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My Favorite Healthy Items to Buy at Costco

June 13, 2014

CostcoItems2

Every 3 weeks or so I make a trip to Costco to stock up on a select few products that we go through in larger quantities. Since there are only two of us, it’s important that we choose wisely what we buy at Costco. That means it either needs to 1) have a long shelf life or 2) be able to be frozen and thawed. This doesn’t include fresh produce, which I still purchase from time to time.

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed at Costco and not sure where to start, I thought I would compile a list of the healthy foods we love to buy there. Since Joe and I try to eat as much organic as makes sense financially, I’ve included a lot of organic items in my list. I find that Costco is one of the best places to find reasonably-priced organic food.

Dairy
Cage-free, organic brown eggs (2 dozen)
-Organic Whole Milk (three 1/2 gallon containers that last for weeks!)
-Greek yogurt case of 15 (we usually just buy Joe’s fruit-flavored Greek yogurt at Costco)
-Organic butter (It comes in a 2-pack and butter can be frozen and thawed, giving it longer shelf life)
-Almond milk

Refrigerated Misc. 
Pre-packaged guacamole (they have a couple different types, and we go through it quick in our house!)
-Hummus (lots of varieties to choose from)

Dry Items 
Old-Fashioned Oats (two VERY large bags, we keep the bags downstairs and refill a canister for our pantry to save space)
Kirkland Signature Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (two very large jars, the pb only contains peanuts and salt)
Nut’N Better Natural Almond Butter (two regular-sized jars, contains only almonds and salt)
-Organic TruRoots Quinoa (4 lb bag)
-Cinnamon (we go through a lot of cinnamon so it makes sense to buy the big Costco container)
-Chia Seeds (they usually have great prices on large bags of chia seeds)

Frozen
Trident Seafoods Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers (these are so easy to throw in the oven straight from frozen for a quick meal!)
-Wild alaskan salmon or other wild frozen fish filets (we rotate between salmon and halibut most times)
-Frozen organic mixed berries (a very large bag for a very reasonable price compared with traditional grocery stores)

Fresh Produce
This is a hard category because the bags of produce are very large so we sort of have to pick and choose each time we go what we’re going to buy. These are just a few of our regular picks:
-Organic Hearts of Romaine Lettuce (a bag of 6 heads of lettuce)
-Berries (I always have good luck with the quality of their berries)
-Avocados (usually they come in a bag of 5 or 6 avocados)
-Broccoli florets
-Green beans (they usually come in a 2-bag pack and we go through them very fast in the summer)

Other
-Bread (I don’t eat much bread, but Joe has a lot of sandwiches for lunch. We buy a 2-loaf pack and keep one in the freezer)
-Nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc. – They store well in the freezer)
-Food Should Taste Good multi-grain tortilla chips (one very large bag, we eat them with dinner and for snacking)
-Beer and wine! (Okay, not really healthy, but they do have great prices so we shop there when we have larger parties)

Are you a Costco shopper? It’s one of my favorite places to stock up, but I try to avoid it at all costs during the peak weekend hours. What items would you add to this list? 

Madison

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Fitbit Flex Review

June 12, 2014

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A few weeks back I posted a photo of my new Fitbit Flex on Instagram. I got a lot of comments asking for my thoughts on the Flex, and now that I’ve had some time to wear it and use it for a few weeks, I feel ready to share my thoughts. I should mention first that my Fitbit Flex was given to me free through a program at work. We logged our fruits and veggies every day for 5 weeks and received a Fitbit at the end, which means a lot of my co-workers are walking around with the same green Flex.

Appearance
My biggest hang-up with the Flex before receiving it was the appearance. It’s not ugly by any means, but it looks much more sporty than the clothes I usually wear to work. I found that after wearing the Flex for a few days, I quickly got over this issue. Sure, it looks a little sporty but for work and play I don’t mind wearing it at all. Additionally, swapping out band colors is quick and inexpensive and I think when I get around to buying a grey or black band I’ll like it even more. Did you hear that they are planning on doing a collaboration with Tory Burch? I may be the first person buying a gold bangle for my Fitbit!

Comfort
I don’t wear many bracelets at work because I find they get in the way with typing and working on my computer. The designers did a great job with the Flex because it doesn’t bother me at all throughout the day. It’s amazing how comfortable it is to wear the Flex!

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 5.58.01 AM

Utility
Prior to getting the Flex I knew that 10,000 steps was the recommended number to get in a day, but I had no idea what 10,000 steps really looked like or if I was getting anywhere close to that number. I’m very active many days at work, so I figured I was doing pretty good, but I didn’t have any data to back that theory up.

My first observation wearing the Flex was how little things add up to big things. When I park at the back of the parking garage, take the stairs a few extra times, go on a short walk with the dogs around the block a few times,  it’s much easier to get to 10,000 steps. Of course, I knew this in theory, but I like having tangible evidence that little things add up. It motivates me throughout the day to take  walk around the building or take a short jog if I’m low on steps for the day.

The sleep function is one of the most interesting features of the Flex. You tap the Flex five times to let it know you’re going to sleep, and again when you wake up. In the meantime, the Flex keeps track of how many times you are awake in the night and how many times you are restless. It gives you a little recap each day on the efficiency of your sleep.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 5.58.32 AM

Ease of Use
This is one of the strongest areas for the Fitbit Flex. Once you set up your Flex you can track your progress on your desktop at fitbit.com (as seen above) or you can track your progress on the mobile app that automatically syncs with your Fitbit via bluetooth. The desktop interface has much more information but I love the mobile app for convenience. Both interfaces allow you to change your goals based on personal preference.

There is also a place to log water intake for the day (a favorite feature of mine!) and your food and calorie intake. Since I already use My Fitness Pal, I linked my apps to streamline the process. The whole system is very easy to use and quick to set up, which I appreciated. It’s certainly not a product where you need to be super techy to use and enjoy.

Overall
I really love my Flex! It’s been so much fun to know more about my fitness and activity levels along with my sleep patterns. For the price (a little under $100) I think it’s a great value and I really enjoy using and wearing the Flex.

Do any of you have a Fitbit or something similar? I would love to know if your experiences have been the same! Love it or leave it? 

Madison

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Berry Breakfast Cobbler

June 11, 2014

berry breakfast cobbler 4 | espresso and cream

I love breakfast more than any other meal of the day. We’ve been over this before, right? I tend to get pretty protective of my mornings, especially slow and lazy weekend mornings when Joe and I can watch the morning news and drink a pot of coffee together and eat breakfast with the sun shining through our big picture window. Although I love waking up early, even on the weekends, I don’t like to be rushed into action first thing in the morning. I’m all about having a little time to wake up and settle into the day.

If you’ve eaten dinner at my house any time in the last year and a half, the chances are pretty good that I’ve served you berry cobbler for dessert. This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen is one of my absolute favorite recipes because it’s easy, slightly healthier than a traditional cobbler and I always have the ingredients on hand. Usually I use frozen mixed berries in place of the blueberries and whatever Greek yogurt we happen to have in the fridge.

The other day I found myself thinking about that dessert and how fun it would be to have berry cobbler for breakfast. Since the base of any fruit dessert is, well, fruit, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make a slightly indulgent yet totally breakfast-acceptable dish. And you know what? I was right.

berry breakfast cobbler 2 | espresso and cream
This Berry Breakfast Cobbler is going into regular rotation at our house, I can just feel it now. It’s perfect for breakfast, but Joe and I have also been eating it after dinner as a healthier way to ward off that need for something sweet at the end of the day. It’s packed with antioxidants from the berries and whole grains from the flour and oats, which add a hearty, earthy taste and texture in the best possible way.

Although I’m not one to typically use a lot of low-calorie sweeteners in my baking, I did sweeten the berry mixture with stevia instead of sugar to keep the calories in check and prevent this dish from becoming a morning sugar bomb in disguise. If you don’t want to use stevia, I would suggest swapping 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for the stevia in this recipe. I’m sure it would be every bit (if not more) delightful.

Berry Breakfast Cobbler
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, dessert, snack
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Cobbler Topping
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (6 oz) Greek yogurt (plain or some type of berry flavor - I used Greek blueberry)
  • Berry Base
  • 6 cups frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and baking powder together until well-combined. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until the butter is in very small pieces and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in the Greek yogurt and stir until just combined (mixture will be lumpy.) Set aside.
  3. Toss together the berries, stevia and 3 tablespoons flour. Transfer mixture to the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle topping over berry mixture.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until berry mixture is bubbly and topping is browned and crispy. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

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June Food and Fitness Goals + May Goals Recap

June 3, 2014

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May Food and Fitness Goals
1. Drink at least 80 oz of water each day
Why didn’t anyone tell me how great drinking water makes you feel?! Actually, people did tell me that drinking water all day makes you feel much better than drinking coffee all day, but I never listened. I’m a convert for life. After my first two cups of coffee, I’ve been switching over to water for the remainder of the day.
2. Lose those last 3 pounds my body has been hanging on to recently.
Done! I’m back to wearing all my favorite items of clothing. It’s amazing how a few extra pounds can make such a difference. It’s not about being “skinny” but about feeling healthy and like my regular self.
3. Exercise 45 minutes 5x a week
I’m not sure if I hit this goal or not since I didn’t really track my exercise each day, but I think I was close. Joe and I have been playing a lot of tennis, which means we can be exercising for 1 1/2 hours on any given night. I think makes up for any of my shorter workouts. I’ve also been upping my running mileage and getting in more runs in the 3 1/2 to 4+ mile range. The plan is to find a half marathon to sign up for later this summer or fall. I’m really missing having something to train for and the feeling of going on a really long weekend run.
4. Make a vitamin and supplement plan and stick to it
For a number of reasons (too lengthy to go into with this post) I have had to re-vamp my vitamin and supplement routine. I bought one of those little plastic pill boxes to keep track of all my vitamins, yet another example of how I’m 80 years old at heart. I’m taking a daily vitamin D, a series of herbal supplements from my acupuncturist, Metanx, fish oil and a baby aspirin daily. I’m also looking to add a daily DHA supplement soon.
5. Log food and water intake in My Fitness Pal each day
I didn’t really succeed in this regard. After a few weeks I lost steam and got a little bored with logging all my food. Now that my body has settled back to my regular weight, I’m less interested in a daily calorie tally.
6. Participate in my friend Robin’s (free!) Pilates Summer Series
I had such a great time participating in the Pilates Summer Series! It’s amazing how doing just 5 to 10 minutes of toning Pilates each day can make a difference in your body. The videos are still online and will remain on Robin’s site, so head over there and browse. I’m planning on continuing to do the videos in the weeks and months to come!

June Food and Fitness Goals
1. Try One New Fitness Class I’m an introvert at heart, although you probably wouldn’t guess so if you met me. Sometimes I shy away from trying new things, like a new fitness class at our gym. My goal is to mix things up by trying at least one new class this month.

2. Drink 80 oz Water Daily
Keeping this one on the list because it’s a new habit and I think I could use a daily reminder to keep it up.

3. Eat More Mindfully/Practice Intuitive Eating
Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the routine of eating, rather than listening to what my body is saying. this month I want to focus on eating more intuitively and base my food choices and the timing of my meals around what my body is saying instead of based around what time it is or what I feel like I should eat.

4. Beat Joe in a Set of Tennis
Joe and I made a list of summer goals, and this topped my list. We’re pretty competitive in tennis and it’s one of the few sports we can play together where I hold my own. I’ve come very close to beating him already this spring/summer. Joe says I haven’t been “big enough to handle the moment!” Ha!

5. Get in 10,000 Steps Per Day
I recently got a FitBit Flex through work and have been having a fun time tracking my steps each day. I’m making a conscious effort to get in at least 10,000 steps each day. On the weekends it’s much easier than during the week, but I’m finding that most days I do get above the 10,000 step mark. It’s nice to have a tangible reminder to take the stairs and walk more throughout the day.

What are your food and fitness goals for the month?

Madison

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Eating Repetitively

May 12, 2014

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Today I’m going to get a little bit personal. I guess talking about miscarriage and body image is very personal, but I find talking about what I eat to be every bit as personal. I don’t know why but I always feel so vulnerable talking about what I eat with other people. Anyone else feel the same way? Food is just so incredibly personal sometimes.

If you know me in real life chances are you also know that I tend to be pretty repetitive in the way I eat throughout the week. I know, I know. Variety and color on your plate is the key to eating well, but I’ve always found that eating the same foods day-in and day-out with just a little bit of variety helps keep my on track. Sound boring? Hear me out.

When I began to log my foods on My Fitness Pal for The May Challenge, I noticed a trend. The days I feel my best, most balanced and well-rounded my eating goes a little something like this:

BREAKFAST
1/2 cup oat bran made with water, cinnamon and stevia
1-2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter
Coffee with a splash of whole milk
Vitamins + water

MID MORNING
Cup of decaf coffee
48 oz water

LUNCH
1/2 cup oat bran made with water, cinnamon and stevia
1 serving of fruit (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or a banana)
1-2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter
1 teaspoon chia seeds

AFTERNOON
Some type of afternoon snack, usually plain whole milk yogurt with some walnuts and flax or a serving of fruit with walnuts, etc.
24 oz water

DINNER
Veggies, veggies, veggies! I may eat a whole head of roasted broccoli with hummus and whole wheat toast or a large bowl of zucchini pasta with black beans and marinara, or a sweet potato with hummus and kale. Sometimes I’ll have a really large salad with lots of veggies. Volume is key for me at night, since I’m hungry after my workout. Most nights I would estimate I get 4 to 5 servings of veggies at dinner.

DESSERT
I may have a piece of dark chocolate or a tiny bite of something sweet with decaf coffee, plus more water!

For some people I guess this type of repetition probably sounds incredibly dull, but I find that when I stick to more of a routine I’m satisfied without eating too much. Of course I don’t eat like this every day, but when I’m looking to re-calibrate and feel good, I always go back to this little routine. I think because I am around food every day, it’s easier for me to not think about the food I’m actually eating.

Do you have a routine in the way you eat or a fall-back eating style? Or are you all about variety? I’m always curious about what works best for people when it comes to healthy eating.

Madison

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