Delicata Squash and Black Bean Tacos

These tacos are so delicious I nearly forgot to snap a photo for this post because I was too focused on eating them. Rarely do I have vegetarian tacos, but seeing how my New Years resolution was to do more meatless meals, I decided to try something different with one of my favorite winter vegetables, delicata squash. I roasted the squash and paired it with black beans, pickled shallots, cilantro, lettuce, pomegranate seeds and sour cream with spices. The recipe can be made vegan simply by removing the sour cream.  So delicious and quick to make!

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Ingredients

(enough for 1 really hungry person, or 2 moderately hungry people)

-1 delicata squash

-1 small head of lettuce, chopped

-cilantro, chopped

-pomegranate seeds

-1 shallot, sliced

-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

-organic corn tortillas

-sour cream

-cumin

-chili powder

-garlic powder

-chipotle seasoning

-1/4 apple cider vinegar

-1 tbs sugar

-extra virgin olive oil

-salt

-pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Peel squash and cut it into 1/4 inch rounds.  Remove seeds, cut rounds into halves and place in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Place on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine shallots with vinegar, sugar, and salt for a quick pickling.  Stir every few minutes while the squash cooks.  In a separate small bowl, combine sour cream with chipotle seasoning.
  3. Heat drained black beans in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir every few minutes until hot.
  4. Heat tortillas on the stovetop by placing them directly on each open burner and toasting over medium heat.  Flip as each side starts to brown.
  5. When squash is done, put tacos together by filling them with sour cream, squash, drained shallots, beans, lettuce, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds.

 

Let me know what you think!

 

Five Tips for Winter Weight Loss

By now you are two weeks deep into your New Years Resolution. At this point you are either killin’ it with your goals, forgotten all about them, or are somewhere in between. Of course, if your goal has to do with weight loss, January is not the most ideal time to start this mission. Not only are humans programmed to eat differently in the winter and to store fat for survival, our Vitamin D and Serotonin levels drop, which are both partially responsible for regulating appetite control (source: The Week). While storing fat for survival isn’t really necessary for the modern person, it’s still coded in us, and can make weight loss at this time more difficult. Not to mention while our ancestors were out fighting the brutal cold, we are inside sitting at our computer moving less. If your resolution (or whatever you’re calling it) has to do with weight loss, then try some of these tips:

Add in more vegetables, whole grains, and protein to naturally crowd out unhealthier056dc8b9-0d45-4361-9623-ac8de532a497 foods. The more you can fill up on healthy, whole foods, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for junk. Everyone is different, so while you may thrive on a high-carb diet, others might do best on a high-protein diet. Experiment for yourself and find what works best for YOUR body. Whatever you find, stick to warm, grounding foods in the winter and try as much as possible to eliminate processed foods, soda, and sugar from your diet to see weight loss results.

Eat more sweet vegetables. If you’re at all like me and get crazy sugar cravings, then try incorporating some sweet vegetables into your diet like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, or beets. I’ve found this helps satisfy the craving, and if it doesn’t, then sneak in a little bit of quality dark chocolate earlier in the day. Because our will power is strongest in the morning, I like to add some cacao nibs to my breakfast smoothie to get that craving out of my system.

infused waterDrink more water. Sometimes when you feel food cravings come on even though you just ate a meal and shouldn’t really be hungry, this can be a sign of dehydration. Try having a tall glass of water before reaching for the snacks, and if you want extra weight loss points, then fancy up you water by infusing it with a lemon slice or some cucumber slices. Lemon water has great benefits for weight loss by helping with digestion and detoxifying the body, but the benefits are greatest when the water is served warm.

Eat more mindfully. How many meals have you consumed in your life without even having a chance to really enjoy or process the meal?  Maybe it’s because you didn’t eat all day and by the time you eat you’re starving, or maybe it’s because your busy schedule doesn’t allow you time to sit down and even smell your coffee, but eating more mindfully means sitting down, chewing your food, breathing as you eat, and really appreciating the meal. It’s not unusual in our fast-paced society to just scarf down a meal (sometimes even on the go!), so just make a bigger effort to give yourself enough time to eat. The slower you eat the greater chance your brain has to catch up and realize when it’s full. This is often the cause for overeating when you eat so fast that your mind doesn’t catch the moment it should be signaling you to stop eating. If you want a book full of tips on how to eat more mindfully, check out this book by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Switch up your workout. I’ve found that switching up my work out has incredible results for weight loss. Changing things up gives your body a challenge and helps you work the various muscles, versus doing the same routine and plateauing with your weight loss. Although I’ve learned by now that abs are truly made in the kitchen, exercise is still important for weight loss, plus mental and physical strength.Sweat Ladies, I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIFT WEIGHTS! Weight lifting gets you toned and builds strength without bulking up, not to mention it’s important for bone health. Mix this into your workout at least a couple times a week if possible, and try out some other fun exercises like walking, dancing, barre classes, pilates, swimming, etc. If you don’t really know where to begin with your exercise regime, I like to tell my clients to think back to what activities they loved doing as kids. Quite often the same activities we loved as kids still are fun for us now, especially if you can find a workout buddy to do them with. I’d also like to note that you should listen to your body. If you’re feeling burnt out, or if you just did an intense workout the day before, do not be afraid to do a restorative yoga class or go for an easy walk, something that still gets you moving without overdoing it.

 

If you found this post inspiring, or if you have tips of your own, please share in the comment section! Just remember to keep a positive attitude with your weight loss goals, because weight loss doesn’t just happen over night.
Learn to fall in love with the process and the results will come!

You Are Invited! Slim Down For Summer and Join Me For A Summer Anti-Inflammation Detox

17327_10204034803084733_8189935535209272625_nWho else wants to feel totally energized, vibrant, and renewed this summer? Who wants to feel the best they’ve ever felt, lose some weight, and think more clearly than ever before? If this speaks to you, then join me this summer for an anti-inflammation detox and elimination diet!

Is a detox right for you? 

• Do you have trouble concentrating and/or staying focused?

• Do you feel tired or lethargic?
• Do you experience frequent colds or flues?
• Do you have joint pain or stiffness?

• Do you get frequent headaches?
• Are you overweight?
• Have you had a change in body odor or taste in your mouth?
• Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
• Does you skin lack luster?
• Do you have acne, eczema, or psoriasis?
• Do you have constipation (less than one bowel movement/day)?

• Do you have gas, bloating, or indigestion?
• Do you look puffy or bloated?
• Do you have high cholesterol or fatty liver disease?

If you answered “yes” to any of the following questions, then consider detoxing!

What is a detox?

A detox removes toxins from the body, almost like a “spring clean” for the soul to renew your inner self. We are exposed to numerous toxins every day, whether it’s through the air we breath, the food we eat, or the products we use. Stress is a very large contributor to inflammation too, and is also responsible for 75-90% of hospital visits.

As a result of all these toxins in our system, our body becomes inflamed. Although inflammation is typically the body’s natural, healthy immune response (think redness, soreness, or swelling), chronic inflammation often flies under the radar, disengaging the inflammation shut-off button. Chronic, low-level inflammation is also known as the “silent killer,” because it develops without pain and research shows it can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease among other illnesses.

There are different types of detoxes out there, but I want to focus on the anti-inflammation detox, because reducing levels of inflammation is SO critical for achieving optimum health and avoiding big health problems down the road. This anti-inflammation detox focuses on hormone balance, limiting stress levels, improving sleep, and the elimination diet, which are all important factors that’ll contribute to abundant health and wellbeing. Hormones control everything in our body from the reproductive system to mood, energy levels, sleep, and appearance. All of the sources I previously mentioned that cause inflammation also can cause hormonal imbalances, and create symptoms like irritability, fatigue, inability to lose weight, unhealthy food cravings, and even conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, or heart disease.

Health Benefits To Expect From This Detox:

  • Improved hormonal balance and fat burning with better liver function.
  • Relief from the effects of harmful excess estrogen (sex hormone).
  • Reduced insulin and less inflammation.
  • Restored serotonin activity and enhanced mood, memory, and focus.
  • Maximized activity of thyroid hormone (energy hormone).
  • Support of the breakdown and clearance of cortisol (stress hormone) from the body.
  • Better appetite control, freedom from cravings, and enhanced fat burning through improved leptin levels.
  • Diminished cellulite.

From this detox you will also learn to identify food sensitivities and allergies, which I will get into more just below.

Detox Details

1. Media Detox

This portion of the detox might be hardest for most. Although you will not need to abstain from media entirely, the more you can power down (especially before bed), the better. This will help greatly to reduce stress levels and improve sleep.

2. Restorative Sleep

Getting quality sleep is extremely important for balancing hormones and reducing inflammation.  It also makes it easier for us to stick with our health goals.

3. Replace home goods, cleaning products, and beauty products with natural, chemical-free products

Although this can be costly, over time I recommend switching out products for natural, chemical-free, or homemade versions to reduce and eliminate toxins. Think about it, over 80,000 industrial chemicals have been developed in the last 80 years, and these chemicals are found in almost every commercial product you use! These chemicals completely disrupt hormone balance and contribute to life-threatening illnesses.

4. Stress Management

Most of us suffer from stress in some way, whether it’s environmental, from food, work-related, relationship-related, personal, or psychological. When stress goes untreated, it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Stress is also a huge contributor to digestive troubles. Throughout this detox I will be coaching participants on ways to reduce and eliminate stress, since stress also leads to inflammation!

5. The Elimination Diet

It’s hard to pinpoint food allergies or sensitivities, so this part of the detox will help you discover your trigger foods. Over 10 days, we will eliminate some of the most toxic or most commonly allergenic foods from the diet: sugar, processed foods and hydrogenated oils, alcohol, caffeine, corn, dairy, cigarettes, red meats, citrus fruit, peanuts, night shade vegetables, and gluten.

Don’t freak out. You may be thinking “well what’s left for me to eat?,” but that’s where I step in.  Not only will I be coaching you through this process, but I will also set up a support system with the rest of the group members. I will provide you with delicious recipes, meal plans, and whole food education, and don’t forget, I will be joining you for this detox too!

After the ten days of the elimination diet, then the real work starts. Over the course of about three weeks you will begin to reintroduce one food at a time back to your diet. Introduce a food, see how you feel after eating it for two days, then eliminate that food again and start with a new food for two days. This process repeats itself until you’ve tested out all types of inflammatory foods.

The great thing about this detox is that you will feel so much better afterwards that it’ll be easier to incorporate this type of eating on your own.  You’ll be resetting and refreshing your body, so you may even notice that you might not even crave some of the foods you used to crave before, making healthy eating way more convenient!

What You’ll Get With This Detox

For $50.00 (USD), you will receive health coaching, group support, recipes, meal plans, and tips to set yourself up for lasting health improvements!  My health coaching services are normally triple this rate, so take advantage of this opportunity!

Here is what to expect:

-the anti-inflammation overview packet

  • information I’ve compiled about the detox
  • detox Q & A
  • list of foods to eliminate
  • list of foods to include
  • types of activities to include

-tips and tricks that’ll help with the detox, but will also help you after the detox

  • stress management techniques
  • whole food education
  • identifying and deconstructing cravings
  • group health coaching with check ins a couple times a week
  • helpful tips to help you through the detox

-recipes and meal plan

  • a sample meal plan for 10 days
  • recipes for every meal

-group support

  • access to a Facebook support group with other members
  • a partner to share triumphs and set backs with and to have as an accountability coach
  • I’ll be regularly posting tips and tricks here to help with the detox

-unlimited email support with me

  • I’ll be available to answer any questions via email

Join Me!

If this detox speaks to you, then please write me an email so I’ll have your contact information!  This detox will begin the week of July 13, 2015, but it is important to give yourself at least a week leading up to the beginning of the detox to get yourself ready!

You can reach me via email at jessicakhealth@gmail.com and don’t forget to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter www.jkhealthcoach.com.

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

Is Working With a Health Coach Right For You?

A-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-a-singl-step

The journey to healthy living can be a process.  My personal health journey started toward the end of college.  I had gained 25 pounds at school, hadn’t stepped foot in a gym or touched my sneakers in two years, binged on late night Domino’s and drank regularly (generally vodka with sugar-laden Red Bull).  Everything I purchased from the grocery store had “fat-free” or “light” labels on it, and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t losing weight.  I felt like crap and didn’t like how I looked.  Coming from a family of athletes and having been a very active person most of my life, it was unsettling that I couldn’t even run across our relatively small campus to our gym without feeling like I was having a heart attack.

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That’s me in the front during my soccer days as a kid

My dad passing was the event that changed all this.  I began looking at life with a new perspective, that life is too short and there’s too much to experience while I still have my health.  It wasn’t easy transforming my life, especially while in college.  I began with gradual changes, mostly cutting back on alcohol and 2am pizza binges at first.  My senior year I enrolled in both a gym class and a yoga class, which were fantastic and helped get me back in the groove of exercising.

Today, I am in the process of getting certified as a holistic health coach.  My friends now come to me with their food questions and beauty advice.  Exercise has become a regular part of my routine, because I found types of exercise that were fun for me.  I have more energy than I have ever had, and I don’t rely on caffeine.  I’ve also cleaned up my eating, and WOW, what a difference!

If you’re someone who is struggling with weight, skin problems, self-confidence, regular exercise, stress, or anything else, trust me, it gets better if you commit to change.  There are people out there, like health coaches, who can offer support and hold you accountable so that you don’t feel so lost.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about your health and wellness goals, I invite you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me.  I am the happiest I have ever been and this feeling is infectious.  Everyone deserves happiness and the chance to spend some one-on-one time with someone dedicated to to helping you look and feel better. There’s no one right way to health and no diet or lifestyle that works well for everybody.  I personalize my programs based on your individual needs.

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Email me for more information, jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

Bananas Save Lives

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Bananas are the best.  I’ve actually witnessed first-hand the healing powers of bananas in bringing a young boy back to life! Ok, well maybe I saw that in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but the potassium-packed fruit saved the day and brought the boy back to consciousness.

It turns out that bananas offer much more than potassium.  There are so many health benefits from the nutrient-rich fruit, but also many other uses for everyday life.  Here’s what you’ll find in a banana:

  • Vitamin B6 – .5 mg
  • Manganese – .3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Potassium – 450 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium – 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – .1 mg
  • Niacin – .8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron – .3 mg

(Source: Medical News)

I personally love bananas for their quick energy fix, mood-boosting qualities, and their ability to help with muscle and PMS cramps.  But there are so many other health benefits of bananas.  Some of these include:

  • Sustains blood sugar and boost energy, making bananas a great pre-workout snack (I recommend eating two bananas before your workout).  This also aids with PMS cramps and stress and makes you more alert.
  • High levels of tryptophan raise serotonin levels and reduce depression.
  • Aids in weight loss, swelling reduction, prevention of type II diabetes, strengthens the nervous system, and increases levels of white blood cells due to high levels of Vitamin B-6.  These high levels of Vitamin B-6, along with magnesium and potassium, also help smokers trying to quit by curbing withdrawal!
  • Helps with anemia and strengthens blood due to iron levels.
  • Low in salt, helping to lower blood pressure and protect against strokes and heart attacks.
  • High in calcium, helping with strong bones.
  • Acts as a prebiotic, aiding in constipation, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Aids in heartburn, ulcer prevention, acid reflux, and GERD.
  • Antioxidant-rich.
  • Helps prevent kidney cancer.
  • Lowers body temperature on a hot day.

(Source: Food Matters)

These are just the health benefits of bananas.  Now it’s time to learn about the fun, everyday uses for bananas:

nananas

  • Use the peel to shine your leather shoes.  It really works!
  • Remove a wart by taping the inside of the banana over your wart.
  • Treat your bug bites with the peel.
  • Press the banana peel over cuts or bruises.
  • Rub a banana peel over your teeth for approximately two minutes to help whiten teeth.

bananas

  • Use a banana to get out splinters.  The banana’s enzymes will naturally help get out the sucker when you press the peel over it.
  • Stop itchy scalp and moisturize hair and skin.
  • Stop oily skin when you make a mask out of the banana.  This mask will also help fight wrinkles.
  • Fight acne.  Wipe the inside of the peel on your blemishes and leave on over night.  Wash off in the morning.
  • Brighten house plants by rubbing the peel on leaves for extra shine.
  • In Asian cultures it’s common to place a ripe banana peel over a cooking piece of chicken to retain moisture while the chicken cooks.
  • Use as fertilizer.
  • Fight off aphids in your garden by burring dried or cut up banana peels a couple inches beneath aphid-prone plants.

(Source: Care2.com, Huffington Post, Readers Digest)

Here are some yummy ways to eat your bananas:

Morning oatmeal with cut up banana (great for weight loss– avoid instant oatmeal which is full of sugar)

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Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

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Pan-Fried Honey Bananas

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Healthy Banana Pancakes

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