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.
In honor of Earth Month, I’m encouraging you to spend some time outdoors especially at your local parks! Here’s a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout I filmed in Central Park – NYC around this time last year. Try it for yourself during your next park visit. Outdoor workouts provide several added benefits over working out indoors. Not to mention, in great weather they’re just more fun!
Also, here’s a cool info-graphic I received from my sponsors at Honest Tea. They surveyed over 2,000 people across the US seeking to learn how our parks (both local and national) impact us today. They learned over 54% of Americans wished they spent more time outdoors, and 41% said they go to the park to get away from the hustle and bustle, and restore mental clarity. With that knowledge, me and my Honest Tea sponsors are challenging you to return to the parks this spring to refresh—mind, body and soul. Our goal is to see people empowered to become advocates for their park—be it a national park, or the one just around the corner. Honest Tea will be rewarding people for taking a “selfie” at any park via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag it with #ParkYourThirst.
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).
Wow – I can’t believe 2 years have passed since the first GRIT by Brit blog post. To celebrate our 2nd blogiversary I’m having a giveaway – yay! The first 10 people to post a gym selfie on Instagram with hashtag #gritbybrit will receive a free GRIT by Brit workout tank top. You can check out the styles at my eStore. I’ll message the winners for their mailing address and size (S/M/L/XL). Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram @GRITbyBrit.
Let’s also take a little trip down memory lane. First up, CLICK HERE to read the inaugural GRIT by Brit workout from March of 2012 – I called it the “Sexy Ladies Sweat Sesh” (wink wink). Also, here’s a recap of the 5 posts I most enjoyed writing this past year. While all of my posts have sentimental value, these 5 especially stand out. Hopefully these can be your pleasure reading for the week.
Hey gang! Here’s your workout for the week. While I’m a big fan of equipment-free workouts, I decided to switch it up this week and incorporate a personal favorite fitness toy – the Bosu Ball! I chose the Bosu Ball because it made my GRIT by Brit Holiday Fitness Gift picks back in December. Bosu exercises are great for increasing stability and working the core. They’re also a nice change-up from typical dumbbell or barbell workouts.
After designing and testing this routine, I assure you’ll get a serious sweat and feel toned and tight throughout your core. The exercises quickly elevate your heart rate making this workout a good option for days when you’re short on time. The entire workout takes about 10 minutes and you can expect to burn ~100-150 calories. For best results, knock this out everyday for 5 days straight. See below for instructional images to guide you – enjoy!
Alright, you guys asked for it so here it is, another Lose the Pooch Workout. In case you missed the last one, you can CLICK HERE check it out. Now, before I get started, you should know that the abs, or rectus abdominus, is actually all ONE muscle group that forms an “8-pack.” So you can’t really work your lower abs without working your upper abs (and vise versa).
However, there are some exercises that really target the lower region of the abdominals. I selected a few of my favorites and effectively sequenced them to create the GRIT by Brit Lose the Pooch Workout. For best results, complete this workout 2-3 times per week for 4 weeks. Also, be sure monitor your diet by avoiding foods and habits that cause bloating (i.e. too much sodium and lack of water consumption).
Hey guys! I hope you are enjoying your weekend and looking forward to a wonderful week ahead. As you plan for your weekly grind, I just wanted to share a little nutritional nugget of wisdom. Now, you guys know that I firmly believe getting an early start to the day. That’s right, 5:30 am wake up call! There are numerous wellness benefits of being an “early bird” – get up and get that worm! Not only does waking up early help your productivity, but doing so also entices you to eat breakfast which gets your metabolism going.
When it comes to weight-management, studies show, it’s not just HOW MUCH you eat but WHEN you eat that affects your weight. Long story short, here’s why you should eat your BIG meals EARLY in the day and skip late night snacking…
People who eat after 8pm have higher Body Mass Indexes (BMI) than those who don’t
Calories consumed at night are not processed as efficiently as those during the day
Sleep disruption is likely if your stomach is working hard to process food
You are likely to eat larger portions later in the day than earlier (Weil Cornell Medical Research)
At night, you are most likely eating out of boredom, NOT because you are genuinely hungry
That said, you’re probably now asking, “How can I consume calories earlier in the day instead of later?” Well, search no further. I put together this list of 5 Tips to Eat Breakfast Like a King and Dinner Like a Beggar. Check it out 🙂
As a group fitness instructor I see several hard workingmen and women regularly attend the gym and still have difficulty losing weight. They log hours of cardio, eat “low-fat” foods and have loyalty cards to Smoothie King but nothing seems to work. Personally, I also struggled with weight loss until my personal trainer at the time (Thank you Sam!) gave me some “real talk.” See, many of the tips and tricks I learned from my mom and friends were flat out wrong. The reality is that our bodies are really smart and really efficient. Therefore we have to shock them in order to get the results we want. We also have to respect the principles of Biology – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories that you consume.” So with these nuggets of wisdom in mind, I also wanted to share the 5 biggest weight loss lies that led me astray for several years…
Must Do More Cardio – Okay, it’s true that minute for minute, cardio burns more calories than weight training.However, if your usual 30-45 minutes on the elliptical or recumbent bike isn’t doing the trick, it’s because you’re heart rate is getting elevated enough. In order to burn a lot of calories, you have work really hard. Yea, like sucking air at times. You heart rate need to reach the anaerobic zone (60-85% of your max heart rate). This is why interval training is so effective. In interval training, you sprint for 20-30 seconds then take a quick rest and repeat. In fact, you can burn twice as man calories in 10 minutes of interval training as compared to 10 minutes of regular, steady pace cardio activity. The truth is that harder, smarter cardio is the key to weight loss, not more cardio.
Skip Meals to Drop Pounds – Skipping meals keeps you from losing weight in 2 key ways: First, doing so makes you binge eat later in the day because you’re starving. Binge eating stretches out your stomach and allows you to consume far too many calories. Also, eating large meals late in the day leaves minimal opportunity for you to burn off the calories (because you are going to sleep soon and the food just sits in your tummy). Second, starving yourself slows down your metabolism which makes it harder for you to burn calories and harder for you to lose weight. Long story short, don’t skip meals. Eat 5 small meals throughout the day that are high in lean protein and fiber. It actually takes true grit to plan 5 healthy meals than to skip breakfast and lunch and indulge in one giant dinner.
Focus on Fat Reduction – This may come as a shock, but the truth is“Fat (in moderation) is GOOD, Sugar is BAD.” We need fat for bodily functions. “Fats help you absorb vitamins A, D, and E, and they are vital for your nervous system.” – Barbara Roberts, MD, director of the Women’s Cardiac Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence. The key is to eat unsaturated fats like olive oil and olives, canola oil, almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds and avocados. “Several studies have shown that eating small amounts of nuts helps dieters lose weight because the fiber and protein help dieters feel full longer. Dieters are less like to overeat and more successful at losing weight.” – WebMD 2013Sugar on the other hand is the devil when it comes to weight loss. Sugar absorbs quickly, provides minimal nutritional value, makes you hungry and then turns into bad fat if you don’t immediately burn it off. When making a food decisions, always take unsaturated fats over sugar if weight loss is your goal.
Smoothies Make You Skinny – The truth is that most smoothies are loaded with sugar and too much sugar makes you fat. Now, smoothies are good for meal replacements every once in a while as long as they are made with raw fruits and veggies (not fruit juice) and if they include protein. Be sure to ask for a scoop of whey protein in your smoothie so that you will feel fuller and help offset the sugar spike. Be careful about having smoothies for snacks as you can easily pack on an extra 300-400 calories without even realizing it.
My Genetics Make me Overweight – “While genes strongly decide the shape of your body, peoples’ lifestyle (primarily eating too much and moving too little) is by far the main reason they’re [overweight]. Research has shown that our eating and exercise habits are heavily influenced by the people we spend time with the most, which is likely the main reason we see obesity running in families. Genes have an influence, but it’s relatively minor for the vast majority of humans.” – Melinda Johnson, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The moral of the story is, “Get rid of the genetics excuse and get you some fit friends.” – Brit For realz.
May the weight-loss TRUTH set you free. xoxo, Brit
Hey everyone! I hope that you enjoyed a nice relaxing weekend and got to watch Beyonce rock it out at the opening of the Grammy’s #getitgurl. Just wanted to quickly spread some good news – GRIT by Brit made Greastist.com’s 60 Must-Read Health, Fitness, and Happiness Blogs for 2014! We are #19 on the list for the best “Strength Training & CrossFit blogs.”
CLICK HERE to access the complete list. It’s full of amazing blogs with high-quality, uplifting fitness, nutrition and wellness content.
Most importantly, I want to express my deepest thanks for following my blog and creating such a loving, supportive and fierce GRIT community. I wish you a wonderful week ahead!