The Friday Five 04/14/17

Today officially kicks off wedding weekend for Mike’s sister, Sarah and her fiancé, Ryan! Our whole family is in the wedding, and we are super excited. Weez and I are headed out to get manis and pedis with my sisters-in-law this morning, and we have the rehearsal dinner tonight. The weather this week has been perfect so I am hoping that it holds up for the special couple tomorrow!

For the Friday Five this week I thought I’d share some tips & favorites  as we head into the warm weather season! Enjoy the read 🙂

1. Sunflower microgreens

I discovered micro greens like 6 years ago and used to eat them alllllll the time. I remember it was my go-to healthy meal booster after Ella was born. Microgreens are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs harvested less than 14 days after germination. I had never had sunflower microgreens, however, until about a year ago when the farmers from New Day Farms traveled to my local Whole Foods to share samples of their product. I fell in love at first bite! This is such a simple way to get a healthy dose of greens in at lunch or dinner. They are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can boost immune health and gut health!

My favorite way to enjoy them is by adding equal parts of olive oil, apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice), salt, pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes! Last night I had it on the side of a bun-less grass-fed burger!

The skinny on micro greens:

  • Sunflower microgreens contain up to 100 times the enzymes of regular, full-grown greens. This means your body can more easily assimilate important phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
  • The nutritional profile of each microgreen depends greatly on the type you are eating. Leafy greens are a good source of beta-carotene as well as iron and calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and chard are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Microgreens require only minimal sunlight and space to grow, they can be grown in your kitchen or in a windowsill (home-grown microgreens are not exposed to as many pollutants as commercially grown varieties).

2. Tips for Safer Grilling

It is officially grilling season. Our home gets really toasty in the summer … we have central air but for some reason the house heats up like an oven whenever we cook. All I have to do is boil potatoes for too long or turn on the oven and it rises like 25 degrees in here. This was my main selling point to my husband when I wanted an instant pot! I love summer, but will miss using my oven for sure. Luckily, we have a great grill (and now an instant pot) to make plenty of healthy meals with.

You may have heard that grilling meat causes cancer. Yup. It’s as bad as smoking a cigarette. There’s this thing called grilling-induced carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons  (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) . Charbroiling meats or grilling at too high of a temperature will naturally produce HCAs. This results from the combination of creatine (an amino acid) and sugars, which are both found naturally in meats.

Researchers found that high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats was associated with increased risks of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. Currently, no Federal guidelines address the consumption of foods containing HCAs and PAHs. The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research issued a report in 2007 with dietary guidelines that recommended limiting the consumption of red and processed (including smoked) meats; however, no recommendations were provided for HCA and PAH levels in meat (source).

I wouldn’t sell your grill just yet. There are ways to reduce HCA and PAH formation in cooked meats.

 How to grill safely this summer:
  • Turn the grill down: Keep your grill around 375-425 degrees. Blackened and charred meats contain the highest levels of PAHs and HCAs, so cut that shit off when you see it!
  • Marinade in vinegar: Vinegar-based marinades will lower these cancer-causing agents in your meat. Even beer helps (it’s gotta be dark beer, the light ones don’t do anything).
  • Skip the sugars: This means your beloved BBQ sauce has to go. Most barbecue sauces contain sugars, syrups or honey (yes, no honey!), which will increase HCA formation. If you must use it, just top it off at the very end of cooking, right before you serve it.
  • Use herbs and spices: Onion powder can reduce one of the major type of HCAs by 94%! Fresh garlic will lower it by 70%, rosemary by 90%!
  • Cut your meat in smaller pieces and flip often. Continuously turning meat over on a high heat source can substantially reduce HCA formation compared with just leaving the meat on the heat source without flipping it often. Using indirect heat is another good way to reduce exposure. I love this method for cooking as it doesn’t dry out chicken or meats (place just one burner on and put the meat on the unlit side).
  • Eat your steaks medium-rare: My husband is a medium-well guy (I think it’s tragic), and I love a warm pink center (medium or medium-rare). Let the meat rest under a lamp and it will continue to cook, so you do not have to leave it on the grill longer.
  • Source your meat responsibly: This is a VERY important one! Processed meats, like hotdogs, are the killers. I buy Applegate Farms “uncured” hotdogs for my kids, and I rarely make them on the grill. They actually prefer them boiled. All hotdogs have to be “cured” but there are ones on the market now that use natural agents to cure, not harmful chemicals. Stick with fresh meats on the grill, form your own burger patties with grass-fed local meat, and limit sausage and hotdog grilling (when you do use them choose fresh sources and healthier curing methods).

3. Favorite Smoothie Supplement: Collagen Hydrolysate!

This stuff is the real deal. It’s one of my favorite  beauty and wellness tips I give to anyone and everyone: get more collagen in your diet! Homemade broth is made to extract the beneficial gelatin from the bones, and gelatin or collagen peptide powder is another great way to get some in your diet (from trustworthy, sustainable sources!). Collagen hydrolysate is essentially gelatin, with the same benefits,  however it is processed in a way that it dissolves into hot and cold liquids without gelling and is more quickly absorbed by the body. When eating animals it is super important to eat all parts, not just muscle meats like chicken breast. This is a topic I’ll get into with another blog post, but just know this is another reason why I am big on making whole chickens, and utilizing the bones and feet for homemade broth.

I add 2 TBSP to my smoothies to get an added boost of collagen. I tend to gear towards more stews, broths, teas and soup in the fall/winter (red wine season too!), and smoothies, juices, salads (and rosé!) in the spring and summer.

Benefits of collagen hydrolysate:

  • Improves digestive health: your gut is the center of your immune system and hormonal health. Consuming gelatin-rich foods can help repair your gut and boost nutrient-absorption in the foods you eat.
  • Beauty superfood: people pay lots of money to get botox, when the secret to reducing fine lines and wrinkles may be right in your kitchen!
  • Strengthens hair, teeth and nails: Since this abundant protein makes up a large part of our skin, hair and nails, it would make sense that consuming it only helps them to grow!
  • Bone and Joint Health: Collagen may help your bones and joints in the same way it benefits your skin. Collagen may improve bone and joint health over time by helping the body’s natural production of collagen and providing a bioavailable source of these amino acids.
  • Healthy hormones: The amino acids found in collagen may help improve the amino acid balance in the body and support the body’s natural hormone production.


4. Wine time!

I love sharing some of my favorite wine on the blog … because life is all about balance, right? My definition of healthy includes a glass of wine here and there, so here you go! One of my yoga students turned me onto this and it may just be my favorite new rosé! Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rose should be placed into your collection immediately if you are a rosé lover! Thanks, Nicole for the recommendation!

5. Cultivating gratitude.

Gratitude is one of life’s most vitalizing ingredients in mental well-being.

Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting positive effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, promote happiness and well-being, and spur acts of helpfulness, generosity, and cooperation. Additionally, gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Whether it stems from the acceptance of another’s kindness, an appreciation for the majesty of nature, or a recognition of the gifts in one’s own life, gratitude enhances nearly all spheres of human experience.(source)

Often in my yoga classes I suggest my students begin their practice with gratitude for the time to themselves, for the things their bodies are capable of doing, and for their minds. Beginning your yoga practice with gratitude, and striving to keep that (I think it is the TOUGHEST part of yoga) may help you to find more gratitude off of your mat as well as presence for the moments, people, and things that matter the most.

Looking to find more “gratitude” isn’t always an easy task. It takes practice and may even take work for certain people. Hell, some days it is tough for me when things seem to be doing nothing but going wrong. It is really easy to feel sorry for yourself when things are shitty … imagine how difficult it is for people who suffer from things like clinical depression, or went through some sort of trauma?

Often times yoga teachers make statements that may be good intentioned, yet harmful to the student.  A good example of this is saying “happiness is a choice.” Cultivating gratitude can certainly make you a happier person (it has for me), but not everyone can just “choose” to be happy, just like “finding gratitude” may seem incredibly difficult for some people, especially those who suffer from depression. My friend, Kristin of wrote a very interesting piece on blanket statements yoga teachers make, such as “happiness is a choice” and how these statements can be counterintuitive and triggering to people who suffer from mental illness and depression. Check it out and let us know your thoughts!

My thoughts: practice gratitude as often as you can, but don’t be hard on yourself if you find the task difficult. You can be grateful but also feel your feelings when things aren’t going your way so that you CAN cultivate this practice. Often times people will say something when someone complains that they are “first world problems” … and on one hand, no one likes a constant complainer or energy sucker, and on the other hand, we need to vent and get out our feelings so we can move past them. Guess what? We are lucky enough to live in the “first world” and our problems may not be as bad as others, things can ALWAYS be worse, but they are still our problems.

Gratitude is amazing, and so are you 🙂

Do you find practicing gratitude helps make your day better?


In case you missed it:

 Last week’s Friday Five was all about ditching sugar cravings! Check it out!

DIY Bronzing Body Glow Butter recipe (I will be wearing this for the wedding!)


Have a beautiful weekend!



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