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Healthy Food Tips

How to Use Your Freezer to Eat Healthier

Be prepared to fall in love with your freezer with these healthy hacks.

The hardest part about eating healthy is making sure you have healthy options on hand when it’s time to prepare meals. While the pantry can be handy for some foods (mac and cheese and cookies come to mind), the fridge is often where you store fresh produce and other groceries. ‘Use by’ and ‘best by’ dates on fresh foods can make healthy eating difficult, particularly when you’re shopping for one, but that’s where your freezer comes in. It will become your saving grace.

Not only can you use your freezer for storing the foods found in the freezer section of the grocery store, but you can also use it to preserve healthy favorites before they go bad. These are a few of my favorite freezer hacks that you can use in your college apartment or even the mini fridge of your dorm.

Find your freezer favorites.

What’s not to love about frozen fruits and vegetables? 

Fruits and vegetables are the best thing to buy in the freezer aisle because they are picked at their nutritional peak and then frozen to preserve their nutrients. A few of my freezer favorites include frozen pomegranates, acai smoothie packs, green beans, white corn, and any frozen fruit mix. From smoothies to speedy dinner sides, freezers can be a lifesaver on nights you don’t have any veggies to add to your dinner.

While produce is my favorite thing to buy from the freezer aisle, frozen seafood like shrimp and salmon are a favorite because they are easy to defrost in seconds and are a lean protein option. Frozen rice packs are another easy way to ensure you have food to prep at anytime. The freezer aisle comes in #clutch during busy weeks where groceries are not abundance. 

Shopping tip: As always, check the packaging on everything. Some foods may look healthy, but can be packed with unnecessary ingredients. Look for whole foods when shopping in the frozen food aisle, not overly processed foods being disguised as healthy. 

Keep track of dates and freeze food before it goes bad.

Buying whole foods without preservatives and added ingredients means that they tend to expire sooner. No need to throw away your favorite foods, though – freeze ’em! You’d be surprised at how many of your favorite foods you can freeze. Breads, meat, soups, sauces, zoodles, cookie dough – you name it, you can probably freeze it. 

Most ripe fruits and vegetables can be easily frozen by cutting them up and putting them in a freezer bag.

Freezing bananas at their peak of ripeness can ensure you always have something sweet and creamy for your go-to smoothie recipe. Love green smoothies but hate having to keep fresh spinach or kale? Easily freeze greens in a freezer bag to add to smoothies or stir-fry (cook only with frozen kale since spinach will be mushy).

Learn proper techniques for defrosting your freezer favorites.

Bread, pita, English muffins, and bagels all easily freeze and defrost after being microwaved for a few seconds. Chicken, pork, ground turkey, and beef are easy to freeze, but be sure to defrost safely to ensure you avoid any food-borne illnesses. I Google everything if I’m unsure on how to safely defrost it. 

Here are a few food-safety tips to abide by when defrosting:

  • Place whatever you’re thawing in the fridge the day before you want to eat it, unless you’re in a major rush.
  • Avoid microwaving anything to defrost.
  • Once you defrost something, eat it that day or save it in the fridge for under a week.
  • Avoid re-freezing in most cases.

These are just a few of my favorite freezer hacks that help me eat healthy, even when I don’t have fresh groceries. 

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Living Away From College: What I Learned About My Food Habits

I recently flew back to my home of the East Coast after a six-month adventure/vacation/internship in the San Francisco Bay Area. While I lived away from home and college, I learned a lot about my relationship with food…more than I ever anticipated to, that’s for sure, but beneficial in so many ways. 

My past eating habits were not healthy. They were disordered. 

In the Bay Area, I surrounded myself with roommates and anti-diet dietitians who eat what they crave and don’t put themselves on any diets, and I came to the startling realization that I had been in a restrictive, orthorexic diet mentality for the past 3+ years.

Hayes Valley, San Francisco, California 

In fact, it was even more years than this because I remember being a little girl, reading Us Weekly magazine, learning about the latest diets that the stars were doing, which celebrities lost/gained weight, and then thinking I had to go to the doctor’s office and not eat before because I knew they were going to weigh me. Then, in high school, I thought I needed to do ab workouts and only eat a smoothie before going to the beach in a bikini; when my friends and I took pictures, I thought I had to “suck in”.  

Later on, these thoughts manifested heavily in the form of controlling my food intake — from senior year of high school to the middle of third year of college. First, I thought I had to eliminate grains; I eventually went strict Paleo (I thought putting a label on my diet was healthy, but it was actually just legalized restriction) and wouldn’t allow any thing that was not Paleo-friendly into my diet. Then, I had a few short-term stints: low-carb Paleo, juicing, lemon water cleanse. Next, I decided to lift weights and count macros, then just calories. Following this, I went on a terrible 8-week long nutrition plan from a masked diet brand that starts with Tone and ends with Up. Afterwards, I tried going plant-based, and my reasons for doing so were far from environmental and ethical. From there, I went to just being gluten and dairy-free – here’s where I thought that I was “fine”, but I really hadn’t permitted all foods yet; my eating was still restrictive. And finally, in February while in California, I took on a Whole30.

Hayes Valley, San Francisco, California 

 And trying to do a Whole30 is what broke me. For the better. Because for the first time in my life, around 17 days into this month of strict Paleo, I came to terms with the notion that all of these nutritional adventures (yes, even Whole30!) were not healthy for me – they were restrictive and disordered.

 

They were marketed as a reset, a nutrition plan, a cleanse, a lifestyle, but I call bull-shit. They were all diets.

I had become a chronic dieter; I was restricting either food groups, specific food items, calories, macronutrients, or following some plan or Pinterest juice cleanse or reset for over three years. I had developed weird habits around food: I always thought about food, looked up what I’d order at the restaurant hours in advance, bring my own food to events if they wouldn’t have options that fit my eating style, and felt like I had to take pictures of every single meal I ate and post it to let you, a reader & follower, know that I was eating paleo/plant-based/GF.

I believed that I was on some higher moral ground because of what I ate. I was absolutely terrified to eat foods on the “no” list – like gluten, fried food, alcohol, and refined sugar.

I think I even forgot what foods I actually liked and wanted, and I definitely had no idea how to listen to my hunger cues.

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California

But when I let go of my Whole30 attempt at the beginning of March, I made a decision out of respect for myself, my body, and my life that I would commit to unlearning all diet thoughts, all body-shaming and weight-related messages, and all, ALL food rules. No more resets, no more labeling how I eat, no more diets.

I am done. 

It’s been a process, and it will surely continue to be one as I move back to Boston and my lifestyle changes (you know, with doing the whole college thing again), but for the first time in years, I’m not giving a damn about what I’m eating, or what my body looks like.

I am understanding how to eat exactly what I want, when I am hungry (or just when my body wants something). I choose to surrender: I let go of controlling how my body looks and exists in the world. Instead, I will work towards practicing simple gratitude for its health, its capabilities, and its pure existence.

From here on out, I will move and eat in ways I enjoy, but I will never again try to manipulate, restrict, harm, or control the one vessel that I have been given to experience life.

Friend, I eat fast food sometimes nowadays. (I like Chick-Fil-A way better than In-N-Out, by the way.)

Whole Foods Market, Silicon Valley 

I eat bagels, doughnuts and cinnamon sugar pretzel bites. I also still drink green smoothies. All these foods fit in my new way of life. 

I don’t say, “Oh no, I can’t eat that” anymore. Period. It was all a lie. I f***ing love gluten!! (And I’m thankful that I’m not intolerant!!)

I don’t have any apps on my phone that track my calories, and I don’t spend time posting as much food on Instagram as I used to. It’s better for me that way.

I no longer spend money on nutrition plans or books that tell me what to eat. I recognize that the most important wisdom for what food I want to eat is already within me. I’ve got this.

I go swimming at the pool and wear sports bras with no shirt in yoga class, and I do not give a damn about how I look or what others think. It doesn’t matter.

And still, of course there are some instances when I accidentally return to my orthorexic, restrictive diet mentality. But now, more days than not, I feel free, intuitive with food, and not obsessed with what I’m eating and how I’m exercising. And that feels too freaking good.

In-N-Out Burger, somewhere in Silicon Valley, California 

We each are on our own journeys. Some, not all, are working towards being body positive, embracing Health At Every Size, and eating without obsession, rigidity, & guilt. We each have some type of body image + food story, but I promise you:

if you acknowledge that you’ve been dieting and food/body-shaming and want to free yourself, you have the power to do so. It’s work, and it’s not always easy, but you are not stuck where you are.

You’re only stuck if you believe that you are. 

Little shifts and positive changes will start to happen for you, if you give yourself honesty, respect, and love. You can do it. We both can (and will)! 

Check out these articles, too: 

Get The Most Bang For Your Buck From Your Food

We all know how important it is to eat nutrient dense foods to reach our bodies’ daily micronutrient needs. But are you actually absorbing everything your fruits and veggies have to offer?

Bioavailability: the term used to describe this degree to which food nutrients are available for absorption and utilization in the body.

You may think that your body absorbs the full nutrient profile of the foods you are eating, but this is usually not the case. Digestion depends on a variety of factors: foods have all different kinds of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that each individual can utilize given the right factors.

Despite what most people think, digestion actually starts in the mouth with chewing and the release of salvia enzymes. Then, the food enters the digestive tract where it is broken down into micro and macronutrients. These nutrients are then absorbed into the intestinal lining, and passed into the bloodstream where they are either used immediately, or stored for later use. 

Absorption of vitamins and minerals from whole foods can range from as low as 20% to as high as 98%. Thankfully, RDA allowances take into account that not all of the nutrients are put to use, so there’s no need to worry, but everyone could benefit from some more micronutrients, right?

So what can you do to make sure your body is utilizing 98% of the nutrients from the foods you eat?

The Ultimate Debate: Raw vs. Cooked Vegetables

You may think that raw vegetables give your body more nutrients since they’re more fresh, but cooked are actually much easily absorbed. This is because the process of cooking breaks down the tough, fibrous outer layers of the vegetable, so by the time it reaches the intestines, the food is already partially broken down. Elimination of this step of digestion allows your body to be much more efficient, and doesn’t make you as bloated (Yay!). Carrots in particular yield significant higher beta-carotene levels in the bloodstream if they are cooked. Other veggies that are important to cook are broccoli, kale, and brussel sprouts, as they yield much higher mineral levels as well like calcium, magnesium and iron.

But here’s a heads up for the method you use to cook: the most beneficial method is usually steaming, NOT boiling! Boiling causes water soluble nutrients like vitamin C, B1, and folate to be lost into the water, which ends up going down the drain and not into your body. 

Soak grains and legumes before cooking them. 

These foods contain phytic acid which bind to minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc leaving them entirely inactive for absorption. Soaking for 12-24 hours before cooking allows this anti nutrient factor to be broken down in water, virtually eliminates its possible effects in your digestive system. 

Learn more about food synergy!

Different foods can interact together to amplify each other’s nutrient bioavailability. Definitely don’t stress yourself out about making sure every food in your meal work together, it’s all about learning what different foods can do for your body and experimenting with them! There’s so many cool properties some foods contain, it’s totally worth taking a little time to research what benefits you want along with which foods you enjoy eating most. Here’s the two major interactions to start you off: 

  • Vitamin C and Iron: Vitamin C enhances non-heme plant iron absorption by almost six fold! The most iron rich greens include kale, bok choy. spinach, and collard greens. Try squeezing lemon juice over your next salad! Or if you’re eating a bowl of cereal/oatmeal, add a piece of fruit like berries, a peach or an orange. Not only do these fruits have vitamin c but they also have a high water content to help process fiber. 
  • Healthy fats and greens: Fats like nuts, seeds, avocado and omega 3 oils act essentially as a sponge to the vitamins and minerals in vegetables. Try roasting vegetables with coconut oil or adding a crunch to any dish with  a sprinkle of nuts and seeds! 

So venture out of your usual routine and try some of these methods- I can guarantee your body will thank you for it!

Check out these articles, too: 

 

 

 

Your Guide to Make the Most of This Season’s Fruit

Summer is right around the corner.

And with the abundance of sunshine comes the juiciest of fruits filling your local grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

Ever notice that big juicy watermelon seems to be an iconic symbol of summer? Because watermelon is a summer fruit! Buying fruit that is in season means buying fruit during the times of year that offer optimal conditions for the fruit to grow.

When fruit is in season also happens to be when it is the cheapest and the freshest on the market. So not only will you be saving a few bucks, but you’ll be enjoying the freshest produce nature has to offer. Here’s a list of some fruits that are in season during the summer, and a few ideas on how to incorporate them into your summer days.

1. Mangoes

Packed with vitamin A, C and fiber, mangoes are peaking during these summer months. You can:

Not sure how to cut up a tricky mango? You can learn the best way to do it here

2. Strawberries

Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, strawberries make the perfect addition to lots of summer scenarios, including:

3. Watermelon 

At 92% water (according to watermelon.org), this is the perfect treat to help keep you hydrated during the summer months.

4. Figs

I’ve recently become a fan of these little guys. Figs soften if left at room temperature, but they will not sweeten, so seek out ripe ones; they’ll feel plump, tender, and heavy for their size, and smell like honey at the stem, and stickiness will indicate overripeness.

  • I’ve been putting dry figs in my smoothies, if you’re a fan of fig newtons, this one’s for you
  • I’ve also seen figs put on top of pizza! Really push your cooking skills and check that one out here.

5. Blackberries 

Check out these articles too:

  1. 5 Fruits You Have to Try in 2016
  2. 5 Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated This Summer
  3. Easy Ways to Add a Little More Green into Your life
  4. Skin Saving Snacks To Try This Summer

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.

Check out these recipes, too: 

Healthy Chipotle Hacks for Fit, Broke College Students

chipotle

To guac, or not to guac? That is the question of the century.

Let’s be honest here.

We all rely on Chipotle a little too much. Its mouthwatering, savory, Mexican flavors just hit the spot when you’re drowning in schoolwork and can’t cook dinner. Or when you’re starving post-workout and just need a quick bite before powering through the rest of your day. But as easy as it is to pile on the sour cream and cheese when you’re #hangry, you know that these are not the best decisions for your fitness goals.

However, below are some healthy hacks to satisfy your cravings without overindulging yourself:

Mo’ veggies, mo’problems:

Ask for a salad, for a base of lettuce, and rice (brown, of course). This will increase your vegetable intake without even thinking about it. You can also ask for fajita vegetables, which are free, and extra lettuce for your toppings.

Just ask:

Ask for a side of cilantro when you order. Not only will this add flavor, but it also has digestive properties that can soothe an upset stomach (I’m looking at you, beans).

Shells are the way to go:

If you absolutely love their chips, ask for hard taco shells instead. Not only are they ~free~, but you can use the money you would have spent on chips to buy guac (which let’s be honest, can make or break the meal)!

Half & half:

Ask for half of one meat and half of another. The employee behind the counter is likely to give you more meat, thus ensuring more #gainz.

Get it hot, hot hot:

Ask for a little bit of the hot salsa (aka the red tomatillo sauce) in order to spice up your dish for fewer calories (compared to the sour cream/cheese). Feeling brave? Get all of the salsa, life is short. 🙂

Doggie-bag it:

Let’s be honest here, we all feel a little stuffed after eating Chipotle. You blink and suddenly the whole meal is gone. However, ask for a to-go bowl when you check out and split your meal in half. That way, you can eat it twice (for the price of one) and add some extra veggies to it to fill you up!

So, what do I order?

Though everyone has different tastes, here’s what I usually order:

  • Salad (no dressing)
  • Side of shells (if I’m in the mood for a little crunch)
  • Brown rice
  • No beans (unless it is post-workout, then black beans for extra protein)
  • Fajita vegetables
  • Half chicken, half steak
  • Mild salsa (pico de gallo), medium salsa (green tomatillo), and a little bit of hot salsa (red tomatillo)
  • Corn salsa
  • Guac (duh)
  • Extra lettuce on top

Care to share your Chipotle creations with us? Tag us @fituniversity and use the hashtag #fituniversity!

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The Ultimate Foodie Bucket List

My dream job: to travel the world and stuff my face every day with all sorts of delicious food. But unfortunately, that job doesn’t exist; so instead here is a smaller version of my Traveling Bucket List: Food Edition…

BLACK TAP – New York, New York 

Black Tap is a modern, fun diner. Although they’re known for their burgers and beer, their milkshakes look absolutely incredible. Like these milkshakes have lollipops, cookies, sprinkles, a piece of cake, cotton candy, and more literally coming out of the shake itself. 

I repeat there is a literal piece of cake on top of a huge shake… That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. So I would most definitely google these shakes and add it to your food bucket list.

ODDFELLOWS ICE CREAM CO. – Brooklyn, New York 

Oddfellows looks like your old-school diner, but don’t let that fool you. The food looks unforgettable.

Every day they have new rotating flavors – sometimes their ice cream goes so fast they have to make new flavors throughout the day. Their ice cream is made in small batches and is very fresh. As I am looking at their menu, they have a s’mores flavor coming soon and that is it – that’s the one I need.

PASTICHE – Providence, Rhode Island

Pastiche a bakery filled with amazing treats. They have cakes, chocolate, cookies, tarts, and other sweets such as cannoli and butterscotch crumbcakes.

Personally, after observing their menu, I would absolutely love to try their fresh fruit tart.

JUGOS – Boston, Massachusetts 

Jugos is a super cute juice bar in Boston. They have smoothies, acai bowls, pitaya bowls, sandwiches, and of course – juice! I would love to try either their Kai acai bowl or there apple, beet, carrot, cucumber, ginger, parsley juice. What a nice refreshing treat 🙂

 

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GJUSTA – Venice, California 

A lot of the foods I have mentioned have been desserts or acai bowls, but this cafe just looks absolutely delicious. Although they are a cafe, they are also a deli.

They have breakfast, gjusta sandwiches, smoked meats, and fish plates. Since breakfast is my favorite, I would definitely like to try the classic egg sandwich – english muffin, collards, gruyere, bacon, and hot sauce! I would also like to taste the veggie sandwich which as whole wheat, roasted peppers, tomato, fennel, radish, pickled turnips, (extra) avocado, sprouts, and tahini. Mmm!

BOWL OF HEAVEN – Madison, Wisconsin 

Bowl of Heaven is in a few locations, but no matter where you go, there food looks absolutely incredible. I would like order Dan’s PB bowl which has organic acai, bananas, strawberries, peanut butter, MAQ7, and chocolate almond milk topped with hemp flax seed granola, more banana, and honey. I could also go for any of their heavenly smoothies.

 

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3 ARTS CLUB CAFE – Chicago, Illinois

First of all, the cafe is absolutely stunning with a see-through ceiling, a huge chandelier place directly above a fountain (yes, it’s inside), and comfy couches to sit at. The atmosphere looks phenomenal.

Although the food selection is small, I am telling you, it sure looks delicious. I honestly think I would come here to simply enjoy the coffee bar or tea. If I were to eat there, I would try the bacon club – avocado, gem lettuce, green tomato, and aioli on whole wheat.

CHIN CHIN LABS – London, UK

Chin Chin labs is known for its nitro ice-cream. Although I would have fly to get there, I absolutely would. They have weekly flavors and specials, but have classic flavors, ice-cream sandwiches, sundaes, shakes, cookies, and hot chocolate. It is pretty much a sweet tooth’s dream. I would definitely try the ‘brown-wich.’ This is their bestseller that consists of two freshly baked chocolate brownie cookies stuffed with vanilla ice cream. 

 

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Easy Ways to Add A Little More Green in Your Life

With the month of St. Patrick’s Day upon us, and that I’m currently one country over from Ireland, celebrating the luck of the Irish has been on my mind. Since this day is all about wearing green for good luck, I figured there’s no better way to get lucky than to EAT your greens too! Green vegetables, both leafy and cruciferous, are full of vitamins and minerals that are great for your health, but a lot of people find it hard to eat as much as they should. If that sounds like you, here are four ways to add some more greens to your life!

1. Smoothies

 

A photo posted by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on

Green smoothies have become very popular recently, and are a great way to sneak veggies into your diet first thing in the morning! Start off small by throwing a handful or two of spinach into your favorite fruit smoothie recipe (you won’t taste it, promise!). If you want to add even more green veggie power, throw in some kale, and maybe even replace some of the fruit with avocado to bring down the sugar content! Play around with the recipe until it’s just how you like it.

2. Eggs and Greens

 

A photo posted by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on

My favorite way to eat greens is for breakfast with fried eggs on top. Sautee some onions, garlic, and broccoli in olive oil until cooked through, and then stir in kale and spinach. Add fried eggs on top, and if you really want to take it to the next level, add hot sauce and avocado. The runny egg yolk will cover the greens in goodness, convincing anyone to have greens for breakfast!

3. Kale Chips

Simple and delicious! Rip kale leaves off the stalk and into large pieces, and toss in avocado oil and salt. Put into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out when crispy. Snack away!

4. Add to Soups

 

A photo posted by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on

Adding spinach, kale, chard, or collard greens to soup is an easy way to eat more greens. Toss in a few handfuls at the end of a full recipe, or add a handful when heating up a single portion of leftover soup. The greens will wilt down in size and mesh perfectly with any soup, from beef stew to thai curry.

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A Nutrition Student’s 7 Tips for Healthier Eating

As a college student, eating healthy is hard.

Even as a student studying nutrition, I’ll be the first one to admit that.

It’s easy to get caught up in a busy schedule. I mean, between classes, working out, having a social life, volunteering, and getting enough sleep, sometimes takeout seems like the best (or only) option.

But since March brings National Nutrition Month® created and celebrated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I wanted to personally take the time to appreciate having food security and acknowledge that it’s perfectly okay to not always meal plan, prep, eat all your fruits and veggies 100% of the time.

This year’s theme encourages everyone to start with small changes. One forkful at a time. “Put Your Best Fork Forward”. I feel the theme perfectly describes how the nutrition field is emphasizing:

  • More mindful eating habits,
  • Paying attention to what we are putting into our bodies, and
  • Finding a good balance between eating right and enjoying yourself in moderation.

So I’m making a list, some inspired by the Academy and some by my peers, on how we all can “Put our Best Fork Forward” during the month of March. I challenge you to pick at least one small change to stick with for at least this month, and hopefully it will snowball into making more nutrition focused #goals for the rest of 2017!

1. Make a list before you go to the grocery store.

groceries-1343141_960_720

The hardest part about grocery shopping for me is spending extra money on items I really don’t need. Making a list beforehand and planning your meals for the week will help you save money at the store by only allowing yourself to get what’s on said list.

Invest in a cute cheap notepad to make your lists on so you can have a physical copy to check stuff off of when you get there!

2. Pack your lunch.

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Yup, brown bag it, invest in an insulated lunch box and a few pieces of tupperware! Prepping your lunch the night before will set you up for success the next day during your busy school day schedule.

3. Cut back on added sugars.

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Food and drinks with added sugars can contribute to empty calories, spike your blood sugar levels, leaving you to crash soon after that sugar rush. Visit  www.choosemyplate.gove to learn more about reading the nutrition label to help identify those hidden sugars and proper serving sizes.

4. Try Meatless-Monday.

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Save money and help cut down on your dietary intake of cholesterol by substituting a variety of different veggies into your favorite recipes! Try a cauliflower crust pizza, substitute beans and lentils for protein, or if you’re missing the meaty texture try using tofu!

5. Turn off the TV.

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One of my toughest challenges is really paying attention to my meals when I sit down in my apartment. We don’t even have a kitchen table! It’s so easy to flick on the tv, flop on the couch, and mindlessly devour an entire meal without even really tasting or appreciating it.

Try to limit distraction while eating (maybe even waiting until after to post your food up on Instagram) and savor every little bit of food from the delicious meal you just prepared. This also helps to avoid overeating and can help you to better understand your cravings.

6. Understand portion sizes.

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Haven’t learned how to read a nutrition label yet? Most prepackaged foods contain 2 servings instead of 1, so it can be misleading on what you’re actually intaking in terms of calories/nutrients. You can learn more about that from the Academy here.

7. Eat more whole foods.

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With all of the new “low calorie” “low sugar” “high protein” products on the shelves these days, it’s easy to get lost in pre-packaged-food-land.

Try grabbing for more fruits and vegetables to snack on during the day paired with hummus or peanut butter instead of reaching for that protein bar. Making the shift to eating more whole foods will help you get in extra vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants leading to more natural energy.

Stumped on what whole foods to snack on? Head here for some inspiration! 

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Easy Travel Snacks to Keep You From Getting Hangry

For people with allergies or those who follow specific diets, traveling can sometimes be stressful. Especially with long itineraries, you might not always know what kind of food can be available. Airport food is usually expensive, so packing compact and tasty travel snacks is the best way to save your stomach and wallet! Here are some of my favorite travel snacks, starting off with the easy ones, and ending with those that take a little more time and preparation.

1. Fruit and Snack Bars

 

A photo posted by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on


 This is probably the easiest option. If you have a favorite snack bar (I personally love Epic, Lara Bar, and Rx Bars), that plus a piece of fruit can be good for flight where you just need something to hold you over. Hard fruits, like apples, or small ones in a tupperware, like berries, are probably the best, since fruits like apples can get easily smushed in a backpack.

2. Homemade Trail Mix, Fruit, and Almond Butter

Trail mix is super easy to make at home, without added sugars or oils. I like to mix almonds, walnuts, cashews, raisins, golden raisins, and coconut flakes for a perfect trail mix on the go! That, plus an apple with some almond butter, should be a good meal replacement if you’re in a pinch. Make sure to find the prepacked nut butter squeeze packs, as TSA WILL confiscate your entire jar of sunbutter if you try to bring it through security (not that I know from experience…)

3. Dates with almond butter and dark chocolate

 

A photo posted by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on

This one you could either make ahead and put in a small tupperware, or make on the plane! Just split the dates in half and fill with your favorite nut butter. Then top with a small chunk of dark chocolate or cacao nibs. It’s a great combination of salty and sweet, and smooth and crunchy!

4. Veggie frittata

 

A photo posted by Michelle (@healthfulbites) on

This is my favorite option for long flights where I know I’ll need a full meal. There are thousands of frittata recipes out there, but I like to make mine with eggs, bacon, loads of spinach, mushrooms, and onions. Be sure to get a good balance of protein and veggies to keep you full!

5. A combination of these!

If you’re on a super long flight, you might need a small meal and a snack, or a few snacks, to keep you from getting hangry. If your carry on has enough space, pack a few options to keep you satisfied. I’m a notorious over packer, especially when it comes to food. Make sure to keep all of the food on top when you pack it for easy access, and so it doesn’t get smushed!

Hopefully you’ll try some of these recipes the next time you travel, whether its by bus, car, train, or plane! 

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Meal Prepping 101: How to Do It and Stay Inspired

Meal Prepping 101: How To Do It and Stay Inspired

Let’s talk for a minute about my one true love: food!

Alright, now that I’ve got your attention, let’s get serious. What even is meal prepping? Quite simply, it’s exactly what it sounds like: prepping meals to have on hand a week ahead in order to meet your goals and ensure that you’re eating enough on any given day. It is an art, it is a science, and it is very subjective.

Depending on your dietary needs, energy expenditure, plus a thousand other factors, your prep will look much different than mine, and you know what? That’s the beauty of it! Make it personal, make it fun, and keep it interesting. Here’s how.

Meal Prepping 101: How to Do It and Stay Inspired

Tips to Get Started

First and foremost, you need to have a plan. Fail to plan, plan to fail, am I right? Yes, in this case I am.

Okay, so set aside five to ten minutes to plan out your food intake for the week. Typically, I only prep for lunch and dinner as I leave myself enough time to make breakfast in the morning. If you’re the type of person to get up and go, make sure you prep for the most important meal of the day as well. Write out a meal calendar to serve as a rough draft of your intake for the week.

Be sure to include three meals and a couple of snacks as well. This way, you won’t have to question what you’ll eat and when, leaving you doubtless, productive, and full on tasty, healthy food!

Meal Prepping 101: How to Do It and Stay Inspired

Even if you don’t follow your meal calendar to a tee, it’s good to have some idea of what your food week will look like. This allows you to stay on track and maintain your lifestyle. It’s too easy for busy bees to forget to eat during the day, and meal prepping is a surefire way to avoid this.

Next up, choose a few staples from each macronutrient group to prepare in bulk. That way, even if you don’t make specific recipes, you’ll be able to mix and match to whip up a delicious, nutritious meal at any time! Here are some ideas.

Proteins

Meal Prepping 101: How to Do It and Stay Inspired

  • Chicken
  • Ground turkey -make meatballs, tacos, burgers, etc.
  • Steak (may be a little out of budget, but treat yo self sometimes)
  • Eggs/egg whites
  • Fish
  • Shrimp
  • Tempeh (find my absolute favorite recipe here)
  • Tofu
  • Beans/lentils – perfect in chilis, soups, or on their own

Carbohydrates:

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You’ll get the majority of your fat content from the not-so-lean meats (such as beef and chicken with the skin on), eggs, dairy (not the non-fat kind!), and the oil you cook your food in.

If you need an extra source of fat, my go-to is peanut butter but some other options include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Chia seeds

After you’ve planned out what you’re going to eat, you need to carve out some time to cook. For me, meal prep Sundays are the greatest day of the week, but Sunday may not be the perfect day for everybody. Look at your schedule and determine when you have enough time to chef up food for a whole week. Sure, it’s a bit time consuming, but it’s way more rewarding.

Finding Your Own “Recipe”

Meal prep is an art and, like all other art forms, is extremely subjective. Only you know what works for you and only you have the ability to control what you eat and when.

Your goals are obviously going to be different than mine, and that is okay! It’s important to tailor your prepping technique to fit your lifestyle and goals. Here are some tips on that…

  • For bodybuilders/powerlifters in the middle of a bulk or cut, I would recommend meal prepping in bulk. That means cooking up heaps of rice, sweet potatoes, protein, etc. to have on hand throughout the week. That way, you can mix and match to create meals at any time of the day.
  • For someone who’s looking to simply live a healthy lifestyle, I’d recommend preparing some food in bulk such as vegetables and grains, but preparing 2-3 meals to eat throughout the week. I like to make something like chili or a stir fry bowl and nibble on it for dinner all week. You may get a tad tired of it, but it’s better than scrambling for everything but the kitchen sink!
  • If you’re a bit forgetful, PLAN AHEAD. Have your tupperware for each meal and portion out each food appropriately. This way, there’s really no excuse to eat junk because you’ve set yourself up for success rather than failure. 

Staying Inspired

I get it… It’s easy to get tired of eating the same foods all the time. It’s important to switch it up as often as possible so you don’t get bored or underwhelmed, much like you would do with your workouts! If you have no idea where or how to find inspiration, let me help ya with that as well.

  • If you’re not all that creative (like me), don’t be afraid to admit it! Start checking out a couple of food blogs as a source of inspiration. You can make the recipes ingredient for ingredient or take what you like and leave the rest, whatever you may choose. A few of my favorites are The Roasted Root, Ambitious Kitchen, Minimalist Baker, The Iron You, and Oh She Glows, just to name a few. Shop around, find what works for you, and make it yours.
  • Another alternative for the option above is to follow healthy food and fitstagrammers. It’s a super easy way to spark ideas and share recipes and information. A few accounts to get you started include realfoodmatters (me!), shutthekaleup, eating_peanut_better, purely_elizabeth, and goodhealthgoodvibes
  • Beyond finding inspiration from others, another source is to step outside your comfort zone and continually try new things! If you love grocery stores as much as I do, really look at what they have and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Try new spices, vegetables, meats, and don’t be shy to make new combinations for meals. Let’s be real, life is more fun when you’re open to new experiences, right? 

No two meal preps will look the same, and that’s the beauty of it. Whether you need to scoop out every single meal into Tupperware or want to follow a more recipe-based approach, find what works for you and stick with it. Once you realize the benefits of prepping, I can promise you’ll never go back. Happy cooking and bon appetit!

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A Guide to Healthy Meal Prep Anyone Can Follow

At the end of a long, busy day, who wants to come home and cook a meal that is not premade or frozen? It’s hard to keep up with wholesome, nutritious meals when you barely have time to breathe between classes or working. With long weekdays and fun weekends, spare time is hard to come by. The solution?

Get a lunchbox.

There are plenty of times during the day when I find myself needing a little nutritious pick me up before my next activity. On the days when I know I’ll be out of the apartment until dinner time, I know I need a good lunch too.

So, I took it back to the elementary school days and invested in a lunchbox and an ice pack. Now, I don’t have to worry about the time and money it takes to buy lunch everyday.

Smart grocery shopping.

Shop with a plan to stay on budget. Plan your meals for the week or at least for the next couple of days. A rough idea works just as well.

 

It takes 30.

Find about 30 minutes in your schedule that you can spend cooking dinner that will last you for a couple of days.

Here are two good examples: A Healthy Italian Dinner in 20 Minutes or A Simple Stir Fry in 15 Minutes!

 

When to meal prep:

This totally depends on when you, personally, find you have the time. But in general, you probably will either prep your meals:

  1. The night before (if you hate waking up earlier than necessary)
  2. The morning of (if you have the extra 10 minutes to make a sandwich in your morning routine)

Every meal counts and is equally important. So, what are quick and easy examples to prep and bring?

Breakfast Ideas:

  1. Overnight Oats
  2. Toast to go
  3. Yogurt and Fruit

 

Lunch Ideas:

  1. Sandwiches
  2. Soup
  3. Dinner from the night before

And for dinner (to make sure I’m getting the nutrients I need) I like to have a source of protein, a starch, and at least one type of vegetable.

Some examples of protein sources are:

  1. Meat (turkey burger or chicken sausage)
  2. Tofu
  3. Eggs

Some examples of starches are:

  1. Pasta
  2. Rice
  3. Potatoes

Some of my go-to vegetables are:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Brussel Sprouts
  3. Salad

 

Now, it’s your turn to meal prep! Enjoy!

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How to Meal Prep in 5 Easy Steps

How to Meal Prep in 5 Easy Steps

Get on that meal prep grind.

When the school year ends and the summer begins, some of us are not so fortunate as to be spending much of our time in the sun. For those of you who, like me, have a summer job, don’t worry. You are not alone.

This summer, I have been inside more hours than not, hoping the day will pass by quickly, praying that it will still be light out by the time I get home, and always needing a healthy snack to wake me up and a good lunch to keep me going. I have been getting pretty tired of my summer days being consumed by work and cooking.

As I began my summer job, I felt as though all I did with my day was go to work and then come home, with enough time left to make dinner, and prepare lunch and breakfast for the next day. Sick of wasting away my summer days indoors, I began meal prepping. And I’m never going back. So let me just warn you now: once you start, you will never stop!

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Meal prepping is a lifesaver. It’s easy, saves you time and allows you to enjoy your long summer days. Every Sunday, or even Monday if I had a busy weekend, I did all the cooking I needed to carry me through the work week. Once I began meal prepping, I was no longer hungry at work and found I could concentrate way better with my good food on hand. I was so used to being on a college campus where I could easily grab a snack whenever I wanted, for that little burst of energy or for some protein and brain power. So when I could no longer do that at my full-time job, I wasn’t prepared. In order to fight hunger and stay motivated at work, I found all the answers I needed in meal prepping.

Usually, I begin my meal prep on Sunday nights, after I’ve eaten dinner and am otherwise just watching Netflix.

Step 1: Roast some VEGGIES.

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I will fill up an oven tray of all the veggies I want for the week. These can be whatever vegetables I feel like, but usually this consists of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Portobello mushrooms, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, or really anything else I have in the refrigerator.

I simply cut them up, place them on a tray with a little bit of Pam (olive oil works too!) so nothing sticks, and place the tray into my 400-degree, pre-heated oven. Then, I go about my usual nightly routine; and by the time I’m done, so are my veggies.

Step 2: Prep some GRAINS.

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In addition, I often like to pair my veggies with quinoa. Though, any other grain you want (rice, barley, farro, etc.) would work! Grains are also so simple to make. Just throw the dry grains in a pot with some water, bring to a boil, and let it simmer slowly over low heat. I usually make 2 cups of dry quinoa, which usually lasts me 2 weeks. But you can experiment with different amounts to see how much you usually eat. While the oven with the veggies is going, I make the quinoa over the stove and periodically stir it.

The best thing about this meal prep is that it is really all hands off. Once you start cooking, you can step away or watch TV without having to be attentive.

Step 3: Get yo’ PROTEIN.

Since I’m a vegetarian, I stick with veggies and quinoa. When I make my meals, I make sure I get protein from other sources, such as eggs, beans, etc.

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But for the meat eaters out there, putting some lightly seasoned chicken in the oven with the veggies will have the same effect.

Step 4: Pack away for later.

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After everything is done I simple place everything in large plastic containers and stack them in the fridge. That way, I can take from them as needed throughout the week.

Step 5: Plan for some snacks.

I also found that when I’m working a full day, having a snack in the afternoon gives me the momentum I need to keep going ‘till 5.

These snacks don’t have to be complicated! Some easy and simple snacks I often find myself taking are apples with peanut butter, or hummus and carrots. These don’t require any preparation and they’ve got the nutrients to keep you full during the day. For some more great snack ideas, check out this article.

Since I’m not fortunate enough to be spending my summer working on my tan or traveling, I’m embracing the summer in other ways. For instance, I use fruits and veggies that are in season, which gives me that feeling that summer is in the air!

My favorites are watermelon and mint. If you cut up watermelon into cubes and sprinkle some fresh cut mint, you can leave the fruit in the refrigerator overnight and have your watermelon infused with minty freshness when you wake up. This stays in the fridge for awhile, and the longer you let it sit the better it tastes.

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So why else should you meal prep? Meal prepping encourages me to make healthier choices. After a long day at work, I’m tired and it’s easy for me to just grab the easiest and fastest option for dinner (aka, a cereal).

But….meal prepping encourages you to eat better and healthier. Now when I get home, I have healthier options right at my fingertips. All I have to do is just heat up some veggies, put it on a bed of quinoa, and drizzle a little olive oil on top. BAM healthy and delicious meal, in literally one minute. And if you get bored of eating the same thing, the grains and veggies are easy to jazz up with spices and other quick flavor-additions. (Lemon juice, hot sauce, or soy sauce, for example, are all great ways to easily add flavor.)

The healthy options are now easier and faster for me to eat than the unhealthy options. I can put the veggies on top of anything: kale, pasta, throw an egg on top for protein… It all works together! After this experience, I will probably continue to do meal prepping even during the school year. Why not have healthy options on hand? You never know if something is going to come up, and you will have time to prepare a meal in a pinch!

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