healthy

Top 20 Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

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Like most of you, I really can’t function without coffee, but shockingly it’s not the first thing that I down in the morning. After waking up and checking my emails, playing WWF and catching up on Instagram and Facebook, I stumble downstairs, and have my apple cider vinegar “cocktail” while I’m waiting for my coffeemaker to warmup.

I’m sure you’ve heard a ton about how apple cider vinegar is sooo good for you, and that it has a ton of benefits, but really what is it good for and what are those benefits?? Here’s a list of 20 things that ACV is used most commonly for:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Regulates the pH balance in your body
  3. Soothes bug bites
  4. Helps to prevent/reduce acne
  5. Helps to relieve nausea
  6. Helps to relieve heartburn and acid reflux
  7. Helps to relieve sinus pressure and infection
  8. Helps to reduce inflammation
  9. Dissolves kidney stones
  10. Prevents the flu
  11. Helps to reduce cholesterol
  12. Helps to lower blood pressure
  13. Helps breakdown fat
  14. Helps to relieve bloating
  15. Helps to lower glucose levels in diabetics
  16. Helps to relieve migraines
  17. Helps to kill cancer cells and slow their growth
  18. Helps to relieve asthma
  19. Helps to relieve allergies
  20. Gets rid of warts, and nail fungus

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you give it a try??  If you want more info on it’s benefits, uses, recipes and more then definitely check out the Bragg website.  I only take it once a day (as opposed to the suggested three times a day by Bragg) and have found that it’s helped a lot of with my acid reflux, bloating, preventing the flu and honestly, I just like the way it makes me feel overall.

Does it taste amazing? No, not really, but honestly I think a shot of Jager or wheatgrass taste worse.  You do get used to the taste after awhile and it’s actually good for you so just give it a shot (no pun intended).

ACV Cocktail recipe:

  • 8 oz. water
  • 1-2 tsp. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. organic honey, maple syrup or agave (optional)

 

Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Pasta Recipe

I absolutely LOVE carbs and really can’t imagine life without them, but sometimes I do try to cutback on them a bit.  Pasta is a constant staple in my life, and when I’m trying to cutback on carbs but still have a pasta craving, spaghetti squash “pasta” has become a go-to favorite of mine.  I honestly didn’t think that I’d like it and thought that there was no way I’d be satisfied by it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only is it totally delish and filling, but it’s also a great way to get some more veggies into your diet.  I add more veggies than usual to this turkey bolognese sauce for an added veggie boost, and I’ll use the leftovers with things other than the spaghetti squash – for example, I’ll shove some into a roll, top it with some fresh mozzarella cheese and heat it up for a great sandwich for lunch the next day.

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This is so good that you’ll actually forget that you’re not eating real pasta

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (you can just use 1 if you don’t want so many veggies)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped (you can just use 1 if you don’t want so many veggies)
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 3-4 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • italian seasoning to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS: 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  With a small knife or fork, pierce the squash all over.  Place squash on a foil-covered baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, then flip it to the other side and continue roasting until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife or fork (about another 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the squash).  Remove from the oven and let it cool down.  When cool enough to handle, cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, and scrape the flesh with a fork into long thin strands, and voila…there’s your pasta!

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until they are translucent, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the carrots and celery and sauté until the veggies get tender, about another 5 minutes or so.  Add the turkey meat and sauté for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the meat as you stir.  Add the marinara sauce – I end up using almost an entire jar but if you like a thicker sauce, add about 3 cups, if you like more liquid, add 4 cups or the whole jar, up to you! Lower the heat to medium-low heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and if you want an extra kick of seasoning, add a pinch of italian seasoning as well.

Assemble your spaghetti squash “pasta” on a plate, top with sauce and parmesan cheese and ENJOY!!

serves 6  

 

 

Better than Nutella – Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Protein Shake

If you’re like me and love nutella – you’re going to LOVE this shake. This is without a doubt my new favorite “treat” protein shake. It’s creamy, chocolatey, nutty goodness is so rich and delicious and is great as a meal replacement, post-workout shake, or as a healthy sweet treat for dessert.

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups chocolate hazelnut milk

1 scoop Vega One French Vanilla shake powder

1 tbsp. nutella, almond or peanut butter

1 tbsp. cacao nibs

1/2 banana

Few cubes of ice

Directions: 

Add all the ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and creamy.  Enjoy!

 

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Not my best photo, but I swear it tastes SO much more amazing than it looks 🙂

Coconut Palm Sugar, a Healthier Sugar Option

I’m not an advocate of sugar at all and really try to avoid it as much as I can on a daily basis.  When I do eat sugar, it’s definitely a treat and is usually a special dessert out at a restaurant, but I realize that sugar is a necessary evil that does get used on a daily basis.  My thought on sugar is if you’re going to use it, be informed and used the best kind of sugar or natural sweetener that you can find.

A new favorite of mine is coconut palm sugar which is made from coconut tree nectar that is dried and then crystalized into an all natural sweetener.  It’s full of nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, nitrogen, sodium, calcium and amino acids that are absent in other sugars and sweeteners, and is great for stabilizing your sugar levels.  It scores very low on the glycemic index (35 out of 70 on the GI scale), which measures how quickly your body absorbs sugar into your bloodstream from the foods that you consume.  This means that you’re not going to have the huge spikes in your blood sugar levels like you do from other sweeteners, which cause sugar crashes that leave you feeling hungry, sluggish and can lead to weight gain.

A couple of good things about coconut palm sugar is that is measures the same way as sugar – an absolutely equal substitute so you don’t have to worry about conversions, is great for baking, and it doesn’t have a chemical taste live stevia or some other sweeteners.  It does have the same calories as regular sugar, but it is a better low carb substitute.

When buying your coconut palm sugar, read the labels carefully and make sure that you’re buying 100% pure organic coconut palm sugar with no additives or fillers like white cane sugar.  You can find it at most natural food markets, or online so it’s super easy to find.

 

 

10 Tips to Clean Eating

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Clean or dirty hands?  Clean or dirty underwear?  Clean or dirty house?  You’re answer to all of these questions is obviously clean – clean always trumps dirty (except in the bedroom where sometimes a little dirty is good too, but I digress).  So when it comes to the foods that you eat – why wouldn’t you choose to eat the cleanest and healthiest foods for your body as well?

Clean eating is all the rage these days, and with good reason.  With so many chemicals, preservatives and just straight-up crap added to our foods, it’s scary not knowing what you’re eating and putting into your body which is why I’m all about eating as clean as I can.  For a lot of people though, they’re not sure how to eat clean or what it means so here’s my breakdown of it.

Eating clean is really  as simple as it gets – it means that you eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible by eating foods that are free of any added chemicals, aren’t processed, preserved or refined. Your diet should consist mostly of lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grain carbs.

It’s not so much of a diet, as it is a completely doable lifestyle.   Once you make the switch to clean eating you’ll notice that not only will extra weight come off but you’ll be able to maintain your weight much easier as well, your energy levels will increase, and you’ll just see a major boost in your overall mood and health in general.  Start by making a couple of small changes and swaps at first, and don’t feel bad if you fall off the clean bandwagon every now and then and indulge in those “dirty” foods, because it’s all about balance at the end of the day.

So here are my top 10 tips to help you eat clean:

  1. Switch out your white carbs (bread, pasta, flour), with whole grain options instead.
  2. Look at the ingredients on your food labels – they should consist of just a few ingredients, not a ton of man-made chemicals that you can’t pronounce. If you don’t know what an ingredient is or can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!
  3.  Eat lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey or very lean cuts of red meat.
  4. Try to avoid sugar altogether, but if you can’t use healthier substitutes like agave, stevia, coconut palm sugar or honey.
  5. Try to buy only organic products, especially when it comes to meat, dairy and eggs because many of these non-organic items can contain hormones and/or antibiotics.
  6. Drink plenty of water each day, and stay away from sugary juices and sodas. To figure out how much water to drink each day, divide your weight in half and that’s how many ounces of water you should drink (If you weigh 160 lbs., you should drink 80 oz. water/day).
  7. Aim to buy organic, seasonal and local produce at a Farmer’s Market. Not only is it free of pesticides, but it’s fresher, tastes better, leaves less of a carbon footprint and supports your local community.
  8. Stay away from fried food,  fast-food and most pre-packaged foods.
  9. Replace saturated fats with healthy fats and essential fatty acids.
  10. Choose low-fat dairy products over full fat or non-fat options.