Energy-Boosting Smoothie

Energy-Boosting Avocado Spinach Smoothie

One thing I swear by when it comes to weight loss, fat loss, muscle building, and general health, is drinking a delicious, nutrient-packed smoothie every day. I usually drink mine first thing in the morning to kick-start my day, and when I’m stuck at work for a long time, I’ll bring the ingredients and make one there for me as well. Not only will this smoothie detox your system and provide you with much-needed nutrients, but it will also help your hair, skin, and nails look and feel amazing, and it will also help curb cravings throughout the day. And if you need any more reasons to join me in this healthy habit, just know that it tastes great too!

The really important ingredient in this smoothie is the avocado. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, which give you energy that doesn’t leave you “crashing” later on, unlike sugar. They also work wonders for your skin and hair, and they give any smoothie a great thick consistency. For more info on healthy fats, check out this article where I talk about it in more depth.

One more quick note here: If it at all possible, be sure to buy organic fruit and vegetables. Not only do they taste better, but you don’t want to blend up all the pesticides and that crap in your healthy smoothie. It kind of defeats the purpose.. If something is not available organic at your grocery store, just wash it really well with cold water before you slice, eat, or blend it.

Ingredients:

  • Handful of spinach
  • 1/4 of an avocado (work up to putting in a half if you want)
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 2 baby carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (I like the flavored kind, but plain is technically better for you. This part is optional.)
  • 1 banana
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice, or a couple orange slices squeezed in (the OJ is also optional. It helps with the taste, but it does add extra sugar to the smoothie)
  • a handful of blueberries and strawberries
  • about 1/2 cup of water (make sure the liquid combined isn’t too much. Start with less water and add it if it needs more)
  • a cup of ice

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

I want to know what you think! Leave comments and questions below 🙂

If you liked this recipe, make sure you check out my other juicing recipes, and my new favorite homemade protein bars!

 

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Super Easy Protein Bars

protein bars

After quite a bit of searching for a simple but delicious protein bar recipe, I ran across this one on Pinterest. It was originally pinned from thehappyhealthfreak.com, so thank you, happy health freak. These protein bars are one of my favorite things to eat, they take 10 mins or less to prepare, and they have only 1 tablespoon of sugar (or stevia). I also added coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and walnuts to the mix so they’re a little more exciting, but do as you please.

You can find the original recipe here, but here’s what I do:

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup of your favorite protein powder — I use vanilla

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (I have never put this in there, but it wouldn’t hurt)

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon powder stevia or sweetener of your choice (I use real sugar, whatever)

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)

1/2 cup natural peanut butter or PB2

1/4 cup egg whites, or 1 whole egg

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup walnuts chopped

1/4 cup chocolate chips if desired 🙂

Mix the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chips (if desired) and mix thoroughly. The batter will be thick. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan, and be sure it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 mins or until a knife inserted will come out clean.

Nutritional info for one bar (this is for the original recipe, not necessarily for my version)
123 Calories, 16g Carbs, 2g Fat, 12g Protein, 85mg Sodium, 4g Sugar.

Enjoy! For more great healthy recipes, check these out!

 

 

Spring Break Workout Plan

Spring Break Workout Plan

It’s starting to show up everywhere. In Target with the huge bikini display, the mall with all the workout clothes, and definitely Pinterest with everyone’s “get into shape” boards, showcasing motivational toned abs and a perky butt. Oh yeah, and at the gym! Did you even know that many people have a membership to your gym?? Welp, you guessed it… IT’S SPRING BREAK SEASON!!!!

And unless you’re a crazy gym-goer and have eaten nothing bad for you at all since the holidays, you might be getting a little panicky about how to lose those last few pounds and get that toned muscle that you know is hiding somewhere beneath your winter layer. Instead of frantically scouring the Internet for quick-working fad diets that you know you’ll give up by this weekend, keep calm and read on :). I’ve got you taken care of.

I’m going to share with you my meal plans and workouts that have helped me make more progress over the past 2 months than I’ve ever had, ever. We’ll be doing these together since my spring break vacay starts EXACTLY one month from today, and we can record our progress together!

The Way It Works

You’ll be following a basic 5-day program that you repeat every week until your deadline. Since our bodies quickly adapt to any workout, you can modify the workouts to get some variety week to week, and I’ll post my modifications so we can all be on the same page.

Workouts

Here is the 5-day plan to be repeated (with modification) week to week:

I will post the exercise circuits and modification ideas for each day on a separate post and link them back to that list.

Diet

The best way to lose weight, burn fat, and tone up is to have a diet high in lean protein and healthy fats, and low in carbohydrates. You should only be eating carbohydrates at breakfast, if you want, and after a workout. Vegetables are free-for-all and should be consumed at every meal! Fruit is ok, but stick to the ones lowest in sugar and high in antioxidants, like grapefruit, and berries.

Proteins:

  • ground turkey
  • extra lean ground beef
  • chicken
  • fish
  • salmon
  • egg whites

Fats:

  • almonds
  • mixed nuts
  • avocado
  • natural almond butter
  • natural peanut butter (I don’t recommend a lot of peanut butter though)
  • fish oil
  • egg yolks

Healthy Carbohydrates: (slow-digesting as opposed to quick-digesting)

  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • sweet potatoes
  • oatmeal

Try to eat at least 4 small meals a day, so your metabolism increases and you burn through calories quicker. To help you out, here is my basic meal plan for a typical day:

  • First I have a detoxifying smoothie with spinach or kale, cucumbers, peppers, celery, lemon juice, and half a banana. You can find more recipes for delicious ones here!
  • Breakfast: Ground beef and eggs, oatmeal if you want (fats in the morning keep your energy levels up all day!)
  • Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, veggies, and a vinaigrette dressing
  • 2nd Lunch (?) or Post-Workout Meal: Ground turkey with eggs, brown rice, steamed broccoli + mixed nuts
  • Dinner: White fish or chicken, steamed mixed veggies
  • Snack: Mixed nuts, berries, raw veggies

Other, more exciting recipes to choose from are here!

Notice that the amount of calories tapers by the end of the day, so that when you go to sleep you don’t pack on pounds by unused calories consumed too late in the day. Make sure you avoid at all costs all fast food, processed foods, sugary foods AND DRINKS (yup that means Starbucks frappuccinos are out!), especially towards the end of the day. For best results, I would also recommend cutting out most dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Tips

I don’t know why, but by bedtime my self-discipline always dwindles, and I’m very prone to breaking my rules and having ice cream at night. That’s why I make a point to drink a lot of water towards the end of the day to stay full, have some of my favorite flavored tea to sip when I have a sweet tooth (honey isn’t too bad), and go to bed as soon as I start getting tired so I avoid staying up and eating.

I can’t wait to go on this journey with you guys! It’s going to be a hard road sometimes, but when you can post those pictures on Instagram and Twitter of you looking hot next to all your friends in a bikini, you’ll be SO GLAD you did this!

Good luck and let’s get started!

Read about the Top 5 Mistakes Women Make In the Gym , 10 Fat-Loss Tips for Women, and check out the Workouts page for more exercise ideas!

Green Goodness Detox Juice

detox recipe

The benefits of juicing are so incredible that I’ll write an article on that later, but here’s a recipe for a detoxifying and slimming juice that will energize you and leave you feeling (and looking) amazing!

Ingredients:

2 celery stalks

2 stalks of asparagus

1 green apple

Handful of kale

1/2 a cucumber

Juice or blend ingredients and enjoy!

10 Fat Loss Secrets For Women

10 Fat Loss Secrets for Females

If you are looking at yourself this year and realizing that you have not gone anywhere, or worse, taken a few steps backwards regarding your fitness goals, it’s time to make the commitment to making 2014 your best year yet. If you have progressed a little, but you’ve just plateaued and don’t know how to get out of it, this is for you too!

These are some secrets I have learned from fitness guru Flavia Del Monte, trainer Vince Del Monte, one of their trainers Ryan Watson, and also through personal experience. Last year for me was an amazing year. I reached fitness goals that I never really thought I would accomplish, I made a LOT of changes in my daily habits that made an incredible impact on my life and happiness, and I see myself as a whole new person. Using these lessons I’m about to share with you, I completely changed my life.

These secrets aren’t just about quick and easy fat loss. They’re about KEEPING the fat off. They’re about small changes that are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. They show you how to bust through plateaus and be the person that you really want to be.

Secret #1. Set a deadline. It is so easy to say “tomorrow, tomorrow,” if you don’t have anything that’s pressuring you to make the change today! The best way to make yourself reach your fitness goals and start taking action is to make a deadline. And make the deadline something that really motivates you — it can be a photoshoot, a bikini contest, a vacation somewhere warm, or whatever you can think of that will really make you stick to your plan.

Secret #2. What Gets Measured, Gets Managed. Measure your thighs, arms, waist, and hips. Take those before pictures. Weigh yourself. (But don’t get too caught up on the number. 125 lbs of muscle and 125 lbs of fat look completely different.) It’s been proven that once you start seeing results, your motivation will double! By measuring yourself, you can track every single change that happens, and you will get that reward so much sooner than if you rely on pictures or the scale alone.

Secret #3. Replace One Habit At A Time. Don’t expect yourself to completely change your lifestyle overnight. You are much more likely to get discouraged and quit. Instead, do this: every month set a goal to change a different habit. By the end of the year, you have twelve new habits adopted that won’t ever go away! It takes 21 days to develop a new habit, so a month is the perfect amount of time to get each one well established. And remember, habits won’t simply be broken, they must be replaced.

Secret #4. Tell Someone Your Fitness Goals. If you have not only yourself, but someone else to hold you accountable for your goals, you are much more likely to stick with them. Set goals with a friend or loved one and accomplish them together! Or you can start a blog with your story and use your readers to hold you accountable. Whatever you think will work for you. Get great advice on setting goals here.

Secret #5. Eating Too Little Will Make You Fat. So many girls think they have to starve themselves to be in shape, when really a low-calorie diet can eat your muscles away and store fat in your midsection. Instead, eat small protein-filled meals every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism up and energy high.

Secret #6. HIIT Is The Fastest Way To Lose Fat. The only kind of cardio I ever do anymore (besides plyometrics) is HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. All you need is a few sessions of 20 minute a week, and you can watch the fat melt off. It’s amazing. You can perform HIIT on all sorts of cardio equipment, like the ellipticals, treadmills, bikes, and of course the stairmaster (which is the hardest and my favorite).

Secret #7. Keep Your Heart Rate Up High. Keeping your heart rate up means you’re burning more calories. Unless you want to really build a lot of muscle, you don’t need to work out ONE muscle group at a time. Of course you need to section of groups of muscles per workout for recovery reasons, but on an upper body day you can easily do hammer curls and reverse lunges at the same time, burning twice the calories and making your workout worth it!

Secret #8. Have A Plan. Always make a workout plan BEFORE you get to the gym. Don’t get there and draw a blank about what exercises to do because you feel like everyone’s watching you and are wondering what you’re doing, and then just go on the treadmill because you don’t know what else to do. I used to do that, and it completely defeats the purpose of going to the gym! Have a plan written down or on your phone, imagine it out in your head so you know where to go and what to use, and then do it!

Secret #9. Eat Proteins And Fats For Breakfast. Prevent the mid-afternoon crash (and following Starbucks break) by having ground beef and eggs for breakfast. It sounds weird, I know, but it literally changes your day. I like to add a little salsa to mine for extra flavor sometimes, but even by itself with peppers and onions it’s delicious!

Secret #10. Eat Carbohydrates After Your Workout ONLY. This was one of the most eye-opening lesson I learned last year. The only reason why our body needs carbs is to refuel and repair after a workout. We can really only use a small amount of carbs before they are stored as fat. So for rest of the day, stick to proteins, fats, and lots of veggies. This is definitely the biggest secret to staying lean all year round, hands down.

Hopefully these secrets impact your life the same way they did mine, and soon you will be able to see enormous results that will make you wonder why you never thought of these secrets before 🙂

Good luck with your goals this year, and let me know how you’re doing so far!

Also check out the Post-Holiday Diet and How to Set Goals for more great information to get your new year off right 🙂

xoxo

Post-Workout Nutrition

protein shake or post workout nutrition

So you kicked butt during your workout, you come home, and now what? Most people know that they should have protein after a workout, but a little known fact is that your body is the most sensitive to what you eat directly after a workout. That means your post-workout nutrition will have more of an effect on your hard work than at any other time of the day. Even if those foods are technically good for you.

Don’t spoil your workout with a peanut butter sandwich, or a plain salad. Wait, that’s what you’ve been having? You’re gonna need to read this.

What you need to know about post-workout nutrition:

  1. Lean protein is your best friend. Stay away from fatty sources of protein like peanut butter and beef, and stick to ground turkey or chicken.
  2. You also need slow-digesting carbohydrates for at least two reasons: 1) you’ve probably depleted your glycogen stores and they need to be refilled with glucose (aka carbs); 2) protein can’t be shuttled to your muscles without carbs helping out. Some good carbs to eat are brown rice, sweet potatoes, and of course lots of vegetables!
  3. Stay away from fats! Even healthy fats like nuts and avocados. Fats digest more slowly, and they will hinder your muslces’ absorption of protein. The idea is to get protein to the muscles as quickly as possible so they’ll repair before you become catabolic (Being catabolic means not having enough food/energy in you, so your body starts breaking down your muscles for energy instead. This backfires for any kind of muscle growth or toning, so you want to stay away from this as much as possible. It’s very easy to become catabolic directly after a workout, or even during one, so that’s why you should have protein as soon as possible.)
  4. Try a protein shake. Protein shakes are awesome because they get that protein in you immediately, giving you time to prepare a post-workout meal without having to rush. Always use 100% Whey Protein. My favorite is actually the one the girl is holding in the picture above. You can find it at any supplementation store.

When you get home:

This is what I usually prepare for a post-workout meal, or a quick and easy meal at any time of the day!

Carbs: I like to stick with just vegetables. Broccoli, celery, green beans, green, red or yellow peppers, and of course garlic for its flavor and health benefits. You can also add red or black beans, lima beans, or pinto beans for added fiber and protein.

vegetables

Protein: Ground turkey, drain the fat and add olive oil if needed. Not pictured here, but I also like to add a few egg whites at the end to give the meal a little more protein and some moisture. Ground turkey and vegetables can quickly get dried out.

ground turkey

The end result of your post-workout meal will look something like this:

ground turkey and vegetables

Just remember that your post-workout nutrition is essential for getting to the next step in your fitness goals! You can never out train a bad diet. Play around with this recipe as much as you like, adding anything that does not include sodium, and let me know in the comments below what you come up with!

If you liked this, check out Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken and Easy Turkey Burgers. Also, really drop the pounds with my effective Juicing Recipe!

Thanks for subscribing, liking, and sharing!

xoxo

3 Healthy AND Delicious Vegetable Side Dishes

One of the most challenging things for many people who are adapting to their new healthy lifestyle is enjoying their food. They are used to rich-tasting, cheesy, salty, or fried foods, and have the incorrect idea that healthy food has to be bland and boring. I can tell you first-hand, if your food is tasteless, it will be very hard to stick to your nutrition plan.

Although it is true that you should stay away from sodium (which is found in many tasty seasonings), and fast-digesting carbohydrates (like white pasta and rice, and potatoes), there are many other ways that allow you to enjoy vegetables, and flavor your food without the guilt trip!

Here are three healthy and delicious vegetable side dishes that will spice up your meals and impress your friends!

1. Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli And Tomatoes

low-calorie side dish12 medium size florets  (about 4 cups) 

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1  tablespoon lemon juice
10 pitted black olives, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed  (optional)
Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Toss broccoli, tomatoes, oil, garlic and salt in a large bowl until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the broccoli begins to brown, 10 to 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine lemon zest and juice, olives, oregano and capers (if using) in a large bowl. Add the roasted
vegetables; stir to combine. Serve warm.
2. Creamy Mashed Cauliflower
low-calorie side dish

8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets, (about 1 head)
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
4 teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1  teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
 Freshly ground pepper, to taste
 Snipped fresh chives, for garnish
 
Directions:
1. Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on High for 3 to 5 minutes.)

2. Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve hot.
Tip: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
3. Mediterranean Lima Beans
lima beans and tomatoes2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups  chopped fresh or frozen onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1  teaspoon dried oregano
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
2  14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2  10-ounce packages frozen baby lima beans,  (4 cups)
Directions:
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in oregano, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, tomatoes and lima beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are fully cooked and the mixture is heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Enjoy the new spice to your meals! Let me know how you do in the comments below 🙂
If you liked these recipes, check out Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken and Easy Turkey Burgers for some great entrees to pair with these healthy and delicious side dishes!

The Post-Holiday Diet

the post holiday diet We all know the feeling.

The feeling of regret the day after a holiday or cheat day, when you wake up wishing calories didn’t count on holidays, and fighting the mental battle between eating really clean today or giving up and finishing yesterday’s leftovers.

(Whatever you do, don’t do that!)

Well I’ve been there, done that, and after doing some research I put together a plan of action for a post-holiday, low-carb diet that really works.

The reason why it’s a low-carb diet is because your glycogen stores have been filled from all the festivities the day before, and you need some time to deplete them again. If you have more glucose (carbs) today, your glycogen storage units will be overloaded and your food will quickly be stored as fat. Don’t think about making this a low-calorie day specifically, but just a low-carb day.

Do not cut out vegetables. The fiber in veggies help your body flush out toxins and waste quickly, and you definitely need that extra help today. All other carbs from grains, starches, and rice are the ones you need to cut out.

 

The Post-Holiday Diet:

Breakfast #1: Morning vegetable juice smoothie

Breakfast #2: Egg whites with spinach. Almonds or other nuts.

Lunch: Hearty salad with grilled chicken and other vegetables such as mixed peppers, cucumber, tomato, celery, etc. Oil or vinaigrette dressing.

Mid-afternoon snack: Mixed berries, celery with almond butter.

Dinner: Ground turkey with garlic, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, almonds.

Snack: (If you need it) Mixed berries, raw veggies, or a vegetable juice smoothie.

The best thing to do is follow the post-holiday diet for the next three days. It takes a while for your body to completely recover and detoxify after a lot of cheat food. Notice that there are no carbs in any of the meals that are not from vegetables or fats. I also recommend the only fruit you have for the next few days are berries, since most fruit is high in carb content. Also stay away from peanut butter and substitute with almond butter to give you energy without too many carbs.

Here are a few more tips to get yourself feeling 100% back on track!

  1. Freeze, give away, or throw away all your unhealthy holiday leftovers. Usually when I’m about to leave a family Christmas party or dinner, I leave all the leftovers with my relatives for them to take home. If you are the host, then try to send home as many plates of leftovers as possible. However you decide to do it, the best way to a quick post-holiday recovery is to prevent yourself from indulging at all for the next week.
  2. Drink lots of infused water. Check out my recipe for infused water or just water with a few lemon wedges squeezed in works great too. Chances are you’re dehydrated from all the sodium in most holiday foods and from any alcohol you may have had, and infused water has more antioxidants and detoxifying agents than plain water.
  3. Hit the gym with a solid 30 minute workout of High Intensity Interval Training. (This is a must!)
  4. Follow the post-holiday diet above for the next three days.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up 🙂 The holidays are about cherishing family time and enjoying life for a bit, so you deserve a little break from your diet and workout regime. Just take advantage of your rest to bounce right back at it with more vigor and determination than ever!

Good luck!

If your passion is fitness, or if you’re just starting to make the lifestyle change to fit, healthy and beautiful, subscribe for frequently updated content to help you reach your fitness goals faster and stay motivated the whole way!

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Easy Turkey Burgers

turkey burgers

It’s easy to associate the word “burger” with “bad,” but you don’t have to with this awesome recipe! These turkey burgers are amazing and easy to prepare. For a well-rounded meal, add peppers and onions to the grill, and serve with a whole wheat bun and roasted red potatoes.

Ingredients:

1 lb. extra lean ground turkey 

1 egg white 

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 

1/4 c. finely chopped onion 

1/4 tsp. garlic powder 

1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning 

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Thoroughly mix the ground turkey with all the ingredients. Shape into patties and grill or bake till done.

Enjoy!

If you liked this recipe, check out Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken  and Fish Tacos With Chipotle-Lime Sauce too!

Holiday Eggnog

healthy eggnog

With this recipe, there is no excuse for you to pass up the eggnog this Christmas! This holiday eggnog recipe is a great way to keep yourself from doing too much damage during the holidays while still being able to enjoy them.

Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Almond Milk
  • ⅓ Cup Raw Organic Honey
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Ground Ginger and/or Cloves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together.
  2. Pour mixture into a pot and simmer for 15 min but do not let it boil.
  3. Serve in mugs with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 145 Protein: 7

Read How To Manage Your Weight During The Holidays for other great practical advice for this season!

The original recipe for this holiday eggnog can be found here.