Best healthy Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your love

LOVE2In our life, everyday should be like Valentine’s Day so when the holiday comes around each year we kind of chuckle, but at the same time we take a moment to give each other a little extra special attention.  At Skinny Healthy Girl, we’re all about healthy acts of love and kindness everyday and we certainly don’t skip a beat on special holidays.

Here are our best healthy Valentine’s Day gifts ideas

Massage is not only romantic and sexy, especially when given by your partner, but it’s also incredibly healthy for your mind and body on so many levels that some health insurance companies are now starting to cover it as a benefit.  The list of physical and emotional benefits massage offers is endless.  From improved circulation, flexibility, and posture to lowered blood pressure, strengthened immune system and relief of stress, massage is one of the healthiest gifts you can give and receive everyday of the year.  I’m very lucky to have a husband who gives the best massages on the planet, but if you or your love don’t have that special talent give the gift of a professional, it will be greatly appreciated.

Yoga has been embraced in such an incredible way especially over the past few years.  Everybody is curious about yoga even if they’ve never practiced.  Whether your Valentine has already embraced yoga or is something you think he or she would like to try, earth-friendly yoga mats are not only the healthiest way to breathe through a practice, they are beautiful to look at.  Pair one of these mats with the new MZ Wallace Metro Yoga Bag and your Valentine blow away.  The stylish bag stands out in a crowd, is has extra space for wider longer mats and space for your extras, check it out here.

Food is the way to anyone’s heart, make it healthy and really impress.  Cooking, or even attempting to cook, is incredibly sexy to watch and the effort is always appreciated.  One of the best healthiest and easiest meals you can make your Valentine any day is a roasted chicken.  Not only is it easy, especially with your healthy cooking tools, you’ll have extra time to sip on some wine and snuggle on the sofa while it roasts in the oven.  Your home will fill with the delicious aroma of roasting chicken and vegetables, there’s nothing better than that.  One of my favorite roasted chicken recipes from Ina Garten is here.

Sleep is health, period.  Feeling rested transforms your mood, affects how you look and most importantly the function of your body.  So making the bedroom more desirable is not only a healthy thing to do but is also a romantic thoughful gesure on Valentine’s Day.  Consider buying your partner luxuriously soft bed sheets that will entice him or her to get more sleep and maybe also cuddle a little longer.

Meditation will ensure better sleep if the extra soft sheets don’t do the trick. So many are afraid of the idea of meditation believing it’s some sort of mumbo jumbo when it’s actually a life-changing practice for both you and your partner. There’s no better way to encourage meditation than with gifting the best meditation chair.  The seagrass meditation chair is our favorite, not only is it a beautiful piece for the home, your Valentine will appreciate the gesture immensely especially after using it.  Check out this very special meditation chair here.

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5 Surprising ways to live a longer happier life

Learn 10 foods you should be eating here (click pic).

Learn 10 foods you should be eating here (click pic).

You can integrate these 5 simple things starting today to not only change your life for the better and to feel happier, but to also add years on this earth.  You might already be doing some of these, but for others it may take a little work to make a part of your everyday life, but they’re all well worth the benefits.

  1. Be optimistic.  Some people are born with a naturally optimistic mind, seeing the good in everything that occurs in their life and are full of gratitude for what they are blessed with, while others have to work at it a bit.  The bottom line is stress and depression have a serious affect on the body, not only in how you look on the outside but also directly affecting the immune system, blood pressure and overall health.  If you’re struggling to find happiness, think positively and be optimistic, a continued yoga practice can help you tremendously, check out my favorite at home yoga workouts for all leveles here.
  2. Eat more nuts.  Did you know that consuming a palmful of nuts each day will enable you to live a longer life?  This goes for any kind of nut.  Eating 1 ounce of nuts 7 days per week reduces the likelihood of dying by 20%.  Also, studies how those who each nuts each day have a tendency to be slimmer.  Learn more about this here.
  3. Drink a little wine each day.  Yes, I said “little” because we all can have a tendency to push the limits with alcohol.  But studies have shown that drinking 20 grams of wine per day can extend your life expectancy.  It’s important to note that drinking more can potentially cause harm such as breast cancer.
  4. Sleep more.  With busy days upon us more often than ever, sleep gets put on the back burner more often than not.  Lack of sleep has a seriously negative affect on your health so getting at least 7 hours per night is essential.  Learn more about the importance of sleep here.
  5. Sit less.  As a nation, we often sit more than we should whether it be at work or in front of the television too much.  Standing actually increses longevity so if you are required to sit for long periods of time each day, make the effort to get up as often as you can even if it’s just to do a lap around the office.

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Guacamole; how to make the best

Learn how to make black bean dip to go with your fresh guacamole (click pic).

Learn how to make black bean dip to go with your fresh guacamole (click pic).

Guacamole is a staple in my house because it’s not only delicious, it’s healthy.  Yes, avacodos contain fat, but it’s the good kind, the type that our bodies need, like we talked about here.

I love a chunky guacamole filled with more vegetable goodness served alongside some organic tortilla chips and the best black bean dip.  There’s really nothing more satisfying or impressive to serve to your friends and family.

Here’s how to make the BEST guacamole.  

In a medium sized bowl put…

2 ripe (not over ripe) avacodos (carefully cut open & scoop out)

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

juice of 1/2 fresh lime

1/4 cup chopped red peppers

small garlic clove, microplaned

cilantro, handful, corsely chopped

sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Mix everything together with a big spoon and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

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Best 3 healthy delicious party snacks that will impress

apitasSuper Bowl is right around the corner, but these best 3 amazing alternative healthy snacks can be served at any party, gathering or even on a weeknight to your family because not only do they impress, they’re delicious!

Pita pizzas

These mini pita pizzas (above) are so simple and can be whatever you want them to be.  Put a couple of your favorite types of pita in the oven to bake (directly on the rack) at 350 for about 10 minutes so they’re crispy and then just top with your favorite fixins.  I love to roast some vegetables like eggplant, onions and peppers, spread onto the baked pita with a little cheese (extra sharp & feta) and put back in the oven for another 8-10 minutes or so. Chop up on a cutting board and serve.  Delish!

Get The Best Black Bean Dip Recipe Here (click pic)

Black bean dip nachos, yum. Learn how to make here. (click pic)

Best black bean dip nachos

My best black bean dip secret recipe, which now I’ve shared with all of you here, is the PERFECT Super Bowl dish to serve.  It’s also considered to be a vegetarian type chili that you can have your guests serve into bowls with all the fixins.  Above, is my best black bean  dip nachos simply made by spooning a little dip into each tortilla scoop, topping with a pinch of cheese and baking in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes (or until desired crispiness).

Learn how here (click pic).

Learn how here (click pic).

Healthy spinach artichoke dip

This famous dip is soooo much better at home than any type served in a restaurant.  Check out my recipe here.

 

20-minutes and done! Best quick full body workouts

Check out the 10 best most effective workout DVDS here (click pic).

Check out the 10 best most effective workout DVDS here (click pic).

NO TIME? Well, that is the #1 reason (or excuse) for those who say they can’t fit exercise into their busy lives.  Recent studies have shown that lengthy exercise is not necessary to lose weight and stay healthy.  Quick and effective workouts are all the rage nowadays.

There’s no doubt, we’re busier than ever, but now there’s no excuse because anyone can fit a 20-minute workout into their day without even leaving their home.  Keep in mind, it’s important that your shorter workouts pack a punch to make the most of your time.

The following 3 workouts are short, intense, and effective. All are about 20 minutes, and most can be modified for every fitness level.  Just remember, SOMETHING is better than NOTHING, even 1-minute.  Even if you just start one of these DVDS, you’re headed in the right direction.

akickKickbox Fastfix offers three 20-minute workouts to choose from and costs less than $10.  You don’t have to be fluent at kickboxing by any means, Jillian Michaels carefully walks you through every punch and kick leaving you sweaty and motivated to take on your day.  Check out Kickbox Fastfix here.

 

Click to learn more.Ripped in 30 is a favorite for anyone with little time, especially moms, because it offers four 24-minute full body effective workouts all on one DVD.  The workouts are challenging but Jillian Michaels always gives you alternative exercise options.  Alternate between all the workouts and watch your body change right before your eyes.  Check out Ripped in 30 here.

askinnygirlworkoutSkinnygirl Workout with Bethenny Frankel is one of my absolute favorites.  Not only will you get a full body workout through each carefully choreographed section, you will build muscle, become more focused and calm while also laughing a little bit, she’s quite funny and real.  You can choose between a 15-minute, 20-minute or 30-minute workout depending on how much time you have each day.  Check out the Skinnygirl workout here.

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The secret to living a healthier life both physically and mentally

amecape

Learn the 10 healthy mind benefits of yoga here (click pic).

Did you know that how you think and perceive your everyday life experiences directly affects how you look and feel?  It’s true and secret is out.  Studies have shown that living with an optimistic mindset actually creates healthier brains, hearts and immunity, enabling you to live longer than those who see the glass half empty.

Some are lucky to be born with an incurable optimistic view of life while others have to work on seeing the beauty of their everyday.  But the good news is being optimistic is also a choice and learning a few skills to attain it will enable you to live a healthier life both physically and mentally.  With a little practice, just like choosing to eat well, being optimistic will become easier and easier.

Start practicing the tips below to live a healthier life both physically and mentally.

Shake it off

Don’t let little things get to you in a big way because it’s not worth the stress you’ll put your body through.  Allowing simple things to bother you and cause stress will have a direct affect on how you look and disrupt your internal organs from operating properly.  If there’s a line at the grocery store or someone cuts you off on your way to work, practice patience, breathe deeply and let it go.  Try to see the good in the bad stuff that occurs because there’s always a lesson to be learned.  And remember, no day is ever going to be perfect, challenges are always going to occur so doesn’t it make more sense to be prepared with an optimistic mind set?  If all else fails, incorporate yoga into your life and reap the benefits.

Be grateful for the good

Rather than focusing on the things missing in your life why not be grateful for all of your blessings?  Everybody has something to be grateful for each day and when you remind yourself of those positive things you’re so lucky to have, you will appreciate them more.  Before getting up and jumping into your day head first each morning, take a moment and write down the things that you are grateful for.  Maybe keep a journal next to your bed to make it easier.  Watch the list get longer each day and feel yourself becoming more optimistic as you head out into the world.

Work hard at seeing the good in all experiences

No matter what kind of adversity you might face, there’s always something good that comes out of it.  Learning lessons in even the most difficult situations will not only enable you to get through them with a little more ease and grace, but will also strengthen you for future challenges down the road.  If you struggle to find the good in something, consider it just another experience that has made you wiser, a story that you can tell or a lesson that you can teach.

Surround yourself with uplifting people and media

Whether it’s a Facebook feed full of sad news stories or “Debbie Downers” posting all the negatives in their lives, it’s up to you to choose where to immerse yourself.  If you’re working on changing your personal perspective it might be a good idea to limit your exposure.  It’s much more difficult to live an optimistic life when your mind is being pulled in the opposite direction.  A true optimist gravitates to uplifting positives.  Consider unfriending those who bring you down, unfollowing the upsetting stories and instead surrounding yourself with healthier choices such calming music or a funny television show. Simple steps like this will positively affect your your life and your health in a very big way.

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Eat chickpeas; here’s why they are the best food for health and weight loss

Learn how to make homemade hummus here (click pic).

Learn how to make homemade hummus here (click pic).

When I was clueless about food and health, I used to skip the chickpeas at the salad bar. Mostly, I didn’t understand what they were and wasn’t willing to even try them.  But then I learned how healthy they are for us and once I tried them, I couldn’t believe that I’d been missing out on this delicious bean for so long.  Oh yes, did you know that chickpeas are actually beans?

So not only are these beans healthy for us to eat on so many levels, both cold in a hummus or cooked within countless meals, they can also help you lose and/or maintain your weight.  Chickpeas keep hunger in check because they are a high source of fiber and a slow digesting protein that keeps you feeling full longer.  They are also a great replacement for those unhealthy carbohydrates because they fulfill the craving and maintain blood sugar levels.

Chickpeas contain about 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein in a half of a cup and when eaten daily, you’ll find yourself feeling more satisfied and less hungry for unhealthy foods and snacks.  If you already love them, keep eating them often and if you haven’t given chickpeas a true chance yet, it’s time.  Happy healthy eating!

Try making my delicious homemade hummus, recipe is here.

Improve your chances of exercising no matter how busy you are; 3 simple tips

Learn some of my favorite workouts I do to keep my body changing (click pic).

Learn some of my favorite workouts I do to keep my body changing (click pic).

The number one reason why most people don’t exercise is because they don’t believe that they have the time.  Everybody knows that should be doing some form of exercise each day and may even have good intentions to do so, but hectic lives get in the way and it rarely occurs. You can improve your chances of exercising each day with these 3 simple tips and even if you can only fit it in a few days per week, anything is better than nothing.

Morning exercise will not only improve your mood, give you more energy throughout the day and make you feel accomplished, it will ensure it fits into your hectic schedule.  Let’s face it, hoping to exercise “later” or “tonight” is not a good plan.  Instead, set your alarm 20 minutes early and do Jillian’s quick kickbox workout, a short yoga practice or even just stretch your body and you will find, after a few days, that it will become a routine.

Figuring out clothing to exercise in can pose a problem especially when you’re working out in the morning with very little time to spare.  But if you lay out your workout clothes each night before going to bed, you’ll find it will making exercising more much probable.  Don’t spend an extra minute trying to figure out what to wear when you wake up to exercise, just slip out of bed and into your workout clothes ready to start your day.

Planned workouts on the front of frig or on your calendar will also improve your chances of exercising each day.  Writing down your intention and seeing it in front of your eyes, no matter what it is, will always help you accomplish your goal. You don’t want to get up early, get dressed and then start thinking about what workout you’re going to do.  Plan your exercise out.  For me, I’ll try to change it up each day so that I don’t get bored or overwork a body part. Monday I’ll do a cardiovascular workout, Tuesday will be yoga, Wednesday maybe a sculpting workout like Physique 57, so on and so forth.

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Mind fitness; you can change the way you think about food

aomlette

Learn more about changing your thoughts; changing your world here (click pic).

All of us have good intentions as each New Year begins especially when it comes to what we “plan” to eat in hopes of improving our diet, but in such a distracted world, most of us don’t know how to do that for the long term.  Let’s face it, no matter how much we learn about what we should be eating, life just always seems to get in the way.  A long, stress-filled day is going to trigger poor choices for everybody.  Or sometimes, eating mindlessly can just be a habit. But the good news is, you can actually change the way you think about food and completely change your health and diet through a process called mind fitness.

Most of our thoughts, emotions and decision-making about food occurs in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain; which is considered to be the most vulnerable to stress.  Being under any type of stressful situation, can cause us to lose all control and reach for quick food fixes such as sugar; which is really considered to just be another form of drugs. Thankfully, the human body is capable of controlling these urges by strengthening the mind and making it more fit.

Our brains are constantly changing structurally as we go through life.  This process is called neuroplasticity; which means we can develop skills that wouldn’t normally happen for us naturally.  One of those skills is self-control; a form of mind-fitness that actually makes us feel in charge of our decision-making; which then in turn, makes us feel better about ourselves.

No matter what might occur within your day, you are capable of being aware, slowing down and living in that moment when you are about to make a choice or decision. Doing this is consistently is going to change the way you think about food.  This is what mindfullness really means; actually using your brain, being aware of the present moment and realizing that you are in control.

Once you’ve experienced mind fitness for the first time, this skill will become easier, your mind will become stronger and you will finally have the ability to lose weight and sustain the healthy lifestyle you’ve been striving for your entire life.  Think of it life physicial fitness, the more you do it, the stronger you become. You also have the ability to change the way you think about food.

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Turmeric elixir; what it is and why should I be drinking it daily?

aturmThe health benefits of turmeric have become widely known over the past few years and because it’s not the easiest spice to include within your diet, the turmeric elixir simplifies that.  So what is the turmeric elixir and why should you be drinking it daily?

Turmeric is an orange-yellowish spice from India and is a part of the ginger family.  It’s known to be a powerful antioxidant that fighs cancer-causing free radicals with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects.  Turmeric is a staple in Indian cooking and a wonderful spice to warm and invigorate your body.

Hopefully, you are already starting your day with a glass of water before any coffee or tea.  Water in itself hydrates the body after a night’s sleep and also flushes the system before anything else can touch it.  But instead of plain water, you can give your body a much more beneficial morning detox with a turmeric elixir drink.

Here’s how to make a turmeric elixir:

1 cup of warm (not hot) water

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric

Dash of cinnamon-another anti-inflammatory

1/8 teaspoon of honey

Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Mix the ingredients into the warm water and continue to stir as you drink as the turmeric will continue to settle on the bottom of the glass.  And that ‘s it!  An easy, simple and inexpensive way to give your body what it needs for long term health.

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