Body Launch Challenge

PRACTICING GRATITUDE

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Especially within the wellness community, you’ll hear the word gratitude thrown around often but actually incorporating a practice of gratitude into your daily life can feel tricky. Let’s demystify practicing gratitude together, and set an intention to actively pursue it this week (and hopefully each week moving forward).

Gratitude is a supportive and healing emotion strongly linked to positive mental and physical health and life satisfaction. When you are actively feeling grateful for the little and big things in life, you will experience more joy, love, and enthusiasm and reduce your risk for depression, anxiety, and even disordered sleep. A 2003 study called Counting blessings versus burdens found that keeping a gratitude journal cause participants 16% fewer negative physical symptoms, 19% more time spent exercising, 10% less physical pain, and 25% increased sleep quality.  Luckily, gratitude is a virtue you can cultivate and grow with practice, and here are a few ways to start doing just that.

Identifcation

You can be grateful for an array of things in life - whether tiny like a delicious recipe your friend emailed you, or giant like a life changing promotion and salary raise at work. It’s tough, but sometimes you may even associate a difficult situation in life and find gratitude in the challenge. Maybe your parent has suffered an illness that was physically and emotionally taxing on your life, but it gave you the chance to spend quality time together talking, learning, healing, and reminiscing. Taking stock of what’s happening in your life and identifying what aspects of that you are thankful for is key to beginning a practice of gratitude. 

Write it Down

I like to find time once a day, just five to ten minutes works, to sit and think through five things I am grateful for. Once you’ve starting paying attention and identifying what you’re thankful for, it’s time to break out your journal or the Notes app on your phone, and write it down. While writing down your list of five things, try to give specific details and also take stock of how this gratitude feels in your body. Where do you feel it? Are you comfortable with the feeling of gratitude, and do you feel that you deserve it? I like to write those associated emotions down as well to refer back to later. You’ll find that your ideas and sensations may change as you make this practice part of your personal routine, and your gratitude can deepen as you focus on new aspects of your life daily.

Express Yourself

That awesome recipe that your girlfriend sent you? Text her a picture of your delicious meal and thank her! Is your new job at work going great? Treat your team to coffee and share the love. Verbal and physical affirmations to those around you make them feel good, and they’re secretly a version of enlightened self interest. Basically, your nice action makes you feel good too and it has a lasting positive effect on your mood.

I have to say, there are tons of pros and not a single con I can think of when it comes to noticing the things you are grateful for, writing them down, and thanking those around you to express your gratitude. This week, I challenge you to start a gratitude practice (or grow yours) and see if you feel more optimistic and energized. I bet you will, and then maybe you’ll be thanking me!

Tuna Wrap

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Ingredients

1 5 oz can of sustainable tuna

1 collard

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 avocado (1 tsp. of mayo if you must)

1 hardboiled egg, diced

1 dill pickle spear, diced

2 tbsp carrot, julienned or diced

2 tbsp celery, diced

salt and pepper to taste

1 bunch of asparagus

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Tuna Wrap

  1. Trim collard green stem so it's thinner and easier to roll. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl add tuna, diced egg, pickle, celery, carrot, avocado, and salt and pepper.  Toss gently until combined.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

  3. Lay collard green out on a flat surface and pile some tuna salad at the bottom of roll.  Fold bottom up and then fold sides inward or reverse. Cut in half if eating immediately.  Wrap in wax paper and store in fridge if batching.  

Asparagus

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash asparagus, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender (about 15-20 min).

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Storage: Best eaten fresh.

Bikini Ready Soup

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This soup is adapted from a recipe on Cookie and Kate. I love it because it’s healthy but hearty and will leave you feeling full for hours.

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil

1 onion (yellow or white), diced

3-4 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalapeños, diced (leaves seeds for extra spice or remove seeds for a milder soup)

4 cup of water

1 28ox can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can of black beans (rinsed)

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp of sea salt

1/2 cup of dry uncooked quinoa (rinsed)

1/4 c. fresh cilantro

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in medium to large pot and add onions, garlic, celery, carrots and jalapeños and sauté for 5-8 minutes on medium heat until they are tender and onions are translucent.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling , cover the pot and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is fully cooked.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Storage: Let cool completely and store in fridge for up to 3 days and the freezer for up to 3 months.

LB Zoodles

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As soon as the weather starts to warm up, I can’t get enough zoodles. This flavorful dish is low in fat and carbs but full of healthy micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It tastes great, and it’s easy to make. Zoodles with a dairy-free pesto is my all time favorite, but sometimes I like to switch it up and swap in a marinara sauce or a creamy, cashew cheese alfredo (recipe coming). You can’t go wrong!

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil

1 large or 2 small spiralized zucchini

Dairy Free pesto (Whole Foods makes good one) or sugar free marina sauce

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)

1/8 pistachios (optional, but best w/ pesto)

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt

Directions

  1. Cook protein of your choice to your liking.

  2. Heat olive oil in medium to large pan on medium. Add the zoodles and sauce of your choice. The zucchini will release water which will help thin the sauce. Sauté for 3-7 minutes until sauce is warm and zoodles are tender. I prefer my zoodles on the crispier side, so I try to avoid overcooking. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 30 more seconds.

  3. Transfer to a bowl or plate, mix in pistachios (optional) and top with your protein.

Prep Time: 5-20 minutes (depending on whether you need to spiralize your zucchini)
Cook Time: Under 10 minutes
Storage: Best eaten fresh

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

These are SO simple to make and totally addictive! Mars loves these but I don’t tell him that they are full of fiber, zinc, folate and protein. You can use any spice you like. I prefer mine simple with just sea salt OR bagel spice mix. Rosemary is a nice addition, as well.  This recipe makes three servings. Enjoy!

Ingredients

15 ounce canned chickpeas

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt or bagel spice.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Drain chickpeas, rinse, and pat dry (the drier, the better)

  3. In a bowl, mix salt/spices + olive oil together.

  4. Add chickpeas to bowl and stir to coat chickpeas with spices of your choice and olive oil. 

  5. Lay flat on a foiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, making sure to give the pan a shake 1/2 way through so that the chickpeas crisp up evenly.

LB's Blueberry Protein Muffin

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I originally called these cupcakes, but they’re actually muffins. And these muffins are healthy, full of protein via the eggs and protein powder, and really do the trick when you’re craving something carb-y and cake-y.

Ingredients

3 eggs (separate egg whites from the yolk)

3 tbsp of monk fruit sweetener (optional)

1 tsp vanilla

juice of 1/2 lemon

handful of blueberries

2 cups almond flour

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or plain)

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

1 tsp baking powder

vegetable oil spray.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Beat egg whites by hand or electric mixer until they form white peaks, approximately 2 minutes.

  2. Add the monk fruit (optional), and mix for 1 minute.

  3. Add egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix until blended.

  4. Add almond flour, almond milk, protein powder and baking powder

  5. Add blueberries

  6. Spray muffin pan with oil and add mixture until 3/4 covered.

  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Storage: Let cool completely and store in an airtight container. Freeze extra muffins for up to 1 month.

Dijon & Panko-Crusted Salmon

Salmon is my go-to fish, with great sources of DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain development and selenium. Baked salmon slathered with Dijon is probably one of my favorite ways to eat salmon. It’s incredibly easy, flavorful, and the Dijon and panko crust keeps the salmon moist, light and flaky. It’s the perfect healthy dinner recipe and it can be made in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients

One 6-8 oz wild salmon fillet ( I love Norwegian or Sockeye)

1/2 - 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (I only use Maille with this recipe )

1 tbsp Panko (I love Ian’s)

salt and pepper

Cauliflower:

1 head of cauliflower chopped into florets and washed

1-2 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.

  2. Line baking dish or banking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place fish skin down on baking sheet.

  3. Season salmon with salt and pepper then coat the top of salmon with Dijon mustard and spreak evenly. Top with panko and bake for 15-20 min or until just cooked through and flaky and panko slightly browned.

  4. Remove and allow salmon to rest for 5-10 minutes.

  5. Add cauliflower florets to mixing bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss until it is evenly coated. Add to baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Storage: Let cool completely and store baked fish and cauliflower in fridge for up to 3 days.

Photography via Epicurious