Clean Eating, Diet, Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss, Workout

Plant Based Pre & Post Workout Snacks

Recently, I’ve had a few clients who have a plant based diet and they have asked me for ideas of what to eat before and after their workouts.  Many people get confused on what to eat, so I wanted to share some of my favorite options that are perfect not just for someone who has a plant based diet, but anyone.

What to Eat Before Your Workout: The key is to remember that quality of your workout will depend on how fueled it is before the workout. Your body has to pull energy from somewhere and it’s much easier to pull it from calories that are consumed within an hour of your workout, then pulling stored energy that your body uses for other daily functions. Focus on eating more carbs based foods 30 – 60 minutes before your workout.

  • Oatmeal or Overnight Oats: This is one of my favorites, mainly because I workout in the morning and this “breakfast” food just makes sense to me.  Plus, it’s whole and takes a while to digest, so it can help to keep you fueled, especially if you are working out for longer than 45 minutes.
  • 100% Whole Grain or Sprouted Grain Toast with Pure Honey or Real Fruit Spread: This is one of my dad’s go to pre workout snacks and he swears by it for his long cardio sessions.  The key is to make sure that you choose 100% Whole Grain or Sprouted Grains, which helps with the slow digestion of the carbs coupled with the fast digesting carbs with the honey or fruit spread.
  • Apple or Banana with a Tbsp of Nut Butter: This is an easy pre workout snack that doesn’t feel as heavy as the oatmeal or the toast.  This is my favorite for a HIIT or Circuit Training Strength workout.
  • Kind Bars: I am not a big fan of bars, but I do like Kind Bars because I can recognize all of the ingredients in them, they are easy to take with me on the way to the gym, and they taste like a candy bar. 🙂
  • Fruit Juice or Smoothies: This is typically my last resort, as most fruit juices and smoothies are packed with sugar and don’t give you a lot of substance and I feel really full, but when I’m in a real crunch, I will grab a bottle of 100% Orange Juice or grab a Smoothie and drink half.

What to eat after your workout: The key here is to make sure that you have a mix of protein and carbs.  I know that this sounds crazy, but after a workout, while your muscles are going into repair mode (where protein is key), your body is still burning calories and can burn them with carbs that you use to replenish your body after the workout. I highly recommend that you consume your post workout meal or snack within 30 minutes of your workout.

  • Meal Replacement Shake: As you know, I’m a big fan of Shakeology and this is my all time go to post workout Shake, because it’s more than just protein, it’s a true meal which includes not only carbs, but also minerals, vitamins, adaptogens (which also help with the post workout recovery), super greens (to help reduce the acidic ph levels, which also help with reduction of inflammation), and so much more.
  • Chocolate Milk – This can be Soy Milk or Dairy Milk, both options are a great mix of protein and carbs and easy to digest and great when you are in a pinch.
  • Hummus with Veggies and Whole Grain Pita: This is a great snack, especially if you want something more savory.
  • Green Salad with Lean Protein & Veggies: Your protein options can be tofu, edamame, hard boiled eggs, tempeh, nuts, seeds, or beans.  Aim to use a vinegar based dressing.
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich or a Hummus & Veggie Sandwich: This is the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Many people think sandwiches are not healthy, it’s a matter of the bread you choice, the condiments/fillings that you use. Here’s my tips on how to make a Healthier PB&J

 

Hopefully, this will give you some ideas of what to eat before and after your workouts! 

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Clean Eating, Diet, Healthy Eating, Recipes

3 Ways to Make a Healthier PB&J

maxresdefaultOne of my all time favorite snacks and go to meals when I am traveling is a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich.  I think that its the perfect blend of savory, salty and sweet and the bread provides the carbs and there is a bit of nostalgia that makes this such a comforting treat.  However, the traditional version can pack tons of sugar, calories, and preservatives, and this is where many people make the wrong turn.  So I wanted to share with you how I make mine healthier.

There are 3 ingredients, so the key is to ensure that you choose the best options for each:

  1. The Bread: So, I feel like I shouldn’t have to say it, but i’ll say it anyway…NO WHITE BREAD ALLOWED!   There is really no nutritional value and if you are serving this to kids, you are pumping them full of sugar and preservatives that will do more harm than good.  Instead I opt for a WHOLE GRAIN BREAD.  Unfortunately, just because a bread looks like it’s whole grain, please make sure to check the labels for your bread, as many times the bread manufacturers still add a lot of refined and processed carbs, sugars, and preservatives to the bread. Also, check the labels to make sure that “sugar” (or one of it’s cousins) are not in the top 3 ingredients.  Here are a few of my favorite bread selections – Food For Life Ezekiel Bread, Sprouted Whole Grain, Eureka Organic Bread, Dave’s Killer Bread.  
  2. The Peanut Butter: PB is simply ground peanuts (or other nuts or seeds if you are allergic), so when looking for a healthier option of peanut butter, just look at the label, the only ingredient should be Peanuts. Maybe salt, if you like that extra depth, but if the nut butter has anything else – sugar, palm oil or other ingredients that you don’t recognize – leave it alone.  If you are feeling fancy, you can always make your own at your local grocery store, it’s a bit pricier, but to be honest I’ve found great brands that are tasty and pure peanut butter – Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter, Adam’s 100% Natural Peanut Butter. 
  3. The Jelly: Actually, your first step should be to switch from Jelly to “Jam” or “Preserves” or “Fruit Spread”, where the process is more natural and doesn’t include gelatin or other preservatives to make that gelatinous consistency.  However, there are not many jams on the market that don’t sugar in them, which makes me sad, so I just aim to ensure that the ingredients are minimal, the fruit is the main attraction (#1 on the list) and that the sugar content is less than 8g of sugar. My all time go to is Trader Joe’s Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread, it’s sweetened with grape juice and it’s so good. If you are a Costco member, the Kirkland brand is pretty good, if not just use discretion and check labels.

As I said, this classic trio has been a life saver for me when I’m running around, after a workout, on the road, floating on the Russian River with friends, being snuck into a convention center for the Beachbody Coach Summit, or simply when I want something sweet, savory, and comforting.  The key is to make the best choices possible, check labels to ensure that it truly is “Natural” and not full of junk.  Also, if you are allergic to gluten or peanuts, feel free to experiment with gluten free options and look for different nut or seed butters.   Now go pour a glass of Almond Milk and make a PB&J!

Beachbody Products, Clean Eating, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss

3 Clean Eating Breakfast Ideas

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Breakfast is one the most important meals of the day, mainly because it provides your body with the first dose of nutrition (or lack thereof) to start the day. Unfortunately, most people either skip breakfast all together or choose less than optimal foods that are high in sugar and fats, leaving them feeling exhausted and out of energy by mid morning. This is where the spiral of bad choices continues, when are energy is low mid morning, we opt for more cups of coffee (typically loaded with dairy and sugar) or grab something quick like a muffin or pastry (again more fat and sugar). This back of forth of sugar kick to sugar low, puts the body in a very fragile state.

However, when we start our day with a nutrient dense breakfast that has a mix of complex carbs, fiber, healthy fats, and protein, our body has the right kind of fuel to help us have the energy we need to take on the day.  Our desire and need for sugar and caffeine subside, because we have natural energy and I’ve found that most people make better food choices for the rest of the day.

When I am not drinking my daily Shakeology, which is a superfood meal replacement shake that is perfect dose of dense nutrition that tastes like a dessert, I am aim to eat one of these breakfasts:

  • Eggs and Whole Grain Toast: Eggs are a great source of protein and the whole grain toast is a great source of fiber and complex carbs.  This helps to balance blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller longer in the morning.  When it comes to the type of eggs, I like egg white scrambles with veggies or mini egg muffins with turkey bacon or even poached eggs to accompany my toast.  If I want to make breakfast a bit more indulgent, I’ll add avocado to my toast, which provides a nice dose of healthy fats which the body needs to function and helps with weight loss, or I’ll add some 100% fruit preserves or honey for a touch of healthy sweetness. Here’s a simple recipe for mini egg muffins. 
  • Oatmeal and Fruit: Oatmeal is a perfect breakfast because it really does help you to feel full, thanks to the fiber and complex carbs that take longer for the body to digest and give you sustained energy. Depending on how I’m feeling I’ll go for traditional hot oatmeal made with almond milk with a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I may even add a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter for added healthy fats. Sometimes, I opt for the cold version – Overnight Oats – which are a perfect meal prep breakfast that you can make days in advance and just grab and go.  See my favorite recipe here. 
  • Green/Superfood Smoothies: As I mentioned, I typically drink Shakeology every single morning to start my day, as I like knowing that I’m getting a big chunk of my nutrients, vitamins and minerals into my body first thing.  Another option, would be to make a Green Smoothie. The biggest mistake people make with their “Green Smoothies” is that they are packed with more fruit and sugar, than their greens. They add sugar packed yogurts, super sweet fruit juices and tons of fruit, which can cause you to max out on your daily amount of sugars and carbs in one sitting.  Instead, focus on using 2 cups of greens to 1 cup of fruit, use coconut water instead of juice or unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of yogurt, and add a tablespoon of healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, almond butter, coconut oil, or an avocado, to help you feel fuller longer. See my post on how to make the Perfect Green Smoothie. 

 

The key is simple. One – make sure that you eat breakfast. Two – make sure that your breakfast is one that will fuel you and set you up to have a successful, energized and productive day.

Clean Eating, Diet, Recipes, Weight Loss

5 Steps to Making a Perfect Green Smoothie

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When I’m not drinking my daily dose of nutrition with Shakeology, I also like to incorporate Green Smoothies into my day as a way to ensure that I get more greens into my diet.   These smoothies are a great way to incorporate more nutrition into your diet in a tasty way. Most people, however, make one crucial mistake when they make their smoothie – they add way too much fruit (which means way too much sugar) and they don’t add a healthy fat.
 
Here is what I would recommend for making a Green Smoothie that is filling, tasty, and has a good balance of nutrition.
  1. Add 2 cups of leafy greens into a blender. I like using Kale, but if it is too bitter, you can use spinach.
  2. Add 2 cups of liquid to the blender with the leafy greens. I like using coconut water or unsweetened almond milk.
  3. Blend the leafy greens and liquid until they are purified…THEN ADD YOUR FRUIT & HEALTHY FATS to the blender.
  4. Add 1-2 cups of fruit to the blender – I am a fan of adding a banana and a cup of frozen berries.
  5. Add a Tablespoon of Coconut Oil or Nut Butter or even a 1/4 of an avocado to the blender and mix it all up!
Bonus: I like to add in ginger, herbs, spices, nuts, or oats to my smoothies to add more oomph and create a more power packed or satisfying smoothie.
 
The benefit of adding the healthy fats to the smoothie is that it provides some satiety, making you feel fuller longer, plus healthy fats help with fat loss. Also, by limiting the servings of fruit to two, it keeps your blood sugar balanced, especially when you combine the healthy fats.
 
The beauty of blending the greens and liquids first, makes sure that there are no clumps and that the greens are blended perfectly.
 
Hopefully, this helps you with creating the best green smoothie you can make! 
Diet, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss

Fall Harvest Crockpot Chili 

Fall is officially here and I am thrilled about it! It’s my favorite season mainly because most of my favorite foods are fall staples!

Last week, I made Mashed Sweet Potatoes in the crockpot and had A little bit extra so I decided why not throw the rest into my Crockpot Chili?!?

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how it came out. It was filling and delicious. I also added some green peas for an extra dose of protein and Zuchinni, which along with the peas, adds some extra immunity boosting phytonutrients.

Here is the recipe below:

  • 1 pound of Ground Turkey
  • 8 ounces of Fresh Salsa
  • 8 ounces of Fresh Pico De Gallo
  • 8 Ounces of Green Peas
  • 8 ounces of Frozen Corn
  • 8 ounces of Frozen Bell Peppers & Onions Mix (or 1/2 cup of each fresh)
  • 1 Zuchinni, Chopped
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons of Taco Seasoning
  • 8 ounces of Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Throw it all in the crockpot and and let it cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

I served mine with Green Chili Cornbread. (Hint: Add 2 tablespoons of Green Chili Salsa to cornered mix and enjoy the sweet heat!)

Clean Eating, Diet, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Shrimp & Mango Skewers with Blackberry Sauce 

Every month my friends and I have a themed dinner night. We draw two cards out of a bag full of different themes and this month was Seafood and Your Favorite Color. My favorite color is purple, so here is this recipe. 

Spicy Shrimp & Mango Skewers with Blackberry Glaze 

1 pound of Shrimp, deveined & raw

1 Mango, diced 

3 Tablespoons of seedless blackberry jam 

4 Tablespoons of soy sauce 

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp of Sriracha 

Old Bay Seasoning 


1. Alternate Shrimp and Mango on a soaked skewer and lay on a cookie sheet. Pat the skewers dry. 

2. Season skewers with Old Bay Seasoning 

3. In a bowl, combine blackberry jam, soy sauce, garlic and Sriracha into a bowl and brush on skewers on both slides. Save any left over sauce and place in a saucepan. 


4. Broil skewers on high for 4-5 minutes on each side. 

5. While the skewers are cooking, reduce the remaining sauce in a pan on medium heat until it thickens. 

6. Once skewers are done, drizzle the thickened sauce over the skewers and top with green onions and serve with orange slices. 

7. Squeeze orange slices over the skewers and enjoy! 

I saved the leftovers and combined with brown rice for a tasty and healthy lunch. 

Clean Eating, Diet, Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss

How to eat healthy as a “Picky Eater” 

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I hear this all the time from clients, when we move on to talking about their diet and nutrition. And to be honest, I can’t relate, because I literally love all types of foods!  There is a very small list of foods that I don’t like to eat, which creates a completely different problem. (We will get into that in another blog post! LOL)

When I start working with a “picky eater”, my focus with them is to help them change their mindset and find solutions that will help them stay on track. Nutrition is a huge part of the transformation process and you can’t out exercise a bad diet. So, you have to get this under control if you want to get lasting results.

1.Focus on the foods that you like: I think that a lot of people get so caught up on what “healthy eating” is, and they believe that in order to be healthy they have to stick to a strict list of foods that are acceptable. I once had a client say that she couldn’t eat healthy, because she didn’t like spinach. In her mind, if she couldn’t eat what her friends were eating on their diet, it was pointless for her to even start.  So I asked her, “What foods do you like?” From there we came up with a list of foods that she does like and started to focus on creating a meal plan that included those things. So, if you don’t like kale, don’t eat kale, there are many other healthy vegetables that you can eat to stay on track. 🙂

2. Experiment with new recipes and new preparation techniques. It’s 2016, which means there is an unlimited amount of resources available to find recipes. Once you have an idea of what foods you do like, go to Google or Pinterest and type if “[FOOD YOU LIKE] Healthy Recipes” and voila! You will have a list of options that you can start to work into your daily routine. Also, try new preparation techniques, like using a Crock Pot or trying grilling your chicken instead of baking it.

3. Expand your horizons: Once you have a hang of trying new things with the foods that you like, take a step further and start to add new foods into the mix.  I don’t mean a huge overhaul, but maybe trying one new vegetable, or grain, or new way to prepare your meal.  This is one of the best ways to keep things from getting boring or stale, unless you like that (some people do like eating the same thing, because it helps to keep them on track and relieves some stress).

At the end of the day, just because you are a “picky eater”, it doesn’t mean that you are doomed when it comes to getting a handle on your nutrition.  Try these 3 tips and give it a shot!

If you are looking for a way to get a better handle on Clean Eating, check out my free Clean Eating Guide, which includes a sample meal play and grocery list that you can check out.  Click here to download the guide. 

Clean Eating, Diet, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Mini Meatloaf Muffins 


Mini Meatloaf Muffins are a perfect way to meal prep and watch your portions.  I make the meatloaf mixture then portion then off into 12 balls and bake in a muffin tin. The great thing about them is that they also freeze well! 

Here is the recipe: 

  • 2 Pounds of Ground Turkey, Beef, or other lean meat
  • One bell pepper, chopped
  • One small onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One cup of rolled oats
  • 21 seasoning salute
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients and form into 12 balls. 
  2. Place each ball into a section of a muffin tin. 
  3. Bake on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Top with low sugar ketchup or tomato sauce and enjoy with a side of veggies. I typically eat 2 muffins per serving. 

Diet, Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss, Workout

Sweet & Savory Post Workout Parfaits

Many people ask me about what to eat after a good workout and yes, protein is important, but many of the protein shakes on the market are not the cleanest of healthiest for you.  Here is an option, that I have fallen in love with and it’s a perfect recipe that you can meal prep a few in advance for a nice grab and go snack, that’s as filling as it is fancy!

I typically use plain greek yogurt for my parfaits, but I wanted to try something a little different, especially since my basil plant, Peter (yes, I named him), was started to wilt so I wanted to make use of the basil I had on hand.  So, I figured I’d swap out the yogurt for cottage cheese, which I have never been a real fan of, until now, and figured that strawberries would be a nice pair with the lemony basil.   For added sweetness and depth of flavor, balsamic vinegar and honey round out this recipe.

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  • 1/2 Cup of Cottage Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup of Diced Strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 1 Drizzle of Honey
  1. Place cottage cheese at the bottom of a bowl or a mason jar.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Strawberries, Basil and Balsamic together and add to cottage cheese. 
  3. Drizzle with honey and enjoy!

For more of my recipes, I now have a Clean Eating Instagram account – www.Instagram.com/iCookClean. Follow for more recipes and meal prep ideas!

Clean Eating, Diet, Fitness, Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Happy & Healthy Cinco De Mayo

It just hit me that today is Cinco De Mayo, mainly because many of my Friday clients have asked to train later in the day to recover from tonight’s festivities. I wanted to share some of the tips that I shared with them and some recipes that I found that can be a great alternative to still celebrate!

This week I made Creamy Stuffed Bell Peppers and they came out delicious (see photo below), so I figured that you could do the same thing and make Bell Pepper Stuffed Tacos. Just skip the tortilla and use a bell pepper. Genius, right?!

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Also, for my Margarita loving friends, your best bet is to aim for a Skinny Version where you keep it simple with Platinum Tequila, Lime Juice & Agave Syrup. Feel free to add fresh fruit puree or a slice of jalapeno for extra punch!

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Lastly, remember one meal won’t ruin your progress, so tomorrow will be a brand new day and you can get right back on track.  I still have 3 spots left in my Make It Happen in May Fitness Challenge, if you want more info just respond to this email and we can chat more about it!

**Click the highlighted links to get the recipes. :)**