The Incredible Nutrition Books That Changed My Life

A few years ago when I decided to make the change to a primarily plant-based diet, I was initially inspired by wanting to become my healthiest self, but also because I randomly stumbled upon Jolene Hart's Eat Pretty, which would soon change my life forever. Eat Pretty was a key tool in my transition because at the time I didn't know much about proper nutrition and the vital nutrients that I would need to make up for after cutting meat and dairy from my life. For me, this transition was a pretty quick one. One morning I literally just woke up turned off by all meats, dairy, and processed food, and reading Eat Pretty got me extra excited to start a lifelong journey of optimal health. I know this may not happen similarly to many people, but it's exactly how this lifestyle began for me.

After feeling and seeing significant changes in my body, skin, mood, and energy, I wanted to learn so much more. I wanted to become as knowledgable as I could on adequate nutrition and health to maintain a long, healthy, lifestyle and continue to feel as good as I did then, everyday. After cutting meats, dairy, processed foods, and most gluten out of my life and replacing them with nourishing ingredients, one thing that I did see a significant change in was the clarity of my skin. Blemishes that once drove me crazy with stress and anxiety started to vanish, and I now notice a glow that is almost completely attributed to my dietary choices.

Whenever I get into something, I get really into it, like maybe a little too much at times… It can be a blessing and a curse, in this case it was a blessing! My personal research on nutrition and health has taken me so far, I've read a lot and I know what works for my body, granted one person's method is not a 'fits all method', so doing your own research is important. To this day I can say with 100% accuracy that before purchasing any product from the grocery store, I check the ingredients, and if an item contains an ingredient that I don't know or know is not good for you, I put it right back on the shelf. Some may say that's a little OCD, but knowing exactly what ingredients I'm putting into my body is an important part of this lifestyle for me. I strive to only put whole, organic, plant ingredients into my body and leave out all of the rest. 

Granted, it would've been a lot harder to get where I am today had I not had the right tools and done an insane amount of research, so I've decided to compile a list of my absolute favorite and necessary reads to achieving a healthy and happy lifestyle for YOU! All of these authors have taught me so much of what I know and their words continue to inspire my lifestyle daily. Eat Pretty changed my life and with that positive change came Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore, Tres Green, Tres Clean, Tres Chic by Rebecca Leffler, and of course Eat Beautiful by the amazing Wendy Rowe. Eat Pretty Every Day by Jolene Hart is my newest obsession which acts as a daily journal and provides new recipes/tips for everyday of the year in addition to Hart's original Eat Pretty. I hope you love these beauty bibles as much as I do!

Enjoy :)

xM

My Top Two Bulletproof Tools to Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Over the past few years since college has begun, I've noticeably become a very stressed out and anxious person. College, right? Well I started worrying about everything and little things, which also results in loads of stress and daily anxiety. At some point or another, these feelings come and go for most if not all people, but I've recently been learning more and more ways to properly handle these issues when they arise or at least try to reduce/prevent them, so I thought I would share a few of my own personal tips for those who may have this in common!

A couple weeks ago I started to use the meditation app called Headspace, which is exactly what I needed. I got to a build-up point where my mind was constantly running 1000mph and it was hard for me to focus on the important things happening in the present because my thoughts were dwelling on scenarios that happened years, months, days, and hours ago. It wasn't good for my health at all, I was constantly a stress ball, and high levels of stress can take a huge negative toll on your overall health and wellbeing - I felt that toll head on, so I got to the point where I realized I had to make positive changes and fast. 

I read a little about meditation here and there so I downloaded Headspace in the app store and gave it a shot. After only a few days, I could feel my mind calming down. I wouldn't get as anxious and overwhelmed walking to class when I had nothing to do but think. I started to practice being in the present and being grateful, expressing more gratitude, even if just within my thoughts. The changes within myself were almost immediate and more apparent than I expected, this being only after a few inconsistent days. Now I use the app every morning because it makes me feel good and I can feel progress. My head isn't as foggy (minus the early mornings when I'm rushing to class after only six hours of sleep), and for the most part I've even been sleeping better. I've still got a ways to go, but I'm very proud in my progress and I can only feel it increasing.

The second method that I've always taken to whenever I feel stressed and anxious is reading. I love reading, I can read multiple books at once and be totally content. Even when I have a long list of selections to get through, I'm always shopping for more great books to read for later. Reading definitely calms me and puts my subconscious to rest. I can get into a good book and not move for hours. Reading can be tough, first you want to find something that suits your taste which you can really get into, then you have to find the time to actually pick the book up. Well another thing I've been practicing recently is to not make excuses. There is always going to be a reason not to do something… You're too tired, too busy, it takes too much effort, when really the only thing that's preventing you from picking up that dusty book are excuses, excuses, excuses. Someone can say they don't have time to do something yet then find themselves binge watching Netflix… I'll be the first to admit that I am often that person, but once you break out of that shell and JUST DO IT, (whatever it may be, but in this case reading), you will find that it feels amazing!

Practicing mindfulness and clearing your head daily can result in an increase in happiness, health, and well-being to make room for all of the positive things that life has to offer, so do what you need to take care of your mind and body, whatever that may be!

Oh and I have plenty of great reading recommendations if anyone needs any!

Enjoy :)

x Michaela

EAT PRETTY

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Anyone who knows me could tell you that I am a total health nut obsessed with fresh juices, smoothies, superfoods, vegetables – basically anything with nutritional value. The fresher the food, the tastier and healthier! Eating clean makes me feel better in every aspect, I’m more energetic, less moody, my skin is clear, and my body just feels great in general. I rarely rarely rarely ever resort to processed, sugary meals and snacks because they leave my body feeling gross, sluggish and have long term effects on your appearance and overall health!

Whenever I go grocery shopping (which is quite often given the circumstances), I always opt for fresh, organic vegetables, fruits, and ingredients opposed to anything boxed or made with additives. If I’m buying something boxed, it’s usually power bars or healthy snacks for on the go, and I don’t buy anything that contains unnatural additives – or ingredients I don’t understand for that matter. If i’m putting something in my body, I like to know exactly what it is and how it can benefit my health.

Growing up I was never an unhealthy child, my family was always fairly health conscious so I wasn’t constantly snacking on junk food, and there’s not a fruit or vegetable that I dislike – but, it wasn’t until a little over a year and a half ago that I officially transitioned to primarily vegetarian and 100% cut out all chicken, beef, and pork from my diet. I still eat seafood every now and then (I grew up eating tons and tons of seafood so I’m way too obsessed to cut it all out), but when I do it’s either fresh and wild caught, or sustainably caught with no additives. Cutting meat from my diet was a personal choice based on my own research and truly just loss of appetite for it all. If you eat meat, like most people, that’s great – but it’s important to be educated on the meat you’re purchasing. Large production companies pack their animals with chemicals, hormones, etc which have extremely negative impacts on the body, so I recommend purchasing meat from a local farmer or looking for organic, grass fed options from the grocery store.

Prior to my official transition into a vegetarian, I did my fare amount of research to make sure it was still possible to get all of the protein and nutrients necessary for daily functioning. I bought tons of nutrition books, to which I still refer back to today – including my favorite which I can honestly say changed my life for the better: Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart, aka the food lovers bible. Eat Pretty is all about fruits, vegetables, etc which are good for your body and why – hence “eat pretty foods,” and I highly recommend checking it out if you have any interest in nutrition whatsoever.

One myth that I would like to put to rest is the correlation between my choice of diet and size which are in no way affiliated. I’m naturally a very petite person, I always have been. Quite often people have associated my size with the fact that I don’t eat meat – or that I just don’t eat at all, and I can’t help but laugh because anyone within my family and friends could testify to the fact that I am like a human vacuum with endless capacity and probably eat more than most, the only difference is I choose to put ingredients in my body that will nourish it rather than harm it. Trust me, vegetarians eat and we eat a lot!

With all of that said, there’s nothing wrong in treating yourself every now and then! I’m a dessert fiend… I love dark chocolate, macarons, crème brûlée and sweets of all sorts – trust me I would live off of dessert if I could. There’s no harm in a few guilty pleasures, just make sure they don’t become bad habits!

I’ll be posting more on nutrition, my favorite ways to eat clean during long school weeks and travel, guilty pleasures and more. Let me know if you there’s something specific you would like to read about!

Hope you enjoyed this for now,

x Michaela

How I Stay In Shape While Traveling: Paris Edition

Athletics and staying active have always been a huge part of my life! My body feels way cleaner, I have more energy, I’m happier, and much less stressed whenever I work out daily. Not to mention, getting your daily sweat on is major beneficial for the pores and helps to release toxins from within which is more than enough to get me moving. Working out while traveling can definitely pose as a challenge – but it’s not impossible, and your body will certainly thank you! Anyways, a little challenge never hurt anyone so don’t let that stop you

Finding the perfect gym to hit in Paris can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the city, so here are a few of my current-fav spots to sweat it out:

Lululemon- Need I say more? Aside from my favorite athletic wear, Lululemon offers free Yoga and different types of body sculpting classes every weekend. Lululemon Marais offers a free hour long class every Friday evening at 5:30PM and one every Saturday morning at 10AM. The classes can range from relaxation yoga, to more intense types and there are new instructors every weekend – all of which who rock! There’s also a second Lululemon location which recently opened near Musée du Louvre, I have yet to make it to one of their classes but I’ve heard great reviews

Let’s Ride- Let’s Ride is a Soulcycle studio that I recently discovered and am totally in love with! Let’s Ride is open seven days a week with class schedules posted on Letsride.fr every Monday. The staff is super cool and the vibes are great! I seriously advise stopping in for a killer workout even if you are only in town for a short period of time, they even sell locally cold pressed juices and have a section of cute workout clothes for sale so you can kill two birds with one stone!

CMG Sports Club- In my experience, traditional gyms in Paris are either a hit or miss… Call me high maintenance but I live for workout classes and a sauna is absolutely vital for my happiness – so CMG is perfect for me! They offer a wide range of fitness classes (including boxing, okay SOLD) and it’s a totally clean, friendly environment. It’s a little on the expensive side, but when it comes to gyms in Paris you honestly get what you pay for which is something to keep in mind.

Aside from yoga classes, cycling, and the gym, another one of my favorite ways to stay in shape is by walking everywhere! I don’t take the metro in Paris at all anymore and the only time I uber is if I’m coming home super late and don’t want to walk or bike. Aside from then, I love walking and biking around this city, it’s the perfect way to get some extra exercise, take in Paris, meet new people, and just be outdoors – not to mention walking/biking is very Parisian.

 

Kombucha: Full Disclosure

For those of you who don’t know, Kombucha is fermented tea with loads of amazing health benefits! Anyone who knows me even a little could tell you that I’m obsessed with kombucha and drink it regularly (regular meaning multiple times a day, *insert wide-eyed emoji* oops). I personally enjoy the taste, whether it be original or naturally flavored – it’s all the same to me and the benefits are just a huge bonus… but for many people it’s definitely an acquired taste. Two of my favorite brands include Clearly Kombucha and GT’s Kombucha Synergy, both of which have a wide range of super incredible flavors that I literally can’t live without. GT’s Synergy Chia drink in grape is my absolute favorite, I could easily put down a gallon of it and not think twice if we’re being honest…

Here are just a few of the many reasons why I love kombucha and why you should too!!

  • Kombucha is a natural probiotic (healthy bacteria), meaning it detoxifies the gut and liver for healthier insides – and healthier insides = glowing skin which we love
  • Improves digestion
  • Natural energizer – can help reduce fatigue (big one for me because I’m always on the go and always in need of a nap)
  • High in antioxidants which can destroy free radicals that cause cancer
  • Aids in healthy cell regeneration

Remember, one small step towards a healthy lifestyle is a milestone in the long run so go grab a bottle or two and drink up!

Weekly Grocery Hall

So as promised last week, I’ve decided to show you guys what my weekly grocery hall looks like! I usually hit more than one store, which includes Trader Joe’s for the majority of my fruits and veggies, then either Whole Foods or Natural Grocery for my snacks, juices, yogurt, etc.

As you can see fruits and vegetables are a large majority of my diet. I’m always snacking on fruits and greens. I don’t drink or eat dairy so I’ll usually pick up some vegan cheese, like the Daya provolone slices pictured at the bottom, or a different brand like the one featured in my previous post incase I’m craving something savory. I always grab multiple to-go cups of almond milk or coconut milk yogurt – Kite Hill and the So Delicious Coconut Milk yogurt cup in this week’s hall are my go to favorites.

Homemade veggie soup is one of my quick and easy meals for a simple dinner, which is where the veggie broth comes in! The Pacific brand featured is my favorite because the ingredients are simple, natural, and low sodium. I also tend to stay away from gluten so I’ll usually pick up a loaf of GF, naturally sprouted bread or bagels like the Simple Hills Sprouted Bagels for when I want something easy but filling.

I still have some frozen wild and sustainably caught salmon and cod from last week, as well as tofu for vegetarian protein. Seafood, tofu, and lentils are my primary sources of protein. I always have wild caught frozen seafood in my freezer, as well as tofu.

Eating clean is just as easy and fun as it looks, even if you aren’t plant-based, and trust me when I say I’m a huge flavor-foodie so my meals are never dull – just extra delicious and nutritious!

Vegan Goodies of the Week

Let me start by saying I am not a licensed nutritionist or a health expert of any kind… I’ve done my research on nutrition and continue to keep myself educated on the facts, but above all I know what works best for me and my lifestyle, sharing my tips is just a bonus! Many people think that transitioning to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based lifestyle means giving up all of your favorite goodies from sweets to cheeses, well I’m here to reassure you that’s completely inaccurate!

Fortunately for all of the animal loving, vegan, vegetarian foodies like myself – the science of nutrition is constantly evolving which means that we health nuts don’t have to miss out on anything! The biggest misconception about cleaning up your diet is that you have to give up all of the comfort foods you hold so near and dear to your heart, and while that may mean cutting out ingredients such as sugar, flour, dairy, etc., I can promise you there are so many healthy alternatives which nourish your body rather than slow it down!

From now on I’m going to start sharing my grocery halls because at the beginning of each week I stock up on loads of fruits, veggies, nut milks, spices, grains, healthy snacks, and dairy alternatives such as plant-based cheeses.

It’s a little late in the week to show you guys what I pick up on my main weekly grocery run, but this morning I went to Natural Grocery and picked up a few extra ingredients that I’m super excited to share!

Pictured above are Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk, Califia Farms Cold Brew Pumpkin Spice Coffee with Almond Milk, Kite Hill Almond Milk Chive Cream Cheese, and Miyoko’s Sundried Tomato Garlic Cashew Cheese. These are a few examples of how I incorporate my favorite comfort food goodies into my plant-based lifestyle, without all of the chemical additives and sugars.

I don’t drink or eat dairy, so nut milks and nut cheeses are my go to alternatives. I love almond and coconut milks, always all natural and unsweetened. I’m super excited about the Califia Farms Cold Brew Pumpkin Spice Coffee with Almond Milk because I’m a major sucker for a hot Pumpkin Spice Latte during the holidays, but unfortunately coffee irritates my skin so on the rare occasion that I do drink it I go for cold brew with almond or coconut milk and this brand has got my name written all over it!

This will be my first time trying the Kite Hill Almond Milk Chive Cream Cheese and this brand of cashew cheese: Miyoko’s Sundried Tomato Garlic Cashew Cheese, but I’m stoked! Both brands are all natural, plant-based, simple ingredients with no added sugars, chemicals or dairy. I’ve tried a handful of different plant-based cheese brands and there are tons out there so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find one that suits your tastebuds! The best part is they taste the same – if not better than actual cheese, the only difference is the added health benefits ;)

Next week I’ll be sharing my full grocery hall! Enjoy x

Leaving Those Sunday Blues In 2016

Every Sunday around 5pm that wave of anxiety and pre-work week stress rolls around, hitting us all harder than a Law & Order: SVU marathon… Am I right? You’ve spent the past eight hours or so in a deep technology hole, whether it be catching up on your IG feed or binge watching Scream Queens. Fortunately, you managed to squeeze a face mask inbetween those sessions so at least your skin is one less worry… Well in my opinion, Sundays are meant for complete relaxation and self-indulging – sans panic. In honor of not chalking Sundays up to a complete loss, I’ve compiled a list of ways to stay relaxed and accomplished before our espresso-induced weeks begin:

Start the morning off right with a healthy and hearty breakfast

  • I personally believe that there is no better way to start each day than with a healthy, filling breakfast. After all breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the main key to that vital jolt of energy you need to kickstart your morning – without the caffeine hangover. I usually opt for fresh and warm breakfast scrambles with sweet potatoes, loads of veggies, greens, and lots of spice. There’s nothing I can’t tackle once I’ve had a proper breakfast, but talk to me anytime before then and it’s a whole different story.

Declutter and clean up your environment

  • My best friend (and college roommate for three years) knows that I can’t accomplish anything unless my room is clean and tidy… literally. Much like brushing my teeth and cleansing my face, I absolutely cannot rest well until everything is perfectly organized in my personal area. Weird right? Well it actually helps to give me a sense of clarity and accomplishment. In fact, I recently read a Vogue article written by contributor Kate Donnelly, in which she informed readers that just 15 minutes of tidying up your space can result in a great sense of accomplishment. Believe me when I say this is fact!

Get lost in a novel, or three

  • If there’s one thing that truly eases my mind on Sundays, it’s diving into my personal library and losing track of time for hours on end. For me there’s nothing quite as relaxing as a good book that you can’t put down but don’t want to end. I tend to jump around a little and read multiple selections at once, so Sundays are usually reserved for catching up on one, or three of my favorite titles.

Breakout your planner

  • I’m 100% a list kind of gal… I absolutely have to make lists for everything otherwise I will never remember to get anything done! There’s also something about writing all of my errands down and physically checking them off that gives me a sense of relief and major accomplishment… Every Sunday I go through my to-do lists, adding tasks and checking some off, as well as skimming through my upcoming meetings and due dates. It definitely calms me down before going into a long week.

Hit the gym

  • Working out never fails to relieve stress and breaking a Sunday sweat is exactly what is needed to cleanse the body from a cocktail filled weekend with girl friends, trust me. Your mind and body will thank you after a sweaty gym sesh to open the pores, followed by a steamy shower to flush out any toxins you’re holding onto!

These are just a few of my usual Sunday-stress-relief methods to keep me from imploding at the thought of a Monday, enjoy x

The ULTIMATE Plant Based Lasagna

GUYS this might be my favorite meal that I've ever created, it's insane! So I've been plant-based for almost three years now, eating mainly vegetarian/vegan plant-based meals… Over the course of my journey there have definitely been a handful of times where I've gone out to dinner and ordered a cheesy pasta dish, although I've mainly stayed away from dairy for the most part, but it wasn't until recently that I officially gave up eggs in particular. Anyways, the moral of the story is that even after eating primarily vegan for quite some time now, especially within the past year, I still remember the taste of cheesy meals. 

Now whenever I'm craving pasta I always create a plant-based, whole ingredient dish at home, and tonight I was inspired to cook up some CHEEZY LASAGNA, cashew cheese that is… So I did exactly that, it was absolutely AMAZING and tasted like real cheesy, not-so-healthy, but get this - IT WAS PACKED WITH FIBER, PROTEIN, whole plant ingredients, zero gluten, and zero dairy! Totally nutritious and delicious!

Okay so here's how I did it:

  • You'll need a cup full of cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
  • Minced garlic or pure garlic powder, I use Simply Organic Pure Garlic Powder
  • Plant-based pasta of your choice, I used Explore Cuisine's Organic Red Lentil Penne
  • Marinara of choice, my favorite is Mezzetta Whole Garlic & Sweet Basil, made in Italy with whole tomatoes, organic olive oil, whole garlic cloves (literally in the sauce), and organic whole basic leaves
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt for taste
  • Vital Proteins Collagen (optional, no flavor, just added benefits)
  1. In a pot, boil one cup of red lentil penne for 10 minutes or so
  2. In a blender add, soaked cashews, a couple splashes of almond milk, little bit of nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and Himalayan sea salt for taste - blend until smooth, hummus like consistency
  3. Once your pasta is done boiling, strain, and add to a baking dish, then cover the top in "cashew cheese" followed by marinara on top - bake for about 10-15 minutes and VOILA, the tastiest and healthiest Vegan lasagna on the block!

I'm still in shock at how much the cashew cheese tasted like real cheese… The perfect comfort food dish without the guilt!

Oh and just to clarify, because I know I will get some spectacle about this, while I do consider myself Vegan, I also still take fish oil pills for extra omegas and use Vital Proteins Marine Collagen in a lot of my mixtures, so I guess I'm technically a pescatarian? Zero chance I'll ever again put any meat/dairy in my body, but I'm also not super into labels, do what works for you and makes your body happy!

x Michaela