All about collagen!

I honestly can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share all about collagen (in an organized way, at least!). If you’ve been following me a for a while, or know me IRL, then you know collagen is definitely one of the health-focused topics I talk about the MOST…and for plenty of good reasons!

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Collagen is not just a new hip buzzword everyone wants to talk about – it’s actually the most abundant protein in our bodies! It shows up in our muscles, skin, bones, joints, and even blood! It’s essential to many important functions within our bodies including skin elasticity, protecting joints, and organs, and keeping bones and muscles together.

Our bodies actually produce collagen on a regular basis, however the rate of this production naturally slows over time. That is why as we age, we tend to see things like sagging skin, achy joints and muscles, and wrinkles.

I first discovered collagen about a year ago. I was rolling off of my first elimination experience, and still driving toward new ways to use diet to help heal my body. Specifically, I came across collagen because I was doing a lot of research on how to help bring more health back into my hair!

The short of it: I used to have the most awesome curly hair. I mean honestly, it was incred. Then kind of out of nowhere (honestly), it just lost it’s life. This brought a lot of sadness over me, as I realized too late that I had completely taken my curly hair for granted. Now not only were my curls gone, but my hair was seriously thinning out, and I was worried it would only continue to get worse.

I had tried taking hair, skin, and nails pills…doing treatment masks, and switching up my products to heal my hair, but nothing seemed to work. I talked to specialists, and did a lot of research, and everything kept pointing me toward collagen. I liked the idea of it, admittedly, because after-all, collagen is a natural protein our bodies are already producing. I only needed to support that production.

However, the tricky (ok, and kind of annoying) think about collagen is that all of the research I was finding explained that it could take up to 3 months before any benefits of it would be noticeable. All the same, I decided to give it a try. I started using FurtherFood Collagen, and would mix 1-2 scoops into my coffee every morning. I did this consistently for a couple of months, and then inconsistently for a couple more after that. (This was during a time of a lot of chaos in my life, as I was transitioning from NYC to Ohio, and traveling a lot throughout the summer for weddings and other events). I was determined to really give it a chance, so I did my best to stick with it and eat it every day.

While I really had to be patient before noticing the major benefits to my hair health, a more immediate takeaway for me was how collagen impacted my metabolism and prevented me from snacking throughout the day. I would typically eat breakfast, then add a couple scoops to my coffee and not eat again until lunch. This was a complete shift in my daily routine, as I was used to waking up super early to workout, so I’d find myself super hungry throughout the entire morning, sometimes eating two or three times before lunch! Since collagen is packed with nutrients and protein, it actually helped to keep me full.

Finally, overtime I have been able to notice that my hair has not only grown in thicker and stronger, but it’s continued to grow in length – something even my seemingly healthy curly hair failed to do! I used to lose big clumps of hair in the shower (I know, gross…), but now this is something that literally NEVER happens anymore.

Here are the top benefits of collagen, and the main reasons you need to be incorporating this into your diet NOW:

  1. Repairs Joints/Eases Pain – whether you are highly athletic, or barely walk from the car to the office, and back again, joint pain can sneak up on any of us. Cartilage weakens over time, and can deteriorate with age. Collagen helps to reduce this and alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
  2. Digestive Health – Collagen can help support and strengthen the protective lining of the digestive tract, as it lives within the gut’s connective tissue. If you’ve ever struggled with Leaky Gut Syndrome, or IBS, Collagen is a great choice for helping to reduce inflammation and building up the tissues that line your gastrointestinal tract.
  3. Building Muscle/Burning Fat – Since collagen is a major component of muscle tissue, it can have a big impact on building up muscle mass and providing you fuel throughout a tough workout. Adding lean muscle mass to your frame can help convert essential nutrients to energy.
  4. Improve Health of Skin and Hair – As I mentioned, there are noticeable changes that happen to our bodies overtime due to the slowing of collagen production. By providing your system with this important (and otherwise depleting) protein, you can aid in the firmness and smoothness of your skin by helping your skin cells to be able to renew and repair normally, as well as keep your nails growing in stronger, and even reverse signs of hair loss.

I mentioned I used to primarily mix collagen into my morning coffee. Since I’ve actually recently gone coffee free, I now have to find different ways to consume my collagen on a daily basis. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat it!

  1. Coffee/Tea/Water – since collagen is almost entirely tasteless, I started by mixing it into things I was drinking on a regular basis. It was undetectable in coffee for me, and I didn’t mind the very subtle taste it added to water. I usually mix it with lemon or other fruits if I add it to water. This helps distract from any lingering taste. Now, whether I make a latte at home, or even if I order a matcha or other hot drink from Starbucks or other cafe, I almost always add in a scoop of collagen. I literally carry a container of it in my purse LOL!
  2. Smoothies – adding the collagen powder to a smoothie or smoothie bowl is super easy, especially if you are using a blender. The only caveat of this technique is to be mindful of your overall protein intake in one meal. I actually don’t typically add collagen to smoothies because I usually make a protein powder based smoothie. However, if you are not using too much protein powder, feel free to add a couple scoops of collagen in!
  3. Baking – again, since it’s tasteless, you can really add it in anywhere where it can be dissolved easily. I will typically sneak it in anywhere I can – including oatmeal, cereals and even soups! If we are making any kind of baked good at home, collagen is definitely included in the recipe in order to easily increase protein intake alongside other nutrients!
  4. Bone Broth – OK, so this is different than the powder I would mix into coffee and other drinks/foods, but bone broth itself is an excellent source of collagen! A post I did about bone broth a little while ago includes all you need to know for an easy DIY recipe, as well as all of the amazing benefits of drinking/eating bone broth.

Finally, the most common question I get about collagen is “which brand should I buy?” As I mentioned, I started with FurtherFood, which I really liked. Currently however, I have been using Vital Proteins. I’ve tried a handful of different collagen brands, and the only reason Vital Proteins has won me over recently is because of the price point on Amazon Pantry. The cost savings I receive from my recurring order on Amazon Pantry, coupled with how often we consume collagen, this makes the most sense for my wallet!

Still, I’ll include a list below of different options I’ve tried and my takeaways from each:

  1. FurtherFood – $49.85/24oz. – Grass-fed, Pasture-raised, Non-GMO, Kosher, Gluten-free, Paleo, Keto
    • I used FurtherFood for about 3 months, and this was my first ever collagen brand. I liked it totally fine, I just didn’t like the price point. It was tasteless, mixed well in hot liquids, and mixed fine in cold liquids if I shook or stirred vigorously.
  2. Thrive Market – $24.99/20oz – BPA Free, Ethically Sourced, Grass-fed, Non-GMO, Pasture-raised, Gluten free, Paleo, Dairy free, Dye and color additive free, No added sugars, etc.
    • Thrive Market’s collagen was amazing! I only used it for a month but I was really impressed with the quality – it truly does dissolve well in hot and cold liquids, and is virtually tasteless. The price point is great, I ultimately just decided against opting for a Thrive membership.
  3. BulletProof – $39.95/16oz.
    • Bulletproof was something I tried in a much smaller quantity than the others. I purchased a couple of samples for a work travel trip. It was good – I honestly have no complaints, however I didn’t like that there was not a lot of information about the company’s values compared to the other brands. I.e. gluten free, non-GMO, non-BPA packaging, etc. In addition to the powder, I have also tried some of the Bulletproof collagen protein bars, and they are AWESOME! Not necessarily my top recommendation for someone who isn’t well accustomed to eating protein (there is a bit of a chalky taste/texture), but overall, I really enjoyed them and felt they did a great job of keeping me fueled and satisfied during work travel.
  4. Vital Proteins – $43/20oz  – Gluten free, Dairy free, No sugar added, Paleo friendly, Whole 30 approved, Kosher
    • I really like Vital Proteins, as I mentioned, because it works perfectly with my budget and ordering habits. I found it was majorly discounted through Amazon Pantry if I set up a subscribe and save order. VP mixes well, and is virtually odorless and tasteless in everything! If you are intrigued, VP also makes related collagen products including Beauty Collagen, Matcha Collagen and even a collagen creamer for your coffee! I personally have been so attached to the benefits of collagen on it’s own, I do not necessarily feel the need to get a specific type of collagen – the original works perfectly well with my routine – but I have heard great things about them!

I hope all of this information is helpful! This post (and no post I’ve ever shared about collagen) is in any way sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies or brands. Still – if I could persuade you to make any kind of adjustment to your daily diet, it would likely be to add collagen! I believe in it so much – and hope you’ll give it a try to see if the benefits are impactful for you.

xo

T

Let’s Talk Lattes

Since going OFF coffee at the start of this year, I’ve pretty much been all about my alternative morning elixirs. At first, I stuck to just my hot water + lemon. I love hot water and lemon first thing in the morning, and I still drink it from time to time. However, just I pretty much only drink water throughout the day…so I was getting kind of bored of it.

Enter my morning latte creations. I realized I was missing out on an opportunity to kick start my day with a ton of healthy nutrients. Each of the recipes I’ll share are packed with benefits which can help to naturally heal your body.

I’ll share more about WHY I decided to cut out coffee a little later. As I was making this transition though, I will say one of the things I was most worried about was how the absence of coffee would affect my morning ritual. I have always loved waking up, pouring a hot cup of joe, and then starting my day slowly either reading, or just being still, maybe on my balcony or the stoop of my apartment when I lived in Brooklyn.

Not to mention, the caffeine! I usually liked to down my coffee and work through this slow morning aspect before hitting the gym. Sometimes I’d even take a second cup of coffee to the gym with me! I remember going to bed most nights, feeling my body yearning for what would give it life again the following morning. I was so incredibly addicted to caffeine.

BUT…after a long series of mindful observations, and as I’ve grown more intuitive to understanding my body and how it reacts to certain foods and substances, coffee had to go.

And guess what?

I’ve never felt better! I have more energy than I did drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day, and this energy lasts throughout the whole day, without any horrible crashes or weird side effects (again, I’ll elaborate more on quitting coffee in another post!).

Below I’ll share the few morning cocktail go-to’s which have helped me to feel even better about hopping off of the coffee train. Let m know if you decided to try any of these, and how you like them!

First up…

Matcha Latte

If you’ve followed along on my Instagram at all, you know I loveeee my morning matcha. Matcha does include caffeine, but it’s a fraction compared to the amount in coffee.

When I feel like I need a little extra boost, I go for matcha instead of coffee, now. It is much more sustained than coffee, so I don’t get jittery, or feel a crash later in the day.

Matcha also has so many health benefits compared to coffee. It helps to boost metabolism and burn calories naturally. It’s packed with antioxidants, including EGCg, which can’t be found anywhere else! Matcha detoxifies your system effectively and naturally, and is rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and all kinds of vitamins.

My Recipe:

1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

1/2 cup nut milk ( I pretty much always use almond milk, but you can use any kind of milk you’d like!)

1 scoop collagen (I have been loving Vital Proteins lately)

1 tsp matcha powder (I am not partial to any specific matcha I’ve used, but I am using Nativas currently, and really like it!)

1 tbsp melted coconut butter (I like Maranantha)

1/8 tsp or a dash of cinnamon

+ optional small amount of honey or maple syrup to sweeten

Blend everything together, & enjoy!

Dandelion Tea

I posted a picture of my dandelion tea a while back on my Instagram. This has been a new recipe I’ve been experimenting with, primarily because dandelion tea itself has so many health benefits, especially for us women during our ovulation phase. I wanted to work dandelion into my diet somehow, and was pleased to discover it actually works perfectly as a coffee replacement!

Beyond that it legitimately tastes like coffee in a way, some of it’s health benefits include liver detox, muscle recovery, blood circulation, and aid in digestion. In fact, this tea has become the go-to remedy for digestion in our house, anytime we might be feeling like something we ate didn’t sit right.

My Recipe:

1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

1/2 cup nut milk ( I pretty much always use almond milk, but you can use any kind of milk you’d like!)

1 scoop collagen (I have been loving Vital Proteins lately)

1-2 tbsp Dandy Blend, depending on how strong you want the taste. I love 2 full scoops, but you might want to start out with just 1.

1 tsp Four Sigmatic Caffeine-Free Adaptogen blend (this is optional, but highly encouraged to give you an extra medicinal kick, and add a little to the overall taste)

a dash of Pumpkin Pie Spice (found at Whole Foods or Trader Joes) or cinnamon

+ optional honey or maple syrup to sweeten

Blend everything together, & enjoy!

Turmeric “Golden Milk”

Finally, one of my favorites, the turmeric “golden milk” latte! I’ve been experimenting with turmeric probably longer than any of the others. When I discovered a “golden milk” recipe, I instantly had to give it a try. I remember it was one of the hottest days of last summer in NYC, but I opened all the windows in my Brooklyn apartment, and turned up the stove to give this baby a try. My first attempt…awful! LOL but I think I’ve gotten better over time…

I love turmeric because it is beneficial for your WHOLE body and brain. It battles against inflammation, increases your antioxidant capacity and helps to boost the immune system, eases joint pain, boosts mood, protects your heart and your gut, plus much more! Turmeric has been shown to improve long-term cognitive function through it’s active ingredient curcumin which directly supports the health of an important brain hormone.

I like to use turmeric as much as I can, but especially during the ovulation phase of my cycle, and especially in the form of my golden milk latte! Check out my *improved* recipe below…

My Recipe:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup nut milk ( I pretty much always use almond milk, but you can use any kind of milk you’d like!)

1 scoop collagen (I have been loving Vital Proteins lately)

1-2 tsp ground turmeric (more or less depending on how strong of a taste you like)

a whole cinnamon stick

1/4 tsp fresh or ground ginger

a dash of pepper (important to help activate the turmeric)

1/4 tsp cardamom (optional, and I don’t always use when I don’t have it on hand)

Bring everything to a simmer over low-medium heat, but do not boil! Strain out the ginger and cinnamon stick (you can reuse), froth the top if you’d like, & enjoy!

I am also linking my hand-held frother here because I am obsessed! I use it for all of these cocktails, and it is just too good to live without.

I hope you all enjoy these recipes! Let me know if you give them a try! 🙂

Egg Salad Crisp

I have to have my eggs, but I’ve been trying to get creative with my toast options lately. This healthier version of egg salad did not disappoint! The recipe was super simple/easy, and will make about 6 pieces, so lasted me a whole 2 days…

Egg Salad:
4 hard boiled eggs + 2 hard boiled egg whites (discard the extra yolk, or save it for something else)
1 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro – or another micro green
3/4 C chopped celery
1/4 C Siggis Dairy plain yogurt – or another plain Greek yogurt, but be sure to avoid artificial sweeteners, and added hormones!
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp dill seed

Toast:
3 avocados
Trader Joe’s whole grain crispbread
Mini heirloom tomatoes, chopped
Sesame seeds
Salt + pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all the egg salad ingredients together, mashing well until egg pieces are very small.
2. In a separate bowl, mash 1/2 avocado per crisp bread using salt and pepper and a teeny bit of water if necessary, depending on how ripe your avocado is. I recommend only mashing the avocado up right before you are going to eat the toast, that way it doesn’t turn brown!
3. Place the avocado mash on a crisp bread, then top with a scoop of the egg salad.
4. Garnish with the chopped heirloom tomatoes, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper to taste!

(Sort Of) Summer Soup

I am sure by now you may have caught on to the idea that I’m typically up to something, even when I might not actually be up to anything specific. And if you really know me, then you know despite the vagueness of that statement, it somehow perfectly sums up my journey in discovering the healthy lifestyle that best works for me. The choices I make may not make sense for you, or anyone else, but that’s the fun part – you can always try new things and figure it out along the way.

I recently challenged myself to cut back on fruits, and implement more vegetables, and non-meat protein in my diet. I am used to eating a decently high-protein diet, but I’ve found most of my protein intake comes from eggs, chicken or beef, and my pre/post-workout shakes. There are so many other forms of protein out there, and while I am always a fan of fruit, I wanted to balance out the sugars and carbs from those with some of the important nutrients of yummy veggies.

What better way to do this, I decided, than with a summer-time soup! I know. Soup? In August? In New York City? Yeah, I am a little crazy…and my apartment doesn’t have air conditioning haha but man, was this recipe worth the sweats! I’ve included the details below, with a few additional recommendations/substitution options. The best part? This recipe made enough soup to feed me (by myself) dinner for the next two weeks! I put a container in the fridge for this week, and one in the freezer for next. 🙂

Ingredients:
1/2 onion (chopped)
6-8 medium sized carrots
1 quart vegetable broth
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 can or 5-7 peeled crushed tomatoes (w/juice)
2 stalks bok choy
2 cups red lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
1. Saute the chopped onion in olive oil, adding in salt and pepper.

2. Add in the chopped carrots and continue cooking for a few minutes, making sure the vegetables are all coated.

3. In a separate pot, heat vegetable broth. Add in carrots and onions and cook until the carrots begin to soften – about 6-8 minutes.
*If you are not a fan of vegetable broth, or would just prefer avoiding it, you can also just use water!*

4. Add the bok choy, then top with the chopped zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes (I did this backward in my photo, but would recommend adding the bok choy first!). Mix well, so that everything is covered with the broth.
*I used a large stalk of bok choy because that’s what they had at my Farmer’s Market that morning, but would have preferred baby bok. Some ideas other than bok choy include string beans, spinach, or another leafy green*

5. In a separate pan, prepare the lentils. This can be done simply by heating a small amount of olive oil, then tossing the lentils until they are completely coated.
*You can also use mung beans, or another bean instead of lentils*

6. Add the heated lentils to the soup and mix them well. Keep in mind – they will expand a little bit in size!

7. Allow everything to simmer for about 12-15 minutes, or until the vegetables and lentils are tender.

8. Enjoy! 🙂

#EggsAllDay

Maybe you’ve seen my hashtags, maybe not. If you’ve made it here though, chances are you’ve at least seen my Instagram or Snapchat photos/stories, so it should come as no surprise: your girl loves dem eggs!

Okay, so no…I don’t actually eat eggs all day, but I do eat them close to every single day for breakfast. Depending on the day, I sometimes try to work one in to dinner or lunch!

Why eggs? Easy: eggs are high in protein, low in fat, and rich in a ton of vitamins such as B, D, zinc, and iron! Not to mention they’re delicious, and super inexpensive. I prefer to eat eggs after my workouts because they help me to feel quickly refueled, and I feel satisfied/full until lunchtime!

When I was in high school, eggs were my go-to after school snack because it was almost too easy to prep them in the morning then eat them hard-boiled, or whip them up with salt and pepper to enjoy them scrambled. (Latch-key kids anyone?) I remember during my sophomore year in my favorite class (Health), my teacher explained it could be bad for our bodies to eat too many eggs. Raising my hand I inquired, “I eat eggs everyday. Is that bad?” Acutely aware of my athletic involvement at the time, my teacher/track coach explained to me and the class that it was probably okay for me to eat eggs because I otherwise lived a pretty healthy lifestyle. However, he noted, eggs can increase cholesterol levels, and create a risk factor for people more susceptible to diabetes or heart disease. I didn’t share out loud with the class or my teacher, but knowing diabetes is actually a prominent ailment in my family, and with an admittedly weak understanding of my own body and nutrition in general, I quietly decided that day to lower my egg-intake.

My attention to nutrition, and overall maintenance of my health went downhill after high school, and I didn’t really find it again until after college. Clearly a lot has changed in a decade, but remembering this story reminds me how important it is to not only be aware of what I am putting into my body, but to have an actual understanding of how what I eat affects my body, specifically.

So overtime, eggs worked their way back into my daily routine, and there’s no looking back from here! I buy at least a dozen eggs every week, and always go for cage-free organic if they’re available. With great brands like Pete and Gerry’s and Oliver’s Organic Eggs (both ~$5-$6 in most NY groceries), it’s easy to know I am getting quality ingredients for a good value. Although Vital Farms is a bit more pricey (usually ~$7-$8 at Whole Foods), I sometimes splurge for this option, as well.

While I’d like to say I am an egg-master chef, the truth is, I typically go for a simple and quick poached egg on avocado toast, or if I’m adding an egg to another meal, will do any preparation that leave the yolk a little runny. Check out some of my favorites below, and happy #eggsallday!

This morningMedium boiled
I usually try to give myself time to enjoy a non-rushed breakfast at home, but who am I kidding? Sometimes such a privilege is rare! Even though most of my go-to recipes are pretty quick, I end up eating within 7-10 minutes so that I can get back to getting ready for work and making it to my train in time. This morning was no different, except I found myself trying to decide between making my eggs, or having to grab breakfast on the go. Instead, I landed on, “Why not both?”

I brought 1 cup of water to an easy boil and tossed in two eggs still in the shell. After digging out a small glass-lock container (still haven’t unpacked from my recent move hehe), I slipped them still hot into my purse and hit my commute. On the way, I picked up a $1 Avocado spread from Starbucks, and crossed my fingers that the kitchenette in the office wouldn’t be too crowded. 4 minute-toast later, and my eggs were already peeled and ready to top off my quick brekkie! Yum!

Keep in mind, typically the eggs will continue to “cook” a little bit as they cool, so if you’re going for a medium boil (yolk still a touch jelly-like), you might consider how quickly you plan to eat them after they finish cooking. Since I knew my eggs would be completely cooled before I got to peel them at work, I only boiled them for about 3-4 minutes.

Easy Scrambled
Not completely over-easy, not completely scrambled – this combo is the best of both worlds. Prepare your eggs the way you typically would to scramble them – mix in a little salt, pepper, and milk of your choosing. Then, as you cook them (on med-low heat), instead of scrambling them up, flip them into a sort of omelette style, so that the outside cooks and the inside stays a little runny. Usually for 4-6 minutes, depending on how many eggs you use.

 

Pink Poached Egg
One of my favorites – this poached egg steals the show with it’s pretty hue and flavor, thanks to a 1/4 cup of beet juice! Add the secret ingredient to about 3/4 cup of water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Slide in your egg (already cracked), and reduce the boil to a low simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Serve with your favorite Farmers Market veggies for the most colorful of brunches!

Poached Egg Avocado Toast
Go poached or go home? The trick to a fancy poached egg is more than perfecting the timing. Try adding a little bit of salt to the water before sliding in the egg, and then give the mixture a little swirl within the first few seconds of dropping the egg in. This will help the egg white to curl up around the yolk so that you don’t lose part of it off in the water. Also, a pro-tip when preparing any kind of egg in water, use a stainless steel pot to avoid scorching the material! Poached Egg Avocado Toast is my favorite because I can pop the toast in the toaster oven (6 minutes), peel and mash my avocado (3 minutes), all while the water is boiling (5 minutes), and then I drop my eggs in and let them cook while I prepare the toast (4 minutes). Total time=less than 10 to whip up, less than 10 to eat! 🙂

Hello Hydration!

If you know me from Adam, you know your girl lovesssss her water! Ever since I was wee little, I remember the inquiry as to how much water I had drank in a day always being the first question my mom would ask me, regardless of what it was that ailed me. Even when I was older and off at college, if I would call and explain I had developed a cold, a cough, had been feeling sluggish, or lazy, or even if I mentioned I was feeling really hungry (!), “how much water have you drank today?” followed by a suggestion of drinking more (usually regardless of my answer), was always her go-to response.

Naturally, this was one lesson that stuck with me. Being my curious self, I’ve logged a lot of hours of research regarding water consumption, and not surprisingly, mother knows best!

The truth is, whether you’re a serious athlete, exercise here and there, really are not all that active at all, in great health, or poor – it’s so so important to stay hydrated! Think about it? Our bodies are made up of about 55-60% of water. It serves as a vital nutrient to keep your body functioning properly, regulates our internal body temperature, and metabolizes the carbohydrates and proteins our bodies use as fuel. Just as well, water assists in flushing your body of wastes and toxins, acts as a form of shock absorption for your neural system, and helps to lubricate your joints.

You can learn more about all of these specific functions of water in your body by visiting the Water Science School.

I’ve been specifically interested in the role of water in my body recently for a number of different reasons. While the focus of my research recently has been primarily on the anatomy of the human body, I’ve been supplementing that information with proper treatment of the body during exercise.

Pre-Workout Hydration: Hydration is major key to developing a healthy work-out routine. As mentioned, water serves as a lubricant to your joints, i.e. drinking enough can help prevent soreness, and ensure you are developing your muscles in a healthy way!

To encourage a healthy digestive system, as well as to prepare myself for a long workout, I have been drinking at least 8oz of water every morning (sometimes a full 17oz bottle), AS SOON as I get out of bed. This fires up my body’s metabolism, immediately replaces any hydration lost over night, fuels my brain so that I actually do feel awake, and halts any potential immediate morning hunger.

During Workout Hydration: Now, just to be clear, everyone has different hydration needs! While drinking plenty of fluids is important to anyone, the amount of hydration needed to optimize your workout routine will likely vary from mine, even if we are similar in height, weight, and activity.

I started estimating the volume of hydration needed for myself a few months ago when I was training for a half-marathon. As an example, I feel as if I spend a bit more time in the gym than the average person (usually 1.5-2 hours). I try to drink 17oz (my full Sip Swell bottle) for every 20 minutes of exercise. This usually ends up being 3-4 bottles completely finished before I leave the gym.

So if you’re keeping track, I should have already drank 85oz of water by about 8am!!

But my day hasn’t even started…

Post Workout (Daily) Hydration: After the gym, I still have a full day ahead of me. And, being summer in New York, it’s probably a hot one. This adds in a couple additional hydrating factors.

I aim to drink about 0.8oz of water per pound minimum each day. That’s 95oz without exercise, i.e. ounces drank at the gym don’t count toward this total. So once I’ve finished a workout, I still know I need to drink at least 5-6 bottles of water throughout the rest of my day. However, this doesn’t factor in the heat of summer.

Summer can be conducive for bacterial infections, and New York is always conducive for germs! For this reason, I usually up this intake goal in the heat to at least 1 x my body weight, which adds an additional 23oz, or about 2 more bottles. No problem right?

Drinking water can be tough if you are drinking other fluids throughout the day. So after all of this, I want to leave you with some alternative options to work into your snacks and lunches! Don’t get me wrong – I still encourage you to drink as much water throughout your day as you can! But if you find you are struggling, try some of my favorite hydrating foods to quench your thirst, and replace the electrolytes your body needs to thrive!

Celery: 96% water, good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc

Watermelon: 95% water, and rich in vitamin C

Bell Peppers: 92% water, also rich in vitamin C

Cucumbers: 95% water, plus provide calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium

Strawberries: I can’t eat these due to an allergy, but they are 92% water and rich in potassium!

Cantaloupe: 90% water, and also rich in potassium

As a final note, make sure you’re remaining aware of the volume of sugar you’re drinking/consuming! Sugary sports drinks, for example, can be counterproductive to proper/necessary hydration.

Finally, please note I am not a doctor. There is such thing as over-hydration, so if you’re unsure, you should consult with your physician to learn more specifically about your body’s necessary water intake.

Happy summer, and happy hydrating! 💦

A Prune A Day

An apple a day is a great idea…because who doesn’t like apples? A prune a day on the other hand – I’ve found it a little more challenging to get my friends to participate in this practice.

The age old saying was actually originally phrased as, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” According to Caroline Taggart, author of “An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work,” and Margaret Ely with The Washington Post, the idea first gained popularity in the 1860s, then continued to evolve and change in phrasing over the course of the several decades that would follow.

Long story short, yes, it’s true that apples are good for you! Will practicing an otherwise unbalanced, unhealthy diet be completely rectified by eating an apple? Probably not. But I think you probably already knew that, too.

So what’s with prunes? With so many delicious apple choices, why should we be eating prunes? And everyday?! In honor of my favorite human/grandmother who has been blessed to celebrate another birthday yesterday, I wanted to share a little insight on the magic of a dried plum.

Aside from prunes being high in dietary fiber (3% of recommended daily intake), they also contain high amounts of sugars which contribute in a positive way to encouraging the digestive system…aka they help you have healthy poos! 🙂 Additionally, prunes are good for your heart, hair, skin, and vision, and are considered a powerful antioxidant! But to be honest, none of these reasons alone are what make me interested in the dry fruit.

Believe it or not, a dried plum/prune can positively impact your brain power, i.e. boost your memory! How? Those antioxidants I mentioned help to aid or neutralize cell-damaging free radicals which affect how our brains “remember.” According to yourhealthtube, eating 3-4 a day is actually more recommend than just one, but all the same, incorporating the snack into your regular diet will not only boost the function of your brain, but help to improve your ability to remember, and learn new information.

My mom was who actually discovered the magic of the prune (meaning all it’s aforementioned benefits) just a few years ago, and shared it with me. Unfortunately influenced by the presence of dementia in our family, I’ve continued to make eating prunes a part of my daily routine – I even keep a snack bag in my desk at work! I will admit, they can take a while to grow on you if you’re not that into plums, or dried fruit, but I think most of my friends (who I’ve forced into giving them a try hehe) will agree, they can be tasty. And isn’t everything a little more enjoyable when you know all the good it’s doing for your insides?

It’s no secret that as we age, memory loss is more and more common, even without a disease diagnosis. Why not try to fight that commonality, even if only by slight measure?

My favorite prunes (much like my favorite everything) are just $2.89 for a 16 oz bag at Trader Joe’s. Even sharing a few here and there, this will last me about 3-5 weeks!

 

Another good ol’ prune is the individually wrapped Sunsweet Ones, which you can get in a 12 oz bag from Walmart or Target for around $5-$6. These are good if you want to throw a few in your purse or gym bag, and always have them available to you on the go.

Happy pruning, happy remembering, and happy birthday, to my sweet, sweet Grandma! 🙂

Turkey Meatball & Kale Sauté

In all the researching I have done in preparation for the elimination diet, much has warned against the difficulty one would be bound to face throughout the process. I truly imagined the most difficult part to be related to self-control, but I surprisingly haven’t struggled too much in that area. It’s still early in my journey (Day 1, to be specific), so I won’t congratulate myself, yet.

All the same, even early on I’ve determined meal-planning and prepping is, and could continue to be difficult, if not at least interesting. My first few creations have been no NYC style pizza, but the dish was a success as determined by myself and my boyfriend. This recipe specifically was actually prepared with the intention of eating the following day. I figured the concept would be one which would hold up well in the fridge, and still taste just as great when consumed 24 hours later! (Hint: I was right!)

Start with your favorite ground seed mixture, such as flax seed or almond meal, add a little bit of water and set this mixture aside. I used a seed mixture from Trader Joe’s which included buckwheat, as well! Next, mix and form balls out of the ground turkey, chopped green onions, maple syrup, gluten free oats, and flaxseed egg. Heat on a skillet your favorite cooking oil, such as coconut or grapeseed, and once the balls are ready, coat them in the seed mixture and add them in the skillet. The balls should take anywhere from 4-10 minutes to fully cook. As they begin to fry, add in raw kale that has been dipped or drizzled with the cooking oil. The kale will start to fry as well, and once all the turkey balls have been cooked, as well as the oil soaked up, you’re all done!

Serve with an added drizzle of maple syrup and ta-da! Breakfast for dinner!

The dinner was actually a combination of a breakfast idea – I added in some savory side notes to make it seem more appropriate, and less sugary. You can swap my turkey for beef, or another meat of your choice. You might even substitute a more salty or spicy sauce, such as chimichurri instead of the syrup. If you use a triple filtered coconut oil, this could eliminate any sweet taste entirely. If you like the recipe as is, you can simply omit the kale and add these little meatballs to any morning marco bowl, or serve with fresh fruit or eggs, if they’re in your diet! 😉

Turkey Meatball & Kale Sauté

3 tbsp Flaxseed Meal
1.5 tbsp Water
1 lb Ground Turkey
3 Green Onions (Chopped)
2.5 tbsp Maple Syrup (1.5 in mixture, 1 for drizzle)
1 C Gluten Free Oats & Flaxseed Egg
Bunch of Kale

Simple Pasta + Veggies

I was so pleasantly surprised by this meal. It would technically be my first dinner of my elimination diet, even though I’ve been whipping up a storm in the kitchen lately – throwing together bits and pieces as much as I can to stay prepped and on top of my meals.

Right from the jump I feared giving up gluten would be troublesome for me. I don’t typically consume a lot of carbs, but I was worried cutting the grain out entirely would be something I’d notice so greatly (Hint: I was wrong). So in preparation for this, I decided one of my first meals should be pasta. Pasta? Why? I have no idea why I wanted to go this route, to be honest, because I am not a huge pasta-eater anyway. I love a good donut, and will admit that pretty much any kind of bread is the shiz, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate pasta. Oy vey…

So anyway, I decided to find a quinoa based noodle, and stir it up quick with some veggies. On one major positive note, it was a super quick and easy recipe, and it seemed to keep for much longer as a leftover option than your average pasta would.

I simply brought the pasta itself to a boil with a little bit of garlic sea-salt, meanwhile grilling some vegetables court-side in a mix of olive oil and the same seasoning. Once the past was done, I drained it and added it to the skillet with the veggies. Finally, I topped the whole mixture with a puree made from red peppers, cauliflower, and mushrooms covered in a splash of olive oil and water. It turned into a deliciously thick sauce, thanks to my roomie’s bullet, and even though I was eating 90% vegetables and 10% quinoa, I felt unexpectedly full and satisfied.

When re-heating the pasta a day later, I decided to add a little meat to it by just tossing in some plain grilled chicken. It was good, just as an added source of protein, but totally not necessary. I actually really appreciated how this quick meal could be a rainy day solution for a vegetarian or paleo option!

Quinoa Pasta & Veggies W/Red Pepper Sauce
Pasta: 1 lb Quinoa Pasta (Try this brand available at Whole Foods!)
1/4 C Mushrooms
1/4 C Zucchini
1/4 C Summer Squash
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Garlic Sea Salt for flavoring

Sauce: 1/4 C Mushrooms
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 C Cauliflower
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 C Water

No Coffee, Day 3

Of all the research I’ve done in preparing for my Elimination Diet, I have to admit I feel a little foolish for not considering the negative outcomes of giving up coffee cold turkey. Realistically, I’ve likely consumed (on average) 2-3 cups of coffee a day for the past several years.

Even though my diet hasn’t taken full swing yet (check back tomorrow!), I stopped drinking coffee on Sunday (three days ago). I did this because I wanted to force myself into the idea that I would be giving up something I was used to. I would be changing my daily habits and routines. And I figured starting a few days early with something intense would allow me to hit the ground running come the actual start date. Unfortunately, I later discovered this is not recommended for someone who is used to consuming a lot of caffeine, on which our bodies and minds become dependent. A better approach would be cutting down to 1 cup a day, to then a 1/2 cup, and maybe a decaf consumption before eventually removing it from your diet entirely. I just woke up one day and said, “bye bye!”

Now, I’ve had a perpetual headache for days, and feel at this point it’d be just as bad to pick it back up again because my body is obviously already going through the withdrawal.

I guess all there is to do is tough it out, but first I had to call myself out – I felt “so prepared,” but of course there is still always room for error or misjudgment, (or plain stupidity haha). I am staying positive though 🙂 🙂 🙂 and am at least glad I am forcing myself to continue to research and read throughout the process – for this exact reason!! As long as I’m living and learning…