3 Simple Strategies: How to Eat Healthier

Ever wondered how some people just seem to make healthy eating look so seamless, easy, and enjoyable, while you feel like it’s a total uphill battle? Like how is it possible that she’s totally fine with ordering grilled fish and broccoli while you are crying  on the inside because all you want are the flipping cheese enchiladas. But, noooooo, you can’t have them because you are still trying to lose those stupid 10 pounds you put on 2 Christmases ago.

It’s not she was born with magical broccoli loving taste buds and you were just doomed to live with cheese enchilada loving taste buds.  

It’s mindset.

She has an abundance mindset, while you are operating in a lack mindset. (ps  – did you know that you can have a lack mindset when it comes to food, but an abundance mindset in other areas of your life, like money & relationships)

For example, let’s say you’ve made the decision to clean up your eating habits. You chose to join your coworkers for lunch.

When it comes time to order, you ask for a salad with grilled chicken, no cheese, and dressing on the side (because there’s literally nothing else on the menu that even comes close to moderately healthy).

And then comes the inevitable question from nosy Margaret in Accounting as she shovels tortilla chips into your mouth, “Oh, you must be on a diet. You’re on a diet, right? Which diet? Keto? Must be Keto, right??”  

 

Side-note:  I get a little heated with this question.  Why does a salad always mean someone’s on a diet? Maybe that’s just the way some people eat. Maybe some people don’t like to feel like garbage after they eat. Maybe some people don’t actually enjoy running to the bathroom every 2 minutes or falling asleep on their desk post-lunch time…ever thought about that, Margaret??

 

So here’s the deal. When someone asks if you are on a diet you can answer in one of two ways. You can either support the conversation that eating healthy food equates to lack: “Yes I’m on a diet, ugh I would kill for some of that queso right now” …while you roll your eyes and begrudgingly insert  the lettuce laden fork into your mouth.

 

Or you can help people realize that eating healthy is a lifestyle choice and is a positive change (and that you’d appreciate their support, thanks). “Nope, not on a diet per-se, just cleaning up what I eat because I honestly just want to feel better”.

 

The thing is, we’ve been so conditioned to equate healthy eating with lack. And a lack mindset does not support positive, healthy, sustainable change. What does support positive, healthy, sustainable change is an abundance mindset.

 

If you want to make a healthy shift in your eating habits and mindset try these three tips:

 

  1. Think Swaps instead of Strikes.

 

  • Rather than just making a list of all the things you have to strike out of your diet, think about healthy swaps instead.  Swap handfuls of M&M’s for a handful of berries. Trade processed deli meat for leftover grilled chicken. Switch chips and pretzels for raw nuts and seeds.

  • Take a look in your pantry and refrigerator and take note of the foods you currently have that aren’t supporting your health & wellness goals. Ask yourself if there is a fruit, veggie, nut, seed, legume, whole grain or lean protein that you’d like to swap it out for.

 

  1. Eat the Rainbow.   

  • Plants contain compounds called phytonutrients which are known to be beneficial for human health. Phytonutrients give fruits and veggies their color. Different phytonutrients show up as different colors. Beta-carotene, which is needed for eye health, shows up as orange and is found in carrots. Resveratrol gives foods like grapes a dark purple hue and acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. You don’t need to eat a ton of these in one sitting to enjoy their benefits. Just a few bites here and there will add up. Try to make a list of fruits and veggies that fall under each of these colors:

 

  • RED
  • ORANGE
  • YELLOW
  • GREEN
  • DARK PURPLE / BLUE / BLACK
  • WHITE/TAN

 

*once you’ve made your list do some quick research. Find out which phytonutrient is present in each food and what it does. This will compel you even more to eat those foods, and it’s super interesting!  

 

  • Try to make it a point to eat the whole rainbow each week (bonus points of you eat it each day). Each time you eat a handful of a particular color, check off the box. Think of having a few boxes under each color, rather than just a single box,  and try to check off every box under every color each week.

  • By the way, this is a fantastic activity to bring your kids in on. They love thinking of different foods to include in the rainbow. It’s a great way for them to become more engaged in grocery shopping and meal planning. If our daughter has all the boxes checked off by friday she gets to invite a friend to spend the night. This is also a great way to teach kiddos about the difference between real, whole food and foods that have to be dyed in order to have color. As I always say, skittles don’t count for any of your color, but a fruit salad sure does!

 

  1. Focus on Desired Feelings.  

  • How do you want to feel??? Vibrant, energetic, strong, healthy, glowy, balanced?? Write down your buzz words that describe how you want to feel. Then create a mental image of what that looks like. Maybe it’s a picture of you bee-bopping around the grocery store in tennis shoes and a ponytail looking all radiant and happy. Whatever that image is, hold on to it. Let that image and your new buzzwords support your food choices. Ask yourself, Will this food help me to feel (insert buzzwords here)  and will it help me to one day be be-bopping around in my tennis shoes? This is so much more fun than telling yourself you can’t eat something because you want to lose 20 pounds. And it’s not that  it’s just more fun to think this way. Thinking in this way is what helps you to shift your mindset from diet to lifestyle.

 

So next time you find yourself in a conversation with nosy Margaret from Accounting regarding food listen to whether or not she has a lack or abundance mindset when it comes to healthy eating. You’ll start to be able to recognize it more and more.  If you hear the lack come up -from Margaret or internally – shift the focus to abundance. Think about all the things you can have and all the ways you’ll feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically. Change your mindset to change your lifestyle. Educate yourself. Take small steps. Hold yourself accountable. Stick to a vision. And go for it.

 

Meg is a Health & Wellbeing Coach & Metaphysician and creator of The Aligned Body Method. She practices and is trained in functional medicine, mindset, and mind-body practices. She works with clients to create positive, sustained change when it comes to mental, physical and emotional well-being. Meg is also a Spirit Junkie through and through. This means she applies spiritual principles and universal truths to help her clients overcome limiting beliefs and energetic blocks that are keeping them stuck in patterns that no longer work. To find out more about how you can work with Meg, check out her VIP 4 month private coaching program, or her newest one month program, The Mind Body Detox.

Cacao Elixir: Healthy, Indulgent, Delicious.

Cacao Elixir, mmmmm. Say it again. Cacao Elixir. Yes, oh yes. Even the name sounds indulgent and delicious. But did you know that cocoa also has tons of health benefits? Today I am serving up a recipe to battle the sweet tooth while packing a healthy punch of flavonoids, antioxidants, and mood boosting ingredients.

 You know those days when the sweet tooth is real? When your brain has one single repetitive focus, and that focus is on the almighty chocolate? You know those days, right? Sometimes it’s stress related, sometimes hormonal. But whatever the reason, chocolat always seems to  do the trick.

I’ve combined some of my favorite healthy ingredients to give you the perfect, indulgent answer to your chocolate craving that is totally supportive to your health and wellness goals.

 

This Cacao Elixir combines the health benefits of MCT oil with nutrient packed maple syrup. But as a bonus, it also acts as a perfect pick-me-up with coffee as the base (you can substitute with chamomile tea or decaf coffee if you’re wanting it for bed-time).

A couple of facts that make this drink a true elixir:

  • Cacao has been proven to be an amazing source of magnesium. Magnesium.  is associated with healthy blood pressure, lower risk of cardio vascular disease, a healthy nervous system, and lower risk of diabetes (Volpe, 2014)….score!!
  • The flavonoids found in cacao help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.
  • Maple syrup is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, making it a much healthier choice than other sweeteners.  The medical journal Pharmaceutical Biology revealed that pure maple syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants. According to my man, Dr Axe These antioxidants are beneficial for reducing free radical damage that can cause inflammation and contribute to the formation of various chronic diseases.
  • MCT oil adds a yummy coconut undertone to the elixir. “MCTs” are medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that have loads of healthy benefits ranging from weight management to improve cognitive functioning. A few other benefits include increased focus and energy levels. Increased metabolism and less mood swings can also be expected from normal consumption of MCT’s.

With all of the health advantages of this treat, it really is a true elixir. So next time you find yourself reaching for a candy bar or a treat loaded with processed sugar make this Cacao Elixir instead!

 

This drink is best enjoyed blended rather than stirred. I recently bought this handy dandy hand mixer and love it. It’s perfect for small batch drinks like this and your regular morning bullet coffee. Makes you feel super fancy pants.

To make this Cacao Elixir combine the following ingredients in your coffee mug then blend with a hand mixer (or in a blender)

 

1 10-oz cup of black coffee

1 to 1.5 heaping tsp raw, organic cacao powder

1 tsp organic maple syrup

1 tsp MCT oil

 

Blend, Sip, Indulge, and enjoy the good vibes.

 

For a real treat try this Elixir with this plantain recipe

 

 

Meg Sylvester is a Spiritual Life Coach who combines the science of functional medicine with metaphysical principles to help her clients release their blocks to well-being. She empowers her clients with tools, strategies and guidance so that they can connect to the health, vitality and well-being they desire. To learn more about how you can work with Meg click here.

Why You should Consider an Elimination Diet

I’m a huge advocate of establishing a really solid understanding of your mind-body connection. Can you say with full certainty if there are any foods that cause you to exhibit mental distress? Doing a formal elimination diet is a really fantastic way to know for sure what foods are holding you back from optimal mental functioning. Get the scoop on how to do an elimination diet the right way.

You most likely know that food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies can cause physical reactions, but did you know that they can also cause mental reactions as well. Brain fog, irritability, increased anxiety, and mild depression are all possible side effects of food sensitivities.

I work with my clients to really uproot their limiting beliefs and energetic blocks to well-being so that they can transform their lives. If you are continuously putting into your body, foods that disrupt your mental stability then you are at a disadvantage. For this reason, I always make sure my clients are eating to perform at their best mental state so we can really get to work on the transformative process.

An excellent way to go about assessing sensitivities is through a formal elimination diet. The elimination diet I work through with my clients was created by Functional Medicine doctors and nutritionists. The first step in the process is to completely remove specific food groups that are common food triggers for sensitivities.

The food groups you will remove are:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Beef
  • Shellfish
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Pork
  • Processed Meats
  • Soy
  • Sugar

What you are left with is tons of phytonutrient rich fruits, vegetables, dairy alternatives, lean and clean meats and seafood, and nuts and seeds. After only a few days you will naturally start to feel better and your gut will be able to heal as it will not be irritated.  I always give my clients a large selection of recipes to work with during this time and encourage them to let their social network what they are up to while asking for support.

After a specified amount of time you will begin reintroducing each food group, otherwise known as a Challenge, and take note of your mental and physical symptoms anywhere from 24-48 hours of eating the specific group. You will continue to do this until you have exhausted the list of challenges.

While going through the challenge groups, I work with my clients to do a deep assessment of mindset and their physical condition with each new challenge introduction. We write everything down so it’s easy to connect the dots. It’s pretty amazing what comes up. In western society we have been so conditioned to ignore the fact that real food truly is medicine. You have nature’s medicine shop at your full disposal. Do yourself a giant favor and start making the connections!

Carrot & Veggie Soup

This Carrot & Veggie Soup comes from a lovely ranch in La Fortuna, Costa Rica called Ranchot Margot.

Rancho Margot is a jewel of a place plopped into the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. I spent several days as a guest at a this completely self-sufficient farm and ate this carrot & veggie soup every single day for lunch (and sometimes dinner). This place was amazing. The food that was served was cooked in-house with all ingredients coming straight from the property. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were beautiful displays of natural colors and textures that came straight from Mother Earth.

On my last night there, it dawned on me that I hadn’t asked for any recipes. I wanted to take home a recipe that was straightforward, simple, and nourishing (so, basically everything they cooked).

Seeing as though I was obsessed with the Carrot & Veggie soup, I asked for that recipe. They were so sweet, and so excited to share the goodness.

If you ever get a chance to go to Costa Rica, I can not recommend Rancho Margot (and their Carrot & Veggie soup!) enough. You are off the grid, surrounded by nature, no wifi in the bungalows, and in really amazing company.

This Carrot & veggie Soup is perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner as it has a very mid flavor and is ultra nourishing with the vitamins and minerals from the carrots, potatoes, and garlic.  You can sip on this straight from a big, old coffee mug too – perfect for cold days when you just want something warm.

 

Rancho Margot’s Carrot & Veggie Soup:

1 lb carrots – peeled, roughly chopped

¼ lb onion – peeled, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic – peeled

2 capfuls of olive oil

¼ lb potatoes – peeled, roughly chopped

1/3 sweet pepper – seeded and chopped.

 

For the Garnish (optional):

Roasted pumpkin seeds & chives

 

What to do:

Cover all ingredients with water.

Season with Salt, Pepper, and whatever other seasonings you desire!

Bring to a boil.

Turn down heat and simmer for about an hour

Once soft, pour all contents into a blender and blend. (you may have to do in batches).

*Do not fill blender to the top, as hot liquid expands and you may end up burning your hand.*

Pour into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds and chives.

Healthy and Healing Chicken Soup

Who doesn’t love a good healing and hearty pot of chicken soup when it’s cold out? Seeing as though we are in the midst of  snow-day season, cold & flu season, and sweater season, I thought I’d cook up a fresh pot of delicious chicken soup and share it with you guys. This recipe is super easy, gluten free, dairy free, and full of healing and nourishing veggies. Stay warm as you slurp up and enjoy this chicken soup!

Ingredients:

4 quarts chicken stock

avocado oil

1 whole white onion – chopped

1 bunch green onion – chopped

2 TBS chopped and peeled garlic cloved

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 carrots peeled and chopped

1 whole celery root – peeled and chopped

cajun seasoning

2 bay leaves

 

For Garnish (optional) 

Avocado Slices

Parsley

 

What to do:

In a large pot, brown chicken in avocado oil and cajun seasoning (just enough to coat the chicken). Add in all veggies and sauté until onions are clear. Add in chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer until carrots are soft – the longer you can let it cook the better! Should be done in about 45 minutes but try and go a little longer to get a richer flavor.

Garnish with fresh avocado slices and/or chopped parsley.

 

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy healing chicken soup!

Sweet Potato Cakes

These Sweet Potato Cakes were literally the easiest recipe I have cooked up in a while. I like cooking sweet potatoes for two reasons:

  • If you’re feeling up in the air or swirly whirly, eating a root vegetable is great way to bring in a sense of grounding
  • Um, and reason number two… if you’re feeling a hungry a root vegetable is a great way to bring in a sense of feeling not hungry. (I’m hilarious, I know)

So if you’re in a mood for something warm and comforting with a hint of sweetness, try this sweet potato cake recipe out. Or if you’re like me and you get a copious amount of sweet potatoes in your farm delivery box, this’ll be a great go-to for you. And bonus…my kids loved them because I kept using the word CAKE. tricky tricky.  

 

 

Here’s what you need:  (for a family of four)

  • 1 very large sweet potato
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
  • Ghee or Grass-Fed Butter
  • Parchment Paper

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 400, then line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Rub dry potatoes with paper towel to remove dirt.
  • Slice unpeeled Potatoes in large circular sections (as pictured above)
  • Heat coconut oil in heavy skillet on medium heat.
  • Once oil liquifies, place unseasoned potato slices in hot pan.
  • As they are cooking season with seasonings.
  • Sear on each side for 3 minutes. It’s ok if you see dark spots pop up on potatoes from the sear. They aren’t burnt (their just getting yummy for you)
  • Use tongs to transfer sweet potatoes to the pan then place in oven
  • Cook sweet potatoes for 12-15 minutes.
  •         Remove from oven then put a teensy bit of ghee or grass-fed butter on top.
  • Once butter is melted serve right away!

 

The leftovers also work really well for breakfast with a boiled or over-easy egg!

 

Hope you enjoy this super simple yet super healthy recipe for Sweet Potato Cakes.

 

For other easy and healthy veggie recipes; check these out:

Healthy Collard Greens

Cauliflower Whipped “Potatoes”

Heart Warming Plantains

 

 

 

 

Pan Seared Red Snapper, Plantains, and Bok Choy

Red snapper, plantains and bok choy. OK, OK, I hear what you’re saying….this might sound like a weird combo, but I am telling you…it’s soooooo good! Just give it a try and let me know what you think. This is a nutrient packed plate of food. You’re getting proteins, healthy fats, micronutrients, and fiber. Plus tons of flavor. I hope you enjoy!!

This recipe is for one (pretty hungry) person. So just increase the amount of each ingredient as needed

 

Ingredients:

1 whole plantain – peeled and cut into spears

Coconut oil

2 baby bok choy – separated into leaves

Coco Aminos

Black Pepper & Salt

Olive Oil

Celery Root – use a vegetable peeler to create shavings, about 1/2 cup worth (use veggie peeler to remove hard outer layer first).

1 6-8 oz Red Snapper fillet

Smoked sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder

Squeeze of lemon

1 tsp minced garlic

 

How to:

fry plantain in coconut oil on medium/low until golden brown

cook bok choy in pot with 2 oz water, coco aminos, black pepper, until soft

heat olive oil in pan, once hot, throw in shaved celery root. Season with garlic powder, black pepper, dash of salt and cook until they look like chips, remove

season snapper in smoked sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder

Using the same pan you used for the celery root, heat olive oil on medium/low, once oil has heated up a bit add snapper flesh side down (make sure not to get pan too hot or fish will stick). add lemon and garlic. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. flip, cook for another 4 minutes or so paying attention to the color of the fish.

When ready to take off, turn up the heat just a bit with scales down so the scales stick to the pan, making it easier to peel the flesh away from the scaled.

Put snapper on top of bok choy in the plate, top snapper with celery root chips, put plantains on the side. According to my husband, this dish is “f’n good!” 😉

 

Curious to learn how to incorporate healthy meals into your home! I am here to help – send me a message by clicking here and let me know how I can help you!

 

 

Thanksgiving Leftover Wrap

This Thanksgiving Leftover Wrap is the perfect way to eat all of that leftover turkey without having to break out the elastic waistbands (2 days in a row). When I was a kid our typical thanksgiving left over was a white bread sandwich with mayo and big chunks of turkey. This is my grown-up, health coach version of that. This time of year is a time meant to be spent with family and friends, so I wanted to do something that didn’t require a bunch of time in the kitchen. As with all of my recipes, this dish is minimal effort, minimal ingredients, tasty, but still friendly to your insides.

Hope you enjoy this thanksgiving leftover wrap!

 

Here’s what you need: (No need for exact measurements, it’s just a wrap…eyeball it!)

Left over turkey – use two forks to shred

Collard Green Leaves – raw and rinsed (if you don’t have collard greens, romaine lettuce will do!)

Avocado Oil Mayo (I like Chosen Foods brand) OR sliced Avocado

Purple Onion – very thinly sliced, lengthwise

Tomato (optional) – thinly sliced

 

Here’s what you do:

Chop bottom stem off of one collard green leaf.

Spread Mayo on collard green – one thin layer will do. OR if you are using avocado slices, place two slices then squish and spread (it’s OK if it’s still chunky)

Place shredded turkey on top

Add in thinly sliced onions  and tomatoes

Roll the leaf then slice on a diagonal creating two pieces.

Enjoy!!

 

  • Ready to take create a life you love, a body you feel great in, and a mind that motivates? Get a head start on making 2018 your happiest year yet. I offer private, 1:1 coaching to get you where YOU want to be. Curious to learn more, Message Me (click here). Give me the scoop on what’s been holding you back.

 

Healthy Collard Greens

Healthy collard greens are an easy addition to any meal -especially Thanksgiving with all the stuffing and root veggies. There’s typically not a ton of green options included in the Thanksgiving spread, so these healthy collard greens are perfect for those who want a healthy option to reach for.

I  made these the other night with my cauliflower mashed potatoes and a rotisserie chicken. It was a perfect, wholesome and nurturing meal. Plus the collard greens are super easy to make, so that’s a win in my book!

The bone broth adds a nice rich flavor that I prefer over ham hocks and turkey legs used in traditional recipes.

Ingredients for Healthy Collard Greens:

Two Bunches of Collard Greens (for 4 people)

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS minced Garlic

1 red onion – sliced thinly and lengthwise

1 1/2 cup of Bone Broth (chicken or turkey)

2 tsp chipotle powder (optional for smoky flavor)

Salt & Pepper

Apple Cider Vinegar

 

Instructions:

Prepare Collard Green by removing the stems. I stack them up on top each other then slice the whole lot on each side of the stem, giving me two separate stacks. Then slice the greens in  1 inch horizontal ribbons.

Heat heavy dutch oven pot large enough to accommodate all greens (I love this pot!)  on medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil begins to glisten add in garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add in onion and sautéed for about 3 minutes until onions become very soft.

Add in greens, stock, chipotle powder (for smoky flavor), and salt & pepper.

Turn heat to low/medium and cover.

Right before serving add 2 capfuls of apple cider vinegar to the greens.

I hope you enjoy these healthy collard greens! Have a happy and joyful holiday season!

 

Cauliflower “Whipped Potatoes”

Cauliflower Mashed potatoes are something I’m asked about all the time when it comes to recipes that are easier on the waist line. As a side note; potatoes themselves are not “bad”. The are a great form of a slow release carb full of nutrients. However, there are times when we don’t want all those carbs and can opt for something with a lower glycemic load that still tastes good – Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are perfect for that!

I love using cauliflower to replace foods like rice and potatoes when I still want the texture and similar flavor profile. I made these whipped cauliflower potatoes the other night and paired them with pulled rotisserie chicken and my healthy collard greens recipe. Wholesome, soul-warming dinner without the “soul food” calorie count. I call them whipped rather than mashed because I put these in the food processor to get them really smooth. However, if it’s the mashed potato style you’re after, you can make cauliflower mashed potatoes by following the same recipe below, but rather than transfer into a processor, transfer back into the empty hot pot you boiled them in and mash with a potato masher or fork 🙂

Try these Cauliflower whipped potatoes or cauliflower mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving or next time you have a meal with lots of carb heavy foods. It’s also super easy with minimal ingredients, so you can enjoy yourself with friends and family rather than spending all of your time in the kitchen!

Ingredients

2 bags riced cauliflower (or you can rice 1.5 heads)

1/5 TBS minced garlic

2 TBS grass-fed butter or ghee

Thinly sliced chives for garnish

Salt & Pepper

What do to:

Boil riced cauliflower in water until it is soft (about 12 minutes)

Drain boiled cauliflower then transfer to a food processor.

Add butter, minced garlic, and salt & pepper.

Blend together in processes until cauliflower resembles whipped potatoes. (about 30 seconds to a minute should be good)

Transfer Whipped Cauliflower to a serving Bowl and sprinkle with chives.

 

SEE, told you it was easy!!! I hope you enjoy these Cauliflower mashed potatoes!

Heart Warming Plantains

Not only is this plantain recipe ridiculously simple, it’s delicious. Sometimes we get into the habit of over complicating a dish. Adding in all sorts of ingredients that eventually outshine the main ingredient. This plantain recipe doesn’t do that. It let’s the plantain sing for itself. My point in offering this recipe is to demonstrate how simple healthy cooking can be. Sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out the right cook temp and time!

I think it’s so important to have an array of easy, go-to healthy dishes that make you feel happy. Did you know plantains are an amazing super food loaded with fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals, and help boost your immune system? The are a great food to eat during cold & flu season because they help regulate your digestive system (yay fiber) and have tons of Vitamin C. Check out this super simple, and crazy good, plantain recipe. You can use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are also a great healthy food to add to any holiday spread (especially good for a healthy option dessert).

So next time you are hankering for something sweet, or need to whip up something quickly try this recipe. If you bring it to a party you’ll get extra props for providing something healthy among all the sweets and sugar laden foods. Plus you’ll be providing your friends and family with a huge boost of vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

1 plantain

2 TBS coconut oil

Directions:

Peel plantain, cut in half lengthwise.

Heat coconut oil on medium low until liquid. Add plantains. Sauté until golden-brown, about 3-5 minutes. Flip halfway through.

Let the flavor of the plantains shine for themselves – no seasoning needed!

I find that these come out best on a cast iron skillet! Here’s the one I use

 

For other easy and healthy go-to recipes check these out:

Brain Boost Smoothie

Oven Baked Salmon

Sweet & Savory Breakfast Bowl

 

 

 

Brain Boost Smoothie

When you feel your energy levels dwindling, you can pick them back up with this Brain Boost Smoothie. We all know that good wholesome food can nourish our body, but did you know that there are certain foods that boost your cognitive functioning as well? And better yet, you can throw a few of these foods into a smoothie for a quick & easy, on-the-go fix to satiate and boost the body and brain. Here’s what you need for my Brain Boost Smoothie

Brain Boost Smoothie Ingredients:

1 scoop chocolate Vega protein powder

handful frozen blueberries (purple foods aid on cognitive performance)

handful spinach

1 TBS MCT oil (Bullet Proof brand is my favorite)

1 dash Cinnamon (a super food when it comes to battling inflammation!)

1 dash Himalayan salt

10 oz filtered water (If you need an awesome home water filtration system I can’t recommend the Berkey filter enough!)

If you’d prefer almond milk over water, try this recipe for home made almond milk

 

Combine all ingredients into blender and blend for 30 seconds. Enjoy! I hope you like my Brain Boosting Smoothie recipe!

Halloween Treat without the Spooky Ingredients

Last year, I wanted to contribute something on the healthier side to our neighborhood Halloween potluck. However I didn’t want to be “that mom” that brought the carrot sticks and toothbrushes to Halloween. I made these cute little guys and loved how they turned out! Give them a try this Halloween.

What You Need:

Apples –  thinly sliced

Almond Butter (Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is great!)

Greek Yogurt Covered Raisins (White)

 

To Do:

Simply spread almond butter into a thin layer onto two apple slices. Sandwich in the yogurt raisins between two slices. Viola!  You can use left over raisins by putting in a jar and labeling as “Old Teeth” or “Monster Teeth”

Homemade Almond Milk

Several years ago,  I made the decision to significantly cut back on the amount of dairy we were consuming in our home. I did the research, experimented with giving it up for a week or two at a time, and finally came to the conclusion that we were going way overboard with the amount of dairy we consumed. But I was worried about milk. We had it all the time. I found my answer with homemade almond milk. Calcium is abundant in many other plant foods out there, so I felt confident that we could make the switch without giving up any essential nutrients.

We used milk all the time though. We used to be cereal eating fiends. Breakfast was cereal. Busy nights when I was too tired to cook, cereal. Milk went into coffee, soups and stews, baked goods, and nearly every meal we were eating. Milk was my kids’ beverage of choice. It was every where.

This was a period in my life when I was plagued by acne, migraines, brain fog and low energy levels. This was also the time in my life when I had finally put my foot down and decided to transform the way we ate. I experimented with cutting out groups of foods like those that contained gluten, or sugar, or dairy. Now, many years later we follow a plant heavy diet rich in color, high quality protein and high quality fats. We use dairy as a “recreational drug” – very sparingly, never really keep it in the house, and seek healthier non-dairy alternatives to use instead.

One issue  I see with almond milk in the stores is that they are filled with additives and preservatives, like carrageenan, natural flavors, thickening agents, gums, and a slew of other ingredient, even sugar sometimes! Once I realized how easy it was to make almond milk at home, I quit buying it all together.

Read on to discover a simple, low effort way to make almond milk at home!

Home Made Almond Milk:

Ingredients

1:4 ratio of raw, unsalted Almonds to Water (example: 1 cup almonds, 4 cups milk)

Pinch of sea salt

(Optional) Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, or vanilla

 

Directions:

Soak almonds in water  with a pinch of sea salt overnight in an airtight container, like a  mason jar with lid.

Once done soaking, pour ingredients into a blender. If you want to add spices, here’s when you would do it. I add just a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. For a more chocolate milk version you can add cocoa. Get intuitive with it!

Blend for 2-3 minutes.

Strain through a sieve, cheese cloth or a nut bag (which you can purchase at most grocery stores).

Pour liquid into air tight container and store in the refrigerator.

Done!

 

Simple Oven-Baked Salmon

This dish can easily be prepared with trout, salmon, mahi-mahi, snapper or nearly any other fish that isn’t super thick. I love roasting it this particular because it conserves the moisture and the flavors from the lemon and herbs really pop. This is one of my basic mea-time preparations that I can always rely on. Build it into your repertoire of weekly protein preparations to bring more simplicity into the kitchen.

This dish would pair wonderfully with  the butternut squash (without the maple) listed in this recipe!

 

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 fillets of wild-caught salmon (or the fish of your choosing)

zest from half a lemon

juice from the other half of lemon

1 tsp minced garlic per fillet

Himalayan or Sea Salt & Coarse black pepper

A few sprigs of Thyme and/or Rosemary

Olive oil

Parchment Paper

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking dish large enough to fit all your fillets with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with olive oil.

Pat fish dry with a paper towel then place on top of prepared parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Spoon the minced garlic onto the fish then spread with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle lemon zest on fish, then top with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Lay sprigs of herbs right on top of fish (you will remove sprigs before serving).

Bake fish for 12-15 minutes depending on thickness of fish.

You can always throw in some cherry tomatoes to roast in the pan too!

 

www.megsylvester.com

Sweet & Savory Sunny Breakfast Bowl

Eggs and bacon. Cereal. Pancakes and Waffles. Toast. Where’s the color? Breakfast doesn’t have to be so beige. I wanted to introduce a meal that starts your morning off with color and lots of plant based nutrients (as well as protein from eggs). This bowl is sure to please the taste buds and the body. It’s a combo of sweet and savory and can be a great option for other meal times too! (and bonus…you can turn one of the components into a side dish of its own for any meal)

 

Ingredients

2 Eggs – cooked how you like ’em (sunny side up is recommended)

1.5 cups Butternut Squash – cubed

Arugula – 1 large handful

Squeeze of Fresh Lemon

Olive Oil

Avocado Oil

Salt & Pepper

Maple Syrup

 

Directions:

1) Prepare Squash. Saute butternut squash in a pan in a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) on medium heat in avocado oil. Season with salt and pepper. Right as the they begin to soften (about 10-12 minutes) add a drizzle or two of maple syrup.

– If you have left over butternut squash, this would work wonderfully here! This way you’d just need to heat for a bit and add the maple syrup.

2 ) Prepare eggs you like them. (soft boiled or sunny side up work best for this dish). Then season with a dash of salt & pepper.

– To soft boil an egg, add eggs to pot of cold water, gently bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute. Turn heat to simmer and cover for 3 minutes.

3) While butternut squash and eggs are cooking, dress the arugula. Toss arugula in light olive oil and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Once all three components are ready, layer bowl as follows: Greens, Squash, Eggs on top.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Clean & Simple Chicken Stew with “Rice”

This week, I was craving something warm and hearty (yay Fall!). I had fresh veggies and chicken thighs in the fridge so I thought why not Chicken Stew?! Being from Louisiana, I love adding Cajun seasonings to my recipes for an extra kick. This recipe is simple, with minimal ingredients, but packs a big punch on the taste index. I use water a lot to cook with – we often forget that it’s actually a great conduit for heat. By pouring just a bit of water into the chicken, you get a lovely stew like consistency. I’m grain free, so rice doesn’t show up in my recipes. However, cauliflower rice does! I love playing around with different ways to prepare cauliflower rice. This version is simple and flavorful and can be used with lots of other meals. Enjoy!

 

For the chicken stew:

Avocado oil

1 TBS Minced garlic

Cajun Seasoning Mix:  Combine salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder

Himalayan Salt & Ground Black Pepper

Water

1.5 lbs chicken thighs (boneless & skinless)

1/3 celery root, peel off outer layer then use vegetable peeler to create small slices

1/3 purple onion – thinly sliced lengthwise

1 head Broccoli – cut into florets

 

For the rice:

Avocado oil

TBS Minced garlic

¾ head cauliflower – riced

½ cup diced purple onion

Handful of Fresh chopped parsley

 

Season chicken thighs with avocado oil, Cajun seasoning mix and minced garlic. Heat avocado oil in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron). Once oil is glistening, add chicken thighs to pan. Let the chicken lightly brown on one side, approximately 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over. Add celery root, onions and broccoli. Let cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add ¾ cup of water and continue to let chicken cook. While cooking, season with salt and pepper (you can add more Cajun seasoning blend  now too). Cook the chicken until it’s no longer pink inside. Time will vary depending on thickness, but it should be around 10 minutes. The water should be nearly cooked out and have a thick consistency to it. If not, ladle out some of the water. Drizzle with avocado oil.

 

Meanwhile make the “rice”. Heat avocado oil in a pan on medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add cauliflower and purple onion. Continue stirring until cauliflower starts to brown. Right before serving add in freshly chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle chicken stew on top of cauliflower rice in a shallow bowl.

 

www.megsylvester.com

The Hidden Reason You Can’t Lose Weight

You eat a pretty healthy diet, you aren’t sedentary, and you get a decent amount of sleep. You decide to lose a few pounds by cutting back on sugar and you up your workouts. But something’s not right. You can’t seem to lose weight. So you decide to go get your thyroid tested. But your numbers are all good. You try out a few other fad diets, you even go to hot yoga (so smelly). Yet nothing seems to work.

So what gives? Why can’t you lose weight?

There’s a big reason for weight gain that no one is really talking about. Why? Because there aren’t any major pharmaceuticals that can come to the rescue.

The reason you may have such a hard time losing weight is because of the toxic load you are carrying around in your body.

According to Dr. Jill Carnahan, “toxic chemicals from foods, pesticides from foods, mold exposure, and heavy metals (to name a few) can block the leptin receptor in our fat cells and cause an inability to break down fat”. Toxins can lead to obesity because they disrupt our hormones and brain functioning. They are also a culprit in causing insulin resistance which leads to diabetes.  The amount of toxins we are exposed to throughout the day is staggering. In fact, 80% of the toxins we encounter are in our air. That’s why it’s so important to get a good quality air filter in your home.  If you are looking for some hard data, look no further than the Center for Disease Control’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

So what are we supposed to do about toxic exposure? How are you supposed to drop the pounds if you are battling toxic exposure day in and day out?

 Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize your toxic burden.

The word detox can often invoke images of juice cleanses and meditation retreats. But don’t be turned off by it – there’s a much less hippie approach to detoxifying your life than what you think.

Follow these steps to lessen your toxic load (and hopefully lose some pounds in the process).

Go Organic

Conventionally grown foods are full of pesticides and chemicals. When you can, always chose organic, local and Non-GMO. In an ideal world, it would be amazing to only eat organic, but that can sometimes be cost prohibitive and chances are restaurants aren’t carrying organic produce (unless stated). To put your mind at ease, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a report that lists the foods that you should absolutely go organic on – The Dirty Dozen – and those that are ok to eat conventionally grown – The Clean Fifteen (organic still preferred though!). The list changes every year and they even have a handy, dandy app now that you can use while grocery shopping or out to dinner. Check out the list here.

Drink Filtered Water

To date, there have been thousands of publications and studies showing that our drinking water contains heavy metals. Granted, some of these metals are fine for human life, however, in sustained large doses over time, they can become a major player in some really awful health problems. A very easy way to avoid dosing yourself with toxic heavy metals is by using a water filter. There are many types out there – you can even purchase charcoal sticks to throw in your water bottle. I personally love the Berkey water filter system, but a trip to your local home improvement store should give you plenty of options. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids. Prolonged exposure to heavy metals in drinking water can cause a multitude of problems in our precious little ones, including shorter attention spans and learning delays. Recent studies also suggest that arsenic can harm the developing brain.

Excrete the Toxins

I love Dr. Mark Hyman’s take on this. He explains this process as the “4 P’s”. Perspire, Pee, Poop, and Pranayama (aka the practice of breath control). Release toxins through your pores as you b break a sweat either through movement, saunas, or steam rooms. Drink plenty of fluids (yay filtered water!) to give your kidneys the fuel they need to flush out toxins from your bloodstream. Make sure you are having consistent bowel movements, which also flush out toxins (tip: Fiber with adequate water helps to battle constipation). Finally, the breath. By breathing fully and deeply, all the way down into your belly, you are helping your lungs to deliver clean oxygen to our tissues. Try attaching a round of 2-3 belly breaths to an activity of daily life – ie, checking emails, social media, making phone calls, getting in your car, etc. Choose an activity, say making a phone call. Each time you are about to make a phone call, take 2-3 belly breaths. This will not only deliver oxygen to your body but will relax you and help you center. Yes, please.

My last tip for excreting toxins is using the gift provided by Mother Nature. There are many natural detoxifiers you can incorporate into you daily life to help rid your body of unwanted toxins. Charcoal capsules (I’m obsessed with Bullet Proof’s charcoal capsules – especially when traveling), dandelion root tea, and apple cider vinegar are all easy to find, easy to use, and wonderful for you. Of course, always make sure to consult your physician before adding herbs and supplements to your regimen!