The new year resolution conundrum.

Have you been doing too much of this?

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Or eating too much of that?

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Yeah, I’m in that same boat. New years resolutions are interesting like that. You have SO MUCH ambition and excitement that this year will be the year that you lose 10 pounds, start eating veggies, quit smoking, drink less, etc etc etc. But then there’s New Years Eve. And you drink a bottle (or two) of champagne. There is no way in hell you’re passing up those greasy hang over cure potatoes the next morning on January 1st. So you tell yourself that January 2nd is the start of your new year. And then it’s Nana’s birthday and the cake is from that new trendy awesome bakery so you have to have a slice (or two). THIS WEEKEND. I SWEAR TO GOD THIS WEEKEND IS WHEN MY NEW YEAR STARTS. And then you get that call from your friend who just found out she got a raise/got engaged/broke up with the awful boyfriend/got a pedicure and needs to go out and celebrate. Well.. it would be rude of you to NOT do something to celebrate your friend’s newly painted toe nails. So you close down the local dive bars and leave your debit card with the bartender.

Basically, the new year isn’t what you planned it to be.

It’s not a lot of this.

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Or this.

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And definitely not that.

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You’re not alone, my friend. Everyone starts off the new year exactly the opposite of the way we had planned. I think the problem is we put our expectations for ourselves too high for such an immediate change. I’m a big believer in gradual change. You won’t stick with something that is drastic and uncomfortable, but small changes made over time can be easy to implement and stick with.

I’m actually doing a three day cleanse to reboot my body starting next Monday, so look forward to a post on picking a cleanse that’s right for your body and goals coming soon! But for now, lets pick out a few new “new years resolutions” that aren’t so extravagant and can be achieved and make you feel great about yourself!

My “Mini” NY Resolutions:

1. Drink more water.

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This sounds silly and typical and too easy but is SO GOD DAMN IMPORTANT. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. That’s a scary big number. Especially since dehydration, even the mild every day type, can cause shriveled and dry skin, rapid heart beat, heart palpitations, dizziness, inability to absorb nutrients, fatigue and lack of energy.

So here’s an easy way to drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you constantly and make sure you drink 8 oz/ hour starting right when you wake up. Make little marks on the side of the bottle so you know exactly how much 8 oz is. This alone will help detox your liver and kidneys, increase your energy levels and improve the appearance of your skin. Obviously, if you live in a very hot area or you work out a lot, this number will have to be increased, but try and maintain a minimum of 8 oz/hour.

2. Do something active (and fun) at least once a week.

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This is in addition to your workout routine. Get outside and do SOMETHING fun that’s active as well. Remember when we were kids and our idea of “fun” was running around for hours playing tag, sliding down slides and chasing groups of birds? Rediscover that inner child of yours and teach yourself how to do fun things that are active again. It’ll be great for your physical and mental health and help break up your routine of work, gym, sleep.

Here are some ideas: hike, walk the dogs, join an adult for fun sports team, get your friends together to play a pick up game of dodgeball, join your kids in games of tag, do a yoga class or go dancing with your friends! The opportunities are endless!

3. Spend the first hour that you wake up NOT on your phone.

Trust me. I know how hard this is. I love my phone like it’s my child. But try and get up at your normal time, make breakfast, read the paper, take a walk with a cup of tea, etc all without craning your head down to look at a little glowing screen. Just breaking the habit of starting your day with technology is a great feat. All day we’re bombarded by technology at work, at home, at dinner, with friends, and taking an hour in the morning to just enjoy the morning will do your mental health some good.

Happy February 3rd! Good luck with your new “new years resolutions”!

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Falling in love with fall… quinoa and pine nut stuffed acorn squash

Fall is by far my favorite season. A little biased? Maybe. But some of the tastiest and most complex food comes from this season. The squashes, root veggies and cruciferous plants!! All some of my faves. The common theme between all of these is that they taste absolutely incredible when roasted. Each different veggie has such a unique flavor that develops during the roasting process. Yams become sweeter, cauliflower becomes earthy-er and spaghetti squash becomes.. spaghetti (another post on that later this month)!

Roasting these veggies on their own is good… but stuffing them with some other awesome ingredients… even better!!

Acorn squash has a super ridiculously low glycemic load (4 on a scale that goes up to 250) which is good because it won’t give you high insulin spikes that cause a crash later on. It’s also known to be packed with magnesium, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium and vitamin C. Plus, only 56 calories for a cup of the stuff.

Quinoa, as we know, is a complete protein which will help make you fuller faster.

This is a great side dish to meat, or a main meal if you pair it with some cooked veggies. Try it out!

 

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Baked quinoa and pine nut stuffed acorn squash

ingredients

1 small acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half. Once you’ve cut it in half, take each part and cut about 1/2 inch off of the end so that it can stand up.

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3. Scoop the seeds out of the squash and drizzle the inside of both halves with olive oil. Then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt into both halves as well. Put this into the oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on how big your squash is. Mine was really small so it only took 25 minutes.

4. While the squash cooks, put your quinoa into a pot with 1 cup water. Cover and turn the heat to medium high until it starts to boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.

5. When the quinoa is done cooking, sprinkle the garlic powder, remaining salt and butter into the pot with the heat off. Stir to combine.

6. Next, toast the pine nuts. Take a small, dry sauce pan and put it over medium high heat. Pour the pine nuts into the pan and constantly stir the nuts by shaking the pan. These burn VERY quickly so you can’t walk away from them. It should only take about 45 seconds to get properly toasted (if the pan is hot enough when you put them in).

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This is how the pine nuts will look when they are done.

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A shot of how the pine nuts and the acorn squash look when they are both done cooking.

7. Stir the toasted pine nuts into the quinoa.

8. Flip the acorn squash over so that the cut side is now facing up and put it onto your serving plate. Scoop the quinoa out of the pan and equally fill each half of the squash with the quinoa and you are ready to eat!

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**This also tastes great with some finely chopped and sauteed veggies mixed in with the quinoa, like broccoli, zucchini or cauliflower.

**Feel free to add a meat into the quinoa mixture as well. Just make sure it’s already cooked when you add it in and that it is chopped into small pieces!

 

 

The oh-so-Paleo butter in coffee thing. What, Why and how it tastes

My friend, Christine, actually was the first one to tell me about butter in coffee. We were laying out on the beach one day over the summer when she told me about it. It sounded so bizarre and disgusting that I disregarded it as a rumor and we went on with my day. It wasn’t until last week when I was reading The Skimm (awesome daily emails about world news) and it mentioned “bulletproof coffee” being a thing.

1 cup coffee+2 tablespoons (or more) grass-fed butter+1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil=Bulletproof Coffee (of course, blended up in a blender… or else it’s just a goopy mess of butter sitting on top of your coffee)

This drink is supposed to replace your breakfast… just saying.

After I saw it mentioned by a pretty reputable site, I looked more into it. I found a bunch of videos about how to make it and the benefits of it. I also found other websites saying it was a terrible idea and no one should be doing this. Basically, the whole idea behind it is to create a drink that contains the essential fatty acids your body needs from the grass-fed butter and coconut oil in order to have lasting energy as well as caffeine to give you a little boost without a crash. Here’s a little summary of both sides from my research:

The Butter Lovers Argument:

With “Bullet Proof Coffee” you’re using grass-fed butter which has the “best” ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Having an optimal omega 6 to 3 ratio can decrease your risk of many lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Butter also contains Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid, which used to be considered bad for you. Now, this fatty acid has been found to be anti-inflammatory and reduce your risk of CVD. Because of the addition of fats from the grass-fed butter and coconut oil, bullet proof coffee provides lasting energy (about 6 hours worth) without the crash often associated with regular coffee.

(If you want to read more about this argument, check out Women’s Health Magazine’s article on Bulletproof coffee)

The Anti-Greasy Coffee Proponents Argument:

Replacing your meal with this coffee means your missing out on a lot of essential nutrients. In fact, 1/3 of your essential nutrients if you’re used to eating 3 meals a day. You don’t get any fiber, only 1 gram of protein and the rest is fat. Yeah, eating this much fat will satiate you (it IS about 400 calories per cup of this stuff…), but it won’t satisfy your daily nutrient needs. Another point is that even though saturated fat has been found to not be linked with heart disease, it doesn’t mean you should be drinking a liquid concoction of it in place of your regular meal. No studies have been done on eating excessive amounts of saturated fat so no one really knows what could happen at such mega-doses. For example, just because you find out that broccoli decreases your risk of cancer, it doesn’t mean you should be consuming it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The body requires many nutrients from a variety of foods and when you don’t supply it of that, you’ll find yourself in a diseased state.

(if you want to read more about this argument, check out Authority Nutrition’s article about Bulletproof Coffee)

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After reading up about it, I had an idea of how I felt about the health benefits, but I wanted to taste it first before I set my mind to my opinion on the whole matter.

So I brewed up some organic coffee beans (freshly ground minutes before I made it), I pulled out my Vitamix and blended all that fat and coffee together. It looked just like a regular latte, minus the foamy top. Then the moment of truth came… and I tasted it.

At first, it didn’t taste that bad. It definitely was rich and “buttery”, but it mostly just tasted like coffee with excessive amounts of cream. But then I kept drinking it. My mouth had such a gross, coating all over it halfway through drinking the coffee that I couldn’t even finish it. I’m used to eating a higher fat diet with butter and coconut oil, but this was just too much. My stomach felt… icky. I mean, I did have energy but I also felt like I wanted to vomit.

I gave it a fair shot, but it wasn’t for me. Personally, I don’t believe that eating excessive amounts of anything in a normal diet is a good idea. I’ve learned way too much from all my nutrition research classes about how high amounts of almost anything, even the really “healthy” stuff, can cause your body to enter into a diseased state of some sort for me to believe that this drink is good for you. Your body needs a variety of nutrients in order to function and when you replace a healthy meal (not a bowl of coco puffs with milk… an actual healthy MEAL) with a drink that has only a few types of nutrients, your missing out on a lot. But who knows? Maybe if you make up for it throughout the day by eating really well all across the board, you’ll be fine. I personally would rather give myself a high fat, high protein smoothie with a clean latte. I mean, it doesn’t leave that coating inside your mouth and still gives you the high quality fat your body needs as well as that caffeine boost that you sometimes require.

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And it just looks prettier..but I might be biased 🙂

My dad creates recipes too: dads paleo granola

My dad rarely gets involved with the kitchen. If he does, he’s making crazy weird experimental smoothies that he thinks are delicious but the rest of my family semi gags over. But today, while visiting me at school for my last family weekend ever (side note-I graduate in December–yayayayay!!), he comes up with this little gem. I’m not a huge paleo advocate, but my dad really digs it. This recipe is uber paleo friendly and it’s really tasty too with minimal sugar. The only real sugar involved is in the dates. But you guys have got to try this one out.

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I don’t know if you guys have heard of the whole butter in coffee thing… but I think it’s strange. It just sounds unappetizing. Paleo peeps love their butter, so this recipe has a little butter involved. Not as much as my dad wanted, but I made him compromise with me over the amount.
This recipe is great for a little pick me up to help hold you over between meals. Packed with healthy fats and protein! And make sure to use grass fed organic butter- we don’t want any nasty hormones in our recipe!

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Dads paleo granola
ingredients
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons butter (weird, I know)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons of the following:
-macadamia nuts
-walnuts
-pumpkin seeds
-pecans
-pistachios
-cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut flakes
5 dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon cinnamon
A pinch of salt

1. Finely chop the nuts and seeds.
2. Combine EVERYTHING into a large mixing bowl.
3. Cover a pie pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture into the pan.
4. Put into the freezer for at least an hour then transfer to the fridge and enjoy!!