3 Tricks for Better Digestion

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Did you know digestion takes up 50% of our energy?

No wonder we feel so sluggish after a big meal. Digestion is one of the most important factors in our health, considering its how we process everything we eat.  But it doesn’t have to take up all of our much needed energy… if we pay more attention to how we eat food, we can digest food much easier, and all that energy will go towards beautifying jobs like growing hair and nails, pumping collagen, and metabolizing.

For those of you who don’t know, we digest food in the order we eat it. I used to think that it somehow all got mixed up down there but its pretty orderly; our bodies are insane machines that work in a precise manner. Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution opened my eyes to this concept of digesting for the first time, I couldn’t believe I had never learned it before, it seems like common sense! Today I’m sharing three simple tricks that you can use every day to improve your digestion and ultimately improve your health and energy.

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1. Eat fruit first and in the morning

Did you know that fruit digests in about 30 minutes!? It moves quicker through our digestive systems than any other type of food. Loaded with fiber, fruit acts like a fast cleaning crew scrubbing your body clean of toxins. So if you have fruit on your plate, eat it first before any other food group, this ensures that your body can absorb optimal amounts of nutrients and enzymes from the fruit, and it can do its cleaning job more easily.

More importantly, don’t eat fruit after you’ve eaten a big meal of heavier food, because it will just sit on top of the heavier food that takes longer to digest and can actually begin to ferment in your system and create toxins, leading to gas, bloating, discomfort and even weight gain. It’s best to eat fruit in the morning or on an empty stomach. I also wouldn’t recommend eating fruit as a dessert, wait at least two hours after you’ve eaten or try dark chocolate with at least 60% cacao!

2. Eat greens before your meal & choose the darkest

Just like above, you want to eat greens before your main entree; greens digest faster than our heavy entrees like meat or potatoes. For example, eating a side salad as an appetizer or snacking on celery before your main meal is one of the simplest ways to improve your digestion. More importantly, eating enzyme-rich vegetables before your meal will help give you more enzymes to help digest food. Obviously, we don’t absorb food, we absorb nutrients, and enzymes are responsible for breaking down our food into protein, carbs, fat, etc. so we can absorb the nutrients.

While our bodies produce enzymes, they may only be able to break down and extract about 40-50% of our food’s true nutrient value. And by the time we’re 50, we’ll produce around half of what we did when we were younger. Raw veggies are the most enzyme dense foods, so make sure you eat them before your meals! Also, choose the darkest greens for more nutrients… opt for Spinach and Romaine over Iceburg. Romaine lettuce has almost twice the nutritional value of Iceburg lettuce, which is 96% water!

3. Don’t drink while you eat

It’s obviously extremely important to drink water throughout the day (aim for half your body weight it ounces, so if you weigh 140, drink 70 oz’s). However, drinking a lot of water while eating can dilute digestive juices and acid making it hard to digest food. Think of it as a big swamp in your stomach. Water molecules can also get trapped in the food which can make you bloat and lead to post-meal discomfort. Try to drink a lot of water 30 minutes before you meal (which can help you feel fuller) and an hour after. Avoid guzzling down water during your meals, but sipping is fine as needed.

Pineapple Beauty Shot

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Since the beginning of summer, I have amped up my health and workout routine to get in tip-top bikini shape for my cousin’s wedding in Cabo. And now that I’m engaged and there’s a wedding down the line (!!!), my routine has elevated to a whole ‘nother level. The best part about it is that I don’t have to starve myself or crash diet or go to spinning hell everyday like I used to do for Prom or silly events (and gain the weight and then some back the next week)… this is a semi-long-term body investment, just like my best friend Kristen’s blog in Los Angeles, “The Body Project“. Obviously you should practice healthy living everyday, but lets be honest… I’m getting married and I better look damn hot.

In addition to resistance/pilates training at least 3 times a week, and cardio 5 times a week, I (aim) to follow the Tone it Up Pescatarian Nutrition Plan which calls for a morning Beauty Shot to boost metabolism after a 30 minute jog. You totally thought it was beer at first, didn’t you? I love these little shots so much! They are making my skin glow and really curb my post-cardio morning hunger.

This beauty shot has Cinnamon and Apple Cider Vinegar to reduce hunger and balance blood sugar levels while the Cayenne raises body temperature, gets your blood going (aka beauty flush!) and boosts metabolism to help you burn more calories throughout the day.

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4 oz fresh pineapple juice

1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp honey

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of cayenne

Shake with ice, pour, enjoy!

Miso-Glazed Salmon

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Miso-Glazed Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (For healthier alternative: 2 tbsp honey 2 tsp molasses)
  • 2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Miso paste*
  • 5 salmon filets
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

Directions

Preheat broiler. Combine honey, soy sauce and miso, stirring with a whisk. Arrange fish in a shallow baking dish that is sprayed with low-fat cooking spray. Spoon the honey-miso mixture evenly over the fish. Broil 6 inches below heat source for 10 minutes (with door cracked open!) making sure it doesn’t burn. Remove and baste twice more with the miso sauce. Make sure the top is browned and glazed for most delicious results! Sprinkle with chives.

*This glaze can be used to baste any protein, try it on swordfish or a spin on barbecue chicken! The options are endless

*If you don’t have miso, can’t find it, or just don’t even want to try it, this salmon is just fine without it! You can also try substituting miso with a couple things: Add a little tomato paste; Marmite;  Boullion cube (vegetable or beef); or a Knorr Miso Soup Mix powder you can find at almost any grocery store.

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This salmon is a recipe that my mom served all the time growing up, it’s definitely a family favorite. I refrigerate or freeze the leftovers and enjoy it on salads throughout the week. Below is a simple salad with the salmon over a bed of spinach, kale & chard, with blackberries and pistachios. I didn’t even need dressing because the salmon was so delicious!

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If you like salmon, you’ll love my Skinny Caesar Salad with Blackened Salmon

My Top 6 Health Books

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When I first began my journey towards health, I read a lot of amazing books that inspired me every day to live better. Reading these books truly gave me all the willpower I needed, and have given me the knowledge and basis of how I live my life today. I still reread them all the time, they are so marked up and worn out from studying and lending them. Of all the “health” books that I’ve read in the past three or so years, these 6 authors were by far the most inspiring and enlightening. Most of what I know today is from them. If you’re interested in bettering your health, I suggest you read one of these, you won’t regret it! I included a little personal review of each and what I loved about them.

1.  The Beauty Detox Solution

This book changed my life. It was the first health book I randomly decided to read and once I finished it, I was changed forever, which I wrote about in one of my first posts. Kimberly Snyder is so brilliant and inspiring, she knows exactly what you want to hear and breaks health and eating down into understandable concepts. If anyone ever comes to me for advice, I immediately tell them to read her book. All of my girlfriends will admit they have changed the way they eat forever from reading this book. She explains in her book how eating healthy will make you beautiful… literally. Her second book Beauty Detox Foods is also filled with a ton of recipes and beautiful photos.

2. The China Study

If you doubt eating greens can change your life, you should read this book. It gives you all of the evidence and science to back up the fact that eating plant-based prevents cancer. A little dense and intense, but has so much needed credibility for skeptics. This book was the inspiration for one of my favorite documentaries, Forks Over Knives, which I reviewed here. It really is a book that could save your life.

3. The 8 Hour Diet

This book is known as the Food Lovers Diet, so if you love food, you’d loveee this book. The author of this book is also the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health Magazine and also wrote the infamous “Eat This, Not That” guide, so the science is there. Basically, you can eat anything you want in an 8 hour window, then stop about three hours before bed and “fast” until the morning. And in the morning, ALL you have to do is work out for 10 minutes on an empty stomach, which targets and blasts your fat. It sounds too good to be true but intermittent fasting works miracles. For a more in-depth review, check out this Women’s Health article.

4. The Kind Diet

Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet is a wonderfully written book that inspired me to go vegan for a year. She explains everything you need to know about the ethics of eating and opens your eyes to a whole new way of looking at food. She taught me the proper way to chew and I now take more time to eat and be thankful for each bite, and really care about where my food comes from. Beautiful recipes as well.

5. Crazy Sexy Diet

I just love Kris Carr. Her documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer was so inspiring, I had to buy the cookbook. It’s so fun and colorful, I never get bored of reading it. Its filled with fun infographics and grocery lists, I always flip through it like a little girl. P.S. I raided her fridge here.

6. Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous

This girl is hysterical. Even if you don’t want to eat healthy, this book will have you laughing tears. Rory Freedman is so blunt and real about eating crap, it gives you no excuse to be a fat pig. The personality and legitimacy of this book is so valuable, I read it every time I need a little reality check. “Perhaps you have a lumpy ass because you are preserving your fat cells with diet soda”, need I say more? Her Cookbook is amazeballs too.

Blueberry Protein Pancakes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop Vega Protein Powder
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp Almond Milk
  •  2 egg whites OR 1/4 cup flax egg replacement*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • Blueberries

*To make flax egg replacement 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water

Completely mash banana with the almond milk and gradually stir in remaining ingredients until batter is smooth. Spray low-fat cooking spray into skillet and turn on med-low heat. Slowly pour batter into pan and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. Top with berries and drizzle with real maple syrup or agave nectar :)

Makes 2 servings

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Simple Sweet Potato Veggie Burger

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What better way to celebrate Memorial Day than lighting the BBQ, bumping country music, and embracing the land of the free, because of the brave. My boyfriend Ryan recently served in the Air Force, so Memorial Day is a special day for me to thank him, through the only way I’m good at… food.

I’ll have to admit one of the most frustrating things about not eating meat is going to friend’s BBQ’s and having to turn down a delicious looking burger or hot dog, especially when I’m hungry, I feel so rude! So tonight, I made the BEST alternative, Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers. They were very filling and chewy, so I didn’t feel like I was “missing out” whatsoever. I also didn’t feel bad after because they were filled with fiber, vitamins, protein and digested very easily. They’re also SOO easy to make. I adapted this recipe from kblog.lunchboxbunch.com and added some of her photos, as mine didn’t do the burger enough justice.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato, washed
  • 1 can cannellini white beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp hummus
  • Scoop of Nutritional Yeast (optional)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cajun or lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 cup almond or wheat flour
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Panko Break Crumbs
  • Coconut oil

Burgers: Toasted buns, Avocado, Dijon mustard, Romaine lettuce, tomato, basil

Directions:

  1. Bake sweet potato at 400 degrees for 45 minutes OR microwave for 6 minutes (Pierce a couple times before with fork to let steam out)
  2. Peel potato, place in large mixing bowl
  3. Add drained beans and mash together with potatoes
  4. Mash in seasoning, nutritional yeast, hummus, flour and any additional seasonings. It will be really soft, moist and sticky but you should be able to kind of form a patty. Add more flour or a scoop of breadcrumbs to thicken mixture if needed. 
  5. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in pan over high heat
  6. Form patty and heavily coat in Panco crumbs.
  7. Drop patties in pan and cook until browned on both sides. OR bake for a healthier preparation
  8. Transfer cooked patties to paper towel, cool for a little
  9. Serve on toasted but with your favorite toppings!

This patty does kinda fall apart as you eat it but its totally okay because it tastes amazingg

Makes 3 patties (I freezed the two I didn’t eat for later)

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Watermelon

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Watermelon Fresca

3 cups seedless watermelon

1/4 cup water

Juice of 1 lime

Handful fresh mint

1 packet Stevia

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together, serve over ice and enjoy!

Feeling festive? Add 4 oz of vodka to the blender for a fun refreshing cocktail! Recipe from Tone It Up

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Six Heart Healthy Superfoods

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Outside Beauty | Inside Health

I admit from time to time, I find myself eating foods for purely superficial benefits; foods that will burn fat or speed up metabolism (and don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing to worry about). However, I sometimes overlook the importance of eating healthy for my internal body, the part that no one sees. We can get so caught up in counting calories or avoiding carbs for external reasons and forget that beauty comes from within (literally). You can’t have incredible glowing skin without being hydrated, you can’t have supreme hair or nails without getting nutrients, you can’t have optimal energy if you’re eating junk food and smoking (and if you do, I envy you).

The amazing thing about our bodies is that they renew themselves! So it’s not too late to start eating healthy, because our bodies are creating themselves off of the very food we eat, no joke: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.  For example, the cells that line our 10 meter gut (running from our mouth to downtown) are replaced every five days! Skin cells turnover time is about 2 weeks, muscle cells about 15 years, and bone is rebuilt every 10 years. Brain cells, on the other hand, do not renew themselves, which explains the preservation of our memories and sight, and stresses how vital it is not to kill all of your brain cells in college!

· S U P E R F O O D S · 

Superfoods, for those who don’t know, are essentially exxxtra special nutrient-dense foods. They are truly the superheros of food, which have incredible powers for your body and health. They have been treasured for centuries in many cultures to prevent illnesses due to their antioxidant levels and promotion of longevity. Superfoods are all-natural and filled with many nutrients our bodies crave but don’t get. Below, I created a list with descriptions of the six heart healthy superfoods that I enjoyed in my morning Acai bowl (click on it for bigger image)

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 Superfood Acai Bowl

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1 tbsp Acai Powder
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
Coconut water
Stevia packet

Blend together ingredients and top with your favorite Superfoods and fruit

{For more recipes, visit my other Acai Bowls}

To find the Superfood and brands I use in this recipe, continue reading for more info :)

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