The Power of Accountability

The morning is such a beautiful time; we open our eyes to a new day, show gratitude for all that surrounds us, and move forward with love and good intentions (I mean, that’s the ideal plan, right?).  We all know that life can sometimes get in the way of our well being, so it is extremely important to make time for the things that deeply nourish you, making all of the other “stuff” (stress, work, bills, time) more manageable.

For me, I knew that I needed a better spiritual practice in the morning.  I have had the hot lemon water and green smoothie thing down for well over a year, but there was something missing.  I wanted (needed) to take some time in the morning to do things that made me feel fulfilled, happy.

I am a firm believer in “how you live your mornings is how you live your day”, so for the past 7 weeks, I have developed and practiced a morning routine.  I gave myself some options, and I made a promise that I would do my best to practice at least 2 of these things at the start of every day.

You may remember the post I shared when I was just starting this adventure… So here is how my calendar looks now:

calendar completed

I have to say, I am really proud of myself.

Yes, there are a few blank days, and yes, some mornings I only did one of the practices, but why focus on that?  That is why it’s called a practice, right?  Because we are practicing it, working on integrating it into our life.  It’s not always going to look perfect, and it definitely isn’t always going to feel perfect, but we make the time anyway because we know that it is benefitting us on a deeper level.

Over these past 47 days, I have again learned the power of accountability.  Some mornings, it was a real struggle for me to sit and meditate for 10 minutes when all I wanted to do was get on the computer, turn on some music and check my email… But then I would think of today, the day that I would be sharing a picture of my calendar with you, and that was my motivation.  And of course after my 10 minutes of meditation (or whichever practice I decided on that morning) I felt wonderful, and was so grateful that I took the time for myself.

So thank you for keeping me accountable.

Accountability is one of the strongest ingredients in successful health coaching, and I share it with you because I want to motivate you to commit to something you have been thinking about, something that makes your insides sparkle.  Hang a homemade calendar on your wall to keep track of your progress, find a friend that has something he/she wants to commit to as well and do it together, write about it on your blog, share it with someone you love and ask them to check in with you every day about it… Find something that works for you and do it!  And don’t be scared of error, embrace it, learn from it.IMG_4008

Moving forward, I am feeling more confident and stable in my morning routine.  I now know that in order to feel grounded and balanced in my day, I need to take some time in the morning to journal, practice yoga, meditate, read, stretch, or post a inspirational quote.  I may even make another calendar to help.

I would love to hear the ways you have, or are planning to, keep yourself accountable, and what it is that you want to add more of to your life.

with love and gratitude,

Amanda

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Spiced Scrambled Tofu

I’ve had scrambled tofu before but never tried to make it myself. After coming home from work the other night, I wanted to throw something together quickly, so decided to experiment with a little scrambled tofu. I was inspired by the chili seasoning that Amanda incorporated into her simple black beans recipe the other day, and had picked some up at the store so I had it on hand. Although scrambled tofu is mostly served for breakfast in place of eggs, I though it’d be nice to spice it up a bit to make it a little more savory and appealing for dinner.

Tofu is a great source of protein and iron. What I love about it is that due to it’s neutral flavor it’s very versatile and can be seasoned in so many different ways.scrambledtofu Since it’s so easy and fast  to cook up it’s a great staple to have in your fridge.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

7-8oz of extra firm organic tofu, crumbled*
1/2 yellow onion (or 1 small), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups chopped kale
1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetarian chili spice mix
1/4 cup chopped parsley
sea salt, to taste

To crumble the tofu, first drain it and then use a couple of paper towels to squeeze out any excess liquid. Then crumble the tofu into bit sized pieces. Set aside.

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a skillet. Add in onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until the onions soften and become translucent. Add in chili mix and stir into the onions and garlic. Add the crumbled tofu and stir. Cover for about 4 to 5 minutes until it’s heated throughout. Add in the kale and salt and stir for about a minute until the kale starts to wilt. Taste it, if you feel you’d like some more flavor add in a bit more seasoning and a bit of salt, continue to do this until the flavor has popped to your liking!

I had this with some arugula salad and a delicious piece of spelt bread. As I mentioned, tofu really takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with so feel free to experiment with flavors (seasoning, herbs, sauces, etc)  you like!

with love and tofu,

jackie

*It’s important that you make sure to buy organic tofu, this ensures that your tofu will not be made from genetically modified soybeans.

Parsnip Carrot Coconut Soup

I had some parsnips in the fridge that I purchased at the farmers market a couple of weeks back and knew I had to use them soon before they went bad …. since it’s about 20 degrees in New York, I figured what better way to use them then to make soup?! I decided to do a little experiment and combine some other ingredients I had on hand to make a tasty little pureed soup. Root vegetables are in season this time of year; parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets, etc…. they are all super healthy and great for roasting and soup making.

Serves 2parsnipsouping
Ingredients:
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
3/4 cup of vegetable broth
1 can of light coconut milk (regular coconut milk is great too)
sea salt and white pepper to taste

In a soup pot, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat and then add in the chopped onions. Add a bit of salt and pepper and stir.  Saute the onions for a few minutes, stirring frequently until they begin to soften and become translucent. Then add the carrots and parsnips, stir thoroughly so that they are coated with coconut oil. Stir frequently until the parsnips and carrots start to soften a bit,  about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and coconut broth and bring to a boil. Add in a bit more salt and pepper. Then cover and simmer on low for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft. Transfer to a blender and blend until pureed.
I garnished it with a bit of parsley, because I had it and it looked pretty 🙂 … chives or spring onions would be great too.

This soup is definitely of the sweeter variety, so if you love soups like butternut squash I think you’ll love this!
ParsnipSoup

with love and soup making,

jackie

Simple Black Beans

Ok, so I love this recipe… Its simple, tasty, and you can put these beans over pretty much anything.

You will need:

black beans over taco salad

1 can black beans, including liquid

1 clove garlic, minced

½ sweet onion, diced

¼ red pepper, diced

1 teaspoon turmeric

1-2 tablespoons veggie taco seasoning (for extra flavor)

Olive oil

Place the garlic and olive oil in a pan over low heat until garlic begins to brown.  Add the diced pepper, followed by the diced onion a few minutes after (pepper takes a little longer to cook through).

After a few minutes, when everything is really aromatic and soft, add the can of beans along with ½ cup water, and seasoning.

Continue to cook this over a low heat until most of the liquid is evaporated and has a thicker consistency, usually about 20-30 minutes.

You can enjoy these beans over some brown rice, incorporate them into a taco salad (pictured above), or eat them alone.  They will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, allowing you to enjoy them a few different ways at a few different meals.

eden organic black beansBeans are packed with fiber, soluble and insoluble, and are also a complete protein.  They will keep you full for an extended period of time, provide you with extended energy, and all of their fiber will keep your digestive tract running smooth.  When purchasing canned beans, my favorite brand is Eden’s Organic.  They use organic beans, don’t add any salt, and are packaged with kombu seaweed, which is used to ease and prevent any digestive issues that can sometimes arise when eating beans.

with love and bean eatin’,

Amanda

Learning to Read Ingredient Labels

Shopping at the grocery store can sometimes be a stressful event.  When you are changing around your diet and learning to choose different, healthier, foods, it can get confusing as to which product to choose.  A tip that I looove, suggested by Michael Pollan, is to stay on the perimeter of the grocery store.  This is where you will find most of your whole foods, leaving the overly processed stuff towards the center of the store.

Choosing foods without labels is ideal because they are usually the foods that have been picked out of the ground and placed on the shelves.  But we all know that sometimes there isn’t time for preparation of those bright leafy greens and gorgeous avocados when we are on the go.  Below are 10 tips that have helped me navigate the world of misleading labels and harmful ingredients, and are a good starting place for shopping in your local grocery store.

ingredients

(Avoid products with a list similar to this)

1. How long is the ingredient list?  Longer ingredient lists are usually a quick way to identify a more processed food, and they usually contain items that you are unable to pronounce and have never heard of before.  Stick with a shorter list of ingredients with items that you recognize.

2. What are the first 3 ingredients?  The first 3 ingredients listed make up the majority of the product, and therefore are what you are primarily eating.  For example, if you are purchasing strawberry jelly, you would want the first ingredient to be strawberries, not sugar.

3. Is sugar on that list?  There are many ways that producers like to hide artificial sweeteners in your foods, and there are many names for sugar. Learn what they are so you are able to identify them. They include sucrose, fructose, glucose solids, barley malt, corn syrup solids, dehydrated cane juice, cane juice, refiner’s syrup, maltodextrin, caramel, fruit juice, dextrose, and many others. Also, check if there is more than one source of sweetener. Many producers use more than one to avoid listing a sweetener in their top 3 ingredients. 4-5 grams of sugar is equivalent to a level teaspoon.

4. Look for the word “whole”.  This word should appear in the first or second ingredient, whether it is whole wheat, rye, oats, or another grain. This ensures that you are getting the grain in whole form rather than over-processed and stripped of all its nutritional value. Whole grains should provide at least 3g of fiber per serving, possibly more.

5. High fructose corn syrup.  Whether this ingredient is as harmful as everyone says it is (there have been studies to support both sides), it’s presence is still a great indicator of a highly processed food, one that you probably want to stay away from.

(a safe ingredient list... Food Is Life ezekiel bread)

(a safe ingredient list… Food Is Life ezekiel bread)

6. Healthier sweeteners.  Honey, maple syrup, stevia, blackstrap molasses, unrefined coconut palm sugar, and date sugar are among some of the healthier options for household and product sweeteners.

7. Avoid artificial colors and flavors.  These are chemicals and are linked to a slew of behavior and health problems.  It may also be listed as  “(color) dye # (number).”

8. Watch out for trans fats.  No amounts of trans fats are considered safe. This processed ingredient is associated with raising LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving. Look on the ingredients list. If a food contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, it contains trans fats.

9. Can you pronounce all of the ingredients?  If great grandmother didn’t have these ingredients in her kitchen to bake/cook with, why should they be in your food?

10. Most importantly, know that everyday can’t be perfect.  This is a guide to help you navigate the crazy world of packaged foods.  Trying your best is a step in the right direction. When you use these guidelines most of the time, you will be doing wonderful things for you and your loved ones, and you will be teaching your body to enjoy healthier foods.

 

I hope that some of these tips can help you in your shopping experience.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

 

with love and healthy choices,

Amanda

Hemp Dijon Salad Dressing

hempdressingingredientsThe salad dressing aisle at supermarkets is a crazy place , there are an insane amount of options and truth be told none of them are as good a choice as making your own at home. Many of them use cheap, unhealthy ingredients (such as cheap oils) and add unnecessary sugars and sweeteners. Making your own can be really simple and take your salad to a whole new level of health (who doesn’t want that?!). I chose to use hemp oil as my base here because of its many benefits (plus it’s a pretty cool green color 🙂 ). You can certainly switch it out with quality olive oil if that’s what’s available to you.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of hemp oil
1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed. Use over salads or mix some in with cooked grains such as quinoa for added flavor.

hempsaladdressing

with love and healthy salad dressing,

Jackie

Magical Maca drink

We love having superfoods in our smoothies but what about when it’s cold and you just want to cozy up to a nice, warm drink? I have just the thing for you! After I made some cashew milk, I was inspired to make some sort of warm Maca drink since I had it on hand,  so I poked around the internet a bit and came up with this Magical Maca hot drink. Although Maca has a pretty unique flavor it has been described as slightly nutty and butterscotch-ish, which I think is accurate. You can purchase Maca Powder at most health food stores and online.

Maca is known as the Superfood of the Andes, as it’s native to the Andean Mountains in Peru and Bolivia. An interesting fact is that it’s one of the only food plants in the world that can thrive at such a high altitude. It’s said to help boost stamina and maintain energy. It’s loaded with health supporting vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and plant sterols. It’s also a good source of plant protein and is rich in fiber.

MagicalMaca

Ingredients:
1 cup of cashew milk (or store bought almond milk, unsweetened)
1 teaspoon Maca Powder
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup

Place ingredients in a blender and blend briefly to mix everything together. Transfer the liquid to a saucepan and heat it on low. It’s ready to drink once it’s warm and starts to bubble. I thought about this after I already drank it but it would be delicious with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

with love and magical maca,

Jackie

Cashew Milk

I’m not vegan but I often try to have non-dairy products take the place of dairy products in what I eat and drink because I know it’s better for me (i.e. nutritional yeast instead of parmesan and nut milk over cows milk). When it comes to nut milks (he he, i know… it’s a funny name 😉 ) I’m not a huge fan of the packaged ones, mostly because I don’t love how they taste and I have an allergy to soy milk (which is one of the better tasting ones). Ever since I got the Vitamix blender I’ve been wanting to make my own milk, specifically, cashew milk. Not sure why it took me so long to try it because it’s so easy, and now I think I’ll have it on hand often. When purchasing cashews for this please be sure to get them raw and unsalted as they make for the best milk and are healthier than the roasted,salted nuts. I didn’t sweeten mine because I like it pretty basic, but you can definitely add in a bit of natural sweetener if you’d like. Some great ways to use Cashew Milk is to add it smoothies, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. I really enjoyed it as the base of this Magical Maca drink.
CashewMilk

Ingredients:

1 cup of cashews
3 cups of water (add another cup if you like a thinner consistency)
optional: 1 teaspoon of sweetener (maple syrup or local, raw honey)

If you have a Vitamix (crazy powerful blender) then all you have to do is add the water, cashews
and sweetener into the blender, blend on high for about 1 minute and done!

If you have another type of blender this is the best way to make it: place cashews in a bowl and cover with water, allow them to soak for at least one hour and drain. Then add the cashews, water and sweetener to the blender and blend for a minute or so, until it looks smooth and creamy!

with love and cashews,

Jackie

Chocolate Chia Pudding

I received so much feedback from my photo post on Instagram that I felt obligated to post this recipe.  Also, it’s simple and delicious, which also makes it a must share…IMG_3897

What you will need:

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

A squirt of raw honey (adjust to suit your sweet tooth)

A sprinkle of sea salt

Place all ingredients in a sealed jar and shake.  Leave in the fridge for 10-15 minutes (or up to 3 days) and enjoy.

Chia seeds are loaded with omega-3 oils, antioxidants and fiber.  The outer layer on these seeds, which creates the pudding consistency, works wonders for keeping your digestive system running smooth, and also keeps your fuller for a longer period of time which makes these seeds a great addition to anyone trying to reach their ideal weight.

Raw Cacao.  Who doesn’t love chocolate, right?  Well now you can love it without all of that awful guilt.  Cacao powder is loaded with antioxidants, trace minerals, vitamins and nutrients.  The best part?  It contains an element called phenylethylamine, which is the same chemical our bodies produce when we fall in love!!  Probably why chocolate holds such a strong place in most of our hearts.

Cinnamon is a wonder herb that helps to normalize blood sugar levels, and also supports digestion, circulation, skin health, and helps to fight off illness and headaches.  I suggest sprinkling cinnamon in anything you see fit.

Some other fun additions include:

Fruit

Maca powder

Unsweetened coconut

Hemp seeds

Nuts

Oatmeal

Get creative…

 

with love and pudding,

Amanda