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Homemade Chocolate Energy Bars

Homemade Chocolate Energy BarsWho doesn’t like chocolate? If you know someone who doesn’t they probably don’t like puppies either which means you should probably stay away from them! ūüėČ Hahahaha, just kidding. But seriously, if you like chocolate these bars are for you. I came up with this scrumptious¬†recipe because several clients were asking for a gluten free/dairy free¬†bar. It can be difficult deciphering the ingredients of some of the bars on the market.¬†Invertase, ferric orthophosphate, erythritol,¬†disodium phosphate¬†anyone? So why not avoid highly processed bars all together and make your own? I can be¬†a control freak especially when it comes to¬†what I put in my body and these bars only contain 12 ingredients, all of which I can pronounce.

 

Chocolate Energy Bars are a fantastic pre or post workout snack. The ratio of carbs to protein is perfect for muscle building and quick energy. If you don’t feel like exercising that¬†day, grab one¬†for an afternoon snack or a healthy dessert. Really you can eat them anytime! I suggest refigerating them in an air tight container. They also freeze really well so you can enjoy them at a later time.

IngredientsEnergy Bars

  • 1 can adzuki beans
  • 1/4 c. flaxseeds soaked in 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. coconut nectar
  • 1/4 c. chopped dates
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1.5 c. gluten free oats
  • 1 c. pea protein
  • 1/4 c. cacao powder
  • 1/2 c. walnut
  • 1/2 c. coconut shredded

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine beans, binder, sweetener, soft fruit, extract, spice, and salt until smooth.
  2. Add the oats and dry base ingredients and pulse just to combine.
  3. Add stir-ins and pulse again just to combine.  If the consistency seems spreadable, you’re good.  If it’s too dry, add 1/4 cup of water; if it’s too runny, add an additional 1/4 cup of the dry base ingredient.
  4. Grease 13√ó9 pan with baking spray or rub with 1 tablespoon oil, then spread mixture into pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Calories: 142 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 126mg Total Carbohydrates: 20g Sugar: 2g Fiber: 6g Protein: 6g

Rethink Your Reward System

Do-Not-Reward-Yourself-With-Food

 

Reframe your way of thinking. Yes, you may have just killed your workout. And yes, you may have eaten well for the past week but that doesn’t mean you have to reward yourself with a cookie. Instead, try an even harder workout routine. Eat even better than you did last week. Keep the momentum up and use it to crush your goals. I like to set a larger, longterm goal as well as short term weekly check-ins that¬†remind me of what I am working towards. Once you reach each milestone, reward yourself with an experience or that new piece of clothing you have been eyeing.

Edible Sunscreen

Dangers-of-Sunscreen jpg

Summer is here and that means the sun is out! We all know the importance of protecting our skin but did you know that you can protect your skin from eating certain foods?¬†Below are some yummy foods that will increase your skin’s health.

Dark Chocolate

You read that right! A new study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology finds that eating antioxidant-rich dark chocolate can increase your skin’s natural UV protection. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidants that offer protection against UV rays and improve skin texture. The higher the percentage of cacao, the higher amount of antioxidants you‚Äôre getting. This isn‚Äôt permission to indulge in M&Ms or milk chocolate, as those varieties tend to be mostly sugar. Choose 65% or higher cacao and up to 1.5-2 ounces per day.

Green and Black Tea

Well known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, green tea may also help protect your skin from skin cancer. In a study published by The Journal of Nutrition, green tea polyphenols help protect against UV induced skin damage. Green tea consumption also helps keep skins elasticity while improving hydration. Antioxidant power decreases as the tea cools so be sure to drink it while its hot! Consume 3-6 cups daily for best results.

Orange Veggies

Carotenoids offer protection against skin and eye damage from the sun. Just as we put sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun, fruits and vegetables use color as their sunscreen. Rule of thumb: the deeper the hue the higher the antioxidant content. Good options: sweet potatoes and carrots.

Red Fruits

Lycopene, a carotenoid that gives red fruits and vegetables their hue, can help protect your skin from burning when exposed to the sun by up to 30%. According to a study done by the British Society for Investigative Dermatology, lycopene also helps neutralize free radicals that cause aging and counter act the effects of aging.

Green Leafy Vegetables

According to the International Journal of Cancer, spinach, kale, broccoli sprouts and chard may reduce risk of squamous cell cancer by fifty percent. Eat 3-5 servings a day for optimal health.

Omega-3 EFA

These essential fatty acids reduce inflammation and can reduce your risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Omega-3s prevent cancer from growing by blocking the cells that nourish the cancer. Eat two servings a week of fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. These fish contain the highest amount of omega-3 EFA per serving. If you don’t like these then opt for flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds or a high quality omega-3 supplement.

 

 

Photo by Fotolia/SerrNovik

Overnight Power Oats

This is probably the easiest breakfast you will ever make.¬†All you do is assemble the ingredients in an eight ounce mason jar at¬†night, remove from the fridge the following morning and enjoy! Although I do not recommend eating on the go, this is the perfect breakfast¬†for someone pressed for time in the AM because it is portable. Personally, I love having my Power Oats¬†as a pre-workout snack since¬†it provides long lasting¬†energy to help me crush my¬†workouts.¬†The standard recipe is jam¬†packed with protein, calcium and¬†fiber. It is also low in fat and¬†sugar making it ideal for anyone who wants to eat something “clean” and tasty. I encourage you to¬†get creative and enhance the nutrient profile by adding some extras mentioned below.

Ingredients:Overnight Oats- blueberry

  • ¬Ĺ c.¬†raw oats
  • ¬Ĺ c.¬†milk alternative
  • ¬Ĺ c.¬†Greek yogurt or kefir or omit if dairy free and use an extra¬†¬Ĺ of milk alternative
  • Cinnamon
  • 1-2 t.¬†maple syrup or stevia
  • ¬Ĺ c.¬†frozen blueberries
  • 1 T. chia seeds

may also add:

  • 1 T nut butter
    • healthy fat to keep you satiated
  • 1 T cacao powder
    • antioxidant rich,¬†promotes cardiovascular¬†function, lowers blood pressure¬†and¬†improves¬†circulation, rich in magnesium and dietary fiber
  • 1 scoop protein powder
    • muscle building¬†
  • 2 t.¬†matcha green tea powder
    • antioxidant rich, cancer¬†fighting EGCg, calms the brain, increases energy and¬†endurance¬†as well as boosts memory and concentration¬†

 

Directions:

  1. In an eight ounce jar or tupperware, add all ingredients (except fruit) and shake until well combined.
  2. Add blueberries and stir until mixed throughout. Return lid to jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
  3. Eat chilled.

 

Break the Fast— Eat Breakfast!

breakfast

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is skipping breakfast. I am sure you have heard this over and over again but do you know the reasoning behind it?

Eat to Burn

Breakfast literally breaks the fast from the previous night by giving your body the nutrients and energy it needs to wake up and face the day. When you are asleep your body is busy at work repairing itself and digesting food from the previous day. When you wake up in the morning your blood glucose, the preferred energy for your muscles and brain, is usually low. When you eat something upon rising (ideally within an hour), your brain wakes up and sends a signal to your digestive system to start working again. This speeds up your metabolism throughout the day. Conversely, when you do not eat in the morning, your body goes into starvation mode and starts conserving energy. Your glucose levels stay low therefore you tap into your body’s energy reserves, including energy stored¬†in your muscle. This causes your energy levels remain low and in turn, decreases your metabolic rate.

Starting your day off on the right foot also prevents you from binging later on in the day. When¬†you omit breakfast you become ravenous by the time lunch rolls around. More often than not you reach for the¬†quickest option to provide fast¬†energy. These “quick” options are usually unhealthy, high in fat and can make up for more than half your caloric allotment in one meal! If you are trying to lose weight this is possibly one of the best ways to¬†sabotage your goal. So make sure you consume the most important meal of the day to keep on track.

Size Matters

A number of studies have found that breakfast eaters are thinner than those who skip breakfast. Breaking the fast with healthy fat, lean protein and some fiber within an¬†hour upon rising¬†may curb your appetite during the rest of the day. A study published in 2010 in¬†The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition¬†examined the breakfast patterns of 2,184 Australians, ages 9-15, in 1985 and then about 20¬†years later. The study found participants who reported skipping breakfast both as children and again as adults were heavier, had larger waists, higher LDL or “bad”cholesterol, and were overall less healthy than those who reported eating breakfast as children and adults.

However, eating breakfast doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to lose weight, quality and quantity come into play here. In 2011, German researchers reported that the size of the breakfast matters: the people in their study who ate big breakfasts took in more, not fewer, calories on a daily basis.¬†The study concluded that overweight people should consume smaller breakfast as well as smaller meals throughout the day to reach weight loss goals. It also¬†found that the foods most often responsible for the variations in daily calories were among the morning‚Äôs favorites: bread, eggs, yogurt, cheese, sausages, marmalade and butter.

 

Tips for Success

Moral of the story is, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and what you eat matters just as much as what time and how much. Below are some helpful hints to get your engine up and running first thing in the morning. Click on the “breakfast” category for some yummy recipes to get you started. Now what is your excuse???

  1. Eat within an hour upon rising- Consume protein, complex carbohydrates and a little healthy fat first thing in the morning. The exact quantities vary depending on caloric needs but a healthy, well rounded breakfast will set your day up right. If you are not hungry upon rising try a little warm water with lemon to wake up the digestive tract, this is also a great detoxifier.
  2. Shake things up- I love having shakes for breakfast. It is so easy and they can be very nutritious. They are also perfect for those who are pressed or time first thing in the morning. To save even more time you can add the ingredients (except liquid) to your blender the night before, refrigerate then blend first thing in the morning with preferred liquid. This leaves no excuse for skipping breaky!
  3. Egg it up baby-¬†Eggs are fantastic food and a great source of protein. I am sure you have heard eggs cause cholesterol to increase, well this is somewhat untrue. Several studies show eating eggs instead of an egg substitute has a no¬†effect on LDL cholesterol or total cholesterol and positive effects on¬†HDL¬†cholesterol and triglycerides. The¬†quality of egg matters more than you realize.¬†The healthiest eggs are eggs from hens that are raised on pasture or Omega-3 enriched eggs from cage free organically fed hens. These eggs are much higher in Omega-3s and important fat-soluble vitamins. Besides, chickens weren’t made to live in a cage and eat corn. ¬†

 

 Resources
  • Kylie J Smith, Seana L Gall, Sarah A McNaughton, Leigh Blizzard,Terence Dwyer, and Alison J Venn.”Skipping breakfast: longitudinal associations with cardiometabolic risk factors in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study.” Clinical Journal of Nutrition 2010.
  • Volker Schusdziarra, Margit Hausmann, Claudia Wittke, Johanna Mittermeier, Marietta Kellner, Aline Naumann, Stefan Wagenpfeil and Johannes Erdmann. “Impact of breakfast on daily energy intake-an analysis of absolute versus relative breakfast calories.” Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:5 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-5.
  • ¬†Blesso CN1,¬†Andersen CJ,¬†Barona J,¬†Volek JS,¬†Fernandez ML..“Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome.” Medline¬†2013 Mar;62(3):400-10. doi: 10.1016.
  • Schnohr P1,¬†Thomsen OO,¬†Riis Hansen P,¬†Boberg-Ans G,¬†Lawaetz H,¬†Weeke T..”Egg consumption and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol.”¬†J Intern Med.¬†1994 Mar;235(3):249-51.

Snooze to Lose

sleep-quotes-6

We all know how important it is to catch your zzz’s but did you know your sleep patterns can affect your weight loss goals? A study from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, shows how strongly related sleep and weight loss actually are. Researches discovered that disrupting sleep patterns by as little as 80 minutes causes people to consume an average of 549 more calories the next day.

We tend to over eat when we are sleep deprived because many hormones are affected by sleep. Two hormones in particular influence appetite: ghrelin and leptin. Several studies show that sleep patterns influence the production of both hormones. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and leptin sends a signal to the brain when you are full. When you fall behind on your sleep, ghrelin levels rise which cause you to feel hungrier than you actually are. On the contrary, leptin levels lower so you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. The combination causes you to eat more and feel less satisfied which leads to weight gain. The best thing you can do is discover how many hours of sleep your body requires then stick to a normal sleep routine. Try going to bed when you feel tired and wake up sans alarm clock to figure out exactly how many hours your body needs. Your waistline will thank you!

 

Tips for Better Sleep

 

  1. Less light at night. Turn off TV, computers, phones, tablets and other electronic devices 60 minutes prior to bedtime. These devices emit blue light, which interferes with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion.
  2. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Get in touch with your body’s circadian rhythm by going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. You will feel more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours different at different times.
  3. The darker the better. Opt for a dark sleep environment to boost melatonin production at night. Cover electrical displays, use black out shades or wear an eye mask if necessary.
  4. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex. If you associate your bedroom with television, work or other stimuli, it will be harder to relax and fall asleep.

 

Another Reason Why You Should Avoid GMOs

Here is a great article, posted by www.RT.com, that provides yet another reason why you should avoid GMOs…

GMO Corn

“Genetically modified foods such as soy and corn may be responsible for a number of gluten-related maladies including intestinal disorders now plaguing 18 million Americans, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

The report was released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and cites authoritative data from the US Department of Agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency records, medical journal reviews as well as  international research.

‚ÄúGluten sensitivity can range in severity from mild discomfort, such as gas and bloating, to celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can, if undiagnosed, result in a 4-fold increase in death,‚ÄĚsaid¬† Jeffrey M. Smith, executive director of IRT in a statement released on their website.

Smith cited how a¬†‚Äúpossible environmental trigger may be the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the American food supply, which occurred in the mid-1990s,‚Ä̬†describing the nine GM crops currently on the market.

In soy, corn, cotton (oil), canola (oil), sugar from sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya, and alfalfa,¬†¬†‚ÄúBt-toxin, glyphosate, and other components of GMOs, are linked to five conditions that may either initiate or exacerbate gluten-related disorders,‚Ä̬†according to Smith.

It‚Äôs the BT-toxin in genetically modified foods which kills insects by¬†‚Äúpuncturing holes in their cells.‚Ä̬†The toxin is present in ‚Äėevery kernel‚Äô of Bt-corn and survives human digestion, with a 2012 study confirming that it punctures holes in human cells as well.

The GMO-related damage was linked to five different areas: Intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergic response, impaired digestion, and damage to the intestinal wall.

The IRT release also indicated that glyphosate, a weed killer sold under the brand name ‚ÄėRoundup‚Äô was also found to have a negative effect on intestinal bacteria. GMO crops contain high levels of the toxin at harvest.

‚ÄúEven with minimal exposure, glyphosate can significantly reduce the population of beneficial gut bacteria and promote the overgrowth of harmful strains,‚Ä̬†the report found.

Dr. Tom O‚ÄôBryan, internationally recognized expert on gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease, says that¬†‚Äúthe introduction of GMOs is highly suspect as a candidate to explain the rapid rise in gluten-related disorders over the last 17 years.‚ÄĚ

Internist, Emily Linder, offered some backup for the report’s findings. She removed GMO from her patients’ diets, finding that recovery from intestinal diseases was faster and more complete.

‚ÄúI believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten-sensitivity in the US population,‚Ä̬†Linder said in the release.”- published¬†November 26, 2013

 

photo credit: Khaled Desouki

Superfood Highlight: Mulberries

Dried mulberres

The mulberry tree has a short life span and grows fast. Its fruit is a multiple-fruit since each berry is comprised of small cluster of buds. They’re naturally sweet, chewy, multi-seeded clusters of vanilla scented goodness!

White mulberries are the sweetest and contain the most phenols among the various species. They inhibit the digestion of sugar due to their high level of fiber, protein and antioxidants.

Recent studies show that mulberries are heart healthy and contain polyphenols (normally found in grapes and red wine), flavonoids, anthocyanins, alkaloids, and resveratrol.

Enjoy these sweet berries by the handful or add them to your trail mixes, granolas, cereals, yogurts, baked goods and so much more!

Mojito Protein Shake

Mojito-Shake-2

Chill out with this cocktail inspired postworkout shake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond or hemp milk
  • 1/2 ¬†tbsp honey
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  • 1 cup ice cubes

 

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients, except protein powder.
  2. Pulse in protein powder.
  3. Enjoy ūüėČ

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 150
Total Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 100 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 11 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Sugars: 9 g
Protein: 24 g
Iron: 0 mg

 

From Oxygen Magazine 

Colon Cleansing Juice

Experiencing gastrointestinal distress? If so, try this juice to help alleviate symptoms like constipation, bloating and gas.

Colon Cleansing Juice

Ingredients ****All organic****

  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 peeled lemon
  • 1 inch of ginger root

Directions:

  1. Toss your ingredients in your juicer in the order listed.
  2. Juice and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 184

Fat: 1.3 g

Carbs: 59 g

Protein: 4 g

 

Photo credit: Plant Powered Living

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