Love Yourself

Is it just us, or do our homes simply transform in the summer? With all the natural light and open windows offering a beautiful breeze, our homes feel peaceful and serene during these months. While winter coops us up in comfort, summer let’s us free.

This also means it’s time for extra entertaining. Our friends are much more likely to leave the house for indoor-outdoor parties this time of year, and everyone’s sunny smiles make for a great soiree. Inevitably during these parties, many guests end up chatting with you and helping out in the kitchen, moving piping hot food and crispy salads from prep to serving.

While summer means more entertaining, it also means there’s more sunlight in the home to highlight (for better or for worse) all the dust and clutter you’ve compiled throughout the winter months. When you have people over, the last thing you want is too many things in the way of your people-packed home.

It’s time to minimize your kitchen clutter for the remainder of the summer season. You can do this by first clearing the following out of your space:

  1. Old shopping bags: Do you have a pile in your kitchen of old paper shopping bags? What about a plastic bag filled with hundreds of extra balled up plastic bags? What are the chances that you ever reuse those bags? Slim to none, I’m afraid, as any opportunity you have to put something in one of those bags, you can use a reusable bag instead and fit more without the bag breaking. Take this time to recycle paper bags in your recycling bin. While you can’t recycle plastic bags in the traditional recycling bin, most grocery stores offer a plastic bag recycling drop-off.
  2. Magazines and junk mail: Boy, do these pile up in the kitchen. Go through your junk mail and magazine pile and recycle any paper you don’t need. Make a vow this summer to deal with mail that comes in right away. If you don’t need junk mail, recycle it immediately. If you aren’t ready to read a magazine, stick it in the magazine rack or your beach bag for the future!
  3. Frozen food buried deep in your freezer: Is your freezer like ours – piled high with a bunch of food packages without a label? Is it buried so deep with food that you aren’t even sure you know what you have in there (especially on the bottom)? You aren’t alone. This summer, take everything out of your fridge and write your inventory in a notebook. Then, vow to cook it all this season! You’ll be surprised how much money you’ll save on groceries – and how fun it will be to experiment with cooking all your frozen goodies.
  4. Old condiments and dressings that have expired: How many jars do you have in your refrigerator just dying to be tossed? Take a look at the expiration dates on your salad dressings, relishes, ketchup, and more and dump those that don’t look so good. Wash out the jars and recycle them for extra eco points!
  5. Old grungy Tupperware: Is your Tupperware drawer filled to the brim with older varieties and even lidless ones? If you can’t find the lid, it’s a sign you should throw the plastic container in the recycling bin. If it’s stained or worn, try tossing it in the dishwasher. Can’t be salvaged? Shoot it in the recycling or trash bin (check for it’s recycling number on the bottom – 1 through 6 – to ensure it can be recycled) and buy a new set.
  6. Rusted or spotted silverware and kitchen tools: How long have you had your metal silverware, grill tools, slotted spoons, and other gadgets? Most last years and years. But if any of these pieces are rusted, it’s probably time for a new one. Spotted with water stains? Try polishing with silver polish, and if all else fails, splurge on a new set.

There you have it: a newly clutter-free kitchen that’s beautiful to cook in, entertain with, and enjoy. What else do you plan to clear out of the kitchen this summer? Let us know in the comments below!

[Scroll to the bottom for recipe links!]

It’s that time of the year: the Fourth of July is upon us! For many, this holiday marks the official beginning of steamy, hot summer beach days. This year, with the Fourth falling on a Wednesday, for many it’s now a week-long or multi-day celebration with friends, family, food, and fun.

Today, on the eve of the Fourth, we’d like to focus on the food part of the holiday. Barbequed hot dogs and hamburgers, smoky s’mores, juicy bowls of fruit (and punch), crunchy chips, and soda pop bask on long, tablecloth-laden tables. It practically makes our mouths water just thinking about the tables full of delicious food awaiting this week!

The only problem is: it isn’t always the healthiest food. While we’re all for indulging every once in a while (holidays included!), there are ways to do so that also involve nutritious ingredients full of vitamins and minerals that make our bodies feel good all week long.

Instead of a greasy beef burger, try a plant-based grilled veggie burger. Instead of marshmallows or steak on a skewer, try veggies. Instead of ice cream, try a festive smoothie. Mayo-laden pasta salad? Substitute mayo for pesto and you have a divine dish that’s healthier to boot!

We’ve put together a few recipes from amazing food bloggers who know healthy, festive food better than anyone. Try one of these for this week and let us know how much was left at the end of the party (our guess: none!).

  1. Grilled Blackberry, Strawberry, Basil, and Brie Pizza Crisps by Half Baked Harvest
  2. Grilled Veggies with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce & Grilled Pita by Vegetarian Ventures
  3. Sweet Potato Burgers by Chocolate Covered Katie
  4. Creamy Hemp Pesto Pasta Salad by Making Thyme for Health
  5. Red, White, and Blue Smoothie by Earthy Feast

One of the biggest misunderstandings about eating healthy is that it’s too expensive. Sure, if you’re buying organic, gluten-free, vegan kombucha in individual bottles, you’re going to be paying a hefty penny. But many of the healthiest foods don’t come in individual packages and can be some of the cheapest foods money can buy.

With a little know-how and a few strategic tactics, you can nourish your body with the healthiest foods for low cost. Here’s how we save money while eating right:

  1. Choose “generic” store brands. Many healthy (and unhealthy) foods have jacked up prices due to branding and marketing. However, the store’s brand – also known as the “generic” brand or “private label” – probably tastes the same and can be half the cost. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods 365, Star Market, and Costco brand foods have stellar reviews and taste great. Always be sure to read the ingredient list and compare to the branded version to match taste and nutritional value (for instance, you don’t want to buy the store brand if they’ve added a ton of sugar).
  2. Shop in bulk. Shopping the bulk section is almost always cheaper than shopping pre-packed varieties. This works especially well for beans, quinoa, grains, cereals, peanut butter, nuts, and other dried goods. You save on the branding and packaging, as mentioned before, but you can also control portions and only buy what you need.
  3. Buy frozen foods. It’s a misconception that frozen foods lack nutritional value or taste. In fact, many fruits and veggies have more vitamins and minerals in tact as compared to fresh produce, because they’re flash frozen upon picking, while fresh produce can travel across the country to get to you (losing nutrients in the process). Be sure to buy plain frozen produce, fish, and meats – not the prepared variety that are loaded with cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Another perk? Frozen produce doesn’t go bad like the fresh stuff, so you can wait until you’re ready to eat it.
  4. Shop online. Many companies are joining the online food delivery game, and these days, you can save a pretty penny online. This is especially true if you shop in bulk at stores like Boxed or Brandless. Health food websites can also save you a few dollars, so as always, do your research!
  5. Shop in-season. When produce is in-season, grocery stores often bulk up on it because it tastes better that time of year and local farmers are growing a ton of it. Learn what’s ripe during a certain season and shop the sales to see which items a grocery store is pushing in the catalogs – it may mean they have too much inventory, which means your wallet lucks out!

How do you save money while eating healthy? We’d love to hear your favorite websites and tactics in the comments below!

Happy Monday! How are you feeling about this morning? While some wake up easily on Monday mornings, ready to take on the full week ahead, others awake with dread, wondering how the weekend went by so quickly. The latter isn’t just relegated to those who dislike their jobs, either. Whether you love your job or not, the end of the weekend can bring a little sadness.

If this sounds like you, know that it doesn’t have to be! There are ways in which you can stave off that Monday feeling and wake up ready to take on the week. We have a few ideas as to how you can start:

Set yourself up for success on Sunday. It’s tempting to take the weekend as a time to lounge, watch television, eat unhealthy but delicious food, and simply relax. But that doesn’t necessarily set you up for success come Monday morning. Next Sunday, take a little time to watch TV or do those things that relax you, but also be sure to fit in a few activities that will set your week up for success. Meal prep for the week ahead, go for a jog, clean a room in your house, or cross something off your to-do list. By accomplishing something small, the week won’t feel quite so daunting.

Get a good night’s sleep. Yes, it can be tempting to stay up on Sunday evening to binge watch your favorite show. But getting a ton of sleep on Sunday will make it that much easier to crawl out of bed on Monday and sets you up for a refreshed week moving forward.

Plan something fun for Monday night. If the Monday blues got you down, stick some fun social plans on your calendar for Monday evening so that you have something to look forward to. Some will plan drinks or dinner with a friend; others invite friends over to watch the Bachelorette or another weekly show. No matter what excites you, plan something fun to help you get through the day and into the week with ease.

Make (and follow) a to-do list. If making plans doesn’t help your stamina, go the opposite route: accomplish something on Monday that you’ve been meaning to get done. Starting the week off by accomplishing a task that’s been bugging you will give you momentum for a productive week. And productivity feels good!

Feeling really scary? Take a personal day this Monday. There’s nothing wrong with taking a sick day when you really aren’t feeling mentally “there.” You’ll be more productive and engaged at work on Tuesday if you take a day to yourself.

Examine your mood: is this feeling consistent every Monday? If this feeling comes every week, perhaps it’s time to examine what’s making you anxious; it may be time to make a change. If your job has you feeling down every week, chances are it isn’t the job for you. Take a look at what you enjoy about your week, write it down, and then attempt to find a new job or hobby that makes you feel that feeling more consistently.

Overall, Monday’s don’t have to be scary! Take these tips and propel yourself into the week ahead with productivity, grace, and fun.

You have great intentions: you want to eat as healthy as possible at lunch during the week. You head over to the closest salad joint only to find that the line is out the door, tens of people waiting for their hand-tossed, healthy deliciousness. Waiting in line cuts your lunch break short, adds stress, and gives you less time to enjoy your nutrition-packed meal.

An easy fix? Make your own salad and bring it with you! Part of the lure of these salad shops is that they seem to have every ingredient under the sun. But with a few quick hacks, you can make a meal that’s just as delicious and varied.

First, pick a salad theme to inspire you. You’ll notice that salad shops have fun names for their suggested concoctions that ignite the senses: Mexican Chopped Salad, Harvest Salad, and Springtime Strawberry, just to name a few. As you head to the grocery store, think of a themed salad that you love and aim to replicate it.

You’ll want to make sure you love your base of greens. Spinach, kale, and romaine are all-time favorites, but spinach and kale pack a higher nutrient punch, so if you enjoy those, prioritize them! Make sure to massage your kale and chop it up into small enough pieces to ensure it tastes delicious and meshes well with the rest of the salad.

Next, pick a protein and add some flavor to it. The death of the homemade salad has to be flavorless proteins that taste bland and do not keep you coming back for more. Salad shops, however, take the time to add some spices and seasonings to all their proteins. Marinate your meat, chickpeas, or fish in a sauce or spices overnight to enhance flavor.

Then, add some grains. Grains are cheap and easy to make in large batches, so you can use them for salads throughout the week but also dinners and breakfasts galore. Whip up a huge batch of quinoa, farro, or rice to use all week long. Not only do they add flavor to your salad, they also add fiber to keep you fuller, longer.

Here come the veggies. Pick a few that you love and cut them up during your meal prep at the beginning of the week. That way, you aren’t racing to cut veggies in the morning before work to add to your salad (being short on time in the morning is the ultimate detriment to the homemade lunch!). Make sure to chop all your veggies around the same size to maximize mouthfeel.

One reason those shop salads are so good? Cheese! That umami flavor simply can’t be beat. Sprinkle your favorite cheese – gouda, parmesan, pecorino romano – on top of any salad you make to maximize flavor. Our favorite? Parmesan crisps that add both texture and flavor to a salad. Make your own by shredding parmesan on a baking sheet and baking on high heat, or opt for a grocery-store-bought variety.

Lastly, dressing! That delicious concoction is what offers the most flavor to any salad and takes your meal to the next level. We always recommend making your own dressing, as many store-bought varieties are filled with sugar. If you don’t have the time, be sure to check the labels at the grocery store to maximize the healthful qualities of your dressing (opt for the least sugar you can). To make your own dressing, grab some olive oil, your favorite spices, and some chipotle peppers and blend quickly in a food processor. This combo offers a spicy take on dressing, but experiment with your favorite ingredients and see what works for you!

With these tips, you can easily put together a healthy, flavorful salad that will delight your senses at lunchtime – and save you stress and time waiting in line!

As the flowers continue to bloom, grass turns greener, and the trees are flush with leaves, it’s time to acknowledge it: spring has nearly come and gone! April (and often May) showers brought May (and June) flowers, and our world seems to be a whole lot brighter than it was merely a month or two ago.

Flowers, grass, and trees aren’t the only plants that emerge during spring; certain fruits and vegetables make their way into the season, too. They fill local farmers’ markets and grocery stores with hues of green and pink. Their fresh, light taste is more than welcome after a winter’s worth of potatoes, mushrooms, and other heartier winter produce.

The leafy greens are filled with vitamins A, C, and K, which keep your immune system, bones, and muscles healthy. They also help you heal quickly when necessary. Green veggies are also full of fiber that keeps you feeling fuller, longer. Spring green vegetables range from leafy spinach and arugula for salads to the fresh herbs that dress your meals to flavor-filled peas, scallions, and asparagus.

But spring produce doesn’t stop at green. Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries – are at their best in the spring. Their sweetness is wonderful alone, with granola and yogurt in the morning, or topped on green salads. Pink beets also make their way through this season, while rhubarb, radishes, onions, and carrots are in their glory.

Now is the time to use these fruits and veggies in your cooking while they’re in their prime! Not only do they taste their best these days, they’re also filled with the greatest amount of nutrients. We’ve put together a few quick recipes that will impress your family and friends this week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts. Use up that fresh-as-ever spring produce, add some extra nutrients to your week, and soak up what nature has to offer.

  1. Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb Grits with Toasted Pecans by Vegetarian Ventures
  2. Pea Guacamole and Seared Pea Tacos by Salt and Wind
  3. Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes by Lovely Little Kitchen
  4. Asparagus Corn Soup by Hello My Dumpling
  5. Spring Vegetable Potstickers by Smitten Kitchen

When you cook these this week, let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Ahh, summer. That joyous time of year when the weather gets super warm, the kids are out of school, and you get to spend time outdoors doing what you love: boating, hiking, walking, beaching, vacationing, kayaking… the opportunities are endless.

While it all sounds like a dream, the chance to do everything outside comes with another unexpected part of summer: a busy schedule. Especially here on the east coast, we find that everyone so badly wants to take advantage of the warm summer months that every weekend fills up with plans quickly, oftentimes without us even realizing it.

Once May hits, you look at your calendar and realize you don’t have a free weekend until August. That’s crazy! With work during the week and other responsibilities, finding time for yourself – particularly to exercise – can be difficult.

But again, the benefit of the season is that the outdoors is your oyster. Let’s use that to our advantage to fit in a workout no matter how busy we get. Here are a few ideas for always getting that exercise in:

  1. Choose workouts that require no equipment. Running and bodyweight workouts are a great use of your time and require no equipment, so you can always be at the ready to fit in a quick sweat session. Throughout the busy summer months, be sure to carry sneakers and a workout outfit in your bag at all times for when inspiration strikes.
  2. Think of creative ways to use your time. Where in your schedule do you have a bit of time you may not have taken advantage of for a workout before? Could you wake up 30 minutes earlier and fit in a quick jog? Could you head out to the spin studio next door to your office during your lunch break, or take a quick afternoon break to go for a walk?
  3. Turn your commute into a workout. That time spent on the train or in the car could be spent getting your sweat on. If you live close enough to your office, try jogging home or biking. If you take public transit, get off the train or bus a few stops early and walk briskly home from there. Who knows – running, biking, or walking may even shave some time off your traffic-laden commute!
  4. Find a competition to train for. For some, competition is just the motivation needed to always fit in a workout. Sign up for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or whichever distance sounds enjoyable to you, and train for that race. There’s nothing worse than paying for a race only to not train, get to race day, and have a terrible time getting to the finish line. If running isn’t your favorite, sign up for a bike race or a weight-lifting competition. If you have an end date in mind, you’re more likely to fit in those training sessions.
  5. Multi-task. If you’re short on time and only have 30 minutes at the gym, bring a few dumbbells onto the treadmill with you and lift while you walk. Turn the treadmill incline up to make your legs burn, then perform bicep curls, overhead raises, or dumbbell rows to work your arms and shoulders. If the treadmill isn’t your style, try a bike or elliptical. The combinations are endless!
  6. Incorporate circuit training or HIIT into your routine. Both of these workouts speed up your typical training, get your heart pumping harder, and ensure you’re burning calories the whole day through. In circuit training, you commit to a series of 5-10 exercises with no rest (think push-ups, directly into squats, directly into overhead dumbbell raises). HIIT (or high intensity interval training) is similar, but with this type of routine, you work as hard as you possibly can for 10-20 second intervals (say, sprinting), then rest for 40-50 seconds. The key here is intensity, so pump up the volume!

Overall, fitting exercise into a busy schedule is all about choosing to do something over nothing. Whether it’s calf raises at your desk or a quick morning jog, there’s always time to fit in a little something active. You can even just turn your daily walk upstairs into a quick workout! Fit in fitness this summer… despite your busy schedule… and enjoy.

“Lay out your clothes the night before!’ they say.

“Keep your goals in mind,” they chant.

“Visualize your workout,” they coo.

No matter what tips experts give for getting out of bed to work out, if you’re not a morning person, it can feel like a truly impossible task. In your sleep, you shut off the many alarms you set with great intentions. Your clothes the night before look dreadful compared to your comforter. And your goals – no matter how much you want to accomplish them – don’t seem so set in stone when your bed at the time feels better than any workout can.

But many non-morning-people have figured out a way to make morning workouts a habit, and they’re better off for it. In fact, they swear by it! And working out in the morning has some serious benefits: it boosts your metabolism for the day ahead, guarantees you get a workout in without after-work plans getting in the way, and revs up your productivity and endorphins all day long.

The key to making this work is creating the habit. And to make it a habit, you need to make it happen multiple times per week until it feels natural. But how do you start with that first day and first week?

Find the right alarm. Conventional alarm not working for you? A typical alarm clock makes it so easy to hit “snooze” without another thought. Find an alarm clock that gradually lights up until your room is bright like daylight. That way, even in the darker winter months, your brain will signal itself to wake up. Even better: find an alarm clock that can play music and sync it to your workout playlist! Getting those beats pumping will get you in the mood instantly. And remember: keep the alarm away from your bed, so you’re forced out of the covers to turn it off.

Place coffee and a yummy pre-gym snack (preferably something chocolate-y that’s worth waking up for) next to your bed the night before. Even if the coffee’s cold in the morning, the taste will awaken your senses enough to get you out of bed and into the gym. Ensure that your pre-gym breakfast is quick, easy, and worth eating early in the morning.

Schedule your heat to turn on a half hour or so before your wake-up time so getting out from under the covers isn’t so hard. One of the biggest obstacles to getting out of bed is the warmth of the covers. It’s so cozy –especially in the winter – to stay underneath all the blankets and hide from the cold outdoors. Make sure to schedule your heater to turn on before you wake so your room isn’t quite as cold… making it SO much easier to get out of your warm bed.

Once one foot is out of bed, go straight to the bathroom and splash water on your face. Cold water will get you out of dreamland instantly… and once you’re up, it’s easy to stay up.

Schedule brunch – or another reward – after your workout. There’s nothing better than heading out for eggs and bacon (and maybe a Bloody Mary!) on a Sunday morning with close friends. Frame the brunch as a reward for a good workout, or pretend that brunch is an hour earlier and get to the gym first. We don’t know about you, but we’re certainly motivated by food!

There you have it – five easy tips for getting out of bed early to work out. What are your best strategies? Leave a few in the comments below!

If you live in a colder climate, you’re probably very ready for the cold to be over at this point. Last week, we hit a high of 70 degrees in Boston for one day, and it was quite the tease. It had us dreaming of sunny, windy beaches; sand between our toes; cool, fresh, juicy summer fruit; steamy jogs around our local grassy park; and shorts, sandals, and tank tops galore.

We still have weeks left of winter, however, and we know it’s only a matter of time until fluffy snowflakes settle back in (in fact, it only took a day until the snow was back in Boston). While the weather isn’t cooperating with our desires for warmth, we decided to take matters into our own hands and feel the summer indoors with some juicy citrus smoothies.

These smoothies are reminiscent of beachside views and sunnier days. On your first sip, they’ll take you to a place of comfort and rejuvenation and inevitably will make you smile. With a blend of citrus fruits, seasonal winter fruits and veggies, and a base of yogurt, almond milk, avocado, or other creamy substance, a fresh summer-like smoothie is just what you need to mentally escape from the doldrums of February and March.

We scoured the internet and some of our favorite food bloggers to find seasonal citrus smoothie recipes that would delight and bring you to summertime bliss. Try one of the smoothies below and let us know how you feel afterwards. Our guess? Quite sunny!

  1. Dairy Free Cranberry Orange Smoothie by Cotter Crunch
  2. Turmeric Carrot Cake Smoothie by Making Thyme for Health
  3. Winter Fruit Green Smoothie by Real Food and Ice Cream
  4. Blackberry Lime Smoothie by Two Peas and their Pod
  5. Pear Ginger Smoothie by Natalie’s Health

What are your favorite winter smoothies? Share your best recipes in the comments below! 

If you’re a runner, or are trying to up your running game, you’ve probably heard tons of advice about improving your stride, avoiding injury, and increasing your speed. Being your best at any sport takes research, reading, and practice; the more you know, the better you’ll be. That research shows commitment and a desire to achieve set goals.

However, as with most art forms, all the proper advice is paired with some serious myths that can impact your performance. Between online magazines, bloggers, and medical sites, the lines of internet advice blur. We’re here to crack apart a few of the myths we’ve seen across the blogosphere when it comes to making the most of your runs.

  1. Always stretch prior to a run. It turns out that stretching after a run is a more effective use of your time. Stretching before a run may actually slow you down and doesn’t help avoid injury. A quick dynamic warm-up – like high knees, jogging in place, or lunges – is a way better use of your time and limbers your muscles while strengthening them.
  2. Running on pavement is bad; grass and dirt place less of an impact on your knees. While it may seem viable that running on softer grass or dirt protects your knees and legs because they have more give than pavement does, that may not be the case. It turns out that most injury is caused by repetitive motion, which happens on consistently-shaped pavement. Trails force you to change up your stride, helping to avoid injury. So instead of avoiding pavement, avoid consistent routes… whatever that’s made of.
  3. Sports drinks are the best post-workout recovery. If you’re doing a longer workout – say a half marathon, or an intense hour in sweltering heat – drinking a sports drink can replenish electrolytes, sugars, and calories that you’ve lost during your tough exercise session. However, for a normal everyday workout, sports drinks just bring in extra unneeded calories and sugar. Refuel with fruit for natural sugars and healthy calories instead.
  4. Carbo-loading is key to winning your next race. It turns out that the days of bingeing on pasta the night before a big game or race may be over. Eating a ton of carbs the night before may actually impact your GI tract and make you feel bloated the next day… not ideal for a long run. Gradually increase your carb intake starting a few weeks before a race to perform best on the day of a competition.
  5. Barefoot running is better than conventional sneakers. This depends. While barefoot running has been shown to improve your stride, new studies are showing that barefoot shoes (or running completely barefoot) may not have the injury-avoiding properties that some thought. If you’re trying out barefoot running, start slow and stay in tune with how your body feels. At the first sign of pain, switch back to your shoes.

What running myths have you heard that need to be dispelled? Let us know in the comments below!