8 Tips to Help Yourself Eat Better During the Week

We are busy people and not enough of us make the time to take care of our health. Eating well is much easier when we plan ahead, and even easier when we get other people involved.  When we designate one day for food prep, we allow ourselves more time during the week to rest, relax, and enjoy our pre-prepped food.  I recommend Sunday as the day for cooking and preparation.  This way, when our lives our full of stress and things to do, we have pre-prepped meals to look forward to.

Top tips for eating better during the week:

1. Make a batch of your favorite whole grains 

Whole grains can be very versatile.  I love to cook a big thing of rice or quinoa that’ll last me through the week. For breakfast I personally love putting eggs over rice with avocado and hot sauce, and then for other meals top the rice with vegetables or other forms of protein.  Fried rice is an easy enough recipe that’s always a favorite.  For more information and a list of all whole grains, click here.

2. Designate one day for prepping

As mentioned above, one of the most useful tips I have is to prep ahead of time. On your designated prep day, slice all your veggies, cook your whole grains, and soak your beans.  This saves time and makes eating healthy more realistic.

3.  Cook once, eat twice (or more!)

Prepare enough food while cooking to have leftovers.  Take advantage of the time you have to cook, because it can be hard to guarantee you’ll have time or even want to cook the rest of the week.

4. Keep a food journal

It’s easy to forget the meals we eat.  If your goal is to lose weight or discover what foods work best for your body, I always advise my clients to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal not only helps us track what we eat eat and our portion sizes, but we can note things we are feeling emotionally or physically when we eat or after we eat. Identifying our emotions or even things we are feeling physically from eating helps us pinpoint food intolerances or allergies, and can even answer questions about other physical ailments.

From my own experience, it wasn’t until I started noting how I felt physically and emotionally after I ate processed foods and sugar that I was able to solve feelings of anxiety and depression. I realized those foods made me physically sick to my stomach, and I was also experiencing high levels of serotonin while eating the food, and suffering from low dopamine levels after the sugar high wore off.  Most of us probably aren’t conscious of these things as we’re eating and going about our lives, but once we stop and think about it, we may discover things we didn’t realize about our bodies.

6. Cook at home

I love going out to eat.  It’s convenient, there are lots of options, and the food tastes pretty good, but why not save some money and calories by cooking yourself?  When we eat out, there’s no way of controlling what exactly goes into our food.  I enjoy cooking because I know exactly where my food comes from, I have control over what I put in my food, and I get to pick what I want to eat.  Aim to eat at least two homemade meals a day, then work toward three meals at home a day.

7. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to eat well during the week if we take some time to plan meals ahead of time.  Make a grocery list and write out what you plan to eat every day. There’s no need to get fancy.  If you like having oatmeal for breakfast every morning and vegetable stir fry for dinner, then go for it!

8. Add in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains

By adding in more vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains to our diet, we can naturally crowd out unhealthier foods and prevent unhealthy food cravings.  When we fill up on foods that nourish our body, we become more satisfied quicker, so we’re less likely to go for the desserts or snacks after we eat.

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Pay me a visit at www.jkhealthcoach.com to learn more about how working with a health coach can benefit you and the ones you love!

Zucchini Fritters

Looking for a fast, delicious way to prepare zucchini?  Then try some zucchini fritters!

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All you need is a skillet, a clean dish towel or cheese cloth, a food processor or box grater.  There aren’t too many ingredients, so this can definitely be a budget-friendly meal.

Serves 1-2 people

Ingredients:

-2 medium-sized zucchini, grated (using box grater or a food processor)

-1/4 cup flour (use coconut flour for a gluten-free version)

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

-1 large egg, beaten

-salt and pepper

-2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Optional:

-1-2 avocado

-hot sauce

Instructions

1. Place grated zucchini in a colander over the sink. Add salt and gently toss to combine; let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Using a clean dish towel or cheese cloth, drain zucchini completely.

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Squeeze cloth to remove excess water from the zucchini.

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Come on, SQUEEZE!  (Look at that concentration!)

3. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, flour, Parmesan, garlic and egg; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Scoop tablespoons of batter for each fritter, flattening with a spatula, and cook until the underside is nicely golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side, about 1-2 minutes longer.

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5. Smash the avocado in a bowl using a mallet or spoon.  Scoop the avocado onto the zucchini fritters and add hot sauce to your liking.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Original Recipe: damndelicious.net

The James Bond Shower

James Bond always ended his showers by turning the temperature down to freezing cold.  It may not sound super enticing at first, but cold showers have several health benefits.  Next time you’re showering try even turning the water to freezing cold for the last few seconds of your shower.  I know, you’re probably shivering just thinking about it (especially those of you on the East Coast right now), but cold showers actually have several health benefits.  Personally, I find the cold water to be extremely refreshing, even if it’s cold outside.  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourselves!  Here are some reasons why you should try this:

1. Wake yourself up-   Cold showers increase alertness.  When that cold water hits us, we begin to increase our oxygen intake, which speeds up our heart rate and releases a rush of blood throughout our bodies.  As a result, we gain more energy to help get us through our days.

2.  Beautify your hair and skin- I love natural beauty secrets, so I’m going to share this one with you: Cold water is excellent for maintaining healthy skin and beautiful hair.  Hot water dries our skin out and strips our skin of its healthy natural oils.  Cold water will firm your cuticles and pores and will close up your pores so that dirt cannot get in.  Never shower with hot water.  Keep the water warm or preferably cold, which will keep hair looking smooth, shiny, and healthy.  The cold water will flatten follicles and increase their ability to grip the scalp.

3. Boost your immunity-  A cold shower is a remedy for problems of the skin and heart.  The cold water will improve circulation and help the arteries pump blood, which helps our heart health.  There are other reported health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, clearing up clogged arteries, and improving the immune system.

4.  Lose some weight- Cold showers burn fat, the bad kind.  There are two types of fat: white fat and brown fat. White fat is what I’m referring to as the “bad kind.”  It’s fat that so many of carry around on our waist, thighs, neck, and lower back and that’s usually a struggle to lose.  We accumulate white fat when we consume unnecessary calories that our bodies don’t need to function and don’t burn enough of these calories off for energy.  Brown fat is the “good fat” and generates heat to keep us warm.  When taking a cold shower, the brown fat will burn calories to keep us warm.  According to Scandinavian research, exposing our bodies to cold temperatures increases our metabolic rate of brown fat by fifteen fold, thus aiding us with weight loss.Image result for benefits of cold showers

5.  Boost your post-workout recovery time- Perhaps you’ve seen athletes taking ice water baths before.  It looks god awful, but there’s a reason these athletes are enduring the cold water.  There’s no need to be as extreme as to take an ice water bath, but the cold water will reduce soreness after a workout.

6.  Get happy-  Cold showers create an anti-depression effect when the impact of the cold receptors of the skin send electrical impulses from the nerve endings to the brain. The cold water not only improved mood, but also helps us relax and hardens us to stress.

Sources: Medical Daily, Life Hack

Home Remedies

urlI love using spices, herbs, and pantry items to make home remedies and beauty products.  There’s no need to feel guilty about spending $20 for a nice bottle of olive oil or coconut oil anymore, because that olive oil doubles as face cleanser and that coconut oil can be used for just about anything.  Using what’s probably in your kitchen or fridge already, here are a few simple recipes for home beauty and cleaning products:

Bathroom Freshener

-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

-1 1/2 cups water

-10-15 drops essential oils (cinnamon, clove, lavender, lemon, or any other pure essential oils)

Mix ingredients in a glass hair with a tight-fitting lid.  Keep some of the spray in a spray bottle in the bathroom and label “air freshener.”

Most commercial shampoo and conditioners create soft, gorgeous hair on the outside, but actually are a risk to your health. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient in most commercial shampoos, dries out hair and can trigger allergic reactions in some people.  Commercial products also contain gluten.

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Organic apple cider vinegar restores hair’s natural pH and helps remove dead skin cells from the scalp.

Rinse Away Dandruff

-1 cup organic apple cider vinegar

-10 drops clove essential oil

Combine ingredients and shake.  Apply 1/4 cup of the mixture to shampooed hair.  Towel dry, working well into the scalp. Wait 5-10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Deep Conditioning Mask for Damaged Hair

-1/2 cup Honey

-1 tsp olive oil

Mix ingredients and massage into clean, damp hair.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.  Rinse well with warm water.  Wash hair with a natural shampoo and dry.

Making body scrubs is simple.  Whatever isn’t already in your home, like essential oils, you may be able to pick up at a health food store.  Experiment with different scents and combinations of ingredients.  Your skin will be moist and soft after, especially if you use the scrub after a shower, because it’s easier to exfoliate dead skin cells.  It’s also great to use a scrub before shaving, and should result in a smoother shave.

You only need to scrub your skin once a week.  Avoid certain essential oils, because they can irritate the skin when mixed with hot water.  These oils include: basil, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and bay.

Salt Scrub

-1 cup sea salt

-1/2 cup grapeseed oil or almond oil

-1/4 cup avocado or olive oil

-1 vitamin E capsule

-10-15 drops essential oils (blending is ok)

Mix the oils, vitamin E, and essential oils in a small bowl.  Add the salt and mix well.  Store in a container with an airtight lid.

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Sugar Scrub

-1/2 cup white sugar

-enough olive oil to completely moisten the sugar, but not enough to make it runny with oil

-Squeeze of lemon

Stir sugar in with olive oil.  Squeeze lemon.  Use your fingers to scoop the mixture and rub on your face.

Source: National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies

Home Remedies for Dry Skin

I’m all about moisturizers and soft skin, especially when the weather is this chilly.  The air and wind outside have stripped my hands of moisture and sometimes hydrating just isn’t enough to restore skin.  Store-bought lotions and potions are often expensive stews of chemicals, alcohols, solvents, and synthetic fragrances, which actually increase skin’s dryness.  Some products even contain carcinogens or trigger allergic reactions.

There are various recipes out there for homemade moisturizers and creams using limited ingredients.  Everyone has different skin and needs tailored products, but most natural moisturizers contain plant oils.  Some oils to look for are: shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil.  Products may additionally contain other plant compounds or essential oils, like rosemary oil or lavender oil, or essences, like rose water.  Ensure that products are “paraben-free,” or “phthalate-free.” A good rule of thumb when choosing products (or even with food) is to skip over products with any ingredients you cannot pronounce.  It’s just not natural.

Keep It Simple

Save money on fancy moisturizers and use the extra-virgin olive oil in your kitchen on skin after moisturizing.  Take several drops of olive oil and smooth on skin while skin is moist from cleansing.  What’s great about olive oil is that it’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which hydrates skin without leaving skin greasy.  Alternative oils are wheat germ oil (rich in Vitamin E), almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.

Make a Gel

An alternative, easy, natural recipe is flaxseed and water.  Stir 1 teaspoon flaxseed into 1/2 cup cool water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the mixture becomes thick and gelatinous.  Cool and pour through a sieve to strain out the seeds.  Dab the strained gel onto skin and massage in. Keep refrigerated and this moisturizing concoction should last a few days.

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Sweeten Up Your Skin

Honey has long been enjoyed for its benefits on the skin.  In fact, honey is a potent antiseptic, helping to ward off bacteria that cause acne and other skin problems.  Honey also doubles as an anti-inflammatory, reducing redness and irritation, and it seals in moisture improving skin hydration and minimizing the appearance of fine lines.  To make a honey mask at home, pick up the following items from your local store:

-4 ounces plain yogurt

-2 teaspoons raw honey

-1/4 teaspoon olive oil or almond oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Apply to face and leave on for 15 minutes.  Rinse.  Repeat one or two times per week.

-Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

Author and integrative medicine expert

All-Natural Moisturizing Lotion Recipe

Different oils will suit different moisturizing needs.  Do some research, experiment and see which oils work best for you.  Here is a basic recipe:

aloe-rose-moisturizer

-2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel

-2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin

-1/2 teaspoon jojoba, grapeseed, apricot kernel, or avocado oil

-1 teaspoon pure beeswax

Combine aloe gel, glycerin, and oil in a bowl.  Melt the beeswax in the top of a double boiler.  Add the melted wax to the ingredients in the bowl, whisking rapidly until blended, then more slowly until the beeswax mixture thickens and cools, about five to seven minutes.  Transfer the lotion to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Keeps two to four weeks.

Shaving Cream

Save that vegetable glycerin from the moisturizing lotion recipe and use it for your homemade shaving cream.  Because shaving strips away the outermost layer of skin cells, sensitive “new” skin is exposed every time.  Many store-bought shaving creams contain petroleum-derived chemicals, including isopentane and additional compounds that are irritants, hormone disruptors, and potential carcinogens.  Use safer shaving creams and try the following homemade recipe:

-1 cup real witch hazel extract

-1/2 cup high-proof vodka, rum, or brandy

-1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin

-10 to 20 drops each peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils (thyme or rosemary essential oils also work)

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake well to blend.  To use, pat a little mixture onto freshly-shaven skin.  The lotion keeps indefinitely.

-Annie B. Bond

Better Basics for the Home

Have a homemade moisturizer recipe?  I’d love to hear it!  Please leave your ideas in the comment section below.