Inner Beauty Doesn’t Age

Uncategorized

Life. It’s such a beautiful thing isn’t it? We start off young and invincible as a child, we grow excited, full of anticipation to see the world and do something with our lives, then slowly we reach an age of stress, anxiety and tension only to then return to an old age of carelessness and disinterest in most everything. This whirlwind takes us through ups and downs, and throughout it all we do everything in our power NOT to reach that final point of aging, of looking and being old.the-legend-of-youth-1214223

Throughout this time we spend hours, days, months, years exerting our energy to ensure we age as gracefully as possible. Anti aging creams, surgical procedures, fitness, and healthy eating are all a part of this barricade we use to fight our physical age. But why is it that we focus SO heavily on this physical aspect? Has anyone ever thought to focus instead on what manifests on the inside? After all, it’s this beauty that lasts forever.

Recently I heard a quote that really stuck with me. It was actually in a movie, in the midst of a conversation but for some reason something about it really resonated with me.

“Inner Beauty Doesn’t Age”

This really made me think about everything that we (and I personally) do in an attempt to postpone/avoid physical aging. Yes, I eat healthy and workout and I will admit that part of that comes from motivation to look healthy. But what about the inside? Every encounter we have, every year of our life impacts the person we become, and that person stays with us forever. What would happen if we made a conscious effort each day to work on our inner beauty? The world would be a little bit of a better place in my opinion. Generosity, courage, kind heartedness, a sense of humor, these are the characteristics that stay with us for the rest of our lives. Society has molded us to into image oriented beings. There is a societal obsession with looks, beauty, sex, and fitness in the unhealthiest way. If you take a moment to think about it, some of the most beautiful people are not necessarily the most “beautiful.” The people that radiate with their big smiles, generous hearts, and courageous personalities THOSE are the most alluring people in the world. We all know that one person that can walk into a room and instantly  win the heart of a crowd with their grandiose personality. They are bold, confident and captivating in such a way that their physical “imperfections” are unnoticed. These are the types of people that never age.

While the outside is still important, it does not take excessive skincare products, starvation and unhealthy exaggerations of fitness to beat the aging process and be deemed a beautiful person. It’s the inside that we should focus on crafting and strengthening. My humble advice to make the world a little bit of a better place is to practice cultivating beauty within, and be conscious of judgmental perceptions based on appearances. Remember appearances will fade but our souls are forever.

 

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Less Meat More…Hummus

Food

Recently I’ve been altering my diet a bit in terms of meat consumption. I’m always trying new recipes and adding new staples to my daily routine and the past few weeks i’ve been focusing particularly on eliminating excess meat. With the workouts I do I have always been convinced that I should be consuming meat based protein numerous times a day, in addition to meals. However, I am now coming to the conclusion that such an astounding amount of meat is not necessary and may even be harmful.
While I do still need protein (as does everyone) I have been leaning towards beans and plants significantly more often. I do still consume meat, and as I said in a previous post I do not plan on eliminating it from my diet, but I have found that I feel better when I don’t eat as much.
I have always assumed that the only way to acquire sufficient quantities of protein is through meat. This is not true. Plant based products, particularly beans, lentils, edamame, chickpeas etc. contain up to 18 grams of protein per serving.
Since I eat a big bowl of greens AT LEAST two times a day, I’m already getting a fairly decent amount. I just need a little extra boost to get me where I need to be. This is where I turn to beans and most importantly, HUMMUS. Hummus has always been a love of mine but I have never viewed it as a source of protein. Fortunately, a typical serving contains 8 grams and when combined with beans you’ll have the perfect amount.
Here’s a quick salad I made sans meat (with a few extra goodies).

INGREDIENTS
Mixed Greens
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Onion
Organic Blackberries
ORGANIC Black Beans- when purchasing canned beans ALWAYS buy organic and be sure to rinse them before eating.
Hummus

*I have also tried this recipe without the berries and with salsa instead, great flavor! You could always add some cheese and Greek Yogurt, as a sour cream supplement and turn it into a Mexican bowl!

When There’s a Will There’s a Way

Food, Uncategorized

I am currently posted in my cozy little writing corner-tea in hand reminiscing on the amazing opportunity I had this summer to visit the Grand Canyon. I love traveling, seeing new places and learning new things, but I always find myself stressing over where my next meal will be and whether or not I will be able to find something healthy-NOT a healthy habit I will admit, but sometimes I can’t help it.

This vacation was a bit different from your normal beach resort. We spent our days covered in dust and sweat hiking up and down the side of this monstrous canyon (the views were GORGEOUS-more posts to come on that). As or days came to an end we found ourselves exhausted and unable to conjure up enough energy to shower and make it to a big fancy dinner.
Instead of your typical room service we decided to create our own hotel masterpiece. The first night we took it upon ourselves to make a grandiose dinner sans oven/stove/microwave etc. With only a mini fridge, some plastic utensils and $17 worth of food (and food network playing in the background for support) I have to say we got pretty creative.
For our first course we had an elegant little appetizer consisting of Ancient Grain crackers and carrots dipped in tapenade hummus. Fancy right??
Next we moved on to the main course-salad. We started with our base, greens of course and got as crazy as we could with the extras. I bought pre made mixed greens with chopped carrots, sugar snap peas, and cherry tomatoes. From there we added sliced avocado and leftover apple from our hiking snack pack.
Since we were trying to keep things cheap and avoid lugging back extra food on the plane I was at a loss for my typical oil and vinegar. I had to settle for a pre made vinegarette- olive oil vinegar and a few added spices. I tried to find something with as little sugar and preservatives as possible. Sometimes you just have to settle for good enough. Regardless, the salad tasted amazing, my boyfriend said it was the best one i’ve made (HA).

We didn’t quite make it to desert but a few glasses of white wine made up for that. Laughing, joking, and criticizing chopped (favorite show) we had an exhilarating dinner in our private little hotel room. While this may not have been a five star gourmet meal we cultivated a filling, clean and nutritious dish.
This goes to prove that you don’t need fancy kitchen tools or suppliance’s to make a healthy and filling meal. You don’t need a never-ending budget either!

If you put fourth the thought and effort it IS possible to eat healthy no matter where you are.

Little Adventures

Food, Uncategorized

For better or for worse my parents have raised me to be a spoiled rotten foodie. I am always searching for new and unique restaurants (healthy and natural of course) and have been consistently dissatisfied with the typical bar and grill food. This past weekend my boyfriend arrived back in town and we had the opportunity to try a few new places that sparked our interest. seedz_cafe_menu

Recently I’ve been on a raw/natural and semi vegan kick. I found this little cafe in Clayton that may be my new favorite place. It’s called Seedz (a little cheesy but hey-it works). It was just a cute little shop on the corner, not too fancy or in-your-face, thats when you know it’s going to be good.

We decided to keep it light and split a veggie burger and a smoothie. The burger came on a light whole wheat bun, lightly toasted (YUM) with a side of mixed greens a lemon vinaigrette and some tortilla chips. The great thing about these places is that while it may not be a mound of food it is overflowing with quality-filled nutrients and just enough to keep you feeling full and energized. The veggie burger was one of the best i’ve had, it was made with chickpeas and cooked vegetables topped with cashew chipotle cheddar and a generous slice of avocado. I love this because instead of adding rice (more carbs) as most veggie burgers do, they used chickpeas which is much better for you and more flavorful. The burger was oozing with flavor and just the right amount of spice.  IMG_3350If that’s not enough, smoothie was a complete powerhouse as well. Simple yet delicious it contained banana, almonds, maca, Cacao and dates with a sprinkle of coconut flakes on top. I found it interesting that almost all of their smoothies contained dates (this is a rare ingredient for many restaurants). They are packed with preventative and healing properties, a great addition to a smoothie if you’re feeling under the weather or just maintaining a healthy body. The base of the smoothie was made from almond milk and the banana/dates provided a thick and rich flavor that kept me feeling fuller longer.

In addition to the whole and nutritious food the service was admirable. Everyone was extremely sweet and welcoming, providing us with the best experience possible.

This little cafe gives a few of my favorite places a run for their money, I would highly recommend if you ever find yourself in the St. Louis area.
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Friday Food For Thought

Food, Uncategorized

My philosophy on food is that everything you eat serves a purpose. When we consume food we should be focusing on nutritious, whole foods that benefit our bodies. Eating is more than just shoving good tasting, or pretty looking “food” into our mouths. It should be strategic and thought out, in this way allowing us to reap the full benefits.

I recently read an article on  Food Matters regarding the best foods for your mood and energy, it inspired me to be mindful of the advantages of specific foods. It can be easy to slip out of healthy eating during a season full of vacation and free time. Here are just a few ideas to keep you energized and feeling your best.

Coconut-I personally have a newfound obsession with coconut. I’ve been adding it to my smoothies, energy bars, and even snacking on raw coconut chips. This fruit/nut is unique in that it contains medium chain triglycerides-a type of fat that is turned into energy instead of being stored as fat (see there are healthy fats!). When you need a little extra boost coconut is a great option.

Kale-We have all heard more than enough about kale in the past 10 years but it truly is one of the healthiest foods we can eat. This superfood is particularly high in vitamins B6, B1, and B2 which are essential vitamins used to convert nutrients into energy. Along many other nutrients kale contains potassium, copper, phosphorus, and iron all of which are minerals our bodies need but may be difficult to find elsewhere.

Ginger Tea-This one may be my favorite, i’m always up for an afternoon tea (really anytime tea for that matter). Ginger has a multitude of health benefits and when infused into tea it serves as the perfect afternoon pick me up. Not only is it filled with antioxidants to flush out all the toxins in your body, it also contains vitamin C, magnesium, and amino acids. This surplus of nutrients improves circulation, manages glucose levels, opens airways, and alleviates tension. In addition a soothing cup of warm tea is always perfect in the middle of a stressful day at work.

Nuts-This powerhouse snack has been highly debated lately and deserves some praise. I personally eat nuts everyday, sometimes even too often. Nuts are one of the most natural and beneficial foods on the market and their nutritional value has been highly neglected. While nuts are full of fat, it is not processed in the body the same way as saturated fats. They are high in magnesium, which allows the body to covert sugar into energy, and will keep you feeling full longer. Raw tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts and hazelnuts are the most beneficial as they have been linked to improved cholesterol, decreased heart disease, and weight control. Not to mention they are FULL of fiber, and who doesn’t need a little more fiber in their life?

Avocado-EVERYONE should eat avocado everyday. Not only do they taste delicious, but they provide a burst of energy and are chock full of nutrients. They’re a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which most of us do not get on a daily basis. These fatty acids are essential for lowering LDL and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. They are also filled with essential vitamins and minerals-calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, phosphorus and potassium just to name a few. Even just one half of an avocado on your salad or in a smoothie will give you that little boost you need to make it through the day.

 

What the Health

Food

As summer is in full swing I have finally had some time to sit down and enjoy some much needed Netflix time. I have always found documentaries extremely interesting and one in particular stayed with me a little longer than usual. If you’re an avid Netflix watcher i’m sure you’ve seen What the Health on the trending list. Interestingly enough it was not what I expected. I anticipated a typical healthy lifestyle promoting film, maybe some new information on organic eating, or something similar to Food Inc (I highly recommend watching  if you have not already). To my surprise it was solely focused on promoting a vegetarian lifestyle. I have been involved in the health community and researched healthy living, eating and exercising for years, and have always been an avid promoter of a meat inclusive diet. But for some reason this documentary sparked an

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unease in my confidence. While I have always known that organic, grass fed, hormone/ antibiotic free meat is the best I did not realize the extent to which processed and essentially “dirty” meat is harmful to our health.

*Disclaimer- I am NOT  promoting this documentary and do not plan on adopting a

vegetarian style of eating for myself, I still consume meat on a regular basis, I am just emphasizing the importance of consuming the proper types of meat.

After watching this documentary I was scared and led to believe that all meat causes cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but after doing some research I was again put to ease that it is not inhumane to consume meat, it is instead inhumane to consume corporate-raised antibiotic fed meat.

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Where our meat comes from is crucial to our health and a major debate in and of itself (I will not get into it too much but if you have the time I suggest doing some research). Today meat producing companies claim that the only way to feed our growing society is to produce meat unnaturally, and in a harmful manner. Chicken and cows are raised in confined conditions, unable to ever walk, and forced to consume their own feces (in addition to the antibiotics and growth hormones they are fed). They are not living and thriving animals, they are a commodity produced to serve a purpose. These unlawful living conditions not only affect the animals themselves but us as consumers. When we consume even a bite of meat we are eating everything that animal has ever put into their mouth. It goes back to the old saying, “what you eat is what you are.” Those animals are everything that they eat, the chemicals and antibiotics all go into their bodies and morphs them into one gigantic hazard. On the contrary, when animals are raised naturally, on big and open farms, fed grass and plants, (the way they are supposed to) they grow to become healthy and strong. We as consumers then have the assurance that what we are putting into our bodies is natural, and of value to our health.

The documentary What the Health fails to address the importance of healthy meat. They are promoting  a blanket statement that all meat is bad, and all meat causes disease. This is wrong. While a vegetarian diet may be beneficial for some due to health reasons it is not the way we were made to eat. Humans were made to consume meat, it is the circle of life and the most natural way to eat. It is where the meat is sourced that is the problem.

Health is a growing and ever changing subject. It is a science and will forever be developing and modified. The biggest take away from this is to not believe everything you hear. Do some research, try it out for yourself. Diets and healthy lifestyles are subjective and every body is different. While a vegetarian lifestyle may work best for some people, it is not the be all end all, and it is most definitely not the way we were intended to live. The best advice I can give when it comes to eating is to consume whole foods. Eat natural, farm raised and organically produced foods. Stay away from anything processed, including meat, and live as naturally as possible. The world was not made to be full of chemicals and artificially produced commodities.

A good way to stay away from processed and disease causing foods is to try to cook at home more, avoid restaurants and places where you are uninformed about what you are eating, because it is more than likely to be unhealthy. Even when a food is labeled “healthy” and “natural” it may contain pesticides, antibiotics and or hormones. When you prepare your own food you have the luxury of knowing where it is sourced and everything that goes into it. For me personally I avoid eating meat when I go out, and when I cook I only purchase grass fed and hormone free meat. It is possible to feed a world naturally and we as consumers are responsible to make the first steps.

Monday is for Matcha

Food, Stress

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

Food

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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

Food

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

Stress

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.

yoga