Saturday, March 14, 2015

High-protein snacks

So many of the "protein bars" are full of ingredients you can't pronounce or ingredients that have been so processed, they become a glamorous candy bar. Best to stick to foods that you could possibly make at home with an ingredient list you *do* understand and can pronounce!

When I say we want high-protein snacks, what I mean is a flat-belly friendly "low-glycemic" snack -- instead of a granola bar or rice cakes (diet food!) that are "low-fat" but high in simple carbs = simple sugars (not good for your managing your blood sugar or belly inches). The less sugar you eat, the less you crave it. The more you choose high-protein and low-glycemic snacks, the easier it is to feel full and be satisfied -- no more munchies!

Here are some ideas for healthy eating on-the-go.

Make your own trail mix: Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are not as popular as nuts and cost less than my favorite almonds. I take an empty jar and mix up my own trail mix, so that I can stretch my almonds and pistachios and get in the hard-to-grab healthy seeds. When you buy pre-made trail mix, it's pumped full of dried fruit that has extra sugar. If you choose to buy pre-made trail mix, add your own seeds and nuts to decrease the sugar and dried fruit ratio. For example, if you get the individual size mix at Trader Joe's, pair it up with an individual size packet of almonds.

Jerky: You might remember jerky as too dry or too chewy, but there are lots of new foodie flavors and you can even find a vegan jerky. The taste-testers at Women's Health magazine have a list of tasty jerky for you. My favorite so far is KRAVE. Always read the label of any processed food for how many grams of sugar per serving size, so 1) you can monitor your serving size and 2) you can stay under the recommended *maximum* sugar calories per day. For me it's easier to read grams on the label instead of calories and it translates to this guideline from World Health Organization of 6 tsp of sugar = 25g

Protein Bars: Health Warrior Chia Bars have a good amount of natural protein and fiber from the chia seeds. One little Coconut flavor Chia Bar is 110 calories, with 4g of sugar, 3g of Protein and 4g of Fiber.  Keen-wah bars are also tasty, but a lot of chocolate if you're not in the mood for too sweet. If you want a traditional "granola bar" taste, Cascadian Farms offers a pea-protein based granola bar that isn't too sweet.

Protein and Fiber helps you feel full and getting enough fiber helps you detox and maintain a flat belly from inside out.  Most of us are good at getting more protein, and we need a little help on getting more fiber (check out my flat belly post for help). One of my weight loss students ended up getting her veggies (and thus her fiber) by using a dehydrator to make veggie chips. However, you don't need a new gadget to get veggie chips -- simply bake them in your oven or toaster oven (recipes here).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How meditation can be fun

Some people say they want to learn to meditate but worry it's too difficult or they don't like to sit still. There are so many ways to bring meditation into your life, that can be fun and help you tap into other parts of your brain! Here are some ideas below.

I'm excited that my talented friend, architect and art professor Michael Kieley, has asked me to teach meditation as a short segment of a creative Meditation-Drawing workshop that is going to be so much fun! Whether you're an artist or not, it's just great to exercise your creative muscle in a safe learning space, and he's a terrific guide for that. I have two spots reserved for Embody Health students in this special event, so please be sure to click on the event link and see if you want to join in on Sunday March 29th.

Another way to try meditation in a fun and easy way is to join my Meetup group for Heart Health Hiking. It's not just a hiking group, but we explore different parks and integrate yoga stretches, strength training, meditation, and nutrition tips. All things good for your heart health with the help of nature to get you to de-stress and relax. I started this group because I saw people who were interested in getting a good cardio workout get injured or have missing pieces of the formula for their heart health goals (nutrition, good posture, stretching, breathing/meditation techniques). One of my meditation students has inspired me with her beach walks, that we can plan a beach walk + meditation soon, once the weather is reliably not raining.

Here's an easy exercise for developing mindfulness: When you take a walk, start with taking 5 minutes of your walking to truly pay attention to your breath and the small wonders of nature you see along the way. Things like the unusual stream of light coming through the tree branches, the shapes of the clouds, the small weeds poking out between plants, the patterns of ground covers, the vibrant colors. You've now stimulated at least 2 senses (your breathing and your eyesight). As you go along, see if you can tune in to more of your 5 senses, feeling the breeze against your face, hearing more sounds, etc. Finding a curious attitude like a kid first discovering a new park or street is a way to get more present in your body and make that mind+body connection. You might enjoy this so much that 5 minutes of mindfulness becomes 10 or 15 minutes! Just tuning into your breath alone will help calm down any stress or anxiety. Have fun!