramel creamer? Set yourself up for hunger pangs around 10:30 and a headache by 4:00. But fill yourself up with protein and healthy fat, like a breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs? You’re more likely to have stable energy (and blood sugar levels) through lunchtime and beyond.

Not only does a poor-quality breakfast impact how you feel throughout the day, but it sets you up for dietary failures later on. The biggest mistake that I used to make with my diet was at breakfast. Hopping out of bed at 5:15, I would exercise—hard—for 90 minutes on an empty stomach. I would come home, shower, and get completely ready for work, still on an empty stomach. When I finally fueled, around 8:30, I usually chose an unsweetened package of instant oatmeal mixed with a nonfat peach yogurt. I was already in a calorie deficit of as much as 900 calories, and I tried to refuel with 200. It was no wonder that, by the time I got home from work at 5 PM, I pretty much sat down and ate my entire house before cooking and consuming supper. My body was starving!

Fast forward four years, and I have more than learned my lesson. For starters, I now know that 1/3 of my protein needs should be met at breakfast. General guidelines for protein requirements are your body weight, divided by two, in grams. So a 150-lb. woman would need a minimum of 75 grams of protein per day. (Weightlifters and athletes whose bodies undergo excessive stress and muscle breakdown need more. So do nursing/pregnant women.) That slice of toast and bowl of cereal? Not gonna cut it!

Okay, so cereal is out…what does that leave? I’ve constructed this list of healthy breakfast options to get you thinking about what might be effective morning options for you and your family. Ready, go!

When you’re in a time-crunch:

  1. Crustless quiche. Yep, you heard me correctly! Back when I could tolerate eggs, I would make an egg-bake each Sunday night. Think 6-8 eggs, a dab of heavy cream/milk/coconut milk, whatever meats and/or vegetables that appeal to you, and cheese, if you choose. Bake at 350 until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cut into six pieces, and you have a high-protein, nutrient-dense breakfast for Monday-Saturday. It’s that easy!
  2. Greek yogurt with walnuts and/or berries. No, really…you actually hate to cook. Like, at all. Okay, no problem! Look for a plain, unsweetened, 2% fat content or higher Greek yogurt. In your search, remember this: if it is flavored, it has added sugar. If the company that produces it has removed the fat, they’ve usually added sugar to compensate. When I still ate dairy, my favorite brand was Fage. 20 grams of protein for 8 grams of carbohydrates. Sprinkle on a little Stevia, some walnuts (for omega-3), and some fresh or frozen berries. YUM.
  3. An apple & a handful of nuts. Okay, so as far as quality protein goes, this option is a little low on the list. But it IS convenient, AND healthy. Just be prepared with a little snack to munch on later in the morning to tide you over until lunchtime.  
  4. A shake. Shakes/smoothies are an awesome option, as long as you’re making them at home and utilizing a quality protein powder. (See my post The World of Protein Powders for more info on this.) What I really love about shakes as an option are all of the veggies that I can throw in and drink down on my way to work. Kale, chard, avocado, beets, and carrots all blend well with some apple or frozen raspberries. Now that’s a nutritional punch!

When you’re hungry:

  1. Pancakes, hash browns & sausage. Maybe it’s the weekend, and you want a big, family breakfast! Or maybe you had too much to drink last night and you need to fill your belly. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this choice! (As long as you have a healthy pancake recipe that isn’t loaded with white flour and sugar.) I make my pancakes with almond flour, cinnamon, eggs, and a mashed banana, all fried up in coconut oil. Throw in some hash browns fried in bacon grease and a couple sausage links, and you have one happy tummy! All non-hydrogenated fats, quality protein, and minimal carbohydrates. As long as you take it easy on the maple syrup, that is. 😉 Or, better yet, use a bit of blackstrap molasses! With 20% of your RDA of iron and potassium, it’ll put the mineral content of your breakfast through the roof!
  2. Bacon. Bacon has fat AND protein. That, and it’s delicious! You can have half a grapefruit too, if you want. Or a cup of berries. But honestly, the bacon is usually enough. Four slices is usually perfect to tide me over until a 2:00 lunch. (As a side-note, it is ideal to purchase nitrate/nitrite-free bacon whenever possible.)
  3. Scrambled eggs. This was our staple breakfast when we were out camping. We’d usually throw in some ground sausage or venison, onions, green peppers, and whatever else we had on hand. It is relatively quick, as far as big breakfasts go, and it will stick with you!
  4. Soup. Those of you who follow my blog know just how highly I advocate the consumption of bone broth soups. It is a healing super food! All the more reason to include it at breakfast. My husband and I often add a mug of chicken broth in to our morning routine, and this is the next step up. A good batch of meat & veggie soup can lend itself to breakfasts all week long.

When you’re feeling creative:                       

  1. Butternut squash with cinnamon, coconut milk (or butter) & pecans. If you prefer things sweet, you can add a pinch of maple syrup or coconut palm sugar, but this is pretty delectable on its own. If you are someone who grew up on Cream of Wheat, you’ll love this as a breakfast option. It’s great fuel pre/post-workout since it has quality carbohydrates and fats. Plus it is easy to have the squash on-hand and already cooked to save time.
  2. Chia seed pudding. This is a great meal for those of you who don’t tolerate a heavy breakfast. (I usually use this as a dessert, but it can be either.) Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fats. They are inexpensive when you buy them in bulk, and they are super fun! Choose an unsweetened milk such as almond or coconut. Use about a half cup of milk to a quarter cup of chia seeds and stir together. This is not an exact science. The goal is to get the chia seeds to soak up the milk and thicken it. Add in whatever you like to make it taste good. Some ideas are: cinnamon, maple syrup, mashed banana, vanilla bean, cocoa powder.
  3. Primal hot cereal. This is a grain-free oatmeal of sorts. If you have a food processor at home, you can make it in a few minutes. This is another option that should stick with you for a long time! Just throw a banana, a half cup of two types of nuts—macadamias, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, etc.—enough almond/coconut milk to work the food processor, and a pinch of salt and cinnamon in the machine, and pulse until smooth. You can add milk to desired consistency, and heat in the microwave or on the stove. This is excellent when heated and topped with blue or blackberries! You can sweeten to your liking. Also, if you want to take the easy way out, Paleo on the Go makes a version of instant Paleo hot cereal that is available on Amazon for $17.95 for 14 servings. It. Is. Delicious!

So there you have it! You no longer have an excuse not to consume a nutritious, delicious breakfast. Start your day off the right way, and notice how much better you feel for it.

Yours in Health,

Angie