How is it already February? I don’t think I’ve even been able to process the fact that we’ve past the holiday season and Valentine’s Day is next weekend. Holy heck!
Since my schedule has been so busy lately, I’ve been going after really quick lunches so I can focus on cleaning, walking Nella, getting in a quick workout, or running an errand over my lunch hour. Today I’m sharing three of the three quick lunches I’ve been eating like crazy lately. I try to get in a good portion of protein for my lunches so I’m full through the afternoon and can avoid cravings.
Lunches from Left to Right:
Scrambled Eggs & Turkey: Brown up about 1/2 cup of ground turkey with 21 Season Salute from Trader Joes. When the turkey is almost fully cooked, add in two stirred up eggs – scramble in the pan all together. Place in a bowl and top with salsa.
Ground Chicken Salad: Brown up about 1/2 cup of ground chicken in a pan with 21 Season Salute from Trader Joes. Place over butter lettuce, 1/8 cup shredded Mexican Cheese, & 1 spoonful of Plain Greek Yogurt.
Pasta & Green Beans: Pictured is the Birds Eye Veggie Made Mac & Cheese (but all of these pastas are super delicious) with crushed red pepper. Side of 1 can Green Beans with a slice of Pepper Jack Laughing Cow Cheese.
These are my current go-to lunches that only take about ten minutes to whip up because I’m always about being super productive through my day and maximizing my time. If you have quick lunches that you love, I’d be happy to hear & try them out.
If you enjoy food ideas, you can find more from me daily on Instagram at @ashraeeining where I share a lot of different meals, snacks, and drink ideas on stories! Let’s be best friends on social 🙂
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!
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!
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 ;))?
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!
Printable .pdf file available on request: email@example.com
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:
Brown Rice syrup
Cane Juice crystals
Fruit Juice Concentrate
High Fructose Corn Syrup
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).
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!
1 large Avocado or 2 med./small avocados
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a glass square pan.
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!
Chicken – I normally either get 2-3 chicken breast from the deli
1 cup Brown Rice
Veggies (listed the one I prefer below but add or exchange for personal preference)
Bell peppers or sweet peppers
Soy Sauce (optional)
Start by boiling chicken in a large pot on the stove.
Begin to steam rice in about 2 1/2 cups of water in a smaller pot on med/high heat.
Boil broccoli in a small pan until softens.
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.
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.
Once your chicken is cooked white all the way through, shred it into pieces.
Clear the frying pan of all the veggies once cooked. Add in shredded chicken and cook on low heat with teriyaki sauce.
Once chicken and rice is complete, mix all ingredients together.
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.
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
2/3 cup Almond Milk (of your choice of milk)
1/4 cup blueberries
Really anything your heart desires
Smash half a ripe banana in the bottom of a bowl.
Add oats, almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a dash of brown sugar into the bowl.
Cut in the microwave for 1 minute.
Stir in remaining slices of the banana, blueberries, and any other toppings.
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!
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
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.
In a large frying pan, sauté zucchini noodles on high with a small amount of olive oil.
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.
Add a dash of crushed red peppers and sliced cherry tomatoes into zucchini pan. Let cook on high until tomatoes cook down.
Drain noodles of all excess water that comes from the noodles and tomatoes.
Add spinach to large pan.
Add tomato and cream sauce to large pan and let cook for 3-5 minutes.