Tag Archives: health

Eating (vegan and gluten free) in Austin, Texas

I recently took a trip to Austin, and I had to share all the wonderful food I found. I’m gluten-free (non-celiac), dairy free, and mostly vegan (I do eat eggs occasionally), so you know I’m always worried about how I’m going to eat while I’m traveling. Well, I’m happy to report that eating in Austin was not only easy, but super enjoyable. Below are some of my favorites. Let me know if I missed any and I’ll be sure to check them out next time!

Case De Luz

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This place is special. You walk in through a magical garden of lights to a room filled with smiles. If you’ve lived on a kibbutz or in an ashram, it has that kind of feel. The menu is set and consists of a soup, salad, steamed veggies, greens, a grain and bean. There’s usually some type of pesto, tahini or nut-based sauce that comes with the veggies. Your meal comes with cold drinks (I had hibiscus) and hot tea (kukicha). They also have a-la-carte desserts. I only had the pecan pie (twice), but once I find something good I tend to stick with it! The whole place is vegan and gluten-free, so no need to worry about cross contamination. And, the price tag is quite impressive – just $12. The staff is kind and if you go alone, you’re more than likely to make some friends.

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Counter Culture

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I have a special place in my heart for Counter Culture because they were my refuge when my Airbnb turned out to be a disaster and I needed a place to chill, eat and charge my phone while I figured sh*t out. Their walnut and beet burger is fantastic. I had it with a collard wrap, but they also have a gluten free bun. Their chickpea “tuna” is also fantastic. They have tons of raw (vegan/gf) desserts to choose from as well.

Curcuma

The best Aryuvedic food truck you could ask for. Right in the center of East Austin, the ladies at Curcuma are so warm and welcoming. The sweet potatoes toasts are delicious, my favorite was the “ricotta”.

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Bouldin Creek

OMG, the sweet potato pecan tamales… I only ate here once, but those tamales will be on my mind for a while! Definitely go for 3 instead of 2.  The staff encouraged me to order the pecan pesto (top right), which was good, but the tamales definitely didn’t need it. My server also allowed me to try the regular and refried beans 🙂 I liked the refried best. There’s a huge selection of vegan food, less selection for vegan and gluten free, but you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything eating these tamales, that’s for sure.  There’s also plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

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True Food Kitchen

Wow. We had the vegan butternut squash, smoked onion and almond ricotta pizza on the gluten free crust. One of my favorite meals, for sure. The crust was out of this world, not like some of the gf crusts that are super thick or dense. Apparently its made with tapioca and rice flour. All I know is that I would go back for this pizza any day. We also had the mezze salad bowl (warm) and the flourless chocolate cake (gluten free and vegan if you leave off the caramel sauce). The staff was sooo informative and friendly.

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Snap Kitchen

There are at least 3 Snap Kitchen locations in Austin. They are 100% gluten free and have many paleo and vegan options (that are clearly labeled). Lots of selection, lots of great dishes like this kale, hummus, brown rice and sweet potato bowl. I also really liked their black bean sliders. Only downside is everything comes in plastic (BPA free) and the only way to heat the food is in the microwaves they provide. I just ate my food cold or took it with me to go and ate it room temperature. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a downside. Definitely great options for bringing to the airport!

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Thai Fresh

I went for the ice cream. You got me. Cashew and coconut milk based ice cream in 10+ flavors. I tried the horchata, gluten free cookie dough, mint chocolate chip and a few others. They had a cookie batter flavor, turmeric, and a handful of other super unique and delicious ice creams. They also have a ton of gluten free and vegan baked goods. I was eyeing the lemon bar, but it just couldn’t happen that day. Next time, I’m definitely getting it.

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Blenders and Bowls

I saw at least 2 of these during my stay. I’m not really into smoothies or smoothie bowls, but sometimes it was just super hot, and I was craving something cold. I got the green smoothie bowls both times I was there, it has the least fruit and sweetener of any of their stuff, but it’s still pretty sweet. I also got one of their pre-made veggie wraps which was really good and perfect to take with me on a hike.

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There were also a number of places that had gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options that just required some modification. I had delicious Tacos at Torchy’s (an Austin staple), Veracruz (check them out on Food Network) and Whole Foods (their taco bar piles free steamed kale on any taco!)

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Veracruz chips, guac, amazing salsa and migas.

 

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listen to your body

How to Learn to Listen to Your Body

The other night I was speaking to a client and he said, “You know… when you first told me this I didn’t believe you.” (Yes, I was wondering where this was going to go). “But I’ve actually started to crave vegetables!” In fact, he went to one of his favorite fried chicken spots and ordered Brussels sprouts. Not because fried chicken is “bad”, but because he actually just plain and simple wanted the veggies. Moments like this really make me gush because our bodies are really so smart. When we give them a little love and attention, they start to point us in our right direction (because everyone’s right direction is different).

There’s no one way to learn to listen to your body. It’s something that starts to happen more and more as you set the intention to listen, and as you become more aware. It can definitely help to have a coach, or guide, but it isn’t necessary. For those of you who don’t have a coach, friend or mentor and feel a little stuck about where to start when people tell you to listen to you body, here are a few tips that can get you started.

Start paying attention.

Most of us work on automatic. We push through any discomfort in an effort to get through out days. Getting off of automatic is the first step.

Be curious.

Check in with yourself and your body. Go through each body part in your mind and take a second to focus in and see how that part of you is doing. Are your feet tired or achy? Do you have a mild consistent headache? Where is the headache? In the front of your head, middle? Are your fingers tired from typing? Maybe it’s just your right hand. Is the pain or discomfort dull, diffuse, or sharp?

Start noticing how you feel before and after you eat.

Were you tired? How did you know you were hungry? Did you see something that made you salivate? Are yo bored? Start asking questions.

Keep a log.

I don’t recommend this to everyone, especially if you have a history of disordered eating, but it can be useful to just notice what you’ve eaten throughout the day. I’m not talking about weighing or measuring your food, but just taking a general glance. From there you can start recording any persistent symptoms you are trying to understand and eliminate. Maybe red peppers give you a headache. Or sugar brings out your acne. Keeping a log is a great tool to help connect the dots.

Notice what you crave and why.

Be gentle with yourself.

When we start to pay attention to our bodies cues and come off of automatic mode, we realize that there’s often been a lot of negative thinking and harsh words we’ve silently directed towards ourselves. This can be a lot to come to terms with, but is the first step towards having compassion for ourselves and making the kinds of changes our bodies are calling out for.

 

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goals

From Resolutions to Results: 5 Simple Steps to Make Your Health Goals Stick

It feels really great to set a goal, but the trouble is that a lot of us set goals and come no where near reaching them. Did you know that it’s estimated that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Years resolutions? If you’re someone who wants to set a goal and see results, check out this 5 simple tips to help you get there.

Selection

Make sure your goal is important to you. It’s easy to get caught up in what we’re supposed to be doing. Everyone has an opinion – our parents, significant other, the internet, and our doctors. But that’s not going to cut it. Reaching a goal only works when it’s personal.

Small Steps

When we set a goal, we tend to jump right to the end result. It’s great to know where you want to go, but don’t forget that reaching that end goal is the result of accomplishing lots of smaller goals. Each time we accomplish a small goal, it helps us see that we are capable and gives us the confidence to keep pushing forward.

SMART Goals

SMART is a great acronym for goals that are Specific,  Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time bound. Making sure your goal is SMART is a great way to increase your chance of success. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic and time bound. And there’s a good reason it works! If you can’t see what the end result of what your goal looks like, it’s not going to happen. Ask yourself, how do I know if I’m making progress toward that goal? When do I want to accomplish it by? For example, maybe you want to exercise more. It’s a great goal, but it’s not SMART yet. How often is more? How will you do it? When will you do it? Where? Doing cardio at the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 45 minutes after work is a way more doable and clearer goal. That also means that it’s way more likely to happen.

Stop Making Yourself Wrong

Most people want to be perfect. It’s official. The good news and the bad news is that none of us are. No one reaches their goals in a straight line. Anytime you set a goal, there will be a time when you fall short, when old patterns get the best of you. The question is whether you keep going or get stuck in making yourself wrong and feeling like a failure. If you keep going, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal. If you give up because you think you’ve failed, then you have failed. Failure is rare. Giving up is way more common.

Share and Get Support

Sharing and getting support are important steps to create accountability around your goals. When we tell someone we’re going to do something, we are way more likely to do it. And, when we tell people what we’re up to, they tend to get inspired. At the very least you’ll cheer you on, but they may even surprise you and join in. Sharing and getting support is a great way to have some fun and to create a safety net while working toward your goals. It’s a win-win situation all around.

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Natural Beauty Products

How to Make Beauty Products with Kitchen Ingredients

Some people may call me crunchy, and I have to say, I truly wear that label as a badge of honor! Over the past few years I have been experimenting with natural beauty products. It started as I really began to focus on my health. I would get allergic reactions to most things with fragrances and I started to learn that external skin reactions were really a result of something much bigger happening internally. I was also diagnosed with endometriosis, and a lot of chemicals used in traditional beauty products are known to be endocrine distruptors (you can read about that stuff here or here). I started to see that I could take my personal care routine into my own hands. And all health stuff aside, it’s just pretty amazing to be able to make beauty products out of stuff I have in the kitchen! Talk about being self reliant! No more expensive drug store trips for me 🙂 Plus the natural products actually tend to work better than the traditional products! So, let’s explore!

Shampoo

There is actually a huge movement for natural shampoo – it’s actually called “no-poo”! You can’t make something like that up! Chemical and fragrance laden shampoo can actually damage your hair, and make you dependent on it (it’s kinda like the chap stick stories – after a while you start to need the chap stick to keep your lips moisturized). Anyway, I won’t get into the pros or cons of traditional shampoo, I just know that I like to know what I’m putting in my body and on my skin and I’m particularly sensitive to fragrances and dyes.

Ok, so, natural alternatives? The most popular one is a baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse. I personally still use a traditional shampoo some days (without dye, fragrance, sodium lauryl sulfate, paraben and other potential endocrine distruptors), and use an apple cider vinegar or aloe rinse on other days. I used to use traditional shampoo everyday. Now I’m down to 2 to 3 times per week. Hooray! If you have dry hair, coconut oil works great! You can leave it in for an hour and then wash it out or if you have dry ends, you can just rub some on.

Dry Shampoo

Don’t want to get your hair wet? Try a dry shampoo! Arrowroot works great on its own (or cornstarch). If you have darker hair mix in some cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix! plain unsweetened cocoa powder please).

Deodorant

I’ve been making my own deodorant for years, and selling it, too! It’s actually quite popular 🙂 And, you could eat all the ingredients! It’s just arrowroot, baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils. I also know other people who rub lemon juice under their arms instead of using deodorant. Just be careful not to use either of these options right after shaving. Ouch!

Toner

Apple cider vinegar diluted in water is a great toner. Smells a little funky, but otherwise it’s great!

Face Wash

I personally like to use the oil cleansing method. If you haven’t heard of it before, you basically use a specific blend of oils, massage your face with them, then apply a hot towel to give yourself a little steam bath and take off the oils. It’s such a great way to treat your face at the end of the day and it really works! I use a blend of either grapeseed or almond oil, castor oil and tea tree oil.

Exfoliation

I love to exfoliate with a combo of vitamin C powder and almond oil. Just mix them together, rub in gentle circles on your face and remove with a damp cloth.

Moisturizer

Coconut oil is my go to moisturizer for everything! I LOVE coconut oil. If it makes you break out, try almond oil or jojoba.

Toothpaste

I have yet to make a toothpaste that I like, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there! The very basic combo is coconut oil and baking soda. I’ve also heard great things about activated charcoal. But do some research and play with some recipes! It’s very powerful to be able to make your own beauty and hygiene products.

Gel

A friend of mine was looking for a gel alternative and we came across a chia and flax seed gel! How cool is that!? We just soaked the seeds in hot water so they got all sticky and gel-like. From there you can use pantyhose or a cheesecloth to strain out the seeds and you’re set to go! I found the recipe online and it called for aloe and vitamin e as well. I didn’t have that stuff so I went with the bare minimum, but it worked great!

Make up

Again, I’m not big on makeup so I’m not speaking from personal experience here. That said, I’ve heard from tons of women about making their own make up with cocoa powder, coconut oil, arrowroot and mica powder (ok, mica powder probably isn’t in your kitchen). Wellness Mama is one of my favorite resources for DIY and natural products. Here’s her post all about natural DIY makeup.

Makeup Remover

I personally like coconut oil, but here are a bunch of other recipes!

I hope this post was helpful in getting you started on a new DIY journey! Let me know if you were inspired to try any of these ideas!

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Sugar is Sugar is… sugar?

Hey folks! It’s been a while since I’ve written here. Right now I’m in the middle of hosting a sugar cleanse with over 150 people! How awesome! One of the questions that keeps coming up is, can I eat fruit? So, I thought I’d share my thoughts with all of you.

Fruit is high in fiber, which keeps the sugar in it from being absorbed into your system as quickly. That means you don’t end up with that crazy sugar high and crash that I’m sure we are all familiar with. Fruit also has tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. But, that doesn’t mean all its forms are equally awesome or that fruit is good for everyone.

Dried Fruit:

Dried fruit is delicious, but it’s good to be mindful when eating dried fruit. Many dried fruits are coated with sugar. It’s always important to read your nutrition labels and ingredients, especially when buying “healthy” packaged foods. Additionally, since dried fruit is dehydrated, one cup of dried fruit will have way more sugar than one cup of the same fruit in its original form.

Fruit Juice:

Fruit juice is awesome, it’s also super sweet! And, fruit juice has very little to none of the great fiber that comes along with eating fruit (Did you know that adults should be getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day?). One serving of fruit juice often has as much sugar (or more) as soda. I’m not saying you should drink soda (really… I promise), but it’s just important to keep in mind that fruit juice does contain a ton of sugar. When buying juice, also keep in mind serving sizes. An Odwalla drink or similar type of smoothie usually contains 2 servings, with upwards of 25 grams of sugar per serving. That’s over 12 teaspoons of sugar per bottle.

So, what do you do?

There are tons of sweeteners out there to choose from, from aspartame, to maple syrup, to high fructose corn syrup. Some are “sugar free” or “calorie free”, some are unrefined, some have valuable nutrients, and some are just empty calories. So, what do you do? It really depends on what your diet looks like now and why you are looking to remove sugar from your diet.

I don’t eat sugar because all sugar feeds yeast, something I am quite susceptible to. If you’re in the same boat as me, then you might want to look at removing processed sugar, fruit, and simple carbs from your diet. I also avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame because I try to refrain from putting chemicals of any sort or anything artificial in or on my body.

If you’re new to healthy eating (which I define as eating whole, unprocessed foods and lots of veggies), then eating fruit is likely a very important part of your process. Whenever you’re making changes, you want to do it slowly and sustainably. Otherwise you end up on another yo-yo diet and beating yourself up for not sticking to it.

So, the good news is that you get to decide. What changes are you comfortable making? And remember, you can always try something for a few weeks and see how you feel, and then make a decision if you want to keep on that path. You know your body better than anyone else, and changing things up in your diet is a great way to learn even more about your body and what makes you feel good. I’d love to hear what you’re doing and how it’s going. Feel free to post in the comments section or send me an email!

With love,

Samantha

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