28 Healthy Foods You Should Always Have in Your House

Hi There!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Getting ready for Baby Erin to make her appearance has preoccupied my time and energy, as well as getting used to working from home – I’m a freelance writer and musician/worship director. It’s been an adjustment, but I’m glad that I have the opportunity to stay home with little Erin after she’s born, which should be some time in the next two weeks.

That being said, with all the preparations going on, one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is what we’ll be eating, especially for the first two weeks. I’ll confess, I probably haven’t done as much freezer cooking as I should. But I have been collecting an arsenal of super easy recipes, and we just got a steal on a new blender, which we desperately needed, so we can make smoothies, after all, if you’re nursing you need something fast right?

Through the years, Micah and I have learned that if we want to eat healthy, there are certain foods we can buy in bulk to have on hand, so we won’t be tempted to grab fast food. Even though there’s two of us, soon to be 3, we’ve learned how to prep and freeze certain foods when they go on sale, so that we can get the best deals,and there are some foods we do eat a lot of quickly. You’re food list might look a lot different than mine, but I’m attaching a list for you to use so you can stock up on these delicious and nutritious foods too. It just so added up that we have 20 staple foods that we keep in our house on a regular basis. This is one of my favorite ways to plan a menu for the week. Why are these our staple foods? Continue reading “28 Healthy Foods You Should Always Have in Your House”

The Beginner’s Guide to Macros

Disclaimer: the advice in this post is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Before beginning and exercise regimen or diet, seek counsel from your healthcare practitioner.

There are lots of dieting fads out there, so many that it can be overwhelming to try to balance nutrition for the average healthy person who just needs a basic guideline to help them figure out the amount of nutrients they need on a daily basis. They say there is no magic formula, but there is a simple way to manage nutrient intake, and that’s where macronutrients come in. Macronutrients are divided into 3 groups: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The USDA recommends the following ranges for macronutrients, based on your activity levels:Protein: 10 – 35%, Carbohydrates: 45-65%, Fat: 20-35%.You need all 3 of these categories in order for your body to function at it’s best. And the word macro means big, so think of tracking macros as looking at the big picture of your overall nutrition. Still wondering “why these categories”? We’ll tell you.

Protein

Proteins are the building blocks of cells and muscles. The 8 essential amino acids found in many animal proteins and even a few plant proteins can help you build muscle and repair tissues in the body. Lean protein is necessary to refuel after a workout. Protein also keeps your metabolism functioning in a healthy way. Several lean sources of protein are chicken, lean beef, quinoa, whey, greek yogurt, lentils, and fish.

Macros

Carbohydrates

The carbohydrate category probably contains the largest variety of foods. When counting macros, carbohydrates include, fruits, vegetables, and starches. Although many look at macros as simply energy in vs. energy out, I encourage you to remember that the quality of the fuel you put in your body does count for something. Carbohydrates help preserve muscle and low glycemic carbs, such as sweet potatoes, help stabilize blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates also restore energy levels. Examples of nutritious carbohydrates are strawberries, broccoli, and brown rice.

Fats

In the 90’s, fat was a dirty word in the nutritional sense. People were obsessed with everything being low-fat. However, the human body needs healthy, unprocessed fats in order to store energy and transport nutrients effectively. Imagine trying to have a healthy metabolism without your body being able to transport the nutrients you receive from other foods, pointless, isn’t it? Fats make this happen for vitamins A, E, and K.  Healthy sources of fat are nuts, avocado, coconut oil, and extra-virgin olive oil, as well as small portions of real butter.

If you have trouble making sense of nutrition and and figuring out what you need and in what portions, tracking your macros can make keeping up with your food intake much simpler. Just remember to get your nutrients from healthy foods, and you will be well on your way to eating a better diet in no time!

Sources

https://www.acefitness.org/blog/5904/how-to-determine-macronutrient-needs-based-on

https://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Macronutrients.pdf

 

How To Spring Clean Your Diet

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful weather if you’re in NC! It is a gorgeous day today, and Micah and I (and Erin) have already taken a relaxing Sunday afternoon walk.

With this amazing weather, everyone wants to look and feel their best, but it’s so easy to hang on to those old habits of junk food and unhealthy cravings…trust me, being pregnant, I would know a thing or two about cravings.The reality is, what better time to start eating a healthy diet? With the rise in popularity of farmer’s markets and gardening, healthy choices are more accessible  and affordable than ever. If you’re still not sure where to start, don’t worry, I’ve got some tips for you on how to spring clean your diet. These tips are so simple, that even if you’ve never tried to eat healthier foods, you’ll still be able to get on the right track to a balanced diet.

(Disclaimer: the following information is intended as suggestions for healthy eating. Before you begin any diet or exercise regimen, consult your physician or healthcare provider.)


Are you ready to spring clean your diet?

How To (1)

1.  Look for local on the label. Local produce is based on what’s in season and readily available in your area. This makes it cheaper, and usually, local farms are very careful about the quality of their produce. I find great deals at a local flea market in my area, where I can find pretty much any kind of produce that’s in season for a great price.

2. The fewer (ingredients), the better. This is a great general rule of thumb when grocery shopping. I mean, look at the back of a doritos bag….Think about how long that list of ingredients is….a much healthier alternative would be those sweet potato chips that only have about 5 ingredients, or better yet, and cheaper, just roast a can of chickpeas in the oven until they’re crunchy…I love to sprinkle chili powder and garlic powder on them…Delicious!

3. Buy foods with ingredients you can pronounce. Okay, with the exception of that exotic fruit or veggie whose name we have no idea how to spell, this is one of the best rules for cleaning up your diet. This is especially true of pre-packaged foods. Don’t buy it unless you understand what’s in it…if in doubt… make a healthy freezer meal instead of buying the ready-made alternative. (That’s what a slow cooker is for.)

4. Drink more water. Micah and I do not keep 2 liter sodas in our house. Ever. We drink water, tea and coffee, and I’m sure not too long after little Erin arrives, we’ll be adding quality fruit juice to that mix. It’s actually saved us a lot of money on our grocery bill over the years…I’m not sure how much, but if you were to add up what you spend on soft drinks each month, I’m sure you’d see how that money is better spent on fruits and veggies….it’s all about your priorities.

5. Pack your lunch for work. A homemade lasagna with chopped up veggies added in is way better for you than ordering out pizza or Chinese. Once again, I add, remember to use your slow cooker. You will also save a lot of money. Your body and your wallet will thank you.

6. Say “no” to fried and breaded foods. I’m from the south, where we love our breaded chicken tenders, but they’re just not that good for us. A healthier alternative is to roll chicken tenders in egg and oat flour and then bake them in the oven.

7. Be accountable. Keep a food journal. When you see what exactly what you’re putting in your body, it’s far easier to realize how much good or harm you’re doing to your body. Part of health journaling is about how that healthy meal made you feel versus how that fast food meal made you feel. I’ve coached a lot of clients through the years, and those that keep a food and exercise journal have more lasting results and reach their goals much sooner than those that don’t.

Cleaning up your food intake is easy, and can really be done without a lot of expense or a lot of extra effort. What is your favorite tip for staying on track with eating healthy? Comment below!

–  Julie

Why Superfoods are Super

Oh, wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written…the summer is halfway spent, and well, life is good but crazy. On to our topic of the day.

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods whose nutrients benefit multiple systems of the body. Their high concentrations of a wide variety of nutrients make them extremely important for boosting the immune system, the metabolism and other systems of the body. It’s like eating a multivitamin, but tastes way better than the aftertaste pills have.

Take quinoa for example….which is one of my favorite superfoods.
Quinoa is the only plant-based source of protein that contains all eight essential amino acids. It also is a complex carbohydrate that is better for your metabolism, and prevent spikes in insulin. Long story short, this superfood meets a lot nutritional needs in one, thus the nickname.

A list of other superfoods include:

kale – Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and iron
pomegranates – Vitamins B6, C, and Potassium
apples – Fiber, Vitamin B6 and C, and Potassium
spinach – Vitamins A, B6, C, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium and Vitamin K
kiwi – Vitamins C, K, Potassium,
brussel sprouts – Vitamins C, K, fiber, folate

These are just a few of the myriad of superfoods that can benefit your diet. Pomegranates are a personal favorite of mine. They have so much vitamin C and potassium, which is great for immunity and stress. Plus, they taste amazing! 
Looking for a way to get more superfoods into your diet?
 Enjoy this great salad from my Cheap, Clean Recipe Collection!

Greens or Greek Salad
 What you need:
  • 4 c. of baby kale, organic if possible
  • 4 c. mixed greens, organic if possible
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 c dried cranberries
Instructions:
Combine oil and vinegar in a container. This will be the salad dressing.  Toss all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Enjoy!
 

Why You Should Start Getting Healthy Before New Years

So, let’s face it…the next couple of months are usually terrible months for gyms, and well, wellness in general. A lot of people automatically adopt the mindset, “I’m going to be eating out/eating desserts/eating whatever so much, that why should I try to exercise/eat smart”. As a result, many people get themselves in trouble and wind up, gaining weight, getting sick, or feeling downright disgusting from November to New Years’. Maybe this post will help you rediscover why you decided to live a healthier lifestyle in the first place. Life is about balance, if you want to do for others this season, you need to take care of yourself.

1. Because a day wasted is a day wasted, no matter how you look at it. Why wait to start now? Just because you can’t hit the gym 2 hours a day doesn’t mean you need to throw out your routine out the window. What about ? There are plenty of easy nutritious recipes out there that require nothing but a crockpot…besides, it soup weather anyway
2. Because many resolutions do not include a detailed plan. Wishful thinking does not accomplish goals, action does. Schedule your workouts and meal prep like appointments. You can find 30 minutes of your day to meal prep and exercise…did I mention crock pots?
3. Because a healthy lifestyle is a daily choice, not magic moment where everything falls into place. Goals are achieved, not given…I hear to many people complain, but that program costs something, but I can’t afford meat…um, yeah, you can diy your own pedicure for the next two months, cut back Starbucks coffee to twice a week instead of every day, you can yard sale all that junk in your house. If you have excuses now, you’ll still have excuses the other 364 days of the year too…food for thought. I say this because I had to reach this realization myself.
4. Because some exercise and good nutrition is better than no exercise and bad nutrition. Hey, there are plenty of 5 minute workouts on this blog and plenty of throw and go recipes. Eat healthy foods when you’re at home.
5. Because flu season…well, it’s already started. If you throw your own health to the wayside this time of year, chances are you will miss out on some important events because you didn’t take the time or effort to invest in your health.
6. Because exercise allows you to release stress. Hey I don’t even go out on Black Friday…if I buy anything, I buy online. There are plenty of sales, and now even many local businesses have online shops…Mine does. I just found time for you to workout and enjoy a delicious healthy meal!
7. Because you need the extra energy this time of year. Whew! Who doesn’t?! I don’t make perfect choices, but when I can, I reserve my right to eat healthy. Unless you’re baking for a party, you don’t need it in your house….send it home with someone else after the party…hehehehe
8. Because materialism and food are not the reason for the season.We worship food here in the U.S. We eat out of enjoyment, not nourishment….not to say that it’s bad, but when that mindset rules your food choices, it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing. You have your health and your family’s health for the rest of your lives…you only get one life here on this earth… turn your focus towards helping those in need, not on how much you can stockpile.
9. Because if you’re tired of starting over, you need to stop quitting…for real… ‘nough said. If accountability seems to be an issue, let me help. To reach me, fill out this form. Sometimes, it’s important to have someone to sit down and talk with you about your needs. I’m here to listen.
10. Because your health and being healthy will save you time and money in the long run. Eat healthy and exercise now, or doctor bills later….your choice. You do not have to let the current state of your health define you, nor do you have to let the typical expectations of everyone else define you.

Tough Love,
Julie

Natural Balance Foods: The most Amazing Raw Bars Ever!

Hi There! Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve written, this post was originally planned for last Wednesday, but there’s a major story behind that, which you’ll hear more about later this week.
While I did receive free product, I did not receive monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

A month ago, I was contacted by Natural Balance Foods, and they asked if I would be interested in sampling a box of their raw Nak’d Bars….I said, “of course”. You see, we like to eat at our house, but don’t like foods with lots of added sugar. In a couple of weeks, I received my sampler box, show here:

As you can see, even the box was complimentary…(I’m so punny.) At first, I was skeptical, so I gathered 2 co-workers, and my husband, to try the bars. And they all loved them! The Rhubarb Custard was amazing, it actually tasted like dessert, but was still a true raw bar! My husband gave it a “10” out of 10 because it was sweet enough, but not too sweet. My other favorite flavors were the chocolate crunch, strawberry crunch, apple crunch, and banana crunch. The Cocoa Crunch tasted like a much healthier version of a kit kat bar…with all the nutrition and a great flavor and low sugar. The apple crunch tasted like a great autumn dessert too! I wasn’t as impressed with the berry delight. But none of the other bars let me down. They held up well during shipping, and the sampler contains 13 bars, which is a great deal at $9.99. Cheaper than Lara Bars, but with all the quality. I was very impressed that they kept the ingredients list at 5 or below, and U.S. delivery is free. I will most definitely be ordering these for my husband as part of his Christmas gift, and had great dealings with this company. They were great with follow up, and very personal. Please check out their website here :Nak’d Bar Sampler I would love for you to try their product!

Happy Snacking!
Julie

Adventurous Weekend and A Giveaway!

 Hi There! It’s been a whirlwind Easter weekend! Micah and I headed to SC on Friday to celebrate my brother’s birthday! We had lots of fun! We even went to this great indoor rock wall climbing center that friends of ours own, called Climb Upstate! Click here for their FB page: Climb Upstate.

I would have never attempted bouldering a few weeks ago! Bouldering is climbing without a harness…you only use a crash pad at the bottom of the route. This was huge for me, since I’m not a huge heights person, but by the end of our time there, I started to get the hang of….pun intended – of how to use my body weight in a different way! I will definitely be making Australian pull-up bars from PVC pipe. 🙂 Had I not done so much upper body training recently, I would have fallen on my tush…plyometrics help too. Bouldering is empowering, and I can’t wait to try it again! This pic is of me half-way up a vertical climb!

I’m so excited about this week! I’m doing my first test group for a 7-day Sugar Shake Off! It’s a challenge where we’ll be replacing 1 meal a day with Shakeology, and doing at least 15 minutes of physical activity every day! I like to use vegan chocolate in a blender with avocado or a nut butter and almond milk. The Shakeology in the giveaway has whey in it, just to make you aware of the protein source. I’ve been on this meal replacement for 60 days, and have noticed a major difference in the health of my skin, and my energy levels and my muscle tone, so I decided to share it with you! Someone will win 3 packets of shakeology this week, 1 vanilla, 1 strawberry, and 1 chocolate. This stuff makes my tummy happy too, and has alleviated my IBS symptoms. I’m not a doctor, so make sure you check with your healthcare practitioner before you take shakeology. Anyway, sharing is caring, so here I am! What is your favorite smoothie recipe? I’m always looking for new ideas, and I’d love to share mine with you!

Here’s my favorite! You can use any chocolate protein powder you like! 🙂

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks as always for listening! Tell me what your favorite smoothie recipe is! 🙂

Julie 

Fitness 5 Friday: My Review of 21 Day Fix

Hi!
So it’s been over a week since I’ve posted, but I have soooo much to tell you! The past 21 days, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the 21 Day Fix challenge, and whoa, the results are amazing, both inside and out! I’ve had so much fun working out with my hubby as we’ve completed this challenge together! We also cut back on our grocery bill! I’ve been reminded through this experience, that I need accountability as much as the next person, and love the community I’ve found through this! I plan to do a round 2 starting next week! The workouts are great, and you get to do a different half-hour workout daily, and the meal guide was amazing! There’s no guesswork in this, and I was eating a wide variety of foods and taking my Shakeology daily! I plan to buy the barre leg workout and the flat abs fix workouts to go with this series. There’s even a plyo dvd that can be dialed down a notch…or two or three for those who want to try plyo but aren’t sure if it’s for them. I love the modifications, and the warm up helped me to recruit the right muscles during strength exercises! There’s even 2 active rests days and a variety of workout types. I would recommend this program for almost anyone, whether a beginner or a pro. There’s something you can do. The only equipment needed is a resistance band.

This week, I’ve experienced several blessings that I’ve overlooked…for some crazy reasons, this week has been more stressful than normal…and oh, how I felt it. Here are 5 things that I am thankful for this week.
1. My wonderful husband giving me a foot massage yesterday.
2. My amazing sister-in-law and dear friend, Elizabeth helping me organize and spring clean my house this week!
3. Getting an offer to teach classes at a rec center near our house.
4. Getting mentioned on a National Coach Call by the CEO of Beachbody
5. Being anonymously gifted with money for a nice date night for my hubby and I.

It’s so easy to overlook the amazing things around us when we are bombarded daily by all that’s going on in the world, but when all is said and done, it’s nice to know that I can get away, pray, and relax for a moment. I’m so grateful for the loving husband I have, and thankful for so many simple things, such as having arms and legs that are strong and healthy. So many people take this for granted. Don’t make the same mistake. Count your blessings this week!

Book Review: Ultimate Booty Workouts

Hi There! 
So I started a new lower body program today, and I’m super excited!!!! (Glute days are my favorite days to train, as all my friends know.) So while many pics of extreme bubble butts are circulating pinterest and tumblr…there are many pics of flat butts that are glorified(i.e. runway models). So let me be the first to say, a particular friend of mine, Jessie, in college, used to always say “Bertha” when I turned around…but okay…enough jokes. 

If you’re looking for a lower body transformation workout… let me say it. Ultimate Booty Workouts is for you. While most people would tease you if you kept this book on your coffee table, let me just say, it is no joke. This gem of a book was written by Tamara Grand of http://fitknitchick.com/ . Tamara is so knowledgeable! This book was written by a woman who knows her field and understands the importance of adding variety to workout routines, while mastering the movements involved in pursuing this particular goal. There are no fad exercises here. The workouts were well thought out, with detailed explanations and cuing. The nutrition guidelines are simple, no complex meal plans, but a list of healthy foods to give you an idea where to begin. The program goes through 3 4-week phases, and there are also cardio guidelines and ideas. This is hands down the most comprehensive book I’ve ever read on the topic. (And believe me, I’ve read a few; which comes with being a fitness coach/personal trainer for 5 years.) My workout buddy and I have challenged ourselves to complete this 12-week program. I’ve even taken my own measurements today.  The other refreshing thing about this book is that there is not one solitary endorsement of plastic surgery, AND she explains the HEALTH benefits of glute training, such as increased metabolism and reduced lower back pain, which are way too often overlooked in articles on the topic. Thank you, Tamara for writing a book that I will continue to use as a resource for years to come! You can order this awesome book on Amazon.com

Go break a sweat!

Julie A


Monday Motivation: Fitness Goals

Hi there! So now that we’ve recooperated from Christmas…(I wish.) It’s time to gear up for New Year’s. I’ve been thinking about my goals for the past month, and I’ve got some humdingers.Here are a few in no particular order.
1. Be more consistent with quiet time. I’ll confess I want spent more quality time with the Lord. This is my sanity, and in recent years, I’ve been a little slack.
2. This is going to sound completely different: do more cardio. (See, I said they weren’t in any particular order.) I’m not exactly known as a cardio junkie, but it’s good for my heart, and it will ramp up my weight lifting results a lot. Not going cardio crazy but 3x a week for 30-45 minutes is a nice place to start. I would lift weights until I pass out, I know I need to improve my cardiovascular health.
3. Do more upper body strength training. Ok, so I don’t mind working shoulders, and I know how…but biceps and triceps are not my favorite. So this year, I’m headed…to the gun show! Just kidding. But some major upper body strength gains would be nice. I’ll be bumping up my upper body workouts to 2x/week.
4. Traveling. So, I’ve been wanting to do some major traveling for years. Like trekking through Norway in snow shoes kind of traveling, and Norway is on my bucket list. The reason for this is that’s where a lot of my ancestors are from, and Micah’s always wanted to visit. We might not get to that this year, but the saving up for that trip will start now. We also want to go on an overseas mission trip together.
5. Going back to school. I’ll begin working on my nutrition and human dietetics degree in the fall. I’m super excited to be going back to school, and praying for the grace to do so. I plan to finish my degree in two semesters, so it’ll be crazy, but so worth it!

There’s some of my top 5 goals! What are your goals for 2014? I always break each goal down into baby steps, this makes it overwhelming, and lets me see how much closer I am to accomplishing a particular goal in a short amount of time. I have a few more, but shhhh! T

hey’re secrets. But I might write about them later…Write down your goals and create a vision board, so you’ll be reminded of what you want to accomplish.