Nutrition

Eat This: Non-GMO & Gluten Free Mediterranean Bites

Eating healthy and living that busy lifestyle don’t exactly go hand in hand. It can get challenging, especially if you are vegetarian or have any food allergies/restrictions. I always try to eat fresh food whenever possible, but when I heard about this new line of vegetarian, gluten free and non-GMO project verified frozen falafel bites, I had to give them a try.

These protein and fiber packed lil bites come with tzatziki sauce and are available in four different flavors: Kale, Garlic Pesto, Southwestern and Sweet Potato. They are packaged in a resealable pouch for added convenience and freshness.
Nates Mediterranean BitesThe bites are super convenient since they are pre-cooked so all you have to do is thaw them out and they’re good to go! Additionally, you always have the option to cook them in the oven, microwave or fryer.

I decided to try the Kale flavor first. I cooked them in a toaster oven for about 12 minutes. In the meantime, I whipped up a little arugula salad with feta cheese and used the included tzatziki sauce as a base for my dressing (adding in some oil, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper). I served it with some beet hummus (from Trader Joes) and some fresh pita bread. The results? Insanely yum and I can’t wait to try the rest of the flavors!
Healthy Mediterranean Food

Nates Mediterranean Bites hit retail stores in June and are currently sold at Sprouts grocery stores nationwide.

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Snack On This: Savory & Grass-fed Blue Hill Yogurt

My last blog post reminded me that it had been way too long since I visited Whole Foods and I was having major withdrawals. As much as I am obsessed with The Natural Grocer in Newburyport it’s just too small to be my Disneyland…I can’t exactly get lost in there…and I like getting lost. Well yesterday I had the day off and I decided to spend most of it at Lululemon and Whole Foods…I actually had more fun at Whole Foods. I get a kick out of myself sometimes and how my passions have shifted over the years. I mean I still went into the dressing room at Lulu 3 times and didn’t walk out of there empty handed but you get the point.

This trip I wanted to shop outside of the box and try some new things that I wouldn’t be able to find close to me. I wanted to maximize my shopping trip, ya know, stock up on the oddities. The best thing about Whole Foods is that every time I go in there I find something new…and trust me when I say that I literally scan every shelf of every aisle, every time I go there.

I’ve added yogurt back into my diet as a way to get some protein. I spent a good 7 minutes in the yogurt section being a dork and reading the labels of every damn yogurt brand to see what kind of farm practices they have and if their dairy cows are grass-fed or not. Yup, I’m that girl. I glanced to the top shelf at a row of black plastic cups with pretty, fall-colored writing. “WTF? Beet flavored yogurt?” Yes. And carrot, tomato, sweet potato, butternut squash and parsnip. Yes…savory yogurts, what an amazing idea, especially for people that don’t care for veggies or even as a healthful snack option for the kids!

blue hill savory yogurts

The yogurts are from Blue Hill Farm located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. They are a family farm that raises their dairy cows in the best possible way and uses their well-pastured, 100% grass-fed milk along with local vegetables from neighboring farms to create their yogurts.

I wanted to try every flavor but they were a little pricey so I decided to get beet and sweet potato. Honestly, they’re damn tasty especially if you add in some complimenting ingredients (which they suggest on the underside of each lid). Speaking of the lid, how cute are they?? (see photo above). I love good packaging.

beet and sweet potato yogurt

 

When I visited the Blue Hill Yogurt website I was pleasantly surprised. The layout, the photography and the wonderful content really boosted their brownie points for me. They have a whole section with videos on how to make yummy, healthy recipes from the yogurts and they even have their own online market with TONS of cool shit. I’m really in love with this company and I feel good supporting them. Now I just need to figure out which flavor to try next…

Want to know where to buy Blue Hill Yogurts? Click Here

Eating Healthy on the North Shore, MA

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since moving from Los Angeles, CA back to Newburyport, MA is finding local spots that sell or serve healthy, nutrient dense & organic food. It makes me so sad that the closest Whole Foods is 25 minutes away! Honestly, I get so excited when I make it down to Lynnfield that I end up spending at least an hour in there. I roam up and down every aisle just browsing at what new products have arrived…oh, the things that excite me nowadays. So yeah, finding healthy places to eat out, local organic farms to visit or stores that carry the quality products that I want is definitely not the easiest thing for me now.

Well, I took the opportunity to do some further research on this topic when I found out that we needed to do a community outreach project for school. To backtrack, I’ve been enrolled in distance learning classes at the Nutritional Therapy Association (www.nutritionaltherapy.com) and I am training to be a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I thought it would be great to find out more about the local community and what businesses are in line with what my school and I believe in as far as food and health goes. My main goal was to find local, organic farms (or with organic practices), local health stores and local restaurants/cafes around the North Shore, MA and along the Seacoast in NH and Maine that carry or serve the following:

– Local, organic produce
– Pastured pork & poultry
– Grass-fed, clean meats
– Free range, organic eggs
– Grass-fed, raw, cultured, fermented dairy products
– Wild caught, low toxicity seafood
– Whole, unrefined and properly prepared grains

The list above is what my school (and I) consider to be the most nutrient dense and healthful foods that you can eat. So for my project, I created a Resource Guide for finding Real Food in the North Shore, MA community. You can download it and even print it out if you’d like by clicking the link below!

RealFoodResourceGuide

Just a side note…I found that there were lots of restaurants that strived to serve local produce as well as clean meats (no antibiotics/no hormones) but I chose to edit my selection based on what I felt had the best offerings.

I hope this can serve as a valuable resource for anyone looking to find healthy, organic, local food within our little community. I know I’m definitely excited to try out a few new spots. If you have any additional recommendations or know of any great businesses, please feel free to comment! I’d love the feedback 🙂

SOME ADDITIONAL INFO:
Maybe you’re wondering why grass-fed beef is better?
– Grass-fed Basics

Why should you choose wild seafood over farmed seafood?
Why eat Wild Salmon?
– Learn about sustainable seafood

Why buy pastured meat, eggs and dairy products?
Benefits of pasture-raised

Healthy Recipe: Blueberry Chia Seed Jam

Blueberry PickingIt’s blueberry season, woo-hoo!
This past weekend I convinced my Father to go blueberry picking with me at one of the local farms. I really enjoy hand-picking my own fruits and vegetables as well as supporting local farmers…it just feels good. I love, love, love blueberries. Not only are they delicious but they are super healthful and packed with antioxidants.
After making some blueberry pancakes for breakfast on Sunday, we still had a ton of blueberries leftover. I tried to think of what I could whip up that was healthy and something other than blueberry muffins or some other sugary concoction. Then I remembered I saw a Blueberry Chia Seed Jam recipe on the back of a bag of Bobs Red Mill chia seeds so I figured I would give that a whirl! I made a few modifications to the recipe and it came out SO GOOD!
Homemade Blueberry Chia Seed JamIngredients:
3 cups of blueberries
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (agave or honey would work too)
3 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
– In a medium size pot, heat the blueberries on medium/high heat until soft and bubbling.
– Turn down the heat to a simmer, add in chia seeds and maple syrup and mix together.
– Stir frequently until mixture is nice and thick, about 15 minutes.
– Take off of heat and let cool.
– Stir in vanilla extract.
Homemade blueberry chia seed jam with greek yogurt and bananasHomemade Blueberry Chia Seed JamFor breakfast this morning I swirled some of the jam into some greek yogurt and plopped it on top of some sliced bananas. It would also be great on toast, waffles, in a smoothie or swirled into some whipped coconut cream for a yummy, healthy dessert. Can’t wait to try this with other fruit!

The Voices In My Pre-menstrual Head

The landscape in front of me looked like a painting on an infinite canvas that stretched beyond the scope of my vision. Super mario brothers…yeah, like a 2 dimensional scene from a video game. Big, puffy clouds and the brightest blue sky…what a beautiful day.

My attention was quickly diverted to my annoyance with the increase in bugs hovering by my side and dancing in front of my face. It was like they were magnetically attracted to me for some reason. Shit, what the hell was I thinking putting lotion on before my run? Idiot. My routine became like a step, step, swat, step, step, swat, swat. As I glanced down I noticed the extreme cleavage I had…not the cute kind, like the “Jesus Christ, why are they so big? I hate them” kind. Since when did my cleavage line go that far up my friggin chest? Almost instantly I remembered how tender they were and I noticed the pain with every. single. step. I was also reminded of how I tried on my bathing suit earlier and they were spilling out of the sides of my top. That in turn reminded me of how the bottoms fit…

My vision drifted south. Ugh, my thighs. There they are, jiggling like a bowl of frickin tapioca pudding. What HAPPENED to me?  I hate running. Mmmmm I like tapioca pudding, I wonder if I can make a vegan version of that…

Wow, I thought. I wonder if people would think I’m crazy if they knew what I was thinking right now. Am I crazy? I made the effort to put on my running shoes and get outside to exercise, to sweat, to feel good, to be nice to my body, and here I am yelling at it at the same time…that’s not nice. I mean, do I really look that bad? I know the truth is that I don’t. I wonder if every girl experiences some kind of body dysmorphia at some point in their lives. What a horrible thing. I realize that I’m blessed with good health and pretty decent genes from my parents and I should be happy with that. But sometimes (usually once a month, go figure) I get overly consumed with not being good enough or always wanting what I don’t have…drowning in a puddle of self-loathing slime…gross.

It’s goddamn hard being a woman! I have to deal with these whack-job emotions for one week out of every. single. month. I’m not really a big crier either, but PMS-Tiffany? Oh, she cries…she cries at the sight of an elderly couple holding hands, she cries when her younger brother yells at her and she cries when she feels like her boyfriend doesn’t like her anymore. She’s an emotional wreck.

I was at my parents house the other day trying to print out my resume. I hate their printer…I hate their printer with all of my being (strange, because I don’t like the word hate). I was there for a total of 3 minutes before throwing up my hands, yelling something and storming off. My brother asked “Are you PMS-ing or something?”. Um yes, it’s that obvious. My Dad chimed in, “I was thinking the exact same thing”. Bah. Ha.

45 minutes later, as I lay on the couch in a fetal position, my brother got my resume to print out and brought it to me. Thank God for the men in the world who understand how to deal with a pre-menstrual woman. Don’t mess with her, don’t piss her off, hug her, play with her hair and when she can’t figure out how to work the friggin printer? You figure it out.

Ok, enough of that. For all of the women that suffer from this lovely syndrome, here are some natural remedies for PMS and tips for a healthy menstrual cycle:

  • Do yourself a favor and go workout. Exercise relieves PMS symptoms by increasing the amount of blood flow and oxygen to the tissues, as well as reducing anxiety and irritability. If you can’t workout, go for a walk or go to the farmers market and buy some fresh, organic vegetables for dinner…just get OUT of the house. *to improve PMS symptoms, it is important to increase the activity level of your exercise for a week or two before the onset of your period.
  • Realize that sugar is the devil (goddamn it). Cut off your love affair with Mr. Chocolate during this time, he only aggravates your symptoms. Use carob as a chocolate substitute and choose fresh fruit and berries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Speaking of food, do NOT let yourself get too hungry. A hangry, PMS-ing female? Ohh boy, watch out! Stabilize your blood sugar by eating small, frequent meals during the day including plenty of fresh unprocessed veggies, organic, hormone-free protein sources and other low sugar whole foods.
  • Limit or cut out dairy & red meat, they cause inflammation. Dairy is constipating and also inhibits magnesium absorption (which is shown to significantly improve PMS symptoms). *I noticed an extreme change in my symptoms after going vegan, they essentially disappeared…my breast tenderness was non-existant. I’ve added yogurt and some cheese back into my diet recently and my symptoms are back…just saying.
  • This one may be tough: Limit/avoid alcohol & caffeine. They do nothing but aggravate PMS symptoms and lead to dehydration. *as I write this, I am just finishing up my cup of coffee, looking outside and thinking that after I’m done with this post I am going to have a mimosa and lay out by the pool. #failing
  • Here’s a very important one, HYDRATE. Always, always, always keep a bottle of water near you. (hopefully you’re using a reusable water bottle by now). I find it easier to drink water when it’s infused with fruit, cucumber or herbs. It’s always great to start your day off with lemon water but try adding orange slices, berries or even some mint into your water bottle for some added nutritional benefits and a tastier alternative to staying hydrated. *this is often called detox water btw.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of proper fats, vitamin D3 and magnesium. High quality, expeller-pressed coconut, flaxseed and olive oil are great at reducing inflammation and balancing hormones while vitamin D and magnesium are shown to reduce PMS symptoms. *try to get your vitamin D from the sun, but if not, choose a high quality supplement and make sure it is vitamin D3, not D2.
  • One of the best things you can do for yourself: Learn how to handle your stress. Stress can be managed in 3 ways. You can seek out the help of a qualified professional for counseling, restructure your environment to make it less stressful, or learn certain relaxation techniques. My favorite? Yoga. I love yoga. Meditation helps a lot of people too. *sometimes when I have an anxiety attack I just close my eyes and breathe in slowly and deeply…like 10 times. Then I open my eyes and almost always feel better.
  • My last tip…smile and laugh. Do you like cute, furry things? Go to a pet store or somewhere that’s sponsoring a pet adoption and get all up in that squishy goodness. That ALWAYS puts me in a good mood (although there’s a chance I’ll end up crying at the overwhelming cuteness). Call someone who makes you happy and can make you laugh and forget about your misery for a while. But the best way to put a smile on your face? Watch those YouTube videos from Jimmy Kimmel – Celebrities read mean tweets #1 – #7. *if that doesn’t make you laugh, please seek medical help.