Low Carb Chocolate PB Waffle Stack

I was seriously craving some waffles today, so I went to a trusty low carb waffle recipe, & tweaked it a bit. This recipe is floating around all over the internets, & the great thing about it is that you can use it as a great base for ANY type of macro plan (high fat/low carb/high protein) etc. I’d just add to it in whatever way you need, and voila! I wanted a chocolate + PB combo, so I used my Ideal Lean Chocolate Brownie protein powder as my base.
MUNCHER CRUNCHER CHOCLATE PB WAFFLE STACK

MIX TOGETHER:
1 scoop of Ideallean chocolate brownie protein powder 
1 tsp of baking powder
1 egg
a couple of splashes of water (to make the consistency how you like it.

If you are eating #keto, I’d add some heavy cream here instead)
a dash or two of cinnamon
Pour into your waffle iron (make sure that it’s greased or sprayed so it won’t stick.) BE CAREFUL HOW MUCH YOU ADD! The baking powder REALLY makes this “grow” once it starts baking. My waffle iron is small, so i split my batter into two waffles & then stack em up.
I also would recommend you make sure they are kinda crispy. I think it makes the texture better. Top them however you’d like!! I topped mine with some Kroger Natural PB (It’s the lowest in net carbs) & some low carb syrup, & then I enjoyed every bite! 😊  For just the base of this recipe it’s 152 calories 4.8 F | .6 C (.4 net carbs) | 26.3 P

 

The Best Things to See & Do In Amsterdam

Prior to visiting I’d seen pictures of Amsterdam, but had no idea really what to expect. I feel like it is a very hip and active city. We would have loved to see the tulips there, but it was still pretty chilly when we went. Everyone in Amsterdam told us that closer toward the middle of April they start to really bloom.
Amsterdam was another city that I feel like you can see a great deal of on foot or on bikes. We also used Uber there a lot, and it was a really easy way to get around. If you are going to be there for a few days, you can buy the I AMSTERDAM pass which includes public transit, and entrance to a lot of the museums. Just an option to look into if you are going to be spending some time there.
Things to see:
The IAMSTERDAM sign – While this is super touristy, it’s still really cool. It’s located right in the city center, & is a great spot for pictures. It’s pretty tough to find a time without 50 people climbing all over it, so I’d suggest you to go the backside, take a pic there, and then flip it! Works like a dream. 
The Ann Frank Museum – If you know you are going to Amsterdam, buy your ticket to the Ann Frank house ahead of time. It’s absolutely incredible. It’s so worth it. It sells out way ahead of time, and the line to try and wait and get in is ridiculous.
Van Gogh Museum – I actually am not a big museum goer, but I loved this museam. It was really neat to learn about his life, and see his works in person.
The Rijksmuseum – This is right by the IAMSTERDAM sign. We didn’t go inside, but we rode our bikes through it. It’s a really cool building to see from the outside!
Don Quixote Square – We had a streak of warm sunshine, so we sat outside in the garden here. It’s a little garden square right next to the Rijksmuseum that we happened upon on accident. There is a greenhouse, and some beautiful landscaping. Find a bench and take a minute there!
VondelPark – This is a long park that we rode our bikes through. It is so beautiful! It’s right next to the city center as well. There are so many places to rent bikes, and I’d totally recommend doing so!
The Canals – You can and will see these everywhere, but I loved walking down the canal streets. It’s so picturesque! We actually did a boat tour down the canals, but it was’t all that great. I wouldn’t recommend doing one through the big tourist companies. But, I bet if you could find one that was a little more commercial it would be awesome!
The Hidden Church in the Attic – this is kind of a random thing, but it was super interesting to see.
It was fun to walk through! 
Things to eat:
The Pancake Bakery – we ate here both mornings we were in Amsterdam. There might be a little bit of a wait, but it’s WORTH it! They have all sorts of pancakes. I tried the butter & sugar poffertjes (these are traditional dutch pancakes) and they were UNREAL, get these to try for sure! I also had a regular pancake with nutella & bananas. This was basically a really big crepe. It was delicious! Whitney loved their hot chocolate and fresh squeezed orange juice as well. Go here. You will not regret it.
Stroopwaffle – You need to try these at least once while you’re in Amsterdam! They have them all over, but make sure you get them from someone who is making them fresh. We got ours from a food stand that was right by the IAMSTERDAM sigh. It was tasty!
Foodhallen – You have to go here at least once while you are there. It is basically like a big hall full of food trucks. There are so many different options of things to try there. i wanted to try everything! I ended up getting a salad from a place called Fento, and Whitney got tacos from the Mexican place next to it, as well as some Sushi. It was all divine!
The Avocado Show – I’m still bummed about this because it looked SO good. Every dish somehow incorporates fresh avocado. We got here an hour and a half before it closed, waited for an hour, we we were next on the list, and then found out that they close the kitchen a half hour before the restaurant closes. So, we didn’t get to eat there. I was way bummed. Try and go there, but go for lunch to be sure you get in!
Ice Bakery – This place was bomb. There are a few of them throughout Amsterdam. it’s a dessert place where everything somehow incorporates nutella. SO GOOD. We walked by one place that had frozen yogurt , and then we ended up eating at a place that had gelato. The gelato was so good! I got a stroopwaffle flavor, and it was WAY good. Other flavor favorites were the nutella, the homemade oreo, & the american cookie.

The Best Things to Do In Prague

Prague was absolutely incredible. I have seen pictures of this dreamy little place for so long, and I’ve always wanted to go there. However, I really had no idea what to expect when we got there. It was absolutely beautiful. I thought it was so quaint, and the most amazing mix of old and new…and by old I mean REALLY old.
The first thing we did in Prague was the Rick Steve’s walking tour. As cheesy as this may seem, it was actually an awesome way to see the city. I think I wouldn’t have known exactly where to start otherwise. It’s free to download his app, and tours. He does a great job of guiding you through the city. You end up hitting a lot of the things that were on my list to see. I would totally recommend downloading this if you are ever in Prague. It was super interesting, and very easy to follow. Almost everything in Prague is within walking distance, which makes it really easy to see. Plan on walking a lot.
Things to see:
Wenceslas Square – This is what they consider “new town,” in Prague. You can stand at the top of the square and look down all the busy street. This square leads down to some other streets filled with awesome shopping, restaurants, & the rest of the newer part of Prague.
Old Town Square – This was one of my favorite spots. Here you have buildings from centuries ago, colored housing that makes a beautiful backdrop. There are street vendors, performers, places to eat, and lots of historical things to see.
Anatomical Clock – This clock is located in the middle of old town square. It was made in the 1400’s, and is pretty darling. Wait around to see it strike on the hour. Go up in the clock tower! It’s super cheap to do so, and the view is absolutely amazing. So worth it!
Church of our Lady before Tin – We didn’t go in here, but you can see it from the Old Town Square. It’s a really pretty church. 
Powder Tower – You can actually go up in this tower as well, but we didn’t do so. This building sticks right out, an extremely old building among the new.
The Franciscan Garden – This quaint little garden would be an amazing little spot to sit, and enjoy some gelato or a drink. It was raining when we were there, so we didn’t spend much time there. But, i can imagine on a pleasant day it would be a great place to hang out!
Municipal House – You can walk in here, and look around. It’s a really pretty building. They also have concerts, ballets, operas, etc. here at night if you are looking for something to do!
Karlova Street – This street is full of street venders, and lots of food. It’s fun to see all of the people wandering though. This will also lead you to the Charles bridge if you follow it!
Charles Bridge – This bridge is amazing. We ended up walking over it a few times, and I loved it every time. One of the statues has a dog at the bottom, and they say if you rub it, it is good luck. 
Petrin Tower & Petrin Hill – The hike up to the Petrin tower is a steep one. They have a tram that goes up there as well, but we walked it. Once you get up to the tower, climbing the spiral steps to the top gives you an insane view of all of Prague. It’s gorgeous. Worthy every step. There is another funny little building at the top of Petrin Hill with a mirror maze in it. It’s only a couple dollars to go in, and it’s pretty funny.
Prague Castle/St Vitus Cathedral – It’s a hike to get to the top of the castle, but it’s amazing. The cathedral inside the castle is a gothic building with surrounding stained glass windows that are breath taking. Parts of the castle that are still there date back to midevil times, which blows my mind. Starbucks at the Prague Castle – While you are up at the Prague castle, best sure to stop by the lookout from the Starbucks on the cliff. It’s another uninterrupted, breathtaking view that I couldn’t get enough of.
Mala Strana & the Lennon Wall – Mala Strana is the neighborhood on the same side of the Charles Bridge as the Prague Castle, & the Petrin Tower. The Lennon was is a fun picture spot!
Things to eat:
Trdelniks – These are absolutely everywhere. It’s basically cinnamon sugar swirled bread made into a hollowed out roll. You can get them lined with nutella, filled with whipped cream, custard, or ice cream. I’d just be sure that wherever you are buying them from is making them fresh! We tried one just hot with nutella, and it was delicious. My VERY favorite was the one I had lined with nutella, & filled with chocolate soft serve ice cream. If you don’t try these while you are in Prague, you’re CRAZY.
Neb.o – We actually ate here twice. It’s a Thai restaurant that was right by where we were staying, and Whit LOVED it. We tried the pho, pad thai, spring rolls, & fresh rolls. All were delicious, and super fresh!
Paul’s – This was a chain they had in Paris, and after we just come from there we were still looking for chocolate croissants that might be worth our time. We ended up eating breakfast here, and it was good!
Captain Candy – I have a weird obsession with candy shops. So, when we saw these everywhere we had to stop in. They have all sorts of Haribo goodies that were delicious.
Some other suggestions that people gave me that we never made it to were Pekarna Kabat for kolaces, Cafe Louvre, Pernickuv (a bakery for kolace & gingerbread), Mama Coffee, & Pizzeria Manna.
Prague was such an awesome city. I think the best thing to do there is to just planning on walking all over, and try to take as much of it in as  you can!

The Best Things to See and Eat in Paris … or At Least Just All The Things I Loved :)

We started out our European adventure in Paris, which was beyond all expectations I had for it. After flying for about 15 plus hours, through the night, and feeling a little ragged…the jet lag was real. BUT, everyone I talked to told me it was best to just stay up and soldier through until it was night there, so that is just what we did. I for sure think that it helped us to get adjusted.
We ended up staying in an AirBNB in Le Marais, which we learned later is considered one of the quarters where the fashion/art students live. It has such a cool vibe, and it felt really safe. It just so happened that this tiny bakery was right next to where we were staying. I’d had a lot of people tell me to try the almond croissants while we were there, and to try and find the chocolate ones if possible. We decided to wander into this little bakery, unaware at that point that there are bakeries on every single corner. I saw that they had the almond croissants, but had already sold out of the chocolate ones. We decided to split one, just to see if it was good. It is probably in the list of top 10 best things I’ve ever had. We devoured it, and ended up going to back to this bakery every single day we had in paris. The next morning i tried the chocolate croissant for breakfast, and it blew my mind. The name of the bakery is Willy’s Boulangerie. The croissants are called “ Pains chocolate amandes.” Get them.
Let me just say that we made it a point to try a lot of different pastries while we were there, and nothing could beat the croissants from Willy’s.
That night, despite our jet lag, we had planned to do a night bike tour of Paris. This is another thing I’d %100 recommend. It was so helpful doing it the first day because we got to see a lot of the major landmarks up close, we were able to experience some of the city, the night tour made a stop at Berthillion’s Ice Cream (amazing), and you end on a boat cruise down the Seine. It’s pretty dreamy.
On the bike tour we saw the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the love lock bridge (although there are no longer locks on it), we rode past Saint Chappelle, past the ferris wheel, and by a lot of other museums and buildings I can’t remember now…My family told me this was a MUST, and I was so glad we listened. Do it. We did it through Fat Tire Tours, & I’d highly recommend them. We met some others who had done their daytime bike tours, and they said they were awesome as well, so I’d highly recommend them!
The next day we took the train to Versailles. This was probably one of my favorite things we did in Paris. Versailles is HUGE. If you are planning on going there, plan on spending at least half a day there. It is amazing. Explore the palace, because it’s gorgeous. The hall of mirrors is unreal. Whatever you do, do NOT skip the gardens. Marie Antoinette’s gardens were the best part of the grounds.
They have a Lauderee’s on the grounds of Versaille, as well as an Angelina’s. We got some macaroons at Lauderee’s, which were delicious! The shop itself is so darling. We were planning on going to Angelina’s for dinner, but it closes early there, so be aware of that if you have the same plan. We didn’t ever make it to Angelina’s, but if you do, I hear the hot chocolate is out of this world.
Also, if you are interested in seeing the Paris Temple, know that it is right by Versailles. So, see it while you’re there!
Just another note, if you want some delicious macaroons, but don’t want to pay the price they are at Lauderee’s, they have some amazing macaroons at all of the McDonalds in Paris. I know that sounds weird, but they are pretty bomb.
Some other places we hit while we were in Paris…
Sainte Chapelle – This was probably  one of my favorite buildings we saw the entire trip. This is a quick stop, and is worth every minute. The stained glass windows are out of this world. It’s beautiful.
The Louvre – We actually just saw this from the outside, & didn’t end up going in. We rode our bikes around it at night, and it was delightful. Even if you aren’t going to go in and see the artwork, go walk around outside. It’s stunning.
Arc De Triomphe – Climb up into it. Worth it. The view from the top of the Arc is so amazing. You have a 360 view of all of Paris. It’s pretty legit. 
Notre Dame – We didn’t actually end up going in to Notre Dame because the line was insanely long, but walking around the grounds was amazing. It’s such a beautiful building! Something you for sure have to see.
Shakespeare & Company Bookstore – This book store is absolutely the cutest thing ever. If you purchase a book, they will stamp it saying you bought it there. It’s right next to Notre Dame, so stop in if you are close!
Sacre Coeur – Getting here is about a 25-30 min ride on the metro because it is on the edge of the city, but it was the most incredible view of paris. The basillica itself is incredible to look at, but you are at the top of the hill in Paris, and can see over everything. It’s breath taking. It’s an awesome place to sit, and chill on the steps and take it all in. SO worth going here. I’d totally recommend it.
The Catacombs – I didn’t really know what to expect with the catacombs, but it was really cool. You get to walk the tunnels of Paris underground, which is lined with the bones of over 6 million bodies that died during the time of the plague, & the french revolution. It’s pretty cool!
Disneyland Paris – We actually didn’t plan on going here initially, but because we had a change in our plans we decided to do so. It was super fun. It is definitely different from Disneyland in America. It’s smaller. BUT, it’s still fun! It’s cheaper to get into, and they have two parks you can go to. They have some rides that are different than the ones in America. If you have spare time in Paris, it is a really fun place to see. However, if you are trying to hit as much as you can in a little bit of time, I wouldn’t put this at the top of your priority list. Also, one thing I LOVE about Disneyland/Disneyworld is the food experience. I think that is part of what makes it so fun & magical. The ice cream, the special mickey treats, etc. This is not a big thing at Disneyland in Paris. The food options are actually pretty slim, and not that great. You may want to bring some of your own food, or buy some baguettes & crepes before you go to take in with you.
Food…
Crepe a Ding – There are a million places to get crepes in Paris, and I’m sure a lot of them are the same. We had a lot that were so-so. However, this place was BOMB. The owner is super fun. If you can beat him in connect 4, you get your food for free. If you don’t, you get your picture taken for the, “wall of losers.” There are all sorts of different combos. I had the banana nutella crepe, because it’s my favorite. Whit got one that had white chocolate, pears, raspberries, and speculous. It’s a super fun, hip place. They serve the crepes HOT and fresh. So good.
Ober Mama – This was an AMAZING italian restaurant. When we ate there we actually saw that there are 4 connecting restaurants all over Paris, so you may want to look that up as well. It took us two tries to get in here because it fills up QUICK. We got there right when it opened, and got in. I think they may have taken reservations. The pizza there was awesome, the salad I had was delicious, & the desserts all looked unreal.
Au Petit Grec – This would be the other crepe place that I’d ABSOLUTELY tell you to go to. We stood in line for an hour here. It’s a tiny little place that you order and take away, or eat at their little bar stools. If you go here, I’d recommend getting both a savory, & a sweet crepe. The savory crepes have meat/cheese/egg/veggies. The sweet ones were pretty normal as far as what goes in them, but they were so good. I think if you go here a bit earlier the line isn’t quite so long.
Willy’s Boulangerie – I already mentioned this place, but go here. Just do it for me. 
Gaston’s – This was Whitney’s favorite place we ate. She ordered the Croque Monsier, which is a typical french meal. It’s like a ham & cheese panini. She had hers with an egg on top, and she also loved their hot chocolate. I had french onion soup there, which was good. This place is right by Notre Dame as well.
La Brioche Doree – I actually saw these around Paris, but didn’t eat here until we were leaving the Paris airport. They have a selection of baguettes stuffed with different things, and then they pop them into the oven to make it into warm/melty goodness when you order it. I had a sandwich with ciabatta, tomato, mozzarella, & basil. It was out of this world. I don’t know why I thought it was so good…but it was SO GOOD. So, If you are looking for a quick bite in paris that isn’t as expensive, stop at one of these spots. Whitney also had an eclair from here that she loved.
Paul’s – I had a lot of people tell me to try stuff from Paul’s. It’s a bakery chain that they have everywhere. I wasn’t a huge fan of everything I tried. I think my chocolate croissant from Willy’s was just hard to beat. 😉
Berthillions – I mentioned this was on our bike tour. The ice cream here is amazing!! I had the chocolate and the salted caramel, and I loved both of them! The people with us said that this place claims to have the, “best ice cream in the world.” I don’t know if I’d go there…but, it was good!
I’m sure I am leaving out some details, but the truth is you really just can’t go wrong. Paris really is just so incredible. I can’t wait to go back!!

Eat Fat to Lose Fat? Ketogenic Eating Part 2

It’s been about 4 months since I started down this ketogenic path; well…4 weeks & 10 days to be exact. I’ve eaten this way through my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I tell you this not to brag, (by any means) but to let you know I’m still alive…and still sticking with it…and still quite happy with the process. 🙂

I’ve had a LOT of you who have questions regarding this method of eating, and quite a few of you who’ve decided to take the keto plunge yourself. If you haven’t read my first post on WHY I decided to start eating in a ketogenic way, and the method behind the madness read HERE first. It will help give you a proper introduction into this post. I hope that through my past few months of experience, trial & error, & researching, I can give some support, information, and answers to those who might be seeking it.

What I’ve learned thus far in the process…

  1. I personally, am prone to NOT eat enough fat. As far as my macronutrient percentages, I shoot for 80% fat in my diet. For someone who is used to eating high protein, (and who doesn’t naturally have an affinity for things like cheese…) I find myself still reaching for those lean options. It’s a total mindset change for me to be sure to get fat in first with regards to meal prep. It makes a HUGE difference. It is key to get enough fat. It is THE key.
  2. It is VERY beneficial to properly test your ketones. Without testing, you don’t have a way to know if you’re eating correctly. I would recommend testing with a blood glucose testing meter like THIS ONE. If your ketones are low, you know you need to switch something up in your diet. There are other methods of ketone testing (breath & urine strips) However, they tend to be less accurate.
  3. It is FAR better to stick to REAL healthy food options, even though there might be a barrage of “low carb” no calorie, artificially sweetened options. I see a lot of people get really excited about how easy eating Keto is going to be because they see a lot of options for “low carb” treats. Yes, they can be a great OCCASIONAL way to curb the sweet tooth, but the less artificial sweeteners the better. It’s better to just stick to real food, and not try so hard to fit in all the extra “treats.” Those are the foods that tend to lead to what is called “carb creep..” a few carbs here a few there, and before you know it, you’re not in ketosis. Things are called “treats” because they should be a treat…not an every day occurrence. Even things like gum or sugar free candies might surprise you with how the carb count adds up.
  4. This process has allowed me to decrease my body fat, and lose weight. So, yes…I’ve been eating fat in order to lose fat. As I explained in my first post, despite the fact that I am cutting out carbs to a high degree, it’s necessary to have fuel still. I’m just trading where my fuel source is coming from. Instead of using glucose to fuel my body, i’m using fat. I’m trying to re-train my body to become fat adapted…and it’s working. I won’t give you my exact number of lbs, mainly because it will be different for everyone according to what you have to lose.
  5. There are SO many different methods of eating this way when you search info on ketogenic eating on the internet. I would highly recommend working with someone who knows what they are doing to make sure you are doing it correctly. It can save time and misspent effort. I offer meal plans to those who are interested.
  6. Salt replacement is ABSOLUTELY KEY. This is especially true for those who are working out. With cutting out processed foods, salt intake is cut down dramatically. Insulin signals salt retention in the kidneys. When insulin levels aren’t elevated, the body doesn’t retain that salt, it actually excretes it. That being said, your body NEEDS salt to function. So, you must replace it. Drinking broth is a great way to do this. Those who start out eating this way might experience what is called the “keto flu” initially as the body is becoming depleted of it’s glucose stores, and the best way to combat this is through salt replacement.

The questions that I get on a regular basis…

  1. So..what’s the next step? Are you going to eat like this forever? My answer…I’m honestly still not sure. I’m over 4 months in, and i’m really taking this process a week at a time. Each week I test my ketones, reevaluate what needs to be shifted, and keep moving forward. I’m not where I want to be yet, goal-wise, so I’m still focusing on getting there. However, I’ve been studying a lot on ketogenic carb cycling for the future, and that might be a route I take if I feel like it might be beneficial to me. I guess I don’t fully have an answer there, but in the mean time I’m enjoying the processes I am in. I’m hoping to correct some health issues, and get my body working properly again.
  2. But, I thought eating fat was bad for your cholesterol…heart…insides…etc. Turns out a LOT of the information that we’ve had through the years telling us to fear fat may be a bit off. The more I study this information, the more I realize that it is the combination of excess calories & sugar (coming from actual sugar as well as carbohydrates) WITH the large amounts of fat that people are eating that are causing most of the problems. I’m eating a low carb, high fat diet, and my health stats are great. In addition to that my weight is decreasing, as well as my body fat.
  3. Are you still able to go out to eat?? Absolutely. I have simply had to figure out ways to ditch the carb heavy options for other low carb substitutions. For example…I’ll order chicken fettuccine alfredo, but instead of noodles I’ll have them sub broccoli or brussel sprouts. I’ll check w/the location on their salad dressing stats, and if it doesn’t contain sugar i’ll get a cobb or cesar salad. Those who like beef could order a steak w/a side of veggies topped with melted butter. Fajitas are a great options with the meat, cheese, veggies, guacamole, & sour cream…just ditch the tortillas. You get it. I will say that I have found myself cooking at home a lot more because I like to know exactly what is going into what i’m eating. I’ve found a ton of awesome recipes on pinterest, and pinned them on my Ketogenic board HERE.
  4. What do you eat all the time? My day typically goes like this
    • 8 oz heated up chicken broth + 2 tbs heavy cream in the morning (This tides me over until lunch, & helps with the intermittent fasting, which drives the ketones up)
    • Lunch: Low carb chocolate protein shake with added fats (heavy cream & MCT oil)
    • Snacks: (if hungry, a lot of the time i’m not) string cheese, veggies dipped in low carb ranch, cheese wisps, hard boiled egg, fat bombs, pickles, 1/2 a questbar if i’m really in a pinch.
    • Dinner: some combo of a hearty amount of fat + protein … Chicken Alfredo over zoodles, chicken broccoli & cheese bake, green chile chicken soup, cauliflower crust pizza, etc.
  5. Do I think this way of living is maintainable. I actually do. Does it require some effort, and some mind set changes in some areas…absolutely. However, Once you get into a routine it’s really not that difficult to maintain. HOWEVER…and this is a big however…It’s not something I think you should do for a couple days and then ditch on the weekends. In order for your body to actually enter into nutritional ketosis, you need to eat this way consistently. You need to decide to make it a lifestyle change, and not just a day to day decision.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the topic in the future. This is still a learning process for me as well. I’m just happy to share with you as I go along, and hopefully help some along the way as I do! 🙂

CREAMY GREEN CHILE CHICKEN SOUP

I have always been a lover of all things Mexican food…There is just something about the flavors that call to me, I guess. I would say that prior to switching over to a Keto way of eating, I was probably eating some sort of Mexican food like 4-6 times a week, and that might be an underestimation. I realized the other day that I miss those flavors! I have enjoyed the new palate that I’ve been eating these past few months. However, I was in the mood for something Mexican…SO, between that thought process, & the mounds of snow piling up outside my window…I decided to come up with a new soup recipe. I was pumped with how this turned out. (I will also say that I fed this to my friends, and there wasn’t a drop left…so keto or not, I think everyone was on board.)  CREAMY GREEN CHILE CHICKEN SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • two 4 oz cans of Hatch’s green chiles (I used mild, but if you like spicy food you could use medium)
  • one 12 oz bottle of Victoria Green Taco Sauce (again I used mild here)
  • two 12.5 oz cans of Kirkland brand chicken breast (you could use a rotisserie chicken or cook/dice your own chicken if you would rather)
  • 8-12 oz chicken broth (depending on how thick you want your soup to be)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 2-4 tbs heavy cream (again depending on how thick you want it to be)

Combine all of these ingredients into a crock pot & cook on high for 1-2 hours. All of the ingredients are cooked, so it’s just a matter of everything combining, & the flavor coming together. If you were needing to leave this to cook while you are doing other things, you could put it on low for longer.

Top this with shredded cheese, avocado slices, sour cream, or whatever else you might like!

For those who are trying to keep this meal ketogenic, check the chiles and taco sauce you are using. Some brands sneak some sugar in there. You want yours to only have 1-2 carbs. Enjoy!

 

Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Zoodles

Since I’ve started this Keto eating process, I think this recipe has become one of my favorites. It’s SO easy, filling, & very versatile as well. CREAMY CHICKEN & BROCCOLI ZOODLES

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups of broccoli florets
  • 3-4 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • chicken broth (if needed)
  • 1/2-1 TBS basil
  • 1/2 -1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 7-8 oz of cooked chicken (you can use a Costco can of chicken breast if you want to speed things up)
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 4-6 cups zoodles (1 medium zucchini makes about 1 cup of zoodles)

In a large saucepan, combine broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, & coconut oil. Add to that the basil, garlic salt, onion powder, & ground pepper. Cover & cook until broccoli & cauliflower are cooked through. If you need more moisture, add some chicken broth to the veggies. You really could add any vegetables here, making this dish super versatile. While the broccoli & cauliflower are cooking, cook the zoodles in a separate saucepan. Combine the butter & zoodles over medium heat. Season with some salt and pepper. These don’t take too long to cook, so be sure not to cook them too long. Once they start to become see through, take them off the heat, & they’ll finish cooking while the rest of the dish finishes.

Once the broccoli & cauliflower are almost completely cooked, add in the chicken, cream cheese, heavy cream, & parmesan cheese. Stir together, until combined. Do not over stir, or the veggies will become mush. Taste, and add more of the seasonings if need be.

Serve up the creamy veggies & chicken over zoodles, & enjoy! g This dish actually reheats really well. It’s a crowd pleaser! Low carb, gluten free, full of flavor, keto-friendly, & SO delicious!! 

Muncher Cruncher Healthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016

I’ve had a lot of requests for some healthy holiday gift ideas for both your loved ones AND you! If you are trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle, the holidays are a GREAT time to gear up with everything you need to start the continue your journey!

WORKOUT CLOTHES:
I have SO many favorites I could list here…It’s hard to even know where to begin. However, Christmas is a great time to get that new pair of Nikes, new tops, some socks (I love Stance & Bombass) a new hat, a sweet jacket, some leggings, (I’ve listed all my favorites HERE) warm gear for those outdoor exercisers, etc…If you are needing the right clothes to get yourself excited about getting active, or to help others get excited. New clothes are an AWESOME Christmas gift.

WORKOUT GEAR: An Apple Watch, Garmin, Heart Rate Monitor, activity tracker, Hydroflask, exercise belt/arm band (to hold a phone or keys), new earbuds, blue tooth speaker, wireless headphones, hiking back pack, camelback, a new gym bag, hair elastics, head bands, gym bag necessities (antibacterial wipes/towel/hand sanitizer/gum/chapstick), workout gloves, etc.

EQUIPMENT: This can range from simple to extensive…jump rope, mat, bosu ball, medicine ball, kettlebell, dumbbells, resistance bands, physioball, exercise DVD’s, a foam roller…treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, road bike, stairmill (in my dreams)…

SUBSCRIPTIONS/MEMBERSHIPS: Gym membership, personal training sessions, a meal plan, fit camp membership, Spotify subscription, Netflix subscription, fitness magazine subscription, healthy eBooks, a massage, race entries, etc.

HEALTHY TREATS/FOOD/COOKING: Gift certificates to your favorite healthy restaurants or health  food stores, nuts, popcorn, protein bars, jerky, cookware, healthy cook books, a small portable/packable cooler or tupperware, to take your healthy meals on the go, a blender, spiralizer, cocomotion, food processor, kitchen aid, other items to help with healthy cooking in the kitchen!

BEAUTY PRODUCTS: Body wash, perfume, lotion, body scrub, face masks, hair products, dry shampoo (a fitness gal’s best friend), hair elastics, nail polish, lip gloss, chapstick, gift certificates for a pedicure/manicure, etc.

Hopefully these suggestions can help you to find some great healthy holiday gifts, for your loved ones AND for your own list! xoxoxo

The BEST Workout Leggings & Where To Find Them

There are few things worse than clothing malfunctions when you are working out. It takes away from the ability to work hard. If you’re too busy worrying about if your pants are see through, or how you are going to keep them up with one hand whist trying to squat…the workout is going to start to suffer. SO, what’s a hard working girl to do? Well, start by ditching the crappy leggings, & find something that works for you! Here are some of my favorite suggestions, & why I love them…The list goes from left to right in this photo, and I’ve linked the details for ya! 

  • Lululemon speed tights Price point: $108 – I love these because they fit like a dream. Lulu’s prices are always on the higher end, BUT it’s with good reason. Their quality is awesome. They have a 5 year warranty, & awesome customer service. These have side pockets if you like to keep your phone on you while you are running/lifting/hiking. They change up the prints all the time, and usually have some fun patterns to choose from.
  • Athleta Electra Sonar 7/8 Tight Price point: $89 – My sister gave me these darling tights for my B-day & I LOVE them. They rise a little higher in the waist, and they STAY IN PLACE. This print isn’t available anymore, but I linked the closest possible option. While Athleta’s prices are also a little higher, their quality is great. Their fabric washes well, & is flattering.
  • Old Navy Go Dry High Rise Compression Tights Price Point:$15-30 These are an awesome option for a much lower price. The quality isn’t as high with these leggings as far as wash & wear over time. However, I am super impressed with them. You can’t beat the price, & I LOVE the way they fit. The high rise waistline is awesome. I also have THESE mid rise compression leggings, & I LOVE them.
  • Zella Live in Leggings Price Point: $52 These leggings are my JAM. I actually don’t wear them to workout in all the time. I’ll wear them to hike in occasionally. But, the reason for that is because I like to wear them every other second of the day. These are my go-to black, standard, wear every second of the day, awesome quality leggings. They are from Nordstrom. I can’t say enough good things about them. They wash well. They wear well. They are the best amount of thickness. They are flattering. They are THE best. If you don’t have them. You need them. They always go on sale during the anniversary sale, FYI!
  • Nike Power Epic Lux Price Point: $108 full price (This is full price on Nike.com, BUT they go on sale!) These tights are AWESOME. They are a good amount of thickness, and I LOVE the waistband on these pants. They come in high rise as well. Nike also has another similar pant that has an elastic waistband that I DO NOT like. I feel like it cuts you off, right where you don’t want it…or me at least. These tights stay in place, and if you check a Nike outlet, or any other sporting goods store that carries Nike products, you will likely find them on sale!
  • GapFit Blackout Technology gFast Space Dye high rise leggings Price Point:$30-65 I LOVE these leggings so much. Apparently Oprah does too. Turns out they were on her favorite things list. They are so comfortable. The quality is great. The high rise waist fits comfortably, and if you can’t get them on sale…you should wait for a hot second. Gap almost always is offering some sort of 30-40% off deal, which makes them a steal. They are thick enough to where they aren’t see through, but not so thick that they are suffocating. Plus the pattern is so unique. I Love them!
  • Lululemon All The Right Places Tights Price Point: $128 Another pricer pant, BUT they are named adequately. They are flattering on EVERYONE. Not only that, they are specifically lined and vented for those who workout. What does that mean? Well, the seat of the pant is lined with a thicker material so you won’t be seeing through them when you are squatting/burpeeing/bending…etc. Other parts are vented to keep you cooler while sweating. GENIUS. If you are wanting to invest in a GOOD, high quality pair to wear all the time. These are your guys right here. They also have side pockets…which obviously…we all love.
  • Lululemon High Rise Wunder Under Crop Full on Luon 21″ Price Point: $88 – I realize the length of these might be different on everyone, but I love the length! They are longer than a capri, but not all the way down to the ankle. The high rise is fantastic, & they are super flattering. Lulu frequently comes out with a variety of colors & prints in these which a lot of time will eventually go on sale if you can catch your size. Just check the “we made too much,” section. They also make these in a full pant, which is awesome.
  • Athleta Chaturunga Tight Price Point: $29-89 These are one of Athleta’s basic tights. They come in high rise, mid rise, capris, full tights, w/pockets…and in a ton of different prints. They are fantastic. I LOVE the striped capris. They are darling on every body type. They are high quality, they wash well, & they stay in place. All things that matter big time to me!

There are SO many different types of tights out there I know it can be a little overwhelming, trying to find something that works for your body type, but hopefully this can point you in the right direction!

Insulin Resistance & Ketosis…Part One

Well. As promised…I’ve finally collected some of my thoughts on this process I’ve been going through. I hope it answers some of your questions. Chances are it will raise some new ones for some of you, which I hope to be able to answer. Here goes nothing. 😉 muncher_cruncher

I’ve taken my time writing this post for a variety of reasons. One, I wanted to be sure I had a firm grasp on the process that I’ve been going through for the past 9 weeks. Two, I wanted to understand the science behind it. I hate fad diets. In fact, I actually HATE the word, “diet.” I believe in lifestyle changes; in sustainability. If a crazy attempt at weight loss isn’t sustainable. I won’t endorse it. End of story. Lastly, I wanted to wait and see how my body responded to this process before I gave you the full rundown. I can tell you honestly, I feel like this lifestyle might be the answer to many problems, weight loss issues, & overall health concerns for a lot of you. I’m still in the thick of it, no question, but I want to share at least this first part of my journey.

Let’s fast forward to about ten weeks ago. I made an appointment to see my doctor, which is unusual in and of itself. I rarely go to the doctor. I have been lucky to stay healthy enough that I haven’t had to go in often. However, I was about at my tipping point. Having been in the health and fitness field for over ten years, I feel like I’ve been forced to get to know my body very well. It has always been stubborn. I’ve never been one of those people who could eat whatever they wanted, & “get away with it.” While some might not believe it, I’m actually naturally drawn to healthy foods. I have always really loved fruits and vegetables. I was the weird kid that asked my mom if I could bring cut up veggies, & salads in my packed lunch. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all sorts of sugary junk food too…I have a sweet tooth like you wouldn’t believe, but for the most part, a lot of my favorite foods are naturally healthy ones. I have also been through ups and downs with my weight, and in coming to know my body I have found what feels comfortable for me…at my height, and with my build.

SO, back to 10 weeks ago…prior to my making my appointment I’d seen some drastic changes in my body over the past year. Things that had changed for me…my weight increased, my body fat increased, I was feeling exhausted, I wasn’t sleeping well, I felt like I was extremely snacky, and I had some weird dizzy/almost blacking out spells. A lot of it I brushed under the rug because…I get up early…being tired is kind of part of that. Not sleeping well tends to run in my family…etc It’s easy to try and push those types of things away. However, the weight gain I was not ok with. I workout pretty hard as it is, and I was eating very clean. The fact of the matter is that my caloric intake hadn’t increased, my sugar intake hadn’t increased, and my exercise hadn’t decreased. Scientifically, the math just wasn’t adding up. In fact, I started to add in MORE exercise and tracked & restricted my calories more, desperately trying to make my body do what it SHOULD have been doing. Turns out I’m in the fitness industry, and there is a lot of pressure on me to look a certain way. Like I said, I knew my body was stubborn prior, but this was different. Not only were things not responding positively, they were responding negatively. Which might makes sense as to why I was at a bit of tipping point…

I had done a lot of research on what the problem could be, and decided that I should at least get my blood work done to eliminate some possibilities. So, it was to the doctor I went. I had a full check up…blood work and everything. The results came back to show that all my hormone levels were normal. No signs of thyroid issues. However, my blood glucose levels were abnormally high. My doctor went on the tell me that my results were showing that I had somehow become insulin resistant, and that he wanted me to go and work with a specific dietician who he thought could help me reverse this issue.

At this point I will be honest. I was one hundred percent skeptical. I have studied a LOT about food and dietary intake. While I’m not a registered dietitian. I have put a lot of time into learning about how the food we eat affects us. I was actually quite curious as to what this dietician might have to say that I hadn’t heard before. Turns out I had a fastball coming at me.

I sat down and learned that I wasn’t alone in my current state. It’s actually thought that about half of the United States is insulin resistant, due in LARGE part to our common diet. The program that was introduced to me was completely based around controlling my insulin levels, similar to the ketogenic diet, the goal was to retrain my body to become insulin sensitive again…and in doing so to re-train it to utilize fat as the main source of energy.

I instantly began studying the topic. What I was hearing made sense. However, for me, making any health or lifestyle change has to be backed by reason and understanding…and for the record, “So and so just lost 10 lbs in 5 days,” is not what I’d call a reason. I need to know the science.

So… here is a snippet of what I learned..Insulin resistance means the body has stopped responding to the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role in the body is that of storage of glucose and fat. It also helps our cells function as they should. If there is too much insulin in the body (commonly a result of the food we eat) the body starts to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance very likely means inefficiency in how the cells of the body are working & excess fat storage. Sugars & carbohydrates are the foods that will spike insulin.

Let me try & break it down simply…We eat food. The food that we eat raises our blood sugar to a certain extent (depending on the sugar/carbohydrate content) The pancreas responds to raised blood sugar by releasing insulin. Insulin tells the muscle, liver, & fat cells to take up the blood sugar and remove it from the blood. If this process happens excessively, the muscle and the fat cells stop listening to the pancreas…and all gets sent to fat storage. This is insulin resistance. The longer this goes on, the “louder” the pancreas tries to get the point across…releasing more & more insulin. This makes the body extremely inefficient. Anytime the blood sugar is raised, the pancreas will give an exaggerated insulin response. Elevated insulin levels stop the body from utilizing fat as a fuel. IN SHORT: insulin keeps fat in the fat cells, where they are NOT utilized as fuel. This isn’t good…in fact it is the gateway to a HANDFUL of other chronic & deadly diseases, but that is another post for another day.

So, I was told, that in order to reverse this spiking, I needed to maintain a consistent diet of foods that don’t increase insulin levels, (namely fats). This was to the be the start of reversing my insulin resistance issues.

What did this look like for me?

Well…this is where the curveball came at me. I was told that I needed to base my diet primarily around fat. I needed to focus on eating in a low carbohydrate, high fat way. In doing so, I would stop my body from eliciting an insulin response. This would put my body in a state of ketosis.

Many people stress at hearing that word because they confuse it with ketoacidosis. Nutritional based ketosis is controlling the body’s insulin response, resulting in a the generation of fatty acids, known as ketones. This means the body is in a state of burning fat. Diabetic & alcoholic ketoacidosis is a metabolic state of toxicity. It occurs when the body fails to regulate ketone production and those ketones become out of control. The blood becomes acidic, and can be deadly. A nutritional state of ketosis will not default into ketoacidosis because the body has regulatory feedback loops that will prevent it from doing so.

When eating in a nutritional, ketogenic way, ketones are measured. A high amount of ketones denotes a low amount of insulin. this is what is desired with this process. So, is eating this way safe & healthy? Yes.

Whoa…that’s a lot of sciency talk…I just want to try and give the background explanation as to why this process made sense to me. I wanted you to understand why I felt like this was a process I wanted to pursue.

Now on to what you really want to know? How is going..

I’m happy to say that I have really enjoyed eating the way that I am, and it’s been a very positive experience for me. The first couple weeks were definitely an adjustment. It’s common for people to feel what is considered a “keto flu,” lethargic/tired/low energy/etc…which I did. It makes sense. You are basically starving the body of carbohydrates for a few days, which it is NOT used to. I had to allow for time for my body to make the shift to relying on fat stores for fuel.

I had to re-set my habits. I had to build my meals around fat. This was a change for me, mostly because I’m not a lover of high fat foods like cheese & butter that many people are MORE THAN HAPPY to eat. However, I’m adapting…and I’ve come up with some BOMB recipes.

My energy levels have returned, which means my body is working toward utilizing fat as fuel. I have become more of an intuitive eater, and less of a snacker. This actually is the most insane part to me. I never thought that this would be the case. Fat is a satiating food. So, eating mostly fat, means that I don’t feel hungry as often. I feel satisfied when I eat. In turn, I’m learning to listen to my body more. The people I have been working with challenged me to stop tracking my food, and to listen to my body. (From someone who could give you a record of my tracked macronutrients for the past…i don’t know…10 years…this seemed unbelievable.) I have actually let go of my journaling…it’s been so incredibly freeing. I don’t feel bloated like I used to on occasion. I am sleeping better…and I’ve dropped weight and body fat, which THRILLS me. I’m starting to feel like myself again, and I almost didn’t believe that was possible.

I’m still in this process, still learning, and still working to be where I want to be. However, I will absolutely say that I’m loving the path I’ve gone down so far. I’m excited to continue to learn more, and I hope that this will be something that I can utilize to help my clients, readers, & followers in the future! xoxoxo Megs