healthy

The Power of a Fresh Start

Dear Leah Renee,

My New Year’s resolution is to get healthier, but I’ve said that before and come around March or so I am pretty much back to my old ways!  How can I stick to it?!  Thanks!  ~Kathy, FL

A year can feel like a long time when we are adjusting to change!  Getting healthier takes will-power and commitment.  Just like any goal, we need to know how it’s going to get achieved.  When it’s clear to you what and how you’re going to do it, it sets a path for achievement.  Here are some tips for you and, who knows, it may just stick for life!

  • Define your intentions.  If it’s to ‘get healthier’ what does that mean to you?  Eat more veggies? Stop drinking soda? Only consuming alcohol twice a week?  If you mindfully set specific goals, then it’s easier to remember and abide by your own ‘rules’.  Make a list.

List

  • Set out reasonable expectations.  It’s good to dream big and expect a lot from yourself, but it’s also just as powerful to know yourself well and what is going to make sense in your daily life.
  • Reward yourself.  How do you like to celebrate achievements?  Is it a new pair of shoes?  A massage or spa treatment?  An overnight stay someplace fun?  A night out with friends?  Know what you like as a reward and treat yourself accordingly for accomplishing your goals.  And if that means an ice cream or piece of cake, then that’s good too!

cheers

  • Let people know you’re resolution.  The more people you tell, the more you’ll be held accountable.  Choose those who will motivate you or even join you!
  • Know your triggers.  Are there certain scenarios, people or places that make it more difficult to stick to your goals?  It’s good to recognize those and act accordingly.  In the first few weeks it may be good to adopt your new intentions without the temptations directly within reach.  If you decided to cut out sugar, don’t go visit a candy store ‘just to have a look’ or accompany a friend.
  • Be strategic.  Going to a party?  Visit with your friend across the room from the snack table.  If it’s not looking at you, you won’t look (or reach) at it.  Going out to dinner?  Look at the menu beforehand and find an option or two that will not derail your resolution.  At the grocery store?  Don’t buy what you know you’ll eat the whole thing of and regret it.  If it’s not in your cupboard or freezer it’s harder to eat it.
  • Write down your progress.  If it is too much to write down every little thing, focus on the positives.  If you feel really good about the fact that you tried a new healthy recipe or ate more vegetables than ever, write it down!  You will be able to reflect on that and affirm that you’re entirely capable and how good it made you feel when you did so.

 

  • Treat each morning as you would a new year!  It’s great that each year we feel fresh and ready to realign our mind and body, but what about each sunrise?  Each day you wake, it’s a brand new day.  Let it center you again!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  Bring on 2014!!!

What are your New Years Resolutions?

Scrumptious Smoothies Every Time

Dear Leah Renee, 

I’ve heard that smoothies are similar in health benefits to that of juicing, but more filling.  I have found that most smoothies are really high in sugar and made with ingredients that aren’t that healthy.  Do you have some good tips for making smoothies to keep my diet on track and still get extra nutrients that I need?  Thanks so much!  ~Amanda, TX

So true, Amanda!  The smoothies we get from some of those chain stores are not the same as the smoothies we can make ourselves at home with fresh, local ingredients, minus any additional sugars, preservatives, or even yogurt and ice cream many of them use.  Smoothies can be super nutritious, or worse than having a candy bar.  Juicing and blending offer different nutritional benefits which you can read about here.

Below is a list of some of the amazing ingredients that make up a nutrient-packed beverage to keep your energy levels strong.

smoothie chart

 

As you can imagine, making a list for any of the ingredients above could be endless, but I chose to highlight ones I think are the easiest to access and work best.   All of these ingredients should be pretty easy to find in your local natural foods store, and buy organic whenever possible!  Sweeteners should be kept at a minimum if your concerned with sugar content, including fruit, dates, and honey.  You can choose one from each category, or multiple from just a few–it’s up to you!  The servings are a guide.  I think half the fun is the trial and error!  If it’s too bitter, add a little more honey.  If it’s lacking some flavor, add some cinnamon or even some good quality salt.  If it’s too thick, add some more liquid.  Too runny?  Throw some ice in the blender or add a little more banana.  If you are looking to really fill up, or are a male reading this, add some extra protein.  If you’re looking for a snack, then just throw in only a few ingredients like a fruit, greens, antioxidant, and a few nuts (you may use nut butters interchangeably-1 TB should suffice!) .  The additions at the bottom are best at 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon.

Fruits can be fresh or frozen.  It’s a common misconception that you lose a lot of nutrients if the fruit is frozen.  I think in some cases, it can be just the opposite!  Unless you are buying local, grow it yourself, or you’re choosing fruits that are in season and did not have to travel far, chances are you’re not missing out–the fruits and veggies are usually picked, packed, and frozen so nutrients remain intact.  Don’t forget you can freeze your own fruit too!  Take advantage of the summer months when fruit in plentiful, in season, and on sale.  Buy more and store!  Make sure to wash them first before putting them in the freezer!  Banana’s?  Freeze them too!  Peel off the skin and break them in half.  Frozen bananas make a nice thick smoothie texture (as do avocados).  Are you salivating yet?!  Go!  Start blending!

Try my smoothie recipe to get you started:

smoothie


Ingredients: 1-2 cups spinach, a (pitted) date, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 avocado, 1 TB hemp protein powder, 1 teaspoon Spirulina, 1 TB raw honey, and 1.5 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (and ice), pinch of cinnamon.  A sprinkle of goji berries or cacao nibs on top!

What to Do With My Leftover Carrots?

Dear Leah Renee,

I always seem to buy baggies of carrots to snack on but never end up eating them. Do you know of any tasty carrot inspired recipes that would help me use up my stash?  -Alyssa M.,  Los Angeles, CA 

This is a good problem to have.  I too had the same issue this morning; I bought a huge bag of carrots to make fresh carrot juice and still had a bunch sitting there in the fridge.  We must not waste them!  Let’s make them.  Here’s what came out of the dilemma (notice the two missing…those got eaten before the picture!  They were tasty 😉 ):

Carrots

Carrot Crackers

  • 1 cup flaxseeds (or flax meal)
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 5 whole carrots (or the rind leftover from your fresh carrot juice!)
  • ½ cup goji berries (or raisins)
  • ½ packet of coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup water + add accordingly

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Blend flaxseeds, nuts, and goji berries together to form a choppy flour-like consistency.  Transfer to a bowl.  Blend softened carrots together (or lightly steam til soft prior to blending, unless you have a Vitamix) to form a nice creamy texture.  Add to the flax/nut mixture.  Add in sea salt, cinnamon, stevia, and water to form a thick mixture, not too runny.  Mix together.
  • Spread onto parchment paper on a large baking dish until desired thickness.  Feel free to use a rolling pin to extra thin, crispy crackers.
  • Transfer onto a large bake dish, and score them to the size crackers you would like.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness.  Let cool.
  • If you like them even crispier, put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  • Let cool.

**If you’re using leftover baby carrots, roughly 6 baby carrots would equal out to one whole carrot.

carrot-flax-crackers

Dip them into some guacamole, spread some hummus on them, or eat them as is!  You choose!

Homemade guac is always a good idea 😉

guac