Whole Foods Market

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Have you ever been to Whole Foods? If not, you need to try it! Whole Foods is a grocery store that is based off of freshness, healthiness, and natural foods. Not only is Whole Foods a great choice for everyday grocery shopping, here are five more reasons you should give Whole Foods a try…

 

  1. Juices. Whole Foods carries a ton of different brands of juices that are actually healthy. Many juices contain just as much sugar as soda, with a ton of other additives that make the juice categorized as a dessert rather than the healthy beverage you are aiming for. At Whole Foods, they offer a variety of brands of juice that are legitimately healthy, like the Cold Pressed Raw Juice that they make in store. They also carry Naked Juices, which I am a huge fan of. Though these juices might seem high in calories, they are calorie dense, which is much more important.
  2. Gluten-free products. Whether you are gluten intolerant or just try to avoid gluten because you know of the health benefits of doing so, Whole Foods provides products that you love free of gluten, like bread. They also carry almond flour, which is a gluten-free substitute for baking. These products allow you not to deprive yourself of these foods, but to make better choices and eat them in a healthier manner.
  3. Salad bar. Whole Foods has an amazing salad bar! If you are too tired from a day of work or an intense work out at the gym, instead of hitting the drive thru, Whole Foods gives you this as an amazing option. Their salad bar has virtually anything you could want on your salad, and it is reasonably priced. And you make it yourself, so you know exactly what goes on it. This is probably my favorite thing about Whole Foods, because it is one of the only places that offers such a thing.
  4. Different products. Looking for gluten free, dairy free ice cream? Whole Foods has it. Acai packs for smoothies? Whole Foods has it. Vegetarian meats? Whole Foods has it. Dandelion root tea bags? Whole Foods has it. You get the idea…if you can dream it up, Whole Foods probably has it.
  5. Cooking demos. Maybe you’re interested in all of these new, unique, uber healthy foods but would have no idea how to cook with them. That’s not a problem: Whole Foods offers cooking demos. At the front of the store, there is probably a demo schedule. Check it out! Who couldn’t use a quick cooking demo for a new healthy recipe from a professional?

I hope all of these reasons will inspire you to give Whole Foods a try.

Already in love with Whole Foods for a different reason? Leave me a comment to tell me why!

Thanks for reading!

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Grade A Granola

I love granola. I eat it with fruit, yogurt, smoothies, and by itself even!  The problem with granola is it can contain all sorts of fat and sugar if you buy it store bought. Not knowing exactly how it is made can transform this healthy food into a fattening indulgence. Trader Joes is a great place to get pretty healthy store-bought granola. But even better is to create your own! Here is a great recipe; I’ve been making it for about a year now and its gotten nothing but rave reviews! My parents and sister now make their own granola, too, and base it off this recipe. It’s super easy to double (or triple), lasts for months, and you can substitute into it, too.

ImageIngredients:

4 cups of oats (I use Quaker)

Approx. 1 ½ – 2 cups sliced almonds

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ – 2 cups raisins or cranberries

 

 

Cooking Instructions

  • Set oven to 300 degrees F
  • Mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon together.
  • Warm the oil and honey
  • Whisk vanilla into the oil and honey mixture
  • Pour the oat mixture into a baking pan (about 10×15 inch)
  • Pour the oil, honey, and vanilla mixture into onto the top of the oat mixture
  • Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to spread around the liquid mixture
  • Take granola out and let cool for about 5 minutes
  • Stir in the raisins/cranberries and let cool completely before taking granola off pan
  • Transfer into Ziploc or Tupperware to ensure lasting freshness

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There you have it! Such easy preparation and you know exactly what ingredients go into it. I’m sure you could substitute coconut oil, too, if you are a big coconut oil fan. Try it out – let me know what substitutions work for you in the comments below.

Making Sense of the Machines

One of the most important things to maintain health is doing cardio. There are so many different ways to do cardio, even including fun activities like dancing and hiking. If you’re into the gym, however, I’m sure you see all of the different machines like the stationary bike, elliptical, stairmaster,  treadmill and rowing machine, Maybe before you’ve wondered if all machines are created equal. And they aren’t! Here’s the basic breakdown of the various machines and benefits/downsides of each.

 

ImageStationary Bike: A great workout for legs and glutes. Perfect for the “lazy days” too. The major downside is that it can be hard on your knees. Secondly, most people don’t put the resistance up high enough and pedal fast enough to actually increase heart rate. If you choose this machine, make sure you are watching to make sure you increase resistance and speed throughout the work out!

 

 

ImageElliptical: Much easier on the knees. Sustainable for long periods of time (usually) and often have moving handles, which makes for a great leg and arm work out. A downside can be that without resistance, this machine can also be too easy for many people. But it is a great alternative to a treadmill when you aren’t in the mood for the pounding feeling.

 

 

ImageStairmaster: Also a great glute and leg work out. Can make you feel like you are literally going to die. It can be a great form of toning and cardio. It can also be hard on the knees or make you dizzy. Also for many people they can only do a few minutes at a time, when in general for cardio, longer periods are better.

 

 

 

 

ImageTreadmill: Great for running advocates. It is especially useful for days when running outside is impractical, like during heat waves or rain, snow, etc. Great way to get your heart rate up, and also good for abdominals and legs. Downside is again, can be hard on the knees. Also, many complain about having short attention spans on the treadmill and getting bored. Another plus is that you can adjust speed to fast walk and get a good work out that way too.

 

ImageRowing machine: Definitely focuses on toning the shoulders and back, muscles that often are not worked during cardio. A huge upside is that it is easy on the knees, requiring almost no use of them at all. It also is great toning as well as cardio. Downside is that you tend to burn more calories when you are standing and involving the major muscles in the legs more.

 

That’s a super simplified guide to the gym machines! If you have any questions or want any further information, leave it in the comments below!

 

Photo credit: 1) http://www.buyfitnessonline.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=2_34&osCsid=qkc7aq8up6190mn8tdpda20iu4

2) http://www.ellipticalreviews.net/image/image-9-5-elliptical-review/

3) http://supplementsshoppe.com/shop/stairmaster-7000-pt/

4) http://www.freemotioncoupons.com/treadmills/freemotion-750-interactive-treadmill-review-and-coupon/

5) http://rowingmachinereviews.co/concept-2-model-d-rowing-machine-review/

Dynamic Open Faced Sandwiches

I have a new obsession. I blogged about a great breakfast idea a few weeks ago and now I have a new lunch idea for you: open faced sandwiches. Nothing too revolutionary, I know. But they are amazing! And if you add the right ingredients, you don’t need any fattening condiments. Or cheese, actually, which can be high in calories and fat as well.

So, you start with bread (obviously). I like mine toasted, but its totally your prerogative. Bread is something that I’m willing to “spend the calories” on. I’m not the biggest fan of whole wheat bread for sandwiches; I much prefer sourdough. So I use that. Like I’ve said before, you have to allow yourself to splurge on things that you love.

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Next I add one of two things: avocado or hummus (you could also go with Greek yogurt, which has many health benefits and that closely impersonates sour cream). Both add a great texture and make the bread a little moister, giving the impression that condiments are on it when in fact there are none! These two also help the other ingredients stick to the bread so it doesn’t totally fall apart as you try to eat it. There are tons of flavors of hummus. I love spicy hummus from Trader Joe’s. In the sandwich pictured below (which is my absolute FAVORITE so far), I went with avocado because I had one that was perfectly ripe. Usually I spread them with a knife but here I just cut it into slices and put it on there. With avocado, I sprinkle a little salt on top to add some great flavor. With hummus, I just spread it on.

The toppings are totally customizable! I love to use spinach, strawberries, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and anything else I have lying around. Here I use strawberries. Strawberries and avocado are the most strange, amazingly delicious flavor combination. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. I promise you’ll like it.

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Now here’s the best part: eat it. After you’ve added whichever ingredients you want, dig in! How easy was that? And the way you can change up the ingredients adds so much variety. Healthy, quick, delicious, dynamic – the reasons its my favorite new lunch.

Did you try the sourdough, avocado, and strawberry sandwich? Tell me what you think in the comments below!

Homemade Watermelon Slurpee

It’s an excruciatingly hot weekend…well, for me anyway. I’m hot when its 80 degrees out, so 100 isn’t exactly ideal. I do have air conditioner but we are trying not to use it to keep electricity costs down, which leaves my roommate and I searching for ways to beat the heat. Slurpees and ice cream come to mind automatically, but we were looking for something a little healthier.

Then I stumbled across this blog with exactly what we were looking for. I have had half a watermelon in the fridge all week, just waiting to be cut, and limes are a staple here. And those are really the only two ingredients! Plus, watermelon is packed with health benefits.

The original recipe can beImage found here, we worked off of that but made a few adjustments.

Watermelon “Slurpee”:

-About 3 cups watermelon, cut into wedges/chunks

-1/4 cup ice

-1 tablespoon of lime juice

½ tablespoon of honey

-5 tablespoons water

We put all of the above ingredients into a blender and blended on high until it all mixed together and the ice chunks broke up. Then we zested a bit of lime onto the top of each of the drinks (this recipe made two). It was amazing! Basically the consistency of a slurpee, but with only natural sugars (dare I say paleo?), and a super sweet taste. If you want it thicker, just eliminate a tablespoon or so of water, or maybe add more ice? The only thing I would do differently next time is add a little more lime. I bet adding a few strawberries would be delicious too. The flavors were mellow, sweet, and refreshing as we made it though.

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I would definitely make these again!

Try it – leave your thoughts in the comments below! Or if you are looking for a different smoothie recipe, check out my old blog here.

10 Quick Tips

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you start your weekend!

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  1. Condiments matter. Try to cut out the mayo, butter, ranch, and calorie-filled salad dressings. Opt for mustard, hummus, olive oil, or one of the reduced fat dressings
  2. Portion control! You can eat nearly anything as long as you use moderation. A few scoops of ice cream a day won’t cause a serious weight gain…a few pints, however…
  3. Bake rather than fry. Fried foods have so much more fat and calories.
  4. Up your intake of fish! Fish are a great source of protein and omega-3’s, with low fat.
  5. Eliminate pre-packaged foods as much as you can. Fresh fruit and veggies are a much better snack than chips or cookies.
  6. Spicy seasonings can help speed up metabolism! Keep that in mind when cooking.
  7. Drink a glass of water before eating. It fills you up and keeps you from overeating, as well as improves hydration.
  8. Aim for 75% of your plate to be fruits and veggies. Remember my blog about fruits and veggie portions.
  9. Don’t deprive yourself – allow yourself to indulge on a few things that you really love. It makes it easier to be healthy the rest of the time.

10. Negative calorie foods! Here is a list of foods that actually take more calories to digest than they contain, which means you burn calories by eating them. Gotta love that!

Hope these tips come in handy as you start your weekend! Don’t forget about the 30 day challenges and 30 Day Shred! Hope you are enjoying the work outs and seeing some progress!

Do you have any additional quick tips that you live by? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Turkey Burgers – Healthy and Delicious

I love meat. I could not imagine a diet without it, but beef can be high in fat and calories, and chicken isn’t my favorite. I try to do a few days a week meatless just for health’s sake, but I have a hard time feeling full or satisfied without some sort of meat. Looking for alternatives, I have come to enjoy using ground turkey in my dishes. Ground turkey is much leaner meat and can also have great flavor. Note: it is important to pay attention to the cut and color of the meat to ensure it is the leanest. Whole Foods can be a great place to purchase ground turkey.

One thing that I love about ground turkey is that it is really dynamic. You can use it in almost any recipe as a substitute for another meat, or eat it on its own. You can season it with taco seasoning for a great Mexican dish, barbecue sauce for a more Western recipe, or any other assorted seasonings you may have – or none at all if you want! Here is a website with a ton of recipes including ground turkey.

One of my favorite things to make with ground turkey is a turkey burger. Don’t groan – not every turkey burger is dry and flavorless! This one certainly isn’t. Below is the basic breakdown of how I create this turkey burger. This recipe is pretty forgiving, so feel free to substitute any spices, onion types, etc. You can add anything you like really, too.

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Turkey burgers:

1 package ground turkey (1 lb)

1 medium red onion

Your preference of herbs (I use an Italian seasoning that has parsley and basil)

Salt and pepper to taste (I prefer garlic salt for the extra kick)

Bread (I use sourdough)

Condiments

 

 

 

  1. Mix turkey, onion, herbs, and salt and pepper (the amounts really vary by taste, I just eyeball about a few tablespoons of each).
  2. Form into patties. Try to make them pretty flat so they cook all the way through
  3. Put on grill, pan, whatever cooking medium you plan to use – cook about 7 minutes per side. Add cheese about 5 minutes after the first flip if you plan to use cheese.
  4. Prepare bread/bun. I like to use lettuce, onion, tomato, and mustard or spinach and hummus.
  5. Take burger off the heat and enjoy!

Not bad, huh? Tastes almost like a hamburger, but way leaner and less calories!

Thanks for reading! Leave your questions, thoughts, recommendations in the comments section below! Make sure to check out my Twitter to keep up with quick health and food tips between blogs!

-Monica