🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

Have you noticed that “the truths” of nutrition and health seem to change every day? Coffee’s good for you again. Eggs are in. No, wait, they’re out. Just kidding, we don’t know. And has anyone figured out coconut oil? It’s either magical, or it’s poison.

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Consider trends in lifestyle diets and weight-loss diets as well. High-protein, low-carb diets were quite popular in recent years (Atkins, South Beach, Zone, etc.); then high-fat, moderate protein, and even-lower-carb took the stage (Keto), and then high-carb (some forms of Vegan, Vegetarian) came into the spotlight again. People seem to have attained their best bodies or best lives on all of these types of diets, never to look back. None of these ways of eating are “bad” (though dietitians do generally advise a diet high in veggies and fruits, that provides a good balance of all 3 macronutrients, and you should definitely supplement correctly if you cut out any food groups) – but none of these are the only healthy way to eat, either. Scientists’ “unbiased research” and personal success stories surrounding certain restrictive diets can be so convincing – and so often it makes folks just wanna jump on the bandwagon real quick. I’ve been there.

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However… most dietitians will agree that one-size-fits-all diets shouldn’t be a thing, because we all legitimately have different needs. Nutritional genomics is really up-and-coming, and we’re just now discovering the magnitude of the impact that genetics has on the dietary patterns each body will thrive off of. Every single body functions a little bit differently – we may react differently to the same foods, and digest food at different speeds. We also have different goals, likes and dislikes, schedules, budgets, and lives. We can each find our healthy diet that works for us. It may even evolve and change over time, as our bodies and our lives do. So, it’s hard to pin ourselves to a diet named by one or two words, because there’s so much more to it than that.

We as humans love to have something to belong to and to follow – we were created that way. We also love to feel like we’re doing life right. Eating food that makes us feel good and good about ourselves can be a real positive – but we should certainly never feel that diet is a moral issue or something to take sides on, because according to my God, it’s not. As for Christians, diet should also never become a cause we champion more than Christ’s.

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you, but what comes out – from your heart. (Mark 7:15)

Don’t worry about what you eat, drink, or wear, says the Lord, for he is your good Father who knows everything you need. (Matthew 6:31)

“I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy affected by what you eat or how you look, you might have trouble believing that these statements are as true for you as they are for others. I’m telling you firsthand that they’re absolutely as true, real, and powerful as every other word of the Lord. He cares less about what you eat, and more about how you act. It matters more how much Jesus you take in daily – how much we worship, look for Him in our daily lives and the Bible, and give our hearts to Him in prayer – than how many grams and what type of protein we ingest. Though nutrition has the power to affect us, spiritual things are infinitely more important.

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve discovered this timeless foundation of dietary advice that has been there for us in God’s word for centuries. Though the world’s thoughts may waver, and though the science of nutrition is always evolving, some things can remain the same. If we can nail these down, we’ll have a filter to use on any new ideas that come at us.

If you’re not into what you’ve read so far, you’re still gonna want to hang with me. I’m serious. These truths are reassuring and helpful, no matter what you believe. They have the power to change the way you view nourishment. I’ve experienced the benefits of this advice to such an extent that I’m sure I’ll never again rely on a restrictive dietary pattern.

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  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you eat, drink, or do – do it all to the Glory of God. Food can easily become an attention-thief if we give it too much importance. My best tips are to enjoy food, enjoy how it enhances fellowship with others, and do your best to eat amounts that fuel you well without holding you back. Let go a bit on worrying about types of foods, and eat with a thankful and positive spirit. Food or the lack of food shouldn’t be an excuse to be grumpy or upset – not at yourself, not at the waitress, not at life.
  • Romans 14:15 – Be considerate of others by not making diet a big issue. In the early church, they worried about whether or not to take food from others because they might not know if it had been offered to idol gods. This is rarely our problem today, however, the guidance Paul gives to those struggling with that issue is still helpful for us. Don’t let something as trivial as food choices negatively affect your relationships, or your witness. Whether this means relaxing your diet a bit on certain occasions and enjoying whatever’s offered at a restaurant or somebody’s home, or, on the flipside, not indulging in a drink if dining with someone who alcohol presents a struggle for, or simply skipping the complaints about feeling fat or full – our friends/family deserve more concern than our food. You never know what others are dealing with – disordered eating, insecurity, depression, addiction – or how your hesitancy toward or overvaluing of food might affect them. By all means, treat yourself well – but consider others, too. Nothing we do is done in a vacuum.
  • Luke 12:16-21 – Don’t spend your life storing up grain (in our terms, this might relate to building up the perfect diet or body). Don’t get me wrong, preparation is good. Bettering ourselves is good. We just need to keep in mind that we never know when our last day will come. We don’t wanna have wasted our life on storing up things that’ll be gone! Focus more on the eternal. 💪🏼
  • Genesis 3:6 – Don’t let the temptation of food or drink keep you from something better. Remember that apple? She couldn’t look past it. When we become fixated on one thing, and that thing’s not God, it can really hurt us.
  • Luke 22:19 – When we eat, remember Him. Jesus refers to bread and wine here, but honestly every meal is an opportunity to remember what he did for us and who he is in our lives. So, let’s eat with gratitude! Remember that God sanctifies all foods that are received with thanksgiving.
  • Philippians 4:12 – We can find contentment in Christ whether full or hungry. 🙌🏼
  • Matthew 4:4 – Man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that God speaks. God nurtures our souls through his word, which contains an invisible sort of provision for us. When Jesus said that we don’t live on bread alone, he was 40 days fasted. Sort of makes it a little more believable, right?
  • In regard to food restrictions on moral terms – Honey, meat, cheese, fish, bread, and wine (in moderation) were all consumed and positively noted in the bible, in too many verses for me list – try Proverbs 24:13, 1 Kings, 17:6, and John 21:13 to start. If Jesus wasn’t too good for ’em… neither am I.

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And my personal favorite verses on this subject:

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. Ps. 18:16

He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. Ps. 18:19

If you have ever worried yourself to death about what you ate – because you couldn’t control it and felt guilty, or because you became obsessed about it and controlled it too much, God can set you free from that. It’s not for us to stress over. When we stress over it, our world gets small – and He wants it to be big! I can personally say that God has drawn me out of deep waters of anxiety and worry concerning many things, including what I eat. He continually brings me out into a spacious place where he reorders priorities in my mind – giving me freedom and the ability to make better choices for myself. He also reaches down from on high on the regular and takes hold of me when I need it. And it just so happens that I need it a lot, so I get a lot of love and “hugs.”

And you can too. All you have to do is ask.

xoxo 😘

Rae

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Blueberry Chia & Coconut Flour Muffins 🙌🏼

Blueberry Chia & Coconut Flour Muffins 🙌🏼

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Blueberries getting too soft gave me a good excuse to bake yesterday! 😉

I had some coconut flour on hand, so I just googled “blueberry coconut flour muffins.” I found a great recipe on the kingarthurflour.com site, and made a few changes. Because why not get fancy?

I swapped butter for coconut oil, and instead of sacrificing three of my eggs, I whipped up an egg substitute with chia seeds and water. I had both butter and eggs, but I’ve seen other recipes where people used these swaps and thought it might be cool to give it a shot. These muffins are gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo-friendly by coincidence!

Blueberry Chia & Coconut Muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

3 eggs, “chia eggs,” or “flax eggs”

3 tbsp honey

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

Makes 6 muffins 😊

–> If you’re game, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400F.

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Egg substitute: 1 egg = 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds, ground, + 3 tbsp water. This is referred to as 1 “chia egg” or 1 “flax egg.”

I ground up 3 tbsp of chia seeds in my blender, and then soaked them with 9 tbsp of water for about 10 minutes. The seeds develop a texture similar to that of an egg, and function similarly during baking. Now, I can save those 3 eggs for yummy omelets. #Efficient since I have to use up all these chia seeds somehow!

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And the omelet was super yummy with one of my muffins and some sautéed baby kale 🍃

Chia and flax seeds are full of healthy fats, like ALA – an Omega-3 fatty acid family member that’s good for brain health, even helping to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression. ALA is not as biologically active (efficiently used by the body) as Omega 3’s like DHA and EPA that are found in seafood, however – so if we really want to keep our brains healthy, we’ll have chia seeds at breakfast and fish at dinner (whenever we can – ideal would be a couple times per week! You can also take a fish oil supplement, which is what I’ve been doing lately 😊🐟 It may be just a placebo effect, but I feel like it’s improved my joint health as well).

Back to baking – while the chia seeds were soaking, I went ahead and sprayed 6 cups of this muffin tin lightly with some PAM. You could use butter, coconut oil, or any other spray you like.

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Then I mixed the coconut flour and baking powder together in one bowl, and the “chia eggs,” vanilla, salt, honey and melted coconut oil in another, and combined. After mixing the batter just until smooth, I rolled the blueberries in a little coconut flour (keeps them from sinking) and folded them into the batter. This was actually tough because the batter was super thick! But it works.

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It’ll be about a play-dough like consistency if you use the chia eggs. If you’re going for it guys, portion all your batter into half the muffin tin, and add any blueberries that didn’t mix in well to the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until tops and sides appear golden and a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

IMG_4369That’s it! Let em cool, and then flip your tin over with a cutting board underneath to remove muffins easily without them falling apart.

You can keep them in the fridge after you sample one, and they’re great reheated for 15 seconds in the microwave. If you’re feeling fancy, throw a little almond, cashew, or peanut butter on top before microwaving. YUM!

My takeaway here is that there’s always a way to use what you have! Overripe fruit? Just ask google 👀

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Keep your eyes open for my next post – it’s one I’ve been working on for a while, and you’re not gonna wanna miss it. I am seriously so excited to finally put it out for y’all.

Much love,

Rae

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies 🥕

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies 🥕

Hey fam 😊

Hope you’re loving summer, wherever your summer might have landed you!

If there’s one summer meal must-have, it’s grilled fish. Or grilled chicken wings. Or, grilled anything. If there’s two – oven-roasted veggies are going on at the same time.


I’d like to let you in on the secret to perfect roasted veggies, because I feel like it’s a complete game-changer. If you already know about this, you know exactly what I mean. And once you’ve got a method you like, it’s easier to want to try different veggies and easily bring a lot more variety to your plate.

Who ever thought asparagus could look so tempting? 👀


Ok. Here’s the classic “recipe” –

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You’ll need:

  • An oven
  • A baking sheet, or pan of any kind
  • A spatula
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Veggies (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
  • Other spices/parmesan (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to “bake” around 375 F, or a little hotter for potatoes. Maybe 425. You’ll figure out what works best for your oven/each veggie pretty quickly, but you can always cook longer or less depending on how toasty you want them to look!

Wash up your veggies if they’re fresh – use a scrubber to get all that dirt off 😝

(This works great with frozen veggies as well! Just pour them right outta the bag onto the pan.)

If you’re using potatoes or something bigger like that, you can chop them into thin strips, little wedges, chunks, “fries” – whatever!

The fun part- drizzle a little olive oil all over your pan of veggies. About a tablespoon for a decent-sized tray, or just enough to lightly coat the veggies.

The good fats in olive oil help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in veggies, so it’s a win-win for taste and nutrition.

Then, hit em with a few pinches of salt. Sea salt, pink salt, whatever! You can add other spices if you have some you really like. If you’re roasting sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you could skip the salt and add cinnamon. But they’re good salted too!

P.S. – If you’re watching your sodium, either a) measure the total amount of salt you use and make sure you don’t consume more of a serving than you need, or b) substitute other spices or one of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasonings. Or skip it all together, because just the olive oil will make these pretty darn good.

Once you get ready, stick your pan in the oven! You should do this about 1 hour before you wanna eat.

Cook 25-30 minutes, pull the tray out (with hot pads!), flip all the veggies over with a spatula, and cook 25-30 more.

If you wanna add some Parmesan, pull the tray out again with 10-15 minutes to go and sprinkle some on. This is especially great on green veggies like asparagus or broccoli! 😊

And after about an hour, here’s your final product!


Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM 👅

Temperature, time, etc. are totally modifiable to suit different ovens, vegetables, and tastes – but this should be a good outline to cooking veggies well. It’s hard to mess up – and if you turn the oven light on, set a timer, and stay nearby, you’re not likely to!

It’s also a nice method because you can put these in, forget about them until your timer goes off and it’s time to flip, and use that time to get the rest of your meal ready. Or, if you have some chicken or something already cooked, you can roast these and keep studying or cleaning or whatever, heat up the other stuff in the good old ‘wave, and you’ve got a super low-maintenance but awesome dinner.

This method has also been known to win over even the pickiest of veggie eaters, because it makes them taste super crispy like french fries 🍟

Hope you love ’em!

If you have (or find) a favorite roasted veggie or a favorite spice to add, let us know in the comments below!

xoxo 😘 Stay bright!

Rae

Pancakes That’ll Make You Wanna Slap Somebody (Sugar free, Refined Flour-free, Dairy-free) 🥞

Pancakes That’ll Make You Wanna Slap Somebody (Sugar free, Refined Flour-free, Dairy-free) 🥞

I think I’ve stumbled onto something great.

There are a ton of recipes out there using oatmeal, eggs, bananas, and other simple ingredients to make pancake-like creations. Until now, most of my attempts have been just that – “pancake-like”.

But, I had some leftover oatmeal last week, and an idea struck me. I blended about 1/3 to 1/2 of a serving of cooked oatmeal with 1 egg (my last egg) and 1/3 of a banana (also left-over) in my blender. I stirred a pinch of baking powder into that batter as an afterthought, to help it rise. Then I sprayed a skillet with some cooking spray, and made 6 cute mini pancakes.

Oh. My. Gosh.

They were so good! So good that I immediately pulled up the blog and started typing away.

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And this may be the secret –

When I cooked my oatmeal, I had stirred in a couple of heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin puree, which I had bought for another recipe, and some cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. It’s good in any season 😉

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And, when I cooked the pancakes, I sprinkled in a few chopped pecans. Then, after cooking, I topped them with a few more pecan pieces, a sprinkle of ground flax seed, about a tablespoon of melted almond butter, and BLUEBERRIES. Fruit and almond butter just cannot be beat as a pancake (or anything) topping.

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And I began the hot (rainy) summer day in Fall bliss 🙂

Highly recommend a cup of Blueberry Muffin Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee with unsweetened Silk Soymilk. Absolutely perfect with this breakfast, and rounded it out with some more protein.

Why was this breakfast so exciting?

#1. It was delicious.

#2. It made me feel awesome.

#3. I knew it was healthy, but it tasted like it wasn’t 😉

Every meal should feel this way, shouldn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be butter-smothered to be delicious. No matter your health goals, you can enjoy awesome food. Just be creative! (Or get a little help)

I hope you like these pancakes if you give them a shot. I used things I had on hand, clearly, so feel free to substitute different fruits or toppings for things you have around or things you love.

Be blessed, be bright, & Happy 4th of July!

Rae

 

Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s 🍓

Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s 🍓

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Hey everyone 🙂

Spending so much time with Auburn’s Sports Nutrition staff has filled my head with dozens of blog post ideas. The tough part is finding the time to put them into words!

My short-term internship project for this summer was an infographic on the health benefits of summer fruits, which I really enjoyed researching. It’s incredible how POWERFUL the simple plants that God has allowed to grow out of the ground are. There are so many compounds in fruits that you could really call “magical” – Anthocyanins in tart cherries, for example, have been shown to be almost as effective as ibuprofen at reducing inflammation. Zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, antioxidants found in cantaloupe, play a protective role in eye health. All of these compounds are at higher concentrations when fruits are at their brightest colors, which for these summer fruits, is right now! And FIBER in all fruits and veggies is so good for your heart. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease risk – need I say more?

Putting this into practical application –

I went grocery shopping this week, and I managed to pick up a lot of really great stuff. I’m not gonna lie to you, though, I wasn’t really thinking about heart health benefits when I was in the store. I was mainly focusing on not hitting anyone with my cart, finding the aisles I was looking for, and getting good prices. And trying to restrain myself from buying too much fresh produce, because I know I can’t use as much as I think when it’s just me. And the worst way to waste money is having to throw things away because they got moldy!

In a perfect world, we’d roam the aisles thinking about our heart health. Our brain health. Our eye health. Taking our time, selecting each item that would make us more functional human beings. What do you think about when you shop? I’m definitely prone to distraction, ESPECIALLY when walking down the cereal aisle, even though I know what I like. For me, it’s gotta be old-fashioned oats, or a hearty, grainy, lightly sweetened cereal. That’s what’s always gonna make me feel the best and fill me up for the longest. This time, I bought some wheat Chex, which I really like. But there’s always some fancy new box that wants my attention. Chocolate-covered sugar-coma granola labeled “all-natural”. New cheerios claiming to be “protein-packed” (spoiler alert – they mainly contain 4 more grams of protein than regular cheerios because the serving size is bigger, and they’ll also provide you with 16 more grams of sugar and more than double the calories per serving). The grass isn’t always greener with some new product, guys. Don’t be a victim to the chaos 😉

So, how can we grocery shop with the health of our bodies in mind? Without falling prey to distraction and needless worries while we’re shopping?

Plan ahead. And take our time selecting items as much as we can.

  1. Make a general outline of bomb-tasting healthy meals for the week – things you’re really excited to make & eat
  2. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need
  3. Make a deal with yourself – only 1-2 additional items may be thrown in frivolously (make em count!)

If you go in armed with a plan, you’re much more likely to shop well and ultimately consume a healthier diet. And this can affect much more than just how your pants fit – though that is a huge benefit. Your ability to focus, your memory, sleep quality, exercise quality, and mood can all be improved by eating a healthy diet. And a healthy diet in turn becomes something that you can feel, and that you will want to seek out – what does my body really want right now to feel truly good?

You might think that if you let yourself think that way, you’d hear your body whisper “chocolate cake” every second. Maybe if you’re listening only to the taste buds and the cravings. But after a while those fade, and then what about your brain? Your tummy? Your heart? Does your body enjoy being loaded down with sugar and sleeping off a food coma? Not really – it likes being energized and lively so you can go do things in the world.

A “discipline is the only way” approach might work for a little bit… but it can leave you still thinking about what you “want.” And in reality, the cake might be what you need some days, for your emotional well-being! But, if you stop and listen – something else might be more satisfying right now. Are you someone who doesn’t think you like eating “healthy” foods? I’d guarantee there are some you do like. Watermelon? Yogurt? Grilled Chicken? Roasted carrots, or potatoes? I bet you can find a few. Start small, and grow from there. Taste buds really can change, and the cooking and preparation of something can make a huge difference. For example – my family recently discovered that roasted beets are super yummy. Pickled beets… not our thing. But that’s okay! You just need to find a way YOU like! A beet is a beet!

And if you like a lot of “healthy” foods, but you like all the other foods too…

Remember that your best diet is a beautiful compilation of foods that do your body good – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This will vary based on your genetic makeup (metabolism, food preferences, intolerances), the season of life you’re in, the amount of time you have to prepare food, how long you’ve been cooking or eating well, various holidays, and family culture – but good nutrition is all-encompassing! It allows all of that to fit into a healthy, happy lifestyle. Your diet is everything that you eat, all the little small decisions, which add up to a huge picture of your health. With improving your health, body, choices, and habits, the key is consistency. And eliminating the stress of doing everything “right.” Just let yourself try your best, and then simply be. So much can be gained from slowing down and allowing yourself to think about your food choices, instead of rushing and self-sabatoging your health.

At the same time that little “poor” decisions get lost in the huge puzzle of a good diet, all the little decisions add up to form the picture that is your diet. So it is in the little choices that we’ll find health and success!

So, back to the shopping. What can you do if you want to improve your food choices? How should you plan for your next grocery trip? If you want to really give your body the fuel it deserves, and love doing so – here’s a few tips for your list.

  1. Start with your protein. 🍳
    • Great dinner choices are lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, or any of the many varieties of beans (combine with whole grains for a complete protein). Lunch protein can easily be dinner leftovers, repurposed into a salad or sandwich, or nut butter on anything. At breakfast, I love soymilk or soy yogurt (feel free to go for nonfat dairy, soy just makes my little tummy feel the best), almond butter, or eggs, for protein.
    • This week, I bought a big box of frozen (minimal additives) turkey burgers, so that I can pull one out and grill it when I want it! The other nights, I’ve had black bean & brown rice bowls, and I’ve still got some frozen baby shrimp and frozen chicken-maple sausage in the freezer for when I want to mix it up. Freezers are magical when you don’t go through things quickly!
  2. Fill out your meals with veggies. 🥒
    • I love keeping a container of greens (arugula, baby kale, and baby spinach rock) around so I can turn anything into a salad for lunch, or have a side salad with dinner. And – they’re great sautéed into your eggs with some salt and pepper. If you haven’t tried baby kale with eggs – please do. Game-changer.
    • Roasted veggies are AMAZING. And easy. Stay tuned for my next blog post on making ANY veggie delicious 😉
    • FROZEN VEGGIES – always have them in your freezer. They’ll be there when you need them!
    • It can also be nice to find a veggie you really like to snack on (with or without hummus)! Bell peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and crinkle-cut carrots are my go-to.
  3. Make sure you’ve got grains. 🍞
    • I’d argue it’s easiest to mess up here. Because there are SO. MANY. OPTIONS. With bread and cereals, anything packaged, stick to this rule – a whole grain as your first ingredient, and the shortest ingredient list you can find. With cereals, aim for less than 10g sugar/serving (<5 even better!)
    • Brown rice over white, whole wheat pasta over regular, you get the idea.
    • Why? Fiber is healthy for your heart, and when it’s stripped away (white bread, etc.), things get kind of… weird. Messing with nature’s package too much. It’s missing something it was meant to have.
    • HOWEVER – the goal is to eat whole grains for at least half of your grains. That leaves you a lot of room for wiggle. The weirdness will only get you if you MOSTLY eat nutrient-stripped grains. It’s the big picture, folks!
  4. EAT ALL THE FRUIT. 🍒
    • This one’s easy. Buy it – fresh or frozen. Add it to cereal. Smoothies. Yogurt. A bowl. Supplement your diet with all the fruits – as much as your budget will allow, that is! You aren’t going to mess up here!
  5. The things you love.  💕
    • For me – the cart ain’t complete without almond milk, air-popped popcorn for snacking (it’s whole grain and actually a really good choice!), and probably one special drink of some sort (a kombucha, vitamin water, iced coffee, etc.) 😊
    • Every couple of months, some dark chocolate, halotop ice cream, or graham crackers might make it in my cart. #faves. Make room for your faves when your heart tells you to! And when you buy them, savor ’em!

Did I forget anything? There you go. My guide to grocery shopping. These items are gonna nourish you all the way to your heart, because fruit & veggie vitamins promote blood health, and fiber reduces blood pressure, helping to prevent added stress on the heart. So you can rest easy knowing your diet’s keeping your blood pumping!

Here’s some meal-spiration 🙂 –

 

 

 

Eating well, with a relaxed yet intentional attitude, helps you live well. And longer. And it boosts your self-esteem just by simply doing it.

Stay bright!

Rae

Fear of Failure 🍳 

Fear of Failure 🍳 

Our days are already mapped out. Did you know that?

Every single one, written in God’s book.

We get to choose how hard we work at our jobs, what we watch on TV, what we eat, who we spend time with, how often we blog… but He already knows every choice we’ll make before we make it. If we are believers in Christ, His Spirit continually draws us to the places we need to be to make an impact for Him. He knows we’re not perfect, and He will use us and bless us anyway. He actually couldn’t use us if we were perfect… because there’d be no room for Him. People would just see us.

Human perfection is a myth, and this principle bleeds over into every area of our lives. The desire for perfection can actually hinder progress – it’s hard to keep pressing forward when we’re continuously looking back and trying to fix what we messed up, or mentally beating ourselves up over our mistakes. So much can be gained from being accepting, especially of ourselves, and getting back at it.

I can name countless areas where I’ve done both – beat myself up, or kept going – and the latter is always more beneficial. Sports, relationships, eating healthy, school… yeah. Even if you win at everything you attempt, there might still be something you could’ve done better. But that’d keep you from celebrating your victories!

You know what I’m really not perfect at? Among a lot of other things… cooking.

My first cooking experience at my new home in Auburn involved making a huge mess in the microwave (should’ve used a bigger bowl). I know how to make oatmeal… but sometimes new variables enter in. My new microwave is way more powerful than the one in my dorm was. I used a different bowl. The list goes on. However, I could’ve saved myself some cleaning if I had been watching the oats while they cooked. So, that was my takeaway from this – the first time you do something new, keep an eye on it.

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My oats were still delicious 😉

My first time using the oven here… I burned my thumb. Don’t try to watch TV while you’re getting a pan out of the oven. But, if you do, life will go on, and the roasted carrots will still be pretty good.

carrot
Roll carrots in olive oil & salt; Bake @ 325 for 30 minutes, flip, and bake 30 more.

I’ve made some really yummy food for myself and my family, and I’ve learned a ton about cooking for one person. Some of my top tips include buying what you like, buying frozen veggies and meat often (because you can’t use fresh as fast as you think), and keeping staples on hand for quick meals. Also, I’ve learned that (though I’m definitely a snack lover) cooking real meals is so much more satisfying, and so much more nourishing to the body, than just eating some stuff out of the cabinet for dinner. Cooking for yourself also gives you a sense of personal pride (Yeah, I made that, and it was darn good!) and is SO much healthier than eating out all the time. Eating out is good for the soul, sure, and can be perfectly healthy a few times a week, but home-cooked meals have the potential to be so much better for the body. Plus, you pick exactly what ingredients go in (Don’t like mushrooms? You’ll never have to pick around one), how much goes on your plate, and you don’t have to wait on somebody else to put your order in with the chef.

People like to say they “can’t cook.” Well, don’t take my word for it, but…

“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great” – Chef Gusteau (Ratatouille)

You can do it. To make it good, you just need practice, and maybe a little help from somebody whose cooking you like. And if you don’t enjoy being in the kitchen, I’ve got some tips that might help you out with that.

  1. Pick out things at the store that make you excited to cook. I love anything breakfast-y, anything with the word almond in it (almond butter, almond milk…), fresh fruit, dark greens, and whole grains. Oh yeah, and sweet potatoes. When you’re the chef, you’re in charge – why not make a meal out of your favorite healthy foods?

    bfast dinner 2.0
    Sweet Potato, Kale, & Egg  Skillet + Kodiak cakes + Almond butter + Berries + Almond Milk
  2. Make some noise in the kitchen. Listen to your favorite music, turn on the TV, call a friend, or recruit others to hang out with you while you cook. You don’t have to isolate yourself! The kitchen should be one of the warmest and liveliest places in the house. Just don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re pulling a pan out of the oven!
  3. Cook ahead. I love already having the tough part of a meal done, especially during the week. If I cook 2 decently large chicken breasts one night, I can work that into 3 or 4 meals and only have to cook the veggies and rice. If it’s been a long day, I’ll just throw that chicken on a tray with corn tortilla chips and a little cheese, chop up an avocado or a tomato, and call it nachos. Or, if it’s been a really long day… salad takes 2 minutes. It’s always there for me.

So yeah, cooking can be really fun. Therapeutic, even. At the very least, you can definitely do it! Never let fear of failure or imperfection get in your way. With cooking, diet, exercise, sport, school, a new job, or anything else in life – Go for it, and you might surprise yourself!

Good luck 😘

Rae

Me

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M-day 💕

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day 🙂 Ours was perfect. We started off the day making some “real deal” chocolate chip waffles with bacon, and ended with seeing our grandparents, picking up my sister from dance rehearsal, and scarfing down some amazing grilled shrimp that I was too hungry to consider taking a picture of.

waffle with bacon
Real whipped cream + toasted coconut + berries 🙂 And some special cold brew coffee with almond milk!

One day or one weekend to celebrate moms is absolutely not enough, because they are the reason all of our lives are possible. On top of that, they do so much thankless work. Thank them for everything you can think of, because there is always more that goes on behind the scenes.

That being said, we ought to just be able to give moms a rest day, but I know mine always ends up working, even on Mother’s Day. Laundry is still running, and Mom is still full-throttle getting us ready for the week ahead. She’s superhuman.

However, it is possible to incorporate restfulness into even the busiest of days. Whether it’s a yoga session, enjoying a good meal, watching a little TV, or just going to bed early, rest is important to your mental health. We weren’t created to run 24/7, and many moms (like mine) have figured this out.

You’ve probably heard it before, but if you want to be present for others, you need to take care of you. Why not take initiative and incorporate planned rest into your life? In my experience, if you try to be “on” all the time, you’re going to crash. Give yourself the satisfaction of taking breaks, on your own terms.

beach1

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, probably because they thought the M’s would be cute. May is actually a really good time to think about it, though, because for many of us the school year is coming to a close. Things get really busy, and then they just drop off. If you’re in the busy phase, it’s a great time to consider how you can improve your performance by keeping your mental health strong. If you’ve made it through, congratulations! Allow yourself to relax, and definitely consider de-stressors that you can incorporate into your life when it winds back up again. If life is calm for you, considering your mental health can boost your happiness, help you to care more for others, and just overall make you whole and healthy.

Many say that mental health is just as important as physical health – and I agree. You might work your tail off for a performance, or to look good for an event… but when you get there, can you enjoy it? In our everyday quest to keep our bodies healthy, if we stress ourselves out, we will not succeed. We might make the grade, reach our body goals, or lower our cholesterol, but we are not fully healthy or successful if we are not mentally healthy. Mental health will determine the overall quality of your life. Everything you experience is processed in your brain… the way you interpret life is ultimately what matters.

GPA 3.69

It’s not just a concept – physical proof of the negative effects of poorly managed stress on the body includes elevated cortisol – a stress hormone that is naturally elevated when we stress the body. Cortisol isn’t all bad – levels go up when we work out hard. It’s essential for performance, but if elevated all day long, it can negatively influence fat storage (more around the middle), among other negative effects. A workout only temporarily spikes cortisol, but not getting enough sleep or being under constant stress can result in chronically high cortisol levels. Additionally, stress itself has been linked to an increase in heart disease! You can do all the healthy things, but if you don’t live life with moderation and allow yourself rest, you could seriously impact your physical health.

Exercise, though it temporarily stresses the body, is good for your mental health because it releases other “feel-good” hormones, like serotonin. Encouraging, not forcing, the body to move will give us the best results. I don’t mean stop if running or lifting is hard- challenge yourself, but don’t work beyond sense. Don’t push exercise to the max if you are feeling drained. Work with your body, not against it.

Being mindful with exercise ties right in with one of my favorite things in the world – mindful eating. Learning to listen to my body’s true needs when it comes to food has been one of the best changes I could ever have made in my life. God gave us hunger and fullness cues, and emotions, for a reason- and it’s our job to listen and nourish ourselves well.

A healthy and varied diet full of good fats, lean protein, whole grains, and colorful fruits and veggies can really make you feel and look your best. And the body is happy. However, food was also meant for celebration! Though I do feel rejuvenated after eating most days, there’s something fulfilling about enjoying a special meal with family. Though my healthiest breakfasts might contain more antioxidants than chocolate chip waffles, those waffles we had yesterday had their own sort of benefit. Happiness, letting go, not caring that they’re full fat and full sugar. Letting yourself enjoy a total splurge is good for the mental state.

The thing is, we don’t have to deserve good food. We don’t deserve anything in life. It’s all a gift. Our bodies are a gift, too.

I have also found that good old fashioned dessert loses its luster if you start feeling “entitled” to it. What’s there to celebrate is you eat this way every day? I say, enjoy healthy food most of the time, and fearlessly indulge when your body needs it. You don’t have to have cake on every occasion, but you should certainly have cake in your life. Or ice cream. Or whatever you love. Structure and groundedness in your diet are good. Making treats healthier is good. But chocolate chip waffle mix from William’s Sonoma is good, too.

And don’t call it a cheat meal. Call it living your life.

To close, here are some of my favorite ways to keep my mind healthy and happy –

  1. Going to bed early
  2. Yoga
  3. Taking walks
  4. Drinking hot tea ☕️
  5. Hammocking
  6. Crossfit
  7. Watching the sun rise
  8. Reading my bible
  9. Relaxing with friends/ family
  10. Bubble baths 🛀🏼

These are just examples, and I encourage you to find your own ways to incorporate rest and healthy movement into your lives on a daily basis. Your mind, body, and family will all thank you!

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Be well,

Rae