Finding Food Freedom


The interwebs is already a scary place, but the health/fitness/nutrition interwebs are both confusing and terrifying. On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with conflicting scientific studies championing one lifestyle while demonizing another. We’re affronted with a flurry of self-proclaimed ‘wellness experts’ with zero educational or scientific background, shouting from the social media rooftops that eating 30 bananas a day or all raw food or bone broth or organ meat is the answer to all of your health problems.

Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes; fat does! Sugar causes diabetes and cancer! Cut out carbs to cure that ‘mental fog’! All sugar is evil! Stevia is the sweetener we’ve all been looking for! Stevia is the same as all other sweeteners! 

The reason this industry succeeds in confusing every possible ingredient and/or food group is because Americans are easy prey. Most of us are sick, all of us have a family history of health problems, and nobody wants to bring on cancer because they couldn’t afford the organic spinach.

It’s something that has personally terrified me for as long as I can remember. As a slightly chubby kid and a curvy, muscular woman, the learned desire to not gain weight runs very deep. I want to be healthy, avoid chronic diseases and cancer, and not be crazy-stressed obsessive about food.

But, I am very obsessed with food. I’m terrified that my non-organic apples will fill my fat cells with scary toxins that will shorten my life. I’m concerned about getting enough protein; I’m alarmed by meat and dairy products. And, above all, I am very freakin confused.

A few days a go, I had a major food meltdown – which I didn’t even know was a thing, but it is. I’ve cried on the bathroom floor for many reasons, but so far, confusion over food has not been one of them; this time, though, it was.

I feel frustrated and betrayed by the general chaos and conflicting information thrown in my face every time I turn on the radio or tv, peruse podcasts, or scroll through Instagram or Facebook. More than that, I’m tired of these platforms toying with my deep-seated fears and emotions.

The truth is that I am an adult, and able to make my own choices. I innately know what’s best not only for my physical health, but my mental health as well. (Cuase that’s very important, too!) I don’t need anyone to tell me what’s right and wrong, because I’ve been living in this body my entire life. I know what it likes; what bothers it; what drives it crazy into a food meltdown.

Sorry, health and fitness industry – but I’ve got this.

Bye, Felicia.

 

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The Small Kine Vegan


As you all probably know, I’ve been a vegetarian on & off for over five years now. I love it, I dig it, I do it, and have totally found my groove and established the habits to keep it that way. However, being a vegetarian – and not a vegan – has it’s benefits. Mostly that I can eat cheese, which means that friends can make mac n cheese when I come over, I can share pizza with my boyfriend, and have a breadth of options when I eat out.

But here’s the thing – morally, I don’t think my convenience to myself and others is worth the suffering of other beings. I don’t think it’s fair that animals have to suffer and die so I can eat a slice of pizza or order an omelet at brunch. Plus, there’s the health issues I have always had digesting dairy. I’ve gone vegan a couple dozen times in the past five years, for these exact reasons. And given all the major life changes I’ve made lately to boldy craft the life I want – quitting my job, starting a business, and completely changing up my life – this is the last piece of the old me i’d like to kick to the curb.

I decided to do a 30 day vegan challenge, just to ease myself into this new lifestyle and make it fun and exciting. I’m proud to fall asleep each night feeling light, healthy, and cruelty-free. I’m on a culinary adventure to try new things and swaps, and have found everything hauntingly simple and easy. Since I’ve done it before, it’s territory I know well.

So far, I’m incredibly healthy and happy – as if I’ve taken a large moral weight off my shoulders, because, well, I have. I feel that I’m living truly, honestly, and according to my values, embodying more of the person I’m truly meant to be.

Here’s a typical day for me (with a work shift in between, to keep it reals) of well-rounded, plant-based, super-yummy delicious vegan meals. I’m going small kine vegan, one day at a time 🙂

Silver Fern Brand Review!

Let’s be honest – I’ve reviewed my fair share of products. From granola bars and energy gels to plant-based protein powders, I’ve had quite a time tasting, testing, reporting and reviewing the latest and greatest fitness food stuff.


While I usually enjoy the taste testing process (I mean, who wouldn’t?) it’s rare that I encounter a product that I truly love. And it’s especially rare that I encounter an entire box of a wide arrary of products and absolutely love and enjoy each and every one of them.

I got a big ol’ box of goodies from Silver Fern Brand, who I found – and was found by – on Instagram. First, I was wowed by the variety. From chocolate bark to probiotics (lots of probiotics), protein powder, and fiber – there it was, y’all.

I’ve suffered from digestive issues my entire life, so I was thrilled by the prevalence of prebiotics and probiotics in pretty much everything. The reason I eat the way I do – mostly gentle plants, soups, sweet potatoes and healthy fats – is because my poor tummy can’t handle much else.


So when you I get sent something like Silver Fern Brand’s Kai Meal Shake, it feels like Christmas. Taste-wise, this baby is smooth, simple and not too sweet (my flavor was banana) and is super easy on my very sensitive stomach. I actually found myself craving these shakes after my workouts and soccer games. It also has pro- and prebiotics crammed in, along with21 essential vitamins and minerals to make a well-rounded mini-meal. Hands-down, A+.


I’m also a huge fan of their Cenavi Chocoalte Bark, which was dotted with Cranberry, Blueberry and Ginger-y gems. This stuff tasted bomb, but had no added sugar or sugar alcohols, touts low calories and net carbs, and is a natural prebiotic. WIN.


Third favorite is a tie for the Wai Porbiotic Drink Mix and the Ulitmate Probiotic Supplement. Again, I have pretty serious tummy issues, so I try to take in as much probiotics as I can – but let’s be real, a girl can only eat so much Kimchi. The Wai drinks – which came in a breadth of yummy flavors – were all yummy, low in carbs and sugar, and not too sweet.


So, here’s the thing – Silver Fern Brand hooked it UP. And truthfully, honestly – their stuff is off the chain. It’s a relief to be taking in so many pre- and probiotics in a variety of ways, instead of scarfing down miso and plugging my nose at kombucha. I loved their products, and the honesty and simple, straight-up goodness. I’m really touched that I was able to try out such quality products! I absolutely recommend everything, and thank them for opening my eyes to awesome, yet wholesome, alternatives to keep my gut healthy and happy.

A+++++,

Nikki

 

Amazing Grass Review!


One of the best things about blogging is getting to try kickass new products. So when Amazing Grass reached out about their organic plant-based superfood hemp protein powder, I was ecstatic. Organic? Green? Hemp? That’s right up my alley, folks! My answer was a resounding hell yes!

I expected to find some protein powder in the mail, but instead came home to the cutest not-so-little box on my doorstep! 


It had a full size tub of chocolate peanut butter protein powder, along with sample packs, a yoga towel (rad, right?!) a rucksack and the chicest protein shaker bottle I’ve ever seen – a mason jar with a protein too and a jar kid with a glass straw! 5 stars, two thumbs up, straight up awesomeness. Way to go, Amazing Grass!


I loved the protein, which tastes like a less-sweet, more natural Reese’s peanut butter cup. Yes, please!
I have to confess that I absolutely love the mason jar bottle. I’ve been using it not just for protein shakes, but making iced coffees and iced teas at work and even dragged it out to the soccer field. In fact, I’m drinking from it right now as I write this post 🙂


The rucksack is super cute and fits my minimalistic hippie style. It’s a great cleat bag, since it’s small and durable.


I also use the yoga towel all the time at the beach! I swim and aqua jog often, so it’s great to have a dual purpose yoga mat/towel/sand-free stretching space post-workout.

I totally dug everything Amazing Grass had to offer. You can find out more about their kickass products by visiting their website 🙂

Low Carb Cauliflower Spaghetti


There’s nothing like the deep tomato & basil-y smell of spaghetti wafting out of the kitchen on a cold winter day or during a late-night study session. Practically everyone can whip up a bowl cheap & easy, and we each have our own way of lovingly customizing this universal staple to make it exactly our own.

The anatomy of a bowl of spaghetti is similar to that of a pizza; the fabulous inflammation and fat-fighting properties of tomatoes coupled with the nutritionally void, high calorie simple carb. Tomatoes tout excellent levels of carotenoids, bioflavonoids, potassium, folic acid, and vitamins A, C & E. Simple white pasta, however, offers little more than calories and carbohydrates.

I found myself seriously craving a good old bowl of warm, yummy spaghetti. I had eaten a bit carb heavy earlier in the day, though, and figured I could compensate for the noodles with some sweet potato and cauliflower.

I’m a very rambunctious, disorganized, and spontaneous cook, so my spaghetti endeavor spiraled out of control rather quickly. I suddenly had chopped up a skinned sweet potato and some cauliflower and threw it in a pan, sporadically adding diced turmeric, chopped beets, chili paste, cubed tofu, and sweet onions. I let it all simmer and burn – with a little water to help soften the starches – and found that the smell somehow was getting more and more delicious. 

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I almost didn’t add the sauce, since the dish had adopted a type of thai-sweet-chili smell, but since I was craving spaghetti, I figured I’d go for it. That’s what makes cooking fun and enjoyable, right? Spontaneity, creativity, and a little calculated risk resulted in a dish sooo good I had to stop myself from licking the pan.

Here’s a quick summary of how I (most likely) developed this accidental masterpiece.

½ head of cauliflower

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tbsp (ish) diced turmeric

1 tbsp (ish) avocado oil

1 chopped sweet onion

½ can chopped, pickled beets

1-2 cups organic tomato & basil pasta sauce

1 tbsp chili paste

 Coat a frying pan in avocado (or other plant-based, organic oil) and toss on sweet onion and turmeric. Simmer for a few minutes and add cauliflower and sweet onion; add a little water and stir occasionally. Let the mixture burn/brown just slightly; scoot to one side of pan and brown tofu & beets on the other side. Drop the chili paste directly on the tofu and cook and flip till both sides are brown.

 I  Next, toss in the pasta sauce and mix. By now, the mixture should smell pretty freakin’ amazing. Enjoy and serve 🙂

Motivation Monday: Injuries


Happy Monday, everyone! I’m starting this day (and month) with a big, fat, swollen ankle L Why is it that injuries pop up whenever we’re on a roll? I’ve been loving my half marathon training, plant-based diet and getting plenty of macros, micros & sleep. Aside from my pulsing ankle, all is well in my training world.


Being injured is frustrating and tough. The hardest part is to STAY. OFF. IT. Without running and soccer to wear me out and sharpen my focus, I’m a wandering, distracted, hyper, and bored mess. Not only am I not very productive, but injured me isn’t very pleasant, either.

I’ve been instructed to take at least a week off of my foot – no running, no soccer, no fun L As a seasoned injured runner, I do have a few easy strategies to soothe my athletic needs and to keep myself conditioned so that I can hop back on my training plan once I’m healthy.


1. Stationary Bike

The stationary bike is a great way to get in your miles without putting stress on your injury. It’s low impact, accessible at any gym, and a super easy way to stay on track while you’re kept off the track. Just triple your mileage and shoot for the same heart rate & level of effort you’d utilize during the run.


2. Water Running with a Bouyancy Belt

A fun, out-of-the-box way to keep yourself in running shape without actually running is with a buoyancy belt. The devices are cheap and keep your head and shoulders just barely afloat, so that you have to maintain good form and stride to stay above water. It torches calories and empowers you to work on your form impact-free. Plus, it’s a good excuse to get in the pool/ocean/water and get your mermaid on 🙂


3. Strength Training

Of course, strength training isn’t always possible with a hurt foot/hip/quad/whatever. If able, though, I like to up my reps and shorten breaks to build a weight lifting session into a more aerobic workout. This way, your heart rate stays elevated and you’re still building up lung capacity and endurance while staying off your foot. When I had a broken toe, I just tailored my workouts to include bench and machine work where I could sit or lay instead of stand. 


4. Eat Well

Abs aren’t the only thing made in the kitchen. Our recovery, endurance, gains and general health are rooted in how we nourish our bodies before, after, and even outside of our workouts. When injured, I cut back on treats & sweets to help my body heal and keep calories lower since I won’t be working as hard on the trails & in the gym.

To all those who are injured – I hope you heal soon 🙂 stay motivated! 

Training – the Vegan Way


My schedule is  a fitness junkie’s dream: I have two half marathons, two full marathons, a Spartan race and a long season on two different soccer teams crammed into my life before the end of December. While I’ve got lots of training and recovery plans in the works, it only makes sense for me to shift to the most wholesome, healthiest, and ethical diet possible. For me, that’s a vegan diet – whole foods, plant based, and focused on the unprocessed foods I already love. From fruits & veggies to legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, I’m stoked to fill my plate with a powerful array of macro and micronutrients that’ll put my exhausted body at optimal health and recovery speed.


Plus – sorry about it but veganism is pretty badass. From endurance athletes to mma fighters to pro soccer & basketball players, a plant-based diet is the way to go 🙂

I’ll be dutifully blogging my progress, training times and go-to meals as I get through this crazy next few months! I’m happy to share this beautiful way of living, especially when I’m blessed to live on a tropical island with gorgeous farmer’s markets all year long. I may not be an elite or professional athlete, but I am an athlete – and just like abs, endurance, speed and recovery are built in the kitchen.


I’ve gone vegan before, but always fell off the wagon for convenience reasons. I also was a poor, starving college student at the time, so my diet was more junk food vegan than exploring the endless, bountiful world of plants and whole-foods substitutes. Now, however, I’m a working professional that can afford the vast array of veggies, nuts, seeds, sprouts, legumes, beans, starches, and grains that comprise a healthful diet.

I’m proud to tackle this new lifestyle and incorporate it into my training & nutrition. It’s a peaceful, mindful, and of compassionate way of living – and I truly can’t wait to make it my own.

Here’s a few infographics on veganism & athleticism, and the potentials for getting strong & sexy the plant based way!