How to Beat Sugar Cravings

A couple of years ago, Alex and I watched the documentary Fed Up, which highlights the negative effects that sugar has on our bodies. You know sugar isn’t exactly a superfood and that donuts are the healthiest breakfast, but you might not know that sugar is hiding in nearly everything. We gave up sugar for a month and as a result, we learned a lot about the sweet stuff, the places it hides, and how to deal with sugar cravings. So here are a few tips, in case you’re trying to get off the sugar train.

Wondering how to quit sugar? Here are a few tips to help you beat your sugar cravings!

Find where sugar is hiding

The first thing you have to do is find where sugar is hiding in your diet. You might not realize that there is added sugar in your pasta sauce or in your canned green beans, so the first step is knowing where it’s coming from. Things like yogurt and granola bars might be obvious ones but salad dressings and soups might have more sugar than you think. If you’re trying to cut out sugar completely, you have to check the labels carefully!

Know the other names for sugar

When you’re scouring an ingredients list, you probably won’t see “sugar” listed. But you might see things like high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, and others. There are over 60 different names for sugar! Keep an eye out for the sugar code names!

Get plenty of sleep

When you’re lacking sleep, you’re more likely to reach for sugar. Initially, you’ll get some energy from that candy bar, but an hour later you’re going to crash hard. That means you’ll be craving more sugar.  (See how easy it is to get caught up in this cycle?) If you’re well rested, you’re more likely to resist temptation.

Sprinkle on the spices

Cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg can all sweeten your food naturally and they help balance your blood sugar. This reduces your craving for sugar. Skip the sugar in your coffee and try a sprinkle of cinnamon instead!

Reduce your stress

I know, I know, reducing stress is easier said than done, but often times we crave sugar when we’re stressed. Try taking a walk, talking with a friend, or even just taking a few deep breaths. Less stress = less cravings. If you just can’t resist some comfort food, go for a creamy piece of cheese or

Drink plenty of fluids

When you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to reach for a sugary snack. Instead, keep a water bottle with you so you’re never thirsty. Add a little lemon in your water for flavor or sip on unsweetened green tea.

For more tips on reducing your sugar intake, check out my sugar-free grocery list recommendations!

sugar free foods

How do you beat your sugar cravings?

5 Tips to Help You Keep Your Healthy Resolutions

If you’re like most people, you’re probably starting 2017 with a few goals to be a little healthier. Whether it’s eating clean(er) or squeezing in a bit more exercise, here are a few of my favorite tips to help you achieve those goals!

5-tips-that-will-actually-help-you-keep-those-healthy-new-years-resolutions

Get into a running routine

4 Tips for New Runners

I don’t think running has ever or will ever come easily to me, but I keep doing it because I know it’s good for me. My friend Hollie shared these 4 tips for new runners (and to be honest, they’re also helpful if you just feel like a newbie) so check these out if you’re working on pounding the pavement this year. I just signed up for a 10K in April so I can keep myself motivated to run even when it’s cold outside.

Make meal prep easier

how to make fluffy quinoa in a rice cooker

Whether you are meal prepping for the week or just trying to get dinner on the table, making quinoa in my rice cooker is one of my favorite ways to save time. I also love ordering groceries online, stocking up on freezer meals, and making double batches of recipes so I have leftovers.

Eat a little less meat

tips for eating less meat

From Meatless Mondays to new sources of protein, here are my tips for eating a little less meat. You don’t have to be 100% vegetarian to get the benefits of a plant based meal! It’s easier than you think. Here are my tips if you’re trying to eat a little less meat.

Multitask while exercising

DIY cheap treadmill desk

Ok, ok, you don’t have to have a treadmill desk in order to multitask but I do love mine! (Here’s how to make your own desk for a treadmill for about $10.) Other ways to multitask? Rather than meeting a friend for coffee, invite them to take a walk while you chat. Read a book while pedaling on a stationary bike.

Get a better night’s sleep

Can't sleep? Try these tips for a better night sleep!

Rest is so important. When you’re well rested you’re more likely to exercise, less likely to crave sugar, and hello you’ll feel like a total rockstar when you’ve gotten a great night of shut eye. I used to be a terrible sleeper but over the years I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped a lot. If your goal is to sleep more (or better) then try these tips.

What are your goals this year?

Currently: Holiday Edition

I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season! I thought I’d pop in and share what I’ve been up to lately.

Currently Reading

804-cookbook

I just got the second volume of the 804ork Cookbook, a collection of recipes and stories from local restaurants here in Richmond. If you’ve ever wished you could try the delicious food here, then grab one of these cookbooks! It’s been fun flipping through it and reading more about the stories behind some of my favorite restaurants.

Currently Drinking

My parents also got us a Sodastream for Christmas and I love it. I don’t know why I like soda water so much but I do! I’ve mostly weaned myself off Diet Coke but sometimes I just want something bubbly. Rather than buying more boxes of La Croix, I can just make it at home! It’ll also be fun to try the different flavors!

Current Eating

This healthy baked macaroni and cheese will satisfy your cheesy cravings without all the calories and fat of traditional macaroni and cheese. It's a perfect side dish or vegetarian main dish!

I made a batch of this broccoli macaroni and cheese for our Christmas dinner and I ended up eating the leftovers the next day. So I guess I’m kind of cheating with this one because I’m not eating it right this minute.

Currently Wearing


Alex got me this sweatshirt and I love it. It’s so soft and obviously, I’m a sucker for a good vegetable pun.

Currently Planning


The next Tone It Up challenge starts January 1st so I’m excited to get back into a regular workout routine. I’ve been battling a cold since before Thanksgiving so workouts have been pretty low key around here while I let my body rest. Now that I’m feeling better, I’m excited to hit the ground running (literally) in January!

What are you currently doing?

What I Ate: Tacky Light Edition

I’m a little late on this because I didn’t have time to share last week’s but better late than never, right? Last Saturday was such a fun day packed with some great Richmond adventures so I couldn’t resist sharing! Let’s dive into the food:

I woke up early on Saturday morning because I was speaking on a panel at a small business conference led by Sharvette Mitchell. Sharvette and I met a few years ago speaking on a panel together, so it was fun to get to catch up again! Before the conference, I had a bowl of blackberries.

berries (2)

Lately, I’ve just been eating fruit for breakfast. I’m not sure where my regular breakfast cravings have gone but I’m just going with it. I spent the morning hanging out with these lovely ladies!

panel members

Photo via Kimie James

After a very inspiring morning, I stopped by my grandma’s place to say hi and then came home to have lunch. I was super hungry and was thrilled to remember that I had leftovers in the fridge.

leftover pasta

Alex and I had gone to The Mill at MacArthur on Friday and I couldn’t finish my mountain of pasta so I was excited to have some left. P.S. The Mill has tons of awesome vegetarian options and the service was fantastic. We’re both excited to go back again soon.

I finished up a few Christmas errands and then got bundled up for the Tacky Light Race.

I basically snapchatted the entire race so if you’re following me (Username: HeartVegetables) then you probably saw that the race was so much fun. All of the lights distracted me so the race went by really fast! Afterward, my friend Carin and I stopped at Zoe’s Kitchen for dinner.

zoes kitchen

I was still freezing from the race so I knew I needed soup and I can’t miss out on the basil pesto hummus. (I do have a basil pesto hummus copycat recipe if you want to make your own!) I love Zoe’s Kitchen, if you can’t tell.

Once I got home, I took a nice hot bath. We recently renovated our bathroom so it felt extra luxurious. A bunch of you have asked for “after” photos of the bathroom renovation so here’s a shot of the new tub, subway tile, and floor! (As you can tell, we’re not totally done with the floor- we need to make a threshold!)

bathroom

And that’s a wrap! It was a delicious day!

What have you been eating lately?

Linking up for What I Ate Wednesday!

5 Ingredient Granola Bars

I’m a snacker. I always have been. Maybe it’s because I love food and I’m too impatient to wait until mealtime but whatever the reason, snacks are essential in this house. Back in my high school days, I pretend that granola bars were a “healthy” snack when they were really just a few oats crammed into a chocolate covered bar held together with high fructose corn syrup. Whoops. But now I know better and now I enjoy bars that are made with real, wholesome ingredients. There are plenty of great options out there on the market but the natural ones can be a little pricey so making your own is a nice way to keep your grocery costs down! I know almond meal can be a little expensive so if you don’t want to buy it, you can replace the almond meal with more oats. Now let’s get into the recipe for these 5 ingredient granola bars!

5 ingredient granola bars

5 Ingredient Granola Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup agave (or honey if not vegan)
  • ½ cup natural crunchy peanut butter
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup almond meal (ground almonds)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9x4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Combine the agave and peanut butter in a mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in the oats, almond meal, and sliced almonds until combined.
  5. Press into the bottom of the loaf plan.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges just begin to brown. It might still be a little soft but the bars will firm up when cool.
  7. Make sure you let them cool completely before you slice.
  8. Store in an airtight container.

5 ingredient granola bars

I love the texture of these granola bars because they’re chewy and crunchy all at the same time! They also just happen to be gluten free & vegan. If you don’t have peanut butter, sub in almond butter. If you don’t have sliced almonds, sub in more oats. The great thing about these granola bars is you can really make them with whatever you have in your pantry.

<Need a healthy snack idea? Try these 5 ingredient granola bars! They're vegan and gluten free but they're packed with protein!

I’m thinking these would also be great with chocolate chips or coconut flakes!

chewy-granola-bars

What’s your favorite snack recipe?

15 Mouthwatering Waffle Recipes

Why are waffles so much better than pancakes? Is it the crispy exterior matched with the fluffy interior? Is it the perfectly proportioned pockets that scoop up syrup and toppings? I don’t know the answer but I do know that I love waffles. Whether you’re looking for a quick Monday morning breakfast or a fancy Saturday morning brunch, there’s a recipe for every waffle situation. Here are 15 mouthwatering waffle recipes you need to try:

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These fluffy caramel almond waffles from Home and Plate would be amazing on their own but topped with an apple cinnamon syrup, you might want to eat breakfast for every meal.

Pumpkin pie isn’t just for Thanksgiving dinner. These pumpkin pie waffles with cream cheese drizzle from Love, Pasta, Toolbelt would be perfect for breakfast or dessert.

Waffle-2

Speaking of pumpkin, how about a pumpkin cornbread waffle for a little sweet & savory twist? The Balanced Berry has you covered.

Need a holiday waffle idea? It doesn’t get more festive than this eggnog waffle casserole from Finding Zest.

Throw some veggies into your waffles with these overnight sweet potato Belgian waffles from Syrup and Biscuits!

If you really feel like getting in your veggies, try a batch of zucchini and carrot waffles from My Life Cookbook.

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These savory Mexican Waffles from My Kitchen Love are just screaming to be featured as breakfast for dinner.

A batch of savory cornmeal and chive waffles from The Gingered Whisk would be a welcomed addition to any brunch spread.

For the low-carb or paleo eaters, you can still participate in the waffle festivities with these flourless almond butter waffles from Wholesome Yum.

Or you can go low-carb and nut-free with these coconut flour waffles from Low Carb Yum.

avocado-tomato-paleo-waffle-mpk

Move over avocado toast, these avocado paleo waffles from My PCOS Kitchen are stealing the spotlight.

Skip the muffins and satisfy your lemon poppyseed desires with these lemon poppyseed waffles from Spabettie.

Breakfast? Dessert? I’m not sure but these dark chocolate waffles from The Worktop would be delicious for both occasions.

Speaking of dessert, these whole wheat gingerbread waffles from Living Lou would make an amazing holiday brunch dish or dessert!

Yogurt-Waffles-1

These whole wheat yogurt waffles from The Lean Green Bean are freezer friendly so you can have breakfast ready at any time!

Chocolate chips make anything better so these gluten free almond chocolate chip waffles from Nourished, the blog, might be at the top of my list!

Put your blender to work with these sweet potato waffles and blueberry sauce from Emilie Eats.

Hungry yet? Dig in!

sunday waffles

From easy breakfast ideas to creative brunch recipes, these waffle recipes are perfect for every occasion!

What’s your favorite waffle recipe? Share in the comments below!

Blackberry Ricotta Toast

I don’t know what kind of magic I stumbled into yesterday but I found fresh blackberries at the grocery store for $1 per 1/2 pint. WHAT. Obviously, I had to stock up and I found myself with heaps of blackberries in the kitchen. This is a lovely problem to have because I’m pretty sure I could eat a few pounds of blackberries on my own without a problem. But instead of just stuffing my cheeks full of berries, I decided to try a little twist on toast. Lately, I’ve been switching up my breakfast and deviating from my usual yogurt parfaits and smoothie bowls. So here’s what I made yesterday.

blacberry ricotta toast

It’s so simple you barely need a recipe but here you go!

4.8 from 5 reviews
Blackberry Ricotta Toast
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese (you can get away with part skim)
  • Handful of fresh blackberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Fresh basil or mint (optional)
Instructions
  1. Toast your bread until it's lightly browned (or however you prefer your toast)
  2. Then simply spread the ricotta, top with blackberries, drizzle with honey, and add a little basil or mint if you like.

blackberry ricotta toast

Breakfast is served!

Blackberries and ricotta are the perfect toast toppings! Tart, sweet, and creamy all in one healthy breakfast!

In the mood for more toast? Try this almond butter and peach combo!

peach toast

Next up on my list of things to do with these blackberries? Single serving cheesecake. Wish me luck!

What’s your favorite thing to do with blackberries?

Easy Vegetarian Taquitos (Only 5 Ingredients!)

These easy vegetarian taquitos are the perfect quick and easy dinner! You can whip up a single batch for your family or double the recipe and feed a crowd!

vegetarian taquitos

I’m still battling a cold but my appetite has finally started to return. It’s very weird to go from being someone who is pretty much obsessed with food to someone who doesn’t really want to eat anything. Last night, I had Mexican food on the brain so I decided to try a vegetarian taquitos recipe. It seemed like it would be quick and easy… and I was right!

taquitos wrapped

4.9 from 7 reviews
Easy Vegetarian Taquitos (Only 5 Ingredients!)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This recipe makes 10 taquitos which would typically serve 3 people.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 can vegetarian refried black beans
  • 10 soft flour tortillas
  • ½ cup sweet corn
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings: Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, etc.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Combine the taco seasoning and refried beans.
  3. Scoop 2 tbsp of the seasoned refried beans into each tortilla.
  4. Top with corn and cheese.
  5. Tightly roll and place into a pan with the seam side facing down.
  6. It helps if you can keep them packed tightly in the pan.
  7. If you want them to get a little crispy, spray the rolled tortillas with olive oil or avocado oil before placing in the oven.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until they being to brown on the edges.
  9. Remove and serve immediately.

baked taquitos

I’m sure you could add chicken or beef to this if you didn’t want to keep it vegetarian but the beans are pretty filling on their own! If you are making this vegetarian, be sure you find vegetarian refried beans. The more traditional kind tend to use lard.

taquitos

I think these would also be delicious with some bell peppers and diced onions inside. Honestly, there are probably tons of ways to customize these!

Need an easy dinner recipe? These baked vegetarian taquitos are sure to please the whole family!

What would you put inside these taquitos?

New On The Go Meal Options

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

As I mentioned last week, life has been a little crazy these past couple of weeks. Work has been busy, the bathroom renovation took twice as long as expected, and I’ve had a lingering cold that I just can’t seem to shake. When life is like this, there are three things I do to keep up:

  •    Prioritize the things that really need to get done and put everything else on the back burner.
  •    Utilize my treadmill desk so I can get in a workout and catch up on emails.
  •    Rely on easy, simple meal options rather than doing a lot of cooking.

So lately, I haven’t really been doing a lot of cooking and I’ve been relying on easier meal options. While I love picking up takeout, it’s not always the healthier or cheapest option, so I do like having some stand-by options in the freezer.

MorningStar Farms has been a favorite of mine since college. Their black bean burgers always have a space in my freezer and the burgers actually make great tacos! So when I heard about the new MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bowls I wanted to give them a try! I actually had to go to a few stores before I was able to find but I ended up finding both the Chik’n Pot Pie and the Italian Sausage Bake here in Richmond at Walmart. They have a few other kinds as well if you’re in different parts of the country.

freezer

It’s nestled there in the freezer aisle right next to my beloved black bean burgers and all the other vegetarian foods! I like that these meals have a lot of protein without a ton of calories. The Italian Sausage Bake was our favorite which clocks in at 240 calories and 14g of protein.

sausage bake

I was actually surprised at how many vegetables were in there! These veggie bowls are definitely a super convenient option whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking to eat less meat. It’s always nice to have something you can grab when life gets busy and have ready to go in a few minutes.

italian sausage bake

With all the holiday craziness coming up, I’m making sure my freezer is stocked with options for the busy days ahead!

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What’s your favorite go-to meal?

3 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Balance

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about burning out. And while it I wrote it from the perspective of blogging, I think it actually applies to a lot of things.  Can't find your blogging mojo? Ready to give up on that marathon goal? Here are a few tips for avoid burn out in whatever passion you're pursuing!

And yet here I am, 6 months later, not listening to myself. Life is temporarily a little crazy. We haven’t had a bathroom at our house for the past week and a half which means we’ve been living out of a suitcase at my parent’s house. Their house is lovely but it’s not my house with my stuff and my bed. I haven’t gone grocery shopping for over a week because I haven’t had time to cook anything. We’ve been living off takeout and frozen pizzas.

Then on Tuesday evening I thought to myself, oh no, I haven’t written my blog post for tomorrow!

blogging

It’s the same feeling I get when I’m planning to go to the gym and life derails my workout.

It’s the same feeling I get when I’m planning to make a healthy dinner and then things come up and I’m digging through the freezer for another frozen pizza.

It’s the same feeling I get when I’m planning to finish painting the bathroom but then I realize it’s going to need two coats…

The point is, life happens. My goal for this little ol’ blog is to inspire people to live a healthier, happier life. Sometimes that means eating some kale and sometimes it just means cutting yourself some slack and not stressing out about the small things. I think stressing about missing a workout is more unhealthy than just happily skipping it because life gets in the way and sometimes a day off is exactly what I need. When I read this post from Georgie, it really hit home. Once I stopped drooling over those almond butter sandwich cookies, I took her message to heart.

“At the end of the day it’s ok to take breaks. Hustling your face off only works for so long. Some seasons you need to, but breaks, ones you take guilt free, are good. In fact, the more you take mini breaks the better you get at getting back to the groove, and the less taking time off throws you off.”- Georgie, of In it for the Long Run

She’s so right.

sangria

With that, I’ll give you my three tips for maintaining a healthy balance.

  1. Don’t give yourself false deadlines. In my head I think, I have to have that blog post done tonight. I have to go to that workout class in the morning. I have to finish that recipe tomorrow. But guess what? I generally don’t. These aren’t life altering circumstances and it’s not that big of a deal.
  2. Put things in perspective. What’s really going to happen if you miss that workout tomorrow? Your muscles won’t turn to jello in 24 hours. A slice of frozen pizza instead of a salad isn’t going to kill you.
  3. Cut yourself some slack. As Georgie put it, hustling your face off only works for so long. Sometimes you need to give yourself a little wiggle room in order to be your best self.

So all of this rambling is to say that my goal is to take a step back and evaluate. While the Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule has worked well for the past six years, I think I’m ready to give myself a little more flexibility and that might mean a few breaks. Isn’t that what living a healthy life is about?

What are your tips for staying balanced?