Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What the heck happened to eating for health?

Can't a girl eat to be healthy anymore??

Nowadays with my propensity towards healthy eating, when I opt out of the Oreos or order the side of steamed vegetables, I am continuously dealing with comments from others: “Too many calories for you?” “Did you already meet your calorie quota for the day?” and, my personal favorite, variations on comments as if I'm not really there, “It's too fattening for her to eat” said turning to another person in the vicinity...

Ummm... rude.

Don't judge a person by their plate. And there's nothing wrong with watching what one eats. We all should! I find that those that judge the most are the ones struggling internally the most. So I try and be gentle ...usually.

But, eating doesn't always have to be about losing or gaining weight. Eating, for me, is about feeling good and nourishing my body. Sure, I deal with my fair share of weight and body issues, Lord knows! But I've come a long way and, now, food for me is about being well. I ask a lot out of this 5'2 frame. I want to feed it so that it works at peak performance. I know what it feels like to have my body quit on me. So it's not worth it to me to treat my mouth like a trash bin in Times Square.

Focusing on foods that are good and nutritious is the easiest way to stop the calorie madness. Fill your diet with whole foods. Pack it full of colorful vegetables and lean proteins. Add in some fruit and some healthy fats. Keep things spicy with seasonings and a few condiments. Don't think about the engineered palate-pleasers you're limiting. Think about the natural deliciousness you can eat in abundance.

I'm not saying that watching calories is useless. If you're just starting a weight loss regimen or making the lifestyle switch to healthy eating, counting your calories can be an eye opening experience. Realizing portion sizes is paramount in leading a healthy life. And you will be blown away when you first start keeping an eye out. (one small package of sugary crap is 3 servings?? What?!...surprise!)

I used to be an obsessive calorie counter. It worked for me, for a time. And, sure, every now and again if I feel things getting a little nuts in my eating (after a vacation for example) I may ballpark my numbers for a few days.

But now that I'm eating for health and not weight, I'm a much happier person. It allows me flexibility and every now and again, when I do go cray and eat the nachos or the pizza or the cupcake...I enjoy the sh*t out of it. I don't beat myself up because I'm 200 calories over my limit. I know that tomorrow, I'll start my day with a Lemon Water and a Green Smoothie (which happens to be one of my favorite meals) and I'll feed my body out of love, not out of hate.

So stop hatin'!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recipe Redo

Holy. Yum.

Two words for you: PAD THAI.
Two more words for you: Grain Free.

Yup! Low Carb, Grain Free, Low Cal, Full Flavor, Totally delicious...



No, but seriously. This stuff was BOMB.

Spaghetti squash...

...can go one of two ways – yummy and delish, OR a watery, runny mess.

HERE'S THE KICKER! After roasting or microwaving your squash, either pat it dry with towels, or pan saute it for a minute to solidify the strands and evaporate any extra liquid.

The hardest part of this recipe? Cutting the mother effin' squash. You have to man handle that sucker. And, let me tell you, I was sweatin' after going ape on that gourd.

Like, literally. Sweating. ...but it was totally worth it.

So, why squash?? Well, aside from being chock full of Vitamins C, A, B6, K among others it's incredibly low calorie and low carb. A 1 cup serving has 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs. Plus it supplies plenty of fiber. Yes. Please.

So, here's the skinny:
(adapted from The Blood Sugar Solution)

You'll need:
1 Spaghetti Squash
Fish Sauce (found in the international isle of the market)
Tamari or Soy Sauce (I use low sodium)
Chili Flakes
Toasted Sesame Oil (if you have it)
Veggies of your choice
Egg or other protein. (Chicken, Shrimp, Tempeh or Tofu)
  1. Cook the squash.
    I roast. Cut it in half. Put it face down in a pan filled with a bit of water. Cook it at 400 for around an hour (until you can pierce the skin easily with a fork).
    You can also microwave (but isn't as tasty). Poke holes in it with a fork and microwave for 10 minutes or so. until the skin is soft.
  2. Make the sauce. I mixed a bit of Fish sauce with Gluten Free Low Sodium Tamari (or use soy). Then sprinkled in some Chili Flakes. (I added in a little Toasted Sesame Oil for extra flava. If you have it, do it. It's yummy. Just a teaspoon will add the flavor without tons of calories)
  3. Sautee Veggies and Protein (chicken, tofu, shrimp). Spray a sautee pan and cook up whatever veggies and protein you're feeling. Shredded carrots, zucchini, green beans. I also used Mung Bean Sprouts for volume and crunch (don't cook them very long to retain the texture) You can also scramble an egg if you want it to be more authentic.
  4. Steam up some Broccoli. (tends to absorb too much oil if sauteed)
  5. Use a fork to rake out the flesh from the skin of the Squash (looks like spaghetti!)
  6. Mix the squash with the veggies and sauce. Arrange the broccoli around the outside if you want it to look pretty. 
  7.  Top it with fresh Cilantro and chopped Peanuts. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.
It only looks like a lot of steps. It was pretty easy!
And look how pretty!!

No need to freak if you don't have one ingredient or another. It's still really good even if you leave out a few things. It's a versatile recipe.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Clean Your Insides!

April first. Spring has sprung. ...or is attempting to. 

With Easter just passed, maybe your diet recently has consisted of Peeps and French Toast Casserole? You feel warm weather immanent. You want to get healthy, but you feel kinda down and bleh. Your brain is in a fog left over from that sugar coma. And, you're not quite sure how to go about pulling yourself out. Well...


Let's Spring clean your insides!

Here's the jam- the idea is to make this doable, not to make you insane. Of course there are rules, and of course this requires commitment, but the idea is that it is fairly simple and once you get the hang of it, it should be pretty easy!

Rules for which to Abide for a Squeaky Clean Inside (or something):

-Coffee. Yes! Have it! But no more than two cups, and not after 2pm. 2 before 2. Coffee has it's benefits, for shizzle! But keeping it to before 2pm will help you when you cuddle up later. And sleep is MAJOR for detoxing and restoring those insides. If you need a kick mid afternoon, try really cold water, a green juice (light on the fruit), or a small snack with protein and healthy fat. NOT SUGAR. And keep your coffee black. If you usually add four sugar packets and fill half the cup with milk, you aren't doing anyone any favors. Cut out all that bullshit. You get used to it, I promise.

-Try to add in some of these foods every day:
Lemon -naturally detox that liver by increasing enzyme production, vitamin C kick, antibacterial, improve hydration. Squeeze it on your food, in your water, your tea...whatevs. Just get it in!
Dark Leafy Greens – the most nutrient dense food on the planet. Eat them like your life depends on it. ...cuz it kinda does.
Cabbage – Surprise! Detoxes the liver and adds bulk and fiber to meals. Add it to soups and stir fry. Eat sauerkraut for Probiotics to help out your guts!
Artichoke – Promotes enzyme production to aid digestion. Just don't eat them soaked in mayonnaise or fried. Kinda loses their charm.
Beets – Add natural sweetness while you detox! Helps eliminate toxins from the body. Also, they're just freakin delicious.
Garlic and Ginger – Flava flave! Tons of antimicrobial properties, pumps up immune system, helps out your liver. EAT THEM.
Sea Vegetables – Yup. While Seaweed is super gross at the beach, it's super helpful in the body! Eliminates toxins and heavy metals. Regulates thyroid function. Good stuff! Try dried Seaweed snax for a salty alternative to chips, or add kelp noodles to soup. Sprinkle dried sea veggies over just about everything for a salty kick!
Broccoli and Cauliflower – Cruciferous veggies are the Eat them. Done.
Seeds – Sunflower, Chia, Hemp... all good. Help prevent cholesterol in the blood, provide protein, healthy fat, and fiber, help body with elimination. All good things!

-Focus on Protein. I'm not one of those crazies that think you should ONLY eat veggies. Not at all. So, aim to get 15-30 grams of protein in the AM and focus on lean protein and non-starchy carbs (read: vegetables) for the rest of the day.

-Water, Water, Water. Drink it. Just, shit loads of it.

Things to AVOID!
Yes, you will have to give up some stuff. But, trust me, as soon as you get in the habit of saying no to french fries, it gets easy. I promise.

Just Say No:
-Fried foods
-Added Sugar (Any and all. Nothing with any kind of Syrup or anything that ends in -ose). If you must, only small (VERY SMALL) amounts of either honey or maple syrup.
-Chemical artificial sweeteners. No splenda! Only Stevia if you want to use a no calorie sweetener.
-Light on the dairy. If you must, Unsweetened Plain Greek Yogurt. Add your own fruit.
-Refined flour. Nothing white. Sorry, but this is huge.
-Cured meats. Steak. Red meat. Yuck.
-Severely limit alcohol. Sorry, Charlie. I'm talking like 1-2 drinks a week. Yup, even wine. Your body's calorie burning abilities stagnate like whoa when processing alcohol.

Attempt to limit processed foods to a bare minimum. Eat as close to nature as your life allows.

MOVE YOUR BODY. Ger off your ass, folks. Walk more. Sit less.
Whatever it takes to get you up and moving, do it. You'll have more energy than ever. No doubt.

Want to up the ante? Include a high quality Probiotic (the refrigerated kind), an omega-3 supplement, a cleansing supplement (I take Liver Cleanse from Thorne Research. But anything with Dandelion or Milk Thistle is good. They make them in tea form, too!), add in Turmeric (supplement form or in cooking. It's also in curry powder.), cook with Coconut Oil.

Need some ideas?
  • Hard Boiled eggs are a great breakfast or snack.
  • Roast up a bunch of veggies to throw together with chicken or fish for lunch and dinners.
-Roast broccoli with lemon juice and oil
-Roast cauliflower with oil and curry powder
  • Wilt greens in a pan with a little oil or water and some garlic
  • Use almond milk instead of regular milk (unsweetened of course!)
  • Put lemon Juice on your salad and 1 form of fat. If you have avocado or nuts/seeds there's no need for oil, too.
  • Want dessert? Eat fruit. Make a sugar free chocolate sauce with Cocoa powder, water and Stevia

To break it down:
Eat real food.
Lean protein.
Non-starchy vegetables.
Some fruit (berries are best).
Drink Water.
Add some detoxing ingredients.
Move your ass.

Say hello to your de-cluttered body! Your guts will love you.

Have questions??
Feel free to ask away on my Facebook page. I'm always available!

Spring is going to be amazing. And so are you. :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Breakfast Conundrum

To Breakfast, or not to Breakfast. ...that is the question...

Most nutritionists say that it's still considered the most important meal of the day (whatever that means). That those who don't eat breakfast have a higher probability of having problems concerning concentration, weight and metabolism.

But here's the thing. People are eating later and later. Dinner is at 9 these days, not 6:30. The general population is munching during Modern Family, and snacks are at midnight. When the hell does your body get a break??

That being said, I do have to agree that breakfast is pretty darn important. I mean, when I changed my breakfast, I changed my life. And that is not me being dramatic! I swear on my hamster's grave (...that was me being dramatic. RIP Harry Houdini). BUT, I happen to think you should eat when you're hungry. If you wake up still full from the night before, slow your roll! Give your body time to wake up and get moving. Down a giant glass of room temp water to start your system off slowly.

And about what to eat? Well, I used to be an oatmeal girl. A toast chick. An english muffin muffin. get the point. I was a breakfast carb queen! And of course I was! Health food blogs all over the internets will tell you that oatmeal is the breakfast of champions. "Cereal" is usually called "breakfast cereal." Pastries and scones and waffles and bagels and biscuits... all breakfast foods. ALL CARBS.

And, furthermore, fitness freaks will tell you: front load your carbs (granted they won't tell you to eat simple carbs like bagels and waffles...but still!). Eat them at the beginning of the day and taper them off towards the end. But here's the problem- you start with carbs, you crave carbs! And YES! Even oatmeal. Those breakfast goodies you all know and love hit your system like a ton of sugar bricks, spike your insulin, and while you may have a bit of energy for a while, wait for the crash. Because it's coming for ya!

After my Elimination Diet of Awesome last February, I realized that starting my day with protein is quite possibly the BEST THING IN THE WORLD FOR MY ABILITY TO EAT HEALTHFULLY. No. Joke. I feel energized and full and stable for hours after a breakfast that centers on protein.

My breakfast is about the only thing in my life that remains routine. The rest of my day can go in any direction. But I know for a fact what my morning munchies will be.

Here's my Breakfast breakdown
Smothered Smoothie Bowl!
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk (Vanilla or Reg. Whatever I have. My faves are Whole Foods brand and Silk)
  • 1Tbsp of Chia Powder (Superfood alert! Omega-3's, fiber. Also adds some texture to my smoothie)
  • 1 Scoop Protein Powder (The star of the smoothie show. I either use SunWarrior Brown Rice Protein, or Jay Robb Whey. Look for an Isolate with little to no fillers. No added sugars. Minimal flavorings. Sticking with Vanilla or Chocolate is usually a good plan.)
  • Greens (a big handful of whatever I have. Kale, Spinach, Chard. Or a teaspoon of Spirulina. Yes, I have these things on hand... and you should too!)
*Notes: if you like it sweeter, add some Stevia. I don't add fruit to keep the sugar content low, but if you don't mind a little extra add in berries, cherries, or half a banana. Frozen adds nice texture. Also Vanilla extract, almond extract, Peppermint extract if using chocolate protein powder, Pumpkin pie spice, Cinnamon...all good add ins!

Then I whir that shit up. Pour it in a bowl (I like to eat it like soup. Mentally it's more like a meal and it keeps me eating slowly). Sprinkle on some shredded coconut, cacao nibs, cinnamon...YUM!

A habitual breakfast is a good thing. It starts the day off healthfully, it's a no brainer, and it sets you up for a day of other good habits.

Experiment. Try oatmeal one day, see how you feel/when you get hungry again. Eggs or a Protein smoothie the next. Write down how starting the day with different foods effects your energy and hunger levels. 

Dramatics aside, it could be life changing! It was for me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Eat the Pie, Feel Like Poo

I know! It's been a looong minute since my last post. I've been busy starting a business and getting my own health under control. But here I am! Here I am! It's a Holiday Season miracle!

I freakin' love Thanksgiving. I spend it on Long Island with my Dad's side of the family. It's a few days of total fun family time. Games, drinking, food, movies, and plenty of laughter. However...

Complete honesty - I was dreading Thanksgiving this year. Because of my health issues I am on this very difficult food plan (I hate the evil "Diet" word) and I was wondering how in the hell I was going to stick with it.

But here's the thing- I feel like poop when I eat like poop. And, for me, the implications are more severe than just a bit of a sugar crash and the feeling of a full belly. I've got some widespread inflammation going down in this little body and I am DETERMINED to get this shiz under control.

Not to mention, that for the past few years I've watched my Mom's health go down the crapper. It's hard. For her, for me, for my family. Watching someone with an adventurer's spirit have trouble walking up a few stairs is heartbreaking. Systematically her body has been checking out of commission and with the onset of my own recent health issues, to be honest, I'm terrified.

So I've made the decision. Next year I want to write a post that explains how thankful I am for my amazing health. I want to feel well, about my present state and about my future. It is worth it to forgo some pie that probably looks better than it tastes and stick to my guns this Thanksgiving feasting fest.

So here I am on a SUPER anti-inflammatory diet. No dairy. No sugar. No grains (even whole ones).

In order to get myself through this week, I packed a bunch of my own food. Brought along my protein powder and supplements. Flax crackers. Nuts. My Dad, Sister-in-Law and I took a trip to the grocery store to nab some fresh veggies, almond milk and ingredients for my personal cooking stash.

Then, I proceeded to cook my face off. I spent Thanksgiving day roasting. mixing, stirring, sifting, sprinkling, chopping... I had a blast.

Needless to say, put up against sugar drenched carrot pudding, my food was not the hit of the party (particularly my desserts). But they gave ME something that I could eat that would make me feel like I was participating in the festivities without totally effing my system. And that was the goal.

So, this year, I'm thankful for resolve. I'm thankful for determination. I'm thankful for health. Food. Family. Friends. Canasta. ...that's a Jacobs family thing...

I hope that you, too, had a great Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever that means to you. I hope you were nourished with comforting food and spent time with people that you love.

And I hope that you have a million things to be thankful for. I know I do.

On my Thanksgiving Menu:
Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Mash with Pecan "cookie" Crumble
Lemon and Chili Roasted Cauliflower
Grain Free Sugar Free Pumpkin Spice Pie
Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Vanilla Spice Icing

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Low-Carb Tortilla Trickster

This one's for my low carb friends out there.

While I'm not one to yell and scream about any one particular diet (ie: Vegan!, Paleo!, Raw!, Who Knows!) I will say that across the board one should incorporate shit loads of Veggies (that's a scientific unit of measure), Lean protein and healthy fats. ...oh and lay off the bull shit disguised as food. Aside from that, you can go to town trying out whatever "diet" appeals to you.

That being said, this recipe is pretty darn delicious no matter what your eating tendencies. Not to mention it takes 5 minutes and is only around 60 Calories!!

Protein Tortilla Fake Out!
Tortilla Fake Out with Chia Powder, Turmeric, Salt and Pepper.

Here's how it works: (and it's a totally customizable recipe, may I add. ...More on this later.)

Take some egg whites (about 2 regular whites, or 3 Tbsp of liquid whites)
a pinch of baking powder (not super specific on this one)
1 Tbsp of Chia Powder or Ground Flax (I know what you're thinking: "Sarah, that is some health-freak ingredient that I do NOT have in my kitchen." And to you I say this, "Fool. Get some." The health benefits are numerous and they are such versatile ingredients! So, just get some. Omega-3, Fiber, Protein. Yummy, nutty flavor. Binding agent. Smoothie add in. Yogurt topper... You get my drift.)

Now here's where you can get fancy!

Going Savory?
Add ins can include:
Turmeric (TONS of anti-inflammatory benefits)
Salt and Pepper
Dried herbs
Fresh herbs
Curry Powder
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Nutritional Yeast (for a cheesy flavor that's loaded with B12)
The list goes on.... Get creative! Remember, no need to go overboard. Just a dab'll do ya!

Wanna go Sweet?
Mix ins could be:
Shredded Coconut
Cocoa Powder

Here's the jam: You beat it all up with a fork and pour it into a pre-heated saute pan spritzed with oil (olive or coconut are my faves). Twirl the pan so it coats the bottom and watch it cook away! When it sets and the edges start to crisp, slip a spatula underneath and flip it. Cook it on the opposite side for a few secs and transfer to a plate to fill 'er up!!

Stuff that sucker with loads of veggies, maybe some lean protein, and dressing and you have one hell of a meal! Going sweet? Smooth on some nut butter and shove in some fresh fruit for a perfect protein/fat/carb combo snack!

Up Close and Personal
Stuffed with Greens, Zucchini, Tomato, Ginger Dressing.
This makes a flour tortilla look like pitiful slab. A nutritionally deficient, bland disk of disappointment.

Oh! And worry not, my Chia/Flax-free friends! You can omit (though I do recommend those super foods like whoa). Your creation will just be more crepe-y than bread-y. But still totally yum-y. :)

Eat and be Well!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

As Easy as 1..2...

Recently I was asked, "what's your biggest piece of advice for a healthy life?" I was surprised at how little I had to think about it. My answer was surprisingly simple:
Stop to breathe and then eat some vegetables.

We'll start with stopping to breathe:
I see people every day that are wound up so tightly that life is happening and they don't even know it. Their brains are ten, twenty, thirty minutes in the future (or the past) going over and over and over scenarios that have no relevance to their “now”. I watch as life keeps moving and they keep living somewhere else. Minor things end up having major impact. Trivial things grow to monsters in their brains and take over the minutes of their day. Their lives.

But it is truly amazing what opens up in your life when you stop, breathe, and focus. And, I'm not talking going full on Kumbaya-crazy to reap the benefits of some inward focus. Ohms and “third eye” aside-a few deep breaths a day, a few moments of directed thinking goes a damn long way.

I used to get horrible anxiety attacks. I grew up a VERY anxious child worrying about every little thing and every big thing with matching vigor. It's easy to say, “I grew out of it” but really, I think I learned how to manage it. Lord knows these days I COULD let myself slip into full-blown-anxiety-meltdown-mode on the crowded morning train commute, or allow my heart to race right out of my chest in an audition room chock full of beautiful girls or while I'm standing on stage in front of a crowd (as I'm an actor in my other life). But I've learned to take control, and it is an ongoing process.

I can't tell you the number of times a day I physically tell myself to breathe. Deep belly breaths through my nose and out my mouth. I close my eyes, will myself to forget where I am for those seconds and feel the tension release from my body. I might look like a whack-job, but I'd look crazier as the girl sweating profusely and hyperventilating mid-anxiety attack. Let's be honest.

On to point number two: Eat some damn vegetables! ...and fruit.
The idea here, is that the more vegetables you eat, the less crap you consume. You get a salad instead of french fries, you get an an apple instead of potato chips. Shitty food should be an “every so often” thing rather than an “every day lunch” thing.

I'm not opposed to a giant plate of fatty nachos. (I know what you're thinking...but I'm not! Check out this post: Nachos for Nourishment ) I am, however, opposed to eating them every day. Even every other day.

Most Americans get their vegetable intake from potatoes and tomatoes. And this is because of French Fries and Pizza. That is effing sad. Just SAD! ...not to mention gross.

Fresh, ripe vegetables are delicious and just ridiculously good for you. Make it a priority to eat veggies with every meal and you'll quickly crowd out some of the bullshit foods you've made a staple in your diet without even realizing it.

An easy and delicious option? Roasting. Stick some veggies on a pan, spray em with Olive Oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper and stick em in a hot oven until they look a little browned and soft. DONE. Throw em in sandwiches, over salads, alone as a side dish. Toss em with your fave protein for a quick and healthy lunch. Easy.

In conclusion: Stop and breathe deeply a few times a day to release tension and keep yourself from losing your mind, and eat veggies to nourish your body and cut out some of the crap from your diet.

Follow these two things and you're on your way to a healthier and happier you. Just give it a try! What do you have to lose other than a few public meltdowns and some extra pounds??