The Ultimate Guide to Green Smoothies

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Even though I’ve been maintaining a healthy lifestyle for over 10 years, one holiday season I did THE MOST and my body let me know it was not happy with some of my indulgences. I was experiencing some digestive issues and wanted to get back to feeling better. I came across a Green Smoothie challenge posted on Facebook by the Black Women Losing Weight group. BTW, click here to check out my feature! I was intrigued by it, because that was when green smoothies really started to become more popular as a tool to help your body reset, add more nutrients to your diet and lose weight. The smoothie challenge had a few variations. You could choose between drinking 1-3 smoothies a day. If you chose 3 smoothies per day, they would be substituted for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You would also eat 1-2 snacks per day. 3 smoothies a day was a little overwhelming to me. Plus I didn’t want too much of a calorie deficit since my goal was not weight loss, but more so to reset and detox my digestive system. So I opted for 1 smoothie a day and then I planned to return to my normal style of eating for my other meals and snacks

The challenge was only supposed to be for January, but I was really liking the convenience of green smoothies as well as the taste. On top of that, my digestive system was thanking me. So I decided to continue and now, a few years later, I still love and drink them almost daily! They are easy to make, inexpensive, filling, nutrient dense (vitamins, minerals, belly-filling fiber) and help curve my sweet tooth

I take them with me during the work week for lunch. I blend them up the night before so I can just grab and go in the morning. They are also a great option for breakfast if you’re short on time and usually skip breakfast

So if you’re interested in experiencing all these great benefits from drinking Green Smoothies, then keep reading!

Let’s get started!

First things first, you will need a blender. You don’t have to go all out. I purchased my Ninja from Macy’s on sale for $99. I had a Black & Decker one I purchased for $39, but it only lasted a few months. So I guess you do get what you pay for!

Mason jars with plastic lids. I purchased my 24 ounce jars at the supermarket. I prefer the plastic lids since the traditional lids start to rust after a while

Plastic freezer bags in the quart size, which is 7 x 7-3/4

Smoothie Pack

Measuring cups or a digital food scale to portion out your ingredients

Measuring cups and scale

I prepare all of my smoothie packs for the week on Sundays during my weekly meal prep. Click the links below to read my meal prep blog posts Part 1 and Part 2! I portion out the ingredients (veggies and fruit) and place them the freezer bags. At night when I blend the smoothie, I only blend up one for the following day. If I blend them up for more than one day at a time, I noticed the smoothie for the second day didn’t taste as good

The Magic Formula!

The base for all of my smoothies is the same: liquid, protein powder, green veggie and a whole banana

Liquid – 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and ½ cup of water. You can also use cashew milk or another non-dairy milk of your choice. Try to avoid adding juice (apple, orange, grape, etc.), because they are typically high in sugar and calories and low in fiber. Plus the natural sugar from the fruit will make it sweet enough!

Protein Powder – I prefer a vegan vanilla protein powder. I use ½ a serving. You can use a whole serving if you’d like. Even if you’re not vegan, whey protein can be difficult to digest and may cause gas and bloating. Plus I noticed the vegan formulas tend to have better quality ingredients and contain less processed sugar. There are hundreds of brands on the market, but the ones I like because of the high ingredient quality and flavor are from It Works!, Garden of Life, Purely Inspired, and Orgain

Greens veggies – I use about 2 handfuls of spinach. You can choose other green veggies like kale, collards, Swiss chard or zucchini.

Fruit – I always use a whole frozen banana for natural sweetness and to make the smoothie thick and creamy. If you don’t like bananas, you can use an avocado for creaminess since it has a neutral flavor. Avocados are a good source of heart and brain healthy Omega 3’s

After the banana, I always add two varieties of other fruits. Frozen fruit makes the consistency creamier and more enjoyable for me. Having three types of fruit helps to mask the flavor of the spinach

Once I am ready to blend up my smoothies, I add them to the blender in this order: liquids, protein powder, spinach and then all my fruit. Blend for 1-2 minutes based on the type of blender you have and your desired consistency. If my blender is having a hard time blending up the ingredients, I will add a little more water

Since these are typically used to replace a meal, make sure the smoothie is at least 18 ounces and/or 300 calories to keep you full for a few hours so you don’t get hangry! You can use an app such as MyFitnessPal to help you calculate the calories

And just a little side note, the ingredients will separate overnight. So make sure you shake it up well before drinking

Bulk it up!

Remember the goal isn’t to be hungry. If you notice your smoothie isn’t filling enough, you can add more nutrients and calories, easily and in a healthy way

Chia Seeds (whole; not ground) – You can find them in the bulk food section, which I recommend since they can be pricey. They add protein and a nice crunch. They also expand in liquid so they will fill your belly and keep you full

Nut or Seed Butter (peanut, almond, cashew or sunflower seed butter, etc.) – select a brand with no added sugar or oils by checking the ingredient list. Make sure to read the label or you can get it freshly ground in the bulk food section. 1 tablespoon should be sufficient since nut and seed butter can be calorie dense. Or you can use 2 tablespoons of powdered peanut butter. This is also something you can purchase from the bulk foods section

Ground Flax Seeds (must be ground for nutrient absorption) – You can buy them whole and ground them yourself or you can buy them already ground. Also, once they are ground, refrigerate them to keep the nutrients bio-available. Toss out any unused ground flax seeds after about a week

Recipes Combinations

Again, the base for all my smoothies is liquids, protein powder, green veggie, and a banana. The variation each week is with the other 2 other fruit options I add. So here are some of my favorites that I wanted to share!

Combo 1 – Very Berry

½ cup of raspberries

½ cup of blueberries

Combo 2 – Tropical Breeze

1 cup of strawberries

½ of an orange

Combo 3 – Down Under

1 cup of strawberries

1 whole Kiwi

Combo 4Red Alert

1 cup of strawberries

½ cup of raspberries

Combo 5 – Mango Tango

½ cup of mango

½ cup of pineapple

Combo 6The Blacker the (Black) Berry

1 cup of blackberries

½ cup of cherries

Combo 7Teacher’s Pet

1 whole apple

½ of a pear

Combo 8Peaches n Cream

½ cup of peaches

½ cup of pineapple

Combo 9 – Orange you Glad?

½ of an orange

½ cup of mango

Combo 10Cherry Up! (Get it? Like “hurry up!” lol)

1 cup of cherries

1 whole kiwi

Experiment with different ingredients. The combinations are really endless! Also brands like Dole carry frozen mixed fruit blends

I really hope you will give green smoothies a try and start to come up with your own tasty creations! Whether you’re in need of a system re-set, want to try something new, get more nutrients in your diet or have always wanted to try them, but didn’t know where to begin, I hope this post was helpful to you! Feel free to share it with others!

If you’re already a green smoothie fan, then please share some of your favorite recipes and how smoothies have benefited your health!

Stay connected with me!

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How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: My Top 10 Tips

 

Face to Face Before and After
 2008 – Current

Did you know the average American gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas?!

With all of these wonderful occasions filled with fun, family and friends, there’s also the yummy food…in abundance! But you don’t have to panic thinking you will need to completely miss out on your favorite foods. This journey is not about restriction. It’s about finding balance, enjoying life along the way, and creating better lifestyle habits that work for you. I’ve learned so much since starting my journey in 2008 after losing and keeping off 60 pounds. We can’t have an all or nothing mentality. The best approach for me has been one where I know all of the options I have. Then I pick and choose which indulgent foods I want to enjoy! Another great approach is to perhaps not focus this last 5 weeks of the year on weight loss, but weight maintenance. That in itself, is still a win! So here are my TOP 10 TIPS for avoiding holiday weight gain!

TOP 10 TIPS for enjoying the holiday season while still keeping your wellness goals in mind!

Tip #1 – Take a healthy dish so you have options. If you can, ask the host in advance what will be on the menu. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking. It’s OK to be proactive about your health. This is also a great opportunity to be creative! You can either find a new recipe for a healthy dish or you can make some tweaks to a current favorite to make it a healthier option

Tip #2 – Eat before you go. Plan to have a small meal or snack before so you aren’t overly hungry when you arrive and get tempted to make unhealthy choices. Your small meal should consist of a protein, complex carbohydrates and a healthy fat to  hold you over until your main meal. If you want a light snack instead of a meal, a protein bar or a piece of fruit are great options

Tip #3 – Practice moderation. I like to remind myself that I can have what I want, just not all of it, all of the time. Before you eat, scan the food table and scope out your options. Consider what you really want and take small amounts of those items. I try to go for foods that I don’t normally get to eat. I try to fill half my plate with veggies, then the other half with the foods I want to try out

Tip #4 – Hydrate. We can sometimes think we’re hungry when really we’re thirsty. So throughout the day, and with your meals, make sure you drink plenty of water. You should still try to aim for at least 8 ounces of water. Drinking enough water will also help you feel less bloated if you eat too much salty food

Tip #5 – Wait before you go back for seconds. Before you go back for seconds, allow your food time to digest. It normally takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to send the signal to our brains that we’re full. So if you just scarfed down your food and think you need more, try to wait it out first

Tip #6 – Enjoy the festivities for more than just the food. I know we ALL love food, don’t make food the main focus. Try to also focus on building relationships and creating new ones. So ask your favorite aunt what she’s been up to or talk to the visitor in the room and make them feel welcome. You never know, you may even find a new workout buddy!

Tip #7 – Track your food and try to be as honest as possible. I like using MyFitnessPal app to track my meals. You may choose to use a different app or even a journal. I want to enjoy the holiday, but I don’t want to go overboard. So tracking helps me be mindful, yet still enjoy the occasion

Tip #8 – Get back on track the next day. A holiday is just that; a day. When you carry it over to more than a day, that can make it much more difficult to get back on track. You want to have fun, but still keep in mind that you have goals to meet. So create a plan for what the following day will look like as far as meals, working out and of course, water!

Tip #9 – Exercise. I still like to get some activity in for that day to create a calorie deficit so I have a little more flexibility with my food choices. But if your gym is closed, then no worries. You could opt for a home workout, a neighborhood walk or choose to skip it and work out the next day

Tip #10 – Be kind to yourself. If the day doesn’t go as planned, then don’t beat yourself up over it. All it means is that you’re human just like the rest of us. No one is perfect. So dust yourself off and keep pushing forward!

I hope these tips help you! You may choose to follow all, some or none of them at all. The choice is yours. It is up to you to define this journey for yourself on your own terms.

Happy Holidays, be safe, have fun and eat well!

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Health Halo: 7 Foods that can be Deceptively Healthy

Once again fancy marketing does the trick! We see the flashy commercials, celebrity endorsements, fancy packaging and bold product claims that makes us excited about a health food product and leads us to believe we’ll be making the right choice if we buy it. But in reality what we see is not the whole picture and we may end up purchasing something that can actually push us further away from our goals. Then we may be left wondering why we aren’t making progress. Insert the “Health Halo” effect

Halo 1

The Health Halo effect occurs when a food that has some healthy attributes to it is perceived as being an overall healthy food. For instance, many people (mistakenly) think that foods labeled as “low fat,” “reduced fat,” fat free,” “Vegan”, etc. are almost always a better option

Food manufactures know what will grab our attention. They know our pain points and frustrations when it comes to weight loss and wanting to find healthy food that still tastes good. Manufacturers can make almost any product claim they want to in an advertisement and on the front of the package; but the ingredients and nutrition label on the back of the package tell the full story. So we have to take the time to understand what we ae truly putting into our bodies

Since I know you have goals, I want to help you win, girl! So here are the 7 most common health halo foods that you should be aware of. I am not saying to never eat them, but just take what the manufacturer says with a grain of salt. Understand that their primary goal is to make a profit; not help you lose weight. So read the packaging and then make the best choice for you!

7 of the most common health halo foods:

  • Granola – can be high in processed sugar and it can also be challenging to stick to a serving, which is usually ¼ cup. Check the nutrition facts to determine the number of grams of sugar and the source of sugar. Sugar has many names and usually end in “ose” like fructose, sucrose, or dextrose. Also brown rice syrup is processed as well. For more information on the different names for sugar, check out this article. There are brands like Purely Elizabeth that are sweetened naturally with honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar

Almond-Butter-Granola-4

  • Yogurt – some yogurts have as much sugar as a candy bar! Opt for Greek Yogurt since it is low fat and high in protein that helps you stay fuller longer. Brands like Dannon have varieties that are sweetened with either stevia or monk fruit extract. Some other great brand are Siggi’s and Fage

coconut-milk-yogurt-recipe

  • Protein Cookies – some protein cookies on the market are huge and actually contain TWO servings per individual package. But who is really only going to eat half the cookie? If you can stop at half, then bravo, because I know I can’t. You’re pretty much eating a cookie that just happens to have more protein in it compared to a typical cookie. But there are some brands, such as Quest Nutrition cookies that are low sugar, single-serve options. Or make some of your own. I love the baking recipes from Mywholefoodlife.com. They are easy, healthy and typically no-bake!

Protein Cookie

  • Trail Mix – this one is similar to granola, because it also usually contains added sugar. A serving is again around ¼ of a cup. But most people tend to eat it by the handful without realizing how much they actually consumed. You can opt to make your own by using any combination of nuts and seeds you like. For the sweetness, try to avoid refined sugar and choose maple syrup, honey, raisins or dried fruit that doesn’t contain a lot of added sugar like this healthy trail mix recipe from Elizabeth Rider!

Trail mix

  • Salad Dressings – most store bought brands contain excess sodium, added sugars, preservatives, and saturated fat. Bolthouse Farm is a great option, because the base is Greek Yogurt. I also really like the Annie’s brand. You can always opt to make your own. I normally do a combination of white rice vinegar, liquid amino’ s (soy sauce alternative) and Dijon Mustard

Salad Dressing

  • Protein Bars/Snack Bars – just like protein cookies, some protein/snack bars have a ton of sugar in them. Some of my favorites that also don’t taste like a protein bar are Quest Nutrition, Think Thin, Kind Bars that have less than 10 grams of sugar, RX Bars, and D’s Naturals. There are tons of great alternatives at the Vitamin Shoppe, GNC and Target

Protein Bar

  • Baked Potato Chips – these can be high in saturated fat because they typically use poor quality oil. Quest Nutrition also has line of protein chips as well as the Protes and couple of other options I’ve seen at GNS. You can make your own. Here’s a recipe for Sweet Potato chips! If you just like that crunch, you could try some sea salt popcorn. Smart Foods or Boom Chicka Pop are my favorite brands that I get from Target or the local grocery store

Potato Chips

You may have noticed a trend here with these food options – added sugar. Many of the ladies I speak with about weight loss say they are frequent snackers. So do you see where your snacking could be the culprit behind your weight loss plateau? I’m all for snacking, but of course I only include then in between my main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). You shouldn’t need to snack more than 1-2 times per day if your meals contain the proper balance of nutrients and the majority of your food is from whole food sources

Aside from rapid blood sugar spikes, processed sugar makes you crave more sugar once you eat it. Since sugary foods don’t always provide the amount of fuel our bodies need, we may end up eating more calories throughout the day to get satisfied. When you consume more calories than your body needs, your body stores it as fat. Again, I am not giving you food rules or smacking your hand with a ruler. I will sometimes eat foods with added sugar, but I try to limit my consumption. I am just encouraging you to be more informed and make better choices. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating and practice moderation. Define healthy from your lens; just be an informed consumer!

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BeautyCounter Skin Care Review: Where Activism meets Glamour

When we think of health and wellness, we may initially only focus on what we put into our bodies with the foods we eat, which is of course very important. But what about what we put ON TO our bodies? Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs the products we put on it. For about the last year or so, I have been trying to live a more holistic lifestyle by changing out products I use daily with more eco-friendly versions. So, I was excited when I had the opportunity to try products from BeautyCounter’s skincare line! BeautyCounter values transparency with regards to the full spectrum of their product line that also includes make up and bath and body products. Not only do they want to create safer products, but they also have a strong social justice mission to advocate for change within the personal care industry, which is poorly regulated by the FDA. The FDA has not regulated the safety of ingredients since 1938! While the European Union has banned more 1,300 chemicals, Canada has banned around 600, the US has only banned around 30 ingredients. This moved company CEO, Gregg Renfrew, to action with the bold acclimation “we deserve better!” She is a proponent of environmental health and chemical safety that would ban harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde and coal tar, which are both known as carcinogens (meaning cancer causing) from being included in our products

Since 2013, BeautyCounter now consists of over 30,000 consultants. Their activist approach sets them apart from competitors in the beauty industry

Initial Consultation

During my consultation with Kara, I told her my skin type, which is oily skin with hyper-pigmentation. She used that information to send products geared towards those specific skincare needs

Products Received

Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser

Countercontrol Mattifying Toner (brown jar)

Countercontrol Mattifying Face Cream

Countercontrol Recovery Sleeping Cream

Overnight Peel

Counter Control Set
Counter Control Set
Counter Match Cream
Counter Match Cream
Overnight Peel
Exfoliating Face Peel

Skin Care Regimen

Morning:

I cleansed with the Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser, which had a lightweight consistency that went on smooth and silky with a slight citrus scent. The product does have some suds, which I like because it makes me feel like my skin will be cleaner!

I followed that with the Countercontrol Mattifying Toner which helped to remove any remaining dirt and oil

I finished with the Countercontrol Mattifying Face Cream. This product left my face soft and smooth. It didn’t feel cakey. I didn’t apply makeup the first day I tried it. But noticed throughout the day, my skin remained soft and didn’t produce as much oil

Night:

Cleansed with the Clear Pore Cleanser. Applied the overnight peel, which doesn’t need to be rinsed off. The consistency was similar to a lightweight lotion. The peel is used to diminish the appearance of discoloration/hyperpigmentation, acne scars, fine lines and breakouts. I waited 5 minutes and then applied the Countercontrol Recovery Sleeping Cream. The consistency was similar to most face creams. This product also went on smooth. My skin was vibrant and not dull

The following day, I applied the mattifying face cream and then my foundation. But, I didn’t use my normal mattifying powder so I could assess how well this product controlled shine on its own. I was impressed! By the time I took this picture, my face would have usually looked like I spread Crisco all over it! Lol

From the products I received, my favorite product was the Countercontrol Mattifying Face Cream. It really helped keep the shine at bay

I also liked how none of the products had a heavy scent, which may be something you like if you are sensitive to smells

I really enjoyed learning about how this company is paving the way for cosmetic reform, because any company can create a product and market it as “safe” due to poor regulation and lax laws. This was also an opportunity to try eco-friendly beauty products that are gentle; yet effective. So, “Thank you, Kara!” If you’re interested in checking out these products for yourself, click here to connect with Kara directly Beautycounter.com/karapetry

What are some ways you’ve incorporated health and wellness into your daily life?

Connect with me on Instagram @mypassion2purpose and let me know you found me through my blog! And I will follow back!

The Benefits of Hair Steaming: Q-Redew Handheld Steamer Demo + Review

Q-Redew LogoMe holding device

I guess this is a reoccurring theme for me to be late when it comes to certain natural hair care products.  In case you missed it, check out my blog post here about FINALLY trying an Aztec Clay Wash after being natural for almost 10 years!!

I decided to include hair steaming in my natural hair routine after noticing that as my hair was getting longer, it was becoming more tangled and it wasn’t retaining moisture as well. Of course I could just moisturize more often during the week, which I did, but I still felt like my tresses needed something more. I considered getting the Q-Redew a couple of years ago after watching different YouTube videos and hearing positive reviews. I signed up for the company’s email newsletter and honestly, would just delete the emails telling myself that I would buy myself one when it goes on sale for Black Friday. But after seeing the changes in my hair, I decided to go for it. For my birthday in May, I asked my mom and sister to get me one. By the way, that’s how you know you’re a dedicated natural when you start requesting products and gadgets as gifts!! I figured it I didn’t like it, then I didn’t waste my money since I wasn’t the one paying for it! Shhhh….don’t tell them I said that!

How Your Hair Can Benefit from Steam

Our hair needs moisture and lots of it. With the bends and curves of our hair strands, it’s difficult for our hair to receive and maintain moisture in comparison to those with straight hair. The steam opens the outer, cuticle layer allowing the product to penetrate the hair strands, which leads to better absorption of the ingredients in the product. The prongs on this particular steamer aid in gently detangling the hair as well. Detangled hair also retains more moisture. The prongs in combination with the steam were a little more effective at detangling than just using my wide tooth comb alone

The moist heat also encourages blood flow to the scalp, which can promote hair growth

Steaming the hair can also improve hair elasticity. Elasticity is the hairs ability to be stretched and then returned to its natural state without breaking

How to I Use the Steamer + How Often I Use It?

The steamer comes with two parts: the water reservoir and the actual steamer that you plug in. Remove the reservoir, fill with water, and reattach it to the steamer. The indicator light will let you know when the steamer is ready. Then you press the trigger to release the steam. I assumed that since I have a lot of hair, I would need to refill the reservoir, but to my surprise, I didn’t have to refill it at all. There was even a little water left in the reservoir when I was finished

Depending on how my hair feels, I use the LOC method 3 times per week to keep it moisturized. The LOC method is a method for applying products to achieve moisture retention. The idea is that each layer is heavier than the previous layer, which allows the hair to retain moisture for a longer period of time. To moisturize my hair, I start by creating sections. I always work in sections by first splitting my hair down the middle and then creating 3 sections on each side of my head. Then splitting each of those 3 sections in half. You don’t have to create as many sections. Do what works best for you based off the length and thickness of your hair. I next spritz the section with a mixture of aloe juice and water. Then I steam that section from tips to roots until the steamer prongs easily pass through that section of hair. Next I apply my leave in, which is currently the Cantu Curl Activator Moisturizer, coconut oil, and then the Cantu Coconut Curling Cream. I make sure the section is thoroughly coated with the hair products; especially the ends, then I two-strand twist that section and move on to the next section. Once I’m finished twisting, I tie a satin scarf around my edges and sleep on my satin pillow case

Hair twisted

Depending on how I wear my hair during the week, I may need to moisturize my hair more often. Exposing my hair to the elements when I wear it out, means my hair gets drier, faster. So sometimes, I will keep my hair in the twists from the night before for a few days to keep my hair moisturized longer

The steamer can also be used during deep conditioning. I haven’t used it for that purpose yet, but may consider trying it in the future. I currently use my cute cheetah print Thermal Hair Care Hot Head Cap since it allows me to be mobile and it’s less effort to use

The end result of me using the steamer is soft, moisturized curls with less breakage, which is a definite plus! I also noticed that it was easier to detangle my hair on wash day if I used the steamer a few times that week

I do have a couple of cons. It’s a little bulky and challenging to store. I would put it under my bathroom sink, but one there’s no room and two, I don’t want it to get broken. So I store it in the box it came in and have the box in my bathroom to remind me to use it. Second, you have to hold the trigger down while you’re using the steamer, so there isn’t an on/off switch, which I think would make it easier to use

Price

The Q-Redew retails for $78, but they are currently offering free shipping. Here’s a direct link to the site (Here is link to the site). Pro tip: Sign up for their newsletter. They often offer $10 off and have a Black Friday special as well

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend this product? Yes! If you’ve been struggling to retain moisture or perhaps you’ve experienced damage and you want to restore the health and vitality of your hair, I think you would benefit from regular hair streaming. How often you would use would completely depend on your individual hair needs

Have you tried this steamer or any other steamer? What was your experience?

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Do you want to see a demo of me using the Q-Redew? They follow me on IG! I just posted a few short clips for you! Follow me at @mypassion2purpose! Let me know you read my blog and I will be sure to follow you back!

Plan, Shop & Prep Like a Pro: How to Meal Prep for Fat Loss

Office pastries….vending machines….fast food runs…going to bed without eating….saying “Screw it! I’ll just start over tomorrow.” If any of that sounds familiar, then you could definitely benefit from Meal Prepping. Meal prepping has saved me numerous times from making unhealthy food choices. Meal prepping means I have a plan in place to keep me focused so that I’m less likely to fall into temptation

This post is a follow-up to my previous post where I shared my top tips on how to make smart food choices when you’re grocery shopping and the benefits of meal prepping. So click here to check it out!

I’m hoping with my other post and with this post, that the information helps you create a foundation or base for you to start with that you can customize to your liking and build a consistent process that supports your goals! Because I want to see you WIN!! Now let’s get into it!

The Benefits of Meal Prepping

  • Saves Money – meal prepping means less eating out because you already have a healthy meal ready for you. When you’re grocery shopping, you have your list created so you buy only what you need to prep your meals
  • Saves Time –when I get home after a long day, all I have to do is heat up my food and enjoy! It takes the effort and guess work out of “What am I going to eat?”
  • Keeps you Accountable – meal prepping means I know what I’m eating ahead of time for all my meals and snacks. I prepared my food so I know what’s in it and how many calories I am consuming
  • Improves your Cooking Skills – with meal prepping my cooking skills have improved, because I am cooking something new and different every week. I actually enjoy trying new foods and discovering new seasonings to liven things up

My Process

It takes me about 30-40 minutes to plan out my meals for the following week and then create my grocery list. Actual meal prep time varies depending on what I’m making. But on average, it takes me 2.5 hours and that includes washing dishes, sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor

I use Thursdays as my plan day. I start by selecting my dinner option since that’s the meal that takes me the longest to decide on. I have a folder that has all my recipe print outs. Then I use a meal planner chart that has a space for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Next I check my pantry and fridge to see what I already have. My grocery list is based on what I need. I go grocery shopping either Friday evening or Saturday morning. On Sunday afternoon, I actually cook the food, which also includes chopping up fruits and veggies and portioning out snacks

So look at your schedule and determine when you will make the time weekly to plan, shop and prep. Then create a calendar reminder in your phone for each of those activities to remind you and so you view these tasks as priorities

I prep for Monday through Friday. I usually eat, on average, 1,500-1,500 calories per day to maintain my 60 pound weight loss. To calculate your specific, daily calorie needs, then you can use an app such as Calorie King or MyFitnessPal. I use My FitnessPal and my username is Newrae22. Let’s be friends so we can encourage one another!

The Structure of My Meals

I use a consistent format and then make modifications each week

Breakfast – Usually scrambled eggs with veggies and complex carbohydrate (oats, gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, corn tortillas for breakfast burrito’s/taco’s, baked sweet potato). If I eat meat, it’s usually turkey bacon, turkey sausage or diced ham. Pre-chop all veggies and place in freezer bags to easily prepare in the mornings

Lunch – I love green smoothies! So I have them weekly for lunch and just switch out the fruit combinations. 1 handful of green, leafy veggies (spinach, collards or Kale), 1 frozen banana for sweetness and creaminess, ½ serving of vegan vanilla protein shake, 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, then two servings of other fruits. Strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, even those cute little kiwis! But no fruit is off limits! Include any ones you like! The fruits makes the smoothie sweet enough without the need for added sugar or fruit juice. My smoothie makes approximately 18 ounces and it’s usually around 300 calories. Portion out fruits and veggies and place in freezer bags. Blend them up the night before work. I don’t recommend making your smoothies in advance for all five days. I tried preparing for just two days and found the smoothie for the second day tasted a little watered down

Snacks – I love that salty/sweet combination! Salty – popcorn (Skinny Pop, Smart Foods, or Boom Chika Pop), Veggie Straws, Pirates Booty Puffs, Rice Cakes with nut/seed butter, veggies and hummus, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Van’s Gluten Free Cheddar Cheese Crackers, String Cheese or hard boiled eggs. For the sweet snack, I pick a fresh, seasonal fruit. Selection is based on what’s in season for the best price and quality. I don’t care for canned fruit since they almost always contain added sugar/syrup

Dinner – As I mentioned earlier, I have recipes already printed out and in a folder. I get ideas from Pinterest and food bloggers who post recipes on Facebook or Instagram. My main dish is a lean protein, such as chicken (all cuts – boneless and skinless), salmon (canned or frozen), ground turkey, ground chicken, thin cut boneless pork loins, or shrimp. I always have a green veggie as one side dish option (salad, green beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, or asparagus). My second side is a complex carb (brown rice, quinoa, sweet or regular potatoes, squash, roasted carrots or parsnips).

July 2018 Meal Prep Food Pictures

Other easy to prepare alternatives include overnight oats for breakfast and mason jar salads for lunch. Crockpot, sheet pan, or Instapot meals are always fabulous, easy dinner options!

For the weekends, I don’t meal prep, but I do write out what I plan to eat. If I am going to an event, I include that on my weekly planner. I always have food on hand to create a healthy, easy weekend meal –fruits and veggies, brown rice or potatoes, corn tortillas, oats, frozen meat, eggs, whole grain bread (Franz, Ezekiel, Dave’s Killer Bread), condiments (low sugar options), brown rice flour, and gluten free pancake/waffle mix (Birch Benders brand), protein powder, cheese, and snack bars/protein bars with less than 10 grams of sugar

Quick pro tips! Listen to music or a podcast while meal prepping to make it more enjoyable! Also tape any recipes to your cabinets so you can easily see what you need to do while cooking!

Kitchen Essentials

Here’s a list of what I have to help me cook and store my food

Freezer bags, plastic food storage containers (Ikea, Groupon or Amazon), plastic portion packs for snacks, cutting boards (wooden and glass for raw meat), sharp knife (be careful!), Ninja blender for smoothies (purchased at Macy’s for $99), food processor, crock pot, loaf pans, muffin pans, non-stick cooking spray, coconut or olive oil, tongs, various size mixing bowls (I found a 4 piece set at Ross), plastic wrap, aluminum foil, sheet pans, oven mitts, measuring cups, measuring spoons, digital food scale, and a can opener

I really hope this post gives you some inspiration to begin meal prepping if you aren’t already. Don’t get overwhelmed by it. Even if you just start prepping for 2-3 days at a time that is a good start. Everyone meal preps differently, so the key is to do what works for you and be consistent. You will learn what works and doesn’t work for you along the way

Are you a meal prepper? If so, how has it helped you? If not, what makes it challenging for you?

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram @mypassion2purpose! I add my weekly meal prep to my stories and then add them to my highlights just in case you don’t catch my stories before they expire!

 

 

 

Why did it take me almost 10 years to try this?!

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After being natural for almost 10 years (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) reading dozens of blog posts, and spending countless hours watching YouTube videos, I finally tried it….

……Bentonite clay! Bentonite clay has been a consistent favorite for many naturals since I first went natural and I’m sure it was popular long before that. I’m usually the last to hop on the bandwagon when it comes to something that’s new to me even if many people seem to love it. I’m all about educating myself, so I like to know the products’ origin, how it benefits the hair, price and availability. I also like to see how the product performs on naturals with different curl patterns. In my opinion, that’s one of the best ways to determine product quality. So since I don’t want to bore you with research, I’ll just give you a quick rundown of what Bentonite clay is and why I decided to finally give it a go!

Bentonite clay is deemed the world’s most powerful facial due to its deep pore cleansing capabilities since it is made from 100% natural calcium clay. So no added silicones or synthetic ingredients. Even though it is intended to use on the skin to remove impurities, it is also highly effective at cleansing the hair.

Clay cleanses the hair in three ways:

  1. Antibacterial properties
  2. Removes toxins and impurities
  3. Removes oils

Since I can be a little (ok…a lot) heavy handed when it comes to applying hair products, a non-stripping, deep cleansing is usually in order every about once per month to remove product build up and excess oil. If you notice flakes in your hair or if your hair is not behaving typically, it may be a good idea to give your locs some love with a nice deep cleaning. Spring cleaning, anyone?

Clay Mask Recipe:

1)      3 tbsp of oil. I used grapeseed. You can use any oil you have on hand

2)      1 tbsp of molasses. You can use honey as well

3)      ¾ cup Aloe Vera Juice

4)      ½ cup of clay

Feel free to adjust the measurements based on the length and thickness of your hair.

To mix the mask, you will need a non-metal bowl and a non-metal spoon to avoid a chemical reaction between the clay and metal.

To apply the clay mixture, I first created my standard six sections of hair and applied the mixture from roots to tips; including the scalp. Healthy hair begins at the scalp. Product build up on the scalp, it can stunt hair growth.

I left the treatment in for 30 minutes and rinsed each section thoroughly until the water ran clear. My hair felt cleansed, but also a little hard/stiff so I followed up with a deep conditioning treatment, with heat. To my deep conditioner, I added half of a 1/4 cup of molasses. You can read this post to see why I am loving molasses in my deep conditioner these days!

I left the deep conditioner in for about an hour and 15 minutes. While rising out my deep conditioner, I noticed my hair was smooth, shiny and detangled easier than normal (and who doesn’t want that?). My curls were also elongated.

I really enjoyed using the clay and I will definitely add it to my regimen more often when my hair needs a good cleansing.

Have you tried a clay before? What was your experience?