Saturday, December 13, 2014

5 Ways to Stay Healthy (and sane!) During the Holidays

This time of the year is always filled with holiday celebrations - food overload, stress overload, to do list overload, alcohol overload. Ladies, this time of the year is consumed by an overload of everything. I’m not sure about you, but my brain has been spinning constantly since the day after Thanksgiving. Luckily, we’ve been able to escape the early rush of holiday parties, but I know the next two weeks are going to make up for a slow start to the month.

This is a time meant to be enjoyed and lived fully - not dreaded and full of stress. So here are 5 tips for staying healthy during the holidays. Make sure to love on yourself a little this holiday season. You can’t truly gives to others until you’ve given to yourself and filled yourself full.

5 Ways to Stay Healthy (and sane) During the Holidays

1. Move your booty!!
I’m sure you’re moving a lot with the aisles upon aisles you’re paroosing at Target for the perfect gift, but make sure to schedule in time for exercise this month! Not only does exercise help keep your body healthy but it’s also a great stress-reducer and happiness-increaser! When you exercise, your body releases these feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These bad boys are excellent mood-boosters that reduce your perception of pain and help put you in a good mood! So go move your booty, lady!

2. Take a time out!
The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year and the time when stress really rears it’s ugly head! So schedule in some down time. Curl up with a good book, enjoy a bubble bath, go for a walk without your phone. Making yourself a priority and taking that much needed time to relax will keep the panic attacks and melt-downs at bay. Be proactive. Love on yourself before the melt down and there won’t be a melt down! So easy options for quiet relaxation time are meditation, prayer, and yoga!

3. Get plenty of sleep!
Your body does all of the “real” work while you’re sleeping - repairing itself, building new muscle, and doing the hard work to keep you healthy. Sleep is crucial to a healthy life. It can also be one of the best defenses against getting sick or stressing out! Make sure you’re clocking 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

4. Eat your veggies!
Between the holiday parties and family cooking marathons, you’re going to be consuming more than usual during this time of the year (and my guess is that it won’t be all that healthy)! So, make sure to fill up on nutrient dense foods like leafy greens, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds! A spinach salad makes a great lunch and trail mixes are the perfect on-the-go-snack or appetizer for your family get-together. Fuel your body with the right nutrients this holiday season.

5. Simplify the craziness.
We all are tempted to overindulge during the holidays. Over-indulgence is about more than just food, though! We over-indulge on holiday parties and get-togethers which leads to burnout. We over-indulge on gift buying which leads to an empty wallet. We overindulge on commitments which leads to stress. All of this overindulgence leads to sadness and feelings of emptiness - the exact opposite of what the holiday season is all about. So this holiday season, simplify all of the craziness. Only commit to two holiday parties rather than four. Budget your Christmas shopping and don't overspend. Build time into your calendar for down-time with family. And actually enjoy the holidays, like they were meant to be enjoyed - simply.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Nothin' but Nola Recipe: Chocolate + Coconut Granola Bark

Hi, my name is Lauren. I'm a self-proclaimed chocolate addict. Many that know me know about my insane love of anything and everything chocolate. It's a problem at times. But I indulge myself and enjoy a little chocolate almost on a daily basis. So, when I'm able to create delicious recipes that incorporate this dark cacao-y goodness, you bet your sweet cheeks I'm going to hop on that train!

I've seen recipes everywhere for "bark"! You know, those big, chocolatey chunks with dried fruit, nuts, and all kinds of yumminess on top! If you've gone anywhere near Pinterest in the past few weeks, you've seen it! I've been dying to make some of my own. Granola was a natural choice for my topping, of course. So I decided to use our an apple a day flavor that is bursting with festive flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Yum!!!  I also tossed in some shredded coconut for an added touch of sweetness and coconut-y goodness!

This makes a perfect gift for the holiday season. Wrap in some beautiful brown wrapping paper and tie it with a bow. Your neighbors, kids' teachers, and fabulous friends will love you! Because who doesn't love chocolate?! I'm planning to match a batch (or three!) for our holiday get-togethers. I'm planning to blow some taste buds away!

Chocolate + Coconut Granola Bark
(makes one small pan)

12 ounces dark chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup granola
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Melt! Sprinkle! Refrigerate!
1. Melt chocolate and coconut oil using a double boiler. *If you don't have a double boiler (I don't!), fill a pot halfway with water and place over medium-low heat on the stove. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the pot. The bowl must be large enough to sit on top of the pot. It cannot rest in the water. Place your chocolate in the bowl. As the water warms and comes to a boil, your chocolate will melt! Make sure to stir consistently.
2. Once completely melted, pour the chocolate onto a  parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly. *A rubber spatula works wonderfully here!
3. Sprinkle evenly with the granola and coconut.
4. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours until solid.
5. Once solid, break into pieces and enjoy!

If you're looking for other delicious holiday recipes, check out this!

You can buy our nutritious + delicious granola here

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nothin' but Nola Recipe: Granola Holiday Trail Mix

I love both sweet and savory trail mixes and always seem to come across some delicious concoctions around this time of the year. Trail mixes make the perfect, easy snack for holiday parties and family get-togethers. They can also make the PERFECT healthy + delicious snack (when filled with the "right" ingredients). You can easily toss some in a bag for on-the-go plus they're super easy to throw together.

Given my hyperactive sweet tooth and our delicious, festive-flavored granola, I just had to create a sweet trail mix for your holiday (or any day!) enjoyment!! This bad boy is overflowing with delicious, taste-bud pleasing goodness and body-loving, nutrient-dense nutrition! You just can't go wrong!

Granola Holiday Trail Mix

4 cups An Apple a Day Granola
2 cups cashews
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup cacao nibs

Toss Together! Enjoy!
1. Toss together ingredients in a bowl (or bag!).
2. Enjoy!! It's really that simple!

If you're looking for other healthy + nutritious snack options, check out this and this!

You can buy our fresh + healthy, organic-based granola here

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