How to Make a Macronutrient Balanced Smoothie

Smoothies, specifically green smoothies have become one of the most popular healthy breakfast options. Every coffee shop, cafe and restaurant now offers them. There are entire websites, companies and books all about how to concoct the best smoothies. Just type green smoothie into google, and you’ll be flooded with recipes, ideas and tips. Maybe you’ve even hopped on the bandwagon and started making your own at home. And if you have, maybe they left you feeling a little underwhelmed. And perhaps…hungry.

Guess what, you’re not alone.

While we believe that smoothies are a great way to get in a good amount of the recommended 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, they can be difficult to make satiating. We want to make sure that if you are having a smoothie as a meal, you’re making a smoothie that is balanced in the proteins, fats and carbohydrates and will last you at least 3 hours of satiation.

Here are some tips to make your smoothie a balanced meal:

1. Add a healthy fat: A common complaint with smoothies as a meal is ending up hungry again in only an hour or two. Including at least one serving of a healthy fat will ensure that you aren’t reaching for a bagel 20 minutes later. Here are some favorites:
- avocado
- flax seeds
- hemp seeds
- almond or peanut butter
- pumpkin seeds

2. Add a protein source: If you’re having a smoothie instead of a meal, you want to make sure you have a source of protein. The average amount of protein needed per meal is 20grams. With that in mind, here are some suggestions. And you can always mix and match!
- Organic Whey protein
- Hemp seeds
- Kefir
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds

3. Increase complex carbohydrates: Did you know that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates? While for some, the fruit and vegetables you add to your smoothie might be enough, others might need an extra boost. If you find yourself tired, hungry or lethargic after your smoothie, you might want to consider adding in one of these ideas below:
- raw or soaked rolled oats
- baked sweet potato
- extra banana

And to get you started out, here is a recipe for your next green smoothie.

- 2 cups leafy greens
- 1/2 banana
- 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/4 cup soaked rolled oats
- 1 almond butter
- 1 tbs flax seeds
- 1 cup liquid of choice

Your Perfect Early Morning Bootcamp Snack

We understand that getting that getting your early morning workout in before heading off to work can make for a rushed morning.

And an even more rushed breakfast.

But after taking a look at today’s simple (3-ingredient!) recipe, you’ll have no more excuses for skimping on breakfast (hey, who doesn’t love a good peanut butter toast combo…but let’s switch it up)

Eggs are an ideal breakfast, nutritionally. They are an excellent source of protein (about 6 grams per egg) and are rich vitamin and minerals. But on days that we don’t have the extra couple minutes to spare, having these pre-made bite size fritattas in the fridge can allow us to cook our eggs…and eat ‘em too!

These mini fritattas are a perfect bite to grab as you head out to BootcampSF as a pre workout snack. Or pair a couple of them with your favorite green smoothie or avocado toast and you have yourself a 5 minute, nutritious meal. They also are great to add to lunch boxes (kids and adults, alike).

In this recipe, we use chard. Although, you could use any leafy greens (kale, spinach, ect.) you have on hand. We consider it an achievement any time you can add in some leafy greens before 9am so don’t skip the greens. However, do feel free to try other add-ins such other vegetables, potatoes or sausage.

Ingredients
8 organic eggs
1 bunch rainbow chard or kale (or about 3 cups of your favorite greens)
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs high heat oil (like coconut oil or butter)
Sea salt and pepper
Muffin tin
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350
Grease inside of muffin tin well
Wash and de stem chard or kale
Chop stems and greens
Mince garlic
Heat pan with oil or butter and sauté stems and garlic, then add greens
Saute on medium heat until as wilted and reduced as possible
Meanwhile whisk eggs, salt and pepper until about 1/3 increase in volume
When greens are done, add a scoop to each muffin tin well
Pour eggs mixture into each well until about 1/3 filled
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through
Let cool and store in airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days

 

Actionable Step
Make this recipe on Sunday evening for your week ahead…you’ll be glad you did. We promise.

 

 

 

 

What To Eat Before And After Your Workout

If you’re spending time and money working out, we’d guess that you’d like to be getting the most out of your nutrition as well. If you’re wondering what to eat before or after a workout, you’re not alone. It’s a common question here at BootCampSF.

And you’re right…your nutrition is an important aspect of your fitness. What we eat has a huge impact on our health goals and how we perform in our workouts.

Let’s give you some info on how and what to eat right before and after your workout so you can get the most out of every last push up and burpee.

First of all, you should be familiar with the macronutrients. The three macronutrients are protein, fat and carbohydrates. The most common to approach pre and post workout meals is by playing around with these macronutrients.

Before a workout

What:
Simple carbohydrates + protein + little/no fat

When:
Meal 1-2 hours before
OR
snack less than 60 minutes before

Why:
To fuel your workout you want to eat a meal or snack prior to working out with enough time to digest. Carbohydrates are the easiest food for our bodies to convert to energy so it makes sense that that carbohydrates that are easy to digest is what we want to eat right before a workout. These are called simple carbohydrates.

What is a simple carb? Fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are healthy, whole-food simple carb options. (By “whole food” we mean non processed. For example, cereal is a carb but highly processed one. Try to choose carbs in their whole food states).

We also want to include protein in your pre workout meal. Protein will help balance your blood sugar and help prevent muscle breakdown for after the workout.

If you’re eating a snack less than 1 hour before a workout, too much fat might make you feel nauseous or slow you down. Avoid proceed foods, sugars, coffee and other stimulants right before working out.

In general, think light and easy to digest foods.

What to reach for if you’re snacking:

  •  banana or green apple + nut butter
  •  berries +  organic cottage cheese or organic full fat yogurt
  •  hard boiled egg

What to reach for if you’re eating a meal:

  • egg scramble with onion, tomatoes and black beans
  • steel cut oatmeal topped with nuts, seeds and berries
  • leafy green salad + serving of chicken, salmon or steak + garbanzo beans + quinoa + vegetables like bell peppers and cucumber + olive oil and vinegar.

After a workout

What:
Protein + Healthy Fat + Carbohydrates

When:
Meal 1-2 hours after
OR
Snack less than 60 minutes after

Why:
Post workout nutrition is all about balance of our three macronutrients. We need protein for recovery and repair. Protein is also the nutrient that enables us to grow new muscles. However, no need to feel guilty if you didn’t slam down a protein shake. A balanced regular ‘ol meal or snack is all you need.

Regardless of in the intensity of our workout, we use up our stored carbohydrates. Replacing these carbohydrates “re-stocks” our energy stores to be used in our next workout.

Including a healthy fat (avocado, nuts and seeds, virgin oils) will make the meal a “balanced” meal and keep us feeling satiated. The key here is balance and nutrient density.

Bottom Line
If you regularly workout 3-5X per week for 1 hour or less just remember a balanced and unprocessed diet with sufficient protein and vegetable intake is all you need. Choosing quality foods will trump when you eat every time. And choosing foods that make you feel best trump any “rule” or “should”.

Actionable Step
Next time you eat, think about the three macronutrients. Ask yourself: does this meal/snack have…

Protein?
Fat?
Carbohydrates?

Pretty soon, you’ll be eating balanced meals like a pro and feeling so energized you just might do an extra burpee…just because you feel like it.

 

 

 

Recent Photos from BCSF Classes!

Your average BootCampSF class feels a little like this…

We plank. We jump. We hive five. We see sunrises. We watch sunsets. We see double rainbows. We smile. We work together. We work, we work, work.

Travel + Solo Workouts (Holiday Tips Series #2)

Working out while on the road is rough — just ask your consultant friend that travels for work more days than not. The toughest part for most of us is finding the motivation…parrticularly when it’s Thanksgiving and you’re busy alternating between plates of mom’s stuffing and snuggling your new niece, amiright?

If you don’t find yourself jumping out of bed for a 7am run, here are some things that might get your engine revving at least once or twice this holiday weekend:

1. Maintenance. You don’t need to break any records when you’re on the road, just remind yourself that you’re just working to maintain your fitness level. Keep in mind the length of your trip, too: a two-day break isn’t likely to set you back, but taking a whole week off isn’t going to help you meet your goals any faster.

2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t have the time or space for a perfect workout? Don’t have any equipment? That, my friend, is not a good enough excuse to skip it all together. There is usually a work-around to be found or…just accept it. Some sort of movement is better than none at all.

3. Calorie Insurance. We’re all about keeping a healthy balance in mind; i.e., beating yourself up over your food choices on a holiday is not what we recommend. But…giving yourself a little cushion calorie-wise is a no-brainer way to help allay some of the big meal guilt.

4. TELL SOMEONE. Yes, tell someone that you are going to work out. Tell your Facebook friends (yes, you can be that person. it’s okay, just this once). Tell your BCSF trainer. Email our general inbox (info@bootcampsf.com). Make a date with a long-lost friend. The likelihood that you’ll do a workout that you have already talked about, bragged about, annoyed your friends about? Yeah, we bet you’ll find time to squeeze that one in.

5. Our Contest. Heck, we want you to workout over this holiday weekend, so much so that we’re going to give one of you $75 just for posting your selfie on our social media!

Work-Arounds

Now, if you have the motivation, but you have a few road blocks:

1. Enlist. If you’re a social worker-outer (and you probably are if you like BCSF) and are bummed that you don’t have anyone to workout with, find a cousin or sibling that will go with you. This might be an opportunity to teach them what you know about fitness if they are less experienced than you, or if they are more experience take the opportunity to learn from them, or simply be inspired and get a little push from them.

If you don’t have anyone in your family ready to go and are visiting an area where you have a network, put a call out on social media for a workout buddy for the weekend. You just might find that your junior high BFF is now a running junkie/gym rat/yogi master. Re-connecting over fitness? Now that’s something we can get behind!

2. Equipment-less. Most of you have probably been in a BCSF class where minimal equipment was used. Harness that idea and know that it’s okay to use bodyweight for a workout. It’ll work juuuust fine, trust us.

3. Ideas! Not sure what to do? No problem! Here’s some workouts we designed just for you. Give ‘em a whirl. Tell us what you think!

Start Your Holiday Season with a Plan! (Holiday Tips Series #1)

We all know that even the best-laid plans fail. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, right? Right. So we suggest you start this holiday season with a self-care plan that should include your fitness, eating and other items like sleep, social life, meditation and a stretching/mobility/yoga routine: if this sounds like a lot, don’t worry: remember it’s your plan, you get to decide what it includes and we’re here to help and advise with anything you’re struggling with.

1. Fitness. Most of you reading this are already doing this. You’re coming to BCSF classes. You’re running. You’re doing hot yoga. You’re working out on your own at the gym. Here’s the thing: don’t stop now. Let us say that again: now is not the time to stop. Keep on making it a priority. Remember that your workout is always a non-negotiable in your schedule – it’s an important meeting with yourself (and your workout buddies!). It can often be the first thing that you skip when things get busy, but once you decide that it’s a priority and you honor the commitment it’s easier to skip that last beer, it’s easier to say no to happy hour if you had an evening workout planed, it’s easier to go to bed an hour earlier. Often it’s the commitment that makes it’s easier to say no and easier to just show up.

2. Eating. Look, it’s the holidays. Food is a major part of the holiday season. We get it. We’re not going to tell you to not eat your Aunt Marge’s pecan pie. But this is what we will tell you:

Plan: you know that you’re heading to a holiday potluck with friends. DO be the friend that brings the healthy dish. DO be the person that drinks one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. DO decide what your strategy is beforehand – i.e. know that you will stop at two drinks, know that you are going to have one treat followed with a huge salad of leafy greens. DO eat before events; if you think it’s a good idea to fast prior to a Thanksgiving feast, think again – you might be setting yourself up to fail and eat more of that cheese plate than you would naturally. So have that oatmeal in the morning, grab an apple mid-morning and you won’t find yourself crankily hungry come 2pm when that turkey is behind schedule.

Prioritize: Aunt Marge’s pecan is worth it. We agree. So eat it, but maybe skip the sweet potato laden with marshmallows and brown sugar. Moral: decide which splurges are worth it and learn to recognize when you are eating just to eat. Enjoy each bite, relish it and skip the rest of the filler.

Give Yourself a Break: You went big on Thanksgiving. Okay. You’re human and you had a great time with your peeps. You aren’t ruined. You just get up on Friday morning and move on. Beating yourself up isn’t going to get you any further and it isn’t allowed, okay? So get back to your plan. Which means that Friday you’re going to get a workout in. You’re going to eat leftovers…mindfully. Let’s be honest – how much gravy does a turkey sandwich actually need? You’re going to have at least one meal that is bountifully full of veggies, a salad perhaps. And come Monday nothing has changed: you’re sticking to your plan and not wasting your energy on beating yourself up over the amazing Thanksgiving you just had.

3. Social Life/Commitments/Obligations. This is tough. You love your friends and family. And while having a positive social life is something that will contribute to a healthy, stress-free you, there can be a tipping point for most of us when we are simply attending out of obligation and are running on fumes. Again, this where you need to decide where your priorities lie. It’s true that the holidays only come once a year and sometimes it’s worth it to go big. But remember that your friends and family will still love you if you need to take a night off and prioritize some of your other self-care things (i.e. sleep!).

4. Sleep. ‘Nuff said. You need sleep to be healthy. This is not something to sacrifice to make others happy.

5. Foam Rolling, Massage therapy, Yoga, Meditation. What do you need to do to feel balanced? Are you recovering from an injury (or are you concerned about injury prevention)? Beyond the physical benefits, doing these things will likely take a bit of the stress of the season away. It will be another chance to connect with yourself in the midst of so much social connection. And if you are on a treatment plan for an injury, this is not the time to skimp. No one wants to start January with an injury that is worse-off. If you aren’t doing any of these things, choose one that interests and maybe explore it (e.g. check out a gentle or restorative yoga class on a Sunday evening to clear your head), just be careful of biting off more than you can chew in an already busy season.

Need help with your Holiday Season plan? Give us a shout and we can help advise you on some healthy options for whatever it is you’re struggling with. And keep following us here, we have 5 more blog posts in this series to go before the end of the holiday season!

Healthy Autumn Recipes Contest

Hi Crew! Last week we asked you to send us your favorite Autumn recipes and one lucky winner would receive a $50 Whole Foods gift card. You all sent in some great stuff! Below are the entries…scroll to the bottom to find out who the winner is!

#1 Elizabeth Tobey (works out with Tyler in the evenings at GG Park), sent us a recipe for Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese. She recommends a really sharp cheddar for the cheese portion of this recipe.

#2 Sandra Short (works out with Annah in the mornings at Dolores park) sent us her own recipe:

Butternut Squash White Bean Soup
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
3 cups cubed butternut squash
2 zucchinis
3 cups swiss chard
2 can cannellini beans
8 cups organic chicken broth
3 sprigs thyme
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and oregano to taste

Heat olive oil and sautee garlic and onions for 3 min.  Add butternut squash and zucchini (chopped) and sautee for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add swiss chard, cannellini beans (all can contents), chicken broth, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes until vegetables are soft.  Serve with parm!

#3 Maya Hanaike (has worked out with us at Gap Inc. corporate classes) shared a recipe for Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili. She also mentions that she subbed in butternut squash for pumpkin and it was great.

#4 Laura Vernon (works out with us at Gap Inc. classes) shared her own recipe for a Vegetarian Chili:
Ingredients:
·butternut squash (1)
·yellow or white onion (1)
·garlic
·chili powder
·ground cumin
·ground cayenne pepper
·smoked paprika (optional)
·black beans (2-3 cans)
·low sodium vegetable stock
·diced tomatoes in juice (1 can)
·swiss or rainbow chard leaves
·extra virgin olive oil
·salt & pepper
·greek yogurt
·fresh cilantro
·hot sauce (optional)
       
·Directions
·Heat 2-3 T olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 onion and 3 cloves garlic (both finely chopped) and saute until onions are softened, about 10 min.
·Add 1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into half-inch cubes) and toss to coat with the onion and garlic mixture. Add 2 T chili powder, 2 t cumin, 1/4 t cayenne pepper, and 1/4 t smoked paprika (optional). Distribute the spices into the vegetables and continue cooking for 1-2 more min.
·Add 2 or 3 cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), 2 and 1/2 c low sodium vegetable stock, and 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes in juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is tender (about 20 min).
·Coarsely chop the leaves from 1 small bunch of rainbow chard and add to the chili, simmering for another 3-5 until wilted but still brightly colored. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve. Top with greek yogurt, freshly chopped cilantro, and your favorite hot sauce.

#5 Veronica Miller (works out with Brooks in the evenings on the Embarcadero) sent us recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Pecan Parmesan.

#6 Linda Anderson (works out with Tracy in mornings at GG Park) sent us a recipe for Moroccan Pumpkin and Lentils. She recommends using kabocha squash which does not need to be peeled. She also adds kale or chard sometimes. And it is a one pot meal!

#7 Bella Wong (works out with Tracy in the mornings at GG Park) sent us two of her own recipes:

Farro Bake:
*soak 1 cup of bulk farro for 6-8 hours*

1/2 medium onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1 cup uncooked farro
1 cup kale, or any veggie (chopped)
2 1/2 veggie broth or chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Over med heat- saute onion and garlic for about 2-3 mins- be careful not to burn as the garlic will taste bitter
- don’t forget to add salt/pepper onion/garlic
- add drained farro and kale/veggies and saute for 4-5 mins- be sure to keep stirring to evenly brown the farro
- add 2 1/2 cups of broth and stir occasionally
- once it starts boiling- stir 1 cup of tomato sauce
- once it boils again- pour into a 9×9 baking dish
- optional: parm cheese can be mixed in during this step
- cover with foil (add a few slits on the foil to vent)
- cook for 20-25 mins- then add bread crumb mix (recipe below)*
- cook with bread crumb mix for an additional 20-25 mins until golden brown
- this should bake for about 40-45 mins

* you can also add parm cheese on top, but for the last 10 mins of baking.

OPTIONAL:
Bread Crumb mixture:
1/2 cup  melted butter
1- 1 1/2 cup bread

- Mix until it’s no longer liquidy
- You can add cheese as an option
- Top the farro during the last 20 mins of baking.

___________________________________________

Roasted Garbanzo beans w/ Cauliflower and Olives

- 1 head of cauliflower- cut into florets
- 8 cloves of chopped garlic
- 24 green olives- halved
- 1 can of Garbanzo beans- drained
- 1/2 tsp Chilli flakes- optional

Preheat oven to 450

- In a large bowl mix and coat all ingredients with olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste (the olives are pretty salty- so not much salt is needed)
- spread on foil lined cookie sheet
- Bake for 15-20 mins or until crisp/golden brown – be sure to stir after 10 mins of baking

Okay, we’re hungry just reading through all these and are even more excited about the Autumn season of eats! Comfort food can be healthy, as y’all have proved here! And the winner of the contest is….LINDA ANDERSON! With her Moroccan Pumpkin and Lentils recipe!

This is your Brain on Exercise: IDEA World Convention

This past week while attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Dr. Terry Eckmann a professor from Minot State University in North Dakota. In many ways her lecture was very self-gratifying for those of us that work in fitness:  exercise is good for you and it’s good for your brain. We feel this intrinsically, right? As in, it’s obvious to us because we feel this in palpable ways:  we feel more refreshed, awake and are able to focus after a fantastic, butt-kicking, morning workout. But delving into the science of this matter is helpful because it provides legitimacy to these things that we think are simply feelings or nice side effects to exercise, when in fact there is some pretty powerful stuff going on in your head!

Quick Facts About the Human Brain

*The average brain weighs 3 to 4 pounds; or on average, 2% of your body weight.

*The average brain consumes 20% of your body’s energy.

*The average brain uses 1/5 of your body’s oxygen.

In terms of these quick facts, some interesting things to note are that 20% of your daily energy supply (essentially your calorie intake) is used by your brain, even though it’s only about 2% of your body weight. Food for thought, indeed!

30-minutes of Consistent Moderate to Vigorous Aerobic Activity has the following effects on the brain:

*Stimulates BDNF, which causes neurons to fire more efficiently. BDNF = Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factors.

*Increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus. I.e. you generate new neurons.

*Gets oxygen and glucose to the brain faster.

*Repetitive gross motor movement strengthens dendritic branching. The more branching there is, the more communication there is between these brain cells. In the end, you have a more “active” brain.

*Reduces obesity (obese persons have twice the risk of dementia).

*Improves mood and elevates stress threshold (i.e., things don’t bother us as much).

*Balances brain chemicals and system functions.

*Prepares the brain for optimal learning.

Exercise also increases levels of key neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors, specifically:  dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and BDNF.

Dr. Eckmann told us that in many ways, BDNF is “miracle grow” for your brain. And the good news is that all the research shows that exercise increases BDNF and in studies, it continued to increase even after 90 days, which is amazing, as we all assumed that it would plateau at some point. Dr. Eckmann suggested that there hasn’t been distinct research into figuring out when increased BDNF production does plateau.

I walked out of her lecture focusing on a few things, but mainly my thoughts revolved around our motivations to exercise:  sometimes you may not see the precise results in your body that you are looking for. It can be a let down when your abs are not perfect. Maybe you are gunning for a sub 2:00 hour half-marathon and you’re on your 3rd attempt. But, this lecture caused me to focus on the reasons to keep yourself motivated even if you haven’t met those aesthetic or performance goals yet, that is, that your body is responding to the hard work that you are putting in out there, it may just not always be as fast to work in the areas that we want to see it (to be clear, we know you can meet those aesthetic and performance goals, too, with a little time and hard work).

We may not be able to see the changes happening in our noggins, but all this research shows us that it’s happening. And that, my friends, is as a good a reason to get out of bed and show up for your workout as any that I can think of.

P.S. If you’re interested in Dr. Eckmann’s resources, she has an extensive list of the research articles she referenced/utilized in her lecture that is simply longer than is practical to include in this post. If you’re interested in receiving this information, please just give us a shout!

 

Quiet Saturday + Weekend Recovery Tips!

Saturday Class @ Golden Gate Park!
If you missed class this week, or just need a weekend boost, be sure to head out to class at 9am sharp tomorrow!  At Golden Gate ParkRyan Conlon will be leading the way. We meet at our usual weekday location, the Sharon Meadows parking lot, which is near the Koret Children’s Playground, the old wooden carousel and the Lawn Bowling Greens.
Please note:  we are beginning to ramp down Saturday classes at Crissy Field due to America’s Cup activities through the end of September. As such, this Saturday we’ll only be offering class at Golden Gate Park.
Rest and Recovery Weekend!
Ideas on how to get some delicious R& R in this weekend:
1. Stretch it out and restore yourself at a yoga class. Bernal YogaUrban Flow and Yoga Tree are a few of our favorites.
2. Get cozy with a foam rollerHere’s a pretty comprehensive tutorial on how to do just that!
3. Spend some time walking around your local Farmer’s Market and grab some delicious greens for a hearty salad, juice or however you like to get your veggies in!
4. Challenge yourself to drink all the water that you missed during your busy work week!
5. If you want to indulge yourself, look into a massage! If you don’t want to spend a ton of cash, check out the San Francisco School of Massage. Awesome students will work out your kinks for $30!

Fighting Back Against the Snack Attack

Since moving to San Francisco last year I’ve been working from home which is a blessing and a curse in equal amounts. Working in pajamas gets major bonus points but having constant access to my kitchen can be a real pain in the you know what. Actually it’s more of a pain in the zipping up my jeans department.

That being said it’s not like I’m not fully aware of what types of foods trigger “snack attack” moments in me. I don’t keep sweetened breakfast cereals in the house, ice cream, or candy. My issues with Wheat Thins alone might have enough angst to fill an entire novel so those are out too. When I make cookies and other high calorie baked goods for my blog I try one and then ship the rest off to my boyfriend’s office because keeping them around the house for extra sampling is how I got here in the first place. I also live next door to a Panera and it quite cruelly smells like cinnamon rolls 50% of the time. Jerks. But in the end my one true nemesis and downfall is cheese.

How do you quit cheese?! I simply can’t do it. But I have managed to curb my love a bit via individually packaged means. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Precious Pepper Jack Cheese Sticks and the reduced-fat Colby-Jack Sargento snacks. They even make Brie Bites these days which are absolutely fantastic. These all offer just enough of a cheese fix that I can eat one and stop dreaming about gigantic bowls of macaroni and cheese and the like.

Of course a girl can’t live on cheese snacks alone so I’ve also been trying to make or have on hand a lot of the following items to keep me honest in the all things edible department.

Avocado Toast
Every time I eat an avocado I feel a little sad about the fact that I didn’t even try an avocado until I was something like 20 years old. RIDICULOUS. I feel sad about all of the amazing avocado opportunities I missed in my “I’m a picky twit” phase. My favorite way to eat them is mashed and spread on whole wheat toast or an english muffin sprinkled with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a lot of spicy red pepper flakes. I sometimes also drizzle a tiny bit of extra-virgin olive oil but honestly that’s sort of overkill. Sometimes I also just eat all of the above in a bowl and skip the extra carbs too.

Banana “Ice Cream”
So ridiculously simple and so delicious. No heavy whipping cream, eggs, or sugar touch this dish but it tastes creamy and rich. Get the whole scoop (so to speak) on how to make this dead simple dish at The Kitchn.

Hard or Soft Boiled Eggs
When I tried to do the Paleo, Primal, and Four-Hour Body diets at various times I ended up hating eggs. I couldn’t stand eating them for breakfast and I wasn’t a big fan of having potato-less beef stew at 6:00 AM every morning so eggs always seemed like the only option. I’m way over that aversion now and will happily pop a couple of eggs into boiling water for a protein packed snack. PS: adding 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to the pot really does seem to help get those finicky organic egg shells off in less than 100 tiny slivers.

Quinoa
I’m in love with quinoa. I can’t cook it properly on the stove top though so if you have a similar problem with your quinoa coming out in a mushy mess I urge you to try cooking it in your rice cooker. I make great big batches and then just let it cook and steam until it is fluffy and lovely. Then I pack it away in the fridge and have a cup with roasted red peppers or edamame (really you can throw anything on there). This has been a go-to lunch for me recently and I can’t rave enough about the versatile nature of this grain. There’s also a great cookbook out now that has a ton of quinoa recipes to get your started on your own quinoa kick from morning to night.

Those are a few of my favorite snacks right now. I’d love to hear about any tips or tricks you have for keeping the cookie monster at bay!