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Yesterday was 60 degrees and today.. a blizzard.

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New York (especially LI) got hit with some crazy snow so I decided to channel tropical thoughts and create this healthy pineapple chicken dish.

Now, someone please fly me back to Key West so I can relive my sisters wedding at the buy veterinary Depakote.

Ingredients: 

  • 1lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 garlic
  • ginger powder
  • garlic powder
  • 1 olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 20 can pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup!!!) Save the juice
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. corn starch ( or arrowroot)
  • 2 Tbsp. cashews (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken breast into bite sized chunks and season with garlic powder and ginger powder to taste
  2. Heat oil in a skillet, add in the chicken and cook until golden
  3. Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice in a separate bowl or cup
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the pineapple juice to the skillet with the chicken. Cover and simmer for 6 minutes
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  6. Squeeze the lime into your pan and add in honey, coconut aminos, cornstarch, and the remainder of pineapple juice
  7. Bring to a boil stirring very frequently for 3-5 minutes or until thickened
  8. Add chicken and half of the can pineapple chunks to the pan with the sauce
  9. Top with cashews and serve over cauliflower rice or regular rice!

 

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What I Ate Wednesday #4

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Last week I was indulging on my double chocolate fudge birthday cake and today.. kale water.. LOL it actually wasn’t bad!

I’ve been experimenting with my dehydrator to make homemade green powder. After a few tries I finally made an easy to use kale powder that adds an nutrient boost to any recipe. Today my morning elixir consisted of warm water, 1/2 tsp. kale powder, lemon, ginger powder, tumeric and cinnamon. Before tossing in a packet of stevia to mask the odd combination of ingredients, I decided to take a sip and test it out in its raw form. Wasn’t bad! The stevia went back into the cabinet and I downed my kale water as is.

Today was my rest day so I went for a walk and then had steak, eggs and sauteed spinach for breakfast.

A few hours later I had 2 handful of crushed walnuts and homemade jerky

Lunch consisted of a simple salad of romaine, broccoli, radishes, baby corn, chicken and a sprinkle of kale powder. I dressed my salad with apple cider vinegar and EVOO.

Sunflower seed butter was my snack

By the time I got home from my internship all I wanted was food and sleep. I inhaled one of my chicken thighs and some string beans before realizing I needed to take a pic for my this post. I removed my one eaten chicken bone and quickly took this horrendous pic.

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Clean Eating Essentials

  1. Dehydrator- I love snacking on jerky but it’s so damn expensive! Investing in a good dehydrator like THIS one saved me a ton of money, and allowed me to control what went into the recipe. Some store bought jerky is loaded with sodium and sugar. To avoid that I use coconut aminos and a variety of spices. I’ve also been experimenting with dehydrated fruits and veggies so stay tuned for my DIY Kale powder!

2.  Lemon juice- When cravings hit (especially on week 1 of the sugar detox) put a ton of lemon juice in your water. In only a few big sips the tart flavor takes away my sweet tooth!  I also enjoy a big glass of room temperature lemon water right when I wake up to help wake up my digestive system.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar- In the morning I flip flop between my AM lemon water and hot water with one capful of ACV and cinnamon. I also use ACV on my salad. I enjoy the vinegary flavor but if you can’t tolerate it add some stevia or honey. ACV helps with digestion so if you suffer from chronic constipation, bloating etc. try taking a capful of ACV in water before each meal to stimulate digestive enzymes and help breakdown food.

4. Jicama- Jicama is low calorie, low sugar root vegetable from Mexico. Jicamas crispy crunch and lightly sweet flavor makes it taste like a refreshing mix between and apple and a pear, or an apple and a water chestnut… It’s hard to describe, you need to experience it! You can pick up this veggie at ShopRite or buy them already peeled and cut into sticks in Stop and Shop.

5. 40oz. BPA free water bottle- I love how big this water bottle is, it makes it easy to track how much water I consume in a day.

6. Organic cacao- When its right before that time of the month I mix one heaping tablespoon of organic cacao in a small mug of hot water and add a few drops of liquid stevia. Cacao helps boost calming and happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin which is great for PMS! Serotonin release also helps control appetite which can aid in weight loss. Cacao is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to be help boost the immune system.

Get a great deal on cacao and other organic products at HomeGoods, Marshalls, or TJMaxx.

7. Organic coffee- My midday (11-1:00ish) pick me up, hold the pesticides. My organic coffee comes from one of the 3 stores listed above.

8. Stevia drops- Sometimes I want a nice ice coffee with some sweetness. Regular stevia doesn’t dissolve in cold liquid so thats where THESE drops come in. I got mine at Stop and Shop.

9. A good butcher- Find a butcher that is open with you and tells you where their meat and produce comes from. My butcher hooks me up with free cuts and the taste is out of this world! I also save a ton of money getting my grass fed meat there as opposed to the grocery store.

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Sleep Challenge

Recent studies have shown that going to bed and waking up the same time every day could be the missing link to shedding some pounds.

Sleep is one of the most under appreciated fat burning tools. I’ve always noticed that when I get good, consistent sleep I feel better and look leaner. Though it’s such an easy way to rev up my metabolism, grad school keeps me up in the wee hours of the night and I end up hitting the hay at different times each day.

Based on this relatively recent study I am creating a mini sleep challenge to help regulate my sleep patterns. Bonus benefit: maybe this challenge will force me to get my work done early! I’m gonna have to put myself on a schedule.

A 2013 study at Brigham Young University followed 300 female college students, ages 19 to 26 to monitor the affects of their sleep wake cycle on their body composition.

After the one week study period researchers found:

  • A consistent cycle of waking up and going to sleep at the same time are strongly linked with lowering body fat.

Other findings in this study include:

  • Getting fewer than 6.5 hours of sleep or more than 8.5 hours is linked to higher body fat.
  • Sleep quality affects body composition. High quality sleep was associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat
  • The greater the variation in sleep patterns, the higher body fat percentage. Women whose sleep patterns varied by 90 minutes (i.e.: Thursday you go to sleep at 11:00PM and wake up at 7:00AM, then Friday you go to sleep at 1:00AM and wake up at 9:00AM) had higher body fat than those whose sleep varied by 60 minutes.

Leading researcher, Bruce Bailey states that by not adhering to a consistent sleep pattern hormones related to food consumption can be altered causing weight gain. These hormones include ghrelin, the hormone that controls food cravings, and leptin, the hormone that signals satiety and helps prevent over-eating.

Even though this was a small study and very short duration, implementing regular sleep patterns can be an easy way to increase energy levels and shed some weight. So if you’re looking for an easy way to lose: Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule.

My Challenge

Feel free to join me on my simple challenge or let me be the guinea pig and stay tuned for the outcomes.

I plan to force myself into bed by 11:00PM and wake up at 7:00AM daily for at least the next 2 weeks to see how my body responds. That’s it! The real challenge will be getting all my assignments in before my 11:00PM curfew!

Rainbowl

Rainbowl

The more color, the more nutrients! I always have a ton of cooked and raw veggies on hand so I just throw everything in a dish, add a protein and drizzle olive oil or add some nuts and seeds for fat.

Side Note: I pick up all my unique fruits and veggies at ShopRite!

Ingredients:

  • Bibb lettuce
  • spiralized yellow squash
  • 1 sliced radish
  • sliced and baked japanese sweet potato
  • baked chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • steamed purple cauliflower
  • olive oil or your favorite dressing

Directions:

  1. Lay down a few lettuce leaves as your base
  2. Top lettuce with spiralized squash
  3. Layer the rest of the ingredients in rows: sweet potato, radish, chicken, cauliflower
  4. Sprinkle seeds on top
  5. Drizzle olive oil or your favorite dressing on top

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V(Egg)ie Bowl

This is a super easy recipe that does not require measurements. Feel free to add, omit or substitute ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • spinach
  • zucchini
  • cauliflower
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • radishes
  • bell pepper
  • egg
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Lay down a bed of spinach in a shallow bowl
  2. Spiralize (or slice) zucchini and sauté in olive oil until soft
  3.  Top spinach with zucchini
  4. sauté onions, cauliflower and broccoli and lay over spinach
  5. cook egg
  6. while egg cooks, slice radish and bell pepper and garnish your dish
  7. finish by adding the egg!

Healthy dinner Ideas

Healthy Habits Part 3: Cleaning Up Dinner

I’m a little late on this post but here goes! The past few weeks we discussed how to change up breakfast and lunch to make them healthier. If you would like to go back and read those posts click on the following links:

Healthy Habits Part 1: Cleaning Up Breakfast

Healthy Habits Part 2: Cleaning Up Lunch

 

A brief overview of the previous posts:

  • Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day in terms of calories and carbohydrates. Since you are literally “breaking-a-fast” this meal should consist of proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

 

  • Lunch should be a bit lighter (again in terms of calories and carbohydrates) but still filling to keep you going through the day. We achieve this by increasing the amount on non-starchy vegetables in the meal (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, etc.) and decreasing the amount of starchy veggies and complex carbs (rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, beets, peas, etc.). Doing this will increase the volume of food at lunch but not the calories or carbs.

 

Dinner, in my opinion, is the simplest of all meals. If your goals are fat loss I recommend keeping dinner nice and light making it the smallest meal of the day filled with a lean protein like chicken breast and fish and non-starchy vegetables. I do not promote or condone consuming starchy and complex carbohydrates at dinner, it all depends on your needs and goals. If dinner happens to be my post workout meal I do consume complex carbs, and if it is not then I stick to lean meat and non-starchy veggies. This is what works for me and may or may not work for you, so play around with it!

 

However, if you are striving to gain weight and build muscle then load up on the carbs!

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21 Day Sugar Detox- Week 1 Recap

After a long December of warm chocolate chip cookies, creamy Christmas cocktails and gluten laden meals I needed to get my body and mind back on track! #NewYearNewMe right?!

About a week ago the whole Verna family took on Diane Sanfilippos 21 Day Sugar Detox. I think I speak for most when I say the first week of any diet is the most difficult. It was a hard 7 days, but doing this as a family made it a million times easier.

My brother and I have been making batches of homemade chicken, turkey and beef jerky.

My Mom rid the fridge and pantry of all No-No foods

And my big Italian Dad…

Well, he’s certainly trying his best! I think he’s getting used to cooking healthier, and after a little scolding he stopped rebuying the foods my Mom threw away.

In addition to the strong support system at home I also came up with some tricks curb the inevitable chocolate cravings.

  1. Set an Incentive, Treat Yoself!: At the beginning of each week set a non food related reward for yourself. If you stay on track with your diet enjoy a mani/pedi, massage, day trip, a new outfit, shoes, sneakers, etc. This gives you something to look forward to, which might increase motivation.

Last week my mom and I decided to treat ourselves to a cute outfit from the Gap and after a                  successful week, today we cashed in on our reward!

  1. Chug! Chug! Chug! – On JJ Virgins health podcast she mentions curbing sweet cravings with sour flavors. Next time you have a hankering for a Reeses cup try mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a large glass of water!
  1. Get some Z’s- Stop eating 3 hours before bed (this doesn’t mean you should be going to bed later!). When my cravings spike at night I force myself into bed. Majority of the time I lay there awake reading a book or surfing the web, but my mind is occupied and my body is way too comfy to go all the way to the kitchen.

Progress:

Everyone in the family agrees they feel more energized and have already dropped a few lbs!

As for me, I never focus on what the scale says, instead my progress is based on how I feel and how my clothes fit. Here is a quick summary of my personal experience after one week on the 21 DSD:

  • I feel less bloated!- My cousin bought me adorable workout leggings for Christmas. When I tried them on a week ago they did not fit, but today I slipped them on with ease and they fit PERFECTLY! (wee!)

  • Glowing skin- I don’t normally have skin issues but I can absolutely tell a difference in my face from when I began the detox
  • My energy levels are up

Final Thoughts: With the exception of 2 slices of swiss cheese and one bite of a protein bar, that I have to review as a BodyBuilding.com rep, I have stayed on track with the detox. The progress from week one is amazing and motivates me to crush week 2!

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Starting the 21-Day Sugar Detox

Towards the end of my December recap post I briefly mentioned embarking on the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Here is some information on how I discovered the detox and my experience thus far…

I dipped a toe into the pool of podcasting over the summer at the start of my dietetic internship/grad program. Normally I like to stay up late and research interesting fitness and health related topics to stay current with the literature and become more knowledgeable for my clients and myself. However with my day spent at the hospital and my nights consumed with grad work I began losing out on my research time (and sanity! haha).

 

A friend suggested I start listening to some health podcasts during my long commutes to and from the hospital. This is how I discovered Balanced Bites Podcast and co-host Diane Sanfilippo’s 21-Day Sugar Detox.

I’ll be honest, with my background in nutrition I can be very skeptical while listening to these wellness podcasts, but co-hosts Diane and Liz preach the same nutrition beliefs as myself. These ladies get me through a 2 hour commute each day with discussions ranging from nutrition for thyroid functioning to gut health to skin care. Through my incessant podcast listening Diane mentioned her 21-Day Sugar Detox book and I was immediately hooked.

Again, I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to buying nutrition books but I trusted Diane and went forward with my purchase. The detox wasn’t filled with wacky juice recipes, soup cleanses, etc. but rather whole foods, clean and tasty recipes and insightful information.

Side note: I originally had a colorful picture of fruits, veggies and proteins but found an avocado putting on pants to be more interesting

Anyways! In her book, Dianne goes through a preparation phase, which includes enlisting friends or family to embark on the detox journey. I have successfully recruited my mom (the sweets QUEEN), my dad (the carb loving Italian), and my brother (the “if you don’t put your name on it I’m eating it” offender). The day before the detox we all indulged in some creamy Cold Stone ice cream before saying “sayonara!” to all things sweet.

Today is day 2 and everyone seems to be holding up pretty well! I will fill everyone in on our triumphs, struggles and (hopefully) progress!

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