health, healthy, paleo, soy, starbucks, water

Why Starbucks and I are going on a break

Investing in my health means being honest with myself about what I put in my body. As I ordered my Starbucks Grande Caramel Macciato on Sunday for my “cheat day” I had to wonder what choices I’m making for myself. Sure, Starbucks is delicious but not any kind of investment in my health or my wallet for that matter!

1. The truth about “sugar free” syrup So first things first about going to Starbucks, they advertise making their drinks more healthy (less calories, sugars, carbs) by ordering them “skinny”. This means using sugar free syrup and skim milk. It really surprises me to see on Instagram that a lot of my weight loss/bariatric friends post their favorite Starbucks drinks which include up to 10 pumps of SF syrup. Say what? Now, I promise you I am not judging anyone with what they order or where they chose to save calories or whatnot. What is really concerning is how society makes SF seem so tempting and makes us think we are making better choices.

Still with me or just think I am secretly judging you? Hopefully you’re still reading and giving me a chance! So it was only a year and a half or so ago that I really understood why SF products weren’t for me. My favorite Starbucks drink was a grande skinny caramel macciato, SF syrup and skim milk and I loved it. I thought it was an obviously better solution to the calories in the more sugary drinks and I could still enjoy a caffeine pick me up.

So why is SF bad? Isn’t better to have no calories or carbs? That’s a good point but don’t you wonder what’s in there? Chemicals. That’s what’s in there. Chemicals that are not good for the body. In fact, they often increase your appetite for sugar because the brain still thinks it’s getting sugar, I think The Skinny Confidential’s post on Starbucks sums it up perfectly. You can also check out this article on Starbucks SF syrup. So that means no skinny lattes for me.

2. Soy milk I love ordering a cinnamon dolce latte with soy because I don’t have dairy (paleo) if I can avoid it and I like the added vanilla flavor. That right there is a problem because what makes the vanilla flavor are chemicals, which obviously are just as bad as ordering SF syrup. Foodbabe posted a great article on Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Lattes which went pretty viral and changed a lot of people’s minds about ordering them. Once I read her article, I never ordered one again. But it really should have sunk in more about what is in their soy. Carrageenan is scary and when you start reading about it, it definitely makes me rethink my ordering. Really, this makes me rethink soy in general.

3. High amount of sugar and carbs. If I could just drink black coffee life would be great. Granted I would still have to worry about the pesticides that apparently are contained in the actual Starbucks coffee (and other places) I’m sure but I don’t know how extreme I am yet so I would probably still drink it. Since I love sweetness and my favorite drink is a grande cinnamon dolce latte, I am getting 260 calories with 44g carbs and 38g sugar. Love ya Starbucks but that is not worth the work I’d have to do at the gym to make up for it.

4. The cost. Let’s face it, I don’t need to pay for bad nutrition even though I love the baristas and the way the coffee tastes. I would rather go to a CorePower class or two or buy something cute than waste money for empty calories. With everything in my life I want to buy and the money I would love to save for retirement and whatnot, I just don’t need to spend money on a want like this, when it’s definitely not a need.

So, until I can learn to love an unsweetened coffee and deal with adding some organic stevia, which I don’t really enjoy, I am going on a break. My wallet and body will thank me. I can always grab a tea if necessary and add some of my own honey if I want something warm. Plus, I really need to make sure I drink even more water because when my lapband is tighter I am less thirsty for some reason. This doesn’t mean I will never have Starbucks but it will truly become a treat for me. I will instead be using my Life Factory water bottle more, adding some cucumber and enjoying the hydrated and healthy life. Plus, if I am really missing coffee in my life I will try The Sweaty Bettys Bulletproof coffee that she has been drinking and enjoying and that I’ve seen on some paleo sites.

body, health, healthy, paleo, thankful, yoga

The best is yet to come: my 2015 goals!

Well, so much for blogging more during the holidays! Really though, like everyone else, there was just so much going on. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t have any children and work normal hours and still don’t seem to have time for everything I want to do. Thinking about all the things I want to do and need to make time for naturally got me thinking about the upcoming year and the goals I am setting for myself. Since accountability is a grand thing indeed (and sometimes the devil), I am going to post my goals and hope you all can help keep me on track in the upcoming year!

The Goal: Invest in My Health
Normally I might just say I’d like to lose another 20lbs and be done with it but that is not the goal I have anymore. My goal is really and truly to be healthy. To invest in my health. To look at what I am eating and really care about what I am putting in my body and how it will affect my future. So how can I consciously and consistently invest in my health? How much am I willing to give, of myself, of my finances, and of my time? Because that’s really what it comes down to,  the changes that will effect where I go, how I shop, how I feel about myself and so much more.
Step 1: Live 80/20 
One of my favorite things about eating healthy and following a Paleo diet is that it is 80/20. So you try to eat 80% of your meals following the guidelines and then 20% of your meals are whatever you want. By allowing a few meals that aren’t paleo and working with moderation, I am able to be realistic about my food intake and goals. I love the above quote from Bobby Flay because it’s simple but to the point. I don’t need to eat fast food; there is nothing good about it for my body and quite frankly, I don’t enjoy the taste at all. That doesn’t mean I am not going to eat a decadent desert but at least if I am going to eat decadent I will use better quality ingredients than just junk. I want to be able to not let food control my life and over the last two years I have made that change sucessfully. 
Step 2: Don’t beat myself up when I am not perfect. 

Eating moderately helps me maintain a healthy relationship with food. I don’t break down if I have a brownie, I just make sure I don’t have one with every meal or make sure I hit the gym a little harder. I am not going to be perfect and I am more than okay with that. Perfect means that nothing needs to change and I always want to change, grow, and keep learning. So I am going to recognize there are moments I will fail and will eat something awful. I will not always make it to the gym for as many days as I would like that week. It’s inevitable. What I will strive for is accepting these moments and remembering that Scarlett O’Hara was a badass who never quit and always knew that “after all…tomorrow is another day”. This doesn’t mean that I will think my excuses are valid but it allows me to look at why I made a mistake and learn from it. Maybe I didn’t got to the gym because I was so tired and had to listen to my body. Maybe the reason I am so tired is because of lack of sleep. That lack of sleep causes my body to not function as well as it could and leads to overeating as well. So what I learn is to get more sleep and listen to my body.
Step 3: Be consistent with Paleo
I made mention above about following a Paleo diet. A Paleo diet means not having grains, dairy, or artificial sugar. There are a lot of nuances about it and different people follow different levels, much like there are pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans and so on. I have been pretty bad about following this lately so I need to get back on track. So starting January 2nd I will resume my 80/20 Paleo lifestyle which means: no dairy, processed foods including sugar, no legumes, starches or grains and no alcohol. Instead you eat lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and healthy fats, You can check out Nom Nom Paleo for more info! Cooking at home and meal prep is the best tool to stay on track and eat paleo. It also saves money so it’s a triple threat. Plus, watching JoeyWaffles cook, grill, and try new recipes is pretty hot. When I followed Paleo consistently I was leaner, had more energy, and really just overall felt better. It’s little changes that can make a big difference: making my own maple bacon instead of buying the Oscar Meyer version; reading the back of everything I buy so I know what I’m putting in my body; and just staying away from unnecessary foods like Doritos, fast food, and such. I still will have a Reese’s or enjoy a Coke Slurpee but it might be once a week or every few weeks. It makes me feel better when I know I am giving my body good fuel and investing in a better future.

Step 4: Control my food portions 
Sometimes I think like the girl who weighed 80lbs more and feel a compulsion to order a ton of food. I usually remember I am not and start to order like a normal, average, adult. Usually after the fact when it’s too late to change my mind, I remember I have lap band and need to only eat a kids size portion. It’s kind of crazy to think that often, especially going out, a kid’s size portion is really more appropriate for an adult and that we really have huge over sized meals. It’s not even about over eating, it’s really about wasting food and money because I never eat what I think I’m going to and end up wasting it or giving it to JoeyWaffles. That doesn’t work because it means he ends up eating a meal and a half which isn’t good for him either and I want his health to be optimal as well (total Rick word!) So I resolve to order more appropriate sized meals when I do go out and when I am home, use a smaller plate and grab smaller sizes.
Step 5: Use more Young Living Essential Oils in my life
Since getting more into oils and learning a lot from Kristen @ Naturally (un)Balanced, I really want to use more essential oils in my life. There are a lot of oils out there and feel free to do research but this is a great video about the difference between companies and the oils they produce. Thanks to Kristen, I have replaced my toothpaste with Thieves AromaBrite toothepaste, clean my house with a Thieves spray, use lemon oil to get anything stuck with adhesive off, diffuse with eucalyptus and purification for Joey’s asthma, and more. I am just learning and the more that I can replace toxic products with essential, all natural, and organic oils I am all for it. So this year I strive to replace more products, educate myself more on the oils and share my knowledge. Diffusing is so great when I sleep and the epsom salt and Oils baths Kristen recommends are amazing! I also have a roller ball of Stress away that I use when I am feeling…stressed lol
Step 6: Take more Yoga classes
Yoga is amazing. I am so lucky the company I work for offers it once a week thanks to our amazing CEO. Without my work offering it I would have never tried it and found out how truly amazing it is. Everyone is all about weights and I think they have their place but simply adding yoga into my routine has made a huge difference in my muscle definition. Yoga makes your body flexible, stretching alone has so many great benefits and when you add in the peace of mind, it really is something special. Being able to take an hour out of your day and connect with your body and mind is special and often something we neglect. I have a great CorePower Yoga near my house and my goal is go there there a few times a month in addition to my practice at work. The first month of two or even three of doing it I was still unsure if I was doing it right of some of the moves but the great thing about yoga is no one is judging you because they are all in their own state of mind and thinking about themselves (in a good way). I can’t believe how much more flexible I am and how much I enjoy my body after yoga. So treating my body better doesn’t just involve the food I do or don’t put it, but how I use my body as well. As White from America’s Next Top Model once said, “my body is a temple…and my temple wants cheesecake” Mine too girl but sometimes it wants yoga as well so I feed it both!

Steps 7, 8, and 9: Stay Organized, Buy a Meat Cooler, and Keep on smiling!
These are really simple little odds and ends I would like to accomplish. I strive to always stay organized and keep the house clean (enough) and not become a pack rat. JoeyWaffles hates throwing things out but has gotten a lot better so the house is coming together. Along with cleaning I would love to be able to buy into a meat CSA and have a cooler for meat so we only use that. It would be great to know exactly where our meat comes from and have access to quality food all year round. This also includes hitting up the Evanston farmer’s market more. Along with these changes I just want to keep having a happy and positive attitude and keep on keeping on. Life is what you make it and I want to keep on living, loving, laughing, and learning.
I can’t wait to make one of these for 2015!!
So, what are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish in 2015?
budget, cooking, cranberry, health, healthy, paleo, recipe, salad, steak, thrifty, tilapia

Three under $20 meals for a healthy body and budget

So cooking is something I’ve never been very good at. My family all are great cooks and there’s just never been a need to really learn until recently. I’ve learned it’s more fun and better on the budget to cook for two. JoeyWaffles and I cooking started more in the last year and it’s going well. 

We try to eat little to no bread save a bagel here and there, low sugar, minimal dairy, basically a modified Paleo. Being healthy is something we both actively strive for so cooking at home is a great way to make that happen.

Everyone says that eating healthy costs more and while that is true, it’s an investment in your health and future. Trust me when I say you don’t have to break the bank to have a meal that’s tasty, healthy, and look fabulous. Here are 3 dishes that are under $20, healthy, and easy to make! 

So everyone needs a go to dish. Something you can bring to a party or a potluck that everyone likes and makes you a hit. So what’s my easy go to? This under $20 Cranberry Goat Cheese mixed green salad with pecans. So how do you make it? Easily. Very Easily.

North Shore Poor’s Fancy like Iggy Azalea Any Season Salad

Grab
-1 container of mixed green or spinach. $5
-1 package of Fisher Nut Pecans $5
-1 package of crumbled goat cheese $4
-1 package of dried cranberries (8oz will do) $3

For a dressing I usually mix
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-balsamic vinaigrette
-some minced garlic, salt, and pepper
-Dijon mustard

Directions (5 minutes or less total time)
For presentations sake, I don’t mix this but put the ingredients on top.
-Place the salad greens in your desired container
-sprinkles pecans, cranberries, and goat cheese on top.
-artfully arrange
-leave dressing on the sides
-voila! you’re done!

As you can see above, that took me about 2 minutes to make and I didn’t even take use a different container. Place in a fancy dish and you are all set!

North Shore Poor’s Easy like a Khardashian Steak Dinner

Sometimes you just want an easy dinner. You don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen but the idea of picking up fast food holds no appeal for you. If you’re like me, it’s actually not even a last resort. Well, unless it’s a DQ blizzard, then that’s always good. So instead of hitting up a fast food joint, here’s what I do:

First, I figure out the nearest grocery store to me on my way home from work/the gym. I go in, grab a my ingredients: steak, an avocado, and some cous cous. I pick a small but good steak, usually grass fed/organic, I eat a lot less because of lap band and I always want quality over quantity. An avocado completes any meal in my opinion. You can get out of the store for under $20 even at Whole paycheck Foods, I usually have a glass of Pinot Grigio or Tempranillo in my fridge but feel free to skip the wine.

Directions (15 minutes total time)
1. Follow directions on cous cous box. Usually involves boiling water with some olive oil and the spice pack. I use Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil.
2. Chop 1-2 cloves of garlic.
3. Coat steak with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder
4. Make a few shallow cuts in steak and put in cut up garlic
5. Flip steak and repeat.
6. Grab a pan and turn stove on medium heat with a little olive oil, I lie adding a little lime juice over mine but that’s a personal preference. Try it once to see. You will no be disappointed.
7. Check on cous cous and continue to follow directions. When the water is boiling add the cous cous, cover and remove from heat I believe, I don’t have the box in front of me but I’ve made it enough,
8. Place steak in hated pan.
9. Start cutting up avocado. I l ike garlic salt and lime sprinkled on mine but it can be plain or even with some lemon juice and/or salt. Again, a preference.
10. Cook steak 3-4 minutes on each side should get you to a medium rare, add more time to get your temperature preference.
11. Plate the avocado and cous cous.
12. Add the steak and enjoy!

North Shore Poor’s I Want to Binge-Watch TV in my Pj’s Tilapia 

I love any and all seafood. I guess this is from my Italian side because my Dad absolutely abhors any kind of fish. This just means at the Japanese steakhouse I get his shrimp which is a win for me. A quick and easy seafood meal is great for being low cal and delicious! Tilapia is great dinner and easy to cook without smelling to fishy.

All you need is:
-cabbage, which can you can get pre-shredded if you feel like it
-olive oil
-mayo
-lemon (bottled lemon juice is fine)
-tilapia filet
-avacado
-lime (bottled lime juice is fine)
-handful of cherry tomatoes
-1 egg

Directions
The Israeli Cabbage Salad (5 minute prep)
1. Chop us a quarter to half of a cabbage and out in bowl. Otherwise use the pre-shredded stuff.
2. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and add to bowl
3. Add a tablespoon or so of mayo
3. Add salt and pepper to taste
4. Add lemon juice, enough to wet the cabbage
5. Mix.
6. Put in fridge. Doesn’t matter covered or not since it will only be there about 15 minutes.

The Tilapia
7. Get a shallow bowl and crack egg into a bowl
8. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder and put on a plate
9. Coat filet in egg and then dip in spice mixture, evenly on both sides
10. Get pan ready with a little olive oil and medium heat
11. Add filet and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until flaky.  I like a char so I use a higher heat for about 3 minutes. Put on plate.

12. Cut up avocado, plate, add lime and/or garlic salt
13. Take Israeli salad out, mix, plate.
14. Eat and enjoy! Use lime juice for added flavor.

Simple easy meals are the way to go to stay healthy and well fed. When you start cooking and realize how easy it is, it becomes a lot easier to make a great meal at home with fresh meat/seafood than go to a restaurant where half the time it’s poor quality and frozen. When I do go out to eat, I make it count and this weekend was no exception. Joey took me to Sabatino’s on Sunday night and I had amazing garlic tilapia and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio followed by a decadent chocolate mousse cake. Quality food in a romantic setting made for a wonderful Sunday night.

Sunday morning was even better.  JoeyWaffles went to t-mobile with his brother and took my phone while I went into home goods. I assumed he was asking about a new case or battery life or something with our plan. I met his up at Potbelly’s and he told me he got me a new case. He handed me my phone in a new case and then I realized it wasn’t my phone, it was the new Sony Xperia Z3. Besy boyfriend ever. I love surprises and I have been getting sick of my phone since I have too many pictures and no memory card slot.

Sabatino’s + new phone + seeing our friends Rick and Sara who came in from Indy= a perfect weekend.

So how about you? What are your easy to make go to recipes? Anything fun happen to you this weekend?

avocado, bacon, breakfast, caveman, chorizo, eggs, food, health, healthy, paleo, recipe

Avocado and Bacon and Chorizo, oh my!

I don’t always want to leave the house on a Saturday morning to spend $40 at Walker Bro’s or some other North Shore breakfast hotspot (see: Sarki’s, Kauffmans, etc).  I also try to follow the Paleo lifestyle (no grains, dairy, or artificial sugar) and try to eat pretty healthy. So when it’s Saturday morning and I don’t want to get dressed or spend money, I look at what’s in the fridge and JoeyWaffles and I start making things up. 
Submitted for the approval of the internet recipe society, I call this recipe:
NoShoPo’s Saturday Carnivore Scramble
Ingredients
for the scramble 
2 organic egg whites
1 egg yolk (organic)
A handful (or to your taste) cilantro chopped up
1/2 ripe avocado cut up into small cubes
a few shakes of garlic powder (to taste)
a few shakes of salt (to taste)
a few shakes of pepper(to taste)
for the chorizo
6oz of chorizo 
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced (add more or less depending on taste)
smidgeon of oil (olive, coconut, butter if you want)
for the bacon
1 package of organic bacon
1 cup Organic Maple Syrup
Directions
Start with the chorizo first
1. Grab a skillet
2. Turn stove to medium heat and warm the pan up
2.5 So I add the oil here but I have no idea if that’s right so if you want to add after it’s warmed up, go right ahead
3. Make sure you have some good music playing and something good to drink, coffee or juice is nice
4. When the pan is warmed, throw in your onions and garlic (add oil if you haven’t already)
5. Dance a little around your kitchen and enjoy yourself
6. Keep singing to the radio and stir/flip/move around the onions and garlic
7. When the onion look softer and the garlic browns some, add the chorizo
8. I sort of use my flat stainless steel spatula to break up and move around the chorizo in the pan
9. Using the spatula, mix the chorizo around with the onions and garlic
While the chorizo is cooking, you can start the bacon
10. Open bacon package
11. Cut in half for shorter strips, leave whole for longer
12. Place bacon on a different pan and turn heat on medium to high
13. Stir chorizo, make sure to get the food on the sides mixed in
14. Check on Bacon
15. Sip coffee/juice
16. The chorizo should be done, so turn off the heat ad move into a bowl
17. Check on bacon, flip if looks ready 
While the bacon is cooking, start the egg prep
16. Crack a egg into a bowl
17. Crack another egg and separate yolk.
18. Throw yolk out unless you want, I just try to only use one. 
19. Put egg white in bowl.
20. Add in chopped avocado
21. Dance some more and check on the bacon (definitely flip if you haven’t already)
22. If bacon looks halfway done or you just want to do it now, open the maple syrup and drizzle it on the strips, to your liking, I like a lot so on it goes!
23. Turn on a fan/or keep the heat low so as not to smoke out the place.
23.5 Joey never makes the house smoke, I tend to so…it’s probably me. Keep the heat lower then high. Medium-ish works.
24. Take a bite of chorizo to taste-test and feel proud of yourself for such deliciousness
25. Monitor bacon and get a plate ready to put said bacon on (not a paper plate!)
26. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste to the eggs and beat to 
27. Add cilantro to the eggs
28. Bacon should be about done so transfer to plate (I like mine pretty crispy)
29. Use chorizo pan if you want (I usually do for the added taste and no need for oil) or a new pan and warm it up for a minute
30. Add in eggs and scramble to preference (mine is about 1 minute, barely cooked and delicious)
Voila! You have a delicious scramble with a good meat to protein ratio. 
Completely paleo. Completely delicious.
This is easier then it seems and really fun to modify. You can leave out the chorizo or leave out the bacon, you can use regular bacon without the maple, etc. You can add roasted red peppers, onions, or whatever you want to the eggs. Take whatever you have in your fridge and make your own version and enjoy!
So tell me, what do you like in your scrambles? 
What are your favorite Saturday morning meals?