4 Benefits of Going Gluten-Free

If you’ve ever thought about embracing a gluten-free diet, there are compelling reasons to do so. I haven’t fully changed my diet into being completely gluten-free but it’s something I try to be mindful of. The health-related benefits below are ones you might not have thought of before. Let’s start by defining gluten and then move onto the perks of doing so.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a general term for a group of proteins that are found in a variety of cereal grains. It occurs naturally in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale.

What is its purpose? The primary function of gluten is to hold foods together, so they keep their shape.

Here are some benefits of going gluten-free.

Eat more fruits and veggies.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. As you’re not able to eat certain foods now that you’re on this new eating plan, you’re more likely to reach for those healthy foods.

That’s good news given the many vitamins and minerals in them. They contain nutrients to help you stay healthy. For example, kale and carrots are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, while strawberries and papayas are high in vitamin C. Apples and bananas are great sources of iron.

You might exercise more.

When switching to a gluten-free diet, you might notice a dip in your energy levels, which is why it’s important to eat right and exercise regularly. Doing so will help you to feel at your best at work and in your personal life.

If you needed incentive to workout more, then this is it. You’ll be more likely to do so now and staying active is easier when you choose an activity that you enjoy, whether it is walking, swimming, or something else.

Knowledge is power.

You have knowledge of what foods can negatively impact your health when you enjoy a gluten-free lifestyle. Before buying items, you’ll be looking at food labels and understanding how to read them, including how ingredient lists start with the most prominent item first.

Some items that you will discover may contain gluten will surprise you. For example, seasonings, sauces, and malted milk can all be sources of gluten.

Delicious food awaits you.

You will also soon realize that there are great gluten free recipes. Cooking yummy meals is not something you have to give up forever! Instead, you will understand how to enhance natural flavors using gluten-free spices to make tasty dishes.

Experimenting in the kitchen can be a lot of fun. You can even pick up soy flour to bread your chicken for dinner tonight.

Have you guys ever tried going gluten-free? If so, I would love to hear your experience in the comments below!

How to Diet Without Losing Flavor

2020 hasn’t been our year. You woke up on January 1st and thought that this year would be the one where you would finally go on a diet, hit the gym and change all the things you have wanted to. The trouble is, if you are like 90% of the world, by January 2nd you quite possibly found yourself on Seamless taking advantage of some sort of discount. 

Well, what if finally, somebody levelled with you and told you that if you really do want to hit that diet, it doesn’t have to be as boring as most people on Facebook would have you believe. While you may have a vision in your head that dieting equals lots of salad or some crazy fad that some insane person has created, that is not the case.

As you may have guessed, all these fads and advertisements you see on Facebook and Instagram are nonsense, in truth, losing weight can be easy. So, let’s take a look at how you can lose weight the easy way without having to sacrifice flavor and all the things that you love.

Calories In vs. Calories Out

Ok, so let’s start with the basics, if you want to lose weight, it’s all about moderation and being sensible.

The thing about losing weight is, it’s all about science. Many people count calories but don’t understand why so here’s the gist of things. Your body needs a standard amount of calories per day to function; if you have surplus calories, you gain weight; if you have a caloric deficit, you lose weight. Caloric deficit simply works by the body breaking down the fat cells when it runs out of calories, and then you lose weight.

So, if you want to lose weight, simply cut the calories. If you want to feel healthier, cut the calories, the fat and some sugars and you are well on your way.

Get Creative

Now we know that you can pretty much eat anything when dieting, you just need to exercise your creative bones in the kitchen.

If you want pizza, change the base to a flatbread, if you fancy a snack with tons of flavor, why not check out something like this baba ganoush from ToriAvey.comIf you want chocolate, have a piece of chocolate. If you want some delicious curry, have the curry. You simply have to remember that it’s a matter of not overindulging and counting your calories on one of many apps. Doing this will allow you to monitor your caloric deficit and set yourself goals.

In truth, dieting is a lot easier than the media would have you believe, this is simply due to the fact that people want to make money from your needs. 

Hopefully, this post has armed you with some handy information that can help you should you want to start a weight loss journey and not have to sacrifice flavor along the way.

 

Step Up Your Food Game

Okay, if you haven’t gathered from the title of my blog, I love food. It not only serves as a beautiful means of turning ingredients into works of art, but it’s also a craft, a social experience, and an act of love to serve someone. However, for those who truly do adore the entire experience of eating and appreciating good food, ingratiating yourself in foodie culture can also be a great way to connect with your passion.

Connecting with food outside being a seasoned eater can help you learn more about the art and practice, and it can also educate you to no small degree. For instance, if you enjoy steaks and eating high-grade beef, learning about the maintenance, rearing and care practices of Wagyu cows can be a fantastic idea. It textures our knowledge that little bit more, and we can therefore pass on our knowledge. But how else might you connect with food outside of eating it? Here are some ways you can step up your food knowledge.

Read Up On Food History

Read up on food history. From shows such as A Taste of History or reading into a particular ingredient or foodstuff, such as the first creation of sandwiches or the true societal-shifting implications of hunting down salt, the more you understand about how culture has developed the more you can gain an appreciation for it. Additionally, you will also find yourself appreciating other cultures more, as no one society, civilization or race of people has ever had a monopoly on fantastic food. For this reason, the act of learning allows us to appreciate our mealtimes more.

Visit Food Destinations

Visiting authentic locations can be a fantastic means of exploring your gastronomic interest. For instance, heading to Marseilles can help you eat at the restaurants prized among the culinary world, with legendary chefs that are still serving incredible food to this day. Appreciation is the name of the game here, and you’re sure to appreciate such a wonderful display of worth in more ways than one here. It’s even better if you can share this journey with those you most love, as the act of sharing a meal in a social setting is perhaps the only exception to the phrase ‘hunger is the best sauce’.

Source Incredible, Quality Treats

It’s important to treat yourself, and that means going for the best of the best when it comes to a certain foodstuff or ingredient. Sure, you may enjoy eating crab, but have you ever ate crab freshly picked and cooked from the ocean that morning in New England? Sure, you may enjoy pretzels, but have you tried the best pretzels from esprovisions.com?

The more we can try the best of the best, the more we’ll be able to distinguish quality from quantity, and good preparation techniques from the ineffective. That’s a vital skill to have.

Where to Eat in London

Last month, I went to London for the first time with my friends Amy and Vinny. It was a super quick trip. We took the red eye Wednesday night and came back Sunday. I honestly wish I could have stayed longer because I absolutely fell IN LOVE with London. I’m already plotting my next trip back. Before I went, everyone kept telling me that the food in London was not good. So I went in with low expectations. My expectations were wildly wrong because I found some AMAZING food spots in London that I want to share with you. These were my favorites from the trip – ones I would not only highly recommend but would go back again.

Sketch – Go to Sketch for Afternoon Tea. Sure, it’s pretty pricey but you get unlimited tea and refills on the sandwiches and treats. The decor at Sketch was honestly probably one of the best decorated restaurants I had ever been to. It was cool, sophisticated and so instagrammable.

Dishoom – London is well known for it’s Indian food and Dishoom is one of their popular spots. I’m a huge fan of Indian food but I find it not as popular here in the states. I was excited to go to Dishoom and see what all the hype was about. It did not disappoint. The food was so incredibly good. We tried to go again another night but the wait was too long. I would highly recommend making reservations for this place or you might end up waiting upwards of two hours.

Chiltern Firehouse – Shoutout to Jackie Schimmel of the Bitch Bible for talking about Chiltern Firehouse on her podcast. If it’s good enough for Jackie, it’s good enough for me. We went here for brunch. I obviously had to get the avocado toast (which not going to lie, I didn’t think looked very appetizing) but boy was I wrong. This was absolutely delish! Chiltern is a little on the pricey side but if you’re looking for a nice brunch or dinner option I would highly recommend.

Breakfast Club – This is a The Girls Who Brunch after all so I had to add some of my favorite brunch spots. Breakfast Club is a great little diner-esque spot that has an amazingly delicious brunch. Be prepared to wait on line because it’s a popular spot.

Granger & Co. – The cutest little spot in Notting Hill. I mean look at all these amazing drinks. From the coffee to the blood mary – this was a great place for brunch. I got the pancakes – which I would say I normally don’t ever order but they were delectable!

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to London. I will definitely be making another trip (hopefully soon!). If you have ever been to London, let me know your favorite spots to eat so I can add them for my next trip!

Make Food Fun!

Do you ever go through ruts where you can’t think of what to eat, or you don’t really crave anything? Ever just eat the same thing over and over again? Especially after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is think about what I’m going to cook – or even worse have to grocery shop for. I’m on a mission to enjoy the process of food again. Here are some tips I have to make food fun!

Make Dinnertime an Experience

The best place to start when it comes to falling in love with your food again is to do as much as possible to make dinnertime an experience. There are a lot of factors that you need to keep in mind when you are looking to achieve this, and it is important to embrace this. By turning dinnertime into an experience, you make it exciting and something to look forward to. A lot of people view preparing and making dinner as a chore, and a lot of this is to do with mindset. By viewing it as a complete experience, you can look at it as a more positive experience, and this will enhance your enjoyment. Turn on your favorite podcast or jam out to your favorite song while you cook.

Expand Your Culinary Skills

Expanding your culinary skills is another massive thing to think about when trying to rekindle your love for food. If you can learn and try out new recipes, you will be well-placed to improve your knowledge and understanding of culinary skills. You could even extend to baking as well, allowing you to make cakes and tasty treats. Visit Loaves and Dishes for some recipes that will help you with this, and get the process started right now. I love looking up new recipes on the weekends and try to plan out my what I’m going to cook for the week. Try to switch it up with something you’ve never tried before!

Treat Yourself by Eating Out

If you want to really have a great food experience, you need to treat yourself by eating out now and again (something I partake a little too much in haha!). There are a lot of factors that play a part in helping you find the perfect restaurant, and it really depends a lot on what you want to eat. I’ve written some blog posts that might help! Check out the top 5 brunch spots in LA for starters! Rewarding yourself by eating out is an excellent way of viewing food as a treat, and it removes some of the stress of having to cook yourself. 

Learning new recipes, cooking and baking more, and enjoying eating out on occasions is essential. Food is one of the best experiences we can have, and this is something that can really help enhance and enrich your life. 

I’m always looking for new restaurants or recipes to try out, so if you guys have any favorites let me know in the comments below!

5 Healthy Food Swaps for Weight Loss

Food Swaps

It’s the New Year, and you know what that means. Everyone including myself is trying to diet. What is it about the new year that makes us want to change our lives? LOL. Now I’m going to be honest here, I suck at dieting. The longest I’ve ever gone on any specific diet is about 21 days of Whole 30. Yup, couldn’t even make it to 30 days. Any other time I diet, I usually do a couple days and by day 3 I’ve probably given up. I love food. That is why when it comes to dieting, I think it’s easier to maintain healthy food swaps instead of eliminating things all together. So I’ve complied a list of items you can swap out for healthier alternatives.

Pasta = Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash

This is a pretty standard one if you want to go low carb. Spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash are a great way to mimic the shape of pasta. They are a great base for any “pasta dish”. My favorite way to eat this is to make a type of bolognese with meat and a good tomato sauce and top it with cheese.

Bread or crackers = GG Crackers

If you follow the Skinny Confidential or the F Factor Diet, you definitely know about GG crackers. If not, GG Crackers are high fiber crackers that can be the base of any snack. I’ll be straight up with you the texture and taste do take a while to get used to, it kind of resembles cardboard. But hey, it’s good for you. It’s FULL of fiber which helps keep you full. I love to top my GG crackers with avocado and make an avocado “toast”. Top it with Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning and it’s a perfect snack or meal.

Soda = sparkling water

This is a simple switch. Soda is pretty terrible for you, but I still drink it occasionally. But I do try to limit my soda intake. If you are craving a soda, reach for a flavored sparking water instead. It will save you calories, is healthier for you and still hits the spot.

Cereal = Steel Cut or Quick Cooking Oats

Cereal is tasty, but it’s chocked full of sugar. To get a healthy dose of carbs in the morning that will keep you feeling full, swap out your morning cereal for some steel cut oats or quick cooking oats. I love to make steel cut oats and top it with cinnamon, fresh fruit, chia seeds and walnuts. You can experiment with the toppings and try different things, just make sure your toppings are healthy too. If you need it to be sweeter, I suggest sweetening it with a half a banana or a little bit of maple syrup.

Salad Dressing = Olive Oil and Vinegar

Packaged salad dressing might seem healthy because you’re eating a salad right? Wrong. A lot of times these salad dressings are packed with sugar. Make you own at home with some olive oil and vinegar (balsamic, red wine or white wine). You can even add things like lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Experiment and see what you like.

Those are some of my healthy food swaps that will make you healthier and help you lose weight! If you guys have any food swap ideas, let me know in the comments below!

How to Afford a Healthy and Fit Lifestyle

A large aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is knowing how to properly manage your money, which can be hard for a lot of young adults who are just learning how to budget. Living a healthy lifestyle requires going to the gym or hiring a personal trainer, which can lead to your body feeling healthier and stronger. When walking through the grocery store and seeing fresh fruits and vegetables, you know you should eat them, but you might end up avoiding them due to the higher prices. So, what is the solution? Read these tips below to gain some inspiration on how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle for little cost.

Limit Eating Out

When you’re living on a tight budget, one of the worst things you can do is eat out multiple times a week. This includes ordering a coffee from a café, going out to dinner with friends, or simply ordering lunch on the go. Any of these can put a significant damper on your back account and probably aren’t great for your waistline either. Save yourself a lot of cash by cooking healthy meals at home. It’s all about finding the right recipes that include healthy ingredients you love and that won’t take you forever to make.

Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

After going to the grocery store, prepare your meals for the week ahead of time,  using reusable snack bags of course, to limit the amount of money you spend when you are out and about. Knowing that you already have a meal prepped for the day reduces your impulse to buy something at a restaurant. Plus, by planning ahead you can ensure you’ll always have a healthy option available when hunger strikes.

Know Where Your Money Is Going

While maintaining a healthy lifestyle can have a strain on your finances, it’s important to gain control of your spending in other aspects of your life. If you’re able to save money elsewhere, you’re more likely to be able to afford to contribute to your well-being. Analyzing your monthly payments will give you a better understanding of how much money you spend per month. If you have a cell phone bill that could be cut down because you’re not using as much data as you thought you were, switch to a cheaper plan. If you have a student loan that could be reduced for the time being, consider refinancing your college loans to lower the cost. Additionally, explore your current subscriptions to magazines, music apps or tv show software’s, like Netflix or Hulu, to determine if you actually need or use them as often as you thought you would.

At Home Fitness

Working out is an imperative part of keeping your body healthy and strong. Without fitness, your body suffers in a variety of ways. Other than paying an outrageous amount of money to go to a local gym or for a fitness trainer, there are other alternatives to getting a workout in with little to no cost. By using online sites, like craigslist.com or ebay.com, you can find used gym equipment or weights that are of good quality for an affordable price.

If you want to stay away from workouts that require equipment, search for a great workout video on YouTube! Whether you are a beginner or advanced fitness junkie, you can find a variety of videos to choose from on this platform for free.

Using the Nike Training Club App is another fantastic alternative for an intense at home workout. By simply pressing the download button and creating an account, you can accomplish hundreds of workouts in your living room, and again, at no cost!

Looking for more healthy living inspiration? Check out my most recent food related posts here!

 

Thistle Review

Thistle Review

Okay, I’m going to be straight up with you. When it comes to dieting, I suck at meal prep. I love to cook, but for some reason I have an aversion to cooking healthy meals all week long. So since I’m going to Hawaii for a wedding in a few days I decided to try two weeks of Thistle. Thistle is a meal delivery service based out of San Francisco. They provide healthy plant-based meals delivered straight to your door. For my first week I decided to get the lunch and dinner option + a latte and snack each day. The reason I didn’t get the breakfast is I normally don’t eat breakfast and I usually try to intermittent fast until lunch. (But question ya’ll: I recently heard intermittent fasting isn’t good for girls to do every day because of our hormones, anyone have any more info on this? Let me know in the comments below!)

Vegan meals are priced at $11.99 each if you get 5 delivery days. If you want meat in your meals it’s a couple dollars extra. Snacks and lattes were $6 each. Now onto the meal reviews.

The lattes each morning was really just a cold brew with their homemade almond milk. Okay, I’m going to be honest here; I didn’t love this. It didn’t taste as fresh to me. But I’m also not the biggest fan of cold brew. When they said it was a latte I was expecting an actual iced latte with espresso. So after my first week of lattes, I decided to take this off my meal plan for the next week.

The lunches were all salads, which I think is great. I love bringing a salad to work because it’s easy and you don’t have to heat it up. The salad options they have were all very unique and not the typical salads you would make at home. This made me feel a lot better about paying the $11.99 for the salad. It was basically like getting a salad from someplace like Sweetgreen. Overall, they were very tasty. My favorite salad that I got was Waldorf Salad with Tarragon Navy Beans – it was delish!

The dinners were all so unique. They were not just like your typical healthy salad meals. All of them required some heating up in a pan before eating. Some of the types of meals I got were Charred Scallion Sesame Veg and Bean Thread Noodle Bowl with Garlic Marinated Tofu and also the Sweet Potato and Lentil Bowl with Sweet Pepper Relish and Lemon-Herb Avocado Sauce. They were all pretty tasty and so unique in flavors.

The snacks varied each day as well. One day I got an almond hemp bar, another day I got hummus and veggies. The snacks were all tasty, but they were also similar to snacks I could put together myself. That is why for week 2 I decided to omit the snacks.

Overall, I really enjoyed the two weeks I used Thistle. Sadly, I only lost 1 pound using the meal service. But I did feel great eating healthy meals all week. I think this meal service is great for busy people who don’t have time to cook during the week or for those of you who just don’t like to cook. The meals itself were very unique and tasty and I would definitely get it again especially for lunch!

If you guys want to try Thistle and get 2 meals for free, use code: ESTHER180.

Thrive Market Haul

Thrive Market

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to share with you guys the items I got from Thrive Market. This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to share it with you all because I love to see what others are buying! Thrive Market is an online grocery story that sells all things healthy at a slightly lower price. I love it because it’s so easy to shop, and it’s also great for the lazy girls like me because you don’t have to actually go into a store. I get some basics from Thrive, but I also like to try some new healthy snacks as well because they’re usually cheaper than someplace like Whole Foods. Okay, let’s get started with what I got.

Thrive Market Cacao Powder: Thrive has their own brand of foods, which is great because the quality is amazing but it’s at a lower price point. I’ve been wanting to get cacao powder to put into my smoothies and baked goods. This is a HUGE bag and will last me a long time.

Thrive Market Almond Flour: I’ve never used almond flour, but a lot of the baked recipes I’ve been seeing in Candice Kumai’s new book, or from the Tone It Up girls call for almond flour. I decided to buy it on Thrive because it’s cheaper.

Hu Cashew Butter and Pure Vanilla Bean Dark Chocolate: Simply Quinoa on YouTube put this in one of her Thrive Market hauls and said it was delicious, so I had to give this a try. She was not kidding. This stuff is BOMB.com. If you like dark chocolate, you’ll love these.

Quinoa Flakes: This was another item I saw from Simply Quinoa. She uses quinoa flakes in some of her recipes. I have never tried quinoa flakes but they look good, so I decided to get these to try out.

Coconut Aminos: This is basically a healthier soy sauce. I’m asian so I obviously love my soy sauce, but it’s not the greatest thing for you. I like to use coconut aminos in conjunction to soy sauce. Say a recipe calls for 2 tbsp of soy sauce, I will sub one of them out for coconut aminos. It still tastes great, but is slightly better for you.

Thrive Market Spirulina Powder: Spirulina power is an amazing superfood. It’s great for detoxing the body, and also has a lot of great minerals and vitamins. I’m going to be adding these to my smoothies for some added benefit!

Aduki Beans: There is a brownie recipe in Candice Kumai’s book that calls for aduki beans, so I had to get some to try out.

Cotton Rounds: I ran out, so why not just add these to my order.

Coconut Wraps: These were a free gift from Thrive with my purchase. I’m excited to try these out in replace of wraps.

There you guys have it! If you’ve ever ordered from Thrive Market, I would love to know what ya’ll get in the comments below!

Holiday Party Recipes

The weekend before Thanksgiving, my roommates and I decided to throw a last minute holiday party at our apartment. This was basically just an excuse for me to cook and try out new recipes. I wanted to share with you guys the foods that we made because they were all a hit!

Cheese and Meats: First off how cute is this marble cutting board I got from Anthropologie?? I’m obsessed! I wanted to put it to good use so we got a bunch of different cheese and meats. Put your favorites together and mix and match! Put some grapes and crackers in a separate bowl and you got yourself a snack!

Cranberry Brie Bites: I saw a video on Facebook with this recipe so I wanted to recreate it. Here is a recipe for something similar. Instead of using puff pastry I just used canned biscuits. They came out SO good! I want to make these again! They were also good reheated up the next day.

holiday recipes

Apple Gruyere Toast: I got this recipe a couple years ago from one of Carly Cristman’s videos. It’s my friends favorite and super easy to make! I make these at every get together we have, and they always go so quick! I couldn’t find the video because it was a few years old, but basically you take a baguette, cut it up. Place apple slices and gruyere cheese on top and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted.

Peppermint and White Chocolate Pretzels from Trader Joes: These are seriously my crack. I can’t get enough. I can pretty much eat an entire bag of these in one sitting.

Puppy Chow: This reminds me of my childhood. It’s such an easy snack to make and is perfect for the holidays. Here is the recipe for that.

Lemon Snowball Cookies (not pictured): I also baked these lemon snowball cookies that were AMAZING! If you love lemon then you’ll love these cookies. They literally melt in your mouth. Here  is the recipe for that.

There you guys have it! Those are the things we put together for our last minute holiday party! What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? Let me know in the comments down below!