Health Coaching Q+A

I've had a ton of questions lately about what Health Coaching entails, so I've lumped most of them together into one post. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions!

**Reminder: As a 2018 kick off celebration, your first month of coaching is only $125***

How does working with a health coach differ from working with a nutritionist or dietician?

Working with a health coach is similar to working with a nutritionist in many ways. The biggest difference in my experience is that as where a nutritionist or dietitian will asses your dietary needs, give you the appropriate meal plan and education about nutrition, a health coach -at least, in my practice- will help you understand nutrition and eating patterns using a more holistic (not to be confused with homeopathic) approach. 

A holistic approach means not only considering what is being eaten, but why certain things are being eaten. For example - mindset around food can impact how long someone lasts following a meal plan, certain emotional situations can impact eating behavior, poor scheduling, lack of sleep, resistance to planning, fear of food - etc. 

It’s my strong opinion that many of us know how to eat properly or have access to information about how to eat properly. In coaching, we will pay as much attention to addressing and learning to modify certain behaviors as we do to the actual food you’re eating. If it was as easy as just following a diet, we’d all be in great shape. I think taking the time to understand why we eat how we eat, even when we know certain decisions aren’t the best, is just as important as knowing what to eat. 

*To be clear, more and more RDs and nurtionists are now treating nutrition from a holistic standpoint - so if that’s the direction you’re leaning, definitely look for someone who takes that piece into consideration! :) 

What’s the coaching process actually look like? 

We’ll  begin with  an assessment that familiarizes me with where you’re at nutritionally, your history with/ relationship with food, your current lifestyle, preferences, some of the factors that have held you back from reaching your health goals, and more. I’ll work with you to create flexible menus that appeal to you, create shopping lists, and find a way to make meal prep as efficient as possible. Those are the basics - the rest of the coaching varies by client, but over the course of the program you might expect to keep some journals that allow you to identify what was going on when you “fell off the wagon,” address strategies and mental shifts to prevent it from happening in the future, and do some deep dives into mindset around food if necessary (it is for 90% of the clients I’ve worked with!). Some clients want to spend time learning about eating for energy, some clients need help integrating a healthy lifestyle into a hectic schedule, some will want to  learn to eat to control certain digestive issues, others really just need someone to help hold them accountable is helpful. Coaching can go in many directions, but you can expect to walk away feeling more in control, more energized, healthier, and happier :) 

How much weight can I expect to lose?

It depends-  factors such as current weight, genetics, mindset, lifestyle, etc all come in to play. I like to shift our focus away from actual weight loss to improving health habits and mindset - when this happens, weight loss is almost certainly a byproduct- I can’t think of a single client I’ve had who’s done a 3 or 6 month program and has not lost weight.  However, when weight loss is a byproduct of new habits and a new mindset, it feels far more effortless. When health feels effortless, it’s sustainable long term. 

Will I get a meal plan?

I have started helping design flexible meal plans as most of my clients have a hard time completely letting go of structure so quickly. However, the end goal is always to get my clients eating intuitively and not reliant upon “diets”. When we do a meal plan, it’s for the sake of structure, planning, and economic/ time efficiency and not to be looked at as a diet. But the short answer is that we can do meal plans if my clients would like one.  

What will I be expected to eat?

I work to understand my clients food preferences and design plans around that! Unless we are doing an elimination diet to identify a food sensitivity, I like my clients to focus on a concept called “crowding out” instead of restriction. Meaning, that adding enough nutrient dense foods to each meal eventually takes up the space of less healthy foods. So you can expect to eat a lot of nutrient dense foods - but we’ll work to prepare them in a way that you’re excited about. I also LOVE doing food makeovers (healthier but yummy versions of your favorite “naughty” foods). When you add nutrient dense food that you actually like, and make over the less nutritious stuff in a way that;s still satisfying - I promise your cravings for the rest will start to go away. 

How often do we communicate? 

I have an hour long call with my clients every other week, with a 20 minute check-in call in the weeks between. However, I do make myself available on an as-needed basis.

What if I don’t live locally?

I take most of my meetings over the phone or Skype - many of my clients are not local! 

Can you help with medical issues? 

Yes and no. I have lot of education and experience in general GI issues and food sensitives and love helping people find relief around both. However, if you have a more serious medical condition I recommend working with a registered dietitian specially trained in that area. I have and can absolutely work hand in hand with either a doctor or RD to help you integrate a new style of eating into your life. 

Am I locked in to 3/6 months?

You are not. I ask for a longer term commitment because I don’t believe that fast change works in 99% of cases, and most of my clients start noticing the big changes around those time frames. However, I if you decide that coaching isn’t for you, I will always honor that. 

What are your areas of specialty?

I’ve worked with clients on all ends of the spectrum, but my some of my favorite areas are mindset work (it’s so so important), GI issues, and binge eating (not related at all, I know)

Your Perfect Chocolate Cupcake.

cup2.JPG

OMG. 

Omg omg omg.

I know, that’s a lot of OMGs. But I’m really excited to share this recipe with you. 

Because, cupcakes.

Fact: I’m a cupcake whore. They’re my second favorite treat, falling only just behind donuts ( tbc: old school donuts, none of that fancy shit thanks). But cake, frosting, all in one neat single-serving package? I’m in. 

To my great frustration, I’ve had a really hard time making over cake in general. Between trying to reduce the sugar, take the white flour out, and add something worth any nutritional value at all, and not end up with a dry, tasteless mess it’s been a battle that I’d been pretty sure I had not won.

I was about to surrender to Saints and Sinners forever (they kill it) when an idea came to me.

Once upon a time, I used to make a cheater cake that had become famous on the internet. It was like Duncan Hines boxed chocolate cake mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, heavy cream, milk chocolate chips, and jello pudding mix. While I was definitely garnering tons of praise/ adoration/ tears every time I made it for someone’s birthday, it was not exactly a high quality or clean situation. It may have made the very best cake I have ever had (and honestly if you’re in a no-f’s-given kind of mood, you can find the recipe here), but I still can’t bring myself to eat something quite so processed. 

However, this recipe popped into my head, and I knew this could be my shot at success, even if not fully from scratch (that's also the beauty of it, I think?). 

Lately, I’ve been seeing health bloggers absolutely rave about this Simple Mills cake mix all over the internet. It’s a gluten free, low glycemic situation made from 7 simple, clean ingredients, with only 8 grams of (coconut) sugar in a cupcake. I decided to amp it up with organic eggs, full fat plain yogurt (not Greek), full fat coconut milk, unrefined coconut oil, and extra dark chocolate chips. I found a pudding brand called Organics that has a decently clean ingredient list but unfortunately does contain (organic) white sugar -  but you can Google homemade pudding mix with cornstarch and reduce/replace with coconut sugar if you’re feeling crazy. Or, you can make this as is and just own it. 

Anyway, I was skeptical about whether or not these would turn out. I wasn’t at all impressed with the batter (usually my favorite part) and I was concerned that I would be wasting 15 bucks worth of ingredients if the coconut and almond flour in the cake mix absorbed too much of the moisture. So I baked these, waited for them to cool, and ate one - they taste exactly like the originals.

I mean, guys. You could never tell someone that these don’t have vegetable oil, white sugar (well, not very much), or grain and THEY WOULD NEVER KNOW. And they will love you very much if you bring these as a treat. 

Unfortunately, I can’t give these the #breakfastbitch stamp of approval because they do have more sugar (mostly coconut, but still) than most of the treats I come up with, but for a birthday, a treat, or an occasional indulgence? 

You. Must. Make. These.  

Here’s how:

Ingreds

  • 1 Box Simple Mills Chocolate Cupcake/ Muffin Mix 
  • 3 Organic Eggs
  • 1/2 c full fat coconut milk
  • 1 c full thick, fat yogurt - try to avoid any watery part (you can also use organic grass fed sour cream, I tested and both work fine) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 3/4 c melted coconut oil 
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 box Organics chocolate pudding 
  • 1.5 C mini dark chocolate chips or ground dark chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the less sugar)
  • pinch of salt 

Frosting: I experimented with a few frostings, but the one I liked the best is TexanErin's Paleo Chocolate Frosting. (Link HERE) Use the darkest chocolate chips you can find to reduce sugar, and I agree that almond milk works best. Unlike most frostings without powdered sugar, you can actually pipe this if you let it cool for just enough time. 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Fill paper cupcake holders 3/4 of the way full (FYI - sometimes the chocolate chips will sink to the bottom - it’s ok, go with it) with batter and bake 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean (it may come out chocolatey if it hits chocolate chips, what you don’t want is batter sticking to the knife).
  4. Let cool completely, and frost with Paleo Chocolate Frosting. 

 

*NoTe: I've made these a few times while experimenting with ingredients and measurements, and occasionally the chips sink to the bottom - it doesn't matter a bit but the tops may sink in a tiny bit. 

#MotivationMonday: Why Just Losing Weight Isn't Enough

As a nutritionist and trainer, health is a subject of discussion that comes up for me on the regular, and a theme that's been recurring more often than usual for me lately has been motivation. Specifically, how to hang on to it and why it can be such a bitch to keep around. 

Oh, you thought it was just you?  Lol....noooo. 

There are a dozen reasons people fall off the health wagon, but one of the biggies is what I call misunderstood motivation.

Let me give you some background. Many, many people -and this is an observation, not a judgement- want to lose weight simply for the sake of losing weight.  We live in a society that puts an incredible amount of pressure on women (and men) to look a certain way in order to be considered attractive and I can almost guarantee you that this has found its way into your subconsciousness over the years. Think about the daily bombardment you receive: billboards and advertisements and TV shows and movies that all feature “attractive” people- 99.5% of whom have a very specific body type. You literally can’t drive down the street or open a magazine or watch TV without being exposed to it. To reinforce this, there’s a massive weight loss industry spending literally 60 billion dollars a year to make sure you’re constantly reminded of the thousands of products out there promising that you too, can be as thin as those beautiful people in the ads. 

Spend a little time thinking about that and you’ll probably agree that it’s no surprise that our reflexive reaction is to want to fit in to this standard. And trust me when I say that if you’ve ever felt pressure to simply lose weight without giving it much further thought, I’m not judging you. 

But as you know, I do like to make you think. 

In my experience as a health advocate, one thing has become crystal clear to me: losing weight for the sake of losing weight is not enough motivation to support sustainable, long term change. (which is why I consider "fitting in my college jeans" misplaced) Significant change requires a purpose - not just pressure or an idle desire to look a certain way. Yes, you can try to override true motivation with discipline but without a true, authentic, meaningful purpose, motivation will be fleeting. Discipline alone doesn’t offer purpose, and I don’t believe that anyone out there has ever found true purpose via fitting into a society-imposed standard. 

Babes, you have to get deeper than that if you want to really go for it. When I work with clients in a group or one-on-one, one of the very first things I do with them is an exercise that helps uncover their true motivation to improve their health. It’s called Your Big Why. 

I actually came across this practice from a real estate convention years ago, but it was effective enough to motivate me to sell houses, so I figured it must work for anything. I tested it out with a health coaching group I was running and found that it translates really well into almost any area of life -  #healthgoals included. 

The process is simple but what I love about this exercise is that the outcome is something you plug into emotionally. It takes you well beyond “I want a smaller ass” and helps you find a true, authentic purpose for improving your health. It’s not something that just inspires you either; I'm willing to bet you’ll uncover something that resonates with your soul, something that you can come back to when you experience that loss of focus.  ((*sidenote: you may notice that I keep referring to “improving your health” over “losing weight.” That’s part of the mindset work I do with my clients, as I believe it’s much easier to come up with reasons to improve your health as opposed to just taking up less space. Don’t believe me? Try this exercise around “being healthy” and then try it around “being skinny” and you’ll see exactly what I mean.))  

Want to take Your Big Why for a test drive? No problem - here’s how it works.

[Step 1] Begin by answering the following question: What is important to me about improving my health? 

[Step 2] Re-read you answer to that question. Maybe your answer is “I want to have more energy” or “I want to feel good enough to show up for my life each day” or “I want to set an example for my kids/ mom/ sister

[Step 3]  Now ask yourself “What about (your answer to Question 1) is important to me? Ask in those exact words - don’t change them even a little. There’s psychology behind them, just go with it. 

[Step 4-8]  Ask the same question (What about X is important to me?) based on the most previous answer a total of 5-7 times - try and get to 7! You really have to dig and that’s about how many times it takes to pull off the surface stuff and find something with real grit. Pay attention to answers 5,6, and 7: those are the ones that count. Write it out, make it sound good, and tape it somewhere easily accessible.  

Questions / comments / excited by what you find out? Post it here, or PM me. Happy digging!

xx Meg 

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberry Redemption Brownies (GF, RSF)

So Valentines day is in T-24 hours and you dropped the ball. Your sig other is probably not going to be real pleased when you show up with a grocery store bouquet and a clamshell package of chocolate covered strawberries. It's just so...unthoughtful. 

Relax, I'm not judging. In fact, I'm here to save you. With dark chocolate-covered-strawberry-brownies that look like a lot of work, and taste like a lot of work, but are actually not a lot of work at all. In fact, you can throw these together in under 20 minutes. And you can be like, "babe, these are grain free and don't have any refined sugar, just the way you like them!" 

Let's actually talk about chocolate covered strawberries. They've somehow become the universal food of Valentines day. And anniversaries, and for all the "romantic" days where you're supposed to pull out all the stops, for that matter - but can we be real?  They're a pain in the ass. Biting face-first into a golf-ball sized fruit (covered in a shell that will almost certainly drop into your lap) means a face full of chocolate, strawberry chunks stuck in your teeth, and stains on your jeans because I know whenever I eat something chocolate and I'm sitting down and it crumbles, it somehow gets under my butt and all over the back of my pants and then I spend a day walking around in public without realizing it. Ugh. What's sexy about any of that? 

These brownies, on the other hand, are pretty sexy. The brownie itself serves as a much neater little vehicle to transport chopped organic strawberries drizzled in dark chocolate, all the way to your mouth (maybe keep a hand underneath in case of minor spillage). Also, they significantly increase the chocolate to fruit ratio, which is obviously important. 

Here are your Valentines day marching orders: Dial in a Sugarfish to-go order and put it on some real plates. Download a generous Bloomingdales gift card, stuff it in an envelope alongside a relatively thoughtful note. Make a plate of these brownies. Consider your ass saved. Single AF? Treat yourself to the same gifts - you deserve it. Now put in your Instacart order for the ingredients below, and get on it, slacker!

PS: you can use my favorite original brownie recipe, which can be found under "recipes" on the sidebar, or this quick + easy slight adaptation of WellPlated.com's Paleo brownies (they're so good).  

Ingredients: Brownies

  • 1 cup cashew butter (you can use any nut butter, but cashew has the most neutral taste IMO)
  • 5 tbsp cacao or organic cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey or pure maple syrup  
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 cup extra dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped into little squares 

Ingredients: Chocolate Strawberry Coating

  • 3/4 cups extra dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp cashew butter 
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla 

Instructions

  1. Make your brownies: preheat oven to 350. Line a 8" square baking dish with parchment paper, and let it hang over the two sides. Coat the crap out of the other 2 exposed sides with coconut oil, or the brownies will stick.
  2. In a bowl or mixer, combine the cashew butter, cacao powder, coconut sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and honey/syrup. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Press the batter into the prepared baking dish, and press it down with your hands (or whatever) to flatten it out evenly. 
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the top just slightly begins to puff. 
  5. Let it cool (expedite by putting this in the freezer, but keep an eye on it). 
  6. Meanwhile, chop your strawberries. Once brownies are completely cooled, make your frosting. 
  7. Melt together everything but the vanilla on LOW heat, stirring constantly. If you want to thin this out a little bit, you can add a splash of any kind of milk, or slightly increase the amount of coconut oil. 
  8. "Frost" the brownies with the melted chocolate (spoon or blunt knife works fine), cover in the chopped strawberries, and drizzle the remaining chocolate on top. Try to make it somewhat pretty- remember, this is a redemption gift. 
  9. Cover Put the whole pan back in the fridge - these are best eaten cold. 


 

 

 

 

Blood Orange No-Bake Pie

oranges.jpg

Happy hangover Monday!

I heard from some of my clients (who seemed more tired than usual this morning, for some reason?)  that many of you spent last evening drinking a lot of beer while watching football and commercials. If I’m being honest, I don’t like football. Or commercials. Or beer, for that matter. Know what I do like? Baking and kombucha. And chilling out on Sunday afternoons. Which is exactly what I did while the rest of the world was going apeshit over the Super Bowl.

A few weeks ago I came across a gorgeous picture of a blood orange gelatin yogurt tart thing on my favorite Instagram account, @thefeedfeed. Now, if I’m still being honest, I don’t like orange flavor in baking (at all). And the idea of a pie made from gelatin and yogurt sounded like a dated combination of Baked Alaska and a Weight Watchers dessert my friend’s mother used to make from key lime Yoplait yogurt and Cool Whip. But I am a visual creature, and this photo was so beautiful that I felt compelled to try it, if only to have something pretty to bring to a dinner I was attending (with people mostly of an age who might appreciate a gelatin dessert). And naturally, I had to give it a healthy makeover. 

As unexcited as I felt about making a gelatinous, yogurt-y dessert, I secretly hoped this might turn out better than expected because gelatin is the hot ticket du jour in the wellness world right now. Gelatin is derived from collagen, so like collagen, it helps form strong connective tissue, can even strengthen gut lining, and lower inflammation. It’s heavy on the amino acids glycine which is actually issued by some doctors to help improve joint pain and digestion. AND, it’s an inhibitory neurotransmitter (in English: mood booster). 

Now, about boosting your mood. I was so surprised to find out that THIS DESSERT WILL ABSOLUTELY BOOST YOUR MOOD BECAUSE IT’S SO YUMMY AND HEALTHY AND ADDICTING. Totally serious- I was blown away by the results. It comes off somewhere between a light cheesecake and an ice-box cake and it doesn’t taste like yogurt nor does it have a texture that resembles anything close to jello. The blood orange is subtle and perfect and the crust is rustic and not overly sweet. 

Also? This tart is superfood-rich - it's got high protein & probiotic rich Greek yogurt, Manuka honey (loaded with antioxidants), the gelatin that I already bored you with, vitamin c from the oranges, and a good serving of slowly-digested, complex carbs in the GF oats (GF isn’t necessary. If you don’t care, I don't).  I totally give this the Breakfast Worthy stamp of approval! 

It's so good that I plan to make two more variations of it: a vegan cheesecake version of the blood orange, and the original version with almond butter and dark chocolate. I will report back on those. In the meantime, try this - I promise you’ll be as obsessed as I am! 

PS: Let it sit for a couple hours before you eat it (if you look closely at my photo, you may note that I could not wait that long...but it’s worth it, just distract yourself with something else for a while)

Adapted from Elin Vatmar Nilsen’s Orange and Honey Greek Yogurt Tart, via @thefeedfeed. 

tart.JPG

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cup GF (or regular) oats, ground into small pieces in blender or processor - note: do NOT process into to oat flour, and measure AFTER processing
  • 3/4 stick grass fed butter, melted 
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar (optional but suggested)
  • 1/4 c water 

Filling:

  • 3 tsp high quality powdered gelatin (I used Great Lakes grass fed) 
  • 1/2 c fresh squeezed organic orange juice (I did a combination of valenica and blood oranges)
  • 1 3/4 c full fat grass fed greek yogurt (I like Wallaby Organic and Straus Farm)
  • 1/4 c Manuka or raw honey (I believe pure Maple Syrup would work fine, too)
  • 2-3 small oranges (make sure 1 at least is a blood orange - they’re so pretty)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Mix ingredients for crust and press into a 24 cm pie pan.
  3. Bake about 15 minutes, or until golden brown
  4. Remove and let cool completely (you can expedite this in the freezer, but keep an eye on it)
  5. Dissolve the gelatin in the orange juice, let stand about 5 minutes, then add the honey and stir 
  6. Stir into the yogurt, and pour into the cooled crust. 
  7. The original directions say to let it set for about 30 minutes in the fridge, but I think that the flavor really set after a couple of hours. 
  8. Peel the oranges with a knife, slice thinly, and lay them on top of your pie. 

 

How to Fail at Clean Eating (+ How Not To)

 These sweet potato nachos are MOSTLY clean. But so so good! 

These sweet potato nachos are MOSTLY clean. But so so good! 

Hi guys!

QOTD (that’s “Question of the Day” for anyone under age 30): What kind of food comes to mind when you think about “clean eating?” Chances are, at least a few of you are mumbling “Well, lots of salads. And egg whites with veggies and salsa. Chicken breast with broccoli. Juice cleanses. Things of that nature.” 

And that may be true as those are all very clean foods. But guys, let’s be real-  four days in to that kind of eating and all you want is one of those hamburger birthday cakes and all the pizza and a loaf of bread. Right?! Every time I used to try and go on a strictly salad/ protein/ veggies diet, I would find myself inhaling a burrito the size of my head and a half pint of ice cream by the end of the week. Not because I lacked willpower, but because I was so bored with kale and shrimp. And probably even more so because I was fixated on the foods that I wasn’t eating. How are you supposed to maintain a long term relationship with healthy food if you’re constantly wishing you could dive face-first into a plate of fettuccini? 

Don’t get me wrong, salads are great. Personally, I like a balance of crispy raw veggies or a simple piece of grilled salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts to balance out meals with a more complex flavor profile, but I’d be lying if I said that I ate a salad every day.

When it comes to making changes, I’m all about the path of least resistance. That expression gets a back rep, like it makes you lazy or unmotivated or unwilling to exercise willpower. But think about it - what happens when you try to resist something?  You get fixated on what you can't have. When it comes to willpower around food, the odds aren’t exactly in your favor. We’re part of a culture of foodies and you literally can’t sit and drink a cup of coffee without someone in arms reaching taking an iPhone snap of their matcha latte. Or, for that matter, of their double cheeseburger and fries. Food is everywhere. Combine constant exposure with monotony, the emotional attachment we have to certain foods, the fact tht your brain actually fixates on things that you “can’t” have in a way that’s beyond your control, and you’re kind setting yourself up for failure. 

So, instead of telling my clients to cut things out of their diet, I explain that the most effective way to make a healthy, nutritious diet stick long term is to refuse to give up what you love. I mean, for sure experiment and eat other things to balance it out - but if I tried to give up my favorites (pizza, Mexican food, sweets) I’d end up binge eating donuts in a closet somewhere after a couple of days. So think about what you really love to eat, and eat it! 

Here’s the catch: you give it a good, nutrient-dense makeover. Personally, I find a way to bump the nutrient content of said favorites. I’ve “made over” everything from enchiladas to peanut butter brownies to mac n’ cheese in a way that tastes totally indulgent but is actually packed with healthy stuff and short on the yucky ingredients. I’m not talking about replacing fat with applesauce (that is literally so gross), either: I’ve taught myself how to make healthy food so indulgent that my most stubborn friends and family members reach for seconds and ask for recipes.

Not sure where to start? Well, you sure are in luck because today my friend Rachele and I dropped a Super Bowl Superfood Spread recipe book that does just that. We’ve made over about 15 of our favorite game day snacks and while I try to make my meals a little more nutrient dense than some of the recipes in this PDF, these are really yummy alternatives a lot of “trigger” foods - the salty and sweet stuff that we crave now and then. It’s a free download, so give a few of these a whirl and be sure to report back what you think! If you’re interested in giving a specific food a makeover and feel stuck, send me a message - happy to help. And if you’re feeling like you’re ready to make the big changes and want to work with a coach, I’ve got your back (and do free consultations).

For the Super Bowl Superfood Spread, click here! 

Happy eating!

XO

Me 

Dark Chocolate Frosted Quinoa Crispy Treats

Around this time last year, one of my dearest friends moved from LA to Texas and I’m not gonna lie- I was pretty heartbroken over the situation. Aside from being friends, we were neighbors so there were lots of last minute weeknight dinners, beach walks, and wine nights. But if I’m being honest here, what I really miss are her signature desserts: Rice Crispy Treats. I don’t know how one makes a totally basic dessert outstanding, but Lisa nailed it…I literally could not eat just one. I don’t think I’ve had one since she left, but the other day I had a mad craving for a Rice Crispy Treat out of nowhere (this is not so much a blog post as it is an attempt to guilt my friend over her move to Austin), and when I’m craving something, I get a crazy kind of tunnel vision. 

I’d never attempted to make regular rice crispy treats before but knew they have like, mashmallows, butter, rice crispy cereal, and some other stuff in them that I definitely didn’t have around the house. I didn’t feel like going to the market to buy all the supplies and despite my best efforts, I couldn't find anyone who delivered Rice Crispy Treats to your house. I was rummaging around the pantry for an alternative option when I came across a bag of puffed quinoa that i had forgotten about, and I knew I had my answer.  I was left to my own devices to come up with something based on the ingreds in my fridge so I totally winged this, but I’m very pleased with the outcome. And had quinoa crispy treats for breakfast the entire week following. 

Here’s where these puppies are nutritionally superior to their cereal-based cousin (maybe make that second cousin - the taste is a little different because I didn’t use marshmallow): 

  • Protein: Rice cereal: 1/5 gQuinoa: 8
  • Fiber - quinoa has plenty. 
  • Healthy fat - ghee/butter/ coconut oil/ cashew butter. Yes please. 
  • Refined Sugar Free 
  • Magnesium & Iron Rich (dark chocolate and quinoa = solid iron combo)
  • Antioxidant rich (quinoa, cashew, dark chocolate, cinnamon) 

If these don’t get you out of bed in the morning, I don’t know what will. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 Puffed Quinoa 
  • 1/4 c Cashew Butter
  • Scant 1/4 c Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 c Cashew Butter (any nut butter is fine but cashew is the most neutral tasting)
  • Pure Grade B dark maple syrup (You can use raw honey here to take the nutritional value up a lot, but because good raw honey is so expensive I rarely use it to bake when doing R&D) 
  • 2-3 tbsp Ghee or grassfed butter  
  • Cinnamon - few good shakes 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 - 1/3 c Extra dark Chocolate (I like the Bulletproof bars)
  •  

Directions:

  1. Line a glass plan with parchment paper and grease the sides with coconut oil (<- or whatever)
  2. Pour puffed quinoa into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the cashew butter, ghee/butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and well combined. Add vanilla, salt, and a few shakes of cinnamon.
  4. Pour mixture over quinoa and stir to combine. Mixture will be somewhat wet, so don’t trip. It will harden when coconut oil cools. 
  5. Press mixture into prepared pan and place in freezer for 15 minutes or until hard.
  6. Meanwhile, slowly melt chocolate in a double broiler over low heat (if you don’t have one, you can go without, but use very low heat and stir constantly or it will burn. You can add a tbsp of coconut oil if you’re having problems melting. Also, an extra shake or three of cinnamon is super yum. 
  7. Remove pan from fridge, and pour melted chocolate over the top. Spread evenly, pop back in freezer until hard. 

(I cut these up and stored them in the freezer and they kept really well and tasted perfectly fine after de-thawing)

ProTips: 3 Things I Tell Every Client

Well, hello! Happy almost New Year! So as you probably know by now, I’m all about sharing a perspective on health that actually makes you guys think a little bit. Actually, I have a really good Quinoa Crispy recipe to post tomorrow so there’s that, but I also want to bring something to the table besides the same old shit about how you should stretch after a workout or that you better only eat real food or you’re going to get leaky gut and become allergic to everything and your pants won’t fit and you’ll eventually die from eating processed cheese. 

Because most of the info around health out there is actually a bunch of pretty basic stuff, and you aren’t a bunch of basic bitches. If health was as easy as just knowing what to do, we’d all be working out 7 days a week, eating nothing but kale and salmon salads, and looking like Gigi Haddid 24/7. 

But most of us aren’t / aren’t / don’t, so why take the same old approach? My preference is to get my clients up to speed on Health 101 as quickly as possible (that’s the easy part) and then get right down to business. “The business” being the mindset stuff. The food relationship stuff. The mind-body connection stuff.  That thinking stuff I mentioned earlier. 

So in lieu of writing about the same old cliche New Years lose-10-pounds-resolution song and dance (literally kill me if I have to hear that one more time), I’m going to share 3 slightly unconventional goals I asked my clients to set in 2017, instead of “eat more Swiss Chard and go to cycling class.” Who knows -  it just might force you to think a little. 

Fitness: Don’t worry about how many calories you’re burning when you’re working out. 

Seriously. Unless you’re going after a very specific body type, working out isn’t the end all, be all for weight loss. Sure, it can definitely support your weight loss efforts, but personally I’d much rather my clients find movement they find joy in it. Instead of staring at your Fitbit for an hour, get present, feel the endorphins flooding your body, and focus on soaking up that euphoric feeling that comes as a result of a really amazing workout.    

For me personally, pushing myself physically forces me to do something I struggle with IRL: staying present and focused. Added bonus: When I commit to pushing through something that feels uncomfortable, I always feel like a badass when it’s done. Even though it’s only fitness, that mindset translates seamlessly into real life. For some people, fitness is their only escape of the day, from work or family or stress. For others its a chance to work some aggression out. Point is that if you’re just watching the calories burn away on your heart rate monitor and waiting for the time to pass, you’re missing the good stuff. And if you can find something in it that feels great, you’ll probably come back for more. 

Food:  Stop Eating to Lose Weight. 

If you want to lose weight, cool. But you’re going to have a real hard time staying motivated when you know deep down that simply taking up less physical space on earth really isn’t that important. Do your “why work” (<- that having a clear understanding your real “why,” something I help my clients identify when we work together) and shift your focus toward eating to feel good - mentally and physically.  Something I see in roughly like, 100% of my clients is that they stay more motivated as a result of how they feel over how they look - so pay attention to which foods energize you and figure out how to incorporate more of them into your meals. (And if something you love makes you feel like crap? Text me, and I’ll help you create an equally delicious, healthier version. This is my specialty, promise)

Emotional Stop beating yourself up. 

The reason I bring up emotional well-being is that it almost always has a direct impact on behavior around food, and also because mental health and happiness are often put second to physical health, which is just stupid. Part of my job description includes listening to people verbally beat the shit out of themselves for not being perfect when it comes to both health and endless other areas of life. When did it became OK to feel like a failure over not achieving the impossible? And I literally mean, the impossible: The only almost-perfect people I’ve ever heard of have been sainted and no offense but you’re probably not a candidate. We humans are imperfect, so just own the idea that sometimes it’s ok to spend an entire day in your sweats or eat the second scoop of ice cream. Be clear that you aren’t a failure if your reindeer Christmas cupcakes look more like turds or if you were thinking about what color to paint your toenails throughout your meditation. Would you ever be as cruel to your friends/family as you are to yourself? I doubt it, so show yourself a little compassion too, ok? Ok. 

Anyway, I want to wish each of you a wonderful 2017 but also thank you for an incredibly special 2016.  So, so many of you have read my posts and sent me texts and messages and emails and asked questions and worked with me on nutrition and taken my classes and and without you I would not have had the courage to have recently quit my day job so that I could take the leap into the world of full-time nutrition coaching, training, and with any luck, changing lives. It’s the first time I have ever had a job that I absolutely love, and I can’t tell you how much all of your support has meant to me and changed my own life. So thank you from the bottom of my heart - you guys are the best. 

 

Cheers to the best year yet,

 

Meg 

Matcha WTF Balls

I just got back from NYC, where I was able to pay twice-daily visits to one of my favorite little places to pick up a healthy treat: Matcha Bar. It’s Matcha heaven: matcha donuts, matcha brownies, matcha biscotti, and every kind of matcha drink you can imagine (have I mentioned I have a slightly obsessive personality?!).  If you haven’t hopped on the matcha wagon yet, I promise you’re missing out. 

Now I’m home and Matcha Bar is far away and I’ve been feeling rather sad about it. Specifically, I've been missing their brownies, which are quite possibly my favorite thing to eat ever. To fill the void I decided to pull together a matcha creation of my own, but I make brownies all the time so I opted for dark chocolate truffles instead.  Rather than spending extra money on another kitchen experiment, I worked with what I had...which was a bit of a challenge TBH. I wasn't sure what to expect , but I'm telling you: these are where it's at. 

These bad boys are packed with nutrients and healthy fat and protein!  Here’s a list of the power foods that go in these babies: 

  • Extra Dark Chocolate (SO good for you, so high in antioxidants. Truth.) 
  • Matcha 
  • Cashew Butter 
  • White Beans
  • Tahini 
  • Cacao
  • Coconut Oil 

Ok ok, now you've read that these have beans and tahini and you're all like, ew beans WTF?  (Hence the name) BUT I SWEAR GUYS THEY’RE SO GOOD. Not just like “oh these are good for being nutritious,” but good like you may need to keep them in your freezer because when they’re easy to grab, things just get out of hand.

I know that you trust me and will make these regardless, but you may not want to tell people what’s in them. Just let them draw their own conclusions. Then you can be like “Oh those are made of beans and some other weird stuff” Or not. 

Well, I hate recipe posts with rambling backstories that you have to read through to get to the goods. (I just wanted you to know what you were eating). So let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

 

Matcha WTF Balls

Ingreds: Balls

  • 3/4 cup white beans, mashed 
  • 3/4 cup nut butter (I liked cashew butter for this because the taste didn’t overwhelm the chocolate, but any nut butter works)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar(more to taste if you like your dark choc sweet) 
  • 1/2 dark chocolate (chips, or a crumbled dark chocolate bar). Go as dark as possible for the richest outcome and max nutrient density) 
  • 1/2 c coconut or almond flour 
  • 1.5 tsp tahini (optional, but so good) 
  • 2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder 
  • 2 tsp coconut oil 
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1+ tsp almond milk (or milk of choice, as needed) to thin 

Optional: 1 tbsp matcha (you’re going to dust them in matcha so just go with your gut here) 

Ingreds: Coating:

  • 1/2 dark chocolate, chips or crumbled bar
  • 1-1.5 tsp coconut oil 
  • Matcha, for dusting (or toppings of choice - pictured: cacao nibs, raw coconut) 

Instructions:

  1. Combine the truffle ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Mixture should be very thick, but if it’s so thick that it won’t combine, add another tsp or so of milk. Roll these into little balls, lay on parchment paper, and chill in the fridge for 30. 
  2. To make the coating, combine the dk choc and coconut oil in a pan over low heat. Stir constantly until melted. (If you have a double broiler, this is always a safe bet. I did not use one and it turned out fine). Pour into a bowl.
  3. Remove chilled truffles from fridge - I think the easiest way to do this is just to drop a couple at a time in the bowl of melted chocolate, roll them around with a spoon, and drop onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Dust with Matcha (or preferred topping) and let sit in the fridge until solid.
  4. Try not to eat all at once...good luck.   

#FBF: When I ate ALL the Food in NYC.

 Oh, Thanksgiving.&nbsp;Excuse the terrible dark picture. But you get the idea.&nbsp;

Oh, Thanksgiving. Excuse the terrible dark picture. But you get the idea. 

Hi guys! How the heck is it already December? Holy shit. 

Anyway. I just got back from a week in New York, where I indulged on some really delicious food for Thanksgiving. Followed by about 21 meals in a row eaten in restaurants. Many of which were accompanied by wine (and very little cardio, thanks to an injury). All in the spirit of the holidays…cheers!

Trust me when I say that when I tried to button my pants this morning, it wasn’t the easiest thing. Just kidding- we all know I don't wear pants with buttons.  I was wearing yoga pants, but I promise they felt a bit more snug than normal.

Thanksgiving....ya feel me? 

Once upon a time I would have decided right then and there that it was time for a diet, which I suppose is a totally common thing for someone to think about after a holiday season or after a trip dedicated to eating and not working out. But it wasn’t just Thanksgiving that would’ve set me off: I’d diet because it was going to be Monday the next day and I ate like shit all weekend. I would diet because I binged on a carton of ice cream and a bag full of tacos. I would diet if my jeans were too tight. I would diet because I “felt fat” or because I didn’t trust my own judgement enough to simply listen to my body, or because my friends were skinnier than me or because I just freaking felt like it. There are a million reasons to jump on the ol’ diet bandwagon but it doesn’t matter: If you’ve been on a diet in the past and you’re thinking about going on one again, it means that said diet(s) did not work in the long term. 

Dieting is like a Chinese finger trap: the harder you work, the more screwed you get. You're lured by the promise of a quick fix and the structure you crave, and then it backfires and you’re sucked right back in. With less trust in your own body and brain each go-round.  

You probably already know how many calories are in an apple, a carrot, or a Hostess cupcake. And if not, you definitely know how to look it up on the Internet. Assuming you know how to read, retrieving basic information about your body’s nutritional needs is not difficult, but most of us don’t trust ourselves to be left to our own devices. Instead we turn to the “experts” to give us structure and specifiations about how much weight we can expect to lose in weeks 1, 2, and 3.  

Also -and this is a big also- dieting doesn’t teach you to figure out what your obstacles are. It doesn’t teach you that once you discover that your obstacles are “being busy” and “me no likey cooking,” you may figure a way to work around both yet still find yourself unable to walk past the candy drawer without grabbing a handful of peanut butter cups or hitting In N’ Out when you’re feeling a little sad. Dieting certainly doesn’t teach you that your relationship with food is literally everything.  

Dieting only allows for one emotion: Wanting to be “skinny.” Dieting only gives you one action plan: Eat this, not that. Neither of those will ever be enough if you want to make real change.  

My professional opinion is to give dieting the middle finger.  

Anyway, back to this morning. My pants felt a little tight, and in a past life I would have jumped on the internet and looked for the latest weight loss plan. I would have felt horribly guilty about eating in restaurants for a week straight. It probably would have ruined my day. This morning, I grabbed a bigger pair of yoga pants, chugged a mason jar of lemon water, picked up some extra veggies for some much needed nutrients, and carried on with my day. I never thought “wow you’re a real fatass, Meg” or “I can’t eat for like, a week” or “nice job eating everything in New York!” Instead of Googling “Lose 5 pounds in a week” I searched “professional suitcase unpacker.” Because unpacking is the worst. 

After years of trial and error, I now trust myself enough to know that I have a healthy relationship with food and can pick right back up where I left off before my trip, eating the nourishing but delicious foods I love. I know that my body will get back to it’s natural size without having to inflict any kind of torture upon myself.  

Guys, aren’t you sick of torturing yourself to lose a few pounds, only toeventually “go off” the plan, gain the weight back, and hit repeat?! I sure as shit was and that’s why I haven’t been on one in 10 years. (Incidentally, my weight hasn’t fluctuated much at all since. Why? Because once I kicked the dieting addition and focused on my mindset and healing my relationship with food instead, my body found its natural weight and stayed there. Oh, irony). 

This is probably a good segue to announce that I’ve been hard at work creating a new program that I’m going to launch mid-January. 

More details coming soon, but my goal is simple: to teach you how to overcome the same BS I did. Whether your obstacle is a lack of knowledge about nutrition, or you’re tight on time, tight on money, constantly traveling or entertaining, have a strong distaste for cooking; whether you emotionally eat, binge eat, are riding diet merry-go-round, and/or a million other things or combination of things, I've been there, done that. I consider myself an expert at overcoming just about anything weight/food/body/ related, and now I want to show you how to do the same.  Because I know what it feels like to want the amazing, high-energy, glow-y, effortlessly healthy life that you know you so deserve, and I also know what it feels like to actually live it. 

*My other goal is to keep it super affordable, so if it feels out of reach there will be ways to make it work for you! It will be more affordable than one-on-one coaching and it will bedifferent than group coaching - I promise this will be a category of it’s own! If you are interested in some early info, just shoot me a note here and I’ll let you know what’s up :) 

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm grateful for each of you. 

XOXO 

Meg 

Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Butter + Cinnamon Pecan Scones

Admission: I had no idea that yesterday was the first day of fall. I thought summer officially ended on Labor Day, which means that it turns I put the Rose in the wine fridge (just kidding, I don’t have one of those, so I just drank it) a few weeks prematurely.  

Anyway, LA looks like this in the autumn:

 

So I never would have known had my Instagram feed not been bursting with Pumpkin Spice Everything yesterday.

When it comes to pumpkin, there seem to be two decisive camps: people who add it to everything from waffles to hamburgers, and those who roll their eyes and refer to Pumpkin Spice Lattes as “basic AF” (the irony was not lost on me). I consider myself as fairly middle of the line, but the (apparent) first day of fall and a 65 degree morning (if you don’t live in LA, this is sweater weather) had me thinking that it sounded pretty damn good.

I decided on an autumn double whammy: pumpkin butter and cinnamon scones. I recently made some slow cooker pumpkin butter that called for two cups of apple cider and a bunch of different spices, which ended up tasting a lot more like apple butter than pumpkin butter. Don’t get me wrong, I was spooning that sh*t on everything from toast to chia pudding, but it definitely lacked a distinctive pumpkin taste. This time around I opted for an easier, basic-er, juice-free version that could be made in under an hour. (And just because I had some, I added a little bourbon at the end. Don’t judge) The result was a decidedly pumpkin-y butter, with a kick.

Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Butter 

  • 2 15 oz cans pumpkin puree 
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar 
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 2-3 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1/3 cup bourbon 
  1. Stir everything into a saucepan until combined, and set over low/medium heat
  2. Heat for about 35 minutes, stirring every few minutes to keep from burning 
  3. Add bourbon, stir, and leave on heat for about 20 more minutes.
  4. Let cool, store in an air-tight container

Naturally, I needed something to put these on, so I went with a cinnamon pecan scone. This is a basic grain-free scone recipe; I point this out because they aren’t as dry as a traditional scone. The almond flour doesn’t absorb as much moisture as regular flour, so don’t expect this to taste like what you’d have during high tea. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to scones, so while the difference in texture took a minute to get used to (literally, a minute. Maybe two), I do appreciate the fact that these aren’t very sweet.  And they’re definitely an excellent vehicle for the pumpkin butter. 

Cinnamon Pecan Scones

  • 1.75 C extra fine almond flour 
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour 
  • 1/4 C Pure Maple Syrup 
  • 1 egg 
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 c pecan pieces 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • big pinch of salt 
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk 
  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and stir using a fork
  3. In another bowl, whisk together egg, oil, syrup, vanilla, and coconut milk
  4. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and combine until smooth. 
  5. Fold in the pecans
  6. Shape into balls, and press to flatten on a parchment-lined baking sheet 
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes 

Why Emotional Eating is a Good Thing, and an Announcement

TOOD: Why emotional eating is actually a good thing

I know what you’re thinking, because most people see emotional eating as the Mother of all food-related setbacks. Word on the streets is that it’s one of the biggest obstacles to looking like a Victoria’s Secret Angel...oh, and also the cause of super fun feelings like guilt, frustration, and disappointment. 

Emotional eating happens when you find yourself face to face with an emotion or situation that you don’t know how to deal with. It’s not uncommon for some people to have problems pinpointing a specific feeling at first, or it might not seem like there’s an emotion there at all (some of us are masters at burying our feelings, self once included), but you know that squirmy feeling of wanting to swallow a whole ranch-soaked pizza and chase it with a brownie or 4 (can’t imagine I’m alone here)? There’s a really good chance that it’s coming from an un-managed case of the feels. 

Regardless of how frustrating that can be, it can also be awesome -even life changing-  because emotional eating is one of the most honest, accurate indicators that something’s going on in your mind or in your world that needs a little TLC.

Whether you’re deep into self-development or just wanting to take control of your eating habits, it would behoove you to think about the following concept: 

“Tend to the roots, not the fruits.” (FYI, I lifted that quote directly from a book about finances, but it’s totally applicable)

If you read that and you’re all like, “huh?” I’m going to give you a little analogy. Imagine that you have a lemon tree or whatever kind of fruit-bearing tree you want - it’s your imagination so go to town, but don’t get too attached. Because now we’re going to pretend spring rolls around and you’re so excited to harvest your goods, only discover that the fruit looks pretty sad. Your lemons looks diseased, it tastes like shit, and you wouldn’t put that thing anywhere near your martini. Would you wash the thing off and hope for the best, or would you try and figure out what’s going on with the tree? 

Duh.  

The problem is in the roots. Maybe the tree wasn’t watered enough or the soil sucks. Maybe there’s a family of angry raccoons sprinkling lemon poison on the lawn when you’re asleep, it doesn’t really matter; the bottom line is that the fruit is bad because something bigger is going down. 

Lets draw the correlation to real life. Simply put, figuring out a healthy and effective way to manage your feelings (aka, the roots - please tell me you got that) can be a fantastic way to wipe out out emotional eating - and make you a better you in the meantime.  

If you’re a self improvement seeker, get excited because paying attention to your emotional eating habits is going to give you clues about aspects of your life that need some work. If you’re not, understanding and handling your triggers is still the best way to long-term success in the ol' food department. How you handle your emotions is entirely up to you (email me if you’re not sure where to begin), but in the meantime, I have a shameless plug! 

I’ve been working for months on a group coaching program that will absolutely help you take your health to the next level.  I wanted to create something much more than just another health plan, so the focus will be split between nutritional guidance and looking at the roots: mindset, emotional eating, and all of the biggies, complete with actionable steps around both areas. I also wanted to create something accessible to anyone who wants it, so it’s going to be crazy affordable, and while it’s a group program there will still be anonymity. I’m just about finished with it and am looking at a January launch date.  If you want early information as it comes out, you can get on the info list by signing up here (I won’t spam you, promise). Otherwise, stay tuned for more details coming soon.

Keep working on those roots, babes.    

xx Meg 

Handle Your Sweet Tooth Like a Boss: 5 Recipes to Take the Edge off

The picture above is my newest obsession: Pressed Freeze from Pressed Juice. If you live in LA, San Francisco, NYC, or follow IG accounts of people who live in one of the aforementioned cities and eat food, you’re almost definitely savvy to the fact that this exists because, well...if there’s one near you, you know it. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the Pressed Freeze is a soft serve-like concoction that contains only almond milk, dates, cacao, vanilla bean, and sea salt. It only has 5 (five!!) grams of sugar in a small cup and you can top it with almond butter sauce, cacao sauce, chia seeds, fruit, nuts, and things of that nature. 

If you know me IRL (<- that's the abbreviation the kids are using for “In Real Life" ), you know that I'm prone to a formidable sweet tooth. So, the opening of one of these near my work is shaping up to be one of the greatest lifesavers of all time. Unfortunately, they’re also about 7 bucks a pop and I’m already trying to cut down on my designer coffee habit, so this technically takes me backwards.

The point here is that I know what it’s like to feel like a slave to a sweet tooth, which is why I’m about to share 5 of my favorite go-to snacks when I’m having a serious craving, in order from least to most intense.   

While I legit have dozens of healthy dessert recipes that I’ve made to ad nauseam in order to guarantee perfection, these are all pretty simple, basic bitch types of treats. Think: something to get you through a sugar craving without going off the rails, and a much better alternative than a handful of those Ralphs brand sugar cookies with the hot pink frosting.  

To make the cut, said treats had to meet he following requirements: 

  1. They derive their sweetness from either fruit or a little bit of maple syrup or raw honey ( >1 tbsp/serving), and maintain a respectable degree of nutrient density. 
  2. Must be able to be made in a single serving, because a tray full of warm cookies right out of the oven? Too hard to stop.  
  3. Quick & easy - no one wants to spend an hour trying to quell a sweet tooth. 

 

1. Pimp My Ricecake: Kamut Cakes with Cashew Butter, Strawberries, Hemp Seeds, and Cacao Nibs 

Craving level: “Hmmm, I feel like something sweet”

What’s so great about this? Total texture thing. This crunchy/creamy combo is the jam - stack that with the sweet+salty factor and you’ve got yourself a winner. 

Ingreds: 

  • 2 Kamut or brown rice cakes
  • 2 tbsp nut butter, of choice (Cashew and walnut butter are my favorites, in case you wondered) 
  • Handful of extra-ripe strawberries, sliced length-wise 
  • 1 tbsp each hemp seeds and cacao nibs. 

How:

Cakes + nut butter + add sliced berries + sprinkle with cacao and hemp seeds= boom.  

Sugar: about 3.5 grams 

Power foods: Strawberries, Cacao Nibs, Hemp seeds, nut butter

 

2. Go Greek: Yogurt with figs, raw honey, and walnuts

Craving level: “But I really want something sweet.”

What’s so great about this? You can make it in like, two seconds flat. IMHO, figs are the best seasonal fruit ever, they’re rich in minerals and nutrients, and they’re reminiscent of Fig Newtons, which you know you love. The full fat yogurt is so creamy and makes this super satisfying (don’t you dare even think about buying low fat). Lots of protein and healthy fat to balance out the natural sugars from the lactase, fruit, and honey. Also this is like, so Greek tasting. You can pretend you’re vacationing in Mykonos. Or whatever. 

Ingreds: 

  • 1 container of full fat, greek yogurt. Get grass fed and organic if you can find it, with no added sugar. The nutritional info label is going to show sugar, because it's in the lactase found in milk, but check the actual ingredient list to make sure nothing extra is added. 
  • 2 figs, quartered,
  • 1 tbsp crushed walnuts 
  • 1/2 tbsp, raw honey 

How:

Yogurt -> pretty bowl. Top with figs, sprinkle with walnuts, drizzle with honey. 

Sugar: about 20g (about half comes from the milk) 

Power foods: All of it. For reals - each ingredient has solid health benefits. 

 

3. My Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake Brings all the...blah blah. 

Craving level: “Ice cream. Now.” 

What’s so great about this? It tastes like it's name. 

Notes: Everyone knows that almond butter is the favorite child of nutritionists, but sometimes you just want that old school flavor. Feel free to sub nut butter of choice. Use coconut milk for creamier base. Add frozen raspberries and lose the sugar to change this to a PB&J shake. Or do both, the world is your oyster. 

Ingreds: 

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or canned coconut milk 
  • 1/2 ripe banana (you can throw in oven for a bit to increase sweetness- bake at 200/250 until banana peel turns brown)  
  • 1 date, pit removed 
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter or nut butter or choice + 1 tbsp powdered peanut butter like PB2 for an extra kick (optional) 
  • 2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder 
  • Big dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp cacao dark chocolate chips 
  • pinch of sea salt 
  • Handfull of ice 
  • Optional: Scoop of organic chocolate protein powder, or the cream off the top of a can of refrigerated, full fat coconut milk)

How: 

Throw all that ‘ish in the blender, minus the cacao nibs/chocolate chips and let it do it's thing. Stir in the chips/nibs. If you’re using the cream from the coconut milk, spoon (lol) it on top once shake is poured in the glass (y’know, like whipped cream). 

Sugar: about 12g, + 5g if dark chocolate chips are used in place of cacao nibs. 

Power foods: Banana, cacao powder (yup), dark choc/cacao (yup, still), cinnamon, date 

 

4. Oatmeal Cookie for One  

Craving level: Cookie monster status.  

What’s so great about this? You can eat it for breakfast. 

Notes: This is the only recipe that calls for an actual sugar, but rules are made to be broken once in a while and coconut sugar is a little lower on the glycemic scale than refined sugars. Looks complicated, is so simple. You probably have most of this in your pantry. 

Ingreds:

  • 5 level teaspoons organic oat flour (throw oats in a blender until it forms a flour-like consistency) 
  • 1 tbsp oats (GF, if you prefer) 
  • 1 tbsp baking soda 
  • 1/16th tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or melted grass fed butter, such as Kerrygold 
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp milk of choice 
  • 1/2 tbsp raisins, optional (I chop them into tiny pieces) 
  • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts 
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar  
  • Big shake cinnamon 
  • Tiny tiny shake nutmeg -optional. (I heart nutmeg) 

How:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients, then add wet and mix with a fork. Form into a big ball and flatten into a cookie shape. Cook for 7-8 minutes.

Sugar: about 15g; if raisins are omitted you can cut the sugar in half. (Try replacing with fresh blueberries!) 

Power foods: Oats, coconut oil, walnuts, cinnamon

 

5. Do it: Chocolate Waffles with Raspberry Jam and Whipped Coconut Cream

Craving level: “Must. Eat. All. The. Food.” 

What’s so great about these? Everything??

Notes: This is a heavy snack; I usually go to this as a meal during a certain time of the month (sorry sorry) - but it’s super satisfying, has plenty of protein and antioxidants, and tastes like such a treat. 

If you haven’t had protein pancakes or waffles, do be warned that they taste a bit different from traditional waffles.

Ingreds:

  • For the waffle: 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 banana, mashed well (really well)  
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut, buckwheat, oat, or almond flour.  

For the jam: 

  • 1 big handful fresh raspberries, mashed
  • 1 tsp chia seeds 

Mash with a fork, set aside. 

  • For cacao drizzle:
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted 
  • 1.5 tbsp cacao powder 
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup 

*Whisk in a small bowl with a fork, set aside

+ fresh raspberries

+ 1 tbsp cream from the top of a can of refrigerated, full fat coconut milk 

How:

1. Pre-heat a coated waffle iron. Combine waffle ingredients in a bowl, whisk until smooth, and add to waffle iron. Ignore the signals from the iron, it will cook much faster because it's egg-based and not flour-based; check every 30 seconds until done. Can also be cooked on a skillet/frying pan as pancakes.

2. Remove waffle from iron, slather with with raspberry jam, top with coconut cream + berries, drizzle with cacao sauce.  

Sugar: about 14g; if chocolate drizzle is eliminated, closer to 10. 

Power foods: cacao, raspberries, chia seeds, coconut oil 

A Realistic, Two-Part, Labor Day Survival Guide

Ahhh…one of my favorite holiday weekends is right around the corner. Once upon a time I used to go off the rails for 72 hours straight, using the holiday as an excuse to stuff as much food as I could into my mouth (and drinking so much that I felt like shit for a week straight). My mindset was stuck in such a bad pattern that I literally pushed myself into extremely unhealthy behavior around food that often spiraled out of control, and a 3 day weekend was just another excuse for it to manifest. The past 10 or so years however, have looked really different than my early (ok, and maybe mid) twenties because of an entirely different mental outlook and a few little tricks. If anything I just said resonates with you at all, have a read - cheers to hoping this helps. 

PS: The photo above is totally a joke...champagne and kale juice sounds like a terrible combination. ;) 

Part One:  Your Attitude Adjustment

I’ll never stop addressing mindset first when it comes to anything wellness-related, because it’s truly the only part of health that requires genuine discipline. You can to control your actions around food and lifestyle as much as you want and fight your brain for the rest of your life, or you can do the work upstairs and watch as the rest of it naturally falls into place. I won’t make you guess which is both easier and more effective (cough, option two), so step one is adjusting the way you look at a long, potentially food and fun filled weekend. 

Here’s where you’re going to begin:

1. Let Go of the Guilt. 

if your Saturday plans include a Labor Day BBQ and you really want a cheeseburger and a couple beers, do it and enjoy it - three day weekends are meant to be celebrated! That doesn’t mean you have to go off the deep end and dip every bite you take between Friday night and Tuesday in Ranch dressing, but it’s ok to enjoy a holiday weekend and not feel like you’ve done something wrong or “blown it.” A negative association with food will stir up a whole lot of crazy behavior around eating and make an effortlessly healthy life impossible, and guilt just reinforces the idea that you’ve done something wrong. Not to mention that it often triggers more emotional eating, which is compacted further when alcohol is involved (I assume most of you will be doing that too this weekend). 

2. The Diet Does NOT Start Monday (err…Tuesday). 

When you give in to the “Diet Starts Tomorrow” mentally, you know deep inside that deprivation is just around the corner - a major cause of for a free-for-all in the days leading up to Monday (or whatever, Tuesday). This can be a real downfall for weekend warriors: you’re super focused on eating well during the week, but by time the weekend rolls around all hell (or some variation of that) breaks loose. 

I’ve actually encouraged many a client to loosen the reigns a bit during the week so that by the time Friday night comes around they aren’t as fixated on “cheat” meals or tired of the grind. When true balance and moderation (as opposed to strict “rules”) are practiced, it takes the power away from those trigger foods and situations.   

I know it’s easy to take comfort in the idea of “starting clean,” but if you’ve ever done that you probably already know that you’re just stepping onto a merry-go-round. Expect much more on this subject coming soon, but for now try and get comfortable with the idea of balance, and acceptance if you go off the rails a little. 

3. So Ditch the “All of Nothing” Mindset. 

This goes back to the aforementioned, but just because you indulge in brunch with your girlfriends doesn’t mean you need to go on a drive-through crawl for the rest of the day. You aren’t going to begin a diet tomorrow (you’re just not) so you don’t need to squeeze in all the food over the next 12 hours. You also didn’t do anything wrong, so you don’t need to eat because you’re upset. Enjoy the brunch, and have a healthier dinner. Go for a long run in the morning, drink Rose on the patio in the afternoon. You get the gist. 

Got it? Now, on to Numero Dos. 

Part 2: Taking Control of Your Weekend

Now it’s time for some of my favorite long weekend tips - a handful of little things you can do that add up to a big, collective impact on your weekend.

1. Be Proactive. 

If you know you’ve got several BBQ’s or parties this weekend and the food offerings won’t be super nutritious, get online and find a healthy makeover of something(s) you love. There are literally thousands of healthy recipes online that are legit just as delicious as the “real” version- no one will even know the difference. I brought a vegan, sugar-free raspberry cheesecake to a dinner last weekend and even the boys ate it. If you really don’t feel like cooking, march into Whole Foods and pick up some pre-prepared sides that look good to you, or order something from a healthy restaurant - put you own spin on this in whichever way works for your lifestyle.  

2. Make Small Healthy Choices.

Remember that lots of little choices can equal big impact: wrap your burger in lettuce, reach for more grilled veggies than potato chips, cut your wine with soda water (insert the emoji that’s rolling it’s eyes here, but I’m kind of serious), load up on sriracha hummus instead of processed mayo-based dips. This is pretty 101 stuff; you get the idea. 

3. Pick and Choose. 

If there’s something you really, really want that doesn’t exactly score a 10 on the nutrient scale, eat it and enjoy - then reference the section above for everything else.  

4. Schedule Some Stuff. 

Don’t let your weekend spiral into one long party. If you know you’ve got a big night out on Saturday, plan something productive during the day. For example- a long run, a hike with friends, log some beach hours with a good book, or run the errands you’ve been putting off for two weeks. Balance that out with the patio wine and parties.  

5. Focus on some of the other aspects of health.  

In my coaching groups (shout out to FitSquad!), we focus on what we call the 7 Pillars of Health: Water, Sleep, Vitamin D, Meditation or “Me Time,” Connecting with Others, Exercise, and Food…and food is not necessarily the most important of the bunch. We tell our crew that if they know they’re going to come up a little short in one area, to focus on the other Pillars because it’s all interrelated. You can splurge a more little on food from time to time if you’re caught up on sleep, have worked out, are drinking plenty of water and are in a happy place because you’ve just spent a day with your family or closest friends. Do what you can with this list, and focus on the wins.  

6. Cocktail -> water -> cocktail -> water. 

Enough said. 

What do you all have planned this weekend?! Anything fun? (<- This right here is a great example of why I'm so bad at online dating). Let's try a different approach: what's your favorite healthy, make-ahead party recipe? Rose is not an applicable answer!  

My Favorite Supplements

I’ve had quite a few questions recently from clients about supplements. I really try hard to get most of my vitamins, minerals, etc from food sources, but there are a few things I supplement daily for various reasons.  Is there actually a way to make a post about supplements entertaining? I can’t think of how to do that, because it’s pretty cut and dry, so let’s get straight to the point. Below is a list of my favorite supplements and why I take them.

What: PROBIOTICS

Why:  If I could only choose one supplement to take every day, it would be a high quality probiotic. You can get a lot of good probiotics from eating fermented foods, but because realistically, I just don’t eat kimchi or kefir every day, I choose to supplement. 

Gut health is one of my very favorite areas of research (expect a full post on this soon). I’ve worked with quite a few clients who suffered from severe digestive issues, ranging from IBS to chronic heartburn and everything in between, and I’ve taken a pretty dive into this over the past few years. Restoring the gut can be life altering for some people, and I’ve seen it happen firsthand plenty of times.  

Over 70% of the immune system is comprised in the gut, so keeping it healthy and balanced is critical to fighting disease and infection. it also promotes normal GI function, helps regulate metabolism, and can keep your mood upbeat! Something a lot of people don’t know is thatat least 80% of your serotonin, the neurotransmitter that keeps you feeling happy, is manufactured in the digestive tract. The condition of your gut can have a profound impact on your overall health, so taking a good probiotic is a really easy way to add good bacteria into the digestive tract.

How: I take three Garden of Eden Primal Defense capsules a day on an empty stomach, and I use a probiotic with a 5 billion CFU count, which stands for Colony Forming Units. Sounds like a big ass number, but basically quantifies the number of bacteria in each capsule - 5B is pretty low as CFU count goes but I’ve got a strong stomach and a healthy gut, so it’s enough for me, although I have some of my clients take a higher count. 

What: COD LIVER OIL

Why: Yum, right? But seriously, cod liver oil is one of the most concentrated sources of Omega 3 and a rare food-based source of Vitamin D (see Vitamin D, below). Many people don’t get enough Omega 3, a fatty acid that plays a critical role in cardiovascular, immune, hormonal, reproductive, and neurological health and also reduces chronic inflammationThe list of benefits of Omega 3 is lonnnng - but some highlights are that it can help lower bad cholesterol, lower the risk of autoimmune disorders, fight inflammation, and even help regulate mood. Yes please. 

How: I take two capsules of Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil a day. Tastes like fish, but it’s a small price to pay. 

What: COLLAGEN POWDER

Why: Collagen is a protein made of animo acids found in the skin, and it’s super buzzy in the wellness industry right now as a supplement for being pretty. While one double blind, placebo controlled study showed that it may be beneficial to skin elasticity, the jury is still out on how effective it actually is. I’m generally not a huge fan of trendy health products (or anything promoted on the Dr Oz show), but despite being marketed as a beauty product, there have been some claims that it can help with joint pain, something I deal with from years of dance, running, and other high impact activity, so I’m giving it a shot. 

How: Once scoop of Reservage Collagen Replenish Powder with Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin C, in liquid (usually my coffee!), once a day. 

What: VITAMIND D3

Why: Vitamin D has traditionally been a somewhat overlooked compared to it's vitamin siblings, but more and more research is coming out pointing to the incredible benefits of the D (get your mind out of the gutter). It's responsible for calcium absorption, lowering blood pressure, fighting against diabetes, and can be a potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth, but most people are deficient as it’s not easily found in food. While fatty fish, egg yolk and raw milk contain a little bit of the ‘D, it mostly comes from sun exposure, which prompts our bodes to produce it. That said, I’m extra low in D3 regardless of sun exposure, so I supplement it daily (+ skin cancer runs in my family so I keep my white-ass self out of the sun as much as possible). 

How: Carlson Labs Vitamin D3, 1/day. 

What: MAGNESIUM CHELATE

Why: Because it's amazing if you need to chill out. But also, Magnesium is critical to overall health yet one of the most prevalent deficiencies among American adults. Low magnesium can lead to a bunch of gnarly issues such as poor digestion, poor muscle absorption, nerve problems, poor kidney function, muscles spasms, even irregular heartbeat. Taking it can help reduce anxiety, and it will help you sleep like a baby! It makes me really sleepy and relaxed - I traded in my pot for magnesium years ago and haven’t looked back. (Note: magnesium is also really well absorbed through the skin, so if you have time for an Epson salt bath, light some candles and go for it) 

How: I use Source Naturals, 2/ pills with food, almost always before bed. 

Note: While I am a certified nutritionist, I’m not a medical practitioner. If you feel like you may need additional supplements, I always suggest doing lab work and complimenting it with a holistic practitioner or a doctor of functional medicine. This is just my own list based on my own personal needs - we are all biologically different so what is important for me might be different for you!

Emotional Eating 101

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, there are a handful of obstacles that can stand in the way of reaching goals. For example, basic factors like not having time to plan meals, not understanding what healthy meals look like, drinking/being hungover a little too often, frequent work travel or entertaining - things of that nature. However, the most constant issue I run into with clients is something that I bet in some way, will resonate with you: emotional eating. 

What always gets me with my own clients is the fact that roughly 99% of them initially claim that emotional eating “isn’t really something they do.” And I’m always all like “Oh ok cool, alright we’ll revisit this later.”  I totally understand this reaction though; It’s an uncomfortable topic for most people because of the misconception that it shows a lack of self control and often results in shame. However, it’s important to realize that emotional eating and self-control have no relation. Here are the two things to understand instead: 

  1. Emotional eating is a learned behavior that’s been hard-wired into your brain, literally from birth, as a mechanism to offer momentary relief from discomfort. 
  2. Emotional eating is usually a signal that something in your life needs a little TLC. 

Let me repeat: there’s no correlation between emotional eating and self control. 

To be clear, emotional eating is the use of food to regulate feelings, and most people do it to a certain extent. Going back to #1 (above), feelings and food have gone hand in hand, probably since before you even remember. Think about your own childhood. Food was used to soothe and reward since you from infancy. You've probably been handed a lollipop after toughing out a doctors visit, or taken to Baskin Robbins after falling off your bike and skinning your knee. Maybe food was often used reinforce positive behavior or celebrate: A on your math test, pizza for dinner (I actually think I got pizza for just passing math). Finish your chores for a week, pick something out of the candy jar. Lose a tooth, wake up with a Taco Bell burrito under your pillow…maybe that was just me. 

Unfortunately, childhood associations tend to sneakily follow us into adulthood without us even realizing it, so food to “fix” a feeling is a deeply rooted reaction. We feel discomfort and our subconscious mind assures us that a scoop (or carton) of ice cream is a quick way to distract from said discomfort. I’m not just trying to save your feelings, it’s actually critical to realize this because holding on to shame that can come after emotional eating, can trigger more emotional eating and/or binge eating, and that’s when you start running into bigger problems.

(Sidenote: while emotional eating and binge eating can have some overlap, these are two different issues. More soon on that.) 

Here’s some news though: you’re a grown up now. You have a drivers license, a job, perhaps a spouse and/or kids - like, you’re a real, functioning adult. It’s time to start processing your feelings, because you aren’t 8 years old and you have the capacity for this. You can actually thank emotional eating for showing you any potential red flags, because I promise you that when you bury your feelings, they’ll end up manifesting themselves in some very weird, sometimes messed up ways - often much worse than running to the fridge every time your boss is being a dick.

So say a silent thank you for this little blessing in disguise, and read on. Here’s how you begin to handle emotional eating, level 101:    

Feel Your Feelings

The next time you find yourself with your head in the fridge despite having eaten lunch an hour prior, take a quick pause and count to 30. Try and ID the specific feeling(s) that sent you hightailing toward the kitchen: are you stressed about something? Frustrated/ angry/ sad/ bored? Maybe you’re procrastinating- whats the feeling that the task you’re putting off evokes? Take a few minutes to really be in it, even if it’s uncomfortable. You can still eat whatever you were planning to eat, but promise me for now that you’ll commit to taking a moment to to tap in to those feels. 

Try to Understand the Cause

Now that you’re tuned in to what’s going on upstairs, get real about where these feelings are coming from, and why. Maybe you’re frustrated with a friend’s behavior, or you’re feeling overwhelmed by a massive to-do list at work. There’s something that’s got you wanting a quick distraction; take the time to figure out why you’re feeling a certain way. 

Sometimes the answer isn’t obvious; I’ll use myself as an example here in that I tend to eat when I’m bored. At first I thought this was just a mindless action and unrelated to emotion, but in doing my own self-reflection work I realized that boredom triggers other emotions. Story time: I went through a period in my early 20’s where I slacked off a lot (like, a lot) because I hated my job. Said job also happened to come with a lot of freedom because my boss lived in another state and I didn’t have sales quota (terrible idea) - which equated to a lot of days spent drinking by the pool and lying to my boss, which eventually led to getting caught and fired, which led to a lot of guilt and shame. 

Luckily, I pulled my act together and today I love what I do. I throw my heart and soul into producing work that I’m proud of, and I wouldn’t be caught dead lying. But, downtime can trigger those old feelings…which I have definitely masked with a big spoon of almond butter rolled in chocolate chips (so good though). Understanding the root and doing the work to reset my mindset and forgiving myself has really helped change my behavior. Get what I’m saying? Don’t be afraid to go deep. 

Look for patterns

Fact: sometimes, you’re going to be pissed of and the only thing thats going to fix it is a burger and fries. Do it, enjoy it, move on. But if emotional eating comes up often enough that its compromising your efforts to improve your health or causing you real distress, start paying attention to your triggers. You’ll want to address those soon; for now, just tune in. This is just a crash course - we’ll get to the good stuff soon enough. 

Take Appropriate Action

There are so many ways to process feelings, but here are some preliminary suggestions: 

Writing: I used to think writing was helpful to me specifically because I’ve always had an easier time articulating my thoughts on paper than I do out loud, so I didn’t recommend it to clients very often. It turns out though, that writing through your feelings can be incredibly therapeutic for many. Try journaling your feelings without overthinking it -j just let the thoughts flow. You might be surprised what you discover. 

Meditation: This is some life-changing stuff. While my regular meditation practice can last anywhere from 20-50 minutes at a time, I rely on short meditations any time I need to mentally reset (this includes when I start to feel overwhelemed, anxious, stressed, or frustrated). Simply closing your eyes and quieting the mind for a few minutes can be extremely effective and can be done from just about anywhere. If you’re a newbie, no worries! There are dozens of short, free guided meditations online, or even subscription based models such as Headspace. More on this soon. 

Seek outside help: I f’ing love therapy. When my parents split up, they sent me to a therapist because I think they were concerned that they ruined my life. I got to dig in a sandbox, do arts and crafts, and talk to a stranger about my feelings and I’ve been a fan ever since. A good therapist will help you understand where certain emotions are coming from and give you tools to process them in a healthy way. 

Be Gentle

Show yourself love and compassion. Know that changing behavior doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t change from reading a blog post. It’s a long process, and beating yourself up every time you slip is only going to make it worse. Love yourself regardless, accept where your at, and when it happens, treat yourself with kindness. 

Questions? Comments? Just ask - I’m an open book. 

 

Vegan Coffee + Dark Chocolate + Raw Almond Ice Cream

Hi guys, happy Friday!

Let's get straight to business here. If you know me personally, you know I'm not a "perfect" eater. There are people who can live their entire lives without a single bite of sugar or bread or pizza, and if that's how you roll, I think you're weird. Just kidding (kinda?) - what I meant to say was, power to you. But personally, the second I decide it's time to "give something up," I become fixated on it. I'm pretty sure most people are this way, as it's human nature to think about the things you can't have, and it's why I don't let my coaching clients diet. 

That all said, I have a confession to make. Sometime many moons ago, I developed a real addiction to frozen yogurt. We aren't talking some fancy healthy froyo made from the milk of grass-fed cows topped with raw walnuts and date caramel - we're talking those franchise-y kind of operations where the containers only come in size XL, allowing plenty of space for you to shovel on toppings like a 12 year old boy (<- not speaking from experience or anything). Periodically, I find myself in a phase where I must have this multiple days a week.

Now, there are some "imperfect" foods that I think are fine to have a little of somewhat regularly, if it helps to curb a craving of if it's just your thing. You know, like dark chocolate, a spoonful or two of peanut butter, maybe both at once. Frozen yogurt, on the other hand, is crap. I finally broke down the other day and Googled the ingredients, and was horrified to find a checklist of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and corn syrup...I already knew it was like that, but seeing it in words made it real. I also realized that I can't give my mom shit for drinking Diet Cokes if I'm basically eating a variation of it on the regular. 

So I made myself a deal: If I found myself wanting it, I'd get a scoop of high quality ice cream (like with legit ingredients and the grass-fed-cow-milk) instead. Turns out that this was the perfect catalyst to stop with the nasty ass froyo, because the minute I shift into ice cream mode, 9x out of 10 I don't really want it anymore. But on that 1x occasion that I do want something sweet, I've taken to making my own ice cream because I can make exactly what I want, and I know exactly what's going in there. 

I'm pretty much an equal opportunity employer when it comes to flavors, but I made a coffee/dark chocolate/raw almond combo last week that was a real home run. It happens to be vegan, and refined sugar free, and damn good if I don't say so myself. Because it's vegan, you don't have to cook it first, and you can make this with or without an ice cream maker, so give this a whirl and let me know what you think! 

    

Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1 14 oz can coconut cream 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1/3 cup coconut or date sugar (or less, depending on preference) 
  • 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee (I use Squrrl Cold Brew) 
  • 1/4 c raw chopped almonds
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • pinch of Himalayan salt 

Directions:

1. Blend everything until smooth, except the almonds and choc chips in a glass bowl, and let set in fridge 8 hours 

2. Add in chocolate chips and nuts, and make according to ice cream maker manufacturer directions.

OR

2. Add in chocolate chips and nuts, and transfer mixture into a parchment lined metal pan or glass bowl, and cover with foil. Stick it in the freezer, and give it a good stir ever 30 minutes or so to prevent ice crystals from forming. The goal here is to stir it enough that it stays creamy and not lumpy. It will take 2-3 hours to become solid.

Hint: I'm pretty into using Chocolate Magic Shell instead of chocolate chips, the texture is so good! Mix 2 tbsp melted coconut oil with 1/2-1 tbsp cacao powder and 1 tbsp pure maple syrup. If using an ice cream maker, pour this in as it's churning, or just pour it on top!

 

 

 

Step One.

I literally spent months hemming and hawing over what to say when I re-launched my blog, painstakingly trying to craft the perfect post, because I wanted it to be impactful enough that you might actually come back. I thought that when I finally pulled the trigger, that writing everything else would be a piece of cake.  

Incidentally, I just spent the past hour of my life scrolling through Instagram while the screensaver flashed across the monitor of my untouched computer (yes, I have one of those and yes, when something scares me, my general reaction is to procrastinate). The idea of jumping right into this topic felt heavy, un-fun, and struck me as slightly uncomfortable to read, but here's the deal - I firmly believe that without this foundation, radical, long term change to your health and happiness is impossible. Also, I promise that if you read all of it, my next post will be a recipe for this really amazing healthy coffee/ fudge/ raw almond ice cream I made the other day. So here we go.

The following are 3 truths that I tell each of my coaching clients when we first start working together: 

 

  1. There are a lot of things that may potentially sabotage efforts to make changes to your health. 
  2. There are quite a few things that will more than likely sabotage said efforts. 
  3. Then there are a couple of things that will make it very near impossible to make real, long term change, and the most important of all of them is this:

If you’re going to lose weight, improve your health, or make any lasting lifestyle change, you must learn to fully love yourself, body included, exactly where you’re at and throughout the entire journey. 

Most of us looking to lose weight or make other big changes have the mindset that once we hit that goal, we'll be happy, we'll be able love ourselves more.  If you stop reading my blog forever after this, please take away just one thought: It's the reverse of this that actually holds truth. 

it doesn’t matter if you weigh 600 pounds and need a crane to lift your ass out of bed each morning. I’m going to repeat this because it’s so important: you must be able to look in the mirror and love what you see, because if you don’t, you’re constantly fighting your own efforts. When was the last time you treated something you despised, with love and compassion? If you’re trying to make positive changes to yourself, it’s critical that you treat yourself accordingly, and love is something that you simply can’t fake.    

As someone who hated my own body for years of my life, I know that you don't just wake up one morning totally in love with yourself. It's a long process but it's the most important process you'll ever go though. This is just a start, but below are some of the practices that have worked for both myself and later, my coaching clients - resulting in a rock-solid foundation when it comes time to start making changes. 

Be cognizant of messaging. 

Have you ever actually given any thought as to why we, as women (and more frequently, men too) constantly beat ourselves up over the way we look? I have, and I’ve researched it extensively. Here’s the Cliffs Notes: We live in a society where our outward appearance is given a tremendous amount of weight in defining who we are as humans. You’ve been exposed to this from a very young age, so it's likely rooted deeply in your subconscious. You can’t escape the “perfect” woman: she’s in movies, on TV, on billboards, in magazines, in advertising. You’re literally surrounded in images and messaging telling you on a subliminal level that to be perceived as sexy (read: worthy, desirable, lovable), you must hold a certain set of aesthetic qualities. Qualities that these women themselves don’t even possess because they’re heavily photoshopped and edited (yes, on TV too). The result is generations of women -and more increasingly men- who look in the mirror each day and feel like they aren’t enough. Not sexy enough, not desirable enough, not worthy enough. Excuse my French but F that. We’ll come back to this in a future post but for now, just start paying attention to it.  

Get clear on your why.

If you’re just in it to look pretty (eg, strictly weight loss as an end goal), I gots news for ya - it’s not enough for long term change. We humans like pretty but what we really crave is connection, experience, and a rich, fulfilling life. The human experience is not about being pretty; It’s about being strong enough to chase our kids, to have enough focus to produce work we are proud of, enough energy to enjoy every moment of the day, and to vibe at the highest level possible so we can lead epic f’ing lives. Optimal health is a catalyst for all of those things. Is it ok to want to feel pretty? Of course. Is that the roadmap to changes that last? Highly unlikely. If you’re stuck on your Why, I have a kick-ass exercise I recommend to all of my own coaching clients, and it helped me get crystal clear on my own Why. Happy to share. 

Every day, write down 10 things you love about yourself, and 10 things you love about your body.

Ooh. This was so hard for me at first. After I got divorced, I dedicated an entire 18 months to falling in love with myself, and I started here. Real talk: it took discipline, but the results were 100% worth it - I am hands down, the happiest I have ever been. This was the practice I used to get clear on who I was, what I loved about myself, and why I was not just enough, but why I am amazing. There will be days you might not be able to hit 10 in each category easily, so it’s ok to repeat the same 10 things. (Hint: if you’re feeling stuck, ask a close friend or significant other what your best qualities are. Feels awkward AF, do it anyway).  

Look yourself in the eyes (in the mirror) each day, and tell yourself that you are enough.

Now that you’ve identified the things about you that are awesome, you can do this with conviction. Feel like 10 great qualities don’t make you enough? You’re a perfectionist, and it’s time to let go of the idea that you need to be perfect. Perfect isn’t just boring, it’s impossible. Anyway - do this, commit to it. Spend the discipline you once used to white knuckle your way through the Atkins diet, on this exercise instead. Why? Because when you truly love yourself, you'll treat your body accordingly. Not the other way around. 

PS: To accelerate the process: do this nekkid.  Whole new level of vulnerability, insanely effective. 

Stop calling yourself fat.

Seriously, just stop. Because:

1. You may very well may be offending people who are larger than you or perceive themselves to be larger than you.  

2. By complaining about being fat to others, you’re making it ok for them to do the same.  

3. You internalize the things you say out loud, and the things you think acutely influence the way you behave. Want to struggle with letting go of weight? Keep calling yourself fat. More on that soon. 

Be aware of who you surround yourself with.

Do your friends care more about the way they look, or the qualities they actually bring to the table in life? Sure, we’re all drawn to aesthetically pleasing things, so we’re probably going to talk about makeup and shoes and shit like that sometimes because it’s fun. But be aware of fat shaming, self-trash-talking, and obsessive body talk. If you’re surrounded in people who are constantly bashing other people’s bodies or their own, heed my warning: It’s going to rub off on you. 

Stop Comparing

It just so happens that two of my favorite quotes are about this very subject:

“Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.” 

Duh.  

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”

It really is. I have some really, really beautiful friends. If I sat around wishing I had Karie’s boobs and Natalie’s abs and Erin’s ass and Lisa’s hair, all of my own great qualities would be totally lost on myself. And if I ever said those things out loud to someone, they would tell me to STFU. 

There’s a misconception that getting healthy and losing weight takes discipline, but if that’s your current mindset, I'm going to give it to you straight: you’re focus is misplaced. Start re-directing that discipline toward self love, and it will make the steps toward improving your health infinitely easier. I've been there, so know that the idea of putting these into practice sounds uncomfortable, but trust me when I say they will not only change your outlook on health and your ability to improve it, but they’ll also change your life. 

Love you! 

Meg  

An Announcement

Hi, to my dearest, dearest readers!

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, that I forgot how much I hate trying to open these. Am I supposed to say hi? Dive right in? Come up with something clever or catchy? Yeah see, I don’t know, but here I am. I guess we'll start with, holy crap that's a huge picture of me. 

I know I’ve been off the grid for a minute (ok, for like, 7 months), but trust me, I missed you. Here’s an update re: what’s going on. In three words, I’ve been busy. Like really, really busy. On one hand, I'm extremely grateful to be working with so many amazing health and nutrition clients one-on-one, teaching fitness, even working on a few exciting side projects (in addition to my 9-5, which I also happen to love). On the other hand, I genuinely didn’t expect to have so many opportunities so quickly, and learning to juggle it all has been a work in progress to say the least. A few things had to go on the back burner, blog included. 

So it was only natural (sarcasm) that a few months ago I started to hear a nagging little voice in my head. Does that ever happen to you?  I hope so, but regardless - said voice began telling me to write again. At first, I was all like, are you &$^&^# insane?  But right away, things got weird: people immediately began reaching out to me. I got random mentions of/ questions about Legwarmer Nation. I had several people ask when I was going to start blogging again. One person even told me to write a book (what? Lol). I’m not making this shit up, and it was weird. 

I don’t know about you, but I take signs seriously.  I also firmly believe that you make the time for the things you love, and blogging very much fell under that category. I loved the support and seeing my recipes in action but mostly I loved the knowledge that it resonated with at least a handful of you and that we all struggle with the same things. After it fizzled away I was too busy to think much about it, but around 6 months ago I began to realize that I really, really missed it.

Oh and I should mention there's a bigger reason I’ve been dragging my feet: I was completely, utterly, overwhelmed with fear.  There are so many people out there doing an incredible job of providing content about superfoods, food combining, whatever the new Kale is, building perfect smoothies, and all the other general information about wellness that makes my Instagram feed so pretty. Who was I to try and add to that? After a lot of thought, I uncovered the answer. I wasn’t. At least not entirely...because while I love that stuff, it's not my passion.  

Now that I have my Integrative Nutrition/ Holistic Coaching (and a Spirit Junkie Master classes, woop!) certs and experience under my belt, I feel like I know even more about health, but I also feel like I know even more about health. 

As a coach, I've learned first hand that many people loosely have a good idea of how to be healthy: eat your broccoli, keep sugar and processed foods out of your kitchen, mix up your workouts. Blah blah. But many of those people have a really, really difficult time turning that knowledge into a sustainable lifestyle and an even harder time feeling comfortable in their own skin.  

After a few years of working with people in groups and one on one, I understand why.

They way we handle what goes into our bodies and the way we react to it is a direct reflection of what’s going on upstairs. Health begins as a mental game. Our limiting beliefs, our attitude, our experiences with food, our self perception - all of that matters, and it matters a lot. The way we react to stress and sadness and guilt, perceived lack of time or money, our willingness to feel, the amount of connection we have with others and the degree to which we accept and love ourselves. You know that feeling when you just swallowed 5 average-tasting cookies whole like a snake,  just because they were there? The feeling you get when you look in the mirror and hate your body, so you order a pizza? The guilt you feel when you eat something "imperfect?" It’s because of factors like that. It’s the reason that 99% dieters fall off the wagon at some point. But does anyone actually want to hear about that? That's where the fear kicked in.

Pitaya bowls aside, health is a surprisingly intricate topic, and for that reason it’s something I’ve been afraid of taking on since that voice popped into my head.

But this is the part of health I feel most passionate about. The Mind Body connection. The why. The juicy, sometimes difficult stuff.

So screw it, I’m going to do my best to tackle it coherently and if I can reach just one person, it’ll be worth it.

Guys, I’m going to start blogging again (slow clap - humor me here). 

We won’t call it Legwarmer Nation this time around, but we’ll be LWN in spirit. We'll definitely still chat about things like Float tanks and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Pops (because that's fun AF), but we'll also get a little deeper, into the heart of it all. 

So if you were reading LWN or even my coaching blog (<- yawn) before and got anything at all out of it - know you’re the reason I’m committing to starting this puppy back up. Thank you and love you and we’ll chat more soon! 

XOXO

Meg

PS!  If you have anything in particular you want me to write about, send me a message here or on my Facebook or Insta! I want to know what you want to know - I’m all ears. 

My Top 10 Favorite Wellness Trends in 2015

As the year draws to a close, I am filled with gratitude as I reflect back on what has been the most challenging, but hands down the most incredible year of my life. Realizing and pursuing my passion in the midst of what might have otherwise been a tough year (divorce, downsizing, and a handful of other wake-up calls that I won’t bore you with) has left my heart fuller than I even knew possible, so if you’re reading this, thank you – for stopping by, for supporting me, and for being curious. You have impacted me, and I hope than in some little way, I’ve been able to return the favor.

Sentimental stuff out of the way, I always think it’s a fun idea to look back and take a quick year-in-review as the ball begins to drop. As a person who subscribes to more health websites and blogs than I care to count, I've certainly gotten my fill on the top health-trends-in review of 2015…and they’ve ranged from sound baths, to activated charcoal, to cricket (yes, the insect) protein powder. So in keeping with the theme of this blog, I thought I’d share my own favorite health trends of 2015, the movements that I personally believe have the most impact on overall health, not just passing fads. Below is my own personal short list, and if I were going to suggest jumping on a bandwagon of sorts, these would be the ones I most encourage you to welcome with open arms.  

1. The Anti-Diet And all this time, I thought Rachele Jaegers and I had pioneered this concept (kidding…but pleased to be on the forefront nonetheless)!  Still, I couldn’t be more thrilled to witness firsthand that the notion that dieting does in fact, suck a little, has begin to go more and more mainstream. Even major weight loss brands have started to adapt – Weight Watchers launched a campaign this year called Beyond the Scale, which brings focus to other elements of a healthy lifestyle for the sake of feeling good, over weight loss.

 

2. The “Gourmetization” of Health Food. It used to be that "healthy eating” was synonymous with carrot sticks, fat-free microwave meals, and iceberg salads topped with diet dressing. Today, you can easily reconcile being a foodie with a healthy lifestyle: there are countless high quality, nutrient-heavy versions of just about any previously “naughty” food under the sun out there…and plenty of truly gourmet versions at that! Restaurants using high quality, fresh ingredients are beginning to go mainstream, even fast food is having a moment: two ex- McDonalds execs founded Lyfe Kitchen, a healthy, affordable take on fast food that is set to open 250 more locations over the next 5 years, and local chains such as Lemonade are beginning to pop up all over California. While many of these types of restuarants mostly prevalent in major cities at the moment, the trend should eventually trickle down to smaller towns.

mindful.jpg

 

3. Mindfulness. Recently, I walked into a group meditation studio and the first thing I noticed (aside from the fact that cell phones were collected at the door), was the incredible variety of people waiting in the lobby for the next session to begin. Men in expensive business suits. A group of female friends who seemed to be in their 70’s.  A 20-something guy with a Mohawk. I’m not making this up.

I know this is a buzzy word right now, and as a skeptic of anything trendy myself, I understand how easy it is to write off things that sound hippy-dippy or just generally vague. But I’m telling you, mindfulness is the real deal. Defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations,” the idea of mindfulness is incredibly important, as we live in a society of sound bites, instant everything, and constant distraction. We are arguably busier than ever, cramming more into 24 hours than generations preceding us. Slowing down to take a moment to get in touch with our current feelings, live the present moment, and setting intention, teaches us how to savor those moments without getting lost in the day to day chaos. Meditation has become more mainstream, with apps such as Digipill and Headspace offering 5-20 minute guided mediations, dedicated meditation studios, and the idea of finding your Zen, whether that be through prayer, nature, music, meditation, cooking – whatever allows you to really be in the moment, sans distractions.

group.jpg

4. The Continued Growth of Group Fitness Call it the SoulCycle effect. Say what you may about the indoor cycling giant, but there is no doubt that the community-focused, teamwork-oriented, studio has been at least a partial catalyst for the explosive growth in group fitness. Group-focused classes and studios began exploding onto the scene a few years ago, and 2015 was no exception. Barre, Pilates, yoga, zumba, circuit training, and indoor cycling have been big players for a while now, but studios are getting even more creative, introducing classes where you can climb, row, shadow box, and scale areal silks. The options are limitless and they come at a variety of price points - even box gyms are beefing up their group fitness programs. (I recently read an article about companies that entertain clients with spin classes rather than via happy hour!) What I love about group fitness is that fact that for many people, group fitness has become a social outlet in addition to just a workout. Not only can it replace a percentage of less healthy social outings (I cut my happy hours down drastically when my friends and I all began working out at the same Pilates studio years ago), but when something feels like fun as opposed to a chore, it can be much easier to endure. Enjoyable, even. Plus, there’s the support factor: many studies show that people who work out with a buddy (or class full of buddies – these classes are natural communities), are more apt to stick with it. Wins, all around. 

5. Holistic Health The idea that health goes beyond food has made its way into many a wellness article this year, and while as a Holistic Health practitioner I may be slightly biased, I must admit that it makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Leading experts and pioneers alike are beginning to recognize that while many people know how to eat, or at least have a general idea, that there are literally dozens (hundreds?) of other factors that influence our behavior and overall health. While the term “Holistic Wellness” was misunderstood for years – most people simply associated it with an all-natural, even “hippy” lifestyle, the actual definition of holistic health is looking at health from the standpoint that the body and mind function as a whole: as integrated systems rather than as segregated parts. Understanding why we eat what we eat, the effect of stress or lack of sleep on overall wellness, and the mind body connection all fall under the holistic umbrella, and these are all such crucial elements when you really consider the fact that health goes far beyond what we look like. Which leads me to…

6. Feel Good Health A huge trend in 2015 was the continued focus on the importance of eating well, working out, and practicing other healthy habits to feel good, rather than simply looking good. As a nutrition coach, I can speak firsthand to tell you that increased energy and generally feeling better has been entirely more motivating to my clients than fitting into their skinny jeans. Coming back to that Holistic word again, when you physically feel good, you benefit tenfold. You have the energy to exercise. The temptation to snack mindlessly diminishes. I could easily come up with more examples, but you get the idea.

7. Bio-Individuality While there are still a half dozen best selling diets on the NYT Best Seller List at any given time, the concept of a single, superior dietary theory lost more and more steam last year as we began to embrace the idea that we are each genetically unique. The idea that what fuels one body to peak performance might be poison to another has been the catalyst allowing veganism and the Caveman diet to peacefully co-exist, and carefully paying attention to our own bodies reaction to certain foods (mindfulness, if you will) has started become more of the go-to than blindly some author's word that his or her solution is the only solution, a trend that I hope to see gain even more traction in 2016.

8. The Rise of the Health Coach Again, I’m probably a little biased here. But admittedly, I too was skeptical of this idea as I waffled around, trying to decide what route I wanted to take when I made the decision to enter the health and wellness field. Ultimately, the idea of having a liaison between doctors and registered dieticians, and the end user appealed to me greatly. As someone who has known how to eat since I was 13 years old, but could never figure out what was keeping me from being able to do so until my late 20’s, the idea of helping people target their own obstacles and effectively integrate health in a diet-free manner made perfect sense. Most people can Google how to be healthy and get a general (if overwhelming) idea about how to proceed, yet according to the CDC, obesity rates are at an all-time high, with 66% of adults being overweight.  Health coaches bridge the gap between knowing what to do, and knowing how and why to do it, and they are being hired by doctors, RD’s, chiropractors, personal trainers, even in the workplace. (See below!) 

healthy office .png

9. Increased Corporate Support More and more companies have begun to connect the dots between healthy employees and their bottom line, and are actively stepping in to support them. According to a RAND study, about half of US companies use a corporate wellness program of some sort, and the corporate wellness industry is growing at about 5% year over year. In some industries, employers take this a step further, offering free or discounted gym memberships, onsite training, and reward employees for making healthy choices. If you’re lucky enough to work for one of the Healthiest Companies in America, you might even enjoy perks like in-house farmers markets, subsidized bike to work programs, “green” dining options, an on-campus spa (!), and more. Being that most of us spend more time in the office than we do at home, promoting a healthy lifestyle at work is sure to show payoffs.

10. Athleisure Did you really think I was going to forget my beloved yoga pants? As someone who wholeheartedly embraced leggings in the 80’s (so what if I was 8?!) and supported Spandex well past the point of it being cool, I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of sporting yoga pants as daytime wear. If I can throw a cable knit sweater over a pair of black WunderUnders with a pair of boots for work, I am so game. And I’m not alone here: athleisure (look it up – it’s in the dictionary) is a 68 Billion dollar a year industry. The range of affordability runs the spectrum: C9 for Target and the Forever21 activewear pieces are super cute and very affordable, and designers including Tori Burch and Mara Hoffman are launching their own athletic lines as you read this (hint: Carbon38.com does 30%-50% off already-reduced sale items several times a year, allowing you to score designer pieces for as low as $20).

Wishing each of you a very happy, very healthy, and mindful (<- had to) 2016!

With so much love,

Meg