Month: February 2017

5 Easy Ways to Drink Your Way to Better Health

Can you think of an easier way to get healthier than drinking a glass of something? It’s not exactly taxing. So I came up with a list of 5 things you can do each day to improve your health that aren’t much harder than lifting a glass to your lips. Maybe they aren’t as much fun as wine, but they’re easy. And so good for you….

The first one is super easy and you get a choice.

  1. Drink Your Probiotics. You pick- kefir or kombucha. They have similar health benefits, but each has its own special charm. You can read more about kefir here. I drink both most days. The kefir I buy is thicker, so it’s more like yogurt than a drink. I eat the plain kefir with berries, a few drops of stevia, cinnamon, a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut, and pumpkin seeds (or granola). It is so delicious I feel like licking the bowl when I’m done. My son loves the strawberry kefir (no strep, no flu, no antibiotics for him this winter and I swear this is why!). You can find it in the dairy aisle. Kombucha is a yummy, fizzy drink that you can find in different flavors, too. I love the ginger flavor, but the fruit ones are nice too. It is pricey, but you can drink a little bit each day. In health food stores you can also buy it in a big, refillable glass bottle to save some money. I make my own and if you fall in love with it like we did this is a great option to make it part of your life!
  2. Drink Green Tea. Green tea has so many health benefits and may be a great weight loss tool as well. I aim for 2-3 cups per day, but just one cup will surely boost your health.
  3. Start your day with a warm glass of lemon water. It detoxifies your body and stimulates digestion. Add some apple cider vinegar if you’re up for it, too!
  4. Put some coconut oil in your coffee. You may have heard of this, or you might think it sounds totally weird and gross. That’s what I thought before I started doing it, and now when I can’t have my coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil I feel a little sad. I use my Keurig (refillable pods of course!) to make my coffee in a big mug, add a teaspoon of coconut oil, and blend using a stick blender. You could use a regular blender, too. It comes out so frothy and even looks creamy. I sprinkle cinnamon on top and it feels like a fancy latte 🙂 If you’re stuck on sweetening your coffee try adding some stevia before blending, too.
  5. Drink your water. I saved this one for last because I feel like everyone knows it and oh my gosh is sick of hearing about it. But I wonder how many people still actually do it! How much water do you drink in a day? A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. So if you weigh 200 pounds aim for 100 ounces. I like to drink more than half my weight in ounces- it’s just how I feel the best. I aim for a gallon, though I usually fall a little bit short of that. There are lots of tricks to get to drinking enough- finding the right water bottle, starting your day with a big glass of water, setting water “benchmarks” to meet throughout the day. You can also try flavoring your water if it’s tough for you to drink. I love lemon slices; you can also add other fruit, mint leaves.

The prospect of getting healthier can be daunting. You hear so many things about it- things you should do, things you shouldn’t do. One day you might hear something is wonderful for you, then read the next day that it’s bad for you. I like the idea of taking simple steps to improve your health. And often I think the idea of giving stuff up just sucks. So maybe start with adding stuff in instead. I hope these 5 easy things you can add to your day for better health are simple enough to implement and easy enough to keep for life. Give them some time to really become part of your routine. You can start with one and add the others when you feel like you’ve got the first one down.

Do you know someone who could benefit from one or all of these? Please share!

Energy Bites

This is one of my favorite recipes for a clean eating snack. These little guys are filling and nutritious. They also help satisfy a sweet tooth! They are a great little add-on to a meal if you’re still feeling hungry. I have also taken them with me when I know I’ll be out for a while. I’ll have 2 or 3 energy bites and an apple for a mini-meal on the go. Much better than trying to find a healthy snack at the mall or something!

They are a bit of a pain to make, sticky and messy, but worth it. I usually make a double batch. I have seen the recipe in a few places, but based mine on the one I found at Gimme Some Oven.

Print Recipe
Energy Bites
from Gimme Some Oven
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients; stir until thoroughly mixed
  2. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour
  3. Roll into balls (about 1 inch diameter)
  4. Store in refrigerator for up to a week
Recipe Notes

We are a nut-free house, so I always use sunbutter. I'm sure peanut butter is delicious, and imagine almond butter would be great too. To make them even healthier you could omit the chocolate chips or maybe try raisins? I keep planning on raisins and ending up with chocolate chips 🙂

Share this Recipe
 

Sugar Swaps

Sugar is so bad. It’s bad for you, it’s addicting, it’s everywhere. It’s been linked to all sorts of bad things, including cancer and diabetes. It’s also been shown to negatively affect your gut flora and immune system. But finding a sugar substitute can be overwhelming. I gave up on doing exhaustive research and am just putting out there what I have gathered so far…

And when I say sugar here, I am referring to white sugar, not sugar as it relates to the sugar content in food.

First of all I think it’s important to say please don’t consume artificial sweeteners like Sweet ‘n Low, Splenda, Equal, etc. Don’t drink drinks sweetened with them, like juices that claim to be healthier because they replace some of the natural sugar found in juice with chemical sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are chemical nastiness, and to top it off they might even cause weight gain. I am not a soda drinker, but if I were to have a soda I would pick a regular over a diet for sure.

  • So what are some good sugar alternatives? The picture above shows the sugar swaps I use the most: maple syrup, honey, and stevia. They are the most natural, the least processed; they even have some health benefits. Be careful with Stevia- it’s hard to find stevia that’s just stevia. Sweet Leaf is the best I’ve found and it has “natural flavors” on the ingredient list, something I usually try to avoid. If you look at Truvia, for example, I think the first ingredient is dextrose- not Stevia. I’d like to try baking with powdered stevia, but I haven’t found one without additives.
  • Coconut sugar is great for baking. I usually have that around, too. (I did read somewhere along the line that coconut sugar is not sustainable which brings me some Earth guilt. So I don’t use it regularly, and keep meaning to do some follow-up on that. I’ll share when I know more.)
  • I use raw sugar or turbinado for baking, too. It’s from the same sugar cane that white sugar comes from, but is much less processed. The taste is very much the sugar taste you’re used to.
  • I also use organic sugar sometimes. It’s less coarse than raw sugar. It’s not healthy- it’s still cane sugar and it’s processed, but it’s better than white sugar. That’s what I use for my kombucha too, hence the Sharpie-written “kombucha” on the bag.

  • I really like Lakanto, which is made from erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and a monk fruit extract. It’s a bit expensive, though, and I know some people would discourage using erythritol. It is a one to one substitute, though, and the taste and texture are close to sugar. I’ve used it to make baked goods for my own use (like healthy muffins and granola that my kids wouldn’t eat). Another sweetener I’m intrigued by, but haven’t used, is just pure monk fruit, minus the erythritol. Sounds healthy, but it’s very expensive.

  • Xlyitol is another sugar alcohol used as a sweetener. It is derived from plant material, but probably highly processed. It’s questionable from a wholesomeness perspective, but from a fitness perspective probably a good option. Same for erythritol. These have less impact on blood sugar, but may have other side effects that cause concern.
  • Dates are a great natural sweetener, but it’s hard to work with them. I bought them to make some kind of bar once and it was a nightmare. If you are handier around the kitchen than me (or have a higher power food processor) these could be a great option! I recently saw a powdered date sugar; it’s just dried dates ground up to a powder. I might have to try that one day.

I avoid agave and have never even bought it. I know this is one you might hear a lot about. Early on in my clean eating journey I read something negative about it and haven’t read anything to convince me otherwise. Again, it probably comes down to the fact that it’s highly processed and in the end not much better than sugar.

If you’re not ready to get rid of the evil, processed, white stuff, at least go for organic sugar, preferably raw sugar. You’ll avoid some of the harsh chemicals that come along with the processing that happens with regular white sugar.

And all sweeteners should be used in moderation. Honey, for example, is wonderful and natural and wholesome, but eating too much of it can still negatively affect your body.

Again, I found looking at all the different alternatives confusing and overwhelming….I feel like this post might be too! This week I’ll share some links to sites that offer more comprehensive information on sugar swaps. Stop by my Facebook page to check them out!

Is there a sugar swap you use that I didn’t mention here? I’d love to hear about it!