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keeping active

Happy Wednesday!  Thank you all so much for the congrats!  We are so excited to have a little one on the way! 🙂

It feels so great to have our baby news out in the open…it will make it so much easier for me to post my meals and recipes and tips.  I don’t have to worry about slipping with cravings or if what I eat is just plain wierd!

I woke up yesterday morning and snacked on 2 slices of toast with maple almond butter.  Then, I headed outside for a run.  I have been trying to keep as active as I can because I think that it will help me throughout my pregnancy.  There are wonderful benefits to working out while pregnant, but I just have to remember to listen to my body and rest if that is what I need.

I make sure to always carry water with me (or stop at the water fountains frequently) in order to keep hydrated!  I definitely get tired more quickly now, but I still feel good while running (and swimming and walking).  It is nice to not worry about time, just to run by how I feel.  I have really been enjoying it!

I walked for about 10 minutes, ran for 35 minutes, then walked for another 10 minutes.  I love my warm-ups and cool-downs now, whereas before, I hated them and often skipped them!

After my run, I whipped up a smoothie to get some nutrients and protein.

In the mix:

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup hemp milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen berries (cherries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • shake of cinnamon

Blended in the Vita-Mix for about 30 seconds until smooth.  And, served in my new glass smoothie jar!

I saw this idea awhile ago, but just got around to having my Dad drill a hole in the lid.  Just take a glass mason jar, drill a hole in the plastic lid and enjoy your smoothie.  It fits my glass straws perfectly!  And, I don’t have to worry about plastic or anything spilling.  I love it.

Smoothie’s taste great on humid days.

When lunch time rolled around, I didn’t really want my packed lunch.  So, I stopped at Panera Bread for a salad.

BBQ Chopped Salad with romaine, corn, black beans, peppers, tomatoes and tortilla strips.  Ranch dressing and BBQ sauce on the side.

I drizzled on a little BBQ sauce and shook it up.  It was a great salad dressing!

After my salad, I snacked on some a lot of dried canteloupe spears.

I skipped my afternoon snack today because I wasn’t very hungry, and surprisingly I still wasn’t hungry when I got home!  For some reason, I haven’t been very hungry at night…but, I know I need the extra fuel!

Dinner was simple, but so delicious!  A salad with CSA greens, dried cranberries, kaia curry flavored sprouted sunflower seeds and honey balsamic dressing.

And, a grilled cheese with apple on flax grain bread.

This was a perfect light dinner…and it made it feel like fall with the apples.

We’re having a pizza party tonight!  Have a great day. 🙂

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my favorite things – part two

Welcome to Part Two of my favorite things!  I hope you enjoy.

Coconut

Mmmm…coconut!  Coconuts provide a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations.  Each part of the coconut can be used!  Coconut is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The meat, milk and oil do have fat, but once again, they are the good fat.  The type that your body uses to survive.

I love coconut!  I use unsweetened shredded coconut in my baking and sprinked on meals.  The oil is wonderful for baking as well!

Honey

Raw, unprocessed honey has been shown to be an antiseptic, antioxidant and cleansing property for our bodies.  It has powerful healing attributes that promote healing for cuts and scrapes.  It also works wonders on dry skin!

My favorite way to use honey is as an energy booster while on my long distance runs.  It has just the right amount of sugar to give you that extra push for the last few miles.  Plus, it is much more natural and healthier for you than all the energy gels out there.

Honey is also wonderful mixed in tea, used in place of sugar in baking, drizzled in stirfry’s and so much more!

Almond Butter

When choosing a nut butter, make sure to look at the ingredient list!  Many on store shelves contain high fructose corn syrup and a lot of sugar.  Choose all natural nut butters.  My favorite is almond butter – made up purely of almonds!

I enjoy almond butter the most, but any natural nut butters are delicious.  They provide you with healthy fats that will keep you satisfied for a long time.  It has been shown that people who eat nuts or nut butter often consume fewer calories throughout the day because they keep you satisfied.

Check out my info on almonds in Part One!

Hemp Seeds

Hemp is everywhere these days!  Hemp seeds, hemp milk, hemp protein powder…I love it all.  Hemp seeds are very high in soluable protein which makes them easy to digest.  They also contain all of the 9 essential amino acids that your body needs.  Essential amino acids are ones that the body cannot produce on its own.

Hemp protein powder is just ground hemp seeds.  I prefer hemp protein powder over others because of the way it makes me feel.  It does not cause bloating or gas as others do.

Add a tablespoon or two of hemp powder to your smoothie in the morning, or sprinkle some hemp seeds on your salads for a nutty crunch!

Quinoa

Quinoa is the seed of a plant, but many people think of it and use it as a grain in place of rice, pasta, etc.  Like hemp, quinoa is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs.  It also contains high levels of iron and magnesium, which will help your body feel more alert and will decrease your changes of developing hypertension or heart disease.

I absolutely love quinoa!  We cook with it a lot by adding it to stirfry’s, making quinoa burgers, adding it to salads and using it as a breakfast cereal.   You cannot go wrong.  Cook a big pot on Sunday night and eat it throughout the week!

Sea Salt

Too much salt is not good for anyone, but a little salt added to your baking and cooking will not cause you much harm.  Adding salt to your food can immensly add to the flavor, but season properly.  Only use what you need!  By cooking your own meals, you can control how much salt you are adding to a dish.  Restaurants and frozen meals use way to much salt!

The grayer the salt the better…and sea salt is much better for you than table salt.  Gray salt is minimally processed, while table salt is highly processed!

Bananas

Bananas could easily be my favorite food.  I love them in smoothies, oatmeal, spread with nut butter, eaten plain and on-the-go!  I love them for breakfast, with lunch, as a snack and sauteed with a little brown sugar for dessert.  I eat at least one banana almost everyday.

Luckily, bananas are good for you!  They contain tons of potassium, which helps to prevent high blood pressure, cramping (side-stitches) and restore your electrolyte balance.  They also help your body to absorb calcium.

I buy bananas in bulk.  I keep some on the counter to grab and go, but also keep a container in my freezer with frozen bananas for smoothies!

Pepitas

One of my favorite parts of the fall is carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds!  I sprinkle a little salt on top and pop them in the oven until slightly crispy – yum!  Well, you don’t have to wait until halloween rolls around to enjoy pumpkin seeds, just buy some pepitas.

Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are a nutritional powerhouse.  They contain high levels of magnesium, iron, protein and zinc amongst other things.  They also contain anti-inflamatory properties and can help to lower your cholesterol.

Try adding a tablespoon to your smoothies, salads, trail mix or sauteed veggies!

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are the seeds of the cacao fruit.  Once removed from their pods, the beans taste like a bitter rich dark chocolate.  To get to the chocolate bars we eat today, those cacao beans are highly processed and mixed with a lot of sugar (and milk to make milk chocolate).  Check out more here.

Dark chocolate is the least processed, but make sure that you are buying chocolate that does not have many other ingredients added to it.  Most good, high quality dark chocolate is minimally processed, but you might need to pay a little more for it.  The darker the chocolate, the better.  Many bars only contain 50% cocoa or less!  Look for bars with a higher cocoa content.

Dark chocolate is my downfall.  I just love it!  The darker the better!  I read all of the ingredients before purchasing a bar, and try to buy organic when I can.  However, a little added sugar isn’t going to kill you!  (P.s…the Trader Joes dark chocolate bar pictured above is one of my favorites!)

Almond Milk

We all know by now that I love almonds…and almond milk is no different.  Almond milk is a healthy milk alternative.  It does not contain nearly as much protein as cow’s or soy milk, but I prefer the taste…and get my protein in other ways.  I prefer the Pacific Natural Foods brand because it does not contain any soy products.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about why some milk substitutes are better than others, but I won’t bore you.  I just prefer the taste of almond milk over others!  I am planning to try to make my own one of these days.

Use almond milk as you would use any milk product – in cereal, oatmeal, smoothies or with cookies!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That wraps up my favorite things.  I hope you enjoyed the small sampling of some of my favorites!

almond butter quesadilla

Yay for Friday’s!  I am really looking forward to a nice low-key weekend at home.

I woke up this morning and wanted juice!  So, that is what I made.

Carrots, celery, ginger, orange, apple.

    This was a perfect amount of sweet and spicy (from the ginger).

    I also had a small bowl of cereal with 1/4 cup Kashi puffs, 1/4 cup Uncle Sam’s cereal, 1/4 cup museli and 1/2 cup almond milk.

    Juice just doesn’t really fill me up.  So, I needed a little something else.

    Mid-morning, I snacked some some dried strawberries and dried kiwi.  Have you guys seen Nuts Online?  They have the best selection of dried fruit…and offer organic unsweetened dried fruit, which is hard to find!  The strawberries are the best.

    Then, I got creative for lunch! 🙂

    Almond Butter Banana Quesadillas

    I started with a whole wheat flatbread.  I love the Whole Foods brand because they are delicious and have a small ingredient list.

    And spread 1/2 with chunky almond butter.  This was Trader Joe’s Valencia AB with Flaxseeds and salt.

    And, a small sliced banana.

    With a shake of ground cinnamon.

    Then, I folded it over and grilled it on the panini pan until warm and gooey.

    This was so good!  Just what I wanted for Friday lunch.

    With a cherry Crofter’s jam ‘dipping’ sauce – YUM!

    On the side, I had a pineapple Chobani with a kiwi.

    I thought that I was going to hit up the gym tonight, so I snacked on some coconut water and a homemade granola bar around 4pm.  But, I ended up just coming home and taking a long walk.  The weather changed from overcast and chilly to sunny and warm…I couldn’t pass it up.

    Dinner was back to Bean Chili leftovers.

    Tonight, after heating up the chili, I added a little milk in order to get rid of a little spice. I’m not going to lie – this chili has a kick!  The milk worked great to take away a little spice, though.

    Topped with a few Mary’s Sticks & Twigs and some mexican shredded cheese.

    I love this Chili!  I haven’t gotten sick of it yet.

    I’m thinking of some dried fruit, ice cream or chocolate for dessert. 🙂

    can’t get enough

    I love waking up to the sun shining through my windows!  It makes waking up so much easier, even though it means that I slept through my alarm and missed my run!  Oh well.

    Breakfast was a little different today!  I had an opened container of cottage cheese that needed to be used up.  So, I had the following:

    2 slices of Millet toast with nut butter, cottage cheese and jam & a grapefruit.


    One slice was spread with my homemade sunflower seed butter, cottage cheese and blueberry jam.  The other was spread with homemade pistachio coconut butter and cottage cheese.

    This was my first time trying the nut butters (besides eating them straight out of the jar!), and I was shocked at how good they were!  Tonight, I am trying out another nut butter creation, so stay tuned.

    Mid-morning, I was hungry so I snacked on a homemade granola bar.

    Due to my late snack, I was not hungry for lunch until almost 2pm, which was leftover Lentil Almond Stirfry!  Picture is from last night.

    It was still just as delicious.  I love lentils.  I rarely cook them, but I definitely have to start having them more often.  Lentils are great for your heart, and very high in iron.

    After dinner, I went on a 5.5 mile run.  The sun was shining and I needed some fresh air before dinner.  I ran along the water and there was a great cool breeze.  Very refreshing!

    We kept dinner simple tonight with Kale Chips and Sauteed Veggies with brown rice.

    I sauteed the veggies in a little olive oil.  It was a mix of onions, red and orange peppers and broccoli.  Then, mixed in the rice and made up a little sauce of orange juice, ginger and soy sauce.

    Simple, delicious weeknight dinners are the best.

    After dinner, I whipped up another nut butter – Roasted Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter!!

    My absolute favorite almond butter is Justin’s Maple Almond Butter, so when Ashley from Edible Perspective had a recipe for Roasted Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter yesterday, I knew I had to make it right away!!!

    I followed her recipe exactly, but doubled it because I knew that I would love it.  See recipe here.

    She bakes the almonds drenched in maple syrup in the oven which I think really makes the recipe.

    All you do is dump the roasted almonds, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt into a food processor and blend for about 10-15 minutes.  Instead of grapeseed oil, I used coconut oil.  You can’t even taste it, but it makes the nut butter blend much easier.

    The result was a maple-cinnamon masterpiece!  It is seriously the best homemade nut butter ever!

    This is definitely something to make asap!

    fajita party

    It was absolutely gorgeous this morning!  I woke up and did Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones video, then I looked outside.  The sun was rising and it looked gorgeous out, so I laced up my sneaks and hit the road for a 45 minute run.  It was so nice to just be outside.  I love days like this, although it got cloudier and cloudier by the minute this afternoon.

    Before my workout, I snacked on a KIND bar.  After my run, I whipped up yet another smoothie!  This time, I added something new and different  – Vega Smoothie Infusion.  Last time I was at Whole Foods, I picked up a few different smoothie packets to try.  This was one of them!

    Vega Smoothie Infusion is completely plant based.  It contains pea protein, hemp protein, sprouted flax seeds, brown rice protein and a green foods blend (including spirulina, wheat grass, spinach, broccoli, kale, etc).  The smoothie mixture is a perfect blend of protein, Omega-3’s and green foods.  It seems similar to the Amazing Grass mixes I used the last few weeks.  I liked the addition of this in my smoothie, but I also just like adding my hemp protein.  On the go, this would be perfect.

    Mango Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

    • 1 frozen banana
    • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
    • 1/2 cup frozen mango
    • 1 packet Vega Smoothie Infusion
    • 1 tsp maca
    • 1 tsp chia seeds
    • 1 cup water

    It was a delicious combo – I love the mango in smoothies!

    Mid-morning, I snacked on some blurry cantaloupe. 🙂  I forgot how delicious cantaloupe is!

    Then, lunch came around and I was starving!  Good thing I packed an awesome salad today.

    Spinach with chickpeas, kumquats, pecans, medjool dates and red pepper with pear infused vinegar.  YUM, YUM, YUM!!

    I also made 1/2 an Almond Butter & Jelly Sandwich on Tuscan Wheat.  I really felt like something more substantial than my salad today.  This hit the spot – I forget how much I love plain PB&J (or in this case AB&J).

    Great lunch!

    For dinner we broke out an oldie, but goodie – Fajitas!!

    We chopped up an onion and peppers, and sauteed them in olive oil, paprika and essence.

    While they were cooking, Brant cooked up some chicken seasoned with essence on the grill.  And, I got the toppings ready to go.

    All set up and ready to serve.

    I feasted on some veggies with salsa and cheese, and 1/2 an avocado.

    All wrapped up in a whole wheat wrap.

    The avocado was a great addition to the fajita’s!

    nuts are good for you

    Yuck!  What another gross day!  Luckily, I had a gym workout planned so I headed to my spinning class this morning.  Love the instructor on Thursday’s – she kicks your butt!  My legs are literally still shaking 8 hours later.

    Breakfast part 1 was eaten right after the gym -a protein smoothie!

    • 1 cup frozen berry mix
    • 1 cup almond milk
    • 2 tbsp hemp protein powder
    • 1 tbsp honey

    Breakfast part 2 was after I got ready for work – an ezekial cinnamon raisin english muffin with almond haze and blueberry jam.

    I love the Futter’s Almond Haze with its chunks of hazelnuts and almonds.  And, the Blueberry (North America) Crofter’s Superfruit Jam is by far the best flavor!

    I spread 1/2 with the nut butter and 1/2 with the jam.  Delicious!

    The morning flew by, so lunch time came very quickly.  Last night I prepared my lunch for the day so I wouldn’t be rushing – salad, pineapple and yogurt.  All stacked up and ready to go.

    My salad contained green leaf lettuce, wheatberries, cheddar cheese and golden beets.

    I also packed some snacks for today, since spinning days always seem to make me more hungry!

    2 graham crackers, honey peanut butter and an apple!

    Dinner will be a little later tonight for our dinner party, so this snack will hopefully hold me over.

    In other news, it looks like nuts are finally making a comeback!  For years, so many women have been nervous to eat nuts because of the high fat content.  It is true that you should only eat them in small portions due to the high fat, but it is all good fats which are healthy and essential for your body.  Studies have shown that people who eat more nuts normally eat less overall because they keep them full and satisfied for longer.  Check out this article: Once a diet no-no, nuts are in again.  I have already eaten nut butter twice today!

    See you after dinner!

    ANDI scores?

    Howdy!  How is everyone’s Tuesday going?  I had a great run at the gym this morning.  I completed 7 miles with 8 x 1200 in 60 minutes!  That is pretty good for me.  I felt great running, and felt like I could have even increased my speed a bit – maybe next time.  I made my way from the treadmills and into the weight room and it was packed!!!  I don’t know what was going on, but I have never seen my gym that crowded.  So, no weights at the gym for me this morning, instead I might head back tonight for a quick weight session or just skip it altogether!

    After my workout, I blended up a fruit smoothie with the following:

    • 5 ice cubes
    • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
    • 2/3 cup frozen strawberries
    • 1 cup frozen pineapple
    • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
    • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
    • 1 cup almond milk

    Not my best smoothie, but it did the trick.  I was craving fruit, so I guess I haven’t been eating enough of it!

    Along with my smoothie, I had a slice of whole wheat toast with Maple Almond Butter.

    After a busy morning at work, I was ready to dig into my leftover Cannellini Patties (on a bed of greens with cherry tomatoes – same deal as yesterday!).

    On the side, Honey Chobani and Granola Crisps.

    I wish this greek yogurt had real honey on the bottom, but instead it is already mixed in for you.  I’m going to stick with my plain greek yogurt and add my own drizzle of honey.  Yum!  The granola crisps are a little sweet, but good.

    While I was shopping at Whole Foods this week, I noticed something new on the bulk bins.  We went to get some quinoa and there staring us in the face was the ANDI score.

    I was not familiar with this scoring system, but I assumed that it was similar to the NuVal scores.  Remember my post about my shopping trip?  There were scores on various products all throughout the store, including a few signs to alert shoppers to the scores.

    These signs caught my attention:

    When we got home, I did some research on the ANDI scores.  This is what I found.  ANDI stands for Aggregrate Nutrient Density Index and was was created to identify foods with the highest nutritional value.  When giving scores they consider the most important nutrients that are vital for our optimal health.

    From the Dedham, MA Whole Foods Market Blog:

    And the best news is that you don’t need to count calories or obsess over fat.  The ANDI formula is very simple: ANDI = Nutrients divided by Calories.  So the highest scoring foods have the fewest calories and virtually no fat.  Foods are ranked on a scale of 1 to 1000.  Kale and collards receive the top score of 1000 while cola lands at the bottom of the scale with a 1.

    Before you go jumping to conclusions, I want to emphasize once again that just because a food falls at the bottom of the list (or doesn’t make it on the top 30 list) does not mean that it is not healthy or that you should not eat it.  ANDI was not developed to be totally inclusive of all nutritional factors, but rather its focus is on micronutrients present per calorie.  Most Americans consume too many calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates while their overall diets are lacking in vital nutrients like beta carotene, folate, vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemicals.  Our bodies need essential fatty acids (from both animal & plant-based foods), amino acids from protein-rich foods and carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and whole grains.   Fat, protein and carbohydrates contain calories (they are “macronutrients”); it’s a fact of life.   Since the ANDI equation is “Nutrients divided by Calories,” foods containing the most calories score lower on the scale even though they may offer important health benefits (such as walnuts which I mentioned previously).  But that’s OK.  ANDI encourages the consumption of more nutrient-dense foods because most people aren’t eating enough of them.   You can choose to do with it what you wish.

    Interesting.  I think that Whole Foods is launching a great campaign by trying to make people more conscious of the food that they eat, but I am interested to see if people can use this system easily or even have knowledge of it.  Next time I visit Whole Foods, I will definitely be watching to see if customers use it!

    Top 30 Super Foods with ANDI Scores

    1. Collard/Mustard/Turnip Greens…1000

    2. Kale ………………………………………1000

    3. Watercress ……………………………..1000

    4. Bok Choy ……………………………….. 824

    5. Spinach …………………………………. 739

    6. Broccoli Rabe …………………………. 715

    7. Chinese/Napa Cabbage …………… 704

    8. Brussels Sprouts …………………….. 672

    9. Swiss Chard …………………………… 670

    10. Arugula ……………………………….. 559

    11. Cabbage ………………………………. 481

    12. Romaine Lettuce …………………… 389

    13. Broccoli ……………………………….. 376

    14. Red Pepper …………………………… 366

    15. Carrot Juice ………………………….. 344

    16. Tomato/Tomato Products ………. 190 – 300

    17. Cauliflower …………………………… 295

    18. Strawberries …………………………. 212

    19. Pomegranate Juice ………………… 193

    20. Blackberries …………………………. 178

    21. Plum ……………………………………. 157

    22. Raspberries …………………………… 145

    23. Blueberries ……………………………. 130

    24. Orange …………………………………. 109

    25. Cantaloupe ……………………………. 100

    26. Beans (all varieties) …………………. 57 – 104

    27. Flax/Sunflower/Sesame Seeds ….. 52 – 78

    28. Pistachios ………………………………. 48

    29. Tofu ………………………………………. 37

    30. Walnuts ………………………………….. 34

    To me, it does not seem like it is as easy a system as NuVal.  If a food product is good for us, NuVal ranks is high.  I am afraid that when people see this list of superfoods with ANDI scores that they will think that walnuts (34) and strawberries (212) are not good for them because they have relatively low scores compared to kale which scores 1000!

    For more information on ANDI scores, check out this article on Fooducate.

    Personally, I’m not sure I would use the scores.  I will obviously look at them if they are there, but I like to think that I know enough about good, healthy, whole foods to know what is good for me and my body.  Consumers should educate themselves on what they need and go from there.  However, I hope that the many people who are unsure of healthy foods will use the scores to help them!