Tag Archives: health

Quest & Ignite Naturals

I hope everyone has been having a great week so far! This is “busy season” at work for me, so I’ve been working longer hours, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a computer screen. Although I haven’t been posting as much, I’ve been sticking with my routine of Body Pump classes, yoga, and lots of home-cooked meals! With the change in weather, I’ve become more of a hermit than usual and I’ve spent much of the past few weekends hanging out at home, watching some shows/movies, and working on going through stuff around the house to find stuff to donate to the Salvation Army.

A few times a year, I like to dig through my clothes, shoes, purses, etc and donate things that I’m not using to the local Salvation Army. It’s a habit my mom instilled in me when I was younger and it continues to this day. Lately, I’ve taken this habit to a new level as I’m trying to declutter and simplify my entire life. I’m making a conscious effort to cut down on the material stuff around me in favor of more important things. Basically, if something isn’t being used around my house then it’s getting kicked to the curb (literally, in some cases). I’ve made some ruthless cuts to my movie and book collections, and I’ve steadily copied all my CDs into iTunes and gotten rid of the hard copies (seriously – when was the last time I played a CD?!). Some of the CDs are being donated, but a good chunk I was able to sell on the website Music Magpie which I have had a very positive experience with. I didn’t get much for the CDs (about $.50 each) but it’s better than nothing! My next big step is to get rid of my stereo. I’ve had the stereo since high school, and probably haven’t turned it on in 4 years. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just sort of outdated in our MP3 and Bluetooth culture. I haven’t decided yet if I should try to sell it or just donate it to the Salvation Army. I have a feeling selling it would be more trouble than it’s worth – does anyone buy stereos anymore? Thoughts?

Stereo Issues

On a completely different note, I wanted to share my thoughts on two companies with you: Quest, and Ignite Naturals.

Recently, through my affiliation with Sweat Pink Ambassadors, I got a chance to try a free sample of Quest bars.

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I was super excited for the opportunity because I had seen Quest bars before, but never stopped to read the label and realize that they are some pretty clean bars! These protein bars are made from real ingredients, with the addition of protein powder (which I think of as processed). I tried the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough one after Body Pump on Tuesday night and really enjoyed the flavor. The texture was a little on the chewy side, but it wasn’t unpleasant – just not what I was expecting. I prefer to get my protein from whole-food sources, but these bars could be a great (portable!) addition in a pinch!

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Now, onto Ignite Naturals. A while back (like 6 months ago), Ignite Naturals contacted me and offered me a free sample of their product Ignite Naturals Refresh in exchange for me filling out a survey about the product. I fell in love with both Refresh and Ignite Naturals, and have been buying their products ever since! The company is dedicated to whole food, non-GMO, healthy nutrition for active lifestyles. I love them so much, I also joined Team Ignite – which basically means that I get to share an awesome coupon code with all of you! Using code IN0690 will get you 10% off any Ignite Naturals purchase. Disclaimer: while my first sample of Refresh was free, I received no compensation for this post, I wasn’t required to write it as a part of my partnership with Team Ignite, and all opinions are my own! I just truly love these products!

Ignite Naturals Refresh is an electrolytes powder meant to help refresh and rehydrate your bodies. The best part is – it’s made from real food ingredients! I’ve tried the Tangerine Passion Fruit and Prickly Pear flavors and really enjoyed them both although Prickly Pear is more my speed since it’s not sweet at all. It easily dissolves in water, and is perfect for those super-long sweat sessions like Body Pump or Cycling class where you just need something a little more than water. In addition, the company makes gels, protein powders, and other nutritional aids so definitely check them out! 🙂

Don’t forget: coupon code IN0690 gets you 10% off any Ignite Naturals purchase.

Some Things I’d Like to Share

I hope everyone is having a great week! The weather has been beautiful here in DC, it’s cooling off but it’s still warm and sunny out. Even though I am a summer child, I think I’m ready for fall. Especially with so much race training coming up! Yesterday evening I went for my first official training run – a slow, and short (but solid) two miles around my neighborhood. It felt great to be out there again, although I think I have lost quite a bit of running stamina over the past month which will certainly make this Saturday’s Electric Run 5k a challenge! But I think another 5k is the perfect way to celebrate being back in the running scene.

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Speaking of running, a former manager of mine experienced a terrible tragedy earlier this year – his house burned down and he lost two of his young daughters in the fire. In the wake of this tragedy, they have started a charity to build a playground in their honor. You can check out their Facebook page for Sophie and Madigan’s Playground and tag any posts about your running mileage with the hashtag #runningforsophieandmadigan . Also, they have an Official webpage. Running with those little girls in mind helped me get back out there and on the road.

On a lighter topic, I recently discovered Nature Box. Nature Box is a service that provides monthly healthy snack boxes to it’s members. I discovered the company through their Facebook page and I ordered my first box! It hasn’t come in the mail yet, but I’m pretty excited about the variety of snack options that they ship. And the box is only $19.98! I feel like I would definitely spend more than that at the grocery store so I figured this was worth a try. I’ll report back when my box comes in the mail! Also, since I ordered a box, Nature Box offers a discount to people who I refer! 🙂 My personal link for Nature Box is: http://fbuy.me/ibPE. If you use this link, you get $10 off your first box! 🙂 And I get $10 for referring you. I’m not working with Nature Box, and I didn’t receive anything from the company – I just thought I’d spread the word! 🙂

I was also happy to see my Chai Tea Concentrate recipe featured on Healthy Living Blog’s Recipe Wednesday! Check it out, and click over to the original recipe if you missed it. It’s one of my favorites!

Fabulous Fitness Survey

I saw this survey on Carrots’N’Cake and thought it would be fun to fill it out! 🙂 Feel free to play along on your blog, or add your answers in the comments.

I’m also featured in the Lady Lifter Spotlight today on one of my favorite blogs: Wine to Weightlifting! Check it out 🙂

1. What did you eat for breakfast?

A green smoothie. I have a green smoothie for breakfast every week day. I just feel like it gets me off on the right foot nutrition-wise. And it keeps me full all morning! 🙂

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2. How much water do you drink a day?

I don’t keep an exact count but I drink a lot of water. I would say I refill my 28 ounce water bottle 5 times at work throughout the day and I drink several more glasses at night. I’m just a very thirsty person naturally. At times, I’ve actually wondered if it’s abnormal how much water I drink.

water

3. What is your current favorite work out?

Body Pump! I am absolutely in love with this workout class. I didn’t know anything about weight lifting going in, and it made weight lifting not only accessible – but fun! I feel like I get a killer strength training workout in with this class.

4. How many calories do you eat a day?

I don’t count calories. I have absolutely no patience for it. My philosophy is that I try to make choices to eat healthy, whole foods with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and the rest will take care of itself. I’m not going to beat myself up for the occasional cheeseburger or chocolate chip cookie! 🙂

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5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?

I usually snack on fruit, a handful of nuts, or a Larabar when I’m at work. I’m trying to incorporate more vegetables into my snacking but it’s only been an intermittent success so far. One of my absolutely favorite snacks is to top some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with a handful of nuts, some seeds, some dried or fresh fruit, and some honey. Delicious! I also keep a bag of individually-wrapped small squares of dark chocolate around to have as a treat (let’s be honest – almost every day!). Dark chocolate actually has a lot of health benefits, and the individual squares keep the portion size in check. It’s one of my favorite healthy tips!

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6. What do you usually eat for lunch?

I almost always eat leftovers for lunch. I cook dinner for myself every night of the week, and I always seem to make a ton of food that I end up eating as lunch/other dinners for several days afterwards. I also like that it makes packing a lunch easy so I’m not tempted to buy lunch at work!

7. What is your favorite part of the body to strength train?

Since I started taking Body Pump classes I have truly fallen in love with strength training. Before, I found weight lifting so intimidating because I wasn’t sure what I was doing but this class shows you everything you need to know – and sets the moves to kickass music! I’ve fallen in love with this class so much that I think I’d prefer strength training to running most days. When I really ramp up my training for the half marathon, I’m going to have to cut my strength training to one day a week and I’m going to be sad to see it go!

As far as my favorite strength training move, I think I’d have to say squats for now because I can really feel it getting my heart rate up!

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?

I dread the shoulder track because my shoulders are incredibly weak. I’m not sure why, but I really struggle with the lifts, and the push-ups. this is definitely my goal area to work on!

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9. What are your “bad” food cravings?

I try not to think of foods as “bad” or “good” (other than highly processed foods which are definitely in the “bad” camp) but I do occasionally crave foods that I know aren’t doing anything for my body (i.e. not providing any nutrients). My biggest weakness is donuts. Thankfully, I’m not around them often but when I am I feel like I can’t resist! 🙂

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?

I don’t, although I probably should. I’ve never been able to get into the habit of taking vitamins. I’m actually really curious if I need to, since I feel like I eat a pretty healthy diet. I’ve been thinking about going to the doctor to get a vitamin panel to see what it says but I haven’t gotten around to it. Mostly because I really dislike going to the doctor :-/

11. How often do you eat out?

I try to limit myself to one “eating out” day a week and most weeks I’m pretty good at sticking to it. It does tend to get really messed up when I travel, or have a friend visiting, or go to see my family for the weekend – but overall I think I’m good at limiting it to one night a week because I truly enjoy cooking for myself. I still struggle with it sometimes because “let’s get dinner” is one of the most popular ways friends like to get together and catch up, but I’ve started offering to have people over to my place – which also helps because I also tend to always cook too much food!

12. Do you eat fast food?

As I discussed in my post about Taco Bell and it’s enticing quesadillas I do not eat fast food anymore. I’m tempted sometimes, but I feel so terrible afterwards that I know it’s just not worth it.

13. Who is your biggest supporter?

My mom and my best friends. They’re literally always there for me when I need them and I know that whatever path I choose – they’ll be there to support it.

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14. Do you have a gym membership?

I do! 🙂 I belong to a local gym which is where I fell in love with Body Pump, and I also take Yoga and Cycling classes there. I absolutely love my gym so if you live in the DC area and need a recommendation definitely let me know!

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

I’m a HUGE fan of sleep. I definitely sleep 8 hours a night – and when I don’t I almost always find the time to take a nap the next day to catch up! I recently read an article that said taking a nap approximately 2 hours after exercise is one of the best ways to help your body recover and muscle rebuild and I was so excited! 🙂

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16. Do you have a “cheat” day?

I don’t have an official “cheat” day but I don’t believe in sticking to a strict diet. I believe that if you make healthy choices, everything sort of evens out. I try to go by a 80/20 rule. If you eat healthy 80% of the time, then the other 20% you don’t have to worry as much about what you’re eating. Plus I find that the more healthy choices I make – the more I tend to make them naturally instead of reaching for the unhealthy ones!

17. Do you drink alcohol?

I do, though not as often as I used to. I find that after a trip to the gym (which I usually do in the evenings), I don’t want to drink so it’s cut down on a lot of my drinking except for at special occasions. One of my favorite hobbies, however, is visiting wineries and I always end up buying a ton of wine from each one! I have approximately 50-60 bottles of wine in my house at any given time, and the majority of them are from wineries I’ve physically been to. Actually, since I haven’t been drinking as much lately my stock is building up! I’m going to have to set aside a time to drink it! 🙂

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18. Do you have a workout buddy?

My friend Heather is the one who first got me into Body Pump, and we’ve run most of my 5k races together. So I have her to thank! 🙂 We don’t get together for every workout these days, but I’d say we go together once or twice a week!

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since adopting a healthy lifestyle?

It’s hard to pick just one thing! Mostly I just feel better than I ever have – mentally, physically and spiritually. I feel healthier, I look healthier, and I love discovering the new things I can do!

20. What was the last healthy thing you did?

This is a hard question. I went to Body Pump last night, increased some of my weights, and really put 110% in so I guess that counts! 🙂

Homemade Exfoliating Sugar Scrub

Today’s post marks post #100! Its crazy how time flies and how blog posts add up! I’m so thankful that I started this blog, it gives me something that I really care about to pour my heart and soul into (since my 9-5 job doesn’t give me that) and I’m even more thankful that I’ve discovered so many like-minded people out there who enjoy reading and sharing their ideas with me. The blogging community is such a vibrant and welcoming place. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

As my blog grows, I’m always trying to make improvements so if you have any comments or suggestions – please feel free to email me or leave a comment on this post. I’ve been mulling over the idea of transitioning the blog from a “.wordpress.com” account to an official “.com.” I’ve heard great things about wordpress.org (the plug-ins! the design freedom!) but I’m also heard horror stories about the transition. I don’t know much about html coding and blog design beyond the bare necessities so I’m scared taking on the transition could completely destroy my site – plus the cost of the transition is a little hefty. Has anyone out there gone through this change and want to share their story?

Now on to the post I originally sat down to write (before discovering it was post 100! :-)): homemade sugar scrub!

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I love sugar scrub! For a long time, I bought mine at Bath and Body Works but then I discovered through the genius of Pinterest that it’s incredibly easy to make at home! I love to keep a container of scrub in the shower – and this past Saturday I used the last of my mix. I was sort of glad to finally be at the bottom of it as I was dying to try a new recipe!

The first time around I used olive oil based on this recipe, and while it worked fine – there are much better uses for olive oil than in a sugar scrub. Like for dipping bread. Since then, I’ve discovered the crazy goodness that is coconut oil (both for cooking and homemade beauty products) so I knew I wanted to use that in my next batch.

First up, all scrubs are a basic ratio of 2 parts sugar/salt (exfoliant) to 1 part oil. I decided to use a combination of salt and sugar since I feel like sugar can sometimes dissolve a little quickly. I put ½ cup sugar and ½ cup salt into an old sugar scrub container that I re-use for my homemade versions.

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Next, I measured out ½ cup of coconut oil into a bowl. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts at 75 degrees so it doesn’t take much to melt it. I knew I wanted to melt it slightly to make the whole concoction easier to mix together, but I didn’t want it to warm because I was worried it would dissolve the sugar/salt. I ended up blasting it in the microwave for about 7 seconds and then stirring it together and it was just melted enough!

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I added the melty coconut oil to the container with the salt/sugar mixture and stirred it together (gently – the container was very full at this point!). Finally, I added 15 drops of sweet orange essential oil for the nice, invigorating scent. You can use any essential oil you have on hand, I just used one that I don’t tend to use very often from my variety pack.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Sugar Scrub
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups

– ½ cup sugar
– ½ cup salt (or use all sugar or all salt)
– ½ cup coconut oil, slightly melted
– 15 drops of your favorite essential oil

Enjoy! This scrub does a great job of exfoliating, and you can feel good that it’s made from all-natural, healthy, ingredients! I love the idea of beauty products that are safe enough to eat (not that I’d recommend it – I bet it wouldn’t taste good! :-))

Speaking of, I found this hilarious post 20 Signs You’re a Wellness Junkie on the Gaiam Pinterest board the other day! It’s hilarious! Mostly because so many of them are true. I’ve definitely taken a side in the juicer/blender debate, and I use coconut oil for some many things I buy it in a big 5 pound jug.

You’re turn! Do you relate to any of the things in the ‘Wellness Junkie’ post? Any more you’d like to add? I think drinking a ton of green tea should be mentioned in there somewhere! 🙂

Garlic Scape Pesto

While I continue my journey back to health, my eating habits haven’t been particularly exciting. In fact, my life in general hasn’t been very exciting. As I said yesterday, I’ve been living off of soup and Netflix. I did make it to Body Pump last night (my first workout in a week) and it felt great! That hour and a half in thy gym was the only time I didn’t feel all stuffy and terrible, probably because I was too busy focusing on my burning muscles. Have I mentioned I’m ready for this cold to be over and done with already?

In the meantime, I’ve found a few recipes I made over the past few weeks that hadn’t quite made it to the blog yet. Up first, garlic scape pesto!

Up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what garlic scapes were. But Washington’s Green Grocer has some in the box for the week so I decided to give them a try. After all, anything with the word “garlic” in it is bound to be delicious. I have garlic consumption problems.

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I found out that garlic scapes are the green shoots that grow out of the garlic in the spring, and are trimmed so that the garlic bulbs have a chance to grow fatter. Fat garlic bulbs are always a good thing! However, the green scapes that are trimmed are equally edible and delicious! They sort of remind me of green onions (in appearance only) with a light garlic flavor. Yum! 🙂 I also found out that the most common use of these little beauties is to make garlic scape pesto.

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It turns out this pesto is ridiculously easy to pull together. Just take the garlic scapes (I had about a cup) and cut them into pieces small enough to fit in the food processor.

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Add nuts (I went with walnuts because I thought the flavor would mesh well with the garlic – and it does!)

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Then process together with lemon juice, salt, pepper and enough olive oil to form a good pesto-consistency. Yum!

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At this point, you can also add about a 1/2 cup of cheese and process together, but I was considering freezing mine so I wanted to wait until I was about to use it before adding cheese.

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Garlic Scape Pesto
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

    – approximately 1 cup garlic scapes
    – 1/2 cup walnuts (or other nuts)
    – salt and pepper
    – 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    – up to 1/2 cup olive oil (stream in until a good consistency is reached)
    – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

    Place all ingredients except olive oil (and cheese if freezing) in the food processor and process until combined. Stream in olive oil until an appropriate pesto-like consistency is reached.

    You can enjoy on this pesto as you would any other pesto – on pasta, or chicken, or in soup. The possibilities are endless!

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“Clean Eating” Banana Bread

For the past six days I have been pretty absent from the world (both real world and online world) as I recover from this nasty cold. I haven’t done much more than camp out on my couch, drink juice, eat soup, and watch endless marathons of TV shows on Netflix, between boughts of sleeping.

As of today, I’m back at work and feeling about half-way back to normal. This has been one heck of a cold! And having a cold in the middle of the summer feels downright unnatural. I guess I just associate a stuffy nose and sneezing with winter weather – do you?

On Saturday I thought I was starting to recover so I mustered up the strength to bake some banana bread. I was going completely stir-crazy from being stuck on the couch and needed some activity to take my mind off things. Also, I tend to eat a lot when I’m not feeling well – is that just me? I feel like my stomach is a black hole and I can just eat and eat. It’s terrible. And I crave the junkiest food when I’m sick – does that happen to anyone else?

So I decided on a better option – this banana bread that is so quick and easy to pull together! 🙂

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My go-to banana bread recipe is one that was given to me by my mom. Banana bread was a staple in our house growing up and when I moved out on my own I got the recipe from her to bake for myself. The recipe is labeled “Kona Inn Banana Bread” and I suspect she got it or learned it while we were living in Hawaii when I was younger. While I love the original version, it involves a good bit of butter and sugar and I wanted to see if I could “clean it up” using a few healthier ingredients. It was a big success! The bread was slightly denser and moister than the original, but I really loved the final product! (I didn’t take any pictures of the process of making the bread because I was pretty much the walking dead from my cold)

I converted the recipe by changing the white flour to whole wheat (reducing it by 1/4 cup), using honey instead of sugar (raw, local honey), and applesauce instead of butter. I was really impressed how well it turned out!

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“Clean Eating” Banana Bread
Makes one loaf.

    – 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
    – 1/2 cup honey (local, if possible)
    – 4 ripe bananas, mashed
    – 2 eggs
    – 1 cup whole wheat flour
    – 1/2 teaspoon salt
    – 1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mashing the bananas into the mixture thoroughly (I use a fork). Do not over-mix. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or other oil and pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note: you can easily convert this to a vegan recipe by substituting “flax eggs” for the eggs.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! It comes together really quickly and is definitely a perfect example of comfort food (that you can feel good about) to get your through a not-so-great day. 🙂

Bean Nachos, Summer Colds, and Random Things

Yesterday, I had every intention of going for a run until I walked into my apartment after work and then never left again (taking out the trash doesn’t count). I have worked out for the past 4 days so I guess a rest day wasn’t completely unwarranted, even if it was unplanned.

Instead, I used my homemade “refried” beans to make a slightly-too-large plate of nachos.

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I also watched another handful of Orange is the New Black episodes. I’m loving this show and I’m going to be sad when I run out of episodes.

I haven’t been feeling quite-right for the past few days, and as this Thursday morning wears on I’m starting to suspect that I’m coming down with a cold. Who comes down with a cold in the middle of summer? It just feels weird.

To make up for the lack of exciting recipes to post (I don’t think adding beans, cheese and an entire avocado to chips counts – see above), I want to highlight a few of my favorite recipes that you may have missed.

Raw Tomato Bruschetta

Raw Tomato Bruschetta
My all-time favorite way to eat tomatoes – this dish just feels like summer to me. So easy and delicious!

”Hamburger-Helper”-style Beef Stroganoff

30 Minute Beef Stroganoff
This dish comes together in just 30 minutes, and is surprisingly light. Although stroganoff is usually something I would think of as a heavy, winter dish – the addition of lemon and thyme makes this dish summer appropriate.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken with Tabbouleh Salad
This recipe is so easy – only chicken, yogurt, curry powder and lemon juice – and has such a unique, delicious flavor. Pile this up on some Naan bread with hummus and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy dinner.

Some other things that may be of interest…

Emmy nominations were announced today! Check out the nominations and let me know what you think? Did your favorite show make the cut? I’m a TV and movie award-show fanatic, one of those weirdos that make predictions about the nominations, then the winners, etc so I’m always excited when new nominations are announced! Let the predictions begin! I was particularly excited to see Lena Dunham, Vera Farmiga, Amy Poehler, and Emilia Clarke recognized for their work on Girls, Bates Motel, Parks and Recreation and Game of Thrones (respectively). Is anyone else an awards-show fan?

Women’s Health put up a great article about the habit that makes you eat more. I know I’m guilty of this one! 🙂 I’ve said it before, but I’m a big fan of the Women’s Health daily newsletter.