Are You a Weekend Warrior?

Oh, the weekend. Two full days of no routine, little to no accountability, and a whole lot of opportunity for whatever the heck you want to do! My weekend calendar usually consists of a kid’s birthday party, family dinners, and errand running. Somewhere among all the business of the weekend comes FOOD. Food can easily consume your social life on a weekend or be a faint memory because of your jam-packed schedule. However, without a plan, your weekend can quickly halt your week-day nutritional progress.

You can stop the cycle

I’ve seen the cycle of losing motivation and jumping off the nutrition bandwagon often. The cycle basically goes like this — five days of awesome weekday eating and exercising, and then over the weekend, two days of haphazard. Then, Monday rolls around, which starts the cycle all over again. And the worst part? You weight the same as you did last Monday. This cycle continues over and over again…with little to no weekly progress. Be honest with yourself, are you being a weekend warrior? Or are you a weekend victim?

Don’t be a victim

Weekends are a challenge for even the most committed. It’s even harder when you’re just starting out on your wellness journey. We all have those social gatherings, birthday parties, and date nights. And sometimes, we just need a break from our weekday routines. But that leaves us tempted.

So, put those excuses aside. Don’t be a victim to the weekend and allow it to sabotage your results and goals. The hardest thing for me as a coach is to watch my clients fall victim to this cycle and literally come to a standstill. I know it’s even harder for my clients. That’s why it’s important to understand how the cycle works, and use the tips below to overcome it and become a weekend warrior.

(Ready to start taking the steps you want to take to become an everyday warrior? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

5 tips to help you become a weekend warrior

I am destined to help you become a weekend warrior.  Here are my 5 tips to use when you start to find yourself falling victim to your weekend.

Plan for the social event

Think about any events that you’ll have over the weekend, and start planning for them in advance. Where are you going to eat? What will be available to eat? Can you make substitutions or order something off the menu so you can stay on track with your goals? By asking yourself these questions, you can then gauge your responses and make healthier decisions. For example, if you know the BBQ place won’t provide the healthiest options for you, you may want to eat something at home and then enjoy an appetizer while you’re there. Plan ahead so you can be prepared!

Leave a cushion

I like to leave some extra cushion in my day too just in case I eat a bit more than expected. For this, you can check out the restaurant menu in advance or even call if you have questions about their nutritional information. I would hate for you to overindulge when it could have easily been avoided.

Say no!

Sometimes, it’s just easier to say no thank you to the food being offered at an event. When you are in control of your food, you just simply get more of it. It is actually nice sometimes to step back and put conversation or friendship at the forefront of a social gathering rather than the food that surrounds you.

Fill up on a great meal at home before heading to the gathering so the desire for food doesn’t even exist. At the very least, fill up on the healthier and more nutritious options (like veggies and hummus) and say no to those options that you know won’t help you reach your goals.

Keep the Adult Beverages in Check

Alcohol is a huge temptation in social settings. Remember, you don’t really need alcohol to survive. Sure, it’s delicious, and man does it make you feel good! However, alcohol is just a filler, and it’s not going to keep you full or help you stay healthy. Plus, by drinking alcohol, you’re filling your stomach with calories that you could’ve just eaten!

I don’t know about you, but I like to eat! I’m not saying you can’t drink alcohol, but drink it in moderation — as the body responds by identifying it as a toxin and hormones react to get rid of it. If you are pushing hard for results, consider passing on it for now.

Stick to Your Plan

This is the hardest of all the tips I’ve mentioned because it involves willpower.  The power to be in control of what you put into your body is easily challenged by the power of temptation. Why is it that the food that tastes the best is often the food that is the worst for you?

To be able to say no to something that prevents you from pursuing your goals is empowering. Sticking to your plan creates that domino effect of success that allows each no to become easier. Besides, wouldn’t you rather be able to say that you stuck to your plan and are reaching your goals than say that you keep breaking your promises to yourself?

It’s time to BE a weekend warrior! 

I want you to do something for me. I want you to push hard for seven days, stick to your plan, and eat wholesome food. I also want you to exercise regularly and do some activities that you love doing. It can be anything from CrossFit, to walking around the block a few times, to attending a kickboxing class. Just take the time and stick to your plan, and you will quickly start seeing the benefits. Monday won’t hit you in the face so hard! And then, you will really begin to see that your seven days of hard work is 100% worthwhile. I promise you, it really does work.

Do you struggle to stick to your plan for the weekend? Let’s talk about it!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

Arugula vs Spinach

A big tub-o-greens is one of the easiest ways to have veggies on hand to grab and go, add to a meal, or throw in a salad. But they aren’t always a crowd favorite.

Our mothers’ always said “eat those leafy greens,” but does their demand actually have validity?

If so, does one type of green contain more benefit than another? When picking out a leafy green two heavy hitters some in mind — spinach and arugula. These two are easily found in most grocery stores and on restaurant menus. In this article, we will compare these two greens so you can make an informed decision next time you are faced with the dilemma of arugula vs spinach.

Eat your greens

First off let’s quickly tackle why you should eat your greens. One of the main reasons is they are chock full of vital micronutrients such as A, C, E and K and also folatewhich is a B vitamin that promotes heart health and prevents birth defects.  Because of their high antioxidant levels among other things, leafy greens may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods.       

If you are looking for purely aesthetic benefits, leafy greens are where it is at. They pack a nutrient punch without lots of calories and due to their high nitrite content they can aid in fat burning. Both have been shown to have anti-aging effects. They can provide UV protection at a cellular level due to carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. The high fiber content in leafy greens can keep your gut microbes happy and lead to better digestion, which ultimately can result in a less bloated stomach. That filling fiber can also help keep hunger at bay.

(You can make better food choices without the guilt. Click here to find out how.) 

Arugula versus spinach  

Spinach is part of the amaranth family and is related to beets and quinoa.  It originated in Persia but is now mainly grown in the United States and China.

In grocery stores, you can choose between both baby spinach and regular spinach.  What is the difference?  Baby spinach has been harvested earlier in the stage of plant growth.  Usually 15-35 days after planting versus mature spinach that is harvested 40-65 days after planting.  Baby spinach has smaller leaves, is more tender, and tends to be a bit sweeter than mature spinach. Mature spinach will have a thicker leaf and stem.  The leaves are noticeably larger.

Nutrient-wise, baby spinach, and mature spinach are the same. When deciding which one to purchase it comes down to taste and texture preference. Baby spinach has a lighter texture and lends itself better to salads and eaten raw. Mature spinach has a hardier texture so holds up well when being cooked. However, both types can be eaten both raw or cooked.

Spinach Nutrients

Speaking of nutrients…spinach is full of vitamins such as A, K and C. Plus calcium, iron, and potassium. It is low in calories with only about 23 calories per 100 grams. This has a lot to do with the fact that is is about 91% water! 100 grams has about 3 grams of protein, 3.6 grams of carbs and less than a gram of fat. Plus 2.2 grams of filling insoluble fiber. This fiber adds bulk and passes through the digestive system helping keep things moving along. So if you want to add volume to your diet, spinach is a great way to fill up without breaking the calorie bank.    

When picking out spinach you want to pick out leaves that are dark and without too much of a stem. You also want to avoid spinach that has any yellowing, wilting or decay. Once you get the perfect batch of spinach do not wash it until ready to use. Exposure to water can encourage spoilage. Many times I will put a few paper towels in my spinach container. The towels will soak up moisture and help prolong the shelf life.

Preparing Spinach

When preparing spinach, make sure to wash it very well since it tends to hold onto dirt and sand.  Trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Pull out any leaves that are wilted or have begun to show signs of spoilage.  Put the leaves in a bowl of water and let the sand and dirt float to the bottom. Do not leave the spinach soaking long because the water-soluble vitamins can leach into the water robbing you of valuable nutrition. Then rinse one more time before putting into a salad spinner to dry. If you don’t have a salad spinner you can drain well and lay on paper towels to dry.

As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to enjoy both baby spinach and mature spinach. Here are a few recipes to help motivate and inspire your spinach consumption.

Sneak Your Veggies in First Thing

Spinach Frittata

Scrambled Eggs With Spinach and Parmesan

Blender Spinach Banana Muffins

Wild Blueberry Banana Spinach Power Smoothie

Throw Together A Tasty Salad

Strawberry Feta Spinach Salad

Amazing Chickpea Spinach Salad

Quinoa Spinach Power Salad

Mix Spinach Into Your Main Dish

Flatbread Pizza With Spinach and Goat Cheese

Mushroom Spinach Quinoa Risotto

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Arugula

Now that we have team spinach covered, let’s move onto team arugula which also can go by the names salad rocket, roquette, or rucola.  It is in the same botanical family as watercress, cabbage, and broccoli. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has been eaten for centuries. Both the seeds and the leaves have been consumed for a long time, but these days the leaves seem to be the more popular way to enjoy arugula. It is mostly harvested in the spring but can be enjoyed year-round thanks (or no thanks) to modern agriculture. 

The leaves are tender and bite-sized.  Arugula has been known to have a stronger, almost peppery mustard taste. It also carries with it a peppery smell. This makes it a great green to mix with other greens if you don’t want to overpower your palate. However, it can be eaten alone and many enjoy it that way.  My favorite way to enjoy it is alongside a runny egg and sauteed sweet potatoes.

According to the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) arugula is one of the top 10 most nutrient-dense foods.  For example, it comes in almost 30% more nutrient dense than cabbage and 50% more nutrient dense than cauliflower. It is rich in lutein which can aid in the prevention of eye diseases as well as colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Arugula is also high in vitamin A which helps keep your vision, immune, and reproductive systems healthy.  

This leafy green also contains high levels of nitrate, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure. It can aid in lowering the amount of oxygen needed during exercise thus enhancing athletic performance. To top it off, arugula also contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Arugula packs a nutritional punch without lots of calories.  One hundred grams comes in at 25 calories. This breaks down to four grams of carbohydrates and two grams of protein. It also brings along one gram of filling fiber.

Preparing Arugula

When purchasing arugula, like spinach, you want to pick out leaves that have a bright green color and no yellowing. Look for leaves that show no sign of wilting or a dark green slimy texture. That indicates it is past its prime. It must be kept in the refrigerator and usually has a shelf life of several days before it is no longer consumable. Like spinach, and most leafy greens, put a few paper towels in with your arugula when storing it to help soak up any extra moisture. Also, like spinach, wait to wash arugula until you are ready to enjoy it. Then give it a rinse and toss in a salad spinner to dry.

Arugula is most often consumed fresh and raw in a salad but it can also be enjoyed cooked.  Because the leaves are very tender they saute very quickly. Because of the stronger flavor, chopped arugula leaves can be used in place of herbs like cilantro or parsley. It is also commonly used as a pizza topping post baking due to its peppery flavor.

Here are a few recipes to help motivate and inspire your arugula consumption.

Rise and Shine Arugula

Tomato Arugula and Goat Cheese Frittata

Arugula Breakfast Salad With Soft Boiled Eggs

Arugula-Ricotta Omelet for One

Pear Arugula And Avocado Green Smoothie

Salad Time

Arugula Salmon Salad With Capers and Shaved Parmesan

Apple Pecan Arugula Salad

Quinoa and Arugula Salad With Mediterranean Chicken

More Than Just Salads

Creamy Vegan Arugula Soup

Spring Gnocchi With Mustardy Arugula Pesto

Lemon Arugula Pizza

Arugula vs Spinach

After reading this post you have probably realized that both arugula and spinach have their own powerful nutrition benefits. So in essence, there’s no need to choose arugula vs spinach.  In a perfect world, you would consume both. There are many creative ways to mix them (take a look below) or you can just throw a simple salad together as both for the leafy green base.   

(Ready to be confident in your skin and create the life you are craving? Click here to find out how.) 

Can’t Pick? Eat Them Both

Spinach and Arugula Lasagna Roll-Ups

Arugula and Spinach Hummus

Spinach Arugula Almond and Pomegranate Salad

Spinach and Arugula Tartlets

At the end of the day, it isn’t about having to choose a single team, but rather making sure that greens are a regular part of your intake.  Although spinach may win slightly in nutrient benefits, having a diversity of greens in your day truly provides a winning combination.

Are you team arugula or team spinach? 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

   

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Why Age Is No Excuse

If you’ve checked out my Feel Amazing Naked program, you may know that I truly believe anyone can look and feel their best, no matter their age. And the same goes for you! Age is no excuse, and here’s why.

My Own CrossFit Beginnings

I found CrossFit at the ripe age of 30. At 6 weeks postpartum, I was desperate for a fitness change to get back into shape after 2 kids and the chaos that I had now called motherhood. I was 100% intimidated, 100% nervous, and 100% addicted the moment I started. I have passionately loved the sport for 5 years now, I’m both an athlete and coach.

My Mom, A CrossFitter?

My mom is the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. She has worked since she was 14 years old, has had a successful career and somehow managed to never miss any activity I was in. I remember how she put every ounce of her soul into raising me. She was a superwoman and I didn’t quite grasp that relevance until I had my own kids.

Like most women her age, she gave herself to being a mom, and as a result somewhat lost sight of her own goals, her own health, and her mojo. When my mom came to me over 2 years ago and said “I think I want to try CrossFit with you,” I said “Really?”.

I’ll be honest, I had a major internal struggle. She was almost 60 and had not been an athlete her whole life… at all (although she will tell you that 1 semester of college cheerleading qualifies)/ I was scared for her, especially because CrossFit isn’t easy. It is high-intensity, gut-checking, and both internally and externally competitive. I didn’t know if she had it in her.

To be 100% honest, I share all aspects of my life with her and this was the one place I got to escape, to push myself, to challenge myself and to feel on top of the world for a brief moment in time. I was nervous to let her into this CrossFit “cult” I belonged to. That moment of hesitation quickly faded when I realized she needed all of those things too. Needless to say, she’s never looked back.

The CrossFit Open

My mom’s love for CrossFit grew wildly. She was showing up almost every day to complete the same workout surrounded by 20-and-30 somethings with rock-solid abs and bulging biceps. I didn’t really think much about her success at her first workout or the ones the directly followed. Was I a horrible daughter for that?

Of course, I was proud and inspired by her courage but I never really paused to think about the greater significance of my mom, the “CrossFitter.” I really started to reflect on what being a “CrossFitter” truly meant to her months later, during that year’s CrossFit Open. That’s right. After CrossFitting for just over a year, and at 60 years old, she decided to give the Open a go. She had no expectations, little CrossFit experience, and really no clue. What she did have was an attitude that she COULD participate 110%. That turned out to be of more value than any experience needed.

16.5 Was More Than Burpees and Thrusters

I had the privilege of judging her for 16.5…the dreaded thruster and burpees over the bar combo (both her nemesis). I rolled out of bed early to come and cheer her on, sleepy-faced and completely unaware of the emotions that would soon take me over.

The timer counted down and she began. We had a strategy for her survival and I guided her through it. Small sets, slow and steady. She struggled, a WOD face in full effect until every single rep was done. My body shivered with the realization that this moment was so much more than any workout would ever be.  It was about her digging deep, going to a place she had little experience with, to prove that at almost 61 years old, she could.

She didn’t allowing her age in life to stop her from doing things she never had. It was a turning point for me as a spectator but more importantly, as her daughter. Tears rolled down my face as she completed the last few reps because I was proud. She was the last to finish and honestly, we were engaged in our moment together so deeply that we had no idea. For a few minutes of time, we switched rolls, and I fully embraced being the proud “mom.”

Age Is No Excuse

As if just being a “CrossFitter” wasn’t enough, she saw an opportunity to compete for the first time and took it. She joined forces with another CrossFit grandma and in a gym filled with experienced female CrossFitters, the two of them stole the show. They hit personal records that weren’t just weight based, they hit life records.

It didn’t matter how much weight was on that bar, they were satisfying deep rooted goals that most of us don’t even understand yet. With every single lift, the crowd roared and their eyes filled with shock and a clear passion for more. It was as if they were the leaders in the CrossFit Games and the rest of us just couldn’t get enough. It was a moment too hard to truly capture into words that we will all remember forever.

Reflecting

I get game gut showing up to workouts — you know the kind of nervous belly that makes you feel you aren’t sure if you have to puke or…well, you know. The amount of courage it continually takes her to show up is only magnified. And you know what? She does it almost every day. Her day actually starts at 5:30 in the morning.

She is rarely the fastest or lifts the heaviest and it doesn’t bother her in the slightest. My mom is there for other reasons, ones that far exceed either of the aforementioned ones. She’s there to prove to herself she can. She is there to be able to wrestle, swim, and get on the floor with my kids. She is there to inspire the other 50+ men and women, and for that matter, all of us. She’s a testament to not allowing age to ever be an excuse. If you ask her, she will tell you that the time she makes for this will give her so much time for life.

Why You Are Missing Out

My mom’s story alone supports the amazing life changes being active can bring.  Numerous studies done about activity in adults only further the cause.  Aside from the mental benefits of being active, research continually supports the need for activity in adults, especially those over the age of 50.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine , the benefits of a regular strength training increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce depression, increase bone density, and lower insulin resistance. Second to smoking, a lack of fitness is linked to the main reason for the early cause of death. In addition, the benefits of progressive resistance training are so powerful that research suggests they extend beyond the basic improvement of strength and cardiovascular health, and actually shift the genetic makeup of muscle. Why would you ever want to miss out on all of these benefits?

It’s A Cycle

Not only did CrossFitting make my mom aware of her fitness, it caused her to think about her eating habits too. She wants to feel good every time she gets into the gym and wants to be able to recover fast.  My mom now thinks about what she is putting inside her body. She loves the feeling of an awesome workout and knows the bigger importance of fueling her body at her age for more.  She still works a full time job, is a mom, is a grandma, and has to deal with menopause. When all of those aspects of life are supported by good nutrition and fitness, they are more rich because of it.

CrossFit Grandmas

It’s a revolution, a movement, a challenge to our ingrained aging perspective that we are too old at some point to pursue a goal. I wrote this post because I know so many women, in their middle ages and beyond, think that they are too old to invest in themselves. I am here to tell you that I’ve never seen my mom walk around with more confidence than she has now. You get one chance to live your life the way you want it, every moment, until the end. It is never too late to pursue your health; in training, in nutrition, and in mindset. Let my Mom, and the many other “CrossFit Grandmas”, inspire you to believe in yourself, reestablish your worth and achieve goals you never even knew you had.

What’s a goal you’ve set for yourself this year? Have you achieved it?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Holiday Gift Ideas for a Nutrition Nut (or newbie)

Are you someone who is looking to make major health changes in their life? Or maybe you know someone who is just getting started on their health journey? Or maybe you are a nutrition nut (like me!) and want some awesome gifts to make meal prep simple and fun as you ring in a new year of great health! If you said yes to any of those questions, check out these holiday gift ideas that are a major win for any level of nutritional experience.

Christmas (and birthdays too) can be filled with a whole lot of mindless gift gifting.  We wait far too long to buy gifts and then succumb to convenience and buy a holiday gift that gets shoved in the back of the closet. Or worse, said gift goes right to the Goodwill donation pile. I am totally biased, but if you invest in giving someone a gift that is both useful and thoughtful then it is a win for everybody.

I have had the opportunity to try and tinker with many kitchen gadgets. Some are useful, but it was rare for me to use them in my own kitchen because of the size, what it prepares, or the cost. I’ve created a list of a few “go-to” items that range in a price point that will add so much value to the person and kitchen you give it to this holiday season.

11 Holiday Gift Ideas for a Nutrition Nut or Newbie

1. Kitchenaid Spiralizer

The Kitchenaid Spiralizer has been a major game changer in the kitchen for me.  After becoming gluten-free, I needed a healthy “noodle” supplement and found “Zoodles” to be just the right thing.

This Kitchenaid Spiralizer Mixer attachment was gifted to me last holiday season by my MIL who knows me well. It can spiralize zucchini, apples, potatoes and pretty much anything your little heart desires. It also peels and cores and has several attachments to change the type of noodle made. And my kids think it is the coolest!

2. Kitchenaid Mixer

The Kitchenaid Spiralizer can only be used if you have a Kitchenaid Mixer to use this attachment. I have had my cute, little, canary yellow Kitchenaid mixer for years and it gets a ton of use. It is great for baking but all of the attachments it offers is the main reason I use it most often.

3. Simple Spiralizer

If you don’t have a Kitchenaid Mixer, don’t worry you are still in luck. Try this hand-held spiralizer out instead. It will accomplish the same task for you with a much lower hit to the wallet. However, the Kitchenaid attachment is still hard to beat for the quality.

 4. Magic Bullet

I’ve used my Magic Bullet so much that it is covered in who knows what from over 11 years of marriage and two children.  It really is magic and does the job of coffee frothing to smoothie making in one quick step, with easy clean-up, and without a hefty price tag. I also made every ounce of my kids’ baby food in it and it is still kicking! I love all the attachments and screw on lids for to-go options.

5. Aerolatte Milk Frother

I am a coffee addict.  But I like my own version of a healthy latte that is rich, smooth and frothy. This little gadget makes my morning coffee ritual simple and mess free! It helps you have that coffee shop coffee without all the junk and added calories.

I’ve actually given this as a gift often and people LOVE it and end up using all the time!  Pair it with a sturdy mug and some delicious roasted beans and it could be an awesome gift for anybody or for your holiday gift exchange.

6. Glass Storage Containers

Every person needs these.  No matter what type of nutritional regimen you have, preparing your own food and having bonus food for leftovers makes meal prep easy and efficient.  Grab some of these glass containers so you can reheat your food right in them.

Bonus: Glass is better for you and the environment (tree hugger moment).

7. Plastic Storage Containers

If glass containers are too bulky or unreasonable for your commute, you can opt for a simpler option.  These plastic containers are more cost-effective, stack nicely in the refrigerator, and are super simple to pack for work or school. They too would make a great holiday gift stocking stuffer.

8. Instant Pot

I am seriously addicted to my Instant Pot! At this point, I use it multiple times a week. It is simple, combines pressure and slow cooking, and also has a whole array of other awesome features. It literally turns frozen chicken breasts to shredded goodness in under 30 minutes… BOOMSHAKALAKA! I also use it to make my weekly stock pile of hard boiled eggs. You can click here to see the Instant Pot in action and to get my favorite healthy egg salad recipe.

9. Air Fryer

I am not going to lie. I was extremely reluctant to try the air fryer because I didn’t need another item cluttering up my pantry and kitchen. But this little handy gadget can come through with that lightly fried finish that some foods just need without the mess of oil! You can put in so many yummy food options for a solid golden finish.

You can buy the air fryer in multiple sizes to accommodate more food. My opinion is to go big, especially if you are feeding a family. That way you don’t have to do multiple batches for one meal.

10. Digital Food Scale

When making nutritional changes, a scale can be a major help when beginning to learn portion sizing.

This is the one I use every day and it’s simple and cheap! It’s great for a little stocking stuffer too. You can also use it to travel with. It is simple to use and has the option to change units of measure.

11. Thrive Market

Last, but certainly not least, is the ultimate awesome gift for a nutrition nut or someone who is ready for transformation to healthy living. If you haven’t heard about Thrive market yet, you are missing out!

Think of Thrive as like a Costco meets Whole Foods, all via a virtual store. Essentially, you pay an annual membership to get amazing prices on high-quality products including food, supplements, toiletries, and home essentials.  The awesome part is shipping is FREE for orders over $49!

You can shop for specific products via their online catalog, with all prices typically 25-30% below retail value. Some of my favorite foodie products are hard to find and I don’t live near a retailer who carries them. Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it delivered to my doorstep. They also carry a few things that I have yet to find in my local grocer.

Thrive’s yearly membership cost is $60 (that breaks down to $5 a month) and is an awesome price point for a gift. When I got married we got a Costco membership and it was the best ever. Thrive would have been even better!  If you join today by clicking the banner below you can get 25% off your first order and a 30-day free trial membership.

And right now — take advantage of Amazon prime! You can join their 30-day trial right now and use this service FREE for your holiday shopping.

Enjoy the holidays and give the gift of good health!

 

This post is filled with things I love and actually use daily and weekly. I would not suggest them if I didn’t believe in them and see the value they could add in your kitchen and life.  If you click on the links above, I will receive a small commission from your purchase.  Thank you in advance and I appreciate your support to continue to add valuable content.

What is one of the best healthy gifts you’ve received?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

A Healthier Version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

With fall comes apples, Halloween, and pumpkin spice everything. You can have anything pumpkin spiced, including a pumpkin spice latte, a pumpkin spiced eggnog, and more. And if you’re anything like me, you LOVE it!

I’m A Pumpkin Lover

I am totally guilty of having a pumpkin obsession. I am also guilty of stocking up on pumpkin everything so I can enjoy it well after the Fall has come and gone. My pantry usually has a few boxes of Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake mix and a few (or 5) of their pumpkin butter well after the holidays.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures when the fall would roll around used to be the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. It truly became synonymous with the word Fall and now even has a cult following (it literally it’s own IG page). But as I started making healthier choices, including the foods and drinks I put into my body, I realized that I had to sever that relationship. Because honestly, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte wasn’t a great, or nutritious, choice.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte didn’t even have real pumpkin in it at the time! While they claim that it now includes actual pumpkin (and not just artificial flavoring to make it seem like you’re drinking it), it still isn’t that close to the real deal! Plus, that drink could constitute as a whole meal when you look at the nutritional info!

My simple version of the pumpkin spice latte. 

After reading about the nutritional content of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own version. I love taking some of my old favorites, like the Starbucks PSL, and recreating them into a healthier and even higher quality version. To me, recreating a drink without chemical-laden ingredients is fun and exciting. Plus, instead of those gross chemicals, I can include ingredients that are fresh, simple, and easy to find.

Now, I’ve tried many different recipes to try and recreate the perfect pumpkin spice latte. Some have required 20 minutes of preparation, boiling, and way too much prep for my half asleep, coffee-craving self. But, I’ve taken my favorites pieces from those recipes and I’ve merged them into a pumpkin spice latte that is full of fall, rich in flavor, and so much healthier for you. And did I mention that it can save you a lot of money? And by a lot of money, I mean like a whole lot of money per year to make your morning cup of joe at home. If you’re ready to enjoy your fall with a delicious pumpkin spice latte that’s actually good for you, check out the recipe below!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

Course Drinks
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 8 oz freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice (skim, 2% or whole cow’s milk, almond, coconut, cashew)
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tbsp Kerrygold butter (You can pass on this to reduce fat but I love the rich flavor it adds)
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (combination of cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, cardamom)

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in your super festive Fall mug and then use my favorite coffee accessory, the Aerolatte frother.  Once you have a nice foam head, add a dash of cinnamon on top and enjoy the heck out of it.

If you’re not sure about the frother I use, you can click this link to go to my favorite Aerolatte frother.  Not only does it create the perfect foam every single time, but it also reminds me of the fun and super expensive coffee drinks I typically get at a coffee shop! It’s a neat little tool that makes me feel like I’m enjoying a cup of coffee that wasn’t made by me.

Don’t be afraid to try it at home. 

This recipe for a healthy pumpkin spice latte rocks both in taste and nutrition. If you want to take it a step further, this is also another great place to add your Vital Proteins Collagen.  It is a supplement with all kinds of awesome benefits, including 10 grams of protein in one scoop.

What’s your favorite fall-inspired coffee drink?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Why You Should Set Light Pole Goals

light pole goals

I’ve always been intrigued by human behavior.  

Why is it that some people are successful and others are not?  What do people who find and maintain success have in common? I knew there is a strong connection between their day to day habits and the success that follows. 

In fact, I know it is not just ONE thing, but a multitude of factors that separate those who get stuck along their journey and those that never do.

As a coach, I am constantly digging into this question to help each of my clients be more successful.

Goal creation

When we want something, we create a goal. The imagery of a finish line comes to mind when I think of a “goal.” In fact, that is just what it is. It is recognizing that we are at the start of a race or journey and on a mission to get to the end as fast as possible.

I grew up being told to focus on my goals. If you want to be successful, you must have a goal.  In business, the pressure is on even more constant. I can see and feel what I want, but I often feel so overwhelmed about how to get there that I just want to quit.  

The sinking feeling of being “stuck” thinking about where I am and what it will be like to finally get “there” (wherever “there” really is).

Why focusing on the finish line isn’t the best approach

Here is the irony — when we focus on only one main goal, we actually do ourselves a disservice. Research shows that when we keep creating imagery and intention towards the finish line only that our brain actually releases dopamine to certain parts of the brain.  

What is dopamine? Dopamine is the chemical messenger that makes us happy, it tells us we’ve accomplished something and makes us feel good.

But wait…Have we even accomplished that actual goal yet?

This is where the big teachable moment steps in.

What I am telling you is that when we think about only where we want to go, the finish line, the body actually makes us feel as though we ’ve already accomplished that goal and congratulates us before we even get there.  

Isn’t that a good thing? Well… kind of.

Sometimes, if we don’t have that continued “happy braindance” it becomes a false sense of accomplishment. We lose motivation, we start to forget our “why” and we get frustrated and lose hope.

So how can we correct this?

By spending less time focusing on the start and finish lines, and more time focusing on the journey — the middle!

In fact, in a study done by Vanderbilt University, they looked into the chemical messengers present in the brain between a group of “successful” individuals and a group of “slackers,” (this made me chuckle). What they found was phenomenal. The successful and motivated group had a much higher presence of dopamine in the area of the brain impacting motivation and the “go-getter” spirit.

If you are ready to kick-start your goal setting and your health journey, click here for my FREE 7 Day Challenge to help you start feeling amazing…naked.

Light pole goals

When I first began running, I sucked at it! Like, I could barely run a mile. Not being able to run a whole mile made me want to just quit. It felt miserable, and I felt like I looked like an elephant trying to be graceful.

When I would head out for a run, I would start thinking about what the end of the run would look and feel like for me. Often times though, I found myself less motivated the more I thought about the end.

It wasn’t until I was out for a run one day with my dad and he shifted my thinking. As I began to slow down and he could sense my desire to quit, he said; “Amanda, just look at the next light pole. Run to that one and then find the next.”

And I did (because parents are just always right).

In fact, I did that from there on out when I went running. I kept looking for each light pole that helped me feel accomplished. Because of that, I never even thought about the finish. The end even crept up on me and I would end up almost surprised at how easy it actually was. Each light pole seemed to re-energize my mind, my body, and it reaffirmed to me that I could do it!

What are light pole goals?

It’s actually easier to focus on the end than the middle. I think that’s why so many of us do it.  The middle is messy and doesn’t always have a clear path to the end. So we avoid it and decide to just “wing it.”

The reality is though, that we need to set more light pole goals to be successful on our journey.  We have to set small milestones to lead to big ones because each success is an affirmation of a much bigger picture.

Think of these light pole goals examples:

  • The boy scouts award a patch for each success before the big promotion to the next level.  
  • A baby learns a new word or two each week or month before they speak in sentences.
  • You declutter one room of your house each week, and before you know it, the whole house has been decluttered.
  • You lose one pound, and it gets you one step closer to your happy weight.

Each small passing of a light pole goal creates that little rush of dopamine that encourages us to continue on the path we are after. It’s a small bit of added sweet sauce that we can actually get what we want!  Hello…our bodies are actually wired for success.

The brain wants you to crush your goals and live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.

Overcome stagnation

We often have our own misunderstandings of plateaus. We get to places where we feel stagnant because we are confused on how to get to the finish line.

To overcome the feeling of stagnation, the most simple thing you can do is think about the next light pole.

If you are on a mission to lose 25 pounds and are feeling stuck, set one intention for that week that is going to help get you there. Perhaps it is something as simple as grocery shopping, creating a dinner plan, incorporating one more serving of veggies in dinner, or moving your body for three days a week. At the end of the week, you can pass that light pole with confidence and move to your next. Ten light poles later and you’ll notice that you are closer to the finish line.

Breaking down information into manageable chunks is crucial to survival and success.

And this is exactly what we are doing in the FREE 7 Day challenge to start feeling amazing…naked!  Click HERE to join!

Keep it quiet

The other reason some people kick A$$ and some don’t is because they share too much. A study was done in 2009 actually shows that when we keep our goals to ourselves, we are far more successful.

When you set both finish line and light pole goals, keep them in that pretty little head of yours.

Unless of course you thrive sharing on social media and it creates a greater sense of accountability.  Figure out what works for you best through trial and error.

In the end, what makes a person successful?

A person’s ability to keep surpassing light pole goals instead of putting all their energy into the finish line makes them successful.

Steve Jobs did not build the iMac of today without creating small tasks and light pole goals along the way.

Oprah did not build her empire overnight, but rather in small steps over years and years.

Our children do not shoot into adulthood without small spurts of learning along with their journey.

It is unreasonable to expect ourselves to get to a finish line without looking out for small light poles that will continually propel our energy forward.

No success comes without taking small steps and building small pieces to create a much bigger end product. Small steps create major miracles.

Our bodies were created to create constant positive energy and momentum in ourselves. However, many factors have influenced that natural design.

We are often derailed by fast-paced culture, comparison, and a lack of focus on health.

You must continue to create long-term goals for yourself but never overlook the importance of passing each lightpole along your way!

What are some light pole goals you can set for yourself?

 

We’d love to have you join our FREE 7 Day challenge to start your health journey towards feeling amaing naked!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

 

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Hemp Seeds vs Chia Seeds

hemp seeds vs. chia seeds

I try hard to make my kids active in their nutrition. We have a constant dialogue about food choices so that I don’t feel like the dictator of what goes into their mouth.

One way I like to allow them to be active in their health is by creating opportunities for them to self-select healthy options. I have organized my pantry in such a way that they can build their own morning oatmeal, trail mixes, and grab healthy snacks that are focused at their eye level. As they open the pantry, mason jars are filled with healthy nuts and seeds to give them the freedom to make healthy choices.

Seeds have been enjoyed for a long time. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all very popular seeds that have likely been a part of your diet. But a few seeds are gaining popularity and are merging as the lead stars: chia seed and hemp seeds. I am sure you have heard of them, and you’ve probably seen both of them at your local grocery store.

These seeds actually have been consumed for hundreds of years, but now they are quickly growing in popularity and for good reason. Let’s take a look at these two super seeds. We will dive into what they are, why they are “super” and how you can add them to your daily diet.  

What are these super seeds?

First off…what are seeds? By definition, they are a plant’s unit of reproduction. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Seeds can be eaten in many different ways including raw or toasted. Seeds can also be pressed to extract the oil. It is important to note that many seeds are sensitive to heat and should be kept in the refrigerator to prevent going rancid and help extend their shelf life. When not kept cold it is best to keep them out of the sunlight. Keep them contained in covered glass containers or well-sealed bags.

Chia seeds

For many of you, the first thing you may think when you see the word chia are chia pets. Remember those cute clay pets you covered in seeds and they grew to be green plants? Yep, those are the same seeds. However, instead of just watching them grow on a clay animal, many people are now adding them to their diet. They are very tiny little seeds and should be black or white in color.  

Chia seeds were originally grown in Central America, and they’re actually a member of the mint family.  Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. The warriors simply added chia seeds to water or ate them plain to help keep them full for long periods of time. Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamin, and minerals. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 6 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of “good” for you fat. They also contain a whopping 10 grams of filling fiber which can help keep the hunger away. In addition, they contain calcium, potassium, iron, and much more.   

Benefits

Chia seeds have been known to have a long list of health benefits. Due to their high level of antioxidants, they can help reduce signs of aging and keep your skin looking great. They have two times the number of antioxidants as blueberries! The fiber helps keep your digestive tract in check and keeps your heart healthy. Packed with calcium, chia seeds will keep your bones strong, and the plant-based protein will help build muscles. Plant-based protein is protein sourced from non-animal products. The omega-3 fatty acids help raise “good” HDL cholesterol which protects against heart disease and stroke.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are another nutritional powerhouse. Now, hemp seeds aren’t quite as popular as chia seeds, but are quickly catching up. Let’s go ahead and clear up any curiosity out of the gate — hemp seeds do not have any psychotropic effects. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant, however, it contains such a slight level of THC that it will not get you high.  

These little seeds deliver a lot of nutritional benefits and are a great addition to your diet. Most hemp that we consume in the United States is grown in Canada. The great thing about the hemp plant is that it requires almost no pesticides or herbicides so it is considered a sustainable product which means it is good for the earth (and less junk for you).   

Benefits

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are just what they say they are…the seeds of the hemp plant.  Hemp plants grow popcorn kernel sized hard seeds. Inside these seeds lie the white or green inner kernels know as hemp seeds. You cannot get any nutrition from the hard outer shells so what you are purchasing are those inner kernels filled with lots of nutritional goodness.

They have great nutrition stats with 2 tablespoons coming in at a little over 6 grams of protein, about 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams fats containing both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been linked to helping those with skin conditions such as eczema. Not to mention, both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water and gets absorbed by your body. However, insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved and passes through the body intact. This type of fiber helps gently clean out your digestive tract.

There are many other benefits to consuming hemp seeds including containing minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Due to their high levels of amino acids they may reduce the risk of heart disease. They have also been shown to lower symptoms of PMS and menopause.

Hemp seeds vs. chia seeds, which one do I eat?

Both hemp seeds and chia seeds are gluten free and vegan for those following specific diet guidelines and both seeds contain about 6 grams of plant-based protein per two tablespoons. As mentioned earlier, plant-based protein is a protein that comes from non-animal sources and is popular for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.  

The protein they contain is considered a complete protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein and nine of them cannot be produced by the body which are called essential amino acids.

To be considered a complete protein the food must contain all nine of these amino acids in relatively even amounts. Since both chia seeds and hemp seeds contain complete protein, they are an excellent plant-based source.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are very versatile and can be consumed in many different ways. The nice thing about chia seeds is they really don’t have much flavor. They won’t impact the taste of what you add them to.  You can grind them into a powder or consume them whole. Some even just add them to water and drink up. You can sprinkle them onto whatever you are eating for a nutritional boost.  

Another really interesting thing about chia seeds is they absorb liquid and can hold almost 10 times their weight in fluids. If you put them in liquid they will form a gel-like substance. Many vegan baked goods replace eggs with chia seeds soaked in water called a chia egg. That absorption acts like a binder similar to how eggs act.

You can also make chia seed pudding which is very popular. This is made by adding chia seeds to a liquid, usually cow or plant-based milk, and letting it sit overnight. The result in the morning is a pudding-like consistency packed with nutrition.

Being real honest…my husband loves the texture of chia puddings, but me, not so much.  That same absorption rate makes chia seeds a great thickener for oatmeal, smoothies or even salad dressings. Here are a few recipes ideas if you want to try out chia seeds.

Chia Seed Recipes

Chocolate Chip Chia Seed Granola Bars

Chia Pudding

Five Minute Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

Chia Seed Pizza Crust

Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

Hemp Seeds

Ok so now you have chia seeds down it is time to move on to how you enjoy hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have more flavor than chia seeds. They have been described as having a slightly nutty or grassy flavor and many say they taste like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut.

Hemp seeds can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a powdery byproduct that can be used as a hemp-based protein powder. The oil is very delicate and is best used as a finishing oil rather than for cooking. So it would be great to drizzle over pasta or used in salad dressings.

Hemp seeds can also be blended with water to make hemp milk which is a great plant-based non-dairy beverage option.

However, the more common way to consume hemp seeds is as the whole seed or hemp hearts as they are commonly referred to as. They can be eaten raw or dry-toasted to bring out even more of the nutty taste. Hemp seeds are a great addition to sprinkle on foods like yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, and even salads.  They easily blend into your favorite smoothie recipe.

For those with who want to avoid gluten-containing breadcrumbs, they can be used as a breadcrumb substitute to coat chicken or fish.

Here are a few recipes to get you started with adding hemp seeds to your diet.

Hemp Seed Recipes

Hemp Seed Pesto

Low Carb Cauliflower Breadsticks With Garlic Butter and Hemp Seeds

Chocolate Hemp Overnight Oatmeal Smoothie

DIY Hemp Milk

Hemp Seed Crusted Baked Cod

Are you looking for a super seed double whammy? Check out these recipes that combine both chia seeds and hemp seeds for maximum nutrition!

Chia Seed & Hemp Seed Recipes

Feel Good Superfood Grain Bowl

Grain Free Hemp Seed Breakfast Cookies

Clean Eating No-Bake Raw Hemp and Chia Seed Bars

Super Healthy Broccoli Salad

Chocolate Superfood Energy Balls

Ultimate Superfood Breakfast Bars

Hemp and chia seeds are becoming nutritional superstars for good reason. Take a step outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to experiment and add these into your diet.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy hemp or chia seeds?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

How many carbs in olive oil?

carbs in olive oil

I recently had a big “ah-ha” moment with a client.

She and her husband love to enjoy stovetop popcorn and Netflix each evening before bed.  She left the popping to her self-proclaimed “popping pro husband (say that 10 times fast).” He had the corn popping touch and this was a tradition they truly looked forward to.

She made the assumption that a simple tablespoon of oil was being used to pop their popcorn.  After wandering near her husband who was about to pour the popcorn into the pan one evening, she was shocked to find almost ½ cup! WHOA!

The experience evolved into some fantastic discussion about the following: was olive oild a healthy fat or not, can too much of a great thing sabotage progress? And what is really in that oil anyway?

Oily Confusion

Olive oil can be a bit confusing…there are so many different kinds out there. Virgin, extra virgin, refined and many more. Olive oils from different countries, organic, conventional — so many dang choices. Then, of course, there is the confusion about fat. Isn’t fat bad for you? Won’t it make you fat? By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the types of oils used for cooking, their benefits, their drawbacks, and some bonus recipes too!

First off, your body needs fat

Don’t be scared of fat.  Your body needs it, wants it, craves it, and loves it. The good fat that is (but more on that in a moment). So what does fat do for your body? Fat is a major source of energy and is the most energy dense macronutrient coming in at 9 calories per gram of fat. Fat can keep you full for a long time. It can also help balance hormones, form cell membranes, plus transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K. Fat has been shown to reduce levels of ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone responsible for high satiety and lowered cravings.

The human body is capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs except for two. The body needs omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA). You also need to take in omega-3 fatty acids via diets such as alpha-linoleic (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They are called essential fatty acids and can only be obtained through diet or supplementation.  

This is a a big part of overal health and something I focus on in my Feel Amazing Naked program.  Click here to learn more about it!

Why do we need them?

These acids are needed for growth and repair and to help make other fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as cold water high fat fish, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and avocados. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, grapeseed oil, flax seeds, and pistachios.

One thing to keep in mind is you want to get a good balance of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Currently, in North America and Western Europe, the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids is much higher. That is due to the high intake of processed foods that contain high levels of oils with omega-6 fatty acids. To better balance, the intake of these acids, focus on more whole foods and lots of variety.

What are “good fats”?

As mentioned above your body needs good fats. What are good fats you ask? Our body likes fats that occur naturally in different types of foods. Some of these foods include nuts, avocados, eggs, fatty fish, and olives. These foods mostly contain unsaturated fats which are the naturally occurring fats. There are different types of unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels and help with insulin levels and blood sugar control which is beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes (we…and everybody too).

Not all fats are created equal

However, not all fat is good fat. Man-made fats such as trans fat, also known as trans-fatty acids, are the ones you want to avoid. Trans fats are made by the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils. This means they take an unsaturated fat and bubble hydrogen ions through it until it is solid at room temperature. They raise LDL, which is the “bad” cholesterol and can lower HDL which is considered the “good” cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading killers of both men and women.  

Some products such as meat and dairy contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats. However, manufacturers use oils containing trans fats in many products to increase the shelf life of foods. Restaurants use trans-fat-containing oils for frying because it lasts longer and does not have to be changed as much.  

Trans fats can be found in conventionally produced baked goods, canned frosting, donuts, refrigerated dough, creamers, and margarine. In a nutshell, trans fats are found in many processed foods. Just another reason to stick with whole foods and avoid trans fats altogether.  Take a moment to check that food label before you indulge in your next packaged snack. Think twice and perhaps grab a healthy alternative if the snack contains trans fats.

And finally — saturated fat

For years, saturated fat was considered evil and to be avoided at all costs. Remember the 90s “fat-free” craze where the company Snackwell’s was crushing it? However, recently it has been confirmed that saturated fats can be a healthy addition to your diet in moderation.  

Saturated fats have been found to form the foundation of cell membranes, increase HDL “good” cholesterol, reduce the risk of stroke, and boost brain health. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and great for high-temperature cooking.

Some healthy options for saturated fats include coconut, ghee, grass fed beef, cheese, eggs, and dairy. However, not all saturated fats are good and it is best to stick with the high-quality ones. Avoid saturated fats in processed meats, pre-packaged fatty snacks, and processed baked goods. Again, as mentioned above, stick with real whole foods and you should be good to go!

The real deal on oils

Now you have an understanding of fats and why, in moderation, healthy fats are a must. If you are ready to add some quality fats to your diet, oils are a great way to start. However, like fats, not all oils are created equal. There are many different types out there to choose from. Let’s take a look at some options so you can make an informed decision the next time you are faced with an oil decision.  

Olive Oil

Olive oil is an excellent option to start with. It is versatile, easy to find, and affordable. One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has 13 grams of fat (mostly monounsaturated). It has NO carbohydrate content, is gluten-free, and full of energy providing good for you fat. Olive oil is made by pressing olives and extracting the oil. Olive oil has many uses including soaps, pharmaceuticals, and fuel for traditional oil lamps. However, let’s focus on the main (and best) use for this oil and that is for cooking and eating!

Olive Oil Varieties

There are six different types of olive oil used for cooking and eating. First off, is extra virgin olive oil which is made from the first pressing of olives and many consider it the best variety.  The extraction is done without chemicals and excessive heat. Many times, it is cold pressed using no heat and this helps it retain most of its antioxidants.

Virgin olive oil is also made from the first pressing but has a bit higher acidity level and has a milder taste. Refined olive oil has been refined using agents such as heat and acids. It is oil extracted from the leftover pulp from the first pressing and that is why additional agents are needed to extract any further oil. It does not generally contain the antioxidant benefits; however, the lack of antioxidants gives it a longer shelf life.

Olive oil or pure classic olive oil, is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. Then there is light olive oil which is a blend of refined olive oil and other vegetable oils. This oil has little to no flavor. Pomace oil is the lowest grade of oil made from the byproducts of olive oil production. It is best to avoid this oil because it has been found to have carcinogenic contaminants.

Which olive oil is best for you, and how do you use it?

Based on what you know now, it’s best to stick with extra virgin or virgin olive oils. When purchasing olive oils, look for dark bottles which help protect the antioxidants that degrade when exposed to light. If you want a more pesticide-free oil, look for the USDA organic stamp of approval. Once purchased, store your oil in a cool and dry place, keep the cap on, and use within a few months of opening if possible.    

Olive oils are best used uncooked or heated at low to medium temperatures. You want to avoid the oil reaching its smoke point.

Smoke point, huh?

It is the temperature at which the oil begins to burn and smoke. Once an oil begins to smoke it can get a burnt flavor, beneficial nutrients are destroyed, and it can begin to develop harmful free radicals. Olive oil’s smoke point is about 400 degrees.

Olive Oil Uses

There are so many different ways to use olive oil. It can be used to create salad dressings or used as a dip for pieces of bread. It is great for use in marinades or sauces for meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables. You can also drizzle some olive oil over cooked pasta for a simple and delicious dish. Check out a few recipes below for ways to use uncooked olive oil.

Recipes

Olive Oil and Herb Bread Dip

The Best Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing (or marinade)

Cilantro Lime Potato Salad

Grilled Summer Squash With Olive Oil Marinade

Super Simple Lemon Dijon Marinade

6 Ingredient Mediterranean Salad

As mentioned above olive is great for low to medium temperature cooking. It can be used for grilling, sauteing or pan frying.   

Recipes

Olive Oil Garlic Zucchini Noodles

Olive Oil Parmesan Grilled Corn

Pasta With Roasted Broccoli Pasta and Oil

Cod Sauteed with Olive Oil and Fresh Tomatoes

Roasted Lemon Chicken With Potatoes and Rosemary

But wait — you can even bake with olive oil! It is a great way to add moisture to your dessert or favorite baked good. It is recommended that you use a mild tasting olive oil when baking so it does not overpower the other flavors (I learned by mistkae here). You can experiment with replacing butter with olive oil in your favorite recipe. Start by replacing a fourth cup butter with three tablespoons of olive oil.  This will also reduce the total fat of what you are baking since you use less.

Recipes

Healthier Lemon Loaf Cake

Honey and Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins

Olive Oil Pie Crust

Olive Oil Cocoa Brownies

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

What about other oils?

Let’s quickly look at a few other oil options. One oil that has been growing both in popularity and controversy is coconut oil.  It has a smoke point of 350 for extra virgin coconut oil and up to 400 degrees for refined coconut oil. It is 90 percent saturated fat, however about half of those fats come from medium chain fatty acids also called MCT’s which have the ability to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and have also touted weight loss benefits. Some other claims about coconut oil are they can boost brain function, keep hunger away and help lose body fat.

Coconut Oil

If you are looking to add coconut oil to your diet there are many ways to do so. You can use it for higher heat cooking, add it to your smoothie, or, for your morning coffee. Baking is also a very popular way to use coconut oil. It is used a lot in recipes for those following a low carb high-fat diet or a ketogenic diet. Like all things that have nutritional benefits, coconut oil still must be consumed in moderation and is not a miracle food. Below are a few recipes if you want to give coconut oil a try.

Recipes

Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles

Coconut Oil Salad Dressing

Coconut Oil Fudge

Avocado oil

Next up, avocado oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats which reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and raise that “good” HDL cholesterol. Some of the many health claims for avocado oil say it fights inflammation, protects your heart, fights free radicals, and prevents oxidation. Avocado oil contains a high level of antioxidants which can also keep you looking young. Another fun fact is avocado oil is high in vitamin E which many fall short on in their diet.  

The best part is that avocado oil has a high smoke point of 520 degrees which makes it ideal for high temp frying, searing, or browning. It also has a nice mild taste, so it’s great for eating cold in a dressing. As with most oils, you want to use an avocado oil that is cold pressed. The less refined the oil, the higher in nutrients. Here are a few recipes to give avocado oil a try.

Recipes

Chili Lime Chicken Drumsticks with Avocado Oil

California Salad with Avocado Oil Vinaigrette

Dream Worthy Orange and Avocado Oil Cake       

Sesame Oil

Finally, we will take a quick look at sesame oil which is made from sesame seeds. It is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and is low in saturated fat. This oil has a wonderful nutty flavor and is great for adding richness to a recipe. It is used a lot in Indian, Korean, and Asian style dishes.  

When choosing a sesame oil, you want to use a light version for cooking and a darker version for dressings and cold dishes. The lighter sesame oils are made from untoasted seeds and the darker oils are generally made from toasted sesame seeds. The oil has a high smoke point of 450 degrees, so it can be used for higher temperature cooking. It has been shown to have many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, is great for your bones, and can boost your metabolism, plus so much more. It is packed with nutrition including vitamins B complex, E, and D. Plus, it contains minerals like phosphorus and calcium.

What can you make with sesame oil? The first thing to remember is that once you open your sesame oil, it is best kept in the refrigerator to stop it from going rancid. One of the nice things about sesame oil is that it has a pretty intense flavor so you do not need much. A little oil goes a long way, so your overall fat content may be a bit lower since you use a lot less. Try out a few of these recipes and enjoy!

Recipes

5 Minute Asian Salad Dressing

Sesame Oil Hummus

15 Minute Cauliflower Fried Rice

The oil list can go on and on, and it includes oils such as walnut, almond, grape seed, and flaxseed oil, justs to name a few. Just remember that fat is your friend and adding some healthy oils to your diet can not only add flavor but also lots of nutrition. Oils have both a macro and micronutrient punch, so use food awareness while you enjoy them!

What is your favorite cooking oil? I’d love to hear why below.

If you are ready to start making YOU a priority with both Mind and Body, join my FREE 7 Day challenge to start feeling amazing naked NOW!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

 

 

 

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Do you suffer from squirrel syndrome?

squirrel syndrome

In my first few years as a business owner, I struggled with the constant urge to find the next best idea to grow my business.

Creative inspiration would hit (and by that, I mean I had many) and I’d immediately go ALL IN and begin to work on it. I’d speed through its creation, put it into the online space, and expect immediate results.

The moment I didn’t, I’d chase another big idea with the same outcome each time…disappointment and a lack of results.

I did this many, many times until finally, I realized I was suffering from the exact same thing many of my clients do their entire life: “Squirrel syndrome.”

Now, I was surrounded by my powerhouse entrepreneur friends. I followed uber successful online business bosses. I thought if I just kept trying something new that I would have to see results just like them, right?

Yep…I preach consistency above everything to create sustainable results in health, yet I was guilty of wanting a “get successful quick” approach time after time. #ohtheirony

It didn’t work.

You can learn more about 5 Food Fails that sabotage women and how to nip them in the butt in my FREE webinar here.

Do you suffer from the same?

One of the greatest struggles I have witnessed as a nutrition coach isn’t overconsumption of Mickey D’s or eating too many Reese’s. It’s actually something much greater than that.

I work with clients all the time who have suffered a life dominated by squirrel syndrome. In fact, you might be reading this and realizing this has been you and you didn’t even know it.

What Is Squirrel Syndrome?

It’s called “squirrel syndrome” for a reason.

It’s the constant quest to find the next “best” thing.

Like drinking Slim Fast shakes for 30 days, losing weight, gaining it back and then taking…

HCG shots for 30 days and losing weight, gaining it back and then doing…

Keto for 30 days and losing weight, gaining it back and then doing…

Whole 30 for 30 days and losing weight, gaining it back and then doing…

A 30-day cleanse and losing weight, gaining it back and…

I think you get the idea!

It’s the notion that you are constantly looking for the next magic outcome, the next best quick fix approach.

Each time you get excited for quick weight loss, only to find that the approach is not sustainable one single bit. In fact, all the weight you lost comes back and then some.

Why are you a squirrel?

If this sounds familiar, you my friend, maybe the squirrel.

There is so much noise in the health and nutrition space that there is a perception that there is a magic solution to weight loss and feeling healthy. The success of those around you makes it seem that they get there quickly and that you too can have the same overnight.

Every nutrition guru has their answer and Instagram is flooded with lots of know-it-alls.

You want immediate results and instant gratification and they seem to have the answer. Naturally, you fall in line and give it a go — again.

At first, it seems AMAZING. You see results on the scale and in the mirror. That will hold your attention for a short-term until you realize that a world outside the restrictive fad approach exists and you want to live in it.

Chocolate, pizza, burgers, and wine exist and are meant to be enjoyed (in balance).

You can learn more about Squirrel syndrome and 4 other mistakes women are always making in their relationships with food in my FREE webinar.

Overcome Black and White Thinking

Your health journey is not black or white. Food is not “good or bad.” Instead, you must learn to live in the grey.

Life happens and things get messy. This I know! To navigate your thinking,  you must shift into learning how to operate when times aren’t perfect. This is when quick fixes get exposed and reveal their lack of flexibility and sustainability.

Stop Chasing Nuts

Nothing will change if you continue to chase the next big thing.

Your good old friend Jane who swears she has the magic answer to weight loss every month and hasn’t really lost a pound…ignore her.

It’s time to invest in a long-term strategy and start focusing on the real magic: consistency.

The truth is, it ain’t easy!

It’s the mundane day to day work that brings about sustainable change.

The best analogy I share is a river. It’s literally the most perfect example of how powerful consistency can be.

If you’ve ever doubted what consistent effort over time looks like, just look at a river. It is the epitome of consistency.

The constant power of the water carves through layers and layers of rock, over thousands of years, slow and steady creating canyons.

It never waivers.

The river puts in the work, day after day, no matter what life throws its way. It may slow down or speed up, but it never trades short-term intensity (or a quick fix) for the long-term gain.

This is where change happens. In the mundane, day to day work, we do to create habits that drive the outcome we want.

If that river can create that amazing change, so can you, my friend.

Less Is Not More

The squirrel rears its head because you’ve learned over time, through media and culture, that less is more. It’s ingrained in your mind that dieting is the answer and that each new diet will be the one you’ve been chasing.

It’s a paradigm shift to think that possibly eating more could drive weight loss. Wait, huh?

Paint A Realistic Picture

This is not about painting an unrealistic picture of skinny supermodels. Nope, no way!

If you want to truly change your life you must be realistic about what the true focus should be and what you really want out of life.

It’s about living the FULLEST life possible — to operate as humans should, and live out your full potential. It’s about knowing that the hard work you are putting in is paying off. That doesn’t come from jumping from one new thing to the next. It comes by abandoning all the quick fixes and investing in SELF!

What I Learned As A Coach

After working with women for years a theme began to emerge.

They come to me wanting to work on “food.”  

But it’s never really about the food, is it?

Food is just the vessel for deeper work. I teach this to my clients all the time and this is the focus of my free webinar.

It made me realize even more that what my clients show up wanting is never really what they need.

The food gives us a springboard into all the other things that need to be done on the inside to truly feel amazing naked on the outside.

Yes…I said naked. No woman would deny that this is a feeling they long for. To be so confident that they feel amazing naked.

But chasing squirrels is not going to get you there. You must be willing to combine inside work to feel amazing on the outside. It’s a combination of food and mindset that allows you to escape the quick fix trap of chasing squirrels.

I Feel Amazing Naked

For the first time in my life, I feel amazing naked. Like I am totally okay with walking around my house naked.

You might be quickly passing judgment, “She’s so vain. Why is she sharing this publicly.”

Being super transparent, it was never really that way. Even when I was at my thinnest, I didn’t feel that way.

I was critical, filled with negative self-talk and sucked into the trap of comparison. I am not at my lowest weight right now, and I feel the best I ever have. I feel fit and healthy on the outside but the confidence came when I began to do deeper work on the inside. When my clients do the same, it shows in so many ways.

I want more women to have that feeling.

It won’t be easy, this I know, but I am 100% up for the challenge.

Overcoming Squirrel Syndrome

To truly say goodbye to squirrel syndrome, you must be willing to do the dirty work and combine food, mindset, science, and self-work to invest in yourself.

Why?

Because you deserve to finally find something that lasts!

This very reason is why I created my passion project and am on a mission to help more women overcome a life of fad diets, negative self-talk, and learn to treat their body and mind like it was designed to be treated.

When you start to do the inside work, it will show on the outside.

I want you to join me in my FREE webinar where I talk about the 5 Food Fails that sabotage women and how to nip them in the butt.

Are you guilty of squirrel syndrome?  I’d love to hear your experience below!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

In case you missed it, sign up for my free webinar HERE.

 

 

 

 

How many carbs in avocado?

How many carbs in avocado

When my kids were babies I was majorly obsessed with their food (and some things haven’t changed at all).

I spent hours baking, boiling and pureeing every single drop of their baby food so that I knew they were getting what they needed and deserved.

I honestly loved it.

But some days, those days where you need to take a mom time out and hide in the bathroom, those days I needed a break.

When the dinner bell rang on those days, I had one rockstar go-to that I knew would give me a cooking break.

Avocado.

My kids loved them.  They would have easily gobbled up two at every meal if I allowed it.  I didn’t just serve these up when I was tired, but regularly as a means of adding so many good nutrients in their diet.

What’s an avocado?

An avocado is a fruit which is readily available in most commercial grocery stores. Depending on the time of year, they can be a very affordable and nutrient dense food. Avocados come in different shapes including pear-shaped, egg-shaped or spherical.  

They have a rough leathery skin and a smooth green, oily, and edible flesh which has more or less oil content depending on the variety.  They also contain a large pit in the center that you do not eat. One thing to keep in mind with avocados is that the flesh will turn brown on most varieties once cut open (but more on that later.)

Where Did They Come From

The avocado was thought to have originated from South Central Mexico.  Remains of the avocado plant have been found that date back to over 15,000 years ago. Today they are grown in tropical and Mediterranean climates because they do not tolerate freezing temperatures.  They grow on a tree that can reach up to 66 feet tall.

Variety of Avocados

There are many different varieties of avocados which are available depending on the time of year. I will just touch on a few of the common ones you see in the stores. However, all are delicious and worth trying any day, especially Taco Tuesday 🙂

Hass

This is one of the most common avocados you will find and is the leading California grown avocado. Many feel this is the best tasting one, and that’s probably why it’s the most popular.  This avocado has a very creamy flesh and a tough exterior which is usually dark green or brown in color. Because the flesh is so soft and easily mashed this is a popular avocado for making dips.

Choquette

This is a very popular avocado in Florida and they can be very large. Some weigh up to two pounds each. Much of the weight is due to the water inside the avocado and the flesh is very mild tasting. This type of avocado has a much lower oil content. The firm flesh works well when cutting up and adding to dishes where you want it to maintain its shape. These are great for adding to salads because they will hold up.    

Fuerte

This avocado has a smooth green skin and is more elongated than the other varieties. It is also grown in California but more heavily in Mexico and Central America. This variety has a much higher tolerance to grow in colder temperatures and is harvested in late fall and early spring. This avocado has lost popularity and is a bit harder to find these days.  

Reed

The Reed avocado is round and almost resembles a lime. This variety is a summertime fruit and has a green and slightly grainy skin. The best thing about this variety is the flesh does not turn brown after being cut. This variety is also environmentally friendly because it needs less water and produces fruit more densely. Many say it tastes very similar to the popular Hass variety.

Why Should I Eat Them?

Avocados are a nutrient powerhouse, and they contain lots of heart-healthy fats.  

Wait….you thought fat was bad for you?

Well, I am here to let you know your body needs healthy fats to survive. Fats like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are where it’s at. They are a great source of energy and help your body absorb vitamins and minerals. These fats are needed to build cell membranes and are essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, inflammation, and brain health.   

Avocados contain a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat and a bit less of polyunsaturated fat.  One medium avocado contains 15 grams of monounsaturated fat and 3 grams of polyunsaturated fat. They are also very low in carbohydrates with a medium avocado coming in at only 12 grams. As a bonus, they are naturally sodium, sugar, and cholesterol free. But wait there’s more! A medium avocado contains 9 grams of filling fiber. They also pack so much micronutrient power including magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin K, B6, E, C and much more. Get this, an avocado contains more potassium than a banana! Eat them with other fruits and vegetables and they will help you absorb more fat-soluble nutrients.

An avocado is a very filling food with the high satiety of both fat and fiber. It is also low carb as mentioned before with only 12 grams of naturally occurring carbohydrates (also known as complex carbohydrates) per medium avocado.

You can join my FREE 7 Day Feel Amazing Naked Challenge to learn more about your balancing your food and mood.

What are naturally occurring or complex carbohydrates you ask?  

Complex carbohydrates are found in whole foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. On the other hand are simple carbohydrates which are found in many processed foods. Both are turned into glucose (sugar) in the body.

The difference is that complex carbohydrates bring with them vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  They are absorbed more slowly into the system and generally do not cause a spike in blood sugar. Many times, simple carbohydrates are considered empty calories because they are just simply processed sugar that brings nothing else to the table. Your body usually processes them quickly and they don’t keep you full for longer.

So, how many carbs in avocado?

It’s true, an avocado is considered a low carb fruit with only 12 grams of complex carbohydrates. As a comparison, a typical medium banana has 27 grams of carbohydrates and a medium apple has 25 grams. Both the banana and the apple are great sources of complex carbohydrates. Due to the avocado’s high fat and fiber, the carbohydrate content is much lower than typical fruit.

Ready to enjoy an Avocado?     

These little green machines are on my weekly shopping list.  When shopping, Hass avocados are most likely what you’ll find. When selecting an avocado, you can purchase them ripe and ready to eat or less ripe and let them get soft at home.  

You will know an avocado is ready to eat when there is a little give when you press on the flesh.  If they give a lot to pressure then they are probably overripe and no longer good to eat. Also look for the color of the skin. A darker skin generally means they are ready to eat. You can store the ones that are not quite ripe on the counter. Those that are ready to eat are best kept in the refrigerator.

Avocado Tips

Here’s a big avocado life hack — When selecting a ripe avocado, take a look at the dried stem. If it comes off easily then it’s probably ready to go. The color under the stem is another way to check. If it is bright green you are good, but if it’s brown then the avocado is probably overripe.  

Stem not coming off? There are a few quick tips to help ripen an avocado. Place them in a paper or plastic bag with an apple or a banana overnight. You’ll be able to wake up and have a nice ripe avocado for breakfast. Don’t have all night? Then you can wrap them in a piece of foil and put them in a baking dish. Then, bake at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. That should do the trick if you are in a pinch. However, the best way is to be patient and wait for them to ripen on their own.

Another avocado tip is to buy lots of avocados when they are on sale and in season. Get them home and freeze them for later use. You can cut them in half, dice them, or mash them. Just make sure to spritz them with a bit of lemon juice before freezing so they don’t turn brown.  

You also want to make sure that when you freeze the avocados in bags, you get as much of the air out of the bag as possible. When you’re ready to enjoy, just pull out your desired quantity, let them thaw and you are ready to eat! They can also be mashed and frozen in ice cube trays.  Add those frozen nuggets of avocado to your next smoothie for a nutritional boost (I did this often when my babies were little).

How Do I Eat Them?

Because avocados have a large pit in the middle you have to be very careful when preparing them. The best way to cut them is to use a knife and cut them in half lengthwise. Then, twist each half in the opposite direction to break them apart. The pit will stick in one of the halves.  

There are a few ways to remove the pit. You can dig it out with a spoon or hit it with a knife so the knife sticks, then you’ll twist the knife, dislodging the pit. If you want to keep the half intact you can use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out. If you want avocado slices or squares simply use a small knife to make the desired cuts while it’s still in the skin. Then, use a large spoon to scoop out the already cut up flesh.

I make fresh guacamole often (you can find my slimmed down recipe here). Once I discovered this simple little avocado masher, my avocado world changed. It makes mashing avocados (and potatoes too) so much more simple and fast!

Beware of Browning

There is an enzyme in avocados that causes the flesh to oxidize and turn brown when exposed to air. One solution to avoid this is to cut your avocado right before you plan to eat it.  However, I know that is not always possible. You can put plastic wrap on the uneaten part but that does not always do a great job.  

Another option is to put lemon juice on the exposed flesh. When adding avocado to salads, using a lemon based dressing and tossing the salad with the avocado will stop it from turning brown. I have one of these avocado savers and they work great for storing in the refrigerator.  

It has also been found that if you store an avocado in an airtight container with an onion it will not go brown for a few days. If your avocado happens to turn brown have no fear. Even though it is not recommended that you eat the brown part, you can just scrape off the brown layer and enjoy!

Avocado recipe ideas

You can eat this fruit any time of the day. Avocados are perfect for a filling breakfast, in addition to a hearty salad, or even dessert. Check out these recipe ideas and have some fun with avocados!

Breakfast of Champions

Avocado Egg Cups

Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

Spinach Avocado Breakfast Quesadilla

Lunch, Dinner and Beyond

Easy Avocado Egg Salad

Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto

Quinoa Avocado Spinach Power Salad

Avocado Cilantro Dressing

Crispy Baked Avocado Fries

Sweet Treats

Avocado Coconut Popsicles

Dark Chocolate Avocado Brownies

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Peanut Butter Avocado Cookies

Healthify your next baked good by replacing the butter or oil with mashed avocado. This can work for brownies, cakes, muffins or cookies. Just experiment first before you plan to serve to guests!

Avocado products

Avocado oil is another great avocado product. You can purchase avocado oil at most grocery stores. It is made by pressing the inside flesh of the avocado and extracting the oil. Avocado oil is one of the few edible oils not extracted from a seed. It can be used both for uncooked items like salad dressings and dips, but it’s also great for cooking.

Avocado oil has a high smoke point which means it can get up to 400 degrees before the oil starts to visibly smoke. Once an oil reaches its smoke point it begins to break down, nutrients are lost, and dangerous compounds can be created that are bad for your health.

When purchasing avocado oil it is best to find one that is organic, extra-virgin, unrefined and cold pressed. You want to store it in a cool place and use within 6 months of opening.

Still Want More?

Avocados can also be a great addition to your beauty regimen. The oil is easily absorbed and penetrates the skin nicely. It can also be put in your hair as a great conditioner adding moisture back into your hair follicles. Both your skin and hair will be soft and hydrated after applying avocado. You can directly put avocado flesh or oil on your skin for lasting hydration. I have included a few recipes for you as well.

DIY Whipped Body Butter  

DIY Avocado Soap

Easy DIY Avocado Hair Mask For Dry Hair

DIY Avocado and Honey Mask For Dry Skin

And that my friends, is just a few of the many recipes and ways you can use the avocado. Or just simply add it to any meal or snack. They make a great addition to salads, sandwiches, scrambled eggs…the possibilities are endless.

These green machines are a superfood that can add so much nutrition and diversity to your day!

Do you enjoy eating avocados?

 

Ready to start your journey towards feeling amazing naked? Join my FREE 7 Day Feel Amazing Naked Challenge HERE.

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda