Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate

I cannot believe it has been weeks since I have posted! March has been filled with changes for me. Some good, some not so good, but I am learning to roll with the punches! Including this winter-like weather. I am NOT a fan of cold weather and considering the fact that it is suppose to snow in NY on Friday, I needed something warm and chocolate-y to cheer me up!

Guilt-free Hot Chocolate:
-1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Super food Powder
-1-2T Cocoa powder (depending on your taste)
-pinch salt
-1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
-3/4 cup milk of choice (I use unsweetened vanilla hemp milk)
-Stevia to taste

Not only is this sugar-free (if sweetened with stevia) and low-calorie, but it has super foods in it as well! Drink up!

xoxo Tina

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Avoiding GMOs

Hello health nuts!

I loved reading your comments on my angry shopper post. I see that you all are just as outraged over poor food labeling regulations as I am! Now onto another topic that angers me: GMOs.

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are crops which have been inserted with genetically modified genes from other plants, viruses, bacteria, animals, etc. This is done to make the crops more stable and resistant to drought, disease and pesticides.

Health risks of GMOs include infertility, immune system problems, accelerated aging, disruption of insulin and cholesterol regulation, gastrointestinal problems and organ damage.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 93 % of all soybeans, 78% of all cotton, and 70% of all corn grown in the US in 2010 were genetically modified to be herbicide intolerant. The fact that GM foods are not labeled leads to many shoppers consuming them unknowingly.

How to avoid GMOs:
1. Buy organic
Certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients. Look for labels that say “100% organic.”

2. Look for products with a Non-GMO Project seal. Products that carry this seal are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients.

3. Avoid the top GM food crops and products that contain them if they are not labeled organic or non-GMO. The four major GM crops are Corn, Soybeans, Cotton and Canola, so try to buy them only organic.

Also, beware of dairy products which may be from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for dairy products labeled “No rBGH or rBST” or “artificial hormone-free.”

Vote against GM foods, by choosing to buy the major 4 GM crops only organic or look for foods specifically labeled "non-GMO."
How do you feel about GMOs?
Do you look out for them when you buy food?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Angry Shopper


I did some food shopping yesterday and while passing through the cereal aisle I couldn't help but notice the large check and rather ridiculous claims on many of the General Mills cereals.

General Mills has dubbed many of their cereals as "Whole Grain Guaranteed" with a large check on the box. Are they lying? No. The first ingredient is Whole Grain Oats, but unfortunately that is the only healthy ingredient. Take Lucky Charms for example,

Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellows 5&6, Blue 1, Red 40, Artificial Flavor), Sugar, Oat Flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Natural and Artificial Flavor. Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

Gag-worthy. Well at least they add vitamins right? (sarcasm). They definitely make sure to promote that on the box as well by stating that Lucky Charms are a "good source of Calcium and Vitamin D!"

Side Note: Did you know that Cascadian Farms, Muir Glen (two organic brands) and Lara bar are owned by General Mills?

So I continued with my shopping. I was looking for a jar of tomato sauce and the go-to brand I usually buy was all out. When looking for tomato sauce I always look for one that contains no added sugar, this is a harder task than one would think. I saw a brand called Organicville. On the label it stated Gluten free, Organic and no added Sugar.
Being the nutritional detective that I am, I always checks the ingredients despite what labels may state because I know better.
Did I mention Lucky Charms are packed with Whole Grains?
So I read the label and was surprised at what I found.


Come again? I thought you said no added sugar? Oh, you meant no white sugar, or even raw sugar, but no one said anything about agave!

Yes, agave is a natural sugar and may be considered to be a better alternative to white sugar. It is a low glycemic sweetener so it doesn’t send your blood sugar such a roller coaster the way other sugars do. But, lets get real here, sugar is sugar and there happens to be a lot of controversy surrounding Agave.
In fact, in this article, Dr. Joseph Mercola states that "most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener -- ranging from 55 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is FAR HIGHER than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent. This makes agave actually WORSE than HFCS."
Knowing this, I clearly did not buy that jar of tomato sauce. Am I being a little obsessive? Maybe. However, I quite honestly feel that the labeling of food products is so out of control. The company is called Organicville, they clearly state no added sugar, yet they add a type of sweetener. I do not agree with this, therefore choose not to purchase their product.

This article by Mark Bittman says it all. McDonald's newest menu item, their wholesome whole grain oatmeal, which is really just oats plus heavy cream and tons of sugar, “contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin.” Disgusting? Yes. Surprising, not really. I mean have you seen how a chicken nugget is made?:

As Bittman said, “there are barely any rules governing promotion of foods,” so it is up to each of us to be nutritional detectives because quite frankly, our health depends on it.
I would love for you all to weigh in on the subject!
How do you feel about the false labeling/promotion of products?
What makes you an angry shopper?

vitamins and supplements
Have a blog? Want to win a $100? Check out the Swanson Health Blog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Setting Intentions for March

Happy March everyone!

We are getting closer and closer to spring and summer! At the fresh start of every month I like to set some goals and intentions for that month.

This month I plan to do some Spring Cleaning. In the same way you clean and maintain your home, you must take care of your body, mind and spirit. I will be doing a separate post all about my spring cleanse and what it entails.

For me cleansing and detoxing doesn't have to be as extreme as some make it out to be. In addition, I like spend time "cleansing" my mind as well. Getting rid of negative thoughts is such an important part of good health. The winter tends to make us shut off and become more introverted, but spring is all about opening up, and letting your energy out as well and being open to new energy coming in.

I also want to try some new recipes. Not only do you all have me drooling from pictures of your delicious creations, but I also recently got the cookbook, Appetite for Reduction, which is filled with low fat vegan recipes. I am excited to get in the kitchen and try some of these recipes out!

Your goals and intentions don't have to simply be a list, they can also be in the form of a mantra or statement, like so:

I plan to go through March with an open mind and an open heart. I will let go of any negative energy or thoughts because they no longer serve me. Throughout the month I will stay in a positive mind set, which will attract amazing people and opportunities into my life.

Form your own personal statement and repeat it throughout the month. By doing so your are reaffirming your intentions and keeping your mind focused.

What are some of your goals and intentions for March?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Low fat, Tahini-free Hummus

Hi Friends! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekends!

Hummus is one of my all-time favorite foods. However, tahini (sesame seed paste) bugs my stomach. Apparently, I am allergic to sesame seeds, and I know that this allergy isn't uncommon. While store-bought hummus is very convenient, it almost always contains tahini, so I just make my own hummus!

Low Fat, Tahini-free Hummus
-1 can Garbanzo Beans, liquid reserved
-2T fresh Lemon Juice
-1 clove Garlic
-1/3t salt + ¼ tsp pepper (or to taste)
-½T Olive oil
-1/2 tsp Cumin
Makes about 1 cup

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. In a blender or food processor, combine garbanzo beans, cumin, lemon juice, garlic, oil. Add the reserved bean liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until there is enough liquid needed to fully combine the ingredients. Blend until smooth.

*Note: I recommend peeling the "skins" off the chickpeas. Although this is time-consuming, it results in a creamier hummus.

Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities?

What is your favorite way to eat hummus? Crackers, baby carrots, cucumber slices, in a salad, I'll use any food as an excuse to eat hummus!

xoxo Tina

Friday, February 25, 2011

Satisfying cravings

Happy Friday!

My boyfriend is obsessed with Mexican food. Although he is Italian and loves his pastas, he can eat burritos every single night of the week (I've seen him do it too). I on the other hand, am not really a fan of Mexican food, but surprisingly I have been in the mood for it lately.

My version of a taco(less) salad:
In the mix:
-Red onion
-Black bean
-Topped with homemade guacamole
-Cumin salad dressing (apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil + cumin)

I made the guacamole lower in fat by replacing some of the avocado with edamame. This also adds some extra protein.

Healthier (and vegan) quesadillas:
Brown rice wrap filled with organic refried pinto beans, black beans, about 2 tablespoons of salsa and cumin plus a side salad with shopped baby carrots, tomatoes & leftover guacamole.

What is your favorite type of cuisine? I love Mediterranean food since it is what I grew up eating, and I am also a big fan of Asian cuisine.
Has your taste changed from when you were younger? Mine definitely has! I use to eat processed foods and fast food, basically JUNK! Now I love natural, whole foods. Everything else just doesn't appeal to me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crazy Sexy Diet

Hello health nuts!

I recently finished reading the Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and wanted to give a little summary and my opinion of the book.

“Health is more than the absence of disease; it is the presence of vitality.” There is no better quote to summarize my definition of health.

The Crazy Sexy Diet is a low-fat, vegetarian or vegan diet that focuses on low-glycemic whole foods to balance the ph of your body and reduce inflammation.

Low-fat: This aspect of the diet took my by surprise when I initially read it. From the get go she states the diet is low-fat, however no where in the book does she say to avoid fats. In fact she emphasizes the importance of Omega 3's to reduce inflammation. In addition the recipes contain nuts, seeds and oils, so I don’t consider it to be actually low fat, just an “oil change” from bad fats to healthy fats.

Alkalizing: She encourages us to consume 60-80% alkaline foods and 20-40% acidic. If you are wondering which foods are acidic and which are alkaline, there is a handy chart you can check out here. Basically, fruits and vegetables are alkaline and all processed, refined food are acidic. However, healthy foods such as olive oil, beans and grains are considered to be acidic, but that doesn’t mean we should not eat them! 20-40% of our diet should comprise of these foods. There is such a thing as too-alkaline, so it really is about finding the balance.

Anti-inflammatory: Many medical professionals are beginning to acknowledge how much damage inflammation causes in the body, stating that it is the "root cause of all disease." Dr. Andrew Weil, has a an anti-inflammatory food pyramid and Kris also addresses the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet and suggests using foods like turmeric, ginger, garlic and olive oil to cool inflammation in the body.

Low Glycemic: Eating low glycemic foods will help control and stabilize blood glucose levels, preventing insulin resistance, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. (Personally, I take the GI with a grain of salt. I mean, a Snickers bar has about the same glycemic index as cooked carrots...)

For those who are up to the challenge, she provides guidelines for a 21 Day Cleanse which involves eliminating or avoiding the following foods:
-Processed, refined and high glycemic foods
(She recommends that everyone experiment with a gluten free diet since many people find that it causes them a lot of digestive problems)
-Animal Products
-Chemicals and toxic products (She recommends using natural skin care products)

Emphasize the following:
-Green drinks and smoothies (preferably, you would consume only these until noon for optimal detoxification)
-Raw or lightly steamed veggies
-Juice fasts
(1 day a week for further detoxification)
-Prayer and Positive Affirmations
-Yoga and Meditation
-Dry brushing and Sweating
to help remove toxins
-Supplements and Superfoods

What I loved about this book:
-I have said many times that I believe health is all-encompassing, it is not simply what we eat or if we exercise. It is mind, body and spirit, and I love that Kris addresses that in this book. She acknowledges that our health is impacted not only by what we consume physically (food and drinks), but also by what we consume figuratively (our thoughts, ideas, emotions, etc).

The Negatives:
-While this book is filled with tons of great information, it can be a bit overwhelming for those who are not familiar with this type of lifestyle. In addition, with all the different diets, detoxes and cleanses, there is so much contradictory information that as an audience it is so easy to get confused. In the book Kris recommends consuming only raw veggie juices until lunch. You may read this book and think “Green juice for breakfast? Aren’t I suppose to ‘eat breakfast like a king?’” Well, to each his own. Our bodies are all unique so you have to find out what works best for you.

While none of the information in this book was new to me, or something I have not studied before, her spunky, funky, positive attitude made the book a fun read!

What do you need to detox from?
-Junk foods (soda, candy, sugars)?
-Negative thoughts?
-Energy-suckers? (The type of people that always seems to put you in a funk when you are around them?)

Everyone has a different idea of what it means to detox or cleanse. I have tried juice fasts, elimination diets and an unsuccessful master cleanse (I attempted to start after a night of drinking, yes this was my pre-health counselor days!). I did not do any of these for weight loss, I did them to try it and see how I felt. I am the type of person that likes to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I personally feel that if done correctly and for the right reasons, cleansing can be an important part of good health. How do you feel about detoxes? Have you done a detox before?

xoxo Tina

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recent Whole Foods Buys

Happy President's Day! I hope everyone has the day off today! Does any one else get the feeling that Mother Nature lost her mind? I cannot believe there is snow on the ground right now! Hopefully we get back to that beautiful spring weather soon!

Yesterday I made the trek (about a 30 minute drive) to Whole Foods and bought some goodies! Typically I buy about 80-90% of my food from Trader Joe's or the regular local supermarket and the rest of my food from one of the two health food stores that are close-by. One is a small health store/vegan deli and the other is a all-natural supermarket called Wild by Nature. It's very similar to Whole Foods, expect it is a little smaller and doesn't have quite the selection as Whole Foods does. When I do make the drive out to Whole Foods I only buy items that I can't find at any of the stores close to me, since Whole Foods can be a tad expensive.

Here is what I left with:

-Nature's Path Love Crunch Granola [I've been dying to try it after seeing it on several blogs!]
-Living Harvest Brand Unsweetened Vanilla Hemp Milk
-Pacific Foods brand Carrot Cashew Ginger Soup [I've had this soup before and it is amazing.]
-Wildwood Brand Organic Sprouted Baked Tofu [Teriyaki flavor, Trader Joe's makes their own version of this which I buy as well.]
-Bulk bin Rolled Oats
-Theo Organic Dark Chocolate [which someone already tasted ;)]

I had a square of the Theo dark chocolate last night after dinner, and while I like the fact that it is organic and has a high cocoa content, I still prefer the taste of my Green & Black's! I love their 70% dark chocolate because it isn't as bitter as most other dark chocolates.

I buy the original unsweetened Hemp Milk at either of the health food stores by my house, but they don't carry the vanilla unsweetened, so I get a few cartons whenever I go to whole foods.

Here are a few of the frozen items I purchase for my lazy, 'I don't feel like cooking' days:

-365 Vegan, Gluten free Roasted Vegetable Pizza
-Soy-free & Gluten-free Vegan burgers
[a new-to-me item!]
-Frozen Kale

When I don't have the time to make home-made ones, my go-to veggie burgers are Amy's California burgers, Sunshine burgers or Wildwood/Trader Joe's Tofu burgers. However, I am always up to try a new one! These new Vegan burgers I picked up have great ingredients:

I love the fact that these are all ingredients I recognize and have in my pantry/fridge. No additives! When buying packaged goods, I go through a mini checklist to determine how healthy or processed it is.

The vegan roasted vegetable pizza seems very similar to Amy's veggie pizza which I love, except the 365 brand has less calories, so I decided to buy it and give it a shot!

This morning for breakfast I knew exactly what I wanted:

I love granola that is filled with clusters, so when I opened the box you can imagine what a happy girl I was to see this:

Literally, a bag of the world's largest clusters. Now I know why they call it love crunch! Although I barely saw any dark chocolate chunks or raspberries (unless they are all hiding at the bottom), this granola was still really good! When I checked out the nutrition label before purchasing it I was surprised to see that it was lower in calories than most other granolas. A serving = 3/4 cup which is 260 calories. I've seen other granolas with the same calories for only 1/4 cup. However, once I measured out 3/4 cup it turned out to be several huge clusters, so it actually is around the same calories as regular granola if you break the granola boulders apart.

What is your favorite Cereal or Granola? Although I like them, I typically don't buy cereal or granola simply because they don't fill me up the same way that oats do. When I do buy them, I look for cereals with low-sugar, high-fiber and all-natural ingredients. Ezekiel sprouted cereals are one of my favorites.

Have you purchased any new health food items lately?

Where do you buy your hard-to-find health food goodies? Do you have a local health store or a Whole Foods close by?

xoxo Tina

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekend Eating Habits

Happy Friday!!

I am loving the beautiful weather we are having! The sounds of birds chirping when I wake up is a sound I really missed! I love that spring is approaching!

For many people weekends result in eating "naughtier foods" (as I like to call them) and eating more in general. Going out to restaurants can result in higher calorie meals or foods you wouldn't normally have if you had cooked at home (bread with butter, wine, desserts, etc). Also, you may be less motivated to get some exercise in over the weekend. I know the weekend is a time to relax after a hard week, but that doesn't mean we should let all our hard work at the gym or healthy eating all week go to waste!

If you know you are going out to dinner, plan ahead by make smart choices throughout the day. Load up on veggies, fruits, high-fiber and lower calorie meals so you have some calories to spare at dinner. I talked about how making healthy choices when eating out in this post.

If going to the gym over the weekend, really doesn't appeal to you, find an activity you enjoy. Working out shouldn't be torture; try yoga, going for a walk, hiking, biking, etc, anything to get your body moving and your heart rate up!

If you are going to drink alcohol, try not do it on an empty stomach, and make sure to drink PLENTY of water before, during and after. Alcohol leads to dehydration and hangovers (bleh!). I rarely drink and when I do, I am a two-sip sally. I usually can't handle more than 2 strong drinks. When choosing an alcoholic beverage I try and avoid all the fruity drinks because they are filled with sugar and calories!

My go-to alcoholic beverage of choice:
1 shot vodka, or more if you can handle it ;)
club soda (If making the drink at home I use the all-natural flavored club sodas)
splash of fruit juice (cranberry, pomegranate, orange juice-etc)
squeeze of lemon or lime

By using club soda as the filler instead of the fruit juice you dramatically cut the carbs and sugars. If you happen to wake up with a hangover and start craving heavy, greasy diner food, try my hangover cure smoothie recipe instead to rebalance and rehydrate your body.

Practice moderation. Try and eat the same amount (volume) of food as you normally food, but if those foods happen to be richer. Your body doesn't know the difference between a Saturday or a Wednesday, so just because it's a weekend, this doesn't mean your appetite suddenly increases.

Do you feel like your eating and exercise habits change over the weekend? Sunday is usually my day off from the gym anyway, but if my body is well-rested and I am up to it, I will still try and get a workout in. My eating habits are consistent all week long, but some weekends I will be in the mood for some sweets, which I satisfy by baking some healthier desserts at home.

What are some of the ways you keep yourself motivated to stay on track over the weekend?

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
xoxo Tina

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

Hello friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend and a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Yesterday my boyfriend completely surprised me with a special date he planned! He was suppose to have off from work yesterday, but last minute had to go in a take care of something. Which I didn't mind because I had a meeting in the morning anyway, so I figured we would both be done nice and early and would be able to spend the rest of the day together. Before we parted ways I made him his favorite vegan french toast for a special v-day breakfast, which he loved as always, and I had my chocolate strawberry smoothie.

My meeting went great, and I was home nice and early, waiting for him to get finished. Well, he took much longer than we both had anticipated, so I was planning on just cooking a nice dinner for us at home. Well, you can imagine my surprise when he finally walked in the door and told me I had 20 minutes to get ready cause we were taking a train into the city (Manhattan) for dinner reservations! I was shocked because my boyfriend isn't the type to plan things and also shocked that he thought I could be ready in 20min!! I'm a girl after all! ;) Lucky for him, I was already showered and ready and just needed to get changed.

When we arrived into the city he brought me here:

Candle 79 is a vegan and organic restaurant that offers amazing local and seasonal foods. I have been here once before, and have also been to their sister restaurant, Candle Cafe, so I knew we were in for a treat!

Our reservations we at 5pm, and luckily we arrived 20 minutes early because it wasn't before long that a long line of people began to form outside the door!
Upon being seated we were presented with their Valentine's Day menu:

A choice of soup or salad, an appetizer, and entree and dessert.
After ordering they gave us a sample of a crispy wonton topped with coconut cream and a black berry.

I'm not sure what the sauce was, but this was delicious!
We both chose the soup instead of a salad. It was a saffron red pepper soup with vegetable dumplings.

It was an adult version of tomato soup with crispy veggie filled dumplings. Very delicious! For my appetizer I chose the grilled artichokes, asparagus, grape tomatoes, hearts of palm and picked red onions with a basil-pine nut pesto.

I love pesto so this dish was perfect for me. The artichokes were perfectly cooked and seasoned. Although I did push the pickled red onions to the side!

Tom opted for the grilled portobello with crispy polenta, tofu cheese and spinach on a tomanesco sauce.

We tasted each other's dishes and really liked both. I've had their crispy polenta here before and it was just as good as I remembered! For our entrees I rolled with the pumpkin seed crusted seitan over quinoa vegetable pilaf, sauteed chard, grilled chayote squash over a tomatillo avocado sauce.

The seitan and quinoa were delicious, but the sauce really threw me off. There was a ton of fresh cilantro in there and it was very overpowering, so I avoided the sauce and enjoyed the other components of my meal. Tom chose the house made tortellini with seasonal vegetables in a saffron-cashew cream.
He said he liked it, but it wasn't the best he has had. I didn't try the tortellini because I'm not a big pasta girl, but I tasted the sauce and some of the veggies on the bottom and it tasted pretty good.
For dessert they gave us a small menu with four desserts to choose from: Warm chocolate cake with candied ginger ice cream, Vanilla Flan, Mixed Berry crumble or an Ice cream Sampler. We both got the warm chocolate cake, but asked for french vanilla ice cream in place of the candied ginger.

Warm chocolate cake with chocolate fudge, vanilla ice cream topped with candided walnuts. HOLY YUM.
We both joked that we could have had four courses of just this!
Clearly, we hated it. All in all the meal was delicious!

I am so blessed to have Tom in my life! He always puts up with my crazy antics, health food obsessions and type-A personality. I am always the one planning things, so it was such a treat to have him make the plans and surprise me. It was such a great Valentine's Day!

Picture courtsey of LIRR

Hope you all enjoyed your Valentine's Day/Weekend! <3>
What was the highlight of your weekend?
xoxo Tina

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Healthy Valentine's Day Recipes

Hello friends! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

I've always said that Valentine's Day is just an excuse to eat chocolate and yell at your significant other if they forget to buy you flowers, and I am perfectly okay with that. So bring on the Hallmark holiday! I don't know what my boyfriend has planned for Valentine's Day, but I plan on showing him I love him the best way I know how: filling his belly with delicious and healthy foods. I want to share some of my favorite Valentine's day recipes with you all! They are sweet and delicious while still being healthy (and vegan).

Sweet breakfast for your valentine:
Best Vegan French Toast
adapted from Engine 2 Diet
1 banana
½ cup milk substitute of choice (rice, coconut, almond, hemp, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4–6 slices whole grain or sprouted bread
Combine the banana, milk substitute, vanilla, and cinnamon in a blender. Pour this batter into a shallow dish or bowl.
Dip the bread slices in the mixture and cook in a nonstick skillet on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
Serve drizzled with pure maple syrup

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie:
1 cup milk of choice (almond, hemp, rice, etc)
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1T cocoa powder
*To turn this into a protein shake you can add 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder and reduce the cocoa powder to 1/2T. This also tastes just as delicious without the banana!
Blend and enjoy!

Classic Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
1lb. fresh strawberries
1/2 cup (4 oz.) dairy-free dark chocolate chips or bar broken into pieces (My favorite organic chocolate brands are Green and Black’s, Dagoba, and Tropical Source. Look for a cocoa content of 70% or higher.)

-Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or wax paper.
-Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
-Dip the strawberries halfway into the melted chocolate, then carefully transfer them to the baking sheet and let cool.
Makes 12 servings

Chocolove brand chocolate bars are not only delicious, but also contain a love letter inside each wrapper making them a great gift for a loved one! I especially love their orange peel dark chocolate flavor.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Did you celebrate early?

What are your favorite Valentine's Day recipes?

xoxo Tina

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Supplement Reviews

Happy Thursday! The weekend is almost here!

Swanson Health Products was nice enough to send me some supplements to review. Upon telling them that I was a vegetarian, they were very understanding and made sure that the products they sent me were all vegetarian friendly! I was so impressed by how nice they were to cater to my dietary needs!

These are the goodies I received from them:

Here are my opinions and reviews of these products. I want to premise by saying, I am 100% honest in my opinions and I am EXTREMELY picky when it comes to supplements and brands. I find that many brands put health claims as marketing tactics and once I read the label, I find that their products are of very low quality. I am a stickler for products that contain zero fillers and GMO's.

Stress Shield by Country Life: This product contains Vitamin C, which is known to help control Cortisol levels (cortisol is the stress hormone), B vitamins and Folic acid. In addition, this product contains:

Ashwagandha: for stress, insomnia and fatigue

L-tyrosine: an amino acid which is needed for the production of dopamine and epinephrine, and thyroid hormones

Ginseng: for energy, vitality and stamina

5-HTP: for mood elevation, depression and panic attacks

This product is very well-rounded. I actually think that it would be great to take before a workout as well. It has been said that Vitamin C is said to help you burn more calories during your workout and the B vitamins and herbs help boost your energy. This isn't a product I would take daily, but I would definitely take it when I need an energy boost or a mood lifter!

Barlean's Greens Powder: Despite the fact that I eat plenty of vegetables, I still like using greens powders for the same reason I take a multi-vitamin, to cover all my bases. This greens powder contains Organic Barley, Wheat and Oat leaves/juice, Spirulina, Flaxmeal, Chlorella, Sea Vegetables, Spinach, Parsley, Astragalus, Schizandra, Acerola Cherry, Green Tea extract, Curcumin extract as well as digestive enzymes. While greens powders are definitely an acquired taste, Barlean's is one of the better tasting greens powders I have tried. I have been using Pro-Greens for the past several months and it is the kind of powder you NEED to mix with juice or a smoothie to drink. Barlean's on the other hand has a somewhat fruity flavor and they added stevia so it is pretty bearable on its own mixed with water. For those who want to ease into green drinks, I would definitely start with Amazing Grass or Emerald Greens chocolate greens powders. They are tasty!

Greens Foods brand Organic Chlorella Powder: Chorella is a single-cell algae that many consider to be a "super food." It is said to aid the body in the detoxification of heavy metals. In addition, it is very high in nutrients like Chlorophyll, B vitamins, Protein, Vitamin C, Iron and Beta Carotene. One serving (one teaspoon) has 62% of your daily requirement of vitamin A (beta carotene) and 130% of vitamin C! I love adding it to my shakes or smoothies because I can't taste any difference in flavor. For the past 2-3 years I have included "super foods" like Chlorella and Spirulina in my daily routine and will continue to do so.

The last two products are digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes aid your body in the digestion process. I cannot begin to tell you how many of my clients would complain of digestion issues, in fact, I use to be one of them! More and more people are getting diagnosed with IBS and other digestive disorders. In my opinion there are many changes that can be made to really help clear up a lot of tummy troubles. Taking digestive enzymes is like giving your body back up. I intend dedicating an entire post on digestion so look out for it!

Digest Basic by Enzymedica: I have purchased Enzymedica products before and have some to really trust this brand. They guarantee that their products have "absolutely no fillers." In addition this product was marked "Vegan & Kosher," which some brands do not clearly label and then I have to do research and play guessing games to figure it out. This products contains all the essential enzymes needed to break down plant-based foods, which is great for vegetarians and vegans. They recommend taking 1 capsule with every meal to help digest.

Garden of Life Ultimate Digestive Enzymes: This is the mother of all digestive enzymes! Like I said before, I do my research when it comes to supplements, and I haven't seen such a complete product before! This particular product contains a broader spectrum of enzymes and in higher amounts than the Enzymedica product. I also like that they added Ginger root and Turmeric root extracts, which are known to aid in digestion as well. Prior to receiving this supplement I had been using Doctor's Best brand vegetarian enzymes, which were the best, most complete enzyme product I could find, but this Garden of Life product definitely gives my old enzymes a run for their money! I think I have a new go-to product.

Most of my supplement purchases have been from due to reasonable prices and free shipping on orders over $40, but I may start getting some of my supplements from Swanson because their prices are also very reasonable and they have good deals and promotions. Thanks Swanson for sending me these awesome products! Also, if anyone is interested in reviewing Swanson's products, contact Ben (

Have you tried any of these products before?

Are you picky when it comes to supplements?

Which of these products do you think you could benefit most from?

xoxo Tina

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vegan Cowboy Cookies + Healifying recipes

Happy Friday! I am glad the weekend is finally here!

I have a delicious recipe to share with you all. These are without a doubt my FAVORITE cookies, ever. Quite a bold statement, I know. Oatmeal, walnut, coconut, chocolate chip cookies are better than plain chocolate chip. There, I said it.

Vegan Cowboy Cookies:
Adapted from the recipe in this book.

Makes 11-12 larger cookies (you can easily double this recipe, but prepare to have your will power tested.)

-1c. Quick cook Oats
-1c. Flour (I used gluten free oat flour)
-1/2 tsp Baking soda
-1/4 tsp Baking powder
-1/4 tsp Salt
-1/4c. non-dairy Milk (I used hemp milk, but you could use any milk of your choice)
-1/2T ground Flax seeds
-1/3c. melted Coconut Oil (I used 5T coconut oil + 2T applesauce to cut some of the fat)
-1/3c. Sugar (I used organic evaporated cane sugar)
-6T firmly packed Brown Sugar
-1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
-1/2c. shredded unsweetened Coconut
-1/2c. semi-sweet vegan Chocolate Chips
-1/2c. chopped and toasted Pecans or Walnuts (I had pecans, so that is what I used)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together melted oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half. Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the coconut, chocolate chips, and toated nuts.

4. For each cookie, drop about a 1/4 cup of dough (about the size of a golf ball) onto cookie sheets. The dough will be sticky and thick. Leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie. Flatten slightly with moistened fingers or the moistened back of a measuring cup.

5. Bake for 14-16 minutes until edges start to brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.

*Tip: When using coconut oil, you have to melt it first and be careful when mixing it with cold ingredients, like the non-dairy milk, because it will start to solidify again and you will have tiny coconut oil pieces. To avoid this I mix my ingredients on the stove of my pre-heating oven because it is warm and keep the oil melted.

These are seriously heaven. They are much healthier than your average cookies, but without sacrificing the taste.

How I "healthify" recipes:
~I never use white flour. For all of my baking, I use gluten free oat flour. It works perfectly.
~I never use white sugar. My natural sweeteners of choice are pure maple syrup, agave, raw sugar or sucanat.
~I choose healthier oils and cut some of the fat. Coconut oil works great and replacing some of the oil with applesauce helps reduced the fat and calories in recipes. However, if you substitute too much, the cookies will become too cake-like, so only replace some of the oil like I did in this recipe. When baking brownies I replace some of the oil with canned pumpkin.
~I used dark chocolate chips (60-70% cacao) when I can find them.

If you try this recipe, let me know how much you love them! ;)

What is your favorite cookie?

What are your favorite ways to "healthify recipes?"

xoxo Tina

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Importance of Vitamin D

Happy Tuesday! I hope every one is doing well!

Supposedly there is more snow coming! In fact, I see that some of you have already been hit! I have been snowed in more days this year than I can count! Which is why I was not surprised to find out that my vitamin D levels were slightly low when I had my blood work done last week. Luckily, everything else came back perfect, but now I have to make sure I am getting sufficient amounts of this important vitamin.

Many Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and only recently are studies showing how important Vitamin D truly is. Vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, obesity and even cancer.

How to get it: Food sources of this particular vitamin are limited, the best source of this vitamin is from the sun. However, during the cold winter months, it is more difficult to get your daily dose when you are trying to stay warm inside. Therefore, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter.

How to find out if you are deficient: Have your doctor check your 25 OH vitamin D levels. This is done through a simple blood test and will give you a better idea of how vitamin D much you need to supplement with. According to the Vitamin D Council, blood levels should be between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

How to supplement: Vitamin D3 is said to be the best form because it is the form that is most easily absorbed by your body. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, taking it with food that contains some fat will may also help the body absorb it better.

Follow up: Have your levels rechecked every few months so make sure your levels are sufficient.

Do you supplement with Vitamin D?

When was the last time you had your blood work checked?

xoxo Tina

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. This information is based on research, my education, and my personal experience only. You should always consult your before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pure Bar Review

Happy Sunday Friends! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Eating healthy on the go can be difficult at times, but with a little planning, it can be done! Packaged granola bars and "health food bars" are usually filled with sugars, artificial ingredients and additives. When l look for a bar I always look at the ingredients first. I check for the following things:

1. Can I pronounce all the ingredients?
2. Are these ingredients things I can find in my pantry?
3. Does this product contain sugar, and how much?

Buyer beware: Be very weary when a product makes a health claim like "low fat," "low sugar," "whole grains," etc. These claims are are used as a marketing tool do catch the consumer's eye. If a product is low fat that usually just means they added more sugar or chemicals to compensate.

Pure Bars are one of my favorite snacks to go. I have to say, I actually prefer them to every one's beloved Larabars.

My favorite flavor is their Chocolate Brownie (of course):

Yes, I need a manicure. Yes, I have the world's tiniest hands. (ring size 4).

Pieces of walnuts? Yes please!!

Ingredients: Organic dates, organic walnuts, organic agave nectar, organic almonds, organic cashews, organic brown rice protein, organic cocoa.
I love this bar because not only does it taste delicious, but it is made from all organic, all natural ingredients. All of these ingredients are items I have in my pantry and I could make a home-made version of this if I wanted to.

I don't eat these bars daily, but they are great for busy days when I need to keep a snack in my purse.

Have you tried Pure bars before?

Do you prefer Pure bars or Lara Bars?

xoxo Tina

Friday, January 28, 2011

Breakfast Quinoa

Happy Friday!

So this morning I wanted to have something different for breakfast. I had an unopened box of Quinoa Flakes in my pantry that I have been meaning to try.

Quinoa is a gluten free grain and is also a complete protein.

The nutrition stats are similar to rolled oats.

Breakfast Quinoa:
  • 1/3 cup Quinoa Flakes cooked in 1 cup water
  • Cinnamon & Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste
  • splash Vanilla extract
  • 1tsp Pure Maple Syrup
  • Cacao Nibs

It tastes like regular Quinoa, but with the texture of light and fluffy rolled oats. While I prefer my oats and oat bran, this was definitely a tasty breakfast and a nice change. I will definitely be making it again. Quinoa Flakes would also be great to use in a savory dish!

My Quinoa breakfast was paired with a cup of Yogi Tea advising me to speak the truth.

What is your all-time favorite breakfast?
What are your plans for the weekend?
xoxo Tina

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow & Smoothies

Hello loves! I am snowed in yet again!

This is the view from our backyard. My poor boyfriend spent almost an hour trying to shovel his car out so he could drive to work. I was not happy about him driving because of how dangerous the roads are, but he said once he hit the main roads/highway it was clear.

I however am stuck home! I had to cancel a few appointments and will be coaching the rest of my clients via skype today. Days like today makes me appreciate the fact that the majority of the work I do is out of our apartment.

Here was my yummy breakfast:

Snowed in Smoothie:
-Sun warrior Protein (chocolate)
-Pro greens superfood powder
-1/2 cup unsweetened Hemp Milk
-1 tsp ground Flax seeds
-1 tsp raw cacao powder
-Ice, ice baby

Health Tip: GLA (gamma linolenic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid which is found in evening primose, borage and black currant seed oils. According to research, GLA is said to activate the metabolism of brown fat, which naturally increases your body's ability to burn fat. In addition, GLA can help prevent dry skin and help with PMS.

My skin tends to get very dry in the winter and since I've started taking GLA I've noticed a big difference!

How do you protect your skin in the winter?

Is anyone else secretly excited for Jersey Shore tonight? ;)

xoxo Tina

Monday, January 24, 2011

Movie Munchies

Hello Friends! Can someone please tell me where the weekend went!?

Tonight my boyfriend & I went to see the movie No Strings Attached with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman.

I was a little worried that the movie would be too cheesy and that the funniest parts would be the parts they already showed in the trailers. However, this movie exceeded my expectations! It was adorable, funny and kept me entertained the entire time (which says a lot considering I get bored quite easily!). I really loved the movie and would recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh!

I realize that eating popcorn, chocolate, candy and soda has become part of the whole movie experience. I don't think ANYONE in the theater didn't have an item from the concession stand in their hand. While I don't recommend eating while watching a movie, or eating with any distractions for that matter (check out my post on Intuitive Eating), I can understand how it can be hard for someone to resist the temptation when they smell buttery popcorn and see everyone else munching away. That is why I think its so important to bring your own snacks to the movies!

So, here are some of my suggestions for healthier movie munchies:
-Trail mix with raw nuts, dried fruit and even dark chocolate chips
-Veggie sticks like celery and baby carrots (they have the perfect crunch!)
-Fruit salad
-Fat-free/low-fat air-popped pop corn
-Whole wheat or sour dough pretzels
-Baked pita chips or whole grain crackers
-All-natural granola bars, lara bars, kind bars, etc.
-Dark chocolate (Green & Blacks organic dark chocolate is my favorite)

What is your favorite movie snack?

Have you seen any good movies lately? I still haven't seen Black Swan!!

xoxo Tina

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow & Salads

Happy Friday!

Has anyone else got hit with MORE snow? Luckily the roads are relatively clear now, but it is absolutely freezing so I am walking around like a weirdo to avoid slipping on ice. I actually have a unusual fear of falling on ice. Walking on ice makes me SO nervous, does anyone else feel the same?

I had a delicious, nutrient-packed salad for lunch:

In the mix:
-Mixed greens
-Chopped fresh basil
-Cucumber (my fav)
-Baby Tomatoes
-Red Quinoa
-Balsamic drizzle
In an adorable bamboo bowl that I love.

I also tried a new tea today,

It was surpisingly delicious. Anytime I feel a cold coming on I take Echinacea drops in water 2-3 times a day and I usually feel better almost instantly. Since the drops aren't the best tasting, I assumed the tea would taste similar, but it was very smooth and comforting. Supporting your immune system is especially important with weather like this!

What are you favorite salad toppings? Cucumbers are a must for me!

Any plans for the weekend?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Intuitive Eating

Thursday already?! We are almost at the weekend!

I’m so glad you all agreed with my last post about weight loss myths! In fact, many of you could truly relate and have dealt with the negative effects of dieting and not consuming enough calories. If you missed the post, click here. I think its such an important message for all the people who are constantly dieting and exercising, but aren’t seeing any results!

Another very important topic that I want to talk about is Intuitive Eating. Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, are two Registered Dietitians who have wrote a book about this topic. According to them, Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body--where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.

One of the most important aspects of Intuitive Eating is listening to your body and the signals it is sending you. We spend far too much time paying attention to the latest diet trends or following a ridged diet plan, that we overlook what our body needs or wants. In addition, we have become so disconnected from our bodies that we can no longer distinguish from physical hunger and emotional hunger, often leading to emotional eating or mindless eating.

Here are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.

3. Make Peace with Food End your negative relationship with food, it is not the enemy! If you tell yourself that a particular food is off limits, it can lead to feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and often results in bingeing and overwhelming guilt. Instead know that no food is off-limits and give yourself permission to eat!

4. Challenge the Food Police: The food police, which can also be called “food noise,” are the thoughts in your head that declare you're "good" for eating under 1000 calories or "bad" because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. We need to end these thoughts to return back to our intuition.

5. Respect Your Fullness: Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you're comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Make eating a pleasurable experience. Eat what you truly want and in a pleasant environment. Turn off the TV and other distractions and simply focus on the meal in front of you. This will help you to pay more attention to your body’s fullness.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: Food should not be used as a source of comfort, as a distraction from your emotions or as a cure for your boredom. Food is simply the source of nourishment and energy for our bodies. Using food to numb you of your emotions is not only a temporary fix, but will only result in guilt and discomfort from overeating. Recognize the unhealed issues you are trying to hide with food, and find healthier ways to deal with them.

8. Respect Your Body: Instead of staring into a mirror and picking out all of the things you dislike, focus on what you love about yourself. Your body works so hard to keep you healthy, so thank it by fueling it properly and having realistic expectations.

9. Exercise: The endorphins released during a workout will leave you feeling energized and in a better mood. Even if some days you feel like you have to drag yourself to workout, you will usually be happy you did once it is over. Try and find things you love to do, like swimming, biking, yoga, etc, so it won’t feel like a forced task.

10 Honor Your Health: Instead of listing the food you can have and cannot have (this is the diet mentality you want to end altogether), focus on foods that you know will fuel and nourish your body. Eat plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Eat organic when possible. As long as you are eating healthy, nutrient packed foods most of the time, it will not negatively impact your health if you treat yourself every so often. “It's what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.”

By taking the time and practicing these basic principles, you can relieve yourself of all the “food worry,” or stressful thought surrounded around your eating habits. You can start slow and pick just one principle you want to focus on for this week or this month.

Do you sometimes use food for reasons other than hunger? (stress, boredom, etc)

Which one of the principles listed above do you feel you can improve upon?

xoxo Tina

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Weight loss Myth

Eat less + exercise more = weight loss, right? Not necessarily.

I cannot tell you how many people come to me, completely frustrated, because they feel that no matter how much they diet, or how hard they workout, they can’t loose weight.

When you start cutting calories by eating less and then burn even more calories by working out, at some point you will be burning more calories that you are taking in. This causes your body tp panic and go into starvation mode. You actually slow down your metabolism and instead of burning fat, you are actually storing fat!

So eating less and working out more can actually be counter productive.

In addition, many people will skip meals in order to “save calories.” However, having smaller meals throughout the day is the best way to keep your metabolism burning all day long. Starting with a healthy breakfast is great way to rev up your metabolism, “break the fast,” and set the tone for your whole day!

When I was younger I got caught up in all the popular diet fads (Fat free, Low carb, etc). Not only was my body starving for both calories and nutrients from real food, but I also wrecked havoc on my metabolism. I use to cut my calories, avoid all the foods I loved, and was a cardio junkie. Now, I eat whatever I want (90% of the time, I truly want healthy foods), I exercise because I enjoy it and don't consider any food "off limits," and I weigh less than I ever have and have been able to keep it all off effortlessly.

If I only knew then what I know now, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble!

Have you ever fallen victim to this weight loss myth?

What lessons have you had to learn the hard way?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trader Joe's Exposed!

I recently found an article on that compares Trader Joe's products with similar products made by other brands. There have been numerous times I recognized a Trader Joe's product that is identical to a product made by another company (just cheaper!). These two articles gives some examples of this:

Part One

One new Trader Joe product I noticed recently is their Baked Lentil Chips which are also made by the Mediterranean Snack Food Co.


I also buy Trader Joe's Brown Rice Wraps which are identical to the ones made by Food for Life brand.
What some of your favorite Trader Joe's "copy-cat" products?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chocolate Superfood

While I consider any food that is natural and provided by nature to be a super food, some foods have been given dubbed to be "power foods" or "foods of the Gods". These super foods have high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants as well as other health benefits.

Raw cacao is an example of a super food. It is a great source of antioxidants and fiber. It is very high in magnesium, iron and other essential minerals! Brands like Navitas Naturals sell raw cacao powder, nibs and other forms of this raw chocolate.

I especially love raw cacao nibs. I use them to top my oatmeal or add a tablespoon in my smoothies before blending for a little extra crunch. You can use the powder in place of regular cocoa powder.

Chocolate + health benefits is always a win in my book.

Have you tried raw cacao or any other "super foods?"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Impulse Buy + Workout Schedule

How is every one's weekend going so far?

Yesterday I made an impulse buy at the local health food store:

a $13 impulse buy to be exact.

I added a little to my oat bran this morning, but wasn't too impressed. Any suggestions?

Moving on to my workouts! Ideally, I workout 5-6 days a week. I like to do weight training 3 times a week and cardio 3 times a week.

Here is what my workouts looked like this week: Jan 2nd- Jan 8th:
Sunday: Off
Monday: Total Body Class
Tuesday: 45min Cardio + some Abs
Wednesday: Spin Class
Thursday: Total Body Class
Friday: Off
Saturday 8th: Total Body Class

The Total Body Class (Hard Core Total Body Class, to be exact) is pretty intense. It is similar to the Body Pump class that many of you love. There is actually a disclaimer in the description of the class stating that it is "not for the faint of heart." I can definitely attest to that! It is military-style, so you will get yelled at if you are out of sync with the rest of the class or for giving up before a set is over. This class pushes me to my limits both mentally and physically, which I love! The days that I weight train on my own I don't feel like I push myself as hard as this class does. When it comes to workouts, it's important to find workouts that you enjoy as well as workouts that will push your body and keep it guessing.

Have you tried coconut butter? What are your favorite ways to use it?

What is your favorite form of exercise? Do you like cardio more or weight training?

Any plans for this weekend?

Have a good Saturday!! xoxo