Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

My dad and I went to the farmers market a couple of weekends ago, and ever since then, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect zucchini bread recipe. I’m not the biggest fan of zucchini on it’s own, but seeing all the fresh/in season zucchini at the farmers market brought me back to when my mom just to make zucchini bread with zucchini from our backyard garden. After a couple weeks of searching, and two failed attempts, I’m here to share with you the very best, you-can’t-tell-it’s-healthy zucchini bread. Ever.

I feel like I’m a broken record in saying “this is the best” zucchini bread I’ve ever had, because I say that about everything I share with you guys, but I only take the time to blog and share the best recipes here so I feel justified in saying it! And truly, this is the BEST. It’s moist, (I know, I despise this word too, but when referring to zucchini bread, it’s a good thing so bare with me!) it’s dense, it’s chocolatey but not too sweet, it’s everything you could ever want in a zucchini bread! And if the zucchini thing makes you uneasy, trust me when I say you cannot taste it one single bit.

I will preface by saying this recipe took me probably two minutes longer to make than my usual super quick and easy recipes, and that is solely because of the fact that I had to take those extra two minutes to grate the zucchini. However I feel like that’s kind of a goes-without-saying step when you’re contemplating making zucchini bread. Nonetheless, it was still incredibly quick and easy, and I guarantee you have everything you need on the ingredients list already!

I also want to mention that cannot take any credit for this recipe because I did not create it, however Krista, from Joyful Healthy Eats did, and is an absolute genius. If you’re ever looking for a healthy version of your favorite baked treats or you just need a little recipe inspiration, scroll through her website for two seconds and tell me you don’t have the urge to bake something. She is amazing and I’ve made so many of her recipes, and loved every single one! And nothing of hers ever tastes healthy … a win win for everyone.

The recipe is below – mine looks slightly different than Krista’s because I swapped/omitted just a few things, but click here for her exact recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup grated zucchini (about 1½ zucchinis)
  • ¾ cup Enjoy Life mini chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 8×8 loaf pan by greasing the bottom and sides (you can grease with coconut oil, butter, or PAM cooking spray) Lightly dust with flour and shake out excess flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Whisk together.
  4. In a large bowl, add honey, unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk together until smooth.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until everything is combined.
  6. Fold in the zucchini, chocolate chip, and walnuts.
  7. Add the batter to prepared loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Serve.

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Macros – 1/10th of a loaf:

  • 170 calories
  • 7.7g of fat
  • 25g of carbs
  • 3g of protein

This recipe has good fats from the coconut oil, good carbs from the whole wheat flour and the natural sugar form the honey will give you lots of energy, making it the perfect early morning pick me up, or even pre workout snack! I plan on eating this for breakfast for the foreseeable future, as in until Christmas. Enjoy!

XO, A

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Cold Brew Protein Shake

I never imagined I’d have so many direct messages and texts about this cold brew protein shake I came up with a couple of weeks ago, but I’m so glad you guys are asking about it! Instead of continuing to respond to individual direct messages, I figured it would be easier to go ahead and do a blog post about it so that it’s here for you guys to refer back to if you need it! This “recipe”, I keep putting it in quotes because I don’t even know if you could classify it as that because it contains two ingredients, is something I threw together by accident one morning.

I came home from the gym one morning a couple of weeks ago, made a glass of cold brew coffee, and was heading back out the door in a rush. In one hand I had the coffee, and in the other I had a Premier protein shake. My hands were full and I had other stuff to grab, so I decided to dump the protein shake in with the cold brew. Voila, the cold brew protein drink was created! Call me a recipe developer.

You can find the Premier protein shakes almost anywhere but they’re definitely the cheapest at Sams Club or Costco. I like these shakes because they’re convenient to grab and go, and I really like the flavor of the chocolate ones. They come in other flavors that I’m not the biggest fan of, so use other flavors with caution. I have a friend that loves them with vanilla, so if you’re not a chocolate person, try that! I realize these shakes are not made with the most “clean” or “natural” ingredients. However, like always, I preach about having a healthy balance – moderation is key.

For those of you asking what cold brew I use – I get it from Sam’s Club and it comes in a container with three boxes of cold brew coffee for $12. It’s called “Steep18 Cold Brew”. However, any cold brew will work, so use whatever you like and can find!

It honestly tastes like creamy mocha chocolatey milk. I promise it tastes better than it even sounds. But truly, it’s the perfect boost of protein, it tastes like chocolate milk, and it suffices my caffeine fix on my early mornings. Win, win, win.

Ingredients:

coffee

The macros:

  • 3g of fat
  • 5g of carbs
  • 30g of protein

Let me know if any of you guys try it! I hope you all have a great weekend! See you next week!

XO, A

The Chia Craze

Happy Monday y’all! Thanks for stopping by! So, chia pudding. First of all, just little background if you’re not familiar with chia seeds … Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that absorb liquid, swell up, and become gelatinous in texture. They’re an excellent source of omega-3s and antioxidants, and being that they’re so tiny, there are TONS of ways to use them other than chia pudding.
I add them to smoothies, overnight oats, banana bread, yogurt bowls, etc. The options are endless! 

However chia pudding is something that kind of weirded me out when I first started seeing it. I’m so picky about texture when it comes to food, so the thought of these jelly little seeds being the entire base of a pudding didn’t sound super appealing to me. Nonetheless, I see it everywhere, and I’ll try anything once, so I decided to give it a fair shot.

Needless to say, I am so impressed. I used a recipe from The Minimalist Baker (who I am a HUGE fan of, check out her website for tons of healthy recipes!) and I am 100% sold. The recipe was so quick and easy, and the pudding turned out great! Even my mom and brother who don’t usually like my uber healthy concoctions, didn’t mind it!

Although I was a little concerned about the texture of the pudding, it didn’t end up bothering me at all. Because the chia seeds soak up all the almond milk as it sits over night, they become pretty plump and make the pudding very thick. I would compare the texture and consistency to a thicker tapioca pudding. It was perfectly sweet, and totally something I would choose when I’m looking for a healthier dessert option. 

There are TONS of recipes out there, it just takes a little searching to find one you like! So even if this recipe isn’t for you (it’s pretty dark in chocolate flavor because of the unsweetened cocoa powder), definitely look for one that sounds good to you, and give it a try!

The recipe (via The Minimalist Baker):

  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) almond milk
  • 1/3 cup (63 g) chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup (24 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2-5 Tbsp (30-75 ml) maple syrup if not blending (can sub 5-9 dates, pitted, if blending)
  • optional: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients except sweetener to a mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. If not blending (which I preferred!), sweeten to taste with maple syrup at this time. If blending, you can sweeten later with maple syrup or dates.
  2. Let rest covered in the fridge overnight or at least 3-5 hours (or until it’s achieved a pudding-like consistency).
  3. If blending, add to a blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Sweeten to taste.
  4. Leftovers keep covered in the fridge for 2-3 days, though best when fresh.
  5. Serve chilled with desired toppings, such as fruit, granola, or coconut whipped cream.

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The benefits of chia seeds:

  • contain tons of omega-3 fatty acids
  • contain protein, fiber, and tons of antioxidants
  • contain vitamins A, B, D, & E
  • can prevent premature skin aging
  • considered a prebiotic (not probiotic) which aids in digestive health
  • considered a linoleic acid which helps with fat absorption and heart health
  • boosts energy and metabolism
  • 1 oz. of chia seeds is 18% of the daily recommended calcium

Why I love it & when I would eat it!

As you can see from the bulleted list above, there are obviously plenty of health benfitis to eating chia seeds, but more so than just the health benefits, it’s a great option for when I’m wanting something to satisfy my sugar cravings at night. My go to is usually Halo Top, but I’ve started cutting back on dairy lately so this is the perfect way to cure my sweet tooth without having to use ice cream as my only option. I love the richness of the dark chocolate, and the chia seeds definitely keep me full long after I’m done eating them!

Have a great week babes, let me know if you try this recipe!

XO, A

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Protein Balls

This recipe was recommended to me by a friend of mine, (Hi Julie!) and after making these protein balls only one time, I’ve memorized the recipe and am fully convinced they will be a staple in my weekly meal prep rolodex.

First of all, and really most importantly in my humble opinion, these protein balls taste like straight up cookie dough. I truly didn’t know if I would be able to get all 28 balls out of this recipe due to the amount I had eaten by the time I needed to start rolling the mixture. But besides that, this recipe could not be any simpler. You guys know by now that a “7 ingredient max” is my number one prerequisite for baking … and this recipe hits the nail on the head! It took me all of 10 minutes to get the ingredients, mix em all up, roll into balls, and stick in the fridge. I spent just as much time eating this dough as I did rolling it. It is so addicting, trust me.

These protein balls are the perfect pre workout snack because they contain a great amount of protein, carbs, and fat, which are all essential macronutritent components to properly fuel your muscles with before a workout. In addition to their macro makeup, they’re fairly small, so they wont weigh you down or make you feel sluggish if you eat one or two before you head to to the gym. They’re also perfect for early morning workouts! I don’t know about you, but it takes everything in me just to get out the door at 5:00am, let alone make myself a nutrient dense pre workout snack, so that’s where these come in! They’re quick and easy to grab and eat on the go on my way out the door so that I’m not working out on an empty stomach!

No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

  1. Mix all the wet ingredients first – the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla, until it becomes creamy and combined. (*If your peanut butter is super thick, warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds to thin it out a little bit – this helps it combine with the other ingredients a little bit better!)
  2. Then mix in the dry ingredients – oats, chocolate chips, and coconut, until well combined.
  3. Roll into 1 inch balls – my recipe made 28 exactly.
  4. I added an extra step here and warmed up 1/4 cup of chocolate chips with a splash of almond milk in the microwave to create a chocolate drizzle for the top. Not a necessary step but totally recommended!
  5. Stick them in the fridge if you’ll eat them all within 5 days, or the freezer if you think it’ll be longer! Either way they taste fabulous!

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Macros

My recipe made 28 protein balls, so the macros for each are listed below. If your recipe made more or less, plug in your ingredients to MFP and adjust accordingly!

  • 106 calories
  • 10g of carbs
  • 7g of fat
  • 3g of protein

And there you have it! 5 steps and 7 ingredients – it doesn’t get much easier than that! Special thanks to Erin at “Texaserin Baking“; the creator of this amazing recipe! Be sure to check out her blog for more awesome recipes.

XO, A

24 Things …

Since the blog has changed a little bit over the past couple of weeks, I wanted to do a fun blog post to share a little bit about me for those of you who are new around here! And even if you’re not new, these are probably still things you don’t know. Here goes nothing … 24 random things about me!

me

  1. I went to the University of Arkansas for my undergrad. I’m a Kansas girl at heart, but Arkansas is my home away from home. I loved every minute of it and would give anything to go back! Go Hogs!
  2. I can’t stand steak or seafood, at all. I’m a cheap date!
  3. I drink coffee in some form, every single day without fail. I like it hot, cold, made at home, from Starbucks, with cream, without cream, pretty much anything! I love it.
  4. I’ve lived in Kansas almost my whole life. Kansas gets a bad rap but I wouldn’t trade living here for the world!
  5. I have three pets that I love so so much. I have Butter and Jelli, who are both cats, and Peaches who is our lab/pointer mix who you’ve probably seen make an appearance on the @KaleKouture Instagram story a time or two!
  6. If I could go anywhere in the world, it would be Greece. Santorini and Mykonos have been on my bucket list forever.
  7. I have eczema pretty badly. I started having flare ups fairly regularly starting my freshman year of college and have had them ever since. It’s on my face and arms which can be embarrassing and kind of disheartening to deal with because I have little control over it. It’s usually due to my efforts in trying to find different products to keep it under control.
  8. I worked as a lifeguard for five summers while I was in high school and college.
  9. Running a half marathon is on my bucket list. I trained up to 9 miles my junior year of college and had to quit because of pretty severe shin splints.
  10. I was never big into sports which some people think is weird considering my love of being active. I threw javelin in high school but that was the extent of my sports days. My brother plays college baseball so it’s pretty safe to say he got the athletic gene.
  11. I’m a Kindergarten teacher. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I love every second of it! My dream is to be a teacher in a hospital for children in need of long term care.
  12. The lake is by far my most favorite place to be – any time of year. If I could spend every single weekend there, I would.
  13. I have the biggest fear of public speaking. I sweat, turn red, the whole nine yards. I’m not a shy person whatsoever but speaking in front of people is my worst fear.
  14. I have a huge passion for travel – I’ve traveled more in the two years I’ve been out of college than I have my whole life and it has been the most rewarding experience.
  15. I am not exaggerating when I say I could not live without Chick-Fil-A. It has been and always will be my all time favorite. My favorite things on the menu are: diet lemonade, nuggets with Chick-Fil-A sauce, and the cookies & cream milkshake with extra Oreos.
  16. I do not like water, at all. I don’t crave the taste of plain water, and I will be the first to admit that I am the worst when it comes to drinking water. If there’s Mio mixed in it, I can guzzle it, but without, it’s just not happening.
  17. South Carolina is my favorite place I’ve been, within the U.S. If you haven’t been, it’s a must. Charleston especially. It’s serene, the living is so laid back, and it’s so charming! I can’t see myself moving from Kansas anytime soon but if I could pick anywhere that would be number one on my list!
  18. Becoming a NASM CPT is a long term goal for me. Fitness is a huge passion of mine so I would love to be able to work closely with clients and do it as a part time job one day. I have a lot on my plate right now so hopefully within the next couple of years!
  19. I met my boyfriend Taylor my sophomore year of high school and we’ve been dating for close to 9 years now. I never really talk about him on the blog, but he’s my best friend and has been a huge supporter in this whole blogging process.
  20. Having my nails done is a guilty pleasure of mine and is the one thing I  will spend money on regularly. I’ve been doing the dipping powder for the last 6 months and I will never go back to shellac or anything else. I would definitely recommend it if you’ve never tried it.
  21. I have a serious addiction to activewear and tennis shoes. I’m sure you’ve noticed. But would spend money on workout clothes and tennis shoes over regular clothes any day of the week.
  22. If I weren’t a teacher I would want to be a labor and delivery nurse. I am obsessed with babies and am fascinated with the thought of being a part of the process of bringing them into the world every day!
  23. I cannot leave my house without making my bed. No matter how late I’m running, I take 20 seconds to make my bed. I feel like my room is 20x messier if the bed isn’t made!
  24. I’m fulfilling a fitness bucket list item this fall, as I’m planning to participate in a Tough Mudder in October! It’s extremely outside my “fitness comfort zone” and unlike anything I’ve ever done before, but I am excited to be working towards a new goal.

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The Skinny on Starbucks

While I could probably live off of my daily cold-brew-protein-coffee that’s on my Instagram story almost every morning, just like any other normal person, there are days when I just want my coffee to be made for me! Starbucks gets a bad rap for being high calorie, “bad for you”, full of sugar, etc., but just like any other restaurant, it’s all about how you order.

Making substitutions or even creating your own drink can often times be your best bet. By doing this, you know exactly what goes into it and what you’re getting when you order! There are thousands of options when it comes to substituting, creating, and “healthifying” the drinks that are already on the menu, but I’ve come up with three different options that have become my go-to orders over the past couple of years. I’m sharing them with you today in hopes that you might be encouraged to order something a little bit lighter the next time you’re craving caffeine on your way to work!

What to order

  • How to order: “Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew with Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup”
    • I know, its a mouthful, but it’s my all time favorite. The sweet cream cold brew is something relatively new to Starbucks. It showed up on the menu just in time for summer, so I pray they don’t get rid of it when fall rolls around. If you like coffee, but really like to doctor it up so that it doesn’t taste like coffee (don’t be shy, I know y’all are out there, I’m with you) this is totally for you. This is a cold brew coffee, with full fat sweet cream, which really takes away from the boldness that coffee usually has. If you order this the regular way (“Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew”) you’ll get the full sugar vanilla syrup it’s made with, so if you’d like the low carb/low sugar option, you need to ask for “sugar free vanilla”. I ask for three pumps!
    • Macros for a grande (16oz.): 80 calories, 6g fat, 7g carbs, 0g protein
  • How to order: “Unsweet Cold Brew Coffee with Sugar Free Mocha”
    • This drink will for sure be available year round because this doesn’t use any special version of the cold brew, it’s strictly Starbucks regular cold brew that they’ve had for years. If you love a stronger coffee taste, this drink is for you. It’s smooth, but very bold so if you’re a “doctored up coffee drinker”, this may be a little too strong. Their regular cold brew is sweetened which means it’s higher in sugar and carbs, so if you want the low carb/low sugar option, be sure to ask for the “unsweet cold brew”. I ask for three pumps of sugar free mocha! If mocha isn’t your thing, ask for the sugar free version of whatever syrup is your favorite – they’re all the same, macro wise!
    • Macros for a grande (16oz.): 5 calories, 0g fat, 3g carbs, 0g protein
  • How to order: Teavana Unsweet Shaken Iced Green Tea
    • If you’re not a coffee drinker at all, this is for you! This tea is so refreshing, especially in the summer when I’m not in the mood for even iced coffee. It’s green tea made with mint, lemongrass, and lemon verbana. Just a heads up though, the regular version is made with sugar, so for the low sugar option, you have to specify that you want the “unsweet” version. If it’s not sweet enough, add a packet of stevia for zero additional carbs/sugar/calories.
    • Macros: 30 calories, 0g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein

Ways to lighten up your drink choice

If none of these options is uber appealing to you and you don’t want to step outside your Starbucks box, get your regular drink & just make a couple of changes. Here are three ways you can lighten up ANY drink at Starbucks:

  • Ask for nonfat milk
  • Ask for the sugar free version of the syrup you want
  • Ask for “no whip”

Thanks for reading, & happy Monday! Let me know if you try anything new or if you have any other “healthified” Starbucks options!

XO, A

Rachel Mansfield Banana Bread (Bars)

Truth be told, I’ve never met a banana bread anything I didn’t like. Bananas are my favorite fruit and banana bread is one of my favorite (and only) things I like to bake. Self control and fresh banana bread are two things that do not belong in the same sentence for me, so finding a recipe with with simple, few (only 8 in the original recipe), and good-for-you ingredients is important. Because if you’re going to eat half a loaf by yourself in one day, as long as it has healthy ingredients it’s fine … right?

For those of you who don’t follow her, @rachlmansfield is the absolute queen of all things amazing in the world of food blogging. She is a “real food recipe developer”, she’s hilarious, she’s real, and 99% of my food inspo comes straight from her. If I’m being honest, I don’t know that I’ve made a recipe that wasn’t hers in the past three months.

That being said, I’ve tried tons of her recipes, but this might be one of my all time favorites. Her original recipe is called “Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread“. The title alone makes you want to run to your kitchen does it not? You can click the link to go directly to her page to see the recipe (and drool over her pictures while you’re at it) but I’m also going to post it below. I followed the recipe almost exactly, but I did swap two things and add one of my own, which made my bread more of a bar consistency!

Ingredients:

Wet ingredients –

  • 3 medium/large ripe bananas mashed
  • ½ cup Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter (or your favorite peanut butter of choice)
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted & cooled coconut oil
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Dry ingredients:

Topping:

  • ½ cup of Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups cut into small pieces (I used Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips because I didn’t have these on hand!)
  • ⅓ cup of Justin’s Banana Chips (I omitted these!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray your bread dish with coconut oil OR line it with parchment paper
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together wet ingredients with Kitchen Aid (if you don’t have Kitchen Aid just mix well with spatula)
  3. Once creamy, add in dry ingredients then mix together until well combined, make sure there aren’t any chunks of coconut flour in the mixture
  4. Pour into bread dish and bake for 20 minutes
  5. While the bread is baking, chop up dark chocolate peanut butter cups (I cut each 4 ways)
  6. After the bread has been baking for 20 minutes, top with chopped peanut butter cups and banana chips
  7. Bake for another 20 minutes then cool for a few minutes and enjoy!
    • Will stay good for about 5 days in fridge or you can freeze for longer*

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And that’s it! 9 ingredients, a few quick steps, and just 40 minutes will leave you with the some of the best banana bread/bars you’ll ever have. I’m posting the macros to my bars below, but just keep in mind this is for the recipe I followed which includes a couple of ingredient swaps! Now, go gather your ingredients and get to baking & go follow @Rachlmansfield for more amazing recipes!

Macros for 1 slice (mine made 8 total):

  • 236 calories
  • 18.7g carbs
  • 15.2g fat
  • 10.1g protein

Happy baking! Enjoy the rest of your week!

XO, A

What the Heck is Kombucha?

For as big of a foodie as I am, it may come as a surprise that Kombucha is fairly new to me. I had never even heard the word until about a year ago when I discovered the ever popular “booch” craze through Instagram and some of my favorite foodie inspo pages (@ShutTheKaleUp – go follow her!). I decided to start trying it and I will be brutally honest, at first, I hated everything about it.  I just didn’t get it. I knew all the health benefits, and I wanted to love it so bad, but I just couldn’t choke it down.

However, here we are a couple months later, and after trial-and-erroring my way through some flavors I would not highly recommend, I discovered a Kombucha gold mine. Needless to say, this trendy little drink has been a weekly staple for me ever since. That being said, for those of you who don’t know much about it, Kombucha is definitely a trend that’s here to stay, so I wanted to talk more about what it is, why it’s so popular, and why you should start drinking it too!

What is it?

Kombucha is a fermented drink made with black tea and sugar. It’s sweetened and fermented with bacteria and yeast to make it a more nutrient dense beverage. The combination of bacteria and yeast consumes the majority of the sugar content during the fermentation process, turning the sugar into healthful acids, enzymes, b-vitamins, and probiotics. This process also leaves the Kombucha with a fairly low sugar content.

Kombucha is low in calories compared to many other carbonated drinks, with around 30 calories per cup. It also has no fat or protein, but contains around 8 grams of carbs per cup.

What are the benefits?

Kombucha has quickly become the latest go-to drink in the health industry and there are plenty of reasons for it’s increase in popularity in recent years, here are just a few:

  • boosts energy with enzymes and b-vitmains
  • helps with liver detoxification with probiotics
  • helps improve digestion with probiotics
  • improves joint health with glucosamine
  • increases immune support with antioxidants
  • fights cancer with glucaric acid

What does it taste like?

Kombucha is typically pretty tangy and can be a little sour depending on the flavor you get – hence why I was not a fan when I first started trying some of the different flavors. In addition to the tangy-ness, it’s both acidic and carbonated.

Which ones do I buy?

After trying what seems like every single brand on the market, I have finally narrowed my favorite Kombucha brands/flavors down to a short list that I buy pretty often. I love the “Healthade” kombucha, which can be found at a variety of health food stores. I love the pink lady apple, holiday cheers, california grape, and the blood orange flavors the best! I also like “Kevita” kombucha, which can be found almost anywhere. I love both the the citrus and dragonfruit lemongrass flavors.

Hopefully that helps explain a little bit about this trendy little drink and why the heck everyone’s been drinking it lately. If you see it while you’re out and about, I would definitely recommend trying it. And if you try one and you’re not immediately sold, remember you’re not alone! Keep trying it until you land on one you love, the benefits are totally worth it.

Let me know if you try it and what you think! Happy boochin’ & happy Monday!

XO, A

 

Hitting The “Reset” Button

After a week on vacation, an extended weekend trip, a holiday, or just a weekend “off track”, it can be so hard to get back to a normal diet. Learning how to jump back on the wagon after falling off for a few days, a week, or even a month, is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the long term.

I have many, many, many Mondays where I have to hit the “reset” button and get back to the world of fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. Not to mention finding my way back to the gym. We all do, but learning how to say it’s a new week, and a new opportunity for me to give it 100%, instead of, I’ve lost all progress, I’m back at square one, I might as well forget it and give up, is the most important advice I could give anyone. Mindset is everything when it comes to making a change, and if you practice the above phrase enough times, I promise you’ll get there. 

Today I’m sharing my tips and tricks that help me get back on track after a period of “falling off” for a little bit. It’s hard for me to even call it “falling off” , because I feel like that carries such a negative connotation. To me, they’re better named “grace periods”. Periods of time when you eat and drink things you normally wouldn’t, and you’re not as active as you should be or usually are – those are also called times of balance and flexibility. Or even better known as, life! Your body needs a couple of days here and there to reset; these periods of time are also crucial for your mental sanity!

If you think you’re going to be able to go through life without having periods of time when you can eat whatever the heck you want and not set foot in a gym, you will not be successful for very long, and here’s a secret – those are the people who are unsuccessful the quickest. Always having to say no to things you enjoy is not a lifestyle, it’s a death sentence when it comes to learning how to change your eating habits. Am I saying you should have a week long grace period every single month? No, I wish it were that simple. But a weekend here and there, that’s health – mental and physical.

On to the good stuff, my tips on how to “reset” and start your week on a good note.

  • Do. Not. Be. Hard. On. Yourself.
    • If you’re going to throw in the towel after one weekend, vacation, holiday, whatever it is, DON’T. If I did that, I wouldn’t be here today writing this blog, and I surely would’ve been done with this lifestyle one thousand times over again. No one is perfect, so don’t waste energy on beating yourself up, use that energy to get back to on track.
  • Short term goals are key
    • If you hit the reset button on Monday and tell yourself you’re going to be perfect with your diet and exercise for the rest of the month, year, your life, whatever crazy long term promise you’re making to yourself, stop right there. Short term goals are key to success. Instead of telling yourself you’re going to be perfect for the rest of the month, tell yourself you’re going to give it all you have for today. Sounds crazy right, just today? Yes, one day at a time.
  • It should be automatic, like clockwork.
    • When  you wake up on Monday morning, there are no lingering ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s a new week and you’re starting over. You’re going back to eating how you should, and you’re getting back to your normal workout routine. Monday isn’t a transition-from-the-weekend day, it’s the first day back on track.
  • Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
    • If you’ve just had a “grace period”, I’m going to assume you weren’t on your hydration game. You may have been drinking, but I doubt it was water and I doubt it was enough! When you hit the reset button, that means committing to 64 oz of water, at least. Make it your goal for the week to drink at least 64 oz of water or more per day. Water is vital in flushing out excess toxins and salt, and it also helps with fatigue, digestion, etc. I could go on and on about the benefits of water. You’ll look and feel so much better if you’re drinking tons of water, so go for 64 oz or more!
  • Eat your veggies!
    • During a grace period, veggies fall to the very bottom of my list of things I’m making sure to get enough of. I’m allllllll about the carbs. That means, when Monday rolls around, I make it a priority to eat my 5 daily servings of veggies -one at every meal, and two for snacks. They’re full of fiber so you’re going to be full, and they’re going to help you get rid of all the not-so-great stuff you ate, if you know what I mean.
  • Grocery Shop + Meal Prep
    • Sunday evening, or the night before your “reset”, grocery shop. Fill your fridge and your pantry with healthy options so that you can wake up on Monday and be encouraged by what you see, not weighed down by looking at an empty fridge, or one full of things you shouldn’t have. Buy the things you need to meal prep, and do it! Spend two hours prepping your entire week’s worth of food so you don’t have to put one ounce of thought into what you’re going to be eating for all your meals.
  • Plan your workouts for the week
    • I don’t just mean tell yourself what days you’re going to go, I mean write them down. I use a daily planner and I schedule my workouts in my planner just like anything else I schedule during my day. I write down the time, and exactly what I’m doing. That way, I can schedule other things around it and I know without a doubt I’m going to have time for it. Writing down what exactly I’m going to do also helps with the excuse I can’t think of anything to do today, I’m not going to go. Here’s what my planner might look like:
      • Monday @ 5:00am – Cardio + Back/Biceps
      • Tuesday @ 6:30pm – Cardio + Shoulders
      • Wednesday @ 6:00pm – Cardio + Legs
      • Thursday @ 6:30pm – Cardio + Triceps
      • Friday @ 5:00 am – Cardio + Shoulders/Chest
      • Saturday @ 10:00am – Cardio + Legs
      • Sunday: Rest day!
  • Make sure you get your protein in
    • During my grace periods, I focus on eating the good stuff, and the good stuff tends to have a lot of carbs, a lot of fat, and very little protein. When I’m hitting the reset button, I’m committing myself to being back on my protein game for the day. Your body needs protein for so many reasons, but besides everything it does for you, most importantly it keeps you full and your cravings in check! Make sure you’re getting protein in some way, with all of your meals.

As always, thank you for reading! If you’re someone that’s hitting the reset button today, know that I’m right there with you! I had a week of vacation last week, and a weekend full of a whole lotta celebratin’ this past weekend – which included a lot of dips, alcohol, cheese, dessert, you name it! Remember, don’t think of it as “falling off the wagon” – you let yourself live a little bit, and now it’s time to refuel your tank with the good stuff! Have a great rest of your week!

XO, A

My Summertime Staple

Fourth of July is two days away and if you’re anything like me, you’re supposed to be bringing a side dish that you haven’t given two seconds of thought. As in like this blog post just reminded you! <— That would be me. If that’s you too, consider this blog post specifically for you! I’m sharing a fruit salad I’ve made multiple times now, and it has easily become a summertime staple for me. It’s great for parties, but its also good to have a bowl sitting in the fridge at home at all times! It has less than 5 ingredients, and it’s the perfect patriotic pop of color for any holiday party you’re heading to this week!

I’m not going to lie, this recipe is just a watermelon feta salad with a few tweaks! While I can’t take any credit for the watermelon and feta trend, although I wish I could, this is just a spiced up version, which means it’s uber simple to make!

Watermelon Blueberry Salad

  • The meat of 1 whole large seedless watermelon, cut into 1 inch chunks (look for the watermelon with the biggest light colored spot – those are always the best inside, I promise it works every time!)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta (I used the Athens “Mediterranean” version because I think it adds the most flavor – but use plain feta if that’s more your style!)
  • 2 cups of fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
  • salt
  1. Chop your watermelon into one inch chunks and place them in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine the lemon juice and olive oil and whisk together.
  3. Pour the olive oil mixture over the watermelon, and toss until the watermelon is coated.
  4. Add the chopped mint and blueberries to the watermelon mixture and mix until evenly combined.
  5. Add salt to taste (Note that the feta will add saltiness so don’t add too much!)
  6. Transfer to your serving dish and crumble the feta on top.
  7. Add a few whole mint leaves for garnish, and drizzle with olive oil.

I like to add balsamic to give this salad even more flavor, but not everyone likes it, and the brown makes it a little less than appealing when it’s sitting on a serving table, so just bring it along and let people add as little or as much as they like!

watermelon6

watermelon 1

And voila! That’s it. 7 simple ingredients (I told y’all, anything with more than 7 ingredients is a no for me), yet such amazingly fresh flavor! This salad is so perfect for this time of year when blueberries and watermelons are at the height of their season. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt I will be making this all summer long! If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to add other fruits or veggies! I think chopped asparagus or cantaloupe would both be amazing additions and an even brighter pop of color!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend! Thanks for reading – let me know if any of you try this recipe!

XO, A