Six Tips To Crush Your Health Goals This Year

2015 NY CollageWell, here we are. Smack in the thick of “This is the year. This is the year I get my health in order, look my best and feel more amazing than ever before!” season. Am I right? Super! That’s step one. Find the fire to get things off to a running start (fitness pun), check! What follows is where things get hairy.

What will you do different to insure that 2015 truly is YOUR year? Because I know it absolutely can be! How do you plan to honor your commitment to your health? Coming up with a solid plan is a fantastic place to start, but what is the trick to staying motivated once the New Year adrenaline begins to fade? Here are a few things that really help me. Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful as well.

1. Make it known. Write down your goals. Tell your friends. Say them out loud as often as possible. Spread the word. Post about it on social media. Recruit others to keep you accountable. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals and values. Don’t let the naysayers derail your focus. The more you talk about it, the easier it is to make it your reality. Our minds are very powerful, so positive thoughts, words and actions are crucial for success. “This is the beginning of the healthiest, happiest version of me. I got this.”
2. Take it one step at a time. Decide each week that you will cut out one bad thing or add one healthy thing to your life. “This week I will stop drinking sodas. Next week I will continue not to drink sodas and also workout five days for at least 30 minutes. The week after I will have cut out sodas and will be exercising five days a week, then I will begin to eliminate processed cereal for breakfast. Instead I will make a healthy egg and veggie frittata.” And so on. Before you know it, many little things add up to one BIG change! Make the weekly goals specific and achievable. Doing this will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
3. Strive to achieve balance. Going cold turkey, full-on health junkie is great in theory, but rarely successful in reality. You must be able to imagine maintaining the changes you make FOREVER. Fad diets that cut out entire food groups or macronutrients are not realistic, are NO FUN and many times unhealthy! Allow yourself to have the things that you enjoy most, without going overboard. When you place something that you really enjoy off limits, it only makes you want it that much more. Which can lead to overdoing it and taking ten steps backward. If you are on point with your health and fitness 80% of the time, you can have that wine on girls night, you can share a pizza with your date, you can afford to have a less than amazing workout here and there. Goodness knows I do all those things! But you can’t expect to indulge on a daily basis and see the results you desire. Painful but true, my friends! Finding your balance is critical.
4. Be consistent. It is not what you do once, or for a week, or for a whole month even. It’s what you do ALWAYS that matters. You must make your health a PRIORITY and make it a LIFESTYLE. Just like paying the mortgage, taking care of your children, getting oil changes for your car regularly, maintaining a HEALTHY BODY is our basic RESPONSIBILITY.

The longer you eat healthy, real food and exercise regularly, the more you realize that that is what your body is meant to do. Treat your body well and it will reward you. Get through the time period it takes to form these new healthy habits, and I promise you will start to notice just how wonderful you should be feeling. You have energy during the day, and get restful sleep at night. You feel satisfied and nourished after a tasty meal made up of whole foods, as opposed to craving the same “junk” food over and over. Be patient and be consistent, and these things will happen.
5. Keep it simple! Somehow we have been duped into thinking being healthy is a complicated process. That we have to sign up for a 30-Day meal delivery service, or commit to some celebrity-endorsed program that costs us a year’s salary, or torture ourselves by eating 250 calorie frozen meals that taste like a shoe!

I have excellent news for you, this is WRONG! Eat REAL, WHOLE foods. Not processed, fake non-food that comes in a box. These pre-packaged foods are loaded with chemicals, processed sugars and all sorts of toxic things that our bodies have no idea how to use. Think less lean cuisine, boxes of kelloggs and fat-free potato chips. AKA non-foods that trick us into thinking we are doing ourselves some kind of favor. Read the ingredient list and try to tell me what the heck those things are composed of. Your food should have familiar, actual, limited ingredients. Think sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, beef, chicken, fish, brown rice, cashews, asparagus. It’s not complicated, I promise. Buy it fresh, cook it yourself. Well-seasoned, fresh ingredients taste AMAZING! Sooooo much better than what big companies try to push as “diet” food (ugh!). You don’t have to eat LESS, you just have to EAT RIGHT! :) 

Guess what?! Fitness is simple, too. You just gotta get moving. Ride a bike, go on a jog, take the dog on a brisk walk, join a gym, hire a trainer, get a workout partner, sign up for Pilates or yoga, begin a weight lifting program. WHATEVER. Fancy gyms and lots of equipment are lovely, but certainly not necessary. Just get moving.

6. Silence the excuses. People don’t have time, people make time. Not everyone has unlimited financial resources to hire and purchase the best of the best to escort them along their fitness journey. But you don’t need to! (See above😉 ) People are tired, hungry, sick, have kids, had a bad day, got in a fight with their spouse, had to work late, gotta mow the grass. Yadda yadda! You have to be stronger than the little jerk in your head telling you all the reasons it’s okay to skip your workout or pop a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner again. Don’t let excuses get the best of you. There is always a way to achieve the goals that are most important to you. And what could be more important than your health and well-being?

You can do it. This is your year. 

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

Total Body Workout

Well, hello there! It’s been quite a while. Life has been busy and exciting. I’ve been keeping my schedule full with all my lovely personal training clients, as well as planning for and daydreaming of our baby boy we are expecting in February 2016! Although my blogging has slowed down, life certainly has not.

I feel very fortunate to have had a smooth pregnancy so far. Once I was free of the first trimester exhaustion (which is a BEAST, let me tell ya), I’ve had my energy back and I feel great! I can’t say enough how strongly I believe that staying active five days a week during my pregnancy has kept me feeling energetic, strong and healthy. I mean, if ever there was a time in our lives to treat our body as best we can, it’s while we are creating a tiny human (it’s still insane to me what is happening inside my body right now!), amiright??

I’ve also continued eating super healthy about 80% of the time and drinking loads of water. Lots of nutrients flowing through this pregnant lady! Just think of all the healthy fats necessary to form baby’s brilliant brain. All the protein to construct strong tissue and muscles. Magnesium, phosphorus and calcium to build healthy baby bones and teeth. Not just for your little one’s sake, but to keep mom healthy as well! Once you become pregnant, you play second fiddle to baby and his needs. They become the star of the show and you an understudy. All nutrients go to bèbè first, then you get sloppy seconds. SO, keep them coming! (Annnnd let’s not pretend, there should also be a happy dose of treats to satisfy🙂 )

Now that I am just about six months pregnant, I have begun to alter my workouts a bit. Mainly just avoiding any exercises performed on the back (can’t cut off baby’s blood supply!) and most ab exercises. I still do plank variations and always keep my core engaged throughout my workouts, but I do not perform more intense ab exercises. I stopped almost all jumping right from the beginning, and I quite running at around 18 weeks because it felt like my bladder could seriously fall out of my body. Eek! Otherwise, it’s business as usual in the gym. I continue to do lots of strength training, which includes increased squatting and lower body strengthening – critical to prepare the body for labor and recovery. *Now, I am able to workout like this because I was already a very active 5-6 day a week-er. My doctor assured me it was a-okay to keep it up. As long as I felt alright doing something, she said to go with it and just listen to my body. **Be sure to consult your doctor and listen to your own body, as every pregnancy and set of circumstances is completely different!

Alllll that being said, the exercises below are a mix of exercises I performed before I was pregnant, and exercises I continue to do now. If followed workout-for-workout, this would not be a session I would suggest for pregnant gals. But it most certainly can be modified to fit everyone.

The following is a collection of video snippets I post on Instagram. I’ve grouped them to make a workout that combines cardio with total-body strength training, for a full-impact sweat session. Try performing them each 1-4 times, varying based on fitness level. If a move is too advanced for your current fitness level, simply make some adjustments. For example, rather than a burpee on one leg, perform it on two, or remove the jump.

Remember that change happens when you challenge yourself, so push your limits! I hope you enjoy!

Rules that apply to every workout: properly stretch before and after, be sure you execute with correct form (if you don’t know, ASK) and always modify to fit your goals and abilities.

Single Leg Burpee – Core engaged, power up strong through your leg. Perform for 30-60 seconds on each leg.

Slam Ball Plank Combo – Squat low, weight back in your heels and hips. Squeeze the glutes as you raise each leg. Perform for 60 seconds.

5-5-5 Bicep Curl – Curl from full extension to 90 degrees for five reps. Then curl from 90 degrees to shoulders for five reps. Finally complete full curls for five reps. Perform all 15 reps for a total of 3-5 sets.

Kettlebell Low and Slow Squat – *This video is sped up, perform these sloooow and go loooow. Weight should be in your heels, not your toes. Keep back straight, chest up, abs engaged and don’t allow your knees to go past your toes. Perform 12-20 reps.

Various Grips on Lat Cable Pull – Chest up, shoulder blades back and down, shoulders pulled down away from your ears. Utilize the different bars, etc at your disposal and vary your grip (wide, narrow, overhand, underhand, etc.).

xx

Maygan

Mexican Chocolate “Ice Cream”

DSC_1743Yep. Y’all read that correctly. Mexican. Chocolate. Ice. Cream. Well, it’s Nice Cream, actually. Now allow me to blow your mind. There is no added sugar in this ice cream. No cream or dairy. It’s vegan, gluten free and made with only real, whole food ingredients. And the kicker… it’s delicious! I’m really pumped about this one.

I’ll keep this simple. All that stands between you and your new favorite healthy dessert is grabbing some ingredients and whipping them about in a blender.

Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen RIPE Bananas (peel and freeze your super ripe bananas at least overnight before making this)
  • 2/3 cup Almond Milk (I used my Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk)
  • 1 Medjool Date, pitted
  • 3 Tblsp Raw Cacao Powder (not cocoa powder)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (stick with 1/8 if you aren’t a fan of spice, but you’ll need at least that much to give this that yummy Mexican Chocolate flair)
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg

**Makes four servings

DSC_1731DSC_1734Directions:

  1.  Cut your frozen banana up into halves or quarters.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix) and begin to blend on a low setting. Slowly increase the speed slightly, just enough for it to get nice and smooth.
  3. You may need to use a tamper or baking spatula to scrape the sides or press the “ice cream” back down toward the blades.
  4. Gulp it down!

DSC_1742I promise you guys, this is a tasty one. I hope you enjoy this Mexican Chocolate Nice Cream as much as we do! Let me know how yours turns out or how you put your own spin on it!

Enjoy!

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

A Peek at Meal Prep

Alright fit folks, y’all know the drill…

“You can’t out-run a bad diet”

“It’s 80% diet, 20% working out”

“Abs are made in the kitchen”

“Fail to plan, and you plan to fail”

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”

Whichever motivational mantra keeps you inspired, they all have a common thread. Planning, preparing and consuming healthy meals is a critical component in creating a healthy lifestyle that lasts forever.

For us, and for most nutrition nuts, dedicating a couple hours to preparing meals for the next several days is what keeps our diet on track and our schedules running efficiently.

How we do it:

  • Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
  • Grocery store for the odds and ends we can’t find at the market.
  • 1-2 hours each Sunday evening is dedicated to cooking, chopping, prepping, washing, etc for dinners and lunches for the week to come.

Wah-lah! I’m telling y’all, once you get in the groove and make it a habit, you’ll be so happy you did! We invest a little extra time and effort ONE DAY that makes life easier for many days. As opposed to cooking, washing and prepping everyday.

Not only is it a lifesaver for time management throughout the work week, it is THE key to staying on track nutritionally. If the food is ready to grab and eat, you will do just that! However, if you wait until you are hungry, you’ll reach for the easiest snack/meal. Which most likely is not going to be the greens that need to be washed for a salad, the veggies to be grilled, or the lean chicken to be roasted. Amiright?

The ingredients we use and the method for cooking them changes constantly, but here is a quick peak at an example of one week’s veggie/side meal prep… Oh , and from start to finish (including clean-up) the following took me one hour and 35 minutes! Kyle cooked eight chicken breasts in his super cool precision cooker while I handled this. But your lean protein can be cooked with any method just as easily and quickly – baking, grilling, whatever you fancy!

DSC_1718 DSC_1726Carrots washed, peeled and chopped. Then roasted with coconut oil, chili flakes, cinnamon and a dash of s&p.DSC_1716 DSC_1727Sweet potatoes washed and cubed. Roasted with olive oil, ancho chili powder, nutmeg and a little s&p.DSC_1719 DSC_1724Mushrooms simply sauteed with a little olive oil and s&p. DSC_1721Lentils cooked and seasoned with cumin and pepper.DSC_1717All greens and salad ingredients are washed so they are ready to toss into smoothies or salads.DSC_1722Raw broccoli and cauliflower is washed and cut for hummus/veggie snacking. DSC_1725I even wash and slice lemons for warm lemon water (to alkalize my body after my morning coffee, which is acidic) or to add to olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing salads.DSC_1728Finally, homemade almond milk. This week I added a few teaspoons of raw cacao and a few dates for a chocolatey version inspired by my lovely friend, Jennifer. Mmmmmm good stuff. If you haven’t tried making your own yet, I can’t stress enough that you should do it already! It is so simple, delicious and free of the hidden nasties in store bought almond milk! More on my almond milk post, link above🙂

During the week, Kyle will take a mix-and-match combo of the  veggies along with a chicken breast for lunch at work. I have half a chicken breast and a big smoothie bowl packed with fruit and veg. At dinner we usually have eggs (yep, we love brekkie for dinner) and a combo of veggies and lentils or quinoa with a big ole salad.

Some weeks we get super creative, some weeks we keep it really simple like this. It just depends on our mood, how much time we have and what sounds tasty to us. I urge you to try it out yourselves. And let me know what your meal prep looks like, I’d love to hear all about it!!

Have a lovely day.

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

Root Veggie “Hashbrowns”

DSC_1702There are loads of gorgeous radishes at our farmers market at the moment. I couldn’t resist grabbing a few bunches and attempting to come up with something new. This “recipe” is not that attempt. This is more of a happy accident that came out of necessity, after I royally botched what I was actually trying to make🙂 I mean, that is my M.O., after all.  DSC_1680DSC_1685

As with most of my concoctions, I ended up just throwing a bunch of things together that I enjoy individually. Luckily, these all tasted so yummy together, that I thought I’d share it with y’all! Maybe you will feel inspired to snag some of these root veggies at your local farmers market or grocer, and give it a go yourselves?DSC_1688Isn’t the contrast between the skin and the flesh of black radishes so beautiful??

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Radishes, peeled and julienned or thinly chopped
  • 8 small-medium Carrots (or 4 large), peeled and julienned or thinly chopped
  • 1 Organic Egg
  • 2 tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 1/2 inch cube of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Chili Flakes (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste, but I’m a fan of lots of pepper!

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  2. Saute in a skillet over medium heat. I cooked it for about 20 minutes, so the veggies still had a little crunch to them, but it was really nice and browned. So they have a similar texture to hashbrowns. DSC_1691

Like I said, I just love getting in the kitchen and throwing together whatever gets in my sight line. If it’s successful, fantastic! If not, well I’m used to that happening🙂 If you’re not a fan of ginger or spice, no worries friend! Replace those ingredients with something else you like.

It’s one of the biggest things I stress to people that are trying to incorporate more vegetables into their diet: healthy eating does NOT have to mean boring, plain chicken and broccoli night after night, if that’s not what you’re into. Spice your nutritious meals up with good seasonings and fresh ingredients. Experiment until you discover what vegetables work for you and your family. DSC_1692DSC_1693

So what’s so great about…

Radishes:

  • Loaded with Vitamin C, boosting a healthy immune system
  • Aids in digestion and elimination of toxins
  • Helps with hydration, due to the high water content

DSC_1699

 

Enjoy!

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

Core Focus: More Than Just Crunches!

Our core. As the name suggests, it’s where most of our movements originate. Building a strong core is crucial for all of us, not just athletes or those striving for six-pack abs. The core is made up of so much more than the row of muscles down our stomachs. Think of everything other than your legs and arms as your core. Now, think of alllllllll the movements performed by these tons and tons of muscles. From being able to simply walk and balance, to carrying groceries, to working out and everything in between. That means, loads of crunches alone won’t get the job done to build a stable core, from the inside out.

Performing core strengtheners with correct form, like planks, will work not only your “abs”, but also the other muscles that support your spine, trunk, etc, like the transverse abdominals and obliques. In addition to planks, exercises that mimic our daily activities (twisting, bending, balancing) help increase our core strength through natural movements, thus preventing injury.

Here are a few exercises that should be performed with light weights or body weight only. You want to really work on mind-to-muscle connection, be sure your form is correct and ALWAYS engage your core. That means draw your belly button back towards your spine, creating almost a “C” curve with  your pelvis. Slow and controlled is the name of the game here! Grab yourself a stability ball and try out some plank variations. The instability will really challenge you, especially as you start moving. Try rotating your arms slowly in a circle, while keeping the rest of your body still and your trunk stable. Then try adding a little leg lift. Squeeze the glute at the top of the lift and hold that for one or two counts. Slowly alternate legs. Don’t let your back arch down here.  The row machine is not just for rowing! Get into push-up position with your toes on the seat of the rower. For the Pike, drive your hips toward the sky while dragging your feet towards you. For a modified version, bend your knees and draw them into your chest as you drag your feet forward. **This was shot in Hyperlapse, so keep these slow and controlled, just like everything else.  Bosu Ball Sqrunch (squat + crunch… it works?). Lower down carefully onto the Bosu and allow yourself to extend your torso back over the ball, hands overhead. Then return to a standing position by keeping your arms extended straight overhead, leading with your chest, core engaged and press strong through your heels. Squeeze those glutes as you stand. **Again, this is in Hyperlapse, so slow this puppy down.  Warrior Push-Up/Plank with dumbbells – this is a good one. First I demonstrate with a push-up, then the modified version with only a plank. Grab a set of dumbbells that challenges you but isn’t so heavy that it causes you to lose control. Get into plank position and slowly alternate arms,  raising the dumbbell up to the sky and twisting your trunk. Very important that your core muscles are firing here so your spine is supported. If you’re feeling frisky and want an added challenge, good on ya! Perform a push-up between each twist.  Yowza, this exercise works loads of muscle groups and really challenges your balance and core. I love it. Slowly hinge forward at the waist while maintaining your balance on one leg, creating a “T”. Once in position, be sure that your hips are level and square to the floor , NOT stacked on top of each other. Back straight, shoulders pulled down away from your ears and shoulder blades back and down towards your booty. Perform triceps extensions, while keeping your elbows tucked close to your body. You’ll need to utilize your core strength for this one, so keep it tight.

Hope you enjoy!

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

Autumn Spiced Acorn Squash

Oh my word, that was a long break from good old Flourish Fit Life. Pardon the interruption, we had a terrible event in our family and I needed to take time to focus on my loved ones and myself. Something we should all do a little more often, don’t ya think? Hope you’ve all been extra happy and healthy the last few weeks🙂

Now, prepare yourself for an earth-shattering, knock-your-socks-off, flip-your-wig confession…………….. I, Maygan Close, do not like Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Phew. It’s out. I said it, and I can’t take it back. What a relief that is.

For some reason people lose their s@#t when I tell them this. But I’m sorry, I just don’t. They are so sweet and artificial tasting to me. I’ve tried to get in on this worldwide PSL love, but no chance. I hope I don’t get mauled in public.

What I DO adore are actual pumpkins, fall vegetables in the pumpkin family, pumpkin spice seasoning itself, how it makes your house smell when you cook it, and plain lattes. Do you forgive me? Give this recipe a go and I’m certain you will😉

These scrumptious roasted acorn squash with pumpkin spice seasoning scream fall to me. They make me want to wrap up in a scarf, put on my favorite boots and go out and play in the leaves! Then I look outside and remember I live in Houston, it’s 91 degrees today and our seasons are “hot”, “less hot” and “a few insanely cold days each year that we are never prepared for”. Ohhhh well. Leaf stomping will have to wait.

Autumn Spiced Acorn SquashDSC_1666 DSC_1671Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 Acorn Squash*
  • Pumpkin Spice Seasoning
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coconut or Olive Oil

*This is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to make two at once. If making two, alternate the baking sheets from the top and bottom oven wracks when you flip the squash half way through baking. Make sense?

DSC_1655Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
  2. Cut your acorn squash into 3/4″ rounds. **To make it easier to control, cut off part of the rind on one side to make it flat rather than round and rolly. Can’t be cutting off those digits! (Pictured below)
  3. Remove the seeds from the center of each round slice (I use a knife, but a cookie cutter could probably get it done super fast and easy).
  4. Drizzle your acorn squash slices and baking sheet with a little coconut or olive oil, then sprinkle your pumpkin spice seasoning and a little cinnamon.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. **If you like to add more of a kick like we do, add a teeny dusting of cayenne pepper on top. Mmmmm MM!
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning over half way through cook time so you get a nice, even roasting on each side.

DSC_1661 DSC_1663A few things:

  1. Once cooked, the skin becomes really soft and easy to cut off.
  2. How amazing does your house smell after you bake these?
  3. Isn’t the morning light that floods your kitchen so lovely?

DSC_1674So what’s so great about…

Acorn Squash:

  • High levels of carotenoids, which promote eye health and are known to prevent certain cancers and other diseases
  • Great source of Vitamin C, which protects our cells from damage by free radicals
  • Studies show they also aid in blood sugar regulation and are anti-inflammatory

I hope you enjoy!

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

 

 

Sneaky Chocolate Pudding

DSC_1534Whoa. Life got pretty treat-heavy the past few days. I did not hold back this holiday weekend. I’m talking treats including, but not limited to, cocktails, beers, pizza and an almond croissant the size of a bowling ball. No worries though! I’m getting right back in the groove, and after a sweaty outdoor morning workout, I feel better already!

I think weekends like this can be really beneficial, actually. They always remind me that although it’s fun to go a little nuts and overindulge sometimes, I truly enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. A quick detour from my routine has caused me to feel bloated, my stomach has been a little whack and I haven’t had a solid night of sleep. It’s a great reminder of how awesome we can feel when we fuel our bodies properly!

Lack of sleep and a few too many treats can cause more than just a thicker waistline and extra trips to the coffee shop. Because of chemicals released in your brain when you’re sleep deprived or overloading on sugar, you’ll notice an increase in your craving for sweets and sugary goodies, rather than a feeling of satisfaction.

So what to do when these inevitable impulses for something sweet take over? Oh do I have a solution for you!  Obviously you should always have fresh fruit handy, but when berries simply won’t cut it, this is where you turn.

This recipe is completely healthy, free of added sugar, full of satiating happy fats and oh-so-satisfying. How is this possible? Read on…

Sneaky Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe Avocados
  • 1/2 cup Raw Cacao Powder (not cocoa)
  • 1/3 cup Raw Honey **
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Chia Seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk (recipe for my Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk here)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Choice of toppings. I used raspberries and pistachios and it was a wonderful combo. Any fresh fruit or raw nuts will work very well!

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend on a low speed until mixed and smooth.
  2. Chill, top, serve, talk about how weird it is that you’re eating avocados and chocolate and would NEVER know it.

This makes about 4-6 servings, depending on the size you’re wanting. I suggest serving this dessert in small custard cups. This is so sweet and satisfying, a little bit goes the distance.

DSC_1523Before you naysayers begin to say nay, I promise you would not guess in a million years that this is made from avocados! The richness and healthy fat of the avocados make this dessert so creamy and smooth. The tartness of the fresh raspberries cuts the richness of the chocolate perfectly, and the texture and flavor of the nuts are an amazing accompaniment.

This is a sneaky treat that leaves you feeling satisfied, and spares you the guilt.

A few variations I think would be super tasty… Add a little cayenne pepper for a Mexican chocolate vibe. One of the best combos ever: peanut butter and chocolate. Duh. Fresh peaches and a little Greek yogurt on top. I mean, what isn’t good with chocolate?? DSC_1526Enjoy!

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

 

All Good Nut Muffins

DSC_1515A few weeks ago I tried some zucchini bread treats made by a fantastically fit friend, who also happens to be a fab healthy bakestress.

This is a skill I do not possess, so naturally I asked her for the recipe and attempted to make my own riff on her perfect baked goods. If it ain’t broke, give it to me and I will destroy it.

My first attempt at making this recipe my own was doomed from the start. I mean, I hear that a golden rule in baking is to mix your wet ingredients together, THEN add in your dry ingredients. Orrrrrr, you could mindlessly plop your eggs right on top of your precious homemade almond flour, and ruin your muffins before they even had a chance.  DSC_1498Oy. I don’t think I have to explain how this batch did not turn out so hot.

What I produced was less of a muffin or a cookie, and more of a muffookie. I think I really may have something here though. Move over tired old cupcakes and cake pops! And make room for the latest thing in trendy baking… Muffookies!

As you can see, it did not stop us from eating them right up. DSC_1507Did I let this defeat me? NO! I simply followed my own instructions (and the very most basic rules of baking), and perfected the recipe. Wooooooo! The result is pretty divine, if I may say so.

These muffins are a great use for all the leftover almond flour I have from my Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk (which I make a couple times a week and am totally smitten with!). If you’ve ever made or eaten zucchini bread, then you already know how moist and delightful the zucchini makes these muffins. There’s no added sugar, no nasty additives. Just lots of whole, healthy ingredients! Have them for breakfast, with afternoon tea or coffee, a snack on the go, or just for a treat because you deserve a dang treat! DSC_1510Ingredients:

  • Two Eggs
  • Two tablespoons Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup Honey (pure, local good stuff)
  • One teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup shredded Zucchini (about on large-ish zucchini)
  • 1 1/2 cups Almond Flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
  • One teaspoon Baking Powder
  • One teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt*
  • 1/4 cup Raw Nuts (I used a mix of pistachios and cashews, and they were goooood)
  • 1/2 cup Raw Cacao Nibs
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Flakes

* I use Himalayan Pink Salt. I LOVE the burst of salty flavor mixed with the chocolately flavor of the cacao nibs when you get a bite with a rock of salt in it! But you do as you wish🙂  DSC_1508DSC_1512

DSC_1514

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. I put the teeniest bit of oil in my muffin tins.
  2. Mix together all your wet ingredients.
  3. Mix in your dry ingredients. If you have whole nuts, chop them up a bit or pulse in the blender before adding to your batter.
  4. Distribute evenly in muffin tin (12) and bake for about 20 minutes. Check to see if they’re done by placing a toothpick in the center of a muffin. When it comes out clean, you’re good to go.
  5. Allow to cool and try not to eat all at once!

A little added bonus in these puppies… cacao nibs are good for us! They contain flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect our cells. There’s also lots of links between consuming cacao and heart health. So consume away and protect that ticker.

DSC_1522Enjoy!

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!

 

Food to Flourish

Food to Flourish CollageA little about myself and why this is so important to me…

The past five years have been (and continue to be) an evolution in health for me. What began as an interest, turned into a passion and has now transformed into a very fulfilling career. I take my role as a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer very seriously. While the hour-long sessions I spend with my clients are super important for their fitness journey, I’m also very aware that without a healthy diet, they will not be as successful with their results as they could be. Which means, I would not be as successful as a trainer as I could be.

Motivation for creating a lifestyle that keeps us at our healthiest and happiest must consist of far more than the desire to look a certain way or wear a certain size. Superficial goals will only keep us driven for so long. We must figure out what our long-term objectives are and why, in order to make healthful decisions for a lifetime!

For me, the driving forces are my mom and my husband’s mom. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in her mid thirties. PD is a progressive disease with no known cause or cure, that mostly strikes in people over the age of 60. Her case is anything but typical, and she has experienced an overabundance of side effects from both the disease and the medications used to treat it. However, she is lucky to have a nice quality of life and pushes forward each day as if nothing is wrong at all. My husband’s mom was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2004, and sadly lost her fight in 2006. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that typically takes the life of those affected within two to five years of diagnosis. My knowledge of ALS is limited, but if you are interested in finding out more, click here.

Watching the body of a loved one fail them is an incredibly painful thing. My husband and I both believe that the best that can come of it is to learn to respect our bodies and what they are capable of. We are lucky to have healthy, strong, able bodies ourselves, and it is our responsibility to do all we can to maintain that health as long as possible.

Now, why a healthful eating coaching service?

“It’s the food part I need help with…”, this is one of the most common sentences I hear when discussing goals or general health with a client, friend or family member. And I was in the same boat! What I realized at the beginning of this evolution was that everything I thought I knew about what was truly good for my body was actually based on very little fact. We have been so bombarded with clever advertising and mega marketing that we can no longer decipher what is true and what is trickery.

Our food system in the US has been referred to as broken, failing and simply messed up. While there may be some truth to this, there IS a way to navigate the grocery store to bring optimum nutrition to your family!

It is my goal to help you do just that.

FOOD TO FLOURISH Healthful Eating Services:

The Whole Food Whole Deal ~ $100 (please allow 3-4 hours)

  • A trip to the grocery store where we will cover what items should be staples in your cart, what are definite “no”s, how to read labels, how all calories are NOT created equal, when buying organic is most important, the “good”, “better” and “best” options, and much more. Plus we will shop for ingredients for a previously planned nutritious menu.
  • Discussion about vitamins and minerals in food, what each does, which foods you can find them in and why processed food is not providing this vital nutrition.
  • WHY putting the right things in your body now makes a major impact on your life tomorrow (and always).
  • Cost: how to save money when eating healthy
  • Tips for having fun and balance in your diet without feeling like you’ve gone off the rails.
  • Finally, a lesson in planning ahead and meal prepping, complete with a hands-on cooking session together!

The Whole Food Half Deal ~ $60 (please allow approximately 2 hours)

  • A supplementary service for those that feel like they can navigate the unhealthy pitfalls of the grocery store, but are searching for additional nutritious meal ideas.
  • A healthful cooking lesson where we will prep a few days worth of dinners for you/your family.

*All cooking done in your own home, giving you the tools to create a healthy lifestyle for you and those you love.

**If you or someone you know may be interested in a Food to Flourish Healthful Eating Service, simply send me a message via the contact form below!

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a customized meal plan. A meal plan tailored just for you should be done by a Registered Dietitian. If that is what you are looking for, I suggest seeing a qualified RD or speaking to your doctor.

xx

Maygan

**Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist (nor am I a professional chef). I am a Certified Personal Trainer with a major love for all things fitness and health related. Posts on the blog are a result of my personal experiences, opinions and research. I hope you enjoy accompanying me along my path to living my healthiest and being my happiest!