Mama Sana Life

I’m Julie. A 28 year old mama, daughter, sister, friend, and lover. Actor turned pre-Med and environmental science student. Big city dweller to small town settler. Certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. “Mama sana” means “healthy mama”; Mama Sana Life is a healthy lifestyle blog for all mamas. It’s helpful, inspiring, and most of all, attainable. 

Mama Sana Labor-Inducing Cookies

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I'm about a week from my due date, and any mama who is or has been here knows what that means. I'M READY TO GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME!!! Since 38 weeks, I've tried about every thing to get the labor ball rolling. From rockin' and rollin' on a exercise ball (for a week straight now), walking, eating pineapple like it's going out of business, sex (literally only for the sake of jump starting this birthing process, because right now sex is the last thing on my list of things I wanna be doing), and even dousing everything in hot sauce. I know, I know, she will come when she is ready, but I'm just giving her a lil' nudge, a lil' hint, an eviction notice per say. Yesterday a friend gave me a suggestion that I haven't tried yet; Labor-Inducing Cookies. Yes, cookies that supposedly help bring on the onset of labor. I mean, I dunno about y'all but she had me at "cookies", real talk. I figured I'd give it a shot. Nothing to lose and cookies to gain, am I right?! I made some changes to the original recipe to make it a little cleaner, gluten-free and dairy-free, but just as yummy! 

 

Mama Sana Labor-Inducing Cookies

2.5 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
8 TBS coconut oil
1/3 cup of agave
1 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup of molasses
2 egg whites

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
-In a larger bowl, blend coconut oil until softened, then slowly stir in coconut sugar and agave.
-In the same bowl, add molasses and egg whites. Stir well.
-Finally, add dry ingredients to your mix, stirring well.
-Roll 3/4 inch balls on a lightly greased, or parchment paper lined, cookie sheet and bake in oven for 10-12 minutes until browned.
Yields: about 25 cookies.

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These cookies taste better than I'd expected. They're like a fluffier, spicier version of a ginger snap, or gingerbread cookie. Not too too spicy, but have a glass of water on hand. I wil let y'all know if they work! ::fingers crossed:: I would love to hear if any of y'all have success with these cookies, too. Hopeful laboring, mamas! 

Mama's Potato-Leek Soup

I dunno about y'all, but after Thanksgiving (and the 3 days of it's leftovers), my body yearns for something healthy, light and, of course, satisfying, and what sounds better than a soul-warming, simple soup right about now? A household favorite of ours is my Potato-Leek Soup. This soup is made of a handful of ingredients and yet is chocked full of flavor. It, literally, takes 30 minutes from start to finish and will be gone in less than 15. Mark my words! The potato and white beans are fulfilling, the leeks provide flavor like no other, and the kale, well you already know that kale is the bizniz (fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, the list goes on...)! Plus, it's vegan and gluten-free!

Mama's Potato-Leek Soup
Ingredients
1.5 lbs of blushing belle potatoes, quartered
1 large leek, sliced
3 stalks of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of herbes de provence
1 can of northern white beans
4 cups of vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
-In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute for 5 minutes, or until soft.
-Add spices and saute until fragrant for about 1 minute.
-Add potatoes, beans, and broth.
-Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat,and cook for 15 minutes.
-Add kale and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
-Season with salt and pepper to your liking; VOILA!
Serves 4.

My family loves this soup served with toasted bread to soak up the yummy broth, but it's just as delicious without. Hope this warms y'all up! Enjoy!

Turmeric Banana Bread

Turmeric, aka the "Queen of Spices" is a golden colored herb with a sharp taste and a pepper-like aroma. It is a fairly common herb that is cooked with worldwide. Turmeric is a "jack of all trades" type herb that contains antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Not to mention, it's packed full of vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, niacin, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It's no wonder that turmeric can be used to treat all sorts of health problems. From arthritis, to diabetes, to lowering cholesterol, to strengthening the immune system and even preventing against certain cancer cells; turmeric is a wonder spice!

You can incorporate turmeric in many ways. Add it to rice, try it with greens, or even blend it into your smoothie! One of my favorite ways is baking with it. Specifically, baking it into banana bread! I love the flavor combo of sweet bananas and the earthy flavor of turmeric together. Plus, the numerous health benefits of the added turmeric are an awesome bonus to this tasty treat! 

Turmeric Banana Bread

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup of coconut oil
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric A pinch of salt
1 tbs of honey
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a food processor, or blender, cream the coconut oil, honey, applesauce eggs, and vanilla together.
  • Once creamed, add the almond and coconut flour, spices and baking powder.
  • Add the mashed bananas and combine evenly.
  • Transfer mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Keep an eye on them, as you don't want to overcook them, or they'll be dry.

My family LOVES this gluten-free, dairy-free recipe. It's delicious alone, or topped with your favorite nut butter. I love it with almond butter! Play around with different spreads and/or toppings. I'm sure you can find many ways to enjoy Turmeric Banana Bread!

 

Chili Weather

It’s finally beginning to feel like fall around here, which means its soup and chili season!! This is one of my favorite seasons because, a.) its delicious. Who doesn’t love a good soup and/or chili?! and, b.) its super easy! The hardest part (and its not hard, as much tedious) is chopping up the veggies. Such a low maintenance meal. I love low maintenance. I dunno about you, but as it’s been getting colder, I’ve been wanting nothing more than to be comforted in the arms of a warm, hearty bowl of chili.  And you know when you give a southern girl some chili, your gonna have to give her some cornbread, right? (Don’t worry, I got you. 57 calories a pop AND gluten-free ::insert sly smile::) My go-to chili recipe is my Four Bean Veggie Chili. Not only is it chocked full of protein from the kidney beans, black beans, white northern beans, and garbanzo beans, but its packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C from the red, orange, and yellow bell peppers. I promise you won’t be missing the meat in this loaded chili, my meat-loving friends!

 

Four Bean Veggie Chili
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yields: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbs Olive oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
5 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Serrano Pepper, chopped (optional, some like it HOT!)
3 Bay Leaves, crushed
2 Tbs Dried Oregano
1 Tsp Cumin
1/4 Cup Chili Powder
1 Tbs Salt, or to taste
1 Tbs Pepper
1 Can of Crushed Tomatoes (!5 ounces)
1 Can of Kidney Beans (15 ounces)
1 Can of Black Beans (15 ounces)
1 Can of White Northern Beans (15 ounces)
1 Can of Chickpeas (15 ounces)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Stir in onions, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and salt. Cook, stirring until onions are softened.
  • Add bell peppers, jalepenos (again, OPTIONAL!), and garlic.
  • When peppers are thoroughly heated, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, and black pepper.
  • Add the beans and increase heat, bringing chili to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.
  • Top with shredded cheese and avocado, if you please!

Guilt-Free (Gluten-Free) Corn Bread
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings

Ingredients: 2 Tsp Olive Oil
1 cup Cornmeal
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup Almond Milk
1/2 Tsp Apple Cider
1 egg or 1/2 Tbs egg replacer + 2 Tbs of water (if you're shooting for Vegan)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Add olive oil to cast iron skillet, coating the bottom, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until oil is hot.
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and baking soda.
  • Add in the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, and egg (or egg replacer) and stir until no lumps remain.
  • Pour the batter into the hot oiled skillet and bake at 450° for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  • Let cool before slicing.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, and tell me what you think!

Mama Sana Life Spotlight: Cynthia White

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I first met Miss Cynthia at a fitness certification and was immediately drawn to her. This beautiful woman with magical looking eyes' determination and strength is so captivating. As a teacher and coach at a high school, everyday she mentors and acts as a role model to many impressionable teen girls, and what a great woman do they have to look up to! In her spare time, this mama is busy attending her 17 year old daughter's activities; tennis, basketball, volleyball, track and swimming (so active, just like her mama!). So, just HOW does she manage to live a Mama Sana Life?

What does a day in your life look like?

Cynthia and her track girls after a Crossfit class. 

Some days I get up at 5:00 a.m. for a 3-mile run. Then I come home to relax a bit before my 6:30 a.m. CrossFit class, followed by a 15 minute ab session, in which I do about three days out of the week. Other days, I may just sleep in...well until 6:00 a.m., go to CrossFit at 6:30 a.m., and then I get my 3 mile run in. Then, I'm off to school where I am a special education teacher, track coach and an assistant athletic coach. After work, I tend to my motherly duties: attending my daughter's after school activities, making sure she has a nutritious meal, and helping her study for upcoming assignments. I somehow manage to get 3 workouts in 2 days out of the week. I go to the gym and workout with a friend, or I create my own HIIT workout. 

Why do you choose to lead a Mama Sana (healthy) lifestyle?

I just felt so sluggish and drained before I started eating healthy and working out. Living a healthy lifestyle makes me feel like I can conquer the world; I feel like Wonder Woman! I used to have issues with high cholesterol and indigestion when I wasn't so conscious about my health and now I no longer have those issues.

How does your family benefit from your Mama Sana Life?

My daughter has become more health conscious. She's not 100% there, but she has made a few changes. My son calls me up and asks about different workouts I think he needs to try. They see me living a healthy life and it's benefits, which increases the likelihood of them trying it, too. My parents and siblings also call on me for health advice and that makes me feel really good. I love being a positive role model for my family.

What is your morning ritual?

I wake up and workout! I see much faster progress when I do fasted cardio. Then,  I drink a protein shake with spinach and fruit, or I may opt for egg whites with veggies, oatmeal and spinach. I turn on the tv (mostly for background noise), while I surf the net for health related articles.

What is your favorite way of getting your sweat on?

I LOVE interval training. I'm an adrenaline junkie!

What is your favorite clean recipe?

A bed of spinach, topped with grilled chicken, strawberries, and pineapples. I don't have to use dressing thanks to pineapple juice, but when I do, I use a light vinegerette.

What is your number 1 tip you'd like to share with mamas aspiring to lead a healthier, happier life?

Try and think of working out and eating right as a priority; a necessity. Something that you HAVE to do. I think of it just the same as I think about my job. I'm not rich; therefore, I must work to make a living. Most set an alarm, so they won't oversleep for work, because there are consequences for missing work. Just like we go to work when we don't feel like it, we must do the same when it comes to working out. Set that same alarm to go to work on yourself!

 

Navigating through IBS

Since being diagnosed with IBS, or irritable bowl syndrome last week, I've been pretty much M.I.A from everything.  I've never experienced something so painful and debilitating; yes, even worse than I ever remember labor being. It, also, came out of nowhere totally throwing me off. One week I'm enjoying cheese and the next the very same delicious cheese, that I have never been able to live without, is waking me up in the middle of the night with intense, sharp abdominal cramping and pain. It's an incredible helpless feeling when it feels like your body is attacking you and you don't know why.

Did you Know?

  • Irritable Bowl Syndrome is a physical brain-gut dysfunction that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.
  • IBS is the largest chronic health disorder in the United States.
  • IBS affects twice as many women as men.

With the right diet, IBS symptoms can be prevented. Learning what works to control symptoms can be done through mere trial and error by trying different foods and seeing how your body reacts. Thanks to Heather's Tummy Care, here's an IBS cheat sheet: 

Heather's Tummy Care has been a heaven-sent for me during this time. Her cheat sheet along with her amazing products have been so helpful in alleviating my IBS pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. I look forward to trying her IBS friendly recipes from her book Eating For IBS 

I don't know why this happened to me.  Despite having a clean, healthy diet, I still developed this disorder, but I do know that I refuse to let it control or define me. Through informing myself and experimentation, I will figure this out. Change is hard, but living a life of pain is so much harder. Here's to getting through the obstacles life throws at us with vigor and grace; mama style! 

 

The Power of Chia

I'm sure you've heard the buzz by now about chia seeds. "Chia this, chia that," but it's only because chia seeds happen to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet.  Rich in nutrients and energy boosting power, this superfood is naturally found in Mexico. In fact, ancient Mayan and Aztec warriors relied greatly on the power of "chia", which translates to "strength" in Mayan. Chia, the very seeds responsible for those lush, green Chia Pets popular in the 90s (ch-ch-ch-chia!), are chocked full of nutrients, making them so very beneficial to our health. These tiny little seeds sure do pack a BIG ol' punch! 

Benefits of Chia Seeds

  1. Anti-Aging. Chia seeds are one of nature's biggest sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants fight the free radicals in our bodies. This speeds up skin repair, prevent premature aging, and prevents further damage. 
  2. Digestive Health. Thanks to the high fiber content (11 grams per ounce), chia seeds act as a prebiotic which supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. 
  3. Bone Health. You can find high amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, protein, and most importantly calcium in chia seeds, all of which are essential for bone health. In fact, chia seeds are a great source of calcium for vegans, or those who don't consume dairy. 
  4. Brain Health. Chia seeds are jam-packed with Omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon).  These fats are very important for brain health! 
  5. Improve Athletic Performance. Chia was considered "runner's food" by the Mayans because runners would use them to sustain energy while running long distances. Studies show that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance the same way a sugary sports drink would (minus all the sugar).
  6. Weight loss. Not only does chia seeds raise your metabolism, keep you feeling fuller longer, but it helps burn belly fat by keeping blood sugar stabilized. UMM, MORE CHIA, PLEASE!

Incorporating Chia in Your Life

There are countless ways to incorporate chia seeds in your diet. You can sprinkle a teaspoon or two over yogurt or oatmeal, or try adding it to your smoothie or salad. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes using chia seeds!

Almond Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup almond butter
1 cup oats
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs chia seeds
2/3 cup toasted coconut

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Roll & press the mixture into 1 inch balls, then place on parchment paper.
Place in freezer until firm, then transfer to an airtight container
Keep in refridgerator (good for 7 days) & enjoy!


Chia Pudding
1/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tbs of honey

Directions

  1. Pour coconut milk in bowl.
  2. Add chia seeds and whisk until well combined.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Pour in a jar, seal lid, and refridgerate overnight.
  5. Serve with fresh berries.
    Enjoy!

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Strawberry Chia Jam
16 oz of fresh strawberries, stems & leaves removed
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs Maple Syrup

Directions

  1. In a food processor, or blender, pulse strawberries to a puree of your desire (some like it chunkier than others).
  2. Add to a bowl with lemon juice, maple syrup, and chia seeds.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge.
    Spread over toast, or add it to your oatmeal, or yogurt!

Sometimes we don't have the time, or the want, to make something using chia seeds and thats okay, cause there's Mamma Chia to the rescue! Mamma Chia, the first of its kind, offers a variety of delicious chia foods and beverages that are all non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, and USDA Certified Organic. From drinks to squeezable pouches to snack bars, Mamma Chia's got it all!

 Mamma Chia has recently launched their Chia & Greens drink; yes, that's chia combined with the power of greens (a two birds, one stone kinda deal, if you ask me). Bonus points, cause they taste so good! Each of these refreshing drinks are not only loaded with our beloved chia seeds, but also greens, like kale, spinach, broccoli, spirulina, barley grass, and wheatgrass. The Soulful Greens (Lemon & Cayenne) was my favorite and a great kickstart to the day. Enjoy these drinks anytime you need the "power of chia"! 

 

Follow Mama Sana Life on Instagram at @mama.sana.life and keep an eye out for a Mamma Chia giveaway!

Mama's Easy Clean Snacks

I don't know about you, but I love to snack. I'm such a snacker.  Some days I just wanna nibble, but I don't want it to compromise my efforts at leading a "mama sana" life. It's like a mini-meal in between meals, and I like my meals, like I like my snacks; easy and clean. I know how easy it is to just go for that quick-fix (hello, bag of chips!), cause we're so famished and don't have the time (or patience) to make something beneficial to our bodies, but I got you. I've composed a list of my favorite, simplest, go-to clean snack recipes. I've got something salty, something sweet, something crunchy, something spicy, something cold; whatever you're craving, I'm sure I've got something that can itch that "spot"! 

Something Salty

Easy Guac
1 avocado
1/4 cup tomatos, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mash avocado to desired consistency.
  2. Mix in tomatoes, lime juice, salt & pepper.
  3. Serve with chips, fresh veggies (carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc.), or gluten-free crackers, like I did!

Something Sweet

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls

1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup almond butter
1 cup oats
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs chia seeds
2/3 cup toasted coconut

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Roll & press the mixture into 1 inch balls, then place on parchment paper.
  3. Place in freezer until firm, then transfer to an airtight container
  4. Keep in refridgerator (good for 7 days) & enjoy!

Something Crunchy

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale
1 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Thoroughly wash & dry (really well) the kale.
  3. Tear kale leaves in 1-2 inch pieces, discarding the tough stem and ribs, & place in a big bowl.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil & toss with your hands, coating them evenly.
  5. Arrange the leaves in a single layer, being sure NOT to overlap, on an undgreased baking sheet & sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. For extra crispiness, turn each leaf piece over at the halfway point.

Something Spicy

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

1 15 oz can of Chickpeas, rinsed, drained, & dried
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray or lightly coat cookie sheet/pan with olive oil.
  3. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  4. Spread chickpeas on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway (at 10 minutes).
  6. Remove and let cool.
    Eat 'em straight up or enjoy them topped over your salad!

Something Cold

Mango-Lime "FroCo"

Topped with unsweetened shredded coconut.

1/3 cup coconut milk
2 1/2 cup frozen mango pieces
1 fresh lime, juiced
2-4 tablespoons of honey, or agave
a pinch of salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor, or blender.
  2. Blend until you get the creamy, froyo-like texture you desire & there are no more mango chunks. Do not overblend because it will melt!
  3. Top with nuts, fruit, granola, whatever you'd like! Serve immediately! Enjoy!

I promise you, you and your family will LOVE these snacks!They are my personal favorites. I love how eating clean DOESN'T have to be hard and it CAN taste GOOD; anyone can do it! Feel free to try different things, mix it up and play around with different flavors. Maybe peanut butter, instead of almond butter, or a berry "FroCo", rather than mango, etc. The food world is your oyster! Happy snacking, mama! 

 

 

 

Mama Sana Life Spotlight: Georgia Tindall

Stroll into Balance Fitness Studio in the afternoon, on any given day, and you'll be greeted by a big welcoming smile on a mermaid-haired woman named Georgia (she has the BEST hair!). A native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Georgia co-owns the quaint studio located in downtown Cleveland, Ms, which offers reformer pilates, as well as, classes like Zumba, Piloxing, PiYo, and array of others group fitness classes. A certified reformer Pilates instructor, along with numerous other fitness trainings and certifications, Georgia instructs many of the classes offered, and is a favorite amongst clients. You can expect her classes to be challenging, energetic, and motivating. That "though she be but little, she is fierce" quote totally applies to her; she's a powerhouse! Georgia recently came back from maternity leave after having her first child, sweet darling Lilou, 8.5 months ago and it's a wonder watching her juggle new 'mamahood'. From breastfeeding to fitness instructor, I implore how she does it! 


What does a day in your life look like?

                                                  Little Lilou 

The start of my day all depends on what time little LiLou decides to rise and shine.  She usually wakes anywhere between 5 and 6am to eat, but we go right back to bed until anywhere between 7 and 8:30 am. I LOVE my morning sleep and I am trying to train LiLou to like it as well! I like to stay up late and sleep late! After breakfast LiLou and I play & watch the Today show in our PJs. I am also on my phone at this time checking the daily schedule at Balance, doing social media for the studio and checking in with Lauren, my partner. Pretty soon its time for her nap and I finally get myself ready for the day between 9 & 10 am, while having my second cup of Joe. Once she is up, I feed her again and we may go for a walk,/stroll, out to lunch, run a few errands, etc. and you guessed it its time for yet another nap! This is when I normally make my workouts for my afternoon classes, check in with Lauren again and do things around the house. She is up again and its time for me to feed her. Soon after I am off to the studio to teach B-FIT, SWEAT, Pilates, or Tabata. Then, I am back home and back into wifey and mommy mode. We hang out as a little family most nights and I may enjoy a nice glass of Pinot Noir (after nursing of course!). Our nightly routine consists of eating, bathing, nursing, winding down & finishing with our prayers. We usually get LiLou to bed by 9:30 pm. This is when Wesley, my husband, and I chat about our day, watch movies, and hang out, just the two of us.  I usually go to bed anywhere between 11:30-12pm.

Why do you choose to lead a mama sana (healthy) life?

In 2011, I was in a near fatal car accident that really opened my eyes to how quickly life can be taken from you. It was a life-changing moment that really pushed me to be the strongest, healthiest version of myself.  A lifestyle centered upon exercise and wellness is the way I choose to live my life because it makes me the best version of me. When I am being the best version of myself, I can be the best that I can be for my friends and family. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my healthy lifestyle with others as my job and, in turn, it helps me continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How does your family benefit from your mama sana life?

If I did not lead a mama sana life my family would probably not like me! And I can assure you that I probably wouldn’t like me either! I think the way I choose to live my life has rubbed off on my husband over the last few years, making him more health conscious and aware of healthy food choices and exercise habits. Seeing the changes he has made makes me feel good about leading by example in the way I choose to live my life. This type of lifestyle was shown to me by both of my parents. They both were physically active for as long as I can remember and were very aware of what they were putting into their body.  I hope LiLou seeing me live this way at such a young age will be an example to her on how to live a mama sana life. I benefited from my family's healthy lifestyle, so now I hope mine can benefit from me!

What is your morning ritual?

Wesley, my husband, normally wakes up with our daughter as I lay in bed slowly opening my eyes and waking up. He brings her to me and my day begins with her smile, nursing, & baby food depending on her last feed. While feeding her breakfast I make myself a BIG cup of half-caff coffee and I usually try and eat breakfast with her. I almost always eat the exact same breakfast during the week. I love a piece of cinnamon raisin wheat bread toasted, a spoonful of peanut butter, topped with banana slices and most days unless I am in a hurry I have a bowl of organic maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

What is your favorite way of getting your sweat on? 

Its hard to pick my favorite way to get my sweat on because I like them ALL! From running to yoga to playing tennis. I try to get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise every day. My body doesn’t function well not being active. Being a nursing mom, my day pretty much revolves around LiLou, but it also revolves around some sort of physical activity. Right now I’m really loving the HIIT SWEAT classes that we are offering at Balance. I like the intensity of pushing my body to go that extra step and the feeling of accomplishment when it’s over and my body is covered in sweat! No matter what, I strive to get 10,000 steps daily. Some days I easily reach this goal and some days its more of a struggle to get there and you may find me walking in place in my house to achieve it! 

What is your favorite clean recipe?

My favorite Clean Recipe off the top of my head has got to be Chicken Chili (maybe not the best meal during the summer, but its my favorite!)

Chicken Chili
1 LG can of crushed tomatoes- you could always be extra clean and crush a fresh one ;)
1 SM can of diced tomatoes (with a flavor that you prefer or use a fresh one here)
1 SM can of Chicken broth
1 Rotisserie style chicken (I use Simple Truth from Kroger)- pulled and shredded
1 Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper
1 White onion
1 SM bag of frozen whole kernel corn

Directions
Dump all ingredients in a large pot, along with the empty LG crushed tomato can filled with water, add seasoning to taste and let it simmer for hours (your house will smell delicious!)
You can always top with cheese, sour cream, or greek yogurt!

What is your number 1 tip you’d like to share with mamas aspiring to lead a healthier, happier life? 

Just start somewhere! Whether it be trying to take a walk a few times a week to watching your calorie intake. Just start! Don’t go for a “quick fix.” It’s a lifestyle and there is no ending date. Try and make it a habit. And if you screw up a day or two, or a week or two, so what! Start again! Never give up on trying to achieve a mama sana life, even if you have to start over multiple times a day! Your mind, body, & spirit will thank you! 

                             Georgia on a pilates reformer at Balance Fitness Studio.

On Vacay!

It's that wonderful time again, where the kids are out for summer and trips are a little more feasible. Be it a trip to the beach, mountains, or a new city, maintaining a "mama sana life" doesn't have to be hard. Besides, it's a "lifestyle". There is no diet, or rules, it is a way of life; a balance that only one's self can truly perfect.  I'm just here to share what has helped me, in hopes that it can be of some guidance to you. 

Although there are a few adjustments you might have to make from your everyday routine, I've rounded up some of the easy-peasiest ways of maintaining a "mama sana life" while on vacation.

Pack Wisely

You already know how easy it is to find an excuse NOT to do what you gotta do, so don't forget anything that might inhibit you from doing just that.  At least one or two outfits of the activewear persuasion, sneakers, armband, headphones, fitness tracker, headband; whatever you think you might need. If you are big into yoga, bring your mat! Same goes for your nutrition; bring your protein powder, or some bars, so that you don't just go for whatever. 

Keep Your Morning Ritual

I am a big proponent of morning rituals and I've discussed it here before. Whatever it is you do to prepare yourself for the day, take that with you. It will center you and set the tone for the day. I, personally, start every day with my Lemon-Cayenne Water to jump start my metabolism!

 

                                                                                     Eat Mindfully

 Siggi's has become a household favorite.

Siggi's has become a household favorite.

Just cause you're on vacay, doesn't mean you have to eat out for every meal. Make the grocery store your first stop, and stock up on some easy eats. For my family and I, breakfast is the easiest to eat in, so we stock up on yogurt, instant oats, and fresh fruits. If you're able to, make a nutritious dinner a few evenings. I realize not everyone has a full kitchen, kitchenette, or even a refrigerator, in their space, but just try and work around what you do have. 

 

Be Active

Be active in new ways. Try some unconventional types of fitness, like hiking (my personal favorite), kayaking, paddle boarding, or canoeing. They are all great cardiovascular workouts that'll have you burning calories while having a good time.  I like to ride bikes or run along the beach, as well, because, hello, the scenery! Rainy day? Keep it inside with an indoor workout, like my Cardio Burst,  or if the establishment you are staying at has a gym, take advantage of it!

 

Take It Easy

So you might not be able to be active to the extent that you want to everyday, or you weren't able to get your shake in, it's okay! Sometimes I feel like we let little things like these affect us too much and that meaningless stress can cause more harm than not being able to get that workout in. Just go with the flow, be conscious, and enjoy yourself. Besides, your on VACAY! 

 

 

Running with Jordan Simpson

Jordan Simpson is a Cleveland, Mississippi native and currently attends Delta State University, where she is getting her degree in nutrition and dietetics.  You can most likely find her at Balance Fitness Studio personal training, teaching reformer Pilates and cardio/strength classes, or out on the road, running! With numerous 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons under her belt, Jordan is my go-to girl for everything "running". Today we share some of her tips with you! 

Jordan's Must Haves.

A few items that make the run a bit easier and little more comfortable. 

Yurbud headphones, Urban Halo headband, lip balm, sunnies, Swiftwick socks, SPF, Nuun Energy tablets, Brooks Glycerin shoe, Nike visor, running belt, antiperspirant deodorant, and a fitbit!  

Stretch it out. 

Before AND after your run to prevent injury and improve performance. 

MUSIC!

Find you a playlist that keeps you motivated and pumped. Here's what Jordan's listening to: 

 

Mama Sana Life's guest trainer, Jordan, shares her tips for beginner runners!


With summer, literally, right around the corner, what better time to be outside. The weather is beautiful, the trees are green, and the flowers are blooming; take it all in, as you get a great workout in!

Here's a 6 week beginner runner's plan, courtesy of Miss Jordan, that'll get you in the swing of things! 

  To be performed as intervals. For example, on the first Monday, you'd run for 30 seconds, then walk for 1 minute, and repeat for 30 minutes. 

To be performed as intervals. For example, on the first Monday, you'd run for 30 seconds, then walk for 1 minute, and repeat for 30 minutes. 

                                                You can follow Jordan on Instagram:  @balancegal_tiu !

                                               You can follow Jordan on Instagram: @balancegal_tiu!

Ready, set, go! Happy running! 

Veggie Mama Burger

As a pescatarian (I only eat seafood), I have to play around and experiment a bit with food to find tasty alternatives. I'm not the type to sacrifice taste for ANYTHING. If I'm gonna eat, I'm gonna need it to taste GOOD. Very big on taste! I wasn't always this way, in fact when I first made the vegetarian transition, many moons ago, I'd settle for the frozen veggie patties, or veggie hotdogs, that when grilled, legitimately smelled like plastic, just cause that's all there was. It didn't dawn on me, until maybe last year, that hey, I could just make my own. And so I did just that! 

I knew I wanted to include quinoa in my veggie burger. It's packed with protein with essential amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, it's gluten-free and easy to digest. I love the texture and buttery, nutty taste of chickpeas, so I threw those in the mix. They, too, are choked full of fiber and protein, and are a good source of iron. Finally, to ensure they were full of flavor, I included an array of veggies; red onion, garlic, mushroom, carrot, celery, and red bell pepper. With the right seasonings, it turned out delicious!  

Healthy doesn't have to mean flavorless and these protein packed Veggie Mama Burgers prove just that!

Veggie Mama Burgers
Ingredients
1/2 cup of quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
1 can of chickpea, drained and rinsed
1 Flax egg (2 TBS ground flaxseeds and 4 TBS water, let sit for 5 mins)
1/2 a medium red onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium celery, chopped
5 medium bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp xantham gum (optional, but great to hold patties together better)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Mash 3/4 of the chickpeas, and leave the rest whole for texture.
    2.In a large pan, saute the onions for about 3 minutes, add the garlic for a minute , and then the rest of the vegetables and saute for another 4 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, sauteed veggies, flax egg, xantham gum, mustard and seasonings.
  3. Form patties, heat coconut oil, or olive oil, over medium heat and cook patties for about 3 minutes each side.
  4. Serve on buns, or lettuce "buns", with your choice of toppings, i.e. avocado, ketchup, mustard, onions, tomato, etc.

Makes about 6 veggie burgers

 
 
 
 
 

Served these babies with lettuce "buns" and a side of baked carrot fries. These were such a hit in my house. Even my stubborn little Sicilian mama loved them. That's how I know I did good! Hope you and your family enjoy! 

Foam Rolling

                                              Shirt: Allyn Hinton's Balance tanks available at  Balance Fitness Studio !

                                             Shirt: Allyn Hinton's Balance tanks available at Balance Fitness Studio!

You know when you're so sore, you can barely walk? So sore, at times, that you HAVE to skip a day, cause you're just THAT sore? Yeah, I've been there, but there's a remedy; FOAM ROLLING! 

What is it? Foam rolling, aka self-myofascial release, is a way of self-massaging to release muscle tightness. Applying pressure to target areas on your body aids in the recovery of muscles and helps them get back to functioning normally; elastic, healthy, and ready to get back to work. 

Where to use it? Target areas can be identified because they are usually sore, tight, and painful when pressure is applied. They can be anywhere from your calves and shoulder blades to your glutes and lower back. When rolling on these areas you will experience some discomfort or, even, pain, but it's a feels so good, it hurts, pain. Like stretching, it will feel soo much better when your done! 

Why foam roll? You know where there is a knot in a rope, and when you pull on it, it doesn't go away, it just get's tighter? That's kinda what happens to your muscles, too. Stretching only creates tension, the knot remains unaltered. Foam rolling helps break up these knots in the muscle, gets blood flow back to normal, and restores healthy tissue.  The deep compression helps break up and relax tight muscles and the adhesions formed between the layers of muscle and their surroundings.


The RocknRoller by the creators of RockTape is an awesome foam roller. It has patented surface palpates that push blood out of muscles to accelerate recovery. It's, also, super convenient with a carrying strap and removable end caps to store whatever it is you'd like. Plus, it comes with a Movement Manifesto, so you can learn more about foam rolling, and a lay-flat instructional poster on how to use the RocknRoller! 

RocknRoller Giveaway

Beginning May 11th-May 15th, make sure your following Mama Sana Life on Instagram (@Mama.Sana.Life), be on the lookout for the RocknRoller Giveaway post, like + share, and you have a chance to win your very own RocknRoller, as well as the carrying strap, lay-flat instructional poster, and the Movement Manifesto booklet. Good luck, mamas!

Veggie Breakfast Pizza

During the week, breakfast for me consists of a smoothie, quick oats, or yogurt. Don't get me wrong, I love it. I'm left satisfied and it's fast (cause ain't nobody got time for that), but on the weekends I yearn for something a little more hearty, which requires a little more effort, not that much more, but totally worth it!

This morning I wanted pizza (don't know if that's saying much, cause I always want pizza), breakfast pizza, to be exact. I've been oogling over pictures of pizza with cracked eggs over it for some time now, and I wanted to try it, so breakfast pizza it is! I opted for a gluten-free crust, just cause I really don't want to deal with the bloating and tummy probz all day, but if you prefer you can use the crust of your choice. I caramelized onions, roasted broccoli, and sautéed spinach to topple over the pizza, along with fresh mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and two eggs over easy. MOUTH-WATERING GOOD. 

Veggie Breakfast Pizza
Ingredients
Pizza Crust:
2 cups almond flour
2 tbs coconut flour
1 tbs oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 eggs
2 tbs olive oil

Toppings:
Tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 1/2 cup of red onion, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups spinach
1 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients of the crust and mix well.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the 3 eggs with the coconut oil until frothy.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together until dough forms.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a parchment paper-lined work surface. Top with another piece of parchment paper and roll the dough 1/4″ thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and slide the crust onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges have started to crisp and the crust has started to brown.
  7. At the same time, roast the broccoli florets in oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 15 minutes.
  8. Caramelize onions: Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan, lower heat and let cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until a rich brown color.
  9. Preheat oven to 500 degrees while you spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce where you want to place egg on pizza crust and sprinkle with some of the mozzarella cheese. Leave a small well in the center for an egg. Repeat on another part of crust.
  10. Crack one egg in a well and sprinkle a little extra mozzarella around it to help keep it in place. Repeat for other egg. Continue baking for 7 to 8 minutes until the egg is set to your liking.
  11. Take pizza out of oven and top with spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, caramelized onion, and cheese. Return to oven for 5 more minutes.
  12. Serve with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

This pizza is the best pizza I've ever made. The flavors compliment each other wonderfully and the egg was a perfect addition. It'd be perfect for a Sunday brunch (hint hint)! 

Matcha Green Tea

If there is one thing you should know about me, it's my love for green tea. I mostly only drink water and green tea. I consume green tea AT LEAST 4 times a day. Green tea is my life source. Okay, it's NOT my life source, but it definitely is my energy source. When I'm dragging my feet, usually around 3 o'clock (but are prone to drag at any hour of the day), I'm reaching for some green tea. I can, almost, hear the gasps; "not coffee?!?" Not coffee! No offense to the coffee lovers, but coffee's just not my cup of tea (ba-dum tsh!). Call me "sensitive Sally", but it makes me jittery and feel cracked out, so I pass!  

I have all kinds of the stuff. Coconut chai green tea, Egyptian mint green tea, lemongrass green tea, tropical green tea, blueberry green tea, good ole' regular green tea, caffeine-free green tea, and the list goes on. So, when I was asked to review Nature's Blueprint Organic Green Tea Matcha Powder, which I've never had, I was stoked! I LOOOOOVE GREEN TEA! 

What's So Great About Matcha? 

Before I even tried the matcha, the benefits had me sold, but I had to put it up to the taste test. First, I made the basic Whisked Matcha Green Tea. 

Whisked Matcha Green Tea
Ingredients
1/2 teaspoon of Organic Matcha Powder
4 oz of hot water
Directions

  1. Blend 1/2 tsp of Organic Matcha Powder with 4 oz of hot water to your favorite cup.
  2. Wisk well until powder is dissolved and becomes frothy.

 

This is a great method of making matcha for when you are short on time, like in the mornings. It's a quick 2 minute process.

If you're looking for a fancier, chilled, sweeter version, a Matcha Green Tea Frappé is delish and just as beneficial! 

Matcha Green Tea Frappé
Ingredients
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 cup ice
1 tsp Organic Matcha Green Tea powder
1 packet of Monk Fruit (or, Stevia, or 1 tsp Agave)
1/8 tsp of pure vanilla extract
Directions

  1. Put everything in blender and blend until smooth!

These are only two of the many ways to use matcha green tea powder. It can be used to make ice-cream, baked goods, or try a teaspoon in your smoothie! 

I really enjoyed the earthiness, followed by the sweet, woody aftertaste. What really won me over was the amazing, clean energy it gave me. I felt ready to tackle whatever, minus the raging heartbeat and jitteriness that usually accompanies energy of this magnitude. Strangely enough, I felt zen, too.  What an amazing feeling to be full of energy, alert and mind at ease. I definitely recommend Nature's Blueprint Organic Matcha Green Tea powder to anyone looking to boost their energy, yet maintain their "chill".  

Shrimp and Veggie Rice Noodles

I've been craving some Chinese take-out for sometime now, but I wasn't willing to put my body through the MSG and sodium overload that comes with it. SO, I opted for a Chinese Fake-out (get it?!) instead! I picked up some brown rice noodles that I'd been eyeing in the "health food" aisle, along with a colorful slew of veggies; red cabbage, snow peas, red peppers, carrots and scallions. For protein, I chose shrimp, but chicken, or tofu, would work, too. 

This dish was so easy (literally, not even boiling water needed). My family LOVED it and I scratched that Chinese take-out itch. WIN! 

Shrimp and Veggie Rice Noodles
Ingredients
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
3/4 pound of shrimp, shelled.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 cup red peppers, sliced
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, matchsticked
1 package of brown rice noodles
Directions

  1. Combine the broth, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of the sherry in a bowl.
  2. In another bowl, combine the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, and the ginger. Mix well, add the shrimp and coat.
  3. In a bowl, cover and soak the brown rice noodles with hot water for 8-10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
  4. In a medium-high heated wok, add the olive oil. Then, add the garlic, cook for 10 seconds until fragrant, and add the cabbage, snow peas, red pepper, and carrots. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp, along with any liquid and cook for 2-3 minutes until opaque.
  6. Add the scallions, drained noodles, and broth mix, and stir-fry for another minute, until the noodles are tender. Serve with soy sauce.

I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did! 

Mama Sana Life Spotlight: Lauren Caston

 Lauren at the top of the steps of Balance Fitness Studio 

Lauren at the top of the steps of Balance Fitness Studio 

 Sweet Romie and her big brother, Parker

Sweet Romie and her big brother, Parker

Lauren Caston, from Cleveland, Mississippi, is a mama to 18-year-old Parker and 7-year-old, Romie. Her mama duties range from baseball games and high school senior activities to  dance recitals and helping with 1st grade reading fair projects. Not to mention, she co-owns Balance Fitness Studio in downtown Cleveland, Mississippi, where she teaches cardio/strength,  step, Piloxing, and reformer pilates classes.  Through the hustle and bustle of 'mama-hood' and the running of a business, such as Balance, I ask Lauren how she does it all, along with maintain such great energy. Oh, did I mention she's a ball of energy?!


What does a day in your life look like?

 Walking through the doors of  Balance Fitness  

Walking through the doors of Balance Fitness  

At 5 AM, I am usually the first one up in my house. I start my day off with coffee, exercise (I teach BeFit, a cardio/strength class at 5:15 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays), and a little quiet time back home. Finally, I wake everyone up and get the day going. Everyones dressed and out the door by 8 AM, and I'm off to the studio. It's e-mails, phone calls, punching numbers, and everything that comes along with owning a business, with group fitness and pilates classes thrown in between. Then, by 3 o'clock,  it's time to pick up the little one, and I'm back on mama duty! 

 

What's your morning ritual? 

After coffee and my early morning class, I go home for MORE coffee and I use this time for my devotional to destress and reconnect a little before the crazy day begins. 

Why do you choose to lead a Mama Sana (healthy) lifestyle?

I, honestly, attribute leading a healthy lifestyle to MY mama! She has always taught me the importance of exercise and healthy eating habits. She'd tell me, "it's a way of life".  I really have never known any different. 

How does your family benefit from your Mama Sana Life? 

Just as I did, my children will learn, by example, how to lead a healthy life. Children learn so much by actions! Me choosing to live a healthy lifestyle will guide them into their own healthy futures. 

Love! Okay, so what's your favorite way of getting your sweat on? 

I am a cardio fiend! High intensity cardio classes, or running, gives me a natural high. Really any form of sweaty cardio works for me! Early AM sweat sessions are my FAVORITE! 

Favorite clean recipe?

Cabbage Stir-Fry

Ingredients
1 lb of lean hamburger meat
1 can of Rotel tomato
1 head of cabbage
1 cup of brown rice
Italian seasonings
Directions
Mix altogether in a skillet, voila!

YUM! Finally, what is your #1 tip for mamas aspiring to lead healthier, happier lives? 

 Sweat it out! Seriously. Also, take time for yourself every single day, even if it's just 10 minutes. You have to find a way to reconnect and destress from life's crazy distractions. Then, you can be a better wife, mother, friend, person; a better YOU! 

 In the reformer room, where Lauren teaches Pilates throughout the day. 

In the reformer room, where Lauren teaches Pilates throughout the day. 

If ever you find yourselves in the Mississippi Delta area, I highly recommend checking out Balance Fitness Studio. They offer an array of classes and specialize in reformer pilates. Visit www.BalanceFitnessCleveland.com for classes and schedule. 


Apple-Berry-Pear Crumble

I love the weekends. I get to spend time with the family and spend a little more time cooking up healthy, yummy meals for them, too. Today my little one asked me to make him a "berry crumble" for a snack. Random, I know, but it sounded like a good idea to me, so I was down! We had some fresh raspberries and blackberries, but not enough to make anything out of, but we DID have some apples and pears, and so the rest is history! It came out with the crumble nicely toasted with just the right amount of crunch, while the filling was sweetly tart, and the best thing of all is that it's completely clean and guilt-free (in moderation, of course)! 

Ingredients
2 apples, chopped
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
2 pears, chopped
2 TBS whole wheat flour
1/3 cup agave Syrup
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
dash of cardemom
Topping
1/2 cup softened coconut oil
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix apples, berris, pears, flour, agave syrup, allspice, vanilla extract, and cardamom in a baking, or casserole, pan or dish.
  3. Make the topping by combining the coconut oil, flour, oats, and sugar with a fork, mixing it together until it forms small crumbs.
  4. Sprinkle the topping over the apple/berrie/pear filling and bake at 45 min-1 hr until bubbly and golden brown.

This was SO good, even got the family approval (and they're a picky bunch). Also, a little birdie told me this taste amazing with vanilla ice cream ;) Enjoy! 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

As temperatures rise, I find myself craving lighter, more refreshing foods. Less soups, more salads, kinda deal. I want a plate of food that matches the vibrancy of the blooming world outside; a breath of fresh air for my palate. After all, it is SPRING! I love this time of year. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, so I'm in foodie heaven right now! One of my favorite spring/summer dishes is my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. It's a protein-packed dish (thanks to the quinoa) that is colorfully decorated with cherry tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, cucumbers, and feta, and MOST of all it's a breeze to make! I like that this is a versatile dish, in that, it can be served as a side, or as the main dish, say over a bed of spinach, or mixed greens.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of red onion, diced
1/3 cup of cucumber, cut in 1/4 inch slices and quartered
1/4 cup of pitted and sliced kalamata olives
1/2 tablespoon of oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
feta cheese, optional
pine nuts, optional

Directions

  1. Combine the quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooled completely, combine with the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and olives in a bowl.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Top with feta and pine nuts, if you'd like!

Serves 4.

I opted for the dairy-free, nut-free option of the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad tonight, but I can assure you that it is delicious either way. I served it with lemon-dill salmon and sautéed greens.  Bon appétit! 

Portion Aware

I, personally, don’t like saying, “portion control”. I feel like it gives it a negative connotation. Like my portions are so wild and out of control that they need to be subdued and held under CONTROL. Once I feel like that… subconsciously, I just wanna rebel, and well, thats no good, so I prefer to say, "portion aware”. Isn’t that so much better, though?

I never knew anything about healthy portion sizes, until I started to become more health conscious, a few years ago. Until then, I ate what was given me. From fast food joints to restaurants, it never dawned on me that I was being over served. In fact, I’m pretty positive that IF a restaurant served me a healthy sized portion, I was complaining that they were being stingy or jipping me. Am I right? I know I’m not the only one! But, that’s just how used we are to these jumbo portions. Our stomachs are used to it, too. These big meals stretch out the stomach, which, in turn, requires more food to fill up. It’s a vicious cycle that makes weight loss, and simple healthy eating habits, difficult. Difficult, but completely possible and worth it! Here are some easy, no-fuss guidelines to healthy portion sizes. 

The Hand System. 

This system uses the hand to measure food and nutrients—sans any counting, measuring, or weighing. Here is a good rule of thumb (pun totally intended!) from The Skinny Confidential

The Plate System 

This method allots veggies, or greens, protein, and grains a specified portion of your plate. Again, minus any math work or weighing, cause ain't nobody got time for that!  Heres a helpful guideline by One Medical Group

These are just a few (and the easiest!) of the many different ways to manage portions. Some count macros, some weigh their food, and some use color-coded tupperware (a la 21 day fix); it's about finding what works best for YOU.  If anything, let's make it an effort to be more portion aware. I hope this has been of some help! 

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