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

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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

 

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Sugar versus Brown Sugar

Coconut Sugar verses Brown Sugar

Every Thanksgiving I make my own version of the infamous “Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole”. If you’ve never had the real deal…holy heck, it’s amazing (and loaded with calories). I had it once and from then on out was determined from then to recreate in my own fashion.

So I do…one time a year.

Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner swoons over the dish and it is devoured.

What they don’t know is that each year I make the recipe with coconut sugar instead of the brown sugar the recipe calls for. Are you probably saying to yourself “sugar is sugar” and isn’t all sugar bad for you?

Is coconut sugar a better option? What’s the big deal on coconut sugar versus brown sugar?

In this post, I will share more about the differences between coconut sugar versus brown sugar including the nutritional benefits, uses, and recipe swaps.

Sugars By Name

As if the health factor of sugars isn’t hard enough to weed through, sugars have multiple names.

Brown sugar can go by many different names including light or dark brown sugar, demerara sugar, muscovado sugar, turbinado sugar and free-flowing brown sugar.

Coconut sugar can also be known as coco sugar, coconut palm sugar, coco sap sugar and coconut blossom sugar. Coconut sugar can come in a granular form or is also available in a liquid form similar to agave syrup, honey or maple syrup.

Where Do They Come From?

Perhaps one of the biggest differences in brown sugar versus coconut sugar is the origin. Your run of the mill conventional brown sugar you purchase at the grocery store is actually just refined white sugar with sugarcane molasses added in (shocking, right?!).

That is what gives it the brown color. White sugar is highly refined and is made from sugarcane and sugar beets. Refined means that it has gone through a chemical process that removed impurities and can possibly remove beneficial nutrients.

Brown sugar can contain up to 10% molasses. 4.5% molasses is considered light brown sugar and 6.5% plus is considered dark brown sugar. Processing sugar increases chemical additives and dyes to change the consistency and appearance.

Coconut Sugar Verses Brown Sugar

Coconut Sugar Creation

Coconut sugar is made by a two-step process and can come in crystal or granule form, block or liquid. It is made by cutting the flower of a coconut palm and collecting the liquid sap. The sap is placed in large woks over moderate heat until most of the water is evaporated. The brown color is mostly due to caramelization.

Coconut sugar can also be considered a more sustainable product, therefore, it is considered better for the earth. Due to the minimal processing, coconut sugar uses less water and fuel when it’s being made.

When purchasing coconut sugar, make sure to check the ingredient labels to ensure you are getting a pure product and that it doesn’t contain cane sugar to help reduce the overall cost of the product.

Learning to read ingredient labels to confirm what additives are in your favorite brands helps increase food awareness and forces you to steer towards an organic brand which may be of higher quality.

Coconut Sugar Versus Brown Sugar Nutritional Comparison

When you compare the nutritional facts of one tablespoon of coconut sugar versus brown sugar, they both have about 4 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugars. That is about 16 calories per tablespoon.

But if you dive a little deeper into nutrition you will see that due to the added molasses, brown sugar contains calcium, iron, copper, potassium phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium.

Coconut sugar naturally contains vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. Coconut sugar also contains inulin which is a type of dietary fiber.  Inulin acts as a prebiotic which nourishes the good bacteria already in your gut.

What Are They Made Of?

Generally, brown sugar is made of 95% sucrose and 5% molasses.  Sucrose (white table sugar) is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Coconut sugar is 70% sucrose and the rest is made up of individual molecules of fructose and glucose. So basically they are made up of the same molecules. Both are sugar.

How Does That Affect My Body?

In a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute aiming to assess the glycemic index of sugar, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar. This means coconut sugar increases blood glucose levels at a slower rate. This can be especially important to monitor if you have diabetes.

However, these findings have been inconclusive. According to the American Diabetes Association, the glycemic index can be a helpful tool when managing blood sugar. Keep in mind the glycemic index can vary from person to person depending on different food combinations, how the food was produced and personally how your body responds.

Like most foods, it’s not the product that you consume that impacts health.  Rather it is the amount of the product that impacts your health. By overeating junk food you can gain fat just as you can by eating healthy foods.

Taste and Texture

If potential differences in health value of brown and coconut sugar do exist, how does that translate to cooking in your own kitchen with regard to taste, texture and swapping one for the other?

Let’s start with conventional brown sugar. It is slightly moister due to the addition of molasses.  Because it originates as white table sugar the granules are fine and uniform in size.

The sugar dissolves well in liquids and incorporates into solids used in baking such as butter. Brown sugar has an almost caramel-like flavor to it which blends well in baked goods. Depending on the amount of molasses added the caramel flavor and color can vary.

Coconut sugar, contradictory to what the name implies, does not taste like coconut! Like brown sugar, coconut sugar has a slight caramel flavor. Both sugars have a very similar taste. It’s the texture that sets them apart.

Coconut sugar has much larger granules because it is made by dehydrating sap. It is less processed than brown sugar and is in a more natural state. Due to less processing, coconut sugar can be a less informed in taste and granule size, mostly unnoticeable to you and I.

Coconut sugar does not blend as well with items such as butter and can leave baked goods spotted or grainy if they normally call for brown sugar. However, these days there are many baked goods recipes that call for coconut sugar and it works great. (See below for some amazing health inspired recipes to give it a go.) Coconut sugar does dissolve in liquids quite nicely and can be a nice addition to your morning coffee or tea.

You Decide

Brown sugar and coconut sugar contain very similar macronutrient profiles. Coconut sugar edges out brown sugar slightly as far as micronutrients are concerned. It also contains inulin which can be beneficial for gut health.

 

In both cases, quality trumps it all. Be sure to read ingredients labels thoroughly to look for added sugars, chemical additives and anything that looks and feels like it doesn’t belong in a PURE sugar product!

Where do I buy coconut sugar?

Coconut sugar can be found in any local grocer.

BUT, my favorite place to buy it is from the comfort of my own home, on the couch and in my pajamas.  Because this mama LOVES efficiency and does not like shopping.

Here are a few brands I love that can be found by clicking on the name and shopping on Amazon.

Big Tree Farms Organic Brown Coconut Sugar

Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar

Wholesome  Organic Coconut Palm Sugar

Better Body Foods Organic Coconut Sugar

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as 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 on 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 that 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! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Thrive Membership

Now What?

Understanding their potential differences may increase your willingness to try new recipes. There are many sweet treats that can be made with coconut sugar. It can also be used in savory dishes as well. Coconut sugar can add a little extra kick to your dinner plate for that combo sweet and savory finish.

Recipes To Try

Check out the links below to try a few healthy recipes that require coconut sugar in the ingredient list.

Paleo Vanilla Coffee Creamer

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Paleo Sweetened Condensed Milk

Coconut Sugar Sriracha Shrimp

Slow Cooker Refined Sugar-Free Pulled Pork

Peanut Butter Blondies

Soft and Chewy Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cookies

Peanut Butter Blondies

Coconut Sugar Lemon Almonds

Roasted Apples and Pears With Coconut Sugar

At the end of the day, coconut sugar is still sugar and should not be over consumed. Just because it contains some additional nutrition does not mean it’s a free for all. Sugar is still a “treat.”

Using food awareness and nutrition label assessment is the key to choosing the highest quality option for you.

Do you use coconut sugar?

Do you have a favorite dish to use it for?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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Healthy Pantry Checklist

If the brain has to think too long to make decisions, it shuts down.

No joke.  This became really obvious when I was reading Donald Miller’s, “Building a Story Brand.”  When the brain feels overloaded with too many decisions it starts to burn too many calories and stops dead in its tracks.  He makes such a powerful point that the “human brain is drawn toward clarity.”

This was an ah-ha moment for me as it relates to food.  It is part of the reason that so many people fail at meal prep and healthy food decisions.  They simply have to make too many decisions to be successful. Thus, their brain begins to burn too many calories and quits.

McDonald’s is just way easier (and they know it).

For you to be successful in creating a healthy lifestyle you have to eliminate as many barriers to success as possible.  One of those barriers is creating a physical environment that breeds easy nutritional access. Specifically,  a kitchen that makes decision making simple and straightforward. One that is clean, fresh, organized, inviting and let’s just say it…pretty.

If you walked into a restaurant that was dirty, disorganized and a total disaster would you want to eat there?

Yeah…me either.  

Your kitchen is no different.  You must create an environment where you want to cook, where you can find things easily, where things stay fresh and where you feel like Gordon Ramsay every damn day.

One of the first places to start is your pantry.

To me, a healthy pantry contains items that are essential to building the foundations of not just meals but snacks.  They are high in quality, contain ingredients that are easy to read and aren’t too sugary sweet.

Overall, the pantry is a place of balance.

Together we are going to begin to create a pantry that invites you in to take control of your health, is packed with healthy go-to’s, and maintains balance in 6 easy steps.

6 easy steps to creating a healthy pantry

Here are six simple steps to creating a healthy pantry.

Step 1: Ditch the junk.

Yep, let’s clean it out and start fresh.  This way you don’t have to question dates and can eliminate any of the stuff that has been sitting there for far too long.  And if you don’t want to start from scratch then just ditch the stuff you know won’t support your goals.

I am talking about those trigger foods; foods you can’t moderate and leave you with an ugly food binge of mental guilt.  Identify which ones are the highest triggers and remove them for now until you have time to learn how to moderate.

There are times when the pantry begins to fill with too many sugary laden items and I have to go in deep and trash the treats (thank you Christmas, Halloween, and Valentines).

Step 2. Invest in long-term storage

When I mean invest, I mean don’t be afraid to buy something that will last because it is worth it.  If you do it right, this pantry project can provide you years of health and sanity. Buy storage that fits the space well and is durable to last whatever age span your family or you are.

Clear Storage is a must. It allows you to see to the inside and identify what the contents are without pulling basket after basket out.  Being able to see to what is on the inside saves wear and tear on the pantry and also saves your ears from the “MOM–what is there to eat?

Because I am a budget conscious girl, the first place I began looking for clear kitchen storage was TJ Maxx.  They have hidden treasures in their kitchen and food department and I love peeking in there frequently to see what they have in stock.

Sure enough, they had the brand of clear kitchen organizers I was exactly looking for, InterDesign.  This brand is carried at the Container Store (in case you want to go there for reference) but is almost double the cost of what I found at TJ Maxx or even from Amazon.  I purchased the various sizes on-hand and used them as a guide in size to purchase more from Amazon.

You can also check out 9 Simple Organization Tools to Declutter Any Kitchen by Lyn Mettler, of The TODAY Show who features my  very own clear storage organization tip along with other products that will help you create a kitchen environment for success.

I bought stackable containers for small items like the ones shown below. You can click HERE for the link to view them on Amazon.  I also bought larger ones for bagged items like rice, quinoa, and lentils like these from AMAZON.  The tall and skinny ones are great for layering in the pantry. You can shop for various depths and configuration to fit your pantry the best.

Wire baskets like these from AMAZON are also a great option that allows you to see inside.  Trust me, I speak from experience, you save yourself so much time and energy by seeing what is inside the bins first.

Plastic or Glass?

This highly debated topic is relevant to the pantry too.  Will you buy plastic storage, a much cheaper option, or glass?

Here is why glass may be your best option.  It stays cleaner because it is less porous, can be washed at high temperatures, and is 100% recyclable.

I use Mason jars for every storage solution I need.  Why? Because they are cheap, easy to find and for me, are really inviting.  You can order all sizes right from Amazon shipped to your house in less than 48 hours.  The pricing even beat a Hobby Lobby trip where I could use a 50% off coupon.

I use small pint Masons for spices and seasonings.  The larger quart size Mason jars are filled with flours, ground seeds and some of the items we use in larger volume.  I even use some of the half gallon sizes for things I buy in massive bulk like nuts.

If you prefer plastic or are on a budget, just make sure they are 100% BPA free.  Because these containers will be used for storage and won’t be heated at high temperatures in the microwave, the use of plastic outweighs your amazing effort to make the pantry a more healthy place to eat.

#3. Group like items

To keep focused and efficient, group like items together.  Keep nuts and seeds in the same place in jars or on a turntable so you know where to look for that item.  Over time, that location will become a habit and will create efficiency for the eye.

Place boxed items together too.  For example rice, quinoa and lentils, all dinner side items, in the same bin.  That way when you are scrambling for quick dinner options you can view all choices of similar purpose (carbohydrate) together.

This also helps when you are preparing your grocery shopping lists because you can make a quick scan of the location to see if you need to buy more.

#4. Consider what you want the focus to be

A pantry is a place for storage of items that aren’t extremely perishable.  That often leads to a mixture of whole foods like nuts and seeds but also processed items like grains and crackers.

Consider what you want the focus to be in your pantry, not just for you but for your little ones too.

Do you want those crackers to be at eye level for little people?  Or do you have jars of nuts and trail mixes that you want the focal point to be when they open the pantry door?  Think about what message you want to send when you organize the pantry and keep those items you want to be consumed most often at eye level.

Use turntables so that you and your family can have full access to what is available.  I have had so many awesome pantry foods get hidden behind something and they have gone to waste too soon.  A 2-tiered turntable like this one allows you to store jars of nuts, seeds so that you can easily give it a spin and find all the options available.  It also allows you to maximize your pantry space by stacking items and filling space upward.

Consider a grab-and-go quick snack bin like this one.  This basket is filled with quick snacks that we might need for a car ride or on the way to an event.  It’s filled with things we don’t have daily but are healthy bars like Larabars, Rx Bars, Red Bars and occasional other bars that may be a treat.

#5. Buy in Bulk when you can

The great part of making an investment in your pantry and buying proper storage is that you can begin to save money by shopping in the bulk bins at the grocery store.  You are likely to pay half of what you pay buying the packaged version because you are saving on the cost of packaging and labor according to the thepennyhoarder.com. You can buy in bulk as needed and then store in the pretty little jars you invested in.

Using Mason jars as discussed above guarantee freshness over time.

#6. Label it up

I always tell myself I will remember what is inside each jar I have.

WRONG!

Let’s just say I have made a really spicy batch of my cashew-pecan butter when I accidentally put in cayenne instead of cinnamon (totally wasn’t paying attention).

Point is, put a labeling system in place from the start so that you know what is inside each jar from the get-go.  You can use pre-printed labels, chalk, or simple dry erase markers. Labeling helps the entire family, especially beginning readers like mine.

I keep it simple and often use a dry erase marker for the tops of my mason jars.

You can buy chalkboard labels or even dry erase tape to save a bit of cash.

Don’t forget to label your jars with dates to keep track of freshness in the pantry too.  Write the date you opened it or the expiration date as listed on the product’s packaging.

Having a pantry that is organized and inviting inspires healthy habits and cooking.  You can make your pantry over on a budget and can modify any of these containers by even shopping at your local dollar store or on Amazon Prime.

Pantry Staples: How to stock a healthy, nutrient-dense pantry

Kids are home from school, backpacks are flung on the kitchen table, and within 2 minutes I usually hear the rusty squeak of the pantry door hinge.

The kids are hungry and want snacks.  

The fridge is full of healthy whole foods, but the pantry is usually where the simple quick stuff is.  They aren’t dumb…they want a snack that will satisfy that afternoon craving.

If this story sounds familiar (or you have one similar) then this confirms the importance of filling your pantry with foods that support your family’s health and wellness.

P.S.A.: What is in the pantry WILL get eaten, no matter.  Even if it is healthy or not.

As parents and spouses, we are responsible for filling the pantry with options that help keep a nutrient dense diet but also allow balance in life. That is a huge responsibility.

Sweet treats

I talk a lot about eliminating trigger foods if you don’t feel like you have high willpower at the moment.  Keep that in mind when stocking that pantry.  However, creating a healthy relationship with foods you enjoy from a young age is a really important piece of the food awareness puzzle.

When it comes to children, don’t underestimate their knowledge and understanding of the importance of food in their bodies.  Teach them what foods provide them, encourage them to reflect on how certain foods make them feel and allow them the power of choice.

I keep a small bin of “sweet treats” in the pantry because I want my children to know how to moderate their consumption of them.  We use the following food mantra in our home as an open (and simple) reminder of how we fuel our bodies:

“There are everyday foods.” (things like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins).

“There are sometimes foods.” (things like a piece of chocolate, pasta, cereal, bread)

“And there are special occasion foods.” (cupcakes, ice cream, etc.)

This helps to create a simple visual and verbal reminder of what foods should be primarily composing our day-to-day diet.

Build a Foundation

There are things you can and should have on hand every single day.  These are things that serve as the foundation of meals and will make healthy living simple if you have them organized in your pantry all the time.  Beyond what you physically have in your home is teaching your children (and adults too) the power of choice when it comes to filling their body with foods.

What you fill your pantry with is what you will eat.  So chose wisely. Building a healthy pantry is a great responsibility.

Where can I buy these things?

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as 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 too on 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 that 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! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Amazon now offers the subscribe and save option.  You can pick your favorite items to be sent to your door automatically at a reduced price of anywhere from 10-25%.  If you know you are going to use it, this option is brainless and uber convenient.

Sprouts and Costco are my favorite local grocers for many of my pantry items.  I buy from the bulk bins at Sprouts and in bulk at Costco for some of our favorite go-to’s.

Healthy Pantry Checklist

Here is a list of must-have staples to help you build a healthy pantry.  You can download the entire list HERE.

Nuts, Nut butter, and seeds

Almonds

Cashews (If you haven’t tried my cashew-pecan butter you need to right now)

Pecans

Macadamia

Walnut

Sesame seeds

Chia seeds

Flax (seed and meal)

Hemp

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your pantry with real foods.

Refrigerator organization

I am embarrassed to admit this but there have times in my house when life has happened, the house is a disaster and I simply have no idea what is currently in the frig.  It isn’t always perfect food organization and freshness over here.  I am human too.

In fact, there have been moments where I’ve reached into the frig to grab fresh veggies only to find a two-week-old rotten zucchini that I had clearly forgotten about.  SO freakin’ gross.

Just like a well-organized pantry, your fridge is no different. In fact, it is even more gorgeous because a well-organized fridge with big, beaming lights is like a choir singing.  Okay, well maybe not, but it is an inviting space that beckons healthy eating.

Many of the same pantry tips apply to the refrigerator as well.

Use clear storage to save space

Just like the pantry, clear storage bins create a colorful invitation into the fridge.  Research suggests that when fruits and vegetables are visible their colors can increase your senses, thus we are more likely to grab them to eat. So, fill your fridge with bright enticing colors to sneak in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

After hitting the grocery store, the first thing I like to do is wash and dry veggies.  Once dry (because you don’t want to give mold any leg up) I use various size Mason jars to store them in, ready to eat.  This my friends is the number one way to increase whole food, healthy eating…have it ready.  That doesn’t mean just in the fridge but washed, cut and ready to devour.  I preach to my clients that success is about eliminating the barriers to your success.  By making vegetables and fruits readily available, there is no excuse (and no barrier).

 

Just like #2-6 above, group like items together, make the focal point the items you want to be consumed and don’t forget to label everything with dates.

Healthy Refrigerator (and Freezer) Checklist

Here is a list of items to help you begin to build a healthy, real-food kitchen.

Eggs

Egg whites

Almond Milk

Applesauce

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your refrigerator with real foods.

 

Remove the barriers to your success and create a physical environment in your kitchen that makes healthy choices and cooking a no-brainer.  These practices build sustainable habits that encourage a lifelong skillset of success.

What is your favorite healthy pantry snack?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Amazon disclaimer: Awalkmyway is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.awalkmyway.com

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How many carbs in almonds?

Me and nut butter…it’s like the yin to my yang.  It’s incredibly addicting. So much that I make homemade cashew pecan butter every single week in my house because my family devours it. And almond butter…holy moly, we love that too.  Quite honestly, my pantry is stocked with a wide selection of nut butter.

Almond butter though takes the cake when it comes to media hype. They have plenty of properties that make them a worthy recipient. Almonds are packed with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. A ½ cup of almonds provides ¼ the amount of recommended daily fiber intake for an adult female. So how many carbs are in almonds? Well, almonds are low in carbohydrates and boast an impressive amount of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat!) which can lower cholesterol, aid in the protection of our organs, and promote overall heart health.

How Many Carbs Are In Almonds? An Origin   

The almighty almond originates from the Mediterranean and southwest Asia, but since the 20th century, almond trees have largely been cultivated in Sacramento California. The almond is the seed of the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree. Almonds are closely related to apricots and peaches.

Yes, that’s right, almonds are actually considered to be a fruit according to the United States Forest Service. They come from the prunus family and fall into the stone fruit category. Stone fruit trees and shrubs produce fruits such as cherries, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Your friends will be impressed when you tell them almonds and cherries are cousins and happen to make a delicious trail mix (just don’t forget to add the dark chocolate nibs!).

How many carbs are in almonds? And what about fat and protein? One serving of almonds, or 1 oz, provides 14 grams of fat (9 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.1 grams of saturated fat), 6 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbs. And as far as vitamins and minerals, almonds are rich in vitamin E, Magnesium, manganese, copper, and calcium.                   

But why do almonds have carbohydrates?

When we think nuts, we think FAT.  But most nuts contain more macronutrients within them including carbohydrate.  According to MyFitnessPal, one serving of almonds has 6 grams of carbohydrates. 2.9 grams of net carbs, and 3.1 grams of fiber. Remember, Net Carbs equal the total grams of carbs – grams of fiber. Fiber is most present in the skin of the almonds.  To make sure you are getting in all the fiber buy almonds with the skin on them in order to reap the benefits.

Almonds contain insoluble fiber which is indigestible, and is considered “nature’s broom”. Insoluble fiber aids in the motility of the digestive tract by moving materials through and adds to the bulk of stool.

This type of fiber is helpful in the diets of people who struggle with constipation or irregular bowel movements. The net carbs come from complex carbohydrates which are slow digesting and have a time releasing effect for energy usage. Complex carbohydrates don’t have the crash and burn effect like simple carbohydrates (candy, white bread, chips, etc.) do on people.

Fats

One ounce of almonds contains 9 grams of monounsaturated fat, the good type of fat, that is greatly associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fat also improves insulin sensitivity and helps the body to properly utilize fat. Increasing the amount of monounsaturated fat in one’s diet will help aid in weight loss, and maintain a healthy metabolism (i.e maintain healthy body weight).

Polyunsaturated fats often referred to as omega-3 fatty acids, are also present in almonds. Polyunsaturated fats have been linked to raising HDL levels (good cholesterol) and Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in persons at risk for heart disease. Lowering high blood pressure, and reducing the risk of type II diabetes is another added benefit from consuming foods containing polyunsaturated fat.

Protein

The media often touts almonds as a high protein source. Although this is true, the amount of protein (6 grams) in one serving of almonds is usually not sufficient enough to fulfill protein requirements for that one meal unless paired with another protein source.

Nuts are great, but can be easy to overeat, and can easily consume one’s allotted macronutrient values for the day in a hot second. Adding almonds to a grilled chicken salad, or making “chicken nuggets” with almond meal is a good way to “have your cake and eat it too”.

Magnesium

Magnesium is crucial in the functioning of over 300 chemical reactions required for proper body functioning. It is commonly used to alleviate constipation. The health benefits of Magnesium include calcium absorption, the formation of connective tissue (bye-bye wrinkles), proper metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as well as regulating blood sugar levels, and aiding in the proper functioning of thyroid levels.

Magnesium is also used by many health professionals to maintain healthy blood pressure in patients since it is a calcium- channel blocker. Brazil nuts and flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is antioxidant-rich which helps to stave off free radicals such as environmental pollutants, poor air quality, and sun damage. Many studies state that including Vitamin E also helps to suppress the oxidation or hardening of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the arteries. Other evidence suggests vitamin E helps to fight against the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One 1oz. serving of dry roasted almonds provides 6.8 mg of Vitamin E.

Manganese, Calcium, and Copper

Nuts also contain minerals that play a key role in many of the body’s processes. Manganese is an important trace mineral that is found in small amounts in the body particularly in the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and bones. Manganese aids in the formation of bone, connective tissue, blood clotting factors, and plays a major role in the metabolization of fats and carbohydrates.

Calcium is a common mineral found in the body that is necessary for life. Calcium helps to form and maintain bone and bone density. Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction, releasing hormones, transmitting messages through the nerves, blood clotting factors, and your heartbeat. A consistent level of calcium intake can be a preventative measure for people at risk for osteoporosis. Women need to be especially concerned about their calcium intake since they are more at risk for osteoporosis than men.

Copper is an essential trace mineral in the body that helps aid in the absorption of iron, the formation of collagen, and brain functioning. Iron and copper together form red blood cells. Copper can be found in the brain, liver heart, kidneys, and skeletal muscle.

Too little or too much copper in the body can lead to brain dysfunction. Copper plays a major role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin in our skin. Maintaining collagen and elastin will help in slowing down the effects of the aging process.

In my FREE 7 Day challenge we talk about the connection between food, mood and aging!  You can join totally FREE HERE!

Pecans

Pecans are the only nut native to North America and Mexico. Pecans are another superfood that helps to reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress, improve brain functioning, maintain bone health, and reduce symptoms of PMS. Yet even more reason to make your own cashew pecan butter too. They have a higher fat content than any other nut.

Pecans are high in omega- 9 or oleic acid which helps to protect the nervous system and helps to control inflammation levels within the body. Pecans contain nineteen vitamins and minerals. The most important being copper, zinc, and manganese. One 1 oz serving of pecans according to a MyFitnessPal query, contains roughly 20 grams of fat (11.6 grams monounsaturated fat, 6.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.8 grams of saturated fat), 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia, but Hawaii is the largest exporter of this super delicious nut. Dip them in some dark chocolate and it is life changing. Macadamia nuts are high in flavonoids, which convert into antioxidants in the body. Macadamia nuts have a perfect one to one ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats which the standard American diet provides way too much omega- 6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s.

Too much intake of omega-6 can lead to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and inflammation of the body. They are also high in Omega -7 in the form of palmitoleic acid which helps your body use omega- 3s properly. Without omega-7s, omega- 3s do not do their job as well. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains 204 calories, 21 grams of fat (17 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0.4 grams polyunsaturated fat, and 3.4 grams of saturated fat.)

Not all almonds are created equally

It can be hard to know if the products you are purchasing are going to be the best bang for your buck nutrition wise, especially when almonds are talked about as a superfood. According to the USDA, as of 2007, all almonds must go through a pasteurization process before being sold in stores. This is to prevent salmonella. They fumigate the almonds with propylene oxide gas that is carcinogenic and potentially gene-mutating.

Stores such as Costco have admitted to selling this type of almond in their stores. As long as the almonds are not roasted, stores are allowed to label their almonds “raw” even if they have been through this type of pasteurization process. This makes the shopping selection even more confusing to the average consumer trying to make health-conscious choices. So before you ask how many carbs are in almonds, ask if your almonds have been through this process.

Almonds have a bad side

Almonds may be a nutritional powerhouse, but they have a dark side. Many nuts contain phytic acid which inhibits the vitamins and minerals contained in the nut. This means that your body will pull out the nutrients rather than use them. It’s best to soak your almonds overnight for a minimum of 8 hours completely submerged in water.

By soaking the nuts, this will neutralize the phytic acid and enhance the enzymatic activity. Enzymatic activity helps in the digestion process and the utilization of vitamins and minerals.  The reality is though even with the presence of phytic acid, snacking on almonds provides a much greater nutrient value than a junk food counterpart.

Almond butter for weight loss

The reality is that almonds contain roughly the same macronutrient profile as other nut butter.  Eating almond butter over peanut butter because it contains more micronutrient benefits may have validity.  However, eating it for weight loss will not bring you any other benefits compared to another nut butter counterpart in the same quantities.

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A tablespoon of almond butter contains 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates and almost 4 protein.  This compared to a tablespoon of peanut butter also at 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrate and 3 protein.

Almonds in recipes

Almonds are such a versatile nut and can be added to almost any meal or side dish. Eaten in moderation, almonds can provide long-lasting health benefits when paired with a healthy balanced diet.

Try throwing some almonds, bananas, and cinnamon into morning oats before a long day of work. The complex carbs from the oats and the fat from the nuts help maintain satiation well into the afternoon when you can finally sneak in your overdue lunch break.

Using sliced almonds or pecan bits atop a salad adds an awesome crunchy texture and sneaks in all the benefits of nuts as mentioned above.

When I make many spaghetti squash bakes, I sprinkle almond meal on top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until it gets nice and crispy.

One of my favorite treat recipes of all time is an almond flour-based chocolate chip cookie. You can find it here.  Although these cookies are macronutrient dense, they have whole, real food ingredients and are so dang good.  You can bake them and even freeze to help portion out and get a nice treat.

 

What are your favorite almond based recipes? Feel free to share below.

If you are ready to change your LIFE and start feeling amazing naked then join my FREE 7 Day Feel HERE.

Work hard Be kind,

                  AWalk

 

 

 

 

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