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My 9 Favorite Smoothie Boosters

My 9 Favorite Smoothie Boosters

In the summer months in Minneapolis – you will find me having a smoothie every single day. I think they are so satisfying and when you add smoothie boosters – they’re extra filling and nutritious. I make one for breakfast almost every day and it […]

My Top 11 Picks At Trader Joe’s

My Top 11 Picks At Trader Joe’s

Unlike what seems the majority, Trader Joe’s isn’t my usual grocery store. It’s not the place that I go for my weekly grocery store hauls, but they have a handful of items that I most certainly won’t find anywhere else – like their one of […]

A Nutrition Coach’s Guide To Non-Perishables

A Nutrition Coach’s Guide To Non-Perishables

Non-perishable foods may not sound like the most appealing way to eat, but they can be a healthy, sustainable, and important food category to have stocked in your pantry. Although some items like boxed macaroni and cheese are non-perishable, they’re also packed with preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients that won’t leave you thriving in a time, like right now, when your health is the most important thing you have. Here are a few of my favorite non-perishables that I stocked up on to get us through these weird times:

Grains

Oats, quinoa, farro, brown and white rice are all great options to have stocked in your pantry. Grains last about 6 months, if stored correctly in an air-tight container. Oats, quinoa, and farro are packed with fiber, protein, and other nutrients that are great to add as a side to meals or make overnight oats for the next morning.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are portable, nutrient-dense, and shelf-stable, making them a non-perishable food staple. Favored by backpackers and hikers for high calorie snacking, they’re also great to have on hand in any situation, like having as a snack when you can’t leave your house. On average, nuts and seeds last about 4 months when kept at or near room temperature (depending on the nut).

Nut Butter 

A pantry essential. Remember to look at the ingredients on this product though – as it is known to sneak in funky ingredients like added sugar (a lot) and hydrogenated oils. Look for nut butters that have 1-2 ingredients – peanuts (or cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.), and salt (optional). Nuts have a ton of natural oil in them, so added oils are extremely unnecessary in this product.

Frozen Vegetables & Fruits

Really great to have during a lockdown, as fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t ideal, this is the next best thing. They can be used in nutrient-dense smoothies (here’s my favorite smoothie that includes frozen cauliflower rice), steamed for a side for dinner, or added on top of oatmeal. When choosing canned or frozen, opt for frozen. Canned fruits are usually soaked in syrup and veggies are loaded with sodium.

Eggs

While I know these aren’t non-perishable, eggs can last in your fridge for up to 5 weeks. So if you’re mandated to not leave your house for whatever reason – these are a cheap, nutrient-packed option to have on hand and will last you a good chunk of time.

Frozen meat

While obviously fresh, uncooked meat doesn’t last long in the fridge. It is smart to stock up on your choice of meats and store in the freezer – to have ready to pull out the night before you’re going to cook. I always have bacon and turkey sausages for easy breakfasts, salmon and chicken for dinners, and ground turkey and sausage to make homemade pasta sauces.

Pasta & Sauce

Whether you choose regular pasta, chickpea pasta, or black bean pasta – they’re a non-perishable essential to keep in the pantry. Jarred sauces will last in the pantry for up to one year unopened. Once you open a jar, if you’re unable to use the whole thing, you can put it in a freezer-friendly container and store in there until you’re ready to use the rest.

Canned Tuna or Salmon

Although fresh fish and poultry are packed with nutrients, they’re highly perishable – only lasting up to a couple days in the fridge uncooked.  All the same, canned varieties can be safely kept without refrigeration for long periods — up to 5 years at room temperature.

Protein Bars & Granola

Biggest tip for these non-perishables: Read. The. Ingredients. Look for a simple, short list of ingredients, no sugar added, and no hydrogenated oils. Keep an eye out for ingredients you can read and understand. Protein bars and granola are great, when done right. There are few and far between that meet those guidelines for me, but a few of my favorite brands for protein bars are: Lara Bars, Rx Bars, Go Macro, and Rawr Bars.

Dehydrated or canned soups

I try to choose dehydrated over canned from an ingredient standpoint. But nowadays there are many healthy canned soup options that aren’t loaded with preservatives and sodium. Both canned and dehydrated soups have a pretty long shelf life, so in uncertain times when you’re not sure when your next trip to the grocery store will be, these are essential.

For those who prefer to buy fresh for the most part, I understand that these times can be challenging and confusing! But know that you don’t have to resort to eating boxed and frozen meals that will throw you out of your routine. Stay healthy out there, folks. Let me know if I can help you during these times in any way!

 

xoxo,
Megan

Making a Superfood Salad

Making a Superfood Salad

Let’s be honest, some salad’s suck. Most of the time they’re made with bland, minimal ingredients with not a lot of nutritional value (romaine, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing go-er’s, I’m looking at you). If you’re one of those people saying “salads suck” or “I’m […]

The Skincare Routine That Healed My Skin

The Skincare Routine That Healed My Skin

I was made to believe I always had good skin, but that was just the Birth Control talking. I was on birth control for almost 16 years. I went on it went I was 15 years old, before I had even gone through puberty. My […]

Why I became A Health Coach

Why I became A Health Coach

“Why’d you decide to become a Health Coach?”

I get this question a lot.

So, here’s my story.

I went to college at the University of Minnesota, and I studied Public Health. I mostly chose that major because by year 3 of me still not knowing what I wanted to study and having changed my major 4 times, my dad was like, “hey, pick something to study, okay?” I knew I loved anatomy, and I have always been passionate about nutrition so I chose a major that would let me explore and take classes in both of those areas of study. Public Health is a very broad topic. I was able to take classes on epidemiology, eating disorders, nutrition, anatomy, death and dying (it was just as depressing as it sounds), and more. I actually ended up loving what I studied – so there’s that. But like most people, after graduation, I didn’t get a job that had anything to do with my degree. I went to work for a non-profit in their marketing department and then carried on working for a digital marketing agency in Minneapolis. The people that I worked with were great, but the work I was doing was not fulfilling to me.

I decided to enroll in IIN the week after I returned home from living in Southeast Asia while teaching English in Thailand for 7 months. Now, before I dive into the negative parts of that experience, I want you all to know that was one of the best times of my life and I wouldn’t take it back for anything, but I learned a lot about myself while living in Thailand. But the good didn’t come with some bad. I had been living there for only about 3 months when I missed my period – it never came. It actually didn’t come until I returned home to the states about 4 months later. My hair was falling out in clumps in the shower, I had no energy and was suffering from serious brain fog – to the point where I’d feel drunk when I was dead sober. My nails were breaking off and I’d have dark circles under my eyes everyday until about 2pm. I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater, so moving to a country that most meals consist of white rice, a meat, and a fruit rolled in sugar (I’m not kidding they roll their pineapple in sugar) was a severe shock to my system. I would ask for a salad when I’d go out to eat and they’d bring me shredded cabbage with mayo on it. My favorite food there was a dish called Som Tum which is a papaya salad, it’s delicious, but loaded with palm sugar. My body was completely lacking nutrients that it had been so used to getting daily for the last several years. Although I was by no means hungry, my body was essentially starving from the proper nutrients. As a result of lacking important nutrients, my body craved sugar. I’ve never had a sweet tooth in my entire life. I craved it so hard that I’d go to the convenience store down the street and stock up on peanut M&M’s and banana bread cakes and eat a disgusting amount in one sitting. The more that I consumed sugar, the more that I wanted it. I became so aware of not only how these dietary changes were morphing my body, but also my mental health.

Another reason I wanted to enroll in IIN, was not only to be able to educate and help others with their nutrition needs, but to help and educate myself. I’ve struggled with emotional eating disorder for a good portion of my 20’s – and still struggling with it today. When one consumes food that brings them joy (for me that’s usually pasta), your brain releases a chemical called Dopamine – which creates feelings of pleasure and reward. Dopamine is the same chemical that is released when you have sex, cuddle, and exercise. It is also released when you’re high on drugs such as Marijuana, MDMA, or Ecstasy. I found that when I had a negative change in mood, such as anxiety, sadness, or loneliness, I’d resort to eating foods that would give me a quick surge of Dopamine – which tend to be some unhealthy foods. I used food as a coping mechanism to distract myself and as a temporary relief from the negative emotion. Throughout my time at IIN I have learned a lot about this type of eating disorder, what triggers it for me personally, and healthier ways to cope with it instead of resorting to foods that I know will make me feel worse in the long run.

Now that I have a better understanding of how food impacts our physical and mental health, I feel confident that I can help people who struggle with the same things that I’ve been through. Whether that be strong food cravings, emotional eating, or just simply the need for better nutrition, I’d love to hear from you to find a way that we can work together.

xoxo,
Megan

My Experience With IIN

Some of the most common questions that I get regarding Health Coaching is about the school that I went through to get to where I am. I went to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition – an online-based Nutrition and Holistic Wellness school that set […]

My Morning Routine

My Morning Routine

Ah, mornings. You either love them or you hate them. I’ve grown to love the morning sunlight as I’ve taken it as an opportunity to set the tone for a new day. I have developed a routine that keeps me checking things off my to-do […]

Eat This, Not That.

Eat This, Not That.

I’ve recently been loving re-creating some of my favorite foods at home with healthier and more wholesome substitutes. It’s been a fun journey exploring how to incorporate new and better ingredients into foods I love to make me feel a little bit better about eating them! There are so many healthier alternatives to some of our favorite foods nowadays that have far more benefits than it’s original. I have found options that work better with my body and don’t leave me with negative side effects like brain fog and breakouts!

My favorite swaps:

Nut milk, not milk.

I was raised on milk. Seriously I think it was the only liquid I consumed for the first 25 years of my life. I’m not a vegan, but I cold turkey cut milk out of my diet when I started having horrible skin issues. I switched to nut milk about 2 years ago and I can’t stand the taste of real milk anymore. Dairy has been linked to attributing to acne for several years. The hormones that are pumped into dairy cows can very much so effect your hormones and confuse your endocrine system playing a role in your adult acne.  My favorite brands of nut milk are MALK and Elmhurst1952 or, even better, make your own at home! It’s so easy. Here is my favorite recipe for making at-home cashew milk.

Cacao, not cocoa.

Yes, they are different. Cacao is the raw form of cocoa. Cocoa packets that you buy in store for your cozy hot chocolate has a bunch of sugar and other unhealthy additives to give it a sweet flavor. Mixing raw cacao powder with some cashew milk and a bit of pure maple syrup and cinnamon can make for a delicious hot cacao, not hot cocoa. Cacao is the strongest natural anti-oxident found on the planet! So yes, it’s true that chocolate is good for you, just be sure you’re getting the right stuff. My favorite recipe for hot cacao includes cashew milk, cacao, maple syrup, maca, and cinnamon!

Natural sweeteners, not sugar.

Sugar is the anti-christ. An unhealthy amount of sugar is the root of an absurd amount of health issues ranging from leaky gut, insulin resistance, diabetes, inflammation, migraines, mood swings, and more. STOP EATING WHITE SUGAR. I cannot stress this enough. Read your labels, look at the added sugar amounts in products your buying, become aware, and educate yourself. Using natural sweeteners such as dates, pure maple syrup, honey, and stevia can add the perfect amount of sweetness to your dishes, without giving you any of the health issues or spikes and crashes that sugar can cause.

Alternative pasta, not regular pasta.

There’s no excuses anymore to be eating regular pasta. There are so many different options at health food stores that have a much higher nutritional value than regular pasta. As a matter of fact, regular pasta really has not an ounce of nutritional value. It is a refined carbohydrate which eventually breaks down into sugar in your blood – giving you the same reaction as pure. white. sugar. Pasta was and still is my absolute favorite food on the planet. I’ve always said if I had to choose my last meal it’d be spaghetti. But after doing a bit of research, going back to school, and educating myself on how pasta actually breaks down in our bodies, I’ve made a healthier switch when I choose to indulge in pasta. Spaghetti squash, zoodles, or chickpea, quinoa, and lentil pasta are all better options than the norm. Although, still not great to eat on a daily basis (spaghetti squash and zoodles are okay – eat your heart out), it is a much better option on those days when you’re looking for a spaghetti fix.

Cauliflower rice, not white rice.

Was hoping that Chipotle was going to catch onto this trend but I’m done getting my hopes up. Stir fries, burrito bowls, and curry are a staple in my house. They’re quick and easy to make in bulk for me to have leftovers for the week. Only problem is all three of these dishes are usually paired with rice. But, like pasta, white rice breaks down in your body to sugar. Over the years, I have learned to love cauliflower rice and it has become the norm for my body to have that instead of white rice. It has a very low caloric value compared to rice, meaning you can eat a lot more of it and consume less calories, and it also has more nutritional value than rice. Cauliflower is rich in fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Magnesium.

These are all great ideas and a great start to making some healthier and more conscious decisions in your kitchen! For these items, I’m not saying you should never have the *real* thing, but instead, see it it as a treat. Consuming the original items on a regular basis can cause health implications such as acne, leaky gut, and inflammation. Next time you go to grab something on the NOT list, reach for the THIS list instead!

xoxo,
Megan

Simple Tips For A Healthy Vacation

Simple Tips For A Healthy Vacation

Traveling is meant to be a fun experience, but sometimes after a weekend (or week) of over-indulging in food and drinks, the flight or drive home can become a ride-of-shame. To avoid this nagging feeling of guilt, it’s important to stay mindful of your day-to-day […]