ūüéČ Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ‚̧ԳŹ

ūüéČ Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ‚̧ԳŹ

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. ūüí™ūüŹľ
  • 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. ūüôĆūüŹľ
  • 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 ūüėė

Rae

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Fail-proof Roasted Veggies ūü•ē

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies ūü•ē

Hey fam ūüėä

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? ūüĎÄ


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 ūüėĚ

(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! ūüėä

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


Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM ūüĎÖ

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 ūüćü

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 ūüėė Stay bright!

Rae

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M-day ūüíē

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day ūüôā 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.

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Real whipped cream + toasted coconut + berries ūüôā 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.

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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.

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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 ‚ėēÔłŹ
  5. Hammocking
  6. Crossfit
  7. Watching the sun rise
  8. Reading my bible
  9. Relaxing with friends/ family
  10. Bubble baths ūüõÄūüŹľ

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

Let go.

Let go.

Life can easily become a battle for control. 

So many things, people, issues, addictions, and fears would love to rule your life. Don’t let ’em.

This is where you’d expect me to tell you to take control for yourself. I’m not, and here’s why – I’ve realized that we are unable to control life. We’d love to, but we simply aren’t capable. The harder I fight for control, the more life I’ll squeeze out of myself and those around me.

Solution? Surrender control to the only one who holds the universe. Trust that you cannot make your life anything without his help. Instead of taking control, take charge and choose your God. What you let rule is ultimately what you worship, so even letting yourself rule is a recipe for disaster. Take charge, not control.

This applies to all areas of life. When I run, I take charge of my legs, and I choose to push hard – but I cannot control my genetic potential or current ability, nor can I control fluke injuries. In school, I can choose how I prepare – but I cannot control the questions on the test. I cannot assure that nothing will be difficult for me, and I cannot build a shield big enough to protect me from all harm or discomfort.

I can choose how I treat others, but I cannot control how much others like me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come to terms with that? To stop worrying about what every move looks like through others’ eyes? To embrace the fact that it’s impossible to be everyone’s favorite? Some of you are there… please teach me your ways ūüėČ

Bringing it back to the focus of this blog, you don’t really want control over your diet. Control feels good – but it quickly becomes consuming. What we eat seems like an easy thing to control, and on a deep level this appeals to us when we feel out of control in other areas. I had an unfortunate day recently, and I felt like I just couldn’t win – so I overate. Darn if I couldn’t control the happiness of my circumstances, I could control the happiness of my tummy. Guess what? It didn’t work. I ended up full and… still sad. It’s like how girls in movies break out the ice cream when a guy does them wrong – it might provide temporary pleasure, and that’s fine, but it never fixes the problem. On the flipside, control issues are a common contributor to eating disorders and disordered eating. This is why disorder commonly springs up around a life change – parents splitting up, a teenager entering high school or moving off to college, or coming out of a bad break-up. The individual thinks, “I know- my body and my food intake is something I can control. If it’s under my control, it’ll be perfect, and if my body/diet is perfect, life will be perfect.” From the outside we can see how skewed this thinking is, but from the inside it’s a blurry haze. Don’t let yourself get trapped in there.
What does taking charge, not control/ taking hold of choice in my diet mean for me? 

  • Thinking calmly and rationally about what different foods will do for my body, what I need at the particular moment, and whether/what food will do me good. 
  • Choosing to look at food as a blessing and as nourishment, not as something to manipulate and restrict, or idolize and abuse. Not giving it power over me, and not expecting myself to have power over it.
  • Giving it all to God, asking Him to help me make my choices, because I know he cares about even the smallest things in my life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matt. 6:25

“Live carefree with God; He is most careful with you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, for you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12:17

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s perfect peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Phil 4:6-7

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Always keep the big picture in mind. When your life gets small and laser-focused and you don’t want to loosen your grip, remember that God’s ready and waiting to take over – and he has a much bigger hand and a stronger grip and a better plan than any of us do.

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.

iced coffee

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.

coffee and cereal

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 Р140 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.

latte

CAPPUCCINOS РTraditionally 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 РA 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 Р110 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

 

Be still.

Be still.

There are rough days when it seems impossible to stay on the wagon of life. Whatever it might be for you… School/work seems too hard. You feel dumb.¬†Maybe you’re under a cloud of depression and you don’t know why. Maybe you feel unable to control your expressions of anger, fear, or insecurity. Maybe the world is getting you down.

Maybe it’s¬†you¬†that’s getting you down. It seems like that should be easy to fix, right? When we experience self-doubt, though, it can feel impossible to escape. We don’t believe in our own ability to help ourselves out. That’s the problem. This can be related to any area of life – sometimes it’s everything at the same time. Even the pursuit of a good diet, or kindness, or personal achievement can add stress to our lives and make us feel inadequate when we don’t live up to our own high standards.

When you come to that place – we’ll call it the storm – where your emotions are just falling apart, and you don’t know where to go… here’s a plan of action¬†that will save your life. Courtesy of Herbert Cooper, message at churchofthehighlands.com.

  1. Stay on the Ship. Just keep going. Stay where you are. Breathe, trust, seek God.
  2. Be Still and Chill. Take a time out. Rest, and ditch worry and doubt. You know why?
  3. Praise God in the Storm.¬†It’s not up to you to handle. He will get you there.

God can take you to your destination on broken pieces.

No matter what worries you. No matter how bad you’ve messed up. No matter how other people make you feel or how they insult you. No matter how little you believe in yourself. You can believe in Him.

When in doubt: Put on your fuzzy jacket, get some good lunch, and watch a sermon.

Response to The Daily Post: Prompt of the day for 3/2/17 – Doubt.

Best Dressed

Best Dressed

For the first few years of college, I really enjoyed the freedom of getting to wear whatever I wanted (that was¬†athletic wear¬†to class, all day, every day). I think it was actually good for me. We had a stricter dress code in high school, and¬†I never really got to feel comfy at school. It wasn’t the dress code’s fault… but I just felt so much pressure to look “right” every day.

A lot of it,¬†I put on myself, because¬†I never felt like I measured up.¬†I never, ever skipped mascara, and my outfit had to¬†follow all the school rules but still make me look¬†perfect. On a day when I didn’t feel super skinny, or my hair didn’t fall just right, you’d better believe it was even harder to get out of the house. You’d never be able to¬†count all the mornings I spent stressing¬†in front of the mirror, changing one more time,¬†running to the car, and wondering¬†“what will people think of me today?” all the way to school.

Enough re-living that. I really embraced RAE¬†again in college, and I realized I can be proud of who I am without so much smoke and mirrors. I¬†love not having to squeeze into stiff, tight jeans if its just not my best day. I love not having to worry about getting carded in the hall because my¬†shirt is 5 fingers below my collarbone instead of 4. It’s amazing to be able to use my own judgement on what is and isn’t appropriate.

This year,¬†I feel like I’ve¬†realized something huge – Being proud of who I am¬†allows me to take care in my appearance. It¬†can actually be fun¬†picking out¬†a nice¬†outfit and trying on new eyeshadow colors.¬†Instead of trying to impress others, now I like dressing cute because it shows how I feel on the inside. It shows that I feel good about myself, and it makes me feel empowered to accomplish a lot and make other peoples lives better.

makeup

You know what else?¬†Dressing cute doesn’t mean you have to dress “up” every day. I feel good when I wear things that make me smile! I read a book during Christmas break on the art of tidying¬†–¬†the author insists that you only need things in your closet that spark joy when you pick them up. You know what really sparks joy? My otter socks that my friend Naomi got me for our team sock-swap. The snowman sweatshirt my “might-as-well-be-family” friend Tiffany got me for Christmas this year, along with the matching fuzzy socks and my sweater leggings. I pick things I like no matter if anyone’s gonna see them or not, because now I’m dressing for me. When I honor my appearance, I make better choices (diet¬†is better, more school work gets done… I even clean more).

There’s also this thing we have called the Trojan Way – It involves dressing appropriately for the occasion. Like you’re proud of yourself. Like you go to Troy University, and you love it. Like you’re happy and you’re going to go big places in life. Each occasion calls for something different – maybe a dress, maybe jeans, maybe tights – but you ultimately get to decide each day when you wake up what you want to look like.¬†And… even if you don’t get to choose what you wear, you get to¬†own it with a smile. It really¬†is the most beautiful thing you can wear – and it took me a long time to actually believe that was true.

And you know what’s behind a really beautiful smile? An honest one, that lasts? Confidence in something greater than you. Because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll never be enough. But when you remember that you’re chosen, pursued, and loved by the God of the¬†universe – worth dying for (thank you, Jesus!) – that’s when you have the ability to truly shine and sustain it for the rest of your life.

Much love,

Rae