Healthy hair, skin, and nails — My tips and tricks!

Well…. it has been a hot minute since I decided to jump on here. What can I say guys? Sometimes my creative juices just aren’t flowing. When blogging becomes a hassle or isn’t enjoyable is when I know I need to take some time off… so that’s what I did!

Since I haven’t posted in a while I thought I would dive into a hot topic that effects me personally. When it comes to having healthy hair, skin, and nails I have historically struggled in all three areas. I know there are bigger issues in the world for many people, but when you are a young girl in college having pieces of hair fall out continuously when showering can not only be stressful, but something that I began to dread on a daily basis. Not only was my hair thin and frail, I also had constantly wear nail polish to hide the brittle pieces of nail that would flake off on a daily basis. You know those people that bride themselves on perfectly manicured nails and long flowing locks of air… I definitely was NOT one of those people.

To top off the cosmetic pitfalls that I experienced as a young adult, I also suffered from terrible acne throughout my teen years. Talk about a way to decreased a ones self esteem. Acne will definitely do that, and I definitely had my trying moments where the only solution I could think on was caking on make-up to try to hide the little bumps that made me dread leaving my bedroom. I tried everything in the book from scrubs to medicated facial washes and had little to no success. Little did I know at the time that likely a lot of my skin issues were exacerbated by my typical crappy teenage diet of sugary frappuccinos and weekly blizzards from Dairy Queen.

I have definitely come a long way, especially over the past 3 years since moving to Arizona. Moving to a desert climate with dry air and excessive heat gave me a long list of new and different challenges to keep my hair, skin, and nails looking and feeling healthy. A lot of my issues with hair and nails throughout college were also a result of poor dietary choices (or what I thought were good dietary choice), i.e. minimal protein in my diet (does powdered PB count as protein? HA!), minimal healthy fats, and likely many nutrient deficiencies that I so cluelessly ignored or didn’t even think to check when I was vegetarian (and not a good one at that). While I was consuming nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains), I was definitely lacking variety, scared of too much fat, and did not work hard enough to assure my body was getting good sources of protein on a daily basis.

With the changes I have made with my diet and general cosmetic care over the past 3 years, I have definitely seen great improvement in all of these areas of my body. My hair, while still taking a lot of work to feel “thick” and full, grows much faster and looks and feels healthier. My nails grow faster than I can keep up with, and while I still get an annoying blemish every now and then, my overall complexion has improved more that I could have hoped. I am going to share with you 5 of my personal tips for maintaining good hair, skin, and nails. While some of them may seem obvious, and some have nothing to do with nutrition at all, I understand the desperate feeling that many women go through when one of these areas of their body are making them feel self conscious. My tips are super easy and truly have helped me gain more confidence in these areas, and while they may not work for everyone, they may just be the starting point you need for your own beauty upkeep!

1. Hydrate — with WATER!

Remember when I said these were obvious? If there is one thing I can stress about living in a dry climate, it is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My skin becomes a dry and itchy mess when I don’y hydrate well. Lotion can only do so much to hydrate when you live in 100 + degrees, and truly the only thing I have found to help with my completion in this new climate is water. Another great thing about drinking water is it replaces other sugary beverages that you may consume instead. Sugar is a huge trigger for my complexion. Around the holidays when sweets and specialty cocktails are at every holiday party or function, I often notice blemishes begin to pop up out of no where. If I take a few days to drink a lot of water and stay aways from all other beverages (besides coffee of course) and sugary snacks, my face typically clears up on its own!

2. Daily dose of fat — avocado, olive oil, egg, and/or nuts.

Vitamin E, which is found in a variety of cooking oils, fish, nuts, etc, is an essential nutrient that plays a role in skin health and has anti-aging effects against every day stressors on the skin (hard water, sun exposure, air pollutants, etc). As with any essential nutrient, I try to always obtain adequate amounts of nutrients through food first. Not only can these foods help keep skin feeling smooth and healthy, they also help my hair grow. I love to throw avocado in my smoothies to assure I am getting in ample amounts of fat in my diet that help keep my thin hair feeling fuller and stronger. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce breakage and encourage new growth from the hair follicle.

3. Learn to love dry shampoo!

For so many years I was adamant about washing my hair daily. I think it came with playing sports… I hated when my hair felt sweaty or greasy! It didn’t help that dark hair showed every little bit of oil that would come from the roots, and before I started using dry shampoo this would make me feel dirty no matter how much a cleaned my actual body. I started to “train” my hair about 3 years ago when I figured out that washing my hair multiple times per day in Arizona was a recipe for disaster. I slowly worked my way to every other day and then every 3 days when I wasn’t running or training for a race. The more I tried to stretch the time between hair washes, the less greasy my hair would become. I know it sounds crazy…. but I truly believe I trained my hair! When in doubt, top buns and hats became my best friends! I brush my hair every night before bed to try to rid any dirt or particles from the strands before getting into bed. Another quick hair tip — I stopped sleeping with my hair in pony tails! Pony tails or buns when sleeping can promote hair breakage, especially if you already have thin or frail hair. If it is REALLY hot, sometimes I will braid my hair to get it out of my face while I sleep!

4. I wear sunscreen…. every day.

Even days when I not really outside, I always put sun protectant on my face. I use BB cream from covergirl every morning which is a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen in it. I started doing this when I moved to Arizona and really try to be adamant about it even on days where I am home and don’t really put on make-up. The more sun-exposure my face gets, the more spotty and dry it becomes!

5. Collagen in my coffee!

I recently starting using collagen peptides after hearing lots of chatter about the benefits it has for hair, skin, and nails. Most of the research I have read with collagen is in regards to anti-aging of skin and increasing nail growth. In simplest terms, collagen is protein that binds tissue together within the body. “Peptides” are basically the building blocks of collagen, or short chain amino acids that bind together to form collagen strands. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat and can’t eat seafood, I saw this product as an easy way to increase my protein intake!


Super Green Walnut Pesto

Happy Thursday everyone! For me, it’s my Friday, and I am so darn excited to paint a little in our house tomorrow. We decided on… do I dare say it… a shade of gray… that will hopefully warm up some of our rooms and highlight some of our furniture and accents. I swear I do like other colors besides white and gray! (sometimes)

Two nights ago I was driving home from work and couldn’t for the life of my think of what I wanted for dinner. My mom and I were talking about pizza, and somehow pizza turned into pasta, and pasta turned into thinking of a new sauce that I could make from scratch. I decided to make pesto, but a not so traditional pesto, that I could secretly hide some extra green in it. Have a mentioned before how hard it is to get Jeff to eat vegetables?

IMG_2259

This pesto was BOMB. Literally, I was eating it with a spoon. Jeff liked it also, and I know it was truly enjoyable for him because he ate the leftovers the next day. Can I tell you just how much it makes my heart swoon when I come home and find leftover containers EMPTY in the kitchen sink. That is how I truly know when one of my recipes is a success!

I called this a “super green” pesto because it truly is really, really green. I don’t mean clean, green… although that is pretty appropriate as well…. but it is literally really green and bright in color. This pesto is so unbelievably easy and delicious, you can bet I will make it again ASAP.

IMG_2260IMG_2261

I hope you give this yummy little recipe a try. Don’t be afraid to play around with it or substitute different greens. Let me know if you find a substitution that you love! I’m sure others would like to know as well πŸ™‚

IMG_2265.JPG

Super Green Walnut Pesto

  • Servings: approx. 1 3/4 cup total volume
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • ~3 cups raw greens (I used ~1 cup kale, 2 cups spinach)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • pinch of kosher seal salt
  • pinch of back pepper
  • 3 med size garlic cloves OR 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

It a food processor, pulse greens with olive oil. Once there is a little more room in the food processor, add walnuts, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Pulse or grind on low until garlic is fully chopped and incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the container and add ~1/3 cup of water. Continue to pulse or blend until the pesto is the consistency you prefer. If you like it to me a little chunky, you can just stir in the water to help thin it our instead of pulsing.

Serve over grilled meats, warm pasta, or with warm bread. Enjoy!

 

 


Kale & Quinoa Salad

You guys remember my yummy broccoli salad? Well, this is just a glorified version with a little twist.

Quinoa has always been an interesting grain to me. When I first tried it, I could not get over the grainy taste and wasn’t quite sure if I liked it hot, cold, or not at all. After trying many different recipes, I finally figured out ways to incorporate this high fiber, protein filled grain into my diet.

This recipe is very, very similar to my broccoli salad. You will see it pictured below with broccoli, but I originally made it with sweet potatoes (which I actually preferred!). Sweet potatoes add an interesting and yummy twist to a fun salad that is already packed with flavor. The recipe I provide will include both options.

IMG_2151Walnuts add a slight crunch, while dried cranberries add a touch of sweetness with each bite. Could a salad pack more flavor and nutrient dense foods into one bowl?

IMG_2152

IMG_2154

Aside from all of the delicious flavors, this is a super simple recipe to make ahead and pack for lunches throughout the week. Kale is a firm and crisp vegetable that holds its shape and crunch for much longer than spinach, arugula, or other commonly used salad greens.

IMG_2160

I hope you give this easy, quick, and flavorful recipe a try! While I typically don’t measure ingredients when making salads, I tried to provide the most accurate measurements I could for the recipe. As always, let me know what you think!

Kale & Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (dry) tricolor quinoa
  • 1 1/2 large sweet potatoes OR 1 1/2 cups raw, chopped broccoli
  • 3-4 cups fresh kale
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • dressing of choice
  • olive oil spray
  • seasonings: pink salt, black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice sweet potatoes into small, bite sized pieces. Spread evenly on a cookie tray and spray with olive olive spray (or spray of choice). Season with black pepper and pink himalayan salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are golden brown.

While the potatoes are roasting, bring 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is evaporated. You may need to add another 1/4-1/2 cup of water as quinoa cooks. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Wash and finely chop kale (if using broccoli instead of sweet potato, do the same at this time). Put into a large bowl and top with warm quinoa to help wilt the kale. Top with walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese once quinoa has cooled to prevent the cheese from melting.

Keep in the refrigerator and portion out before serving. Top with dressing of choice. My favorite dressings for this salad include Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola from Trader Joe’s and Organic Pear Vinaigrette from Sprouts.


Apple Spiced Baked Oatmeal

Is anyone else in total Christmas mode?! We have our Christmas tree up, decorations out, and cozy blankets all over our house (because believe it or not it is COLD in the morning!). What is better on a cozy Sunday morning than a warm and comforting breakfast?! Don’t get me wrong, I love my smoothie bowls, but sometimes I want something a little more comforting and hearty when the mornings are crisp and cool.

This oatmeal bake is SERIOUSLY so easy. I don’t know if I can really emphasize that enough. All of the ingredients I already had in my house, and it took a total of about 30 minutes form start to finish. It is also delicious, so it was definitely a win all around!

This base of this recipe is very simple: oats, egg, and banana. It is slightly sweet and best straight out of the oven. If you are cooking for yourself, leftover oatmeal can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and re-heated for breakfast as desired!

I chose to top my baked oats with a little peanut butter. Other yummy toppings may include chopped nuts, honey, maple syrup, greek yogurt, or other nut butters. If you are looking for a simple and fast breakfast to serve at your upcoming holiday brunch, this would definitely be a good option! I hope you enjoy this tasty and simple recipe! Happy Sunday everyone!

Apple Spiced Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 brown banana, mashed
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1/8 c brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1 capful (~1/8 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 whole Granny Smith apple
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • cooking spray

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium size bowl, smash banana until fairly smooth. Whisk in 1 whole egg, ~1/8 cup (or fill 1/4 cup half way) brown sugar, cinnamon, pink salt, and vanilla.

Dice 1/2 of a large granny smith apple (or apple of choice), and cut the other half into thin slices. Granny smith apples are fairly tart and flavorful, which is why they are a great choice when baking.

Add the oats, diced apple, and almond milk to the banana and egg mixture. Mix until all oats are moistened.

In a lightly greased baking dish or pie pan, spread the oats out evenly. Use the leftover apple slices to create a fun design on top of the oats or just place at random evenly across the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sides of the oats begin to pull away from the dish and turn golden brown. Let cool for 3-5 minutes and enjoy!


Why I don’t count calories…

Ok, this is probably a controversial topic but something I’ve learned over my few years of being a dietitian is everyone has an opinion about something. One person may believe one thing while the other believes another, and that goes for dietitians too. This post is more based off personal opinion and experience. If you feel otherwise, that’s ok! I just wanted to share my perspective.

First….

I know I haven’t posted in a while. LIFE HAPPENS! Jeff and I have been through a whirlwind of a year with adding a furry member to our family, deciding to build our first house together, me finishing up grad school, and me changing jobs. Life can get hectic and while it’s all good things, stress still creeps in whenever it can.

Honestly, I just wasn’t feeling the whole “blogging” thing for a while. Posting was adding more stress than enjoyment to my life, and that is a big enough reason for me step back and take a break for a while. That being said, life goes on, things started to settle down, and here I am again!

Now, for the important stuff…or I guess the stuff I find important.

So why don’t I count calories? I actually use to be a big supporter of counting calories. I’ve used apps such as myfitnesspal to track my foods and keep a total of the calories I would eat in one day in comparison to what I burned through exercise and daily activity. While I think these apps definitely have a place, I don’t think they are necessary for everyone.

We now live in a country that is fixated on eating “less”. Making things with “less sugar” or cutting out fat for “low-fat products”. The dieting and diet food industry is booming with the latest shakes, fat-burners, cleanses (don’t even get me started on that….), and everything else under the sun that give you less sugar, fat, carbs, dairy, gluten, etc. You name it, there’s a product for it. Many people now feel that less calories, less sugar, less of all the things that have comprised foods for years will lead to a healthy body weight and in return — happiness.

I’m not so sure about this.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote down or recorded in my phone how many calories I ate in one day. For me, if I count minimal ingredients and can recognize most if not all of them, this is a good food choice for my body. When I eat bread, although thats not often, I look for one with ingredients I recognize and know are needed to make a delicious and wholesome loaf of bread. Do I care if the slice has 60, 100, or 150 calories, not really? I’ve written previously how I use to use “diet” peanut butter, egg whites, and other low-fat products such as cheeses and yogurt. I have now traded these products for whole eggs, full fat peanut butter, and a variety of yogurts (some made with whole milk, other not) that are satisfying, tasty, and get this —- FILLING. Who would have thought?

The crazy thing is, even thought I use to be an avid calorie counter, my body hasn’t really changed much. If anything, I think I look healthier and feel more at ease not having to constantly look at every loaf of bread to find a calorie count that I liked.

This brings me to the other main reason I don’t count calories. I think it can become meticulous and obsessive. I never want to be stressed out because I can’t find a food I ate in the app I’m using or be distant in a conversation because I want to enter my meal before I forget. Again, do I think calorie counting or using these apps has a place in some situations for some people, yes I do. It’s just not for me and not something I find vital to living a healthy and happy life.

Thanks for reading!