Archive | November, 2013

Thanksgiving Aftermath: Banish the Bloat

29 Nov

So, Thanksgiving. That happened.

As wonderful as it is to enjoy laughter with loved ones, a huge freaking meal, and a night on the couch watching football while polishing off the wine and picking at leftovers, the aftermath is never pretty. I know that a lot of you wake up in a state of utter panic, sprint to the scale, panic some more over the inevitable weight gain and then wildly scribble out your diet while mind raping yourself over your lack of self control, but listen:

STOP IT.

First of all, it’s basically impossible to gain fat weight overnight. You’re seeing weight from bloat. You have not in fact woken up as the Michelin man, you’re just as bloated as a water balloon. Whatevs.

While feeling bloated and gassy has never been my idea of a good time, a combination of metabolism-boosting tactics and smart eating tricks will have your stomach back to normal in no time.

bloat

Rule #1. Do NOT crash diet-slash-not eat to “compensate.”

Bad idea. Really. Unless you want your metabolism to come to a screeching halt, in which case, go to town starving yourself.

Rule #2. Eat your brekkie.

Do not even think about skipping breakfast, even if you don’t feel like eating. Balance protein with something high in insoluble fiber. Breakfast gets your metabolism going, fiber will help you poop. True fact.

Not sure what to make? These high protein pancakes are light, high in protein, and contain both fiber and potassium (more on that in a minute). Skip the syrup and top them with berries or a little almond butter or coconut oil.

Rule #3. Keep eating, slowly.

Seriously. 6 small meals will rev your metabolism, shaking it out of it’s nasty sluggish state (but eat slowly- eating quickly causes you to swallow air, swallowed air = bloat). Choose lean protein sans salt, leafy greens, healthy carbs if you must.

Some tips on this:

Eat de-bloating foods, like melon, asparagus, green or mint tea, spices like ginger and cinnamon. Potassium helps flush excess sodium, so a banana is a better choice than you might think – quinoa is another good choice.

Choose your carbs wisely. I am, in general, a regular consumer of healthy carbs. However, when I’m trying to de-bloat (after, say, Thanksgiving) I usually keep them to a minimum for a day. At very least, skip the processed carbs.

Rule #4. But don’t eat this stuff:

Alcohol, artificial sweeteners, sugar, salt, carbonation,  dairy and/or simple carbs. All of these will add to your already yucky bloated feeling.    

Rule #5 Drink water like your life depends on it.

No less than the required 8 cups, but drink as much as you can (I mean, within reason). Lemon is a natural diuretic so slice one of those little suckers up and add it to your h2o.

Rule #6. Go sweat.

Instead of sitting on the couch moping, get your you-know-what to the gym, the Pilates studio, pavement, whatever. A HIIT workout on the treadmill or elliptical can be finished in 30 minutes flat will get the metabolism going for the entire day, but hey, any sweat is awesome.

Rule #7 Skip the gum, chew on fennel seeds

Gum bloats. Fennel seeds de-bloat and leave your breath fresh, too.

Rule #8 Ditch the guilt.

Read my lips: one day of over-indulgence is not going to affect your waistline permanently. Guilt, however, leads to binge eating (aka, eating your emotions) and all that crappy stuff that can become a terrible cycle which will affect your waistline and your mental health. So accept the fact that the entire country eats like someone is going to cut off the food supply on Thanksgiving and get on with your life.

You do not have to go on a diet over one day. Quit that train of thought like, immediately.

Rule #7 Ditch your leftovers, too.

Find a homeless person, make a plate for your sweet elderly neighbor, give your skinny ass friend with the huge appetite and ridick metabolism (yeah, we all have one of those) a big plate of your leftover cornbread and spicy sausage stuffing. That way you won’t be tempted to keep eating leftovers just because “they’re there.” And lets be honest: they’re really not that great the next day anyhow.

Hope you turkeys all had the most wonderful Thanksgiving, ever.

XOXO

M

Friendsgiving 2013

26 Nov

For the past couple of years, the week before Thanksgiving has been reserved for what seems to be the now-obligatory addition of Friendsgiving. This year Danny & I hosted, stuffing 10 people, 4 dogs,  about 15 casserole dishes and a case or two of wine into my 1000 sq foot space.

My friends are total babes, but did I mention that they also happen to be Iron Chefs? Seriously, the girls can cook, so this wasn’t any ordinary boxed-stuffing and mashed potatoes Thanksgiving affair. We managed to keep things relatively healthy, since the real-deal holiday is only a week away. Of course the standard scalloped potatoes, stuffing two ways and made-from-scratch crescent rolls were on the table, but we also filled up on salad, beets, Brussels sprouts, and mashed butternut squash. There’s nothing quite like a good night in with your favorite people.

I love the holidays ♥

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A few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes that are just as delish as they are healthy can be found here, here, here, here, and here. (<- I swapped Stevia for coconut sugar, btw).

Happy Friendsgiving!

XO

M

9 Weird Reasons You’re Exhausted

25 Nov

I’m just going to say it: being tired blows.

Not much feels worse than looking in the mirror only to stare back at the Wicked Witch instead of Snow White, or getting off an important conference call realizing you sounded more like Eeyore than Ari Gold.

If you think you’re getting enough sleep but still find yourself dragging ass at work/the gym/in life, you might want to think about whether one of the following causes is a culprit.

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1. Not enough sleep.

So you’re totally rolling your eyes right now but raise your hand if you actually get 8 hours of sleep on the regular.

That’s what I thought.

We live in a sleep deprived society- we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re too busy to waste 8 hours of our precious time sleeping. We insist that we do just fine on 6.5 hours- it’s practically a bragging right to show up at work and gloat about your 5 hours of zzzz’s. Newsflash: that doesn’t make you awesome, it kind of makes you an idiot (sorry but it’s true, no one’s impressed). It’s actually become so normal to not sleep that many of us are totally confused about why we’re feeling zonked. Duh.

Eight hours, no more, no less. First order of business: try that before getting on WebMD.

2. Dehydration

You know, you know: guzzle 8 glasses a day (I empathize, it’s hard for me too). But failing to do so does more than dry out your skin and hair. A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition concluded that women who did not replace 1.5% of their water weight experienced mood swings and low energy. Personally, I can really feel dehydration when I work out. Running feels like I’m dragging a sled of bricks even if I don’t feel tired otherwise. So drink up, sisters and brothers.

3. Iron Deficiency

I’ve been iron deficient on and off throughout my entire life. In college, my sorority did a bi-yearly blood drive, and the blood banks turned me away every single attempt (all 10 of them – that’s right, I was a Super Senior). It was frustrating because I took supplements and they never seemed to help – it wasn’t until I learned that vitamin C is basically necessary to absorb iron that I started coupling the two that I finally started to feel like a human again. If you suspect you might be iron deficient, just pop in to the doc’s office for an easy blood test, or hit the Google in search of iron-rich foods.

4. Stress

Stress is freakin’ exhausting: it’s draining and sucks your energy. Finding an outlet for your stress is the key to not letting it drag you and down (and a good way to not annoy your friends with your endless whining- they’re stressed too): whether you’re into yoga, meditation, kicking stuff, getting a mani / pedi, playing with your dog, or just spending some QT with a friend or loved one, make sure you pencil it in your schedule to help you chill.

5. Too Little/Much Exercise

Ironically, sitting on your ass watching entire seasons of Homeland (or in my case, Ghost Adventures #loser) is exhausting. So even if the last thing you feel like doing is getting sweaty, just get your butt to the gym, put on your fave playlist and shoot for an easy 20 minutes on the elliptical- most likely you’ll end up doing more and leave feeling like a million bucks. Same principle goes for too much exercise: overworking your body is tiring, obvi. Again guys, common sense. (And b-t-dubs, if you’re working out extra hard, make sure you’re eating enough calories to fuel your body and drinking extra water to make up for lost electrolytes. Just saying)

6. Emotional Vampires

Bestie going through a gnarly breakup, or the boyf totally wigging out over his job? Guess what: other people’s problems can drain you emotionally, too. When the people you love are going through the ringer, you can absorb their unstable energy without meaning to. So next time your sibling/parent/bestie/sig other is sending out an SOS, try being a good listener instead of trying to solve their problems. Most of the time, that’s all they want anyway (even though I know your advice is excellent).

7. B12, Baby

B12 is a must-have in order for red blood cells to function properly – a deficiency decreases the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry, and like all wonderful things aging-related (<- sarcasm), the protein that helps B12 absorption decreases as you get older. Veggies and vegans are at highest risk of having less B12 because it is only found naturally in animal foods, so talk to a trusted doctor about how to make sure your levels are legit.

8. Caffeine Overload

This is a vicious cycle: you stayed up watching Breaking Bad until midnight and had to get up at 5:30am for yoga, so you toss back a double espresso shot in order not to fall asleep in child’s pose. Three words: crash and burn. The reasons we love liquid energy is for the instant sense of alertness, but the low that follows is a B. So drink your caffeine in moderation…trust me on this one. I’m a recovering addict from something I’m genuinely embarrassed to admit, but here goes nothing:

Hi, I’m Meg, and I’m a Sugar-Free Redbull-aholic.

I know, maj shame on me (esp for all my bitching about chemicals). Quitting was awful in the beginning, but here’s a little secret: I am like, 10000x less tired in the middle of the day now that I’ve kicked the habit. So caffeine in moderation? Sure, if you don’t crash out. Guzzling liquid rocket fuel? Gonna backfire. Truth.

9. Allergies

If you’re a nighttime mouth-breather, I have some less than wonderful news: mouth-breathing is correlated to a significantly lower blood oxygen level, which causes of fatigue. Try gargling with mouthwash or salt water before bed and in the AM- it will help clear nasty phlegm and get more O2 in those lungs of yours.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie (Vegan)

21 Nov

Two recipes in one week! Crazy, right? But here’s the deal.

Turkey day is right around the corner and honestly, I get a little freaked out about the gorging, eat-till-you’re-sick caloriefest that comes with it. I know that I tell you all the time, I’m not one to feel guilty about eating and trust me, nothings changed.

But here’s what bugs: a holiday where everyone expects you to stuff your face full of food until you’re sick and it’s OK because it’s the one holiday a year where it’s totally cool. Which would be totally cool (I guess), if I liked Thanksgiving food. 

Here’s a short list of food I don’t like very much: turkey (or any poultry, for that matter). Cranberry sauce. Stuffing. Rolls, Green beans. Pumpkin Pie. Call me a communist but none of that stuff does it for me. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it. In fact I always joke that if I’m going to be expected to stuff my face, next year I’m going to come home with a bag of In-N-Out and a slice of thin crust pizza, and eat it all with a side of mashed potatoes (which duh, of course I like).  But I never do it and every year I end up slightly sick from eating foods I don’t even like. Stupid.

Which is why this year I will be bringing the chocolate chip cookie dough pie, ’cause a homemade graham cracker crust topped with a layer of gooey cookie dough topped with a layer of old fashioned chocolate pudding finished off with whipped cream sounds a whole hell of a lot better than nasty old pecan pie to me (and I won’t even bother to mention to anyone that it’s vegan and free of junk because seriously, no one will know).

Just saying.

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Don’t be put off the by the number of steps- this is an easy project. Just make sure that you don’t make it when you’re exhausted and accidentally add 1/4 cup of baking powder to the pie filling instead of 1/4 corn starch because it won’t end well. And by that I mean it will turn a weird shade of green, overflow when you leave the room and end up ALL over your kitchen counter, stove, and floor.

Trust.

Simple Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • About 10 graham cracker sheets
  • 2-3 tbsp earth spread or vegan butter-type spread

1. Throw crackers in the food processor until they turn to graham cracker dust

crust

2. Slowly add butter until a crust-like consistency is formed. Press into a pie tin and spread evenly.

Cookie Dough– Just use this Cookie Dough Dip recipe – it’s a 5 minute food processor project

1. Once your crust is formed, spread a layer of cookie dough dip evenly on top to form layer 1. 

Vegan Chocolate Pie Filling (from The Post Punk Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a  sauce pan, combine 1 cup of almond milk and the cornstarch. Use a fork to whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in the remaining milk, the sugar, cocoa powder and salt until smooth

2. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Once boiling, lower the heat and bring to a slow rolling boil. Whisk consistently until mixture is thickened, about 7 minutes.

3. Add chocolate chips and mix to melt. Stir in vanilla. Pour the pudding on top of the cookie dough layer and let cool for about 15 minutes on the counter, just until it stops steaming like mad. To keep a skin from forming, place a circle of parchment paper over the filling. Refrigerate and let set for at least 3 hours.

Vegan Whipped Cream (optional, but not optional for me)

Ingredients

Easiest 5 minute recipe ever here

1. Pipe onto pie using a sandwich bag with a hole cut through a corner. Or, don’t be lazy/cheap like me and buy yourself a piping bag. Or, if you’re more of a taste-than-aesthetics kinda gal just spoon it on and spread with a knife. Whatever blows your skirt up.

Add one In-N-Out grilled cheese  and a side of mashed yams and you have yourself a perfect little Thanksgiving, LWN style 😉

XO

M

Easy Turkey Chili

19 Nov

Every once in a while, the weather here in LA drops below 70 into the freezing ass low 60’s.

I know, I know. If you grew up in the Midwest, Northwest, East Coast, or well, anywhere else in the US (including Central and Northern California and the rest of the world for that matter), you’re rolling your eyes right now. But seriously, those of us who grew up with totally stable weather that only fluctuates about 10 degrees one way or the other, well, we are quite sensitive to what we perceive as cold.

So when the temps finally drop, its kind of a big deal around here, at least for me. Scarves and boots come out of the depths of the my closet. Legwarmers get pulled over my Wunderunders. And dinner changes from salads and quinoas to heartier, warming foods.

This chili recipe (given to me by Erin by way of her friend Kimi) is full of veggies, light on the salt (I don’t even use it) and can be made vegan or Paleo, depending what you chose to eliminate. It’s super easy and can be made in under 25 minutes, plus an hour of simmering.

Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 zuchinni, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, minced
  • 1 standard size package of ground turkey
  • 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes or make your own
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 cans beans, drained (of your choice…I like black and cannalini)
  • 3-4 tbsp chili power
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • S+P to taste
Sautee all vegetables in about a tablespoon of your choice of oil (or cooking spray) for 5-10 min, until slightly tender. At the same time, cook the ground turkey in a frying pan. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the turkey, unless it’s cooked) bring to a boil, then let cook on low for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add turkey once it’s cooked through.
Unless you’re cooking for a large group, you should have plenty of leftovers. And in the case of Santa Anas, this recipe freezes beautifully. Just in time for the next cold spell.
XO
M

The Greatest Workout that You’re Probably Not Doing…Yet

18 Nov

If you’ve been on the hunt for a workout that doesn’t feel like a workout, look no further: I’m about to spill the best kept secret in town.

Wait, I should clear 2 little things up first:

1. This workout does in fact feel very much like a workout, but the sheer joy of it is totally distracting from the burn.

2. It also might not be a secret, as it’s owned by one of the Real Housewives of Orange County and the apparently Kardashians have gotten their sweat on here. But I don’t watch TV, so as far as I’m concerned it’s still a secret.

So what’s this totally fun, badass, sweat-your-face-off-while-giggling-like-a-kid workout I’m still smiling about?

Skyrobics at SKYZONE TRAMPOLINE PARK, BABY!!!!

photoErin and I made a quick trip down the 405 to an industrial area in Torrance, just off the freeway. It was sooo worth the 25 minute drive because this happened:

more2Casual pike jumps, a nod to my beloved high school cheerleading days.

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erinThis was all prior to the actual Skyrobics class, so we were already good and sweaty by the time the real fun started.

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medownAfter a good 20 minutes of jumping around and squealing like children, the actual class began.

Don’t let the grinning pictures fool you: Skyrobics is totally legit. First of all, we were dripping sweat like, 4 minutes into the 60 minute class. From the second we began the “gentle” (<- not so much) warm up, the intensity didn’t stop. Scaling walls, military dills, and regular old-fashioned leaping around had my heart feeling like it was going to beat right out of my chest. I found myself having to stop and gasp for air (and pick myself up after a couple of dramatic face-plants) more times than this half-marathon completer, Soul-Cycler, heavy weight lifter workout-a-holic cares to admit.

By the time we were done, I was, sweaty, sore, and spent.  I was shocked at how much I hurt (in a good way of course) the next day. I’m not going to lie…I’ll be back next week, the week after, and probably the week after that too.

To get an amaze workout while re-living your childhood, check here to find the Skyzone closest to you.

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Happy Little Things

14 Nov

1. These super fun Ikat + Chevron printed paper napkins, which will be used for Friendsgiving next week.

Napkin

2. The cutest-ever flavored sea salts from one of my best friends – “so you can work on new recipes for the blog,” in her words. I’m super excited to try the Hawaiian Bamboo Jade & the Rosemary…but my husband is already asking when I’m going to bust out Smoked Bacon Chipotle.

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3.A rad roadside pumpkin patch that my mom & I excitedly stumbled upon.

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I picked out this sexy green beaut, which is going to be the star of my Thanksgiving centerpiece in a couple of weeks.

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We had taken a quick day trip up the coast to visit Solvang, the most adorbs little Danish town. It can be full of tourists on the weekends. but we were pleasantly surprised to find it totally quiet on a Monday. Since it was still technically my birthday weekend, we splurged on pancakes at one of my favorite places ever, wandered in and out of little shops and then drove up and down the 101, sampling little bites of dark chocolate, Danish pastries and cheese along the way (like I said- birthday weekend). After eating until we were stuffed, we went exploring and stumbled across a handful of roadside gems, like this place (unfortunately, we just missed dinner…but that’s probably ok):

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4. Macarons from my very  favorite Parisian market, Fauchon, brought back after my Dad & Stepmother’s recent visit.

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5. Unseasonably warm weather + a perfectly nautical sunset.

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XO

M

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