6 Tips for becoming a morning-workout person

I’ve heard it a million times… “Oh, well of course you worked out this morning, you’re a morning person”. It’s true. I am. I’m an early morning person and an early-to-bed person too. Not sure which came first, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Ask college-aged Ash what I’m doing at 5 AM, and she would say something along the lines of leaving stumbling home from a night out or shoving Taco Bell in my face before passing out. Ah, the good old days.

Now, 5 AM is much more of a wake-up time to me than a bed-time to me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Becoming a morning person isn’t natural for everyone, but below are a few things that make it easier for me to wake up early and get my butt to the gym before I start my day:

  1. Go to bed early. When you’re becoming a morning person, you’ll be tempted to just try going to bed at 9 PM rather than your normal midnight bedtime. But think about it – that’s 3 whole hours earlier than you’re used to, so what ends up happening? You lay in bed, tossing and turning until you’re so frustrated you can’t stop counting down the minutes until you have to get up. Result? You get just as much sleep as normal and try to wake up earlier. Of course you’re going to feel tired. Instead, try going to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal the first night, another 30 minutes earlier the next night, and maybe 15 minutes earlier the next. Easing yourself into it will make it easier for your body to adjust and fall sleep faster.
  2. Sleep with your blinds open! Really, how much harder is it to get out of bed when your alarm goes off and it’s completely dark in your room? So easy to snooze once. And then snooze again.. and hey, maybe just one more time. Nothing wakes you up better than natural sunlight creeping into your room and once you see the sun, you’ll feel energized and not even consider the snooze button an option.
  3. Schedule your classes ahead of time, and if you can, pay for them ahead of time. That way, you’re losing money if you miss the class. You’ll be less tempted to skip out if you’ve already paid. (And who wants to lose $30 for missing a super-fun SoulCycle class?!)
  4. The single best piece of advice: be prepared for the morning. Nothing can slow you down more in the morning that being disorganized. What will make your morning go smoother –  rushing around to try to find a clean workout top, matching socks, some presentable yoga pants, SOMETHING to put your water in and your keys in the morning or having you workout clothes, water bottle, morning snack and keys laid out for you ready to go? Of course the latter.
  5. Pick workouts you like for the mornings. You’ll dread it less. If you absolutely hate running, don’t try to force yourself into it first thing in the morning! Pick something you do like, like pilates or yoga to start and then ease into the more aggressive workouts.
  6. OR, plan to do your morning sweat sesh with a friend. When you know your friend will be making it to class (or at least having the same morning struggles as you), it will be harder to ditch out.
  7. Stick with it. If you wake up late a few days and still get a little workout in, consider that a success. Keep trying!
  8. BONUS suggestion: Ok, say you’ve tried all of that but you’re still able to hit the snooze and sleep through your workouts. One surefire way to get yourself out of bed and to your AM workout….sleep in your workout clothes for the first few nights. It sounds silly, but think about it: you sleep in your clothes so all you have to do is jump out of bed and get moving. If you miss your workout, you have the reminder of missing your goal when you’re taking your workout clothes off in the morning – which will give you a double boost of inspiration to try again!

Anyone can become a morning workout person, trust me. Just take it little by little, try one or all of these recommendations, and you’ll be the peppy morning person post-workout in the office as fast as you can say “ew but I hate burpees!”

And if all else fails, I will call you in the morning and scream at you to wake up – out of love, of course 🙂

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Happy Saturday night 🙂

After a day of cookie baking with girlfriends during my annual Cookies & Cocktails party, I’ve decided to spend some time with my couch and puppies tonight.

I’m also spending some time catching up on my IIN classes online. This week, I’m learning more about different dietary theories that people have, not to be able to coach anyone to move towards a certain type of eating, but just to understand different diets that people may have when they come to me. Super interesting stuff – did you know there is something  called a potato diet and all you eat is potatoes?! WTF. (Do fries count there?)

Now is where YOU come in. I need your help! One of my assignments starting this week is to start completing a weekly health history. A health history is just a way to learn a potential clients’ background to understand their lifestyle and their goals. Since I’m only 1/4th of the way through my coaching classes, I wouldn’t be offering any advice, I would strictly be taking information from you to learn how to ask questions. It would only take about 15 minutes and could be fun! You could be completely honest with me or exaggerate or completely lie 😉 If you would be willing to help, PLEASE email me at ashstev85@gmail.com and we can set up a quick phone chat. I’ll definitely keep you on my list of potential clients to help once I am certified. 🙂

LOVE.

New Year, New Ash

It’s been a while. Sorry. Life has been busy, as it always is for everyone during the holiday! All good things – lots of love and friends, but it’s left me with little blogging time.

However, after giving the blog a ton of thought, I’ve decided to rebrand. New year, new Ash, new blog!

To date, I’ve been focused on healthy baking & baking for different dietary restrictions. While I may continue to bake every so often, I’m going to do something that will be more natural & easy for me.

As a lot of my friends know, I’m currently in a year-long course to become a health coach with Integrative Nutrition. I’ll continue my day job at Pinterest, but one day can see myself branching off to become a full time health coach.

So..what does that mean for the blog? I’m going to expand some of my ramblings to focus on health coaching & what I’m learning at Integrative Nutrition!

I’m loving my course work so far and am proud to say that I just got a 90% on my first semester exam! Go me! I can’t wait to share with you what I’m learning. More to come, people!

 

 

Snickerdoodle Cookie Balls (Keto, Clean, Low carb)

Hi! Happy Sunday!

This is my final week of doing keto. What does this mean? Currently, less than 10% of my diet is currently carbs (it’s almost impossible for me to do NO carbs) and a huge portion of my diet is healthy fat & protein.  I have to say, I actually love it. I have been feeling way more satisfied than I normally do due to the good healthy fats and it’s much easier than I thought it would be. BYE CARBS…actually, more like “see ya later” because I’ll be back some day soon.

All of that to say this recipe is totally keto friendly (*low carb*) and clean. Going forward, most of my recipes will likely be a little less fat-heavy, so enjoy it while it lasts!

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Also, does anyone think it’s funny that most of my recipes end of being balls? Not sure why that happens – ha.

I can’t take full credit for these fun little balls. KetoSizeme.com has the recipe here! 

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Let’s jump into the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup of Stevia in the raw
  • 1.5 cups of almond flour or almond meal (Careful if you substitute with coconut flour, as it’s super absorbent and will dry these out too much)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash of cream of tartar
  • Coating:
    • Another 1/4 cup of powdered Stevia in the raw + 2 tablespoons cinnamon

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How to:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  • Combine all dry ingredients except for the coating ingredients in a medium mixing bowl
  • Separately, whisk egg in a small bowl
  • Add all wet ingredients to the bowl with egg
  • Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredient bowl
  • Using your hands, form the dough into balls
  • Roll balls in the “coating” until they are covered with cinnamon and sugar
  • Bake in the oven for about 12 -14 minutes
  • Note: it’s hard to tell when these are done, so if you think they *may* be close to done, they probably are – just take them out of the oven and let them sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes
  • Enjoy!
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Low Carb Zucchini Bread (Keto, Clean, Sugar-free)

Have you noticed a trend in my last few posts? I’ve really been experimenting with including vegetables into some of my snacks and it’s actually been working out well! I know it seems weird, but zucchini really compliments a typical carb-loaded treat.

Besides having some great veggie content, this recipe is great because it’s low carb and packed with protein – something bread typically does NOT have.

Plus, I love when you can see the veggies peeking through during the final product but can’t taste them! It make you feel better about eating 2… or 3 slices 😉

Many of my ingredients are super quick, but this one took a bit longer. And by a bit longer, I mean about 20 minutes to put together. Still super quick comparatively.

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I love some good crunch in bread, so I added some walnuts here to mix in some really good healthy fats – which keep you full longer and make you feel more satisfied. Nothing wrong with that!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Organic coconut flour – I used Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1/2 cup organic Stevia
  • 2-3 tablespoons low carb protein powder, vanilla or unflavored – I used Thorne Research 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons cinnamon – or more if you’re me 😉
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of himalayan sea salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 medium spiralized or grated organic zucchini
  • 1/2 cup of organic melted coconut oil 
  • Any mix-ins you’d like – I used 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts

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Check out the zucchini peeking out of there – love it!

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a bread pan with coconut oil spray
  • Wash then grate or spiralize zucchini and sprinkle with salt, set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl seperate from the zucchini, mix together
  • Add eggs and melted coconut oil to dry ingredients and use a hand mixer to blend well. Once combined, add in zucchini and mix until blended. Add in any ingredients you desire. Nuts = highly recommended
  • Pour or scoop mixture into the pan and bake
  • Cooking times will vary – mine took about 50 minutes (an eternity when you’re excited to try it!
  • After baking, remove it immediately from the pan and place on a cooling rack to ensure it doens’t keep baking even after you take it out of the oven
  • SLATER with butter (especially if you are eating a keto diet) and eat!

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Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies (Keto + Clean eating)

Let’s keep on the train of sneaking in healthy ingredients into treats…

I currently (and always) have an obsession with avocado. It’s by far my favorite healthy addition to almost any meal. Lately, I just don’t feel like a meal is complete without a chunk of avocado of a scoop of guac. Remember when I went through my banana phase? Well, it turns out that avocados have way more potassium and fiber than bananas and way less sugar and carbs – two things I’ve been trying to limit. Bye banana, hi avo.

These barely made it to the blog because my husband couldn’t keep his hands off them. Turns out, I’ve actually run out of places to hide my baked goods so we’ve implemented this rule: JUST MAKE SURE YOU SAVE ME ONE!

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I know I say this a lot because I love sweet treats so much, but these really are gorgeous and full of fiber and healthy fat. (By the way, fat is a GOOD thing. Let’s talk more about this because its honestly something that was hard for me to truly believe. More to come here.)

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Sadly, I totally forgot to take photos of these while I was making them so I only have the final version. There is nothing crazy that goes into these, though, so I think you’ll be able to figure it out by reading directions. 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium super ripe avocados (they should be borderline smooshy so they’re easier to mix)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sweetener of choice (Stevia or coconut sugar are recommended)
  • 1 cup of almond flour meal
  • 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of dark cocoa mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash of himalayan sea salt
  • Sugar free dark chocolate chips
  • Any other additions you want to include – pistachios, walnuts, pecans!

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How to:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet (I used parchment paper on a cookie sheet to prevent sticking)
  • Add all ingredients to Vitamix and blend!
    • If it looks too dry and not like a thick batter, add a dash of almond milk and blend for a few more seconds.
  • Hand mix in any other ingredients you desire
  • Scoop onto the cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes

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Let me know what you think – and save ONE for moi!

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies (Clean, Keto, Low Carb)

Dessert + Veggies = Best combo

When is the last time you had some beautiful green zucchini in your brownies? This was my first time and I’m shocked at how great they taste. I know it sounds weird but you really can’t taste the zucchini – I swear!

Plus, it looks so pretty once you spiralize it… look!

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I remember in high school, my friends and I discovered that you can take a box of brownie mix and mix it with a can of diet coke to make brownies. At the time, I thought there was no other way to make brownies healthy… Ohhhh… how much I’ve learned since then! (For those of you who don’t know, diet soda does NOT = diet food!)

These are made of all healthy and clean ingredients. While I wouldn’t call these a health food, you can definitely argue that these are healthier than your average brownie.

One thing you’ll notice in these is that they are not shy in butter/oil. As some of my friends know, I’m testing out a ketogenic diet, meaning I’m eating little to no carbs (other than from leafy greens), a little protein, but a LOT of fat. Seems totally counterintuitive for health, I know, but if you read a little about it there are some amazing benefits. More to come on this later.

Let’s dive in!

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Ingredients:

  • One medium zucchini
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil (I use Kelapo)
  • 6 tablespoons of melted salted butter
  • 1/2 cup Stevia or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of cashew butter
  • Dash of vanilla extract (or more if you like vanilla – I am personally obsessed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
  • One bar of the darkest chocolate you can find

How to:

  • Use a spiralizer or a grater to dice up the zucchini into mini pieces – you can leave the skin on
  • Beat the egg and then add all ingredients except for the bar of dark chocolate into one bowl and mix! (I know, so simple)
  • Once it’s mixed well, chop up the dark chocolate and mix in

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(So colorful and so pretty!)

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  • Grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil spray and pour batter into it. It may appear a bit chunky because of the zucchini – that’s ok

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  • Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Ok, in this photo, I know they look a bit dry. But I promise you they’re not! The zucchini keeps them moist and fudgy.

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Mmmmmmaybe it’s just me, but I love a good hot brownie right out of the oven. So get yourself a glass of almond milk ready and dig in as soon as they’re done!

If you’re able to make these last for a few days, keep them in the fridge in a tightly sealed container, otherwise the zucchini in them will make them go bad quickly.

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Have you ever used any vegetables in your brownies or cookies? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried!

Pumpkin Chia Pudding (Keto-friendly, clean)

 

Who’s ready for pumpkin season!?

I’m not scared to admit it. I love pumpkin, and I’m ready for pumpkin season.

I know it’s still August and I’m not saying I’m ready for fall. I’m just ready for pumpkin. Pumpkin everything (except for PSLs…those should never be considered real pumpkin!)…let’s get it going.

This is a super easy dessert to throw together. And it’s keto-approved. (More to come on keto!) The hardest part is making sure you make this ahead of time so the seeds have time to soak. After dinner, I always need one sweet bite or something and this really does the trick.

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Pumpkin is full of fiber and chia seeds are full of healthy fats. The two together make this a totally healthy, fun snack or dessert.

This is another one of those throw-everything-together-and-just-let-it -do-it’s-thing” type recipes.

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Do you guys use chia seeds? I had a weird aversion to them for a while. I didn’t like the texture and didn’t really understand why anyone would even bother. They seemed tasteless and just silly. After reading more about them, they’re now a staple for me every single day. If nothing else, I just throw them in my AM smoothie (which reminds me, I should totally do a blog post on my favorite AM smoothies!)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree (actual pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mixture)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 1.25 cups of organic unsweetened cashew milk

How to: Combine everything in a bowl. Mixture will be watery before the seeds have time to expand. Set the mixture in the fridge for 3-4 hours, mixing every hour or so. Once they have set a bit, scoop 1/4th of the mixture into a cup. Top with whipped cream, pecans, or walnuts.

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Spicy! Pink Pistachio Chocolate Fudge

Ok, so….this blog is about clean eating. And these aren’t exactly clean…. Ok they’re not at all. BUT. They are good!! And dannnngggggg… they are pretty.

When I started testing this recipe, I had in mind that I would make a  crunchy bark. Then I channeled my inner fat kid and said “YOLO, I’m going for it, this is now fudge”. Best. Decision. Ever.

Look please.

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Prettiest dessert yet? Could be.

Do you like spice? Ok then we’re good here. Do you also like sweet? Covered here as well. Lastly, do you like PISTACHIOS? I feel like that’s not really even a question…

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Let’s be clear here. These are an exception to what this blog is all about. These are not clean and they aren’t healthy. They should be considered a treat. The good thing is, they are so flavorful you really only need a couple of bites to be more than satisfied.

The photos speak for themselves here, so let’s just get down to it, shall we?

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 18 ounces white melting candies
    • Note: seperate out about 12 ounces of the 18 ounces of melted chocolate and mix with red food coloring to make pink chocoate!
  • 1/2 tablespoon of melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup of unshelled and crushed pistachios

How to:

  • Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper
  • Melt dark chocolate in the microwave, microwaving for 15 seconds, stirring, and then returning to the microwave until completely melted
  • Once melted, mix in chipotle powder – you may want to do a taste test to see exactly how much spice feels right
  • Pour into the lined baking sheet and put in the fridge to set
  • In new and seperate bowls, melt white and pink chocolate the same way as the dark chocolate
  • Pour white chocolate over pink. Using a knife, swirl together the pink & white chocolate
  • Set back in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours
  • Sprinkle with pistachios before serving

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I should warn you that a little spice goes a long way here. Also, I found that it’s kind of necessary to tell people these are spicy before they bite in, otherwise you’ll see their face go into complete shock when chewing. Or maybe watching that that can be part of the fun 🙂

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Eat one and then HIDE these from yourself!!!

Blueberry + Chocolate Coconut Bites (Clean, Vegan, no-bake)

It’s been hot. Really really hot. Like, “feels like 100” hot here in Chicago. When it’s that hot, who can stand to be in the kitchen with a hot oven? Not moi. Time for a no-bake, chilled sweet treat!

These take about 10 minutes to put together. Another SUPER easy one! You really can’t mess this up even if you try!

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I have to say… one thing I have never been great at is layering on the chocolate drizzle. It’s a mess. I totally intended to have the chocolate drizzled nicely & evenly across the cookie in straight lines.. Ha! Not even close.

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But really…aren’t they more fun this way?

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One of the things I love about these is that they are actually better frozen. They’re like a little frozen blueberry coconut meltaway puff. (What a mouthful!) I’m planning on keeping these in the freezer until about 2-3 minutes before I am ready to eat them. Totally not necessary to keep them frozen, as they’ll maintain their shape even if room temperature. I am just using them to provide a little relief from the heat wave!

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Ingredients:

  • One pint of organic blueberries (you could also use frozen – I just happened to have some fresh organic blueberries laying around…because…who doesn’t? :))
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (if you don’t have any, just put some gluten free oats in your vitamix and pulse until ground)
  • 1.5 cups of unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1 full frozen ripe banana
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons organic maple syrup
  • Optional: Dark chocolate for melting

How to: (Um, the easiest ever…)

  • Pulse all ingredients except for chocolate together in a Vitamix – I like to leave a few blueberry chunks in there
  • Using your hands or an ice cream scoop, create balls of the mixture and lay on a piece of parchment paper or on a cookie sheet. Freeze for at least 1 full hour.
  • Melt dark chocolate in a cup or bowl and drizzle (hopefully, more beautifully than I was able to!)

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I chose to use blueberries in this recipe because I just happened to have some. If you’re a cheery person, I can imagine they would turn out INCREDIBLY. Omg, maybe I need to try that too…

Also, you could use strawberries, blackberries, or really any berry! Give them a try with some different fruits and let me know what you think!

Stay COOL! Woof.