15 Healthy Food Staples

The best way to set yourself up for success on eating healthy is by having a fridge and pantry stocked with healthy foods. So I created a list of my top 15 Healthy Food Staples that help me eat healthy all week long.

1. Apples - If you struggle with hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, you need apples in your diet. There are phytochemicals in apples that have been proven to help regulate blood sugar as well as antioxidants and fiber. And because of apple's high water content, they keep you full. Score! Apples are great as a snack with Peanut Butter, in oatmeal or on salads, or paired with chicken, grapes, and plain Greek yogurt for a fruited Chicken Salad.

2. Avocado - Avocados are good fat. They are packed with potassium, folate, fiber, and tons of antioxidant-rich vitamins. You can throw them in shakes, on sandwiches or salads or use them as a base to a yummy Alfredo Sauce. Just mash the avocado into a creamy texture mixed with a little EVOO, lemon juice, basil and oregano. Pair with a whole wheat linguine, some lean meat like chicken or shrimp, and you'll have an awesome hearty meal that won't compromise your health.

3. Blueberries - Blueberries are a food that has a high concentration of antioxidants. Not to mention, they taste great! I use them in my oatmeal, in salads, and often use them as a mid-day snack. In the summer, I fill a snack size Ziploc bag with blueberries and stick them in the freezer for a healthy dessert. 

4. Bananas - They are an athlete's secret weapon. They are packed with vitamin B6 as well as the same kind of electrolytes you sweat out during a hard workout. I eat bananas on a daily basis. They taste great in oatmeal, as a snack with a little peanut butter or in shakes.

5. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - The weekends are a great time to grill or cook a few Chicken Breasts to have on hand for the coming week. With the chicken already cooked, I can quickly have a grilled chicken sandwich, a grilled chicken salad, or eat the chicken plain with some brown rice and vegetables.

6. Flat Out! Whole Wheat Wraps -  I like wraps better than sandwiches. I like to pile my wrap high with veggies and then roll it all up together! These are the best wraps I've found. They are easy to fold, don't get wet & tear, and they are also high in protein and fiber. They also work great for homemade pizzas in the oven. You can also cut them into pieces, put them on a cookie sheet in the oven, and make your own pita chips. 

7. Plain Greek Yogurt - Greek Yogurt not only packs as much protein as an egg, but also has calcium and probiotics. It is great with fresh fruit and granola (like a parfait) or used as a stand in for sour cream or mayonnaise. Throw a dalop on your tacos or use in your favorite egg or chicken salad. Delicious. 

8. Hard-boiled eggs - Eggs are perhaps the best cost-efficient source of protein. If you're trying to eat healthy on a budget, you need to include eggs in your plan. I boil eggs each weekend to keep on hand for a low-calorie snack, to add to salads, or to eat for breakfast alongside a whole wheat English muffin. If you think eggs are too bland, add some black pepper & sea salt to them.

9. Hummus - Some flavor of hummus is always in my fridge. Check the deli of your grocery store and experiment with the different flavors. I use hummus as a dip for veggies like: cucumbers, celery, and cherry tomatoes and also like hummus to replace mayonnaise on sandwiches and wraps.  Hummus has more flavor and is much more calorie-dense than many other spreads. 

10. Lemons - Lemons are a great fruit to have on hand to add flavor to your cooking and your water. Try squeezing fresh lemon juice on your salads, in your pastas, or glass of water for a fresh citrus taste. Lemons also help your body by being a digestive aid and liver cleanser.

11. Natural Peanut Butter - Confession: There is nothing a spoon and peanut butter can't fix. haha. I love PB. But if you're still consuming Peter Pan or JIF, you are also consuming a lot of preservatives. The best option is to buy your peanut butter from a store that will let you grind your own. If that is not available in your area, look for peanut butter with just the ingredient: Peanuts. :)

12. Oats - Oatmeal may be one of the world's most perfect foods. I prefer steel cut oats, but old fashioned oats are great too. I eat oatmeal almost every morning with fresh fruit and a drizzle of either Pure Maple Syrup or Local Raw Honey. Just remember - if it's flavored and comes in a packet, it's NOT your healthiest option. I also love making "Peaches and Cream Protein Oatmeal" by mixing in a packet of Vanilla Shakeology and fresh peaches.

13. Salmon - Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. So what's so great about Omega-3? Studies have shown that O-3 can boost heart health and reduce inflammation in muscles. If you're not a fan of the "fishy" taste, be sure to add lemon juice to the meat while you're cooking. It will help develop a more mild flavor to the fish. Salmon is great on salads, or paired with Quinoa and a steamed veggie like Broccoli or Asparagus.

14. Shakeology - Perfection in a glass - my healthiest & easiest meal of the day. As a girl who loves chocolate, this is my secret to fighting off sweet cravings - while at the same time, giving myself the most nutrient-dense 140 calories available on the market today. Just pop it in the blender with ice, almond milk & PB, and I feel like I'm indulging in a chocolate peanut butter ice cream. CLICK HERE to see more!

15. Tomatoes - Not only are Tomatoes incredibly versatile to cook with, but they are also rich in lycopene which is an antioxidant that helps fight off certain cancers. You can find tomatoes all year around and are fairly inexpensive. So throw them on salads, sandwiches, in pasta, or omelets and enjoy this antioxidant powerhouse.

Lunchbox Breakdown

Here's my lunch. Oh mah goodness - it looks yummy. I can't wait till lunchtime.

I have 1 major rule for my healthy eating.

I will NOT choke down food.

I know, that might seem obvious - but being excited about eating health food, helps me actually eat it. So often healthy eating looks dry, under seasoned, and always chicken + broccoli. No thanks.

I go through waves where spinach salads sound amazing, and then a few weeks later I gag just thinking about it. So I encourage you to listen to your body (and tastebuds) and shift your meals accordingly. Stay excited about eating. Fix meals that appeal to you. Don't become so routine that it isn't enjoyable anymore. Eating is incredibly fun. Right?

Ok back to my lunch! Here's the break down of what I'm about to chomp down:

Sliced Apples + Justin's Peanut Butter with Honey

Tillamook Farmstyle Vanilla Greek Yogurt + KIND Vanilla Blueberry Clusters (in a silicone muffin liner)

^^ Case in point, 99% of the time I'm a plain Fage Greek Yogurt gal (with a drizzle of honey), but just wasn't feeling it and I needed a change. :)

Two boiled eggs

Tuna Salad: Two packs of Albacore Tuna with plain greek yogurt + mustard

Sliced Tomatoes

And the cute stackable lunch box is from Ikea (such a magical place).

Now, that the lunch pictures have been documented and this post has been typed. It's time to EAT. Bye!

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

Do you suck at breakfast?

I do. Seriously. I'm terrible at eating breakfast. If I can't fix and consume breakfast within seconds, it doesn't happen. It's always the last thing on my morning to-do list, and if it's not easy - I just walk out the door hungry (I'm probably late anyway). :D

So what's a girl to-do? I understand the importance of breakfast...I want to eat it...but the time thing gets me (everytime).

I decided that for this breakfast relationship to work, it has to be easy, fast, and portable.

Once I created a plan that met my morning food criteria, I became successful. Woo hoo. So for all you terrible breakfast eaters out there (or those who need to switch it up) I give you 5 quick and easy breakfasts.

Go forth and eat breakfast!!

1. Egg Muffins - These make ahead yummies are very versatile. You can eat them cold, or nuke them in the microwave in the morning. You can find the full recipe here.

2. Shakeology - I love this stuff. My #1 go to breakfast. Keeps me full and is loaded with nutrients. My favorite flavor is Greenberry blended with OJ, banana, ice, and water. Check it out here.

3. Greek Yogurt + Granola - Greek yogurt (I'm a plain Fage girl) and KIND's Vanilla Blueberry Clusters or Breakfast bars (like the one pictured).

4. PB Banana Sandwich - Toasting the bread also happens (sometimes). :D

5. Boiled Eggs + Fruit - 2 boiled eggs and a portable piece of fruit.

Little things make a BIG impact

As we embark into the New Year, keep this #sunshinetruth with you. Don't discredit the small changes, the small acts of kindness, and the small steps of progress. Small things make a big impact. They set the tone for a healthy lifestyle, they stir up positivity in our hearts, and they put growth into motion. Here is an example of 10 little things that can be done to help you live well, find peace, and have fun! What small things will you commit to doing in 2017?

  1. Write a letter to someone who you've thought about that day.
  2. Drink a full glass of water when you wake up.
  3. Sit for a few minutes and just focus on your breathing.
  4. Smile genuinely at strangers.
  5. Go for a walk.
  6. In your calendar, write down a daily gratitude.
  7. Eat 1 more serving of vegetables.
  8. Enjoy the sunset (or rise).
  9. Tackle one pesky task.
  10. Fix a meal at home instead of going out.

My Mantra

This has been my mantra for the past few months because I’ve needed this reminder on a daily basis.

Each good choice DOES make a difference. Believe it!

Each good choice DOES make a difference. Believe it!

Let this be an encouragement to you that every time you make a good choice, you’re driving that bad habit nail out a little further. It might not seem much at the time, but tap upon tap upon tap – you are making progress.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This is my GO-TO salad dressing. Super easy to make, really light and full of flavor, AND goes incredibly well with my apple cranberry feta mixed green salad! Bonus: You probably have all the ingredients in your cabinet right now! Check it out:

I'm hungry. Let's eat!

I'm hungry. Let's eat!

Have a salad loving friend? Share this recipe with them!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
little salt and pepper

Put the above ingredients in a mason jar and shake. Enjoy on your delicious salads!