Flower Child Granola

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A delicious twist on your classic granola, this baby is gluten, grain, and refined sugar free! Created in partnership with LINNÉ Botanicals using ingredients from the incredible RENEW face serum (one of my all-time favorite products!).

Whether used on your skin or in your breakfast bowl, the ingredients used in this recipe and LINNÉ’s lush face serum have been shown to strengthen capillaries, build collagen, reduce free radical damage, lessen hyperpigmentation and reduce inflammation. The amazing pink tones in the milk come from the wonderful antioxidants found in the rose hip and hibiscus—color = nutrition!

Think it’s weird to eat your beauty products? Think again: if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, why would you put in on your face? Our skin is our largest organ, and the ingredients used in our beauty products should be treated with the same amount of scrutiny as we do our food.


RECIPE: Flower Child Granola

Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 cups of nuts/seeds (almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts)

1 cup coconut flakes

¼ cup sea buckthorn

¼ cup cacao nibs

¼ cup rosehip (soaked for 1 hour)

¼ cup hibiscus (soaked for 1 hour)

¼ cup goji berries (soaked for 1 hour)

2 tbsp sesame seeds

½ cup ground flax

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup honey

½ cup coconut oil

MAKE IT

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Add dry ingredients (nuts, seeds, salt, turmeric and botanicals) to a bowl and mix. Next, add honey, coconut oil and vanilla to a small sauce pan and whisk to combine. Pour mixture over dry ingredients, and stir to coat, then spread granola out on your baking sheet and sprinkle with maldon sea salt. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. Check the oven 25 minutes in, and give your granola a good stir.

When your granola is finished let chill completely to set. Store in an airtight container for 7-10 days. 


 

Best Paleo Bread Ever (Gluten, Grain, & Lactose Free)

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Make all your avocado toast, peanut butter and banana, and runny egg yolk dreams come true with this super simple, delicious grain free bread recipe. I like to top mine with a heaping sprinkle of everything bagel spice or some sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but that’s just me. The options are endless. You do you.

This bread is also RASA Challenge approved. Whoop whoop!


RECIPE: PALEO BREAD

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Makes 8-10 slices 

INGREDIENTS

½ cup coconut flour

¼ cup ground flax

2 ½ cups almond flour

6 organic pasture-raised eggs

4 organic pasture-raised egg whites

½ cup ghee (+ more for greasing the loaf pan)*

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Everything bagel spice

MAKE IT

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and generously grease a 9 inch loaf pan with ghee.

Mix almond flour, flax, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and sesame seeds in medium sized bowl, and whisk to combine. Next, add all wet ingredients, eggs, ghee (melted) and apple cider vinegar into a high speed blender and blend until frothy.

Fold egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Pour into loaf pan, and give it a couple good taps on the counter to settle and ensure there aren’t any bubbles in the dough. Generously top with everything bagel spice or a sprinkle of maldon sea salt, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester or knife comes out clean.

* Can sub ghee with coconut oil or regular butter, but I like ghee.


 

Five Spice Gingersnap Cookies

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A tasty twist on a holiday classic, these grain free cookies do not disappoint. Made without eggs or refined sugars, these little nuggets were coined by a friend as “ghee-gan” (meaning vegan but with ghee). Enjoy! xx

 

RECIPE: FIVE SPICE GINGERSNAP COOKIES


Makes: 10-12 cookies

Time: 30 minutes (plus chill time)

INGREDIENTS

1 flax egg (1tbsp of flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup almond butter

3 tbsp molasses

1/2 cup ghee 

3/4 cup paleo flour (I like bob’s red mill)

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp five spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla

MAKE IT!

1. Put flax and water in mixing bowl, stir to combine and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Add almond butter, coconut sugar, ghee, molasses and vanilla, and beat with a hand mixer or kitchen aid until well combined.

3. Mix flours, spices, salt and baking soda together and slowly incorporate into mixture.

4. Let chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheet with parchment.

6. Scoop our 1-2 tbsp of dough and flatten in disks (about the size of a golf ball).

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until springy in the middle but firm on the outside.

HERBED TAHINI DIP

If you’re over hummus, but not over carrot sticks, this recipe is your new go to. Tahini and cumin give this dip an exotic flavor, while the lemon juice and fresh herbs add brightness, zest, and a slew of vitamins and minerals. Use leftovers to top salads or drizzle over roasted vegetables.

This recipe is not only delicious for BBQs and dinner parties, but is great for meal prep and totally RASA Challenge approved.


RECIPE: HERBED TAHINI DIP

INGREDIENTS

Crudités

2-3 cups mixed crudité (carrot, celery, endive, bell pepper, cucumber, jicama)

Herbed Tahini Dip

1 cup tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup parsley, washed and roughly chopped

½ cup cilantro, washed and roughly chopped

¼ cup dill, washed and roughly chopped

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1-2 garlic cloves (depending on how much garlic you like)

¼ cup water

MAKE IT

Add parsley, dill, cilantro and garlic into food processor (stems are great and super nutrition, so don’t discard them!). If you’re missing an herb, don’t fret, and just use what you have. It will be delicious.

Pulse for about 30 seconds. Add tahini salt and cumin, continue to pulse until well combined. Slowly add water and blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add more water, if needed, it should be the consistency of greek yogurt.

Serve with mixed crudité as an appetizer or afternoon snack. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Photo Credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

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What if I told you that I had a recipe for a creamy decadent whipped cream that was 100% sugar, dairy free and RASA Challenge-approved? Well, hi. Here it is. This coconut cream has become a staple in my household. I put it on top of everything: fruit, coffee, a plain old spoon, you name it.  This luscious blend also works great as a frosting for your favorite cake, and will stay thick and fresh in the fridge for about a week.


RECIPE: COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

INGREDIENTS

1 can organic unsweetened full fat coconut milk (get the BPA free can – not trying to put any chemicals in my whip)

½ tsp vanilla extract or fresh vanilla

MAKE IT

Refrigerate coconut milk overnight. When ready to whip, throw the bowl and beater from your Kitchen Aid or hand held beaters into the freezer for about 10 minutes to make sure everything is nice and cool.

When you open your coconut milk, a thick cream should have formed separate from a clear(ish) liquid. The cream is what we want. Scoop into a bowl and reserve the liquid; you can drink it, or add to a smoothie – it’s essentially coconut water.

Whip cream and vanilla on high for a few minutes or until it gets nice and thick. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware and store in the fridge until ready to consume.

Photo credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

Debunking Calories: Why You Should Stop Counting

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Are you a calorie counter? At RASA, we emphasize quality over quantity and do not believe in dietary restrictions (this means no calorie counting!). For many, this idea is difficult to grasp. I get it: our diet culture and the accepted weight loss formula eat less, move more is hard to shake. But these concepts, as ingrained in us as there are, don’t work. Obesity is increasingly a major public health concern and whether you’re looking to lose 5 or 50 pounds, for most people, a restrictive eating approach does not offer a long term solution.

So what’s the alternative? In order to lose weight and keep it off, we need to change our relationship with food. When you discover nutrient rich foods that taste as good as they are for you, you will start to naturally favor those options and eliminate the need to diet or reduce intake. And there’s science to back this up too. A recent study showed that people who focused on quality foods, without counting calories or restricting portion size, consistently lost weight and, by developing healthy lifestyle changes, were able to keep it off (1).

Not only is calorie counting a flawed exercise, but it’s also not sustainable. If you’re still not convinced, here are a few other reasons to ditch the practice:

1. Calories don’t take nutrition into account.

The standard American diet is energy-rich and nutrient-poor (2). Think about it: 200 calories of carrots is very different from the equivalent amount of Twix bars. When you consume a balanced diet, you will feel more satisfied by your meals, reduce cravings, have more energy and hopefully get adequate micro and macro nutrients that every cell in your body needs to function.

2. Calories oversimplify how our bodies ingest food

There are many different metabolic signals that influence how we digest, absorb and eliminate the foods we eat (3). Calories are just one of these measurements, and solely focusing on this number is a gross oversimplification of our bodies and our metabolism.

3. A calorie is not a calorie. 

The caloric value of food is determined by the type of food, how it’s cooked, what it’s consumed with, the bacteria in our gut and other factors (4). That means the true number of calories in any given food is a little more fluid than the fixed figure we see on nutrition labels. Plus, we all break down food differently, so 100 calories for one person might be slightly more or less for the next.

4. Long term caloric restriction can slow metabolism. 

Meaning your body will need less calories to function then it previously did, which increases your chance of gaining any weight lost back and makes it harder to lose again when you do. Metabolic adaptation is a biological advantage, essentially lowering our energy requirements in the absence of food (5). When you’re doing this for diet purposes, however, and plan to return to a more caloric eating plan, you will likely gain the weight back—and perhaps then some.

5. Many nutrition labels are just wrong. 

We’re not even counting with the right numbers, guys! Most nutrition labels are based on averages and don’t consider the complexity of the digestion process (4). Plus, how can you know how many calories are in foods when we dine out? These numbers are just not realistic, a guesstimate at best.

6. Restrictive eating patterns can make you eat more.

Evidence shows that people who restrain their eating habits consistently underestimate calorie counts and are more likely to binge (6). Full stop.

If you are a calorie counter not getting the results you are looking for, try shifting your focus from energy to nutrient value. When we eat more nutritious foods and limit energy dense ones (i.e. processed foods, refined grains, sugar and other empty calories), our bodies will naturally regulate without the need to whip out our calculators. Plus, it is an abundantly more enjoyable way to live.

Looking for a jump start? Get in touch for a free consultation or sign up for a RASA Challenge, 10 and 21 day whole foods resets—the perfect way to ignite healthy routines and discover nutrient rich foods you love.

 

REFERENCES: 

1.     Gardner, C. D., Trepanowski, J. F., Gobbo, L. C. D., Hauser, M. E., Rigdon, J., Ioannidis, J. P. A., … King, A. C. (2018). Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 319(7), 667–679. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.0245

 

2.     Drewnowski, A. (2005). Concept of a nutritious food: toward a nutrient density score. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(4), 721–732. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/82.4.721

 

3.     Jacobs, H. L., & Sharma, K. N. (1969). Taste Versus Calories: Sensory and Metabolic Signals in the Control of Food Intake*. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 157(2), 1084–1125. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1969.tb12939.x

 

4. Dunn, R. (n.d.). Science Reveals Why Calorie Counts Are All Wrong. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0913-56

 

5.     Redman, L. M., Heilbronn, L. K., Martin, C. K., Jonge, L. de, Williamson, D. A., Delany, J. P., … Team, for the P. C. (2009). Metabolic and Behavioral Compensations in Response to Caloric Restriction: Implications for the Maintenance of Weight Loss. PLOS ONE, 4(2), e4377. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004377

 

6.     PsycNET. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2018, from http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/1983-00242-001

 

Photo credit: Pinterest 

 

 

 

 

PEPINO MARGARITA

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Hello long weekend! Not sure about you guys, but I would like to lament the end of summer with an umbrella-worthy drink. Most cocktails, hate to break it to you, are full of sugar, which is really a recipe for a hangover, inflammation and feeling like crap the next day.

Tequila has long been my DOC. It's one of the cleanest liquors you can drink and the only that won't put you to sleep. If you had a bad experience in college, hear me out: we're not taking shots anymore. That's over. Savor a tequila or two (sans the sweet and sour mix) instead of beer, wine, G&Ts or whatever you normally imbibe, and you will feel much better the next day. Trust me!

It may come as no surprise that when I make a cocktail, it's green and includes a serving of vegetables. The cucumber in this bad boy is incredibly refreshing, hydrating and frankly delightful, and the basil gives it an herbaceous twist. 

I'm by no means a mixologist, and didn't invent this cocktail, but this is a health(ier) version of one of my favorites, and I think its damn good. Enjoy!


RECIPE: PEPINO MARGARITA

Makes two cocktails

INGREDIENTS

1 medium cucumber, peeled

1/2 cup filtered water

Juice of 1 lime

2 shots (about 3 ounces total) of tequila - I like Casa Dragones' Blanco, but choose your poison!

1 tsp diced jalapeño (optional)

2 basil leaves

2 ribbons of cucumber (use a mandolin or vegetable peeler)

MAKE IT
Add cucumber, lime juice and water into a high speed blender. Blend for about 20-30 seconds. Add to a shaker with tequila and jalapeño (if you like it spicy) and pour over ice into a glass. You can top it with some soda water if you want to dilute it a little.

Garnish with a basil leaf and a cucumber ribbon, if you're going for that fancy feel. 

 

Photo credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

 

 

 

TARRAGON SALSA VERDE

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I love an herby sauce. If you want to make an otherwise basic meal of protein and veg look, feel and taste fancy, then you have to try this. This recipe was inspired by my favorite dish at Lilia in Williamsburg; a baked potato topped with flakey white fish and drenched in the most delightful tarragon sauce. I literally was dreaming about it, so instead of waiting 3 hours for a table, I threw some tarragon in the food processor with some other choice ingredients, and voila!, craving sorted.

Tarragon has a strong distinct and wonderful flavor, so a little goes a long way. Use this on top of fish, chicken, vegetables or eggs to add zest and nutrition.


RECIPE: TARRAGON SALSA VERDE

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes about 1 cup of sauce

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup tarragon

1 cup parsley

1 medium shallot

¾ cup good quality olive oil

1 tbsp capers

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

1 tsp lemon zest

Juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper

MAKE IT

Add tarragon, parsley, shallot, garlic, lemon zest and capers to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not purees. Don’t worry too much about the stems of the tarragon and parsley, as they have nutrition too! If you don't have a food processor, you can just finely chop these ingredients and add them together. 

Next whisk together mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. Add to food processor and give it a pulse or two to combine to pulse until fully combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

 

 

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR MAKEUP BAG? 5 CLEAN BEAUTY ESSENTIALS

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Full disclosure, I’ve never been good at putting on makeup. I‘ve had my moments—there was a weird liquid eyeliner stage and I even once owned lip liner, but thank god neither of those trends lasted long. My makeup bag is small but mighty, and over the past couple of years I’ve managed to switch entirely to clean beauty products (meaning no toxins!).

Unfortunately, many modern and name brand beauty products are full of chemicals and dyes that are not only harmful to our skin, but are also endocrine disruptors that accumulate in our bodies and can be detrimental to our health. Gross. Whether you're already on the clean beauty train or are looking to make the switch, here are a few of my tried and true favorite products that even my more makeup-inclined friends swear by.

1. Ilia Mascara

When Laney from The Moment tells you to get something, you get it! I had tried a few different non-toxic mascaras, they got the job done, but none of them were amazing. Ilia’s Pure Mascara is different—its non-toxic formula of aloe extract and avocado oil nourishes your lashes and is as strong as any on the market.

2. Kosas Lipstick & Cream Blush

Fun, vibrant colors are probably not the first thing that come to mind when you think of a non-toxic lipstick or blush, but Kosas has managed to produce just that. With a variety of bold colors and chic packaging, these lipsticks and cream blushes are great for everyday or a night out.

3. Juice Beauty CC Cream & Concealer

Made with organic ingredients that tout anti-aging benefits, Juice Beauty’s CC Cream (with SPF 30) is perfect for everyday protection and coverage. The concealer—made of pure coconut oil—is great for any imperfections and blemishes.

4. Maya Chia Highlight of the Day

These little bottles of shimmery goodness are great for adding a little glow to a no-fuss makeup routine. I use the “After Hour” shade for a bronzing effect, but they’re all glorious!

5. Cap Beauty The Anointing Oil

When your perfume doubles as a mood booster, you know you’ve found your scent. I bring my roll on bottle with me everywhere because it smells as good as it makes me feel.

 

 

CUCUMBER VANILLA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

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Unfortunately, smoothies are often just a pseudonym (slash coverup) for milkshakes. We can call it good marketing, but I find it pretty misleading and messed up! Admittedly, I can be a little crazy about reading labels and scrutinizing ingredients, primarily because I can't stand being tricked into eating something naughty that I think is healthy. If I'm going to have a milkshake, I'd rather just get a real milkshake! Maybe one with coconut ice cream, but still...you get the point. I don't need one after my morning spin class. 

I fell in love with this smoothie at Kreation in LA and have tried to recreate it here, since we don't have one in New York (wink wink, Kreation). Cucumber might sound like an odd smoothie ingredient, but you're just going to have to trust me on this one; it gives the blend some girth and a ton of hydration. 

I used Sunwarrior's Warrior Blend in vanilla, but if there's another vanilla protein you like, give it a try. Just be sure to read the label!

This smoothie is sugar free and 100% RASA Challenge approved. 


CUCUMBER VANILLA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

½ cup spinach

½ medium cucumber, peeled

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup non dairy milk

MAKE IT

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

 

 

Photo Credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

Why You Should Keep A Food Diary

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The very first activity I ask all my clients to do—yes, before hitting the gym or the farmer's market—is start a food diary. I like to understand someone’s eating patterns, likes and dislikes before making any suggestions, but I actually find journaling to be even more helpful and eye opening as a personal exercise.

The best way to change behavior is to pay attention to your actions. Studies show that self-monitoring (like food journaling) consistently leads to weight loss and more sustainable lifestyle alternations. Just writing down what you eat gives you more discipline and makes you more mindful and aware of your food choices, which leads to results.

When keeping a food diary, it’s important not to shame any of your choices, but instead interpret and learn from them. Did you do deep dive for the bread basket at dinner because you hadn’t eaten anything since lunch? Do you tend to crave sugar all day when you have oatmeal for breakfast? Do you eat more when you take a 6am spin class or have a bad night sleep? None of these things are “bad”. It’s actually really good to take note of where your food choices are not serving you and find productive ways to improve them without having to sacrifice too much of your lifestyle.

Often what we eat is less important than why or how. If we can better understand the nuances behind what drives what we eat, we can start creating more sustainable habits the promote healthier foods that support our wellness goals. 

How to start? You can get an app, take notes on your phone, or keep an old school journal. Here is the template that I use with my clients. Try it for a week and get your friends and family on board. Sharing your food diaries also helps keep you accountable. Feel free to share/tag me on Instagram (@the_rasa_life) if you want any feedback or have questions.


FOOD DIARY TEMPLATE

Breakfast

Time:

Food/Bev:

Lunch

Time:

Food/Bev:

Snack

Time:

Food/Bev:

Dinner

Time:

Food/Bev:

Questions/comments

How do you feel today?

What is one thing that went well?

How did you sleep last night?

Exercise:

Comments/notes:


Photo credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

TRAVEL GUIDE: BARCELONA

Barcelona is a city close to my heart—I spent a magical year there when I was 19, roaming beaches on the Costa Brava, staying up all night (ooops) and eating tapas to no end. Recently, I went back for the first time in over a decade (gasp!) and while so much about the architecture, old barrios and even some of the restaurants were so familiar, I was absolutely enthralled by the city’s thriving wellness scene. Here are a few of my top spots:

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EAT

Flax & Kale: It sounds healthy, and it is. There are a couple of locations of this all-day café, and it’s just perfect when you need a big old salad or want a gluten free croissant. The paleo bread and all the desserts are f****** good. Carrer dels Tallers, 74b

The Green Spot: The sweet potato tagliatelle at this super chic vegetarian restaurant is next level. Literally insane. Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12

Mont Bar: Perfect for date night. This sultry little corner churns out some excellent food, with local wines to boot. Carrer de la Diputació, 220

Bar Brutal: A local favorite. Literally, all the locals recommended this place. Natural wines, tasty food, no frills. Can’t beat it. Carrer de la Princesa, 14

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SLEEP

Soho House: This place is heaven! The design is eclectic, homey and original, and the service gets an A+. Awesome location near all the action of the El Borne and Barrio Gotico areas. Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli, 4

AirBnB: There are so many killer apartments to rent in Barcelona (like this one or this one). Fun way to get a taste of what it’s like to actually live there.

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SHOP

Mi Vintage: A gem of a vintage shop with some serious finds. El Borne, Carrer dels Canvis Nous, 2

Clay: Located in the trendy El Borne area, this lifestyle shop stocks Mens and Women’s clothing international brands like Ganni and You Must Create as well as a collection of killer ceramics that will make you want to get a freight to carry it all home. Banys Vells 11

Antique Boutique: The coolest homewares store in town! We scored two amazing ceramic lamps that by the grace of god made it back to New York unscathed. Carrer de Sèneca, 16

Wer-Haus: Rad concept store with matchas, art books and men’s clothing. Carrer d'Aragó, 287


CULTURE

Picasso Museum: Worth it! Buy your tickets in advance and go during siesta, since there is nothing else to do. Carrer Montcada, 15-23

La Boqueria: The holy grail of farmer’s market. If you’re lucky enough to be there in the fall, they have the most incredible selection of setas (wild mushrooms). La Rambla, 91

 

How Much (if Any!) Meat Should We Really Eat?

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Meat is controversial; from raw vegans to hard core paleo dieters, there are arguments for both sides of the spectrum from health and environmental points of view. As a nutritionist, meat eaters often assume that I am vegetarian and plant-eaters worry that I am not. In truth, I'm neither. RASA was founded on the belief that we are all unique individuals; we have different preferences, lifestyles and moral/ethical values. Vegetables are my favorite food, so if you’re vegetarian/vegan and feeling good, keep doing that. I’m into it! 

Biologically speaking, humans are omnivores and benefit from eating some animal protein, whether it be from fish, poultry, eggs, red meat or dairy. But when it comes to eating meat, I have saying: eat better, eat less. Here’s why:

QUALITY MATTERS!

It matters so so much. The food industry (especially in the US) is f*ed up, and we eat what the animals we eat ate. If you don’t want to eat genetically modified corn and soybeans, you shouldn’t eat animals that were fed that. So if you’re not 100% sure of the quality, I would say you’re better off not eating it. Here is what to look for when buying animal products:

  • Seafood: Wild fish and seafood ONLY! Nothing farmed. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is an excellent resource to learn more about the quality of seafood, what to buy and what to avoid, and includes informational on the environmental impact on seafood consumption.
  • Eggs: Buying eggs is like going to the bookstore, so many covers/labels, it’s insane (WHY???). Look for organic, pasture-raised eggs. They do not need to be vegetarian (chickens are omnivores, just like us), or porch raised or free range…look specifically for pasture-raised. The yolk should be bright orange.
  • Poultry: When buying chicken or duck, you should also look out for organic, pasture-raised animals. Free range means nothing.
  • Meat: For red meat, look for all grass fed. Unfortunately, the label “grass fed” can literally mean that the animal was fed grass once in its life. Horrible and shameful, if you ask me. Cows were meant to eat grass. The meat from grass fed cows is high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, while the meat from cows fed corn, soy and hormones is full of highly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

EAT LESS

We need some animal protein, but not as much as you might think. Our body is constantly breakdown and rebuilding, and protein plays an important role in pretty much every single biological process and cell. Your vegan friends are right: vegetables are full of protein too! Nuts, seeds, legumes, even broccoli are all great sources of protein. These awesome foods don’t, however, provide all the essential amino acids (i.e. the ones our body can’t make on its own), so we need to supplement our vibrant plant-based diet with a little animal protein. The best way to think of meat is as a condiment, not the main event. So how much is that? I would say 3 ounces or less per meal (about the size of a deck of cards) and not necessarily with every meal. 

Bottom line: if you eat meat, be mindful of the quality and don’t go overboard. Paying attention to the quality and quantity of your meat intake is not just good for your body, but for the environment as well. I love roasting a chicken and having it for the week. It’s economical, delicious and the bones can be used for broth. Here is my perfect roast chicken recipe from the spring RASA Challenge.

 

 

Perfect Roast Chicken

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Roasting a chicken can be intimidating, but it’s actually really easy and great for leftovers. Make sure to buy organic, pasture raised chicken and save your bones for broth!

PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN

Serves 4
Prep Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

1 organic, pasture raised chicken

½ cup coconut oil or ghee, melted

1 lemon

½ head garlic

Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Salt and pepper

MAKE IT!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Take chicken out of the fridge to prep and get up to room temperature before cooking.

Place chicken on a cutting board. Pat dry with a paper towel. The dryer the chicken the crispier it will get.  Using a sharp knife, and with the chicken breast side up, cut the loose skin between the breast and the leg so that the chicken can lay flat. Next, generously season with salt and pepper. Really get in there, making sure to season both sides of the chicken and the cavity. 

Place chicken in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Cut a lemon and head of garlic in half. Place half of the garlic head and both sides of the lemon alongside the chicken. Add fresh rosemary, if using. Cover with melted coconut oil or ghee.

Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is nice and brown and the juices run clear. If the juices are still a little pink, cook a bit longer, checking every 5 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes after taking out of the oven. You can eat it right away with roasted garlic and lemon, or cool and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Don't forget to save your bones for broth!

 
 

TRAVEL GUIDE: MEXICO CITY

Almost ubiquitously, the first thing I was told about Mexico City was that it was unsafe; I should be careful and not wear jewelry. I expected a busy, sprawling metropolis of Vespa smoke and cartel action, but I experienced none of that. Mexico City is green, lush and surprisingly quiet. The people are lovely and hospitable, and the food is some of the best I’ve had. Ever.

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STAY

Condesa DF: A trendy boutique hotel in a killer location. The rooms are just OK (in my opinion), but the area is awesome, and the rooftop bar is not to be missed. Av. Veracruz 102, Roma Norte

AirBnB: Live like a local in an charming apartment like this or this one. If you don't speak Spanish, you may want to stay in a hotel (unless you're up for a real adventure!).

Four Seasons: The hotel itself is a little bigger and more corporate than what I normally like, but the concierge is top notch and super helpful. The rooftop gym and pool is also a plus. Paseo de la Reforma 500, Cuauhtémoc


EAT

Páramo: If you like tacos, this is the spot for you! If you don’t like tacos, I’m really not sure why you’re reading this. Go with a group so you can try as many things as possible. The guacamole is by far the best I’ve had in my life. Nothing beats a ripe avocado. Treat yourself to a mezcal pepita, which is basically a refreshing cucumber margarita. You can ask for it sin azuca as well. Av. Yucatan 84, Roma Norte

Contramar: WORTH THE HYPE. This place is so darn fun and the tuna tostadas are next level! Make it a late lunch / early dinner and go around 4pm. Make a reservation or be prepared to wait. And don’t miss out on their famous two colored whole fish. Calle de Durango 200, Roma Norte

Rosetta: Italian with a Mexican twist. This place is soooo gorgeous. Soaring ceilings, lots of plants and incredible details. The food is just as wonderful as the setting . Perfect for date night. Colima 166, Col. Roma Norte

Lardo: The sister restaurant to Rosetta is slightly more casual but just as good (maybe even better). Excellent for lunch or dinner, this may be the spot to throw your gluten free ways out the window for a few hours. The house-made flat bread is out of this world. Agustín Melgar 6, Condesa

Huset: An incredible garden setting with an equally incredible menu of elevated Mexican favorites. The tuna tartar might sound basic, but it was anything but. Colima 256, Roma Norte

Pujol: This place is fancy pants, but a super fun experience if you want to try upscale Mexican food. Tennyson 133, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc

mexico city_food

SHOP

Void: Maybe the best vintage shop I’ve ever been to. Full stop. Situated in a charming house, the kitchen is decked with bootleg Gucci jumpers from the 80s and there is an entire Chanel room. Swoon! Calle Parral 5, Condesa

El Bazaar Sabado: Come for the art, stay for the food. The Saturday market is such a fun activity, filled with amazing and well-priced art that make the perfect souvenirs and gifts. Plaza San Jacinto 11, San Ángel TNT, San Ángel

Onora: Ceramic heaven! This place stocks a ton of traditional and chic home décor items from all over Mexico. Lope de Vega 330, Polanco, Polanco V Secc

mexico city

DO

Temples: Kind of a trek from town, but the temples are truly mind blowing. Don’t skimp and get the tour guide. Worth it.

Run, walk: I was surprised how lush and residential Mexico City is. The perfect city for a run outdoors or to walk around all day.

 

 

Intermittent Fasting 101

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There's been a lot of hype around Intermittent Fasting lately. So, what is it, how do you do it, and should you try it? Read on to find out if incorporating an Intermittent Fasting routine might work for you.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

If you sleep, you fast. Unless you get up in the night to eat, we’re all practicing intermittent fasting every day. That’s actually where the word breakfast comes from. You’re literally breaking your fast.

Intermittent fasting is kind of the opposite of dieting. While I always recommend following a healthy, balanced diet, you actually do not need to restrict food quantity or count calories to get the benefits of fasting.

While it’s become a trendy topic in the wellness scene as of late, fasting is not new. In fact, many cultures have a long history of fasting; Lent, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and other religious holidays also incorporate fasting into their rituals.

What Happens When You Fast?

Your body needs a constant supply of glucose for brain, muscle and cellular function. In a fed state, this comes from the food we eat. When you fast, your body uses up all the dietary glucose, then it hits up your glycogen stores, and then dives into your fat stores to create ketones that fuel your brain, muscle and all the other tissues and organs that need energy. Ketones are incredibly efficient fuel source and don’t effect blood sugar levels.

Fasting is also like a daily detox for your body. The time and energy you’re not expending digesting food allows your body to work on eliminating toxins and cellular repair.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits and experience of Intermittent Fasting are going to be different for everyone. Here are just a few of my observations drawing from personal experience, my client work and scientific journals on the subject.

1.     Manage Cravings

Fasting eliminates feelings of hunger that result from low blood sugar. Breakfast foods—think oatmeal, cereal, muffins, fruit, even smoothies (gasp!)—are often carbohydrate-heavy and cause a spike in blood sugar levels. When you’re blood sugar levels raise early in the day, your body starts to ride a rollercoaster of sugar cravings all day to try and maintain those elevated levels.

2.     Become More Aware of Hunger Cues

Often times, we perceive feelings of thirst, fatigue, boredom or perhaps even a stomach growl as hunger, but we’re actually not hungry. Biologically, we were made to withstand weeks without food (btw I don’t recommend this). Compared with dieting, which studies show to increase hunger and cravings, fasting can help you get in touch with your hunger cues, have more willpower, and become more satisfied with your meals so you don’t overeat. 

3.     Cell Maintainance

During a fed state (i.e. when you’re not fasting), your body expends over half of its energy digesting food. That’s a lot of work! When you’re fasting, your body can allocate those resources to other functions. This is important for reducing oxidative stress, eliminating toxins, keeping your immune system healthy and improving biomarkers for disease.

4.     Regulate Hormones

Fasting can help increase insulin sensitivity, which regulates hunger and fat storage, and also increases the amount of HGH (human growth hormone) that you produce. HGH helps build muscles, burn fat, increase bone density, improve your sleep, elevate your mood and reduce signs of aging (yes, please!).

5.     Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting has been shown as an effective weight loss tool, without the need for dieting. Also, when you crave less sweets, are more in tune with your hunger cues and have healthy hormone levels, you will naturally lose weight (if that’s your goal) without any tedious calorie restriction/counting.

6.     Brain Function

Fasting has been shown to improve and preserve learning and memory function.

 

How to fast?

There are many different methods of intermittent fasting. Here are a few of them in detail:

Time restricted fasting. This means an overnight fast of a minimum of 12 hours, but up to 18 or 20 hours of fasting. This works for me and many of my clients, and is relatively easy. Eat dinner earlier and breakfast a little later. There's a good chance you already do a 12 hour fast a few times a week (dinner by 8pm, breakfast at 8am). You can experiment with different fasting periods a couple of days per week, or you can go on a 16:8 or 18:6 eating schedule, which means 16 or 18 hours in a fasting state and 6 or 8 hours in a fed state. 

Alternate day fasting. This means severe calorie restriction (under 500 calories) two non consecutive days a week. In my opinion this is too hard for most people, and the idea is not to be starving, grumpy, or hangry, but to find a way where fasting can seamlessly integrate in your normal life.

Daylight only. This means only eat during daylight hours. I like the idea of this, but I also like to go out to dinner after 6pm, so for me, this is no go.

What can you have while you fast?

I’ve seen some conflicting literature on this, but I go by the under 50 calorie rule. That means, black coffee, tea/matcha (with water), a little kombucha (check labels for sugar content!), bone broth and water. You could even put a pinch of stevia or a splash of milk in your hot drinks. Bulletproof coffees, while great for many reasons, do not count as fasting.

Working out in a fasted state.

Can you work out while you’re fasting? That’s a resounding YES. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have, especially when you are fueling your body with adequate protein and healthy fats. Depending on the type of exercise you do, you may feel like you don’t get as strong a workout in a fasted state, but everyone is different.

You can also take BCAAs to give your muscles an extra boost. Make sure to read labels, as a lot of the BCAAs are full of artificial sweeteners. I like THIS brand, which is stevia sweetened. You can also find a raw one, but the taste is a little harsh.

Who shouldn’t fast.

Pregnant women, anyone with fertility issues or who have experienced disordered eating should not fast. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If fasting makes you a hangry a-hole, don’t do it. And if you’re not sure, ask your doctor.

The bottom line.

There are lots of different fasting methods, but it all kind of boils down to this: eat well most of the time, indulge occasionally and give your body ample time to rest by fasting a couple of times a week. If you’re interested, try it! You certainly do not have to do it every day.

Start with 12 hours and see how you do. I’ve found that it gets easier the more I do it. But, as with all things nutrition, it works for some people, and not for others.

Xx Mia

 

Walnut & Kale Stem Pesto

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Stems are underrated. Why do we only eat the leaves? There is so much nutrition in the stems of vegetables and herbs (parsley, broccoli, kale!), it’s such a waste to toss them.

If you’ve ever used kale for salads or sautés, you’ve probably had leftover stems. This recipe is a quick, easy and nutritious way to make use of your scraps. I love serving it with kelp noodles (pictured here) for a light lunch or alongside salmon or chicken. Also great with crudité.

Walnuts are high in omega 3s and protein, giving this pesto a nice nutty flavor and anti-inflammatory boost. I’ve also made this with almonds, and it came out great.

Pecorino is a great substitute for parmesan, as it’s made from sheep instead of cow’s milk, which I find a bit easier on the digestive system for anyone with diary sensitivities. If you want to make this recipe vegan (or RASA Challenge-approved), omit the cheese and add a little extra salt or nutritional yeast.

This delicious pesto is pictured here with kelp noodles. A delicious pasta alternative, and great vehicle for this creamy sauce. Soak your kelp noodles in water with a pinch of sea salt and lemon juice for a few minutes before dressing.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes about 1 cup of pesto

RECIPE: WALNUT & KALE STEM PESTO

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of fresh basil, loosely packed

1 cup of kale stems (or whatever you have on hand!)

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup of olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp lemon zest

1 clove of garlic

Small chunk of pecorino cheese (about 1 inch)

1 tablespoon filtered water

Salt and pepper to taste

MAKE IT

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. If your pesto is too thick, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

 

Matcha Pear Smoothie

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Great for breakfast or an afternoon snack, this high energy smoothie gives you a full serving of greens, healthy fats and an anti-inflammatory kick! Protein powder goes really well in this shake, but is totally optional. Enjoy as the last of winter pears are still at the market.

RASA Challenge-approved too!

MATCHA PEAR SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp matcha powder

2 tbsp full fat coconut yogurt

1 small handful of spinach

½ pear

½ tsp ginger

1 cup liquid, water or dairy free milk

* For an extra protein kick, add some collagen or protein powder

MAKE IT!

Add all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

 

HEALTHY TRAVEL: AIRPLANE MUNCHIES

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I used to think of flying as an excuse to get junk food. I even had a rule that I could have anything I wanted in the airport, which normally meant popcorn, a glass (or two) of wine, Raisinets and an arsenal of gossip mags. True story.

While I’ve kept the gossip mags (you can’t part with everything), my junk filled journeys have been replaced by a healthier options that gets me to my destination feeling as fresh as possible and not completely jet lagged.

Airplane food sucks. Yes, we all know it tastes bad, but it’s also full of preservatives, salt and sugar. All of which will dehydrate you, deplete nutrients and make you feel worse when you land. If your flight is long enough to have a meal (4+ hours), pack a salad at home or grab something from your favorite café. Try to fill up on greens, healthy fats and some protein to mitigate the immune and energy suppressing effects of flying.

Fasting in-flight works for some people, but then there’s others (hi!) who like to watch movies and munch on something to pass the time. If you’re part of the latter group, here are six snack ideas to consider for your next flight:

1.     Healthy Fats

Try bringing an avocado or raw, unsalted nuts to keep from eating plane peanuts, which are full of processed oils and refined salts. Nut butter packets are also handy and easy to travel with.

2.     Fresh Vegetables

Carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, whatever you can pack. Eating veggies mid-flight is a great way to stay hydrated and have something to nibble on.

3.     Protein Bars

A protein bar is a great mid-flight meal replacement or snack. My favorite brands are Bullet Proof and Quest. They're also great to pack for your trip!

4.     Kale Chips

Because you can eat the entire bag, guilt free!   

5.     Dark Chocolate

A good bar of dark chocolate (like Eating Evolved) is a welcome in-flight treat that is full of antioxidants and healthy fats.

6.     Water Bottle

Okok. I know, it’s not a snack, but it’s really important to stay hydrated when you travel. The water cups given to you in-flight are too small, horrible for the environment and not topped up often enough. Bring an empty water bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it up for you. Game changer.

 

Last piece of advice: don’t go overboard. Bring enough food to get you through the flight, but try not to load up on too many snacks before you take off. You will eat them all. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Xx Mia

 

Green Market Soup

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After an overindulgent weekend or vacation, I love to reset with a few nights of this green soup for dinner. Incredibly nourishing and anti-inflammatory, it is the perfect way to get yourself back on track.

I always challenge my clients to try and eat 20 different types of vegetables a week. One quick and easy way to increase your nutrient intake is to diversify your vegetable consumption, and this soup packs six different plants. Each vegetable has its own mix of vitamins and nutrients, so if you always opt for spinach or kale, mixing it up with seasonal produce like dandelion greens or Swiss chard will add a greater variety of nutrients to your diet.

I call this green market soup, because it's best when using fresh, in season produce. The fresher the greens, the more nutrient dense they will be, so don’t be afraid to buy something unfamiliar at your local farmers’ market.

GREEN MARKET SOUP

Serves: 4-6

Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 cups leafy greens of your choice, try to include at least two different types  (kale, beet greens, arugula, chard, spinach, watercress, etc.)

1 bunch parsley, stems included, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 thumb-sized nub of ginger, roughly chopped

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee

2 cups broth

Water to cover

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon juice

Maldon sea salt

1 tbsp sesames seeds

1-2 tbsp olive oil for garnish

MAKE IT

Heat coconut oil or ghee in a Dutch oven. Add onions, ginger and garlic, stirring until fragrant, then add greens, parsley and turmeric and stir for a minute or two longer.

Add broth then enough water to cover the vegetables (about two cups). Let simmer for 20-30 minutes and puree in a high speed blender until smooth.

Season as desired and serve with a squeeze of lemon, sesame seeds, a splash of olive oil and some Maldon sea salt.