Why Should You Eat Clean?

women eating 1

 

women eating 1

The number one question many people often ask me is HOW to eat clean. But the second most frequent question people is WHY. Why should I eat clean? It’s absolutely a valid question. Without a doubt, it’s super important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you don’t know the “why” part then it can be difficult to stay motivated. Knowing the “why” gives you purpose and helps you to set goals and actually be able to ATTAIN those goals.

The most important reason to eat clean is the impact it has on your health. Eating clean will certainly make you healthier and will definitely help you to feel better. Another good reason to eat clean is that it can help you lose weight.

The whole reason I started this website is because of my own personal struggle with losing weight. It began several years ago shortly after the birth of my second child.  I was getting extremely frustrated because I was working out like crazy yet I wasn’t losing any weight. At that point I began eating “clean” and that’s when the weight finally started to come off. I lost between 1-2 lbs. a week over a period of about 6 months. It was so gratifying to finally unlock the secret to losing weight and, more importantly, keeping it off. My own personal journey aside, here are a few more reasons you should consider eating clean:

  • Two thirds of all US adults are overweight

This is due to the unfortunate fact that most people tend to eat all the wrong things. Fast food, processed food, too much sugar…it’s all bad stuff. By eating clean, you eliminate anything processed. The beautiful thing about clean eating is that it isn’t necessary to count calories because everything you eat is all real food. If you don’t eat junk then calorie counting becomes unnecessary. Pair clean eating with daily exercise and you won’t be in the majority of adults with a weight problem.

vine tomatoes

  • 1 in 3 people will develop cancer in their lifetime

Isn’t that alarming? It is estimated that up to half of all cancer cases could be avoided if people made changes to their lifestyle, such as stopping smoking, moderating alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy body weight. I firmly believe that one of the main reasons cancer rates are so high is because of the amount of processed food most people put into their bodies. Things like trans fats and high fructose corn syrup are absolutely deadly for the body. Clean eating eliminates all man made chemicals and replaces them with healthy, natural REAL food.

  • 29 million people in the United States (9.3 percent) have diabetes and 86 million adults aged 20 years and older have prediabetes

Diabetes is a serious, preventable disease. Your risk of developing diabetes can be significantly lowered through physical activity and proper diet. Another important part of diabetes management is reducing other cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use. People with diabetes are also at increased risk of serious health complications including vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputation of toes, feet or legs, and premature death.

Eating clean is THE WAY my friends. It really, truly is. And the beautiful thing about it is that it’s simple. You don’t need to count points, follow some complicated diet plan, or spend a ton of money on pre packaged meals. You just eat real, unprocessed food the way nature intended.

 

 

Want to Lose Weight and Sleep Better? Eating More Protein May be the Answer!

weight loss high protein diet sleep quality

Recently many studies have shown that better sleep may lead to weight loss.

But is it also possible that the opposite may be true? Could weight loss lead to better sleep? A recent study revealed some interesting results.

A team of researchers at Purdue University investigated the effect of a weight loss diet on sleep quality. Their findings,  which were recently published in the American Journal of Nutrition, revealed that those who followed a high protein diet for several months achieved better sleep quality.

The study involved 44 volunteers who were either obese or overweight. One group followed a high protein diet and the other group consumed an average amount of protein.

Volunteers consumed either 0.8g or 1.5g of protein per day per kg of body mass for 16 weeks. Protein sources came from beef, pork, soy, legumes and milk. Each month researchers gave the volunteers a questionnaire to evaluate participants sleep quality. After 3 to 4 months, scientists found that the volunteers with the highest protein intake reported an improvement in sleep quality.

 “Short sleep duration and compromised sleep quality frequently lead to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and premature death,” explains Jing Zhou, the study’s first author. “Given the high prevalence of sleep problems it’s important to know how changes to diet and lifestyle can help improve sleep.”

Although these are certainly interesting findings, it’s worth noting that this was a very small study and not necessarily a comprehensive study on the relationship of high protein diets to weight loss and sleep quality. When it comes to maintaining optimal health (including sleeping well) eating clean is a huge step in the right direction.

Do you follow a high protein diet? Has it led to weight loss and/or improved sleep for you? Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

The Amazing Elderberry!

homemade elderberry syrup

If you’re looking for a natural (and tasty) way to strengthen your family’s immune system this winter look no further than the wonderful elderberry!

The elderberry bush, a member of the honeysuckle family, is really a small tree with delicate white flowers which eventually turn into berry clusters usually between the months of August and October. They thrive in northeastern and northwestern areas of the US and Canada. The elderberry has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years across Europe, Asia, Africa as well as North America.

Due to its antiviral and anti inflammatory properties, the elderberry has been quite useful in treating and preventing the flu, colds, coughs as well as aiding in lowering cholesterol and treating yeast infections.  Elderberries contain potassium, beta carotene and fiber. They provide 17% of daily value of vitamin A, a whopping 87% of vitamin C and 13% of iron.  As you can see, elderberries are a serious powerhouse when it comes to fighting all kinds of ailments!

So how can you incorporate elderberries into your diet? Make elderberry syrup! I’ve been giving my kids elderberry syrup for about 2 years now and they rarely get sick. And what’s really great is that they love the taste. It kind of tastes like blueberry and cherry mixed together. I give my kids one teaspoon every morning with their breakfast and I take one Tbsp each morning.

HOMEMADE ELDERBERRY SYRUP

Ingredients

2/3 cup black elderberries

3 1/2 cups water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raw honey ( I buy mine at the local health food store)

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, add water, elderberries, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about an hour or until mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside. Let cool slightly. Pour through a strainer into a glass bowl or jar.

Discard elderberries and let the liquid cool until lukewarm. Add the honey and mix well. Pour mixture into pint sized jars or any 16 ounce glass container. Store in the refrigerator. The mixture will be good for about 2 months.

Dosage recommendations: Adults: 1/2 to 1 Tbsp daily; Children: 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp daily. If you or your children are ill, increase the normal dose from once a day to every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear.

 

 

How To Eat Clean During the Holidays

It’s holiday season once again! Is it just me or does it seem like from Halloween to New Year’s it’s just one eating temptation after another?  It can be super difficult to resist the abundance of holiday goodies that pop up around this time of year. Here are some strategies that always seem to help me stay on track:

  • ALWAYS eat something before going to a holiday party. The plates of appetizers and dessert trays will be far less appealing if you eat a healthy meal at home beforehand. Even if you just have a protein bar in the car on the way there, that’s better than going to the party hungry.
  • Watch the alcohol intake. You can pack on serious calories with alcohol. And it’s not just obvious things like eggnog. Beer, wine and mixed drinks are all loaded with calories. If you really want to have a drink then consider it a cheat and have just ONE light beer or wine spritzer. Try to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages for the rest of the week.
  • When attending a holiday meal with family and friends, offer to bring something. I think people actually appreciate having a healthy alternative to all the junk that’s usually served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most people won’t even realize it’s a clean item!
  • Avoid “emotional eating”! It’s stressful this time of year with all the shopping,  expenses, visiting relatives, finding the perfect gift, traveling, etc.  Many times when we’re stressed we overeat and don’t even realize what we’re putting in our mouths. Find some time to relax with a cup of tea, meditate for 10 minutes or call a friend who always makes you laugh.
  • Keep up with your exercise routine! I know it’s tough this time of year to fit in exercise with the gazillion other things there are to do. Even if you just walk a few times a week, that’s better than nothing.
  • Weigh yourself daily. Some people advise against this but I’ve found it’s the best way to keep myself in check. It’s too easy to go into denial mode and simply ignore the scale. Seriously, wouldn’t you rather know NOW if you’re starting to gain weight rather than discovering in January that you’ve packed on 10 pounds?

Remember, it’s okay to indulge a bit every once in awhile. Life isn’t supposed to feel like deprivation – you’re allowed to enjoy yourself.  By practicing awareness while eating, you’ll not only get more pleasure out of eating, you’ll eat less as well!

 

Homemade Gingerbread Latte

gingerbread latte

Love the Gingerbread Lattes from Starbucks?  Starbucks took a step in the right direction when they disclosed the ingredients in their Pumpkin Spice Latte. The problem is they have yet to reveal the ingredients in all of their drinks. Until Starbucks decides to be completely transparent about what they're using in their products, I just don't feel good about drinking them. 

Not to worry - you don't have to go without those delicious Gingerbread Lattes! You can simply make them at home. This recipe contains only 6 ingredients - hurray for simplicity! Also, this version contains coconut palm sugar which is much healthier than white sugar. Oh, and it's also MUCH cheaper! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

4 inch piece of ginger

2 cups water

1 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

5 whole cloves​

Instructions:

  1. Peel and thinly slice the piece of ginger. ​
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Simmer until sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Add remaining ingredients except the vanilla extract and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered,  for 15 - 20 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Strain syrup through a sieve to strain out the ginger and the cloves. 
  5. Let cool and store in the refrigerator in a glass container with a lid. 

Instructions for making a latte: 

  1. Put 2 Tbsp ginger syrup in a coffee mug.
  2. Heat 6 oz milk in a small saucepan. While milk is heating up brew a cup of strong coffee.
  3. Take milk off the burner before it begins to boil. Pour into blender and blend until milk is frothy. 
  4. Pour 1/4 cup off brewed hot coffee into mug with ginger syrup. Pour milk into cup and stir. Enjoy!

6 Healthy Weekend Habits

6 healthy weekend habits

Don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done this week! Limiting alcohol intake, planning meals for the upcoming week and getting plenty of rest are all great habits to incorporate into your weekend routine.

Weekends are also a great time to incorporate something new into your life. If you’re not already doing so, meditating or taking a walk in nature are wonderful ways to reconnect with yourself and recharge.

Why Your Organic Food May Contain Harmful Chemicals

what food labels mean

Your organic food may contain harmful chemicals. How is this possible? The”USDA organic” label does NOT mean chemical free. So what does the label actually mean? If you see the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal, the item must have an ingredients list and the contents should be 95% or more certified organic, meaning free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering, according to the USDA. The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list. The question at hand is which, if any, chemicals should even be allowed in organic food?

Recently a committee called the National Organic Standards Board conducted their semi annual meeting in which they discussed which synthetic substances organic farmers and processors may use.  Although most would prefer to exclude the use of all synthetic chemicals, there are some  herbicides, fungicides, emulsifiers and other additives that some organic farmers say they cannot do without. At the meeting a potato grower from Chin Family Farms acknowledged that a natural substance, clove oil, can be used to keep potatoes from sprouting. But a chemical known as “3-decene-2-one” or “3D2,” works much better. He even showed pictures to prove his point. “Clove oil has been a wonderful product,” he said. But “we don’t feel it is effective enough. It’s hurting our business.”

Organic food is a $2 billion industry and continues to grow. Yet how is the consumer supposed to know what is truly organic and what is just mostly organic? This is where understanding food labels becomes crucial. Click here to read more about food labels. If you truly want chemical free food you’ ll need to look for the “100% organic” label or, better yet, grow your own!

 

 

7 Delicious Clean Eating Smoothie Recipes

Who doesn’t love a smoothie? NO ONE – that’s who! Smoothies are an excellent breakfast when you’re eating clean. They’re healthy, portable and super delicious! Here are my favorite 7 delicious clean eating smoothie recipes:

  1. Spinach Blueberry Smoothie – A delicious way to eat your greens!
  2. High Protein Smoothie – The perfect pre-workout meal.
  3. Kiwi Berry Smoothie – Yummy and refreshing, this smoothie makes a tasty snack.
  4. Banana Chocolate Smoothie – Tastes just like a peanut butter banana milkshake!
  5. Oatmeal Smoothie – This one is a great way to have “breakfast on the go”.
  6. Cherry Chocolate Smoothie – So rich and creamy, you’ll forget you’re eating clean!
  7. Pumpkin Smoothie – You’ll love this one – tastes just like pumpkin pie.

 

Live Without Limits!

live without limits

Are you putting limits on yourself? Have you gotten into a rut in your workout, your professional life or in your personal goals? If you’re feeling stuck then it’s likely that you have come up against a dreaded plateau.

Here’s the thing. You CANNOT just stay there. You can’t achieve your dreams if you don’t test your limits. You’ll never know just how far you can go if you don’t bust out of the comfort zone, break down your fears and go for yours. So if you feel stuck then I suggest you do something different. Anything different. Try a different type of workout. Learn a new skill. Take a class. Just do SOMETHING that will stretch you intellectually, emotionally or physically.

How Sitting Too Long Affects the Body

how sitting too long affects the body

 

Do you have a job where you have to sit most of the day? You are more than likely doing your health a major disservice! A few health concerns caused by sitting for long periods of time include:

Cancer – Low physical activity occupations have an increased incidence of cancer. A study found women’s chances of developing breast and ovary cancer were heighten if working in a sedentary job.

Heart Disease – Sedentary behaviors increase the risk of heart disease by up to 64%

Slower metabolism – The decreased muscle contractions that occurs with prolonged, immobile sitting slows the clearance of fat from the blood stream and decreases the effect of insulin.

Compromised posture – Sitting causes the pelvis to rotate backward and puts pressure on the lumbar discs. This position forces the head forward and cause the shoulders to curve to compensate for the weight transfer.

So what can you do to offset the negatives effects of being sedentary? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Periodically move around in your seat.
  2. Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
  3. Use a stand up desk.
  4. Have organized breaks throughout the day.
  5. Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.
  6. Position your work surface above a treadmill so that you can be in motion throughout the day.

(Photo courtesy of mindbodygreen.com. To see a larger version of this photo click here)

 

Are You Too Busy to Take Care of Your Health?

are you too busy to take care of your health

Are you "too busy" to eat healthy? Is now just not a good time for you to begin to take care of your health? When WILL it be a good time? 

The single best way to stay in optimal health is to eat real food. It's the whole "garbage in - garbage out" thing. If you eat crappy food then you'll feel like crap. And if you feel lousy then you'll have zero energy. If you have no energy then you won't feel like doing all the other things you need to do to be healthy, like working out.

Think of food as the base of the "feeling good" pyramid. When you eat better, you feel better. When you feel better you have the energy to be active. When you're active, you sleep better. When you sleep better you reduce stress levels in the body. All healthy habits build on each other. 

 

 

The Health Benefits of Lavender

health benefits of lavender

I love lavender!
Want to stay  healthy during cold and flu season? Here are some helpful ways to use lavender to fight off all those yucky germs lurking everywhere this time of year:

1. Make your own hand sanitizer

– In a leak proof  bottle combine 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel, 3 tablespoons grain alcohol and 10 drops lavender essential oil. Shake thoroughly and use liberally throughout the day.

2. Direct use

–   By placing a few drops of lavender oil on the skin several times per day, the immune system will be ready to tackle cold bugs and flu viruses.

3. Antiseptic soap

– Washing your hands frequently is one of the best way to prevent illness. To take it up a notch, use lavender oil to make a natural germicidal soap. In a mixing bottle, add 20 drops of lavender essential oil per 8 ounces neutral liquid soap (such as castile). Shake vigorously to combine. Transfer to a hand soap dispenser and use frequently.

4. Disinfectant

– Use lavender essential oil as a disinfectant spray!  This will help keep your environment free of breeding pathogens. Add 40 drops of the oil to a spray bottle and fill with 2 cups water. Shake
well before each use. Use it to spray countertops, toilet seats,handles and doorknobs as well as cell phones and other high traffic surfaces.

5. Air sanitation

– This is a simple practice which minimizes infectious disease at home or in the office. By placing several drops of lavender oil in a pot of simmering water or use a nebulizer you will disinfect the air naturally and your immune system will get a boost! Diffuse for about 30 minutes.

Must Have Thanksgiving Items

essential thanksgiving items

If you’re like most people, you’ll probably find it necessary to run to the store at the last minute to pick up a few much needed Thanksgiving items. Remember to buy these while you’re at the store today so you don’t have to go tomorrow morning!

  1. Butter: Whether you’re using it to make a pie or slathering your turkey with it, butter is a staple at Thanksgiving.
  2. Ice: You’ll need plenty of this if you’re having lots of guests over tomorrow. Pick up a big bag of ice so you’ll have plenty for drinks. Another great reason to buy ice is to store some refrigerated items. This will give you much needed extra space in your refrigerator.
  3. Beverages: If you’re planning on serving adult beverages on turkey day, then you’ll need to make a liquor store run. Keep in mind that liquor stores are almost as busy as grocery stores the day before Thanksgiving.
  4. Paper towels: If you’re like me, you’re ALWAYS running low on paper towels. This is especially true if you’re making a big meal for lots of people.
  5. Heavy cream: Like butter, heavy cream comes into play for a lot of different dishes on Thanksgiving. Whether you’re using it in your mashed potatoes or whipping some up to put atop pumpkin pie, pick up this staple at the store.
  6. Aluminum foil: You’ll be using this a lot on turkey day! Tenting a turkey and wrapping up leftovers, for example. You’ll need more of this than you realize. Just pick some up today – trust me.
  7. Coffee: Even if you don’t serve it at Thanksgiving, do you have enough for the next morning?

Clean Eating Pumpkin Pie

Clean Eating Pumpkin Pie
Clean Eating Pumpkin Pie
Author: 
 
Looking for a healthier version of pumpkin pie? This recipe is super yummy!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups graham crackers, crushed
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon or orange peel
  • 1 tsp each ginger, cinnamon, ground cardamom and sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp each ground allspice and mace
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated skim milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can organic pumpkin puree
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place crumbs in a deep dish 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Drizzle with oil. Using a fork, stir to moisten.
  3. Using your hands, press crumbs against the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Crust should be crumbly. Refrigerate while making the filling.
  4. Lightly beat egg whites and whole egg. Whisk in brown sugar, grated peel, spices and sea salt.Whisk in milk and pumpkin puree. Pour over crust.
  5. Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake in center of oven until center is almost set when pan is jiggled, 60 to 75 minutes.
  6. Let cool then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 (4 oz) slice Calories: 231 Fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 41 g Sugar: 20 g Fiber: 4 g Protein: 6.5 g
 

Squash Hummus

Squash Hummus
Squash Hummus
Author: 
 
This is not only yummy but it only takes 15 minutes to make. You can use any kind of squash you like - pumpkin, butternut or acorn. Makes about 2½ cups.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 c. squash
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Serve chilled.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Tbsp Calories: 48 Fat: 3 g Carbohydrates: 9 g Protein: 6 g

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Author: 
 
Looking for a healthy and tasty appetizer? These yummy Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes are delicious!
Ingredients
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. plain low fat yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 25 cherry tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Place goat cheese and yogurt in a food processor and chop for about 30 seconds until creamy. Remove mixture from food processor, put into bowl and whisk in herbs.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out pulp and seeds.
  3. Slice a small sliver off the bottom of each tomato half so they will stand up straight on a plate.
  4. Fill each tomato half with ½ tsp. goat cheese mixture.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 5 tomatoes Calories: 35 Fat: 2 g Carbohydrates: 2 g Sugar: 2 g Fiber: 1 g Protein: 2 g
 

Nasty Food of the Week: Cheerios Protein

nasty food of the week: cheerios protein

Have you switched to Cheerios Protein cereal because you think it’s a healthier alternative than regular Cheerios? Time to switch back. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of cereal. It’s a processed food and not exactly nutrient dense but I do let my kiddos eat regular Cheerios on occasion. It’s pretty low in sugar (about 1 gram per serving) and last year they removed GMOs from regular Cheerios.

I have noticed Cheerios Protein at the grocery store but never purchased it because I assumed it was just a marketing ploy by General Mills to cash in on the whole high protein diet craze. Just because something is labeled high protein doesn’t make it a health food.  Looks like my instincts were correct because General Mills is now being sued for deceiving it’s customers. Just this week the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a lawsuit against General Mills charging them with false advertising. In the lawsuit the CSPI stated that General Mills falsely and misleadingly markets Cheerios Protein to children and adults as a high protein, healthful alternative to Cheerios.

Here’s how General Mills is being super shady: The recommended serving size for Cheerios Protein is 55 grams, whereas the serving size for original Cheerios is 28 grams. When the serving size difference is taken into account and the cereals are compared purely by calories, 200 calories’ worth of Cheerios Protein has only 7/10th of a gram more protein than 200 calories’ worth of Cheerios. Even if you ignore the serving size difference and compare just the protein content of both cereals on the nutrition label, the difference is unimpressive. Cheerios Protein has 7 grams of protein per serving while the original Cheerios has 3 grams. An additional 4 grams of protein will barely make a dent in most consumers’ diets. According to WebMD, here are the daily protein intake recommendations for men, women and children:

– School-age kids need 19-34 grams a day.
– Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day.
– Teenage girls need 46 grams a day.
– Adult men need about 56 grams a day.
– Adult women need about 46 grams a day

Wait – it gets worse. General Mills is charging a price premium for Cheerios Protein, according to the complaint. Consumers can expect to pay approximately 70 cents more for the product at stores like Walmart and Safeway. And General Mills is definitely not skimping on added sugars. According to the nutrition labels, a serving of Cheerios Protein has 17 grams of sugar (more than 4 teaspoons) while the original Cheerios has only 1 gram of sugar (less than a teaspoon). To put this into perspective, a serving of Cheerios Protein has far more sugar per serving than a typical kids cereal like Trix or Frosted Flakes! Looks like Cheerios Protein should be renamed Cheerios Sugar.

Clean Eating Tuna Salad

clean eating tuna salad
Clean Eating Tuna Salad
Author: 
 
Think tuna salad had to be loaded with calories? Not this one. It's delicious and won't ruin your waistline!
Ingredients
  • 4 oz canned tuna in water
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • ½ cup chickpeas
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Toss everything together and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 236 Fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 38 g Sugar: 8 g Sodium: 592 mg Protein: 20 g
 

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