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 ;))?

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!

 

 

 

What I Eat In A Day: Weekend.

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 ;)).

Ciao.

Caprese Quinoa Salad.

My biggest concern with holidays is the lack of healthy options that are usually available for big meals. We are all prepared to indulge to some extent but I also enjoy balance. I’ve come to an age where I can tell if I don’t get enough vegetables in within a day and trust me, I don’t end up being very pleasant by the end of the day. Which means it is very important for me to have some kind of greens on my plate almost every meal. This dish is an excellent protein packed, healthy side option if you are already a fan of caprese salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 package of Mozzarella Pearls
  • 1/4 cup fresh Basil leaves (torn to small pieces)
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Olive Oil
  • Half diced Cucumber
  • Salt + Pepper

Directions:

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil on stovetop. Pour in quinoa and shimmer until water is fully absorbed.
  • Transfer cooked quinoa into medium size bowl.
  • Add in all other ingredients and blend.
  • Chill in the fridge for 3 hours – 3 days. Flavors will intensify and absorb over time.
  • Enjoy!

This is my new favorite sunny day, porch relaxing dish.