Monday, September 19, 2016

Trader Joe's Food Haul: My Favs

Trader Joe's has a way of making my life easier and tastier :)

I'm so excited that a new Trader Joe's opened up just walking distance from my apartment. I dropped in a few days ago and wanted to share some of the items I purchased along with ideas on how to use them.

Cauliflower Rice: I was making cauliflower rice before it was cool, and now it's EVERYWHERE! Now, Trader Joe's does most of the work by ricing the cauliflower for you. Use it for cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza, cauliflower pancakes, cauliflower bread, and cauliflower oatmeal! Not only is it easier than doing it yourself, it's also cheaper than buying a head of cauliflower.

Trader Joe's Sprouted Wheat Bread: Basically a cheaper version of Ezekiel bread. It's hearty and delicious, and perfect for avocado toast! 

Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs: I'm not vegetarian, but I do like vegetarian food. These are by far the best vegetarian meatballs I've ever had. My favorite way to eat them is with spaghetti squash and tomato sauce.

Trader Joe's Cilantro and Jalapeno Hummus: I usually just go regular, but wanted to try this flavor to spice things up. Use it on sandwiches, as a topping for chicken, as a dip for veggies, or even as a "dressing" for salad!

Trader Joe's Sweet Basil Pesto Smoked Chicken and Turkey Sausage: Healthier substitute for regular sausage! I love using this in stir-fries, pasta dishes, and even sandwiches (with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella- YUM). This is great to have on hand for quick meals.

Bagged Arugula and Spinach: I use spinach almost daily in my eggs, and was really feeling arugula for my salads this week!

Pastrami Smoked Atlantic Salmon: Smoked salmon can get pricey, but TJ's keeps it affordable. I used this in a giant salad with lots of veggies and goat cheese the day I bought it, then used the leftovers on TJ's Sprouted Wheat Bread toast with low-fat cream cheese!

I also loaded up on some essentials such as veggies, fruit, and eggs! What's some of your favorite products from Trader Joe's?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hair, Nails, and Skin Supplements: Do They Actually Work?

I was at a beauty event for Fashion Week recently. On the way out, I was given a goody bag that included a bottle of Nature’s Made Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies. It’s a pretty pink bottle that claims to provide “the vital nutrients your body needs to support your natural beauty from within"...

It’s no secret that everyone wants beautiful hair, nails, and skin. The idea of getting this by chewing a gummy sounds like a dream come true. But does it actually work….

OK, so let’s assume that you have brittle nails and thinning hair. Your skin looks tired and dry.  Let’s also assume that there are not underlying medical conditions contributing to any of these things. And let’s consider the following:

Brittle Nails: Cause by exposure to harsh solvents (nail polish remover, cleaners) and/or constant wetting and drying of the nails/hands and lifestyle choices such as smoking and poor diet.

Thinning, Dry Hair: Caused by excessive heat or harsh styling products, tight updo’s, coloring and perms, emotional or physical stress and poor diet.

Dry, Blemished Skin: Poor hygiene, tanning, smoking and poor diet.

Notice a trend here? Let’s say you don’t use harsh cleaners, you don’t wear heavy make-up, and you don’t color your hair. Then what we’re left with is nutrition. And guess what? A SUPPLEMENT WILL NOT MAKE UP FOR A POOR DIET. 

In case you still want to consider this supplement because you think your nutrition is on point, let’s take a closer look at Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails gummies. Here is the ingredient list:

Other Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Grape Juice Color Concentrate, Gelatin, Modified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Natural Strawberry Flavor, Black Carrot Juice Color Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Fractionated Coconut Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Carnauba Wax, Beeswax), Silica. 

So the gummy is mostly made of corn syrup and sugar. Awesome. 

Two gummies provide the following:

Currently, there are VERY WEAK, and VERY FEW quality studies on biotin and its ability to improve the health of our hair, nails and skin. And unless you are taking certain medications or have a medical condition that makes it hard to absorb nutrients, it is VERY RARE to be deficient in biotin. 

Instead of wasting your money on supplements, buy some high quality food. Not getting enough iron-rich protein could be a huge reason why your nails and hair are not as healthy as they could be. Some examples of iron-rich protein would be:

Chicken, turkey, lean red meat, tofu, eggs

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll want to assess your intake of zinc and iron since they are both essential to keratin formation. They are both naturally found in meats and some seafood, but as a vegetarian or vegan you can find sources of these nutrients in beans. 

Other things to consider: Decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet, mind your alcohol, drink plenty of water, and EAT ENOUGH. Malnutrition is the sure way to make everything look and feel like crap.

Creamy Cauliflower "Oatmeal"

This low-carb breakfast is as thick, creamy, and delicious as it looks- and its huggeeeee!! This will keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning. 


1 1/2 cups (150 grams) cauliflower florets 
2 tablespoons quick oatmeal
1 cup unsweetened cashew or almond milk 
2 packets stevia 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/3 cup liquid egg whites 
1/2 scoop protein powder 
1 tablespoon sugar free pudding mix (optional, but makes everything thicker and more flavorful) 


1. Rice the cauliflower in a food processor (basically blend until very finely chopped). Add the oatmeal to the cauliflower and blend it all together until they oats are basically a flour. Add this mixture to a pot with the milk, stevia, and vanilla. Cook for about 3 minutes. 

2. Slowly whisk or stir the egg whites into the pot-- stir constantly so the eggs don't set!! Once it starts to get fluffy (about 3-4 minutes) turn off the heat. 

3. Add the protein powder (I used @pescience ) and sugar free pudding mix (if using). Add your fav toppings!! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grocery Shopping: Best Brands Part I

Food labels can be confusing. While most of us know that whole wheat bread or yogurt is good for us, choosing the right brand can make or break our healthy eating efforts. Here's a couple of brands that have the best labels when it comes to sodium, calories, and quality of ingredients:

Bread: To make sure you're making the best choice, make sure the first ingredient on the label reads "100% whole wheat" or "stone ground whole wheat".

Ezekiel Bread
Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Pepperidge Farm Stoneground 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Yogurt: Your best bet is to stick to plain, unsweetened yogurt and adding in your own sweetener such as fruit, stevia, or a light drizzle of honey. When fruit is added to a yogurt it is mostly sugar (around 3-4 teaspoons!).

Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr
Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
Fage Total Plain Greek Yogurt (0% or 2%)

If you cannot tolerate eating plain yogurt, try on of the flavored Siggi's yogurts or Simply Chobani (this variation has less added sugar).

Oatmeal: Try adding cinnamon or fruit to sweeten plain oatmeal or try one of the following combos: peanut butter and banana, blueberries and walnuts, or strawberries and unsweetened coconut flakes. For a thicker, creamier oatmeal, try adding a spoonful or two of plain yogurt (see best choices above) or canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!).

Quaker Oats Old Fashioned Quick 1-Minute or Steel Cut
McCann's Irish Oatmeal

If you NEED a flavored option: Nature's Path Qi'a Superfoods Hot Oatmeal Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed OR Nature's Path Flax Plus

Cold Cereal: You want to find a cereal that is made with whole grains, has less than 10 grams of sugar, and has at least 3 grams of fiber.

Post Bran Flakes
Love Grown Power O's
Nature's Path Flax Plus

Condiments: Depending what you're using, condiments can be really high in sodium and calories. While the sodium may still be high for some of these items, they are better than most!

Annie's Naturals Ketchup
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sauce or Annie's Organic Original BBQ sauce
Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce
Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Dressings or Vinaigrettes
Annie's Lite Dressing
Bragg's Liquid Aminos (instead of soy sauce)