Thai Noodle Salad.

After attending a lake birthday party this last week I had a pretty intense craving for Thai Noodle Salad since the birthday girl had made a batch for her party but I didn’t get to try it. My typical experimental brain hit the web Monday morning to find a simple recipe that I could quickly whip up and voila, I found one that I happened to have (most) all of the ingredients!

We tested it out last night after a longish run (4 miles) in the heat. I would definitely tweak a few things next time just to experiment with taste but overall I would say it’s a keeper. Also noted, we served it hot but traditionally after mixing all the ingredients you would chill it in the fridge and eat cold.

Ingredients:

  • Rice Noodles
  • Sauce:
    • Soy Sauce
    • Sesame Oil
    • Honey
  • Seasonings (I used Garlic Sea Salt, Terriakyi Ginger mix, and Crushed Red Peppers)
  • Vegetables (I used a mixed bag I had in the freezer)
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Mini Corns
    • Snap Peas
    • Onions
  • Optional Meat Topping (I had some Trader Joe’s Potstickers on hand that we through on top but shredded chicken or pork would also be delicious!)

Directions: 

  • Soak rice noodles in a pot or bowl for ~30 minutes. We placed our noodles right in the pot we would boil them in and went for a run. 
  • Boil noodles on high for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Sauté veggies in a pan with olive oil until crispy.
  • Mix sauce in a small bowl. I used about a 1/4 tbsp of seasme oil, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, and 1/2 tbsp of honey but this will depend on the amount of noodles you are cooking. 
  • Drain noodles, return to pan, add sauce mixture, and cook on low so sauce absorbs into the noodles.
  • Add veggies to the noodles. Continue to cook for about ~5 minutes or while cooking meat.
  • Cook optional meat.
  • Hot: Serve in a large bowl with a cold drink! 
  • Cold: Place mixture in a large bowl, set in the fridge for a few hours, then enjoy!

 

Delicious Instapot Chicken Tacos.

I’ve just started to explore the instapot craze since my partner owns one and let me tell you guys, I am hooked! I totally understand what everyone is raving about now. It is so simple & easy to make quick yet delicious meals.

I’m a huge fan of home cooking and dabbling with new recipes but can be turned off by the time it takes to make a well thought out meal so the instapot definitely solves that pain point. We threw whipped up some juicy chicken for tacos the other night & I thought I would share. We choose this recipe since all the ingredients are basic that you would more than likely already have on hand (win!). 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breast
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Taco Seasoning
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/2 small Yellow Onion
  • Taco Toppings:
    • Flour Tortillas
    • Plain Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream
    • Lettuce
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Diced Tomatoes
    • Diced Avocado
    • Additional Salsa

Directions: 

  • Combine all ingredients (minus toppings) in instapot, close lid, and cook for 15 minutes. 
  • Release steam, remove chicken from pot, shred, and return shredded chicken back to pot with the sauce. Can let it sit in the sauce for a bit to absorb or immediately serve.
  • Build tacos or salad bowl and enjoy! 

So simple, am I right! That’s why we’re all such a fan of tacos 🙂 

 

Sioux Falls Weekend Getaway.

A few weeks back I flew back to my old place of residence, Sioux Falls, SD over my birthday weekend for a college friend’s wedding. I thought it would be fun to share a (overdue) recap of this short trip and also add in a few additional favorite spots I didn’t get time to make it to!

And yes, I flew during this crazy Covid time knowing I would keep myself quarantined for the recommended timeframe after I made it back to Colorado. I would say that flying isn’t so bad if you take the proper precautions and are ready to follow quarantine timelines after your travels. I’m also hear for any questions you may have for your upcoming travels!

I flew out bright and early from the Denver airport on my birthday to arrive into Sioux Falls around noon. My mom and sister picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to a new local hotspot Daily Clean Eats and Drinks. My mom and I ordered the Tongue Thai’d Bowl and my sister got the Ambrosia Bowl – both were super delicious, filling, and healthy! 

We then checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Sioux Falls City Centre, and walked downtown for cocktails and wine at our old favorite, The Carpenter Bar. For dinner, we just hung at a family member’s house for some pizza and cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes (the Lemon Raspberry flavor is my favorite!). 

The next day was a bit of prep for the wedding with spray tans and getting our nails done. Then relaxing at the local water park, Wild Water West under a personal cabana sipping Cheladas, a stop at B&G Milkway for ice cream (I like the classics – Oreo Avalanches or Turtle Sundaes), dinner at Mackenzie Rivers with friends (I’m a big fan of the Southwest Chop salad) and more ice cream at Parlour Ice Cream House

The following day was spent traveling around eastern South Dakota to visit family members, rehearsal dinner, and a graduation party for our cousin. Then the wedding on Saturday with the reception at Icon Lounge + Events and lunch at Granite City on Sunday with friends before flying home (I’m a fan of the Mediterranean Chicken).

It was great, quick getaway filled with friend reunions, cocktails, and plenty of sweets. A few of my favorite spots we didn’t get to while back: 

If you find yourself in the Sioux Falls area or looking for a unique short getaway, there is definitely plenty of great places to eat, small local boutiques to shop, and a few nice sight-seeing stops in the area (when the weather is nice!). 

Four Sigmatic Review + Sale!

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. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Cordyceps: This mushroom gives a nice little boost for performance without the jitter effects of coffee. Perfect for the afternoon slump at 3PM!

Others I’m ordering: 

If you haven’t tried Four Sigmatic before or are a passionate customer like myself, you definitely need to take advantage of the Summer Sale going on this week only!

P.S. You’ll also receive $15 off through my referral link 😉

Blueberry “Cinnamon Roll” Breakfast Bars.

I’m a sucker for quick + simple recipes that call for items I already have around my place. So when I came across 2 ingredient Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls on Instagram last week, I knew I needed to try it out. Disclaimer: this recipe always had more than 2 ingredient – they aren’t tricking anyone. 

I attempt the baking exactly as the recipe directed yesterday and than did my small tweaks today to test making it more to my own preferences. The original recipe calls for you to roll out the dough, add the blueberries and cinnamon, and then roll up the dough to create “cinnamon rolls”. This did not work for me, so instead I place the mixture directly into the pan and bake as bars. Below, I write out the original recipe as is and then I explain what I’ve changed to the recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Cinnamon 

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a glass 8×8 pan. 
  • Mix first three dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add in yogurt and mix, creating a dough. Mix in blueberries and cinnamon.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until dough is thoroughly cooked through. 

The first attempt tasted too bitter to me so this morning I switched out the plain greek yogurt with Two Goods brand Vanilla yogurt. Since it calls for a cup, all you need to buy at the store for 1 batch is two small individual vanilla yogurt cups. I’m not a fan of having a lot of excess ingredients left over so this worked out perfectly. 

I also added about 3 teaspoons of brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract to the dough to provide a bit more flavor. Then to top it off, I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Whip Cream as an icing alternative. 

This was definitely a winner in my book. It’s simple and doesn’t provide too much of a sweet taste early in the morning. I love me some french toast or a good decadent muffin but if an item is too sweet it normally leaves my stomach not so happy (cue the sugar gram counting). Also, if you noticed, we don’t add any sugar or sugar alternative (except the brown sugar) so if you stick with the original recipe than you’re still on track for the added-sugar detox!

Let me know if you try this one out and of course, enjoy!!

Gut Health: What is it & why it matters.

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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:

  • Digestive Issues
    • Gas and/or bloating
    • Constipation
    • Irregular bowel movements
  • Mental Issues
    • Like depression, anxiety, and brain fog
  • Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
  • Unintential Weight Gains
    • Or struggles managing a healthy weight
  • Chronic Unmanaged Stress
  • Skin Problems
  • 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
  • Stay Hydrated
    • 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
  • Reduce Stress
    • 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.

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Probioctic Foods:

  • Greek Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Fermented Foods
    • Kimchi
    • Kombucha
    • Olives
    • Pickled Beets
    • Pickles
    • Sauerkraut
    • Soybeans
  • Grains
    • Sourdough Bread

Prebiotic Foods: 

  • Fruit
    • Berries
    • Bananas
    • Tomatoes
  • Veggies
  • Grains
    • Barley
    • Flaxseeds
    • Oatmeal
    • Wheat
  • Legumes
    • Beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Lentils

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!

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!