10 Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Hey Friends! I’m so sorry for being an absentee blogger for the past few weeks; I’ve been swamped! Don’t worry—I’ve been brainstorming articles to write (my head is literally FULL of them) so you should have some (good?) entertaining and informative reading material coming this week!

Over the weekend I went out of town to Nike’s ‘Wild Canyon Games’. These games are like giant adventure races for adults. They were a blast! The problem? The food at the games was quite different than what I’m used to. (The games were held at a giant camp facilities in the middle of NOWHERE, Oregon—and with over 1,000 people, it is understandably difficult to get healthy food to everyone.) Meals were dense, and included entrees and side dishes like lasagna, white rice and beans, chicken, muffins, bagels, protein bars and shakes, and more. Vegetables and salads were dressed up in caeser or ranch (pre-mixed). Needless to say, I had an interesting time eating “healthy”. wilcanyongames

And all of that got me thinking People would probably have more enjoyable vacations (and they would feel better stepping on the scale when they got home) if they knew how to eat well on vacation. I’ve compiled a few tips (I used) to help keep you from derailing your diet while away—even when you don’t have a lot of (food) options to choose from.
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  1. Water is your friend. bottledwater
    If you begin the day with a full glass of water, and consume at least 8 oz. before each meal, you’ll feel more satisfied before even having a bite! That way, you’re less likely to over eat. (In addition, water helps pass food through your system, so you’re less likely to feel uncomrortable and bloated throughout the day!) Note: If water isn’t as tasty as what you’re used to, stick to bottled (or, if the water tastes different but is still okay to drink, bring a few vitamin packs with you. They will make the water taste better, while giving you nutrients!
  2. Do things your way
    Okay, anyone who has gone out to eat (or seen me on vacation) jokes that I can be a bit “high maintenance”, but here’s how I look at it: if I can make simple requests, like “dressing on the side” I’ll consume far fewer calories, fat, sodium, sugar, etc. than if I ate everything as it was usually prepared. Hotel Buffet
  3. Enjoy your company; indulge…in conversation!
    If you’re talking, watching, listening, laughing, and enjoying yourself, you’re probably not over-eating.
  4. Keep track of your food (and beverages) in your head.
    Sure, the tendency is to “let go” while away, and I’m all for it (in small amounts, see Rule 6) but it is good to be somewhat aware of what’s going in your body! I like to put everything on a plate, even snacks, and then consume it. This alleviates the oh-no!-I’ve-eaten-six-handfulls-of-chips-and-salsa-and-now-I-feel-awful situation(s).
  5. If possible, bring healthy snacks and/or meal replacement shakes with you.steelcutoats
    On this last trip, I brought packaged steel-cut oats. This helped me say “no” to the morning bagels and muffins that were provided.
  6. Follow the 90-10 rule—eat like you would at home, 90% of the time.
    Enjoy dessert, a margarita, or that ice cream cone 10% of the time.
  7. Take vitamins.
    Sometimes a deficiency in certain vitamins comes across as your body thinking it’s hungry. Make sure you’re eating nutrient-dense food whenever possible, but consider a multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps!
  8. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re not.
    This is so, so simple and yet so difficult to follow, but if you eat learn to eat when you’re hungry and stop before you’re stuffed, bloated, and totally full, you will feel so much better. Experts recommend eating “until satisfied”.
  9. Have fun!
    If you’re out being active (snorkeling, hiking, running, walking, exploring, etc.) you’re burning calories and jumpstarting your metabolism. So rest on vacation, but don’t clockforget to have fun, too!
  10. Don’t eat after ___pm.
    Set a time, and don’t consume food after it. For me, I stop eating and snacking at 8pm. This way I don’t consume unnecessary foods that sit overnight!

Do you have additional tips? Leave them in a comment!

Until tomorrow,

Tiff

8 Reasons to Run a Marathon (or Half, or 10k, or 5k — or ‘Race’ in General)

I just ran, and it felt great!
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I was anxious leading up to the big race (Eugene Marathon, I ran the half), but I cannot tell you how happy I was when I crossed the finish line.

It was encouraging to see people of all shapes and sizes running; it fed my inner nutrition/fitness-crazy self. How cool is it that people from all walks of life and from all across the world can come together to compete?

So, as a tribute to the Eugene marathoners, and because my legs are so sore that I don’t want to stand up from this computer desk, I’ve compiled a list of the top FIVE reasons to Run (or TRAIN for a scheduled “race”).

1. Training keeps you accountable. There were many Friday nights throughout the course of my training, when I wanted to go out to eat and have a bowl of ice-cream and a glass of wine, but knowing that I had to be up for my Saturday “long-run” at 6 am (choose a time that works best for you!) helped me make wise decisions the night before. Nobody likes running after they eat garbage–so training helped me keep my eating on track.

2. Training gets you into shape! I’ve always been “thin”, but there’s a big difference between a person who looks “skinny” and a person who is lean, toned, and totally in shape. It’s hard to be out of shape when you’re running 3, 4, 7, 9 or (for the truly daring) 20…miles a day! (Of course, it goes without being said that eating well is crucial to being in shape.)

3. Races give you an excuse to travel! You bet I’ve looked up races in Hawaii, Boston, and Quebec! Why not see the world while doing something amazing for your body?!

4. You feel SO GOOD when you cross the finish line! So my boyfriend played a few sports in his day. (He’s like a superhuman athlete.) And he hangs out with some other exceptionally talented people who are used to competing in big arenas. Me? I’ve never felt like I  excelled any particular sport, but when I crossed the finish line today, I felt like I could outrun even the most skilled distance runner. In my head, I was at the Olympics. And it totally rocked.

5. You get a medal! Okay, maybe this is extra cool to me because I didn’t play sports in high school (unless you count yoga?) but how great are medals?! I may be in my twenties, but that baby is totally going on display.

6. You become a part of something amazing. Today I watched a boy in a wheelchair cross the finish line for the marathon. I saw a 12-year-old cross the finish line for the half-marathon. I saw people in their teens and twenties, and people with all white and “silver” hair. It was amazing to see so many people (over 8 thousand) run for their health. I loved it.

7. Unity! There was so much unity between runners and viewers today. It was such a blessing to see so much support, love, and encouragement.

8. After you run, you can pretty much eat whatever you want. Okay, I’m a proponent for healthy food (as you know if you read this blog!) but after you race, you can afford to have a margarita. (Yes, that’s exactly what I did. It was delightful.)

So, do yourself a favor and sign up! http://www.marathonguide.com/races/races.cfm is a super valuable resource. (My next race will be the Portland Marathon, all 26.2 miles. Any runners interested?!)

XO,

Tiff

Organic Foods Vs. “Conventional” – Which Are Safe?

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Okay, so people generally know that eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains are healthier than chemically-created “foods” made in factories, but with (scary) scientific and medical discoveries in recent years that show the correlation between high levels of pesticides in meat, fruit, and vegetables, and problems like cancer, it has become quite apparent that not all “natural” foods are necessarily safe.

So, what foods are safe?!

Well, we know Organic foods are safest, but buying everything organically is not realistic (if you have a family or are on any sort of budget).

The following list is comprised of findings from the USDA and the Environmental Working Group. I have listed the 10 more important foods to definitely buy organic, and the top 10 foods you can buy “conventional” if you’re (like most people) on a budget.

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Top 10 Foods to Definitely Buy Organic:
1. Beef (beef is pumped full of antibiotics; antibiotics are linked to breast cancer. By buying organic, you are cutting your intake of antibiotics.) tiffstips_beef

2. Chicken and other meats

3. Strawberries (Upon testing, strawberries contained up to 13 pesticides in them—and with large surface area bumps, these pesticides can be tough to wash off)

4. Apples, applesauce, and apple juice (Apples are always on the “Dirty Dozen” list that the Enviornmental Working Group puts out, and they are usually near the top because of pesticide residue—which also makes its way into non-organic applesauce and apple juice.) tiffstips_apple

5. Celery (for a food that is mostly water, celery contains more than 60 different pesticides when tested.)

6. Spinach, collared greens, and Kale

7. Peaches

8. Sweet bell peppers

9. Grapes, grape juice & wine

10. Imported nectarines

10 Foods You That Are Safe to Buy Buy Conventional:
1. Onions

2. Bananas (their outer layer keeps them relatively safer)

3. Pineapple

4. Avocado

5. Asparagus

6. Sweet Peas

7. Mango

8. Eggplant

9. Cantaloupe (from the USA)

10. Watermellon

I hope this list helps you as you do your weekly shopping!

XO,

Tiff

Drew’s Favorite Breakfast Burritos (Make Ahead, Gluten-Free, Heart-Healthy)

My handsome younger brother (Drew) is an athlete. And, like most teenage boys, he is constantly hungry. (Here he is…what a stud!)
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Anyway, even though I live in a different city, I do what I can to make sure he is indulging in healthy foods. The nutrition-health nut inside me just hates the thought of him filling up on fast food, cup of noodles, or other prepackaged garbage. Studies show that people who eat healthy, whole foods perform better on all fronts. In addition, people who eat breakfast have consistently healthier body-fat percentages than people who skip breakfast.

I began looking for the perfect breakfast burrito recipe a few months ago because who doesn’t like breakfast burritos?! I have played with ingredients to find a blend of healthy, simple, easy, and delicious flavors. You will see that this recipe is simple, because it is important to get ingredients that contain the same water content. (I learned, for instance, that if you try to heat a burrito with frozen potatoes and cheese, the cheese will burn by the time the frozen potatoes thaw.) So though this recipe is simple, it has been thought out (and it tastes delicious). (Note: Dr. Oz presented a “gluten free breakfast burrito” recipe that was simply eggs. This recipe follows similar guidelines, but includes lean protein.)

Ingredients:

  • La Tortilla All-Natural Gluten Free Teff Tortilla (or the healthy wrap of your choice)
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey (organic)* find a brand that is gluten free (Google is your friend)
  • 1 tbsp. pure organic maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • ¼ of a small onion, chopped
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • low-fat Mexican cheese blend

Directions:
1. Make the maple-flavored turkey sausage by mixing the turkey, maple syrup, pepper, sage, and chopped onion. Once thoroughly (albeit gently) mixed, cook on medium-low until thoroughly cooked. Once cooked, set aside.

2. Whisk eggs, then cook over medium heat.Image

3. Lay out 8 tortillas; sprinkle cheese on each tortilla, then add eggs and sausage. Once this has been done, wrap the burritos. Cover immediately with saran wrap.

4. If you plan on freezing all burritos (they will last up to two months in the freezer), cover each with an additional layer of protection by using foil over each burrito. Then, put burritos in gallon-size plastic bags.

5. Burritos can be enjoyed by being heated 2-3 minutes (1-1.5 minutes on each side) after being taken out of the freezer.

Note: This recipe makes about 8 breakfast burritos.

These are the perfect filling albeit lean breakfast! Plus, they are much healthier than store bought and fast food items (which can contain over half of the recommended cholesterol intake, and over a third of the recommended sodium intake).

Enjoy!
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Gluten-Free, Heart-Healthy, Vegan Garlic Avocado Hummus (the perfect Dip, Spread, or Dressing!)

Honest moment: I love dips. (Who doesn’t!?) Dips just make eating veggies so much more fun.
What I don’t love are the over-processed, additive-laden, high-sodium dips that line many of the supermarket shelves.

In general, I suggest store bought hummus as a healthier alternative to other dressings—but it can be expensive, and even the stuff branded as “healthy” can have high fructose corn syrup, tons of sodium, and other not-so-great ingredients.

So…I decided to give homemade hummus a whirl. Like everything I make, I gave it a little twist.

This is a hearty spread with tons of protein, fiber, and flavor! I’d recommend a serving size being about 2 tablespoons, and trust me—this will fill you! (Note: Even though this hummus is filled with good stuff, it should be consumed in moderation because of its calorie content!)

Enjoy!
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Ingredients:

  • 4 15-oz cans of drained garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Tahini Paste/Sesame seed butter
  • 2 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. minced cilantro
  • 4 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan salt, or to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • The juice of ½ lemon
  • The zest (grated skin) of a small lemon (ZZZZZest!)
  • 1 tbsp. minced basil leaves
  • ½ large Avocado or 1 small avocado
  • 1 organic tomato, chopped, to top the hummus as presentation

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
2. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least four hours. (The flavors strengthen overnight.)
3. Chop tomato, and serve on top of hummus (optional)
4. Enjoy being the “coolest mom ever” when you serve this to your kids…or the “favorite employee” when people try to steal your lunch.

Note: if you keep your hummus in an airtight container in the fridge, it will last for around a week. Save money on shopping and know what you’re eating!

Eat this with…veggies, like bell peppers, carrots, celery, chopped jicama, and more! Or, use up to 2 tbsp. as a hearty salad dressing. If you eat whole wheat bread, this makes for a wonderful “mayo” substitute to spice up any healthy turkey sandwich! ENJOY!

Basil, Chicken, Lemon, Pesto Pasta (Gluten Free with Vegan Option) made with Spaghetti Squash

Whether you are gluten free because of a sensitivity or Celiac, or perhaps because of something else (like a child who has a learning disability—which many doctors say  going gluten-free can help with), or even if you are a pasta loving wheat-a-holic: this recipe is hands down, five stars (or five mason jars—because this is Tiff’s Tips and not the Oscars)!

It is so good, in fact, that if you do not tell your kids that this “pasta” comes from a vegetable, they will never know. (Now, I am not advocating lying because I think that’s immoral—but sometimes what they don’t know, won’t hurt ‘em)!
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Basil Pesto Lemon Chicken Spaghetti (Squash)
Note: the following ingredients make 2-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash (these make a surprising amount of spaghetti)
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder (organic, of course)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (or tomatoes of any kind)
  • 2 chicken breasts (ideally—organic, unprocessed, locally-sourced)* for vegan option, simply omit the chicken
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • Pine nuts
  • 2 lemons
  • Spinach

 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F

2. Very carefully (I mean very carefully, and with a large knife—or axe) cut the spaghetti squash in two. (This is the hardest part of the whole recipe…you can do it!). (Note: I was kidding about the axe.)Image

3. Once cut in half, brush both interior sides with olive oil (just a pinch), and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

4. Put the squash onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes (I would ere on the side of 40; the longer you bake it, the more squash it will make—just make sure the squash is not mushy when prodded with a fork).

5. While squash is cooking, make pesto with a food processor, Vitamix, or Blentec by combining 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1-2 squeezed lemons, garlic powder (I used about ½ tsp.), some pepper, a dash of salt, basil, and spinach. (Note: you can buy pesto if you’d like; I had difficulty finding Pesto without cheese, hence why I made it.) Play with the flavors until you like the taste! Set pesto aside.

6. Sauté chicken over stove; add in chopped tomatoes, and spoon in about half of your pesto mixture.

7. Once spaghetti is finished take sheet out and set aside; let cool for 3-5 minutes (until you can safely touch the squash without being harmed). With a fork, scrape out squash (length-wise).Image

7a. (Yes, I was a bit of a nerd growing up, so there is a ‘7a’.) Spaghetti will come out easily. Have a bowl ready to put spaghetti strings in. If clumps gather, separate them. Scrape the entire squash with your trustee fork.

8. Mix the remaining pesto with the pasta, any additional lemon juice, and chicken (if you’re going the chicken route); serve warm and enjoy!