December 9, 2016

Local Review: Braymiller Market in Hamburg, NY

My hometown is Hamburg, NY. And even though it has been many, many years since I have permanently resided in this town, I visit regardless of what state I currently call home. My whole family still lives in this town and it’s a great community that continues to grow and is quite more trendy now with more restaurants, boutique shops and events. 
And this place, Braymiller Market, usually gets my business. For me, this is a staple.
This local produce and grocery stand has been in business for years. Years! It started as a roadside stand and has grown over the years. I know so many people who have worked there over the years, including my best friend. But the interesting part for me is that ownership has recently switched to a dear family. Every summer during my college years, I was at this family’s house watching their kids. I remember having so much fun with these kids whether it was using chalk in the driveway, going to the zoo or aquarium, or scavenger hunts, or making science experiments, swimming, etc. And now, they own this staple of a market.

Which, by the way, these kids I watched are grown adults now. How does that happen? Aren’t they supposed to stay little forever? Did they not get the memo? 

Main point: Great family.
Anyways this market is just down the road from my childhood home and we were frequent customers. Heck, my family still is a frequent customer. But when I stop by, I don’t hesitate to get some bananas and fresh veggies for dinner. The food is fresh and local, and there is a deli, grocery area, ice cream parlor, etc. 
If you are in the area, I encourage you to stop by. Tell the owner that Laura says hi, and that his kids need to stop growing up so fast. Did I really just say that? #I’mgettingold
November 30, 2016

Healthy Pumpkin Banana Muffins

I always like to use up ingredients, produce and refrigerated items I have so I don’t have to throw them away. Two ingredients I had were 2 very ripe bananas and about a cup of a can of pumpkin puree. I enjoy baking so I wanted to make a healthy, baked good.
I merged a few of my go-to recipes together and I created this. This is a perfect to-go recipe and it makes two dozen muffins, so therefore PLENTY to freeze for later. If I know I’m going to have a busy morning, I’ll take out a little freezer bag from the freezer with several frozen muffins inside so it can thaw overnight. In the morning I’ll just heat up a couple in the microwave for a moment, and sometimes I’ll add a little peanut butter or nut butter.  
This recipe has some major power houses: almond flour. oats, pumpkin, cinnamon, bananas and walnuts. It’s a win win for health and they are good too. 
Ingredients:
2 c. almond flour
3/4 c. steel cut, quick oats
1/4 c. quick oats
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (optional, but encouraged)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional, but encouraged- because CHOCOLATE. 
I used 70% cocoa chocolate chips)
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. pumpkin puree
1-2 mashed bananas
6 T melted unsalted butter
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners.
One one bowl, mix together the almond flour, all oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
In another bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin, bananas, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. It’ll be a thicker consistency. Fill muffin liners 3/4 full and bake for 25 (or 30) minutes.

November 27, 2016

Recipe: White Chicken Powerhouse Chili

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I will use a recipe once and then I’ll go off onto my own beaten path and create my own version of it. I will likely taste it along the way and add ingredients or spices to adjust it accordingly.
This recipe, however, came from the origination of me and whatever I had on hand. No recipe, even from memory, to recall from memory and guide my ingredients.
My kids LOVED this too. It was a family meal after we drove to a Christmas tree farm and cut down a tree, then decorated the house- inside and outside- for Christmas, and naturally watched some football. So basically it was an easy and healthy crock pot dinner after having the best day ever.
Ingredients:
1 lbs. uncooked, raw skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1-2 chicken low sodium bouillon cubes (*your preference. I added one in the beginning, then after tasting it I added another one)
1 T. oregano
3 c. water
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
3/4 t. minced garlic
1 can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2-2 cups of brown rice or quinoa- already cooked. (I used a quinoa, rice and flax seed blend found HERE– just dump the package in)
Directions:
Start with the chicken first, but put everything into the crock pot (*depending how many bouillon cubes you start with). Cook on high for 3 hrs or 6-7 hours on low. 30 minutes before serving, shred the chicken and return it to the pot.
Optional: Sprinkle with cheese and/or a dollop of sour cream
So good. I even had it the next day for lunch. Enjoy!
November 26, 2016

The Nutritious Life: “The Healthiest Grain -free Morning Glory Muffins”

I really enjoy baking. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up an interest in baking if I also want to eat healthy! If anything, I feel even better when I bake because I know I’m creating items that can fuel my body with wholesome foods. I typically explore grain free recipes, sometimes gluten free recipes by accident, and many many recipes that are free of refined sugars. Grain free and refined sugar free recipes are most common for me.

So this recipe was excellent. If you don’t follow Keri from Nutritious Life, you should. She’s knowledgeable, passionate, and she continues to grow as an entrepreneur.

You can find the recipe HERE. It’s grain free with the use of pumpkin, coconut, and almond flour. They were moist and delicious. And my kids liked them when they came right out of the oven. I ate them for days.

The one adjustment I would make would be to use my food processor for the coconut to make the coconut a little smaller- just personal preference, not a deal breaker. I subbed craisins for raisins too.

Don’t they look pretty? I also added mini chocolate chips on top because, umm, I wanted to. 
These are really good- you should try them. 
And Keri- keep up the great work!!
November 10, 2016

Momentum is a Driving Force

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with others lately about the power of momentum. When it is in your favor, watch out- you are in the drivers seat cruisin’ down the highway. It’s when you are driving your car and eventually the wind starts pushing your car (and save some gas). And when you go through hills and valleys- the momentum helps push you up that hill and gather speed on your way down (which will help you on your next hill too).  
Image result for momentum quotes
It is that unexplainable movement that pushes you further. 
But there are two key facets to momentum: 
Consistency and greater evolving goals. 
Consistency is typically the harder of the two, because it takes the daily ACTION of behavior. The development of a routine- even if it’s small. It’s hard. It can be boring, and not really that sexy. Sometimes if we don’t see quick results of our hard work, we get discouraged. But we all KNOW that consistency (not necessarily speed) succeeds. Because it’s the hard work. The extra mile. It’s more likely for the slow and steady to win the race- even if it’s just baby steps. Each step- consistently- starts to create momentum.
Creating and establishing greater goals as your momentum evolves and grows is key. The goals will evolve over time and will likely adjust according to your preferences, interests, and growth. They may develop to be different than your original intentions. But it’s hard to evolve your goals if there is no consistency in the first place. 
Many times I talk with individuals to identify HOW to get started and how to develop these routines of consistency. Because motivation is key, however motivation when linked to emotions and feelings, can be fleeting. You don’t feel motivated one day, or you don’t feel inspired. But when your consistency is linked to routines– it takes the emotional part out of the equation. It’s just like brushing your teeth (a normal routine- not really linked to emotions) you don’t even think about- but you do it.
So identify what small daily steps you can do in order to create momentum to reach your first goal.
You can do this- start small and be consistent. Momentum will come. It will evolve.
November 4, 2016

How the Food You Eat Affects Your Brain

I love food. And I love how food impacts our health and bodies which we have control. I believe that food can change us, at times- cure us, and heal us. But when I found this video, I wanted to share it with you because it’s another way which details about how food affects our brain, our mood, and our sleep. But it may also serve as a great reminder too. This video reiterates the facts that the food we eat impacts all aspects of our wellness. It.is.THAT.powerful.
It’s another way to prove and showcase the importance of eating lots of greens, some fruits, and complex carbs and lean proteins. There can be balance in a nutritional diet, and ideally stricter diets if trying to lose weight, reach health goals to impact your lipid profile or cholesterol, reach athletic goals.  
Our perception of our nutrition habits can be misleading or off. The best way to identify the details of nutrition is to track your food. You could certainly do it with pen and paper, but honestly the tools online to use e-trackers make it fool proof. MyFitnessPal is very popular and rather user-friendly. But food logs or food journals are the first step to identifying nutritional gaps in your diet.
*Let’s also mention that many times we think we already know what we are eating- how much, what quantities, and what’s appropriate for us right now.  But our nutritional needs change and vary based on our activity, age, special circumstances (pregnancy, illness, healthy goal setting, etc), and therefore doing a food log is actually helpful for awareness and adjustments. 
Are you eating enough?
Is is quality food to benefit your body and brain?
How are your other aspects of wellness (mood, emotions, sleep, intellectual, etc) affected lately?
Changes in our nutritional diet can make big differences when it tailored to our needs. Not everyone is the same as we each may need certain tweaks for our needs, but the basis is the same and this video highlights that well. 
So routinely enjoy more nutrient rich greens, juicy fruits with fiber, and lean proteins. You’ll feel fuller longer, giving your body and brain the nutrients is needs and deserves, and your mood and sleep will reap the benefits along the way. 

October 23, 2016

What is the Role of a Wellness Coach?

After working with hundreds thousands of individuals over the last five years (wow- that’s crazy to type that) at my last job in order to orchestrate plans towards more health-focused behaviors, I’m now venturing into working with others on my own. My own business, per se. 
I have found that going out on my own to help others change behaviors needs a title. Right now the University of South Dakota (USD) has contracted me as their (lead) Wellness Coach at their Wellness Center {link}. That’s my title but I have found that “wellness coach” can be confusing to people. And I understand that. There can also be misconceptions to the title. But the role of a wellness coach is to provide support, guidance, accountability, and insight to others reaching new health goals. 
Image result for health
The goals can range from reducing percent of body fat, finding life balance in a busy schedule, overcoming stress, gaining clarity in occupational career goals, etc. I’ve worked with so many individuals that there are very few topics that I have not addressed with clients/individuals. However there are times when referrals are made to mental health professionals or etc, when needed. But I have found that many individuals are in need of guidance, accountability, and insight from someone who is experienced, trustworthy, and aware of their abilities and limitations (note- this is really key. Do your research and find out the experience and background of who you work with). 
We all need support and guidance in making health changes, especially when it comes to our behavior, which, is usually the hardest to change and is the most important. As much as I help others, I need key individuals to help me too otherwise I become stagnant and uninspired and ineffective. 
After less than 8 weeks at USD, I am working with individuals who desire to lose weight, learn how to better manage the stress of work/life/parent roles, reduce percentage of body fat, and seek additional ways to nutritionally fuel and nourish their bodies (and therefore, their families bodies) with delicious foods that don’t take a long time to prep or purchase. These are all different health goals and desires (and really, just a glimpse of examples) of how I’m helping others improve their health as their Wellness Coach.  
Not only am I working with individuals at USD, but I have started serving as a Wellness Consultant to local businesses and providing health and wellness presentations, employee wellness initiatives, health and wellness programming and communication initiatives, along with one-on-one consultations to employees, at companies who desire a healthier workplace. Research shows that businesses who prioritize, support and encourage employee health and wellness experience higher morale and productivity, reduced sick days, and healthier and happier employees.  
What areas in your life are you looking to gain more strides towards health? 
Consider a Wellness Coach. Do your research and identify what would be a good fit for you. It may serve as a good starting place to identify next steps. And who knows, there’s a chance you make other gains/strides in other unexpected areas in your life too.
Until next time…
In health, 
Laura 
September 2, 2016

Healthy Lunch On-The-Go

You know those days where you are running and running and running from thing to thing, or commitment to commitment, and you need lunch NOW? But you want it healthy and you want it quick? Often times, my go-to is tuna. Yes, canned tuna. All the people who hate tuna just said YUCK outloud. #Iheardyou. 
Now this is very simple. Like, so simple. But you know how sometimes you just need a reminder of how simple lunch can be?! Not rocket science. Just simple. 

But here me out- it’s quick and convenient, it’s healthy (hello, omega 3?!), and it’s cheap. It’s low in saturated fat and a great source of protein. Get the light tuna in water and you are good.to.go. (Heck, salmon would be awesome too!!)
The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish per week: “Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death.  Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure (slightly).” {link}

I usually put tuna on top of sliced cucumbers or sliced tomatoes, with pepper on top. Then I’ll have a side of something else- apple and almonds, and maybe a string cheese, for example. Because then, in one meal I’m getting a protein, veg, fruit, some healthy nuts, and maybe some dairy. 
Have a great long weekend!
Eat healthy, my friends. #moderation

September 1, 2016

September 1st

September 1st. 
Really, it’s already September 1st? 
That is just nuts. I enjoy the fall and the cooler temperatures, I just can’t believe it’s already here. But I’m going to soak in thankfulness today as we start a new month. 

Starting New

But as I type that sentence, “we start a new month.”, I am reminded over and over again that everyday is a new day to start something new. It’s a new day and today is a new month! So whatever you’ve been thinking about beginning- just start. Don’t wait for the right time, the certain amount of money, the stars to align, just do it. We may wait forever for things to be “just right” when really if we just take continuous steps, even small steps, we’ll get to our new destination before things “line up”.  
Image result for just start quotes

There is a Place for You

Sometimes we have a hard time starting new because we just failed at something, and man oh man it is hard to get back up AGAIN. Or maybe we have these jealous feelings that someone you know is doing all these things that you want to do and you are losing focus and motivation. You should still do those things. Comparison and envy kill our joy, but this video by Chelsea Handler is a quick video of how she overcame comparison and envy to take next steps in her life journey to find her place.

Being Thankful

Taking the first step is most often the hardest, because we realize it wasn’t that bad. We want to grow and be healthy, but yet always be authentic, true to ourselves and happy, joyful, and loving to others. But one of the foundational qualities of happiness is thankfulness. Gratitude. Being thankful for what you have, not what you don’t have.
Image result for thankfulness quotes
Boy I’m thankful. Right now I’m thankful for this early morning quiet time because chaos begins. I’m having my me time by getting up earlier than anyone else. I’m thankful for a new season of fall and looking forward to what that brings. I’m thankful for a busy summer and one I will never, ever forget. I’m also very thankful for living here in South Dakota for many reasons. Today I’ll make a list of what I’m thankful for. Writing something down is different than just thinking it. 
I hope you have a wonderful September 1st and with thankfulness, make it a great new beginning.
August 31, 2016

4 Ingredient Dinner: Quick Chicken, Spinach and Potatoes

As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t like to follow recipes AND I like to use up leftovers. Therefore I’m often getting creative in the kitchen. 
This dish took a little different direction but I’m so glad it did!
Easy & Quick Chicken, Spinach and Potatoes
Ingredients:
1- 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (we used cooked, roasted chicken); chopped in big chunks
1- 1 1/2 cups of cooked/roasted potatoes 
2-3 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1/4 water
1 packet of Korr’s liquid chicken stock
Image result for knorr chicken stock
Directions:
In your warm skillet on medium heat, put in your water and chicken stock. There’s no need to wait for it to dissolve. It will in time. Just add your chopped chicken, potatoes, and spinach. Cover for 15 minutes, stirring a couple times to prevent sticking. 
Done! (I know, easy- right?)
This was my first time using these little packets. Since it was serving a small family, I justified the sodium content divided amongst others and it’s ease was awesome. Everyone liked it. 
Serves 3 people. 
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