4 Quick Habits for Eating Healthier!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be so difficult. Normally, we stray from our nutritious diets because there are too many temptations put in the way of us. If you get rid of temptation, you’ll find that eating a healthy and balanced diet is a lot easier to do. In fact, you could end up eating a lot healthier without even noticing! Here are four tips that can help do just that.

Hide Sweet Treats

If you see unhealthy foods, you are going to be constantly tempted by them. So take any cookies, chips, and candies out of sight. Hide any sweet treats that you have in cupboards that you hardly go in. Try to put bowls of fruit and nuts out on display on your kitchen surfaces. That way, you will reach for a healthy snack whenever your tummy rumbles.

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If you’re craving something sweet, make yourself some nicecream!

Don’t Throw Away Leftovers

Throwing away uneaten food is a big waste. If you don’t finish your meal, keep the leftovers to have for lunch the next day. You can also keep ingredients that you didn’t use for another recipe. Leftovers usually have a good shelf-life when stored in a fridge. To extend this shelf-life, you should place them in your freezer. One way to keep them for a lot longer is to vacuum pack them before you store them in a fridge or freezer. To do this, you need a vacuum sealer. Try to get the best vacuum sealer (here are some with reviews) that can help you store food for a few weeks.

Use Smaller Plates

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One of the main reasons people have issues with their weight is because they eat large portions without realizing it. So to make sure you aren’t overeating, serve your food on smaller plates; here’s a great study that showed that we tend to overeat due to the size and color of our plates (shocking! I know). Be careful not to pile all the food up high on your plate, though! At first, you might feel slightly hungry after eating off smaller plates. That is just because your body is used to large amounts of food in one go. However, after a couple of days, you will get used to it and will feel full after a smaller meal. No matter the size of your plate, though, ensure half of it is taken up by fresh fruit or vegetables.

Drink Lots Of Water

Water is key for a healthy diet. You need to aim to drink at least eight glasses of pure water a day. The more water you drink means you won’t need to drink sugary or caffeinated drinks to stay hydrated. There are loads of ways you can encourage yourself to drink more water. One of the best ways is to keep a water bottle with you whenever you leave the house. That way, you won’t need to buy a drink while you’re out. If you don’t like plain water, try sparkling water. It tastes like a fizzy drink but doesn’t have all the hidden sugar.

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Hopefully, this guide will help you eat a lot healthier without even trying! You might be surprised how much healthier and happier these tips help you feel.

 

Loving Yourself

Love yourself; naked, vulnerably, bare. That is you. Embrace it. 

No filter. No makeup. I decided to stop wearing make up about a year and a half ago; even though I tried and looked for the least amount of chemicals and most natural alternatives. I wanted to love myself – as I woke up in the morning; without the bells and whistles. Without the heels and mascara/lipstick. Just as I naturally am; because let’s face it, we get told by everything (i.e. Movies, Ads, and even people around us) that the only way to look good/nice is by looking very put together… Almost perfect. My mum is also a believer of this mentality, so I grew up with a lot of pressure to look a certain way. After I decided to stop wearing makeup, I fought with my own feelings of worth/self love.

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And I realized that my biggest enemy, was myself. I believed that I couldn’t be loved/liked unless I looked a certain way, and I think overcoming this was the biggest step I took. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. It took time, getting used to it, and adapting to (what sounds ridiculous) my face. I wasn’t used to just being OK with a bare face. The word naked comes to mind; and it felt that way. By the way;

I don’t think women/men that wear makeup are doing anything wrong –  it’s a choice.

I just realized I hadn’t made that choice, it was made for me. I got told I should do it, so I did it. And once I realized this, I was able to change it. I’m so happy now seeing how far I’ve come. It sounds silly, but getting used to something new always takes time. And more when it goes so deep as to affect our self worth or acceptance. I do believe wearing a little bit of makeup for a job interview and special occasions is great (for me), I feel it looks professional (and there’s actually studies that prove this) but otherwise, I’m much happier without it.

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So whether you wear it or not wear it…. As long as you are happy with YOURSELF; that is all that matters! As long as it doesn’t affect your self worth, how much you love yourself, and you don’t feel like you need it to survive the day – you should be fine; because let’s face it; we don’t need makeup. We’re all amazing and beautiful just as we come out of the shower.

Calorie Counting: Friend or Foe?

Many of us have used this old trick of counting calories to help us in some way. I personally disliked using this technique because I’d lose track, I found myself over-thinking about it and it made me feel like I was restricted. I felt like I couldn’t just eat, it was different. So I stopped. It was the best decision for me, personally.

Whether you are trying a food journal (which is a fantastic idea to gain some insight into what you eat!) or you’re simply curious about how many calories you consume; it’s important to remember that some of these techniques can be flawed or may not work for everyone.

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Don’t be harsh with yourself if you forget to write down the snack you had 7 hours ago, it happens to all of us. This is one of the biggest flaws of calorie counting, we’re actually pretty terrible at it.  They’ve done studies to find out how well people do in keeping track of their calories and food intake and the results were shocking; the women from the study were underestimating on average 50%. That is 50% on average.

Another interesting fact? Labels can lie. They can actually have a 20% margin of error.

“The ratio between the amount obtained by laboratory analysis and the amount declared on the product label in the Nutrition Facts panel must be 120% or less, i.e., the label is considered to be out of compliance if the nutrient content of a composite of the product is greater than 20% above the value declared on the label.”  (FDA Guidance for Industry: Nutrition Labeling Manual)

There are other reasons why calorie counting may not be the best option, such as; swapping something ‘low fat’ instead of having the full-fat version (simply because it has fewer calories),  it can make you feel stressed (as this study showed) and it can make you eat more (because it’s on your mind all day!).

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There are also good reasons to like calorie counting! It can give you an insight as to how many calories you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis, which may come as a shock. A lot of us eat way more than we think! It may also help you regulate how much sugar, coffee, etc. you’re consuming (in case you’re trying to consume less of any). It has proven positive results for many and that’s the main reason so many continue trying it.

What do I think is the best solution? I can give you the solution that worked for me!  

I know that I can eat as much as I want of anything I want. There are no restrictions. Butter on toast? Yes, please. Vegan raspberry croissant? Double yes! Coffee? Yes! Sweet potato fries? Triple yes! (There’s even a recipe on the blog!) and I can continue until my hands are tired; my point is – there are no restrictions.

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I learned to eat with awareness. I try (and this takes a bit of time) to enjoy each and every bite I take. I don’t rush it, I really want to enjoy it and savor everything I eat. This made me eat at a slower pace. I used to be told I was the faster eater out there, because I’d always be done eating first. Well, now that’s different.

I take my time, pause between bites, enjoy, savor it and repeat.

What has happened since I began practicing these eating habits? For one, I’m happier! I know that if I want that ice cream I can have it, but what I crave is an acaí bowl. I eat a much bigger variety of food – because remember, there are no restrictions! I have little treats here and there (today I had a few bites of a croissant with honey) and I really enjoy them. I don’t feel guilt or any negative feeling. I just enjoy and move on. It’s simple and it works for me. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to feel free and not restricted when it comes to food.

Food should be enjoyed, so enjoy it!

Much love, Abby

Lemon Shortbread Bars – Guest Post!

Hey guys! My name is Alexandra, and I’m the creator of vegandra.com, a website devoted to delicious vegan recipes and lifestyle tips. Abby was amazing enough to allow me to write this guest post, so I hope you all enjoy 🙂 If you do, please check out my blog, and see what other goodies I’ve shared!

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So, lemons. Kinda hard to use in cooking, because the flavor has the potential to be too overbearing and sour. But, using the zest gives all the flavor of the lemon without the sourness!

The shortbread base here is super simply (just flour, powdered sugar, and coconut oil), but is perfect to let the lemon flavor through to be the star of the show! These bars are simply, light, and refreshing. Give them a try!!

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Serves 8

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. water

For the filling

  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tbs. flour

To Prepare

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine ingredients in a bowl to form a dough.
  3. Press dough into a greased baking pan and bake for 7 minutes.
  4. While base is baking, use a hand mixer to beat together ingredients for the filling.
  5. Pour filling on top of base, and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and set to cool (can be cooled in the refrigerator if you’re really hungry!).
  7. Cut up and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  8. Enjoy 🙂 

Meditation: Achieving Peace Within Yourself

Why do people meditate? Do people enjoy ‘sitting and doing nothing for an indefinite amount of time’? What benefit does meditating give me? These are all questions we’ve all come across or have had ourselves. They’re all great questions. My goal is to provide you the information so you can make the decision; to meditate or not to meditate – that is the question.

People meditate for different reasons; some to calm their anxiety, some are searching for peace or happiness and some are just plain curious. Whichever reason it is that is motivating you to try it, I’ll tell you this: you won’t regret it. 

I once read that they asked Buddha “How shall we meditate?” Buddha replied, “Whatsoever you do, do it with awareness; this is meditation. Walking, walk attentively, as if walking is everything; eating, eat with awareness, as if eating is everything; rising, rise with awareness; sitting, sit with awareness. All your actions become conscious, your mind does not travel beyond this moment, it remains in the moment, settles in the moment – this is meditation.”

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Becoming a mindful person can be the best thing you do for yourself. Can you imagine life without wondering what you’ll be doing tomorrow, next week, where your next vacation will be or what holiday is coming up? Can you imagine just enjoying what you’re doing right now? Whether you’re on your commute to/from work, reading a book, spending time with your loved ones, at work, at the grocery store… can you imagine just being there? Without thoughts rushing in and out of your mind. Because after all, what does having all those thoughts in your mind do for you? They’re certainly not helpful thoughts if they have nothing to do with what you’re doing right now.

According to Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, due to “evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life” she decided to do brain scans and discover which parts of the brain get activated when people practiced meditation. What she discovered was that the brain actually changed after eight weeks of meditation practice.

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If you’re looking for motivation to start or feel like it will be too difficult; I’ve found a really simple guided meditation video that could help you! Meditation is not supposed to be just sitting in a room staring at the wall for 30 minutes; that sounds awful! A good way to look at it is a training of the mind. You are literally training your mind to enjoy the now, the moment, the present, to be aware and conscious. Just as we train for marathons by walking one kilometer today, two the next week, etc. or how we train ourselves to eat healthier by trying new ingredients, swapping ingredients, or changing a recipe.

As Buddha said, being aware and conscious is meditation. If you don’t feel comfortable sitting cross-legged (like the illustration shows) don’t, if you would prefer to have your hands on your lap, do so… It’s all about being comfortable and enjoying it. A lot of people think that they cannot think of anything during meditation – which can be extremely difficult given that we have such busy lives and we’re used to multi-tasking. This is not true. There are different ways of doing meditation, and doing the one that suits you will be the best one! I’ve read that one way to meditate is by actually thinking of a problem, giving it a shape, color, description (in your mind) and seeing it disappear. Other people simply will focus on the breath; in and out, 1 and two, and that will be enough. There is also no time limit; you may meditate for 10 minutes daily, 2 minutes, 17 minutes, it’s up to you. The point is to do it, which will help us become better at it.

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Just remember, we’re looking for awareness and consciousness, not perfection! And just in case you need a little bit more motivation, here’s a list with more benefits of meditation!

Happy meditating! 🙂

Movies for Foodies

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The Lunchbox (2013) 

If you enjoy Indian food – this is the movie for you! I believe this is one of Bollywood’s best films. It combines tasty food with romance, friendship and the never ending surprises life brings. It makes for a great movie to share with your family, friends, loved ones, or to enjoy all by yourself.

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Chef (2014) 

Comedy, drama and social media are what best describe this movie in my mind. If you’re like me; you will laugh, you will enjoy the story and you will be reminded about how truly amazing social media can be. You will be captivated by the story and the possibility of a dream coming true.

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I believe Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (1971) continues to be one of the best children’s classics out there. The story provides a lovely look into a child’s dream which takes him somewhere he never imagined. The beauty about the movie is that it can also be enjoyed by adults who like adventure and have a sweet tooth!

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Julie and Julia (2009)

This charming story takes us back in time through Julia Child’s journey with cooking and back to modern times with a fellow food blogger who aspires to be like Julia. It has romance, drama, life’s ups and downs, and most importantly – food! 

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Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

Finding yourself can be difficult; that’s why traveling, learning, exploring, and eating make an appearance in this lovely film. Sometimes in order to learn to let go, you have to first find out why. I believe this movie demonstrates this perfectly.

I hope that you enjoy them!

PS. I know I didn’t go into much detail; that was on purpose, I didn’t want to ruin the movies for anyone who had not watched them before.

Nicecream… because you deserve to feel like a kid!

This is by far the easiest and tastiest dish (can we call nicecream a dish?) I have ever made. It truly takes me back to summer time when all you think about is something cold, refreshing, something tasty… ICE CREAM!

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As adults we know that eating too much ice cream is not good for us (too much sugar can cause diabetes and obesity, amongst other illnesses, yikes!). So, what to do during a hot summer day? Or hey, if it’s winter and you want your ice-cream fix, I don’t blame you. I’ve been there myself. Nicecream is the answer. 

Nicecream I believe has come to save the day… it should truly come with its own superhero cape.  

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter (I typically use almond!)
  • Splash of almond (or coconut) milk
  • For flavor you have many options – which is wonderful. The most common ones are: 1 tablespoon of cacao powder, 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar (or sweetener of your choice), or a handful of berries (I added a handful of blueberries!)

THAT IS IT! 

Instructions: 

  1. Blend together, serve & then enjoy!

Quick tip: Remember to peel your bananas before freezing them as this will make the process much easier. 

For the toppings you can seriously go wild! I’ve seen some nicecreams with almond flakes, chopped walnuts, goji berries, cacao nibs, ALL kinds of fruits or more nut butter. You can truly pick your favorite toppings and add them to your lovely and healthy treat! 

Try and give some nicecream to your children or nephews and nieces, you’ll see that they’ll love it. Now you have your healthy and tasty treat for both summer and winter!