10 Ways to Stay Healthy, Happy, and Stress-free this Holiday Season

Family gatherings, office parties, travel and weekend get-togethers with friends and family are part of the fun of the holidays, but the pressure of gifts, time spent traveling and family tensions can also cause extra stress this time of year. Finding different way to de-stress and stay healthy this time of year can help you get through the hustle and bustle (and even enjoy it!)

Here are ten ways to stay healthy, happy, and stress-free as we bid goodbye to 2013.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy, Happy, & Stress-free

1. They may not mesh with your holiday décor, but leave vitamins out on the counter over the holidays so you’ll be sure to take them. Make a full night’s sleep and steady hydration a priority as well.

2. Know your holiday stress points & plan ahead: make lists, start your holiday shopping early and decide on your party menu’s in advance. Doing things at the last minute increases anxiety.

3. Schedule time to relax: make time to get a massage or even just to lounge around the house.

4. Snack wisely: If you’re heading to a party in the evening, make a snack plan. Hold off during the day, or decide not to indulge during the event.

5. Prevent overeating: don’t go hungry to a party! Have something to eat before you head out the door. You’ll be less likely to pig out at the buffet table when you get to the party.

6. Keep it movin’! Whether you are in a hotel, staying with friends or family, or spending the holidays at home; make being active a habit. Take advantage of hotel gyms and pools, suggest a post-lunch or halftime walk (particularly good when visiting friends and family: “show me your neighborhood!”), or stick to your weekly fitness classes at home.

7. Balance your holiday plate: At this time of year, simple carbs and high calorie foods rule the roost. Rebel! Come down heavy on the veggie and fruit side of things so you can earn a little taste of something from the desert platter. Also – go easy on the sauce (you never need as much as you think) and watch your portion size!

8. Bringing a holiday dessert to the party? Modify your recipes and cook up a healthier option with sugar alternatives like honey or coconut sugar – or opt for a non-food gift.

9. If you’re hitting the road, pack smart. Bring healthy snacks with you – the menu at the gas station is pretty heavy on salt and sugar – and don’t forget your running sneakers.

10. Indulge, but in moderation! Have your piece of cake…just don’t have five. Go in knowing you plan on indulging in one extra appetizer or a single helping of your favorite dessert and stick to it.

One final point on the dietary front: the confidence boost you’ll get from making a plan and sticking to it will far outweigh the momentary rush you get from downing that extra brownie and then dealing with the guilt afterwards. And you’ll establish a pattern that will set you up for a healthy year to come!

 I was selected by American Express as to help educate consumers about how to use Membership Rewards points. As such I was paid for my services, but all gift choices selected and opinions about the gifts and American Express are my own. http://t.cmp.ly/68ee5b1be62ebaeb5a

How do you stay healthy and stress-free during the holidays and going into the new year?

Best of 2013

bsetof2013

What a year it has been! In 2013 I made a decision to start Lexi’s Clean Kitchen (just a short 7 months ago). LCK is my little baby. It has brought so much fulfillment to my life.  To start, it has brought me all of you! Who I love to interact with daily; everything from diet changes, happy moments, illnesses, life obstacles, healthy habits, ideas, motivation, and so much more. It’s truly amazing how much you guys give, and I will continue to give back to you as much as I can. I love the positive energy and little world that surrounds Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. It has brought opportunities I never would have excepted, along with friends I never would have made.  It is truly my passion and I love learning and growing with it every day.

And now, 24 reader-favorites (and a few of my own favorites)!

Best-of-2013

Row 1:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Turkey Chili

‘Everything Bagel’ Cauliflower Rolls

Row 2:

Paleo Pizza

Sweet Potato Casserole

Chunky GF Granola

Paleo Nachos 

Row 3:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

‘Pasta’ Primavera

Banana Muffins

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Row 4:

Chocolate Chip Espresso Pancakes

Chicken and Kale Detox Soup

Apple Cider Sangria

Linzer Torte Thumbprint Cookies 

Row 5:

Peach Cobbler Muffins

Lemon Roasted Chicken

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes

Saucy Bacon and Chorizo Baked Eggs

Row 6:  

Shepherd’s Pie: Two Ways

Cranberry Apple Crisp

Moist Chocolate Donuts

Brussels Sprout Slaw 

infographics2013I had the opportunity to work with some great brands this year to bring healthy recipes and healthy clean eating tips to you all. You can see my American Express #PointsForPresents work here and other features here!

Series on LCK that began in 2013:

series | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Bring it on 2014! Do you make New Years Resolutions? I set goals and evaluate them monthly, so the New Year, to me, in the perfect time to set some new goals, evaluate old ones, and stick to them. I type out my goals and keep them under my glass perfume tray that I stand in front of every morning (a little much? Maybe).

Health & Fitness Goals:

  • Work on my flexibility & balance
  • Figure out what essential vitamins my body needs and fuel it 
  • Be Consistent with my workouts and try out some new ones
  • Keep a balanced and stress-free mindset 

LCK Goals:

  • I’d love, of course, to see LCK grow even more in 2014! I look forward to working with big brands to bring recipes and clean eating/healthy living tips to the web-world! Ultimately I love when you guys make and use my recipes to help you and your families achieve your goals, and I look forward to continuing that and more into the new year. 

Personal Life Goals: 

  • Stay organized at work and at home! 
  • Be extra neat and tidy
  • Connect with old friends on a more daily basis
  • Read more!

I’d love your suggestions on what recipes you’d like to see on Lexi’s Clean Kitchen in 2014! What are your New Years Resolutions? What was your favorite LCK recipe of 2013?

5 Ways to Feel Empowered Each Day

I am a true believer in self reflection. I think it is so important to step back and think about how you want to grow as a person; set goals, follow through, and reflect often. What motivates you? What drives you each and every day? What empowers you? I found this video so powerful and so moving that I felt I just had to share it with you all, and share my 5 ways to be empowered each day.

I walked away from the computer screen thinking, how can I make a meaningful difference in my life, and in the lives of others on a daily basis? So, here are my five ways to feel empowered every day, inspired by Anne’s story.

AMEX131024_EMPOWERED - AK Continue reading

10 Tips for a Healthier Weekend

For many people the weekends can often mean a break from your usual diet and fitness routine. It’s definitely much easier during a busy work week to stay on schedule, exercise, and eat healthy; then when the weekend comes to let it all go. But, don’t let one weekend ruin your goals and your whole week of great habits! Be aware of where you will be tempted to indulge, and plan around it. Now, go enjoy your weekend and see these tips on American Express’ Tumblr!

10 Tips for a Healthier Weekend

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Clean Eating: 101

Clean Eating 101 | Lexiscleankitchen.com

Ah… Clean eating. It’s about time this post came about! What is it? How do I do it? Why should I eat clean? What about when I eat out? These are questions I get asked often. Don’t be overwhelmed! I am going to attempt to answer all of your questions.

What is Clean Eating?

To begin, “eating clean” is not a fad diet. Rather, it is a philosophy that encourages YOU to be more aware of the foods you are consuming.

There is no specific science to it and no insane calorie restrictions. It is simple as this, when you begin to replace the processed and unhealthy foods from your diet with fruits, healthy fats, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins, your body will respond in remarkable ways.

The definition of clean eating varies from person to person; so take what you will from the core principle (below) and adapt it to your lifestyle.

My version: Clean eating went from a diet to a complete lifestyle for me. It is the way I approach food and the preparation of food. Overall, this has led me to improving every aspect of my life. For me, eating clean and getting my body to where I wanted it to be meant cutting out all gluten, grains, dairy, and soy. This may not be the case for you; you can eat clean regardless of what you choose to restrict from your diet! It’s about being aware.

Core Principle: 

Here is what you need to know… Clean eating is cutting out all processed foods and replacing them with whole foods. It is simple; you want to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. I bet if you really look at the ingredients in some items in your kitchen, you’ll be very surprised at what some of the “healthy” products out there are filled with.

What foods are not considered “clean”?

  • Foods that are processed or contain processed ingredients
  • Foods loaded with preservatives
  • Foods with added sugar
  • Foods with high levels of bad fats (trans fats- cookies, cakes, chips, etc.)
  • Foods that have been stripped of their nutritional value
  • Foods that have been injected with chemicals and other additives

So… for example, consider replacing white flour, refined sugar, white bread, and enriched pastas with whole-wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and natural sugars such as raw honey and stevia.

Here’s the deal…

  • Believe me, I know it’s hard in the beginning. We are used to eating bowls of cereal, drinking soda and sugary juices, and popping in a frozen meal for convenience. But ask yourself, how do you feel? If you are committed to cutting these things out of your diet, you will notice a difference in how you feel AND how you look.

“But it is expensive…”

  • Actually, eating clean is not more expensive, it just requires more preparation. Often these whole foods are cheaper to buy than processed packaged foods are.

Where do I begin? 

  • Read your labels: ALWAYS! The shorter the ingredient list, the better.  A general clean eating rule of thumb is to keep the ingredient list to as few ingredients as possible. If you can’t read or pronounce the ingredients, maybe it’s likely you shouldn’t be eating them, right?
  • Don’t be fooled by what the food industry deems as “healthy” — you’ll often find it is quite the opposite.
  • Get your family or roommates on board. Do yourself a favor and remove temptations from your kitchen.
  • Shop local and organic whenever possible.
  • Shop the perimeter of the supermarket; if something can sit on a shelf or in your cabinet for months or years, it is HIGHLY processed. Avoid it. (Yes ALL cereal is highly processed, you guys!)
  • Check out my ultimate shopping list and my kitchen staples for my shopping guides.

Be Realistic… The 80/20 Approach:

  • Nobody is expecting you to be 100% all the time! The 80/20 approach is simple; you are consistent with your eating and exercising 80% of the time. The other 20%…. Enjoy yourself. You can go out to dinner and have some of that birthday cake without feeling guilty. If you are eating a clean diet and living a healthy lifestyle 4 out of 5 days you are in good shape.
  • So… treat yourself occasionally; but define what that means for you. Once a week? Once a month? Treating yourself every single day won’t get you to your goals;  And just make sure that your treats aren’t you binging on all the things you’ve been good about all week! Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Remember- you are working at being consistent, not perfect!

My Tips:

  • I know it may seem overwhelming. But start slow, you’ll get there!
  • Meal Prep! Preparation is key. Make a meal plan for the week along with a shopping list. Prepare meals so you never have to resort to the vending machine.
  • You don’t need to overdo it….
    • It’s great if you’re eating vegetables, but if it’s covered in breadcrumbs and processed cheesed and baked for an hour it’s losing nutritional value. So what can you do? Keep it simple! Lightly steam or roast your veggie with a little extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, himalayan sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.
  • You don’t have to eat boring! Experiment with spices. All my recipes use clean ingredients and are fully satisfying.
  • Eat 5-6 small meals every 2-3 hours: Eating small meals frequently will help prevent energy crashes because you are stabilizing your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar spikes, excess calories are stored more readily as body fat.
  • Watch your portion size. Eating clean doesn’t mean eat as much as you want.
  • Drink a lot of water!

How do I eat clean when I’m out?

  • Guess what? You can eat out. No problem! Just be aware… What do I mean? Think about it! Yes, it may not be as 100% clean as a meal you would prepare at home. BUT, If you keep it simple and go with things like seafood, lean meats, and vegetables you’ll be in good shape. An extra plus if the restaurant serves grass-fed, organic meats and wild fish!
  • I always ask how my food is prepared, and then I order it without sauces/more specifically cream sauces, cheese, breadcrumbs, and certain fats/oils. I always let the staff know about my food restrictions and most places are extremely accommodating. You’ll be feeling great when you leave the restaurant not having ordered that cream-based pasta dish and fried appetizer!

Conclusion:

  • Remember: You do not have to cut a million things out of your diet at once. Ease into it. You’ll constantly be learning more and feeling your body change in positive ways and you’ll want to continue! Make goals for yourself and be consistent; consistent does not mean you have to be perfect 100% of the time!

If you have further questions, feel free to email me at Lexiscleankitchen@gmail.com!

Stay Healthy at the Beach

The weekend is here and beach season is upon us! All of you beach go-ers know that the food at the little beach stand is far from optimal; I mean it’s “bikini season” so you want to look and feel great, right? Processed foods and snacks loaded with refined sugars are not going to do it!  So, it’s important to be prepared.

Note: Don’t have a cooler? You can find a small carry-size cooler for $20 or less!

Beach Food Ideas | Lexiscleankitchen.com

Quick and Easy Meal Ideas:

Prepare chicken the night before and make lettuce wraps!

Sweet potato bun BLT “sandwiches”

Easy homemade chicken slaw (don’t forget your forks and napkins)

Easy chicken skewers (these are great for the beach)

Buffalo Chicken Burgers (wrap them in lettuce or serve with a healthy bread choice)

Snacks:

Make your own trail mix (raw nuts, organic raisins, dehydrated fruit)

Clean nutrition bars: Make your own homemade Lara bars (try it, it’s super easy!) or go with clean store-bought bars like Pure Bars and Quest Protein Bars.

Organic raw veggies (carrots, grape tomatoes)

Organic fruit skewers (skewers make it easy since you’ll be sandy)

Egg muffin cups

Organic corn tortilla chips & salsa

Organic air-popped popcorn

Beverages:

To start, you want to stay hydrated, so bring plenty of water (add some fresh lemon, too) and coconut water!

Other Essentials:

Napkins & Utensils (you can probably find there, but better to be safe)

Ice for your cooler

Sunscreen

A pair of sunglasses

Beach Towel

Beach Chair

Beach Umbrella

Lip balm

A book/magazine

Headphones

Hat

Change of clothes

Frisbee

Hair tie (ladies)