Category

Eat

Make This Two Minute Omelette Before Class

two minute omelette

You'll need:

  • A microwave
  • A mug 
  • Nonstick spray
  • 2-3 eggs
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped peppers
  • Some spinach
  • Avocado

Pro tip #1: bring plastic bags or containers to the dining hall with you and take veggies from the salad bar 👌

Pro tip #2: replace eggs with 3/4 – 1 cup of egg whites for egg white omelette

The recipe:

  • Spray mug with non-stick spray
  • Crack eggs in mug + mix
  • Add in all veggies, salt + pepper
  • Microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through
  • Remove from microwave + top with avocado

Enjoy!

A Hungry Girl On A Juice Cleanse

I never thought I could survive on liquid until now. 

I will be the first to admit that I LOVE food. Not only do I love food, but I love to eat. I was blessed with an endless appetite and speedy metabolism that encourages me to grub regularly. 

My love for food has inspired me to learn how to fuel my body with the best food I can. Cold-pressed juice is one of my healthy favorites for the energy and nutrients it deliverers to my body. My body flourished off juice, so much so that I have been in a serious relationship with my juicer since I was gifted it last Christmas. 

With this being said, I never would have believed you if you told me that I would one day try a juice cleanse. But here I am about to embark on my second juice cleanse journey. Like many, I had many concerns about strictly consuming juice and no solid foods for such a lengthy period of time. But I am here to tell you that if I can do it, so can you and your body will love it.

Disclaimer: Juice cleanses are often marketed as a weight-loss hoax. If that’s your motivation for embarking a cleanse, reconsider your reasons and know that losing a lot of weight in a short period of time is unsafe.

Juice cleanses are somewhat like a ‘restart’ button. By strictly consuming juice, your body absorbs a ton of nutrients while giving your digestive system a break. Longer cleanses might give your system more of a break, but I find a one day cleanse is perfect for me. Before and after the cleanse, you are encouraged to eat whole foods, no meat or dairy, and no processed foods to ensure you get the benefits from the cleanse. 

As I embark on my second cleanse, I will share what juices I drank, how I felt, and all the things I wondered before my cleanse. Let’s juice it up!

You’ll have to pee…a lot.

This may be TMI, but I only write the truth. Being on a strictly liquid diet means having frequent potty runs but not for what you may think. Having to be pee is the norm of a juice cleanse without your normal bowel movements. 

You will crave anything that is chew-able.

The most annoying part for me about the juice cleanse was only drinking. Strictly drinking cold juices and water gets boring so I mixed it up with hot herbal tea and hot lemon water when cold beverages seemed unbearable. One of my juices had chia seeds in it which made it something fun to chew on and a different texture than just straight up juice. If your body is absolutely craving food, it is okay to snack on some carrots or cucumber sticks to ease your craving. But try your very best to not chew anything for the duration of your cleanse.

Take a break from the gym.

Since your calorie intakes dramatically decreases while you’re on a juice cleanse, extra physical activity should be avoided during your cleanse. If you absolutely have to, going on a leisurely walk or yoga is an easy way to stay active without straining your body. 

Incorporate nut milk into your juice cleanse.

If the company you are purchasing your cleanse through offers a nut milk, DO IT. In my cleanses, I love to incorporate two milks for a few reasons. First, they are my absolute favorite. They tend to be sweeter, nuttier, and more comforting to sip on than just plain ole green juice. Also, if you are used to being on a high calorie or high protein diet, these milks will help keep you fuller while you’re on your cleanse and lessen the shock to your body from dropping your caloric intake. 

Don’t worry about being hungry.

For a girl who loves her food, a juice cleanse was intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. As long as I spaced out my juices evenly and hydrated in between each juice, I actually wasn’t starving. Did I have a few tummy rumbles? Here and there. But overall, I wasn’t as starving as I thought I would be. 

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The BBQ Chickpea Bowl That You Will Make Over And Over

It’s that time of year again…

Yep, we’re finally back into the swing of the school year. Going back to school is a huge change in lifestyle pace in so many ways. From having to wake up for class, fitting a workout in between schoolwork, and having a social life, it can be difficult to even think about eating healthfully. 

But don’t get too worried, #fitufam.

This recipe idea swooped in out of nowhere and quickly became one of my go-to lunches and dinners for busy days. This BBQ Chickpea Bowl is delicious, satisfying, flavorful and packed with nutrients and health benefits. It’s one of those bowls that you’ll be dreaming about ALL DAY.

Why is it so damn good?

The chickpeas are packed with plant protein, the kale and mushrooms bring the iron and vitamin C, The brown rice is a whole grain that makes a perfect base. Plus, the chickpeas and the rice together make a complete protein, which is perfect for vegans and vegetarians (and meat eaters too!)

The ingredients to this BBQ chickpea bowl can be prepped the night before and then thrown together that day, but even if you choose to make this plant-based bowl on the spot, it still takes 20 minutes or less. So the next time you need a hearty meal to hold you over for a long day, try throwing these easy ingredients together.

BBQ Chickpea Rice Bowl

Time: 20 minutes or less

When to eat it: Lunch, dinner, or anytime you need something filling to get you through the day!

Perks: plant-based protein packed, quick to make, super flavorful

Makes: 1 bangin’ bowl

Sh*t You Need:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup chickpeas
  • 2/3 cup shredded kale and cabbage
  • ½ cup mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons BBQ Sauce 
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

The Recipe:

  1. Cook the rice as instructed. If you’re super efficient *coughcough lazy* like me, buy pre-cooked rice and microwave it.
  2. In a bowl, mix the chickpeas and BBQ sauce, making sure the chickpeas are evenly coated. Set aside. 
  3. In a pan, heat up one tsp of olive oil until warm. Add in your mushrooms and season as desired. Cook until the mushrooms are soft. 
  4. Once the mushrooms have cooked, put them aside and add the BBQ chickpeas into the pan. Allow them to cook until they’re warm.
  5. On top of your rice, arrange the chickpeas, mushrooms and kale as desired. 
  6. Enjoy! 

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4 Creative Breakfasts To Make Before Class

breakfast better than cereal

I am the kind of person that wakes up hungry and wants breakfast ASAP. Coming to college, that definitely hasn’t changed. Cooking for myself led me to discover that a toaster waffle or a bowl of sugary cereal is not proper fuel for the rest of my day – at least not on a regular basis.

Finding some nutritious, easy go-to breakfasts has been kind of a struggle. I have 8:00 a.m. classes most mornings, which means I have less time in the morning to prepare  a nutritious meal (and then host a little breakfast photoshoot before eating – no shame). 

Something else I have  discovered about myself is that I like to change things up every day when it comes to what I eat. Occasionally I go through phases where I make the same breakfast smoothie for two weeks straight because it tastes so bomb. But phases end. Ultimately I need to fuel myself every morning based on what the rest of the day entails, and as much as I love my cold brew & acai smoothies, I often need a little more sustenance to start my day. 

Coming up with creative, new, and innovative breakfasts that are also realistic to make at 6:30 a.m. is much more possible now that I am more involved in the foodie world on Instagram. I follow several other college students who always kill it with their breakfast posts…

1. Veggie Breakfast Sandwich

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-10-47-53-pm
This girl’s breakfast sandwich is perfect when you’re needing a little bit of everything. It’s got carbohydrates, veggies, and protein. So key. So good. 

2. Sweet Potato Waffles

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-10-53-58-pm

You read that right. I make @danadang’s sweet potato waffles on a regular basis. They are so easy and SO SO good. Perfect for a day full of working out or a morning sweet tooth. 

3. Banana Pancakes

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-10-57-34-pm
Banana pancakes are fun, quick, and easy (like Molly’s above) for when you feel like have something sweet in the morning. Plus how can you go wrong with banana pancakes? Here’s a recipe!

 

 

4. Sweet potato toast

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-02-55-pm
Sweet potato toast definitely took off as a new foodie trend lately. This sweet potato toast, made by Mer, topped with avocado and poached eggs makes for a great breakfast when you want something well-rounded and filling. 
 
Making breakfast can 100% be fun and different every single day. Lately I find myself planning out what I am going to cook the next morning before I go to sleep because I get so excited about it. There are just so many delicious and nutritionally dense recipes out there to try, you just have to go out there and find them! Try checking out #fituniversity on Instagram to see if you find anything good 😉 
 
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Three Grocery Essentials To Make at Home

I’m a big advocate for quick cooking. Oftentimes, the possible shortcuts are worth the price, as some grocery items are better to buy than to prepare at home. In opposition, many of the food items we all stock up on every week are very easy to quickly (and cheaply) make at home.

Besides saving money, prepping a few basics at home also allows you to customize and be fully aware of the ingredients you put in your food. Instead of looking at the label of something and not knowing half the ingredients, you can rest assured that your staples are wholesome and homemade. 

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Hummus

Customize your hummus with additions like avocado, caramelized onion, parsley or roasted peppers by starting with this base recipe and combining all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor. A can of chickpeas typically costs about $1, while a tub of hummus is around $3. I’ve used this recipe from Inspired Taste with great results. 

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons water

Instructions: Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding water as necessary.

2. Pasta Sauce

Making your own pasta sauce can be as done in the time it takes to boil your noodles. Jarred tomato sauces often have a ton of added sugar, so an at-home version prevents unnecessary additives. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is simple. 

  • 1⁄4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped

Instructions: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion. Sauté 2 minutes. Add oregano and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook with stirring 3 minutes until onions begin to brown. Add crushed garlic. Cook 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and sugar. Turn heat to high and cook with stirring until simmering. Turn heat to medium low. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in olive oil and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Chicken Stock

The merits of rotisserie chicken are undeniable, one of which is the ability to make your own high quality, flavorful stock from the chicken leftovers. Not only is homemade stock delicious and cheap, it’s also lower in sodium and has a fuller flavor than bouillon cubes or boxed chicken stock. It also makes your home smell good. The recipe for a classic stock isn’t very specific, meaning you can oftentimes throw whatever vegetables you have into the pot. Use this recipe from Simply Recipes many times and keep the chicken stock in the freezer until needed. Like Simply Recipes, I put my chicken stock in mason jars.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chicken carcass (AKA leftover bones and skin)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 2-inch segments
  • Celery tops and 1 large celery rib, cut into 2-inch segments
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Leek or green onion greens (if you have them)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 quarts of cold water
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot. Add vegetables like celery, onion, carrots, parsley. Cover with water. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer partially covered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. Remove the bones and vegetables with a slotted spoon, and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering an hour or two longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store. 

One of the other best benefits of cooking a few grocery basics at home means you can splurge on other items at the grocery store #treatyoself. All of the above recipes require minimal cooking time, keep well in the fridge, and use a lot of ingredients you might have laying around already. Prep the above recipes so you always have healthy staples available!

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Impress Your Friends By Making This Cheap and Trendy Coffee

coffee

Starbucks is going to need to step it up after you read this article.

We all like to (pretend) to live that bougie lifestyle. While some of us prefer to order that extra guac and double chicken at Chipotle, others choose to be coffee snobs #noshame.

However, cold-brew from Starbucks or nitro coffee from a small coffee shop can get old (and expensive). After a while, a lot of your money is lost to these trendy coffee drinks, which means you have less to spend on other things, like cool workout clothes or healthy food. And let’s be honest here, that is where we would like to spend the majority of our money.

Lucky for you (and me, really), there’s a newly popular coffee-making method that you can easily do at home. With only four steps, minimal set up, and no fancy, obscure ingredients, a French Press allows you to brew a full-body medium to dark roast that’s at least as good as anything you’d get at your favorite shop – for a fraction of the price. 

In addition, the French Press removes the bitter, overwhelming flavors that can occur with normal drip coffee and can make a lot of coffee without using a large amount of beans. Also, the French Press can also be used for teas, so you might as well kill two birds with one stone!

coffee

Here’s how you make it:

Time: <10 minutes

When to drink it: In the mornings, afternoons, or late nights when you have tons of studying to do

Perks: Gets you energized, cheap, environmentally friendly since you don’t need a paper filter

Sh*t you need:

French Press (duh)

Coffee grounds

Kettle

Mug

The Rundown:

  1. Boil water in the kettle.
  2. Scoop 2 tbsp of ground coffee to 6 oz of water, which is a little less than a cup, and put coffee grounds in the bottom of the french press. 
  3. Pour half the amount of water you want in with the grounds, let sit for 30 seconds, and then pour the rest of the water in and cover with the lid. 
  4. Let this sit for about 3.5 minutes (or the length of an average song) and press (hence the name!) the grinds to the bottom. Pour and enjoy with a splash of low-fat milk or pour over ice for an iced coffee. Enjoy!

That’s all it takes, it’s so easy even a freshman can do it.

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5 Annoying Things All Nutrition Students Face

nutrition

Leave pizza and I alone.

Chances are, if you clicked this article, you are a nutrition student. No matter what route you go down, whether that is being a Registered Dietitian, public health influencer, or nutrition educator, we all bond over one thing: FOOD. 

Food is what brought us into this field (and in general, keeps us going through our daily activity) and is what people identify us with. However, being in the field of nutrition is hard. With the many misconceptions in the world of nutrition and health, it makes it that much harder. Below are some struggles that we have all experienced before.

People assume you eat healthy 24/7.

Fun fact: we are human too. Thus, when we come across that delicious cookie or pizza, we aren’t afraid to dive in. So when we are caught in the heat of a moment telling our cookie ice cream sandwich how beautiful it is, we don’t need you to step in and tell us how bad it is for us. We know, trust us. But we live by the motto “everything in moderation”, and you just happened to catch us in our “moderation” phase.  

You are constantly pestered with questions about food.

nutrition“Should I eat this?” “Is this good or bad for you?” “This is healthy, right?” Somehow, food happens to fall into a “yes” or “no” category and you should know the answer to everything. But in reality, this is not how food works. Plus, we are still students and have so much to learn. For example, nuts are good for you in a way that they are full of fiber and protein, but can be considered “bad” if you are on a low-fat diet or need a high intake of carbohydrates, such as before a workout. So the answer really is “depends on the scenario”, which is not what anyone wants to hear.

You know everyone’s diet, whether you like it or not.

nutritionSometimes, it’s not even worth it to tell people what you study. Once you open your mouth and say “nutrition”, suddenly people open up and tell you everything about their diet. “Oh you study nutrition? I just recently hopped on the gluten-free, vegan diet and I don’t eat soy.” “What do you think about how I eat? I eat too many carbs, right?” Meanwhile, you’re just trying to peacefully go about your day, since you never asked them what their diet was. People bombard you, expecting you to fully analyze their diet (which is a paid service that takes years of training) just because of what you study. It’s like asking an accounting major to do your taxes or asking a pre-med student to perform surgery – it isn’t going to happen. 

Your other friends don’t understand your love for planners.

Let’s be honest, 99% of us are very Type A. We will schedule lunch dates on our Google Calendars, note our homework and exam schedule in our perfectly pristine weekly planners, and will always confirm plans before you make them weeks in advanced. Is this a little much? Maybe, but please stop shaming us for being organized.

People don’t understand that nutrition is a science.

Nutrition is not just some online trainer giving you advice for macros. It’s a balance between macro and micronutrients, bioavailabilty, and the process of digestion and absorption. We don’t just float around taking pictures of smoothie bowls and meal prep, nutrition is revolved around science. Yes, we took pre-med orgo (*shudder*), biochemistry, and medical nutrition therapy (EN/PN calculations, anyone?). Yes, these are extremely difficult classes that often get glazed over by the overexposure of “nutrition” in the media. But unfortunately, a $19.99 food program you found online through an overly-tan, hypertrophied “nutrition professional” won’t fulfill your healthy lifestyle. It takes time to develop a nutrition plan, a service that cannot be dealt in a one-stop shop.

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This Pesto Pasta Salad Is the Perfect Summer Lunch

Eat your veggies (and pasta, too) with this simple pesto pasta salad.

With summer in full swing, we’ve entered the season of beach vacations, barbecues, and days spent outdoors. There’s nothing like a warm day with friends to boost your mood, and we all know how important it is to stock up with lots of good food and snacks to make the outdoors-y days all that much better.

That’s what this pesto pasta salad is for. It’s hearty yet light, comforting yet fresh, and satisfying yet healthy. It’s a great one to pack in tupperware and bring along to the beach, to a park, to a barbecue, and even to school or work. Sure, it’s great for summer, but this meal is good for literally any time of year – just switch up the veggies to what’s in season. It’s the perfect way to eat your greens and your pasta, too!

I love the salty, herby brightness of pesto. When paired with its classic companion, pasta, how could it go wrong?

Time: 20 minutes

When to eat it: lunch or a light summer-y dinner – perfect to bring along to picnics and barbecues!

Perks: delicious, easy, barely any cooking required, filled with veggies, easy to pack

Makes: 1 serving, but can easily be doubled, tripled, or decupled (x10!)

Sh*t You Need:

75-100 g dry pasta (fusilli is my favorite for this)
1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, depending on how thick your pesto is (more if it’s thicker)
Salt and pepper, to taste
A handful of whatever veggies you want, blanched or raw (my favorites include peas, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and asparagus – sometimes just one, sometimes a combo of them)
3 tablespoons of your favorite pesto (red, green, store-bought or homemade all work)
2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or chopped pistachios (feel free to add more!)
A big bunch of leafy greens – spinach or arugula work best
Lots of good quality shaved parmesan

The recipe:

1. Cook pasta according to directions. Let it cool slightly.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pesto, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well. That's it!

4. Pack to bring with you on the go or enjoy immediately. It can even be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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My Go-to Green Juice Recipe

A green juice a day is a trend that is here to stay.

I was recently gifted a juicer, and it’s safe to say that  I am completely obsessed. Most of my friends know that my juicer and I are in a very happy and healthy relationship. I guess you could say it’s getting serious.

A main component of my weekly grocery haul is a ton of spinach, ginger, and other fruits and veggies that I can get in bulk for juicing. My daily green juice has improved my immunity and energy levels. When I am struggling to get my daily dose of vitamins and minerals, my fresh green juice comes in clutch by delivering the daily recommended levels.

Fresh juice offers more than just your ordinary smoothie or store-bought juice; it provides a large amount of nutrients in a compact liquid that hydrates you while also providing your body with antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals, and vitamins. Ever since I started incorporating fresh juice into my mornings, I feel more naturally energized and have avoided illnesses. Not saying it’s a magic bullet, but it works for me.

Buying fresh juice without added sugars can be expensive, but juicing at home can be affordable and easy once you get into the routine of cleaning your juicer and prepping your produce. While I tend to change up my produce seasonally, one of my favorite green juices not only tastes delicious but is under $10  for two mornings of green juice – cheaper than most store-bought versions. Let’s juice!

Time: approximately 10 minutes

When to drink it: Whenever you want a boost of energy and veggies

Perks: Packed with produce, portable, cheaper & healthier than store-bought

Makes: 2 servings of juice

What You’ll Need:

1-2 bags of spinach (you can use kale, but I find spinach lasts longer and tastes better)

3 large apples of your choice

Or

2 large grapefruits

4 stalks of celery

1 cucumber (any kind will do)

Thumb of ginger (unpeeled)

The recipe:

1.) Be sure to rinse of your produce before juicing to make sure they're clean and free from contaminants.
2.) Cut your fruits and veggies according to your juicer's instructions. Each is different. When it comes to prepping your produce, do not peel anything (carrots, cucumbers, apples, ginger, turmeric, etc.). That’s where many of the nutrients are.
3.) Put your desired fruits and veggies in your juicer, according to its instructions. Juice!
4.) I store my juice in mason jars and prep only 2 days' worth at a time. In general, fresh juice has a fridge life of 24-48 hours.

 

Once you start fueling your body with green juice every morning, you might get hooked. Be sure to tag @fituniversity on social media if you try out this green juice recipe!

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Make Your Own Acai Bowl for Less Than $5

You know them, you love them, you pay $10 for each one at your local health-food juice bar.

They’re packed with antioxidants and vitamins, taste like a healthier ice cream, and are usually topped so heavily you can’t see what’s at the base of the bowl. Any guesses? 

If you guessed acai bowls, you deserve an acai bowl yourself (pronounced ah-sigh-ee for all of those who are still afraid to say it out loud).

But please don’t go out and spend your paycheck on it, because I’m here to show you just how simple making one at home can really be. 

Smoothie bowls have taken the health and pop-culture world by storm lately, and for once, I am 100% on board. My philosophy is: why drink something when you can eat it?

Sure, smoothies are great, but I love nothing more than spooning a thick bite of banana-acai-peanut butter goodness into my mouth, no matter what the occasion. After trying this recipe, I’m sure you all will be able to relate. 

What makes acai so great? Let me tell ya, it lives up to the hype. Acai is:

  • Packed with antioxidants (10x that of grapes!).
  • Low in sugar so your insulin won’t spike, making it a great option for people of all health backgrounds. 
  • Loaded with iron, calcium, Vitamin A, and fiber. 
  • Rich with flavonoids– plant-based pigments that help fight against free radicals. 
  • Suspected to help prevent issues including arthritis, inflammation, obesity, erectile dysfunction, and more

Note: I personally prefer the frozen packs to powdered acai as it provides a lot of texture and thickness to the smoothie, but powdered acai will provide the same health benefits. 

Basic Acai Bowl

Time: 5 minutes

When to Eat It: Whenever

Perks: Read above

Sh*t You Absolutely Need:

1 pack Sambazon Acai
1 banana (frozen for a thick smoothie, fresh for thinner)
1/4-1/2 cup milk of choice

Sh*t You Might Want, But Do Not Necessarily Need:

1 tsp Sun Potion ashwagandha powder (aids stress, anxiety, and energy levels when taken over a long period of time)
1 scoop Further Food collagen peptides (helps strengthen hair, nails, and skin, provides most of the matrix of connective tissue)
1 tsp maca powder (helps balance hormones & energy levels)
1 scoop protein powder of choice (for the gains!)
1 tsp ground flax seeds 

Most Importantly… Topping Ideas:

Nut butter of choice
Granola
Bananas/frozen or fresh berries
Chia seeds
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Coconut shreds

The Recipe:

  1. Place all the sh*t you need and whatever you may want but not need in a blender, and blend, blend, blend!*
  2. Transfer to a bowl, scraping the bottom of the blender to get all of the mixture. 
  3. Top with whatever your heart desires and devour!

*The less milk you begin with, the better; then you are better able to gauge how much you need for the smoothie to blend without thinning. I would recommend starting with a splash of milk, crushing up the pack and banana, and blending before adding more liquid a little at a time. 

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All Your Oats Have Been Missing is Golden Milk

Introducing, my obsession… golden milk!

Now, you’ve probably heard the term and thought it sounded cool, but had no idea what the heck it actually was.

Well, I’m here to give you the low-down on what is, in my opinion, one of the best health crazes out there right now. Yes, I particularly love the taste, but there are a ton of health benefits from golden milk, too.

What is golden milk, and why is it good for me?

Golden milk is essentially a spiced milk whose key ingredient (turmeric) gives it a luscious golden color. Turmeric has recently stepped onto the stage as a near-superfood with all of its transformative health benefits and versatility in the ways you can incorporate it into your diet. 

Turmeric has been used for thousands on thousands of years in ancient practice and its potential is beginning to be unlocked again today. Known for its medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties, the spice owes this all to curcuminoids, some super strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

This is important, because many widespread Western diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and type II diabetes can be attributed to long-term inflammation. By adding some turmeric to your diet, among other preventative measures such as eating a healthy diet and exercising, the risk of contracting these diseases can be significantly reduced. 

Beyond reducing inflammation, curcuminoids have a significant effect on your brain and nervous system. They enhance BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates new neural connections to be formed. I’m not saying this stuff makes you smarter, but like, the science doesn’t lie.

Bottom line?

Turmeric is super good for you and any amount of it in your diet won’t hurt.

I love incorporating it into:

  • Tea or milk lattes
  • Curry
  • Eggs (also obsessed with turmeric-poached eggs; they’re beautiful)
  • Veggies
  • Chicken.

I literally put this s*** on everything. And I have zero shame about it.

If you’re not sure how you can start using turmeric, or golden milk, I have a recipe to give you so you can try it too.

These golden milk overnight oats are super easy, delicious, and can be eaten hot or cold. You simply make them the night before, open up your fridge, and VOILA, you’ve got yourself a nutritious, wholesome breakfast. You can thank me later. 

All Your Oats Have Been Missing is Golden MilkGolden Milk Overnight Oats

Time: 2-5 minutes prep, 8-10 hours in the fridge

When to Eat It: Any time of the day, I won’t judge. 

Perks: Easy, delicious, and can be eaten hot or cold

Sh*t You Need:

1/2 cup oats (I used steel-cut, but any kind will work)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
Pinch black pepper (to activate turmeric and make it more bioavailable)
1 T brown rice syrup, honey, agave, or other sweetener of choice
1/2 cup milk of choice

Optional:
1 tsp ashwagandha
1 tsp maca powder
1/2 tsp chia, flax, or hemp seeds
Berries/banana (for topping)
PEANUT BUTTER (also for topping)

The Recipe:

1. Place all that ish in your favorite mason jar and shake, shake, shake!

2. Leave in the fridge overnight, wake up, and enjoy!

3. Oats can be eaten hot or cold; I prefer mine hot, and microwave them for about a minute and fifteen seconds before eating. 

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I Stopped Buying into the Idea of “Breakfast Foods”

Growing up, I was pretty married to the idea that there are designated “breakfast foods”. Things like cereal, pancakes, bagels, donuts, fruit, and sometimes eggs were my conception of what people eat for breakfast. Chicken and vegetables before noon? No way.

I laugh at my younger self now, because my standard quick breakfast is a bowl of roasted or steamed veggies, an avocado, and some turkey or salmon.

breakfast foods - avocado turkey broccoliWith a little food prep, it’s super fast, and it holds me over for several hours thanks to the balanced nature of the meal.

Other days, I’ll have a sweet potato with chicken and guacamole. And, yeah, sometimes I still have cereal and Greek yogurt or pancakes with almond butter and chocolate chips. 

What does this have to do with anything? It’s about the food rules we create for ourselves, either intentionally or by nature of the society in which we live. We tell ourselves we can only eat some foods at certain meals or eat at certain times of the day, simply because that’s how things are done. The problem is that doesn’t leave much room for listening to your body and figuring out what really works best for you.

Admittedly, pre- and post-workout nutrition is a little more specific. However, your body doesn’t have a timer to stop you from eating cauliflower first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed. Some days, that might sound good. Others, it might not. Your job is just to listen.

I honestly started making my breakfast a little more like a normal lunch or dinner when I started Whole30, because most of the usual “breakfast foods” are simply not allowed by the plan and a girl can only eat so many eggs. Ultimately, Whole30 wasn’t for me, but I did notice that I felt pretty great after a more lunch-y breakfast. So, I kept at it – not as a rule, but as an experiment that happened to go really well. Personally, I feel satisfied after a breakfast that isn’t sweet or all that carb-heavy. I’m ready to get on with my day, no sugar cravings in sight.

Similarly, I know that after my evening yoga classes, one of the most satisfying things for me is Paleo “oatmeal”, which is on the sweeter side.

breakfast foods - paleo oatmealWhile I was always a fan of “breakfast for dinner” as a kid, that’s not how I see it now. It’s not “breakfast for dinner”. It’s just dinner.

The same goes if I want pancakes or a bowl of cereal for lunch after class, or a bowl of carrots and tahini at 9am, or a massive cookie at 4pm.

All my food meets the same standards now: delicious, nourishing, and exactly what I want.

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4 Ways to Upgrade Your Lemonade

When life hands you lemons, don’t be boring! It is time to get creative and fun with lemonade because nothing is quite as refreshing as a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Some change is good. Here are some fun new options for your summer’s lemonade:

Coconut-Mint Lemonade

You need:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 small sprigs of mint
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of coconut milk

In a shaker, make sure the mint and sugar are well mixed. Then add the lemon juice, water, and coconut milk. Put the top on and shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients. Serve over ice.

Green Tea Lemonade

You need:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of green tea powder
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup of cold water

Combine the sugar with the green tea powder and warm water. Stir until the sugar dissolves. After the sugar dissolves, it can be transferred to a cup and you can stir in the lemon juice and cold water. Stir and serve over ice.

Delicious Blueberry Lemonade

You need:

  • 3/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 3 cups of cold water

In a blender, blend together the 3/4 of lemon juice, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of blueberries, and hot water until the berries are mushy and the sugar is dissolved. Pour this into a pitcher and add the cold water. It is recommended to chill for at least an hour. Then serve on ice and enjoy!

Fresh Peach Lemonade 

You need:

  • 1 cup of fresh of frozen peaches, sliced and peeled
  • 2/3 cup of country time lemonade
  • 4 cups of cold water and ice
  • Sprite or 7 up (optional)

In a blender, blend together the the 1 cup of fresh or frozen peaches, 2/3 cup of country time lemonade, and the 4 cups of water. Stir a little before serving. If you want a little carbonation, add a little bit of the sprite or 7up. You can always add some frozen blueberries to the top for the aesthetic 😉 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies That are Actually Nutritious

Simple Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies | Fit University

Let’s be honest, everybody loves chocolate chip cookies. Or just chocolate, or chips, or cookies. 

What if I told you your cookies could have a few servings of fruits, complex carbohydrates, AND sweet-tooth-solving sugar all in one?!

I adapted this recipe!

Time: 30-45 minutes

Yields: 5 dozen (so either claim the happiness all for yourself or spread some smiles to friends!)

Sh*t You Need:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs (if you have an egg allergy, use 1/4 c. tofu)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup raisins (you can also use cranberries or dried blueberries)

Note: Depending on how much fruit you want in ratio to chocolate chip, feel free to add or subtract the amount suggested below you include in the batter. 

The Recipe

1. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.

2. Combine flour, soda, oats, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in morsels and raisins. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets.

3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 14 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks to cool completely (give at least 10 minutes).

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Let’s Leave “Gluten-Free” (GF) in 2016, Please

Everybody knows somebody who is “gluten-free” (GF).

These gluten-free individuals sometimes suffer from “celiac disease.” However, more often than not, they are perfectly healthy, if not mostly misinformed, people. The general population doesn’t even know what gluten IS, yet alone understand why they’re suddenly not consuming it. So, lets first begin by putting down some finite definitions.

What even IS “gluten?”

According to the official website of the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), “gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.”

And what’s celiac disease?

Also according to the CDF, celiac disease is a, “serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.”  Celiac disease affects about 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Additionally, the CDF claims that, “two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”

Now that we’ve settled what we’re talking about, we can get to decoding and demobilizing the gluten-free diet. Disclaimer: this argument excludes those who are GF for health reasons. If you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, please continue the gluten-free course of treatment/diet as prescribed by your health professional!

Why go GF?

Many people start the gluten-free diet because they want to cleanse their bodies or lose weight. However, there’s no scientific basis to these claims. As best stated by www.gluten.org: “The gluten-free diet is sometimes promoted as a way to lose weight, or as a ‘healthier’ diet for the general population… claims are unfounded.  The gluten-free diet is healthier for people with gluten-related disorders… no evidence that it is beneficial for people who do not have these conditions.”

Gluten is in carbohydrate-heavy foods like bread, pastries, oatmeal, and grains. Therefore, GF seems like a great option for dieters, because people believe that they’ll ultimately be forced to cut out “unhealthy” foods. However, restricting your food intake by creating “good” and “bad” foods foods can cause disordered eating habits. Also, subbing out regular version of snacks/foods for the gluten-free version can be nutritionally detrimental to one’s health

Peter H.R. Green is director of Columbia University Medical School’s celiac disease center. In an interview with The New Yorker, Green explained how orthorexia nervosa is on the rise. This disease forces people to stop eating certain foods that they perceive as bad for their health. “First, they come off gluten. Then corn… soy… tomatoes… milk. After a while, they don’t have anything left to eat—and they proselytize about it.”

Outside of this, there’s no evidence to support the assumption the gluten-free is healthier than a balanced diet. Some studies suggest that removing glutinous foods from your diet can improve gastrointestinal health. However, these studies more likely demonstrate that people should watch their sugar or refined grain intake.

So what now?

In short, going gluten-free is only a good decision if you have a medical reason to do so. Otherwise, it can lead to disordered eating and malnutrition. 

The key to a healthy lifestyle isn’t fad diets and internet crazes. To be healthy is to be holistically well– in mind, body and spirit. The “body” aspect of this triad needs whole foods, fruits, veggies, proteins, AND grains. Don’t sell it short by selling out to a quick-fix Internet obsession.

 

For more info on wholesome nutrition and how to achieve it, check out these articles:

Why Everyone Should Eat More Nice Cream

Nice cream saved my vegan life.

For those who are vegans or who have other dietary allergies, finding alternatives for conventional foods is as almost difficult as understanding the Lost series finale. If there is anything I miss from my non-vegan days, it is definitely ice cream. I would frantically search my local grocery stores for vegan ice cream; however, they were often filled with strange ingredients that I had never heard of or that I could not pronounce.

I remember one day in the summer after my sophomore year of college, my parents sat at the dinner table indulging in vanilla ice cream topped with raspberries and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Watching my parents twirl their spoons into the creamy goop was unbearable.

I frantically raced to the kitchen, yanked open the freezer door and grabbed all of the frozen fruit I could find and dumped them into a food processor. Although I had the intentions of making a smoothie, my strawberry-banana concoction ended up being thicker and creamier than I expected.

Over the next few weeks, I experimented with frozen bananas and started to combine peanut butter, vanilla extract, chopped nuts and cacao nibs to my faux ice-cream. I eventually learned that there was a name for my concoctions. 

This savory, fruit-based dish is called nice-cream: an appropriately fitting name for a food that does not solely have to be consumed as dessert. Not only is this protein and fiber-filled dish healthy, it is also simple to make, cheap and extremely versatile.

Below is a recipe that you can try on your own:

Basic Nice Cream

Sh*t You Need:

A high-power blender or a food processor

For Your Base
A frozen fruit of your choice (typically bananas, but strawberries, mangoes, or a combination of frozen fruit can work, too)
Optional: 1-2 Tbsp milk of choice*
Optional: 2-3 Tbsp. of flavoring, such as a drop of vanilla extract, or cacao powder

Toppings (for the best nice creams, go CRAZY!)
Granola
More fresh fruit
Dried fruit (mulberries or goji berries, for example)
Chocolate chips/cacao nibs
Dates

*Note: you really do not want a lot of liquid because you want a smooth consistency, not a runny consistency.

The Recipe

1. Add frozen banana pieces (or frozen fruit) to your blender or food processor.

2. Blend until a creamy consistency. If the blade gets stuck, use a spoon to move some of the pieces around or add 1-2 tbsp of plant/non-plant based milk.

3. Scoop into a bowl and mix in toppings.

4. Enjoy!

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This Morning Smoothie Will Keep You Awake

Four ingredients stand between you and the perfect morning.

It’s 5 A.M. and the alarm clock has just went off. And the majority of the world is thinking the same exact thing. Turn that dang alarm clock off! Throw it, stomp on it, break it with a bat, or even press the snooze button. But, did you guys know that by 5 A.M., Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is already drenched in sweat finishing his first couple of sets?

Whether your a late bird or an early bird, it does not matter what time you go to the gym. What is important is for you to get up and energized in the morning. You have places to go! Things to see! No time for drowsiness.

So here are the ingredients to one of my favorite shakes. It has boosted my awareness and alertness and given me that extra boost to start my day off well

Alarm Clock, Stand Up, Time Of, Sleep, Bed, Wake Up

The 4 Magic Ingredients

1. Oranges

Have you ever watched breakfast commercials on Saturday mornings on Disney channel or Nickelodeon and noticed something in common? No, I’m not talking about the milk or the cereal, but the side of orange juice always next to the bowl of cereal.

It’s there because OJ is jam packed with vitamin C and potassium to give your body energy. So, start your smoothie off by peeling and sectioning some oranges. In terms of portions, I personally peel 2 oranges for a single serve smoothie. 

Orange, Taronja, Autumn

2. Bananas

Quick question: What 7 letter word only consists of 4 of only letters from the alphabet? Bananas!

You can find numerous articles on the health benefits of bananas, but to sum it up: they are high in potassium and the B vitamins complex. If this doesn’t persuade you on their health benefits, bananas also provide 1.5 grams of protein along with 3.5 grams of fiber to provide you the energy for a high level workout, a long day in class, or whatever you’re doing with your morning. Simply peel the banana and drop it into the blender. 

Banana, Fruit, Healthy, Yellow, Tropical, Food

3. Milk

The benefits of milk and the bond between milk and humans date back centuries, or even millennias, ago.

Milk is recognized worldwide as the powerhouse of our body because it’s a great source of protein. There are endless amounts of “Got Milk?” commercials with athletes like Serena Williams to Steph Curry signifying the importance of milk in our everyday diet. I add about 12 ounces of milk into my shake.

Glass, Milk, White, Cow'S Milk, Pour A, Drink

4. Honey

Honey is my true best friend. This awesome source of carbohydrates is a true, all natural energy source.

Not only does it make the smoothie sweet and tasty, but carbohydrate sources like honey are known to provide glucose energy for an extra boost of fuel. I add around 2 tablespoons of honey because I have a sweet tooth and personally I like my smoothies extra sweet.

Honey, Sweet, Syrup, Organic, Golden, Teaspoon, Pouring

Your turn!

Also guys, do not forget the ice. Without the ice, is it really even a smoothie?

Blend all of these ingredients for one minute, and just like that you have made the awesome Syed Startup Smoothie.

Note: People have also recommended for me to try adding yogurt, so I’ll be testing that out next time!

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Two Surprisingly Easy Ways to Cook Fish for Dinner

Once upon a time I was one of the many people who claim to “hate all seafood”. In reality, I had only tried a classic chain restaurant white fish: not very fresh, it had a pungent fishy smell, and was gag-worthy to any young child. After that, I rejected the idea of sea creature consumption for years. 

In my late teens, I gradually eased my way into world of fish consumption with foods like sushi, lox bagels, and poke bowls. Once I discovered that fish (other than restaurant cod) could taste AMAZING and provide my body with essential nutrients like protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, I was hooked. 

If you’re a lifelong seafood-hater you might be amazed at how great fish can taste when you put a little love into it’s preparation with these two fish dishes. 

Grilled Sockeye Salmon and Zucchini 

Time: 20 minutes 

When to eat it: For dinner after a long day at the beach 

Perks: High in protein and Omega’s 

Sh*t you need: 

1 4 oz. wild sockeye salmon filet 
1 large zucchini
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic 
Salt and pepper

Grill pan

The Recipe 

1. Heat the grill pan to medium heat on the stove with 1 tbsp olive oil and minced garlic.

2. In a medium size bowl season the salmon with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. In another bowl season the zucchini with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.

4. Sear the salmon in the grill pan for 4-6 minutes per side or until it feels firm to the touch.

5. Sear the zucchini for 4-6 minutes per side in the same pan (convenient!) until the squash is tender but slightly crisp.

Seared Ahi Tuna and Asian Slaw 

Time: 20 minutes 

When to eat it: Dinner

Perks: High in protein and magnesium 

Sh*t you need: 

1 Ahi tuna filet 
1 bag julienne cut green and red cabbage and carrots 
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced or grated
1 Tbsp agave or honey  
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

The Recipe 

1. Mince garlic and ginger.

2. Mix garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, sesame oil and vinegar in a small bowl - save a 1/2 tbsp of garlic, ginger, and sesame oil to coat the pan for searing ahi.

3. Toss cabbage and carrots in the sauce mixture and place in the refrigerator.

4. Heat a pan on medium heat with leftover sesame oil, garlic and ginger.

5. Sear the tuna for 2 minutes per side (rare).

6. Plate your tuna atop a bed of asian slaw and devour.

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Natural Sweeteners and the Health Halo: Do Your Research

I’m sure many of you have heard about using agave nectar as a natural sweetener, especially you vegans out there (it’s a good honey replacement). But is this sweet stuff derived from the agave plant actually healthy? It sure sounds like it would be, because anything from nature must be healthy, right?

Wrong.

Health experts are now backpedaling on their initial praise of agave, warning all consumers of its dangerously high fructose levels and potential health consequences.

Agave was initially thought to be a good sugar substitute because since it has a low glycemic index, it doesn’t cause a blood sugar spike. But this doesn’t mean it’s healthy – just that it’s low in glucose.

Agave is made from the agave tequiliana plant grown in Mexico, which is why it was given the “natural” health food label. The problem is that to get from the plant to the grocery store shelf, agave nectar undergoes extensive processing that completely strips the nutritional value from the original agave juice of the plant. All that is left is a product comprised solely of fructose, the most damaging form sugar can take. Agave has double the amount of fructose that high fructose corn syrup has.

Excessive fructose consumption wreaks havoc on our bodies. Since it can only be broken down by the liver, as it digests free radicals are formed causing an inflammatory response and ultimately damages cells. The dangerous final products of fructose breakdown are triglycerides, which directly contribute to plaque build up in the arteries, greatly increasing future risk of cardiovascular problems. Other potential health issues include metabolic distress, hormone disruption, and adrenal fatigue. 

The good news is, there are so many other nutritious, natural sweeteners out there! Here’s a quick list of a great alternatives:

  • Organic raw honey: antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, provides many essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes
  • Maple syrup: rich in antioxidants, provides manganese, calcium, potassium
  • Black strap molasses: highest antioxidant activity, provides calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin B6

And hey, some agave is totally fine, but enjoy in moderation. That media-given health halo doesn’t tell the whole story.

The big picture lesson? Don’t trust every new health food fad that comes out. Wait out the initial craze to make sure it’s something worthwhile. 

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The Whole30 Didn’t Work For Me, and That’s Okay

Sometimes, the plan doesn’t work. And that’s okay.

Disclaimer: Everyone has a different experience with Whole30. For many people, the Whole30 is an absolutely life-changing program that can transform their relationship with food, help them craft healthy habits, and alleviate health, skin, and medical conditions that have plagued them for years. 

For these reasons, I’m extremely happy that the Whole30 exists.

HOWEVER, what I’m here to do is give you my experience with Whole30. I can’t speak for anyone else. And I will be completely honest when I say that the standard Whole 30, strict-Paleo template did not work for, and was definitely not right for, me. 

What is the Whole 30? 

The Whole 30 is a lifestyle program comprised of two parts: elimination and reintroduction. This is something that I think many people forget, or do not realize. 

Not only is this a 30-day food and habit reset, but it’s also a program that has you reintroduce foods after the 30-day elimination.

In this vital re-intro period, you learn and understand how specific foods and food groups (grains, legumes, dairy, refined/processed goods, alcohol, and sugar) affect you on physiological, emotional, mental, and physical levels. From this knowledge, you can create your own personal definition of healthy eating (that may or may not involve the foods the Whole 30 cut out). 

The basic premise? Knowledge is power, so once you find how certain foods work for you, you gain control of your skin, energy levels, health conditions and digestion. Incredible. 

I’ve been a longtime supporter of the Whole 30 program and co-founder Melissa Hartwig’s approach to eating real food, finding food freedom, and creating a healthy, individualized lifestyle and diet that is right for your body and mind. However, I had never done a full Whole30 until this past February. Inspired by Food Freedom Forever and a desire to curb my sugar/dessert habits, I embarked on this journey. 

You can go to the Whole 30 website to learn, in detail, about what exact foods are included in the original Whole30 program (they now have vegan, pescatarian, and vegetarian options), but basically, for the past 30 days I ate a black-and-white Paleo diet. Well, mostly…

Some Context: I Have A History with Restrictive Paleo Diets

About two years ago, I put myself on an extremely rigid, “no cheats” Paleo diet. I was hooked on this craziness for over 12 months, and it was terrifyingly destructive to my relationship with food.

It was essentially a Whole 365, which is exactly what the co-founders of Whole30 advise not to do. But I didn’t know this at the time. As a freshman in college, all I knew to be “true” was that gluten and gluten-free grains were devils. Refined seed oils were horrendous. And sugar was something to genuinely fear and avoid under all circumstances.

I was convinced that these foods were “bad for me”, convinced they would make me gain weight, and felt sure they would ruin my digestion, skin, energy levels, happiness, and life.

(Mind you, I’ve been allergy tested by a naturopathic doctor. And while I do have actual allergies to dairy, all nightshade veggies, and random shit like oranges, garlic, and tuna fish, I’m not intolerant or allergic to gluten, sugar, legumes or gluten-free grains. Like, at all.

Thinking it was super healthy and good for me, I continued on this Paleo diet for months. 

Being in this place of rigidity fueled some intense cravings for treats. I wanted the things I could not have (ice cream, frosting, cookies, brownies), so I turned to the closest, Paleo-friendly option available: the jar — no, jars on jars on JARS, of nut butters. What started out as a snack that I occasionally enjoyed quickly evolved into a food I would binge on repeatedly for days.

It was not until I removed all dietary restrictions from myself (over a year later) that I began to remediate my relationship with food. I became happier and healthier again. It felt amazing to legalize the foods I’d restricted, such as oatmeal and quinoa, and I finally, finally stopped binging on almond butter. I no longer had a reason to; without me even trying to avoid it, the habit died on its own.

I’ve written more about my Paleo experience, and how I healed my food relationship and habits here

The Perks of Whole 30

Fast forward to February 2017: I’m taking on Whole30 for the first time, and the first two weeks of the program are fan-freaking-tastic! 

1. Tiger blood.

After the first two to three days, when I felt like my brain was about to explode due to a sugar hangover headache, I was on such a high. I felt like I had the tiger blood that Whole30-ers talk about experiencing at the end of the month!

2. My food felt energizing and satisfying.

I had a ton of energy at work, and I barely needed snacks during the day. My meals were delicious, satisfying, savory, and tasteful. I was trying out new recipes and creating a bunch of my own

3. My body felt a difference.

I was sleeping soundly (something that didn’t happen much before), my skin was getting clearer and softer, by week 3 I had NO cravings for chocolate or cake or any baked goods, and my hair was growing…wicked fast. I seriously feel like my hair grew three inches during Whole30. 

Note:

Even though my Whole30 is over now, these are the most profound effects that I’ve continued to see even after the fact. They are the benefits that inspire me to eat healthy. I really like sleeping like a baby, having clear skin & strong hair and nails, feeling energized all day, and not maintaining constant cravings for treats. Hello, non-scale victories!

The Dark Side of My Whole 30: What You Didn’t See

While I did experience all of these benefits and was eating delicious food (such pesto turkey meatballs and rosemary + prosciutto frittatas), there were some drawbacks to my Whole30 experience, and they all stemmed from that year of rigid, restrictive Paleo dieting.

Co-founder Melissa Hartwig explicitly states in her books that if you have/had an eating disorder, or specific disordered tendencies with food, to please work with your trusted healthcare practitioner to see if Whole30 is a good fit (or not) for you.  

This is what I didn’t do, and this is what I learned (the hard way) that I should have done. 

I thought that eliminating grains, legumes, alcohol, and all sweet treats for 30 days would help me to feel better and reset my relationship with food, but in fact, it made my connection with eating worse. After that two week high, I should have stopped my reset. Instead, I kept going. 

By week three, I was tired of a) eating eggs, and b) restricting food groups that I’d finally, after that year of fearing certain foods, integrated into my diet. 

Before the reset, I felt emotionally happy and on point with my digestion while eating non-Paleo/Whole30 foods– beans, occasional gluten-filled treats, oatmeal, quinoa, and dark chocolate. Since I knew this about myself and my digestive system, I became incredibly and enormously pissed off that I was not allowing myself to eat these foods. 

So what did this annoyance and restrictiveness cause during my Whole30? I was brought right back to the unhealthy cycle that I used to maintain when I was stuck in my rigid paleo diet — binge on almond butter (sometimes stuffing it in Medjool dates because hot damn that’s a fabulous “Paleo” treat), feel bad about it, restrict stringently for a few days, and then one night after dinner, dive face first into the current jar. 

I was hot and bothered that I was restricting myself like I had in my freshman year of college, and that my almond butter binging had come out of its grave. Upon realizing this habit had resurrected, I realized that since limiting myself to specific food groups was not working for me, I had no obligation to continue. If and when I wanted to, I could just…stop. I could simply start listening to my body instead of trying to work so, so hard to make the Whole30 right for me.

And let me tell you: this legalization of food (which I’ve realized is a gift of grace and kindness to my mind, my relationship with eating, and my body) has continued to bring me joy every day since I called off my Whole30. 

After Whole30: Benefits and Lessons Learned

Of course, within every experience, there are lessons to be found, and I certainly learned a lot about myself through doing this program.

Here are the things that my Whole30 taught me:

1. Even though ghee is clarified butter and contains no lactose, my body does not tolerate it well. I think I’m so allergic to dairy that even ghee is rough for me. Anyone want my jar of Fourth and Heart Vanilla Bean Ghee? It’s so good, and I wish it didn’t upset my digestive system. Ugh! 

2. Post-Whole30, I can now enjoy treats (a piece of dark chocolate, a slice of homemade banana bread) and not feel the need to consume the whole bar or loaf. This is truly my favorite improvement because I had a huge problem with eating dessert in mindless excess before Whole30.  

3. Eating meals without looking at my phone, my computer, or the TV are insanely more satisfying. 

4. Things that help me digest food better: taking a few deep breaths before my meals, and taking short walks outside after meals. 

5. Owning a food Instagram and food blog is way less enjoyable while doing Whole30, unless I surround myself with only Whole30 content (hard to do when I enjoy following lots of bakers and non-Paleo bloggers). 

So What Now?

My post-Whole30, healthy eating plan? To eat whatever the hell I want, when I want.

Because my restrictive past with food ignited a backfiring of my attempt at Whole30, I now try my best to exist in the entirely opposite realm. When I do genuinely desire a treat, whether it be once a week, once a month, or five times in five days, I allow myself to indulge and seriously appreciate that almond butter truffle, chocolate cookie, or slice of pumpkin bread.

In doing so, I don’t drive myself crazy with restriction, and I don’t enter the binge cycle that I know happens for me personally when I do restrict way too much. 

The Takeaway: One Program Isn’t for Everyone

Before Whole30, I thought that doing Whole30 was going to be the only way to reset and improve my food habits. After giving it my best shot, though, I’ve learned that this is not the truth. And in many ways, this brings me so much peace. 

My hope is that you experiment and discover what works for you (with food, wellness, and health habits). Whole30 is a life-changing program for millions of people; you could very well be one of them. Or not. While it has helped tons of individuals become happier and healthier, no single program is going to work for all us, and I think we should try our best to be A-okay with this. 

So go out there, experiment with different foods, be honest with yourself about what is working, and is not working, for you, and eat a delicious freaking cookie when you want it. 

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Summertime Fruit Tart

This fruit tart is cool, creamy, and coconutty.

It’s all about summertime and sweet treats. Who’s ready for some sunshine, warm weather, and cool sweet treats? It’s the perfect time to whip up this fruit tart. 

My favorite toppings are blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, mangos, and mandarins, but be creative and change it up to your liking! This fruit tart is simple and customizable – you can’t go wrong.

Time: 30-45 minutes (depends how long it takes your custard to thicken)

When to Eat It: snack or dessert

Perks: vegan and full of fruit

Sh*t You Need:

For the custard

1.5 coconut milk

1/2 cornstarch

1/3 sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

For the vegan crust

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup rolled oats

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

For the pie

Fruits of your choice

The Recipe:

1. Create your coconut custard by mixing sugar and about half of the coconut milk in a small saucepan.

2. Place over medium heat and stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Add in the rest of the coconut milk and cornstarch together. Keep stirring. The lumps will eventually go away.

4. Keep stirring the mixture until the custard thickens. Once it thickens, remove it from the heat immediately.

5. Let your custard mixture cool while you make the crust.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

7. Combine all the crust ingredients in a blender or food processor.

8. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet or pie pan and bake for about 10 minutes.

9. Let your crust cool.

10. Pour or spread your custard mixture onto the crust. Top it with your favorite fruits and enjoy! 

If you try this recipe, tag @fituniversity, #fituniversity, and @msinspireout on Instagram!

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Anytime Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes you need a cookie, without the sugar crash.

There really aren’t many things better than a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie. I don’t know about you, but I can go to town on a tray. Like, 12 cookies are not lasting a long time in my house dorm. While that’s all well and good once in a while, I definitely do not feel my best when I’m consuming that much sugar on the regular. Enter: these anytime oatmeal cookies.

anytime oatmeal cookies

They’re made with oats and oat flour, coconut oil, and only a little maple syrup – and they’re totally customizable. Don’t like chocolate? Sub in your favorite nuts or dried fruit. Want them sweeter and more dessert-like? Add more maple syrup. Don’t have coconut oil? A little melted butter will do the trick.

I love eating them warm out of the oven (or, hey, reheated in the microwave), crumbled over Greek yogurt or a smoothie bowl for breakfast, or with some vanilla ice cream for a healthier dessert. Hence, the name: anytime oatmeal cookies.

Time: 20 minutes

When to eat them: Breakfast, snack, dessert… whenever you want some healthier sweets.

Perks: Low sugar, customizable

Sh*t you need:

2 T. coconut oil (or butter), melted
1 large egg
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup oat flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or desired add-ins)

The recipe:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together melted coconut oil or butter, egg, vanilla, and maple syrup in a large bowl.

3. Add oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt to wet ingredients. Mix until you have a dough.

4. Add chocolate chips or other add-ins to the dough and mix until dispersed throughout.

5. Roll dough into balls about 2 T. large (I used a 2 T. cookie scoop) and place on parchment-lined pan.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

anytime oatmeal cookies gif

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How Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth (the Healthy Way)

Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up your love for chocolate.

When it comes to treating myself, I struggle with a chocolate addiction. Going to the gym? No problem. Eating my vegetables? Easy enough. But I just really love chocolate.

I initially found it difficult  find the balance between maintaining a healthy diet and indulging in my favorite chocolate treats. Over time, however, I learned that incorporating healthy, indulgent treats into your everyday routine is surprisingly easy. 

Here are some simple ways to stay on track (without missing out on sweet foods):

1. Make simple swaps.

When it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, incorporating natural sweeteners, coconut oil as a butter substitute, and unprocessed flour alternatives are easy ways to modify recipes for a healthy diet.

2. Kick up the flavor (without kicking up the sugar).

The addition of spices like vanilla, cinnamon and cacoa are easy ways to add familiar flavors to your desserts. These spices even provide extra nutritional benefits.

Cinnamon may be a common spice for all things sweet and delicious, but organic cinnamon can also offer medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. 

If you are a chocolate lover, cacao will quickly become your new best friend.

This unprocessed version of traditional cocoa powder contains almost four times more antioxidants that traditional dark chocolate along with various vitamins and minerals which include protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, and sulfur.

Whether its in a powder form or in cacao nibs you can use in replacement of chocolate chips, cacoa has been a lifesaver when it comes to making all my favorite healthy treats chocolatey and decadent

When it comes to all things sweet and healthy, I have three go-to recipes that make me forget about all of my favorite unhealthy treats.

These recipes are not only delicious, but they can be enjoyed without the guilt or discomfort that often comes along with traditional desserts. 

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies will make you forget about your favorite pre-made cookie dough. They’re absolutely delicious and surprisingly healthy with no flour, no butter, and no processed sugars. 

What you’ll need:

3/4 cup of oat flour (quick oats blended in a blender)
1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
1/4 cup of quick oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 large egg
1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
4 tablespoons of coconut sugar
1/2 cup of dark chocolate or sweetened cacoa nibs

The Recipe

1. Stir together the oat flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together the vanilla, egg, and coconut sugar. Combine melted coconut oil when it is cool enough. 

3. Combine the wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and the chocolate chips. 

4. Cover and chill the dough for 30 minutes to an hour. This is vital to ensure you don't make pancake cookies!

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Scoop the dough into balls on a non-stick baking sheet. I like to sprinkle some sea salt on top after this step.

7. Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies.

8. Enjoy!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Initially, I was skeptical about including something green into a dessert but I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The avocado gives the mousse a light, airy texture while providing healthy fats that will help keep you fuller for longer- the perfect late night snack!

What you’ll need:

A blender (I love my NutriBullet for this!)
1 large avocado
1 banana, make sure it’s ripe and spotty.
4 tablespoons of raw cacoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of honey or agave

The Recipe

1. Add the ingredients to your blender.

2. Blend until the mixture is completely combined.

3. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes and enjoy!

4. I love to add fresh fruit, a mint leaf, chia seeds, or coconut shavings to the top.

5. Enjoy!

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding is LIFE. I’m obsessed, but the chia-seed texture is not for everyone.

Chia seeds are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. This superfood does a magical thing when combined with almond milk and transforms into pudding within a matter of hours. This recipe can be used as a dessert, but it also makes the perfect breakfast or healthy snack.

What you’ll need:

1/3 cup of black chia seeds
1 1/2 cups of almond milk
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of cacoa powder (if you want it chocolatey)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

This recipe makes about 2 servings.

The Recipe

1. Simply combine ingredients into a container with a secure lid (mason jars are perfect for this).

2. Give it a shake until everything is combined.

3. Let the mixture sit for 3 hours.

4. Add your favorite topping like nuts or fresh fruit. 

5. Enjoy!

Note: An hack for this recipe is to buy sweetened vanilla or chocolate almond milk to simply combine with the chia seeds. These two ingredients make this recipe super simple if you’re in a time crunch!

These simple, sweet recipes are the perfect way to satisfy your cravings while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to experiment and find your favorite healthy recipes when you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Why I Won’t Give up My Favorite Foods for the Sake of Fitness

cheat meal

We all know at least one of these people: the people who refuse to eat their favorite foods or go out for dinner with their friends because they are “on a diet”.

Well, that just might be taking healthy eating too far.

If you eat salads every day and find yourself longing for some gooey, cheesy pizza, go for some pizza once in awhile. You’ll feel better if you indulge now and then than you would forcing yourself again and again to eat vegetables you don’t even want anymore.

If going out for dinner means catching up with friends, then you should probably go out with them, even though your meal will probably be less healthy than what you would choose to cook at home. 

One unhealthy meal will not “undo” your fitness, just like one healthy one won’t make you a star athlete. I have gone through the ups and downs of dieting and restrictive eating, but I have found my balance. With that balance, I have found greater happiness.

And my balance definitely includes some pizza. Some cookies. Some foods that I would not have let myself eat in the past.

I’ve learned that “being fit”does not mean, and is not worth, giving up your favorite foods. And, most importantly, that you can be healthy and still eat your favorite foods.

I eat lots of healthy food most of the time, but here are the three not-so-healthy foods I couldn’t live without.

  • Skyline. I am not from the Ohio area, but I love it. Anything from a 3-way to chili cheese fries will make my taste buds happy as can be. 

cheat meal

  • Pizza. Though I love making healthier pizzas, I also love to indulge in a nice cheesy pizza. Some of my favorite nights are when my friends get together, order a pizza, and go at it. (Guilt free!)
  • Ice cream. Again, I love to run to the grocery store with my friends, go back to one of our houses, and eat ice-cream and have a girls night. Those memories are better than achieving any fitness goals.

So next time you are debating whether or not to go out to dinner with friends or go on that late night ice-cream run… go! A strict diet is not equivalent to a healthy lifestyle. We all need balance, and depriving ourselves of the things we love may make our bodies alone a little healthier, but your real healthiest self involves a healthy body and mind. And a mind that can’t enjoy time with friends and that stresses about dinner is not healthy.

Occasional deviations from healthy foods will not hurt you in any way.

The trick is enjoying your meals, healthy or not. If you regret every bite, then you are missing the point of eating food you love. After you’ve eaten that food, move on. In fact, you’ll be much happier if you don’t deprive yourself from all your favorite foods.

Fitness should enhance your life, not make it miserable.

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Why Rice Bowls Are The Perfect Meal

Why Rice Bowls Are The Perfect Meal

If you’re anything like me, you go through phases with different foods. I went through my oatmeal phase (still in it actually), my smoothie phase, the pasta phase, toast phase, and the list goes on and on. But my latest creation is something so versatile that I think it will probably stick with me forever: rice bowls.

 

A post shared by Julia (@peanutbutterbliss) on

A rice bowl isn’t for just one type of eater. Vegetarians, vegans, meat eaters, gluten-free’s – honestly anyone can make and love a rice bowl. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and there are so many different variations that it never gets old. All you need to make a rice bowl is a base (your rice of choice – my personal favorite is basmati rice – or you can even switch it up and do greens and rice or quinoa), a protein, 2-4 toppings and a sauce.

The first step is to fill your favorite bowl with your rice base of choice. After that, simply top the rice with your protein and extra toppings once they’re cooked, and finally drizzle with your topping. Most only take about 15 minutes to make (but I’ve gotten mine down to 10 because I’m a rice bowl champ). 

A post shared by Julia (@peanutbutterbliss) on

 

Lunching on Mexican rice, seared mango, black beans, corn and tomatoes ❤️ Hope your day is going swell ☀️

A post shared by Julia (@peanutbutterbliss) on

Step 1: Base

  • Basmati rice
  • Brown rice
  • Plain white rice
  • 1/2 greens / 1/2 rice 
  • Quinoa 
  • Any other grain you might like 

Step 2: Protein

  • Tofu/tempeh
  • Veggie burger
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Etc.

Step 3: Additional Toppings

  • Roasted zucchini/eggplant/beets/broccoli etc. (basically any roasted veggie)
  • Sautéed greens
  • Roasted & spiced chickpeas
  • Sauteed bell peppers and onions
  • Shredded carrots & cabbage
  • Mixed grilled veggies
  • Corn, beans, and peppers with cilantro and lime 
  • Roasted tomatoes
  • Baked/roasted sweet potato
  • Crumbled feta
  • Sliced grapes 
  • Chopped cucumber & tomato 
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Etc.

Step 4: The Final Touch

    • Tahini drizzle (my personal fave)
    • Dollop of hummus
    • Guacamole
    • Soy sauce 
    • Any tasty salad dressing of your choice
 

A post shared by Julia (@peanutbutterbliss) on

Next time you’re craving something filling, versatile and aesthetically pleasing, I HIGHLY recommend whipping up a rice bowl. Check out more of mine on my food Instagram – @peanutbutterbliss!

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Counting Macros: Should You Take a Break?

IIFYM: If It Fits Your Mouth…?

If you’re not familiar with the term “counting macros,” it’s where you count the macronutrients you eat every day. You can use an online calculator to determine how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you should consume, and then, you count the macronutrients in each meal you have, either by hand, or by using an app (I use myfitnesspal). 

Before entering college, I counted my macros consistently for almost two years. I am a person who likes structure and doesn’t mind dealing with numbers, so I never saw it as an annoyance. 

I didn’t have a problem doing this in high school because I had structured eating times, and I always brought food from home. I just pre-weighed everything and I was good to go. At the time, this method served its purpose. No problems whatsoever. 

When I got to college, I had a much harder time doing this. I go to a city school, and a lot of social outings revolve around food. Sure, you can estimate calories here and there, but I prefer exact measurements, and I hated feeling stressed about going out with my friends just because I didn’t have the nutrition information.

The stress of being a full time student, having a job, running a student organization, and trying to keep up with friends started to wear on me as well. The last thing I feel like doing at the end of the day is coming home and having to cook/weigh my food. Can’t I just order Postmates? 

I said goodbye to my Martha Stewart food scale that I used for the longest time during my sophomore year of college and decided to stop counting macros.

At first, I kept telling myself I should still be able to count my macros. I would ask myself all of these questions: Why did I decide to take a break? Am I just being lazy? If I were truly dedicated, wouldn’t I just bring my meal prep tupperware when I go out with friends?

Those are all questions that I struggled with. But since entering college, I know that I have grown to choose my mental health and well being over physical appearance. If the current situation of counting macros in college is bringing me stress instead of enjoyment, then why am I doing it? 

Fit University has taught me that fitness is about overall wellbeing, not just about physique goals.

Since taking a break, my strength in the gym has actually improved. I eat out with my friends without feeling stressed. I am by no means saying that counting macros is a bad method, but for me, college is not the time and place I feel comfortable weighing my food. 

Taking a break from counting macros in college will provide you with a much needed mental break. You can enjoy going out to eat without worrying, or you can grab something from the dining hall without weighing it in public (yes, I have done this).  But most of all, during a time that’s busy and sometimes stressful, you will have one less thing to worry about. 

I am trying to live that balanced lifestyle that Fit University has taught me all about. It’s okay to take a break. If you don’t enjoy something, it’s most likely not going to be sustainable. Will I eventually get back to counting macros? The answer is: yes. Some of my goals will be better reached using that method. But for now, I want to enjoy staying fit in college, and that will mean something different for everyone.

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The Truth About Juice Cleansing

juice cleansing

This post was written by Dennis Buckley, Master of Science in Nutrition, and was originally posted on the SaladPower blog.

Cleanses of all kinds have been in vogue for as long as anyone can remember. Whether it’s a coffee enema with bold claims of irrigating your colon and detoxing your liver, a face cream echoing the anti-aging promises of the fountain of youth, or the ubiquitous juice cleanse that you can find in your favorite upscale grocery store, products in various categories have fallen prey to the cleanse and detox craze.

If you’ve had even a passive interest in social media over the past decade or browsed the gossip rags at the grocery store, you know that cleansing is the new Thing (with a capital T). Detoxing and cleanse diets have become a multi-million dollar industry with claims covering the gamut of just about every health condition there is.

So, when did the hype around cleanses begin? Are the claims around them legit? And should I encourage the juice company I work for (SaladPower) to offer “cleanses”?! By the end of this piece, you’ll have the answers to those questions, and it’s quite likely your conception of health and nutrition will have changed for the better.

Where does the idea of “detoxing” come from?

To understand modern culture’s obsession with ridding the body of toxins (the main goal of any cleanse/detox), we must first understand why humans started this practice in the first place.

Ancient cultures like the Ancient Egyptians, Hindus, Sumerians and Chinese…

They believed toxins accumulated in the body naturally and had to be expelled no matter how healthy your diet was. Contrast that with the views of today’s cleansers, who detox as a result of consuming too much alcohol, preservatives and additives in food, and/or just junk food in general. This misconception of how our organs work paved the road to modern cleansing as we know it.

A diagram from the famous “Ebers Papyrus” from Ancient Egypt, which outlined many of the herbal remedies for autointoxication.

These ancient cultures had a theory called ‘autointoxication’ which claimed that byproducts of ineffective digestion could poison the body and cause disease. Waste products in the intestinal tract were thought to be major contributors to disease and a range of therapies arose with the sole intention of cleansing the colon and flushing these “toxins” out of the body.

Fast forward to the 19th century…

When the field of medicine unanimously adopted the theory of “autointoxication”. Basically, people thought their bodies were becoming poisoned by materials already existing in the body itself. Patients’ obsessions with the health of their digestive tracts made it easy for pills, tonics, and enema devices to flood the markets, which effectively “opened men’s purses by opening their bowels.”

In the modern day…

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the medicine industry began to objectively test the legitimacy of these claims and “treatment” methods. The Journal of the American Medical Association, among other organizations, joined in the “continuous, relentless, excoriating critique of quackery” in efforts to expose the dangers and illegitimacy of colon cleansing and dispel these untested claims about colon cleansing.

While the theory that “autointoxication produced by intestinal obstruction… was… the only cause for disease,” has been debunked, the idea of purging the body of mysterious and nondescript toxins persists today. Cleansing began with cleaning out the colon, but evolved into a nebulous “catch all” practice of ridding the body of “harmful substances”.

For most people, there are a few common practices that come to mind when one utters the word “detox” or “cleanse”. Some like to roast in the sauna after a hard night of drinking to sweat out the alcohol. Others enjoy soaking their feet in a glass tank of water, gazing in awe as the clear water turns brown between their toes. “You see that brown stuff? Toxins.” Others will drink copious amounts of water, teas or juice to “flush” out these unspeakable toxins.

These practices should sound familiar, but it’s detox diets that have caught the public’s attention. Millions of consumers have sought redemption from an easy-to-follow protocol with claims of enhanced health, and we’re told it’s as easy as drinking a bottle of juice.

Why do people love to juice cleanse?

Cleansing is big business. Even bottled water has jumped on the bandwagon: “Detox with Evian: Evian spreads quickly through your system and facilitates the elimination of waste and regenerates the body from inside out in the easiest, most natural way.”

We know that human beings have a long history of purifying and cleansing, but the question remains. What is it about juice cleanses that people find so alluring? The answer to that question involves a fundamental misunderstanding about the way the human body works.

The media frequently tells us that “toxins” are the scapegoat behind just about every conceivable illness known to man, from a mild gluten allergy to cancer. This is in large part due to celebrity-driven marketing and advertising. Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow sing the praises of a prolonged juice fast, and the fad has become a mainstream phenomena.

Juicing has gained popularity over other alternatives because it’s convenient and easy to follow. By ingesting nothing but these juice products (some cleanses also allow water), you’ll flood your system with nutrients and give your body a chance to rest, heal, and reset.

Consider this list on bestproducts.com of the 8 best tasting and most popular juice products in 2016. Rather than dissect each company, here’s a list of the collective claims being made.

Juice cleansing can:

  • Help you detoxify
  • Alkalize the body
  • Give your digestive tract a chance to “rest”
  • Give your body a “kickstart” after a pattern of eating unhealthy food
  • Help reset your body
  • Help you lose weight
  • Get rid of heavy metals and toxins
  • Purify your body of harmful toxins
  • Lower your risk of disease
  • Increase your energy

Incredible, right?

These are some pretty far-reaching claims. Can juice cleansing really cure disease, detoxify your body, help you lose weight, and more? Can a good juice fast reset your body in some way?

This idea of a reset, and bringing the body back to harmony is the precise reason why juice cleansing is so alluring, and in this next section we’ll talk about the evidence behind some of these claims.

What’s in a toxin?

One of the underlying goals of every juice cleanse is to rid the body of accumulated toxins. In this context, a “toxin” may refer to any substance that is believed to be toxic or harmful such as environmental pollutants, chemicals, heavy metals, preservatives, or even food additives like high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. Depending on the company or the product being sold, a toxin can be just about anything for anyone.

We talked about the theory of autointoxication earlier in this article, and despite the fact that it was abandoned by the scientific community in the 1930s, the concept is still heavily marketed– and customers are buying into it. The trouble is, after being scrutinized by the scientific community, no such “toxins” have ever been identified.

In 2009 a group of scientists organized by the UK charity group, Sense about Science, reached out to the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to detoxify. When manufacturers were pressed for evidence behind these claims, not a single one could produce a shred of evidence or define what they meant by detoxification, or even explain what they meant by “toxins” in the first place.

Let’s clear things up with the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s definition: “Toxins are substances created by plants and animals that are poisonous in large amounts.” Conversely, “toxicants” refers to man-made poisons found in the environment (i.e. pollutants). By that definition, just about anything could be toxic in the right amount.

What is a “detox”, really?

With regards to detoxing, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University. The respectable one, he says, is a legitimate medical treatment to help treat people with life-threatening drug and alcohol addictions. “The other,” he goes on, “is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”

Detoxification is a recognized medical treatment, but as Ernst says, the term has been bastardized by companies trying to sell a product. While there is a disconnect between how the word is supposed to be used and how it actually is used, there is another relevant issue to consider, and that is the context. Most cases of legitimate detoxification involve specific, recognized medical conditions and procedures, like weaning a patient off of addictive drugs or alcohol, or addressing an identifiable toxicity of a known substance. In these cases, substances in the body must be removed or destroyed because they are a specific cause of illness for the patient. Conversely, ordinary people who want to detox are chasing after an idea and trying to rid themselves of nondescript, unidentified “toxins”.

Juice cleansing is often purported to be the answer to the abundance of unwanted substances in our diet. By subsisting on nothing but juice for a few days, you’ll allegedly detoxify and bring your body back to harmony, and you might even lose some weight.

But without a rigid definition of what a toxin even is, what’s the real enemy we’re talking about here? The evidence has routinely shown that even common substances like water or cocoa, for example, can be harmful at high doses — toxic, you might say.

Water can kill you if you drink too much over a short period of time. It lowers the concentration of electrolytes needed for muscles to function — including the heart.

Cocoa is safe to be eaten by humans, but the theobromine in it makes it potentially lethal for dogs.

This logic chain can be followed for just about anything you can think of, making many ordinarily harmless substances toxic or potentially lethal at high doses. The point is, anything taken in excess has the possibility of incurring harmful consequences in the body, and a fancy juice diet simply won’t help.

The body doesn’t need to be cleansed.

It just doesn’t. To jump back to the colon cleansing example, some proponents claim that slow bowels can cause digesting food to rot and putrefy in the gut, leaking harmful “toxins” into the bloodstream. Just the other day, I overheard an employee at a popular nutritional supplement store talking with a customer about cleanses. In trying to sell the cleanse program, the clerk made the all-too-familiar comparison between the intestines and the pipes underneath your kitchen sink: without routine cleaning, particles may build up and cause a blockage, a leak, or any number of problems. A good cleanse will “flush everything out” and “unclog your system.” Does “the system” really need to be unclogged in the first place?

The body is incredibly efficient at cleansing itself already.

Our body is in fact remarkably adept at removing harmful substances and excreting the waste products of metabolism all by itself. The liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, and the gut are all organs that have evolved to rid the body of harmful or unusable substances.

  • The liver has enzymes that can process toxic substances like alcohol into benign compounds that are excreted from the body.
  • Your kidneys filter unwanted chemicals and waste through urination.
  • Your lungs filter the very air you breathe and your gut is a highly specialized organ that, in a healthy person, absorbs any nutrients the body can use, then excretes the rest.

All of these processes happen automatically, all day, every day. No cleansing product, no supplement, tea, or cold-pressed juice has been proven to do a better job or even enhance these systems whatsoever.

At the end of the day, the clinical evidence and our understanding of the human body just doesn’t support commercial “cleanses” of any sort. Clinical studies investigating the efficacy of juice cleanses are scarce, and based on a recent review, not very convincing.

There is a better way.

Juice cleansing is a practice of exclusion.

For a prolonged period you forfeit junk food, candy, drugs and alcohol in lieu of juice drinks. The fact is, most Americans eat poorly, and detox diets usually mean eating less unhealthy foods while increasing one’s fruit and vegetable intake. Avoiding unhealthy foods is a good move.

Anecdotal reports of weight loss during a cleanse are commonly just water weight or glycogen depletion, and reports of energy and vitality are likely a side effect of consuming such a high amount of healthy fruits, vegetables, and vital nutrients — nutrients that are largely absent from the Standard American Diet. In that respect, a juice cleanse can have some benefits for people struggling to eat nutritious foods; but there is a better, less painful way to reap similar benefits.

Focus on health habits you can sustain on a consistent daily basis, not something you endure once every two months just to experience a fleeting and momentary benefit.

Better options to stay healthy are much simpler (and you probably know them already):

  1. Have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  2. Don’t go overboard with sugar laden junk food.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Sleep enough.
  5. Don’t smoke.

You can drink healthy juice on a daily basis, but the smartest move is to supplement that with healthy eating habits.

An informed approach to health and well-being is one of inclusion, variety, and consistency not of exclusion or restrictive short term dietsNo matter what your diet looks like, having a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables will provide the healthy nutrients your body needs.

You’ve learned that the body does a fine job of filtering out unwanted substances, and the best way to help facilitate those processes is to eat and drink in a healthy manner every day.

The Bottom Line: Supply your body with a wide variety of nutrients on a regular basis, and you will help ensure that your body cleanses itself.

These are values we hold very close to our heart at SaladPower. One of our core beliefs is that “the healthiest thing you can do is inform yourself about nutrition”, and we hope this article helped! This isn’t about cleansing, it’s about a smarter, sustainable way to live and be your healthiest self. 

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Upgrade Your Coffee by Going Bulletproof

We’ve all heard the term “bulletproof coffee” thrown around and, most likely, we’ve all wondered what the heck it could mean. Uh, yeah, coffee makes me feel bulletproof, but that’s only after approximately three cups. Just me? 

But really, “being bulletproof” is a new trend sweeping the nation. The idea was curated by the founder of Bulletproof, Dave Asprey, who believes in biohacking the brain and biology of the body through nutrition, exercise, and some other weird things we probably haven’t heard of before.

Wait, what is biohacking, you may ask? It’s basically the philosophy that we can better our mental state and performance with the help of external forces.

Upgrade Your Coffee by Going Bulletproof

In the spirit of complete honesty and transparency, I’ll preface this article by saying that though I am a pretty big fan of Asprey and his company (I listen to his podcast religiously and enjoy a nice hot cup of bulletproof coffee myself), I take most of his ideas with a grain of salt. A lot of claims are not backed by specific scientific research but by general research that could support it. In other words, none of his claims have been specifically tested but there are ideas borrowed from past experiments that have been conducted.

So, to give you an example:

In a nutshell, bulletproof coffee is regular coffee blended with up to 2 T of butter (grass-fed and unsalted or ghee, nothing else) and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, meant to be a breakfast replacement. It’s marketed to be delicious, curb hunger for four to six hours, promote mental clarity, support hormones, and initiate fat burning. But here’s the science of it: 

Your body goes into a fasting state during sleep and remains in that state until your first meal of the day. Where carbs and protein are converted to glucose and blood sugar is raised by insulin, fat in itself converts to ketones, which keep blood sugar relatively low. When carbohydrates are kept at a very low concentrate in your diet, your body will go into a state of ketosis, in which ketones are burned rather than glucose for energy. Therefore, you burn more fat by using this energy source rather than glucose.

What the heck does this all mean?

Basically, drinking bulletproof coffee promotes fat burning throughout the day. And helps you with that brain fog. And is an amazing upgrade from your normal cup of coffee. I mean, who doesn’t love butter? And coffee?

Upgrade Your Coffee by Going Bulletproof

Here’s my take:

I love bulletproof coffee, but I never consume it by itself for breakfast. Never. Not once. Maybe this makes me biased, but I don’t believe in drinking your breakfast and I never will.

Though Asprey claims it’s sufficient energy for your morning, I tend to disagree. Fat does contain 9 kcal of energy per gram, but even still your body needs fuel to get through the day– fuel which coffee in itself cannot provide. 

I do, however, believe that eating low-carb, high-fat breakfasts is beneficial for metabolic function, specifically fat-burning. For me, this makes breakfast a mixture of bulletproof coffee, eggs and egg whites, and an extra protein source, usually turkey or chicken sausage. 

Upgrade Your Coffee by Going Bulletproof

Yep… Definitely some carbs in there.

That being said, my body is different than yours and I am not one to prescribe breakfast recommendations. I’m just putting options on the table. If you feel better after eating carbs for breakfast, then do that! If you want to try only slurping a bulletproof coffee down for breakfast and see how it makes you feel, I support your decision 100%. What I don’t support is drinking coffee for breakfast, feeling sluggish and hungry till lunch, and continuing to do it anyway because you think it’s going to make you lose fat. Don’t do that.

Find what works for you and live it.

And now… A recipe:

Bulletproof Coffee

Time: 2 minutes

When to Drink It: With or before breakfast

Perks: Read above

Sh*t You Need:

1-2 cups of your favorite coffee*
2 T unsalted, grass-fed butter or ghee
1-2 T MCT or brain-octane oil

*Dave recommends mycotoxin-free coffee, but it’s not completely necessary to get the effects.

The Recipe:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend, blend blend!

2. Pour into your favorite mug.

3. Sip that frothiness and enjoy!

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Overnight Oats: A College Student’s Miracle Breakfast

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Do you find yourself in a hurry in the morning, rushing to get to class with no breakfast in hand? Do you find yourself 10 minutes into your professor’s lecture and your stomach makes a loud gargling noise and everyone around you starts wondering where it came from?

Here is a solution to those problems a satisfying, healthy breakfast:

OVERNIGHT OATS

They are so simple and quick to make and can hold you over while you are sitting through those 50 plus slides of human anatomy, or whatever you are studying.

EASY OVERNIGHT OATS

Things You Will Need:

  • air tight container (mason jar)
  • 1/2 banana sliced
  • berries/ fruit for flavor
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • optional sweetener: protein powder, yogurt, maple syrup etc
  • 1/2 cup oats

Add In This Order:

  1. oats
  2. sweetener of choice
  3. chia seeds
  4. bananas and fruit
  5.  1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)

Then 1, 2,3….

  1. cover: tightly with lid
  2. shake: until combined
  3. refrigerate: overnight

Now this is the best part! In the morning when you wake up all you have to do is take your oats that you have done the night before out of the fridge and if you want to can add additional toppings such as: nut butters, nuts, seeds or even more fresh fruit. ENJOY!

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Vanilla Matcha Green Smoothie Bowl You NEED to Try

If you’re anything like me, when you want a smoothie bowl, you NEED a smoothie bowl. I love my usual chocolate or banana berry combinations, but the other day I decided I wanted to switch it up and try to find a new flavor. When I saw my matcha tea on the shelf, I knew I had to try it in my post workout bowl. 

Introducing, the matcha smoothie! Naturally sweetened with bananas and with an extra green boost from spinach, this bowl will have you crawling out of bed in the morning!

 

A post shared by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on

Time: 10 minutes

When to eat it: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, pre/post workout, literally anytime you want something delicious in your belly

Sh*t you need:

-1 frozen banana

-2 tsp matcha powder

-2 handfuls of fresh spinach (about 1/2 cup frozen)

-1/2  tsp vanilla extract

-1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice (optional)

-almond milk to blend (about 1/2 cup)

-ice if needed

-Toppings: granola, chia seeds, melted nut butter, bee pollen, chia seeds, or anything else you can imagine!

The Recipe:

1. Put everything except toppings in a blender or food processor.

2. Blend until smooth and put into a bowl.

3. Add ALL THE TOPPINGS

4. Eat that sh*t.

Show us your smoothie bowl by tagging @fituniversity and using the #fituniversity on social media!

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Vegan Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread

Well that’s a mouthful. 

There’s no other way to explain this pumpkin bread than utterly amazing. I firmly believe that pumpkin-flavored treats are appropriate in all seasons of the year — not just autumn. This bread is perfect for grab and go breakfasts, a holiday gathering, or a baking night with you and your friends. Enjoy! 

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Vegan Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread 

Time: 30 minutes

When to Eat Them: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack time 

Perks: vegan, DEELICIOUS  

Sh*t You Need:

1 box of Cherryvale Farms Pumpkin Spice Bread Mix
1, 15 oz. can of pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup of Wild Friends Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
1/2 cup of chocolate chunks/chips
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons cacao powder 

The Recipe:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Spray a 9 x 5 pan with coconut oil cooking spray.

3. Pour about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of the melted chocolate sauce into each muffin cup. 

4. Once well-combined, add in the peanut butter, vanilla, and the chocolate chunks. Stir.

5. Pour the batter into the pan.

6.Once evenly distributed, swirl in two extra tablespoons of peanut butter on the top of the bread.

7. Bake for 50 minutes on the oven’s middle rack.

8. Remove from oven; allow bread to cool for 10 minutes; drizzle with peanut butter-chocolate sauce.

9. To make the peanut butter-chocolate sauce, melt peanut butter & coconut oil together in a small bowl, either in the pan or microwave (if using a microwave, 45-60 seconds should be perfect). Stir the cacao powder into the melted mixture. Drizzle the mix over the cooled bread.

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This Food Mindset is More Effective than Any Diet

Everyone has a different relationship with food.

Some see food as form of comfort. Some see food as the enemy. Some don’t think about food for taste and only think about its use for nutritional value.

These thoughts aren’t what being healthy is about. I am here to tell you that food is your friend.

I know that society today has this overwhelming perception on how bodies should look. The first thought on many people’s minds is that they need to be skinny to have the stereotypically “ideal” body. Once that’s been implanted into people’s brains, the first thing they tend to think is that they need to eat less.

This is absolutely false.

Now there is no easy way to say this, so I am just going to be up-front and honest.

The only way to change the appearance of your body (not that you need to) is to change the way you eat and exercise. Let’s be honest: a lot of people have goals centered around changing the way their bodies look.

Note: Of course, this is totally unnecessary. Live happy, healthy, and balanced and the rest will fall into place. So really, you can just ditch that negative body image and self doubt and love your body right now instead. 

But anyway, to make your body look stronger, healthier, leaner, or whatever you’re trying to do, it’s important that you eat right. See the catch is: I didn’t say to eat less, I said to eat right

Some days are harder than others. Some days, you want to eat well and you end up eating chips and pizza and cookies and soda all at once… But hey, that’s life. So what do I do? I chose to eat food-conscious.

why food is your friend, not your enemy

That term does not mean to be self-limiting. It doesn’t mean to make rules and limit food, but instead that you should wake up everyday with the intention to feed your body well.

What does that mean?

  1. You want to be eating things that give you energy and keep you alert.
  2. You want to be eating things that nourish your body and help you grow.
  3. You want foods made of whole foods that digest well and help you be the best you can be.

Now that food may not always been readily available, but that’s okay. Do the best you can. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

You are allowed to enjoy desserts and big meals and feeling full; it’s normal.

But make sure you take the time to eat some fruits and veggies because your body will love your for it and flourish from it.

One of my biggest pieces of advice for this is to go to your local farmer’s market and load up on fruit. It’s cheap, fresh, and supports locals! 🙂 

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So in summary: continue to be aware of what you are eating, but don’t let it consume your life. 

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These Super-Fudge Brownies Have Crazy Healthy Ingredients

Fudgy, healthy, moist, and rich… And no, these brownies do not taste like beans. 

I get a strong yearning for a warm fudge brownie on at least a weekly basis, but most brownie mixes are packed with refined sugar and offer few health benefits. These babies combine nutrient dense chickpeas, raw cacao powder and coconut oil to form a gluten-free low glycemic treat packed with antioxidants and fiber. I may or may not make them every weekend. 

Time: 40 minutes

When to eat it: When chocolate cravings strike 

Sh*t you need: 

One 140z. can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 eggs (leave off for a vegan version and double coconut oil)
1 tbsp coconut oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
2/3 cup sweetener of choice (I used organic Stevia)
1/4 cup milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 

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The Recipe

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips into a powerful blender or food processor and blend until batter like consistency is achieved.

3. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Empty mixture into a pan sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. 

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies pass the toothpick/fork test.

6. Allow 20 minutes to cool before cutting and devouring.

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How to Make the Perfect Smoothie Bowl

Did someone say smoothie bowl?

I admit it, I am in love with the delicious and nutritious acai bowl trend.  Tasty and delicious, I could eat them for every meal, but these bowls are often pricey and hard to come by

While my favorite local smoothie joint makes a bowl that’s hard to beat, making the drive to pay over $10 for something that I’ve learned to make myself is not ideal for any college student.

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I have experimented with different fruits, liquids, and toppings, and I think I may have perfected the art of making the most aesthetically pleasing and delicious homemade smoothie bowl. 

The key ingredients are acai and pitaya.

Acai is my absolute favorite, but pitaya is definitely a close second. The key to making these smoothies into acai bowls is using frozen acai packs — they are truly life changing! Thick and creamy, these packs allow me to throw on my toppings, grab my spoon, and dig in. The Sambazon acai packs are my favorite, but Trader Joe’s now sells an exact dupe! 

Full of antioxidants, omega-3’s, and many other nutrients, acai is a fruit your body will thank you for. 

Pitaya is another nutrient powerhouse that is packed full of fiber, magnesium, and riboflavin. A fruit that can make for a terrific tropical twist, it can be found in the frozen fruit aisle

When preparing your frozen fruit to be blended, here are a few tips to follow:

1. First and most importantly, you’ll need a good blender. 

I am in a serious relationship with my NutriBlender– I really love it that much. They’re speedy, affordable, and fit perfectly in any college dorm or apartment! #winning

2. Choose your liquid of choice and find the balance.

No one wants a runny smoothie and no one wants a clumpy smoothie. About 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid will ensure a perfectly blended smoothie.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect recipe or measurement to making a smoothie bowl thick, but there are a few tips to help you perfect yours. Use roughly 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid when blending your frozen fruit to ensure your smoothie bowl is smooth and blended. I prefer almond milk for my acai bowls and coconut water for my pitaya bowls. 

For your smoothie bowls feel free to add other fresh and frozen fruit including berries, mango, pineapple, and any greens you like.  I know greens can seem intimidating, but don’t be afraid to add a handful of kale or spinach to your mixer — it’s an easy way to incorporate micronutrients into your diet and you won’t taste it…I promise!

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You can also add your favorite protein powder, powdered peanut butter (PB2), or cocoa powder to amp up the protein level. 

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen.

 

The more smoothie bowls I made, the better I became at making them perfect.  Here are my two go-to recipes:

Acai Bowl:

  • 1 acai pack
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • handful of mixed berries
  • 1 tablespoon of PB2 or cacoa powder (or even better, both!)
  • 1/2 c to 1 cup of almond milk

Pitaya Bowl:

  • handful of pitaya/dragon fruit cubes
  • mango
  • pineapple
  • handful of spinach/kale
  • 1 cup of coconut water

I usually don’t measure anything exactly, but these are my favorite ingredient mixtures. My favorite part, however, is adding all of my favorite toppings to complete my bowl — fresh fruit, nut butter, a drizzle of honey, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and granola are just a few of my favorite ways to spice up my smoothie bowls.

You now have all the tools to blend a perfect smoothie bowl, so go ahead, make your very own, and enjoy!

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Healthy Pancakes: Flourless and Absolutely Delicious

Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it is also my favorite.

I grew up in a household where big breakfasts were the norm, hence my everlasting love for breakfast food… healthy or not.

As I become more conscious of what I fuel my body with, I have experimented with an endless amount of healthy alternatives to the most decadent breakfast comfort foods. Through this experimentation, and after whipping up a lot of good, bad, and horribly ugly pancakes, I have created the best pancake recipe EVER.

While I was experimenting with various pancake recipes, I came across this pancake recipe on The Cooking Channel and fell in love. Every other recipe I tried after that would also go into the equation; I used to compare and contrast what I liked and didn’t like until I made the world’s best pancake.

Instead of a regular Bisquick pancake out of the box, these ‘cakes offer protein and fiber — the perfect duo to fuel your body in the morning for a hard day’s work.  It makes two rather large pancakes, or three to four average ones.

Let’s talk the key ingredient – oats.

Instead of using regular flour, these pancakes are made with oat flour.  You don’t have to run to your grocery store to find oat flour if you’ve never heard of it. Simply blend any oat of your choice (I prefer quick over old-fashioned) in a blender and, you’ve got oat flour.

For any recipe that calls for oat flour for — because I guarantee you’ll be addicted — remember to measure before and after blending to ensure your ratios are spot on.  However, if you don’t want to worry about blending oats every time you make these pancakes, blend a large batch and store in an airtight container for whenever you need it. 

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Healthy Flourless Pancakes

Time: 5 minutes

When to Eat Them: breakfast

Perks: flourless, no refined sugar, customizable

Ingredients:

¾ cup oat flour
1 banana (more spots preferred)
2 eggs
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon honey (or agave)
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Frying pan
Spatula

The Recipe:

1. Start off by combining your dry ingredients in a bowl (oat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda).

2. Mash banana in a separate bowl and mix in eggs.

3. Add vanilla and honey to wet ingredients and combine.

4. Dump dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Combine well.

5. If you’d like to add anything into your ‘cakes, now’s the time.*

6. Let the batter sit. This is important whenever using oat flour because it will take a few minutes for the flour to absorb all the liquid and the ingredients to marry.

7. Heat up a skillet on medium heat and grease with your oil of choice (I use coconut oil).

8. Pour in the batter and flip when golden brown.
*Note: Blueberries are my favorite way to spice these up. Cacoa nibs, chocolate chips, and strawberries are all great options as well. If you want the pancakes to have a bit more protein (the recipe yields 24g), add in your favorite protein powder for some serious pancake #gains.

You have officially made the world’s best pancakes!

Now, add all the goodies you’d like to the top of your pancakes. Some of my faves:

  • Blistered berries
  • Nut butter
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Maple syrup

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If you have leftovers or double the recipe, they warm up perfectly in the microwave for the next morning or a late night snack. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash Tater Tots with Curry Aioli

Who says you have to grow up and stop loving tater tots?

Tater tots are soooo good! I remember buying the frozen bags of them with my mom as a kid. She would throw them in the oven and I would come in and out of the kitchen anxiously peeking at them in hopes that they would cook faster if I did 😉 My favorite part was the fluffy inside because to me they tasted like french fries but so much better. They were like magic pillows of fluffy potato that I couldn’t wait to dip into some ketchup!

Who says you have to grow up and stop loving tater tots? Not me! That’s why these spaghetti squash tater tots are perfect. Made with sweet potato, spaghetti squash, and gluten free bread crumbs, these tots are a delicious snack or side dish. They’re secretly good for you and loaded with hidden vegetables. They also have the most amazing curry aioli thanks to my favorite avocado oil mayo. So who’s ready to dig in?!

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Toxic Tater Tots

Take a look at the ingredients in these Ore-Ida Tater Tots:

“POTATOES, VEGETABLE OIL (SUNFLOWER, COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN, AND/OR CANOLA), SALT, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, ONIONS, DEXTROSE, DISODIUM DIHYDROGEN PYROPHOSPHATE, NATURAL FLAVORING.”

Why the heck is there disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate in these taters tots? Why is there added sugar in the form of dextrose? Why is there “natural” flavoring? Why do they use highly inflammatory oils from cottonseed, soybean, and canola? Oh yeah… because it’s FAKE FOOD.

News flash: most packaged food companies don’t have your best interests at heart. These tater tots are made to last years in the freezer aisle… in hopes that when someone finally cooks them they still manage to taste good. That’s exactly why they need preservatives and added flavors, because without them they would NOT be delicious.

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Spaghetti Squash Tater Tots with Curry Aioli

Time: 45 minutes

When to Eat Them: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time 

Perks: low carb, gluten free

Sh*t You Need:

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
1 large sweet potato
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup gluten free panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. onion powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Avocado oil spray (or avocado oil and brush)
Curry Aioli: see recipe note below

The Recipe:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Puncture your squash and potato with a knife to allow the steam to escape, then place both vegetables on a baking sheet. Bake them for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the sweet potato is soft and the squash skin can be punctured with a fork. Allow them to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Once the potato and squash are cool enough to handle, it’s time to make the tater tot batter. First, peel the sweet potato, then place the inside of the potato in a bowl and mash it. Next, cut the spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out the seedy inside part and throw it away, then scrape the “spaghetti” part of the squash out of the shell. Finely chop the “spaghetti”, then place it in a large mixing bowl. Add the mashed sweet potato to your bowl with the squash. Add the remaining ingredients, then mix well to combine.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then take a small amount of the batter in your hands. Squeeze it to form the batter into a tater tot, then place on the baking sheet. The batter may seem a little loose, but it will bake evenly. Repeat until the baking sheet is full, leaving a little room between tots to allow even cooking.

5. Spray the tops of the tater tots with a light coating of avocado oil. The spray works great, but if you don’t have it you can lightly brush the tops with oil instead. Bake the tater tots at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, flipping half way through to brown both sides. Let them cool on a wire rack. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with any remaining batter.

6. Dip in curry aioli!

Notes: This recipe tastes amazing with a curry aioli. Just combine avocado oil mayo with a tiny pinch of cayenne, some curry powder, and a little squeeze of lime juice, then dip away!

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This recipe was contributed by Bree from Simple Healthy Eats. Bree is a health coach and health food blogger. Check out her blog and Instagram for more.

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Improve Your Workouts With Dark Chocolate

I’ve got some great news for all you chocolate lovers out there: consuming one serving of dark chocolate daily can improve your athletic performance.  

Yes, you read that right, eating chocolate is actually good for you! A study from Kingston University in London published last year shed some light on the intriguing health benefits of dark chocolate. The results are especially exciting for us fitness enthusiasts. 

The study consisted of 9 amateur cyclists who were split into 2 groups. The first group was given one serving of dark chocolate and the other was given one serving of white chocolate to serve as the control. The researchers tested participants’ heart rate and oxygen consumption while they completed endurance and time trial exercise tests on stationary bikes. After 2 weeks of daily testing, the groups switched which type of chocolate they consumed before exercise. The results clearly showed that the athletes who consumed a serving of dark chocolate daily covered more distance in their 2-minute time trials and their bodies consumed less oxygen at a moderate, sustained pace than those who consumed white chocolate. 

Sports analysis lecturer James Brouner, who was involved with the study, suggested that these results offer benefits specifically to endurance athletes.

Why exactly does this happen? 

In dark chocolate, there is a flavanol (antioxidant that gives the cocoa flavor) called epicatechin. The percentage you find on dark chocolate labels is the percentage of epitechin present. The higher the percentage, the more benefits you reap. Research suggests you consume 70% or higher dark chocolate. Anything less does not have enough epicatechin present to be beneficial. 

When dark chocolate is digested in our stomachs, epicatechin is metabolized into smaller molecules by healthy gut bacteria. This breakdown allows much more efficient absorption of the nutrients into our bodies and facilitates the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases the widening of the veins and arteries which improves blood flow. This improved blood flow allows muscle cells to take in more blood sugar and energy due to the high oxygen passage. In simpler terms: it lets you exercise longer and harder.

Not only can eating dark chocolate as a pre-workout snack improve performance, but you can also eat it after a workout to  fight muscle fatigue. The same antioxidants that energize you during a workout can decrease muscle soreness by 30% because of their strong anti-inflammatory properties. 

Do you drink a post-workout shake after the gym? Try adding a spoonful of raw cacao powder to it! Or if you don’t like eating plain dark chocolate, add cacao powder to a smoothie or oatmeal to mask the taste. 

So, next time you’re planning on heading to the gym, pop a few squares of dark chocolate and crush that workout! 

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My 5 Favorite “Dips” for Roasted Sweet Potatoes

You know those foods you used to hate when you were younger but can’t live without (or, at least, like) now? Well, sweet potatoes fit in that category for me.

I’m not really sure what inspired me to give them a second chance, but I know it was in my sophomore year of college when I realized I liked loved them. Yup. That’s a whole 19 years without sweet potatoes. At least I’m making up for it now.

I eat sweet potatoes several times a week with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes even as a snack. I’ve tried many different cooking methods – steaming, boiling, roasting, mashing – and to be completely honest, the only one that has really stolen my heart is roasting. I love the way the sweet potatoes get all crispy & chewy on the outside and retain a very fluffy, soft, starchy interior. Maybe I’ve not been doing the steaming, boiling, and mashing right, so if you love them, your suggestions are welcome!

While I haven’t been too creative with my sweet potato cooking method, I have been with the dips I use with them. A bit of salt and spices go a long way, but try roasted sweet potatoes with some sort of dip and you’ll be in food heaven.

First, roast your sweet potatoes with whatever oils and spices you wish. Cubes, wedges, rounds, halves or whole – all work, so go with whatever floats your boat. When they’re almost done roasting, whip up one of these five these simple, nutritious and smashingly delicious dips.

1. Smashed avocado & lime

Simple, classic, easy. Avocados are already king of the foodie world, and they go with so many things. Sweet potatoes are no exception. I like keeping it super simple with just a little salt and lime in some mashed avocado, but I occasionally switch it up and add chopped tomatoes too. Plus, the fat in the avocados helps your body absorb the beta carotene and other nutrients in the sweet potato better (as is true with many of the following dips).

2. Tahini honey sauce

The bitterness and creaminess of the tahini works so well with the sweetness of the sweet potato. My method for the dipping sauce: 1 part tahini + 2 parts water + 1/3 part honey + squeeze of lemon juice = perfection.

3. Creamy scrambled eggs

Ok, so not really a dip, technically, but if your scrambled eggs are super creamy, it could definitely pass as one! But seriously, eggs and sweet potato make a wonderful combination.

4. Hummus

Another classic. Warm, crisp sweet potato wedges and cool, creamy hummus are great on their own and beyond incredible together. Get your favorite flavor and go to town.

5. Greek yogurt & nut butter

 

A photo posted by Lex (@restoring_radiance) on

Sweet potatoes are sweet, after all, so why not try a sweet combo? This is creaminess on top of creaminess on top of richness and healthy indulgence. Sweet potatoes, greek yogurt, nut butter of choice, what more do you want?

So what are you waiting for? Get roastin’ and dippin’!

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Healthy (ish) Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies For Any Sweet Tooth

Healthy (ish) Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies For Any Sweet Tooth

If you’re anything like me, your sweet tooth reigns over everything. Never will I choose a savory snack over a sweet one, ESPECIALLY if it involves cookies. Cookies have been my absolute favorite dessert since I was little, and still today I can’t resist a warm, gooey, chocolatey cookie fresh out of the oven.

Throughout my fitness journey, I have attempted to perfect tons of different “healthy” cookie recipes – and before you ask, I’ve made the oats/peanut butter/banana cookies more times than I can count. But sadly, none of the replications I have tried have come close to tasting like a “real” cookie. That is, until I made these double chocolate chunk cookies.

Healthy (ish) Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies For Any Sweet Tooth

This recipe uses many healthy ingredients such as whole wheat flour and cocoa powder and a few unhealthy ingredients (I’m looking at the massive amount of chocolate chips I throw in). And the best part? This entire recipe is completely dairy free and vegan – and I PROMISE you won’t be able to tell. These cookies are huge, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth decadent while not being overly rich. Next time your chocolate cravings come in heavy – PLEASE try this recipe!

Healthy (ish) Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies For Any Sweet Tooth

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Time: 20 minutes 

When to eat it: Literally any time because chocolate

Perks: Tastes decadent while still packing a lot of nutrients

Makes: About 10-12 large cookies (or more/less, depending on how big you like them)

Sh*t You Need:

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter OR coconut oil (I like to use Smart Balance) 
  • 1 cup brown sugar or other sweetener of choice
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips – as many as you want!

The recipe:

1. Mix together the brown sugar and butter/coconut oil.
2. Once combined, add in nondairy milk and vanilla extract to butter and sugar mixture.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, cocoa powder and the baking powder and baking soda.

4. Once each mixture is stirred, add the dry mixture to the wet slowly until a thick dough forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

5. Roll dough into large balls and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

6. Allow cookies to cool for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

 

Healthy (ish) Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies For Any Sweet Tooth

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Breakfast Banana Muffins

Upgrade your breakfast pastry with these banana muffins.

Can muffins be a healthy breakfast? Sometimes. And in this case, yes, because these banana muffins are made with wholesome ingredients. These babies are satisfying enough to eat for breakfast – and they won’t leave you with a sugar crash in an hour. Oh, and did I mention they taste like banana bread? Well, they do.

Banana Muffin

How many of you have waited in line at a coffee shop and stared at the display case full of bakery goods? Muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, you name it and it’s there, tempting you. Eventually, you give in to that blueberry muffin because it seemed “healthy”… even if you know it has so much sugar it might as well be cake.

Well, these kick out the not-so-nutritious ingredients like refined flour and sugar that are found in most store-bought muffins for a healthy on-the-go breakfast.

Time: 18-23 minutes

When to eat it: breakfast, dessert, snack (whenever you’re craving something sweet)

Perks: Not much sugar, can be gluten-free, can be reheated, healthy and satisfying

Sh*t you need:

  • Nonstick cooking spray (optional)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (can substitute for gluten free flours like brown rice, banana, buckwheat, etc.)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed

The Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Line 12 muffin muffin and  lightly coat it with cooking spray.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

4. Combine egg, honey, almond milk, oil, and extract in a medium bowl. Mix well.

5. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix until just blended.

6. Mix in the mashed bananas.

7. Evenly divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

8. Bake 18 to 23 minutes, or until tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Transfer muffins to rack to cool. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe? Tag us at @fituniversity and use #fituniversity!

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8 Healthy Valentine’s Day Themed Breakfasts-in-Bed To Impress Your SO

So your boo likes hitting the gym. Or they’re tryna be healthy. Ok, ok that’s great and all, but it can really put a damper on all the not-so-healthy-food related, chocolate loaded Valentine’s Day meals you had in mind.

Don’t worry – you can still make them a breakfast they’ll dream about! Just follow these healthy foodies and you’ll be on your way to a breakfast they’ll brag about.

1. Waffles 


I mean, does it get any better?! Check out her 4-ingredient recipe here.  

2. Collagen peanut butter french toast

Collagen is the new trend in the foodie Instagram world. And when it can be eaten like this, who can blame them?!

Packed with protein, and pretty enough to justify snapping a photo first, your lover will be begging you to make more. Don’t forget to provide some fruit for healthy toppings!

3. Chocolate bread loaf

 Chocolate for breakfast? Yes, please. Just follow her recipe and bake away. 

4. A bowl of oatmeal that loves you back

If your lover is any kind of fitness junkie or foodie, you know you can’t go wrong with oats. But they don’t have to be boring or bland; find this gal’s fun and lovable recipe here

5. Red berry pancakes

 

A photo posted by Sarah S. (@simplysarahswainson) on

Pancakes are always a classic. And the best part is, they can be healthy too! Give this girl’s recipe a try, our use our recipe for Red Velvet Protein Pancakes

6. Cherry nice cream 

 

A photo posted by JJ Beasley (@beazysbites) on

Ice cream for breakfast? Yep. Get the simple instructions here. All you need is a blender!

7. Breakfast tacos 

 

A photo posted by L y a n a (@healthymood_sf) on

Do you and your SO love Mexican food? These are for you. Get the simple instructions here. Bonus points if you get a healthy combo at Chipotle for your romantic V-Day dinner. 

8. Beet-red smoothie and yogurt 

 

A photo posted by Dani (@dani_nemeh) on

Show your love in nutrients & bright, bright red. Get Dani’s recipe and blend away!

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Valentine’s Day Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Vegan & Paleo Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

A sweet treat for your sweetheart.

Vegan & Paleo Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

If I don’t have a stash of these in my home, you can find me dunking chocolate chips into the almond butter jar. I know, I know — I’m truly thriving. These almond butter cups are every paleo AND Reese’s cup-loving person’s dream, and I cannot wait for you to try them.

And, if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier this year, don’t worry — I’ve got you covered! The sweetener in these almond butter cups is pure, raw maple syrup, which won’t spike your blood sugar or cause junk food cravings. Make these for yourself for Valentine’s Day; I can guarantee that you’ll never desire a different nut butter/chocolate combination. 

P.S.: Don’t like almond butter? No problem! Peanut butter is BOMB in these cups as well. 

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups  

Time: 30 minutes

When to Eat Them: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack time 

Perks: gluten-free, paleo, vegan, no refined sugar, mind-blowingly delicious 

Sh*t You Need:

14 – 16 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup crunchy or smooth almond/peanut/cashew butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Saucepan 
Wooden spoon
Mini muffin tray (or, you can use a regular muffin tray to make giant nut butter cups) 

The Recipe:

1. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Once melted, add the dark chocolate and heat on low. Only heat it enough so that is just melted, being careful to not burn the chocolate.

2. Separately, in a large bowl, stir together nut butter of choice, the other tablespoon of coconut oil, vanilla extract, sea salt and maple syrup.

3. Pour about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of the melted chocolate sauce into each muffin cup. 

4. Add a spoonful of the almond butter mixture to each cup.

5. Pour the remaining chocolate sauce over each almond butter dollop until the cup fills up about 3/4 of the way. 

6. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer; top with sea salt, treat yourself, and ENJOY!

Having a party? If you have leftovers, or are making them ahead of time, store them in the fridge for a fudge consistency (after the 30 minutes in the freezer).

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Here’s the Scoop on Going Dairy-Free

Here's the Scoop on Dairy

Recently, Khloe Kardashian came out with her secret to weight loss: completely cutting dairy out of her diet. She claimed doing so without changing anything else in her lifestyle made her lose 11 pounds within a month.

Khloe is not alone in this new dairy-free craze. A number of other media sources are citing this dietary switch as the cause for weight loss, clear skin, decreased risk of disease, and much more. Many people, myself included, have wondered if going dairy-free is really as magical as some make it seem.

I’ve found that these anti-dairy articles neglect to address the type of dairy the person was eating previously. Were they consuming conventionally- or organically-produced dairy? There is a big difference between the two, and the effects each has on the body are important to take into account before making any major dietary changes. For individuals who are intolerant to dairy, cutting it out entirely is definitely beneficial, but for those who have no symptoms, is it worth it? 

The difference between organic and conventional dairy

Here's the Scoop on Dairy

Organically-raised cows produce milk with a strikingly different nutritional profile than conventionally-raised cows. This is largely due to their diets. Organic cows are fed a grazing (grass) diet, compared to genetically modified corn and soy feed fed to conventionally-raised cows.

The unnatural feed given to conventional dairy cows alters their gut flora and in turn the entire nutritional profile of the milk they produce. The difference is the fatty acids produced. Conventional milk contains omega-6 fatty acids which is the type of fat that comprises vegetable oils and highly processed junk food. Organic dairy only contains omega-3 fatty acids which are very beneficial fats. Some other omega-3 rich foods you may have heard of are chia seeds, flaxseeds, fish oil, avocado, and salmon.

Another important factor is the usage of antibiotics and growth hormones on conventional farms. Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is a growth hormone given to dairy cows to increase their milk production beyond natural levels. When digested in the human body, rBST stimulates another hormone with insulin-like properties called IGF-1 which has been explicitly linked to increased risk of cancer. Cows given this hormone often become ill with mammary infections, so they are pumped with antibiotics. These antibiotics carry into the milk those cows produce, and when consumed can develop into drug-resistant strains that are able infect humans. Certified USDA organic dairy is prohibited from the use of any growth hormones or antibiotics, which shows the overall healthier nature of the cows and their milk. It’s also important to note that in order to reap the full benefits that organic dairy has to offer, it’s better to buy higher fat options rather than fat-free. 

Some common arguments for going dairy-free:

1. Dairy causes diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Articles that have linked cancer to dairy consumption talk about the stimulation of IGF-1 that occurs when dairy is consumed which is linked to increased risks of cancer, but neglects to address that organic dairy does not contain rBST, and therefore does not stimulate the production of this cancer-causing agent. Organic dairy does contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is an omega-3 fatty acid with cancer-fighting properties. CLA also prevents cardiovascular disease, whereas omega-6 fatty acids in conventional milk has been linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk. 

2. Dairy is inflammatory and will make your skin break out.

The omega-6 fatty acids in conventional milk do cause inflammation because they inhibit proper functioning of cells in the body. Organic dairy actually has been shown to improve inflammation, not cause it. Calcium and vitamin D work together to enhance each other’s anti-inflammatory properties. Organic dairy also contains bioactive peptides that suppress any inflammatory responses the body may be creating. Although I will point out that there are studies that have shown that the simple sugar galactose (found in even organic milk) can produce low grade inflammation, but this can be avoided by consuming fermented products such as yogurt or cheese in which this sugar is absent. 

3. Dairy causes weight gain.

This claim fails to address the bigger picture. Dairy is just a small part of an individual’s diet. Dairy alone will not make a person gain weight, and it shouldn’t be a reason to cut high quality sources of dairy out of your diet. Cutting dairy products means cutting out a rich source of fat and protein with relatively few calories, making it hard to replace. The ratio of fat to protein in higher fat dairy products keeps you fuller longer because it digests slowly. Often, people will replace dairy with foods not as nutrient-dense, which is more likely to cause weight gain. If you are going dairy-free, it is important to replace your usual serving with something with similar nutrients such as nuts, avocado, eggs, or beans, not simple carbs. 

4. Adults cannot digest dairy because it is unnatural for human consumption.

Almost every article I have read urging people to go dairy-free has stated the same fact: 60% of the world does not digest dairy. Now, this is true in the sense that after the ages of 2-5 years old, most of us stop producing the lactase enzyme which is responsible for breaking down the sugar in dairy products. However, there is something called lactase persistence that occurs in adulthood because our bodies have adapted to the consumption of dairy. In fact, it has been confirmed by a study that there is a specific genetic mutation which accounts for this. This mutation allows adults to continue to digest dairy with a low amount or absence of the lactase enzyme. If you can’t quite wrap your head around that, another thing to note is organic dairy products are chock full of probiotic bacteria. Organic yogurt and cheese products can have over 60 types of digestive enzymes. They also contains immunoglobulin antibodies, vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and iron, which have enhanced absorption in the presence of the active bacteria. Studies have found that all of these components improve your gut health by helping regulate “gut transit time.” 

5. Dairy will make men develop female attributes.

Gynecomastia is related to excessive estrogen consumption. Consuming conventional dairy on a regular basis is linked to gynecomastia because of the dangerously high levels of rBST hormones. People who struggle with this medical condition are advised to avoid dairy and meat products treated specifically with growth hormones, not dairy entirely. Organic dairy does contain hormones, but they are naturally occurring and not at dangerously high levels. Also, when people eliminate dairy, many turn to soy alternatives which can also cause an upset in hormone balance (in men and women) if consumed in large amounts. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are plant-based hormones that act just like estrogen when digested in the body. The most important takeaway from this point is to ensure you are consuming dairy not treated with growth hormones, and if you are not eating dairy products, be wary of what you are replacing it with. Anything in excess can create problems.  

The scoop: Every body processes dairy differently.

I am not going to tell you what you should do. It’s an individual choice, just like meat consumption. There’s not a right or wrong answer. There are people out there that will benefit from going dairy-free, but the key is that it will not affect everyone.

Listen to your body and make smart, quality choices when grocery shopping. If you’re eating conventional dairy and experiencing acne, maybe try switching to organic dairy products and see if there is improvement there first. If that doesn’t work, then try eliminating it for a few weeks. People who are experiencing digestive problems may try cutting dairy but find that dairy is not actually the problem. Those individuals shouldn’t continue to restrict it just because some are deeming it a healthier lifestyle. It is not a miracle diet; a lifestyle that is dairy-free is not objectively better than one that includes it, and vice versa.

Experiment and see what works for you. If that means trying a dairy-free diet to see how it affects you, then go for it! Who knows, you might have low-grade intolerance symptoms you never noticed and feel much better afterwards. That said, don’t cut out dairy for no reason or to follow trends. That may be hurting yourself more than helping. 

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4 Foods to Fuel Your Brain

Now that the lazy days of winter break are over and it’s back to the grind of being a busy student, it’s also time to fuel your brain for your demanding school schedule.

However, once you resume the day-to-day routine of sleep, school, homework, work, you realize there is hardly time to maintain an active social life, let alone to fix up a healthy meal or hit the gym. It’s no surprise that with a tight schedule we fall into some pretty unhealthy habits, reaching for processed snacks and buckets of coffee just to stay awake and focus… only to find that this starts a vicious cycle of relying on sugar for survival. But there are healthier ways to fuel your brain that are just as easy.

Here are just a few of the delicious and quick snacks you can grab before your next class or study session.

Yogurt & Fruit

Yogurt

Do you remember the time in grade school when we were so excited for lunch to come so we could eat our Go-Gurt? Even if it doesn’t come in a tube, I’ve always loved yogurt as a portable snack or treat, since it’s something simple and sweet. Aside from being full of calcium and protein, yogurt is full of tyrosine, which decreases anxiety. I love to top my yogurt with berries, which are rich in antioxidants that help improve your memory and boost your immune system.

Avocados

Avocado goodness

Happiness is a fresh, seasonal avocado, am I right? Lately there has been a huge hype for avocados. You’ve probably seen tons of avocado toast all over Instagram, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. If you haven’t gotten on the avocado train, ya gotta try it out. Bonus: they’re great for eye health and packed with Vitamin E, which helps protect against many diseases and helps maintain overall health. I either eat an avocado alone or I mash it up and spread it on toast, but the options are endless. Check out Pinterest for some amazing recipes that include avocados.

Peanut Butter

pb_breakfast_04

Peanut butter jelly time! Who doesn’t love the classic childhood combo? It’s filled with fiber, healthy fat, and protein, so peanut butter helps fight those hunger pangs you have during long days of class. It’s also versatile and can be paired with apples, pears, celery, or toast for a quick breakfast or snack. Looking for a little variety? Try almond butter

Dark Chocolate

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Any chocolate lovers out there? I have some good news for you. Chocolate can be healthy. How? Well, the flavonoids in dark chocolate help increase blood flow to key parts of the brain for several hours. That’s definitely a good thing during a long test. So if you need to increase your focus and concentration grab a dark chocolate bar and you’ll be good to go.

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The “Best” Avocado Toast

The perfect version of the #basic favorite.

So, this post is going to be controversial. At least in this health and fitness, and hence avocado-obsessed, community. But the good kind of controversial, I hope.

Avocado toast has taken the world by storm. Walk into (almost) any somewhat-modern cafe and you’re sure to find it on the menu. But most of all, it’s become a favorite go-to breakfast, lunch, snack, or even dinner for when people want something healthy, delicious, and quick.

But let me be honest, when the avocado toast trend kicked off a few years ago, I was not with it. But now I know why. I was doing it all wrong. I never used the right bread, ripe-enough avocados and didn’t play with flavors and textures at all. I’m sure we all have our own ways of doing avocado toast, and this recipe is what I deem to be the best version of it. For those of you who aren’t avocado toast lovers, try this out. And for those of you who already are, give it a shot anyway – you might just find a new way to eat trendy toast!

I now eat avocado toast in some form or another almost daily. Check out my Instagram to see the number of times it’s featured on my feed. No shame.

And yes, while this is my trusty avo toast method, I’m always open to trying out new variations, so I would love to see your suggestions! Tag us on Instagram @fituniversity and use #fituniversity to share your faves with us.

fullsizerenderThe “Best” Avocado Toast

Time: 10 minutes

When to eat it: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight… ANYTIME

Perks: Delicious, nutritious, quick, and easy!

Makes: 1 hearty serving

Sh*t You Need:

2 medium to thick slices of your favorite hearty, dense bread
1 ripe medium avocado
juice of 1/2 a lime
pinch of salt, to taste
pinch of dried red pepper/chili flakes, to taste
2 tsp mixed seeds
handful of fresh mixed greens or arugula

The recipe:

1. Toast your bread.

2. While your bread is toasting and cooling prep your avocado topping. I like to let my toast cool a little before I top it with the avocado to avoid soggy toast disasters!

3. For the avocado, either cube it or mash it. I used to be a major fan of cubing, but have recently converted to mashing. Play around and see what you prefer.

4. Place the cubed or mashed avocado in a bowl, squeeze in the lime, and add the salt. Give it a quick stir.

5. Finally, top your mostly cooled toast with the avocado, a few chili flakes, a sprinkling of seeds, and the greens.

6. Enjoy!

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Hot Chocolate That Will Keep You Warm and Healthy

The weather outside is frightful, but this hot chocolate is soooo delightful.

Winter is in full swing, and you’re probably starting to feel the affects of the cold weather. Freezing fingers and toes, runny nose, maybe even some frozen hair?

While meals like soups and stews can be great, nothing warms me up quite like a cup of hot chocolate! With a few substitutions, this traditionally sugar-heavy beverage can easily fit into your fit lifestyle.

 Time: 10-15 minutes

When to eat it: after sledding, after going outside, dessert, breakfast (I won’t tell anyone)

Perks: No refined sugar, gluten-free, can be vegan, prevents you from getting hypothermia

Sh*t You Need:

A mug, saucepan, spoon

2 cups of almond milk (or milk of choice)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 

A pinch of salt

6 Tbsp chocolate protein powder

2 Tbsp cacao powder

1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (or to taste)

The Recipe:

1. Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Blending them will make it a lot easier, but if you don't have a blender stir with a fork in a saucepan.

2. Heat ingredients over low heat until simmering. Pour into 2 mugs, and top with whipped cream, coconut cream, or drink as is!

coffee-cup-405918__480

Did you make this recipe? Tag us at @gofitu and use #fituniversity!

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Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – 2 Ways

Because breakfast and sweet potatoes should be eaten all day long.

When I started eating mostly Paleo, I found myself eating more sweet potatoes than ever. See, it’s easy to eat low-carb if you’re eating mostly Paleo foods, but I don’t do low-carb. I need my carbs, so I eat plenty of fruit… and sweet potatoes.

savory stuffed sweet potatoesAnyways, I’m thoroughly convinced that sweet potatoes are appropriate in any way any time of day. I love them roasted, baked, fried, microwaved, Hasselback-ed, and stuffed. They’re usually crazy cheap, which is perfect for those of us on college budgets, and they pair well with just about everything. So… you don’t have to choose between sweet and savory. Gotta love that.

sweet stuffed sweet potatoes

Time: 10 minutes to 1 hour – depends on how you prep your potatoes

When to eat it: Breakfast, lunch, or dinner! These have a great balance of protein and carbs, so they make meal as great for fueling an afternoon of studying as for post-workout.

Perks: easy, cheap, and packed with protein, potassium, and vitamin A 

Makes: 1, but is easily multiplied to serve more

Sh*t you need:

1 sweet potato (~7.5 oz.)

For savory:
2 strips bacon
3-4 baby mushrooms, chopped
1 handful spinach, chopped
1 egg
Salt & pepper, to taste

For Sweet:
1/2 c. yogurt of choice (I used Greek)
1 T. all-natural nut butter
Sprinkle of coconut and cacao nibs (or chocolate chips!)

The recipe:

1. Prepare your sweet potato. Depending on what kind of time you have, you can bake it or microwave it. To bake, preheat the oven to 425°F, pierce sweet potato all over with a fork, and bake on a foil-lined pan for about an hour. To microwave, pierce sweet potato all over with a fork, wrap the potato in a damp paper towel, and microwave for 6-7 minutes.

2. For savory: fry bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon from pan and set on paper towels to drain. Sauté mushrooms and spinach in leftover bacon grease. Chop bacon and add to spinach and mushrooms. Cook for one more minute.

3. Slice sweet potato open and stuff with bacon, mushroom, and spinach mixture. 

4. Grease pan and fry an egg to your liking. Top stuffed sweet potato with fried egg and dig in!

5. For sweet: slice sweet potato open and stuff with yogurt. Drizzle with nut butter and sprinkle with cacao nibs/chocolate chips and coconut. Dig in!

drippy stuffed sweet potatoesCheck out these recipes too:

Food Trends That Will Get You Excited For 2017

Food Trends That Will Get You Excited For 2017

Get excited. Get cookin.

With 2016 coming to a close, we reflect on the wonderful era of zoodles, cauliflower rice, sushi-ritos, and rolled ice cream. Fortunately, 2017 holds plenty of new food trends to look forward to. Below are the new year’s food trend predictions:

Turmeric

The main spice in curry has been gaining prominence for its anti-inflammatory properties. Used in grain bowls, tea, roasted vegetables, and even smoothies, turmeric is an inexpensive must-have in your pantry!

 

The #color of fresh #tumeric is so #beautiful and full of so many #healing #benefits

A photo posted by Kisha❤Kind (@kisha.kind) on

 

Food Foraging 

Approximately 40% of food in the US goes to waste. Expect that number to drop in 2017. Carrot tops, beet leaves, and cauliflower stems are being put to use in numerous recipes in an attempt to reduce this percentage. 

 

Dinner-in-a-Box

Companies like Blue Apron and Plated ship their customers (typically busy people, like yourself!) the exact ingredients for a recipe of their choice so cooking at home becomes more convenient without sacrificing health and comfort. With being overwhelming busy becoming the new normal, whether for better or for worse, these start-ups will skyrocket.

 

For tonight’s take on takeout, whip up sesame chicken with fresh bok choy and jasmine rice.

A photo posted by Blue Apron (@blueapron) on

 

Goat Meat

Goat meat often goes under-appreciated, but it has the same amount of protein as chicken breast and more iron than beef. The flavor can be described as sweet, mild, and not at all gamey. Try out this recipe to integrate this protein into your diet!

Also this..

 

Bowls

You’ve seen it before: those trendy grain bowls that look so simple yet so delicious. Good news, it is only just the beginning. #InWithTheBowlOutWithThePlate

 

A photo posted by Christina Chu, CPT (@foodietunes) on

 

Everything Sparkling

This soda alternative doesn’t just go well in your ~adult~ drinks, but is great by itself or with fruit flavoring! Advice I got from the Dig Inn barista: Take lemon seltzer water and add a little bit of agave… you’ve got healthy Sprite!

 

Savory Yogurt

We’ve had savory oats, but can savory yogurt be done? Try out these recipes for a quick lunch/snack!

Have you tried one of these trends? Tag us at @fituniversityituniversity and tag #fituniversity! Happy New Year!

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These Black Bean Cookies WILL Surprise You!

These chocolate fudge cookies have a secret ingredient: black beans! I know, it sounds gross. Try this recipe to change your mind. 

Time: 5 minutes of prep, 20-25 minutes in the oven 

When to eat it: ANY TIME is a great time for some chocolate cookies 

Perks: High in protein, especially for a cookie

Makes: 12 cookies 

Sh*t you need: 

1 15.5 oz. can of black beans 
1 tbsp canola oil 
1/2 an egg 
2 T of peanut butter 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/4 cup chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar 
1/4 cup cocoa powder 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
Dark chocolate chips 

The Recipe: 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor in the order listed. 

3. Process until smooth (2-3 minutes.) 

4. Using a spoon, scoop the dough out onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. 

5. Top each cookie with a sprinkle of the chopped dark chocolate.

6. Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes. 

7. Cool completely and eat your cookies!

Adapted from oatmealwithafork.com

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Why It Doesn’t Matter “What A Fitness Instructor Eats in A Day”

A few weeks ago, someone asked me to write an article about what a fitness instructor eats in a day. I’m a fitness instructor and healthy eating enthusiast and she thought people would be interested in what I ate day in and day out.

In other words, how I do the following 2 things with food:

  1. Sustain my active lifestyle

  2. Stay “fit” (code for skinny and/or strong looking)

And the truth is, that person was right: a lot of people would be interested. However, I will not be writing that article. When I thought about following through with the idea, I was immediately unsettled.

I started thinking…why do people read articles like that? Do they do it to imitate that person’s lifestyle? To compare their own habits to the habits of someone they admire? To ridicule habits they find insanely out of reach? Or maybe to gain a sense of security if they eat a similar way? I don’t particularly want to support any of these aims.

I’ve seen a lot of them lately, regardless. They circulate the health and fitness online world, flaunting the daily contents and timing of a random fitness instructor’s food intake, as if that person is an exemplary eater simply because they teach fitness classes sometimes.

“What Spin Instructor, ___ Eats in A Day”
“What Barry’s Instructor Swears By for Breakfast”
“Marathon Trainer Eats This Superfood At Every Meal”

I mean, really. Which of these “experts” really knows what they’re doing?

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These articles are, more often than not, the opposite of helpful. There are soooo many misconceptions that fuel these articles, and that fuel their popularity. Here are some of the ones I see:

Firstly, they feed off of people’s food anxieties and unhealthy relationships with food.

The question, “Am I eating all wrong?” is in too many people’s minds for too many hours in a day.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to eat. There are ways that make you feel good and strong and positive and energized, and there are ways that make you feel sluggish and depressed and weak. There is no one way that will do either of these things; there are many ways to eat well. You just have to use your intuition and figure out which way works best for you. Reading that article will not tell you the “right” way to eat.

Which brings me to my next point.

Everybody eats differently.

That’s just a fact of life: everyone has a different body, and therefore eats differently to fuel that different body. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Eating what that fitness instructor ate in a day could make that instructor feel awesome, but make YOU feel terrible. She might be fine with rice cakes and peanut butter before spin class, but you might feel stronger in class if you eat something more a few hours before. No way is better than the other, you’re just different people.

You also have a completely different life and activity level than that instructor, and likely need a different amount of food.

From personal experience, I can say that I’ve looked at those articles and felt threatened and unnerved by them because I realized eat way more than they do. I started comparing everything, wondering where I should start making cuts.

However, I should not feel the need to make any. I gave myself a reality check and worked through it; but I shouldn’t have had to go through that miserable process in the first place. I’m a different person. A banana for breakfast doesn’t cut it for me, and that’s ok. I’m not failing at anything by eating more. (And neither are you.)

Many of those articles flaunt really restrictive diets.

When I was comparing, I got really frustrated and decided to try and estimate how many calories that person was eating in a day. It was around 1500. TOO LOW for someone of their weight with an active lifestyle. Too low for me. Too low for most people. Parading that restricted diet as the ideal is dangerous, and works against the positive, healthy voices telling us to eat enough to fuel your body. So really, let’s think about it: who is that article benefitting? Who is it for?

Let me tell you: it’s not for you, and it’s not written with your best interests in mind. It’s written with the goal of getting the most page views.

These articles imply that we should be reactionary of our food habits based on our appearance or how “fit” we look.

And how “fit” we look has become equated with having a certain body type.

Yeah, that instructor probably has a “good” body, or what society views as one. People read those and think that the food that instructor eats will give them the same body. They think: I’m going to do that, I’m going to eat like that, and then I’ll look like that. However, that’s the absolute OPPOSITE of intuitive eating, and the opposite of a healthy relationship with food. 

There’s a belief that everyone who eats a certain way will look exactly the same. Bad news: you can eat that instructor’s diet and end up looking completely different. Again, different body. Different food.

I’ve seen this happen to people, where they change their diet to match someone else’s standards, and then they get discouraged when they don’t see the same results. They begin thinking that there’s something wrong with them and their body because it isn’t reacting the same way. Read here about why this kind of comparison and low self-esteem spiral can be detrimental in the long run.

Fitness instructors are not healthy eating experts.

Now, let’s take a second to stop and think about the actual people being used here as guides for healthy living. Like I said before: do these “experts” know what they’re doing at all?

No. Nothing about teaching fitness qualifies you to know or preach about nutrition. Of course, there are fitness instructors that are also certified nutritionsists but that is not the case for most. As a fitness instructor myself, I’ve seen a lot of coworkers who are really unhealthy, in one way or another.

I’ve seen fitness instructors who struggle with their weight.

I’ve seen fitness instructors who eat a lot of processed, pre-made meals and don’t have time to cook healthy food. 

I’ve seen fitness instructors who struggle with body image and go through cycles of bingeing and dieting.

I’ve seen fitness instructors with active eating disorders.

I’ve also seen a lot of really healthy fitness instructors.

But here’s the thing: fitness instructors are JUST PEOPLE. People who like working out and have decided to make money off of it. People who, like every other person on the planet, sometimes eat healthy and sometimes don’t. People who sometimes don’t get enough sleep, who sometimes binge drink on weekends, and who sometimes don’t eat well or don’t eat enough or eat way too much.

People who have body image demons of their own. Who have a potentially negative relationship with food. Who are embarrassed of how they actually eat, and maybe/probably lie about their actual daily intake. Who eat less than what is healthy for their bodies in order to maintain a certain image, for either their client base or for social media.

I know one thing for sure: I am certainly not an exemplar of healthy eating. An article about what I ate in a day wouldn’t be an ideal portrait for anyone. I don’t think people should imitate my eating habits to a T, because there’s a lot that could improve about them. I’m not going to get into what those things are, because that’s not important and again, isn’t the point.

But to be clear: just because I am a fitness instructor does not mean I am perfectly healthy.

So let’s all do ourselves a favor and stop it with these articles. I don’t care what you ate in a day, and you shouldn’t care what I ate either. Worry about yourself, eat intuitively, and mind your own damn business.

I’m out.

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