Posts filed under Nutrition Hacks

Hacks to travel fit during the peak week of your bikini competition

Sometimes travel just happens. Even, in the middle of peak week. It may be work related, a trip you scheduled before knowing about the show date, an emergency... Life happens and it doesn't care about your competition diet. Well, in those cases you may have no choice, but coming out of house arrest and traveling during peak week. But, how are you supposed to survive in the real world when you cannot eat any fat? How about staying within your macros? Don't worry! I can share with you the creative hacks I used to travel fit and keep those unwanted inches away.

If you are traveling domestically, you are in luck! You can actually prep and pack all of your meals and then place it in your checked luggage. TSA allows you to travel with some food in the carry on, just not 3 days worth of it. So pack your food into large containers - don't worry about portioning them till you get to the hotel... It will save you some space and money - since you won't need to huge pieces of luggage. Just make sure you freeze your food and pack your cooler with ice packs so that your food doesn't spoil en route. Also, you may want to favor veggies and meats that travel well.... Chicken and beef travel well, fish not so much... trust me... Also some veggies travel better than others - think spaghetti squash, eggplant, onions, celery, cucumbers, peppers.... Zucchini turns into a watery mess - so stay away from veggies that get too watery after cooking.

Here is how I traveled clean and and still rocked my bikini on my way back:

1) Pack all of your food! Seriously. I pre-cooked and packed all of my meals for the three days I was out of town. This means you have to call the hotel in advance and request an empty fridge in your room. In some hotels, this incurs a charge, but it is well worth it. Then, I packed all of my veggies and protein into a cooler and placed it in my checked baggage with a TSA approved ice pack. Attention - not all ice packs are TSA approved. Check that yours is. Then I brought my trusty six pack bag that I love so that I always had my meals in hand for the day. I know it is expensive, but I am obsessed with my super cute 6 pack fitness bag. It is well worth the cost... 

 

2) Bring your mini crock pot: You are already being super restrictive with your diet, so the least you deserve is the comfort of warm food. I cannot stand eating cold food. YUCK! Since not all hotels have microwaves, I recommend you get a mini crock pot, like I did. This tiny wonder heats up your food in about 15 minutes so that you still feel like a human while restricting your macros. It will make you feel right at home with your warm, home cooked protein-filled goodness :)

 

3) Bring your measuring tools: If you want to save space in your luggage, instead of packing your food into meals, bring them in bulk containers. Then pre your meals in your hotel room with your mini pocket scale and collapsible cups. It saves a lot of space to do it this way. I have done it both ways - taking pre organized meals and bulk veggies and meat and then separating. The second scenario saves so much space. On top of that you will be able to rbing your tools to a restaurant in case you decide to splurge and go out for a meal. 

4) Monk  fruit sugar: I cannot survive without my monk fruit sweetener.  I am not a big fan of stevia because of the bitter after taste. Monk fruit sweetener is calorie free, all natural (comes from a fruit), and has the same taste as sugar. Oh! You also use the same number of tablespoons too! I like to bring it with me in case a craving hits and I need a tasty glass of 'sweet' tea, coffee , or hot tea. It feels luxurious and calorie ladden, but is calorie free :) 

5) Bring your Tea: I highly recommend you bring some tea along. When we are far away from home, we are more likely to be hit by cravings and need a sense of comfort. A warm beverage like tea will give you a series of benefits like antioxidants and make you feel comforted. For, me there is nothing quite holding a hot mug of tea. It may be silly, buy whenever I have a craving for sweets at the end of a day peppermint tea simply kills it. It is sweet, helps with digestion, and makes you feel calm. Try it! I love the brand traditional medicinals - it provides you with a high quality of tea in sachets that are easy to transport during travel.

 

I hope my hacks will help you as much as they helped me! If you have any questions or comments, write them down and I will answer!

God Bless you!

Izabel

Green Shake to Get your Diet Back on Track!

I have been off track lately... Running makes me want to eat more and because I know running burns lots of calories, I end up eating way too much sugar and fat... I find myself over-indulging often and my body is not taking it well. The worst part about over-indulging is that your body becomes addicted to the excessive amounts of sugar and fat and stopping the sugar/ fat madness is pretty hard... No wonder clinical experiments show sugar is more addictive than cocaine... (chek this article out: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23719144)

But, the excess sugar and fat has some really terrible side effects... I have been waking up puffy and feeling bloated. I decided, it was time to break away from this sugar addiction I developed in the past few months... And, the only thing that helps me get out of a sugar slump is.... a Green shake.

Green shakes are a nutritional powerhouse. When you nourish your body, your cravings diminish because your body does not need to search for particular nutrients that may be missing in your diet. When you feed your body properly, you eat less. 

But let's face it... Who wants to drink a green shake instead of ... say... a plate of pancakes or french toast in the morning? I had to create a drink that would taste so delicious, I would not be tempted to reach for a waffle with peanut butter and banana. Well that is when I came up with a recipe so good, my picky toddler thought she was eating ice cream.... 

After a week, I started diminishing the sugar in the shake by taking away the dates and slowly bringing my body back to a more strict diet. Hope it works for you!

Recipe for Green Breakfast (almost) ice cream

  • 1 large Fiji apple
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 4 dates
  • 2 scoops of Green Protein Alchemy  (see product link to the right)
  • 4 cups of power greens ( or spinach)
  • 1 Cup of water 

Blend well and drink! This smoothie is so good even Bella was drinking it like there was no tomorrow...

Expo West: Best New Plant-based Products

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to Expo West, the largest show for organic and natural products in the world! While I was there I found some amazing plant-based products that should be part of your diet! Drum roll please... here are the best new plant-based products in the market....

1) Follow your Heart Vegan Egg : Yes you heard me correctly! Follow your heart has developed a vegan egg substitute! I ate it at the show and it is so yummy! It has the same consistency and flavor of egg, but it is made from algae! Earthy friendly and oh so good for you!

2) Veggemo Vegetal Milk: Almond milk is not good for the environment, and soy can wrack havoc on your hormones. What's a plant-based girl to do? Now, she can buy veggemo, a veggie milk made from pea protein, potato starch, and tapioca. What's even better? It has 4 grams of protein vs 1 gram in almond milk.

4) Hamona Coconut: There is nothing I love more than young coconut water and my favorite thus far has been harmless harvest. But those little bottles add up and are so bad for the earth... If only there was a more earth friendly option... Well now there is! Hamona coconut are premium coconuts that are shaved down so much that you can use a straw to pierce them! And then afterwards you can open it using only a spoon.... No machette necessary!

5) Bee Panacea: There are so many super foods to be had.... maca, pollen, spirulina, chlorella... How in the world are you supposed to eat all of that? Well, Bee panacea takes the best superfoods and adds raw honey so that you can get all your nutrition with just one teaspoon a day! Did I mention it is also delicious and Victoria Beckham is eating this like it's going out of style?

6) Buttery Coconut oil from Nutiva: Love butter in your popcorn, but your plant-based lifestyle is cramping your movie time? Well, nutiva has created an amazing buttery coconut oil that tastes exactly like butter! Just lather on top of your popcorn and add a movie.... 

7) Burma Love: Eat your tea: If you don't love drinking green tea, now you can eat it! Burma love are green tea leaves that are gown in Burma and then fermented. The result is an earthy addition to salads and other recipes. I highly recommend it. 

8) New Barn Almond Milk ice cream: If you have ever had the pleasure of trying New Barn Almond milk, you know they are the best out there. If you haven't tried it, I recommen you find a store that carries it and try! It really tastes like homemade almond milk and now they are using their amazing milk to create dairy free ice creams! This is probably the cremiest almond milk ice cream I have ever tasted... But beware, some of the flavors have eggs....

9) Kor Shots: If you know me, you know I am all about health shots - specially ginger and turmeric... It seems Kor shots has commercialized that idea adding great ingredients like activated charcoal to rid your body of all those toxins! If you are pressed for time, I highly recommend these shots. They are delicious and really healthy!

I hope you enjoyed reading about the best of new plant-based products from Expo West! 

Stay Blessed!

Izabel

 

 

 

Practical ways to eat plant based!

Maybe you want to start eating plant-based, but you are having some trouble getting started.  You may feel that you just don't have the time for all the prep necessary to lead a plant-based lifestyle. Well, most of us don't have the time. I love preparing new and different foods, but there are those days where I barely have any time to breathe. So here are my go to quick foods to eat plant-based:

Amy's kitchen frozen foods

Amy's kitchen is my go to frozen food brand. This a vegetarian line made with all natural ingredients - some of the products are organic and some all vegan. Their food is delicious and I am obsessed with their indian line. During winter, when it's cold out, I find myself craving spicy indian fare... So instead of going to an indian restaurant and eating potentially unhealthy food, I grab an Amy's kitchen Vegetable Korma. It reminds me of my trip to india, it is satisfying, and so good for you! Amy's kitchen uses non-GMO ingredients.

Maya Kaimal Coconut Curry

 I am completely obsessed with this coconut curry and always try to keep it stocked at home because it can turn any boring rice or quinoa into an amazing meal in seconds. Usually I will roast an eggplant in the oven and then will eat with this curry and naan bread. It is soooo yummy and it is done in under thirty minutes. I find it in the freezer section of my fresh thyme store. If your store doesn't carry it, I suggest you ask for it. It is amazing! If you always have some quinoa prepared in the fridge (you can just prepare a batch over the weekend, then you can add veggies and quinoa and voila! Amazing meal!

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great quick meal. I prefer buying my local brand called Baker Mills and having it cook overnight in a slow cooker. I add water apples and raisins and just leave it overnight to cook. It makes a satisfying breakfast every morning. But if having it cook in the slow cooker is way too much of a hassle for you, then go for a few packets of instant oatmeal. It may not be as healthy as the steel cut counterpart, but it makes for a quick, on the go, plant-based meal. 

Foragers

Want to drink green juice, but just don't have the time nor the will to make some? But, still think that the brands sold in the supermarket are full of sugar? Think again. Foragers greens on greens is a great choice and very low in sugar. They have other great juices and nut milks like their matcha almond milk. I love this brand and the CEO worked at Odwalla with my hubby. So I gotta support our friends :) 

Hearty Veggie and Brown Rice Salad Bowl

I am not a big Starbucks fan, but their stores are everywhere (even inside the Louvre!) and their hearty veggie bowl is tasty and completely plant-based. I highly recommend you buy it if you are in a rut and looking for something quick and plant-based. I really, really like it!

Other great places to grab a quick plant-based bite:

Other amazing options for plant-based faire on the go are: Native Foods (try their Thai meatball bowl), LyfeKitchen (try the ancient grains quinoa bowl), true food kitchen (this restaurant belongs to Dr Weil and has some amazing fare), and the omnipresent Chipotle (try their sofritas bowl with brown rice and beans - I love it!).

 

Good Luck and Stay Plant-based!

 

 

 

 

5 Stay Fit Secrets I Learned From the Japanese

Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the land of the rising sun, Japan. I don't know if you have noticed yet, but the Japanese live long, they are lean and healthy, and they age very slowly. During my trip, I was eager to crack the Japanese code that creates this overall health.  Well, by talking to different people and noticing what was going on around me I found nine habits the Japanese have that are contributing to their overall level of health and wellness. Here they are: 

  1. They drink lots of green tea: Unlike the United States, you don't see the Japanese guzzling a 16 oz coke at every meal. Instead, they drink lots of hot green tea. Green tea contains bioactive contents that improve health. These include polyphenols that are powerful antioxidants (no wonder those people age slowly!). Studies also show that compounds in green tea increase metabolism and fat burning. So adopt this Japanese habit and sip on green tea all day! I noticed they drank a powdery tea called Sencha instead of brewing their tea. By drinking this powdery tea with meals - rather than steeping, they are actually eating the entire leaf in powder form - see the link below to buy!
  2. They drink brothy soups before a meal: While, we are eating fattening appetizers when dining out, the Japanese have brothy soups (e.g. Miso soup) before every meal. When you go to a restaurant a brothy soup is usually included as an appetizer. By adding brothy soups before each meal, we become full before eating our main meal without adding too many calories. A traditional miso soup has 36 calories, meanwhile a traditional American appetizer has an average of 400 calories. 
  3. They enjoy other types of protein that are not animal based: The Japanese eat some animal-based products, but their traditional cuisine uses animal based proteins sparingly. Instead they diversify their protein intake by also eating wheat, tofu, and soy milk.  When they do eat animal flesh, the Japanese focus on fish. 
  4. They drink matcha tea: Matcha was used as medicine by ancient buddhist monks in Japan because of its high vitamin C content. Today we know that matcha has a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg). EGCg is a powerful cancer fighter and matcha green tea contains 100 times more EGCg than any other tea in the market. Matcha is basically green tea on steroids. Do yourself a favor and drink matcha once a day! I know I do! - see the link below to buy!
  5. They don't add a bunch of sugar to their tea: Now I will tell you something that the Japanese don't do: Added sugars. You will never see a Japanese ask someone to sweeten their tea. Even matcha - sweet matcha is an american invention - stay away from it. Great matcha is aired to become less bitter. If you can't stand the bitterness - do like the Japanese. Drink your matcha with a healthy sweet instead. 
  6. They eat using chopsticks:  Have you tried eating regular food with chopsticks? If you have, you know that you are not stuffing your mouth with food because it is simply difficult to do so. By eating with chopsticks, the Japanese practice mindful eating with a slower pace. You won't see anyone stuffing their face with any food in Japan. You don't necessarily have to use chopsticks to eat, but try practicing more mindful eating by taking smaller bites and chewing more times (up to thirty times before swallowing).
  7. They eat lots of seaweed : The american diet is low in iodine which prompted our government to add iodine to table salt. However iodine deficiency is still a problem causing many to develop thyroid disease. The Japanese eat a lot of seaweed which helps them to get their recommended levels of this important mineral. Want to add a brothy soup and increase your iodine levels? Then do like the Japanese and try adding some miso soup to your diet!
  8. Ginseng shots: You see Ginseng shots everywhere you go in Japan and I ended up buying some for myself. According to the Japanese Ginseng shots are supposed to help with circulation and your immune system, provide an energy boost, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and even help treat diabetes. I just added Ginseng to my morning routine. Maybe you should try it for yourself - see the link below to buy!
  9. They walk a lot! Cars are a luxury in Japan, and you will often see 300-500 people cross the streets of Tokyo during rush hour. They walk everywhere likely logging over 10,000 steps a day. I have personally been obsessed with the 10,000 steps a day deal for a long time, but now I want to log even more steps daily. Want to be able to track your steps? Get a fitbit! It was the best thing I did for myself... Then friend me! I really enjoy some healthy competition! - See the link below to buy!


Holiday Travel Nutrition Hacks

Are you traveling this holiday season and anticipating a 5lb weight gain? Well, with a little planning and a lot of will power, I guarantee you can keep that weight gain at bay. There are 6 items I bring with me whenever I travel. Here is what I do whenever I travel to keep my body healthy and any weight gain to a minimum (Want more tips like these? Sign up for 4 weeks of free and exclusive tips in January Here)

  1. Travel Blender: I never travel without a travel blender, unless I am 100% sure there is a raw vegan juice bar by my hotel. I own a powerful travel blender called nutri ninja (The link is in the bottom of the page). It has 900 watts of power - a vitamix has around 1500 watts - so this travel blender is pretty powerful. So powerful in fact, it could probably serve as your main blender at home. It makes great green smoothies in the morning even when you add fibrous veggies. I went on a holy yoga retreat recently and all of my cabin mates thought I was crazy. I brought my little blender along and instead of having pancakes in the morning - I would save the greens from the night before and blend them in the morning with a banana and my pre-packed superfood goodness (which is my next must have item). Which reminds me, bring small plastic zip lock bags to collect greens and fruit from the buffet at your hotel or restaurant and place them in your room fridge for later use. Also, when you book your hotel, request a fridge. Let them know you have special dietary needs, and they will usually oblige. 
  2. Pre-packed superfoods: As I said before, a little planning goes a long way when traveling. Nobody wants to lug around boxes and containers to make a green smoothie. What is a girl to do? Pre-pack all of her smoothie goodness into little plastic ziplock bags. I prepare one bag per day of my stay that way even if I don't find greens I can blend a banana (which is available anywhere) with my super foods. I usually add Amazing Grass Green Superfoods ( link at the bottom of page) - a raw and amazing supplement, some maca (link at the bottom of page) which helps with stress and my immunity, and some hemp seeds for a clean, whole food source of protein. I make sure to feed my body well first thing in the morning so I don't feel any cravings. The smoothies usually tide me over till lunch time.
  3. Portable morning shots: Every morning I take a shot after drinking my 32 ounces of water. I usually have a wheatgrass or turmeric and ginger shot, but, finding a shot on the go can be quite challenging. First, because there are no travel juicers I know of (trust me I have looked), and second because juice bars are not available in your destination. So if my research shows no juice bars close to my hotel, I bring a powdered wheatgrass drink. It is not as effective as the real thing, but it helps me keep my routine consistent - and consitency is key in keeping with a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, I even add it to my water throughout the day when traveling because it is such a great detoxifier.
  4. Hemp seeds: Hemp seeds make my world go round! Seriously, these little tiny seeds can turn any lame salad into a nutritional powerhouse. Sometimes, it may be hard coming across a good plant-based meal when traveling. So I bring my hemp seeds and I add it to everything I eat. I buy Manitoba Harvest (link below). Hemp seeds are the most nutritious seed in the world and a complete protein. They have a balanced profile of protein, essential fats, enzymes, and vitamins with low sugar, starches, and saturated fats. Adding these seeds to salads, soups, and meals keeps me satiated for a longer period of time as well. Keeping me from eating too much junk when on holiday. 
  5. Accessories: Always bring reusable cutlery, and a water bottle or travel coffee mug. You will need it to create your smoothies and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. I love the bamboo cutlery to-go ware makes and I have a set (link Below). You could use plastic cutlery - but who wants to trash the environment?
  6. Justin's chocolate almond or hazelnut butter packs : Have you tasted Justin's Chocolate Almond Butter? If you haven't  - maybe you shouldn't... They are so good, it is hard to stop eating them. But, if you have enough self control these little packs make a great on the go snack (with a banana) or a late night healthy indulgence. I love eating something sweet and delicious in bed, so I bring these little packs of amazingness along and I eat them with bananas. It can also make for an amazing breakfast if you can't make a green smoothie. 

I hope the tips were helpful for your impending holiday travel. It is important to keep our bodies healthy and to be consistent, but also remember to enjoy your trip and immerse yourself in local culture and food! Take a meal to really indulge and experience the local cuisine... You can always walk off the calories later ;) 


6 Hacks to avoid winter weight gain

tips-for-winter.jpg

7 years ago when I moved from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Chicago in the middle of winter, I gained about 10 pounds. Winter is depressing and it calls for comfort food, not salad. The cold weather begs you to stay home under the covers and the last thing you want to do is walk outside. However, there are ways to feel better and make yourself feel comforted without piling on the pounds. Over the past 7 years I had to learn how to make the harsh Chicago winters work for me and nowadays I am happy to report that I love winters! I found out how to control my weight gain and on top of that I get to wear sexy boots and Burberry jackets.... It doesn't get any better than that.  Anyway, without further ado, here are my 6 winter weight hacks (Want more tips like these? Sign up for my 4 weeks of exclusive tips of fitness and nutrition here):

1) Drink lots of tea! Tea is warming and comforting. It fills you up and fools you into thinking you are having a dessert... I have two all time favorite winter teas: Rare Tea Cellar's Gingerbread tea dream Rooibos (buy here), and Republic of tea Peppermint Chocolate Rooibos (buy here). Both are caffeine free Rooibos blends which contain polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This will help shed any water retention you may be experiencing. I usually  add some agave and steamed hemp seed milk. It gives the tea a creamy and decadent taste - even my picky eaters love it! It is a warming and amazing ritual that will substitute the need for comfort foods in the winter.

2) Too cold for a green smoothie, but would like to have the same benefits? Eat an amazing green oatmeal instead! I love green smoothies, but it is hard having a cold morning meal in 20 degree weather. I need to wake up with something warm and invigorating in the morning. So, I eat oatmeal when it is too cold, but I add greens and other goodies. I make my oatmeal overnight in a slow cooker, it is super easy and it allows you to have steel cut oatmeal which is the one that will give you the most benefits. I blend 1 cup of packed spinach with a banana and a little bit of cashew milk and then mix it in with my oatmeal. This creates a full meal that is warming and has similar benefits to a green smoothie.

3) Buy a UV lamp! Did you know Vitamin D is not really a vitamin? It is rather a hormone that your body produces when exposed to sunlight. If you live in the northern climates you know that there is not a lot of sun around here to help you produce this valuable nutrient. In fact, many autoimmune diseases are linked to a deficiency of vitamin D... No wonder these kids of diseases are more prevalent in colder climates. As the benefits of vitamin D supplements are still debatable, I recommend you get a UV lamp. Just turn it on while you are getting on with your morning routine. Or maybe use it while you are working. You will see drastic improvement in your mood and you will produce vitamin D as a result. 

4) Drink lots of warming foods, like soup, and add lots of warming seasonings to your foods like ginger. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends we avoid raw foods during the winter because they cool the body and compromise our digestion and ability to assimilate nutrients. This means we should focus on lots of soups and stews using root vegetables, dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains and seaweeds. Ayurveda also recommends warming foods and suggests the use of warming spices - this means lots of ginger, cumin, turmeric, and nutmeg. The beauty of soups and stews is that you can set a slow cooker before you leave for work with all of the ingredients, and come back home after work to an amazing meal. Try it!

5) This is the time for a Sauna! It is no wonder the Finnish are known for their Saunas... Finland is freaking cold! There is evidence suggesting that individuals that engage in sauna bathing are less likely to get colds. Also, when your body is exposed to heat, it produces more white blood cells... Seriously people! A study found that sauna bathing stimulated the immune system - specially those of athletes. Being in a sauna also makes you feel good and warm and it is a great ritual to partake in a cold afternoon. 

 

6) Move your body. Exorcise the winter blues and burn a few extra calories by adopting a running regimen. Can't run, then do whatever exercises suits your fancy. But, make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood flow and warms the body. The rise in temperature has a soothing and calming effect. Research has also shown that a regular exercise regimen strengthens your immunity helping you fight those winter bugs. Talking about winter bugs, regular exercise keeps the winter blues at bay by releasing serotonin and dopamin within 10 minutes . These feel-good chemicals boost well-being and make us feel happier.

 

That's it! Those are my hacks. I hope it helps you get through this winter!

 

Posted on December 2, 2015 and filed under Nutrition Hacks, Recipes and Nutrition.