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Sugar, the NOT so Silent Killer

Now, I am not going to say that I don’t eat any sugar whatsoever, because I do. My goal is to eventually eliminate all added sugar from my daily life (except maybe special occasions very sporadically), but I have to say… it is very hard! Why is it so hard you ask? Well because it is so addictive! There are strong physical and emotional reasons as to why we love eating sugary foods so much, but reducing the amount of sugar we consume on a daily basis is extremely important. Sugar has sooooooo many ugly side effects that we should really consider not eating sugar part of our daily self-care routine.

On top of sugar contributing to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, here are other very visible effects of a sugar-packed diet:

  • Tooth decay (not very attractive)
  • Body inflammation
  • Contributes to lack of collagen on skin (that means more wrinkles!)
  • Breakouts
  • Worsens acne and skin allergic reactions

Personal victory, but still ways to go

I quit sodas as well as sugar and creamer in my coffee 10 months ago and I can say that it really has made a difference in my life. I don’t crave sugar-packed drinks, enjoy water more, my skin feels more hydrated since I drink more water now, I get more energy from my cup of coffee since I don’t get the crash from the sugar, and my body doesn’t feel bloated. Eliminating just those things has made my life so much better that I really want to continue and eliminate or minimize sugary and processed foods from my daily life. These changes are not easy to make, but they are possible and totally worth it. Join me and share your progress on the blog!

Any suggestions on how to quit sugar for good?

Stay true – Chantal

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Healthy Eating Swaps

Healthy eating.. the struggle is REAL! I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m completely cutting out my chips and salsa or bread – even though I’m definitely on the weight loss track. So I’m sharing some of the best healthy eating swaps I’ve found with you! Hopefully this makes the struggle a little easier!

Swap Rice for Cauliflower Rice – This is one of my faves. I LOVEEE to make a good stir fry with veggies and some cauliflower fried “rice.” I normally get a pre-made stir fry “rice” from TJ’s, but you could easily get some snap peas, egg, peas, carrots, and some shredded cauliflower and make the blend yourself.

Swap Pasta for Zoodles – Zoodles are a game changer! Seriously, add some lite alfredo (not the healthiest.. but we’re trying, right?!) or some olive oil and parm and I swear you can’t tell the difference.

Swap Strawberries for Pastries – I know this sounds cray, but some strawberries with brown sugar on it makes the BEST dessert. You won’t miss your cakes or cookies – promise!

Swap Frying for Air Frying – For real.. an air fryer is worth it! Stick in veggies, potatoes, “fried” chicken, and more with a quick spray of pam or a tiny bit of oil and you’ll have food that feels indulgent with less guilt!

Swap Breading for Fiber – This one is a little different, but y’all need to check out GG crackers. They basically just have a TON of fiber, but with no taste. So I like to crumble them up as “breadcrumbs,” coat chicken with them with some seasonings, then air fry them for some high-fiber chicken tenders!

Swap the Store for Delivery – If you’re at a loss on where to start making healthy meals, try out a meal delivery service! You can check out Hello Fresh or Blue Apron where items are pre-portioned with specific instructions (with photos). You have control over how much salt and seasoning to add, but it’ll give you the freshest ingredients with just enough so you don’t have to struggle with portion control…. NOT SPONSORED! (Below is the red pepper pasta from Blue Apron pictured)

Be Healthy · Uncategorized

Meatless Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Miracles do happen! I have been cooking a bit more lately, trying to improve my kitchen skills and oh my… I have to say that I’ve had many fails. A few months ago I tried making this same dish and it went completely south ☹ but today I totally redeemed myself!! Some of you will make fun of me, but I honestly didn’t know there was such thing as a “spaghetti squash”! I thought the dish was called “spaghetti squash” because the squash was made into little spaghetti like strings with a fork, but I was completely mistaken! I bought something called butternut squash and the end result was a mashed potato looking paste. The consistency was kind of gross and nobody ate it… it ended up being a take-out kind of day.

Proof of the atrocity committed during the first try… Such a sad day!

My bestie’s husband was kind enough to make fun of my mistake and point out that I used the wrong type of squash :/ … thank you Gus, I got the right one this time!

Ingredients (serves 4-5 people):

  • 2 spaghetti squash
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 2 cups of diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 small piece of onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cube of vegan chicken flavor bouillon (if desired)
  • Plant based ground meat (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Instructions:

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Spray all halves with the cooking spray and bake them at 350° for 30 minutes or until soft. Once this is done, grab a fork and scrape the strands.

For the sauce: blend the tomatoes, the clove of garlic, the small piece of onion, a cube of bouillon, and a bit of salt.

Sautee the diced onions with olive oil and the ground meat, then add the carrots, mushrooms and celery. Add the sauce and cook for a good five minutes with medium heat while constantly stirring; add salt and pepper to taste. Cover it up and let simmer until the tomato sauce has a bit of a deeper red color and has thickened a bit.

Serve the spaghetti squash and top it off with the sauce mix. Enjoy!

I am no chef, but I truly loved this dish and hope you do as well. I avoided using canned tomato paste or sauce, but I did end up using the plant-based meat to trick my daughter into eating it since she eats meat lol and the bouillon for a bit of extra flavor. I don’t believe those are necessary, so if you want something 100% natural skip those and voila!

Do you have any other recipes with spaghetti squash for me to try? Would love to see them!

Stay true – Chantal

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Plantain Dream Dinner Pie

OMG! I had to share this with you because this dish turned out to be super good. Now, If you know me, you know that I am a total disgrace when it comes to cooking. My daughter hates my cooking, my mother is ashamed because I didn’t inherit her Mexican culinary skills, and because I almost need to make you sign a waiver before you have a taste of my food.

There are very few dishes that I can actually make and they tend to be very basic, but lately I have been trying to practice more, determined to get to a decent cooking level. Well, one of my dear (cooking challenged) friends shared a simple recipe with me and I added a little twist to make it my own. This thing was so good that both my daughter and mother decided to try it, and not only that, they even had seconds and asked for me to pack them some for lunch! Now that I feel like a chef goddess, I want to share my simple recipe with you.

Ingredients:

  • Plantains (they can be green for a more savory taste or brown for a sweeter dish) – I used 6 for a 9.5’’ pie plate
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup of yellow corn
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese (or as much as you want)
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Instructions:

If you are using green plantains, boil them until soft; brown plantains are already very soft, so no boiling is needed. Spray the baking dish with cooking oil. Mash the plantains to create a soft paste and create a “crust” layer covering the baking dish. Once you have a thick layer of plantain paste, top it with lots of cheese and corn. Cover the filling ingredients with a layer of plantain, sprinkle a bit of salt, and spray some cooking oil on top.

Bake the pie at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the plantain pie is spongy but solid and somewhat brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Yum!!!!!! So easy even I can do it!

Stay true – Chantal

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What to Expect at your First Spin Class

I hope you’re ready – because I’m about to share what to expect at your BRAND NEW WORKOUT OBSESSION.. Spin! If you haven’t tried it before, it’s basically your normal workout x10 (unless you’re already a beast!), and it’s super fun and inspirational. There are spin classes at most gyms, but it’s always fun to try out classes at some boutique spin-specific studios. But it can be super intimidating, so here’s what you can expect!

First of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help from the workers. When you first go in, they’ll give you some spin shoes to rent and show you to your assigned bike. They’ll help clip you in.. which can be kind of intimidating honestly! At first, I felt STUCK! But it’s for your safety so you don’t spin your way onto the ground! But be sure to get there at least 10-15 minutes early to get situated.

Then, chances are they’re going to close the doors and turn off the lights. Again, try not to feel intimidated! It’s truly a fully immersive experience and the studio will basically turn into a club. Cue loud club music, glow-sticks, and strobe lights. You’ll forget you’re even working out!

At some point, a lot of spin classes will also incorporate some sort of strength training.. either push ups on the bike, or using your towel as resistance. And afterwards, you’ll do a cool down – then you’re done! And I swear, you will feel like a MILLION bucks when you finish your first class. It’s addicting!

So if you’re looking for a new workout, try out a local spin studio. A lot of them offer the first class free or drop in for about $10. And try out groupon or a service like ClassPass to save some extra moola!

XOXO, Kim

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Smoothie Time!

Strawberry Smoothie

Anyone who doesn’t like smoothies is just not to be trusted… they are insane! The creativity of flavor combinations, the colors, the smells, the taste, what’s not to love?! Well… if you are one of those people that buy them out on the street, maybe the price. It can get pretty costly to enjoy store bought smoothie on a regular basis, and don’t get me wrong… I will drink the crap out of a Smoothie King or Jamba Juice delicious blend, but between my smoothie obsession and my coffee obsession, I am at a loss 😦 A great alternative if you are trying to eat healthy, get your veggies and fruits in is to do your own juices and smoothies at home. You can even save yourself some work and do meal prep over the weekend by putting together all of your combinations in separate containers to have them all ready to blend. I will share with you a couple of my fave combinations hoping you will give them a try. Feel free to send me your favorite recipe so I can try that too!

The top pic has a basic strawberry, oats, honey, cinnamon, and almond milk smoothie… absolutely delicious and filling. Feel free to replace the almond milk for soy, nonfat milk or any other milk variation.

Mamey Smoothie

This next smoothie is made with an incredible delicious orange fruit called Mamey. I can never find the fresh fruit in a local market but some places carry the frozen pulp and it is AMAZING!!!! just blend some of the fruit pulp with oats, cinnamon, honey, milk and… Voila! It is heaven in your mouth!!

If you are more of a juice person or prefer water based smoothies, just grab your favorite vegetables and fruits and go crazy! Here are a couple of my basic blends:

Both of the above blends include spinach and carrots but one has pineapple and oranges that will be blended with water while the other has strawberries and will be blended with orange juice… SO DELICIOUS!!!!!!! Sometimes I add some ginger, beets, mixed berries, or guavas, but the options are endless! I just got hungry writing about this.

It is so hard have a balanced and healthy diet, especially when you are always on the go, so smoothies really do become your best friend when you get into the habit of pre-packing your blends. I actually keep a personal blender at work to be able to make my smoothies there as well… hey, whatever works right?

Stay True – Chantal

Be Healthy

Healthy Pasta Sauce

Is ANYTHING better than pasta?!.. not much. And I would literally do anything most days for a creamy alfredo and some Olive Garden breadsticks. That being said, I try to make my at-home pasta as healthy as possible!

I buy my pasta from Trader Joes, and I love to get their pre-made tortellini. In this post, I’m sharing the mini cheese tortellini, which rings up to right around 200 calories for 1/2 cup – not too shabby. They also have lobster, spinach and cheese, and mushroom and truffle (my personal fave). But if you add a huge jar of pre-made sauce, it makes these options not so “healthy” anymore. And I put healthy in quotations because it’s still pasta.. but you still gotta live even if you want to eat better!

My favorite way to healthily eat these pastas is to toss the whole thing (which has about 3 servings) in 2 tbsp garlic olive oil, a little bit of parmesan, fresh garlic, and crushed red pepper. Olive oil does add quite a few calories, but you’ll get HEALTHY fats and it’ll keep you full so you avoid those late night snacks.

If you want to make your pasta even healthier… try some zoodles! A lot of stores sell them pre-made, or just buy a super cheap 2 or 3 dollar spiralizer off Amazon. You’re welcome!

What are your favorite ways to make your italian night healthier? Let us know in the comments.

XOXO, Kim