3 Ways to Wake Up Energized

If you’re looking to wake up energized I have three easy tips for you to incorporate, today. As in right now. Adding these into your routine will have people asking you what you’re doing to look so good and with so much energy (without coffee) in the morning. You’ll have to take a cue from Queen Bey and say, “I woke up like this.” 

1. Its 11:30 and You Should Be Sleepin’ Sleepin’

Getting enough quality sleep plays a huge role in your overall health and wellness, and is key to waking up energized. How much you need will vary depending on your own body–you’ll know you’ve had enough when you wake up naturally energized. If you aren’t waking up feeling like Beyoncé then your first step is to get more sleep. A new tip that I’ve just started incorporating into my nighttime routine, in addition to sleeping in a cool, dark room and going to sleep at the same time every night, is turning my phone to airplane mode about 20 minutes before I go to sleep. I use my phone as my alarm clock so I need to have in my bedroom, but that doesn’t mean I need to have it on. 

2. Who Run the World? You! (And You Need Fuel To Do It).

I like to start my day with a nutrient-dense smoothie for long-lasting energy and to start my day off on the right foot. Having a nutrient dense breakfast versus a processed, high-in-sugar breakfast fuels my day and also prevents craving short-term energy pick-me-ups like sweets or caffeine later in the day. One of my go-to green smoothies is this Greena Colada smoothie with energy-promoting, iron-rich spinach and enzyme-rich pineapple. I enjoy pineapple for energy because it contains enzymes that aid in efficient digestion. Efficient digestion means I can spend less energy digesting my food and have more energy to get on with my day. For more green smoothie options check out this post! Another fave of mine is an acai bowl (think of a really thick smoothie you eat with a spoon) with super energizing, antioxidant-rich açai berries.

3. Wake Up. Flawless. Start the Day. Flawless

I set the stage for the day by creating a pleasant morning routine. If I start my day off calm and relaxed, I find it easy to keep me energy high all day. If I wake up and have a frantic morning, I’ll exhaust my energy before I even start the day. My morning routine includes a short meditation (I mean short—I focus on 10 deep breaths before I get out of bed; that’s it) and a warm glass of lemon water. Lemon water has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine for generations to help eliminate any toxins that may have built up overnight and wake-up the digestive system. I find that combination sets up my day and my energy levels for success.

If I was going to pick just one tip for you to takeaway, it would be to try going to sleep 30 minutes earlier than you normally would every day for a week and see how you feel. It’s all cumulative, so you may not feel a change overnight, but stick to your routine and you’ll be up, energized and ready to take on the day in no time.


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Fermented Foods to Boost Mood

As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist I’m all about the mind–body–food connection. Everything we eat can make us feel good or make us feel blah and you want to feel good, right? I know I do, which is why I’m excited to talk to you about fermented foods and their effect on your mood.

There’s a second command center (in addition to your brain) in your body and it’s right at the center of you, in your gut. There’s constant communication happening between your gut and brain known as the gut-brain axis. Gut flora (healthy bacteria in your gut) play a role in influencing this communication meaning they play an important role in not only your digestive health but also in healthy brain function.

There’s growing (pun intended) research showing that supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut by consuming prebiotics and probiotics may play a role in feeling good. Talk about a gut feeling—healthy bacteria, supported by prebiotics, may help lower levels of your stress hormone, cortisol, and might even change the way you process emotional information and handle anxiety1.

So where do you start? Where will you find pre and probiotics? What about those healthy bacteria? Let’s dive deeper into what they are and ways to incorporate them into your day:

Probiotics

Fermented foods are your go-to for probiotics, strains of good bacteria. That’s right. Good, as in healthy, bacteria. Yes, there is such a thing. I know bacteria get a bad rap when you think of mold, antibacterial washes and antibiotics, but there is a place for bacteria and it’s in your gut. In fact, there are trillions of microbes in your body that pay a role in your health and as we’re leaning, your mood. As with many things in life, you want the good to outweigh the bad when it comes to the microbes in your body. You can find good bacteria in fermented foods.  Nourish the healthy bacteria in your intestine (your gut flora) by incorporating more fermented foods into your diet. This can help you top up all that oh-so-good-for-you-and-your-mood-bacteria.

  • Kombucha, a fermented sweet tea, can be found at most health food stores and in the grocery aisle. 
  • Yogurt is a great way to add more probiotics to your day. Add it to your next smoothie bowl. You won't regret it. 
  • Sauerkraut and kimchi, can be used in many ways. Try topping your fave salad with 'kraut.

Prebiotics

Like a panda needs bamboo, and Jay-Z needs Beyoncé, probiotics need food to thrive.  They use specific types of fermentable prebiotic fiber as food. This fiber is naturally present in many foods and helps to nourish healthy probiotics in your gut. Incorporating more foods that contain the prebiotic fiber such as apples (skin on), chicory root, onions and asparagus, into your diet may help to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut and possibly increase instances of having a great time. 


5 Better Ways to Stress Eat

Stress and other uncomfortable emotions happen. Emotional eating happens. I get it. I’ve been there. Personally, once I connected with what I was really eating (hint: it wasn’t just food), I was able to get to work on resolving the underlying issues and wouldn’t you know it, the unconscious, emotional eating was replaced with conscious, self-aware eating that completely changed the way I show up not just with food but with everything in my life. Below I’m sharing my top five personal tips to comfort eat in a better way.

1. Know the Difference Between Emotional and Physical Hunger

Emotional and physical hunger are different. One of my favorite books, Intuitive Eating, offers that there are two tanks: an emotional tank and a physical tank. First ask yourself, “which tank is empty?” “Which one am I trying to fill?” “Am I physically hungry?” “Am I thirsty?” “How hungry am I (on a scale of 1-10)?” When I was first learning to work with comfort eating I would actually pose these questions to myself. It helped me to identify what I was hungry for, and which tank I was trying to fill. If you aren’t physically hungry but you still want to eat, then you are looking to fill your emotional tank.

2. Be Present

Once you’ve identified that you are feeling an emotional hunger, ask yourself if you really do want to eat or if you want to use another outlet to handle whatever emotion is coming up for you. If you decide to eat, then eat. Choose a food you love and a comfortable place to eat it. You’ve decided the way you want to deal with ___ (insert emotion; sad, lonely, bored, etc., here) is to eat ____(insert food here; ice cream, chips, mac & cheese, etc., here). So go ahead and do that. But do only that. Just eat. Don’t watch TV, read or check out the latest on Instagram. Being present with what you are doing brings attention to it and gives you the opportunity to reflect on it later.

3. Feel Your Feelings

Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can feel scary. But the more you ignore the uncomfortable feelings, the more they weigh on you. If you start to feel really uncomfortable with owning your choice to emotionally eat and being present with it, try doing something as simple as repeating to yourself what you are doing. Try saying “I’m comfort eating___ (this food) because I’m feeling__(this emotion).” In time you may find that simply identifying your hunger and being present with it is enough. You may not even choose to eat to deal with the emotion. You may pick another outlet like taking a walk, talking to a friend or simply reflecting on why that emotion is coming up for you.

4. Breathe

Take a big, deep breath before you eat. Just because you are comfort eating doesn’t mean you have to be mindlessly eating. You will get the most comfort from whatever you are doing when you are in a calm, open and present state instead of just mindlessly pushing down emotions with food. Breathing can help with this because it can help you calm down and bring you into the present moment.

5. Write It Down

Once you’ve eaten, write it down. Write down the emotion you are feeling (sad, lonely, bored, etc.), the time of day, what was going on before you ate and the food you chose to eat. Write it down every time. Writing it down allows you to connect what you are doing to why you are doing it. Getting to the why allows you to start to uncover what’s really going on when you reach for that food. When you are able to uncover what is really going on that is when you will be able to make change. When you become more practiced with this you may want to try writing it down first, before you eat. You may find that’s enough and you don’t need the food to feel complete with the emotion.

One change can change everything, so I want to leave you with one more tip. In fact, if I was going to pick just one tip for you to take away it would be to this: let it go.

When you decide comfort eat, do it, don’t judge it, then let it go. It happened. Carrying it around with you will do nothing more than make you feel weighed down and perhaps even more likely to comfort eat again sooner because you are still hanging onto the uncomfortable emotion. This is why writing it down is so valuable; it provides you with an outlet to get the emotions out of your head so you can let it go and move on with your day.


Meal Planning 101

You don’t have time to spend wishing the perfect dinner would magically appear or getting stuck at the grocery store STARVING at 6PM when all you want to do is be home. Meal planning helps take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner (not to mention breakfast, lunch and snacks).

Meal planning may seem rigid and time consuming at first, but doesn’t have to be. With these bite-sized steps you’ll quickly see that you can get your weekly meal planning done and dusted in one sitting.

Step 1: Fit It All In

Take a step back and look at your week ahead. You’re busy and you have a lot going on but you can fit it all in. If you have a lunchtime meeting on Tuesday and a big family dinner out on Friday, incorporate those into your plan.

Knowing what you’ve got going on will help you decide how much you need to prep for the week. Think big, double your portions for next day leftovers or and freeze the extra for quick meals when you’re in a pinch.

If you’re not sure where to start pick one of your favorite go-to recipes and build from there using recipes with similar ingredients.

Power bowls are my go-to for weeknights. They’re quick, versatile and include ingredients like rice, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower that can be used in so many other ways.  Use your favorite recipes and ingredients to your advantage. Use rice and fresh veggies in a handroll for lunch. Have chopped veggies like broccoli as a quick snack and use your cauliflower in Cauliflower Fried Rice.

Smoothies are made for mornings with frozen fruits that can also be used for desserts, muffins and sauces.

If you’re looking for recipe inspiration to help get you started look no further than the Vega Recipe Center.

Step 2: Cover Your (Ingredient) Bases

You’ve got your recipes, now it’s time to stock your pantry. Before you head out to the grocery store write down everything you need then stop right where you are, shop your kitchen then hit the grocery store for what you’re missing to fully stock your fridge, freezer and pantry.

Break down your list into categories (grocery, produce, refrigerated, frozen, spices, and bulk) to make shopping a breeze. Buy your kitchen staples like nuts and seeds in bulk so you have them on hand for future recipes and add a plant-based nutritional shake like Vega® Essentials to your list for a delicious way to add protein, veggies and greens, and more to smoothies.

Say goodbye to throwing out wilted spinach and going back to the store because you forgot almond milk (again!).  Knowing what you need before you walk into the store can reduce food waste by helping you avoid over buying produce you won’t use (FYI on average, food waste costs most people $370 every year) and can save you time by reducing your trips to the store.

Step 3: Prep It Like You Mean It 

Prep all of your ingredients and make any recipes you can ahead of time. Wash and chop all your fruits and veggies, batch cook your grains, freeze extra meal portions and pre-portion snacks.

And that’s it. Your meal plan officially done and dusted.


Meal Planning 201

 

1. Kick It Old School

Enjoy a twist on a schoolyard classic with this protein-rich chickpea Vegan Tuna Salad that can help you feel full.

Kitchen Tip: Keep it Cool

No one likes a soggy lunch. Chickpea salad serves 4-6 so prep it ahead of time, pre-portion it, store it in the fridge and take only what you need for that day. Then when 12PM hits grab your chickpea salad, your bread (or lettuce wrap) and serve together. Have a fridge at work? Perfect. Take the entire pre-portioned recipe with you, keeping the bread (or lettuce wrap) separate and keep it cool at work.

2. Mason… Not Just Kourtney Kardashian's Son

Mason jar salads are beyond versatile. Get back to routine the easy way with Mason jar lunches. Get your fiesta on with this Taco Salad in a Mason Jar.

Kitchen Tip: Keep it Together

There’s nothing worse than opening up your bag to find your lunch at the bottom of it or finding it covered in dressing. Salvaging the remains of your lunch from the bottom of your bag? No thanks. Avoid that by using jars that have a tight seal and adding your dressing to the bottom of the jar, then topping with the rest of your ingredients. Bonus – this also prevents your salad from getting soggy and makes mixing a breeze.

3. Let Leftovers Happen

In fact, make them happen. Just like prepping your ingredients ahead saves you time at dinner, save yourself even more time in the morning by making extra dinner the night before. That way you’ve got instant lunch for the next day. I recommend batch cooking recipes like this Better Beans and Rice recipe and refrigerating the leftovers.

Kitchen Tip: Keep it (Food) Safe

Leftovers are a real time saver but don’t skip the step of wrapping and refrigerating them. Properly stored foods can help to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. Most properly covered leftovers are great in the fridge for three to four days and in the freezer for up to three months. I recommend dating your leftovers so you know exactly how long they’ve been around for. Trust your gut with leftovers. If they were left out for a questionable amount of time or in the back of the freezer since who knows when it’s best to toss them.

4. Roll With It

Roll up your lunch and keep the summer vibes going with light, rice paper rolls. Treat rolls like you would any sandwich, add in any of the chopped veggies you have on hand and make your roll your own.

Kitchen Tip: Brown Bag it In Style

Now that you’ve decided what you’re having for lunch it’s time to accessorize. Don’t limit yourself to shoving lunch in your purse or trying to balance it bag less with everything else you need to carry.  I love to use our re-usable grocery bags for lunch. Who says they need to be limited to the grocery store anyway. If your last sweater purchase came in a great bag why not use that?  If you have kids keep on kickin’ it old school by borrowing one of their lunch bags (bonus if it’s insulated).