Can Alcohol be Part of a Healthy Lifestyle?

Can alcohol be part of a healthy lifestyle? 

I’ve struggled with this question for a long time, and have bounced back and forth between complete restriction and mindless indulgence. I used to think that living a healthy lifestyle encompassed zero carbs, perfectly planned meals, and a strict bedtime of 9pm. The more I learn and experience, the more I realize that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Restriction of any form leads to burnout, frustration and almost always overindulgence. When we restrict ourselves from anything, be it that slice of pizza, a late night, or a missed workout most of us go overboard when we finally DO spoil ourselves with that forbidden thing. That’s not to say that everyone craves alcohol. If it’s not part of YOUR version of health then don’t drink, and that’s ok. But if you’re restricting yourself because you don’t want to miss that 7am workout or you’re scared it’ll expand your waistband then you’re likely depriving yourself of a potential slice of joy in life. When consumed in moderation, alcohol actually does offer health benefits. Some of the healthiest and longest lived communities in the world consume alcohol on a regular basis. 

I’ve missed lots of workouts, stayed up until 4am a few too many times, and oftentimes choose pizza over salad after a night of drinking. I’ve lived to tell about it, and am actually a much happier human because of it. 

You’re not going to look back and remember how many carbs you consumed in a day, or how “bloated” you looked in your outfit that one night. But you will remember the excitement you felt getting ready on a Saturday night, how AMAZING pizza tastes at 2am, and the pure joy of making lifelong memories with your best friends.

Some tips for drinking healthfully:        

  1. Be MINDFUL of what you’re drinking. Not all alcohol is created equal and some drinks will leave you feeling worse the next day than others. A drink full of sugar, syrups and additives, for example will probably contribute to a worse hangover than if you were to drink a few vodka waters.
  2. Hydrate effectively!!!! This is probably the most important tip when it comes to drinking and staying healthy. Being dehydrated at any point in time doesn’t feel good, and when you add alcohol to the mix it’s even worse. Drink a few glasses of water before you go to bed and another one first thing in the morning.
  3. Take advantage of supplements. I am not a huge proponent of taking a multitude of supplements on a daily basis but they can be extremely useful at the right times. After a night of drinking your body will thank you if you replenish lost nutrients. Liquid IV, Oops I did it again, and GEM daily essentials are a few with extremely good reviews. 
  4. REST. Sometimes it’s better to hit the sheets instead of the gym the day after a long night out. This is extremely individual and depends on the person but oftentimes a nap helps tremendously, sleep is one of the absolute best things we can do for our bodies. 
  5. Sweat it out. If you’re feeling up to it go for a run, take a hot yoga class, or sit in the sauna for a while. Sweating always feels SO good and helps to cleanse the body of toxins and boost endorphins. 

Always always always prioritize your body and it’s unique needs. 

Cheers! 

Xx 

Ginger Noodles

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Pasta is always a go to throughout the long winter months, the problem is it’s not always the best for our bodies. These miso ginger noodles are perfect for a cold winter night and great for every pallet. You can make them as spicy or creamy as you desire and the ginger and miso offer great healing properties to fight that lingering cold or flu!!

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb carrots

2″ square piece of ginger

4 teaspoons coconut oil

4 teaspoons miso

2 cups cashews

water

12oz ramen/udon/noodles of choice

1 large red pepper

1 large yellow pepper

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup spinach

toasted cashews (optional topping)

cilantro (optional topping)

pepper flakes (optional topping)

black sesame seeds (optional topping)

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut and peel the carrots and ginger into about 1/2″ pieces (size is not necessary just a general guideline). Toss with coconut oil and spread onto roasting pan. Roast until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

While carrots are cooking begin cashew cream sauce. Puree cashews in food processor adding water as needed until it reaches a creamy light consistency.

Once the carrots are cooled place the cashew cream sauce, carrots, and miso in blender and blend until smooth. Again, add water to reach desired consistency.

Once the sauce is prepared, begin sautéing the remaining vegetables. Slice peppers and place into a pan with spinach and mushrooms with oil. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until peppers have a tint of golden brown and spinach is condensed.

Prepare noodles, following directions on the package.

Once the noodles are cooked and drained, add sauce and vegetables.

Add toppings as desired.

TIP- I used the amount of ginger the recipe calls for but I would recommend adding a bit more if you’re a fan of ginger to reach a stronger flavor. Cilantro and cashews are great options for toppings. The cilantro adds a refreshing kick and the toasted cashews make for a great crunchy mix!

 

Less Meat More…Hummus

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!

Friday Food For Thought

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

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.

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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