The secret ingredient that makes everything better: Nut butter

Ah, the creamy (or crunchy) goodness they call nut butter. I may be a little bias, but I think nut butter was one of the best man-made foods to grace this Earth. In decadent desserts or in savory fare, nut butter has earned its place in my household as the ingredient that makes everything better.

What’s not to love? It’s sweet, rich, creamy and satisfying. As I sneakily hide in my pantry, devouring and savoring the last bite of nut butter, I’m reminded how comforting and nostalgic it makes me feel.  Then I had a revelation: why don’t I add nut butter to my everyday cooking? So, I did.

News flash: nut butter isn’t just for jelly sandwiches anymore. This nutty and buttery treat compliments cuisines by adding just the right amount of nuttiness. Get creative! Experiment with different types of nut butters like peanut, almond, pistachio and cashew. Own a food processor? Make your own! It’ll save you money and you’ll know exactly what is in it. No added sugar, salt or artificial fillers!

Stir Frys or satays:

A dollop of nut butter in steamy stir frys or satays goes a long way in making even the spiciest foods, delectably sweet and rich. When paired with ginger, sesame seeds and soy sauce, nut butter livens sautéed veggies and meat up.

Get the recipehttp://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/quick-peanut-chicken-stir-fry

Ice Cream:

What if I told you that you can make vegan ice cream with just two ingredients? It’s true! Grab some frozen bananas and a heaping helping of your choice of nut butter and blend away. Instant creamy and dreamy ice cream without the dairy (or guilt)!

Get the recipe: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/two-ingredient-banana-peanut-butter-ice-cream/

Cookies or bars:

Looking for an easy dessert that satisfies your cravings and takes only 10 minutes? Because of its sweet creamy goodness, nut butter is a perfect ingredient in desserts like cookies or bars. For a nuttier flavor, try adding crushed nuts as a topping. Give these 3-ingredient cookies a whirl!

Get the recipe: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-cookies/

Dips or frosting:

If you’re looking for a sweet garnish for your treats or something to dip your goodies in, nut butter-based dips are perfect. Filled with protein and good fat, nut butter is a healthy alternative to fat-laden dressing, dips and frostings.

Get the recipe: http://skinnyms.com/skinny-peanut-butter-yogurt-dip/

Eggs:

I know what you’re thinking. I was skeptical at first, but once I discovered this heavenly creation, my mouth waters just thinking about it. Something about salty, fluffy eggs and the creaminess of nut butter gets me going. It’s the new PB & J!

Get the recipe: http://blueisbleu.blogspot.com/2013/11/fried-eggs-and-peanut-butter.html

Smoothies:

I drink green smoothies every morning. Obviously I add my greens, fruit and almond milk, but I can’t forget a scoop (or two) of nut butter as well to get my fats and protein in. Nut butter coats your stomach so you stay fuller longer. It’s like Christmas morning in my mouth.

Get the recipehttp://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-peanut-butter-smoothie

For more nutty recipes, I suggest perusing through and/or purchasing a peanut butter cookbook. It’s the best investment I’ve made in a long time. Find some on Amazon

Enjoy, friends 🙂

-Kailee

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Skip the shake! The unhealthy truth

Today’s post is more of an informative rant, so I thought I’d share my two cents:

With summer right around the corner, you may have seen advertisements and/or heard talk of meal replacement shakes/meals to help you lose weight fast. The problem with these ‘magical’ powders, supplements and bars is that they are not natural, are expensive AND are not necessary to lose weight!

So, what’s actually in a meal replacement shake? And how do they work?

Companies like Slimfast, Herbalife, Isagenix, Shakeology, Body By Vi and Advocare claim their products are natural and a healthy substitute for food. But, a better look at the ingredients say otherwise.

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According to goodlivingwarehouse.com, many of these offenders include ingredients such as whey protein isolate (highly processed),  soy protein (derived from GMO soy), rGBH (growth hormone) and carreageenan (used on lab animals). There are also sneaky forms of refined sugar added in–that’s why they taste good! (or chalky my in opinion). With around 120 to 200 calories per shake, it just isn’t a healthy option for a true meal. By eating actual raw foods, you receive all the vitamins and nutrients you need. If a shake is the best option for you, the website suggests trying Raw Protein from Garden of Life. It is plant-based, non-GMO, dairy and gluten free with NO artificial ingredients!

Before you get defensive and claim your product is different than the rest (because, you know, science backs it up), let me tell you that I have indeed tried Herbalife. I drank shakes, took supplements and drank tea for 3 months because I wanted a quick fix. I saw the many impressive results online so I thought I’d give it a go. I followed the program and paid up the wazoo for a meal replacement shake that I substituted for two meals with actual nutritious foods. I lost a total of 18 pounds and was completely miserable. I was sluggish and was depressed that I couldn’t enjoy going out with my friends and family. Herbalife did its job of helping me lose weight, but at a price (pun intended). The reason I lost weight wasn’t because of the magic Herbalife shakes, no. It was the calorie deficit I was forcing my body into.

I did more research into MLM (multi-level marketing) scams like the companies listed above and felt duped. These “coaches” don’t have a degree or any experience in fitness, nutrition or organic, non-GMO living. They’re really only trained to sell these bogus products and claim they work wonders. They warn you to never stop using them because you’ll gain all the weight back, tricking people into buying more and more of these useless products. “It’s a lifestyle”, they claim. Well, I’m here to say it’s not. It’s a rip-off and you DO NOT need them to lose weight.

After slowing down my metabolism by eating less than 1200 calories a day drinking meal replacement shakes, I decided to just eat real food. Nothing in a canister, box, can or bag. Stuff from the ground–and organic stuff at that. I lost another 32 pounds and feel wonderful. Have not been lethargic, bloated, irritable, depressed or even sick since I started! Real food is the most powerful medicine on the planet. No powder, supplement or protein bar can give you all that naturally!

While I understand some people are ‘on-the-go’ kind of people and prefer a shake instead of a home cooked meal, and that’s fine! There are other options out there for much less! Make your own smoothie, juice or look at cleaner, healthier alternatives. Don’t be fooled by marketing! Yes, you will most likely lose weight, but it won’t be healthy and won’t last long term. I don’t know about you, but I simply couldn’t live off of chalky shakes for more than three months. I missed food too much!

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So, before handing off your credit card to some college-aged chum who claims they are a wellness coach, do your research! It’s quite simple: eat real food. Don’t fall for the unnatural, scientifically-engineered and non-FDA tested meal replacements. Save your money and head to your nearest co-op or farmer’s market! Stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and grass-fed meat. Your body will thank you in the long run.

/rant. 🙂

This year’s ‘new’ New Year’s Resolution

Hi followers!

I apologize I have not posted in quite some time. With the craziness of summer and the wonderful Mexican honeymoon I went on, I put my blog on the back burner. Fear not–I am back and ready for more tricks, advice and recipes to a healthier life.

I looked at the calendar today and I could not believe my eyes–November already?! 2013 is not only almost over, but this month marks 11 months of clean eating and working out consistently. I thought it would be fun to compare January’s numbers to today’s and I could NOT believe my eyes! I have lost 47.5 pounds, 50 accumulative inches all over my body, BMI went from 29 (almost obese) to 21 (low side of normal) and I have lost 11% body fat. WOW! Just from eating clean and exercising. What did you know; food isn’t the enemy after all.

After making a promise to myself on New Year’s that I would better myself inside and out (just like everyone does), I realized that people who actually follow through with their resolutions are few and far between. In fact only about 10% of people attain their goals they set for themselves by the end of the year–only TEN percent! But why so few? I’ve come up with a good list of possible reasons you may have fell of the bandwagon and what you can do this year to make your New Year’s resolution an achievement instead of just a dream.

1. No focus. You didn’t set clear expectations and goals for yourself in writing. Or you didn’t keep your goals in mind by reading and affirming them (think vision board or ‘dream body’ images). This time around, be sure you realize what you have to do to reach your aspiration.

2. No priorities. You may have set a goal originally, but you didn’t put it at the top of your list. For example, you want a flat stomach and abs, but you drink soda and and eat fast food for lunch. By reminding yourself what your #1 priority is (YOU!), there won’t be any temptation to wonder into the food court and grab unhealthy choices.

3. No support system. You may have tried to go at it alone, with no buddy system, training partners, family, coaches or friends to turn to for information and emotional support. Although I never had a coach or physical trainer, I had my husband who chose to eat healthy along side me. We kept each other accountable and encouraged one another.

4. No accountability. You didn’t keep track of your measurements, weight, food intake or training log or have anyone cheering for you on the side. I encourage you to find a mentor, coach or friend you can either report to or ask if they can join you on your journey. That way, you are both encouraging the other to succeed.

5. No patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You didn’t gain the weight over night, you can’t expect to lose it over night. Don’t think short-term and don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. Plateaus are also oh too common. You will hit them and they will let you down. But, don’t stop there. Push through them and don’t give up!

6. No planning. Fail to plan, plan to fail. You can’t just ‘wing it’ with this lifestyle. It takes careful planning to eat out at restaurants, choose a workout routine and know your portion sizes. You have to do research and prepare. This is where I see a lot of people grab take out or leave the gym early (or don’t go at all) because they’re “too busy”. We’re all busy, you just have to plan to make time!

7. No balance. Your diet or workout regimen was too extreme. You went all or nothing and essentially burned yourself out. Try looking at things in the long-term, instead of using the “I want it now” mentality. Slow and steady wins the race!

8. No personalization. You are on a generic workout plan or following a model diet. What worked for them may not work for you, your personality, lifestyle or body type. Take bits and pieces of others’ success and mold it into what suits you best.

9. Excuses overpowered your desires. Everyone wants to be healthy, happy and confident, but not everyone has the willpower to make it happen. Excuses are life’s way of making difficult things easier to deal with. “I’m busy”, “I’m sore” and “I’m tired” are just a few examples of your mind not being as strong as your heart. Fight them because they won’t go away.

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With New Year’s just a few months away (and the holiday season coming up), I challenge you to take this list to heart and focus on you. Focus in on how you’re bettering yourself, how you’re training your mind to be stronger and where you will be in a year’s time. Think long-term and remember the end result. It may be hard now (it will be very hard), but you can suck it up now or suck in later. 😉

-Kailee

Substitutions…and even more recipes!

Hello readers!

I apologize I have neglected to post a new entry for quite some time. With the craziness of the holidays and summer time in general, I am now just finding the time to post.

I have a lot of readers/friends who are ultimately curious how to go about cooking their meals once they have gone shopping. You can buy all the organic, healthy and clean foods as possible, but since many don’t know how to cook them or what kinds of recipes you can make, those foods get pushed to the back of the fridge and spoil.

I’ve decided to make a list of the most popular substitutes in cooking your favorite meals as well as a list of more easy and clean recipes I have made for my family.

The staples ‘most’ people have in their houses include butter, table sugar, white flour and vegetable oil. Bad news, those items are detrimental to your health and slow weight loss. Good news, there is an alternative for every one of these (plus more). Not only are the foods we eat overly processed, but sometimes they’re more expensive than making them yourself! Whether you are concerned about what you’re putting in your body or need a replacement food because of an allergy (like gluten, eggs, soy or dairy), these foods will do the trick to satisfy a craving!

List of my top 20 food substitutions/alternatives:

1. Greek yogurt or avocado spread for butter/sour cream. (adds protein and good fatty omega-3 in your diet instead of processed hydrogenated fat)

2. Stevia or raw honey for table sugar. (We already get too much sugar in a day. Stevia is plant-based sugar replacement and equally sweet and natural!)

3. Rolled oats for breading or bread crumbs. (Add lots of beneficial fiber).

4. Honey or raw syrup for processed syrup. (Less sugar and mystery ingredients)

5. Brown rice or quinoa for white rice/pasta. (closer to rawest form and also has higher protein than processed ‘white’ foods)

6. Almond cheese for shredded cheese/sliced cheese. (Less dairy will be beneficial in the long run)

7. Soy or almond yogurt for high sugar flavored yogurts (always chose plain and add your own fruit or honey for flavoring)

8. Dried fruit for candy. (be sure there is no added sugar!)

9. Whole wheat flour/coconut flour for white flour. (Less white, happier life)

10. Coconut oil for vegetable oil. (Filled with good, beneficial fats)

11. Oven popped popcorn instead of microwave bagged popcorn. (No added salt and faux- butter flavoring)

12. Mug cake (use oats, fruit and egg in mug. Microwave for 1 minute) for cake or pastries.

13. Whole wheat English muffin for bagel. (Bagels are equivalent to 5 pieces of bread).

14. Sweet potatoes for potatoes/french fries. (Less starch and gives a healthy dose of beta-carotene)

15. Chicken/fish for beef/pork. (Although some lean cut grass-fed beef is not too bad on occasion).

16. Water or green tea for Gatorade, flavored waters or soda. (Empty calories add up and your body needs water to maintain its daily functions).

17. Mrs. Dash spices for table salt. (A couple dashes of standard table salt is actually the amount of salt we are supposed to have in one day. Mrs. Dash comes in all flavors and is MSG-free and made with herbs and spices instead of salt).

18. Homemade chips (flaxseed, tortilla, veggie) for potato chips. (Chips in bags are filled with fat, salt, sugar and artificial fillers. To satisfy the crunch without the guilt, make your own Kale, zucchini, or tortilla chips in the oven!)

19. Ranch packet + Greek yogurt for bottled ranch dressing. Or choose natural dressing (oil, vinegar) for creamy or salty condiments like ketchup, Italian dressing or Mayo. (Condiments are the worst contenders for added calories and serving size is only 2 tablespoons! Something many of us forget).

20. Homemade ice cream (peanut butter, whey protein, banana blended and frozen) for ice cream. (Ice cream is basically frozen fat and sugar. Homemade you get protein and a dose of natural sugars).

I hope this gives people an idea of quick fixes for unhealthy choices.

 

I thought I’d also post more recipes of my clean-eating journey. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Rhubarb crisp:

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-Whole wheat oats (2 cups)

-1/2 cup of Greek yogurt

-3 egg whites

-Kashi granola for the topping

-Frozen or fresh rhubarb

-1 Tbsp of honey to drizzle

Mix ingredients together and bake for 15 minutes on 350. Add frozen Greek yogurt on top if preferred.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups:

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-Whole wheat lasanga noodles

-Plain Greek yogurt

-Frozen or sauteed Spinach

-Low sodium tomato sauce

-Cottage cheese

-Slices of almond cheese or part-skim cheese

Spread Spinach, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt mixture on one cooked lasagna noodle. Roll up. Add piece of cheese and pour tomato sauce over. Cook for 15 minutes on 350. Have 2-3 for a serving size.

Mexican Spaghetti Squash:

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-Cooked spaghetti squash (also called winter squash)

-One can of no sodium black beans

-Frozen corn (1/2 cup)

-One can of low sodium Rotel (canned tomato and chiles)

-2 Tbsp of salsa

-1/4 cup of chopped jalapenos (optional)

-4 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook squash for 45 minutes on 380 until tender. Cut in half and scoop out seeds/’guts’. Scrape sides to make ‘spaghetti’ and add all other ingredients. Place back in oven for another 10 minutes.

Squash Stir-fry Skillet:

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-One can of low-sodium black beans

-1 sliced zcuhinni

-1 sliced yellow squash

-2 cups of brown rice

-1 can of Rotel

Cook rice beforehand (about 30 minutes). Add all other ingredients to skillet and cook for 10 minutes until squash becomes soft.

Oat-Crusted Chicken w/ Brown Rice and Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes:

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For ‘breading’: rolled oats (1 cup) and crushed almonds (1/2 cup)

-Honey (1/4 cup)

-3-4 sweet potatoes

-Brown rice

-1 egg

-2-3 pieces of chicken

Mix almonds and oats in blender. Dip chicken in egg and coat chicken with mixture. Cut sweet potatoes into small one-inch pieces and drip honey onto them. Cook brown rice for 30 minutes on stove. Bake chicken for 40 minutes (until coating is browned) and cook potatoes for 30 minutes until tender. Serve on spinach (optional).

I hope these turn out as good as they were for me and my family! Cooking for 1 or 2 doesn’t mean relying on boxed dinners or frozen meals. It also doesn’t mean boring. These are all twists on common favorites loaded with veggies and healthy alternatives. Once you go healthy, you never go back :p

Thanks for reading!

-Kailee

Time for a change!

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I was feeling ambitious this morning so I decided to fill you all in on ways to eat healthier, shop smarter and live happier.

Most of you have an idea what clean eating is. It is defined as cutting out as many processed foods as possible and eating foods in their rawest form. Think apples for applesauce, raw almonds for nut butter and whole wheat bread for white bread. Take a look at the ingredient list of foods around your home. You’d be surprised the items listed! A good rule of thumb is if it has more than 6 ingredients, don’t eat it. The more things listed, the more processed it is. Also, if there are items you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t shop for separately, don’t purchase it. Looking at the serving size is also huge. If more than 1/3 of the calories come from fat–put that crap down! Food companies are tricky in that they will make their serving sizes super small so the calories listed on the label look manageable. Most times there are at least 5-8 servings in frozen dinners like bagel bites, barbecue wings or pizza. If you have half of them or worse–all of them–you’re looking at quadrupling your calorie intake. Same goes for teas like Arizona tea and even Snapple. They are two servings, so if you’re enjoying the entire bottle, double those calories.

The first step to eating healthy is purging your fridge and pantry of processed foods. Stay away from canned items like soups, vegetables and fruit, boxed flavored rice and ‘just add water’ meals as well as processed meats like bologna, salami and other deli meats. Getting those items out of the house will rid you of temptation and force you to eat the foods your body truly needs.

According to studies, most Americans are starving nutritionally. We eat and eat, but it’s the wrong kind of food. Your body is your buddy, listen to it! Treat it right and it will treat you right. Tired of feeling sluggish, bloated, constipated? What if I told you that was all because of your diet? Just making a few simple changes in the foods you eat will not only give you more energy, it will improve awareness, eye sight, reduce bloat and clear up skin! No pill, cream or magic shake will do that for you. It’s all about food–the right kinds of food.

Did you know that 60% of the food we eat is processed? It’s cheaper and easier for big companies to sell mass quantities of crap than good food that spoils. Most of those foods are pumped with artificial fillers, sweeteners and other carcinogenic ingredients that would make you cringe. Then they see people trying to eat healthy so they slap “fat free” on the label and people eat twice as much than they would have before. Little do people know what they are really eating. Why do you crave certain foods? Why are they so addicting? I’ll tell you why: MSG and sugar. Would you be surprised to know there are more than 70 ingredients in a McDonald’s hamburger? MSG is one of the main ingredients which has been linked to diabetes, cancer and morbid obesity. I consider sugar a drug. It is addicting and when people don’t get it, they get irritable. People also consume more than two times the amount of sugar required a day. Eating clean can be a challenge cutting these deadly ingredients out your daily diet.

Going to the store soon? Here are some tips:

1. Shop on the edges of the grocery store. The outside edges are most times filled with fresh fruit, veggies, meats, yogurts and cheeses. Things that spoil=good. Things that have a shelf life of 5 years=bad.
2. When shopping for items, check the ingredient list! If you are buying beans, beans should be the only thing listed on the label. If you must be canned items or packaged items, go for the reduced sodium or reduced sugar.
3. Watch out for fat free! Fat free usually means ‘more sugar’ but not always. Full fat yogurts are actually better for you than fat free versions because it’s lower in sugar.
4. Go to the store with a list and stick to it! Also, try to go alone. Kids and boyfriends/husbands won’t help the cause! It will save you money and time!
5. Sign up for coupons either by mail or online. There often aren’t many deals for healthy food (surprise), but sometimes you’ll get a deal on fresh fruits , veggies and meats. Try to buy things that are on sale and STOCK UP on them!
6. Most time the frozen isle is full of processed foods, HOWEVER, frozen fruit and veggies are often times just as nutritious as fresh and lasts longer. Stock up on them!
7. Ingredient lists on food will show the most prevalent items first. If salt, flour, corn syrup, sugar are listed first–don’t even think about it!
8. Stay away from flavored foods like rice, nuts, popcorn, some kinds of yogurts etc. Flavored usually means added sugar and salt. You can add your own flavors to it like parsley, cilantro, fruit, honey and other spices.
9.  Don’t shop when you are hungry. You’ll end up buying more food than necessary and it will most likely be crap food.
10. If you can afford organic, spinach, apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches are just a few foods that you’ll want to spend a little more on as these are the foods with the most pesticides.

Here is also a list of 15 items all clean eating households should have on hand:
-Almond milk/soy milk
-frozen or fresh fruits and veggies
-Raw almonds/walnuts/pistachios
-sweet potatoes
-spinach/kale and leafy greens
-apple cider or balsamic vinegar
-black/pinto/kidney beans
-whole wheat pasta or brown rice
-old fashioned oats/rolled oats
-Stevia
-egg whites
-Mrs. Dash or other no MSG/salt spices
-greek yogurt/kefir
-seeds like chia and flax
-whole wheat flour/coconut flour

But, Kailee I don’t know if I can give up my favorite fried and processed foods! Don’t tell yourself you CAN’T eat it. You can eat anything you’d like. It is your choice not to eat it. You will say ‘no’ a lot. Heck, I’ve been clean eating for 5 months and my family and friends still make cookies, cake, french fries, pizza and are surprised when I say ‘no thanks’. The way I look at it is flavor lasts a few minutes, but the fatty crap you put in your body is hard to get rid of and will only continue piling up. So, is it worth it? For some, yes, it is. Those people give in super easy by saying “a bite won’t hurt” and “I ate healthy today so I can have this 5-pound Cinnabon for desert”. Don’t reward yourself with food. We tend to do that–it’s Sally’s birthday, it’s _________ holiday weekend, let’s go on a date night, let’s go out with friends. What does that mean? Food. Usually bad food at that. Restaurants are notorious for huge portion sizes, salt and fat-laden foods and enough sugary treats to put Hershey’s out of business. No one is saying you can’t go out and enjoy the foods you did before, but be smart about it. Go for foods with names like saute, fresh, baked or steamed instead of fried, crispy, battered or creamy.

This lifestyle change isn’t easy. It takes work and it’s something that doesn’t happen over night. Once you start, it is the most rewarding experience ever. You will receive so much support and respect for starting and sticking with it. You CAN do this, just remember that.

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”