🎉 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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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

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

Toast to a sweet week! 🍻

Toast to a sweet week! 🍻

Hey y’all 😊

I’m happy to report that last week was wonderful (& busy). The race went pretty well for me! I plan on doing a post on race day nutrition soon, because I feel like I really nailed my pre- and post- run fuel this time. I’d love to share what I’ve found that helps me and works for me on race day, so that maybe you’ll find some ideas for fueling your activities as well.

Looking forward to this next week, I’m setting my intentions and goals, and making sure my room is clean and ready for me to get work done in. I also just prepared some overnight oats to grab for breakfast tomorrow morning 😊

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Cocoa-chia-nectarine overnight oats. Can’t wait till morning!
Sunday is such a necessary rest day for me. It gives me time to breathe, get ready for my week, and ask God to speak to my heart, correcting and refining my focus before I step back into the world again. If you need a little fresh air tonight, check out one of today’s sermons at churchofthehighlands.com or troychurch.tv 😍 They were both fabulous.

This week I’m doing oats for breakfast, but last week I made fancy toast every day! That’s what I want to share with y’all in this post – how I took yummy toast to wayyyyy higher nutrient-dense heights last week. I dare you – go beyond butter for a change!

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Sweet Potato Toast!

My first crazy idea was to buy these microwaveable sweet potatoes they sell in a package at Publix. I crave these guys, and the dining hall hadn’t had them in forever. It’s not their fault, they just don’t understand my love. They tried to trick me with butternut squash, which are nice… but just not the same. So here they are!

So, I microwaved these guys for 7-8 minutes, and while they cooled I popped some toast in the toaster. You know I love hearty, whole grain bread with a lot of seeds in it, but lately I’ve preferred the lighter (and much cheaper!) store-brand, classic, fluffy whole wheat. It tastes more like spring.

The first morning I made the sweet potato toast, I did it like this – slices, topped with a drizzle of natural almond butter, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, and a few roasted almonds.

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Great breakfast for a chill Saturday.
I really enjoyed it!! I have to say, though… day 2 turned out way better. I used the pre-cooked sweet potatoes, and made a mash with almond butter, cinnamon, and a little unsweetened almond milk. Then, I decorated with a drizzle of unsweetened coconut yogurt, maple agave, and a few salted almonds. Oh my gosh, it was wonderful!

Once I get my own kitchen and a big knife…

If you google “Sweet Potato Toast,” you’ll see that you can actually turn slices of sweet potato into toast! You can have yummy toasted slices without using any bread at all. Bread is definitely a staple in my diet, but I don’t want it to be all I eat. Sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar as high as many other carbs, giving you more sustained energy. They’re also full of countless vitamins and minerals. And they satisfy the sweet tooth. And they go great with cinnamon, which research shows can help lower blood pressure. I love that our food can do more for us than just fill our tummies.

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The other new toast I made this week was Avocado Toast! 

This one’s pretty straightforward. You can do it mashed, sliced, however you’d like. I sprinkled salt and tricolor pepper on top, and it totally makes it THE BEST. This picture is from Wednesday, when I had a piece of avocado toast and the other with an egg on it (microwave-cooked!). Totally balanced carbs, fats, protein. I love it!

Have a great night, and a sweet week (no matter what you eat for breakfast)! And remember, whole grains will always give you the best bang for your buck. Greater satiety (fullness lasts longer), and more natural micronutrients and fiber.

With love,

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.

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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

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Breakfast-Style Sweet Potato

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the benefits of natural foods for the body. Yesterday, I spent some time researching the effects of certain foods on the skin, and felt motivated to include more foods in my diet that are minimally processed, lower in refined sugar, and provide a spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

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As a result, I ended up taking home an extra sweet potato from the dining hall last night. Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, C, and B6, Manganese, Potassium, and fiber. They pack a lot into a small, nutrient dense package – they also generally won’t give us as high of a blood sugar spike as white potatoes. I started thinking about hash browns, and I realized – if white potatoes can make it into the breakfast club, why shouldn’t sweet potatoes? I searched Pinterest for some sweet potato breakfast recipes, and most people made them into a hash (which looked delicious!). Being in my dorm room, that wasn’t really plausible for me – so I came up with my own idea.

This breakfast sweet potato is stuffed with roasted cinnamon and crushed walnuts, and topped with a drizzle of maple almond butter, a few dollops of silk vanilla yogurt, and some fresh berries. These were all ingredients I had on hand – You could mix this up with any type of nut butter, fruit, or yogurt. These are my favorite toppings in the world added to my favorite vegetable, so naturally, this was one of my favorite breakfasts ever made.

Here’s my recipe! You might choose a larger or smaller potato, and more or less toppings than I did, depending on your size and energy needs. If at home or in an apartment, you could get fancy and heat this in the oven, but it was great just microwaved.

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato (cooked)
  • Roasted cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 walnut halves, broken into small pieces
  • 1 tsp Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
  • Silk vanilla yogurt, 1/4 container
  • Blueberries and raspberries, to garnish

-Pull your left over sweet potato out of the refrigerator. Make a slit down the center, and push the ends in to open it up.

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-Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir up the inside. Heat for 30 more seconds, and your sweet potato should be warm and ready to top!

-Stir in roasted cinnamon and walnuts; Drizzle almond butter and yogurt; top with berries.


I feel so energized after eating this! I also had my protein coffee and the rest of my silk vanilla yogurt on the side to balance out this breakfast. I’m about to go conquer a beautiful Thursday – 2 exercise science classes, studying, track practice, and weights. I hope your breakfast fuels you to do something great!

Stay vibrant,

Rae

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Fresh & Clean

{Feature B&W Room: Claire Vaughn}

We all know cleaning up our space is a good thing. When we are having a tough week, however, this is typically one of the first things to fall to the wayside. I’m speaking some personal truth here, because I cleaned up my own desk this morning and watched a wave of productivity and fresh thoughts roll in. As I worked away at (and finished!) a couple of assignments I had put off, and sent multiple emails that I remembered were on my to-do list, I scribbled down ideas for this blog post that just kept popping into my brain. Talk about a good morning.

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Now I’ve begun thinking what I would have felt like if I had done this 3 days ago…

I’m a big believer in the importance of a positive environment. I have become aware of this throughout college, and I feel like the more I work on it, the more benefits I see. This is present in so many areas! For example:

  • A messy space invites you to throw more things down. Throwing more things down invites you to throw yourself down and be lazy.
  • A clean room is pretty, inspiring, and makes you want to have friends over!
  • Cleaning out your closet is such a help. You remember all the cute stuff you have, and actually want to enjoy all your clothes instead of pulling the top t-shirt out of the drawer again.
  • Starting the day with a fresh glass of water (squeeze of lemon optional) clears away yesterday and sets a good intention for the day’s health.
  • A clean kitchen is more fun to cook fresh meals in. Dishes piled up make you want to order pizza – or just go out!
  • A pretty, organized, health-filled fridge leads to nice options being more appealing (e.g. berries you already rinsed and neatly stacked yogurt cups).
  • The people you spend time around influence your ambitions, self-worth, and attitude.
  • A balanced budget makes you aware of what you have, and frees you to spend on what you need/ give to others.
  • A good team environment – people giving their all and being happy to be there – makes practice so much better.

I’m sure you can think of examples in your own life where an environment change, “cleaning house” or “starting fresh” made things right. It’s the changes that take place in your mind as much as it is the physical changes that make the difference. The mind is where all of our actions originate, so why not weed and water the roots?

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Visual cues. A clean desk with a visible to-do list surrounded by space lets you know that you have room to tackle those items. Placing the things you love on your desk, in your kitchen, or on your walls reminds you what you care about. Keeping our loves and visions in mind is one of the biggest keys to living a happy and fruitful life.

When I know I cleaned, my room has a certain lightness – like I dropped a heavy weight. This lightness can carry over to anyone who enters your space – not just you – thus improving your relationships and the lives of those around you. When you take the trash out and light a candle, the place just feels good, doesn’t it? Aromatherapy is a whole different subject, but a good-smelling space can really boost your mood.

Knowing you cleaned up – even if things still aren’t perfect – contributes to good self-efficacy vibes. The physical act of cleaning seems to stir up the mind, allowing us to usher in new thoughts. Even those tasks you don’t enjoy… when I finish my laundry (which requires climbing flights of stairs and $1.25 per load), I feel like the baddest girl on the planet. I know if I can tackle things I really dislike, without anyone making me, I can handle life as it comes at me.

Cleaning has a lot of parallels with making good dietary choices. If I can be kind to myself by doing the dishes, making sure my sheets are clean, etc. – I see similar benefits to those that come with making healthful food choices. There is power in action. Doing what’s good for us and experiencing the positive rewards makes us want to do it more. Even when some junk piles up, we can “take out the trash,” mentally or physically, and experience a fresh space again.

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Here’s a few  ways to get this bright, fresh, clean feeling in your life today:

Whatever you see that’s a mess – for me usually the pile of clothes in the floor – tidy it up. Find a home for those homeless items. Your space will thank you.

Sweat. Exercise jogs the mind like moving and cleaning does, and can renew your focus. You can even use cleaning as exercise!

After you break a sweat, shower. There’s nothing like a hot shower to refresh you. Which brings me to…

Water. The ultimate cleansing substance. Did you know juice cleanses and “detoxes” are a myth? The body does all its own cleansing and detoxifying, all day, every day – and water is the #1 to help move those processes along. Water is also highly concentrated in fruit and veggies, and this is one reason they are great for you. If you ever feel like you need a “system restart,” water and foods with a high water content are the places to look. It’s good for the mind, too, because our brain needs it! Drink an icy cold glass when you’re having trouble focusing, and you’ll typically see improvement. If it’s cold out, brewing a hot cup of water with lemon, or even herbal tea, has the same cleansing effects.

Clean out the fridge. Get rid of old stuff, stuff you’re sick of, and stuff that doesn’t make you feel happy and healthy. This is even better if you’ve got a friend to help you! You’ll let someone else in on the process, they’ll feel good too, and you might be inspired to cook something good together later.

I hope you’re motivated to sweep the dust away today!

Stay bright,

Rae