Monday, August 27, 2018

August Hike: Hawksbill Trail, NC

August Hike of the Month!
Just four more hikes to go!

This month we were a little tight on time so we went to a shorter hike just two hours from home - Hawksbill Trail in North Carolina.

This is a 2.2 mile round-trip (there and back) moderate trail. It gets a little steep towards the top but the views are worth it! It was pretty muddy the day we went but there had been a lot of rain recently.

You will come to a split on the way up - go left! That's where it gets progressively steeper. At the summit, there's an obvious vantage point towards the left which is where we went, however, I read that if you follow the narrow trail to the right, there's an even better vantage point! Guess I have to go back now!

For more details on this hike and directions to get there, check out this website: https://www.romanticasheville.com/hawksbill_mountain.htm and word to the wise, there's no bathrooms anywhere near it!

All in all, it was a nice hike with good views! Have you tried any new hikes lately? Do you research before you try a new hike? I should have!


    


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lunchbox Snacks!

Is it back to school time already?!

Seriously, where does summer go?

While I may not be in school anymore, I still pack a lunchbox and I always need snacks for any adventure. So here's just a few ideas whether you're packing snacks for work, lunch, your husband, your kids, or for a hike! This list has no granola bars or protein bars! I think those are fairly obvious, right?

1. Farm and Oven Bakery Bites - I've mentioned these before but they are such a great snack! Each pack of bakery bites is 3 delicious, bite sized little treats. That's not all! Each pack has 40% of your daily dose of veggies! Yes, you read that right, 40%. I can't choose a favorite flavor but I tend to go with Beet Dark Chocolate!

2. Fruit Bars and dried fruit - I like the convenience of dried fruit bars and they make for a healthy lunchbox dessert (or quick carbs for a workout!). Brands I've tried and loved: That's It bars, Barnana, Peaceful Fruits, and Sunrype bars, Crispy Green freeze dried fruits and Bare Snacks fruit chips. 

3. Meat Sticks and bars - protein that's not from a protein bar! I find meat snacks to be a satisfying and hearty snack when I need sustenance! My favorite brands are Wild Zora, Epic bars, Chomps meat sticks, PaleoValley meat sticks, and Vermont meat sticks. Just look for high quality - I'm not talking Slim Jims here lol!

4. SeaWeed - What?!?! That's right! I was skeptical at first but it has an endearing quality to it! Something about these SeaSnax just keeps me coming back, not to mention the nutrients. They're keto friendly, roasted in olive oil and just 15 calories per single serve container. SeaSnax is the only brand I've tried so try at your own risk with other brands! 

5. Roasted beans - Okay, I know that doesn't sound too appetizing. Just don't tell your kids what you're packing them and they'll never know the difference. Roasted bean snacks are a good source of protein, fiber and other nutrients. My favorite are Enlightened Roasted Broad Beans (Mesquite BBQ and Garlic and Onion are my favorites) and Biena Roasted Chickpeas - they even have chocolate coated ones!

So what's going in your lunchbox this year? Any new snacks I need to try?



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coconut Chocolate Chip Frozen Kefir Pops!

Looking for a tasty frozen treat?

Of course you are.

Trying to get your daily probiotics in?

Of course you are.

Kill two birds with one stone with this super simple recipe! It's so simple, so refreshing, and packed with probiotics thanks to Lifeway Kefir!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain Lifeway Kefir
  • 4 tbsp mini chocolate chips (I used Know Foods sugar-free chocolate chips)
  • 1/4 cup ChocZero coconut syrup*
  • optional: 1/2 cup canned coconut milk, adds to the creaminess
  • additional sweetener to taste*

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. 
  2. Pour into a freezer safe container (or popsicle molds if you have them) and place in the freezer. 
  3. Take out and stir every 20-30 minutes for 2-4 hours to add to the creaminess. 
  4. If in a large container, allow to soften and cut into 4 squares, carefully use a sharp knife to make a dent to insert a popsicle stick (or just enjoy with regular utensils!)
*If you don't have ChocZero syrup, you could use any sweetener of choice and add coconut flavoring. You can use my code: healthyhappyandfree for a discount on ChocZero. Their syrups are thick, delicious, and sweetened naturally with monk fruit! 

*The mixture will lose sweetness after frozen so make it a little sweeter than you want the finished product. Mine had some tartness to it but I like it that way!

How easy was that? The hardest part is waiting for it to freeze! I drizzled some Eating Evolved Chocolate Spread on it and holy yum! Try these out and let me know what you think!

What is your favorite frozen treat?



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Free Downloadable Mental Health Worksheets - Overcoming Hard Scenarios

I've been dealing with anxiety for a while now and something that helps me is getting my thoughts down in writing. So more recently, I created some worksheets for my own benefit. I thought, why not make them available to everyone! They're pretty straightforward and you could easily follow the concept without actually printing them.

Worksheet One:

 Overcoming Hard Scenarios

Worksheet One - Overcoming Hard Scenarios

Is the idea of going out to eat scary to you? Is standing up for what you believe daunting? Is going out with friend hard?

Imagine a scenario that you've struggled with. Now step one asks you to DEFINE why it's challenging. This can make the challenge seem less formidable and maybe even rationalize some irrational thoughts. This puts into clear terms what is scary about this scenario. Only then can you conquer it.

The next step is to outline steps that you can take to react in these situations. In a rational frame mind, plan out how you will handle this scenario the next time it arises.

The final step asks you to analyze what principles, morals, or ethics that apply in this situation.

Example:

Scenario: The party I'm at has no "healthy" food.
Step One: I will tell my close friend and support system about my situation.
Step Two: I will find something to eat.
Step Three: I will move on and enjoy the party, the company and maybe even some fun food!
Principles applied: Good association is more important than one "unhealthy" meal.

This is just one example of one scenario and one way to react to it. There's no right or wrong answers.

When you predict the scenario ahead of time, it allows you time to analyze what you really value and the person you want to be. Do I want to be the girl who always turns down the cookie?

What I love about this outline is that I can use it for a medley of different circumstances and it still works. It helps me to rationalize my thoughts and then put them into action when the time comes.

Have you ever tried a similar method? Let me know how this works for you!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Tools For Muscle/Running Recovery

Proper recovery is essential to having a good workout next time. We all love having a good workout! Many people try to hack recovery so they can push themselves to the limit. I don't necessarily encourage that as it can lead to injuries if you push too far. However, I do utilize recovery tools and techniques so I can optimize my recovery!

Here's some things I use:

  • turmeric (curcumin) combined with black pepper to make it more bioavailable, it is natural anti-inflammatory agent. I simply use it as seasoning. If you need more, there are turmeric supplements available. 
  • compression socks - I wear Zensah socks while I run but I also wear them when I'm not running. The compression is shown to reduce swelling, improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness. 
  • cold exposure - not always the most pleasant experience but cold exposure is shown to reduce inflammation, decrease muscle damage and soreness, and speed recovery. I've never gone as far as an ice bath or cryotherapy (more intense forms of cold exposure) but I will take a cold shower from time to time
When something doesn't feel right, or like it could develop into an injury, I also utilize:
  • KT tape - When applied properly (YouTube it), this kinesiology tape can be very beneficial for things like shin splints and other potential minor injuries 
  • RICE method - Rest Ice Compress and Elevate is an age old method to help the healing process 
What tools do you use? I foam roll once in a blue moon - I should probably do it more! 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Siren Snacks: Innocent Indulgence!

Watch out protein bars, there's a new snack in town. 


Siren Snacks were developed as a result of the founder being diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. She had to undertake a journey of clean eating and her sister joined her! Together they developed snack bites to satisfy the need for sweet snack bites. They added in a punch of pea protein and voila! Siren Snacks were born. 

They check all the boxes:
  • soy free
  • gluten free
  • grain free
  • nut free
  • non GMO
  • vegan 
  • no artificial sweeteners
  • no artificial flavors 
They are sweetened with a blend of monk fruit, stevia and dates. They currently come in four flavors: Snickerdoodle, Brownie, Cookie Dough, and Lemon Poppyseed. 

I loved the small, snack-able bites. They make the snack so fun to eat and they make it last. The texture was great as well. It was soft and cookie-like, without being oily or sticky. I didn't detect any weird pea protein aftertaste, just sweet goodness. The snickerdoodle tasted just like snickerdoodle to me, the brownie was a nice rich chocolate flavor. They are not overly sweet, but definitely sweet enough for me. I really enjoyed all of these, but my favorite was probably snickerdoodle - I love the cinnamon kick! 

They bites come in a small bag - one bag = one serving! Score! However, you could also eat a few and save the rest for later. They are perfectly poppable! 

Macros: 190-200 calories 21c/8f/12p 

I definitely recommend these whether you have a plant based lifestyle or not - they are an innocent indulgence for anyone and they make a great ice cream topper! 😉 Check them out here: http://www.sirensnacks.com/
Brownie Siren Snacks on Enlightened Ice Cream


Which flavor would you try first?














I was provided these products for free but opinions are all my own. 



Monday, August 6, 2018

Product Review: Awake Chocolate

Caffeine and chocolate, two of my favorite things!

Why not combine them?

That's exactly what Awake Chocolate did!

Each "bite" has the equivalent to half a cup of coffee (so you're gonna want about 4 or 5, right?). You can get the caffeine kick you need in a delicious chocolate snack so you can have more energy to do whatever you need to do - get through a long commute, get through the work day, or rock out at a concert! Whatever it is, you better be AWAKE!

So the big question I had: Does the caffeine negatively affect the taste of the chocolate? Is it truly delicious as they say?

The answer: a resounding yes!

Though I wouldn't say this chocolate rivals the artisan chocolatiers of Italy, it is good tasting chocolate with no weird texture or aftertaste. I let my dad try some and he was hooked! I think he ate 10 in one day (yikes, I don't recommend this amount of caffeine consumption!) and came back asking for more!

The milk chocolate is milk chocolate. What more can you say?

The dark chocolate was not too intense but a good, rich flavor.

The caramel is a milk chocolate coating with delicious oozing caramel inside! If you've ever had a

Hershey's treasure (do they exist anymore??) I liken it to those! This was probably my favorite!

So if you're going to go the office candy stash for that 3pm slump anyway, try grabbing a bite of Awake and you'll have energy to get through your day! Check them out here: https://awakechocolate.com/ and find out where you can find them or you can purchase them from their website!

Do you drink coffee or energy drinks? How many bites would you need?


Saturday, August 4, 2018

How Should I Exercise?

Doesn't it seem like someone is always talking about losing weight or getting fit?

Exercise is supposed to be good for us, right?

There are so many options, which one is right for you:
  • weight lifting
  • running
  • Spin classes
  • kettlebell
  • Orange theory 
  • Crossfit
  • and on and on and on
Each of these forms of exercise seems to have a cult-like following and this can be intimidating. The key is to be open minded, be bold and choose what will serve you. For instance, if you don't have the time to devote to Crossfit, maybe that's not the exercise for you. If you have a lot of stress, intense workouts may also not be the best choice. 

If your primary goal is weight loss, resistance training will be the most beneficial long term. 

If your primary goal is muscle building, resistance training will be the most beneficial. 

If your primary goal is stamina and endurance, some form of cardio will be most beneficial. 

If your primary goal is to be consistent, feel better and improve your overall health, WHATEVER YOU ENJOY MOST is what will be the most beneficial. 

If you hate running, do you think you will stick with it? No! And you don't need to. Exercise and fitness should enhance your life, not take away from it. I also think it's fun to dabble in various forms of exercise and training. It can be refreshing!

What's your favorite form of exercise? Zumba? Powerlifting? Let me know what makes you feel good!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Product Line Review: Terra Origins


What'sup - plement?

Please excuse my corny pun intro and allow me to introduce you to Terra Origins line of supplements.

I really like this brand because they combine science-backed solutions with ancient, natural traditions to create products that support a healthy life and longevity. It usually seems like science and holistic health are at odds, but I don't think that's true and Terra Origins proves that. They use high quality ingredients and 100% guarantee for free returns.

They offer: Bone Broth Protein Powders (Chocolate, Vanilla), Superfoods Powders (Mint, Coffee, Kiwi Strawberry, Coconut), Grass-fed Whey Protein Powders (Chocolate, Vanilla, Cinnamon), Plant Protein (Chocolate, Vanilla, Vanilla Chai), and several Supplement Capsules.

Obviously, I could not try ALL these supplements, but I did try

Chocolate Bone Broth Protein
100 cal 2f/19p/2f

I was very intrigued by this product because I've never tried bone broth protein before but I am on board with the benefits of bone broth - gut health, bone health, immune function, joint comfort, etc. But what does it taste like? It didn't taste like bone broth, thank goodness! I blended it with half a frozen banana, ice and some water for some chocolate protein sludge. It didn't fluff up as other protein powders I have used do, so it may not be the best choice for my protein fluff recipe. The chocolate flavor was unique. I can't quite put my finger on it - it was almost hot chocoaltey? It wasn't overly sweet chocolatey but I enjoyed it! Good flavor and quality ingredients!

Cinnamon Whey Protein Powder
130c cal 1.5f/5c/24p

They use whey sourced from 100% grass fed cows, utilizing both whey isolate and concentrate to support and promote muscle tissue repair and building. There are no fillers here! I tried it in my iconic protein fluff and it worked great. I'm a sucker for cinnamon, so I really enjoyed this flavor. I think this is a great choice for a whey protein!


Healthy Sleep Supplement

This capsule has the key ingredients: melatonin, L-Tryptaphan, and GABA to promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle with calmness before bed. I have trouble sleeping so I was excited to try this. Sleep is so important for your overall health! I took this for a few nights instead of the plain melatonin I had been taking. To be perfectly honest, I noticed absolutely nothing. Nada. That's not to say this supplement won't work for someone else, it just didn't seem to work for me.


What supplements do you take? Which Terra Origin product would you try first?

Find out more about their products here: https://terraorigin.com/