Monday is for Matcha

While I do have quite the obsession with tea I have to admit, sometimes it doesn’t cut it when it comes to early mornings and studying. It was not until this past semester that I gave in to the allure of coffee and unfortunately since then it has become a part of my morning routine. Coffee can be a fantastic tool to get moving  but for some of us it has unwanted side effects. I personally struggle with anxiety and even one cup will keep me on my toes for the rest of the day. It’s good in the sense that it gives me that extra boost and helps me to focus early in the morning but there’s just something about that burst of caffeine that sends my anxiety levels through the roof. I’ve been searching for something that will give me the energy boost from coffee along with the calming effects of tea.

My solution-MATCHA.

Matcha is finely ground green tea. Instead of submerging a tea bag into water you are actually drinking the tea leaves themselves. It appears as a light green powder and can be consumed with just about anything. I have been drinking mine as tea and in smoothies but i’m sure it would taste great in a host of different drinks and even food! This green tea is specifically native to Japan and has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years. Monks are notorious for consuming the leaves to assist in meditation practices. It gives them just the right amount of concentration and relaxation.

After quite a bit of research I have found that matcha has a multitude of health benefits that exceed those of green tea. (It is to my understanding that this is because you are consuming the leaves directly). One cup is equivalent to 10 glasses of regular green tea in terms of nutrition and antioxidants. It is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins (particularly vitamin C) and has been proven to naturally detoxify the body and enhance metabolism. In addition, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for relaxing the mind. The combination of L-theanine and a high caffeine content results in a sustained calm alertness. You basically get the active and alertness that comes from coffee but without the unwanted jitters. For anyone suffering from anxiety or unable to handle the intense effects of caffeine matcha is a great option. It has a compelling, almost creamy taste followed by a bit of a lingering sweetness. Matcha on it’s own can be strong and overpowering but when mixed with smoothies, milk, pastries etc. it has a more subtle flavor.

Matcha has made a world of a difference for me and I am excited to make it a part of my routine. For some people coffee is a must but there’s no hurt in trying something new, especially when it has a few extra health benefits!!

 

Tip-only purchase organically grown matcha from Japan. Other sources may be contaminated with pesticides and various chemicals. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, I found it to be the best price for the amount.

 

 

Simple Eating

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As Americans we have this warped conception that everything needs to happen as quickly and  conveniently as possible, especially when it comes to food. In the world of healthy eating we have been programmed to believe convenience and easy access is simply not possible.

I’m here to tell you that is false.

Yes, I will admit that in order to reap the benefits of a healthy meal normally it takes a little extra time. Fortunately this does not always have to be the case. I am the QUEEN of rushing and moving onto my next task as quickly and efficiently as possible (exhibit A-I made this salad and am writing this post between work shifts) and in doing this I have found loop holes in the healthy eating time trap.

My go to meal is a salad. I’m talking a big, nutrition packed, stomach filling salad. I have mastered the art of salad making and have the practice down to a tee in terms of time. I do not believe in recipes when making this nutrition packed dish, all it really takes is throwing some of your favorite ingredients on a bed of lettuce and voila! You have yourself a meal. Salads can be made any “theme” if you will. You could be  in the mood for something light and fruity, or maybe something savory with a little spice for that extra kick. The beautiful thing about salads is they are completely your own.

Start with your base-mixed greens, spinach, romaine, and or kale and then decide the flavors you want to go for. Are you feeling sweet or savory? Maybe Mexican or Asian? Once you have an idea in mind you can begin to put together your ingredients. Choose three to five vegetables and then add a few of what I call “extras.” Possibly chopped almonds or walnuts, maybe coconut flakes or some fruit. Finally decide on a form of protein. If you’re  a vegetarian add beans, tofu or even hummus for some extra flavor. If you’re in the mood for meat add some grilled chicken or salmon. Eggs are always a great option as well. Make your salad as big or as small as you like, just ensure you are including healthy ingredients.

Here are a few steps to guide you through the process:

Step 1-CHOOSE YOUR BASE

Romaine

Spinach

Kale

Arugula

Collard

*stay away from ice burg lettuce (the white stuff) it has little to no nutritional value

Step 2-FRUITS/VEGETABLES

Cucumber, Tomato, Onions, Beets, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Celery, Corn, Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Peppers, Edamame, Mushrooms

Apples, Oranges, Cranberries, Raisins, Mango, Peaches, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Watermelon, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Grapes, Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries

Step 3-EXTRAS

Coconut Flakes

Almonds

Walnuts

Chia Seeds

Jalapeños

Salsa

Pesto

Guacamole

Hummus

*try not to add croutons, if you’re looking for something crunchy go for nuts if they are in your diet

Step 4- PROTEIN

Vegetarian-Black Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Tofu, Edamame, Fennel

Meat-grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, shrimp, eggs, turkey, ham, beef

DRESSING

When choosing a dressing the first thing you should look at is the sugar content. A lot of store bought dressings tend to claim they are “healthy” yet they fill them with unnecessary sugar. Look for something lighter such as a vinaigrette. There are a lot of different flavored vinaigrettes  if the typical oil and vinegar does not appeal to you. I have recently been using olive oil and a blueberry based balsamic vinegar. I also use lemon or lime juice as well as Apple Cider Vinegar.

 

Salads are perfect for lunch or dinner when you don’t have enough time to prepare a full blown meal, and they can even suffice as a mid day snack you can pack for work or grab at home. Experiment with different types and flavors and allow yourself to enjoy cultivating new and exciting mixtures.

The best advice I can give is to make your salad your own. Keep some fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge, and ALWAYS make sure you have greens.

INGREDIENTS

-Organic Girl 50/50 Spring Mix

-halved cherry tomatoes

-diced onion

-blackberries

-chopped cucumber

-raw cauliflower

DRESSING

-balsamic glaze

-olive oil

OPTIONAL PROTEIN

-Hummus

-Grilled Chicken

-Hard Boiled Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

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Lunch of the Day

Black Bean Avocado Wrap

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Ingredients 

Whole Wheat Wrap

Cooked Broccoli

White Onions

Tomatoes

Black Beans

Avocado

*Hummus for dipping

Preparation

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Bring stovetop to medium heat, add avocado oil or butter and lightly warm wrap.

 

Add all ingredients except beans and avocado.

Once brought to desired heat add beans followed by the avocado.

Remove from stove and enjoy!

Tip-dip in hummus for extra flavor

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Three Ways Yoga Has Changed Me

In today’s age of the millennial our society has blossomed an obsession with the health and fitness world, and with it has come a host of ever-changing fads. The most recent being Yoga and this concept of becoming a meditating, tofu eating, kombucha drinking “all is good” hippie. While I do admit it is a fad of the times and will likely come and go as it is destined, it does have a multitude of benefits if carried out to it’s fullest potential.

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I decided to adopt a practice of my own just over a year ago. I was (shocker) going through a difficult time and decided I needed something to change. One day I woke up and decided to drop everything I knew about working out and instead practice yoga for one hour every morning. I saw a world of a difference, not only in my physical health but in my mind. My thoughts, feelings and outlook on life dramatically changed. While yoga may not be the answer to everyone’s pain and suffering I will elude you to everything it has done for me.

   1. Cultivate Mindfulness

Whether you are overwhelmed and stressed or having a seemingly normal day just going through the motions it can be difficult to take a step back and approach situations with a sense of mindfulness. We tend to see life through our own eyes differently than everyone else. We hyper focus on situations and do not allow ourselves to look at things realistically, without expectations or judgment. When practicing yoga it is essential to be mindful of every move you make and breath you take in order to get the full benefits of your practice. As you start to do this more often it will carry over into other aspects of your life. For me personally adopting a practice of mindfulness has allowed me to look at life as a bigger picture. Instead of incessantly worrying about little things, or over evaluating situations I am mindful about the actions I take in my life and address situations with ease. I have learned to approach my life on and off the mat with breath and intention instead of judgment and anxiety.

  1. Just Be

When practicing yoga one of the many mantras you will hear is to practice living in the moment. When you step into a yoga studio and onto your mat you are expected to leave everything at the door and enjoy an hour to yourself. We are constantly caught up in our next task, our next meeting our next meal. Instead of harping on and obsessing over what is going to happen next or what has happened in the past we should be giving ourselves more time to just be. Just live in the moment, enjoy being where you are and who you are in that second. Yoga has taught me to let go of the idea that every action must have an outcome. I am doing something for myself, without any intentions or expectations, just to connect with my body and enjoy being me.

  1. Feel Accomplished

For as long as I can remember I have been searching for a sense of accomplishment. Not in a prideful sense, but in the sense that what I am doing will make me a better person, make me stronger and bring something better to my own or someone else’s life. Yoga is such an amazing practice when it comes to feeling this accomplishment. You step on your mat and forget about the rest of the world, yet when you step off you feel strong, physically expended just the right amount and mentally refreshed. Walking out of class or off your mat you have the assurance that you did something for you today and how often can we say that?

Yoga is such an amazing practice, and a habit everyone should adopt into their lives. Whether you’re a devoted marathon runner, gym junkie, businessman, or couch potato I guarantee yoga has something to offer you.

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