Category Archives: Food

Seven Supplements You Should be Taking Every Day

The majority of adults in the United States take one or more dietary supplements on a regular or semi-regular basis. Dietary supplements come in various of forms including pill form, powders, as well as drinks and energy bars. If your diet is lacking a nutritious variety of foods, supplementing can help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. When you’re on a training regimen, it is even more important to make sure your body has everything it needs to stay strong, healthy and recover to the best of its ability. Supplements are a great way to achieve this, but they can be tricky. If not ingested in correct form or in the right amounts, your body may pass them through as waste, which is basically money down the drain. (Literally) For this reason, you want to make sure you pay attention to the recommended serving per day and break it up appropriately between morning and night.

That being said, what supplements should you take? Where do you even start?

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First and most importantly, the Multivitamin. A good multivitamin in the morning will start your day off right in terms of diet so you’re not having blood sugar crashes, or craving sweets or snacks throughout the day, because your body is starting the day out with most of the nutrients it needs. In order for your body to absorb the vitamins efficiently, I recommend taking one that’s made from whole foods. This one from NewChapter Organics is a good option because it’s made from organic vegetables and herbs which are easily processed by the body, and can be taken on an empty stomach. The one I take has added nutrients for Immune, Stress and Hormone Support. Who doesn’t need that?

New Chapter Only One Multivitamin

 

B Vitamins. B Vitamins help convert food into cellular energy. They’re also necessary for normal functioning of the nervous system. This Super B-Complex formula contains high levels of all your needed B Vitamins and Vitamin C for added antioxidant support and to help support the immune system. In addition, most report a better mood and increased mental focus when supplementing B Vitamins. Since this produces energy, it is best taken in the morning as opposed to in the evening.

Nature Made Super B-Complex

Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to healthy bone, breast, prostate and immune support. The truth is, in this day and age where most people are deathly afraid of UV rays, a significant portion of the population is Vitamin D deficient. Ideally, one would have levels measured to determine their ideal dose, but most would benefit from taking 1000 to 2000 IU daily of vitamin D3. In my personal opinion, Vitamin D should be taken in the morning, since naturally you would be absorbing most of your Vitamin D in the daytime, but I haven’t heard any scientific arguments against taking it in the evening instead.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code® RAW D3™

 

Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in over 300 reactions in the body and is unfortunately often lacking in the standard American diet. Magnesium deficiency can cause constipation, heart palpitations, or muscle cramps. I like this Calcium and Magnesium powder because it’s formulated to avoid excess dietary calcium depleting the body’s vital magnesium supply, and to avoid symptoms associated with low magnesium and high calcium levels. This formula includes nutritional co-factors to facilitate the assimilation, distribution and utilization of calcium. I put it in my night-time tea and it dissolves instantly. I like to take my magnesium in the evenings because I find that it has a relaxing effect on my muscles.

Natural Vitality Natural Calm® Plus Calcium Unflavored

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These are essential for brain health and mood support as well as keeping inflammation down. The most common way most individuals get their omegas is through ingesting fish. Eating fish or taking fish oils is a fine way to get your omegas. However, if your diet is a little more strict, or you are worried about the pollution and mercury levels in the fish that live in our modern day environment (me), another great way to supplement your omegas is with Flax Oil. I like to put a tablespoon of this Nature’s Way EFAGold in my protein shakes every other day. The days I don’t use flax oil, I’m using coconut oil, which is basically a cure all for everything, but that’s an article for another day. Nature’s Way EFAGold contains:

57% Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

17% Omega-9 oleic acid (OA)

15% Omega-6 linoleic acid (LA)

Nature's Way Organic Flax Oil 57% Omega-3

 

Glucosamine Chondroitin VS Collagen. Glucosamine chondroirin is a supplement that you can take if you tend to have joint issues, especially while training.

Glucosamine. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring chemical found throughout the human body, including in the fluids surrounding joints.

Chondroitin. Chondroitin is another naturally occurring chemical, found in cartilage around joints in the body.

A lot of people have reported stomach issues when supplementing with glucosamine & chondroitin mainly because most of the time these supplements are derived from sulfates. For this reason and many other reasons, I usually suggest Collagen Types 1 & 3 in place of glucosamine & chondroitin. I believe collagen to be a better supplement for this purpose because it also covers many other purposes. It’s not only good for the joints and bones, but also your hair, skin and nails. Collagen is a complex structural protein that maintains strength and flexibility throughout the body. As we age, collagen depletion can lead to common signs of aging in the skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. I really like this Super Collagen +C which contains clinically studied BioActive NeoCell Collagen which supports healthy collagen formation throughout the body. Using NeoCell’s technologically advanced hydrolyzation process, large collagen molecules are enzymatically hydrolyzed into small peptides that are both bioavailable and bioactive in the body. NeoCell Collagen has been shown to increase skin hydration by an average of 21% and up to 50%, with 92% of test subjects experiencing increased skin hydration, and 60% experiencing firmer, softer skin. The serving size is a bit large at 6 capsules per day, so I break this up by taking 3 in the morning and 3 at night. NeoCell also makes a powder version of this that can be put directly into a protein shake.

NeoCell Super Collagen + C™

 

Protein with BCAA’s. Supplementing with protein is SUPER important if you’re training or trying to build muscle. (Yes, even lean muscle) Whey Protein Isolates (WPIs) are the purest form of whey protein that currently exists. You should consume approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight through a combination of high-protein foods and protein supplements. If you’re wondering what foods are high in protein, check out my “Food” tab at the top of the page for information and recipes. For the best results, consume your daily protein over several small meals, spread evenly throughout the day. Take a look at your protein label to make sure you are getting all of your BCAA’S (Branched Chain Amino Acids). These are CRUCIAL for muscle growth and recovery. You can buy your BCAA’s separate from your protein, but most good protein powders will have them included.

amino-acid-chain

As a protein supplement, I really like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard, which has 24 Grams Protein and 5.5 Grams of BCAA’s per serving. If you’re looking for a protein that is veggie based instead of dairy based, another favorite of mine is the Vega Sport Brand, which has 30g Complete Protein and 6 Grams BCAA’s per serving and is more easily digestible for the body. This one is more expensive than the Whey alternative, but I really do believe you get what you pay for here. If whey protein powder tends to hurt your stomach, definitely try the Vega option.

Vega Sport Protein Powder Vanilla

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Double Rich Chocolate

 

Digestive Enzymes. Enzyme deficiencies may result from a combination of age, diet and lifestyle. These deficiencies can lead to a variety of digestive discomforts, including occasional gas, bloating indigestion and irregularity. A good digestive enzyme helps the body break down carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein and converts food into energy. Digestive well-being improves concentration and increases vitality. I like Digest Gold for individuals seeking a high-potency enzyme formula.

Enzymedica Digest Gold™ with ATPro™

As a disclaimer, you should always consult your physician and be alert to the possibility of unexpected side effects when taking a new product. Supplements are rare to cause serious side effects since whatever your body doesn’t need, it will pass through as waste. They are most likely to cause side effects when people take them instead of prescribed medicines, or when you take too many supplements in combination. Dietary supplements can also interact with certain prescription drugs in ways that might cause problems. Here are just a few examples:

  • Vitamin K can reduce the ability of the blood thinner Coumadin to prevent blood from clotting.
  • St. John’s wort can speed the breakdown of many drugs (including antidepressants and birth control pills) and thereby reduce these drugs’ effectiveness.
  • Antioxidant supplements, like vitamins C and E, might reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.

Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing. Also, be careful about giving them (beyond a basic multivitamin/mineral product) to a child. Most dietary supplements have not been well tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children.

So there you have it, a pretty good starter pack of daily supplements. For more information or questions, feel free to drop me a line here, on Facebook, or Instagram. Subscribe for more articles and videos on health, fitness, and overall wellness.

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The Verdict is In : Muscles Don’t Need Meat!

What is up, all of my lovely peeps!? I’m taking a minute today to write about something that I don’t talk about a lot. (On purpose) And that thing is…. drumroll… being Vegan. Ugh, welp, that’s out there. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say right off the bat that I am what I call “dirty vegan”. Many people have difficulty distinguishing the difference between “vegan” and “vegetarian”. Here’s the diff. Vegetarian = No meat. Vegan = No animal products at all, whatsoever. This includes dairy. The term “dirty vegan” refers to someone who is vegan most of the time, but will occasionally make an exception with eggs or dairy. I prepare all of my food at home completely vegan. The recipes I post here are 100% vegan. However, if I go out to eat and there is butter in something, I’m not going to throw a hissy fit. Because, well… you just can’t always do that. And let me also state that if I find myself on a farm, where I see the farmer gently collecting milk and see the chickens roaming free and sitting on their nests, I have ZERO problem with consuming the eggs and milk that comes from this, but most of you probably (at least slightly) know… that’s not what happens before these things hit the shelf at your local grocery store. I have had people say to me, “I’m vegetarian, too! I don’t eat any red meat, but I still eat chicken and fish.” At the risk of sounding condescending… PEOPLE! STOP! PLEASE! Look up “vegetarian” in the dictionary because I’m pretty sure chicken and fish are still meat. Like, that’s not even a gray area. The term “pescatarian” actually refers to someone who does not eat other meats, but still eats fish. There is your Biology 101 lesson for the day. Anyway… I digress…

The reasons for my lifestyle choices are many, and that’s a post for another day. But coming from a family where, if you can’t go out back and shoot it or chop its head off yourself, it ain’t food… Let’s just say I have grown accustomed to not always being understood. I am, however grateful and extremely blessed that my family tries so hard to accommodate and accept my personal choices. However, I just moved to the South about a year and a half ago, where “vegan” feels like a bad word. I cannot tell you how many times I have been sick ALL night because someone said there were no animal products in something, when they clearly didn’t know… Or, I’ve requested something with no meat and it comes back with bacon in it… What??? Okay I get it… I’m the minority. So, I try to keep my personal food preferences to myself and of course you all, when sharing recipes. I also have learned to eat at home most of the time. However, after soooo many questions/comments of “how”, “why”, and “I could never”, I think it’s high time to answer some of these concerns. The biggest being how I’m able to maintain my training and build muscle when I don’t eat meat… I mean, “Where do I get my protein!!?” (My personal fave.) So, let’s talk about it!

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Holiday Favorite Veggie Lasagna

  
I absolutely love cooking for family and friends during the Holidays! But when you have a strict “no animal products” policy when it comes to your diet, it can be difficult to make a Holiday dinner that will be enjoyed by not just you, but loved by all. The next time you find yourself in this difficult scenerio, try my veggie lasagna recipe. My family loved it… and I hope yours will, too! 😋🍴

Ingredients
2 packages of Daiya cheese in flavors of your choice

1 onion, chopped 

1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed 

8 oz mushrooms, sliced 

1 head broccoli, chopped 

2 carrots, chopped 

2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped 

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 tsp oregano 

1 tsp basil 

1 tsp rosemary 

2 jars pasta sauce 

2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles 

16 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained 

Note: to save time with the spices, I often just use Mrs. Dash Italian or Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend. It already has most of the spices you will need for this recipe and they are already blended together perfectly. For this recipe, I used a little over a tabllespoon of the Extra Spicy blend and nixed the cayenne as well. It worked out PERFECTLY!

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Saute the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Saute the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Saute the peppers until just beginning to soften. Add them to them to the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine. 

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles, and add about half of the cheese. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with the remaning cheese. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
  

Oreo & Peanut Butter Brownie Cakes 

Did you know May 18th is “National I Love Reece’s Day“? Yep! My two favorite things, chocolate and peanut butter combined and a day to celebrate! Happy “National I Love Reece’s Day” folks! If you’re looking for a way to celebrate, check out my simple how to video to make my new favorite (vegan) dessert.

Start with: 

1 box brownie mix

Egg replacement for 2 eggs

Earth balance or other oil based butter (melted to a half cup)

1 jar Natural Jiff peanut butter

24 Newman O’s Oreo cookies

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Watch video how-to:

End with: 

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Meatless Mexican Enchilada Casserole

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Well, I don’t know about everyone else… But I’m starting to feel like winter is NEVERRRR going to be over! We are experiencing teases of spring one day and arctic blasts the next. If you’re like me and you need some comfort food to spice you up on those below zero days, try this recipe! You can make this as a casserole, use it as a dip with chips, or you can roll it up as traditional enchiladas… whichever you prefer. I may or may not have eaten mine straight out of the dish… 😉 MMM MMM Delish!!

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
1 can (10-ounce) enchilada sauce
1 can (4.5 ounce) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 cup shredded Daiya (vegan) or regular cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded Diaya (vegan) or regular mozzarella cheese, divided
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook quinoa according to package instructions and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly oil an 8×8 or 2 quart baking dish or coat with nonstick spray
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, enchilada sauce, green chilies, corn, black beans, cilantro, cumin and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Top with remaining cheeses.
Place in oven and bake until bubbly and cheeses have melted. (About 15 minutes)
Serve immediately, garnished with avocado and tomato, if desired.

Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers & Zucchini Fries

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Stuffed peppers seems to be a recipe that tends to get passed down from generation to generation. If you’re an odd ball like me, no one in your family ever made the dish and you need a simple starter recipe. Here’s a mouth-watering stuffed pepper recipe that contains absolutely zero animal products and will leave you full and satisfied! It takes a little bit longer than most of the recipes I share with you, but trust me when I say it is worth it!! Read more

Zesty Chick’nless Parmesan

imageDoes anyone have a case of the “Mondays”? Want a quick and easy way to liven up the dinner table this Meatless Monday? You’re in for a treat! I’m officially sharing with you my signature Chick’nless Parmesan dish, my absolute favorite of my cruelty free recipes and my personal “go-to” when I need something quick, easy and delicious to prepare for dinner guests. If you’re looking for a healthy dish free of animal products that tastes like the “real” thing, this one’s for you. Read more

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