Balance with Mariana's Healthy City Guide: MADRID

Madrid is a city that in the past few years (especially the past 2!) has undergone a huge transformation in the world of health and wellness. While most traditional restaurants have a hard time offering many veggies (especially without ham!), I’m at least happy to see tons of vegan restaurants popping up, as well as health food markets, casual healthy restaurants that offer organic bites, superfoods and green juices, and of course, yoga studios. Since I always indulge in too much wine, dessert and seafood when visiting Madrid (!), these healthy spots become my little heavenly escape for the occasional healthy meal and workout to keep me balanced.

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12 Tips to Overcome Insomnia

Are you having trouble falling asleep or wake up in the night and can’t fall back asleep?

You’re not alone! It’s a common problem, but the good news is, it can be helped with a few diet and lifestyle tweaks, and may not require popping meds.

You need to focus on changing your eating and lifestyle habits to nourish your adrenals, reduce stress and promote proper melatonin and cortisol balance. 

Here are 12 tips:

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Why Diets Don't Work & What Does

I know this is a controversial topic as many people LOVE diets. It's a great excuse to pig-out today because you're starting a diet tomorrow. If that's you, I get it, you want a quick solution to lose a few pounds, and want to indulge in everything else when you’re not dieting. But let me tell you why I firmly believe that is the wrong approach, and what you can do instead.

I myself tried what seemed like every single diet in my 20’s, and can personally attest to the fact that these fad diets don’t work. They’re short-term solutions, and usually based on too much restriction. Not to mention, you have to keep doing them, or trying new ones, because the results never last! I can't begin to tell you how much time and money I wasted over the years!

Very often the diets provide the foods for you, or they make you count calories (or “points”), but don’t really teach you sustainable healthy habits to continue post-diet. Or they might have you focus on eating specific foods that they claim “help you to burn fat”, but then you end up ignoring a lot of other delicious and healthy foods. And after a while, you naturally give up – you get tired of the small portions or bland food, and lose the energy to keep tracking every food/ingredient/calorie. As a result, you go back to your old ways and the weight that was lost is re-gained. 

Even worse, all this yo-yo dieting can do damage to your gut and overall health, especially if you’re not getting enough healthy fats, veggies and fruits on a regular basis.

To lose weight sustainably you need to learn how to adapt healthier habits into your day-to-day. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

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4 Swaps for Healthier Snacks

Most of us need a small snack in between meals in order to stay energized, to keep our blood sugar stable, and to avoid over-eating at meals.  So snacking can be healthy and nutritious, but a little planning is key. 

Grabbing pre-packaged processed snacks on the go can often be the main culprit of weight gain for many people, as it’s the time when we mindlessly grab whatever is available.  Especially if we’re hungry, our defenses go down and we’re more likely to give in to the unhealthy snacks roaming around the office, such as candy, pastries and chips.

 

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5 Veggie Packed Meals for People Who Don't Love Salads

As a Health Coach, I place lots of emphasis on eat clean, whole foods, at least 80% of the time. This includes fresh vegetables, organic meat/poultry/fish/seafood, legumes, whole grains (such as quinoa & brown rice), nuts/seeds and fresh fruit. No processed flours or sugars. And it means avoiding things that come in a package, unless it has only 1 ingredient (ex. lentils). That includes whole wheat bread!

Additionally, I believe in eating PLENTY of vegetables every day, ideally at every meal. The more veggies and the wider variety, the better. Vegetables are nutrition powerhouses, with each different vegetable offering its own set of much-needed vitamins and minerals. I tell my clients to fill their plate half way with veggies, and always add some health protein (animal or vegetarian, so this can include lentils and quinoa, etc) and healthy fats.

Eating this way will help anyone be their healthiest self, and shed unwanted weight.

However, I often come across people who struggle to “eat clean” and eat enough veggies because they’re not salad fans. So they tend to turn to sandwiches and wraps for lunch, or meat with rice or potatoes and one cooked vegetable. As a result, their diet lacks in both quantity and variety of vegetables, and usually includes too many refined foods. Essentially, it lacks in nutrition!

For those of you out there like this, who don’t love raw green salads (or have trouble digesting them), I want to share 5 of my favorite clean, healthy and delicious meals – filled with nutritious veggies- that anyone will love, and that are easy enough to take to work.

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Healthy Cooking Made Easy

There are two things that make healthy eating a challenge for a lot of people. First is finding the time to cook, and then it’s finding healthy recipes that taste good and are easy to make.

Also, if you don't feel comfortable in the kitchen, it can feel like a lot to take on; cooking can be intimidating! But allowing this to be an excuse (and only cooking the same two recipes that you've mastered) can become an obstacle that gets in the way of your health goals.

Results come with stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things, and that includes cooking!

It's important because if you're not eating home-cooked meals, it means you’re resorting to eating lots of pre-packaged meals and ordering-in or dining out. And that means you're consuming lots of unhealthy oils and sodium - because all packaged meals and restaurants use a lot of both. You have no control over the ingredients used, nor the cooking method, and it becomes that much harder to control your health.

So today I want to share a cooking video where I'll show you how to make 3 easy & healthy recipes, that you can add to your list of go-to recipes. These are recipes that I make a lot, and that of course represent “clean eating”, meaning I use whole, un-processed foods. Also, I focus on using very nutrient-dense foods, aka "superfoods". 

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A Delicious Pumpkin Recipe for the Holidays

I have to admit that one of my favorite things about the Halloween/ Thanksgiving/ Christmas holiday season is the FOOD. And I know I'm not the only one!

However, it can be difficult to stay healthy especially with the abundance of desserts that are constantly served and so hard to resist!

The key is to allow yourself to indulge a bit, while finding ways to stay as healthy as possible.  And to stay on that healthy path, I always suggest dedicating some effort to planning ahead.  

I personally like to cook a lot during this season, and come up with healthier versions of the traditional heavier holiday meals. 

I challenge you to make this holiday season your healthiest yet, by finding the holiday foods you love and making healthier versions of them.  It's fun and easier than you may think! 

Today I want to share my healthy version of one of my favorite holiday desserts - Pumpkin Pie.

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Looking for a Healthy Recipe that's Perfect for a Rainy Day?

We all have our days when we need some comfort food, and that's OK!  So I have come up with a healthy recipe that is still comforting and hearty, something that keeps my belly warm and happy on a cold or rainy day.  Or for the ladies, this recipe is great for that time of the month!   

My version of this is a Hearty Minestrone Soup.  I've kept it vegetarian so that anyone can enjoy, but feel free to add some ground turkey or grass-fed beef if you feel you need it.  I personally like to top off my soup with some sliced avocado for some added healthy fat.

Have this for lunch or dinner, although I find that a soup is the perfect meal for the evening time, as its easier to digest.  And in this case, just one bowl can get you full - so you avoid over-eating at dinner time. 

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Easy Weeknight Quinoa & Tempeh Salad

One of the key things I try to teach my clients is that healthy cooking doesn't have to be complicated.  It doesn't have to be a chore.  And you don't need to be a chef.  But like everything, it gets easier with practice.

So I'm going to start sharing with you some healthy and easy recipes. Here is an easy weeknight salad dish that I love:

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A Wholesome Recipe For Anyone - Lentil Vegetable Soup

One of the biggest challenges to healthy eating is finding THE TIME to cook, especially for all of us working long days.  So one thing I preach is the principle of “cook once, eat twice.”

One of the easiest, healthy dinner recipes that is great for leftovers is a lentil and vegetable soup. Its nutritious, filling, and something that can be served for the whole family. Find some time in your Sunday to cook the soup (and you can multitask while it cooks!), and then you can have it once or twice more during the week, depending on how many you’re cooking for.

Lentils are filled with protein and fiber,  which fill you up quickly, and have the added benefit of lowering cholesterol and balancing sugar levels. Lentils are also good sources of folate and magnesium, contributing to heart health. And lastly, as a relatively low calorie food, they are great for weight loss, especially when combined with vegetables!

So I’ll share with you a recipe that I make very often and highly suggest you try:

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