Spring Mediterranean Salad

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The Mediterranean Diet features beneficial fats, fiber, protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals which help keep us healthy. Many studies suggest that the Mediterranean way of eating can improve heart health. Plus it’s easy to follow at any meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Salads deserve a special celebration this month because they are an excellent vehicle for getting in our greens, veggies, healthy fats and protein sources. They don’t have to be boring either! To help create variety, consider choosing a different protein to add in for your salads (i.e. chickpeas, salmon, hardboiled eggs, steak strips, nuts & seeds). Another idea is to choose a cuisine to inspire you. If you like Greek food, make a Greek salad; or try a Mexican, Italian, or French one.

By getting in a salad on a regular basis, you will be getting more nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants which help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve digestion, help with weight maintenance, and boost immunity! Here’s an template for a Mediterranean Salad; feel free to add items to make it your own!

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Serves 1-2 people
Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

Salad
2-4 cups of salad greens
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 sliced cucumber
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup olives
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 avocado, sliced or 1/4 cup hummus

Dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
2tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Rinse salad mix and place in medium-sized bowl; add other salad ingredients. To make the dressing, add ingredients into a bottle and shake well before pouring over the salad. Store in the fridge to keep fresh. Enjoy the fresh, juiciness of this salad!

Warm Breakfast: Great Goji Groatmeal

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For National Hot Tea & Oatmeal Month, we shared the Great Goji Groatmeal breakfast recipe on this recent WBNS 10TV segment with Karina Nova and Ross Caruso. With our weather being perfect (meaning: cold, rainy) for this breakfast, we’re sharing it here with you too!

What is an oat groat? It’s the whole grain form of oatmeal, before it is steel-cut, rolled, or pulverized into an instant oatmeal package. These oat groats are chewy and take some time to cook, which is why we called upon our trusty slow cooker to work the overnight shift.

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Ingredients
2 cups oat groats
2 tablespoons chia seeds (and/or flax seeds)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
3 cups water (we used hot green tea)
3 cups of non-dairy milk (i.e. DIY almond milk)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, cored and blended
1/8 cup of goji berries (or substitute with raisins)
1/3 cup cacao nibs (optional)

Instructions
Use a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Put oat groats, chia, shredded coconut, water, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and goji berries (and cacao nibs if desired) inside. Blend cored apple and add to slow cooker. Stir all ingredients and cover, cooking on low for about 8 hours (automatic slow cookers should then switch over to ‘warm’ setting). Stir and serve with additional fruit (i.e. berries), nuts, seeds, or sweetener on top and enjoy a warm belly of food to start your day!

My 30 Min. Morning Routine

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Good morning, Adrienne here. We’ve had quite a few clients and friends relay both a desire to exercise and a frustration that it just never seems to get done, with their plan to walk or get to the gym being usurped by other duties or unforeseen issues.

I wish I had the willpower of my neighbor/best friend/former President who got up every morning to exercise.”

“The problem is that I don’t have time, with all of the work and running around in the evenings, my best intentions to exercise fall apart. I’m just too tired in the evenings.”

I don’t like to exercise, but I know I should do it.”

What does obstacles with exercise have to do with a morning routine? Glad you asked – everything. Particularly as a solution for all of the obstacles listed above. A hot yoga studio instructor once shared this maxim: “at 6 A.M., the only obstacle standing between me and my workout is ME; by 6 P.M. all sorts of obstacles exist to prevent me from working out.” We’ve taken this to heart and pushed our perfectionist tendency out of the way in order to create a personalized morning routine that works.

How we Started

You may remember our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise during which myself and a couple of associates woke up early in order to get our 6am boxing class in. Even with the tremendous benefits of better energy and feeling accomplished with having knocked out our exercise, it wasn’t sustainable for us. Why? Well, the day doesn’t often end to where being in bed and sleeping by 9pm is very feasible. Waking up at 5am and not being able to eat much before a strenuous workout and driving to and from the gym, especially in the cold weather, make it oh-so-unappealing. Sure, we got past it a few times, with the help of short-lived WILLPOWER, but it didn’t last and it wasn’t long before staying in bed longer won out. At the same time, I set up all sorts of good intentions to exercise in the evenings. Riiiight.

Typical story, right? We’re all human. We rationalize and make promises and tell ourselves “the diet/exercise starts on Monday, for real this time.”

What’s the Solution?

Well we learned about all sorts of fancy morning routines from CEOs of companies like Virgin to motivational speakers like Tony Robbins…and some of these were 2-3 hours long(!!) – definitely not reasonable for most of us. So I created my own ‘perfect,’ flexible morning routine. Here’s what I’ve been doing for over the past month in the 30 minutes between waking up and being ready to go:

At 7am – alarm goes off, do morning hygiene routine
7:05am – without allowing myself to think about this for long (and find excuses), I begin with my strength-training routine. On this day it was the following:

  • 25 squats
  • 12 full push-ups
  • 35 sit-up combo -as seen in this video

I did 2 sets of these. It took less than 6 minutes; I no longer have any excuses not to do this.

On this day, my hair was an easy fix and so I washed my face, did a hot towel scrub, and applied my favorite face cream. (4 minutes)

7:15am – let face cream soak in as I meditate for 5 minutes
7:20am – gather water bottle, purse, work bag, and breakfast and/or lunch
7:30am – ready to go

Variations

Though I’m generally now an early riser, I frequently adjust my wake time to 30 minutes before I need to leave the house.  So if I get to ‘sleep in’ until 7:30am or even 8am, I’ll adjust waking time accordingly.

I have my basic skincare routine & hair routine down to a science. Skincare routine is 3 minutes (washing face and applying my favorite face cream); my current haircut works with my hair and so a basic combing may be all that is needed. I seldom wear makeup anymore but this would add another 3-5 minutes.

Hot towel scrub versus a shower; determine which you need on any given day. For me, a shower is a 10-minute affair. To ensure still leaving on time, I’d have breakfast prepared the night before.

Breakfast; if I have time to eat at home, I will. Otherwise I typically make a smoothie or prep muesli the night before to bring with me. For when I have an extra glorious 5-10 minutes and the ingredients on hand, I might have avocado toast….or even moka pot coffee.

Weekdays vs. weekends. This is generally my weekday routine; my weekend one can stretch to about 2 hours, especially with some reading involved and freshly-made breakfast.

Conclusion

Now that I’ve created a customized morning routine, I’m sad I didn’t begin it earlier in life (oh, to have missed out on the frantic running around looking for keys, skipping breakfast and/or lunch, and road aggravation at the drivers in front of me who were ‘blocking my way’ to getting to somewhere on time). Peace, my dear friends and clients, is a gift we can give ourselves with a morning routine.

The key is making your morning routine work for YOU. If you need 45 minutes or an hour to incorporate a leisurely breakfast, straightening your hair, or reading an inspiring text, do it.

Have you started your own morning routine? How does yours run?

Curious and want to capitalize on your mornings? We’ll help you build your own morning routine, whether in a future session or upcoming blog, so stay tuned!

The 7-day Breakfast Experiment

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At the Body Mindfulness presentation we gave at VegFest this past weekend, we spoke about how to bring awareness to both our lifestyle choices and to our plates. By listening to the messages the body is sending us, we can identify issues (and solutions!) related to digestive, blood sugar, and stress woes. Are you answering the calls your body makes?

Because what we eat first thing in the morning can impact our energy levels, sugar cravings, digestion, and more, we suggest you try a fun Breakfast Experiment. Consider keeping record in a notepad, calendar, or on your computer. This exercise is a powerful tool to bring awareness to your eating patterns. Here’s an example:

Day 1: scrambled eggs
Day 2: fruit smoothie
Day 3: oatmeal
Day 4: boxed breakfast cereal
Day 5: coffee and bagel
Day 6: whole wheat pancakes
Day 7: avocado toast (toast with mashed avocado on top)

Feel free to change this experiment to fit your diet with vegan, gluten-free, or other appropriate options. If you’re diabetic or worried about becoming so, consider checking your blood sugar after each of these meals and noticing any differences in daily measurement.

On each day, you’ll want to record the food you ate, how you felt (physically or emotionally, i.e. “felt energized!” or “started getting heartburn”) a few minutes after eating and then again 2-3 hours later (i.e. “had tons of energy and was productive but then dropped, craving coffee” or “felt really full, almost forgot to eat lunch!”)

Your job, as a breakfast experiment scientist, is not to negatively judge yourself or your food choices. Objectively recording the information can assist you in making connections between what you’ve eaten and how you feel – both physically and emotionally.

This exercise may reveal digestive upset or an intolerance to certain foods. A food sensitivity or allergy may impact your level of inflammation and symptoms. Contact your integrative nutritionist to discuss what you discover and to get the support you need to experience a higher level of vitality and wellness!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Southwestern Skillet

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Smoothie. Oatmeal. Rinse & repeat. We know that breakfasts can get a bit repetitive and unimaginative so we’re going to shake it up with this inspired southwestern dish.

Whether you’re looking to fuel up for a busy day of hiking or for back-to-back meetings, this dish is a delicious & satisfying breakfast with great macronutrient content. Let the culinary adventure begin!

Servings: 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Ingredients
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1 can black beans
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp cumin
olive oil
sea salt & black pepper to taste

Instructions
Cut sweet potatoes in 1/4 inch pieces. Chop red pepper and rinse canned black beans. Drizzle olive oil in a large pan and heat sweet potatoes on medium for 3-5 minutes, then add black beans, red pepper, and cumin. Add water to cover bottom of pan and cover to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring often.

We topped the skillet with a cooked egg and a few slices of avocado. Add fresh lime juice, hot sauce, or salsa for a unique meal that fits your needs.

Recipe: Tropical Millet Breakfast

photo source: ink361.com

photo source: ink361.com

Feed your body wholesome, nutritious food to as an act of self-care. Start your day right with this delicious, tropically-inspired breakfast recipe:

Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup millet
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup mango, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons flaxseeds
3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil (pinch of salt optional). Add grains and return to boil before simmering, covered, for about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before adding on top non-dairy milk, pineapple, mango, coconut,seeds, and maple syrup.