Part 2: What to Eat

part-2-what-to-eatPart 2 of this series is going to be on the topic of what to eat. With all the new fad diets and trends popping up, sometimes knowing what is good and what is bad can be tricky.  First thing is that I want to get rid of food being categorized as “good” or “bad” and just think nutritious food and less nutritious. Although there may be some foods that just are plain bad for you, when food is categorized as bad or rejected, it makes the mind think itself is bad for wanting it, craving it or even enjoying it. Food is meant to be enjoyed, but it is also meant to be fuel. By focusing on filling your diet with nutritional, whole-foods and then indulging in less nutritional foods every once in a while, you will eat much better and it’ll be healthier for yourself especially in the long run.

The first step in what to eat is figuring out the amount, aka calories. There are always the arguments of whether calories actually matter and whether or not quantity vs. quality matters, and here’s the truth. Yes, calories matter because over or under eating them leads to weight gain/loss. Yes calorie quality matters for the most part because we want to eat healthy foods. BUT, you shouldn’t get hung up on calories. As mentioned in part one, listening to your body and its cues is usually the best way to go. Now, sure it is good to get an idea of the number of calories you are allowed in a day and keep a distant eye on it, but unless you are having major weight gain or weight loss issues, meticulous calorie counting is not the way to go. I cannot stress this enough because counting calories gets you on a long road that is not healthy, fun or easy to quit–so please, trust me, just don’t start. And if you already are stuck in that mindset, realize it takes time to get over it and there are resources out there to help you. To get a basic idea of calories, there are calorie calculators out there. Or you can find your basic metabolic rate (BMR) which is the calories you burn just by living and breathing, and increase the number for exercise or depending on your daily activity level. This will give you a rough estimate; however, what types of foods you are putting into your body is ultimately key.

Proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats are key components of a well-balanced and healthy diet. This will consist of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Of course, if you choose to follow a certain way of eating such as vegetarianism or paleo, this will look a little different for you (I won’t go into them because I am definitely no expert at those types of eating habits), but you should still be getting the 3 key components mentioned above. But wait! Aren’t carbs bad and fattening? Won’t protein make me bulk up like the Hulk? The basic answer to these are no. Whole grain and fiber-rich carbohydrates are not bad in the right amount, and same goes for lean protein. The key to remember here is the amount. Yes, there is such a thing as too many carbs, BUT there is also such a thing as too little carbs that can hurt your workout performance and your everyday life as well as drain your energy levels among other things.  These 3 components, carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats, are your macro-nutrients. If you ever heard someone ask or say “what are your macro levels” this is what they are talking about. The 3 categories should each take up certain amounts in your diet, which will be different for everybody. For example, because I am active in lifting and cardio, I aim for 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. If you are a super active athlete, that could be 50% carbs or if you are sedentary and at a desk job all day with no exercise, that could be 30% carbs. There are calculators and many suggestions on the internet as to what each person should eat. Ultimately, everyone will be different and even day-to-day could be slightly different just depending on your daily activity. But no matter what your lifestyle looks like, everyone should be getting good sources of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats in their daily diet.

So, what are good sources of these? Good protein sources consist of eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, nuts, seafood and other lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef and pork. Many people think red meat is unhealthy, and it can be due to its high fat levels. However, a diet filled with just chicken or turkey (or just beef and pork) is not actually healthy. A better idea would be to have a good balance of these lean meats and to choose the leanest cuts such as pork tenderloin, pork boneless top loin chop, sirloin, round top roast or tenderloin. Look for high percentages of lean such as 90-97% lean. Whole grains such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat breads, barley and whole-grain oats are your best option for carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean that white breads and rice have to be completely eliminated. The reason people say white foods are bad is due to their lack of fiber and whole grain. This means that it may not fill you up as much and keep you full which can lead to eating more and overeating later on in the day. Plus, fiber and other nutrients from whole wheat are good for your body and your nutrient needs. However, with the 80/20 (or whatever percentage you are using) there is room for getting most of your grain requirements from whole-wheat (at least half) and adding in other sources such as white bread and rice. Lastly, healthy fat options are things such as nut and nut butters, avocado, salmon, olive oil (or coconut/avocado oil), and seeds. Good fats will be rich in polysaturated and mono-saturated fats. Trans-fats and saturated fats are the fats you want to stay away from! There is no need to fear healthy fats for your healthy lifestyle!

All of this information may seem too complicated or overwhelming for you and your life. But, it’s really not–just take it a little bit at a time. Don’t expect yourself to completely change your lifestyle and eating habits all in one week, especially if you’ve been eating a certain way for a long time. Start reading nutrient label and ingredient lists for food items to look for healthy finds. Aim to have a serving of fruits or veggies, lean proteins, whole-grains and healthy fats at every meal and snacks. Then, still be okay with consuming less nutritious items here and there. Build an eating plan filled with good nutrients, that is both healthy and works best for you, and makes your body feel the best–the results will be worth it!

 

 

Part 1: How to Eat Healthy

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So with this post, I am starting a three-part series on a favorite topic of mine: eating!! Eating healthy can sometimes seem to intimidate those on their own personal health journey and can be the big factor that discourages people striving for a healthier lifestyle. With all the news, data, and information out there, it can be hard to know who’s and what’s right. That’s why I have put together this series to teach you the basics of how to eat, what to eat and lastly, maintaining that healthy eating style. Living this way certainly does not mean giving up “yummy” foods or flavors or depriving yourself. In fact, some of the tastiest meals I have made are completely healthy–you just have to play around with it! But before you decide and figure out what to eat, let me inform you of how you should eat. (And no I am not talking about dining etiquette or the correct way to hold and use a fork.) I’ll be discussing a topic that encompasses how and when you should nourish your body based on what feels right for you.

Probably the biggest thing I have learned about eating is this: for the most part, listen to your body. Now, I say “for the most part” because there are what I believe are some exceptions to this that I will get into a bit later on. Because food is what is fueling your body to live and function, it is going to be the best indicator of when, what (part 2 of the series), and how much to eat. For example, a growling stomach is probably a good indication that you are hungry. Unless you just ate in which case the rumbling is probably digestion sounds–in this case, drink a glass of water and wait at least 20 minutes after you finish your meal to see if you are truly still hungry. Other signs your body gives that shows it may be time to eat is shaking, headaches, drainage of energy, light-headedness, or crankiness otherwise known as “hangry”. And yes, from personal experience hangry is a completely real thing people. Hungry is very physical and your body will certainly show/tell you when it needs food and fuel. This also applies to stopping when you are full.

As for the exceptions, some people coming off of disordered eating such as binging, very restrictive dieting, etc. may have whacked their internal system up. When you eat very little and restrict what you are eating or go the opposite and eat too much and purge, you actually mess up your metabolism. After this type of eating, your body gets used to living and scraping by with very little fuel or without certain foods (carbs is the big one people seem to eliminate). If this is the case, then you may get very full after a small meal or not feel hungry at all. However, a big part of recovery is to slowly increase your calories and food intake to get your system back to a good state and therefore, relying on your body may not be the best until you have recovered. This is exactly how I am: I get full easily and don’t always feel hungry. And on top of that, exercise (which I do 4-5 days a week) can suppress hunger too. There are times I have to eat even if my body is showing no physical signs because I know my body needs the fuel to recover. If you believe this applies to you, it is best to see a doctor, therapist or some other professional to set a good eating plan for you.

So for the most part, your body can tell you when you’re hungry. However, don’t use this is an excuse to always snack because you mistake hunger for something else such as boredom, loneliness, etc. Here is a great article about how to tell if you are actually hungry or not that may be of help.

Your body can also tell you how hungry you are (to know how much to eat) and what kinds of foods sound good. Unfortunately, if you say your body only ever wants chips, candy, and soda…that might not be the best idea to follow. However, if you eat mostly healthy and for a snack your body is craving ice cream or a brownie, having a small sweet-treat is okay. This is what is called the 80/20 eating plan and is very effective for healthy eating and living. The basics is that you eat clean, minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time and still leave room for 20% of less nutritional foods. This way you still have room for your go-to treats while maintaining a whole, well-rounded, nutritious eating style.

One way I have seen people break this down is just doing a straight up percentage of total meals. For example, say you eat 5 meals a day for a total of 35 meals a week. 80% is 28 meals so you eat 28 clean meals a week and 7 are left for a little indulgence. The issue with this can be whether people count dessert as one of their meals or if they they split the 7 up (1 a day) or consume more than 1 unhealthy meal in a day. So instead of doing a percentage, you can just balance your foods and figure out what 80/20 looks like in your life.

Other variations could be 70/30 if you want to be a little less strict or 90/10 if you want to tighten the reins a little more. Whatever this give-and-take balance looks like for your life is going to be what’s best for you! The reason this seems to work is that it still allows you to indulge in what your body craves every now and then, while still eating clean and healthy to fuel your body. (I will discuss more what clean eating looks like in part 2, but for the basics think fruits and vegetable, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole-grains.) This way if your body is telling you it wants something, in moderation it is okay to listen, give-in and not completely reject a food or food group.

The last area surrounding this is how often to eat. You’ve probably been bombarded with information about why you should eat 6 small snacks/meals a day or no, no 3 large meals a day is best when the truth is everyone and everybody is different! For some people, eating 3 large meals a day keeps them full and satisfied while for others a small meal every 3 hours works perfectly. For me personally, I eat 3 good-sized meals a day plus 1-2 snacks depending on my activity level for the day. But even then, sometimes I eat 3 snacks a day especially on my rest days when I get extra hungry or if I eat a pre-workout snack. The point is find what makes yourself and your body happiest and most satisfied. This could even mean switching it up, some days its more snack and some days more substantial meals. What you want to avoid is constantly snacking out of boredom as opposed to actual hunger (read above). If you aren’t sure what works best for you, mix it up until you find what does. Don’t be discouraged if the answer doesn’t magically come in a week or two, it can take time. Heck, I’m still even trying to figure some of this out for my own self!

The main idea of all of this is that different things work for different people! There is no “one right way” on how to eat. Each body, each person, each lifestyle is unique and different on its own. That is exactly what being Beyoutifully Healthy is all about, even with how you eat!

I would love to hear from you and any thoughts you have on this subject!

 

 

Fall/Winter Bucket List

I was sitting in my room the other day, thinking about the fact that I have lived in the DFW area for 11 years now and have been at a school very close to Dallas for a year and still haven’t done much exploring of the area. I decided that this needed to change this year, starting now! And as Fall is upon us–although the weather is certainly taking its slow time catching up–and winter is nearing, it’s the perfect time for fun and festivities. So what did I do? I decided to make a Fall/Winter  bucket list for this year. Yeah, yeah I know bucket lists are generally for things you want to do before you die, which I guess technically includes this list, I just want to do them in a much shorter time frame. Especially since during Fall and Winter and when it gets colder, you tend to not go outside and do stuff as much and feel trapped being cooped up (maybe this is just me). So…I figured this was the perfect time to force myself to go out and do things!

I also thought this would be a great blog series to share with y’all! For the most part, I will wait until I have a done a couple of items off the list to write–so that the post is more interesting and filled with adventure. This first one is the exception of course. Here I will explain what is on my list. My hope is that my list will give you some fun suggestions as well as inspire you to go out and find your own adventures. Life is about living in the moment and exploring the areas around you…you never know what you’ll find!

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 Dallas Farmer’s Market

  • There’s something about Fall and Farmer’s Markets that seem to go hand-in-hand. Maybe it’s the fresh produce options, walking past the tents in that perfect weather or just the atmosphere of it all. No matter the reason, the Dallas Farmer’s Market is a spot I want to hit up one cool, crisp Fall or Winter morning.

Yoga at Klyde Warren Park

  • Part of my become healthier initiative is to do more Yoga–not only to become more flexible, but also to build up my muscle and become in-tune with my body and its abilities. Instead of paying for a class, why not spend a Saturday morning out in nature practicing yoga for free? I thought it was at least worth the try and this was the perfect opportunity.

The Wild Detectives

  • I found this place when searching for top things to do in Dallas. It’s a coffee shop/bar/bookstore all crammed into one cozy space. Bring your own book or rent/buy one off their shelves, find yourself a spot, and then sit and read all afternoon…that’s my kind of day! This will be especially inviting as the weather gets colder!

Walk the Continental Avenue Bridge

  • If you’ve been to or seen Dallas, you’ve most likely seen this huge, awesome-looking white arched bridge! When the weather gets nice, this is a great spot to get some exercise or just enjoy the outdoors by taking a walk across it. They have exercise classes there, but I think a leisurely stroll as I soak up the sunshine sounds pretty great to me!

Watch the sunrise at White Rock Lake

  • Watching the sunrise/sunset is something that is always on any list of mine. It’s a great reminder of the beauty of this world and makes you just feel small in the presence of God and his masterpieces. White Rock Lake seems like one of the best nature areas close by and research confirmed this to be true. It may involve early mornings, but it’ll be worth it!

Bishop Arts District

  • Something about cute little down-town areas with shops and restaurants gets me…no matter where it is, it always does! I’ve seen picture of this area and I really want to spend an afternoon/evening there with friends. Good food, good friends, good surroundings, good time!

Breakfast in Deep Ellum

  • I love going out to breakfast, somehow it always tastes better. I know there are great options of restaurants and little cafes in Deep Ellum that I am excited to check out.

Katy Trail

  • Katy Trail is a historic trail that is built on an old railroad line. The paths are lined with blooming nature that are sure to make for great views! Whether visiting this trail means running or walking, I bet I am in for a relaxing, beautiful time!

Arboretum

  • The arboretum is an iconic spot to visit in Dallas, especially during “Autumn at the Arboretum”. I think this would surely get me in the Fall festivities mood even when the weather is correctly cooperating (hello 85 degree weather at the end of October).

Glazed Donut Works

  • My dad suggested this one as he saw that this place is world-famous in a magazine. The shop is famous for their crazy, unique flavors and combinations such as Samoa Girl Scout Cookie, Smores, Red Velvet…you get the idea. Any world-famous place seems worthy of being on a bucket list, especially if it’s donuts. Plus I haven’t had a donut in a really long time either so this is surely to be an enjoyed treat.

Emporium Pies

  • I love pie, it is seriously my weakness. I have heard from many different people just how amazing the pies here are, so I CANNOT wait any longer to go here. I saw on their menu they have a deep dish apple and a bourbon pecan. I mean c’mon that practically screams fall!! So is this the healthiest thing on my list…definitely not. But will I enjoy every single bite of my one slice  slices…heck yes I will.

Japanese Gardens at Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

  • Lastly, this is one my dad also suggested. Apparently they have a really cool and neat Fall festival that I’ll be going to in the next few weeks. There are bound to be beautiful l views and fun activities for an all around good time!

4 Easy and Delicious Mexican Recipes

Anytime sometime suggests we go out, Mexican is at the top of my list. Something about those endless baskets of chips and salsa, the steaming plate of enchiladas and the lovely smell of sizzling fajitas…brb drooling. Unfortunately, lots of Mexican foods is cooked in oil, fats and other unhealthy things so I’ve learned to love making my own homemade Mexican recipes. Surprisingly, they’re still delicious and easy to make–whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

One thing that helps is the fact that I have found amazingly delicious tortillas a few months ago that have been the staple to all of these recipes. They aren’t the healthiest, but they aren’t the worst and they definitely are the best tasting. They are Mission Artisan Corn Wheat Blend and they are to die for! They’re perfect because the corn is healthier, but tends to fall apart and the wheat allows it to hold together better than a normal corn tortilla. These tortillas make these recipes amazing, but if you have another favorite or want a healthier tortilla, feel free to substitute. All four of these recipes are ones that I have “made” on my own, although they are certainly nothing fancy that I have created from thin air. Overall here are 4 easy Mexican recipes to make at home.

1. Breakfast Quesadilla

breakfast-quesdilla

Mexican food for breakfast…heck yeah! This quesadilla is packed to the punch with flavors from the eggs, turkey sausage, and vegetables. It is so tasty, plus I love eggs so starting my morning off with them is a great way to start any day. To make these, I used my handy-dandy, absolutely-cannot-live-without panini press. But, if you don’t have one, the stove works perfectly too.

Ingredients

  • 1 tortilla of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • Turkey sausage links (can use another meat if prefer)
  • Frozen or fresh chopped up peppers and onions
  • Diced roma tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Optional toppings/sides: Avocado, salsa, Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the peppers, onions, and tomatoes to the pan and heat until cooked. Add in the chopped turkey sausage.
  2. Crack two eggs into the pan and stir them around to begin scrambling. Continue until scrambled eggs are done.
  3. On the panini press (or stove) lay the tortilla down. Sprinkle cheese on half of it, add the egg mixture on top, and then add more cheese. Fold empty tortilla half over and cook until everything is melted together. Serve with avocado slices, or dipped in Greek yogurt or salsa!

**Note: this can also be made into a breakfast taco instead. Just add the eggs and toppings to a warmed tortilla.

2. Chicken and Black Bean Quesdilla

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Quesadillas can be just as filling and delighting for lunch too! I’ve seen, and tried recipes that had the beans actually in the quesadilla, but they never worked out for me. I created this to fix the issues I was having, and it is still delicious–especially with avocado on top (avocado makes everything better, doesn’t it?).

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas of choice
  • Cheese
  • Shredded chicken pieces (rotisserie works really well)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • Avocado
  • Optional: vegetables such as tomato, onion, peppers

Instructions

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Lay one tortilla on the pan. Top it with cheese, chicken, vegetables, and more cheese. (To make it stay together it is important to have the two layers of cheese. If you desire to use less cheese as I often have in the past, just sprinkle less cheese on each layer.)
  2. Place second tortilla on top and begin cooking.
  3. Press down every now and again with a spatula to make sure everything is melting together. After approximately 2 minutes, flip the tortilla and cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Serve with a spoonful of beans (warmed in microwave if desired) and slices of avocado on top!

3. Mexican Salad with Tortilla Strips

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I love salads, especially the ones in the little taco shells…it just makes the whole thing taste better. This past summer though, I discovered a lighter version of a Mexican salad with all of the same great flavors and textures!

Ingredients

  • 1 tortilla of choice (Warning: I don’t know how well the other types, besides the wheat/corn blend I used, crisp up for the topping of this salad)
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion Salt
  • Romaine salad mix
  • Chicken pieces
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • Cheese
  • Cherry/Grape/Roma tomatoes
  • Red onion, diced
  • Avocado
  • Dressing: Olive oil, lime juice, onion/garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Cut tortilla up into strips. Brush olive oil on each side and then sprinkle with seasoning of choice (salt, pepper, onion salt, garlic salt, etc). Place the strips on aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Cook for 8-10 minutes (*Keep an eye on them since tortillas, ovens, etc. may differ in time.)
  3. While tortillas are cooking, prepare your salad. Add your salad to the plate and then layer with chicken, tomatoes, diced onion, black beans, avocado and cheese.
  4. Once the tortilla strips are done, add them to the top of your salad.
  5. To make the dressing: Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, onion and garlic salt (to desired taste). Pour over the salad and enjoy!

4. Easy Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

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This last, but certainly not least, recipe is one that I literally just threw together for dinner one night this summer and ended up loving it so much, I made a recipe out of it. And best of all…it takes 20-25 minutes for this delicious dinner to be ready.

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas of choice
  • Shredded chicken pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • Onion salt
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: Black beans
  • Toppings: Lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, salsa, Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Cut up the peppers and onions into strips.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan/skillet and begin cooking the onions and peppers. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes (until peppers and onions feel softened, but not too soft and cooked). Halfway through cooking, sprinkle onion and garlic salt in.
  3. Add in the chicken and sprinkle some more seasoning and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile heat desired number of tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave (*place a damp towel on top and bottom covering them) and cut up toppings.
  4. Assemble the fajitas. Add black beans (if desired), then the chicken/pepper mix and then any and all toppings desired.

So there you have it: 4 easy homemade Mexican recipes to try for your next meal. What do you think? What are some of your favorite Mexican recipes to make at home?