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 ;))?

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!

 

 

 

Fudgy Avocado Brownies.

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I’ve been on a strong produce kick lately. I’ve been gathering a ton of avocados, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini lately and going crazy in the kitchen with concocting a load of new favorite dishes. The other night before I was about to head out of town for a few days, I had one lone avocado left to eat up before I left. I was over avocado toast and didn’t feel like adding it to my dinner dish that evening and decided to give avocado brownies a try.

I honestly don’t think I can say that I’ve had an avocado brownie before! Is that strange? I feel like this dish is quite popular? Or did I just miss this trend? So this was going to be an experiment. But the experiment turned out to be pretty darn tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Avocado or 2 med./small avocados
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
  • 1/2 Baking Soda
  • 1/2 semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a glass square pan.
  • Mix all ingredients in a medium-size bowl.
  • Pour mix into the pan and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Let cool & enjoy!

Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry.

Anytime I get asked from friends about how they can start learning how to cook, I normally suggest for them to try out either simple pasta dishes or stir fry. They are the easiest meals you can throw together and, even better, you can really customize them to be with ingredients you truly like to eat. Also, neither of these dishes are normally that photogenic which means they have to taste delicious, right?

This dish is fairly healthy minus which teriyaki sauce you decide to use. Since I just moved to Colorado and I’m really feeling out my different grocery stores I just grab a new one that I thought looked like the best option. I do have personal favorite brands and flavors that I tend to go for though (like this one). I would love to learn how to make a good homemade version so if you have a good recipe, do share with your girl!

Ingredients

  • Chicken – I normally either get 2-3 chicken breast from the deli
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • 1 cup Brown Rice
  • Veggies (listed the one I prefer below but add or exchange for personal preference)
    • Mushrooms
    • Snap Peas
    • Bell peppers or sweet peppers
    • Onions
    • Broccoli
  • Soy Sauce (optional)
  • Butter (optional)

Directions

  1. Start by boiling chicken in a large pot on the stove.
  2. Begin to steam rice in about 2 1/2 cups of water in a smaller pot on med/high heat.
  3. Boil broccoli in a small pan until softens.
  4. Sauté veggies in a large frying pan on medium heat and in a little bit of olive oil. Depending on your veggies will determine when you add them into the frying pan. For those I listed above, I’ll start with peppers and snap peas to cook down first and then add in the onions and soften broccoli.
  5. For mushrooms, I normally boil them in a small pan on high heat. Once those are brought to a boil, I drain the water and then sauté them on medium heat in a little bit of soy sauce and a scoop of butter until that cooks away.
  6. Once your chicken is cooked white all the way through, shred it into pieces.
  7. Clear the frying pan of all the veggies once cooked. Add in shredded chicken and cook on low heat with teriyaki sauce.
  8. Once chicken and rice is complete, mix all ingredients together.
  9. Enjoy!

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Warm Oats + Coffee.

Loves, it’s been a rough couple days.

I’ve been battling the typical January cold that seems to affect everyone and I just can’t seem to kick it. I bring the majority of this on myself since I rarely slow down and try to always accomplish too much at once. So the lack of rest hasn’t done my body any good. I’ve been trying to make a more conscious approach to slow down in simple, small ways that hopefully will build into a more significant impact over time. Two simple exercises are sitting down for meals and shutting off electronics while eating. This can be extremely beneficial when eating with loved ones but also just as beneficial when eating alone. Why not give yourself a mental break? We’re so consumed with our phones, tablets, and computers that for the majority of us, during our awake hours, we’re spending more time staring at a screen than not.

One of my favorite meals to invest time in cooking and sitting down to enjoy is breakfast. If we’re buddies on Instagram then you already know my obsession with oats and recently larger obsession with warm oats. I love pretty much anything I can whip up in under 5 minutes really! I actually find it humorous too that after moving to California I’ve become more into warm breakfast dishes. You’d think the eight years I spent through South Dakota winters would have sparked this love…. but I digress.

If you’re currently dealing with the Polar Vortex, actually even if you’re not, I highly encourage you to try out this super simple dish on the next morning you have 5 minutes to spare.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
  • 2/3 cup Almond Milk (of your choice of milk)
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Optional toppings:
    • Chia/Flax seeds
    • Coconut Flakes
    • Strawberries
    • Raspberries
    • Really anything your heart desires

Directions

  1. Smash half a ripe banana in the bottom of a bowl.
  2. Add oats, almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a dash of brown sugar into the bowl.
  3. Cut in the microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in remaining slices of the banana, blueberries, and any other toppings.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Spicy Red Shrimp Tomato Zucchini Pasta.

Do you find yourself in a meal rut where you’ve been eating the same dish for four nights in a row? I’m totally guilty of this recently. I’ve been cutting back on my budget to save for a new life transition (news announcement coming soon!) and so I haven’t been investing as much in groceries or testing out new recipes due to the excess costs.

But I’ve grown tired of chicken parmesan and ventured out tonight to appease my adventurous food cravings. It was a long day at work and I knew I wouldn’t want anything too strenuous. I also wanted to make sure to pack in a ton of veggies after a weekend of splurges and ended up with a concoction of zucchini noodles and shrimp that I’ve shared below.

I obviously also enjoyed with a good glass of Jazz Cellar Syrah wine. If you test out the below recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially since this was thrown together on a whim and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. This one is a keeper for me!

Ingredients

Disclaimer: I’ve purchased all my items from WholeFoods but all items should be able to be found at any large chain grocery store in one stop.

  • Shrimp – I’ll either buy mine from the seafood counter or have a bag of frozen on hand for nights like these.
  • Package of Zucchini Noodles
  • Tomato & Cream Sauce – I like to use the Capellino brand, which is a local product to San Francisco, has no trans fat, and is one of my favorite.
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Directions

  1. If shrimp is frozen, let sit under running hot water until shrimp is throughly cooked. Do not let overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery.
  2. In a large frying pan, sauté zucchini noodles on high with a small amount of olive oil.
  3. In separate smaller frying pan, sauté spinach on high with a small amount of olive oil. When all leaves are covered with oil, add diced fresh garlic. Let leaves cook down.
  4. Add a dash of crushed red peppers and sliced cherry tomatoes into zucchini pan. Let cook on high until tomatoes cook down.
  5. Drain noodles of all excess water that comes from the noodles and tomatoes.
  6. Add spinach to large pan.
  7. Add tomato and cream sauce to large pan and let cook for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add shrimp.

Enjoy, namaste.

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Three Super Simple Veggies.

Now that the holiday festivities are over, I want to make sure that I dive into healthy eating habits right away so I don’t become victim to eating nonstop treats and sweets. Now don’t be fooled, I’ll still splurge a little while I’m home for the next couple weeks but not to the extent I was the last couple days.

That is why I’m sharing three of my favorite & super easy veggie recipes today in this post. And when I say easy, it really can’t get easier than these three recipes for home cooked veggies. If you have olive oil, salt & pepper then you’re set!

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

These are my new favorite side and if you’ve been following the blog Instagram you’ll notice I shared these a few weeks back on my story when I made them for a Christmas party. I think the combination makes for an amazing savory and sweet flavor between the balsamic vinegar and cabbage taste of the sprouts.

Ingredients:

  • Brussel Sprouts, Enough to fill a cake pan
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • Optional: Dried Cranberries, Pecans, Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the Brussel Sprouts and cut in half. Line the cake pan with the sprouts and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shake pan to evenly coat all sprouts with oil.
  3. Cook on the medium rack of your oven for 35-40 minutes or until you notice the layers of sprouts starting to brown.
  4. On the stove top, bring the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Once at a boil, bring down to medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  5. Pour glaze over Brussel Sprouts and shake the pan.
  6. If desired, toss in cranberries, pecans, or parmesan cheese.
  7. Enjoy!

Asparagus

Asparagus

Asparagus is a super simple side that can be cooked up fairly quickly. My secret is I prefer to get the larger stock Asparagus which might take a little longer to cook but they don’t wilt as easily while cooking in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • Asparagus
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional: fresh garlic clove, Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wash and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  3. Line a baking sheet with asparagus, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Shake pan to evenly coat all asparagus with oil.
  4. If desired, add a diced fresh clove of garlic to the mix.
  5. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  6. If desired, sprinkle parmesan cheese across the top and allow to melt.
  7. Enjoy!

Sauteed Zucchini 

Zucchini

I actually make these little guys often before I even start cooking and snack on them throughout with a glass a wine. They are super handy when you’re craving fried food like french fries – definitely not the same but they’ve saved me a couple times.

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 Zucchinis
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Wash and slice zucchini into thin chips.
  2. Drizzle olive oil into a medium-size frying pan and heat over medium heat. Line pan with zucchini chips and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make sure each chip is laying flat on the pan so they all cook evenly.
  3. Let cook until lightly brown and flip to the other side. Don’t worry if you flip too early, just flip them back over 🙂
  4. Once cooked to desire, let cool and enjoy!

 

I hope these three recipes make eating healthily a little simpler for you. These are definitely a couple simple recipe I turned to at least a couple times a week.

Let me know in the comment section if you test any of these out or if you have tasty simple recipes of your own. I’d love to hear them!

Happy Wednesday loves.

 

Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookies.

If I’m going to splurge on treats this season it’s going to be homemade caramel puff corn or these new buttery salty cookies I found in a small deli in San Francisco a few months ago. It was my first time attempting baking these myself today and for the first pass I believe they turned out pretty darn yummy.

We’re about to host a cookie swap so these cookies are my contribution and I’ll follow up with the crowd comments!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • Optional: melting chocolate

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until it starts to caramelize. It should smell nutty and you will see brown bits at the bottom of the saucepan.

3. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl and stir in brown sugar and vanilla.

4. In a small bowl, whisk flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and combined.

5. Let cool to room temp and then scoop tablespoon size balls onto cooking pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and lightly press into top of cookie.

6. Bake for ~10-15 minutes or lightly golden brown. Don’t overlook or cookies become dry.

7. If desired, melt chocolate and drizzle on top of cookies.

8. Let cool & enjoy!

Overnight Oats.

Overnight oats are my fav. I literally get so excited when I wake up in the morning and I have overnight oats waiting for me.

Who created this amazing concoction?!

I started making these a few years back when I got knee-deep into one of my many health kicks and it has been one of my habits that have really stuck through the years. And why not? Oats are fairly inexpensive and you only need a few other ingredients to complete the mixture and a little patience and commitment to let it sit in the fridge overnight.

My mixture: 

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • dash of cinnamon
  • a few sprinkles of chia seeds, flax seeds, and coconut flakes (I buy a mixture from Sam’s club)
  • Blueberries (amount to own desire)

I’ve also played around with adding honey, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, vanilla extract, bananas, strawberries, and frozen mixed berries in the past but the above ingredients are my tired and true.

Nella, the pug babe, also enjoys the overnight oats because she usually gets a few blueberries herself while I am mixing it up in the evening.

What is your favorite morning meal? I love quick and simple during the week but on the weekends I’m all about cooking a well rounded, elaborate breakfast!

Namaste loves. Now I’m heading back to my tea and watching The Great British Baking Show.