Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Favorites from Pittsburgh

I was visiting friends in Pittsburgh last weekend so I thought I would share some of my favorites!

Favorite Workout
Running the hilly streets of Pittsburgh

Another pic from the run

Favorite Wine
Gnarly Head
Who knows where I can find it in Chicago??

Favorite Dinner
Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh
I've never been to one so I was excited! (I still need to check out Chicago's)
I had the Hefeweizen, pretzels with beer cheese, and potato pancakes with applesauce.

What were your favorites this week?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to make a healthy lifestyle routine

Americans are obsessed with diets and quick ways to lose weight or shortcuts to being skinny. But the truth is, there is no quick and easy way to become healthy or fit and it takes dedication and an overall change in lifestyle. Our society doesn’t make it easy to be healthy because of the prevalence of processed and fast foods and our sedentary jobs. It can be quite hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle especially when it’s against the grain. A healthy lifestyle has to become a habit for it to be sustainable. Our bodies and minds work best with routine (source: The Power of Habit), here are some tips to make healthy living a routine:

Find your cues. Figure out what unhealthy habits you have and what triggers them. For example, if you have a cookie or soda every afternoon, examine what makes you want to eat that snack. Is it because you are tired and need an energy kick or simply bored?

Replace bad habits. After you figure out what your habits are and what triggers them, find new things to replace your habits. If you need an energy kick in the afternoon, have an apple or some tea. If you’re bored, go for a walk or talk to co-workers. You will still reward your cravings, but with healthier options.

Form new healthy habits. People always say that early morning runners are crazy, but really, they’ve just made it a habit. Waking up and seeing running clothes set out next to the bed is the trigger for the good habit. Eating a green smoothie for breakfast or bringing lunch to work can become a habit.

Make healthy easy. Once you form healthy habits, make them the easier option in your daily life. If you have an apple at your desk, you are more likely to eat it than go to the vending machine for a candy bar. If you keep your fridge stocked with (healthy) food, you are more likely to eat it for dinner than pick up fast food on the way home.

Move more. You don’t have to rigorously workout for an hour each day to be healthy. Taking walks, standing at your desk, or even this 7-minute workout, are enough. Fitness trackers and apps or simply reminders on your computer/phone can help you remember to move all day long.

Share your healthy habits in the comments below!

*This post is sponsored by GigaSavvy. Visit the Molina Healthcare to learn more tips for staying healthy. Also connect with Molina on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, February 24, 2014

LUNAFEST Chicago on Feb. 27

This Thursday, Feb. 27th,  a few bloggers are attending the Chicago premiere of LUNAFEST, a festival of nine inspiring short films (view trailer) by, for, and about women. This year's Chicago premiere benefits the Step Up Women's Network (85%) and the Breast Cancer Fund (15%). LUNA Bar (made by Clif Bar) supports an active and healthy lifestyle and I'm excited to promote this event. It's 6-9 pm at the Museum of Broadcast Communications on 360 N. State St., Chicago (actual showtime is at 7:30 pm). You must purchase tickets in advance and use code LUNA5 to get $5 off! Click here to purchase tickets, I hope you can make it!

*This post is not sponsored but I did receive information and free tickets for the event from Clif Bar.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Favorites - Winter Olympics!

I love watching both the summer and winter olympics and I think one of the reasons is because the women get as much coverage as the men. I also like watching the more "artistic" sports like gymnastics and figure skating. So here are my favorites so far from the Olympics and no surprise that there are many women and lots of figure skaters!

Biathlete Anastasiya Kuzmina so far wins the only gold for my home country of Slovakia

Ashley Wagner is not impressed by her score, classic meme face

Carolina Kostner of Italy has an angelic short skate program and wins the
bronze overall. She was definitely my favorite women's skater this olympics.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White bring home the only USA gold medal in skating, I love the Jasmine/Aladdin theme!

Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are by far the best announcers with
their matching outfits and bad-ass style

Um, how does she get her leg up there?
Russia's 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya shows the world what she's got

Slovenia's Tina Maze wins 2 gold medals in skiing, she's also a pop start!

I love Japan's Mao Asada's peacock outfit and he incredible free skate performance.
I wish more sports included awesome sparkly outfits!

And can't wait to cheer on USA hockey against Canada today!

What have been your favorites from Sochi?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carbon footprint of meat

I don't usually promote the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) because I am pro-nuclear energy but they posted an interesting fact sheet on the carbon footprint of our favorite foods. This research is actually from an article in Scientific American that shows that diet can be more important than cars in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and thus combating global warming.

The carbon footprint of food includes all of the fossil fuels that that went into producing the fertilizer, pumping irrigation water for the crop to grow, emissions from converting forest land to grazing land, transportation of feed and packaged products to consumers, and even methane released from the animals’ digestion and manure. Therefore, meat has a high carbon footprint because you have to grow the crops to feeds the animals and then also have land for the animals, and all of the transportation in between.

The NRDC estimates that if all Americans eliminated just one quarter-pound serving of beef per week, the reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four to six million cars off the road. The single-most green/sustainable thing that you can do as an individual is simply eat less meat. You will reduce greenhouse gas emissions more so than you would than taking public transit or driving a hybrid car. And you don't even have to be close to vegan or mostly plant-based, like me. Try doing Meatless Mondays or reducing your portion size of meat and adding vegetables. Your health will benefit, as well.

Would knowing the carbon footprint of your food impact your eating habits?

How do you try to be more sustainable in your daily life?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chicago Grilled Cheese Competition and Avocado Grilled Cheese-Less Recipe

My friends in Chicago hold an annual grilled cheese competition and I decided to join this year and show everyone that grilled cheese can be healthy too! The Fifth Annual Chicago Grilled Cheese Competition was held at the Cephalon test kitchen and judged by Toasty Cheese, a grilled cheese food truck in Chicago. The winner gets their sandwich on the truck menu for a year!

Hosts Ken and Elena (right) kicking off the competition. Judges from Toasty Cheese on the left.

"Sweet CheeZeus" team cooking.

There's Ryan, the other member of my "Grilled Cheese-less" team!
His job was butter, lots of vegan butter.

Avocado Grilled Cheese-Less Recipe

Earth Balance Butter (to taste)
2 slices Daiya provolone cheese
2 slices Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread
1/2 avocado, sliced

Place large pan over medium-low heat. Spread butter on both sides of each piece of bread. Place slices on pan and sauté until butter starts to melt. Flip slices and place one piece of cheese on each slice. Once cheese starts to melt. Place 3-4 slices of avocado on one slice of the bread/cheese. Place the other slice of bread/cheese on top to make the sandwich. Cook for a couple more minutes, flipping and adding more butter as necessary. Remove from heat once cheese is melted through and bread is a medium brown color. Wait a minute to cool and then cut sandwich in half. Serve with extra avocado.

Grilled Cheese-Less did not win the competition but I think we showed everyone that this sandwich can be made healthy and a dairy-free! I received great compliments from the judges and it was a fun time. You all should participate next year!

What are your secret ingredients for a perfect grilled cheese?

Have you even entered a cooking competition?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Favorites and Happy Valentine's Day!

I look at Valentine's Day as not just for couples but also for spreading the love to your family, friends, colleagues, and in this case, bloggers! I wanted to share some of my favorite bloggers with you to spread the love. I know them all in person and they are great people. (Well, I only met Lauren Conrad once at her book signing for a few seconds but she is amazing and I like to think that we would be bffs.) And I also wanted to share some of my favorite ladies in honor of Galentine's Day yesterday.

Favorite Fitness Blog: Fab Fit Chicago
Jeana has basically tested out all of the gyms in Chicago and
she also posts some great workouts to do at home.

Favorite Sustainable Blog: The Garden Apt.
Lindsay is all about style without the cost to the environment. We have a lot of similar tastes in tea, food, and furniture. She really has a good eye for things, trust me, I've been to her apartment!

Favorite Travel/Food Blog: Lion + Maven
Just as Jeana has tried every gym in Chicago, Lauren has tried every restaurant! She also has an impressive travel resume and even got married in Scotland, you have check out this picture.

Favorite Beauty Blog: 312 Beauty
I am bad at beauty (even though I blog about it), but Laurie reminds me that I need to take care of my skin in hair so I still look youthful past 30. She also has lots of great beauty giveaways, including one going on right now!

Favorite Lifestyle Blog:
Lauren is one of those celebrities that I'm proud to look up to. I know she started as a popular high schooler on reality TV but she's become so much more than that. Lauren has made a brand of herself and become a successful entrepreneur. When asked what her "favorite position is" in a radio interview, she said CEO. Boom. Oh, and I stole her Friday Favorites idea :)

What were your favorites this week?

Do you have any plans for Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vega #OneChange

You've seen me instagramming and tweeting about the Vega #OneChange campaign for the past month so it's finally time for me to share with you the full details. Vega is challenging us to make one change in our daily life to start building healthier habits. The one change involves replacing something, like breakfast, with a Vega product, like a Vega One shake. You know from my past posts that I'm an avid fan of Vega One and drink a smoothie with it for breakfast nearly every day. Kickstarting my day with a healthy and easy breakfast helps me stay on track for the rest of the day.

Vega One pumpkin smoothie, recipe here!

So the next habit I want to change is my snacking. Especially now that I work at home, it's so easy for me to get a snack out of the kitchen when I need a break. Because of this, I can't keep anything unhealthy at home because I will eat it. I am a sucker for sugary and salty snacks. I've been known to eat a whole box of blondie double-stuffed oreos in one sitting. I basically can't keep these things at home but I still love to snack so I need replacements!

The Vega One Bar is a great snack and even better on the go. I always pack some in my luggage when I travel. I also keep lots of fruits around to satisfy my sweet tooth. For salty snacks, I love my homemade dehydrated kale chips and air-popped popcorn drizzles with Earth Balance butter. In addition, caffeine curbs appetite and hunger so I always try to make a cup of green tea when that snack attack strikes at 2 pm.

What is #OneChange that you would like to make in your diet? Vega has tips for breakfast skippers, number crunchers, serial snackers (me), and weekend splurgers (also me). Click on the images for more info!



Tell me which profile(s) you fit and one change you would like to make in your diet.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Vega but I did receive information about the campaign and free samples. All text and opinions are my own.

Monday, February 10, 2014

San Diego Birthday Vacation

Sorry I missed Friday Favorites last week! I was having too much fun enjoying the sun in San Diego for my birthday vacation. Ryan and I visited a couple of friends from college and had a great time hiking, doing a wine tour, and enjoying the beach. The high was only in the low 60s each day, "cold" for San Diego, but it still felt much better than Chicago! Here's some pics from the trip:

Cruising down the boardwalk in Pacific Beach

Hiking Torrey Pines

Hiking Torrey Pines

Start of San Diego Winery Train Tour

Hanging out at the beach

Love the sunsets in Pacific Beach

Are you taking any vacations this winter/spring?

What do you usually do for your birthday?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February #fuelstreak

Hello from San Diego! Ryan and I are visiting one of our college friends down here to celebrate my birthday and escape #Chiberia. We were delayed getting out yesterday because of the snow storm but finally made it and managed to get a sunset bike ride in and explore some of the local bars.

I started my birthday morning by going on an easy run down the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. The 55 degree weather felt amazing and running in a tank top was refreshing. Um, why did I decide to move to Chicago again? Growing up in Florida, I'm definitely a beach/warm-weather person.

One of my New Years goals this year was to run through the winter, but well, you know. It's been rough out there. So instead, I've decided to do a 30-day #fuelstreak starting today! So this means that I have to meet my fuel goal of 3000 on my Nike fuel band each day for 30 days. This doesn't necessarily mean that I need to workout everyday, because I can meet the goal just by walking around a lot. I work from home so it's really easy to not be active during the day.

February tends to be the most inactive month for people because it's after the New Years rush but before people start working on their "summer bodies." The weather also sucks in February. So join me on this #fuelstreak by trying to be more active for the rest of the month. You'll feel awesome once spring rolls around! 

Use your fuel band, fitbit, other fitness tracker, or just yourself to make sure that you move everyday. Even a mile run or walk counts! Let's make February active!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Peeled Juice Cleanse

One of the most important things that I learned when I did Karyn's Raw Detox last year was that juice cleansing and fasting is the ultimate way to keep healthy. I have not been truly sick since I did Karyn's cleanse and that's pretty amazing for someone who used to have a perpetual cold and cough during the entire winter and really severe sinus infections. The one time I thought I was sick in 2013, it was actually just mild asthma due to allergies. (Asthma runs in my family.) Anytime I do feel like I'm getting a cold, I eat a bunch of vegetable and take spirulina and/or chlorella, much more effective than chicken noodle soup or cold medicine.

Anyway, back to the cleanse! I tried some juice from Peeled a couple weeks ago at the NTC Chicago opening and it inspired me to do their 3-day juice cleanse. The Groupon is only $97, which you can easily spend on veggies alone for juicing. Juice fasting is one of the best ways to get rid of the toxins that your body has built up from processed food, pesticides, alcohol, other chemicals, air pollutants, etc. These toxins reside in digestive system, which you can clean out by taking a break from food. Cold-pressed juice has all of the nutrients of fruits and vegetables but not the fiber. Therefore, minimal digestion is needed to absorb the nutrients, thus giving your intestines, kidneys, and liver a chance to clean out. It's like taking a day off work to organize your life and clean your apartment, your gut needs a day off once in a while too!

The Peeled juice cleanse is composed of six juices a day for three (or more) days. You take the green and maroon juices twice. The labels of the four different juices are shown below.

Green juice is always a great way to start the day, juice cleanse or not. 

Lemon and cayenne together tastes amazing. I'm going to make this at home more regularly.

This is the sweetest of the juices and not my favorite. I think it could go without the apple because, believe it or not, carrot and beet are pretty sweet on their own.

This was my favorite juice during the cleanse. Maybe because it's the most filling and felt satisfying at the end of the day. But the maple/cashew blend is really good. I might try to make this one at home too!

After picking up my 3 days worth of juice at the Lincoln Park location and stocking my fridge, I was ready to start the cleanse! To maximize the effects of the cleanse, you should eat raw vegan and no caffeine or alcohol at least the day before and after the 3-day cleanse. Eating healthy the 3 days before and after is also good. This will also make the cleanse easier and you won't be as hungry.

Juice fasting is not easy. You don't feel famished or that hungry during the cleanse, but you just keep thinking about solid food. I don't have enough energy to workout during juicing. I did try Bikram yoga during this time but I had to lay down a lot. 

Some people react to the cleanse with unlimited energy. I feel that way after the cleanse. Other people can get a cold during the cleanse because your body is releasing so many toxins. The more often you cleanse, the easier it gets. Your first one might be really rough, but trust me that it gets better! No matter how the cleanse goes, you will feel more energetic and healthy after, and filling, greasy food won't sound as good anymore.

The day before the cleanse I ate mostly liquids to get ready. I had a Vega smoothie for breakfast, avocado soup for lunch, another smoothie for dinner, and then some popcorn as a snack (not recommend but I caved in). When breaking the cleanse after the 3 days, be sure to go slow and not shock your system and ruin the cleanse. Start with a smoothie, veggie soup for lunch is great, and then something easy to digest for dinner. Great example is veggie stir fry with white rice. If you eat dairy and meat, wait a couple of days to reintroduce those into your diet. You might not even want to!

One last note, to make a juice fast truly a cleanse, you should strongly consider doing a colonic or enema. This will completely clean out your colon to allow for maximum toxin release. I've heard some say that it's not even worth it to do a juice cleanse without an enema because you won't clean out anything. I talk more about colonics and enemas in this post. Trust me, it's not as scary or gross as it sounds!

Have you ever done a juice cleanse?

What is your favorite fruit/veggie juice?

Disclaimer: I am not a physician or registered dietician and all recommendations are from my own experience. Please consult your doctor before you make any major health or lifestyle changes.

*This post is not sponsored. I bought and reviewed the Peeled Juice Cleanse on my own.