Happy New Year loves! I’m so excited for a new year but also to stop seeing people trash on 2020 because even through a pandemic, life is still so good. I always enjoy January since there is so much motivational energy in the air with everyone trying to determine their goals for the next year (my yearly goals will come in a later post!)
If you’ve been following along on my Instagram, my boyfriend & I will be attempting a version of Whole 30 for the month of January to get the gut health back to a good spot and feel good before heading to Cabo at the end of March (send me your swimsuit recommendations!)
There are so many sales going on right now and I’ve been wanting to get up some favorites posts up for ya’ll but I’ve been too slow & busy with work to compile those before the sales are over. But a few I’ve been eyeballing is the up to 65% off from Beautycounter & the Christmas Bundle from HydroJug. I literally went a little crazy purchasing some new water bottles with the bundle, items from BruMate when their 20% of sale was going (looks like they have select items for 30% off now!), and a few fun ones off Etsy because I’m really trying to increase my water consumption in the new year. I’ve been slacking for a while so I’ve been looking for new ways to get me excited to drink water. A few other things I’ve done recently is stocking up on seltzer waters & MiO flavoring (Yum!)
Back to the Whole 30 plan! I’ve never fully attempted the plan so I’m really excited to find new food items and recipes. I’ve also never fully eliminated carbs and dairy from my diet (I have done no added sugar plenty) so am really intrigued to see how my body feels after the month.
Below is a rough shopping list I’ll be using throughout the month. If you have found items that are great, send them my way. I’ll be sharing a lot of large topics here on the blog but smaller updates on Instagram so following along there as well (@ashraeeining). For now, have a fabulous New Year Day – I love the clean slate of the first day of the month AND the first day of the year!
I can update this through the month for ya’ll as these items change. But if you’re also doing Whole 30 let me know so we can collaborate on ideas!
After weeks of the same meals pretty much everyday (which I’m totally okay with), I had a spark of creativity in the kitchen and wanted to try out new recipes this last week – As you can probably tell from my most recent food posts. The latest was a very simple and quick chicken salad, because you know I love simple!
This was a nice add-in to my workweek lunches which I have a tendency to have tuna, eggs, or a roast beef sandwich. This one is definitely a keeper!
1 12.5 oz can Chicken Breast Chunk in Water
~1 tbsp of Fat Free Mayo (or to your liking)
sliced Black grapes
Honey Roasted Pecan Pieces
Mix chicken and mayo in a small bowl. Once throughly mixed, stir in celery, grapes, and pecan pieces.
Enjoy on a brioche bun or across crackers with a tall glass of lemonade on the side!
Have similar simple recipes you enjoy, send them my way!
You’ve probably experienced in the last few months. I know I have at least once or twice for an extended period of time. Between work changes, my classes being postponed, scheduled, and rescheduled, finances, car issues, travel plans, and the normal everyday woes, life has been pretty darn stressful lately!
Stress can put a lot of pressure on your stomach and abdomen, and also upset your hormone balance. This stress can also cause digestion issues for food your body normally does not have a problem digesting, leading to discomfort, pain, gas, and bloating. Which gives us that uncomfortably large belly section.
It is first important to determine if your bloating and discomfort is truly from stress or if it is possibly from your diet. If you are aware that your irritable digestive tract and bloating are caused by your diet, then it is important to familiarize yourself and pontentially avoid FODMAPs. If it is not food-related, then it is time to evaluate your daily stress level and what is causing it.
Stress bloating is not as widely discussed and therefore many people have never heard of it. It can be a surprise to some that stress can trigger a physiological reaction. But if you’re under chronic stress, cortisol hormones are constantly dominant and the result is bloating and gas and because the body is not seeing digestion as a priority, the sympathetic system redirects blood flow away from the intestine area and to other parts of the body that seem to “need it more”.
Okay, so now we get it that we’re bloated and gassy. How do we resolve this? Stress management and digestive support.
First determine what is causing you to stress. Is it work-related, money issues, relationship problems, or is simply just watching the daily news. Once you’ve determined the source, assess if you can change anything to reduce your stress. (i.e. Maybe you’re taking on too much responsibility at work)
Check out my post on How To Start Meditating. Stress management definitely starts with our mind set and how we’re choosing to show up to each individual situation in our lives.
When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, probiotics can help restore the balance. They’ve been shown to secrete protective substances, which may turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major disease.
It might sound counterintuitive to drink more water when retaining water, but drinking water can actually help reduce bloat. Drinking plenty of water helps to naturally flush our systems of excess water and sodium that we might retain
It is important that you are monitoring what you are eating and maintaining a healthy gut.
Physical activity can get the bowels moving more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool. Getting the bowels to move is especially important if a person is feeling constipated. A walk around the block can provide fast relief from gas pressure.
Bloat is never fun, but if it is stress bloat start at the source of the stress to reduce the consequences and then add activities and habits into your daily routine to reduce bloating and gas.
I’ve talked about this brand a few times but I am a huge fan of Four Sigmatic! A company that started in Finland, which focuses on providing plants and mushrooms through drink form. So you don’t have to go to the forest to consume exotic mushrooms for the health benefits!
I learned of this brand like I learn about many, through a referral from a friend which is why I wanted to share about them and my favorite items in a post. It’s also perfect timing because they are having one of their (very few)huge sales right now with up to 50% off on some items.
Here is an explanation of Four Sigmatic in their words:
“Four Sigmatic foods are the 100 most nutrient dense, most studied foods on the planet. And now they’re easy to add to your daily routines. We’re making these foods as easy as possible to eat and use and talk about. Because the world is asking more of you. Of everyone. We’d all feel a lot better doing that work if we got off the hamster wheel of coffee jitters and hangovers and sugar highs.”
My favorite items:
Cacao Mix with Reishi: By far my all-time fav four sig products. Reishi mushroom is meant to relax so it is a perfect before-bed sipper.
Chai Latte Mix w/ Turkey Tail & Reishi: Another great drink for bedtime is the chai latte with reishi and turkey tail, which is a stress-reliever mushroom. If you’re a chai latte fan, it is definitely not as sweet as you’re used to. I like to mix this one with almond or coconut milk.
Mushroom Elixir Mix with Lion’s Mane: Lion’s Mane mushroom will help with focus on the days where your brain just wants to be all over the place. I love this option for a mid-morning pick-me-up before lunchtime hits.
Mushroom Elixir Mix with Chaga: Who doesn’t love a good extra defense for your immune system? The Chaga mushroom helps with overall wellness which makes it a great option for when those sneaky colds start to come up.
How many times have I shared this dish on my Instagram? Way too many, that’s for sure. So it’s about time I give more details on how to make it since I’m so obsessed. It started with a Hello Fresh meal which I have a tendency to start up when I’m going through a slump with new cooking ideas. This recipe just stuck, clearly.
The Mediterranean Chicken Couscous dish is very filling with refreshing, nuritioning ingredients. It’s a meal I have about once a week if I know I have a big day the next day and will need to feel energized. It also makes good left-overs if you eat within the following 2-3 days.
1 Chicken breast
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Zatar Seasoning
2/3 cup Coucous
3/4 cup Cherry Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Dill
1 tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Preheat over to 350 degrees
Line a pan with a piece of foil, slice tomatoes in half, place in pan topped with olive oil, garlic, and half the dill. Cook in the oven for ~15 minutes.
While roasting tomatoes, boil chicken in a medium pot on high on top of the stove.
In another medium pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil on high. Once hot, pour in coucous and let cook until browned. Boil with 1 1/2 cups of water until couscous is thoroughly cooked.
Once chicken is thoroughly cooked through, take out of the pot and shredded. Pour out water and rinse pan. Place shredded chicken back in the pot cook on medium for 4-5 more minutes with balsamic vinegar and zatar seasoning.
In a small bowl, combine greek yogurt, 1 tsp water, remaining dill, and lemon juice. Stir until consitency is creamy.
Place cooked couscous, chicken, and tomatoes in bowl and top with feta cheese and yogurt creama.
The human gut microbiome is complex and powerful in impacting our overall health – in a good or bad way depending on how we treat it. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, as well as heart & brain health, boosted mood, healthy sleeping patterns, and an effective digestive tract.
The term gut microbiome refers specifically to the microorganisms living in your intestines. A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body.
Signs your gut might be out of whack:
Gas and/or bloating
Irregular bowel movements
Like depression, anxiety, and brain fog
Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
Unintential Weight Gains
Or struggles managing a healthy weight
Chronic Unmanaged Stress
Trouble Falling into a Deep Sleep
Ways to improve your gut health:
Improve Eating habits (see below section)
Monitor consumption of prebiotics and probiotics
If it is a struggle to get enough in your normal diet, consider taking a supplement (address this with your doctor to make sure it is a healthy option for you)
Consider food intolerances that upset your gut
Attempt to get in a recommended amount of water for your body weight
Implement a Consistent Sleep Pattern
Going to bed and waking up at the same times will help your body & digestive system fall into a flow
This is easy said than done but consider areas of your life that are more stress inducing and consider how you can change this.
A happy gut means a healthy feeling body. A diet rich in immune-supporting probiotic & prebiotic foods will fuel your gut with what it needs for your microbiome to thrive. Probioctic foods contain “good” bacteria or live cultures that are found naturally in your gut. Prebiotic foods nourish the probiotic foods in your digestive tract.
Beginning a journey to improve your gut might take a bit, so be patient. Implementing a healthy diet and reducing your stress won’t heal a gut in a day but will begin to detox the gut microbiome of toxins.
But please keep in mind this isn’t an overhaul either! Like I always like to say, life is a balance of healthy habits and periodic indulgences. We want to incorporate healthy habits in our lives so that WE. FEEL. GOOD. but what also feels good…. a fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream. So definitely implement new healthy habits into your life but don’t deprive yourself!
Stayed tuned for a Morning Routine for a Happy Gut later this week!
In true Cinco de Mayo fashion, this night calls for a robust taco salad. And luckily this is a recipe that is suuuuuper easy to make sugar-free (minus the red wine I had to include for festivity purposes). You really can’t go wrong with a veggie filled salad that is topped with some homemade salsa.
Cook up with taco seasoning
Sauteéd peppers & onions
Season with salt + cracked pepper
Plain Greek Yogurt
Throw all that yumminess in a bowl and do a little salsa dance because you have one good dinner! Feel free to substitute the ground beef for chicken, pulled pork, fish, or jackfruit. Also, can add whatever vegetables your heart desires.
What are you enjoying this Taco Tuesday (or indulging in ;))?
On weekends, I typically stick to around 2 larger meals and a few snacks in between.
I’ll wake up around mid-morning and usually hit up a work out class. Depending on how I feel, I’ll either have coffee or pre-workout as well as a small snack like a banana or apple a few hours before class.
After class I’ll make sure I get in protein right away with a protein smoothie or a small bar.
Once I get home, I love whipping up a large breakfast. I’ve been really into egg & veggie scrambles or if I need to get in some carbs I’ll make a batch of protein pancakes (I’m obsessed with Kodak Cakes) with a banana and berries blended in. I’m super basic and love a good blended latte but not super into spending $5 on coffee so I’ll blend up my own concoction of ice, vanilla protein powder, almond milk, & espresso.
If I get hungry later in the day, I’ll snack on hummus and pretzel chips or chips and salsa.
Once dinner rolls around, I’m pulling out fish from the freezer because Spring always gets me in a Seafood mood. I’m been pairing my Dijon Mustard Salmon with sautéed veggies and homemade ranch.
Later in the evening, I’ll indulge in either a homemade protein bar or some fruit with sugar free whip cream (also maybe a glass of good red wine ;)).
I shared a bit about this earlier on my Instagram story today but yesterday I whipped up some homemade ranch dressing. If you’re looking to cut some of the calories or sugar from salad dressing then you need to try this homemade ranch. I’m obsessed! I like to top salads and meats with it as well as dip veggies in it, so it is obviously an exact substitute for the regular hidden valley. And trust me, you’re not even going to miss the original.
I use to HATE salads. I would say naive things like “I feel like I’m chopping on a tree!”. But through the years, I’ve experimented plenty to find out which ingredients I actually really enjoy and have learned that I actually love and sometimes crave a good, hearty salad.
After a busy weekend of eating out way too much, it’s been nice to be in my new place and cook up my own meals. I’ve been in an Asian phase lately which is where I pulled my inspiration. I whipped up this simple salad this beautiful sunny afternoon with 6 ingredients.
Trader Joe’s Miso Salad Dressing
Trader Joe’s Fat Free Feta Cheese
Mixed Stir Fry Veggies
Shred the rotisserie chicken. If you’re making the salad just for you then baggy up the chicken into 3-4 bags and freeze the remaining chicken to use for later. If you making a salad for a group then feel free to use the entire chicken.
Place shredded chicken into a frying pan or wok. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce and heat on medium heat for 2-5 minutes.
If you’re using microwavable veggies, cook accordingly. If you’re using fresh veggies, sauté in a frying pan over high heat.
Top spinach with Miso salad dressing, cooked chicken, cooked veggies, & feta.