Easy, Delicious Dinner for a Perfect Sleep

Dinner is one of the hardest meals for many of us. At the end of the day, we’re tired, we want something comforting, but are lazy to cook up something elaborate (and often we just don’t crave something too elaborate).  And there is a reason for that. Your body usually craves a simple meal that is easy to digest, simple yet comforting and balanced.

Before bed, you want a meal that will help keep your blood sugar stable so that you sleep better and burn more fat and promote weight loss (if that’s a goal).

A dinner that is EASY-TO-DIGEST is also key to not disrupt your sleep. You need your body to rest while sleeping (and not be working overtime to digest your dinner).

You also want to look for foods that help promote restful sleep.

READ MORE to get my favorite super easy dinner recipe that promotes great sleep and is, of course, delicious and healthy.

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Mediterranean Diet: Key Takeaways for Your Healthiest Self

Today I wanted to share a bit about the principles of a MEDITERRANEAN, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET, which I personally apply a lot in my personal life, and recommend as a general starting point with most of my health coaching clients.

The Mediterranean diet is all about eating fresh, whole foods and keeping your heart healthy with tons of fiber and healthy fats.

It focuses on eating a wide variety of local produce, particularly colorful fruits and veggies packed with antioxidants. So it’s essentially a high-antioxidant and anti-inflammatory diet.

The BEST part about it is that it’s pretty relaxed and balanced. It encourages eating all food groups, drinking your water, even occasional coffee, red wine and dark chocolate are totally OK. Then accompanying these foods with a lifestyle of plenty exercise, time with family and friends, time in nature, and of course, promotes ENJOYING YOUR FOOD. (Think of the Italians and Greeks!). Not too complicated.

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Ayurveda 101: Bringing Your Body Into Balance

I recently shared with you why I’m a big believer of a NO-DIET plan and a balanced lifestyle. (If you haven’t checked out, READ HERE).

That being said, there are some dietary theories and lifestyles that I believe have good backing, lots of positive research showing their benefits, and are good for you to know more about. It doesn’t mean you have to follow their “rules” 100%, BUT their principles are extremely beneficial in achieving and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle that can help you reach (and sustain) your health goals.

I wanted to share a bit about the principles of AYURVEDA, which I personally apply a lot in my personal life and with my health coaching clients.

READ MORE to learn the basics of Ayurveda, and how you can use it to bring more balance in your life (and that includes reaching your ideal weight, improving your digestion, skin, destressing, and more!). 

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The “NO DIET PLAN” for a Healthier You

As a Health Coach, and as a former yo-yo dieter myself, I have learned the importance of avoiding the word diet, avoiding the labeling of foods, of needing to follow the latest trendy diet with obsession, of banning entire food groups that aren’t actually harming us, or worse, counting calories or measuring our food.

I constantly see people that feel they need to follow a strict diet for a period of time, every year, and it never works. They often lose a few pounds short-term, but when they get off the diet, the weight returns. It leads to a feeling of never being happy with themselves, and diet obsession.

READ MORE to learn what actually will help you find your ideal eating plan that will keep you at your healthy weight.

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February Love Food: Beets

Many times people fear beets because of their sweetness and high sugar content, but by cutting them out of your diet, you’re missing out on all their awesome, healthy-boosting properties.

And actually, beets can help you stay slim, have balanced hormones, balanced energy, and more.

READ MORE to learn more about the awesome benefits, HOW to eat beets, and get my super easy hormone-balancing juice recipe.

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HEALTHY COOKWARE. TOSS THAT TEFLON & PLASTIC!

Apart from watching WHAT you eat, it’s just as important to monitor 1) the QUALITY of your food (are you getting organic where possible, avoiding excess pesticides, GMO ingredients, harmful ingredients, etc?) 2) how and when you’re eating, AND 3) what you use to COOK AND STORE YOUR FOOD.

Did you know that your favorite nonstick pans and plastic tupperware are hurting your health??

Exposure to harmful chemicals that are present in your everyday cookware can have hormone-disrupting and organ-damaging effects, which sets the stage for serious health issues including cancer, heart disease and more.

So it’s important to start NOW to clean up your kitchen, swapping your toxic cookware for “cleaner” options,  which ultimately can make a huge difference for your future health.

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Here is my mini-guide on how to get started cleaning up your kitchen and choosing safer cookware (and food storage ware):

1.      Get rid of Teflon

Sadly Teflon is toxic and must be avoided! YES Teflon pots, pans and non-stick skillets are VERY convenient. Food doesn’t stick and clean-up of these pans is super easy. Problem is, when the heat gets high on Teflon, it releases toxins, sending particles through the air, onto kitchen surfaces and into anyone who happens to be in the immediate vicinity. Plus, teflon has been linked to cholesterol, fertility and thyroid problems. Read more here: http://www.ewg.org/research/pfc-dictionary

2.      Rethink your Plastic containers.

Most people are aware that heating food in plastic containers is a major safety no-no. But even us more health-conscious guys and gals are using plastic wrap, bags and containers for our meal prep, and it comes at a cost. Plastic containers are packed with hormone-disrupting chemicals that leach into food, not to mention poisoning land and sea – with a host of toxins. So next time you’re storing your leftovers or prepping food for the week, use clear, stackable GLASS containers instead. Read more HERE for a bit more ideas for how to avoid plastic and choose nontoxic containers.

3.      Toss the Plastic Wrap (and if possible, almost any plastic that is touching food).

Plastic wrap may seem extremely useful, BUT it’s made of a type of plastic that contains endocrine (hormone) disruptors, takes hundreds of years to decompose, dumps chemicals into the ground, poisoning the environment and sickening or even killing creatures who are unlucky enough to ingest it. Instead (again) use glass containers, mason jars and glass bottles with metal lids, even silicone containers are better, and/or wrap with parchment paper. I recently bought these silicone adaptable lids that easily replace plastic wrap and are great for putting on to of any bowl/plate/cup/baking dish etc that you need to store in the fridge and doesn’t have its own cover.

4.      Increase your Glass, Cast-Iron and Stainless Steel.

  • GLASS: Glass is great for storage, taking meals on-the-go, kitchen prep and baking. Glass bakeware and mixing bowls stand up to heat, whisking and even some chopping. It’s durable, relatively low-cost, sustainable and easy to clean, making it my #1 pick. Just note: after removing from a hot oven always place on a dry, heat-safe surface, towel, cutting board or cooling rack to prevent cracking.

  • CAST-IRON: Cast iron cookware is a classic safe cookware option that’s been used for generations. A well-seasoned skillet or pan can act similarly to non-stick versions, and provide even heat throughout the cooking process, both for the stovetop and oven. They do however require specific clean-up and seasoning after each use, plus they’re heavy. If you want a nicer-looking version that doesn’t require so much clean-up/seasoning, go for high-quality, porcelain-enameled cast iron cookware such as Le Creuset, which is an easier-care alternative. They’re my personal favorite. I love them and use them more than any other brand.

  • STAINLESS STEEL: Stainless steel is a great, more eco-friendly option, that resists stains and corrosion, and is relatively easy to clean. However yes it requires cooking with oil, but that’s ok as long as you use the right kind. And when things start to stick you can always add some water to avoid it. It just takes some getting used to. I also recently learned that there are different levels, and buying the right quality of stainless steel helps. Look for pieces marked 18/8; 18/10; ‘300 series’ or ‘304 grade’ which I’ve read indicates higher quality and less corrosion. Another great (more expensive) option is titanium cookware.

    Some good “cleaner” cookware brands include: All-Clad, Calphalon and again Le Crueset (for stainless steel as well as their traditional cast-iron)

 

What else to AVOID?

  • Plastic cooking utensils. Aim for stainless steel (but beware of scratching your pans), wooden utensils and silicone.

  • Aluminum pots and pans -  as it may cause aluminum to leach into food

  • Most nonstick pots and pans – as they can release toxic gasses when exposed to high heat (even if they say they’re free of Teflon)

  • Any chipped ceramic dishware or bakeware. The glazes used in ceramic dishware often contain lead and cracked or chipping glazes may be more likely to leach lead into foods and liquids.

  • Dish racks made of plastic-coated wire. If possible, substitute with stainless steel dish racks.

Healthy Fats 101: The bad, the good, and the best

Fat is necessary for your health, and a great long-lasting FUEL. (Of course, how much you need varies person by person).

Healthy fats can help with weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease and decrease inflammation (as long as you’re eating the right ones!). They’re also necessary for absorption of many nutrients (you’ve probably heard of fat-soluble vitamins which means we need fat in our meals to absorb these vitamins), and they’re essential for your brain, balanced hormones, healthy skin/hair, reducing stress, and so much more.

If you eat more healthy fats - and cut out unhealthy carbs - you can burn more fat, have less cravings, boost your brain, age better and have less inflammation!

But like most everything, there are good options, bad options, and amazing options. READ MORE to learn which healthy fats I recommend and why.

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A Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving: 5 healthy tips for a guilt-free holiday + Pumpkin Pie recipe

Thanksgiving is about GIVING THANKS; a time to be with loved ones and celebrate all the awesome things in life. AND it's about delicious comforting food. Who doesn't love Thanksgiving food, pumpkins (or ayote), wine, and family time?

Problem is, many of us health-conscious people simultaneously dread the aftermath of waking up bloated and feeling heavy the next day, and possibly even gaining weight in just one weekend.

Luckily I've discovered that doesn't need to be the case. IT IS TOTALLY POSSIBLE TO ENJOY A HEALTHY THANKSGIVING, while staying guilt-free. Of course indulging a bit (because indulging is OK once in a while), but if you balance it out with some healthier (and even more delicious) recipes, and a few more tips (that I share with you today and in other past blogs), you can fully enjoy the holiday without any negative consequences.

HERE ARE 5 TIPS THAT I PERSONALLY PRACTICE, then check out my blogs for more tips and recipes for a Healthy Thanksgiving

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5 Diet and Health Myths - Debunked

All of us read stuff on the internet, and hear things from friends and family that convince us that this food is bad for our health, or that food makes us gain weight.

We end up listening more to outside noise instead of listening to our own bodies. Not only that, we often go to extremes.

For example, we hear everywhere that carbs make us gain weight, so then we go cut out all carbs and next thing we know, we’re faced with constipation and a horrible hormonal imbalance.

So before you go to extremes, check out these common mistakes that many of us are making nowadays.

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Balance with Mariana's CLEAN EATING Shopping List

Healthy eating starts with stocking your kitchen and pantry with the right foods.

Today I’m sharing my CLEAN EATING Grocery List with 90 of the foods that I buy; foods that will put you on the path toward a healthier, happier, more balanced and confident self.

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Your Shopping Guide To A Healthier Life

The importance of the QUALITY of your food is truly underestimated by most people. Your life will change once you begin to really understand and appreciate what you're putting into your mouth. Remember, it's your body, and it's your job to take care of it! Stop feeding it junk, start feeding it real, high-quality foods, and you'll see a shift in your body, skin, hair, your energy, mood and sex life!

So what does that mean?

READ MORE to learn my TOP TIPS for choosing better foods and accomplishing a healthier supermarket shopping trip; an incredibly important step in your health journey.

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I'm a Health Coach. Here is What I Eat in a Day.

As a certified holistic Health Coach (and barre teacher), I practice what I preach; I live a healthy lifestyle and get my daily fill of greens.

Making smarter, healthier food choices is tough at first, but it gets easier with practice and consistency, and I strongly believe that everyone can change the way they eat to feel better inside and out.

I still sometimes struggle with balancing my long days of work, social life, and making time to cook, not to mention that my sweet tooth keeps me from having a perfectly healthy diet.

But I strongly believe in finding a good BALANCE that works for you, while always prioritizing your health and making sure you’re getting the highest quality ingredients on your plate possible.

I’ll take you through my typical day of meals.

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GREEN SUPERFOODS 101: BENEFITS & TIPS

You’ve probably heard of some of these green superfoods like Moringa and Spirulina and maybe seen them in your local health store. But with so many “superfoods” these days, it can get confusing. What are the different kinds? What are their benefits? What are the differences / which do you need? How/when should you take them?

Today I’ll go through the differences/benefits of these TOP 5 GREEN SUPERFOODS (and some additional tips):

  1. Moringa

  2. Chlorella

  3. Spirulina

  4. Wheatgrass

  5. Barley grass

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Did You Know...? Why I Avoid PEANUTS and what to eat instead

Nuts are the perfect snack, filled with nutrients (including B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium and vitamin E, with the nutritional profile differing slightly depending on the nut), healthy fats, fiber and protein. They fill you up and nourish you. And they’re so yummy and versatile – great for adding a crunch to recipes, to make pestos, creamy sauces, and more.

However, many people mistakenly put peanuts under the same category as tree nuts  - when actually, peanuts are NOT tree nuts, they are LEGUMES. While they do carry some of the above benefits of tree nuts, they also have many qualities that personally keep me away from peanuts.

READ MORE to learn two key reasons to AVOID Peanuts, AND get two delicious peanut-free nut butter recipes.

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I Just Finished the Whole30 Challenge - Here are my 10 Takeaways

I am a believer in avoiding fad diets. Instead, I believe in finding the eating style that works for you longer-term. One that helps you reach and maintain your health goals.

But on top of that, when you feel you need a short-term boost to your health (and waistline), food-based detoxes are optimal.

In the toxic world we live in, we can all benefit from a light cleanse here and there. While they may not be necessary if you already eat a very clean diet, I find that the benefits outweigh any negatives, for almost everyone.

And, if you do have a particular health concern, doing a longer-term detox – like a 30 day elimination diet – can be EXTREMELY beneficial. And that’s what led me to trying the Whole30.

READ MORE to learn more about the Whole30, my takeaways, recommendations, and lessons learned!

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The Healthiest Chocolate Cupcakes - a delicious & easy recipe for you and the kids

Are you interested in trying a healthy yet delicious sweet treat for you and your kids that 1) isn’t filled with sugar and 2) actually contains healthy ingredients that supports your ( and your kids') overall health?

Check out my awesome, yummy and easy cupcake recipe that will satisfy your sweet tooth yet keep you healthy!

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A Digestive-Friendly Hormone Balancing, Energy Boosting Smoothie (+ Ayurvedic Smoothie Tips)

Today I’m sharing my DELICIOUS, hormone-balancing, digestive-friendly, energy-boosting smoothie - which takes into consideration Ayurvedic wisdom to make it extra healthy, balancing, warming and easy-to-digest. This smoothie is filled with superfoods, and is vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten free, dairy free, grain-free, contains no added sugars, is filled with fiber and plant-based protein, and is super yummy and easy to make.

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12 Holistic Tips for Healing Anemia

Its crazy how many women suffer from Anemia, and how unaware most people are of what their particular cause is, and what natural tools they can apply to bring their body back into balance – beyond taking iron supplements (which is just a “band-aid” that might not address the root cause and often has side effects).

While my number one recommendation would be to eat more iron-rich foods, there are many other influencing factors to consider. There are many things that may be inhibiting your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients you need to sustain healthy iron-levels and red blood cell count/flow. 

Read more to better understand all the likely causes of your anemia (and/or iron-deficiency and/or low hemoglobin) and 12 Holistic Remedies you can begin to apply now. 

 

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Did You Know...? Importance of B-Vitamins

The 8 B-vitamins - B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 (referred to as B-complex) - play a very important role in keeping our bodies functioning properly. These essential nutrients help convert our food into fuel, giving us energy. They're also KEY for hormonal balance, a happy mood, strong and healthy hair, for proper detoxification, and more!

READ MORE to learn where we get these nutrients, what are signs that we're deficient, when we should supplement (and why!)

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Going with the Flow.... Why Its Key For Your Health

Staying healthy is often times more about STAYING PRESENT and enjoying the little gifts of life, than getting your daily workout and green smoothie.

When we're relaxed and tuned-in, our bodies find a way to stay healthy. While if we're stressed about that gram of gluten and obsessing over whether our belly is expanding, then our bodies react negatively; stress takes priority over digestion, and that's when we accumulate fat (not to mention the guilt overpowers our happiness).

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