08-31-2016

Pique Tea Review (It’s Awesome!)

Today, we’re going to talk about tea. Specifically, crystallized tea. How cool does that sound??

I’m a big fan of crystallized things (like Nektar Honey Crystals), and this tea is no exception. Pique Tea is tea, re-imagined. They make natural whole leaf tea, brewed and crystallized. Pique Tea is the easiest way to enjoy exceptional tea every time. Oh and they are certified Organic!

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How is tea made into crystal form? Good question. Pique’s leaf-to-crystal process slow brews the tea leaves for maximum flavor and nutrients and are then crystallized.

The number 1 thing I love about it is that I can easily make iced tea!! I never make iced tea at home because, honestly, I’m too lazy. I don’t feel like brewing tea, letting it cool, etc. etc. With Pique Tea, just put it in your water + ice, and you’re set. This is also perfect for me to have at my desk in order to stay hydrated. We all get sick of plain water, and just being able to drop these little tea crystals into my water makes me life so much easier :)

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Pique Tea has a bunch of different flavors, which include Sencha Green Tea, Jasmine Tea, Mint Sencha Green Tea, Earl Grey, and English Breakfast. Each box comes with 14 sachets. Simply tear it open and pour into your cup.

I took these with me to Rio to try them out and it was perfect. Small enough to have in my carry on bag and just overall very convenient and quick. Hot cup of Jasmine tea on the beach in Copacabana? Why not :)

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You all know I love my coffee, but being able to make iced tea has been key in the summertime. After a hot day at XC practice, I want an ice cold drink. Check out my video below for 2 quick & easy recipes I concocted!

Want to try Pique Tea? There are a few ways you can:

  • Get a free trial pack here.
  • Buy a variety pack here.
  • Subscribe to their monthly tea plan here.

I highly recommend getting your free trial pack – I promise you’ll love it!

What are your favorite tea flavors? Do you prefer iced tea or hot tea?

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05-18-2016

Running In Paris (Or At Least Trying To)

I haven’t been blogging as much lately, so not sure if I’ve mentioned this (if you follow me on instagram you have probably seen it) but I’m heading to Paris and Nice with my mom and sister tomorrow!!

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This has been on my bucket list since middle school. I took French in middle school and high school and always dreamed of going to France. Paris has been my number 1 dream location forever. I just can’t believe we are actually going!

We’ll also be hitting up Nice in the south of France to see Coldplay there. They are my sister’s absolute favorite band, so I got us tickets when they first came out as a graduation gift. 

I would love your help in planning our itinerary! Honestly, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been able to give it much thought. But we do know we want to see the obvious: Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, and the Louvre. I would love to have time to go to Mont St. Michelle, but it’s about a two hour drive…so we’ll see.

Honestly, I am a bit nervous for the trip. I’m nervous about 1) flying over the Atlantic the whole time lol and 2) just general nervousness about the state of the world at the moment, and alerts for traveling to Europe. But my sister and others have said to think positive and not let fear dictacte what I do. So I’m trying to just not think about it.

Anyway, my mom and I DO plan on running while there. We need to continue our base building plan in order to start marathon training in July strong. So I found a few routes online and on Strava I figured I’d share in case anyone else ever is looking for places to run in Paris. Below are a few resources!

Running in Paris? Here are some running route suggestions! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

The Tuileries Gardens, next to the Louvre and encircled by a 1.1-mile path, are a prime Right Bank running locale. Two spots outside central Paris good for hill work are Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Montsouris, another Hemingway favorite.

I can’t wait to explore the city!

Please do leave any suggestions or recommendations for places to eat and things to do :)

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04-18-2016

39 Energy Bites Recipes

Happy Monday! Who is ready to crush it this week?

Today I wanted to share a bunch of awesome energy bites recipes from my blogger friends at Bloggers Gonna Blog Community. I love making my own energy bites and protein balls/bars because I know exactly what’s going into them. I also have a crazy sweet tooth, so these are the perfect mid-day sweet treat without the added sugar and calories.

All of them sound so delicious, I don’t know which one I’ll make first.

Pictures match with the recipe linked below it. Enjoy!

39 energy bites recipes to try out the next time you need a healthy snack! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

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 Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls – A Fit Philosophy

Cake Batter Oatmeal Protein Bites – Fairy Burger

Cookies For Breakfast – Simple Medicine

Lemon Energy Balls – The Lean Grean Bean

No Bake Peanut Butter Nutella Energy Bites – Athletic Avocado

Coffee Cardamom Bliss Balls – Love Me, Feed Me

Brownie Batter Energy Bites – Gretch Runs

Cinnamon Bliss Balls – Fuel For Soul

Five Ingredient Raw Hazelnut Energy Balls – A Traveling Wife

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bites – Little Chef, Big Appetite

Blueberry Chocolate 50 Calorie Breakfast Cookies – Hello Spoonful

Mint Chocolate Sunflower Bites – Strength & Sunshine

Peanut Butter Energy Balls – The Simplific Life

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 Gingerbread Protein Bites – Fitful Focus (featuring my favorite protein powder!)

Easy No Bake Berrilicious Vegan Protein Bars – Burpees 4 Breakfast

Superfood Peanut Butter Bites – Healthy Helper

Butterscotch, Chocolate & Oatmeal Protein Bars – Confessions Of a Mother Runner

Grainfree Chocolate Cookie Dough Bliss Balls – Rach Mansfield

Mint Chocolate Protein Bars – Fit Mitten Kitchen

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6-Ingredient No Bake Energy Balls – Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

Vanilla Cookie Protein Bites – Breathe Deeply & Smile

Chocolate Beet Bites – My Healthy-ish Life

Cashew Apricot Balls – Side of Sneakers

Plantbased Sunbutter Energy Balls – Evolution by Ariana

Hazelnut Espresso Balls – Ana Goes Fit

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Chocolate Covered Chickpea Protein Balls – Emilie Eats

Cinnamon Chickpea Crunch Protein Bars – Lets Get Up and Live

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Energy Balls – Lean, Clean, Brie

Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls – Sweet Sundays

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites – That Girl Shannon

Vanilla Cardamom Energy Bars – Chronicles of Passion

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Pumpkin Pie Energy Balls – Food, Pleasure and Health

Chocolate Trail Mix Power Balls – Young & Rungry

Honey & Nut No Bake Pumpkin Energy Balls – A Lady Goes West

Nourishing Nut & Seed Bars – Jill Conyers

Nut Free Coconut Date Energy Balls – Ex-Sloth

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Chewy Multigrain Chocolate Protein Bars – Dani California Cooks

No Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Energy Bites – Hungry By Nature

Nutty PB & Dark Chocolate No Bake Bites – Balance with B

Wow…so many delicious options! I very rarely buy protein bars because I just can’t find one with minimal ingredients, which is why I like to make my own. Can’t wait to try these recipes!

Do you make your own energy balls or protein bars? What is your go-to recipe?

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04-04-2016

5 Things You Should Know Before Starting WeightWatchers

I just finished up month 2 of WeightWatchers and I love it! I have lost 7 lbs so far, and I’m pretty happy with that. Especially since I’ve had multiple weekends where I stopped counting points because I’ve been out with friends, etc. The main thing it has taught me is portion control. Turns out I was majorly overeating before. And the actual portion size of pasta still makes me sad…

I wanted to share with you all a few things about WeightWatchers, and hope it might be helpful if you’re considering joining or know someone who is. I love it and for some reason it has much easier for me (and holds me more accountable) than simply counting calories. I really can’t explain why but I think it’s so much easier this way, even though I realize it’s essentially the same thing.

The main thing I like is that you count your points and have a set number of points for each day, AND you get bonus weekly points so you can splurge a little on things you want. So anyway, here are 5 things you should know before starting WeightWatchers:

Here are 5 Things You Should Know Before Starting WeightWatchers | http://reach-yourpeak.com

You might be really hungry in the beginning

There is definitely an adjustment period, which can be said for any new nutrition plan you might start (IIFYM, Paleo, Whole30, counting calories, etc.). Especially if you have been overeating, like I was. I felt like I was always hungry, and still starving after my dinners. But that goes away in a week or so. Your stomach needs time to adjust. When you’re hungry, eat some fruit if you need to, which is 0 points. Nowadays, I find that I can stick with 3 meals and 1 snack before a workout, whereas in the past I would have a snack every 2 hours or so. Not that there is a problem with that, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to know what your total daily intake is, no matter what plan you’re on.

There’s a new points system

I did WeightWatchers in the past with their PointsPlus system and liked that, but now they’re using SmartPoints which is even better. When calculating points, it takes into account protein and sugar. So if something is high in protein, it will lower the points value (since we know chicken, fish, etc. are great sources of protein and should be encourage), and if something is high in sugar, it will really up the points value. I used to buy the WeightWatchers mini cakes and snacks (because I have a major sweet tooth) and loved that they were only 2 points for a little mini carrot cake. However, now those cakes are 4-5 points…so not worth it! There is more to this new point system I’m sure I’m leaving out, but I wasn’t an avid user in the past so I don’t know everything that has changed.

Activity points doesn’t mean you can eat more

This is another aspect of the new points system that a lot of people had opinions on. In the past, if you exercised, you were able to eat back those points. So if running was 5 activity points, I had 5 extra points daily to eat. Now, activity points don’t count towards food. WeightWatchers wrote on their FAQ page:

In a nutshell, no. Exercise doesn’t cancel out food choices, so moving shouldn’t be an excuse to eat more. If you don’t do any exercise at all, you can still lose weight on the Your Way Program. But doing both is of course optimal. Watching your FitPoints™ add up and hitting your weekly exercise goal can be great motivators and there are so many health benefits to gain from regular activity.  

However, if you’re doing high-intensity workouts (for example, training for a marathon or attending multiple spin classes) at least three to four times a week, you might want to swap some of your FitPoints™ for food to account for the amount of energy you’re expending. 

At first I was like, “But I exercise daily I need extra calories!” But like everything else, you adjust. Now if I will be exercising twice in one day and hour long sessions or more, I don’t feel guilty about eating extra, and that’s what those weekly bonus points are for anyway. I think what they say makes sense, and I know I’ve been guilty of thinking runing 45 minutes means I can eat extra…when in reality those 45 minutes only burn 300-400 extra calories. 

There’s a great support system

There are many online forums for WeightWatchers users, but the app itself has its own social media platform. It’s a great way to connect with like minded people and get any questions answered from other users. You can upload photos as well, and it’s almost liek a combination of Facebook and Instagram. The WeightWatchers website has a lot of resources and recipes to help get you started. And of course, you can find a myriad of recipes on Pinterest! Oh also, the app gives a lot of values for popular restaurants. You might be shocked to know how many points some of your favorite entrees have. I was when I found out French Onion Soup is around 20 or so (insert crying emoji).

It’s flexible and non-restrictive 

I think this is my favorite part of it. I can’t believe that even with weekends of drinking and eating whatever, I’ve still lost 7 lbs. in 2 months. I mean, I’m also exercising but I haven’t been able to lose weight in  years and have just been stagnant. Since you get weekly bonus points (around 28) it really allows you be flexible and still indulge. I usually try to save almost all of those for weekends when I know I will be going out with friends. Or you can also have extra points daily if you want to have that sweet treat after dinner or a glass of wine :) According to WeightWatchers, even if you use all of your weekly bonus points, you should still lose weight.

So that’s that! I will continue to use WeightWatchers until I hit my goal…another 10-12 lbs. to go! It has taught me good portion control and even when I’m out and not tracking, I still know how much I should be eating and about how many points everything has. 

What do you think about not counting activity points towards extra calories/food points?

Do you find you eat more when you workout and justify with “Well, I worked out today sooo….” :)

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02-03-2016

My First Week Of WeightWatchers + My Grocery Store Picks

So I started WeightWatchers last week…and so far have lost 3 lbs.!! I have done WeightWatchers in the past but I was just calculating points based on calculators I found online. This time I decided to join the plan in order to get recipe ideas from them as well as their handy dandy app. Plus, I only really stuck with it for 3 weeks last time.

This time, I’m determined to lose at least 15 lbs. by summer. I just have not been feeling great about myself and need to lose fat. I store fat in my midsection which is even worse (this is the worst place to store fat).

Anyway, I decided to join WW with a friend. They’ve changed their point system to account more for added sugars and protein, which I really like. For example, one of their carrot cake snacks used to be 2 pts. and now it is 4. I think it’s important for people to cut down on their sugar intake.

So like I said, I lost 3 lbs in week one! This is a combination of my diet as well as working out way more than I have in recent times. I’ve been trying to do spin in the mornings and run in the evenings, though sometimes I run before spin, or I’ll do a run, then one of Ride & Reflect‘s 30/30 classes (30 min. spin and 30 min. yoga). This may seem like a lot but I have hit a plateau and knew I needed to switch things up and do more. I think many people, such as myself in the past, grossly overestimate how much they are burning in, let’s say, a 4-5 mile run…which leads to eating more, which leads to not losing weight.

I was running consistently, but definitely overeating. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far with WW:

  • My portions were too big. The first few days I was shocked by how “little” I was eating…definitely was not supposed to be eating that much pasta :) but I always justified it with, “I just worked out, I can eat this for dinner.”
  • When I’m tracking my food, I have more motivation to say no to things. I went to Starbucks and really wanted something, but all their snacks were at least 10 points or more! I knew that would leave me with very little for the rest of the day, so I said no.
  • Drinking tea helps. I’m sure you’ve all heard this, but drinking tea can help with cravings. So now before bed I drink this detox tea I bought, or a lemon ginger tea for digestion.

I’m really liking the program so far. I needed much more accountability with nutrition, and this is helping me stay on track. For some reason, if I’m just tracking calories on my own in MyFitnessPal, I just am not as motivated. Oh, I also got a food scale which I love! It’s been eye-opening seeing the actual portion sizes of things, like chicken or beef.

One last thing: I posted a new YouTube video on my channel today! It’s just a quick video of some of my favorite picks at the grocery store. Check it out:

And lastly, don’t forget to sign up for my 5 day fitness challenge! 5 days of workouts sent right to your inbox and one lucky winner will win a PlantFusion prize pack! You can sign up below:

Sign up for the 5 Day Fitness Challenge!

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Let me know if you sign up!

Have you ever tried WeightWatchers or a similar program?

What is harder for you, consistent exercise or consistent healthy nutrition?

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09-30-2015

Cajun Pasta with Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson®. The opinions and text are all mine.

When Tyson reached out to me to try out their Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Fully Cooked Refrigerated Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast, I was really excited because I already use their fully cooked chicken strips.

During marathon training, I don’t get home until 7 pm or so, and then am in no mood to cook, especially something that will take an hour or more. I’m all about the simply and easy meals. Well, Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Fully Cooked Refrigerated Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast makes that possible!

Since it’s fully cooked, all you have to do is warm it up, and cook your other ingredients. You can find these at WalMart, as well as their other Tyson® products.

Just a shot of my doing my WalMart shopping ;)

Just a shot of my doing my WalMart shopping ;)

Initially, I didn’t know what recipe I would create for this post, but then saw the perfect idea on the Tasty Facebook page (check it out for so many awesome recipe ideas).

This recipe is a one-pot cajun pasta recipe. I’ve never made a one-pot recipe, so decided to try and re-create it, though I did modify it a bit. I honestly did not expect it to come out like the video at all, but it was TRULY delicious and I will be including this into my dinner routine. Because the chicken was already cooked, it was quick and easy to make. Next time I just need to make more for leftovers!

Let’s go through the steps:

Try this quick and easy cajun chicken pasta recipe!  Perfect for busy nights.  #everydayeffortless

1. Throw in the chicken. I used about half of the package.

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2. Add in your cajun seasoning, onions, peppers and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and stir consistently.

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3. Add in your pasta (I used whole wheat), and enough chicken broth to cover everything. The recipe called for 5 cups, but I did probably around 3-4 then added water. I used Progresso Unsalted Chicken Broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

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4. Drain the broth/water to your liking, I took it all out. Then add in parmesan cheese and stir it well.

And voila, you’re done! I sprinkled some green onions on top and then devoured this meal ;)

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Cajun Chicken Pasta
Quick and easy one-pot meal!
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Fully Cooked Refrigerated Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast
  2. Cajun Seasoning
  3. Onions
  4. Peppers
  5. Garlic
  6. Pasta of your choice
  7. Chicken broth
  8. Other seasonings of your choice
Notes
  1. I'm not sure how much of the onions and peppers I used because I buy them pre-cut and eyeball my measurings.
Reach Your Peak http://reach-yourpeak.com/
I am excited to try other one-pot recipes. I liked the quickness of it AND not having a million dishes to wash.

If you like quick meals, I highly suggest you try out Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Fully Cooked Refrigerated Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast. The options are endless for what you can use it in, and it really is a time-saver when it comes to cooking dinner. Their hashtag is #everydayeffortless and it is true!

Another one of my go-to meals using this chicken is pasta + chicken + add-ins of your choice (I use onions and peppers) + pasta sauce. Simple and delicious.

Have you tried Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Fully Cooked Refrigerated Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast?

Do you have a “go-to” dinner recipe for busy nights?

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

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09-02-2015

6 Healthy Foods To Keep In Your Dorm Room

It’s back to school season! Which  means fall weather is right around the corner…bring it on!

Today was the first day of classes at the community college I work and coach at. I love seeing campus full again and am always jealous of  first year students…such an exciting journey ahead of them.

If you’re living on a college campus, you probably only have a small fridge and microwave (if that) in your dorm. Side note: as a higher ed professional, we were taught to say “residence hall” instead of dorm, but I’m going to stick with dorm ;)

Even if you don’t have a fridge, you can still stock up on some healthy foods and snacks which will be perfect when you’re on the go or just hungry and lounging around in your room.

Keep reading and I’ll talk more about these items!

6 Healthy Foods To Keep In Your College Dorm!
Protein Powder

I love PlantFusion protein – it’s free of all major allergens and plant based. I’ve tried other plant based powders but didn’t like the chalky taste or after taste. PlantFusion has a variety of flavors (like cookies and creme!) and also has a nutritional shake called Phood, which is more of a meal replacement type shake. You can order samples of their different products on their website for just $10! Can’t beat that.

While I had never even thought to buy protein powder in college, it’s a good thing to have on hand. You can easily make shakes with just water, or if you do have a fridge, you can stock up on almond milk, fruits, etc. to make delicious smoothies for breakfast or snacks.

Nektar Honey Crystals

I should have added tea to this list but oh well. If you’re a tea lover, Nektar Honey Crystals are perfect for you! I have been working with the Nektar team for a bit, but genuinely love the product.

I have written about them before, and love that they are perfect for on-the-go. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought my honey bear (lol at that phrasing) to work and have it leak all over my lunch bag. They also just released a pourable bottle which is perfect for baking. If you bring tea to class (or oatmeal), pack a few of these packets and you’re good to go.

Peanut Butter

Does this even need an explanation?? Stock up on peanut butter! Eat it by the spoonful or spread of on apples and bananas. My favorite pre-workout snack is a piece of bread with peanut butter and sliced bananas on it. I also always add peanut butter to my oatmeal and overnight oats. Oops, just realized I should have added oatmeal to this list too!

Granola Bars

I love Nature Valley bars, but this new product is now my favorite granola bar (the simple nut bar). Minimal ingredients and a great snack to pack in your bag. Also good for pre and post-workout. When shopping for granola bars, make sure to read the ingredient labels…some are packed with random ingrediets and loads of sugar!

Larabars

These are also another good snack option. I like them because they can be kept anywhere (cold, hot, etc.) without it going bad. So you can keep a few in the car or in your purse for emergencies. While they do have a bit more sugar than I would like, I’m comforted by the fact that it is all-natural. I like to snack on these before runs for a little energy boost.

Beanitos

These are a recent discovery of mine. I have tried the BBQ flavor and the restaurant style and both are delicious! If you love chips and salsa, try Beanitos. It’s a healthier alternative to other chips. I eat them with hummus as well. Dan doesn’t like beans so he’ll never try them, but I swear it does not taste like beans!

Have you tried Beanitos? Let me know if you do.

What would you add to the list? What are your favorite on-the-go snacks?

If you’re starting school, tell me what college you’re at! Maybe we are Big 10 rivals ;) #Rutgers

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04-15-2015

Why You Should Include Sweet Potatoes In Your Diet + 5 Delicious Sweet Potato Recipes

Hi everyone! I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve blogged haha. I was in Paraguay for 13 days and am finally home today! My flight got in at 6:45 am, so needless to say I will be sleeping all day ;) That’s why I have a guest post for you today from Laura, who blogs at This Runner’s Recipes

I can’t wait to try these sweet potato recipes! I’ll let Laura take it from here!

Sweet Potato Recipes

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Hi, everyone! My name is Laura, and I blog over at This Runner’s Recipes, where I talk about my passion for running, fitness, and food.

One of my favorite foods, which becomes quickly apparent if you read my blog, is sweet potatoes! I eat one of those delicious bright orange vegetables every day and never get sick of them.

As simple as they are, sweet potatoes are one of the best foods you can include in your diet, especially if you are training for a race or pursuing other fitness goals! Why should you include sweet potatoes in your diet? Here are four reasons:

Sweet potatoes are great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber.
Our bodies need carbohydrates to fuel exercise, especially if you run, cycle, or swim. A medium sweet potato (approximately 1 cup or 200 grams) contains 41 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber, and only 180 calories. The carbs will provide you with the energy needed to fuel your fitness and the fiber will help you feel fuller longer. Additionally, sweet potatoes are grain-free, which makes them an ideal option for those who avoid gluten and grains due to sensitivities or diet.

Sweet potatoes can help replenish your electrolyte levels.
No need to reach for a huge bottle of Gatorade after every workout—sweet potatoes can help replenish lost electrolytes. Without getting too technical, electrolytes are electrically-charged ions in our bodies that keep our nerves, muscles, and heart functioning properly. These ions include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride. While you may want to supplement with sports hydration products after harder efforts where you lost a lot of fluid, sweet potatoes provide electrolytes without the high amounts of sugar found in many sports drinks. One medium sweet potato has 76 mg of calcium, 54 mg of magnesium, 950 mg of potassium, and 72 mg of sodium. A little bit of sea salt will add in more sodium if you’re a salty sweater.

Sweet potatoes are full of necessary vitamins and minerals.
If you exercise regularly, you need to make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals to support your active lifestyle. For example, many active women can experience low iron levels and anemia, so it’s important to eat iron rich foods. Sweet potatoes provide 8% of your daily iron levels, which is a good amount for a vegetarian source of iron. Sweet potatoes also provide more than your daily need of vitamin A, nearly all your daily value of vitamin C, and plenty of vitamin K and vitamin B6. Forget taking a multivitamin pill, just eat some sweet potatoes!

Sweet potatoes are affordable and always available.
Eating a clean and healthy diet can get expensive, especially when you add it on top of a gym membership or race fees. By eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, you can help lower the cost of your grocery bill while still eating a healthy. Sweet potatoes are almost always in season and easy to find at local grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Additionally, they are one of the most affordable foods in the grocery store, usually costing $1-$2 per pound. Sweet potatoes can store for a few weeks in a cool, dry, and dark place such as the pantry.

So now that you’re going to add sweet potatoes to your diet, here are five delicious sweet potato recipes!

Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potato fries are one of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes. They get a crispy on the outside, a soft inside, and only take about 30 minutes to prepare! Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wash the sweet potato and slice it into thin slices. Usually, I cut the potato in half widthwise and then slice the fries from there. Toss the slices with ½ tablespoon olive oil (or oil of your choice) and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, and be sure to toss halfway through so the fries cook evenly.

Sweet Potato Hash
Whether you make this for breakfast or dinner, sweet potato hash is a comforting, filling, and easy to make meal that serves one but can easily be increased to serve more. Heat a small amount of olive or other oil in a pan and add a diced onion. Chop a sweet potato into small pieces (about ¼ to ½-inch) and cook until browned and tender. Wilt some spinach in the pan, season with salt and pepper, and topped with two eggs cooked as desired.

Sweet Potato Tacos
This vegetarian taco recipe is a healthy take on a Mexican favorite! Chop a sweet potato into bite-size pieces, season with salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper to taste, and cook on the stove until tender. Toss with black beans, cilantro, and diced onion, top with avocado, and serve on whole wheat or corn tortillas.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Add an extra nutritional punch to your salad by topping it with roasted sweet potato. To perfectly roast a sweet potato, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, chop the potato into about 1-inch chunks, toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and seasoned as desired. Roast for about 35-45 minutes or until tender. While you can top any salad with roasted sweet potato, it is especially good with spinach, almonds, goat cheese, and carrots and an apple cider vinaigrette.

Crispy Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
I originally posted this recipe on my own blog, but it’s just too good not to share here! Roast a whole sweet potato at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Halfway through the cooking time of the sweet potato, toss about ¾ cup of chickpeas with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Roast the chickpeas for 25-30 minutes, stirring a few times so that they cook evenly. Split the sweet potato open, stuff with the roasted chickpeas, and finish off with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

5 Sweet Potato Recipes
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How delicious does that look? There aren’t sweet potatoes in Paraguay (or at least that I know of) so I can’t wait to have a nice, hot dinner with some sweet potatoes :)

What is your favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes?

I also want to try making noodles of of them…do you cook them first or after?

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03-18-2015

The Plight Of The Honey Bee + Nektar Honey Crystals Review

Disclaimer: Nektar Naturals provided me with product. All opinions are my own.

Did you know the honey bee population in the US is declining? I didn’t know until I started working with Nektar Naturals, who makes Nektar Honey Crystals. I’ll give you more info on that in a minute.

The plight of the honey bee...do you know how it affects you?

According to the US Department of Agriculture:

The honey bee population in the United States has been declining for decades. The number of managed U.S. honey bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947, to just 2.5 million today.

Last summer, the USDA provided $8 million as “incentives for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin farmers and ranchers who establish new habitats for declining honey bee populations.”

So why should we care?

When you think of honey bees, you might only be thinking of them pollinating flowers, etc. But bees are responsible for a lot of the crops we might be eating on a daily basis. The USDA Agricultural Research Service states:

Commercial production of many specialty crops like almonds and other tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables depend on pollination by honey bees.

I really never even thought of those things in relation to bees. In California, approximately 60 percent of all manage honey bee colonies (1.4 million colonies) are used for the almond industry.

Colony losses can be linked to pathogens, colony collapse disorder (where beekeepers just find dead colonies with no bees), weather (like unusually hot or cold), and more. The USDA is still researching factors and what might be causing this vast decline.

A tip they give to the public is to not use pesticides during the day, when bees might be out looking for nectar or pollinating plants. 

Again, I had never even thought of any of this! So what does this have to do with Nektar Honey Crystals?

Well, I first heard of the plight of the honey bee through working with them. On their website they talk about using eco-friendly materials for all phases of production whenever possible. The company states they support the efforts of the research being done in this field to stop this decline.

So what are Nektar Honey Crystals?

They’re exactly that. Honey crystals! Jeremy Edelman, founder, was tired of the sticky mess of honey bottles and jars. As a tea drinker myself (and someone who eats oatmeal on the go regularly), I can relate. I don’t take my honey bottle with me because it’s just a mess. 

Anyway, that’s how the honey crystals were born! 

Nektar Naturals
The honey crystals are all natural granulated honey. 1 packet is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of honey. They are naturally gluten-free, GMO free, Made in the USA (!), and Kosher.

I’ve tried it in my oatmeal and teas, and have spread the word to my best friend and my family…who also love it. Here’s an oatmeal shot from my friend:

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.49.50 AM
You can use them for a lot of things, such as baking (protein pancakes anyone?)

pancakes
Or a myriad of other recipes. Here are a few actually from fellow bloggers:

All great ideas I would have never thought of…and that’s why I’m not a food blogger ;)

Nektar also provides recipe ideas on their website, from sweet potato fries to an apple honey cocktail (yum). They also mention using it as a sports drink. Add in honey crystals to your water, add lemon, and you’ve got home made Gatorade. Honey contains natural electrolytes and sugar for that boost you need. I haven’t tried this but will once I start doing longer runs…stay tuned for my review on that!

You can find Nektar at most grocery stores, such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Shop Rite (for my NJ peeps). Use their store locator to find a store near you.

Giveaway

Lastly, they are hosting a giveaway that ends March 20. You can win 3 different cannisters of tea from Bare Tea, which makes organic whole leaf teas, 2 boxes of Nektar Honey Crystals and 2 mugs. Want to win? Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m going to keep doing research on the honey bees because now I’m intrigued. I really had no idea. It’s funny how we can take simple things, like honey and honey bees, for granted and not even give them a second thought. 

Did you know about the honey bee decline?

What is one environmental issue you feel strongly about? For me it’s deforrestation. Sigh.

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02-18-2015

My WeightWatchers Review

For the past month or so, I’ve been trying to follow WeightWatchers in order to improve my eating and see some results from the gym. Nutrition has always been the hardest part for me when it comes to being healthy. I mean, for the most part I eat healthy. My main meals always include good sources of protein, fat and healthy carbs. It’s the afternoon and evening sweet cravings that get me! I never, ever get cravings for anything salty, like chips, but my sweet tooth is ridiculous. I’ve been trying to rein that in.

I really like WeightWatchers because you’re not restricted as to what you can or can’t eat. I had tried paleo and Whole30 in the past but it was just too restrictive for me. I would do it for a month but just couldn’t wait to get back to including things like oatmeal or rice in my diet. It just wasn’t for me.

WeightWatchers Review
I’m not saying WeightWatchers lets you eat anything you want…there is accountability. Basically, you get a certain number of “points” you can eat per day, which you need to calculate (I use this website). I haven’t officially joined WW yet, so I have to use websites to figure out my points (as opposed to their own website and app, which you need to pay for). I will probably sign up in the near future, just because it will make things much easier.

Anyway, you get your points value, and that’s what you can eat. So you can go ahead and eat that slice of pizza, but just know it will cost you 7 points. Vegetables and fruits have 0 points. You also get activity points (extra points if you workout that day, which you can choose whether or not to use) and a weekly allowance of 49 extra points (if you think you might splurge, like I did this past weekend at a wedding). You don’t need to use those 49 points at all if you don’t want to.

So far, I’ve lost 5 lbs in about a month, and that’s without following it 100% (weekends I’m a bit more flexible with myself). I had written up a review last year about the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, and I’d say this is kind of comparable. You can eat what you want, as long as you track it when it comes to your points (or containers for 21 Day fix). I do plan on posting results once I finish my workout plan I’m testing out for my ebook, and continue to follow WW.

Let’s outline some Pros and Cons, in case you’re thinking about WeightWatchers:

Pros

  • Flexible eating – nothing is off limits (like grains in the paleo diet)
  • Pretty easy to calculate points. You pretty much eat the same things day in and day out (at least I do), so you’ll quickly memorize point values.
  • Easy to follow without the paid version, and even easier with paid. The paid app gives you point values for restaurants, and allows you to scan items, search for foods/dishes, etc.
  • I like the 49 weekly points you get in case you do want to splurge. I am all about moderation. If I want a cookie, I’ll have it. If I go to an event or outing, I don’t want to feel deprived.
  • Activity points are great too because the more you’re active, the more points you get per day (if you want to use them). I get 26 points, but each day I workout I get an extra 4-6 points.
  • Paid version = weekly meetings. My friend loved going to meetings and talking about issues relating to losing weight and food with others. Also a great way to meet some like-minded people.
  • Provides a different way to look at food, at least for me. I now think twice before getting a pastry from Starbucks (a small caramel square is 11 points!) and eat more vegetables and fruits because they’re 0 points and are a great way to curb hunger.

Cons

  • If you do it on your own, like me, calculating points can be a pain. Not necessarily the simple stuff (like a granola bar), but restaurant meals (how many points are in a Chipotle chicken bowl??)
  • Can also be a pain to know points for things you make. I made eggplant parm with tomato sauce and mozzarella, but didn’t measure out that stuff, so no clue how many extra points that had. I usually just guesstimate.
  • At first, you will probably feel hungry a lot like I did. I was used to eating whatever, whenever. Even though I was eating healthy snacks throughout the day, I was snacking whenever I wanted to. Following WW meant I had to have times to eat and snack, so that I didn’t use up all my points by noon. It does take some getting used to, but if you go over, no worries, that’s what your 49 points are for.

I really like this plan, and it’s probably a nutrition plan I’ve followed for the longest time. I wanted to share with you in case you’re interested or are looking for a way to hold yourself accountable with food. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’d tried WeightWatchers too!

Do you have any WeightWatchers recipes you could share?

Have you/do you follow a nutrition plan, or do you just go with the flow each day?

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