Happy Thursday my friends. I hope your week is going well. It’s freezing cold in Dallas today – WTF! I’m so not ready for cold weather, boo! I just finished teaching my usual, back to back cycling classes at BEYOND Pedaling and when I left the studio I felt like my sweat immediately transformed into icicles.
Fortunately, I have no plans this evening so I’m going to curl up at my bachelorette pad and cook a yummy dinner. I recently had a delicious butternut squash pizza at True Food Kitchen (love that place) which got me in full-on “butternut squash recipe mode.”
I bought myself a butternut squash earlier this week and just just chopped it up and roasted it. The squash I bought is huge, so I can make lots of different dishes. I did some web research and discovered 5 butternut squash recipes that I’m determined to try before the end of the month. They all look amazing!
Nutrition Tip: Not only is this butternut squash delicious, it’s loaded with anti-oxidants, fiber and Vitamin A (more Vitamin A than pumpkins). It’s also low in calories (only about 45 per serving) and has no saturated fats or cholesterol.
Have you made any of the dishes below? Let me know!
Recently I tried (and became obsessed) with Ladera Natural Almond Pecan Granola. Ordinarily I try to stay away from granola because I tend to overeat it and consequently consume way too much sugar. However, I do enjoy a Greek yogurt parfait occasionally because I can set some healthy boundaries and control the granola portion. When I tried Ladera granola I was instantly hooked because it tastes amazing – the original almond pecan flavor has a delicious, cinnamon, maple nutty taste. Better yet, 1 serving has only 4g of sugar – YAY! So this morning I whipped up my own “Perfect Power Protein Parfait” for breakfast and of course I have to share the recipe with you guys. Altogether it’s only 300 calories, loaded with protein and kept me feeling full throughout the morning. Try it for yourself this week by following these 4 simple steps…
Step 1: Start with a single serving of Greek Yogurt
It’s Spring – yippee! In warmer weather I often feel weird eating soup because it seems like such a “cold weather thing.” However I’d like to keep up my soup consumption because doing so is great for weight management. Studies show that people who sip on soup before their meal are more likely eat fewer calories at their meal. Better yet, soup eaters often skip on dessert because they feel full.
Unfortunately, I can’t get down with most Spring inspired cold soups like gazpacho and chilled veggie puree concoctions – just not my thing. So I researched some nutritious and delicious, hot “Spring Soup” recipes to share with you guys. The following Spring Minestrone by Hank Shaw intrigued me because it’s low in fat yet high in protein. More importantly it sounds light and tasty and seems pretty simple to prepare. If you don’t spend much time in the kitchen (no judgement here) I highly recommend the soup bar at Whole Foods – particularly the Moroccan Lentil and White Bean Kale. Try to avoid cream based soups since they are higher in calories and fat.
1 Chop the green onions and green garlic and separate the white and light green parts from the green tops. If you are using regular garlic cloves, put them with the white parts of the green onions. Slice the potatoes and artichoke hearts into chunks you would want to eat with a spoon.
2 In a large pot set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onions as well as the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.
3 Add the diced tomatoes with their liquid and the quart of vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
4 Add the artichoke hearts and cook another 5 minutes, then add the chickpeas and green peas and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the cover from the soup and add the asparagus. Cook 2 minutes. Add the greens and the green parts from the green onions and green garlic, if using. Stir well to combine and cook 1 minute.
5 Turn off the heat and stir in the pesto. Serve topped with grated cheese.
As a self-proclaimed “FalafeLover” (and “many-other-foods-lover”) in Brooklyn, grabbing a yummy meal at one of the Big Apple’s thousands of amazing eateries is pretty par-for-the-course when it comes to socializing & enjoying New York City life.
BUT, eating out’s not always super budget friendly…
(9 bucks for a measly chicken sandwich… Say what??)
In an effort to save some moola, I committed to avoiding (*almost* all) restaurant-dining in March – as part of my blog series, where I challenge myself to add or eliminate a new “habit” each month. My overall goal for this challenge was to food shop and cook more frugally, without sacrificing the nutritional quality of my meals.
One major take-away has been learning how to better navigate the aisles of my local grocery store, and identify the most low-cost/nutrient-dense foods. News flash to the health-and-budget conscious: healthy home-cooking can still be quite expensive (especially in the city), IF you’re not savvy about it….
….But have no fear, Falafelover is here! To let you know that it IS possible to eat well without breaking your bank account. And now presenting…
FalafeLover’s TOP HEALTHY/CHEAP GROCERY LIST
Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat bread
Potatoes (white or sweet)
Canned beans (any kind – but my fav is Garbanzo, obviously, being a Falafelover, and all :))
Tofu (extra firm for highest protein content)
Canned tuna or sardines (in water)
Cottage cheese (plain, low-fat)
Peanut butter (without added sugar/salt)
Raw nuts (unsalted, in bulk – more cost-effective)
Bonus tips for getting most nutritional bang for your buck:
Go for the generic brand whenever you have the option– there’s almost always no difference in the quality
For canned beans, make sure to rinse out the excess salt
Cook a big pot of rice or pasta for the week, and then portion it out and use as a base for different stir-fries, soups, etc.
Produce prices ebb and flow big time depending upon what season we’re in. Berries are cheaper in summer, and squash is cheaper in fall/winter, for example. Go for the produce that’s in-season when you can (it’s fresher and yummier, too).
Don’t worry about buying organic. It’s not worth it, in my opinion. Just wash your produce well, and you’ll be good to go.
Skip the protein/granola/energy bars and make your own healthy snacks, like a DIY trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and little pieces of chocolate.
Invest in a water bottle and enjoy nature’s healthiest and cheapest form of hydration, H20! Skip the vitamin-infused stuff (way over priced for the lack of nutritional value it offers) and the juice (fresh fruit is cheaper – 30 cents for an orange versus 1 or 2 bucks for a bottle of OJ).
Hello my luvs! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend – spending time with friends and family and eating delicious food. I certainly did. As we prepare for the week ahead, I wanted to share with you this awesome tip that my amazing Aunt (who happens to be a 6 feet tall former runway model – see photos below) shared with me during our family Turkey Day Feast…
As we shared our love for kale, I was complaining about not being able to keep my kale fresh and having to throw so much of it away since I travel every week for work. It’s nearly impossible to use a whole batch. HOWEVER, she showed me the cool way to store kale according to serving sizes which alleviates my problem. It goes like this:
Remove the large stems
Place kale in a plastic sack/bag
Separate the kale into the serving size you want with a twisty tie
Tie off each serving size
When you are ready to eat the kale, simply break off the end piece. It’s super easy to throw the serving into your Vitamix or Blender to make a green drink or to let it thaw and cook it. Yay! Stuff like this makes me want to be a vegetarian again! I hope you enjoy this tip as much as I did.
Hey gang! So a few days ago I completed the Dr. Oz & Joe Cross 3-Day Weekend Juice Cleanse. This is the second cleanse I’ve tried this year, and overall, I had pretty positive experience. I only lost 1 pound, but I do feel cleanand lean. Here are my confessions…
For starters, this cleanse was A LOT harder than the than the Dr. Oz DRINK cleanse. During the day, I was quite hungry which kind of sucked. As I mentioned in a previous post, juice has hardly any fiber and lots of sugar which triggers hunger. Controlling my hunger during the day was really hard on the first day but got better on the 2nd day. On a positive note, it made me drink more water and realize that I don’t really need that much food to get through the day. It’s crazy how often I eat just because I’m bored, not because I’m really hungry.
On that note, the cleanse allowed for 1 solid food meal for dinner every day. The meal could only consist of fruits and veggies. Unfortunately, I tended to go to overboard on this meal (yikes). I think it was because I was hungry and eagerly anticipating real food. Needless to say, my portions got a little out of control. I probably would have had better results with the cleanse if I ate a smaller dinner and didn’t stretch out my tummy so much.
Since I was traveling for work and had to buy my juices, I had to be very conscious of choosing “good juices.” Just because a juice is “all natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. Also, veggie juice is MUCH healthier than fruit juice – it has more fiber and protein and less sugar. If you are interested in doing this juice cleanse, but don’t have the time to go shopping all the time, then it might be a good idea for you to check out something like this Cashcoup site. However, just make sure to double check that the juice will be okay for you and your cleanse. I had to make sure my juice purchases met my 3 criteria:
No added sugar
Fresh pressed/squeezed (not from concentrate)
Believe it or not, it’s REALLY hard to buy juice off-the-shelf meets this criteria. BUT, I did find one that passed the test and also tastes great. It’s “Sweet Greens” by Evolution fresh – I highly recommend it!
All in all, the juice cleanse was an interesting experience. Will I do it again? Probably not. But I may start substituting fresh pressed juice for a meal every now and then, as it can be a good way to slim down quickly for a big event or something. Have you a done a juice cleanse before? What was it like for you? Please do share your words of wisdom 🙂
Hope you have a great week ahead. Love you tons! xoxo, Brit
I’m very close to my little cousin, Alicia – not only is she incredibly smart – as in, Harvard Law smart – and pretty – as in, Halle Berry pretty – but we have a great deal in common, including a keen focus on healthy lifestyles. While I’m the protein powder/weight-lifting/kick-my-own-booty-in-spinning brand of healthy, Alicia is the vegetarian/Pilates/outdoor-run kind of healthy – which is fun, because we can get a different perspective on health and fitness from each other. However, the whole vegetarian thing has always made me a bit skeptical – so the other evening on Skype, I asked Alicia how she manages to get enough protein in her diet. Aside from beans (which she loves, and I hate), she told me about chia seeds – which she described as a superfood and her new go-to source for protein. Wait, a superfood that I’ve never heard of? Impossible! So immediately I did some research, and happily discovered my new favorite superfood.
So what are chia seeds? Chia seeds are born from a plant in the mint family that is native to the Aztecs and Mayans in Mexico and Guatemala. Among other things, the Aztecs were quite accomplished herbalists, and according to ancient folklore, it was chia seeds that provided strength and courage to warriors and athletes, who were said to have survived on the seeds alone for weeks at a time. It wasn’t until Wayne Coates, a marathon-runner and professor of agricultural engineering at the University of Arizona, investigated these seeds in 1991, that the rest of the modern world started becoming aware of a potential new superfood. Coates told The Huffington Post: “Chia is the highest plant source of Omega-3s. It has tons of fiber, and even a lot of antioxidants and minerals. It’s 20 percent protein — which is, compared to wheat, or even soy, incredibly high.”
So what is it that makes these little seeds a superfood?
Chia seeds are high in protein, calcium, and iron
As Coates said, chia seeds are also contain Omega-3 fatty acids and potassium, as well as other disease-fighting antioxidants
Chia seeds are high in fiber – making your digestive system quite happy, and leaving you feeling full and satisfied for many hours.
Chia seeds are gluten free! This is great for people like myself, who are allergic to gluten!
Additionally, one of my favorite properties of chia seeds are that they help the body retain fluids and electrolytes – meaning my body stays hydrated – as well as helping build muscle and tissue, making it popular for athletes and strength trainers. For best results, get chia in the ground form for easier and faster absorption!
So after reading all of that, you’re probably thinking what I was: “What’s the catch? They probably taste horrible or are packed with calories.” To my (pleasant) surprise – one tablespoon of chia seeds is a mere 65 calories – plus, they don’t taste like much at all, making them easy to incorporate into your daily meals. However, these little guys get stuck in your teeth, so keep the dental floss handy.
Currently, my favorite way to ingest these little super seeds is in my morning breakfast shake. With little time for a properly cooked breakfast, I’m often blending up a quick shake before/after my morning workout. If I have the time, I’ll soak one tablespoon of chia seeds in water* for 10-15 minutes – they begin to open and become gel-like, making my smoothie thicker without changing the taste at all. (*One can soak chia seeds in any kind of liquid – including any kind of milk, which will have the same effect).
I was shocked to find the incredible versatility of the chia seeds – there are many uses, including:
1) Use chia as an egg substitute
1 tablespoon of finely ground chia seeds + 3 tablespoons of water = 1 egg in a baking recipe (not, for example, in an omelet :)).
2) Make a healthy pudding for dessert
2 cups of coconut milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (optional)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of sweetener (optional) – I would use honey!
Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and it will thicken nicely! As you’ve probably realized by now, the different flavor combinations are endless!
3) Thicken salad dressings and soups
Just by adding a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds (finely ground or not), will cause any dressing or soup to thicken (just let it stand for a few minutes). This also goes for things like meatballs – which can be thickened with chia seeds instead of breadcrumbs.
4) Make grain-free crackers!
There are several variations and recipes available online – I haven’t tried any of them yet, but they sound and look tasty!
5) And yes, as a Chia pet!
Want to reminisce and go back to the 1980s? Instead of buying your chia pet, just get a pot, add some dirt, sprinkle in some chia seeds, and water! Cha-cha-cha-chia! 🙂
I have a love/hate relationships with celebrities. I love the aspirational lifestyle, but hate the drama and shallowness. However, there are a few celebrities that truly motivate me to live a healthier lifestyle because they have BOTH a killer body and an awesome work ethic – beautiful on the inside and out, just how we like ’em!
My super star intern, Kendra (follow her on Instagram @socialitedivas), did some research on my favorite celebrities and the workouts that keep their bodies smoking hot. I’m gonna try to incorporate some of these workouts and health tips into my fitness routine. Who knows, I may have Kelly Rowland abs by the end of the Summer – watch out now! 😉
Workout like a rock star! Lots of luv, Brit
Eats fish and chicken with vegetables
Boot camp sessions
Snacks on Kale chips
Eats mostly healthy which includes: fruits, vegetables, grilled fish and meat.
1 hr in the gym every other day.
Cardio few times a week
Biking and cross training.
Cardio 3-4 times a week
Hiking, power walking/jogging, intervals on the treadmill, dancing, spinning.
Grains, lean cuts of meat/fish
Herbal teas and lots of water!
Loves the basic yoga pose – downward facing dog
Begin on a non-slip floor on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips.
Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor
Press palms into the floor and keep your head between your upper arms
Hold for 1 to 3 minutes then lower yourself back onto knees
Cardio & strength training
Use 3-pound dumbbell in each hand, step forward with one leg bend at the waist and all your arms to hang.
Round your arms, raise dumbbells to your sides until they’re in line with your shoulders.
Switch legs after 10 repetitiions aiming for three rounds of 20 repetitions each.
Bikram Yoga performed in a room in at least 105 degrees.
Most effective exercises for improving physical fitness
Make sure to check with a doctor before trying this class as it is not recommended for pregnant women and people with high blood pressure.
Squats with excercise ball and resistance band
Plank push ups
Ball hams with excercise ball
Standing inverted knee tuck with straight back and arabesque extend
So, I’ve officially completed the Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox. I personally wanted to try the detox because I’m a new vegetarian (5 months strong) and I’ve noticed that I’ve become sloppy (i.e. eating lots of simple carbs and fewer fruits and veggies). I’ve actually gained 3 pounds since I’ve become a vegetarian…not a good look. The Dr. Oz cleanse presented me with a great opportunity to get back on track it because it replaces meals with fruit/veggie drinks for 3 days. Click here to see the drink recipes. Overall, I give the Dr. Oz cleanse the “GRIT by Brit 2 thumbs up” and here’s why…
First off, I definitely got my fair share of veggies and fruits. Each drink consists of at least 3-4 servings of fruits/vegetables (sometimes more than I eat in an entire day). I feel like a born again vegetarian 🙂 Unlike most cleanses, each drink includes some sort of healthy fat (i.e. avocado, coconut oil, almond butter). This is really important because my body wasn’t deprived of essential nutrients AND I got an adequate amount of protein. Since I weight train 2-3 times per week, I HAVE to make sure that my protein intake is sufficient so that my muscles can repair themselves. I was also really impressed by how tasty each of the drinks are. I mean, who would guess blending mango, blueberries, cayenne pepper, avocado and coconut water would actually taste good?
Secondly, in only 3 days I lost 2.2 pounds 🙂 I’m 5’8″ and very muscular but I always try to keep my weight below 153 pounds. Still 1 more pound to go!
Also, I developed a new obsession = Epsom Salt and lavender oil baths! This was HEAVEN IN MY HOME! Daily soak sessions are a part of the Dr. Oz cleanse. Not only are they detoxifying, but they are SO relaxing and soothing! As a group fitness instructor I always have sore muscles and these baths were a perfect remedy for my muscle aches. I also discovered Dr. Teal’s Epsom + Lavender oil bath soak, so I can buy both ingredients already combined – yes!
Last, the cleanse has definitely helped me ween off coffee. I sometimes drink 4 cups a day…not good I know, but at least I’m honest. After going 3 days without coffee, I’ve realized that I don’t really need it. The cleanse calls for 1 cup of hot green tea ever morning which gave me a decent caffeine fix. However, I was a little groggy on some days without my Cup-a-Joe. This is something I’ll continue to work on.
Now that the cleanse is over, I’ve decided that this is not going to be a “one time thing” for me. I really loved the lunch drink, so today I’m having it for dinner before I head to yoga! I’m going to continue making these smoothies and drinking them as meal replacements every now and then. It’s an easy and efficient way to ensure I get enough fiber and my fruit/veggie fix.
If you are considering trying the Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox cleanse – I highly recommend it. Let me know how it goes!
So, some of my best friends have been ranting and raving about the great results they’ve had with the Dr. Oz Juice Cleanse. Have any of you tried the cleanse before? Were you successful? Obviously, I have serious FOMO (fear of missing out) and have to try it for myself. I already went shopping and bought all of my ingredients (see pic below).
I’m especially excited about bathing in Epsom Salt every night! Growing up, my mother (a true country woman) would ALWAYS make me bathe in Epsom Salt to help soothe mosquito bites, achy muscles or open scrapes from playground accidents. No matter the issue, an Epsom Salt bath was her go-to cure.
What’s really interesting about this “cleanse” is that the drinks actually include A LOT of food. I spent $90 at Central Market today buying all of the ingredients. If you look closely at each of the drinks, they each include almost 4 full servings of fruits and veggies – that’s AMAZING! I have a feeling that the drinks are going to be very filling 😉
Also, I’m infatuated with Coconut Oil right now. I like to use it on my skin and in my hair for deep conditioning, but never have I ingested it. This will be a first. Last, the almond butter, almond milk and flax seeds are nice additions to help ensure I get sufficient protein Altogether, this cleanse is HEALTHY, BALANCED and LEGIT according to GRIT by Brit!
Follow me on Twitter @GRITbyBrit for my pictures and progress updates over the next 3 days. Also, please share your cleanse stories if you’ve decided to try it too!
Hope you had a great weekend – CHOOSE to have a great week ahead!