My new e-book Chow Bella!

I’m so proud to announce the release of my new e-cookbook Chow Bella! I put my heart and soul into this book and hope it inspires others to begin their wellness journey in the kitchen.

When I first sat down to write this book I asked myself what I wanted my readers to gain aside from the recipes. I thought about what my struggles were when I first decided to cook and eat healthy. I realized that biggest challenges were (1) finding the time to cook while working a 10+ hour a day office job; (2) organization; and (3) sifting through the plethora of information and recipes on the internet. It all seemed so daunting and I wished someone would break it all down for me, meal by meal.

I decided I wanted to write something that would help my readers:

(1) map out the week;

(2) cook easy dishes in big batches that would taste great reheated;

(3) use ingredients that are easy to access;

(4) prepare delicious and healthy meals and snacks.

Chow Bella has over 120 pages of photos and recipes broken up into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and Snacks (which I call “grab boxes”). The dishes are 100% taste tested, not only by myself, but my family and friends. Every photo in the book was taken by me of a dish that my family and I ate afterwards!

RESULTS

I coupled Chow Bella recipes with 45 minutes of moderate exercise 4 times a week, and lost 8 lbs in 8 weeks! In addition, I have more energy, less digestion issues, and feel better than I ever have before. The formula is simple: make your big batch of breakfast, lunch and dinner on Sunday + carve out time to exercise 3-4 times a week.

I cannot wait for you to taste and see the difference in eating Chow Bella. You can download a copy on my “shop” page! or click on the link below!

Barcelona in 3 days: First-Timer's Guide to Barca

I just came home from the most amazing trip to spain and can’t wait to share it all with you. I went to Barcelona, San Sebastian and Madrid. Below are all my Barcelona faves! I will post about all three!

Palau de la Música

Start with Palau de la Música Catalana, this is about a 10-minute walk through the popular neighborhood called El Born. A district inside the historic center of Barcelona, with small streets, art galleries and boutique shops. https://www.instagram.com/p/BxUfFzcHVH-/

Parc Guell

Next stop - Parc Guell who maybe be called the most creative park in the world. Get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds. You can buy tickets in advance via their website ($8.5 per ticket). It is recommended to do this since they only allow a certain amount of people per time block. But you don’t need to enter the park. It is possible to take photos of Gaudi’s work without buying a ticket.

Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia. It is under construction since 1882 and they say it’s almost done. The cathedral is was one of Gaudi’s latest projects and worked on this until his death. Tickets for the church will cost about $16 but you can also admire it from the outside. Stroll through the little park in front of the Sagrada for the perfect photo spot or just a little cover from the sun. https://www.instagram.com/p/BxNkfBhnSuG/

Barcelona Cathedral

The Barcelona Cathedral is one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in Europe, and the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. With an imposing artwork like Sagrada Familia just around the corner the Barcelona Cathedral often goes unnoticed, but make sure to pay it a visit if you want to visit a beautiful Gothic cathedral and snap some excellent Instagram shots. https://www.instagram.com/p/BxRilLeHD7Y/

Bunkers del Carmel

Bunkers del Carmel is one of my favorite locations in Barcelona. Bunkers del Carmel is a park a short metro journey out of the centre of Barcelona, once you reach the metro station (El Carmel or Alfons X, depending on where you’re coming from) you can either bus it up the hill or walk if you’re feeling sporty. Once you get to the top there are epic 360 degrees views over Barcelona, and you will find a lot of the locals having picnics enjoying the nice weather and view. https://www.instagram.com/p/BxIQ5mKnI2n/

La Boqueria Barcelona Food Market

La Boqueria Barcelona Food Market is one of the top foodie stops in the city. Plan your visit to one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets.

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WHERE TO EAT: (These are all available for you to check out on TripAdvisor)

1) Flax and Kale - healthy beautiful delicious food

2) Brunch and cake- https://www.instagram.com/p/BxPxAp_nFOz/

3) Tickets- as seen on Chef’s Table- make reservations 60 days in advance

4) Xurreria Trebol - churros!

5) La Boqueria Barcelona Food Market - tapas!

6) Quimet & Quimet - Tapas! - as seen on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown

Meal Preps for Flights: why I bring my own food

Food for Travel

why I don’t eat plane food!

I love to travel and enjoy food from different countries. But getting access to fresh, organic, clean food while en route is next to impossible. Most airports are filled with fast food , baked sweets and packaged food options. Airplane food is no better.

Why I Bring My Own Food

The meals served on planes are outsourced to huge catering companies who prep the food in huge vats in a giant warehouse near the airport. They are then portioned out and frozen. The frozen meals, which can actually be legally kept chilled for up to five days, are then rolled onto the plane and heated up by the cabin crew. So the meals you’re eating on a plane probably weren’t made close in time to when you consume.

Airline food tends to be high in sugar, salt, preservatives and transfats. The reason behind this is that at altitude, cabin humidity drops by 15% which affects the connection between taste and smell and our brain. It’s estimated that these senses are reduced by 20-50%, very much like having a bad cold. Airline food also has to meet health standards in respect to preservation of the food in high temperatures and low temperatures. This is another reason why preservatives are necessary.

What I Bring and How I Pack it

Depending on the length of the flight, I like to be prepared with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options. I always cook as close to the flight as possible so that my food is fresh. If i’m on a long international flight, I cook and freeze my dinner the night before, and let it thaw by dinner time on the flight. If i’m on a short flight, I microwave the meal before I leave to the airport so that it’s still warm by the time i’m ready to eat it. I use disposable tupperware and ziplock freezer bags and carry everything in my carry on. You’d be surprised how compact everything can be if organized properly. For breakfast I like to bring hared boiled eggs or egg muffins. For snacks, I like to bring peanut butter packets, nuts, berries, and some low carb cookies or muffins so that I don’t feel like I’m missing out when everyone gets there dessert on the plane.

Yes, this all takes preparation, but it’s so worth it. Who wants to get off the plane all bloated from the sodium and preservatives they’ve been eating?

Here’s what I brought with me on my current flight to Barcelona!

1) Breakfast: egg squares (https://www.instagram.com/p/BuH7EnoH7Dq/ ) + Coconut Chia Seed Pudding (recipe in my ebook) with low carb granola ( https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/6vqrcjeyAenut8jBaU7WOS )

2) Lunch + Dinner: grass-fed beef meatballs with zoodles (recipe in my ebook)

3) Snacks: roasted seaweed, macadamia nuts and pecans, almond butter, berries, low carb cookies (https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/rXRjqoik8kNqlgftkBZMS)

Why I Chose to Switch to a Low Carb High-Healthy-Fat Diet!

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The Basic Principles I Follow…

Read below!

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I eat low carb high fat meals. I guess you can call it “keto” but I don’t like to put a label on it, as diets come and go and with each one, there are a slew of processed products claiming to align with that diet and help you lose weight. I would characterize what I eat as a “low processed carb, high healthy fat, close to zero sugar (natural or processed), moderate protein and dairy” diet.

Why I Switched

I originally switched to this type of eating because I was having a lot of digestion issues- severe heartburn, nausea, excruciating bloating, irregularity, and an overall noticeable difference in how I felt and looked after every meal. I was on prescription medication and I knew something had to change. To make matters worse, I had gained about 10 lbs because the way I was feeling along with the medication side effects made me just want to eat comfort food- bananas, breads and pastas. These foods seemed very plain and felt like they were the least likely to make my stomach flare up. Not to mention when you feel like crap you eat like crap. My version of healthy eating had always been high protein, low fat. I ate processed carbs with almost every meal consisting of oatmeal, brown rice or quinoa pasta. I also ate a lot of carb rich, fiber poor vegetables like sweet potato, beets, and carrots. I just had a gut feeling (no pun intended) that the high level of these types of carbs and protein were the culprit for how I was feeling. So I decided to switch it up and see if I felt better.

Results

Within one week there was a noticeable change in my digestion. No more bloating, my stomach didn’t swell up after every meal, and no more heartburn. I felt like I had more energy, less cravings, and better mood. Within two weeks, I lost 5 lbs and by week six I lost 8 lbs. I have stopped taking daily medication and feel better than I have ever felt!

My Basic Principles

TONS OF ORGANIC DARK GREEN VEGETABLES WITH HIGH FIBER - Broccoli, Broccolini, Zucchini, Asparagus, Spinach, Avocado

LOTS OF HEALTHY FATS ( EMPHASIS ON “HEALTHY”!) -

  • Saturated Fats = Good

    • Found in red meat, butter, ghee, lard, cream, eggs, coconut oil (MCTs) or palm oil

  • Monounsaturated Fats = Good

    • Found in extra virgin olive oil, avocados, avocado oil and macadamia nut oil

  • Natural Trans Fats = Good

    • Found in meat from grass-fed animals and dairy products

  • Natural Polyunsaturated Fats = Good (specifically Omega-3)

    • Found in fish, fish oil, flaxseed and chia seeds

  • Processed Polyunsaturated Fats = Bad

    • Avoid vegetable and seed oils including:

      • Canola, Soybean, Corn, Sesame, Grapeseed, Peanut, Sunflower

  • Processed Trans Fats = Bad

    • Avoid processed foods, fast foods, margarine and commercially baked goods

MODERATE PROTEIN

  • wild caught fish

  • organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken, pork.

  • avoid processed or cured meats

LOW DAIRY

  • Full fat, pasture raised, organic cream and cheese

ZERO PROCESSED FOOD

  • if it has more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients you don’t recognize, put it down

  • if it has sugar, put it down

Yoga: why it’s so important to your physical and mental health.

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Shop My Outfit!

Yoga. It's changed my life. Never thought I would be writing this because for so many years I resisted it. I would try it once, expect it to be slow, boring, and hard, then swear I would never try it again. A year would go by and then for some reason or another, I would drag myself back, take the class, expect it to suck, then swear I'd never go back. ⁣

About 4 months ago I was prescribed yoga for medical reasons. I was told by my doctor to find a yoga studio that was a true yoga studio...he said "not a place with trendy music and lululemon outfits...I want you to find a real yoga studio...a place where you don't care about who is there or what you're wearing...a place you can lose yourself...you know the kind of studio I mean." I knew what he meant. ⁣

So I began searching and eventually found the place that I would soon call my second home- @uptownyoga. I told myself I would give it one month, to expect it to suck for one month and then if it didn't get better, I was done with yoga forever. The first two weeks were hard. I was bad at it, my balance was horrible, my flexibility truly embarrassing, and my focus low. But on week three, I saw a glimpse of what yoga could mean for my mind and body. By week four I was hooked.

Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps me manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, and an inability to concentrate. Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.

Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers attention and sharpens concentration and self-awareness.

I owe yoga so much, it has made me mindful, patient and strong. To anyone who is struggling with whether it is for them, I challenge you to give it a shot for one month. You won't regret it. ⁣

Coffee Shop Hoppin’

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one of my favorite hobbies…

coffee, ambiance, food, post up.

Coffee shops. I like to explore new ones, try their coffee, scope out the ambiance, and taste their food. It’s a weird hobby I know, but a few things get me more excited than finding out a new coffee shop or bakery has opened up near me. If the coffee is good and the ambiance is bright, fresh, and inviting, then it becomes my new home, the place where I post up and work on my laptop. San Martin’s bakery just opened up in my neighborhood in Uptown Dallas. It’s a beautiful place, with high ceilings, trees, flowers, and lots of places to sit. I cannot wait to make it my new home.