How to Balance Food over the Holidays.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “don’t indulge” post because I am the queen of indulging over the holidays. But I’m also not a fan of the “working off”, “detoxing”, or “working-out for” the holiday food either. I think the key to not feeling like you completely let yourself go is in the mindset going into these next few days.

The holidays isn’t a time to completely forget about fueling your body but a time to feed it with what it needs and also what it wants. So I’ve rounded up a couple of my tired and true tips that I’ve incorporated in my holidays to feel fueled and happy.

  • Water, water, water: If you’ve been around here at all you know I love my wine. And during the holidays, I definitely enjoy letting my hair down a bit more. But with my increasing wine consumption, I drink that much more water. Yup, on top of the recommended water you should be drinking each day, increase that when having alcohol. I aim to drink a glass of agua between each glass of wine or stop drinking wine after 3 glasses and drink 3 glasses of water if its close to bedtime. I don’t enjoy waking up dehydrated and my skin dried out so this motivates me to get more water in (especially during the winter time). Drinking plenty of water throughout the holidays will also help you feel food and not overeat or “graze” the appetizer & treat table.
  • Pick Your Treats: Maybe this is where I’m not so fun since I’m not the biggest sweet fan but I determine which treats are worth my indulgence. I LOOOOOOVE caramel puffcorn and only allow myself a batch each Christmas because I would never stop with it so I know I’m going to be going a little crazy with that treat. I also allow myself a few of my favorite homemade cookies. I pick which treats I’m going to enjoy instead of eating everything, even treats I’m not a huge fan of. This helps me manage how many sugary items I’m consuming. I try to limit my sugar intake on any given day and the holidays are not days I take off because I know how sugar drains me and upsets my gut – but I don’t avoid them!
  • Greens: I probably love my greens just as much as I love caramel puffcorn because I know how consuming the recommended amount of vegetables each day can make your body feel. I aim to get in a helping each major meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) if possible. Think about adding spinach into the breakfast egg bake, having a side salad with lunch, and some green beans and brussel sprouts with dinner. If it’s in your normal routine, drink a green supplement smoothie/drink in the morning if you know you won’t have access to many vegetable options at your holiday events. (My favorite green drink)
  • Determine the Quantity: Make a game plan before going in. I’m super type-A so you know I make a plan for what and how much I’m going to eat. I like to limit myself to two plates at dinner – one trying little portions of each item that catches my eye and then a second with more potatoes and (potentially) a protein item or whatever else I really enjoyed. Then I switch to drinking some water, taking some time to see how full or hungry I am and then assess from there.
  • Enjoy Yourself! If you have a plan and roughly stick with it then you can feel confident indulging here and then – guilt free!

If your schedule allows it and it’s part of your normal routine, make sure to get in your vitamins and some movement if possible. Even if it’s just a walk, a virtual workout class, or dance party! This will be a huge part of helping with digesting all that yummy holiday food.

And biggest reminder is that it’s okay to get off your routine and take advantage of the next couple days. It’s not always the holiday season so you know you’re not eating like this every week. Enjoy that cookie, glass of wine, extra helping of potatoes… or three!

Sugar-Free Taco Salad.

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. 

Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef
    • Cook up with taco seasoning
  • Sauteéd peppers & onions
    • Season with salt + cracked pepper
  • Corn
  • Black Beans
  • Homemade Salsa
  • Plain Greek Yogurt 
  • Lettuce

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 ;))?

Favorite Berry Smoothie.

You can’t go wrong with a good smoothie. I enjoy the fact that you can cram in a ton of good fruits & veggies into one glass. Also there is such a variety that there are endless opportunities for a new flavor every day. 

Over the years, I’ve definitely done my fair share of experimenting with different concoctions of smoothies and have nailed down my favorite blend of ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I still do some new mixing every now and then to keep things spicy but this is, for sure, my tired and true smoothie recipe that I keep coming back to and it hardly ever fails that I don’t have these ingredients on hand. 

I prefer to blend my smoothies in a Nutribullet (not sponsored but wouldn’t mind being ;). It’s the perfect kitchen gadget to blend everything in one cup and then drink straight out of that same cup. Who doesn’t like less dishes? I also like to use my Nutribullet to blend my homemade Ranch Dressing.   (Not going to lie, I do have my eye on a Vitamix too).

Ingredients: 

  • Frozen Berries 
    • I prefer a blend of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries but also grab blends with mango, banana, and peaches often.
    • Make sure to check the back of the package for any added sugar. Unnecessary ingredients are sometimes added to make the berries sweeter – but we don’t need that 😉
  • Spinach 
    • I add about a cup
  • Banana 
    • For creaminess
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
    • About 2-3 scoops 
    • For creaminess
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Chia seeds & Flax seeds
    • I use the Barlean’s mix which can also be found at most Sam’s Club locations
  • Vanilla Protein Powder (optional) 
    • I prefer NG Nutritions brand & it looks like they now call the flavor ‘Vanilla Ice Cream which sounds absolutely delicious. 
      • This brand does contain 2g of sugar per scoop
  • Almond Milk
    • I add this last and fill the cup up to about an inch below the rim

Enjoy this yummy treat as a mid-afternoon snack on a hot afternoon or as a breakfast replacement on those rushed mornings!

Let me know your thoughts after you try this delicious drink & if you make any substitutes to make it your own. 

Sugar-Free Shopping List.

The biggest concern for me the first time I started an added-sugar-free detox was “What the heck am I going to buy at the store?” I was intimidated by the lack of knowledge I had and almost embarrassed to be one of those shoppers looking at the ingredient list on the back of items. But why? Nobody actually is noticing me and if I need to take a little bit longer to pick out my items NO. BIG. DEAL.

Once I started shopping I was relieved by how simple it became and how empowered I felt taking control of what I knew I was putting into my body to fuel it. Over time I’ve came back to my staple items that I know I’ll use up between meals and snacks.

So today I’m sharing that staple shopping list with all of you! I will more than likely be updating this list as I’m exploring new meal ideas in the coming weeks. Feel free to share your additional items with me as well or ask what I use specific items for!

Sugar Free Shopping List

Printable .pdf file available on request: ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com

No Sugar May.

Do you struggle with bloating, inflammation, or trouble sleeping? Or maybe you wake up most mornings to stare in the mirror with a puffy face and dry eyes? Or maybe you are victim to the afternoon slump most days?

If none of these things resonates with you then congratulations! But this is the definition of my life when my diet contains too much added sugar. Which is why I attempt* a monthly detox a few times a year. 

*Attempt is the key word because our lives still need indulgences. 

Added sugar is a variety of caloric sweeteners or sugar carbohydrates added to food and beverages during their production. This type of sugar is chemically indistinguishable from naturally occurring sugar that we would find in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Added sugars have no nutritional value and are “empty calories”. 

These sugars can cause the body to become inflamed, gain weight, higher blood pressure and can even increase risk for heart attack and stroke. These little punk ingredients aren’t only bad for us but are just as addictive as alcohol, caffeine, gambling, etc. Our bodies become dependent on the need for sugar that we are consistently craving to fill the desire to consume more sugar. This desire than results in withdraw when we detox our body from them. Symptoms of withdrawal are headaches, increased cravings, and mood swings that can result in feelings of anxiety and sadness. The good thing is most withdraw symptoms only occur for a few days or a week. 

You might be thinking, why would I give up added-sugar then? Well, the rewards extremely outweigh the work. All those questions at the beginning of this post… ya, let’s get rid of those!

Cutting out (or for the most part) added sugar from your diet will likely decrease inflammation, boost your energy levels, and improve your ability to focus. You might even lose weight or see more definition around muscles. A low sugar diet also has been known to help with diabetes, heart disease, brain health, mood levels, and even improve the health of skin, hair, and nails. 

An informed diet does take work though. The food industry has a long history of sneaking in these ingredients in ways that do not have to be stated in the nutrition chart as actually added sugar. That means even if you see 0g added sugar, you still need to review the list of ingredients to actually be sure. For example: 

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown sugar
  • Brown Rice syrup
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane Juice crystals
  • Cane Sugar
  • Caramel
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic Malt
  • Ethyl Maltol
  • Fruit Juice
  • Fruit Juice Concentrate
  • Glucose
  • Golden Sugar
  • Grape Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing Sugar
  • Invert Sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt Syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado Sugar
  • Panela Sugar
  • Raw Sugar
  • Refiner’s Syrup
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Sucrose
  • Treacle Sugar
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Yellow Sugar

The sad part is this isn’t even close to all of the sneaky ingredients the food industry shoves into food. The most effective way to reduce your sugar intake is to eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods. You might be thinking that is way too hard – I thought the same thing the first time I did an added sugar detox. But once you get into a routine of what to eat that is good for you, not too mention how good you’ll be feeling, it becomes a lifestyle that you don’t want to quit. 

If you would like to join me for the month of May, I’ll be sharing tips for shopping, meal planning, and yummy dish ideas here as well as on my Insta account (@ashraeeining). Having a tribe to go through this together, ask questions, and share ideas makes it WAYYYY more enjoyable (yes, it can be enjoyable!)

Like I said earlier, indulgences are still part of life – so have that donut or 3 scoops of ice cream. I know I sure do! Enjoy that margarita on a nice day and the cheesy enchiladas at your favorite Mexican restaurant. But making sure we are monitoring these indulgences so they don’t become a habit is when we start to take control over our health so we can feel all the benefits I stated above. 

So if you would like to join me on this journey for the month of May (or at least attempt* it) then stick around and follow me over on Instagram as well. I like to share some esthetically pleasing, highly edited photos of meals, snacks, and drinks (you can even follow just to creep the photos).  

Let’s get to feeling & living a healthier life!