Simple Steps to Feel Amazing Every Day this Summer

Summertime is the official spokes-season (see what I did there?) of relaxation, vitality and pure amazingness. In fact, my personal mantra during these gloriously sun-drenched months is to Feel Amazing Every Day through self-care rituals, alfresco explorations, fitness commitments and superfood sustenance.

 And in that spirit of epic expectations, lemme divulge my Top 4 no-fail wellness pointers, along with statistical snapshots on why you should care. Then, we can ALL proceed to make this summer one for the history books!

feel amazing every day

1.  Start Each Day with a Yoga Flow.

  • Stimulates physical energy
  • Alleviates emotional stress
  • Cultivates breath awareness
  • Forges a mind‚Äďbody connection
  • Promotes full-body movement
upward dog

upward dog, anyone? ignore the…err…unflattering angle!

2.  Say “Hell Yeah” to Whole Foods.

  • Gives the body nutrient‚Äďdense fuel
  • Satiates hunger for extended periods
  • Curbs refined sugar cravings over time
  • Encourages a mindful eating practice
  • Replaces “artificial” with all‚Äďnatural
amazing grass pancakes

protein pancakes topped with almond butter drizzle

3.  Spend Quality Time Outdoors.

  • Improves respiration & circulation
  • Reduces stress for mental clarity
  • Offers the benefits of Vitamin D
  • Motivates cardiovascular activity
  • Fosters appreciation for nature
amazing grass smoothie 2

RayBan shades and 95‚Äďdegree Florida humidity…optional

4.  Slurp on Amazing Grass Smoothies.

  • Contains 20g of plant-based protein
  • Yields 2 servings of fruit & veggies
  • Includes 7 alkalizing leafy greens
  • Supports lean muscle development
  • Regulates optimal digestive health
  • Provides these wellness benefits:
    • USDA-certified organic ingredients
    • non-GMO & gluten-free verified
    • no added sugars or preservatives
    • vegan, kosher & pareve compliant
amazing grass smoothie 3

organic pea, hemp, chia and quinoa…OH MY!

Psssst…wanna experience all that AMAZINGNESS for yourself this summer? Then, don’t forget to enter my Amazing Grass Protein Superfood Giveaway! Check out the details below and indicate which flavor you’d prefer: Original, Vanilla or Chocolate‚ÄďPeanut Butter.

instagram giveaway

***Open U.S.‚Äďbased entries only.  Winner selected at midnight July 9.***

 

Sweat It Out With a Protein-Packed Snack Attack

There’s a 50/50 chance I might’ve *casually* mentioned once‚ÄĒmaaaaybe twice‚ÄĒthat I’m getting married in the near future. 160 days if you wanna get technical, but who’s counting?

Although I don’t buy into¬†that¬†stereotypical “wedding workout” mentality (fitness is a¬†lifestyle, not some¬†Must. Drop. Two. Dress. Sizes.¬†For. The. Big. Day. thing), exercise does¬†have a prominent¬†place in my routine. That would still be true regardless of this whole bride-to-be caveat…but¬†extra motivation a la¬†Alfred Angelo never hurts either!

post pure barre

That time I dragged¬†the (almost) hubs to Pure Barre…Couples who sweat together stay together, dontcha know!

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not just about¬†turning heads on your walk down the aisle or rocking that honeymoon bikini you’ve ogled for months. Exercise¬†relieves stress¬†(pre-wedding jitters, anyone?), boosts productivity (those guest lists¬†aren’t gonna write¬†themselves!), and influences even more healthy habits too.

Like eating. A.K.A. the other¬†part of this wellness equation.¬†In order to sustain¬†physical activity, our bodies need fuel. Mainly¬†protein-dense fuel which promotes muscular development, strength and endurance, so we can keep moving for longer periods of time. Fact: no¬†snacking repertoire‚ÄĒfor¬†pre-workout energy¬†or¬†post-workout recovery‚ÄĒis complete without this nutritional powerhouse.

Think¬†raw almonds, steamed edamame, roasted chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, plain Greek yogurt and nut butters, for example. Or,¬†need¬†some further¬†“nom”spiration?¬†(Just invented a new word. No biggie.) Check out my Sweat Sesh Snack Attack¬†go-tos¬†for your protein loading pleasure!

protein post-workout snacks

Whether you’re¬†#SweatingForTheWedding or craving a healthier alternative to Cool Ranch Doritos, these mindful munchies just reinvented snacktime. Yup…don’t underestimate the¬†power of protein. This bride-to-be has spoken.


*For even more ideas, recipes and tidbits to pack your diet with protein,  Nuts.com  has you covered!

So, What’s the Deal With that “Buddha Bowl” Bandwagon?

Lately, my entire Pinterest feed has turned into one continuous love letter¬†to the gloriousness that is a¬†Buddha Bowl. I’ve been hearing this term used more and more in wellness circles, but it’s taken me awhile to join the “Buddha Bowl Bandwagon.” Well, until last weekend anyway.

On a random Saturday night, the fianc√© and I were embroiled in our usual debate: should we make dinner reservations, grab some take-out, or just raid the fridge?¬†Laziness won out (’cause my spirit animal is a 65-year-old in threadbare sweats who¬†calls “lights out” before 10pm), so we settled on Option #3. Then,¬†inspiration struck‚ÄĒHey…I’ll make one of those Buddha Bowl things!

So, through¬†trial-and-error, I debunked the basic formula and concocted my own variation. And now that I’ve graduated¬†from¬†Buddha Bowl virgin to Buddha Bowl addict, I’m passing this formula along to you.

(WARNING: contents might cause obsession!)

how to make a buddha bowl

1. ¬† Building Blocks‚ÄĒWhat Components Will You Need?

  • The¬†Base:¬†choose a whole grain like quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, wheatberry or farro.
  • The Greens:¬†choose leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, chard or watercress.
  • The Protein:¬†choose a plant-based protein like chickpeas, almonds, beans, tempeh¬†or tofu.
  • The Extras:¬†choose veggies like sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, carrots or avocado (okay…not a veggie, but still delish).
  • The Dressing:¬†choose a sauce¬†like the flavor bomb pictured above. Wanna make it? Then, stay tuned…

2. ¬† Assembly Required‚ÄĒHow Do You Put It All Together?

  • The First¬†Layer:¬†cook the whole grains according to their package instructions, then spread¬†onto¬†the bottom of your bowl.
  • The Second Layer:¬†arrange¬†a handful of leafy greens over the whole grain base.
  • The Third Layer:¬†oven roast the protein source (or, leave raw if desired and¬†safe to consume), then arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Fourth¬†Layer:¬†steam the veggies until tender, then¬†arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Top Layer:¬†drizzle the sauce to evenly coat the veggies. Oh, and here’s that recipe I hinted at earlier…blend together¬†1 red pepper, ¬† ¬† ¬† 1 garlic clove,¬†2 tbsp. lemon juice,¬†1 tbsp. olive oil,¬†1/2 tsp. paprika,¬†1/4 tsp. turmeric,¬†1/4 tsp. coriander¬†and¬†1/4 tsp. cumin.¬†Viola!
buddha bowl finished product

couldn’t resist posting ANOTHER shot of my finished product in all its glory

Alrighty. That’s the gameplan, people. So, welcome aboard that Buddha Bowl Bandwagon‚ÄĒwhere dinnertime dilemmas have met¬†their match!

Superfood Spotlight: Edamame Goes Green for Spring

With the weather warming up‚ÄĒor¬†heating¬†up¬†if you’re a Sunshine State dweller like me‚ÄĒin preparation for¬†glorious spring, this time of year makes me crave all things green.¬†Especially in the kitchen, amiright?!

And because I’m feeling Green Goddess-y at the moment, my latest recipe sorta resembles a leprechaun explosion. St. Patrick’s Day is next week, after all! The perfect appetizer¬†for a weekend¬†cookout, this fresh and vibrant take on hummus¬†is also loaded with plant-based protein.

Gotta love health benefits disguised as flavor bombs, so feature this superfood spread at your next happy hour. Talk about a hit throughout swimsuit season!

Note: The recipe yields 6-8 servings, so you might need to adjust the ingredient count for larger gatherings. 

superfood snacking edamame hummus

Ingredients: 

1/2 c. Edamame (shelled)

2 tbsp. Grapeseed Oil

1 Garlic Clove (minced)

1 Lemon (juiced)

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

2 Thyme Sprigs

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a saucepan, filled with about 1 1/2 cups of Water, on a high stovetop setting.
  2. When the water reaches a boil, add the Edamame and reduce to a simmer until the they have cooked thoroughly.
  3. Turn off the heat and drain the edamame through a colander, then transfer them into a food processor or blender.
  4. Add the other Ingredients to the food processor or blender, then puree until smooth.

Serving Suggestion:

For a gluten-free alternative to store bought crackers or pita bread, enjoy this¬†Hummus¬†with sliced avocado and julienned tubers‚ÄĒlike carrots or parsnips.¬†This is also a deceptively delicious way to entice the kiddos with fresh veggies during those after-school snack attacks!

New Year. New You. New Fuel! {Product Review}

So…you might’ve noticed something different about the calendar by now.¬†Hint: the date no longer reads “2015.” (Of course, I can never get my years straight, so if you cashed a check from me recently, just scribble out that “15” part. Sorry, Mom.)

But enough about my haphazard record keeping skills. 2016 has officially taken up residence for the next 52 weeks, which — for most people — signals¬†that dreaded New Year’s Resolution season.

Based on The Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 66% of resolution makers center their goals around fitness and nutrition. However, 73% will soon fall victim to burnout.

The take-away? Don’t become another statistic.

Whether you’re¬†planning a dietary overhaul or just¬†curbing a junk food fetish,¬†Manitoba Harvest¬†has the ideal¬†snack time solution. Your¬†2016 self-improvement¬†list¬†never tasted more delectable.

Introducing (drumroll, please)…

manitoba harvest fueled by hemp

image courtesy of Manitoba Harvest

Fuel this year with the natural protein power of hemp, and healthy eating will become a no-brainer!

These conveniently portioned nibbles support your active lifestyle with nutritious fuel anytime of day. From a portable office snack to a workout energy boost to an after-dinner treat, hemp heart bars offer on-the-go versatility to balance out that busy schedule.

Behold, the health benefits of¬†each 45-gram serving…

The Breakdown:

10 grams Plant-Based Protein

10 grams Omega Fatty Acids

> 10 grams Sugar

Vegan & Non-GMO


The Flavor Profile:

chocolate hemp bar flavor

CHOCOLATE

240 Calories Per Bar — I’m generally not a proponent of calorie counting, but in case you wanna know,¬†there’s your answer.

Natural Ingredients — hemp hearts, organic brown rice syrup, organic coconut palm sugar, organic cocoa mass, organic dutch-process cocoa, organic chocolate flavor, pectin, organic sunflower oil, rosemary extract

My Verdict — All the buttery richness I expect¬†from a chocolate cravings crusher. No complaints from this choco-holic!

apple cinnamon hemp bar flavor

APPLE CINNAMON

230 Calories Per Bar — Blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard my calorie counting spiel, so I’ll leave this here for curiosity’s sake.

Natural Ingredients — ¬†hemp hearts, organic coconut palm sugar, dried apple, cinnamon, organic apple flavor, organic brown rice syrup, pectin, organic sunflower oil, organic caramel flavor, rosemary extract

My Verdict — I’m just not ready to kiss fall flavors goodbye,¬†and this delivers all the spicy seasonal warmth ¬†of a classic apple pie. Seconds, please!

vanilla hemp bar flavor

VANILLA

240 Calories Per Bar — Yeah…I’ll get off my soapbox now. It’s packed with nutrients, that’s all you gotta¬†know.

Natural Ingredients —¬†hemp hearts, organic coconut palm sugar, organic brown rice syrup, organic vanilla flavor, sea salt, pectin, organic sunflower oil, rosemary extract

My Verdict — Distinctly floral and aromatic with a hint of earthiness. The consummate sweet tooth satisfier, in my taste bud’s opinion!


 

Wanna try this deliciousness for free? Then, enter the “Fueled By Hemp” social media photo contest! Tag #sweatpink #hempheartbar #fueledbyhemp @manitobaharvest @fitapproach¬†for a chance to win your favorite flavor.¬†The posts¬†don’t need to include Manitoba Harvest products, but of course, it‚Äôs fabulous if they do!

Check out the full contest details here.¬†Open to U.S. and Canada residents. Or, if you need instant hemp gratification¬†(which…understandable!), order online using the discount code¬†hhbarlaunch1016¬†for 15% off your purchase¬†(Expires 3/31/2016).

manitoba harvest hemp heart bars

image courtesy of Manitoba Harvest

 

Balancing the Crucial Connection Between Fitness & Nutrition

Due to the gradual development of poor lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy diet and irregular exercise, numerous Americans have begun exhibiting risk factors for high blood glucose, metabolic syndrome, cellular oxidative stress and other conditions associated with inadequate nutrition intake and fitness levels.

While the average person knows that consistent physical exertion must be sustained by wholesome eating habits, and vise versa, this balancing act is often difficult to maintain.

In a culture that values pre-packaged convenience over freshly prepared quality, many people consume an overabundance of artificial preservatives, toxic chemicals, saturated fats and refined sugars. These heavily processed ingredients cause unwelcome weight gain and can result in various medical concerns.

In addition, many people also lack the motivation to incorporate vigorous activity into their daily routines, so when combined with nutrient deficiency, a sedentary lifestyle could trigger the premature onset of serious cardiovascular issues.

To protect your body from these health hazards, practice eating whole foods and exercising every day until doing so becomes a ritual that no longer requires conscious effort.

Healthy eating woman holding a salad and smiling - isolated over white

A well-rounded diet includes plant-based proteins (e.g. beans, lentils, raw nuts, non-dairy milk); lean meats ‚Äď unless you‚Äôre a vegetarian, of course! ‚Äď (e.g. chicken, turkey, fish); whole grains (e.g. oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt); low-sugar fruits (e.g. berries, avocados, papayas, oranges, melons); and leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, lettuce).

These powerhouses contain essential nutrients, naturally-occurring chemicals, antioxidants and beneficial fats, rather than those harmful ingredients found in a typical fast food meal.

The other ‚Äúpuzzle piece‚ÄĚ ‚Äď habitual movement ‚Äď combines aerobic (e.g. running, cycling, swimming, dancing, kickboxing) and anaerobic (e.g. weight lifting, push-ups, squats, crunches, resistance yoga) training.

Together, both disciplines promote muscle tone, cardiovascular strength, skeletal resilience, flexibility, endurance and physical energy. Your body needs these wellness properties to function optimally, experience longevity, and build defenses against illness or injury.

Becoming committed to proper fitness and nutrition can mean the difference between healthy aging and chronic disease development. However, the ultimate decision is yours: would you rather feel vibrant, active and nourished at the cellular level?

Or, are you content to keep avoiding exercise, frequenting the drive-through window and, potentially, suffering from metabolic syndrome or other weight-related complications?


Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.

Quinoa & Edamame Burgers (a.k.a. Your Dinner Table’s Next Meatless Marvel)

Trivia Question: how does a self-proclaimed foodie, who really really loves veggie burgers, cope on Friday night when her boyfriend ditches her (but all is forgiven, Broski!) for some old-school Nintendo 64?

By creating a kickass recipe to satisfy said veggie burger cravings! Obvi.

I’m not vegan, but I do have a healthy appreciation for vegan cooking. So, that’s exactly what we have here — veggies, whole grains, and plant-based proteins. ¬†Pure, nutritional deliciousness! And I can assure even the most committed carnivores out there that this burger hits the spot.

Nope. You won’t miss the meat.

Don’t believe me? Alrighty, then. Make it yourself. (I’ll just be over here, chanting: “told ya so!”)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1/4 cup Quinoa (cooked)
  2. 1 tbsp. Mushrooms (diced)
  3. 2 tbsp. Roasted Red Peppers (diced)
  4. 2 tbsp. Edamame
  5. 2 tbsp. Rolled Oats
  6. 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard

veggie burger ingredients

  • Preparation:
  1. Preheat a small saucepan on a medium-high stovetop setting, then cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. Preheat a small skillet on a low stovetop setting, then saute the mushrooms and roasted red peppers for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Puree the edamame in a blender or food processor until coarsely mashed, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Puree the mushrooms and red peppers in a blender or food processor until they reach the same consistency as the edamame, then transfer to the mixing bowl.
  5. Add the quinoa, rolled oats, and mustard into the mixing bowl, then stir until the ingredients combine to form a slightly “mushy” texture.
  6. Mold this mixture into patties (I made 1 large patty, but you could just as easily make 2-3 small patties), then transfer them to another skillet and turn the stovetop setting to medium.
  7. Cook the burgers for approximately 5 minutes on each side, then remove from heat and allow them to cool slightly before serving.

veggie burger before

  • Serving Suggestion:

Play off the Asian-inspired flavor of the edamame by wrapping your veggie burger in a Nori sheet (dried seaweed) instead of a traditional bun. Not only will the crisp saltiness please your palate, but it’s also a much healthier swap-out.

In fact, while we’re at it, why not continue this plant-based theme we’ve got going and substitute cheese for cashew cream? It’s a snap to whip up and makes a tasty topper for our veggie burger.

Simply soak 2 tbsp. raw cashews in 1/4 cup water for 1-2 hours (feel free to skip this step if you’re pressed for time), then drain and toss the cashews into a blender, along with 1 garlic clove, 3 tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Puree these ingredients until smooth, then spread the cream on your patty.

veggie burger after

¬†Aaaaaaand….Dinner is served!