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SUGAR SCHOOL LESSON 1: THE BASICS
For the month of August, we are challenging you to RETHINK YOUR DRINK 🥤 Replacing sugar and artificially sweetened beverages with healthier alternatives is one of the quickest and easiest routes to weight loss, increased energy, decreased inflammation and vitality. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE CHALLENGE ! =) To support you on your new journey you have all been enrolled in ✨SUGAR SCHOOL.✨ Sugar School is a 4-week series where I will be teaching you exactly how to break up with sugar. The first step in breaking up with sugar is understanding the different types of sugar and where you will find them. Our first lesson is: THE BASICS OF SUGAR and class is officially in session. There are 3 types of sugar or sweetener that people often get confused: Added sugar, natural sugar, and artificial sweeteners. ADDED SUGAR is the stuff that is added to food, beverages, or goods during processing. This includes sugars from syrups, honey and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. This does not include naturally occurring sugars that are found in milk, fruits, and vegetables. Added Sugar can be hard to identify on a label because it goes by over 75 different names or “identities” such as sugar, refined sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, palm sugar, refined sugar, cane juice etc. Its important to understand that despite the name change, these are all sugar. Added sugar has little to NO nutritional benefit and A diet high in added sugar aka “empty calories” may contribute to weight gain, low energy, bad mood, increased anxiety, stress, decreased memory, focus, and skin problems. The American Heart Association recommends women limit sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons or 25 grams per day and men limit to 9 teaspoons or 36 grams per day. If you are considering gulping down a 12-ounce can of soda which contains 8 teaspoons or 32 grams of added sugar, you will consume your whole day’s allotment in just one drink. Added sugar can be found in obvious places like sugar or flavored syrup added to coffee, soft drinks, candy, and dessert foods like cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream. But can also be found lurking in foods most people consider healthy such as : plant-based milks, breakfast cereals, protein bars, jerky, bacon, dried fruit, BBQ sauce, wine, sushi rice, bread, tonic, nut Butter, flavored oatmeal, ketchup, salad dressing, granola, pasta sauce, and flavored yogurt. This is why it is always so important to read labels. NATURAL SUGAR is naturally occurring in foods such as whole fruit, unsweetened dried & frozen fruit, 100% fruit juice, and unsweetened plain yogurt or milk. Yes, these foods have natural sugar, but they also carry important nutrients for good health and therefore should be enjoyed in moderation. Last is ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS which are technically not sugar but deserve an honorable mention. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals commonly added to diet beverages, desserts or found in those little packets you add to your coffee in the form of Splenda, Equal or Sweet'N'Low. You will likely see them listed under a variety of different names such as sucralose or aspartame on your food labels. These are a popular sugar swap for diabetics and dieters alike as they contain no calories. While these are a step in the right direction for those looking to lower their blood sugar, its important to understand they are no magic bullet. Artificial sweeteners can be up to 1000 times sweeter than table sugar and people who routinely use them may start to find naturally sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and unsweet foods, such as vegetables completely unpalatable. Additionally, research suggests that they may prevent us from associating sweetness with caloric intake. As a result, we may crave more sweets, tend to choose sweet food over nutritious food, and gain weight. They also may disrupt the balance of gut bacteria in some people, which could increase the risk of disease. Artificial sweeteners are generally recognized as safe but research remains unclear on the effect they have on our cravings, appetite and weight. They contain no nutritive value or calories and therefore will not be listed as “sugar” on the food label. These are the basics of sugar and sweeteners. In our next lesson I will be teaching you how to find them on a food label. Your homework this week is to discover which foods and drinks you consume have sugar or sweeteners in them. Until then, class is dismissed.
✨ONE PAN TUSCAN CHICKEN ✨
Healthy, simple and most importantly easy because it’s a week night and I don’t have time for nonsense. Ingredients: 1 package boneless skinless chicken thighs Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Onion Powder 8.5 oz jar sundried tomatoes in oil 4+ garlic cloves 1 bag of fresh spinach 2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard 1 jar coconut milk 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese Cauliflower Gnocchi, bean pasta, or cauliflower rice to serve Directions: Season your chicken thighs with salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder. Add 2 tbsp. of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to your skillet and cook about 5 minutes per side on medium heat or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan to rest and in that same pan add 3-4 cloves minced garlic + entire jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Allow to cook a few minutes before mixing in 1 can of coconut milk. Once that is well combined add entire bag of spinach + 1/2-1 cup cheese. Add your chicken back into pan and BOOM youre done ! 💥 that’s it enjoy ! I heated up a bag of cauliflower gnocchi from @traderjoes and used that as the base but you could also use bean pasta or cauliflower rice etc.
AUGUST CHALLENGE: RETHINK YOUR DRINK
✨The quickest and easiest route to weight loss, increased energy and vitality is replacing sugar or artificially sweetened beverages in your diet with more nutritious alternatives. ✨
For the month of August, we are challenging you to Rethink Your Drink!🥤 The challenge will be 31 days of no sugar or artificially sweetened beverages. This includes beverages containing sugar or sweetener such as diet or regular soda pop, energy drinks, juice, sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, coffee with added sweeteners or syrups, flavored waters/seltzers, alcohol with added sugar etc. but wait... What foods contain sugar? How do I read labels? What is the difference between added and natural sugar???? 😱😨 Have no fear...for the next 4 weeks I am enrolling you in SUGAR SCHOOL!🎓✨ I will teach you the ins and outs of sugar: How to find it on labels, the different kinds, how to reduce cravings and smart sugar swaps. In addition, I have attached your handy dandy challenge workbook which includes a beverage index and list of sugar synonyms for reference. By the end of this challenge, you will be a certified sugar EXPERT! The benefits?
One month of increased energy, gut health, immunity, mood, decreased cravings, blood sugar, risk for chronic disease
++so much more! You can do anything for just one month! After the challenge is complete you are welcome to embrace sugar again, but I have a feeling you won’t want to! 😜 If you would like to sign up for the challenge, click the link below and stay tuned for more info. I am so excited for this journey with you! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE CHALLENGE ! =)
Cous Cous Summer Salad
Ingredients: 1 box Cous Cous (Israeli Cous Cous is best if your store carries it) 1 Avocado 1 7 oz. container mozzarella balls (drain out all water before adding) 1 pint cherry tomatoes (cut in half) 1 can corn (I forgot to add) Basil White wine vinaigrette: 3 tbsp. White wine vinegar 5 tbsp. Olive oil 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard Salt + Pepper Cook cous cous per box instructions. Drain can of corn and cook lightly in pan with olive oil until golden. Add cous cous, corn, cut up avocado, mozz balls and cherry tomatoes to large bowl. Chop 4-6 basil leaves and add to bowl. For vinaigrette: mix all ingredients in separate bowl before adding to cous cous mixture Refrigerate 1-2 hrs before serving.
How to Hydrate! + Hydration Hacks
The days are longer, the sun is hotter and it is possible that may not be drinking enough water ! The human body is 60% water — and our blood is 90% water. Some signs of not drinking enough water include periods of low fatigue and energy, difficulty concentrating, increased sugar cravings, weak immune system, dry skin, bad breath, muscle cramps and constipation. It is recommended you drink half your body weight in oz. of water daily
ex. If you weigh 200 lbs. that would be 100 oz. of water daily. Other ways to assess hydration include your thirst and the color of your urine. Feeling thirsty indicates your body is not receiving adequate hydration. Urine that is dark or colored indicates dehydration. Pale or non-colored urine typically indicates proper hydration. You get most of your water from drinking beverages, but food also contributes a small amount to your daily water intake. Some high water foods to include are watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, and vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, and tomato The best form of daily hydration is plain water, no need for high sugar sports drinks like Gatorade. On extra sweaty days you can add electrolyte tablets to your water or a pinch of sea salt to your coconut water. Here’s some tips to help you hydrate: Buy or use a water bottle that you like! + carry it with you everywhere you go. I am a big fan of hydroflasks as they keep your water cold for hours on end and are customizable with different types of lids and straws. Amazon.com: Hydro Flask Water Bottle - Stainless Steel & Vacuum Insulated - Wide Mouth 2.0 with Leak Proof Flex Cap - 32 oz, Watermelon: Sports & Outdoors You can also find some more cost effective hydro flask "dupes" on Amazon such as this one: Amazon.com: Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle, 24 oz, White: Kitchen & Dining. Try to beat the clock on a time stamped water bottle. Even better if you get a big obnoxious one like this one: Amazon.com : Venture Pal Large 1 Gallon/128 OZ & 74 OZ Motivational Leakproof BPA Free Water Bottle With Time Marker Perfect for Fitness Gym Camping Outdoor Sports-1Gallon-Pink : Sports & Outdoors Set alarms or reminders in your phone Or get a water bottle that will glow to remind you hourly like these: Amazon.com: ICEWATER 3-in-1 Smart Water Bottle(Glows to Remind You to Stay Hydrated)+Bluetooth Speaker+ Dancing Lights,22 oz,Stay Hydrated , Enjoy Music (A1-Blue): Home Improvement Amazon.com: Hidrate Spark 3 Smart Water Bottle, Tracks Water Intake and Glows to Remind You to Stay Hydrated, BPA Free, 20 oz, Scuba: Kitchen & Dining Infuse your water with fruit or herbs to amp up the flavor Some fun combos include: Strawberry + Basil Lemon + Blueberry Cucumber + Mint Orange + Lime Get a water bottle or cup with a straw Straws make mindless sipping easy. Grab some re-usable metal straws to keep it eco friendly. Try it with ice, sparking, flat, from the tap, room temperature or cold. Try logging your intake in an app such as Fitbit or Myfitness pal or write it on your calendar. There are many ways you can consume water. Which one is right for you? Experiment and discover your favorites! Drinking water is crucial for almost every process in your body. From supporting exercise performance and energy levels, digestion, concentration, Water will never go out of style . So drink up my friends.
Win your 4th of July
The 4th of July is upon us! That means fireworks, parades, fun with friends and family and of course barbecues! 4th of July & summer barbecues are fun… but you're often standing around food and drinks for hours - making it sometimes hard to stick with our long-term goals. I’m definitely an advocate for cheat meals, but to make sure that your 4th of July cheat meal doesn’t turn into a cheat day these are my favorite tips and recipes! Have a light meal or snack beforehand It can be tempting to not eat before your BBQ to “save” your calories for indulging. But this can lead to excessive hunger and overeating later. Have a light meal or snack about an hour before you plan to start celebrating. This way you can keep your hunger in check, and you won’t go nuts when you see that bag of chips! Choose one of these healthy + delicious grill recipes: The best thing about a good old-fashioned BBQ is that they can be an incredibly healthy if you choose the right thing. Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple Kebabs - The Real Food Dietitians (therealfoodrds.com) Greek Kale Salad with Avocado - The Real Food Dietitians (therealfoodrds.com) The Perfect Grilled Cabbage Steaks - Eat the Gains Balsamic Mushrooms - The Clean Eating Couple Gluten-Free Berry Fruit Pizza (Paleo & Vegan) - The Real Food Dietitians (therealfoodrds.com) Caribbean Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salsa - The Clean Eating Couple Best Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Recipe (+ Easiest Marinade) | My Everyday Table Easy Asian Salmon - The Clean Eating Couple Easy Balsamic Grilled Chicken - The Clean Eating Couple Spicy BBQ Chicken Thighs Recipe | Little Chef Big Appetite Spicy Honey Citrus Chicken - The Clean Eating Couple Veggie fajitas with mushrooms (Grill or oven) - Cadry's Kitchen Grilled Vegetables in Foil - The Clean Eating Couple Garlic Parmesan Corn - The Clean Eating Couple Vegetable Kebabs - The Clean Eating Couple Grilled Sweet Potato Fries with Parsley Tahini Sauce - Eat the Gains Easy Burger Salad with Dill Pickle Vinaigrette - The Clean Eating Couple Grilled Pork Chops & Peach Salsa - Stylish Cravings Recipes Citrus Marinated Shrimp Skewers for Grilling - Shrimp Salad Circus Easy Chili Lime Shrimp - The Clean Eating Couple How to Cook Simple & Healthy Grilled Shrimp Foil Packets (justthewoods.com) Easy Tandoori Salmon Kebabs Recipe (littlesunnykitchen.com) If you're not the grill master: Bring Veggies! Instead of chips, desserts, or alcohol, bring a platter of vegetables and hummus or salsa. Everyone appreciates it - mindless snacking on veggies isn't so bad! Drink Wisely It’s easy to put back hundreds of additional calories in alcohol alone. Choose how many drinks you’ll have at the event ahead of time - and then alternate with 1-2 glasses of water or seltzer in between your alcoholic drinks to keep you hydrated and slow you down. Lower calorie drinks: seltzers such as White Claw or High Noon (~100 cals), Light beers such as Bud light (~103 cals) or tequila/vodka with water or soda water as the mixer (~85 cals). Wine, craft beers and mix drinks like margaritas tend to be in the 150+ calorie range per beverage. Try one of these fun and light drink recipes: https://therealfoodrds.com/cucumber-basil-kombucha-mule/ https://therealfoodrds.com/strawberry-mojito-kombucha-cocktail/ Swap flavored seltzer water or spa water for sodas Cookouts involve standing around for hours- which can make it tough not to have a drink in hand. Limit your sugary beverages by drinking flavored seltzer water instead of soda. Buy your favorite seltzer water such as Bubly or AHA, or simply spice up plain water by adding a twist of fresh lemon, lime, oranges or muddled berries. Mint leaves or basil will make your drink extra refreshing too! Skip Sugary Deserts This is the season when tons of fresh fruit is available from the grocery, farmers markets, and fruit stands! Cut up strawberries and melon or grill peaches, pineapple, or bananas to satisfy your sweet tooth without adding unnecessary processed sugar. When in doubt, follow the Plate Method! The plate method can help you build a healthy plate no matter where you’re eating. Build your plate to include: ¼ plate protein, ½ plate carbohydrates, ½ plate produce such as fruits and veggies + 1-2 tbsp fat such as avocado, olive oil, butter, cheese etc. To put this in cookout perspective, it might look like one of the images below. image source: www.collegenutritionist.com I hope these tips will help you as you plan for your 4th of July celebration. Wishing you and yours a fun, sunny, and safe holiday!
July Challenge: Get Outside!
Summer is the perfect time for you to get out and rediscover nature! Spending more time outdoors has been shown to improve short-term memory, restore mental energy, reduce stress, spark creativity and helps manage the symptoms of depression. Did you know that the warmth of sunshine on your skin releases two vital substances into your blood stream? Vitamin D and Nitric oxide. Most people know that vitamin D plays a critical role in your immune system, but it also has been found to reduce cancer risk by 60% and improve brain function, while nitric oxide works as a natural vasodilator. Going out in the sun can not only boost your immune system, brain function and reduce cancer risk but it can also lower your blood pressure and protect your heart. Sunlight produces the chemical serotonin in your brain- which increases feelings of wellbeing, improved mood, concentration and energy. Trees release a chemical called phytoncides which increase production of “natural killer” cells a type of white blood cell that helps kill damaging cells in the human body. This is in part why many therapists and cultures recommend something called Ecotherapy also known as nature therapy. In a study conducted by a mental health charity organization, a nature walk reduced symptoms of depression in 71% of participants For the month of July I am giving you a prescription: to spend more time outdoors. July’s Warm weather and clear skies are the perfect excuse to step out of the office and get active. This month, I am challenging you to find some outdoor activities that you enjoy and spend at least 15 minutes outside every day this month. Some ideas include taking a bike ride, walking your dog, going for a hike, gardening, swimming, eating outside or having a picnic, meditating outside or going to a local farmers market or fair. The summertime outdoor activity options are truly endless! While at work, I would also like to encourage you to opt for walking meetings when possible, take walking breaks throughout the day and ride your bike to work if you are local. The challenge will begin Thursday, July 1 and end July 31. I will share a calendar with you for tracking time spent outside and a link for you to officially register for the challenge. Your Registration will allow entry into our private teams group where I will post a reminders and you can share pictures, outdoor activity ideas or benefits you’ve noticed from getting outside. Remember the key is the spend time outside to reap the benefits of sunshine and nature, without crossing the barrier of allowing your skin to burn. If all this sounds good to please join us for a month of getting outside and having some fun in the sun! Sign up here: https://forms.office.com/r/uggB42P9fX
Fueling for Fitness: What to Eat to Optimize Exercise, Recovery and Muscle Growth
If you find yourself feeling sluggish during exercise, struggling to build muscle or sore for many days on end, it’s possible you are not refueling properly. While there are many sports drinks, bars and nutritional supplements on the market that claim to improve exercise performance and recovery, the best way to fuel your body is to eat real food. Eating the right combination of foods will help energize your workouts, promote muscle growth, build endurance and enhance recovery so you feel less sore after exercising. Follow these tips to create the optimal environment for seeing your desired gains and having the energy to achieve them. Have a pre-workout meal or snack 30 – 90 minutes prior to exercise. The best pre-workout snacks are going to be a 2:1 combination of produce and lean protein. The produce will provide your body with carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to energize your workout, while the protein will spare your muscle from being broken down for energy. You want to keep a pre-workout snack small so you don’t feel full or heavy and give your body adequate time to digest and absorb. Some pre-workout snack ideas could include: Berries with Greek Yogurt Apple Slices and Peanut Butter Grapes and a Cheese Stick Banana Peanut Butter Toast If you don’t like eating prior to exercise, it is okay to skip the snack so long as you are adequately hydrated and don’t feel weak or low energy. The Most crucial meal is the post-workout recovery meal. Refuel your body within 30 minutes to one hour of your workout to restore drained cells with nutrients. During this post-workout window your body most optimally and efficiently absorbs protein and carbohydrates. This is why you might see people leaving the gym with a protein bar or shake in hand. Your Post workout meal should consist of carbohydrates to help replenish the glycogen lost in your muscles during your workout and protein which provides amino acids that facilitate muscle repair and rebuilding. Some examples of post workout meals could include: Oatmeal + Nut butter + Mashed Berries + Hemp seeds Smoothie: Banana + Protein Powder + Spinach + Chia Seeds Tuna on a Whole Grain Wrap + Sliced Apple + Olive Oil Mayo Taco Bowl: Chicken, Quinoa + Greens + Guacamole For someone who is regularly exercising it is recommended you consume 1.2-2 gram of protein per kg bodyweight. If you weigh 200 lbs. that’s at least 109 grams of protein daily Hydrate: The formula for top performing athletes such as Tom Brady is to drink half your body weight in oz. of water daily. If you weigh 200 lbs. that’s 100 oz. water daily. The best form of hydration is good 'ole water – no need for the sugary Gatorade. For extra sweaty days you can add electrolyte tablets to your water or a pinch of sea salt to coconut water for better hydration. If you are training for a triathlon/marathon or in a competitive sport, there are extra things you need to consider, however this list is a great start! Sports nutrition isn't just for competitive athletes. Your diet provides the fuel for all your physical activities, from a casual stroll around the neighborhood to a tough sweat session at the gym. Plus, if you're just beginning an exercise program, being intentional with nutrition and making smart eating choices will help you reach your goals quicker, whether it's weight loss, weight gain or maintenance.
Cauliflower Pizza Casserole
This is a low carb recipe that even the biggest veggie haters will love. Ingredients: 1/2 lb ground chicken or turkey 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 medium head cauliflower chopped finely 14 oz pizza sauce or marinara 2 cups mozzarella cheese Your favorite pizza toppings: tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Heat a 10-inch oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground chicken/turkey and cook until browned. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add 2 tbsp. oil to the pan and cauliflower and cook until browned. (about 2 minutes) Remove pan from heat and add chicken/turkey back to pan along with pizza sauce and stir. Sprinkle cheese, pepperoni, and other toppings across the top. Place in a preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool in the skillet for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve and enjoy.
This little breakfast combo recently went viral on Tiktok so naturally I had to try it. If you are someone who likes a cool refreshing breakfast (ehem smoothie lovers), this one might be for you ! Perfect for a summer morning and packed with anti-inflammatory berries as well as ultra hydrating coconut water. Ingredients: 1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 1/2-2 cups coconut water or coconut milk If using whole fruits, remove pomegranate seeds from the fruit and cut berries to the desired size. Combine your choice of fruit and ice in a bowl. Top fruit with coconut water as you would cereal with milk, and enjoy!
May Challenge: Steppin Into Summer
Time to dust off your running shoes. Next Saturday, May 1 we will "kick" off our annual company-wide steps competition. 😄 It will once again be a BRANCH ON BRANCH SHOWDOWN with winners in two categories: higest average steps and total steps. Is your branch is the best, the toughest, the strongest or most fit, now is your time to prove it! Defending champions are Newark and Corporate who took home the titles for highest average steps and total steps respectively. Last year we took over 20 MILLION steps as a company and this year I want to see that number DOUBLED. Heres how it will work: All steps will be tracked in your branch spreadsheet (I will be sharing this with your branch next week). You DO NOT need a fitness watch to track steps- almost all phones now have this as a built in feature. Just make sure you bring it with you when you're on the go. Non-step excercises such as yoga, bike riding, strength training CAN be converted into steps using the chart below. Find an accountability buddy by encouraging your co-workers to join in on the fun. You will be more successful personally and as a team the more of you that participate. Atleast 15% of your branch must participate to win the average steps category At corporate I will be hosting Walking Wednesdays. Each Wednesday I will walk at 10:30 am at coporate and I invite you to join me. Giftcards will be randomly given out for participants. If you would like to host walking wednesdays at your branc we can do the same. If you would really like to participate in this challenge, but dont have a fitness watch drop me a few lines as to why you believe this will make you more sucessfull on your wellness journey/ in the challenge and I will pick 3 people to give one to. 🙂
California Breakfast Bowl
Looking to mix up your usual breakfast routine? This breakfast bowl has the perfect combination of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to re-fuel post workout and keep you satisfied for hours. Prep time: 10 minutes Ingredients for 1 bowl: 1/2 sweet potato 1 egg, 2 egg whites 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes 1/2 cup black beans 2 tbsp. guacamole or avocado optional: hot sauce, cheese Directions: Wash sweet potato, poke with holes and cook in microwave 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. While sweet potato is cooking, cook eggs + whites over easy or as desired. Rinse and slice cherry tomatoes in half. Rinse black beans and heat up in microwave for 2 mins. Arrange bowl with 1/2 sweet potato cut up, tomatoes, cooked eggs and black beans toped with 2 tbsp. guac. Bon Appetit !