I LOVE baked goods, but they are not always the healthiest snack or after dinner treat.
These quick swaps will make your baking an option you wont feel guilty about!
Avocado – I LOVE Avocados and I tend to eat at least one each day! Living in Sunny California that’s easy to do, lucky us, we have Avocados Year round!! Mash some into your baked goods instead of using oil or shortening for healthy non saturated source of fats. Making avocados a healthy baking substitutes.
Beets – are a great way to add sweetness and color to brownies and red velvet cake. I don’t know about you but I love beets and I never seem to have enough recipes to use them in. Make sure they are fresh and shred them finely before adding.
Kabocha Squash – high in beta carotene kabocha squash will add sweetness and much needed moisture to muffins and cakes. To use De-seed and steam, and leave the skin on, its packed with nutrition!
Bonus – kabocha squash is a great substitute for pumpkin in your seasonal pies. I like to incorporate it in WITH my pumpkin for an added nutritional punch.
Pumpkin – pure canned pumpkin (NOT Pumpkin pie filling!) is full of antioxidants, beta carotene and fiber. Added to cakes, cookies and muffins they add moisture, a beautiful flavor and sweetness.
Sweet Potato (or Yams!) – This stuff is great in breads and you can replace most of the sugar and shortening with it! Beta carotene rich, just steam and puree before you add to your favorite bread, cookie, pie and cake recipes.
Zucchini – with TONS of vitamin C Zucchini is great to add moisture to breads, cakes and cookies. Grate is as fine as you can and your family will never even know its there!
Repost from 2015 when I got my Peloton bike. 2017 update – I still love it! They update constantly and its a great work out!
Yes, I love yoga, and try to practice every day. But, I am a sucker for a nice sweaty spin class. I have done classes at my local gym or YMCA, but I don’t really have a studio close by. When ever I travel to a city that has a SoulCycle I book my classes before I even leave for the airport. At $32 per class, plus shoe rental (if you do not own a pair) its pretty expensive! and not convenient at all. Whats a girl to do?
Enter Peloton. I spotted their add on Pintrest and clicked over. I fell in love. A spin class in my own home. I could not get my credit card out of my purse fast enough. But is it worth it? I have had my bike for just under a week, here is what I think…
First off if you have not heard of SoulCycle or Peloton this is the scoop, imagine if you where at church, an amazing church where the entire congregation was totally into the sermon, and that church was in the hottest club, amazing music, fantastic lighting and every one was moving in sync. That church club also got you into amazing shape and you were dying to become a member and wanted to worship there every day. That’s how a great spin class feels, and SoulCycle/Peloton has mastered it.
Most of these studios are in major cities, so if you live in suburb, or in a city hat was not blessed enough to be chosen you are pretty much out of luck. Peloton has created a spin bike, with a monitor attached where you can watch a library of classes, or the best part, join in live classes at their NYC location. You can stream the live classes as they happen or do a ride any time from their library which includes spin classes and long distance lance Armstrong kind of rides.
The only thing the video does not capture is the excitement of the rides, it can be really high energy and lots of fun! Below id some pros and cons.
I don’t have to drive forever to find a class. I can join my favorite teachers and classes live, or ride any time of day.
Bike cleats- you clip in, hard to get used to if you have never done it before, but once you have other bikes do not make sense.
Its fun! Whether you want a pop diva themed class or a chill ride, they have it. The music really is amazing and keeps me going!
Endless choices. The computer on the bike came pre loaded with tons classes, and they are releasing more all the time. if you add that with the streaming classes, you can rise a different class every day for over a year.
Your shipping fee includes set up! The bike was delivered via UPS freight and Peloton arranged to have it put together and set up, I literally could start a ride as soon as the delivery guys left.
Its expensive the bike is $1995, plus a monthly subscription ($39) for streaming. But for us, its lower then a gym membership, or paying for a spin class 3x per week. And I share with my hubby and my daughter, so per use it makes sense for me.
Cleats – you need to purchase spin shoes. Peloton gave me a 20% discount on any accessories, I took advantage of that, but you can buy them on amazon as well. If you have never bought bike shoes before try them on! Or read the sizing carefully, my normal size was way too tight.
Space – I am lucky enough to have a fitness centric family, so we all were happy to make our loft into a home gym, if you don’t have a designated room you are going to need space for the bike. You have to allow space to stand next to the bike as well, each session ends with stretching, in studios a lot of people leave at this point, don’t do it, its so rewarding after a long ride, and adds only about 5 minutes.
Wait time. It took over a week after I ordered it. I was told it would be 4 days. To be fair she said 4 day shipping, which to me was after I paid, but to them, the clock didn’t start ticking until the order was “processed” which meant from the day I ordered it to delivery was 13 days including weekend.
So far I am in love, and the bike is getting a lot of use. I will update and give you more details on riding at home, and pics soon!
If you read my post on Fitness Trackers you know I love my Fitbit. Wearing a fitness tracker really lets you know how much you are NOT moving! I was pretty surprised to find some long periods of complete inactivity. Since then, I have really made an effort to increase how much I move every day. Its amazing how many calories you can burn during the day with out hitting a gym. Here are some simple ways to break up those sustained sitting periods at work and home:
Take phone calls standing up. If the phone rings, stand up! You will automatically find your self walking around.
Rather than email office colleagues, walk to their desks to communicate with them. On that note, don’t yell for your kids, walk to their rooms, or where ever they are to talk to them.
Create a standing workstation. My husband just changed over his work and home offices to this standing desk, it lowers so he can sit at it too, if needed, but its really amazing how many steps he has added not changing any thing about his routine.
Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker to encourage taking steps. I check on mine through out the day, reach for at least 10,000 steps.
Set a timer on your home computer or phone to alert you to get up every thirty to forty minutes and break up sitting with short bursts of activity, like running to the mailbox.
Have a dog? Try and increase you walks by 10 minutes, or take time to toss a ball in the yard, your puppy will love you for it!
Bonus tip – At home, stop multi tasking! Are you setting things on the stairs to bring up the next time you head that way? Stop, bring it up right then and there. I have found I doubled the amount of flights I climb each day just by doing that.
Olive is my Jack Russel Terrier, she is arguably the sweetest dog in the world. Any one who knows me or follows me on Social Media knows that my dog Olive is my life!
Just like I strive to live a healthy balanced life, I try to get her lots of activity and feed her natural healthy foods too. Which includes making her healthy nutritious foods. If you have a dog, take a peak at any label for the treats you have in the house, make sure you are not filling those precious bellies with chemicals and preservatives. When I have a long lazy weekend I like to make her some home made treats, they are much healthier for her, clean ingredients, and they save great.
Olive’s favorite Pumpkin Treats
1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter
1 cup 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree, canned (Do NOT use pie filling)
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir together peanut butter and pumpkin. Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time just until dough is no longer sticky.
3. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/4″ thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the dough, then place on the prepared pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Let cool completely.
Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months.
Not too long ago, I traveled extensively for work, flying to different states a few times a month. Since I worked in the beauty industry I was expected to show up looking just like I walked out of the pages of a fashion magazine, which can be difficult when you are on 5 hour flight from California to New York, or only got 4 hours of sleep on your uncomfortable hotel bed.
I have developed a few great tips over my years of traveling, on how to not look so jet lagged and take care of your self in flight.
Tip #1 – Do not travel in make up. Yes, I know. But its important. Your just going to read your kindle or watch a movie any way, no need to have a full face of make up on. The air in the plane tends to make your skin dry and dehydrated, adding layers of foundation and powders will only make that worse. I pack a little bag of Josie Maran Bear Naked cleansing wipes to make sure I have a clean face on the flight. You can also use them to freshen up mid flight, which is super important on long overseas travel.
Bonus Tip! Use those cleansing wipes to wash down the arm rests and tray prior to use. Believe me it helps get rid of all those germs, so you don’t get sick.
Tip #2- Moisturize! – Makes sense after tip #1 right? I take it to the next level by using my night cream no matter what time of day it is, instead of a daily moisturizer. The air is so dry, you will need the added little extras and thickness of a night cream.
Tip #3 –Buy a water before you get on the plane and ask for another when the beverage service starts. You can not get enough water on the flight, make sure you drink at least 8 oz before you land.
Tip #4 -Speaking of drinking NO alcohol! It dehydrates you, so all the tips above would be for nothing is you ask for that Chardonnay. Remember dehydrated skin = wrinkles.
Tip #5 – After you land break out one of your wipes, or get the hotel asap, what ever you do, washyour face as soon as you can. That plane was full of germs and recirculated air, lets get all of the above off your skin as soon as humanly possible.
Tip #6 – First night at the hotel – I always apply a moisture mask.You can do it as you unpack, or as you are relaxing or prepping for the next day. Trust me this one will make a difference.
4 Ways to stay on top if Everything!
By far, the number one complaint I hear from my readers and clients is that they do not have enough time. They can’t even think of making a home cooked meal or of starting a yoga practice with all they things they have on their to do lists. Organizing your day is a great way of detoxing your life, Cutting out some stresses, and making time for the things you love.
Here are some of my suggestions on how you can take charge of your day! Try them! I did, and it works!
1) Use a planner! You can use paper, (there are some really cute FREE printable ones on Pinterest) . You can use an app, for your phone or ipad, or the calendar in your computer. The point is USE it! I use my planner for every thing, making grocery lists, scheduling in call, emailing, cleaning and scheduling in exercise time. Using a planner will help you see where you are using your time now, and where your biggest time wasters are.
Homework – open up Pintrest and search for free daily (or weekly or monthly) planners. You will be amazed and inspired at all the cute selections there are. You tube a video on how to make the most of your computers calendar app. There are things you never knew it could do!
2) Now that you are using your planner, and see where you are squandering your precious moments (I am talking to you Internet!) You can now re organize your day to fit in those things you have been convinced you do not have time for. Make sure you add in exercise! Other things you might want to add in, starting a mediation practice, organizing your closet, cooking healthy meals instead of the frozen microwave stuff your body hates you for.
Homework – Find your wasted time, and switch it out for something you have been neglecting, or always wanted to do.
3) Don’t be a martyr. Look at the things you do on a regular basis, and out source them! Are you still doing your teen-aged sons laundry? (Guilty!) Maybe its time he learned to do it himself. Make every one take care of their own dishes, can you get your groceries delivered? There are a lot of things you do not have to be doing all by yourself, ask for help!
Homework – spend the next few days watching how much you do for your family. Pick a few things they can easily take over.
4) Wake up 1 hour early. Even a half hour makes a big difference. Whether you are using it to start meditating, having a peaceful cup of tea, or starting on your to do list, that little extra time can make you more productive during the day. Homework- set your alarm for 1 hour earlier then you normally wake up.
Stay with it! Small changes every day will go a long way to adding more time, and keeping you organized.
I was doing some reading this week and come crossed this great quote from one of my favorite teachers David Wolfe.
“If you don’t get a filter you are going to become a filter”
He’s talking about water, and it got me thinking about all the water I drink. What is in our water? Do we really need a filter?
Here at The Ahimsa Life water is every thing! The best thing you can do to keep your body healthy is drink enough water. But whats in the water coming out of our tap?
First thing you need to do is become educated. Visit the National Water database. On this site you can input your zip code and your water company and get the latest test results about the water in your area. I just did mine, and I am glad I am using a filter. My water has over 138 contaminates in it, including radiated soil and Tetrachlorethylene, a common solvent used in dry cleaning, automotive, and metal work! Commonly called “dry cleaning Fluid”, the health effects of drinking water contaminated with Tetrachlorethylene are liver problems and increased cancer risk.
For me, personally that was enough to make me do some thing about the water my family uses. I glanced at some of the others, and saw words like radiation particles, radioactive, and decided I did not even need to look in to the 137 more toxins.
My next question was is the filter I am using good enough? Whats the best way to remove these toxins?
There are six types of filters you can get, pitcher/large-dispenser, faucet mounted, faucet integrated, on-counter, under-sink, and whole house.
With in Those six you have a few types of systems for removing water toxins, the most common are
Carbon filters (pitcher, tap-mounted or large dispenser) are affordable and can reduce many common water contaminants, like lead and byproducts of treatment processes.
Reverse osmosis filters remove contaminants that carbon filters can’t eliminate, like arsenic and perchlorate (rocket fuel), but can be costly.
I suggest you make the choice on which one is right for you by looking at your budget, and reading up on what best removes the toxins you have in your water. The EWG web sitealso has a list on what filters work best for your specific toxins.
The best filter for toxins in my area is a filter containing GAC (granular activated carbon). With a quick search, I found some on Amazon, they were between $89-$100 for counter top versions that can connect directly to my faucet. Since I do not like to buy plastic water bottles, and drink a ton of water, I think this sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
I don’t know about you, but the produce department in my local grocery is killing it with the options these days!!
My normal routine is to head to the farmers market every weekend, but some times I can’t get there, or have inspiration for some thing else and head to my local chain grocery. These days I have been seeing a world of new and exciting foods on their shelves. I decided to create a series on all this great produce, what it is, why its good for you and how to prepare it. Here is part 1 on Arugula!
Arugula is a leafy green, you will find it near the greens in loose bunches or in those pre done salad bags. My daughters favorite is a Arugula Spinach mix! If you go ounce to ounce Arugula provides more Nitrates then any other veggie source. Nitrates lower blood pressure. When your blood pressure is lower your blood flow in increased, and more oxygen is delivered to your body, energizing all your cells, reducing your muscles need for this good stuff during exercise. In short, it makes it easier for you to get a better work out in!
Arugula is a great source of vitamins A, C and K. As a matter of fact, Arugula is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which leads to better bone and brain health.
Arugula has a great peppery flavor, which has a cooling effect on the body, and like other leafy greens, it helps keep your body hydrated, making it the perfect choice for those hot summer picnics and barbecues.
And guess what? Arugula, the modest little veggie that it is, gives all of these amazing benefits to your body, and is almost no calories! 1 cup of Arugula is 6 calories!!! 6 calories! For all that goodness!
How I love to prepare it –
The obvious answer is a salad, and I do prepare it that way a lot. We almost always have Arugula in the house, and if I am running around, or finishing up some writing, I grab a big bowl and load it with any veggies left on hand, and some oil and vinegar or lemon juice and its perfect.
For a quick meal, I toss it with some hot pasta, olive oil, and lemon zest. A little fresh ground pepper and Pink Himalayan salt and perfection! Lately at my house we have been making a lot of cast iron skillet pizzas, and a little arugula mixed with some olive oil and seasonings is amazing on the pizza just after its pulled out of the oven. If your trying to sneak in all that goodness to your children or a picky partner, stir a handful into your marinara sauce, they work together well, and your family will never notice.
It seems like every one is talking about Coconut oil, here are my reasons why its great for you, and what you should do with it!
Using Coconut Oil in your cooking can give you added energy! Coconut Oil has medium chain triglycerides – unlike their long chain relatives found in meat and dairy, these MCT’s are not stored in your body, they high tail it to your liver where the get to work converting into energy. 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil per day increases energy levels by 5%!
It’s a anti-microbial, It kills viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi by dissolving their cellular walls. Adding a daily serving to to your diet can increase your body’s resistance to illness, improve digestive health, and even help to heal ulcers of the stomach lining.
Coconut oil Reduces Belly fat! Isn’t that reason enough to add it to your grocery list? It regulates your appetite and improves digestion, making it much easier to reduce your daily intake of calories and lose weight at a healthy rate.
It is a natural mood enhancer. Coconut oil helps you to feel more motivated and energetic which can also assist with weight loss. Coconut oil aids in balancing hormones that reduce stress and anxiety – two of the leading causes of weight gain.
Its great for your hair and skin too! Full of vitamin E, coconut oil is a great moisturizer that helps to heal damaged skin, and reduces signs of aging. Coconut oil offers natural protection from harmful UV rays for both skin and hair.
Whether you use it for hair, skin, or both, it smells fantastic!!
Now that you know why you should love it, here is what to do with it!
Add a few tablespoons to your smoothies, sandwiches, or salads. Any where you would use butter or oil. Its amazing for a stir fry!
It makes a great deep conditioner for your hair! A little goes a long way on this one, 1 tablespoon is plenty for most.
Use it as a butter replacement for baking.
Its a natural lotion. Rub it into your skin for head to toe moisture.
Use it instead of shave cream, for a nice close shave that doesn’t dry you out!
Summer has arrived! There is nothing I love more then a lazy sun filled summer weekend spent cuddling up on the couch with my puppy Olive, a warm cup of tea and an amazing book. Below are some of my favorite health and wellness books.
Do Your Om Thing Bending Yoga Tradition to fit your own life
by Rebecca Pacheco
I loved this book. A little bit humor, a little bit yoga philosophy, Even if you do not have a yoga practice I guarantee you will get a lot out of the amazing lessons the author weaves through out this book. So inspiring! As soon as I finished, I started to think about reading it again.
Success through Stillness: Mediation made Simple
By Russel Simmons
Buy this book right now. It will change your life. I simply can not recommend it more. I watched Russel Simmons on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. He talked about Mediation and this book, before the show was over I was already downloading it. I read it on vacation in one sitting. Russel Simmons breaks meditation down into easy bite size morsels, stripping away any misconceptions, he makes it so simple to work into your daily routine. But the book is way more then a “how to”. Russel Simmons talks about his life, his success, and you even get a little yoga info too. Buy it, you will be glad you did.
The Kind Diet A Simple guide to Feeling Great Loosing Weight and Saving the Planet
by Alicia Silverstone
I read this book a while ago, and still take time to flip through it again and again. It just never gets old. The Kind Diet is filled with stories, tips, tricks, recipes, and reasons why you should make a change to live cleaner and greener. I have made about half of the recipes and they were all delicious!
Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen
First off this book is gorgeous! The pictures are mesmerizing. Yoga girl is part coffee table book, biography, yoga guide and has a few delicious recipes to boot! I just just started reading this book, and I can already tell I will be keeping it handy for a quick inspiration.
What are your favorite books on Health and Wellness?