Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5 tips for keeping cool in the heat of August

Well friends, August first is just around the corner; can you believe it?!  It's is this Saturday!!

I don't know about you, but I've had one busy summer so far, and summer isn't over until September...well, you know what?  Let's have some more summer fun before the cold depths of winter creep up on us!

In keeping with the themes of food and travel, I've come up with a whole bunch of inexpensive ideas on how to stay cool and hydrated during these last scorching weeks of summer.

1. Put several pieces of frozen fruit into your water bottle to keep you hydrated while you are away from home.  Adding frozen fruit not only keeps your water cold, but it adds a touch of sweetness, making you much more likely to actually drink it!

2. Make mid-day smoothies for a burst of healthy carbohydrates, water, and sweetness.  Smoothies are probably the easiest meal or snack to make; all you have to do is throw your favorite fruit in a blender, add some water, ice, and a handful of spinach and you have yourself a powerhouse of nutrition!

3. Carry a small spray bottle of peppermint essential oil mixed with water.  The ratio I use is 1 oz water and 10 drops of essential oil.  The peppermint is so refreshing on a hot afternoon.  To use:  give the bottle a quick shake to make sure the oil is dispersed in the water, then lightly spray the back of your neck and lower back.  These two areas tend to get the hottest and feel the best with the cool water and oil.  You can really use any oil you'd like, but peppermint has a lovely cooling effect after about 5 seconds of being on your skin.  The water is just a bonus!

4. Take some time to sit in the shade and breathe.  It may sound too simple or silly, but this tip will definitely help out, especially if you are stressed and outside.  By finding some shade, and taking a seat in the cool grass, your body will begin to slow down and relax; in turn cooling you off quicker.  Add a few deep breaths (in and out through an open mouth), and you'll be cooled off in no time!

5. Turn the AC on low.  Ok, if you didn't think so by now, you've got to think I'm crazy with this one.  Hang with me for a second...From my own experience (as well as my husband's), when we keep the inside of our home closer to that of the outside, the temperature change doesn't seem so bad when we leave the house.  Makes sense, right?!  Our bodies don't have as big of a swing in temperature to get used to, making the transition to the outside heat much more bearable.  Now, I'm not saying to leave the AC completely off, but think about raising the temperature a few degrees and turn on some fans, or even open the windows in the morning/evenings when the air is more cool.

Do you have a certain habit or tip that helps to keep you cool?  If so, I'd LOVE to hear about it!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My top 4 restaurants in North Carolina/Tennessee

Hi friends!

We're back from our week-long honeymoon in North Carolina!  We definitely had our fair share of eating out at restaurants; something we usually limit to once a week.  But it was our honeymoon after all, so we indulged with mindfulness.  Check out this post to see what I mean.

So, without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are some of the amazing places we ate at:

The Stable Cafe at Biltmore Home and Gardens, Asheville, NC

This, by far, was my favorite meal of the trip.  Not only were we dining in the refurbished stables at Biltmore, but the majority of the produce on our plates was grown right there in the gardens!  Let me tell you, this was probably our most expensive meal (although it was included in our hotel and ticket package, so we paid nothing while in the stable), but you could totally taste the difference from any other restaurant.  The first picture is Andrew's black bean tempeh wrap with mustard potato salad, and the bottom two are my tea and quinoa arugula salad with roasted chick peas.  So yummy!  If you are in Asheville, you'd better be seeing Biltmore, and make sure to try out the Stable Cafe, it's just to the right of the house.

 Rocky Mountain Brewery, Gatlinburg, TN
Sadly, there were not to many veg-friendly options here, but they did have a good veggie burger, fresh warm pretzels with house made mustard, and a philly mushroom sandwich (as long as you ask for no cheese).

 French Broad Chocolates, Asheville, NC (the cookie and chocolate drinks were all vegan!!)
Pictured above is a chocolate snicker doodle with a Buddha hot chocolate (made with almond milk),and a cold drinking chocolate (made with coconut milk).  My advice, try these items; but not all at once!  They are all very rich and Andrew and I had little belly aches after all that sweet.  Divine nonetheless!!

Sawasdee Thai Cuisine, Fairfield, OH

Ok, so I tricked you, the last one was in Ohio, but they had some amazing Thai food and it was very inexpensive considering the taste and amount of food.  We got two meals each out of this!!

So that was our food in a nutshell, we of course brought our own food and ate the hotel's breakfast every morning, which surprisingly wasn't that bad!!  Each hotel had plenty of fruit, oatmeal, and veg-friendly (although not the healthiest) biscuits and waffles. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Food we packed for our Honeymoon

Well friends, we are half way through our Honeymoon in North Carolina and it is absolutely amazing!!  I can't wait to do a full post for you with a bunch of pictures of all this beauty!  I will be doing at least 2 posts when we get back about the restaurants we ate at and the amazing sights we've been seeing!!

But for now, here's some of the food we brought with us for our car ride from Illinois as well as stuff to snack on.  One thing about traveling is that it can get quite expensive eating out all the time.  We like to stick to one meal out per day (while home its more like once per week or less) and maybe a fun snack like vegan cupcakes or a smoothie.  This helps us to keep a budget and our health all while still enjoying the local culture and food scene!!
  • We get breakfast at our hotel, so we will be loading up on fresh fruit and/or oatmeal there
  • Several bunches of bananas
  • a bag or two of apples
  • Watermelon, chopped while at home
  • Granola bars...we like Cliff bars, but have no affiliation with the company, they are just yummy/convenient/inexpensive/vegan!
That's all the food we packed for the car ride, but we are definitely stopping at a farmers market or store to pick up some more fresh produce.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Healthy Traveling Tips

Hi Friends!!  Well, we are in the midst of packing for our honeymoon and I thought I'd share some food tips with you in terms of traveling.

While on holiday, everyone likes to indulge.  Like I mentioned last week, parties, celebrations, and holidays are all perfect times to indulge; but you still might like to keep your body healthy in the process.  So, instead of jumping right into that gelato, smearing gobbs of butter on your bread, or having dessert with every meal, this may be a good time to step back...take a deep breath (or 2, or 10, or 200)...and evaluate what you want out of your daily food choices and meals.

For me, it is pretty simple:

  1. Good for my body- I want my food to fuel every cell with extreme nutrition.
  2. Tasty- Not only must my food be nourishing, but it must also taste good.  I know from experience that no matter how healthy a food is for me, if it doesn't taste good, I won't eat it.
  3. Satisfying- I want to feel satisfied within my body, mind, and spirit after every meal or snack.  I don't want to feel heavy or tired, but full of life and satisfied.  
Yes, these are high expectations for every meal I encounter, especially while traveling, but I have high standards for my own health.  You don't have to have these same goals, but maybe come up with one or two things that you know you can stick with, even while traveling, to let yourself indulge while also keeping your health.

Let me know in the comments below what your health goals are and how you go about keeping them while traveling.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My top 4 Fourth of July Healthy Eating tips!

Hi friends!  As I mentioned yesterday, I am here today to share with you some tips on making this Independence Day one that your body and mind will thank you for!

Celebrations are about having fun and sharing good times and traditions with friends and family.  It is important to enjoy your favorite foods, but do so in a mindful manner.  Here's a few suggestions on my favorite recipe swaps.  I bring these foods to all family gatherings and most of the time, no one knows they are even vegan!

Note:  I am not trying to push a plant-based diet on anyone, these just so happen to be to my liking (vegan), but also offer some great health benefits.  Most plant-based foods are high in fiber, low in fat, and loaded with vitamins and minerals; which are good for keeping your heart healthy, stable blood sugar, healthy cholesterol levels, and so much more.

My top 4 swaps:

  1. BBQ- instead of the high fat, high sugar BBQ most of us know, you can get a similar taste and effect by swapping the meat for tofu, jackfruit, or even stewed carrots!  I know it sounds weird, but check out this recipe by the Minimalist Baker!!  Sounds and looks so good!!!
    1. As a bonus, she even makes her own slaw which is another common high fat/sodium/sugar food if not prepared in a mindful way.
  2. Potato Salad-  This one is tricky because potatoes are super healthy!!  But add in the mayonnaise and salt, and you've got an artery-clogging mess.  Might taste good, but your body will not be thanking you.  Instead of weighing down this dish with mayo, use mashed avocados or pureed young coconut meat to keep that same creamy taste and texture but with added health benefits.
  3. Ice Cream- For the same reasons as above, ice cream is very high in fat and added sugar.  If you do want a cold, creamy treat without the heft, try a fruit sorbet, or make your own fruit pops with fresh fruit, a little water or juice, and blend it with avocado or coconut for an extra creamy treat!  (Let me know in the comments if you'd want some of these recipes!) 
  4. Corn on the cob- Once again, corn is a very healthy food!!  When buying corn, look for organic or Non-GMO, and get to know your local farmers!  Corn is a hot topic these days and from my point of view, its better to lean towards the "natural" growing methods than the more modern versions.  Be mindful with this food as well, though, because adding loads of butter and salt opposes all the wonderful benefits corn has to offer your body.  Once again, rubbing avocado on the corn and sprinkling with unsalted chili powder is one of my faves!!
Alright, well that's all I have for you for today!  Remember to check out yesterday's post and leave a comment letting me know what you think my new name should be!

Much love and happy eating!