Riced Cauliflower: My Low Carb Hack

Riced cauliflower is my go-to low carb diet hack! I use it in both sweet and savory dishes because it doesn't have much flavor and its texture mimics foods like rice and oats. Cauliflower has 25 calories per cup vs. 218 calories for a cup of cooked brown rice. Cauliflower rice and cauliflower oats are easy and fast to make and are a great alternative to your favorite higher carb dishes. My favorite two low carb recipes are cauliflower fried rice and cauliflower oats - you get 4x the volume of food for the same amount of calories (and extra servings of veggies!)

I buy bags of frozen cauliflower and make 1-2 batches of riced cauliflower per week. Here's what you'll need and how to do it!

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower

(yes, that's it.)

How to Prepare:

  1. Add 1/3 cup of water to a pot and place on stove and bring to a boil.
  2. Add bag of frozen cauliflower to pot, reduce to a simmer and cover.
  3. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until you can easily cut through cauliflower with a knife.
  4. Remove from heat and drain.
  5. Let cool and cut cauliflower florets into fine "rice-like" pieces with a knife.
  6. Store in a clear air-tight container and leave in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For recipes that use riced cauliflower, check out the link below for savory dishes or go check out my blog post on low carb cauliflower oats!

Click image above for riced cauliflower recipes.

Click image above for riced cauliflower recipes.

successful dieting tips

The Truth about Dieting

The definition of a diet is the temporary and unsustainable restriction of food or calories. Most popular weight-loss diets call for extreme measures. In these instances you will lose weight, but there's two problems with this approach:

  1. Low-calorie diets are almost impossible to follow long term and 95% of people on conventional diets eventually regain it

  2. Most people neglect proper nutrition and training while dieting so that most of the weight they lose is lean body mass (muscle), not fat.

Most diets focus on eliminating certain food groups or certain ingredients, such as the paleo diet, low or “no” carb diets, or ketogenic diets. The problem with restriction and elimination is that more often than not, you will reintroduce those foods back into your diet, usually in large amounts because you have been depriving yourself of them, which in turn shocks the body. 

When you introduce a calorie deficit at the start of a diet, you will lose weight initially but it usually slows down over time and sometimes stops completely. That is why the law of energy balance, which states that if you consume fewer calories than you burn you will lose weight, is sometimes deceiving. This is because the math equation changes as you progress in your weight loss journey: as your body gets smaller, you need fewer calories to support it. In most cases, people fail to adjust their calorie intake to match their lower energy needs and they don't train or nourish themselves properly to maintain muscle, and then they get frustrated because their fat loss has stalled or plateaued. The truth is that your body has adapted to the calorie intake and in order to see fat loss at the same rate, you will need to drop your calories a bit more, and begin to incorporate cardio, if you haven't already. This can lead to a frustrating downward spiral, especially if you have no idea what your baseline calorie number should be! 

Your body can't tell difference between aggressive dieting and starvation. Your body’s starvation response is what keeps you alive in the rare instance that you have no access to food. When your body senses a severe drop in calories (like when dieting), your survival response kicks in. Even though dieting is a choice you make, not a life or death situation, your body thinks to itself, "it looks like this is all the food you're going to be getting for a while, so you better stop burning calories and save your energy." This ends up triggering your body's defense mechanisms that protect you from starvation and hold onto the weight that you so badly want to get rid of weight.

Keep these tips in mind in order to effectively transform your body and burn FAT not muscle. 

  1. Think “lifestyle” not “diet”
  2. Think “sustainable” not “temporary”
  3. Maintain your muscle, which is a fat-burning secret weapon. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest and while exercising.
  4. Cut calories conservatively. Aggressive diets are not maintainable.
  5. Burn the fat, don’t starve it.
  6. Train properly! Get off the treadmill and incorporate weightlifting at least 3x a week. Lift heavy weights and focus on increasing your strength! This will ensure that you are reshaping your body and boosting your metabolism. This will allow you to eat more AND still lose fat.
  7. The fastest way to transform your body is to eat more and move more, NOT eat less and move less.
  8. Lose weight at the right weight for YOU. You will be the only one who can tell what is possible and realistic. If your calorie deficit is too big, you will constantly be hungry, thinking and obsessing about food, and have decreased energy levels. Find a deficit that works FOR you, not AGAINST you.
  9. Healthy fat loss should be anywhere between .5-2lbs/week, depending on your body type. Inserting higher calorie days occasionally or cycling between high and low calorie days provides a physical and physiological break and actually optimizes your hormones and spikes your metabolism.
  10. Practice a dieting technique that works for YOU! I personally practice flexible dieting, which allows me to include my favorite foods in moderation and have no restrictions. I have ice cream almost every night. If I crave something, I eat it, and it prevents me from binging later on. Tracking my macros has allowed me to heal my relationship with food not associate negative words with any foods, like "cheat" or "unhealthy." 

If you have more questions about fat loss or want to talk to me about the best and fastest way to transform your physique, send me a message and I'd be glad to schedule a 15 minute phone call with you!

10 Hacks to Successful Meal Prep!

Successful meal prep happens when you look forward to eating the meals you create!

1. Pick your day to meal prep! Make meal plan manageable by planning out the 1 or 2 days a week to prep food for the week. I prefer Sunday afternoons and if I need an additional day, Wednesday nights.

 

2. Invest in tightly sealing food storage containers that are the RIGHT size for YOU. It will give you a perfect solution to portion sizes and ensure your food won't spill all over the place!

 

3. Scout pinterest or your favorite cookbooks and find 1-2 healthy meals to make for the week! Click the image below to get access to my favorite healthy recipes, and feel free to follow my Pinterest board! The more the basic the recipe, the longer it will last in your fridge, so aim for whole foods and staple items. Aim for making meals that have 1/4 plate lean protein, 1/4 plate starchy veggie, 1/2 plate fibrous veggie!

 

4. Stick to your grocery list. Go to the grocery store with a plan or a list, and get those things only! I like to write down all that I need and go to the store with a purpose. The only time I like to buy outside of my list is when things are on sale in the fruit/produce area! It also great to cook with veggies that are in season.

 

5. Chop/cook/spiralize veggies in advance! This is a LIFESAVER! On Sundays, I chop up my lettuce, my squash and zucchini, and cook my frozen vegetables, that way I don't have to take out my cutting board every night and waste time washing, chopping, and slicing veggies. I put them into clear separate bulk containers so I can see what is in them … and then my fridge turns into a mini-Chipotle! It's a huge timesaver especially on weeknights when all you want to do is put a bowl of food in the microwave and eat it! 

 

6. Cook a huge batch of quinoa or rice ahead of time. Leave it in a clear container so you know what's inside and take a necessary portion out for dinner! Top with tons of veggies and a portion of lean protein for a homemade burrito bowl, without the Chipotle prices! I eat this almost every weeknight and can switch up my toppings as I please so I never get bored.

 

7. Cook your protein ahead of time in a crockpot or if you only have 20 minutes, boil your chicken and make healthy chicken salad! Take advantage of cooking methods that allow foods to excrete natural juices that you can use to season everything else in your meal without the extra calories.

 

8. Bag up smoothie ingredients. Ensure you don't add too many unnecessary calories to your smoothies by make pre-packaged smoothie bags and throwing them in the freezer. This is a super easy on-the-go way to get a smoothie without paying an outrageous amount for it!

 

9. Use mason jars for salads (or any meals for that matter)! Not only are they pretty, but they are practical, microwave safe, transportable, and air-tight.  The vertical shape makes them great for salads because the dressing is at the bottom and the greens are at the top ensuring you won't have a soggy salad by the time you get to each lunch!

 

10. Keep your eyes on your goals! Every time you are tempted to eat outside of your meal prepping, think about the health, fitness, and financial goals you have. Meal prepping will save time, quicken your results, and the more you do it, the faster you will get at it. I have narrowed my meal prep down to 90 minutes, 1 time a week!! I encourage you to start now and you'll be on your way to success not only in the kitchen, but you will see results in the gym much faster if your diet adheres to and supports your training!

Drop hundreds of calories from your FAVORITE meals!

There are so many ways to turn your favorite savory or sweet dishes healthy. Save yourself thousands of calories by swapping out traditional ingredients for healthier ones. Below is a list of alternatives for everything high calorie, from salad dressings, maple syrup, pasta sauces, butter, oil, and especially things laden with tons of hidden calories. The amount of sugar and fat in the American diet has increased tremendously, as have the rates of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Currently, 66% of the population is overweight and 34% of the population is obese. Those numbers are not only scary but continue to rise steadily. A way to address overeating is to remove the excess sugar and fat from your diet through healthy substitutions! See my recommendations below for ways to keep your favorite dishes in your diet, while eliminating all of the unwanted and unnecessary calories. Food should be fun, and calories shouldn't limit you to not enjoying your favorite foods. Hope you enjoy my suggestions and happy eating!!
 

Avocado instead of Mayo Butter or Oil

1 cup Avocado: 234 calories
1 cup Mayo: 1,495 calories
1 cup Butter: 1,627 calories
1 cup Oil: 1,910 calories

I almost never bake with mayo, butter or oil strictly because of the numbers listed above! Save yourself literally thousands of calories and enjoy the numerous benefits of avocados. They are packed with healthy fats, loaded with fiber, and will leave you with a softer and chewier texture if you use it to bake. Always use a 1:1 substitution (1 cup of avocado instead of 1 cup of butter or oil). Another tip for baking with avocado: reduce oven temp by 25% and increase your baking time by a few minutes in order to prevent your baked goods from browning too quickly or caving in!

 

Applesauce instead of Sugar

1 cup of unsweetened applesauce: 103 calories, 23g of sugar
1 cup of sugar: 773 calories, 200g of sugar

YUP! There's THAT many calories in sugar. Next time you're baking, opt for unsweetened applesauce, which will save you hundreds of calories and you won't be able to tell the difference. You can substitute the applesauce for sugar in a 1:1 ratio in recipes, but you must reduce the liquid in the recipe. Usually reducing the liquid (water, milk, etc.) by 1/4 will be fine.

 

Soda Water/Seltzer instead of Tonic Water

Soda Water/Seltzer: 0 calories, 0g sugar
Tonic Water: 80 calories, 20g sugar

Save yourself the sugar calories and order seltzer or soda water with your mixed drink at the bar. Top it off with a lime or lemon for the extra punch!

 

Almond or Cashew Milk instead of Dairy Milk

1 cup of almond/cashew milk: 30 calories
1 cup of dairy milk: 100 calories

Unsweetened almond and cashew milk is a great alternative to cow's milk in recipes. It will save you 70 calories per serving, and when used in baking or cooking, you won't be able to know the difference.

 

Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini instead of Pasta

1 cup of Spaghetti Squash: 31 calories
1 cup of Zucchini: 33 calories
1 cup of Pasta: 130 calories

Save yourself hundreds of calories by making this substitute! Use a veggie spiralizer or a mandoline to make long, thin noodle-like slices of zucchini. Or, stab holes in a spaghetti squash and put in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size. These veggies are super low in carbs allowing you to eat more and not feel guilty, and also contain much more fiber leaving you more full!

 

Frozen Bananas instead of Ice Cream

1 Frozen Banana: 105 calories, 0g fat
1/2 cup of Dairy Ice Cream: approx 275 calories, 14g fat

Mix 1 frozen banana with a 1/2 cup of almond milk in a blender or food processor until creamy.. this will leave you with an incredible concoction commonly referred to as nice cream! This alternative is fat-free, contains 3g of fiber and will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free. You can add cacao powder or other berries to the mix in order to achieve the flavor you're craving.

 

Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream

1 Serving of Greek Yogurt: 60 calories
1 Serving of Sour Cream: 193 calories

Use greek yogurt instead of sour cream in your recipes and you'll save yourself a TON of unnecessary calories. You won't be able to tell the difference and the texture is very similar.

 

Mustard or Walden Farms Mayo instead of Mayo

1 packet of Mustard: 5 calories
1 serving Walden Farms Mayo: 0 calories
1 packet of Mayo: 70 calories

Mayo is mostly all fat and adds a good amount of calories to any sandwich! Sub out mayo for mustard and save yourself the artery clogging saturated fat. If you are craving mayo, opt for Walden Farms' mayo, they have plain, chipotle, honey mustard, ranch and pomegranate mayo!

 

Lettuce Wraps instead of Taco Shell or Hamburger Buns

Lettuce Wrap: 5 calories
Taco Shell: 70-180 calories
Hamburger Bun (which is most likely toasted with butter): 200-250 calories

Use lettuce to wrap your tacos or go bunless on your burger or chicken sandwich and enjoy the side of fries. Life's about balance after all! Lettuce is almost calorie-free.. so why not wrap your bun in lettuce which still gives it the crunch, but saves you between 200-250 calories!

 

Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef

4 oz (99/1) extra lean ground turkey: 120 calories, 1g fat
4 oz (93/7) lean ground turkey: 170 calories, 8g fat
4 oz (80/20) ground beef: 290 calories, 23g of fat

Always opt for ground turkey when possible, which spares you loads of unnecessary fat. I love to season mine with McCormick's Perfect Pinch southwest seasoning. If you don't want to splurge and spend the extra few dollars to buy extra lean 99/1, definitely go for the 93/7 ground turkey, and you and your arteries will be glad you did. 

 

Walden Farms No Calorie Syrup vs. Maple Syrup

1/2 cup Walden Farms Syrup: 0 calories, 0g sugar
1/2 cup Maple Syrup: 410 calories, 112g sugar

This is a no brainer. Traditional maple syrup contains SO MUCH SUGAR. Either dress your pancakes or waffles up with fresh berries, or buy Walden Farms syrups.. they have pancake (my fav!), maple walnut (my #2!), chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, and caramel syrups!

 

Coconut Flour vs. White/Wheat Flour

Coconut Flour: 120 calories, 10g fiber (keeps you full!)
Wheat Flour: 105 calories, 4g fiber
White Flour: 115 calories, 1g fiber

Coconut flour is gluten-free, rich in fiber and very little is needed in recipes compared to normal grain based flours, which means less calories. When using coconut flour instead of white or whole wheat flour, the general ratio is to use 1/4-1/3 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of white/wheat flour.  Coconut flour also contains much more fiber, which will keep you full and prevent you from eating too much! I'd suggest checking out this article to get even more information on coconut flour substitutions: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/10/26/cooking-with-coconut-flour.aspx

 

Canned Diced Tomatoes or Walden Farms instead of Tomato Sauce:

Canned Diced Tomatoes: 35 calories
Walden Farms Sauce: 0 calories
Traditional Tomato Sauce: 80-180 calories

Opt for a lighter and less fattening sauce by using canned diced tomatoes, or better yet, Walden's 0 calorie sauces. They have alfredo, tomato and basil, and garlic and herb.. YUM!

 

Salsa or Walden Farms No Calorie Dressing instead of Salad Dressing

2 tbsp Salsa: 10 calories
2 tbsp Walden Farms Dressing: 0 calories
2 tbsp Salad Dressing: 80-160 calories

This is another no brainer.. salad dressings are laced with tons of sugars and fats and we often underestimate how much we really use. Leave out the excess calories and opt for fresh salsa or Walden Farms' dressing! I love dressing up my salads with pico de gallo, salsa and a pinch of lime with a dash of balsamic vinegar.  Another option is Walden Farms, which is a great company that makes a variety of different dressings that are super tasty, contain no fat or sugar, and are a whopping 0 calories!!

 

Hot Sauce or 0 Calorie Ketchup instead of Regular Ketchup

2 tbsp hot sauce: 0 calories
2 tbsp Walden Farms ketchup: 0 calories
2 tbsp reduced sugar ketchup: 5 calories, 1g sugar
2 tbsp ketchup: 40 calories, 7g sugar

Ketchup is surprisingly loaded with sugar and let's be real.. no one only uses 2 tablespoons. Back in my soccer days when I would come home and eat half the bag of frozen tater tots, I probably used close to 1/2 cup of ketchup (135 calories and 26g of sugar.. ew!!). Opt for hot sauce, Walden Farms 0-calorie ketchup, or if you don't want to give up ketchup, go for the reduced sugar option.

the scoop on protein

Whenever I ask people how much protein they *THINK* they are consuming per day, their usual response is... UMMMM I HAVE NO IDEA!?!?!?

This usually means that they are NOT getting enough protein per day in order to maintain lean muscle muscle and to see strength gains in the gym, if that is your goal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommendation for sedentary individuals is 46 grams of protein per day for women and 65 grams of protein per day for men.... BUT, read.. that is assuming a sedentary lifestyle, not someone who moves, lifts or trains! 

So.. how much protein do you REALLY need??

  • for people maintaining their weight or are in a muscle-building phase, aim for .8-1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.
  • for people that are dieting, aim higher.. 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.

If you don't feel like calculating.. use 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily as a baseline.

Example: say you weigh 130lbs, you want to try to get 130 grams of protein! 130 grams is probably more than you think, BUT.. good news!! The best part about adding more protein to your diet is that it satiates us the most, meaning you will feel fuller longer and it will reduce your cravings. A chicken breast the size of your fist has roughly 30 grams of protein.. so you'll need at LEAST 4 of those. But obviously, we don't want to eat chicken at every meal, so here's where my high-protein recommendations come in handy!

Below is a list of easy and delicious on-the-go snacks to help you hit your recommended protein intake!

SWEET:
  • Protein Bars with at least 20g protein and minimal sugar
  • Protein Shakes: mix 12-16 oz. of water or almond milk with 1 scoop of protein powder (My personal favorite brand is SLAP Nutrition because their flavors are BOMB - like mint chocolate chip, cinnamon swirl, and birthday cake- and they use no artificial crap or sweeteners which makes my tummy happy!)
  • Homemade Protein Treats: I will be adding a blog post on my favorite homemade recipes!
  • High protein peanut butter (eat in moderation-high fat content): 
SAVORY:

 

 

30 Second Chia Pudding

CHIA PUDDING!! AKA the most tasty and filling snack perfect for adding tons of toppings and is a great substitute for tapioca pudding. First off, chia seeds have a high fiber content, meaning that they keep you full and reduce cravings. These little guys also help you stay hydrated, lower blood pressure, and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, AND.. fun fact: they are hydrophilic, so they ATTRACT water, and form a gelatinous coating around them.. growing up to 10x their original size. I love eating this when I'm craving anything sweet, and I also use it as a topping on my oats, yogurt, or even ice cream! I make it in a small batch and use it for the week.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 TBSP chia seeds
  • 2 cups of almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • stevia (optional)

RECIPE (makes 4 servings):

  1. Pour chia seeds and almond milk into sealable mason jar.
  2. Add in cinnamon and stevia (if desired).
  3. Shake and put into refrigerator for at least 2 hours (I usually put in overnight).
  4. Open and enjoy!

TIPS:

  • Add toppings to your pudding like fruit or granola!
  • Use the pudding as a topping, on yogurt or oats.

Easiest Green Smoothie Recipe

Green smoothies are a great way to jam pack tons of your daily veggies into a delicious, super easy on-the-go smoothie or smoothie bowl. For those of us who struggle to get in your vegetables, this is totally my go-to solution! It provides tons of plant-based nutrients and is a great post-workout snack, as it contains simple carbs (fruits) and fast digesting protein (whey). I usually have green smoothies after my workouts on the weekends, because I like eating them out of bowls and adding tons of toppings like fruit, coconut flakes, chia seeds, granola, cereal, etc!  Recipe for my green smoothie base is below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 🏼10 ice cubes
  • 🏼1 frozen banana
  • 🏼1/2c frozen spinach
  • 🏼1/4c blueberries
  • 🏼1/4c oats
  • 🏼1 scoop vanilla protein.. I use @isopurecompany
  • 🏼1 scoop @amazinggrass greens
  • 🏼1 scoop @vitacost spirulina powder
  • 🏼1 tsp xantham gum (fluffiness!)
  • 🏼3-5 drops of stevia
  • 🏼1/2c water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put all in ingredients in a magic bullet or mixer of choice.
  2. Blend on high and pour into bowl.
  3. Add all the toppings!!

PROTIP: add the ingredients in the magic bullet in the order I listed them.. so the frozen stuff goes in first! That way, when you tip it upside down, the ice is the last to mix, and doesn't clog up your mixer.

 

Post-Workout Nutrition

Today's topic is.... you guessed it.. post-workout nutrition!!

The post workout meal is probably the most important meal of the day.
It should contain carbs and protein, and avoid fats which slow the digestion process.

A rule of thumb for your post-workout meal:

  • between 0.25-0.4 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight
  • between 0.15-0.25 grams of protein per pound of your body weight

Immediately after your workout, your muscles are depleted of the stored form of carbohydrates, called glycogen, which is what fuels your workouts and your energy throughout the day. To refill your glycogen stores after your workout and accelerate muscle growth, you want to rely on fast-digesting carbs and a fast-digesting protein like whey protein isolate, which basically acts as a shuttle to your growing muscles!

Throughout the day, it is best to eat lower glycemic, complex carbohydrates because they take a little longer to digest, making you feel fuller for longer, don't initiate an insulin spike, and don't raise blood sugar as quickly as simple sugars. But post-workout, the exact opposite is true. After a workout, it is critical to get the carbs (and protein) to the muscle cells as fast as possible, so you want simple, fast-digesting carbs paired with an appropriate amount of protein. Since a whole-food meal typically takes more time for prep and digestion, it's not your best choice in terms of an immediate post-workout meal, soooo I'd suggest having your "real dinner" an hour or so after your post-workout food.

Summary of all of this is....

Immediately after your workout, I'd suggest fast digesting (whey) protein paired with simple carbs.

Some recommendations for a post-workout "meal" are below:

Simple Fast-Digesting Carbs: 

  • dextrose (most optimal sugar and fastest digested carb)
  • gatorade, gatorade powder
  • fruits like dates, raisins or cherries
  • candy
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • white potatoes
  • cereal

Protein Sources:

What I personally would suggest and is definitely the easiest and most convenient.. is bringing a shaker bottle to the gym with you. Put a scoop of flavored protein in it (25 grams) and unflavored powdered dextrose (4-6 tbsps), shake and BOOM! Easy peezy!!

Then an hour or so later, eat real dinner! If you don't want to go that route and want "real" food after you workout that's okay too, just not as "optimal" meal. You can feel free to pair the other recommended sources... turkey with a bagel, white rice and chicken, cereal with protein shake poured over it, etc. and that will do just fine. Sometimes I do the shake, sometimes I do the food. It's just totally dependent on what my plan is after the gym!

Remember, macronutrient timing and supplements are important but not the most important thing in the scheme of things. Calories-in vs. calories-out as well as the quality of your food and training always takes precedence in weight loss and body recomposition. If you find yourself in a situation where you can't get your hands on the suggested foods once in a while, don't sweat it. 80/20 all the way!