🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life â¤ď¸

🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life â¤ď¸

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 đŸ™ŒđŸź

Blueberry Chia & Coconut Flour Muffins đŸ™ŒđŸź

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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

Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s đŸ“

Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s đŸ“

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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 sautĂŠed 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

Choosing Your “Central Perk”

Choosing Your “Central Perk”

I’ve noticed during my recent “Friends”-watching that no two members of the group have the same coffee order when they sit down in their corner at the Central Perk. Joey’s usually involves a muffin, and who can forget Episode 1 where Ross tears Rachel’s sweet-n-low packets for her? When their drink orders get mixed up, everyone is quick to switch. You obviously want your own order, not someone else’s. But how do you know you’ve chosen the best cup for you? And why are there so many options in coffee shops today?

Many people suffer from “coffee shop anxiety.” As they approach the board, their eyes are overwhelmed by the long lists of words and flavors and brews… it’s a little crazy how many different drinks we call “coffee.” If you’re clueless about coffeeshop choices, this post should clear up a lot of the confusion. If you already have your standard order down pat, keep reading – you might see a modification here that you could use to make it even better and better for you.

The cardinal rule I try to follow is to eat/drink to feel better afterward than I did before – not worse. To benefit myself, and not harm myself. A sugar coma or a sick tummy does not make me feel better, nor does it benefit my long-term health. Who wants to feel gross, just because some calorie-bomb drink tasted good in the moment? Trust me, I’ve made good choices and bad – and I’d say that for me the good choice generally leads to a better mood, a more successful day, better self-esteem, and better choices afterward. Remember, it’s not any one choice, but the accumulation of your choices over time that defines your diet. Having good go-to’s takes the guess work out of eating out, too. When you’ve ordered something lots of times, it becomes a stress-free decision, and you won’t have to expend as much energy making that choice as you did the first time.

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I’ve been attending a small group for a couple of weeks that meets at the local coffee place, Village Coffee. So, everybody’s gonna ask you what you ordered (naturally) to break the ice. This got me thinking about whether my order defines me as a person – am I a 12oz sugar-free vanilla soy latte girl, forever? Nope, I’m still just Rae. And guess what – I can be a cafe misto, or hot tea, or black coffee kind of girl whenever I’d like.

I’ve got 3 big tips that will take any order to its healthiest level – and here they are. These are the foundation of my coffeehouse philosophy.

  1. Choose your base wisely. If you’re having a drink that contains a good bit of milk (most “coffee” drinks that aren’t plain brewed coffee), I recommend choosing either non-fat (skim) milk, or non-dairy milk. This will bring the total calories and fat way down for your drink (and it still tastes heavenly). If you’re using cream or whole or 2% milk in your brewed coffee, remember that a little goes a long way.
  2. Cut (back) the sugar. Nix whipped cream to do yourself nothing but good; skip drizzles and extra syrup shots. Consider sugar-free syrup if you’re okay with occasional consumption of artificial sweeteners.
  3. Simpler can be better. My stand-by at coffee shops is a modification of the classic vanilla latte, but on the daily I drink brewed coffee. I feel no need to branch out into crazy stuff with triple-flavored names… those often involve multiple syrup shots, which isn’t going to be healthier. I recommend sticking with one flavor shot!

You can use these tips to give any drink a healthy upgrade. If you’d like a little more insight into ordering, here’s an overview of some of the top order categories, and how to approach them.

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BLACK COFFEE – There are always a few “purists” who drink it black, or with a little cream or sugar, and wouldn’t have it any other way. This is definitely one of the most budget-friendly, waistline-friendly options, and it’s universally served. There’s likely no coffee shop where you won’t find it. With black coffee, just watch the amount of cream/sugar you add, and you’ll be fine. For your reference, 1 tablespoon of half and half contains 20 calories (1.7g fat, 0.6g carb, and 0.4g protein). I’d usually use 2 tablespoons, so that’d be 40 calories. Sugar contains 15 calories per teaspoon (or packet), all from 4.2g carb. Doctoring up your coffee with 2 tbsp of half and half and 1 tsp sugar = A fairly tame cup, at 55 calories, 3.4g fat, 4.8g carb, and 0.8g protein. If the coffee’s good, I’ll usually go with a splash of cream and skip the sugar.

Some places will offer milk, and you can use a little more of this for less fat and calories than half and half. It’s less concentrated, but you can use more. You can use 1/2 cup skim milk for the same caloric value as 2 tbsp half and half, and none of the saturated fat – and you’ll also get 4 g of protein. 2% milk is a happy medium – creamier than skim milk, a little more fat but less than half and half, and 31 calories per 1/4 cup.

Artificial sweeteners are another swap you can try – keep in mind you’re only saving 15 calories per packet, and they may give your coffee a slightly different taste.

{If you are diabetic, the artificial sweetener is the best choice for you if you need it, because it won’t spike your blood sugar like sugar does. There are varying opinions on artificial sweeteners – some believe they can cause more cravings for real sugar. They have been shown to aid in weight loss, however, when they replace sugar. It’s ultimately your call – do your own research by using google scholar, or finding analyses of artificial sweeteners by RDN’s or RD’s on youtube/blogs/etc.}

Smiley face mug - happy yellow coffee

There are really so many options for fixing a cup of coffee. Lately, at home, I’ve been using 1/4 to 1/2 cup almond or cashew milk in mine and loving it. 1/2 cup provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily calcium intake, is free of sugar and saturated fat, and makes your coffee nice and creamy for just 15 calories. It tastes better to me than dairy milk, so I use it whenever I get the chance. The only drawback is less protein, but we can get that from many other sources during the day. Many coffee shops are beginning to offer almond milk as an option for lattes, etc. – so if this is the case at your favorite place, you could ask them to give you a splash (they’ll keep it behind the counter in their fridge). You can also ask for a cafe misto or cafe au lait – half brewed coffee, half steamed milk of your choice. These are fabulous and I do get them sometimes – they tend to cost a little more than a cup of coffee, but a little less than a latte.

LATTES – My usual, if I want to treat myself. The latte is likely the most classic and widely ordered hot drink in the U.S. It’s steamed milk and espresso, with (optional) a syrupy flavor of your choice. A plain latte (no syrup) can be good if you’re in the right mood. Give it a shot if you can handle things less sweet, but still want to sip on some creamy, frothy goodness. Sugar-free syrups are also an option, and, though made with artificial sweeteners, will save you approximately 20 calories and 5g sugar per pump. Key here is your milk – a classic latte is made with whole or 2% milk, but you can ask for nonfat, soy, or almond (if available).

Let’s compare: I’m using Starbucks nutrition facts for calculations, and no whipped cream on any of these for simplicity’s sake.

12oz (Tall) Whole milk latte with vanilla syrup: 220 calories, 9g fat, 27g sugar.

12oz (Tall) Nonfat latte with vanilla syrup: 150 calories, 0g fat, 35g sugar.

12oz (Tall) “Skinny Vanilla Latte” (Nonfat milk, sugar-free vanilla syrup): 100 calories, 0g fat, 12g sugar. Note, the sugar here comes from the milk – it’s a natural sugar, known as none other than lactose.

12oz (Tall) Skinny Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk – 140 calories,  4g fat, 12g sugar. Great for those who prefer non-dairy, but not more calorie-efficient than the skinny.

12oz (Tall) Skinny Vanilla Latte with Unsweetened Almond Milk: 80 calories, 5g fat, 0g sugar. Niceeee. Less protein, though. Almond milk isn’t as widely available as soy, either. It’ll get there one day.

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CAPPUCCINOS – Traditionally much like a latte, with more foam. Same principles should apply here that would to a latte. Cappuccinos are traditionally plain, unsweetened, but you can ask for any flavoring you like to be added.

MOCHAS – A mocha is much like a latte, but with mocha sauce in place of the flavored syrup. This is generally going to give you a higher calorie drink, depending on how much sauce the barista uses. A 12oz nonfat mocha = 190 calories, 2g far, and 27g sugar. Some places, like Starbucks, will offer skinny mochas, with sugar-free mocha sauce – 110 calories, 1g fat, 12g sugar. Not bad- very similar to a skinny latte.

MACCHIATOS – Coffee with a splash of milk, syrup, and often a caramel drizzle. Can be similar in nutritional value to a latte – a 12oz Starbucks skinny macchiato is 100 calories, 1g fat, 14g sugar. Here’s one below – yum. Often served iced – the main reason it’s not my go-to (I like my drinks hot!).

macchiato

FRAPPES – I thought they were dangerous territory. Guess what – You can order a tall “Coffee Light Frappuccino” at good old Starbs’ for just 90 calories. “Cafe’ Vanilla Light” for 130. Really?! Who knew. They get a bad rep because they look so decadent, with their swirly whipped cream and fancy lids – but here on the light, we’re nixing the whipped cream. Wanna hear the stats for the original Cafe Vanilla Frappucino? The big one you’ll see people toting around – a 24oz Venti? 530 calories, 16g fat, and 88g sugar. Good grief!

It’s worth noting that at smaller coffee shops, frappes are usually made from a pre-made mix, and may not be this customizable (while lattes, cappuccinos, etc. will be). You can always, always ask, but you might not be able to get a skinny frappe just anywhere. In this case, I’d go with an iced drink – Iced coffee with a splash of milk and a shot of vanilla syrup, or an iced skinny latte, mocha, etc.

Note- size. I looked at the small (12oz) size in this post because that’s what I’m usually after. If I want a treat, I’m treating myself, and the small is special enough for me (but it’s totally up to you, and personal preference, and your caloric needs). You can calculate the calories for any beverage you’d like easily by searching it online and maybe talking with the barista if necessary. If size is more important to you, you can choose a lighter drink than maybe you would if you were getting a smaller one. If you’ve just worked out really hard, or have higher caloric needs, your body could probably handle more discretionary calories being spent here. Remember – it’s all about meeting your body’s own personal needs on that given day. All foods can fit.

Not a coffee drinker? You can opt for these yummy options:

  • Hot tea (your best bet – 0 calories, and you can add milk or honey if you’d like)
  • Iced tea (go with an unsweetened variety and add your own if needed)
  • Chai latte – switch out your milk for skim or another lighter milk
  • At Starbucks – a hot vanilla creme with nonfat milk (a slimmed down, vanilla version of hot cocoa!)
  • Hot apple cider
  • Hot cocoa brewed with water instead of milk
Pukka love tea hot chamomile rose
Yummmmm.

Coffeehouse grub? A lot of it offers you little nutritional value in a highly attractive and sugar-y package. Muffins, scones, cookies… think of them as an occasional treat, not a regular purchase, and split them with a friend. You’ll enjoy it more, because you have somebody to “mmmmm” with, and you’ll obviously eat less!

Decent breakfast choices offered at some coffee shops include oatmeal (watch your sugar and toppings), whole grain breads, fruit bowls, breakfast sandwiches on whole grain english muffins with topping such as eggs, egg whites, spinach, etc. The more progressive places, like Mama Mocha’s in Auburn, Al, are offering killer healthy lunch options like Kale salads! Yum.

highlands

Choose based on your coffee place’s best options, your personal needs on that given day, and how much you’re willing to spend. Doing that, you can’t go wrong! And remember – don’t be afraid to switch up your classic order. You can be whatever kind of coffee drinker you want to be, today.

Stay bright,

Rae

 

Doubt-free French Toast

Doubt-free French Toast

“Dorm Baking, pt. 1”

Breakfast, at any time of the day, tends to be my favorite meal. It’s easy, satisfying, and usually… sweet. I read an article this week on, after Breakfast for Dinner at the dining hall, that led to some real soul-searching on the subject. The evolution of the modern American breakfast seems to have been one towards, well, dessert.

The article included an infographic comparing many commercial breakfast foods to their dessert counterparts – e.g., a muffin to a cupcake, granola to oreos, etc… and the dessert foods won out almost every time, having less sugar and calories than the breakfast items. Sobering. (Read it here at vox.com).

However, just because a Dunkin’ Donuts muffin contains “x” amount of sugar, fat, and calories, doesn’t mean that all muffins have to be this way.

One of the breakfast favorites at our campus dining hall is french toast – and we all agree that the toppings are what blow it out of the water. French toast is really just bread and egg, a fairly balanced combo of carbs and protein. I decided to create a really yummy version that can be made in any space, with minimal equipment, and that tastes fabulous without inducing a sugar-coma.

One of our team slogans is “Leave No Doubt” – we try to do this on the track, giving every run, workout, and race our best effort. We like to avoid doubt in our lifestyles as well – neglecting our sleep, studies, hydration, and nutrition isn’t going to make us a better team.

Without further ado, here’s my “Doubt-Free French Toast.”

You’ll need: 

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (or whatever milk you like)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 small-to-medium slices whole grain bread (I used Dave’s Killer Bread)
  • Toppings (I used almond butter and blueberries)

 

Now, for the easy part. Mix together egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, beating the egg yolk with a fork. Tear up the bread into small, bite-sized pieces and drop into the mixture. Stir well to coat. Transfer to microwave safe mug or bowl.

Microwave on high for 1:30 – 2 minutes, or until liquid is mostly soaked up and mixture appears “set.” Add toppings, and enjoy!

I used 1 tsp Justin’s maple almond butter, and fresh blueberries. This would also be great with a light drizzle of maple syrup and a pinch of vanilla protein powder.

french-toast-blueberry-almond-mug
Yum.

Hope you enjoy giving this a shot! Cooking better rarely takes longer, just better ingredients, a little more thought, and moderation.

Leave no doubt,

Rae

National Hot Breakfast Month

National Hot Breakfast Month

It’s not very cold in Troy, Alabama right now (knock on wood), but that’s no reason not to celebrate National Hot Breakfast Month. When I get out of bed and my dorm room’s A.C. is kicking, there’s nothing better than a warm breakfast to perk me up before class. Warm foods seem to soothe the body – they gently awaken us, helping us to start the day relaxed instead of in a frenzy of worries and to-do’s. I just picked up this adorable smiley mug at The Confetti Crate (a local boutique), and it makes mornings a little bit sweeter too!

Smiley face mug - happy yellow coffee
Isn’t he adorable?

I love drinking coffee out of a pretty mug, and when you’re living the microwave cooking life, it’s also great for oatmeal. It’s way more aesthetically pleasing than a paper bowl, and you also get to have warm hands while you eat. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend trying a mug breakfast. Besides oatmeal, you can cook eggs, oat cakes, and French toast!

Besides being a good (temperature) warm-up for the day, cooking your own breakfast gives you a self-confidence boost right away. Trying a new recipe or just going to the effort to make yourself something you love sets the intention for the day – it tells your brain “I am not lazy, and I’m not afraid to achieve. I care about taking care of myself.”

Here’s a few hot breakfast ideas I’ve made recently, for your inspiration. You’ll probably notice a lot of oats – but I just bought some eggs, so I’ll be making use of them this week. An open-faced egg sandwich on whole wheat with strawberry all-fruit spread sounds awesome for Valentine’s tomorrow!

And remember this one? OMG yum.

Sweet potato stuffed breakfast with berries dairy-free vegan
Yum. Click here for my post on this!

Here’s the mug oat cake I made today – eek! It was delicious!! I combined the oatmeal directions with a cake batter mug cake recipe, and this was the result. I would’ve made it in my pretty mug, but I went with a smiley cup instead because I was already drinking coffee from it.

Sweet cake batter oatmeal bake
Quaker Protein Oats + vanilla extract + almond milk + egg + a touch of olive oil butter = this cake-y goodness!

I plan to feature the recipe for this oatmeal bake ^^ and my microwave whole grain french toast in an upcoming blog on dorm “baking.” It’s really trial and error – but I can share what I’ve learned!

christmas pancake chocolate chip all foods fit
A real hot breakfast – My family’s Christmas morning chocolate chip pancake feast!

This one’s just me reminiscing… Christmas morning. I think this is why hot breakfasts make me feel happy – I miss my family. Remember, y’all – a microwave will never cook like your dad’s skillet, and that’s ok. Savor every part of life, because each day holds things you’ll miss tomorrow!

Cheers, and happy almost-Valentine’s!

Spread the love,

Rae