Thursday, December 22, 2016

Friday Morning Iced Coffee Date (12/23)

Hi, friends! Merry (almost) Christmas to you! (Seriously, where did December go!?!)

Since it’s Friday and all, let’s get right down to “business” with our morning iced coffee date. Once again this week, I’m drinking my iced coffee with a splash of eggnog and collagen for some added protein power. FYI (since I get this question a lot): I mix the collagen right into my iced coffee. I add a little bit of warm water to the bottom of my glass, pour in about a tablespoon of collagen, swirl it around so it fully dissolves, and then add my iced coffee, cream, and ice. Boom. Simple as that. Ok, onto the coffee talk!


First things first: Thank you to everyone who entered the Merry Maids giveaway. I hope you enjoyed reading our holiday hacks and found them helpful. If you missed the post, you can read our 5 Holiday Houseguest Hacks here!

Visual Tip4

And here’s the winner of the $100 VISA Gift Card from Merry Maids: ErikaMC!

Clutter drives me crazy – and it’s always around our house so I if know someone is coming over I make a mad dash to pick up anything that is out of place and at least put it upstairs in a bedroom where I know they won’t go. And do a quick sweep of the floors so they aren’t walking on crumbs.

Congrats, Erika! Please email me at with your full name and mailing address to claim your prize!

Speaking of prizes…

I recently sent some RXBARS to a few of my Designed to Fit Nutrition clients. They recently finished their 8-week Premium Plans, so I sent them a little care package to say thank you and happy holidays. Related: If you haven’t tried RXBARS yet, you absolutely need to. (Have I mentioned this before?!) They’re so friggin’ good! I am totally obsessed with the Maple Sea Salt flavor. I like to eat one after my workouts along with an iced coffee. Mmm!


So, a few of your guys asked how Quinn’s play went last Friday night. Well, it didn’t exactly happen. I think the poor kid got overwhelmed by the situation since it was a new place with unfamiliar faces, so he had a bit of meltdown before it started. We tried to calm him down, but it just wasn’t happening, so we headed home. Oh, well. Maybe he’ll make his musical debut next year!


We recently discovered that Qman (kind of) likes raw veggies when they’re part of a party platter. (FYI: He’s a super picky eater, so anytime we can get him even semi-interested in veggies is a win for us!) We recently started buying a veggie platter each week as a way to encourage healthy snacking in our house. It keeps Mal and me on track (instead of reaching for junk), and Qman thinks it’s fun to pick and dip his veggies. We’ve probably only gotten a half dozen bites into him, but at least he’s giving them a try. And doesn’t it take like 20 exposures for kids (and adults) to like a new food? Something like that? I dunno, but we’re enjoying snacking on veggies as a family, so just wanted to pass along this healthy idea! 🙂


Speaking of healthy ideas…

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift or you want to sign up for a meal plan yourself, Designed to Fit Nutrition offers email gift cards and we’re accepting new clients to start their plans on January 23, 2017. We’d love to have you! Drop me an email with any questions! We really make meal planning, prep, and grocery shopping SO EASY, especially with our NEW internet-based software. Oh my gosh, guys, I am so incredibly excited!!


A little CNC update: I organized my RECIPES by category, so now they’re a zillion times easier to find. Want some new ideas for breakfast? Here you go!!

Just wanted to share this info since readers/followers frequently ask me about my combo diaper+gym bag… ok, it’s technically, a diaper bag, but it works so well for the gym. It has lots of pockets and compartments to keep everything organized. I also just use it as an everyday bag even when I don’t have Qman with me.


Annnnddddd… I get a lot of questions (and compliments!!) about these Mesh Moves Leggings from Reebok. Super cute, right? I wear them a ton, both in- and outside the gym! Must-have for 2017.


Speaking of the gym, I recently worked with Modell’s on a couple of Instagram posts and just wanted to share a little tip about their gear. It’s really cute and SUPER affordable. Some favorites: Moret Ultra Womens Tech Fleece Hoodie ($23.99), Champion French Terry Womens Funnel Neck Hoodie ($24.99), and Moret Ultra Warm Systems Womens Legging ($19.99). And you can save 20% off regular priced items online through 1/31/17. Just use code CNC20. There are some SERIOUSLY awesome deals, so be sure to check it out! FYI: I’m wearing the Moret Ultra Warm Systems Womens 1/2 Zip Top ($23.99), and it comes in 4 different colors. I’ve worn it a ton since I got it a few weeks ago!


And, finally, just wanted to share this piece that I was recently quoted in: 7 Top Mom Bloggers Fix Your Holiday Stress

Question of the Day

What’s up for Christmas? What are your plans?

We’re having my in-laws over for Christmas Eve dinner and then we’re heading to my sister’s house on Christmas Day. I’m really looking forward to some quality family time and slowing down before the New Year madness begins!!

from Carrots 'N' Cake

Can You Retrain Your Taste?

Inline_TastebudsFollowing the switch to Primal eating, people often share curious observations about their shift in taste. After a lifetime of eating sugar, grains, artificial flavors and hydrogenated oils, they’re often taken by surprise at the way their tastebuds react to a low-sugar, whole foods-based diet.

Granted, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens. Many say the effect sneaks up on them over the course of several weeks until one day they realize their sense of taste has gone into hyperdrive.

Then they look across the cubicle aisle and watch their coworkers inhaling bags of chips or uninterestingly sucking away on sugary beverages. And it occurs to them: all those wasted years as their tastebuds languished in processed monotony.

It’s one of the unexpected upsides of the Primal Blueprint diet: learning/relearning the nuance of real food flavor. The experience doesn’t just reflect a psychological shift either. Taste acclimatization is a real, measurable thing.

What do we know about the process? Quite a bit actually. Some of it rather surprising….

Sugar consumption and your tastebuds

A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effect of reduced simple sugar intake on a group of “healthy” men and women. The study broke the participants up into two groups, with one group assigned a low-sugar diet and the other group continuing to eat their usual high-sugar diet. After 3 months of this, both groups were left to eat however they pleased for yet another month. Each month during the study, participants were asked to rate the sweetness and “pleasantness” of vanilla puddings and raspberry beverages that varied in sugar concentration.

After the third month of dieting, the low-sugar group rated the pudding to be around 40 percent sweeter than the control group, regardless of how much sugar the pudding contained. The conclusion was simple: “changes in consumption of simple sugars influence perceived sweet taste intensity.” Meaning that the less sugar you eat over the long term, the more things taste sweeter and, therefore, tastier.

The overall findings are important in that they indicate the inevitability of taste acclimatization, but they also demonstrate just how long this adjustment can take. Researchers found that the low-sugar group took on average two months for their tastebuds to recognize any difference in sweetness and pleasantness—and yet another month for that sweetness to intensify.

The takeaway here? A little patience will yield long-term dividends.

But what about salt addiction?

If you’re a bit of a salt junkie, you might be keen on learning how to break the habit. It’s a perfectly reasonable goal to have, particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension. (You might want to find out if you’re among the “salt-sensitive” in the population—about 50% of those with hypertension by some estimates— before chalking up your high blood pressure to salt intake.)

Similar to sugar, lowering intake of sodium-rich foods has been shown to decrease your reliance on salt. An impressively long 1-year study found that “reduction in sodium intake and excretion accompanied a shift in preference toward less salt.” Researchers surmised that the mechanisms behind this reduction in salt addiction were varied, and included physiological, behavioral, and context effects. Not the ultra-conclusive reasoning you were hoping for, but it looks as if particularly overzealous salt cravings should drop significantly when you switch to a naturally salt-moderated, low processed-food diet.

Still, let’s not neglect some stubborn truths.

While the health and scientific community continues to hate on salt, very few studies have examined the importance of salt for maintaining a healthy body. While these studies may be relatively few, evidence suggests that salt may play an essential role in excreting cortisol (the “stress hormone”) from the body, thereby improving recovery time from stressful events and situations. Possibly an important one to remember, when the in-laws descend for holiday dinner.

Salt has also been shown to decrease strain during exercise by increasing hydration. Studies indicate that knocking back a sodium-rich beverage prior to exercising increases plasma volume, which in turn reduces the strain on your body during exercise and helps you reach higher levels of performance.

And all those other clever uses

And then there’s the point that salt just makes food taste better…. Just make a point of sticking with the good stuff—high quality sources like Himalayan pink salt, Real Salt, and Celtic sea salt. These natural, unrefined versions provide all of the taste of salt and, unlike table salt, still include all the essential minerals your body needs to rehydrate those cells and help to evenly distribute all that sodium.

The factors behind taste

There’s a lot more to taste than just your tastebuds themselves, which were designed to elicit appropriate feeding responses in an evolutionary environment—not the snack aisles of Costco.

If your body has been inundated with sugar-intensive processed foods for the last few years/decades, it may be a little confused as to what it actually wants to taste. Rewiring your tastebuds, then, is no small task for both your brain and your digestive system.

Luckily, all that’s required of you is to stay the course of good eating. That said, it’s helpful as always to understand the bigger picture.

Gut Health

There isn’t much it seems the gut isn’t involved in, and taste is no exception apparently. A team at the Department of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine discovered that the taste receptor T1R3 and the G protein gustducin are located in the gut, as well as the mouth. These taste receptors are essential to tasting sweetness in the foods we eat, and we now know that they play an important role in sensing glucose within our gastrointestinal tract.

This role goes far beyond simply “tasting” carbohydrates and other sugary or sweet foods within your gut. When you eat these foods, the sweet-sensing taste receptors in your large intestine activate the release of hormones that promote insulin secretion and regulate appetite. This means that if your gut health is lacking, its ability to sense carbs and produce insulin may be impaired.


A 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal found that obese kids develop an insensitivity to taste. Researchers examined close to 200 children between the ages of 6 and 18, half of whom were a normal weight and half classified as obese. Each of the participants was asked to place 22 taste strips on their tongue, simulating each of the five levels of taste at varying intensities.

Obese children found it significantly more difficult to differentiate between the different taste sensations, and were particularly insensitive to salty, umami and bitter tastes. Children who were obese also gave lower intensity ratings to sweet foods, meaning they needed more sugar in foods to achieve the same sensation of sweetness.

The take-away is simple: the more weight we put on, the less likely we are to enjoy the food we eat or to recognize the mounting sugar or salt levels we likely take in for the same taste experience. There may be more of a lag time in rejuvenating full taste sensitivity if we’re reversing obesity as well as shifting our diets, but the end point is the same.

Eating environment and attention

In an interesting wrinkle, researchers at the University of Cornell found that noise generated by airplanes appeared to enhance umami taste while inhibiting sweet taste. Noise, which can reach upwards of 85 decibels inside your average passenger jet, has led many airlines to notice that people tend to gravitate towards savory foods like tomatoes, while straying away from sugary foods. Bloody Mary, anyone?

Beyond the physical adaptations that come over time, we can appreciate the power of attention (as well as quiet) in sensory experience. Do we blunt or confuse our senses by multitasking or watching the nightly news while we eat? Or do we bring our full consciousness to the meal?

Research into eating awareness shows that mindful practices might be powerful enough to help resolve even chronic disordered eating. Knowing that, what can it promise us as we make the transition to taste sensitization and a healthier relationship with food?

Thanks for reading, everybody. What has been your experience in shifting your personal taste as you’ve adopted a Primal diet? What helped you or challenged you? And when (if you’re already there) did you know you’d gotten over the hump?


The post Can You Retrain Your Taste? appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

from Mark's Daily Apple

The Healthiest Fast-Food Options When You’re On the Road

Whether you’re heading to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the holidays or are planning a family vacation, if a road trip is in your future, you’ll probably need to stop along the way for a quick bite to eat. The good news is that healthy fast-food options are popping up around the country. Here’s what to look for when you stop to eat, and the top five meal choices from joints around the country.

Guidelines for Ordering Healthy

Here are five things to keep in mind when stopping on the road to grab a meal:

  • Calories matter: Make sure meals don’t top around 550 calories each, including side dishes and dessert.
  • Choose lean protein: Whatever you choose should have at least 15 grams of protein per serving. Protein takes longer to digest, which will keep you fuller longer.
  • Steer clear of fried fare: Fried food like french fries and fried chicken can weigh you down and even give you some uncomfortable tummy troubles.
  • Look for veggies: Most Americans don’t get their daily recommended dose of veggies. More fast-food joints do offer veggie-filled meals and sides now, so keep your eyes peeled for them.
  • Opt for calorie-free drinks: Choose beverages without added sugar, like water, seltzer, plain coffee with a splash of milk, or unsweetened iced tea.


This Northeast chain offers kale-and-quinoa bowls and seasonal salads with locally sourced ingredients, which can help you feel good about what you order when you’re on the road. The calories for most main dishes are within reasonable limits, with a few hitting 700 calories or above. The one drawback is that the website doesn’t provide information on sodium or total fat content. If you do choose to stop at B. Good, opt for the Quinoa Power Bowl, made with kale, sesame carrots, Brussels sprouts, crunchy chickpeas, pepitas, local egg and tomato vinaigrette.

Per serving (Quinoa Power Bowl): Calories 592; Fat 28 g (Saturated 4 g); Carbohydrate 59 g; Protein 22 g

Panera Bread

You can find Panera throughout the country, with seasonal menu items popping on the menu. Panera recently removed all artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and colors from its food. You can find salads, broth bowls, warming soups and flatbreads on the menu. One family-favorite meal is the half order of BBQ Chicken Flatbreads and the half order of Seasonal Green Salad, with an apple on the side.

Per serving (half order BBQ Chicken Flatbread, half order Seasonal Green Salad, an apple): Calories 555; Fat 22 g (Saturated 10 g); Sodium 862 mg; Carbohydrate 74 g; Protein 13 g


Most of the outposts of this West Coast healthier-burger joint are found in Oregon and Washington. You can order all types of burgers, including beef, halibut, chicken, turkey and several vegetarian options. You can also order a kid’s meal (also referred to as a small meal) if you’re trying to be very mindful of portions. A well-balanced meal to order is the Original Burger with a Garden Salad.

Per serving (Original Burger with Garden Salad): Calories 410; Fat 22 g (Saturated 6 g); Sodium 630 mg; Carbohydrate 33 g; Protein 17 g


In addition to this ubiquitous chain’s beverages, many locations offer healthy fare, which you can request to be warmed up. Besides the variety of Bistro Boxes offered (all 470 calories or less) and fruit and yogurt parfaits, you can find sandwiches, panini and salads. A top pick is the Turkey and Havarti Sandwich, which is made from oven-roasted turkey, dill Havarti cheese and lettuce, all stacked on hearty harvest wheat bread slicked with a scallion mayo. To minimize the calories from your beverage, forgo the fancy coffee and go for a plain cup of joe with a splash of milk.

Per serving (Turkey and Havarti Sandwich): Calories 460; Fat 21 g (Saturated 7 g); Sodium 940 mg; Carbohydrate 31 g; Protein 29 g


With a selection of lean protein, vegetables, rice, beans and salsa, you can get a well-balanced meal at Chipotle if you build your bowl or salad smartly. One drawback of Chipotle is the high levels of sodium, especially in the salad dressing and the tomato-based salsa. Instead of them, order a salad with lettuce, chicken, black beans, tomatillo-green chile salsa and cheese. If you choose the cheese, then skip the guac and sour cream, as they each add a few hundred calories.

Per serving (salad with lettuce, chicken, black beans, green-chile salsa and cheese): Calories 425; Fat 15.5 g (Saturated 8 g); Sodium 1015 mg; Carbohydrate 29 g; Protein 46g

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

from Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy...

The Very Best Oatmeal Raisin Bars

Hi, guys!

Back in 2008, just a few months after starting CNC, I created this recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Bars. That was more than 8 years ago, and I still make these bars over and over again. They’re truly a go-to recipe, and I often bring them to parties and other get-togethers because they’re super easy to make, don’t require a ton of ingredients, always turn out well, and everyone loves them!


And I especially love that these bars are totally customizable by swapping out the raisins for chocolate chips, dried cranberries, butterscotch chips (omg, so good!!), or adding shredded coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles, or whatever else your little heart desires.


Basically, the oatmeal bar base is the best thing ever and works well with just about any ingredient additions. The options are truly endless, and I hope this recipe becomes a favorite in your home, too!

The Best Oatmeal Raisin Bars


  • 2 cups rolled or quick oats
  • 3/4 cup oat (or all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unflavored coconut cooking oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins (or whatever delicious ingredient you’d like to add)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine above ingredients until smooth.

3. Spread batter in prepared baking dish and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until bars are cooked all the way through.

4. Let bars cool completely in pan before cutting.

Makes 9 bars

from Carrots 'N' Cake

The Year Of Rose


Let’s get cozy and have some tea. Sleepytime is my go-to, but I’ll take a good mint tea any day. Or my mom’s famous Lipton with sugar and milk. What’s your favorite? Do you swear by loose leaf or are you as efficient as possible and plop in a teabag and call it a day ( <– that’s me, no surprise, although I do agree that loose leaf is better!)

I am reading the book Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, and should have read it years ago! During the first few chapters I was nodding my head yes in agreement, and can say with confidence that Mazen is a spirited child. “Normal but more,” as she calls them. I am only halfway through the book and am really eager to put some of her tips into place when it comes to minimizing the resistance and battles and maximizing all the wonderful things about Mazen’s personality.


After my visit to Neroli spa, Alyssa sent me home with this gentle rose exfoliator. As my mom would say, “It ain’t cheap,” but I really like that it isn’t super scratchy or rough. There are little beads inside that “polish” the face. And….all the smells!


Speaking of rosey things, I have been using this rose shampoo which arrived in a package from Target featuring brands that are #madetomatter. You guys would recognize a ton of them as being environmentally friendly, organic and the like. This shampoo is natural, organic, sustainable and best of all – smells amazing!! ‘Tis the year of the rose.

Holy warm coat Batman!! Guess who is going to freak when this shows up under the tree?!?


A friend told me about Sensationail products that are at Target. It’s a whole line of gel nail products for home use, and the kits look really awesome and is really affordable. I wish I had known about this line before buying my kit, but I will give them a test run to see how they do. You can guess which color I’ll be buying ; )


Have you seen this hilarious Facebook channel by JP Sears? I just love his super dry sarcasm.

And this video from Billy On The Street with Will Ferrell was produced by my cousin Anna!! Also hilarious. Elf IS the best movie ever!


^^This was the prettiest Birchbox! I love the gold foil sparkle. (This post features a ton of the boxes I have kept!) And that evo Root Canal volumizing spray is awesome!


This was our sky the other morning. #rosegold (sorry I had to!)


The post The Year Of Rose appeared first on Kath Eats Real Food.

from Kath Eats Real Food