fitness

Stretch It Out With @yogiberi

Leah: What is yogiberi and what lead you to become a yoga instructor?

Erika: Growing up I was into sports and I’m not naturally flexible at all! I never stretched and was barely even able to touch my toes. After college, I lived out west in Colorado where I found that yoga was the perfect balance to my active lifestyle. It was also super popular and all of the locals were doing it. When I first started out, I just followed what the other people around me were doing because I didn’t know the names of the poses. A year after living in CO, I moved to NYC, started working in the fashion industry and found that I needed to practice yoga daily for my mental wellbeing. After living in a ski town surrounded by fresh air and mountains, I was totally overwhelmed by the fast pace of NYC. Yoga completely helped me acclimate to the hecticness of NYC.

After a few years of living in NYC, I felt the urge to deepen my yoga practice and began to research different yoga teacher training programs. Initially when I signed up for the yoga teacher training, I wanted to deepen my practice, open a yoga studio down the line, but not necessarily become a yoga teacher. I was petrified of public speaking! I kept putting off doing a training because of various life events. I finally pulled the trigger and started my 200 hour yoga teacher training in September 2015 and never looked back! Ironically, I don’t want to open a yoga studio anymore and I ended up switching careers. I work full time as a yoga teacher and am happier than ever!

As far as the name yogiberi, as a kid, my family & closest friends nicknamed me Eri, Eriberi or Beri. I also love berries and eat them every single day. So yogiberi stems moreso from my nicknames and a little bit from my love for berries :).

Leah: Although I’m a dietitian, I really don’t know much about yoga. People swear by the benefits, so I’d love to know more about them! 

Erika: There are a million positive benefits from doing yoga. In yoga, we examine both the physical and subtle bodies. The “subtle” body being the mind. Yoga helps calm the nervous system, it gives a sense of community, increases energy, increases flexibility, strengthens muscles and the list goes on. Personally, I’ve gotten so much more flexible, strong in my core and arms, am more body aware and I feel so much more relaxed after I practice.

Leah: To be honest, I very rarely do yoga (SO guilty), how do I even start? P.S. I’m NOT naturally flexible.

Erika: Yoga is for EVERYONE! Anyone can do yoga at any age, at any stage of life, in any place, flexible or not! I would start by taking a beginner’s class at your local studio where they really break down the fundamentals of each pose. Or I highly recommend scheduling private sessions where I can give you my undivided attention. Private yoga is the best way to deepen and personalize your practice! One of my biggest tips is that your breath is EVERYTHING in yoga.

Leah: Is there any food/beverage that you eat or drink, either pre or post yoga? And why?

Erika: You’re not really supposed to eat before yoga. I wouldn’t recommend eating a full meal right before practicing because you’re more likely to feel lethargic and heavy during practice. If I’m feeling low energy, usually right when I wake up, I just have a banana and a cup of hot water with lemon beforehand. The banana because I like to have a little something in my stomach and the hot water with lemon because it cleanses the entire body. Post yoga I usually have a smoothie - with berries of course.

Leah: Where can I catch your next class?

Erika: I’m back and forth between NYC & Philly (primarily Philly), but catch me in NYC every Monday & Tuesday! I teach on Mondays at Yoga Vida (TriBeCa) at 6am in NYC, on Thursdays at Priya Hot Yoga at 4:30pm in Philadelphia and sub regularly at their studios as well.

MAJOR BONUS: If you email eriespte@gmail.com with the subject "Tovita for Yoga," you are eligible to receive 15% off a private session! This offer expires after 12/31/16, so make sure to schedule your next session ASAP! 

Spotlight On: Eggs

Easter is right around the corner, which means pastel blue, pink, and yellow eggs are showcasing in storefronts all around us. While we do recommend to limit the amount of chocolate eggs you enjoy, we've decided to use this holiday as an opportunity to shed some light on the health benefits of our favorite household staple, the egg. 

scrambled eggs

Do eggs raise cholesterol? How many eggs are too many? Are egg whites better than whole eggs? Are the brown ones healthier than the white ones? We get these questions all of the time, so we decided to give you the 411:

  •  Eggs are a source of total nutrition. 1 egg is about 70 calories and offers 6 grams of protein
  • Every single B vitamin is found in eggs
  •  Eggs contain every amino acid, making it a complete, high quality protein source
  • Eggs are one of the few good food sources of vitamin D
  •  Egg yolks are high in choline (1 egg provides about 35% of daily need), which is important for maintaining energy levels and a healthy metabolism. Choline is especially important during pregnancy as it contributes to brain and memory development
  • Egg whites contain a protein called avidin which binds to biotin making it absorbable in the body. Biotin helps the body convert fat into usable energy and is also linked with improving hair and nail strength.

Eggs became controversial when research from the 1980's revealed that egg yolks raised LDL and total cholesterol. More recent research, however, did not find any positive correlation between egg yolk consumption and cholesterol. Researchers found the the ratio of fats (omega 6: omega 3) in the diet had a much larger role in cholesterol levels than the amount of cholesterol consumed. The research is still mixed, but if you do have high cholesterol, we recommend limiting egg yolk consumption to 5-6 per week to be safe.

Eggs are a dieter's best friend. One study compared a group of dieters who had an egg-based breakfast to dieters who consumed a starch based breakfast and those who had no breakfast. At the end of the trial, the dieters with an eggy breakfast lost the most weight and body fat overall. Who's having an omelet tomorrow morning??

Time to get crackin! If making eggs at home, we recommend either using 2 whole eggs, or 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites in an omelet or scramble. This way, you get the benefits of the egg yolk but reduce the calories and fat content. Don't be afraid to ask for this next time you're out for brunch! As far as brown vs white, we don't discriminate. This may be surprising, but the color of the egg depends on the color of the chicken. Unlike the case with breads and grains, brown doesn't mean healthier! We choose organic, cage-free eggs. If from a local farm, even better. How to incorporate eggs in your day? Easy.

omelet
  • Pack 2 hardboiled eggs as a protein-packed afternoon snack, or as the protein for your salad
  • Try our omelet muffins, the perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack.
  • Add a fried egg to your next veggie stir-fry or cauliflower fried "rice"
  • Make an omelet or scramble with 1 egg, 2 egg whites, assortment of veggies, few slices of avocado, and fresh herbs and spices.
  • Add a fried egg to your avo toast

Have an eggsellent day! (Had to)

 

How to Avoid the Super Bowl Super Size

If you're anything like us, the Super Bowl is all about the commercials, an excuse to party on a Sunday, and the half time show. But Super Bowl Sunday all too often leads to a miserable Monday. Remember last year? That headache from one too many beers, that stomach ache from a chicken wing overdose... oh, and that spread of questionable chips and dips. 

Believe it or not, there are ways to avoid the Monday food hangover. We are all about partaking in the festivities, but let's focus on making bets, catching up with friends, and most importantly, Beyonce.  

The first step, like with any holiday or festivity that revolves around food, is to set yourself up for success. Number one rule? Do not go in starving! Have a healthy and filling breakfast and lunch so you have a clear head to browse the options and make a plate in a sensible, conscious manner. If you are ravenous walking into the Super Bowl party, you will start piling your plate with the first thing you see - healthy or not. Fill half of your plate with vegetable based options, leaving room for small portions of those foods you just have to try. 

Vegetable based options at the super bowl?? That's where the responsible you comes in. If you are going to a friend's to watch the game, don't assume he or she shares your health goals. Offer to bring a salad, guacamole or hummus with crudités, or our light and filling white bean dip (see recipe below). Beans are high in fiber and protein, the two main components to keeping you satiated and satisfied. 

After you make your plate and mix a drink, sit down and socialize! That's what you're there for, right? 

White Bean Dip with Crudités (yields about 1 3/4 cups)

Ingredients:

white bean dip
  • 2/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 12 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 15.5 oz cannellini or white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Pinch of paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • Chopped chives to garnish
  • Whole grain pita bread, sliced bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and celery to dip

Directions:

  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour
  2. Transfer to serving bowl and drizzle olive oil, sprinkle paprika , and garnish with chives

Have any go-to healthy party recipes? Be sure to share with us!

 

Vegan Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Shiitake Bacon

Can you remember the last time you ate a bowl of spaghetti carbonara with bacon and felt great about it?

(recipe adapted from By Chloe's very own vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli)

(recipe adapted from By Chloe's very own vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli)

Didn't think so. Well, we're about to change that. We have put our touch on one of the least diet-friendly dishes to make it completely Tovita approved. We hope you are as excited as we were when we discovered this recipe. We love using spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta but feel free to use zucchini noodles, whole wheat or quinoa pasta, or shirataki noodles as you prefer! 

Spaghetti Squash: 2 spaghetti squash serves 4-6 people

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper
  2.  Cut spaghetti squash in half using chef's knife and scrape out the seeds with a fork
  3. Place squash face down and bake for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked
  4. Scrape out the spaghetti squash with a fork and place in a bowl
shiitaki bacon

Shiitaki Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shiitaki mushrooms
  • 1/4th cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Toss mushrooms with oil, salt, and pepper on baking sheet
  3. Bake for 30 minutes turning frequently with a spatula until crisp

Vegan Carbonara Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces soft organic tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Chopped parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil on skillet over medium heat and cook onion and garlic until soft and browned. Remove from heat 
  2. In blender, combine the onion, garlic, tofu, water, lemon juice and salt. Blend on high until creamy consistency. Should be around 2 minutes. Let the sauce sit for about 5 minutes to allow to thicken
  3. Add the sauce to the spaghetti squash and top with the shiitaki bacon and parsley garnish. 

Enjoy!

#TovitaNoFilter: Foodtrainers dietitian Carolyn Brown's natural beauty routines

Today we sat down with our dear friend Carolyn Brown to find out what keeps her feeling beautiful, happy, and glowing. Carolyn is a dietitian at the New York City private practice Foodtrainers. She knows NYC's health and fitness world inside and out. Believe us when we tell you, you'll want to know this tall, blonde bombshell's health secrets!

carolyn brown foodtrainers
I’m not super high maintenance when it comes to a beauty routine but there are a few beauty + wellness items I worship! When it comes to nutrition, I’m all about keeping it simple. Boring but good ol’ h2o, first thing, pre-coffee is a MUST. 
carolyn veggies
Second is getting very veggie'd at at least 2 meals a day. I roast, grill, steam, soup, or nosh on them raw. Being prepped is crucial; in order to eat good food, you have to have it on hand! So I live for instacart and maxdelivery for keeping my fridge stocked and my life organized. 
I do have two nutrition addictions that are a little more hippy dippy but I can't live without. First is turmeric by Wakaya Perfection, it's like natures Prozac and so good for sore muscles, and Ginger or chai kombucha. They are my daily rituals, I sneak turmeric in in smoothies, yogurt, green juice, salad dressings, marinades and eggs. Kombucha is my night cap if I'm not hitting the vino, it helps me wind down and is loaded with good for your belly probiotics. 
wakaya turmeric
Next I exercise or move at least 5 days a week, it’s my meditation — Ive found a great group of workout buddies via a retreat with SurfYogaBeer that has changed my workout world. I love soul cycle, fhitting room and Y7 yoga. Find friends that make you move — and make you laugh! And then go eat brunch with them.  
On the beauty from the inside note - I am a therapy junkie. Forget the therapy stigma, I think everyone in their 20’s in NYC should go. I went for 5+ years and it is the number one thing that has shifted my happiness and overall wellbeing.  No one looks pretty when they are cranky and anxious. 
Lastly - with skincare I try to keep it super organic. I want to live in both CAP beauty in the west vill and ABC home. Jiva Apoha oil and RMS un-cover up + living luminizer are my daily face routine. When i’m having a skin freakout, which is more rare since i started living by the above rules, I hit Skin Laundry for some zapping and see the glowy benefits pretty much immediately. 
Thank you, Carolyn! Keep up with Carolyn's adventures @onesmartbrownie 

#TovitaNoFilter: Week Two

We're back for week two of #TovitaNoFilter to share our second round of tips for natural beauty from the inside out. Today we’re talking green tea and colorful fruit. Not only are they beauty foods, but they’re also immune boosting (helloooo cold season).

1. Hydrate with green tea or matcha tea. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that helps scavenge otherwise harmful free radicals roaming around your body. Green tea helps to protect your skin from sun damage by working alongside your SPF to disable free radicals, while the SPF blocks UV rays.

One component of green tea, a catechin called "5-alpha-reductase" can even help with hair loss by inhibiting the effect of a hormone that induces hair loss. Green tea is now a popular component of natural skincare products as it is found to inhibit enzymes that contribute to degradation of skin.

Matcha is a type of green tea leaf that is concentrated into a powder so that you reap 100% of the benefits, rather than just what is steeped through the tea bag. We highly recommend PANATEA matcha powders to make at home, as many of the matcha powders sold in coffee shops are loaded with added sugars!

sugar

2. Skip the sweets with added sugar. Here’s a quick science lesson. When sugar enters your bloodstream, it attaches to proteins to form new molecules called advanced glycation end products (appropriately known as AGE’s). As these accumulate, they damage the proteins surrounding them. Some of the most vulnerable to AGE’s are the proteins collagen and elastin, which keep your skin elastic and young looking. When damaged, skin loses its ability to bounce back, it often leads to unwanted wrinkles. You might want to think twice before you break into that candy cabinet. 

AGE’s also damage antioxidants (yes, the one's you've received from all of the fruits and veggies you've been nourishing your body with) leaving you more susceptible to sun damage. Stick to fruit’s natural sweetness and be cautious of hidden sugars in processed foods.

Tovita tip: One of our favorite naturally sweet desserts are popsicles by EatPops. Though these pops serve as sweet treats, they’re essentially simply frozen juices. No sugar added, no preservatives, no catch.

3. Speaking of fruit, make it your goal to consume at least  two servings of colorful fruit per day. Tropical fruits contain vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and helps your body produce collagen.

Fun fact? An enzyme in papaya called papain can help reduce skin blemishes and remove dead skin cells when used topically. Papaya DIY face mask anyone?

Stay tuned, we have more natural beauty tips coming your way! Remember to share your natural beauty routines or makeup-free glowing faces using #TovitaNoFilter

 

 

Tovita Talks: Avocados (Up on WeWoreWhat Lifestyle Section!)

Avocados have managed to hold their place at the top of the trendiest foods list for quite some time now. They have finagled their way into every recipe, from the traditional salad, to the over-instagrammed avocado toast (guilty), to even that morning smoothie. There’s a good reason these fruits have remained the talk of the culinary town, and it’s not just because they’re Danielle’s favorite food. Today we’re going to discuss the ins and the outs of the avocado, because if you’re already on the avo-bandwagon, you should know why.

Click here  for the abridged version of this article on  WeWoreWhat  Lifestyle section! 

Click here for the abridged version of this article on WeWoreWhat Lifestyle section! 

You may have heard that these guys are a good source of healthy fats. But what does that really mean? It means they’re made up of predominantly monounsaturated fats, which have heart-healthy properties like the ability to improve LDL-cholesterol levels (the bad kind) and reduce oxidative stress. What’s even more unique is that some of the types of fats that make up the avocado (we won’t bore you with the names) have anti-inflammatory properties. In the past fats have gotten a bad rep because of the common misconception that all fats are pro-inflammatory. While this is true for certain types, like those found in fried or processed foods, it is quite the opposite in the case of the avocado.

Another fun fact is that the healthy fats found in avocados help to increase the absorption of carotenoids - a class of antioxidants often found in orange and yellow colored produce, ie. sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, etc. So there’s your justification for topping your salads with avocado. You’re welcome.

Just because we’ve belabored the point that avocados are a good source of healthy fats doesn’t give you the green light eat them all day long. The average avocado has about 30 grams of fat, meaning no matter how you slice it, we’re talking lots of calories. Even though it’s tempting to add it on.. literally everything.. be mindful of how much you are eating in a sitting. We recommend keeping it to ¼ of an avocado.

There are still more benefits this fruit has to offer. They’re a good source of most B vitamins,  vitamins K, C, E, fiber, potassium, and copper. Not to mention they provide a ton of phytonutrients, which contribute to their antioxidant properties. Remember, antioxidants act as our bodies “clean up crew” by scavenging dangerous free radicals that can otherwise lead to deleterious health effects. No thanks!

They call the avocado “nature’s butter” for good reason. Whether you’re using it as a spread for the classic avocado toast or you’re eating on the side with your omelet, you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for a fun new way to incorporate avocados at your next brunch party, we’ve got you covered with the “taco bar method.” On whole grain bread or wheat crackers, serve a platter of plain, blank, avocado toasts. Then, as a taco bar would offer, set up bowls of different toppings and let your guests make their own avo-toasts. Topping ideas include: feta cheese, sliced hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, tomatoes, mangos, black beans, or any vegetables. Your guests will have fun creating different combinations, and who knows, you may discover the next big avo-hit!

 

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

This holiday season, we teamed up with Marisa Hochberg, founder of MJH Wellness to bring you the ultimate healthy holiday gift guide. Since we already agree that there is no better gift than the gift of health, we’re here to give you some healthy holiday shopping hints. Whether for you health manifests in a food product, a provocative read, or in a new set of workout gear to help you reach your 2016 fitness goals, we have conjured up a list that both the health nut and the nutrition newbie can work with.

  1. PANATEA ceremonial grade matcha gift set

panatea

PANATEA is one of our favorite matcha brands! They source their high quality matcha from the tea fields of Japan. One of the reasons we’re proponents of the matcha movement is because of the sheer antioxidant capacity of the tea. Remember, antioxidants act as our body’s “clean up crew” by protecting us from free radical damage, which can otherwise lead to tissue damage and even aging. As opposed to conventional steeped green tea, drinking matcha allows you to consume 100% of the nutrients.

Holiday gift sets include their ceremonial grade matcha, custom measuring scoop, glass siping bowl, and bamboo whisk. Use the code “HealthyHoliday10” at checkout for a 10% discount.

2. Tovita Nutrition package

tovitanutrition

How many times have we told ourselves, “I’ll start on Monday?” Whether you’ve been meaning to lose those extra holiday pounds or you need some guidance when it comes to eating clean, there’s no longer a reason to put your health on hold! 

3. Massage at Equinox

equinox spa

While we all need a little “me time” to relax and unwind during the holiday season, too often we push that aside to take care of others. Gifting a massage at Equinox will give your loved ones a perfect excuse to treat themselves guilt-free. The Equinox spa offers something for everyone- from pre-natal to sports massages, your loved ones can personalize their relaxation experience.

4.  Rowley Fitness

cynthia rowley active wear

Fashionable fitness lines are pretty much de rigueur these days, but they're still not the kind of couture that gets people buzzing during Fashion Week. Unless, of course, the line comes from an A-list designer like Cynthia Rowley. She’s not simply hopping on the fashion-meets-fitness bandwagon, though: Rowley, an avid surfer, has been designing wetsuits for years. This season, she decided to go all out.

The line adds a distinctly designer twist to workout gear, like metallic-embellished shorts and tanks, zebra-print wetsuits, slouchy track pants and zipper-accented backpacks. If your friends or family have fitness goals for 2016, give them a jumpstart to the gym with active wear they’ll want to show off.

5. 20 Pounds Younger by  Michele Promaulayko

20 pounds younger

We all know the feeling of wanting to press the restart button come New Years. Keep your loved ones from painful attempts at cleanses and detoxes, and use these books as a guide. Michele Promaulako from Yahoo Health has collected the advice and tips from top experts in nutrition, fitness, and anti-aging to answer all of our pressing questions in her book "20 Pounds Younger".

5. Treehouse retreats

treehouse retreats

Treehouse retreats are the ultimate girls wellness weekend that will give your girlfriends something to look forward to when the winter seems unbearable. Treehouse retreats occur each summer in the Hamptons and offer an intimate, women only weekend with a maximum of 6 guests. You and your best friends can stay in the cozy accommodations with New York’s best fitness instructors and foodies. Retreats are tailored for each group to create the perfect getaway. If a day of nourishing and healthy meals followed by yoga, paddleboarding, surfing and tennis sound right up your alley, the Treehouse retreats are definitely worth looking into.

6. The spiralizer with the Inspiralized Cookbook

spiralizer

We admit it, we are spiralizing addicts. Zucchini noodles, carrot and beet ribbons on salads, or baked sweet potato shoestring fries are all weekly staples thanks to our handy spiralizer. This is perfect for those friends who like to get creative in the kitchen, without spending tons of time or money. Pair the kitchen toy with the Inspiralized Cookbook to offer some recipe inspiration!

7. Swell water bottles

swell water bottles

Help save the world by gifting a Swell water bottle, beautifully crafted out of non-toxic stainless steel.  In the US alone, 50 million plastic bottles are dumped in landfill sites each year, and over 200 billion globally.  Swell water bottles replace those plastic bottles while looking sleek and  keeping drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. Swell also gives back to those in need by donating to UNICEF to help provide clean water to the world’s most vulnerable children. Now there’s a gift you can feel good about.

8. Lifeway Kefir holiday flavors

lifeway kefir

We couldn’t be more excited about Lifeway’s Kefir holiday flavors, Cranberry Creme Brulee, Eggnog, and pumpkin spice. Rather than bringing a bottle of wine to your next holiday party, surprise your guests with a bottle (or two!) of your favorite kefir smoothie! Aside from being rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin D, Lifeway’s kefir is a good source of probiotics, which are those beneficial microorganisms found in your digestive tract that help to boost immunity and support digestion. Let’s face it, we could all use a little immunity boost during the cold holiday season!

9. Jax Coco Global

jax coconut oil

Launched in Hong Kong in 2012 by Jane Gottschalk & partners, Jax Coco is known globally for producing the highest-quality coconut products, including the world's first premium glass-bottled coconut water.

Inspired by the crisp coconut water that it champions, Jax Coco offers Pure Coconut Water, Flavoured Coconut Water, Jax Kidz, Extra Virgin Centrifuged Coconut Oil, Jax Coco Toasted Coconut Chips and now, Jax Coco EVCCO Snaps. With the cold weather creeping in this holiday season, the it is extra important to keep skin moisturized and to stay hydrated and we can’t think of a better way to do this than with Jax Coco products! The luxe packaging makes for the perfect gift and decor in homes and bathrooms this holiday season and beyond!

Celebrity fans include Stella McCartney, Sienna Miller, Elton John, Cara Delevigne, Elizabeth Hurley and Matthew Williamson

10. Tata Harper Daily Essentials Kit

tata harper

There is good reason Tata harper has gained popularity among celebrities and beauty experts. Her products are 100% natural and nontoxic. The formulas use the most advanced natural skincare technology to bring the most effective products on the market. If you’re not sold already, Tata’s products are completely environmentally sustainable;  they buy renewable energy from the state of VT to run their facilities and use recycled glass and paper to cut down on their carbon footprint.

11. Subscription to Daily Burn

daily burn

We all know the benefits of exercise, but finding the time and money to spend on a gym membership can be obstacles for many. Daily burn is a no-excuse, accessible way to workout. All you need is an internet connection. For $12.95 per month, your loved ones will have access to all a large variety of workout videos led by expert trainers plus access to an interactive workout community.

12. "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell

it was me all along

This amazing memoir is perfect for those on your list looking for inspiration to become healthier. The New York Time’s best-selling author, Andie Mitchell recalls an honest account of her struggles with binging, obesity and the traumatic childhood that led her to seek solace in food. A definite must gift for anyone on your list looking for inspiration and a remarkable story during the holiday season. Stay tuned for Andie’s highly anticipated cookbook, "Eating in the Middle" coming out on March 29th.

13. "They All Fall Down" By Anna Kohanski Mason

they all fall down

Anna Kohanski Mason is a former bond trader turned leading force in the health and wellness space. After leaving the corporate world of Wall Street, Anna co-founded BurnThis, one of the leading apps for fitness. Through BurnThis, Anna established herself as a maven in the health and wellness space. Anna’s new book is perfect for the family member or friend who might work in the corporate world but whose passion lies in leading a healthy lifestyle.

CooCoo for Coconut Oil

These days, coconut oil is as much of a household staple as peanut butter (or is that just among us health freaks)? Though there are good reasons why coconut oil is awarded the title "world's friendliest fat," we still understand why some people have been hesitant about jumping on the bandwagon. It is a saturated fat after all, and we have been taught to avoid those at all costs. It's also energy dense, about 117 calories per tablespoon. So why are we singing coconut oil's praises? 

coconut oil

Coconut oil is a saturated fat, indeed. However, it is a plant source meaning it does not have any link to increased risk for heart disease or raising cholesterol. In fact, lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) in coconut oil, has been shown to increase HDL (the good cholesterol), improving overall cholesterol ratios.

These MCT's you may have heard about are miracle fats. They are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids, which are found in most fat sources. They are sent directly from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are either used immediately for energy or converted into ketone bodies, an energy source for the heart and brain during fasting or low carbohydrate intake. Long-chain fatty acids on the other hand are more likely to be stored. The MCT's have been shown to boost metabolism and help break down stored fats. 

spectrum coconut oil

We also love the fact that coconut oil has several beauty uses. Aside from its culinary purpose, it can also be used as skin lotion, lip balm, eye-makeup remover, to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, as a frizz-fighter, or hair mask! Our personal recommendation? Saturate (no pun intended) your hair in about a teaspoon of oil and let it sit overnight. Wash it out in the morning with shampoo. We just saved you the cost of your next deep conditioning treatment, you're welcome. We bet a tub of coconut oil could replace a lot of those products you have taking over your bathroom cabinet!

Remember, coconut oil is high in calories and fat, so while there are many health benefits, we do not recommend consuming more than a tablespoon per day. 

Tovita Tips: Navigating Thanksgiving Dinner like a Pro

Did you know that on average, Americans consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day? Yikes. Now here comes the part where we assure you that you don't need to become a statistic. Believe it or not, there is a way to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast without ending up in fetal position spooning a bottle of Tums. Here are a few of our tips for taking the high road this Thanksgiving:

thanksgiving

 

1. Take matters into your own hands. We've said it before and we'll say it again, it is up to you to provide tasty and delicious options that you can indulge in without feeling deprived. The baked Brussels sprouts aren't going to magically appear if you don't plan for them. Whether you are hosting or you're a guest, prepare a light vegetable based dish. Everyone will thank you. If you need some ideas, check out our Autumn Salad recipe and our Sweet Roasted Carrots. 

2. Do NOT go in starving. Have a snack beforehand so you can make conscious decisions without acting like a vulture. Eat your usual breakfast, lunch, and snack instead of "saving up" for the big feast. We recommend a snack that contains both protein and fiber and is under 200 calories. Some ideas include a Greek yogurt with berries, veggies with 2 tablespoons of hummus, an apple with a tablespoon of nut butter, or a handful of almonds.

3. Navigate the options and plate responsibly. Before piling it on, do a quick analysis of the meal. Glance at all of the dishes and ask yourself what you absolutely need to try and what can you live without. Once you've decided, fill half your plate with vegetables (no, vegetables covered in cream or cheese don't count), then move onto your protein. Your turkey portion should resemble a deck of cards. Now you have a quarter of your plate left for the fun stuff - rolls, casseroles, stuffing, etc. 

food coma

4. Socialize, don't scour the buffet table. Remember, Thanksgiving isn't just about the food. During this Holiday you are surrounded by loved ones. Take this opportunity to focus on catching up with people rather than hovering around the food. Once you've made your plate, sit down! Eating while standing reduces your feelings of satiety, as well as your awareness of how much you are consuming. Sit with a glass or wine or cup of tea and relax. 

5. Follow the 3 bite rule. When it comes to dessert, studies have shown that the highest amount of endorphins are released with the first and last bites of dessert. We know it's easier said than done, but try to enjoy 3 bites of your favorite dessert and then throw it away. Then focus on your wine, tea, or seltzer. 

We are not expecting Thanksgiving to be your cleanest day of eating, but there is a way to remain empowered, rather than letting the stuffing take control of you!

 

Spotlight on: Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar

We love foods that have multiple uses and health benefits and apple cider vinegar is certainly one of them. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made in a two step fermentation process transitioning from apple cider-->alcohol-->vinegar. Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar brands (like Bragg's) also have added proteins, enzymes, and probiotics. The murky "blob" (for lack of a better word) in the ACV bottle is known as the "mother", or cloud of all the healthy bacteria and proteins. 

ACV was originally used as an antibacterial agent, cleaning and disinfecting less glamorous problems like nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections. It was also used to prevent food spoilage by inhibiting food borne pathogens from growing. Along these same lines, ACV is one of the best natural skin care products. It can be used to prevent acne by killing bacteria on the skin, and also removing dark spots. The vinegar contains powerful alpha hydroxy acids that remove dead skin revealing newer, fresher skin underneath. 

The next benefit of ACV is stabilizing blood sugar levels. This is important for both diabetics and non-diabetics. ACV improves insulin sensitivity and can lower blood glucose. One study showed that 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4%. 

braggs apple cider vinegar

Newer studies have shown that ACV may help with weight loss by improving satiety and curbing cravings. Studies showed that having 1-2 tablespoons of ACV with high-carb meals could increase feelings of fullness. Participants in the study ate 200-275 fewer calories the rest of the day. 

Finally, ACV can help with digestive discomfort. Because it is a fermented food, the probiotics help maintain gut balance and aid in digestion. Vinegar contains malic acid which can help with constipation or acid reflux. Drinking vinegar stimulates the valve at the bottom of your throat to close shut, keeping stomach acid down where it belongs. 

How to use it? For the more hardcore health nuts, you may try taking a "shot" of ACV first thing in the morning. We recommend putting a tablespoon or two in eight ounces of warm water with lemon. Drinking this combo first thing in the morning will wake up your digestive tract and get things moving.   If that doesn't sound so appealing, simply try replacing balsamic vinegar with ACV for salad dressings or cooking. 

Post for Zola: Healthy Zoodle Recipes for your Spiralizer

In case you haven't heard, Zola is an innovative wedding registry site that is transforming how couples and guests share, buy and ship wedding gifts. This week we collaborated with the Zola team to provide some healthy zoodle recipes for their blog readers who need some inspiration for how to put their new spiralizer to use. 

Read our fave zoodle recipes below!

Green Goddess Zoodles

This recipe is a Tovita favorite. It’s a new way to get your greens on when you just can’t eat another salad. The edamame adds a plant-based source of protein to help keep you satiated, along with the high fiber content with the mix of veggies. The almonds also have a bit of protein and add a nice crunch factor. If this recipe looks a little overwhelming, you can take the shortcut and buy store-made pesto, we promise we won’t tell!

kale zoodles

Ingredients:
For Kale Pesto:

  • 10 kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • ½ clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

You will also need:

  • Large bowl of water
  • Ice cubes

For Zoodles (serves ~3)

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup kale leaves
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

Directions:
For Kale pesto:

  • Fill a large bowl with ice and water
  • Wash the kale and remove the ribs.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Blanch the kale for about 3 minutes, remove and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain, place the leaves on paper towels and blot away the moisture.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, put the kale, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan
  • and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • Add the extra virgin olive oil and continue to pulse until the kale pesto reaches the desired consistency.

For Zoodles:

  • Defrost the edamame and broccoli
  • Wash the zucchini and spiralize into noodles.
  • Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and chili powder
  • Add the zoodles, broccoli and kale and saute for 2 minutes or until tender
  • Add the the edamame, season with salt and pepper and saute for another 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, toss the zucchini noodles in the pesto until it’s evenly coated
  • Top with almonds and enjoy!

Chicken Zoodle Soup

As sweater and soup season approaches, we want to give you an easy and healthy way to warm up. Take it from us, bringing a loved one a cup of chicken zoodle soup will win you major brownie points, especially with our gluten-free friends. Replacing noodles with zoodles slashes the carbs and calories of your traditional childhood favorite. This dish will warm your soul while watching your waistline.

chicken zoodle soup

Ingredients (serves ~4):

  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 cup of baby carrots, sliced into ~1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup celery, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dash of salt and pepper (to your liking)
  • ½ cup of chopped parsley
  • 2 Chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (~3 oz per serving)
  • 4 medium zucchini

Directions:

  • Heat chicken stock over medium heat with onions, carrots, celery, and garlic for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.
  • Season soup with salt and pepper and parsley.
  • Run the zucchini through the spiralizer to make “noodles.” Chop them in half to make them more manageable
  • Add chicken and zucchini to the broth and heat through.

Tovita Tips: Refueling Post Workout

workout

One of the most common questions we're asked is what to eat after a workout. The key to  refueling after a workout is a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates. Protein helps your muscles recover from wear-and-tear and carbohydrates replenish your energy stores. We recommend having a snack or light meal depending on the time of day, 30-60 minutes after exercising. During this window muscles are most efficient at building protein.  Instead of buying protein powders, which are highly processed and isolate just one nutrient, we suggest you get your protein from natural sources that provide multiple benefits to your body. Great protein sources include lean meat, Greek yogurt, nuts, eggs, or other low fat diary. Nuts and dairy are post workout all stars because they provide both protein and carbohydrates. Your carbs should contain fiber to slow digestion. In other words, avoid anything white (white bread, pastas, etc). Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are where its at in the carb department. 

Another Tovita tip: ditch the high electrolyte sports drinks. Unless you are performing a high intensity workout for over an hour, there is no reason for sugary sports drinks, so stick to water for hydration. To give you some context, one bottle of Gatorade has 56 grams of sugar! If that number doesn't mean much to you, a can of Coke has 44 grams. Scary, huh? To replace electrolytes, bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which aid in muscle function and help to prevent cramping and soreness. 

Some ideas?

greek yogurt parfait
  • Banana with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • A protein packed smoothie with ½ cup almond milk (chocolate almond milk is also great for this recipe!), ½ cup Greek yogurt, ½ frozen banana, 1 tsp peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp almonds or 1/2 cup berries
  • Turkey and cheese roll ups (4 slices of turkey, 2 slices part skim cheese)
  • Salad with grilled chicken or fish
  •  ½ cup low fat cottage cheese with ½ cup berries and 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  •  Can of light tuna mixed with 2 tbsp hummus and 1 serving of whole grain crackers
  • Whole grain toast with 1 tbsp natural almond butter and a dash of cinnamon for added antioxidants
  • 1 egg, 2 egg white Veggie omelet
  • Grilled chicken and 1/2 sweet potato (with the skin for fiber!)
  • Brown rice sushi (keep it simple, avoid the "spicy" and "crunchy" options)

These snack and meal ideas also work  as pre-workout fuel, but try keep it on the lighter side and leave 30-60 minutes after eating to avoid any discomfort mid treadmill action. 

Omelet Muffins

Hosting a healthy summer brunch party can be stressful. Unless you hire an omelet chef, you face the dilemma of keeping the eggs hot, personalizing orders, and feeding all of your guests at the same time. Before you throw in the towel and turn to the convenient bagels and cream cheese, we have your solution: omelet muffins! 

They're exactly what their name suggests. "Omelets" made in muffin tins. They allow you to simultaneously cook for an entire brunch party and personalize orders. Not to mention, they're kind of adorable to showcase. Below we are sharing one of our favorite recipes, but feel free to tailor it to you or your guests! 

Ingredients: (makes 8 muffins)

omelet muffins
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 handfuls chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

egg recipes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 6 or 7 muffin cups with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, veggies, and milk. Scoop into the prepared muffin tins (We find it easiest to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup) almost to the top. Sprinkle cheese on top. Then give each one a good dose of pepper or a pinch of salt.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until egg is cooked through. Easy way to check the egg: touch the middle of the muffins. If they are still wet and gooey, they'll need a little more time in the oven. They should feel cooked through.

5. Serve egg muffins immediately (with salsa or guacamole, if desired).

 

Spotlight On: Chia Seeds

Love it or hate it, chia seeds are here to stay. It wasn’t too long ago that the now fully acclaimed super food was an obscure grocery store D-lister. Now you can practically find chia seeds before you can find sliced bread. There are good reasons why the chia love has spread like wildfire, so we're here to share why these little guys are more than just a food fad. 

chia seeds

The history behind Chia seeds amplifies its mass appeal. Chia was a staple for ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations. The word chia is actually the Mayan word for “strength”. The warriors relied on chia for fuel before their ultra long distance treks through the desert. So while we may not be trekking through any desserts, chia seeds have a multitude of benefits for us in the modern world as well.

These little seeds have an impressive nutrient profile. Just two tablespoons provides 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, omega 3’s and all ten amino acids making it a complete plant protein. A serving of chia seeds has more antioxidants than blueberries and more protein than flax seeds. The fact that the seeds expand and gelatinize when mixed with a liquid are what makes you feel full and satisfied after consuming a small amount. The gelatinous consistency also makes it a great addition to muffins, yogurt, smoothies and puddings. Remember, two tablespoons is about 100 calories so you may want to stick to 1 tablespoon at a time.

One of our favorite ways to use Chia seeds is in our overnight oats. We all know how hectic mornings can be so we love having breakfast ready to go. This is a nutrient packed breakfast that will keep you full and energized.

5-Minute Overnight Oats

Ingredients: (serves 1)

overnight oats
  • Mason jar (because everything looks better in a mason jar)
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional teaspoon of honey or peanut butter
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients in the mason jar and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add fresh berries or sliced banana and enjoy. Easy as that!

Tovita Trick: blend 1 medium banana with soy or almond milk in above recipe. Add all of the ingredients as instructed. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy your banana overnight oats!