Amazing Apple Recipes for Autumn

..oh hey there, remember me? I haven’t forgotten you guys, but the life is quite busy these days. 🙂 Now that the seasons are changing, I’m KINDA excited – fall is one of my favorite seasons…pumpkins, cinnamon, apples, caramel, cardamon…ugh the warm spices of the season are just lovely.

Now, if you’re like me, you really enjoy the flavors of fall. So this week I’ll be sharing some lists of healthy fall meals and treats that you can try out at home. I’m a simple kinda girl, so I’ve looked all over for simple recipes that don’t take a lot of work, special ingredients, or time. Keep it simple, keep it healthy, keep it delicious.

Up first, we have the apple!!!! (click on the titles/image for the recipe).  And make sure to check out my Facebook Page, as I’ll be posting more nummy recipes on there all week! 🙂

Apple Pie…In An APPLE

Apple Pie In An APPLE

 

Paleo Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes

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Apple Pie Blondies

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Caramel Apple Protein Shake

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Roasted Applesauce

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Caramel Apple Popcorn

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Paleo Apple Crisp

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Gluten Free Brown Sugar Apple Oat Muffins

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Taking the Guilt Out of Eating

I follow a couple of healthy food and recipe accounts on Instagram and have recently noticed a lot of them talk about “guilt free” recipes and snacks. And that phrase just…bothers me for some reason.

Why is the word guilt even remotely associated with food and the way we eat? It’s remarkable that such a strong emotion, guilt, is tied to something as basic and necessary as providing sustenance for our bodies to function. Eating is an essential function of the human body. You literally will cease to function if you do not eat.

It speaks volumes that, in an attempt to eat healthier, it’s become a trend to take some of our less than healthy foods, ya know the ones we love but end up regretting having eaten later, and make them slightly healthy enough, or not as fattening and dubbed it guilt free.

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This kind of imagery is very detrimental. It just perpetuates the “fear” associated with gaining weight by eating a cupcake, which further exacerbates the guilt. If you want the cupcake, have it. But what you DON’T want to do, is have 10 of them in one sitting. MODERATION is key.

The term guilt free is a trap on both sides.

Firstly, the thought of something being guilt free can lead to overindulgence. Oh, it’s a guilt free cookie dough ball…it’s made with quinoa and all kinds of other healthy stuff – I’m good to down 6 of these right? I mean…it’s healthy! WRONG. Adding the term guilt free mentally flips a switch in most folks heads that gives them the green light to overindulge. Granted, the quinoa cookie dough balls probably have less sugar and fat that regular cookie dough, but either way you’re still missing the point of eating right if you down the entire batch in only a few (or one) sitting. Guilt free or no, you my dear, have failed in learning moderation.

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Secondly, I don’t like the idea that guilt should in any way shape or fo be associated with eating. And if those feelings of guilt DO exist when it comes to a persons daily diet, then it’s time to take a serious look at the way in which you relate to food. Good isn’t meant to make you feel guilty. It’s meant to nourish your body. What makes things complicated is that in out day and age there are SO many foods that may taste delicious or are quick to make/consume, but don’t nourish us nearly as well as a more natural and whole food counterpart. Add to that the emotional value that we place on food…it may remind you of a special memory or a loved one or provide some kind of familiarity and feeling of pleasure when you are eating.

But does it FEED you? Really and truly, FEED you the things you need and not the things you want. Do you eat more for joy or more for necessity? And if it is more joy based eating, then I wonder how you feel…how you TRULY feel when that meal or snack is complete. These are questions you have to ask yourself. I know there have been times in my heavier days when I felt a little guilt about eating too much of a bad thing. Yea it felt great when I choked down, but afterwards I kinda felt like whatever pleasure I got from eating was gone once I stopped eating. And worse, I felt bad for indulging too much. I personally had to, and still do, evaluate the way I look at food. I am making myself take the time to cool for myself. I’m always short in time, so Sundays are my days to cool and prep meals and snacks for the week. I get excited about my prep time. I look forward to it. And best of all, I know what I’m eating and feel happier and more empowered by that. My indulge days or moments are still there. I allow for a meal out or happy hour with friends – I know that in out society food is a means of bringing people together socially, so I’m not trying to change the system…I’m finding ways to function within it and still come out on top. Guilt and regret are no longer words I associate with eating. My advice to you is to try having a quick check in with yourself before you dive into the “goodies.” My check in sounds something like this…

Me: I think I want to eat *insert unhealthy meal/snack here*
Myself: Are you sure?
Me: Yea.
Myself: Ok, then you’re not gonna feel bad about this later right? No moaning and groaning about trying to burn the calories later, because you know that NEVER happens no matter how much folks say it.
Me: Yep, I’m willing to take the hit for indulging this time.
Myself: Ok, cool. Enjoy!

That is how I manage my cravings. Sometimes a snack or treat just isn’t worth it. And in those moments I will swiftly say no. I’m a big believer in living with no regrets. Learn to question your dietary habits and question why they are the way they are. It’s completely fine to do a quick check in with yourself to make sure you’re making informed choices about what you eat and when.

Make every meal a guilt free one by practicing accountability and setting realistic expectations on what you eat and what your food can and cannot do for you.

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Eating Right in a World of Wrong

eating healthy is about practice

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to lose weight…specifically how to make the right food choices when there are just SO many different options, diets, and trends out there. Let me hip you to the game a lil bit…The truth is nutrition is the key to weight loss, but ultimately you have to figure out what works best for YOU. Everyone has different goals, and beyond that our bodies all react differently to different kinds of foods. With that said…I will give you some basic tips that will at least help you get started on the right foot:

  • Breakfast is NOT your enemy. How many times have you skipped out on breakfast only to be famished by 11am? Those office donuts or a trip to the vending machine starts to look PRETTY good when the hunger monster hits. It’s not so bad…I mean you DID skip breakfast right? A donut and coffee won’t hurt right? WRONG! The whole point of breakfast is to break the FASTING you were doing while sleeping. Breakfast is meant to give your body some fuel to get the day started and to get your metab5olism running. Breakfast needn’t be a big deal, but you do want to get some protein in you as it helps to satiate you and yea, carbs too because they do help provide the body with energy. Quick ideas…some oatmeal with fresh fruit. A protein shake. Boiled egg with blanched asparagus and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese – yes, you can have veggies for breakfast! Check out these links for some other options for breakfast here, here, and here.
  • Eat to satisfy, not to stuff. This may take some practice to fully understand, but often times we eat so quickly (especially when hungry) that we wind up feeling stuffed. Ever get so hungry you devour your meal plus more, only to find out that you may have eaten too much? Yea. When you are eating, think about finding your happy medium where you are satisfied, but not stuffed. Drink water throughout your meal, in addition to helping you stay hydrated, it will help you feel satisfied. Once you reach that point of satiety, stop eating. Resist the subconscious urge to “clean the plate” – it’s really ok to leave food on your plate, contrary to what most of us were raised to believe.
  • Balance your calories like you balance your checkbook. Seriously. Most of us keep a pretty accurate account of how our money is being spent. What bills are coming up? What purchases do I need/want to make? And of the income I have coming in addition to what’s currently in the bank account, what can I afford to spend? I think of my calories like money in my account. Some meals, some foods are not worth the splurge, but on some days…they might be. The way I see it, everyday I have about x number of calories (let’s just say 1,600) to “spend”. The way I tend to eat is like that of a grazer – I eat several times throughout the day, all relatively small meals to keep me in a constant state of satiety versus riding the starving and stuffed rollercoaster. So for someone like me, that 1,600 cal has to make it through about 5-6 small meals of about 250 – 320 cal per meal. Knowing this information helps me to decide how I want to “spend” my calories. If a meal for me is to fall between that calorie range, then something a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my fave treat…OMG) which is 210 cal per pack would cost me about the same amount as a meal…without filling me up as a meal would. I see this as a waste of calories, because depending on what I’m doing that day, whether or not I’m working out, how much food I’ve already eaten, that 210 cal could be better spent on some real food that would curb any hunger and satisfy me.
  • Know what you are eating…and how much. This is where tracking comes into play. Building off the previous point, keeping track of your food intake will help you to see when you are hungry, how you tend to eat, what you are eating, and what it is “costing” you. Not everyone tracks their food and caloric intake, but I do recommend that you do so. Why? Because how are you to figure out what works for you, what your eating habits are, what your trigger foods might be, unless you can actually look back on what it is you’ve eaten (and how it’s made you feel)? Tracking your food also keeps you accountable in the moment. If you know you’ve spent through most of your calories for the day, then you KNOW that slice of cake/cookie will put you over your calorie budget for the day. Not saying you CAN’T eat it – you can do whatever you want, but the KNOWLEDGE of where you stand is what helps make  the difference. Which brings me to…
  • Not all “healthy” foods are actually healthy. Like smoothies…seem healthy right? BUT most smoothie places make smoothies with lots of sugary syrups and other fillers that pack on the calories. Add to that the fact that their portions are just crazy large, and though they are supposed to be a meal, most will treat a smoothie as a snack. Well, yours truly? I make my own smoothies/shakes at home using either Herbalife shake mix or my own personal mix. But the point is, when I make my shakes and smoothies, I’m in control of what goes in them and they tend to be way healthier and more filling than what I’d find at a smoothie place. The term healthy has become subjective these days in the food industry. You really must do some homework and at least read your labels to determine just how “healthy” a product really is. 
  • There is NO quick fix. Fad diets can be ok for a short amount of time, but sustaining weight loss comes from changing what you eat and how you eat. PERIOD. If there was a magic diet that would make us all drop the pounds over night, then there would be no weight issue. But that’s not reality. There are a ton of different fad diets and cleanses out there meant to entice you to lose weight fast, like right NOW! But hey, did you gain those 15lbs overnight? No? Ok, so don’t expect it to fall off overnight either. Sorry to break it to ya. Healthy and sustainable weight loss occurs within a range of 1 – 2lbs of weight dropped per week. Yep. You want to loose the weight and keep it off? Slow and steady will win this race, which is great because that allows you freedom to experiment with new foods and slowly wean yourself off of and away from some of the unhealthy foods and eating habits that helped make you gain that weight in the process. Patience young grasshopper!
  • The choice is always yours to make in the end. Everything we put into our bodies is not always good for us. Yes, we know this. But the more informed you are about what you are eating, what is in it, and how much of it you are eating in relationship to serving size is crucial when it comes to eating for health. There are times when you might indulge, and it’s ok to do that from time to time. However, you don’t want those indulgences to become the standard…that’s how you gain weight and build unhealthy eating habits – we don’t want that. Read your food labels, pay attention to the serving sizes and stick to it as best you can. Read the ingredients label from time to time – you’d be surprised what goes into food these days. Lean protein and fresh produce are really your healthiest options hands down, but I know we are all at different places with our dietary needs/desires, so at least make an attempt to know what you’re eating. Make smart choices.
The moral of the story is that the relationship we have with our food will have to change if we ourselves are to change. It will be difficult at times, breaking bad habits and forming new ones is never easy…but it is worth it in the end. Think of your fitness goals and let that be your motivation. Think of how far you’ve come, and let that encourage you to keep moving forward. The battle to lose weight begins in the kitchen and it is one that will be won gradually. Figure out what works for you, pay attention to your body, and give yourself time. You WILL get there.

Don’t Supersize Me, Bro

Alright you guys…truth time. I know we all have hit up the local McDonalds/Checkers/BurgerKing/Sonic/etc at some point within the past year or two. And, I am sure you’ve noticed that their portions have gotten RIDICULOUSLY out of control. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not necessarily surprised. After all, when you take a look at something like this…

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You see that the fast food industry is supersizing us – whether we like it or not. In truth, portions have been going way out of whack for quite some time now, but if the general public isn’t paying attention to what’s on our plates and going into our bodies, then our waistlines will just continue to expand to epic proportions. Check THIS out (click image to enlarge):

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With the increased portion sizes here in the US…I mean you can do all the running/swimming/crossfitting in the world, but until you control what is on that plate, all of your physical efforts are pretty much a wash. I say all of this to say…if you’re going to eat out, please be aware of what is on your plate. The body is a machine, and just like any machine, its performance is related to the kind of fuel you give it. Make sure you’re feeding yourself the right stuff, in the right portions. And if that means eating half of a meal, or saying no to an extra serving, or asking for the dressing on the side…hey it’s YOUR body. Do what you have to do to keep it operating in the best way possible. Check out this helpful graphic that basically outlines how to determine the proper portion sizes of some common foods.

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Additional Reading:

A Word on Protein

I want to take moment to talk to you about protein. I see a good deal of folks these days doing protein shakes, protein bars, and other kinds of supplements…and I don’t think folks really understand why protein is important, what our bodies need it for, and how much of it is necessary. Let me preface all of this with: I am not a doctor or nutritionist. While you will find arguments on both sides of the protein debate, the opinions expressed below are my own.

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What is protein and why do we need it?

Well, proteins are molecules made up of amino acids, which are held together by peptide bonds. BUT this is not the Discovery Channel, so I’m not going to get all extra scientific on you…Protein is basically a very important nutrient that plays a role in our every day bodily functions. From forming muscle fibers to moving vitamins and minerals through our bodies, and yes even making our muscles move. Protein is a critical part of the human diet, so much so that you really cannot function without it. Naturally, the body produces protein on its own, but our bodies are not able to produce all of the different kinds of protein that we need to function. This is where dietary protein, the protein we find in foods, comes in. Continue reading