5 Ways To Save Money On Real Food

Several years ago I watched the documentary “SuperSize Me” created by Morgan Spurlock. If you haven’t seen it here is the premise: he decides to document what will happen to him if he lives on a diet of McDonald’s fast food exclusively. The results and statistics shared will astound you. It is worth your watch. One point brought up in the film has stuck with me over the years:

It is cheaper for a family of 4 to 5 to eat at McDonald’s than to buy healthy food.

Don’t buy into the lie. 

Here is why:

6 cheeseburgers at $1.00: $6.00

4 orders of Small French Fries at $1.39: $5.56

4 drinks at $1.00: $4.00

(plus tax of course)

Meal Total: $15.56

If that family were to eat McDonald’ five times a week for the entire month (let’s call it 20 times) that is $311.20 for a month. In my house that is what we budget to feed our family for 10 DAYS of groceries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we eat well with that budget.

According to the USDA, the average American household spends $150 to $300 on groceries per week. Our family is on the high end of that average and yet we still spend less than it would cost for our family to eat at McDonald’s that frequently.

Here is an example:

I made burgers, sweet potatoes, and broccoli for my family of four last week one night for dinner (2 adults, and a 7 and 5-year-old):

1.25 lbs of lean ground beef: $4.98

2.5 lbs of Sweet Potatoes: 3.19 (on sale)

2 crowns of Broccoli: 1.49

(plus tax of course)

Total Meal Cost: $9.66

You tell me…what would you rather feed your family?

I Needed To Contribute

When I left my teaching job to stay home with our kids, I was desperate to find ways to contribute financially. I began couponing and finding simple ways to pinch pennies here and there with digital coupons and the Ibotta app.

What I discovered was that the majority of the food we ate was fresh produce and meats and rarely allowed for couponing. Most coupons available were for process foods and toiletry items. I began to find other ways to save on those foods by being “real food” savvy.

I want to help you realize the same. Sparing no expense for quality foods is something I am not willing to compromise on. You shouldn’t either. There are ways to save — you just have to think out of the box, be willing to invest your time, and PLAN.

5 Ways to Save Money on Real Food

From that experience, I found 5 ways to save money on real food that we ate regularly. Not the stuff in boxes that lasted forever, but on food that we needed to eat quickly because it was actually going to go bad.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Buy What Is In Season

Did you know eating the vegetables that are in season provides benefits to you?

It is something often overlooked because of the grocery store convenience. We have access to almost anything we want year round. Most of us can’t even tell you what produce is in season. But my Grandma, she knows, because she had no choice when she grew up. The benefits to eating produce when it is in season are plenty.

  • It just tastes better because the environment for its growth is ideal.
  • Less human interaction. If it grows when it is supposed to that means humans probably had to do less to help it grow.  That means less chemical exposure and lower price potential.
  • They tend to be cheaper because they are easier to come by. It is the good old supply and demand principle.
  • It is fresher. When things are fresh they tend to have more nutritional value and a richer taste.

This link is so cool!  You can select your region and time of year to see what produce is in season in your area.

Start approaching your grocery shopping a bit differently and think about buying foods that are in season to reap their cost (and nutritional) benefits.

Don’t Forget To Shop The Clearance Section

Clearance on whole and real foods?  Um, yes! Almost every grocery store puts fruits, veggies, and meats that are almost about to expire on sale. This is perfect for you and I because we have a FREEZER. Take those items and throw them in the freezer for later use. Like those brown bananas that are $39 cents per pound? Slice them up, store them in a freezer bag in your freezer and then throw them in a smoothie or into a blender for some nice banana ice cream. You will also have a freezer full of options to pick from for meal prep without having to visit the grocery store as frequently.

Peek At The Grocery Store Ads and Apps

I know you’re thinking “does this really even happen anymore”?  I promise it does, just not so much in the paper version. Almost every store offers a digital version of their weekly ad. Even cooler, many stores offer digital coupons that often include coupons for sales on produce, tubbed greens, and meats. They want you to use their app and retain your business so these coupons need fully taken advantage of.

It only takes one minute to scroll through their ad and coupons and that minute could be worth lots of money for you. I’ve used digital coupons on packages of mixed greens along with store’s weekly sale to get a large container for just about $1. That is several nights worth of salads to pair with a meal for less than $.33 for your ENTIRE family. Sprouts, my favorite local retailer, has even joined i, and offers an app to highlight their digital coupons and sales of the week. And to top it all off, Wednesday is double ad day which equals double savings when shopping.

Coupons are not abundant for real foods but surprise!  There are some great sites that do provide such an opportunity. All Natural Savings is one of those sites that offers coupons and rebates on organic and high quality options.

Another great one is Be Frugal. They show ads for almost all grocery stores, including Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. They highlight the deals of the week and coupons at each of those major grocery store chains. Boom, one-stop savings right there!

Buy The Store Brands

I am not talking about the bottom of the line store brands. I am talking about nice quality frozen store brand fruits, veggies, and meats. Every store offers them now and that is to your benefit. Grocery chains are now recognizing that its consumers are demanding higher quality for ourselves and families.

A great example is my favorite mainstream store brand by Kroger called Simple Truth. It is a mostly organic brand that rivals its non-store brand almost always in price. Not to mention, stores want you to buy their brand so they put them on sale more often too. Cha-ching! Although frozen, these foods still offer you a major healthy go-to on a busy work night.

Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan

The biggest tip to saving money on real food is PLANNING ahead.  I know it takes time, it takes energy, and it takes using your noggin. In my opinion, your health and the health of your family is worth every minute it takes. Use the ad to guide your menu planning. Decide what vegetables to use that week based on what is on sale.

My advice is five dinners a week. It is a really reasonable goal, with the other 2 nights being used as a great time to eat leftovers (boom, a little-hidden money saving tip right here too). And hello — we all love a night off from cooking! Just by planning for 5 dinners you are saving money on that temptation to hit the drive-thru.

The bonus of trying to save money on real food is that you are investing in your health as a byproduct. Therefore, completing the cycle of awesomeness I’ve talked about before…health, wealth and happiness.

Maybe the claim of healthy, nutritious food being expensive is less about cost and more about convenience. There is no way healthy living costs more than fast food. But it does take more work. Get started by using these 5 tips to invest in your pocketbook and in your health.

How do you save money on real food?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

5 Simple Tips to Achieving Nutritional Goals – Set Goals Not Resolutions

I love the feel of a new year. I love the internal feeling of accomplishment of another year gone by when the clock strikes midnight (that is if I actually stay awake for it). And I love the feeling of hope of the unknown for what the new year will bring.

But I can’t honestly say I’ve never sat down and said: “these are my New Year’s resolutions.” It just seems too fluffy, too manufactured, and too static.

To be honest, resolutions are intended to be so long term that you almost forgot you’ve made them. In fact, 92%  of New Year’s resolutions fail by January 15th. Seriously. That’s as far as people get.

What is a resolution?

The word resolution means “a formal expression of intention”. To have the intention to do something is one thing. But to actually put it on paper and take action is another. The word resolution implies to me that you failed the year before, that you resolve to do better in the next year.

The failure from the previous year is not a failure at all, but rather experience that will drive future change and behavior in this year.

Set goals, not resolutions. 

(Ready to stop putting your health on the backburner? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

What is the difference?

You might be asking, “Is there really a difference between a resolution and a goal?”

Well yes, there is, thanks for asking.

A goal is defined as “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.” In other words, there is a tangible target that you want to hit with some type of behavior that will get you there. Goals are measurable, specific, and are written down with the intention of continually coming back to them to evaluate progress.

When I was a teacher, we set goals for our students’ progress and we assessed that progress each unit to identify our students’ areas of improvement and our own. With my clients now, I am constantly asking them the same.

As people, we should be doing that for ourselves constantly— in life, in marriage, in parenting, and of course, in health.

You Need Goals

You actually need goals. People who set goals and write them down succeed in life 50% more of the time than those that don’t use goal setting. In addition, when goals are set and achieved overall well being is improved and happiness is attained as a result. By setting goals you guarantee your life to be filled with greater success and happiness.  Goal setting is FREE, simple, and requires no major supplies. It is a no-brainer.

Goals are Dynamic

Throughout the year goals are meant to be dynamic, not static. That means they are constantly moving and changing. You might find that by February you achieve a goal set. When that happens, it gives you the opportunity to modify it and challenge yourself even more.

The moment your goals become static, you become stagnant.

When I see my clients begin to feel stagnant we work together to reevaluate their current goals and up level them for greater growth.

Nutritional Goals

Being a nutrition and lifestyle coach, I help my clients create their own goals related to health, weight loss and gain, performance gains, and overall life. I know after hundreds of clients that when they communicate those goals to me in writing and we constantly evaluate progress, that their success is far greater than those who go it alone.

There are a million posts out there written about goal setting and achievement. From my own experience and coaching practice, there are 5 keys to goal setting that must happen to maximize nutritional success.

5 Keys to Achieving Nutritional Goals

1. Be specific

Setting goals feels awkward sometimes.  You don’t know exactly what to say or how to say it.  Once you have a general goal in mind target in on the specific outcome you want. Just saying you want to lose weight is too vague. Will you feel like you’ve achieved your goal if you lose 1 pound?  Or do you want to lose 20 pounds?

Instead, make it specific.

  • “ I will lose 10 lbs by March 1st”
  • “I’ll drop 2 inches from my waistline in 8 weeks.”
  • “I will eat 1 serving of vegetables at each meal”
  • “I’m going to work out 3 times per week”
  • I will track what I eat all meals of the day

Making a goal specific allows you to come back and monitor your progress.

2. Make goals measurable

Nutritional goals can be measured in so many ways: through a body weight scale, body measurements, DEXA scans, before and after pictures, and through personal records at the gym.

When you have a specific goal, measure it by collecting data and monitoring that data to make sure it is headed in the direction you want.

Within your goals include a reasonable marker of progress to measure. This could be quantitative data such as weight, pounds lifted, and inches lost. However, measurable data can also come from quantitive measures such as perceived energy levels, fit of clothes and quality of sleep.

3. Find somebody to hold you accountable

People have a hard time hiring a coach or asking a friend to become their accountability partner. It is almost as if by doing this they are admitting they can’t get it under control themselves. I think those people are the smart ones.

Your results will be far greater if you have someone in your corner. They will help you get back on track when you fall off, assess your progress, and ask the hard questions when you need them. I know this from my own experience and the clients I lead. Ask your spouse, friend, or hire a coach to keep you accountable.

4. Make it a priority

Don’t make up excuses. I hear it from clients often. The week was busy, we traveled, we had a party, etc. If you want your health, your body, and your gym performance to change than it has to be a priority. If it truly matters to you, you will find a way to make it happen. The effort you put in is the outcome you will get. That effort is 100% in your control. To make a change you must change the behaviors to get you to achieve that goal first.

(Want to make your health a priority in the new year? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

5. Celebrate Progress

Often times we rely on scale weight to judge our progress. The scale is just one indicator of progress along our health journey. Celebrate the aesthetic change you see in the mirror, the way your clothing fits, your changes in strength and stamina at the gym, the compliments others pay you, and your overall health improvement.

It is not all or nothing. Celebrating small markers of success help keep motivation and commitment high along your journey. If a bad day falls upon you, get right back on track the next day and celebrate your ability to identify that.

Be the 88% of the population that uses goal setting as a strategy for getting what you want, including nutritional success.

What are some of your goals?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Scale Obsession

The dreaded scale. Sometimes I just want to take that thing and throw it as far as possible. Some days it is my best friend. I know the scale obsession feeling well. I’ve been there and have allowed the scale to determine my perception of progress. I am here to tell you — that little piece of metal and plastic is merely a device to collect data and I want you to get to the point that you can agree. Did you hear that?  A tiny little device can determine your mindset for the day?

That is over starting NOW!

When you embark on a nutritional journey or program you have to find a way to assess the outcome. The scale is easy to use, and many people resort to it because the scale should tell you everything, right?  It doesn’t judge you subjectively, it gives you concrete, black and white data every single morning. You can’t talk it into subtracting some digits or adding them. Instead, its consistency day to day can give you some extremely useful information.

However, the scale alone is not your greatest indicator of progress. The scale obsession has to stop. Understanding and taking time to assess and celebrate your other progress indicators is key to your physical AND mental success.

Non-Scale Indicators

Here are five non-scale measures of change that show health progress is more than just the scale.

Your Health

Your own health is a serious indicator of success.I know shocking, right? How do you feel when you eat, after you eat? Are you eating quality foods or falling victim to taste all the time?

What’s your overall health panel like? Having a baseline of health history to judge against once you embark on a nutritional journey provides so much great insight into your health.  There is more to “health” than we can actually see with our eyes. For example, the scale may have you thinking you’re overweight. But if it’s all muscle, and if you feel good because you’re eating healthy and wholesome foods, wouldn’t that mean the scale is wrong?

(Ready to stop putting your health on the backburner? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Food Awareness

I use the term food awareness with my clients all the time. It is honestly one of the tools I find most valuable to people in their sustainable relationship with food. It’s taking time to understand a nutritional label, not just read it. It is using that information and applying it to their own life and nutritional goals. If you have gained that ability through a nutritional program then that is a HUGE indicator of nutritional success.

Food awareness is more about knowing what you’re putting into your body, vs. trying to stick to a calorie goal. A low-fat coffee cake isn’t healthy just because it’s low-fat. See where I’m going here?

Food awareness is important, especially when you’re looking to take care of your body long-term.

Your Performance

Athlete or not, you perform in some way in your life. Maybe it is having enough energy to keep up with your kiddos or being able to climb ladders to install light fixtures. No matter what it is, you have to perform every day in your life….and I know you want to do it well.

How you feel during this performance is a huge indicator of success. Do you barely have enough energy to get by or are you ready to take on the world still late in the day?

Being in control of your intake in order to perform at the top of your game feels so good.  Sometimes you don’t even realize your performance is lackluster until you take time to document it, reflect on it and make changes towards improving it.

Your Composition

The real change that is important is what you see in the mirror not what the scale says.  I encourage before and after pictures to all my clients. And no, they don’t have to be shared in social media for the entire world to see.  Instead, they are your own private progress indicator that can truly show your body transformation.

Your Confidence

Confidence trumps composition any day in my opinion. Gaining the ability to love you for you, the body you walk with every day and the power to ignore those that think otherwise is a gift of maturity. This confidence, in my opinion, is really the greatest indicator of your success.

Sometimes we slave over food prep, plan everything perfectly, and think “Yes — this is the week for some awesome weight loss!”. But then you step on that scale and you are in total denial. “Up a freakin’ pound?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”. Trust me, I know that statement all too well because clients send me that frantic stress all too often.

It is virtually impossible to control all the variables that play a part of weight loss. Factors like changes in daily energy expenditure, efficiency in energy creation and absorption, training recovery, gastrointestinal fluctuations, hydration, fiber, and the list goes on. It takes some serious scientific equipment to even get a close gauge of your personal expenditure.

(Want to build your confidence and love what you see in the mirror? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Way Back…Back into Time

Take yourself back to your freshmen year of high school and basic science. You spent time learning about data correlation and trending way back then (trust me you did, I taught this course for 10 years and not much has truly changed).

You learned that data collection can be all over the place. Plotting points on a  graph often reflect ups and downs over time. It’s the overall trend, or you may remember the “line of best fit” that truly shows your scale trends. That is reflecting over long-term scale data gives us much greater insight into your success versus day-to-day markers. It gives us a whole bunch of data points for which to assess long-term changes.

best-fit-graph

When you step on that scale I want you to see it as merely data collection. Don’t give it the power to control your destiny that day. Celebrate and take note of all of those other successes you are having through your journey; the compliment someone gave you about how great you are looking, how freakin’ awesome you felt after or during a workout last week, your decrease in cholesterol, and how you feel about yourself right now!

Have you ditched the scale before? How did it make you feel?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

10 Tailgate Tips For Healthy Eating Success

Do you ever get excited about the football season? I always am at around, well, um… the end of February every year! We love football at our house!  Just the sound of it in the background makes me happy. My husband played football for a bit in college, and having a game on takes me back to our college days together and the total thrill of the game.

The Tailgate

For many people now, football season takes on a whole new meaning. It is a major social event. Whether you are watching the game on the big screen at home or have season tickets, now football is all about tailgating. Throwing a football around, eating BBQ, and drinking a few adult beverages seems to be a prerequisite for the full football experience.

But — when the tailgate starts at 10:00 am and kickoff isn’t until 3:00 pm, there is a lot of room for that tailgate to take a turn towards a nutritional nightmare. But, have no fear! There is still a way to enjoy every moment of that tailgating experience and still stay on track with your nutritional goals.  

(Want to focus on your health and make it a priority? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

With 17 weeks of regular football season play, plus post-season playoffs, there is a whole lot of time for football and tailgating to come in between you and your nutritional goals. So, don’t make any excuses.  It is possible for you to find a sustainable way to enjoy watching your favorite team and the social element that comes along with the big game. Don’t be a victim to your Sunday FUN-day. Instead, follow these 10 simple tips for tailgate tracking success.

 

10 Tailgate Tips For Healthy Eating Success

Pre-Plan

It’s the name of the game — literally. You have to plan ahead and pre-log your food to stay on track. Ask ahead and find out what’s going to be cooking on the grill and save a space to enjoy the meal you want. If you know in advance what choices you will have, you will come out with greater success.

You can also plan ahead if YOU are the one catering for a group of people. Find ways to cut out the crap that you’d rather not eat. For example, use greek yogurt instead of mayo. Go without the bun if you plan on eating a few hot dogs or burgers. Add a side salad to the menu. Making healthier choices is easier when you pre-plan for them.

Bring Your Own Food

The great thing about most tailgating is that it’s potluck style. You can bring along a dish you love so that you know exactly what you are eating! For me, I love bringing some fresh and cut up fruit with a delicious dip. Or, I’ll bring some veggies in foil packs that can be thrown on the grill and enjoyed with burgers and hot dogs. This allows me more control over what I put in my body, and also allows me to enjoy the “not so great” foods in moderation. 

Eat Lean Leading Up To It

If you plan to really enjoy yourself and tailgating is your “go ham” moment then eat lean leading up to it. The morning of, prepare yourself an egg white omelet with lots of veggies and lean Canadian bacon. Stock up on greens and other veggies to fill you up with a lean lunch meat option like deli turkey, ham, tuna or chicken breast. Make a smoothie. Just fuel your body with healthy foods so you can indulge a bit at the tailgate. 

Pick A Lean Meat

Meat on the BBQ screams Tailgate. Choose one that you know will support your goals. Choose chicken breast, a lean pork tenderloin, salmon, or a lean cut of beef over a higher fat option like ribs or ribeyes. They taste amazing on a grill or in a smoker just like their full-fat sister options when done right. And on top of that, if you go a little overboard, it’s a lot easier to recover from the chicken breasts than it is a huge rack of ribs! 

Don’t Let Peer Pressure Bully You Into Giving In.  

OK — you are an adult and you should know how to say no!  You, however, must have the willpower to do so. Don’t blame your friends for your poor choices. They are not in charge of your health and well-being, you are. Be willing to stand up for your goals and follow through. They will respect you more for it.

Plan For Adult Beverages

Alcohol is part is of the tailgate experience for most. Don’t be so restrictive to say you won’t have a drink. All you need to do is choose a light beer, or higher proof alcohol and sparkling water to keep carb values down. Plan for it and then stick with it.

Bring A Dip and Chips-“ish”

Tailgating breeds snacking. Chips and the dips we dip them into tend to be an easy talk-while-you-eat option. Pretty soon five chips can turn into a bag and NOOOOO! So, make and take your own. Use a Greek yogurt-based dip to spare the fat of sour cream or heavy cream and mix in your favorite seasonings like a dry Ranch Mix or Onion Soup mix and serve with Pop Chips, veggies, or homemade corn tortilla chips.

Pack Fruit

Fruit is a simple and healthy option that still gives you that snacking feeling and can even satisfy your sweet tooth. And bonus — you know there is nothing bad or guilty about eating fruit. You can even add a vanilla greek yogurt dip as a treat on the side.

Keep Your Protein Up

Make sure to eat your protein. Protein is usually scarce at social events. Be sure to hit that protein goal by planning ahead and maybe finishing off the night with a small quantity of a protein supplement to hit your goals! Plus, eating more protein will keep you satiated, and less likely to reach for those not so good for you snacks. 

Stick To The Plan

Seriously, the simplest of all tips and yet, the hardest to do. Maintain your willpower and keep your eyes on the prize.  Be a “weekend warrior” so that Monday ends up being a day of progress and not regret.  

(Ready to stop putting your health on the backburner? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

 

Football season lasts 5 months. That is an opportunity to make progress for 5 months or allow it to determine your nutritional fate. Show up to your tailgate owning your goals and I promise, others will follow.

What are some of your favorite healthy tailgating recipes?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Awalk

Do You Know Your Food

I had a recent conversation with a friend who was so excited to tell me about her “fat-free” olive oil spray. I remember thinking —huh? It’s olive oil; made of only one macronutrient… fat. After some discussion, I helped her to realize that the serving size listed on the can was for a 2-second spray.

The reason the manufacturer could claim that it was “fat-free” on the label was that there wasn’t enough fat in one serving to have to label the fat content. Then I realized — if she didn’t understand that, there are many more people just like her out there!  It made me want to ask, do you know your food?

Do you know your food?

How well do you know your food labels? Do you know what’s really in your food? Are you familiar with the terms that many brands and companies use to entice you to buy their products? Let’s put your knowledge to the test!

(Ready to get in the habit of knowing your food and nourishing your body? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Product Labeling

Fat-free, sugar-free, and low-fat are all labels you find commonly on foods. But do you really know what these common food labels mean to the food you are putting into your body? I dug a little deeper into the Food and Drug Administration’s website to find out exactly what a product must contain or not contain to acquire these labels. Here are my findings.

“Sugar-free”:  When a label says it is “sugar-free” it means the sugar has been replaced with another artificial sweetener made through a chemical process. The FDA requires that sugar-free products labeled sugar-free have less than 0.5 gram of sugar in a serving.

Sugar-free sweeteners and sugar alcohols like aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, xylitol, sorbitol, or maltitol may be some of the ingredients you read on labels replacing sugar and lowering carb calories. Because of their lower carb offerings “sugar-free’’ foods are very popular. However, their nutritional risk may outweigh their rewards based on an article released by Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health (1).

“Non-Fat”: To be considered non-fat the product must contain less than .5 grams of fat per serving. In other words, a 2-second spray of olive oil can be considered non-fat… even though olive oil is a fat.

“Reduced Fat”: When something is “reduced fat” that just means that it must contain at least 25% less fat per serving than the food it is referencing, typically the full-fat sister version. The way the fat content is reduced varies greatly depending on the food type.

“Vitamin Fortified”: A fortified food simply has vitamins, minerals or other nutrients not normally present in the food added to it during processing.  This is typical because processing them takes out any minerals and vitamins that existed.

Fortification began long ago when large-scale public health concerns led to the need for vitamins and mineral increases due to major deficiencies. As it stands right now, fortification still exists on a sliding scale dependent on culture and location (2).

Knowledge is Power

If you truly KNOW your food, you can make informed decisions about what you put into your body.  Labels can be deceiving and manufacturers sometimes take advantage of labeling loopholes to entice shoppers. As you progress through your nutrition and life journey, I believe it teaches you a lot about your own food boundaries.

As adults, we make important health decisions, not just for ourselves, but for our entire family. For me, my choices aren’t just about me. They influence my children and my husband. My choices can also impact their health either negatively or positively. With those decisions comes both reward and consequence. So, I challenge you to read your labels and get to know your food.

Fooducate

At the early stages of really investigating food quality, I discovered a great resource called Fooducate. It quickly became one of my favorite tools. It gave me more insight into the foods I was eating or interested in eating during the learning process.

Fooducate offers a website filled with great info, but the app is where the real power is. Fooducate offers a “health tracker” to log your daily food intake. It is incredibly close to My Fitness Pal, which I also love. The feature that I love from Fooducate is their “Food Finder” option. It allows you to scan the food and will then give you a food quality rating of A-D. The rating is based on nutrient density, ingredient lists, amount of processing, and a few other variables. I encourage you to download the app. It really allows you to evaluate the quality of the foods you purchase regularly.

Fuel for My Passion

This very topic is what motivated me to take my passion to social media and the internet. I want people to think about what they are fueling their body with and find a sustainable balance with that knowledge. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is meant to give you goals to hit on a daily basis to guide you to the progress you are looking for.

In my opinion, a healthy lifestyle is not meant to be a system to consume foods that have no nutritional and beneficial content that allows you to manipulate more foods into your day because of their chemical composition. Moderation is key and having these foods occasionally can be a valuable enhancement to sustainability, but shouldn’t be a frequent addition to your day.

(Want to focus on your health and make it a priority? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Sustainability in leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t come from living at either end of the restriction or glutton spectrum. Sustainability comes from finding a lifestyle that works long-term, that helps you gain power through knowledge about what you are eating, and that gives you confidence in yourself. Knowledge truly is power, and I want you to have power in your choices.

Are you surprised to hear about food labeling? What do you look for when choosing food products?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

Resources:

(1) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/artificial-sweeteners/

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319130/

Click HERE for more of the FDA’s labeling information

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

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