I met Alex Thomopoulos when she shot her cooking show at 18 Label Studios in Montclair. She’s a foot taller and years younger than I am but we bonded instantly over our love of health, gluten free eating and tequila, and have been email and text buddies ever since. On her website Against the Grain, she posts recipes, videos and more that make gluten free look irresistible. I feel so much better after ditching grains and Alex’s recipes are delicious enough to convert anyone with any doubts. Plus, they’re easy. I made her green soup and you can bet I’ll be making it again. I’m not much of a baker so I haven’t tried making her Peanut Butter Cookies or anything like that but if Alex wanted to bake for me, I’d be happy to eat it anytime.
Because Alex is such an inspiration (not to mention hysterical), I asked her to write a guest post about her story and share some recipes.
“Kick Start Your Beauty Diet”
To me, Bobbi is a “woman’s woman.” Strong, confident and passionate, she never tries to cover up who women are but instead helps us enhance our natural beauty. Her belief in the connection between strength, wellness and beauty is what inspired me to write this and it inspires me to stay healthy and strong every day.
I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2010 and have been eating gluten free for the last three years. I was always a healthy eater, active in sports, and took pride in being able to balance my vices. Still, somehow I was always sick. It wasn’t until after I went 100% gluten free that I understood the correlation between what goes into your body and how you look and feel. When I ate better and avoided gluten, I felt amazing.
Over the past few months, something changed. I was overworked and stressed out which led to some very unhealthy habits. I started over eating, over drinking and exercising less. Everything I learned and practiced went out the door. I just gave up. In six months, I managed to pack on 20 pounds. Yup, that’s no lie, girl. 20 big fat pounds. I felt slow, tired, and moody, which led me to eat and drink even more. (Go figure.)
I did not feel beautiful. When you are unhealthy on the inside, no amount of makeup can make your outsides look beautiful. My skin texture changed, and I was bloated in places I didn’t think could bloat. (How the hell can shoulders get puffy?!)
I would tell myself that I’d start my diet or go on a cleanse “tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow never came. I would always find an excuse to not do it.
Finally, I hit a breaking point and had an epiphany. I was associating dieting with a long list of things I couldn’t eat and a constant yearning for the bad stuff. So I made a list of all the things I COULD eat and suddenly dieting looked much more inspirational and encouraging.
As I made my list, I began drawing lines between ingredients, mixing and matching different recipe ideas. I began researching super foods and healthy alternatives to some of my cravings. I wanted foods that would nourish my body and give me my glow back. I wanted to feel beautiful again. As women, we put so much pressure on ourselves to look good that we leave the way we feel on the back burner. Cooking for yourself is one of the best ways to feel strong and in control.
You’re 100% in control of your food (unless you set your kitchen on fire; that, by definition, is not in control.) In all seriousness, though, I hope you give some of these recipes a try, and are inspired to create your own, because everyone deserves to feel beautiful and eat beautiful food.
Here are a few easy tips for living healthy:
THINK GREEN: I can’t stress the importance of having an abundance of greens in your diet. They are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber that feed your body and cleanse.
BE REALISTIC: Don’t freak out if you don’t meet your weight loss goal right away. Be patient and stay strong. The weight will come off in time.
PLAN AHEAD: Set aside a day once a week to do your grocery shopping. Stock up on veggies and fruits and make extra servings for the next day. I also always keep hard boiled eggs and grilled chicken in my fridge for a quick snack or meal.
MAKE TIME TO EXCERISE: Sweat everyday. It helps detoxify your body and helps you become stronger and lose weight faster.
FIND A GOOD PROTEIN POWDER YOU LIKE: I cut out dairy wherever I can (with the exception of non-fat Greek yogurt, my guilty pleasure.) There are great plant based soy-free proteins out there that have tons of extra vitamins, greens and fiber in them. I like Vega-One.
DRINK WATER!: Make sure you are drinking TONS of water. It will keep you full and flush out your system.
KEEP YOUR SNACKS HEALTHY AND POWERFUL: Protein rich and naturally high-energy foods are what to think about come snack time. My favorite snack is 2 hard-boiled egg whites and a Matcha green tea latte with almond milk.
TRY DIFFERENT COOKING TECHNIQUES: Steamed veggies can get boring. Methods like broiling, roasting, grilling and sautéing help maximize flavor and keep your diet interesting.
And here are some easy recipes to get you started. Enjoy!
Before I go to bed, I put all my ingredients for a Healthy Breakfast Smoothie into a blender (minus any liquid) and store in the fridge. That way, when I get home from the gym I can quickly shower, make a shake and head to work. Another easy meal that can be prepped ahead is pureed veggie soup. So creamy and delicious, I like to whip up a batch every couple of days so that I have it ready for a meal. What’s great about my Green Detox Soup is that you can swap out any veggie and create completely different soups each time. Just keep the base of onion, garlic, salt and stock, and the options are endless.
Another versatile option for eating healthy and keeping things interesting is salads. I’m a salad junkie and like my salads to pack some protein as well. My healthy Turkey Cobb has been a recent fave.
Sometimes, it’s all about smart substitutions. Potatoes are starchy and filling but don’t have that much going for them nutrition-wise. Try swapping them for sunchokes and celery root to satisfy carb cravings with vitamin and mineral-rich foods.
Roasted Sunchokes are very rich in inulin, a carbohydrate that is linked to good intestinal health due to its prebiotic properties. They also contain vitamin C, and are loaded with iron, potassium, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorus. The body breaks them down slowly so your blood sugar doesn’t rapidly increase as it does when you consume white potatoes. Celery Root has only 42 calories per cooked cup and it’s delicious, so you can feel good about eating a lot of it. I make Truffled Celery Root Puree, because the truffle oil adds a decadent richness to the dish but not a ton of fat. The truffle flavor goes so well with the earthiness of the celery root.