egg yolk

4 Ways to Upgrade Breakfast

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of breakfast? Combinations like sugary cereal + milk, orange juice + bagel + cream cheese, donuts or blueberry muffins are some of the classic American staples that top the list. But what if I told you many of these morning choices are going to send your blood sugar for a wild roller coaster ride leading to an energy crash later and provide you with minimal nutrients compared to other options out there!

breakfast vs. breakfast

That’s why I’m here to send you in the right direction when it comes to the food you start your day with! Breakfast aka ‘break your fast’ should be a nutritious yet still delicious experience. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for some of the less nutritious choices in moderation. It just means that more often than not you should try to follow many of these guiding principles below!

Also, there is good news here! There are brands out there like Purely Elizabeth that make upgrades to some of these classic breakfast foods so you can still have your pancakes and leave feeling satisfied and full with a much more nutritious and higher protein experience! Essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too ;).

purely elizabeth pancakes

Breakfast Upgrade #1 - When it doubt, add a protein rich food

Protein is a very satiating macronutrient and important component of your breakfast meal. Things like adding in a high quality protein powder, going for eggs or adding in other protein rich foods can start to make your breakfast meal a much better choice. You’d be surprised to find out that actually starting your day with grass-fed steak & eggs is actually an extremely nutrient dense way to kickstart your day. I also love that Purely Elizabeth also has a high-protein pancake option too!

Breakfast Upgrade #2 - Don’t skimp on the fiber

Fiber is also another important addition to your breakfast meal that will help to regulate blood sugar and provide you with gut health benefits. There’s a reason why swapping oranges for orange juice is a great choice! The fiber from the whole fruit will help to slow down the absorption of the sugar so you don’t get this huge insulin spike than crash later. Additionally, it’s much harder to eat a lot of oranges but so easy to guzzle down 12 ounces of sugary orange juice. Fruit juices are also often stripped of many of the beneficial nutrients from pasteurization. Whether with veggies or whole fruit or nuts or another fiber-rich food, your body will thank you later when you start your day with fiber.

Breakfast Upgrade #3 - Add some healthy fats

Whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain or just maintenance, dietary fats are an important part of a balanced healthy diet. Starting your day off with nutritious versions of fats is a great way to provide your brain and body with healthy fuel. Did you know your brain needs fat? Brain matter is composed of about 60% fat (when drained of water). Whether you’re going for a handful of nuts or incorporating Purely Elizabeth pancakes stacked with coconut & almond flour, there are plenty of nutrient-dense options out there for you!

4 - Skip sugary drinks and sub in lower-sugar options

Whether we’re talking about sugar-bomb frappuccinos, jamba juice sugary smoothies or fruit juices, all of these drinks have one common theme: a high amount of sugar, little-to-no fiber and extra calories all of which can hurt your health and your waistline in the long-run if you’re consuming them every day. If you view these drinks closer to dessert or treat options, then you’re on the right path.

For a more nutritious way to start your day, make sure you’re drinking tons of mineralized water and feel free to add in low-sugar drinks like tea, lightly-sweetened coffee or low-sugar protein shakes.

Now I know skipping things like french toast or pancakes might not sound like fun so I teamed up with Purely Elizabeth to highlight this nutrient dense alternative to commercial pancakes. Because I want you to live a healthy lifestyle but also have some fun doing it!

pancakes vs. pancakes


10 Benefits of Ashwagandha

If you’re keeping an eye on the new healthy things out there you probably heard about Ashwagandha. I don’t expect you to know what it is, I just hope that that word fell onto your radar at some point in the last year or so.
If you’re sitting here all like- Ashwa who? Do not worry, I’m gonna tell you what it is and most importantly why it should be added to your shopping list due to all of the amazing benefits that it has.
Ashwa-what?

Withania somnifera more commonly known as Ashwagandha is a herb that can be found in the Indian system of medicine. It can be used in a tonic to increase longevity and it has inti-stress agents.
Ashwagandha is commonly available as a churna, a fine sieved powder that can be mixed with water, ghee (clarified butter) or honey. It enhances the function of the brain and nervous system and has been shown to improve memory. It can help to improve the function of the reproductive system promoting a healthy sexual and reproductive balance. Being a powerful adaptogen, it enhances the body's resilience to stress. Ashwagandha improves the body's defense against disease by improving the cell-mediated immunity. It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

There are so many benefits to Ashwagandha - it’s amazing!

It is a medicine herb.
It has been used in medicine practices for a long time. It’s one of the most popular herbs used for relieving stress as well as increasing energy and helping with concentration.
Helps to lowers blood sugar
There has been some evidence that Ashwagandha increases insulin secretion and can also improve insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells. There also have been studies that suggest that Ashwagandha can help lower the blood sugar in both healthy people as well as people with diabetes.
Possesses anticancer effects
Even though most of the studies suggesting that have come from animal trials, there's a compound in ashwagandha called withaferin that helps induce apoptosis, which in its place helps kill the cancer cells. Withaferin also promotes the formation of reactive oxygen species inside cancer cells and disrupts their function. Throughout the animal studies it’s been shown to help treat multiple types of cancer such as breast, lung, brain and ovarian cancers.
There’s still no research on humans, however the current research on animals is promising.
Reduction in cortisol levels
Cortisone is a stress hormone and if the levels of this hormone are high it can have multiple negative effects on your health. There are multiple studies that show that Ahwagandha can help reduce the cortisol levels. There’s one study that shows up to 30% reduction in cortisol levels for chronically stressed adults.
Reduction of stress and anxiety
The stress and anxiety reduction is probably the most benefit that people notice from Ashwagandha. There has been a lot of human studies and the results have been very indicative of the benefits.
In one study that lasted 60 days with 64 people who were chronically stressed, those in the group taking Ashwagandha supplements saw a 69% decrease in anxiety as well as insomnia, compared to 11% decrease in the placebo group. Another 6 week study had 88% reduction in anxiety in the ashwagandha group versus 50% reduction in the placebo group.
Point here is that it’s worth trying it out if you are constantly stressed and looking for a way to lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Reduction of symptoms of depression
Even though there hasn’t been too much research done on the matter on depression, there are a few studies that suggest that Ashwagandha can help relieve the symptoms of depression. In the 60 day study with 64 participants, ones in the group taking 600mg concentrated ashwagandha extract showed a 79% reduction in the depression when the placebo group had an increase of 10%.
Could help increase muscle mass and strength
Even though the research on this one is still new, studies have shown that taking ashwagandha can benefit body composition.
One study showed gain in strength after taking 750–1,250 mg of pulverized ashwagandha and another study showed gain in strength and muscle mass as well as decrease of body fat amounts. These studies have been performed on men.
Reduces inflammation
Based, yet again, on animal studies, decrease in inflammation has been found. In human studies however activity of natural killer cells has been detected. Those cells promote general well being and help fight off infections. There also have been reductions in some markers of inflammation that are connected to heart disease.
In the controlled study, the group that took 250mg of ashwagandha per day had a 36% decrease in CPR (inflammation marker C-reactive protein) compared to 6% decrease in the placebo group.
Could help lower cholesterol and triglycerides
There’s some research that suggests Ashwagandha has cholesterol and triglycerides lowering abilities. Studies on animals have reported very good results with the reduction of up to 53% and 45% of cholesterol and triglycerides respectively. Human studies, though haven’t shown that drastic decrease, still came with a 17% decrease in cholesterol levels and 11% decrease in triglycerides based on the 60 day study.
May improve brain function
While most studies have been conducted on animals there are a few human studies that show the improvements in memory and attention due to regular supplementation of Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha promotes antioxidant activity in the body that fights free radicals. In the two studies participants took 500 mg and 300 mg twice a day and both groups reported improvement in the reaction time as well as task performance, memory and attention span.


The point is, there really aren’t many scenarios where the Ashwagandha usage is not recommended (ex.-for pregnant women) and it’s generally good for you, so there really isn’t anything stopping you from giving it a go. The benefits speak for themselves and if you don’t like it after a month or two, don’t take it. If you’re not sure if you should be taking it please consult with your doctor to be completely sure as I am not a medical professional and the advice in this post is based on the research that’s been conducted.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


Does this spark Joy? Tips for Decluttering Your Space

Does this spark Joy? Whoever thought that would be a question to ask yourself when decluttering your space, I would've not thought of such a simple guide.

Have you ever felt like you got nothing to wear? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of things in your house that you haven’t used in forever? Have you ever thought about decluttering your things? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this post is for you! And you might even know about Mari Kondo method from her book or the Netflix series that came out a couple years ago. 

Recently I’ve been trying to be more intentional about things that I have and learning to say goodbye to things that I don’t use anymore. I’ve discovered the book by Marie Kondo “The life-changing magic of tidying up” and the method that Marie talks about is really great! I listened to the full audible and I highly recommend check it out!

 

The rules of tidying based of the book are : 

Rule 1:

Commit yourself to tidying up.

Rule 2:

Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

Rule 3:

Finish discarding first.

Rule 4:

Tidy by category, not by location.

Rule 5:

Follow the right order.

Rule 6:

Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

 

The great thing about the Mari Kondo method is that it’s not necessarily about being more minimalistic but about having things, but only things that make you happy, or as she says spark joy. 

It’s also important to make it a full house project so you can go over everything and feel fresh once you’re done. And another important rule in the book is going over everything in the category. If you don’t bring out all your clothes to go over whatever you didn’t bring is out by definition- you didn’t care enough about it to bring it into the sorting pile, then it’s not that important to you. Which I feel like is some tough love but definitely a fair point. 

The order of decluttering your item goes as follows: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous), sentimental value items. 

There are many reasons to use this order, with clothes being usually the most time consuming of it so it comes first and then you move one category by one and leave the sentimental, which is the hardest part, for last.  

 

How the Marie Kondo Method change my life personally: 

trash bags

Here's a glimpse at part of the donation I made after following this method. I got rid of so many of my clothes even my husband, Chris was in shock! I realized there were so many things I felt "ehhh" or "meeh" about and it was actually bogging me down. So far the benefits I've seen from following her method:

  • It's been way easier to keep my bedroom, closet and car clean since decluttering
  • I wear more variety of the clothes, jewelry and purses since I have a much easier time picking between the few things I love
  • I feel lighter and less weighed down by things
  • I'm starting to take better care of things I do have
  • I feel more selective about new purchases but also happier when I pick out things I love
  • My husband was inspired to donate some of his things

You can snag Marie Kondo's book, The Magic Art of Tidying Up, here on amazon or try listening to it on audible!

Here were some the takeaways I got from the book:

 

Clothes:

Tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, underwear, socks, loungewear, bags, shoes. All of these make up this category. 

Off season clothes are a good starting point and then move onto the clothes you currently wear. Loungewear is a dangerous zone that can add up if you add things that you don’t see yourself wearing outside and instead demote them to loungewear. Truth is there aren’t that many things that are comfortable enough, maybe with an exception of t-shirts that are comfortable enough to be worn around a house. Loungewear and athleisure wear are thriving industries, especially during the pandemic, so this can be an excuse to get rid of some old things that you don’t like nor see yourself wearing and get some comfy yet visually pleasing home sets. Same goes for sleep wear. Having something that you feel comfy in but also looks great makes going to bed way more exciting. 

FOLDING IS KEY

Having clothes folded in a proper way so you can see everything you have is so important. It also makes you go through each and every item one by one and this can help in the understanding whether or not you truly like the item. 

How to arrange clothes? 

An easy way to figure out what to hang in your closet is to ask a question- does it look and feel like something that should be stored hanging up? Then organize them by category- coats, dresses, jackets, pants, skirts and blouses. Use your intuition to organize your clothes. 

You can use the left to right method where you store longest and heaviest items on the left and move to lightest and shortest ones on the right. If you feel like doing it by color, go for it. It’s about what makes it easy and accessible for you!

 

Books:

Books are also pretty hard to part with. 

Removing all books off the shelves and laying them down on the floor is the first step. Physically moving things and “waking them up” as well as touching them to organize them on the floor helps determine whether or not it sparks joy. Once all of them are on the floor you can then pick them up one by one and see if you feel excited when you hold it. If you don’t, chances are you don’t need it. 

She has a strong opinion on getting rid of books and only keeping ones that spark joy. 

Stop and think what purpose these books serve? 

Keep only the books that you’re excited to see on your shelf. 

Papers:

Rule of thumb- discard everything. Newspapers, the letter holder with all the letters, the bills you have piled, the invitations to events you never went to. The minimum amount people usually discard is 2 45 gallon bags. 

The few main categories of papers that you would need to have are: urrently in use, needed for a  limited amount of time, will need indefinitely. 

Then you take it one step further and divide it into papers to be saved and papers to be dealt with. Letters that require a reply, forms that need to be submitted. Keeping all the papers in one place is key. 

The point is to discard everything that you won’t ever need and organize the things that are needed like car ownership papers, insurance information, birth certificates and such in one easily accessible spot. It’s best to store things like that in a vertical file. 

 

Komono (miscellaneous): 

This category is the most confusing and overarching category of random things found all over the house. It can be pretty much everything and anything other than the previous few categories. Buttons, empty appliance boxes, little boxes with just stuff, freebies from events, calendars, you get the idea. There are so many things all over our homes. 

The order KonMari method recommends is as follows:

  1. Cd and dvd
  2. Skincare
  3. Make up
  4. Accessories
  5. Valuables
  6. Electrical equipment and appliances- computers, cameras and anything that can fall into the appliance category.
  7. Household equipment- stationary and writing materials, sewing kits…
  8. Household Supplies- medicine, detergent, cleaning supplies, detergent
  9. Kitchen good/food supplies- spachelas, pots, pans, blender
  10. Other- spare change, figurines, etc. 

The key to this category is to just do the entire category at a time. The truth is that you don’t need random appliance boxes, extra bedding for the guests that stay over once a year, extra buttons, random count, hair clips, and so so many more. If you don’t like it anymore, let it go. You’ll feel so much better. 

Sentimental Items:

This category is hard because they are related to the memories. However, holding on to these items doesn’t erase those. 

Photos and birthday cards, love letters from middle school, elementary school papers and so on. Items like this were enjoyed in the moment and were great there and then and no item can steal that memory from your head. It is hard because these are highly sentimental items, but will you really ever use them? Will having a box full of treasure items that is probably hidden in a closet be something that will bring you joy?
And don’t get me wrong, having those things is ok, making a decision on what things you really want to keep and what you can part with is the trick for this category. 

 

I think it's so interesting when decluttering is more emotion influenced rather than other methods that tell you to get rid of things if you haven't used them in 6, 12 months or 2 years. The benefit of this method is that you decide with emotions and feeling things that you want to surround yourself with. When everything in your home Sparks joy then there's a lesser chance of a rebound. My belief is that if you can't answer immediately what you need an item for and where it's gonna be stored you're not in a need for it. It's a combination of feeling and mindfulness approach to each new item.

 

How to better store your things? 

So say you went through every category and you decluttered. How can you now effectively store things that you decided to keep. You can always use the method that you've been using previously. 

Have a place for every item. It only takes one time to designate a spot for every item. If you add things that don’t belong it will slowly start piling up and adding up with the things that are not needed and don’t belong. 

Sort and organize by type of item or by person if you live with family members.

Organizing by person is the key because it's important to have a designated spot for every one and knowing that it's your personal space.

Store everything similar in the close proximity or in one space. Don't overthink it and try to organize each category by how often you use it. Or if you want to just go for 2 categories-things you use often and things you don't use that often.

Vertical storage is the key. Don't pile things-they will get messy really quickly and easily. 

Stacking also can be hard on the things on the bottom of the pile. Even with the fridge vertical method can help you see everything you have in the fridge. 

Kondo believes that having all the organizing tools and boxes and dividers is really not necessary to have a well organized home. Just having some storage containers or even things already in the house can help you organize it all better than any cool new gadget. Empty shoe box is a great example. You can store shampoo and conditioner under the sink in a shoe box, socks and underwear in the drawer to keep it organized and separated, you can use the top of the shoe box as a divider in the kitchen drawers and in so many more ways. Limit to a shoebox storage is truly your imagination. Another item that has a lot of options is plastic kitchen storage containers that can be used for the kitchen things to keep little things like jar lids or small tools all together.

So why should you do it?

The point of it all is that storing things and having attachment to items is usually psychological. Whether you can’t move forward from your past, or afraid to step into the future, or have deep sentimental attachment to your items, most of it is in your head.  Approach that Marie teaches is in no way minimalistic, but there have been studies that prove that letting go of physical possessions opens doors and helps find excitement in things around you. There is freedom in letting go of things that don’t serve you anymore. It will help clear your mind because you home will be clean and organized, I promise you that!

If you never thought about decluttering, you probably wouldn’t be reading this in the first place. So you did think about it, or even done it before. If you haven't read Marie Kondo's book  “The life changing magic of tidying up” then you should. It’s an easy fun read or you can find the show on Netflix. 

Let go of things that don’t spark joy and find happiness around you. 

 

Co-Written by: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio & Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


All About Fasting: The benefits, types of fasting + more

Let’s start with a bit of history. Fasting has been a practice done for centuries. It can be traced back to ancient greek times. Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness. Through the centuries since then fasting has been used for religious purposes, ethical as well as health purposes. In this post I’m going to get into fasting for health and the benefits of it. 

Some variations of fasting are more extreme than others. It is definitely recommended that if you are very underweight or having an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa, fasting will NOT be a good fit for you. 

If you’re at a healthy weight or overweight, fasting can have many benefits. Some versions may work better for you than others so make sure you listen to your body and do what feels right for you!

Food clock. Healthy food concept on black table background

There are few common ways that you can do, and I’m gonna dive into those:

(Disclaimer. I am not a medical professional. Information provided in this post is written based on multiple studies and is for educational purposes. I neither recommend nor discourage this way of eating, I simply share the benefits that have been observed through the studies. If this way of eating is something you’re interested in I’d recommend checking with your medical provider if you have any concerns)

 

1. The 16-8 method

fasting

This one of the most and most doable versions of fasting. Also known as the 18-6 method or 14-10. What this means is on every day basis you eat during the smaller “eating window” and fast the remainder of the time. 

 

[The first 4 hours of the fast are anabolic, meaning your body is converting food into glucose, amino acids and fatty acids that our body needs to have energy and  function efficiently. 

Hours 4-16 are catabolic, this is the time when the body starts tapping into the glucose from liver glycogen and fatty acids from fat stores. What does it mean exactly? Once the body exhausts the energy from glucose (from the carbohydrates that you consume) it moves onto using the energy from the fatty acids from food and the fat stores. 

Hours 16-24 are the fat burning hours. This is when glycogen becomes depleted, glucose from gluconeogenesis starts to rise and lipolysis breaks down fat stores and fatty acids are being mobilized for energy, liver starts to synthesize ketones from excess energy produced by fatty acids and oxidation. 

Yes, I said ketones. No you don’t need to follow a Keto diet to have your body create ketones. A definition of ketones according to WebMD:

“Ketones are chemicals your liver makes. You produce them when you don't have enough insulin in your body to turn sugar (or glucose) into energy. You need another source, so your body uses fat instead. Your liver turns this fat into ketones, a type of acid, and sends them into your bloodstream.

So what does it all mean in english? During these hours your body is no longer using glucose from the carbohydrates and moves onto using energy from the fat storage in the body. ]

Hours 24+ Ketosis state. Hours when the glycogen stores become depleted and your body is fully reliant on the fatty acids from fat stores to be used for energy .

 

These are the most common brackets for daily fasting and during the “eating window” you eat what you normally would eat during the longer time. You can decide what fasting window works the best for you and your lifestyle. 

A note to go with that is, if your goal is to lose weight focus on having a healthy nourishing diet during that time, rather than following the “eat whatever you want” strategy. Calories consumed over 15 hours or calories consumed over 4 are the same. 

 

2. The 5:2 method

the 5:2 diet

When following this diet you eat normally 5 days out of the week and fast (eat about 500-600 calories) on the other 2 days. 

There hasn’t been any studies to prove the effects of this particular fasting method, however there have been plenty of studies on intermittent fasting itself that found multiple benefits. 

 

3. Eat Stop Eat method

eat stop diet

Very similar to the 5:2 method but instead of having a little bit of food on the fasting days you don’t have any and fast for 24 hours 2 days out of the week and eat normally the other 5 days. 

The difference with the 5-2 method is that during the fasting days you can consume water, tea and coffee as well as other 0 calorie beverages. 

 

4. The Warrior Diet

warrior diet

With this diet you only have a little bit of food throughout the day and have one giant meal in the evening. This diet allows you a 4 hour eating window and consists of a lot of whole unprocessed foods. 

 

5. Spontaneous Meal Skipping. 

You can guess it from its name. This method does not follow a structured plan, rather than just listening to your body and if you’re not feeling hungry or you’re having a busy day and don’t feel like cooking and taking time to eat.  

The point is, there’s no one fits all like with literally any diet/way of eating. Some people thrive on 20 hour fasts while others can’t get it to 14. Important thing here is listening to your body and doing what feels good. 

 

So why even bother trying to get into intermittent fasting? What’s the point? 

The point is the benefits that this structured eating regimen will bring you. 

 

General health benefits:

Studies have been done on animals and humans and found multiple benefits of intermittent fasting:

Weight loss: limiting eating windows can help control the amounts of food consumed and aid in losing the weight. 

Insulin Resistance: intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar by 3-6%. That also aids in prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.

Inflammation: intermittent fasting shown reduction in markers of inflammation. 

Heart Health: intermittent fasting increases the brain hormones BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or abrineurin) and may aid in growth of new nerve cells. 

 

Affect on the hormones: 

Human Growth hormone increases rapidly that aids in fat loss and muscle gain. 

Insulin sensitivity improves as the level of insulin drop. Lower insulin helps in making fat storage available for energy use. 

Cells repair is triggered by fasting which removes old cells and replaces them by new ones.

 

What if I want to lose weight?

It has been proven to be a great tool in weight loss! Hormonal changes that are caused by intermittent fasting can help facilitate weight loss. Intermittent fasting helps burn fat and increases metabolic rate. 

 

Who shouldn’t be following intermittent fasting regiments?

 

Once again, this way of eating is not for everyone. There are groups of people who wouldn't benefit from it. If you have underlying health conditions, you should consult your doctor before adopting this diet. 

This is particularly important if you:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
  • Have low blood pressure.
  • Take medications.
  • Are underweight.
  • Have a history of eating disorders.
  • Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
  • Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

All of these sound great! I don’t have any health related issues! Where do I sign up? 

It’s important to check with yourself if this is something that you feel ready to do. Is your relationship with food in a good place? If you don’t have psychological attachment to food this diet might just be for you. Starting small would be the best way to get into it. Start at the 13-16 hour fasting window, move up if you feel like that’s benefiting you and just see how it feels. 

Have you tried fasting? If so, do you like it and have you noticed any changes from 3 meals per day eating style?  Are you curious but scared you won’t be able to do it? Let’s chat about it! Feel free to share in the comments. 

Notes and links for sources, because science is important:

 

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1905136

https://www.verywellfit.com/the-warrior-diet-4684768

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/effects-of-intermittent-fasting-on-glucose-and-lipid-metabolism/8803CC1517F53CEF2BF8BFDC06A816D6

 

Case study: effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging and disease. 

Intermittent fasting helps with run the body without the sugar in the breaks between food

Knows to help with diabetes. Diabetes can be reversed with diet and fasting.

 

Reduced blood pressure

Reduces blood lipids

Reduces markers of inflammation

Reduces Oxidative stress and risk of cancer

Increase cellular turnover and repair 

Increase fat burning 

Increase growth hormone release

Increased metabolic rate 

Improves appetite control

Improves blood sugar control

Improves cardiovascular function and effectiveness of chemotherapy 

Shown neurogenesis

 

These benefits have been seen on generally healthy individuals. 

 

More advanced than general calorie counting. Not for a green person. understanding food and balance and only then.

If you gotta fast you have to work on relationship with food and have a good relationship with food 

2007 study by stout  with healthy individuals 3 meals per day vs 1 meal per day- same amount of calories

Unless you're diabetic or pre diabetic fasting gives you more stable blood sugar than eating small meals 

Increased protein synthesis 

Religion fasts because of health benefits.

It reduces tumor growth and cures cancer in animal studies. 

Fasting increases body's cells removal process.

Restricting meals gives body time to remove waste and not have to function 24/7 on 6 meals per day.

Psychologically food attachment

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#simpler-lifestyle

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/effects-of-intermittent-fasting-on-glucose-and-lipid-metabolism/8803CC1517F53CEF2BF8BFDC06A816D6

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) RocchioAll about Fasting


6 Amazing Simple & Healthy Desserts

Here's to enjoying dessert on a regular basis while staying on track with your nutrient needs and goals! Of course it's totally okay to treat yourself to your favorite sweets every now and then, but eating highly processed junk food too often can lead to all kinds of problems. Now don't get me wrong- you can still enjoy plenty of delicious, sweet treats while also giving your body the nutrients it needs. Fruit is one of the best ways to satisfy any cravings for sweets you may have. There are even tons of upgraded chocolatey desserts that are so much more nutritious than their highly processed alternatives! That's why breaking down desserts and sharing 6 of my favorite upgraded recipes with you.

Don't be fooled by sugar bombs in disguise!

Highly processed desserts like the strawberry milkshake on the left may seem like an okay choice because they're fruit flavored, but the truth is that you'd be much better off eating the fruit itself. Not only do processed desserts contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, and more, but they also come up short when it comes to giving your body nutrients. There are zero health benefits from consuming sweets like the highly processed milkshake on a regular basis. However, when you eat real fruit (even if you ate all 3 plates of strawberries), it provides your body with vitamins and minerals, natural sugars, and fiber which helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Additionally, it would be much more difficult to consume all three plates of strawberries than it would be to drink the milkshake with the same amount of sugar.
But that doesn't mean that plain fruit is the only healthy dessert option out there! There are so many ways to satisfy a sweet tooth while staying on track with your goals. A few simple dessert options like fruit with chocolate, nuts, or nut butters are great for when you're short on time or ingredients. However, if you're looking to switch it up and add some new dessert recipes to your routine, I got you covered.  Weather you prefer tangy, fruit flavored sweets, classic combinations, or rich and chocolatey goodness, you will love these 6 Simple and Healthy Dessert Recipes!

Looking for something tarte and satisfying? These Vegan/Paleo Cheesecakes are perfect for you!

These delicious, mini cheesecakes won’t let you down. I love that they're in pre-portioned sizes and you can customize them however you want! I used blueberries but feel free to substitute your favorite fruit like raspberries, blackberries, etc. This recipe makes about 10 servings. Thanks to minimalistbaker.com for her vegan cheesecake recipe that made it super easy to make this version! Full instructions below:

What you need for the crust:
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup packed pitted dates

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups quick soaked cashews (*boil a pot of water and pour the boiling water onto the cashews. Let soak for an hour)
1/3 cup coconut oil melted
2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 large lemon, squeezed
Blueberries (optional)

What to do:
1 - Add the pitted dates to food processor. Blend and set aside.
2 - Add the pecans. Process until smooth then add the dates back in and process to make the crust.
3 - Get out a muffin tin. Spray with oil and pack 1 tbsp of the curst into each tin ( 10 tins total)
4 - Add the cashews, coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut milk and lemon to the food processor. Blend until smooth.
5 - Evenly distribute into muffin tins.
6 - (optional) Add 1-2 cups blueberries to the food processor. Blend until smooth then add a layer to each cheesecake.
7 - Freeze for at least 2 hours up to 4 hours and then enjoy. (Note: helps if you let sit out for a few minutes then use a knife to cut around the rim and pop out)

Calories per mini cheesecake (doesn’t include blueberries): 360 cals, 5g protein, 30g carbs, 27g fat

Get creative with this refreshing and sweet treat!

I love colorful, fun snacks and this is perfect for hosting parties or just giving yourself a fun, healthy treat! Watermelon isn’t just delicious, it also has plenty of health benefits. Aside from being super hydrating (92% water), it also has 21% of your vitamin C, 18% of your vitamin A And 5% of your potassium. Watermelon is also full of antioxidants including Carotenoids, Lycopene & Cucurbitacin E. Instructions below:


What you need:
1 watermelon slice
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Handful of strawberries
Handful of raspberries
Handful of blueberries
1/2 tbsp of Mint

What to do:
Step 1: Cover the watermelon slice with Greek yogurt.
Step 2: Add the berries.
Step 3: Add the mint.
Step 4: Cut into slices.
Repeat for however many servings you want!

These sweet potato brownies are extremely decadent!

While is perfectly ok to treat yourself to the real deal every now and then, going for a healthy, homemade version on a regular basis will not only help your weight loss journey but will help also help your overall health. The homemade version is lower in sugar, higher in fiber and replaces white flour with coconut flour. Honestly I think this homemade version of these brownies are delicious AF.
What you need:
(To make 8 servings)
1 sweet potato
3 eggs, whisked
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw honey
3 tbsp coconut flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup dark cocoa chips
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)
What to do:
1- Bake sweet potato. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Poke holes with fork & bake for 25-35 minutes or until soft.
2- Once the sweet potato is soft, peel off the skin & mash it with a fork in a bowl. Turn your oven down to 350 degrees.
3- Add eggs, coconut oil, honey and stir together
4- Add dry ingredients: coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips. Mix well.
5- Pour into an 8x8 glass baking dish
6- Bake for 30-35 minutes.
7- Let cool & enjoy!

If you like bananas, these banana popsicles are perfect for you:

These are not only hella delicious but also hella easy! Pretty much everyone I know can appreciate the classic banana & chocolate combo, so I thought I’d share these delicious way to take it to the next level. The best part about these is that you can have fun with the toppings and add whatever you like.
What you’ll need:⁠⠀
Popsicle sticks⁠⠀
6 bananas⁠⠀
1 bag chocolate chips ⁠⠀
½ tbsp coconut oil ⁠⠀
Toppings:⁠⠀
Coconut flakes ⁠⠀
Granola⁠⠀
Goji berries⁠⠀
Pistachios⁠⠀
Pomegranate seeds⁠⠀
Peanut butter ⁠⠀What to do:⁠⠀
1- Cut the bananas in half and insert 1 popsicle stick into each one. ⁠⠀
2- Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe bowl. ⁠⠀
3- Pour the chocolate into a mason jar. ⁠⠀
4- Dip each banana pop into the chocolate and set aside onto a plate with parchment paper. ⁠⠀
5- Add your desired toppings! ⁠⠀
6- Place in the freezer for at least an hour and a half.⁠⠀
7- Dig in! ⁠⠀

This upgraded version of the classic chocolate chip cookie is sure to impress:

Who doesn’t love a healthy dessert recipe?! I’m so happy that @itskitskitchen (check out her recipe page!) came up with this very innovative combination and allowed me to share it with you! It is such a satisfying combination and is made of all whole food ingredients! Full instructions below:⠀
Ingredients:⠀⠀⠀
1 cup packed blanched almond flour⠀⠀⠀
2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk⠀⠀⠀
2 Tbsp maple syrup⠀⠀⠀
1 tsp vanilla extract⠀⠀⠀
¼ cup chocolate chips⠀⠀⠀
*option to add some stevia too if you like it sweet⠀⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀
What to do:⠀
1. Mix almond flour, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and stevia in a bowl.⠀⠀⠀
2. Mix in chocolate chips.⠀⠀⠀
3. Roll in 7 balls. ⠀⠀⠀
4. Enjoy right away or refrigerate for a thick cookie ball.⠀⠀⠀

Looking to switch it up? This avocado paleo pudding is so rich, creamy, and easy to make!

If you’re looking for a cleaner way to satisfy your sweet tooth, here’s a great option. Avocados are packed with fiber, potassium, vitamin k, folate & vitamin C and help give this treat its creamy texture. This also makes a great dip or mixture for fruit if you’re looking to keep your calories a little lower by not opting for a big serving size!

Note: Depending on how sweet you like it, you could add more or less honey or some stevia if you’re looking to keep sugar lower.

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2-4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
Sea salt (optional)
Stevia (if you opt for less honey)Instructions:
Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender. Serve with fruit if desired.Makes about 2 bigger servings or 4 small servings that can be enjoyed with fruit.

These are just a few of my favorite dessert recipes but they're guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth! I'm always looking to try new recipes, so please share your favorites in the comments below!
xx,
Amanda

Morning Routine: 6 practices that most successful people do each day.

Last week I promised to tell you about 6 morning rituals that will increase productivity and help you be less depressed and anxious, more productive and feeling overall better? Well, I don’t want to make you wait any longer, so let’s dive right into it!

Do you know about this guy Hal Elrod? If you do, feel free to skim through this part, however if you don’t sit back, relax and let me tell you a bit about him. I promise, this part is important. 

Hal Elrod is an interesting guy who survived some things a lot of people wouldn’t. When he was 20 years old he died in a car accident. Legally, he was dead for 6 minutes. His legs were paralized, spent a week in a coma, doctors told him and his family that there’s barely any chance he’d be able to walk ever again. 

Hal accepted his faith and set a mindset that he’d be the happiest person in a wheelchair.. He was able to walk within 3 months of the car accident. 

You can find more about his full story online. 

Fast Forward a bit to when the financial crisis hit in 2007. Hal lost pretty much everything- job was gone, he couldn’t pay for the house and got more depressed than ever in his life, which is understandable in the circumstance, a lot of people were during those times. 

In the midst of his depression his friend recommended to go on a morning run and listen to a self-help motivational book. Hal laughed, not being a runner or having any interest in running, but did it anyways, and during the first run he went to listening to Jim Rohn’s book and heard a quote: 

Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become.” 

That was the quote that changed his life moving forward. He came home from the run and began his research on personal improvement techniques. 

He discovered 6 practices that most successful people do each day. However similar to what we saw in the CEOs mornings, some of them did the same things, and some did other things. In the end of it all it was these 6 that were the most consistent showing up in his research. The trick was that some did 2-3-4 out of six but no person did all 6 of them each day..

The question came up- what would happen, if one would do ALL of them EVERY day?

Hal abbreviated them into: 

SAVERS

silence   -   affirmations   -   visualisation   -   exercise   -   read   -   scribe

SAVERS

Silence- more commonly known as meditation, being present in the moment and focusing on breathing, calming the mind and relaxing the body to cleanse the negative energy. That’s what meditation is. 

Affirmations- yes, affirmations. You’re probably thinking-it started good, but now we’re moving to some silly motivational phrases that are so hard to believe in. Hear me out! I myself find affirmations as silly as every other person out there, but the truth is that they DO work! I’m not talking about getting into a power stance and saying something like “I attract money, I am a magnet for money, money gravitates towards me!” followed by sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing waiting for the mentioned money to appear out of thin air. What i’m talking about is writing down reminders of how capable you are, how far you’ve come and the goals ahead as well as steps to achieve them and why they matter. Using affirmation to keep yourself on track, add drive and motivation and re-energize yourself to achieve your potential!

Visualisation- whether you create a vision board, write what you desire in a journal or simply close your eyes and imagine it, visualisation is a powerful tool. If you imagine the way your day is going to go in your head all you need to do is just stick to what your brain created for you-positive, productive, good day with the family you love, work you enjoy doing and activities that make you happy.  I do understand that things can come up and throw the initial plan off but it is up to you to decide what kind of day to have. External events will happen every single day but it is up to us to either let it affect a good day ahead or adjust and keep on going! 

Exercise- or simply moving your body. So many of us have desk jobs and our bodies were created to move. It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk, time in the gym, some crunches on the floor next to your bed. Every little bit counts and every little bit is better than none. 

Read- that one is pretty straight forward. Grab a book, read a little bit. It can be for fun, educational, it really doesn’t matter. A few pages every day will add up fairly quickly though and next thing you know you read about 20 books in a year. 

Scribe-  fancy word for writing, aka journaling. You can spend some time with your thoughts or simply list a few things you’re grateful for. This can help you feel empowered, in tune with your thoughts and feelings, inspired  and grounded. 

Before you come in saying that that’s a lot of things to do in the morning, let me jump in for a second. Yes, it is a lot! You don’t have to spend hours on each one thought- that would take the whole day. You can designate an hour, 30 min, even do a 6 minute routine with only spending one minute doing each thing. If getting out of bed early seems just impossible you can also start doing good four rituals out of six while still in bed. 

The community that Hal built is absolutely amazing and so many people have experienced their life changed for the better since implementing the miracle morning. 

If all this is something that you want to pursue learning more about Miracle morning there are books that he wrote as well as a movie that came out in December of 2020. In writing of this blog post I did give it a watch and it’s a good summary of the book with interviews of successful people using this practice. I will have it all linked down below if that is something you’re interested in!

Now what? You might ask. That all is great, but how do I implement those practices into my life? 

You’ll find out more in Part 3!

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


6 Tips to Make Healthy Eating at Home a Little Bit Easier

One thing I often hear when it comes to healthy eating is that it’s too complicated, expensive, or time-consuming. The truth is that eating healthy looks different for everyone, but it definitely doesn't need to be costly, take forever, or be overwhelmingly complicated. There are so many ways to simplify your meals and streamline the cooking process to save you both time and money without sacrificing the quality of your food. That’s why I’m sharing 6 simple hacks that can help make healthy eating more sustainable and of course, delicious. ⁠

So here are 6 Simple Ways to Make Healthy Eating Easier: ⠀


⁠⠀
1- Buy pre-cut veggies.

There’s no rule that says vegetables are only healthy if you cut them yourself! Obviously it's important to be mindful and try to limit the amount of plastic wrapped items that you purchase, but if buying a few pre-cut vegetables means that you eat a healthy meal rather than a processed takeout meal that still uses packaging- I say do it. Buying certain vegetables pre-cut can save you lots of time and make the idea of whipping up a healthy meal a lot less overwhelming which is a win. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀

2- Invest in a few practical kitchen tools.

Gadgets like an egg cooker, air fryer, instant pot or food processor can make meal prepping at home so much easier and quicker. Not only does my egg cooker boil eggs fast AF, but they’re also perfect every time. Everyone has their favorites go-to meals and when it comes to meal prepping, it's so worth it to invest in tools that make those meals even easier to make on a regular basis.
⁠⠀

3- Choose recipes that use simple, common ingredients.

Taking the time to plan out your meals for the week and coordinating them to have an overlap of ingredients is one of the best ways to eat healthy on a budget, while also cutting down on food waste! This process will also make grocery shopping so much smoother and it’s a fun way to get creative in the kitchen by using the same ingredients in different ways.⁠

⁠⠀

4- Use spices to create flavors you love.

While I definitely love the taste of many raw vegetables, seasoning can make a huge difference when it comes to making a nutritious meal that you will savor and enjoy. Have fun with different spices and find combinations you love! Don’t be afraid to add some sea salt either.⁠⠀
⁠⠀

5- Meal prep ingredients you use often.

While meal prepping entire meals is fantastic, it can also save you lots of time to meal prep specific ingredients that you use often. For example, if you know that you tend to use a lot of chopped mushrooms and bell peppers in your food, it would be helpful to chop up some extra and have it ready to go for the next time you’re cooking. This saves so much time throughout the week and makes cooking delicious, healthy meals at home much more attainable.   ⁠⠀
⁠⠀

6- Freeze herbs in olive oil for easy cooking.

Just like some people freeze pieces of fruit in water, freezing herbs in olive oil is a great hack to maximize the life of your produce and add flavor to your food. Not only does this make cooking a bit easier, but it’s also a great way to preserve your herbs before they go bad! When you’re ready to cook, simply pop a cube or two out of an ice tray and you’re good to go! ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I hope these tips help meal prepping easier and a bit more fun!
Xx⁠⠀
Amanda ⁠⠀

morning routine - coffee at sunset

The Importance of a morning routine

It’s not uncommon to hear about top performers having a morning routine. Most CEOs wake up early to start their morning routine before the rest of the world is awake. But why the morning? What is so important about that time of day? And why should you care? 

morning routine - coffee at sunset

Well, certain things are not coincidences. And in the examples below we will talk about some CEOs routines and what they do and try to see the common in them, so let’s get into it.

Let’s look at Gary Vee for instance. Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and Internet personality. He is that guy who will tell you how things truly are without the bs. In an interview with Business Insider he shared his 3 hour morning routine:

Gary wakes up every day at 6 am, he then takes his phone with him to the bathroom where he digests a decent amount of news from TechMeme, Business Insider and ESPN, Nuzzel, Twitter and Instagram. Being one of the thought leaders in the marketing industry he starts conversations and replies to tweets. 

After that he then will work out with his trainer for about 45 minutes to an hour. 

After that he comes back home to say bye to his kids before school and gets ready to get into the office. On the car ride to the office Gary calls his family to catch up and see how they are doing after which he transitions into his work day. 

Another great example of a morning routine is the one that Oprah Winfrey has. Oprah doesn’t believe in alarms and naturally wakes up between 6 and 6:20 in the morning. She then takes her dogs on a walk and gets some steps in. She likes to begin the day by doing  "a series of spiritual exercises," so by 7:30am she settles in for a morning meditation. 

After that she moves onto making a cup of coffee. "As I wait for the brew to froth, I pull out a card from my 365 Gathered Truths box. I read five of them each morning; it's a beautiful way to start the day," she told the publication. 

After the meditation and coffee it is time for “moving meditation” aka workout. Oprah is a fan of Soul Cycle and has a fairly quick morning workout that she does: "I'll do 20 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes walking on the treadmill. I start out at the level-three incline setting and then every minute I add to the incline until I get to 12 or 15. And then I do sit-ups." 

I do personally believe that she has a gym in her home because she’s done with everything by 9 am including breakfast, which by the way consists of whole grain toast and fruit. And some things take less time than the time frame, non the less, I have a feeling that everything other than walking the dogs is done in the comfort of her home.

Let’s do one more shall we? 3 is a good number. Let’s talk about Richard Branson, you know, the guy who owns Virgin airlines. Richard wakes up at 5 am every day! "Getting up and at it early gives me time to get on top of things, and chart my day effectively," he says. First thing he does upon waking is take some time to sit down, reflect on things and plan his day. After that it’s time for exercise. “Exercise puts me in a great mind frame to get down to business, and also helps me to get the rest I need each night. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing I have applied myself both physically and mentally every day.” He enjoys tennis, going on a walk or a run, biking or kitesurfing. After that he spends time with his family at breakfast. The time with his family is non negotiable for him so he makes sure he gets it in every day. 

So let’s now look at this closer. Of course there are so many more influential people and these are just some of the examples but they are a decent indicator of a few things.  So, what is it that they have in common?

  1. They all wake up on the early side. Having a busy schedule for the day and not necessarily having a lot of time for yourself is hard. Waking up early is the solution. It’s that “me time.” It’s time to gather your thoughts, greet the day and get ready to be the best version of yourself for YOURSELF as well as people around you.  
  2. Working out. I know, I know,... now for the counterarguments of no time or no access to the gym in the pandemic. This is when waking up earlier comes into play. You CREATE the time you otherwise wouldn’t have. Morning exercise has a plethora of benefits-it helps your body release endorphins, otherwise also known as happy hormones, the benefits of a workout are noticeable for 13 hours! after a workout keeping you energized throughout your day. 
  3. Meditation as well as reflection practices are similar but for the sake of this list of commonalities we will put them into one. Taking time to meditate or pray is important because it allows you to be present in the moment. Same with reflection, but we’ll get to that in a sec. You’re probably thinking, but how can I be properly present in the moment? I don’t actually know how to meditate and how do I sit still when I have all the things that I need to do in my brain? Well, I’m glad you asked. You let your mind wonder. You do it every day and as each day goes by it will get easier to clear your mind and just be present and breath and listen to what’s around you. And if your mind wanders back to your to-do list, it’s ok too. Truly. We as humans are born to be storytellers and whatever the thoughts are is your storytelling brain telling you a story of the day ahead of you. Now, when it comes to reflection, I find it to be a great practice that, similar to meditation, makes you take a moment and be present. Think of all the good things in life, and the bad ones too. Did they teach you something? Are you thankful for them and why? Being present is such an awesome power that once you unlock it you keep coming back for more. 
  4. They all have food. That one is more of a joke one, because we have to eat food to survive, but on a more serious note- having a good breakfast can fuel you up with energy for the day and get you excited for what waits ahead, so in all seriousness, breakfast is pretty important unless you follow a more structured intermittent fasting plan. Still, you’re technically having a very late breakfast.  
  5. Last but definitely not least- family time. Gary Vee and Richard Branson alike prioritize morning family time, whether in person or over the phone/facetime to catch up and check on their family. Also, family doesn't have to be blood family. It’s your friends, people YOU chose to be your family-check in with them, how are they doing? Something as simple as a daily morning text can make someone’s day. Hey, how are you doing today? Copy paste that. It’s so simple yet so powerful. We are created to be a part of society, we crave connection. Connection needs to be nurtured and nourished. If you don’t water a plant it’ll die, same with connections. Show up, show that you care and good things will follow. 

So here are some great examples of the parts of the morning routines that you can use to build your own version of a morning routine. But… What if I told you that there’s a person who did the research of a variety of successful people's morning routines and discovered 6! That they share and swear by as contributing to their success…

Make sure to tune in soon for part 2

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


6 Healthy & Delicious Holiday Recipes

The holiday season is finally here and so are all the cravings for classic holiday treats! I know it can be especially hard to stay on track around this time of year, and while it's totally ok to treat yourself to a few of your favorites, I decided to round up some upgraded holiday treats for you to enjoy. Remember it’s not about depriving yourself of your favorite foods– it’s about fueling your body with nutritious foods that taste delicious and make you feel good from the inside out! Weather you're spending the holidays with family or celebrating by yourself, I've got you covered with these delicious healthy holiday recipes that you're sure to love. With everything from baked goods to eggnog to fun activities and potpourri, there's a recipe for everyone.

Craving a chocolatey, delicate dessert? This Paleo Pecan Pie is sure to satisfy your cravings:

This chocolate pecan pie is crazy delicious and guaranteed to make you want seconds. Plus, it’s made of quality, whole food ingredients.

What you’ll need for the crust:

3 cups almond flour

6 tbsp ghee, melted

For the chocolate layer you’ll need:

1 cup canned coconut milk

10 ounces dark chocolate (about 2-3 chocolate bars)

For the pecan layer you’ll need:

1 can full fat coconut milk

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup whole pecan

½ cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp sea salt

 

What to do:

1- Start by heating 1 can coconut milk & coconut sugar over high heat in a saucepan for the pecan layer, stirring often.

2- Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Then, allow to cool for 40 minutes while preparing the crust.

3- For the crust, mix the almond flour and melted ghee until combined.

4- Once combined, pour the mixture into a pie dish and flatten into a crust. Once crust is formed, bake for 10 minutes at 325F. Set aside and let cool. Once cool place in the freezer for 10-20 min.

5- While crust is cooling, melt 1 cup of the canned coconut milk with the dark chocolate and stir until smooth.

6- Pour the chocolate layer into cooled pie crust and freeze for at least 30min-90min.

7- Take the cooled pecan filling (coconut milk + coconut sugar) and whisk in 1 egg at a time followed by the vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon and chopped pecans.

8- Pour the pecan filling over the frozen chocolate layer and bake for 50-65 minutes at 350F.

9- Allow pie to cool, top with more pecans & the place in freezer once it’s completely cool.

10- Enjoy!

If you're a fan of cobbler, you're going to love this super delicious Paleo Blueberry Cobbler:

I love a delicious baked good every now and then, and this blueberry cobbler is the perfect treat for colder weather. Plus, it’s so easy to make and much healthier than store-bought cobblers you’ll find at the grocery store.

 

What you’ll need:

4 cups blueberries

4 tbsps maple syrup

1/2 cup plus 1½ teaspoons tapioca flour

½ cup almond flour

2 tsps baking powder

3 ½ tbsps almond milk

3 ½ tbsps melted coconut oil

3 tbsps coconut sugar

2 tsps vanilla extract

 

What to do:

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2- In a bowl, combine the blueberries, syrup, and 1½ teaspoon tapioca flour.

3- Grease a casserole dish with a light coat of coconut oil spray and pour in the blueberry mixture.

4- In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour,  ½ cup tapioca flour, baking powder, almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar.

5- Once smooth, scoop the mixture on top of the blueberries and spread with a spatula.

6- Bake for 30 minutes.

7- Let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

 

Looking to balance out the sweet stuff? Try these simple Fruit & Veggie Platters and dip recipes:

While I definitely enjoy plenty of the sweet stuff, I also love bringing fruit or veggie platters to events to help balance all of the delicious, sugary goodies that we’re enjoying. These tasty dip recipes come in so handy around the holidays and are the perfect treat to serve with your favorite fruits and vegetables.

 

For the Pesto Dip (vegan):

2 cups spinach + 1/4 cup basil

+ 1/4 cup parsley + 1/2 cup pine nuts + 1/2 cup nutritional yeast +

3 cloves garlic + 1 tbsp lemon +

1/3 cup olive oil + sea salt + pepper

 

Yogurt Dip:

2 cups unflavored plain yogurt + 2 bananas +

stevia

 

What to do:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor & enjoy!

Love a good mug full of warm, sweet drinks this time of year? You're going to love these upgraded favorite hot drinks:

While of course enjoying the standard versions of these holiday drinks as a treat is totally fine, I thought I’d share these upgraded recipes so that you can enjoy them more regularly and from your own home. With these, you can enjoy all of the holiday-spice goodness of a peppermint mocha, eggnog, or hot chocolate without the filler ingredients and all the added sugar.

Eggnog

Here’s what you need for the Eggnog:

8-12oz unsweetened almond milk

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp nutmeg

Cinnamon to taste

 

What to do:

1- Beat the egg yolks, maple syrup, and almond milk in a separate bowl

2- Heat the mixture on the stove over medium heat and whisk regularly until it reaches 160°(the temperature that is safe to eat eggs at). It shouldn’t boil. If it boils, remove to an empty burner and keep mixing.

3- Once it reaches 160°, pour into a blender.

4- Add the vanilla extract and spices.

4- Blend and sip!

 

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Here’s what you need for the Hot Chocolate:

8-12oz unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp chocolate protein powder (I prefer the taste of plant based protein in this recipe but whey should work fine too)

1 tbsp chocolate chips

 

What to do:

1- Heat the almond milk on the stove.

2- Add the hot almond milk and rest of ingredients to a blender.

3- Blend and enjoy!

 

Peppermint Mocha

What you need for the Peppermint Mocha:

8-12oz unsweetened almond milk⁠

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 instant coffee packet or espresso shot⁠

1/4 tsp peppermint extract⁠

1/2 Tbsp MCT oil or coconut oil⁠

Stevia to taste

 

What to do:⁠

1- Heat the almond milk on the stove.⁠

2- Add the hot almond milk and rest of the ingredients to a blender.⁠

3- Blend and enjoy!

Want your home to smell warm & cozy? This holiday potpourri recipe smells amazing and is so easy:

Potpourri is an easy and natural way to make your home smell delicious AF, plus it can be a great way to use leftover peels, herbs, etc. The best part about these recipes is that you can add in extra peels, spices, and herbs that you may have on hand to make it your own and they take less than 5 minutes to prepare.⁠

 

What you’ll need for the Holiday Potpourri:⁠

-1 orange, sliced (or orange peels)⁠

-1 cup cranberries⁠

-4-5 cinnamon sticks⁠

-2-3 rosemary sprigs⁠

-1tbsp ground cloves

-2 tsp nutmeg⁠

What you need for Fresh Lemon Potpourri:⁠

-2 lemons, sliced⁠

-3-4 rosemary sprigs

-½ tbsp vanilla

What to do:⁠

1- Combine the ingredients for your selected scent in a large pot.

2- Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil.

3- Once boiling, bring potpourri down to a simmer for as long as you want. Enjoy!

Looking for something fun and healthy to do over the holidays? I got you covered! Not only is this idea super cute but it’s very practical:

I've shared this fruit tree with my friends in years past and it was a total hit! It’s very easy to grab the fruit off the toothpicks and of course aesthetically pleasing.

 

What you need:

1 pineapple

1 pear

1 wooden shish kebob skewer

Pack of toothpicks

Star cookie cutter (or if you’re skilled, you can just cut it in a star shape)

Strawberries

Purple grapes

Green grapes

Kiwis

Blackberries

(Option to add other fruits like oranges etc - have fun with it!)

 

What to do:

1 - Slice off the edges of the pineapple & the top. Cut an extra top slice for the star (make sure it’s thick enough so the star isn’t flimsy).

2 - Trim the top off a pear and use the shish kebob skewer to connect the pear and pineapple.

3 - Prepare the colorful fruit. Cut the tops off of strawberries and cut kiwis into slices.

4 - Use toothpicks to stick the fruit around the pineapple and pear. Use a toothpick to stick the pineapple star on the very top.


Healthy Breakfast Recipes to Start Your Day Right

One of the best ways to set the tone for your day is having a tasty and nutritious breakfast! Not only will a hearty breakfast keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day, but the right flavor combinations can put you in a great mood and help get you excited to eat more healthy meals throughout the day. Something as simple as eggs with sautéed vegetables could satisfy your needs and cravings, but even if you’re not a fan of eggs there are so many high protein, lower sugar ways to start your day or healthy alternative ways to start your day! That's why I'm sharing a roundup of my all-time favorite healthy breakfast recipes that you'll love along with some things to keep in mind when choosing your breakfast.

When You're Tight on Time in the Morning...

breakfast vs. breakfast

Something to keep in mind when you're crunched for time in the mornings is the power of plain, whole foods. I know it can be tempting to reach for a cereal and  juice that claim to be full of fiber and other nutrients, however it's so important to read the labels and know what you're actually getting. Most of the time these foods are just highly processed sugar bombs with a tiny bit of fiber or nutritional value. When it comes to juice, eating whole fruit is a much better, lower calorie and higher fiber option than fruit juice. While you could easily drink 11.5 oz of orange juice, you most likely would not eat 3.5 oranges in one sitting (the equivalent in calorie amount).⠀

So with that in mind, if you've been looking for some healthy recipes to get you excited about breakfast, I've got you covered. Keep reading to get the full breakdown of my go-to delicious and nutritious breakfast recipes:

 

If you crave sweet foods in the morning, you're going to love these 5 Ingredient Pancakes:

I love upgrading a classic food like pancakes with healthier and simpler ingredients! Coconut flour, used in this recipe, is a great alternative to white or wheat flour because it’s high in fiber, protein and healthy fats. Coconut flour is also low in sugar and digestible carbs, and has a low glycemic index. All around wins!

What you need:

(Makes 4 pancakes)

1 ripe banana

4 large eggs

1/8-1/4 cup water

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

*stevia if you like it sweeter*⠀

What to do:

1 - Mash the banana with a fork

2 - Whisk eggs and combine in a bowl with banana, coconut flour, baking soda and the optional stevia

3 - Mix well then add an 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup water depending on desired consistency

4 - Heat a pan with some oil or non toxic spray oil

5 - Using a 1/4 cup, scoop pancake batter into the pan and shape into a circle. Cook for about 2 minutes each side on medium heat. (I covered pan with lid too)

6 - Repeat for 4 pancakes total

7 - Enjoy with berries or maple syrup.

If French Toast is more your vibe, I've got you covered there too: 

Who says French Toast can’t be a nutritious experience? I made some changes to the traditional recipe so you can enjoy it at home with better ingredients!

What you need:

(makes 2-3 servings)

2-3 pieces sprouted bread

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1-2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp ghee

1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

toppings of choice

What to do: 

1- Mix the eggs, almond milk, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and cinnamon in a flat wide bowl.

2- Soak one piece bread in mixture for about 2 min each side.

3- In a hot pan, add 1/2 tsp ghee.

4- Add the soaked bread. Cook for about 2 min each side and repeat!

5- Top with leftover maple syrup and toppings of choice.

 

Short on time in the mornings? These overnight oats are prefect for grab and go breakfasts:

Overnight oats aren’t just tasty, they also make the perfect nutritious breakfast, especially if you are short on time in the mornings. I love that you can mix and match flavors, milks, and toppings to make each batch your own and they typically take less than 5 minutes to make.

What you’ll need for each recipe:

Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter
½ scoop chocolate protein powder
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup old fashioned oats
½ banana
1 ½ tbsp peanut butter
Chocolate chips

PB&J
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup old fashioned oats
Stevia
¾ cup raspberries
2 tbsp peanut butter
2-3 strawberries (optional)

Peach Blueberry Pie:
1/2 c rolled oats regular
¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 c diced peaches fresh or frozen
½ cup blueberries
½ tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon⠀
1-2 tsp maple syrup

Chocolate Cherry Coconut:⁠
¾ cup rolled oats
⅔ cup coconut milk ⁠or almond milk
Monk fruit⁠
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder⁠
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut⁠
½ cup frozen cherries⁠
¼ cup chocolate chips

What to do:⁠
1- Combine oats, seeds, & all liquid ingredients in a bowl (including sweetener)
2- Add in your berries, nut butters, chocolate chips or coconut flakes.⁠
3- If making pb & jelly, mash up the raspberries on a plate and set aside.
4- Stir oat mixture to combine and scoop into a mason jar.
5- Add layers and toppings.
6- Store in the fridge and eat when ready!

Here's another delicious make-ahead breakfast idea to save you time:

Yogurt parfaits aren’t just tasty and aesthetically pleasing, they also make a nutritious breakfast, especially if you are short on time in the mornings. I love that you can mix and match layers and toppings to make each batch your own and they typically take less than 5 minutes to make!⁠Feel free to add some monk fruit, stevia or honey to the yogurt if you like it even sweeter.⁠⠀

What you’ll need for each yogurt parfait:⁠

Chia Seed Berry Blend
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
1/3 cup raspberries⁠
1/3 cup blackberries⁠
1/2 tbsp chia seeds⁠

Chocolate PB Banana
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
½ banana⁠
1-2 tbsp peanut butter⁠
1 tbsp chocolate chips⁠

Cinnamon Apple Pie
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
1/3 cup old fashioned oats⁠
1 apple, chopped⁠
1 tbsp coconut oil⁠
cinnamon to taste⁠

Blueberry Pistachio
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
½ cup blueberries⁠
1-2 tbsp pistachios⁠

What to do:⁠
1- Pour a thin layer of Greek yogurt into a jar.⁠
2- If making the berry blend, mash up the berries on a plate and set aside.⁠ If making the cinnamon apple pie, cook the apple, coconut oil, and cinnamon over medium heat for 5 minutes.⁠
3- On the second layer, add in your fruit, nut butters, seeds, & chocolate chips one layer at a time.⁠
4- Scoop some more Greek yogurt on top of your previous layer.⁠
5- Add remaining layers and toppings.⁠
6- Store in the fridge and eat when ready!⁠

Prefer a savory, high-protein breakfast? Check out this combo:

I love finding new ways to prepare eggs since they're such a high-protein, nutrient dense food. These egg cups are so easy to make ahead of time and you’ll be full for hours with nutrients in the bank. Each egg cup is 114 cals, 8g protein, 3g carbs, 6.5g fat and I usually have eat least 2, if not 3. A quality protein shake with some healthy fats and greens, Greek yogurt with fruit, chia seed pudding or even a clean protein bar are some good examples.

What you'll need:

10-12 eggs

1/2 cup tomatoes

handful of sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup red onion

cooked ground turkey crumbles

1 cup kale

olive oil

sea salt

What to do: 

1- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.

2- Spray your muffin tray with olive oil or cupcake liners.

3- Pour the eggs about halfway into each cup.

4- Add the rest of the ingredients in each cup.

5- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

6- Enjoy or save in the fridge for later!

 

As always I hope these are helpful! Let me know which combo is your favorite in the comments!

Xx,

Amanda