Not Only Juice

Many of you know how much of a smoothie fanatic I am if you watch my Instagram stories; always creating a new concoction, not to mention my morning daily smoothie. What doesn’t get much love though; is juicing! And you may ask; “well what’s the difference?” The main difference between smoothies and juicing; is the pulp content / or lack thereof of fiber in juicing most of the time.

juicecollage

Well why would I juice then if I could just make a smoothie? The act of juicing contains a condensed version of most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals found in the contents, both juices (homemade not store bought full of added sugars) AND smoothies have their benefits in your everyday healthy lifestyle– it’s not one or the other.

When I was younger; I drank apple juice all of the time, of course the highest sugar content juice presumably. I never cared for orange juice, though I always asked for an apple juice at breakfast. The majority of processed juices are loaded with excess sugar and ingredients. Ever wonder why children are so susceptible to cavities? Between the sugar content in milk and juice alone; is enough explanation (though I am proud to admit I didn’t have my first and only small cavity until I was in my twenties.)

Not only are processed juices high in sugar content; but also calories! One of the first things I tell people when they ask me for nutrition advise is to cut out the excess beverages. It seems people tend to forget about the copious amounts of calories they consume through liquid alone!

Enough of the negativity already; back to the benefits of juicing your own fruits and vegetables! It seems more often than not, people tend to not drink enough water a day; juicing ensures getting not only many vitamins and minerals–but water. Vegetables such as celery, cucumbers, and spinach are nearly composed of all liquid! It is a quick and easy way to not only get all of your servings of vegetables in one sitting, but also hydration.

Ever notice how long it takes you to eat a cheeseburger (for me it is like 3 minutes flat) and then how long it takes to eat a large salad? I am already quite aware I eat too fast; it’s all so good, I just want to get it in as quick as possible! However, the physical process of chewing food helps to break it down into smaller particles. Which helps to reduce stress on the esophagus, and helps the stomach metabolize your food. When you chew each mouthful properly, you also release a lot of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. Needless to say I take longer to sit and chew raw vegetables in a salad, than I do to shovel in a hamburger.

Which means; if you don’t enjoy most vegetables, you are not going to take the time to sit for 20 minutes and chomp on them like a rabbit–your solution: juicing.

Let’s review some health benefits of vegetables you may not be first to grab in the grocery store; but are easily hidden in a juice, or smoothie.

BEETS

Can help lower your blood pressure, boost your stamina, fight inflammation, as well as aids in detoxification!

GINGER

Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, may prevent cancer.

GRAPEFRUIT

High content of Vitamin C and A, can provide health benefits for the skin, blood pressure, heart health, and disease prevention.

KALE

Vitamins A, C, and K, Folate (a B vitamin that’s key for brain development) Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep, dark green coloring and protect against macular degeneration and cataracts– Minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

PARSLEY

Antibacterial properties; freshens breath, can help eliminate body odor and treat excessive flatulence, flavonoid called myricetin may help fighting skin cancer, Apigenin decrease the size of tumors caused by breast cancer.

CILANTRO

Rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, Vitamin A, K, and Potassium, calcium help to build strong bones, teeth, and hair.

TURMERIC

Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (with the consumption of black pepper to aid absorption.) anti-inflammatory, boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain, aids in prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and cancer.

RED CABBAGE

Vitamin A, C, fiber, sulphur which helps the liver at filtering toxins, potassium, which improves blood circulation, Vitamin B, magnesium, calcium, manganese, Generous levels of a particular amino acid called glutamine are found in red cabbage, which is excellent for reducing the inflammation and discomfort linked with stomach ulcers.

SWISS CHARD

Excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.

POMEGRANATE

Polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation, Vitamin C, can aid to protect the heart and arteries, Vitamin E, Drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a daily may improve learning and memory, according to a recent study. Ability to impact oxidative stress make it a potential fertility aid, may help reduce soreness and improve strength recovery. It also decreases oxidative damage caused by exercise.
The bottom line; be sure to check with your healthcare professional before drastically changing your diet and adding in an array of new foods, to be sure they don’t counteract any medication you may already be taking. Otherwise; to the everyday individual, next time you are at the grocery store–check out the produce section and select a few interesting fresh ingredients you may have not tried otherwise! Stick them in a juicer and sip on the longevity elixir of life and health!

 

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The Secrets of Meal Prep

As many of you know; and some may not, I competed in my first fitness bikini competition in 2016. In some areas of my life; I am a black and white kinda girl, and I don’t mean in how I dress. I am naturally a perfectionist (which I am growing day by day away from, or trying to at least!) Which means when I started my new meal plan back in 2016 I was very precise, 11 almonds meant 11 almonds not 10, not 15; not a handful, but 11.

While taking out a food scale and weighing 4oz of chicken, 4oz of sweet potato, and a cup of broccoli was cumbersome; it instilled the procedure and dedication I needed to keep me on track. But this way of meal prep isn’t for everyone; and it certainly isn’t for me anymore, and probably isn’t for you either.

So what got me from 2016 to 2018 (where I am now) and how will this help you? Well what got me from 2016 to 2018 is a loaded question of ups and downs and learning curves for sure, but we won’t get into that here; but we will pause on learning curves.

mealprep

Through the diligence of being so strict, I learned the basic principals that I still carry with me today. After weighing chicken and vegetables for countless days; I now have a keen sense on what an approximate 4-6oz looks like, and in the everyday healthy lifestyle sense–it is good enough! When you are not stepping on stage at a certain body fat percentage; the extra gram or two of chicken won’t hinder your day to day healthy physique.

Another valuable lesson learned was how to shop at bulk superstores like BJ’s Wholesale; not only does it save you money, but when you eat a lot of the same food it is easier to get larger portions saving you trips to the grocery store each week. Now, my weekly trip to the store looks like 10 items or so rather than a cart full. Every morning my green smoothie consists of frozen vegetables which are not only cost effective, but their longevity far outlasts that of fresh. Which leads me to frozen fruit and vegetables are not only cost effective; but already cut, clean, and when talking about vegetables– already partially cooked. Which means less prep time for you during the week!

Typically I eat between 5–6 meals a day because I love eating and snacking. Eggs are a big staple in my diet not only because I love them; but because they are also cost effective. I usually add one whole egg to egg whites, and while egg whites are more expensive sometimes than buying eggs; they have a high protein complex.

Let’s do a little recap; shopping at wholesale clubs, frozen vegetables and fruit, eggs–which brings me to whole fresh fruit, and pre–packaged vegetables. Now depending on whether you are looking to save money, or time (because let’s be honest here, they go hand in hand) both of these topics may be beneficial to you–as they are to me. I love snacking on fresh fruit; which means my go-to are usually apples, and berries which are pre-packaged and when I want any kind of melon, or pineapple I buy the whole fruit and cut myself to save on cost. Whereas with something like pre-cut and washed vegetables or even frozen are sometimes more appealing to me than taking time to chop various veggies and blanching.

The grill and oven are probably my favorite meal prep tools; not only can you cook large amounts of ingredients at the same time, but they come out really tasty as well! Grilling chicken, and roasting vegetables changes things up, dedicated a day of the week (Saturday and Sunday usually work best for the 9–5 corporate world schedule) to go to the store and pick up anything you may need, and then prepare, cook, and pre-portion out your meals for the week. This makes each morning a breeze of just grabbing and going with your already planned out meals for the day.

I could go on and on about my favorite topic of food; so I will end with services such as HelloFresh and Home Chef, which make the modern life easier and healthy. Our family subscribes to both and while I prefer the majority of Home Chef meals over HelloFresh (HelloFresh is a lot more kid-friendly with their meal choices.) Anything from Salmon with Green Goddess Sauce to Chicken, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Grain Bowls make for delicious, healthy, no–brainer dinners. Each week; these companies send you a box with ice packs, and all of the ingredients you will need to cook the meals inside. As well as directions, and sometimes the vegetables even come pre-cut for you! This makes dinner a breeze, to come home after work, cook for on average 30 minutes and from kitchen to table you are able to enjoy time with your family through a communal meal. Because let’s face it; as much as we meal prep, and stay on schedule of a healthy lifestyle–food is sociable, and we need to not only enjoy it, but in good company!

You Want Me to Drink That?!

Breakfast to me has always been one thing; eggs. I will admit though; starting my mornings at 5:30am, green smoothie at 7:00am– still allows for eggs by 10:00am!

I love, love, love now starting my morning with a nutrition dense shake that helps fuel and kickstart my day. Not to mention by 7:30am I’ve already had a cup of green leafy spinach and kale which are nutrient dense in vitamins A, C, E and K, contain an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants which protect cells and may play roles in blocking early stages of cancer. They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. But let’s not stop there…

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My smoothie also contains half a cup of fruit which typically is high in potassiumdietary fibervitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure which is always a plus!

Next on the list that goes in is carrots; they are rich in betacarotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, biotinvitamin Kpotassium as well as vitamin B6.

If you don’t love peanut butter; I am pretty sure you are not human (jokes aside) I add peanuts to my morning shakes not only for the flavor. Peanuts are abundant in niacinfolate, pantothenic acidthiaminriboflavin, choline, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E and rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, potassiumzincironcoppermanganese and selenium – basically a superfood in my eyes, no but really I just love the taste!

If you’re not like me; and don’t find it exuberating to drink apple cider vinegar out of the bottle, I have the solution for you! (Rather my Nana brought it up the other day, and I thought; “yeah! great idea for people who don’t care for the taste.”) But anyways; a shot of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (BACV) goes into the smoothie which gives it a little fizzle and light and airiness to your morning shake. But why would you want to put vinegar in your smoothie you may ask; well not just any vinegar, it has to have “the mother” which are strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria to keep your gut happy and healthy. Let’s not stop there though; it can help kill pathogens, including bad bacteria, lowers blood sugar levels and helps fight diabetes, reduced fat and promotes weight loss, lowers cholesterol, improves heart health, and many other positive attributes.

Cinnamon; more than just a spice added to pies and cookies, it is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, reduces inflammation, which reduction in the body is incredibly important. It helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damage. May have beneficial effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases (Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types.)

I am not dairy intolerant; because I am pretty sure cheese and Greek yogurt make up a food group for me, however: I do find it fascinating approximately 70 percent of African Americans, 90 percent of Asian Americans, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 74 percent of Native Americans were lactose intolerant– so I choose unsweetened Almond/Coconut milk blend for these reasons! Plus it tastes amazing to me, almond milk alone is high in Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that fights against free radical damage. There is also 50% more calcium in fortified almond milk than dairy milk, and it is known to help aid in weight loss. Coconut milk is helpful in nourishing the digestive lining, helping to improve gut health, and well just delicious to me.

Quality protein powder; again I am not dairy intolerant so I choose Celzius Nutrition Vanilla Ice Cream flavor for my whey protein of choice; it is grass fed, sweetened with Stevia, with added amino acids (BCAA.) you can find it here: My Protein  You can even use the coupon code: ELIA20 to recieve 20% off your order!

I think that sums it up for most mornings! Sometimes I will add fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, or anything else fresh I have left over, sometimes flaxseed, or chia seeds, but most mornings it is kept the same:

 

Rough Estimate Macros:
______\\__
29g/16g/35g :: 384 calories

 

  • 1 cup frozen organic spinach/kale mix
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed fruit (mine is strawberry, peach, mango, red grape)
  • 1 scoop protein powder I use @celziusnutrition vanilla ice cream flavor
  • Handful salted peanuts (1/4c)
  • 1 carrot chopped up
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Silk almond/coconut milk blend unsweetened
  • Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

 

You really can be as creative, or simple with smoothie recipes; that is what makes them so versatile, quick and easy! Just throw what you like in a blender and enjoy! (Please refrain from sticking donuts, cakes, beer, and wine in and blending – it won’t be as satisfying as you may think throwing your favorite things all together!)

 

 

Eating for Energy

The best way to lose weight FAST is to jump on a fad diet.

…True. but it is not sustainable; you will be miserable and constantly feel deprived like you are missing out, eventually you will gain back if not all, sometime more weight than you started with making the experience temporary– and not a healthy lifestyle.

The unhealthy cycle:

  • Your initial motivation then wears off
  • Rebel, Revert, Binge
  • Gain even more weight
  • Depression and unhappiness

    eatingout

    So what can you do about this?

    Don’t fall into the trap! The understanding of the elimination of either carb or fat; comes down to the process of elimination. As long as your calories IN, are less than the calories out (being burned through exercise and daily energy) you will start to see change in your overall body composition and loss of body fat.

    This is why it is important to be aware of what you are putting into your mouth; common thinking patterns are; “I can’t go out to dinner with friends because everything at a restaurants is unhealthy.” While these days; this statement is more correct than not, it certainly is not true.

    Choosing lean protein options in restaurants such as chicken, fish, eggs, quality lean beef/bison is possible! Don’t be ashamed to request your meal to be to be cooked in olive oil over vegetable oils or butter. Every restaurant has a vegetable or salad option (the key is to how it is prepared, again asking to be cooked in olive oil or steamed. Dressings are the other calorie dense, highly processed additives to be mindful of.)

    Unprocessed foods take longer to digest which means a steady flow of energy (glucose) through the day. Ever wonder why “everyone is so tired” these days?
    What you put in; doubles what you get out! Food for thought, literally: It takes your stomach at least 15 minutes to tell your brain that it’s full. In a Western world; especially America, where faster is better and meals are eaten on the go, in the car, and as fast as humanly possible– it’s no wonder we can’t listen to our bodies when they tell us we are content to stop eating.

    A few of my favorite types of cuisines are Asian, South American, and Mediterranean. The options are endless with ingredients like fresh vegetables, quality protein, healthy fats like avocados and olives! Truly food of the Gods; I feel amazing picking on a little of this, and a little of that, as opposed to stuffing my face to the feeling of discontent. Fruit pairings with cheese are one of my favorite snacks! I will be the first to admit; I love indulgence, I love food, and hate how my body feels after.

    A perfect example of this would be last weekend when I went to the local Greek Festival; I had an amazing day with family, you can see it vlogged here: The Announcement You’ve Been Waiting For but to say that I overate is an understatement. The food was AMAZING; I had everything from spanakopita, grilled octopus, gyro, and more…to baklava, cookies, and Greek Coffee which is the same as Turkish Coffee (much like our espresso here in the states.) The coffee is served with the grounds. I opted to have mine unsweetened, or sketos (pronounced SKEH-tohss.)

    The moral of the story is; on the car ride home the food coma was induced, and my consciousness began to dissipate. To the point of when I got home, at around 7:00pm I took a nap! My body just couldn’t handle all of the sodium and sugar intake and it went into recovery mode. Now I understand why siestas (an afternoon rest, or nap) are so common!

    I realize in my photos above; flour tortillas are pictured, and while recently I have made the effort to eliminate almost all processed food– I am still at the stage of occasionally making an exception. For the reason stated earlier of balance. I am stubborn; I want what I can’t have, and if I tell my body I can’t have chocolate–suddenly I am dreaming of swimming in a chocolate fountain. Likewise; with any other ingredients–if I quickly claim “I no longer eat refined white flour” I will be the first one in line for a cupcake. However; through reputable Netflix documentaries, reading nutrition based articles, and really meditating on the idea of what these processed foods have begun negatively effecting our minds and bodies– I see myself slowly, naturally, making these changes.

Plant the seed; and watch it grow, with anything in your life–Knowledge and understanding is the first step towards change. Don’t jump into anything health related; make small changes daily until you are closer to the place you want to be.

Raw Food Diet | What Can I Eat?

If it is ripe and editable than eat it! Think uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic foods. Your staples: raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Be my guest and consume raw eggs, meat, and fish…but I wouldn’t! Well, with the exception of the fish…I do love sushi.

Generally speaking; you would then try and avoid foods that have been pasteurized, produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.

  • All fresh fruits
  • All raw vegetables
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Raw grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked
  • Dried fruits and meats
  • Nut milks
  • Raw nut butters
  • Cold-pressed olive and coconut oils
  • Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut
  • Seaweed
  • Sprouts
  • Raw eggs or dairy (if desired)
  • Raw meat or fish (if desired)

rawdiet

I find that even my body reacts differently to blending certain foods, such as frozen kale or spinach in a smoothie; the blending process acts like the replacement job of your digestion process in turn speeding up the elimination function from the body.

Which is why a Raw Food Diet discourages cooking; it is believed that cooking destroys the natural enzymes in foods, resulting in loss of nutrients.

High heat does cause most enzymes to denature; however, many enzymes denature in the acidic conditions of the stomach anyway.

Which leads me to…is a Raw Diet really beneficial?

Like anything I advocate; balance is key, no too extremes are prevalent in my lifestyle. It is true that following guidelines of a Raw Diet make you consume more fruits and vegetables, which means more nutrients and fiber– which is great! So that is a plus. It also almost instantly promotes weight loss because it is low in calories, and detoxifies the body.

One study found that people following a raw vegan diet had low protein, calcium and vitamin D intakes (13).

 

Sample Raw Diet Meal Plan:

  • Breakfast: Green smoothie
  • Snack: Banana and raw nut butter
  • Lunch: Salad with avocado and fruit
  • Snack: Orange slices and nuts
  • Dinner: Sashimi
  • Snack: Apple and berries