For the past couple of weeks, our household has been eating primarily plant based. Slowly but surely, I have found my husband swapping chicken and beef for tofu and other meat alternatives. For myself, I decided to lessen my dairy intake which really means, I'm trying to eat less cheese, ha! Either way, I'm not going to put labels on anything and say we're vegan. The goal is to purchase as many plant based ingredients for our home. If we're craving some steak, (fish or cheese for me), we can treat ourselves outside of home. We're not and probably never will be fully vegan, or at least I don't predict that...
Anyway, from a health stand point, there's endless research proving that a plant-based diet has shown a reduced risk to cardiovascular and rheumatic diseases, inflammation, and even, cancer. I won't get too far into it because a) food is so controversial and b) did I mention food is so controversial? Especially veganism - don't even bother asking how we're getting protein, haha. Nonetheless, I made these tacos in honor of Taco Tuesday!. They happen to be vegan friendly, but you can always add cheese (or meat) if you want (yum!) I got everything from Trader Joe's, too.
Organic Olive Oil Spray (because the only ingredient is olive oil and it's not filled with random chemicals)
1 tbsp Grape seed oil - omega 3's and ALA, for the win
Southwest Taco Seasoning
Sweet Potato slivers (they're packagd at TJ's, but you can always cut up your own sweet potato)
Simply, put your stove on medium heat. Spray olive oil spray and let it warm up. While this is happening, heat up your desired amount of corn tortillas in the microwave to soften them. Then fold in half in the shape of a taco and spray olive oil spray on top. Let them crisp up and then flip.
Note: I have an electric stove so this is how I get my tortillas crispy, lol. Obviously if you have a gas oven, flipping the tortilla over the open flame is so much easier.
I let the tortillas cool and respray the same pan where I combined by sweet potatoes and black beans. My sweet potatoes were precooked but you can always soften in the microwave so they cook the same amount of time as the beans. I mixed in a table spoon of my grape seed oil, salsa TT, southwest taco seasoning and let them simmer together. You can always customize and season to your liking.
Once heated, I filled my tortillas with the black bean and sweet potato mixture, and topped with salsa, cilantro and lime I had on hand. They are so yummy! I can't wait for Kevin to try them once he is home. The best thing is that they are plant-based and protein packed! Vegan or not, they are a quick, nutritious meal option. It took me less than 15 minutes to prepare. E N J O Y !
It dawned on me that this year marks 11 years since I was at my heaviest weight of 225 pounds! It was quite the journey getting to where I am today, 85 pounds later... and what really has maintained my health and weight loss is the lifestyle change I made. There are so many ways to get creative to make eating healthier manageable and not just this temporary, quick fix. Below I've listed food swaps I swear by!
1. Halo Top Creamery for Ice Cream.
If you're like me, you have the hugest sweet tooth. But fear not, this stuff is amazing and tastes just like the real thing. I never feel deprived of Ben & Jerry's pints because they have SOO many flavors. They average about 15 g carbs, 3 g fat, 4 g PROTEIN per serving. If you want the whole pint, it's under 400 calories!
2. Zoodles for Pasta/Noodles
I've already posted about my obsession with using my spiralizer to create zucchini noodles...
3. Stevia for Sugar
This stuff is different than Splenda or Sweet n Low. It contains no aspartame and it's plant based since it's a natural sweetener from the Stevia plant. You can buy it in a jar or in packet form to add to your coffee or tea!
4. Zevia "Soda" for Soda
Speaking of Stevia, they make this "soda" drink, 0 carbs, cals, sugar, etc and I think it tastes delicious. The strange thing is that it is clear. I hadn't noticed this until one of my friends poured it into a glass recently. This is much better than even diet soda.
5. Soda Water with your choice of alcohol instead of a cocktail/beer
All of the unnecessary sugar from those sugary concoctions adds up and just turns into fat in your body. Beer...is just asking for obvious bloat. Soda water and your choice of alcohol can even involve a splash of your favorite juice for a hint of sweetness. No sugar, low carbs and basically just extra calories if you're out drinking.
6. Low Fat Greek Yogurt for Regular Yogurt
There is so much protein in Greek Yogurt that regular yogurt lacks. It's also important to ensure that your Greek Yogurt is under 10 g of sugar - that's the rule of thumb I stick to. Plain Greek Yogurt is a GREAT alternative for sour cream as an added bonus!
7. Kodiak Cakes for Regular Pancakes/Waffles
This stuff is amazing. There is mix that even has protein added into it so you can get a nutritious breakfast from one pancake! The mix can also be used for waffles and definitely beats any other plain pancake mix since it comes from whole ingredients.
8. Sprouted/Fibrous Bread for Regular bread
This is a pretty recent change as a part of me trying to consume more foods that are ALIVE. Sprouted bread is usually found in the freezer aisle to preserve its freshness. It's without wheat and the chemicals that come with it. You can always start with bread that has added fiber to ensure you're getting adequate levels!
9. Black Coffee for Frappucinos/Lattes
Black coffee is an acquired taste, I get it but those fancy Starbucks drinks load up the calories. We all saw that picture going around when the Unicorn Frappucino came out? 85 grams of SUGAR in a Grande?! If you can't commit to all black, then a splash of milk or creamer is okay with a natural sweetener like Stevia or honey. No white-colored coffee, more like tan-colored, haha.
Simply put, macronutrients are your:
Micronutrients are the following:
Water Soluble Vitamins
Trust me, I get that ensuring that you have adequate levels of your macro/micro-nutrients seems overwhelming when it's bullet pointed as such. I'm only skimming the surface in this post because even as a student of Nutrition, it can sometimes overwhelm me. I will say though that the way I look at my diet is by thinking of it as trying to get as much of these vitamins and minerals in my meals as much as possible, rather than a subtraction of "bad food." How you get a good mix of these food groups is by eating (DRUM ROLL, please)... healthily. Nature is our greatest source of food - fruits, beans, nuts and vegetables with bright colors can help you hit your daily goals. Recommended intakes can be easily found online and are basically categorized by age group/gender. Try not to get too caught up in worrying about those numbers, though. If your diet is a great mixture of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, you are probably not deficient unless you have an underlying condition. Speak to your doctor as always!
Macronutrients are the easier part of the equation as we're for the most part, informed, as to what is considered a Fat, Carb, Protein in food. Fiber can be tricky as it's not technically a macronutrient but is directly associated with carbohydrates. When you're trying to hit your carbohydrate and fiber goals, you'll find that you can't fill up on "empty" carbs and fulfill your Fiber goal. It's a great way to monitor your diet and keep it balanced!
So I'm guessing you're probably wondering, how much of eat Macronutrient you should consume? We're all different, though. Through my efforts of weight loss and education, there is not a one size fits all approach to health/weight loss. There is a lot of trial and error in finding the best mix of Macronutrients. Generally speaking, our diets should be 45-60% carbohydrates, 25-35% fats, 25-35% protein. This also varies with your physical activity, dietary history, body's response to different food groups, aesthetic goals, etc. That's where a nutritionist comes into the picture. There are a lot of internet sources to figure this out on your own. Take the following steps:
1. Find a website to calculate your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). This will give you a basis of how many calories your body needs based off your daily activities.
2. Add/Subtract calories to the goal you want to meet. A great place to start would be around 400-500 in either direction.
3. Calculate using the percentages above, how many calories should be put toward each macronutrient. How does YOUR body respond to each one? This determines what end of the spectrum you should go toward.
E.G. You respond well to Carbohydrates so you designate 55% of your calories toward them.
4. For the 3 categories of macronutrients, you'll have a calorie amount. Divide that by the amount of calories is in each gram. So refer to the top of this post. Fat is 9 grams per calorie so if my number was 495 calories designated for Fat, I would divide 495/9, coming to 55 grams of Fat per day!
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! I'm happy to help!
This past weekend, Kevin and I were out and about, and he came across a Fat Burner with an urge to try it out. It was created by a quality brand and I looked over the main ingredients:
-A ton of B Vitamins: B Vitamins are water-soluble, meaning if you take too many, your body will get rid of them through urine, sweat, etc. They are also responsible for a lot of our metabolic process so it made sense they were the main ingredients.
-Green Tea Extract: Green Tea is known for its antioxidant properties. It also is said to aide our metabolism and possibly linked to burning fat. There aren't enough studies to conclude this, though.
-Caffeine: 240 mg to be exact....ever drank coffee and had to go to the bathroom? Well, caffeine is a diuretic and just for a point of reference, a cup of coffee contains 95 mg...let that sink in...
*Before I dive deep into this post, I want to state that I'm absolutely aware that a pill cannot burn fat* If you didn't know that, I'm telling you now...a pill cannot burn fat. Eating smart and exercise burns fat. Moving on....so after looking at all these main ingredients, I decided to give this Fat Burner a whirl. The ingredients weren't toxic to my body. If not burning fat, it was definitely going to give my body extra energy with all of that caffeine (perhaps with the goal in mind for the consumer to push harder during workouts) while also depleting excess water. Well, here's what happened....
Day 1 Monday- Definitely had a lot of energy and felt unusually lean for having not been on my best dietary behavior over the weekend. I only did about 40 mins of body-weight exercises, but I had a slight headache by the end of the day. I also felt a sharp pain on the left side of my torso (which is wherethe stomach is located, also the pancreas) I hadn't connected the dots to the Fat Burner as I had forgotten I had taken it. I slept horribly and blamed it on stressing over the wedding but by Day 2, it all made sense...
Day 2 Tuesday- I took part in Hot Power Fusion Yoga, over 100 degrees and higher humidity than the usual class I take. Within 15 minutes of class, I was depleted of all energy! I looked in the mirror and my abs were the most visible I had ever seen them in my entire life. If my dizziness, heavy breathing, or headache weren't an indicator of my dehydrated status, my unusually toned stomach was a huge sign! I could barely finish the class and I felt so nauseous and drained at the end, that I swear no set of abs are worth. I also had that sharp pain in my left side and began to worry and question my decision. I replenished and nurtured my body the rest of the day but when bed time came, I probably got 4 hours of broken sleep. After two days, I had had enough of this pill.
So my stance on these Fat Burners is pretty obvious, they do more harm than good...especially if you have no knowledge of how the ingredients are interacting in your body. Kevin is still going to try them out to see how his body responds. He hasn't taken them more than once. Personally, it's a fine line to teeter on and I believe their should be directions on how to take them. My takeaways are the following:
1) HYDRATE, more than you normally would because these pills are getting rid of a lot of fluid that you actually need!
2) Take in the morning with a meal. Since there is so much caffeine, if you want a good night's sleep, it needs to be taken as soon as you wake up.
3) I do believe there is a market for these types of pills and I believe it belongs to experienced, active, HEALTHY individuals trying to achieve certain aesthetic results i.e. body builders, bikini competitors who have an event in the near future. Is it right for someone trying to cut corners in losing weight? Nope, not at all.
4) Health is so much more than looking a certain way. Of course being overweight and holding excess fats poses its own set of problems and risks, but a 6 pack does NOT equate to health! Health and beauty do truly stem from the inside...remember that.
I almost always have a zucchini or two in my fridge. They have become a household staple ever since I learned how to work my "Zoodler." I guess the technical name for it is not "Zoodler," but "Spiralizer." There are a ton of different kinds on Amazon, but I will link you to the one I use at the bottom of this post!
Back to zucchini... You always have the option to cut, sautee or bake it but being able to use them as an alternative to noodles- game changer! As a general overview, Zucchini is rich in antioxidants, specifically Vitamin C. About 1 cup (100g) of zucchini contains 30% of your daily need for the vitamin and only 17 calories! (I tend to use the whole zucchini for myself)
Fun fact! the peel is the most nutritious part, so keep it on when you eat it!
In the past week, I have used zoodles as an alternative 3 times! I made a chow mein inspired dish, spaghetti, and tonight - I threw all my vegetables on hand into a pan. I sauteed onions, minced garlic, mushrooms, and of course, zoodles all with some grapeseed oil, sea salt, and Trader Joe's 21 Seasonings. As I am pescatarian, fish or low fat mozzarella cheese were my protein options. Since I teach evening yoga on Tuesdays, I wasn't feeling the idea of cooking salmon, so mozzarella won. For you carnivores, chicken would suit nicely. For my later dinners, this lower carb option is perfect. Carbs = energy and sleep/rest is just the opposite of that.
Asian dishes like chow mein, lo mein, pad thai, italian dishes like alfredo, spaghetti or maybe even a soup, you have limitless possibilities!
OXO Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer, Green (1 Blade)www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Handheld-Spiralizer/dp/B013KAW5IQ/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1489552954&sr=8-6&keywords=zoodler