February’s Tiny Change: Eat More Plants

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges!

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You’ve probably heard about the health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet, like reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering your blood pressure, and adding years to your life. Food experts, nutritionists, and dietitians may disagree about the right diet, but amidst these debates, they have always been able to agree on at least one thing: MORE PLANTS = GOOD.

This month’s tiny change is just that – tiny. No need to cut foods out, restrict, or diet. Simply add more plant-based foods and recipes to your cooking repertoire. If you’re already eating a largely plant-based diet, wonderful! Try something new and interesting like DIY nut milk. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into plant-based cooking, start easy with something like chia seed pudding.

You don’t have to eat less or cut out anything. Just add more vibrant colors, nutrients, and variety to your meals. If a few of those delectable plant-based dishes happen to replace the less-than-healthy ones in your repertoire, that’s just a bonus! So what constitutes “plant-based,” exactly? Great question! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils are all fair game – all things that originally stem from plants (pun intended!)

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Here are five ways you can make this tiny change easy and awesome!

1. Incorporate these plant-based foods into the way you already eat

The best thing about plant-based foods? You can fold them into absolutely any eating style – they’re totally inclusive! Eating Paleo? Vegetarian? Gluten-free? Locavore or seasonal eater? Great, simply add more plants to your daily routine!

2. View this as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes + types of food
Consider this a little nudge to explore new recipes or make reservations at a new restaurant. Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian cuisines include lots of plant-based dishes, many featuring interesting spices and flavor combinations. Give them all a try!

Instead of trying to plant-i-fy existing dishes, why not try something totally different? We’re much more likely to enjoy a recipe (and make it again) if we eat it with an open mind…rather than thinking “this was much better when I made it with a whole stick of butter…” This tiny change gives you the perfect excuse to push yourself toward easy experimentation and more adventurous eating.

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3. Know that this isn’t just about smoothies and salads
Gotta love a good green smoothie, but there are tons of luscious, decadent plant-based foods out there. In fact, if you want to try just one new plant-based recipe a week this month, how about some delicious oatmeal, hummuscookies, PB & J, sweet chocolate avocado mousse, and even ice cream?! Plant dishes can be sweet, savory, warm, chilled, and satisfy just about any craving!

4. Swap in one plant-based dish for one meat or dairy dish

Rather than overhauling your entire meal, try just swapping one dish. Munch on a batch of homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato fries for your Friday night Netflix marathon or warm up with butternut squash soup for meatless Monday. Whip up a balanced meal, use DIY nut milk in your smoothie or make guacamole instead of french onion dip. Just one tiny swap at a time; you’ll be amazed how easy it is to eat more plants!

5. Choose plant-based dishes when you’re eating out or grocery shopping

Now, you know I’m a huge advocate of DIY-ing, but most of us are short on time and long on obligations. Who among us hasn’t picked up dinner on the way home from a hectic day?

Remember, there are a surprising number of plant-based options at your local grocery store, and maybe even your favorite restaurant. Grab a tub of guac, baba ganoush, hummus or even black bean dip. Check out the salad bar for freshly prepared veggies, grains, and plant-based proteins to add to a bed of greens.

When you’re eating out, soups, salads, and vegetarian entrees are often plant-based, (and delicious) so give it a try. To help kickoff this tiny change, you could win amazing prizes and tools to fill up your plate with as many colors and nutrients as possible. You’ll be amazed by how simple it is to eat more plants. And the best part? This easy, delicious tiny change can set you on the road to a healthier heart, longer life, and happier body!

One Healthy Breakdown: Crack open you cookbooks and get ready to veg out!

December’s Tiny Change: Move Your Body Every Day

OHH Intro: This month’s #12tinychanges is something near and dear to our heart at OHH; movement and we practice what we preach! This is the perfect tiny change to get out the holiday stress. Read on for Kale & Chocolate’s take on daily movement.

I know what you’re thinking: “it’s the holidays. The last thing I have time for is exercise! I am so, so, SO busy. I barely have time to even think about it!” Trust me, I get it. Hear me out…

First off, let’s call it “movement,” not exercise. A lot of us have negative associations with the word “exercise.” We immediately picture getting chosen last in gym class, dancing awkwardly in the back row of a Zumba class, or taking a beating during bootcamp. Let’s reframe, shall we? What if we simply aim to move our bodies every day—and that movement can take whatever form we like?

moveYour daily movement can be a long walk to the farmer’s market or a hike with the dogs. It can be two hours of raking leaves, an hour of cleaning, or 30 minutes of playing tag with kids. It might even be a one-person dance party in between all the holiday baking. You get the point. Just make it your goal to “move my body every day.”

During the winter—and especially the holiday season—we need to move our bodies more than ever. This is a time when many of us fall out of our routines and make promises to get back on track after the new year. But movement helps us manage the stress of holiday shopping, packed social calendars, and trips to see family. Movement also helps us cope with the inevitable ”seasonal mopes” that accompany lower temperatures and less daylight.

When we move around (in any way), we’re more patient, more focused, and more relaxed—all things that come in handy any time, but especially when you’ve got to wrap 67 presents, attend holiday parties, and travel for hours on crowded roads and packed airports with everyone and their mother!

If you’re ready for this month’s tiny change, here are seven easy ways to make movement part of your daily routine:

1. View it as respite
You’re not “going to that cardio class you hate,” instead you’re “taking a hike in the gorgeous, crisp air.” You’re not “attending that dreaded spin class,” instead you’re “clearing your head with a walk around the neighborhood” or “going to that amazing yoga class.” Rather than thinking of movement as mandatory exercise, think of it as time away from all the tasks and to-do lists to clear your head. Movement can be a break and a breather, not an obligation.

2. Give yourself the right fuel
It’s hard to move your body when you haven’t nourished it properly. Make it easier by loading up on proper fuel. I swear by a tasty bowl of oatmeal, berry good bars, pumpkin bread, or even chocolate squares. Stay hydrated and help out those sore muscles with a green smoothie. Or go for the ever popular avocado toast—and add an egg or other nutritional boosts to help refuel and recover.

IMG_19643. After you’ve moved your body, notice how good you feel
That serene, accomplished feeling you have after you’ve moved your body? Notice it. Do you have more energy? Are your endorphins running? Acknowledge the feeling. Say to yourself “I feel great and that’s because I moved my body.” When you mentally pair a positive emotion with a physical act, you’re more likely to make it a part of your daily life!

4. Rather than meeting for drinks, meet your friends to move
It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s a great way to bond. Just get outside wherever you are. Walk around town, meet for a run, head to a fun class, or bundle up on a stroll along the beachfront. If it’s really too cold, take it inside and cruise around the mall before it opens (window shopping optional!)

5. Embrace winter and the unique activities that go with it
Instead of hunkering down and hibernating, what if we welcomed the snow and ice with open arms? Colder temperatures bring activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice-skating!

6. Do more of your favorite active hobbies
I bet movement is already part of your life—maybe you’re taking fitness classes or playing with your pups. What if you simply did more of what you’re already doing? Add another weekly sculpt workout, get on your mat every afternoon for 10 minutes, or tack-on an extra few miles to your bike ride. If you’ve found something that works for you, do it more!

7. Remember that every step counts + you’ll never regret moving your body
When your calendar is overflowing and you can’t fit in an hour-long workout, it’s easy to throw in the towel and throw yourself on the couch. Try an at-home workout that fits into your schedule. If you don’t have time or you’re not in the mood, just add a tiny bit more movement to your day—take the stairs, park further away, add two more blocks when you walk the dogs. They all add up!

And if you need a movement pep talk? No one ever says, “Ugh, I sure wish I hadn’t hiked to that beautiful overlook” or “starting my day with yoga was such a terrible idea!” Once you get moving, you’ll be glad you did. Doing creates more doing—a little bit of intention and movement affects everything. You’ll feel like a happier & more energetic version of yourself all day long!

Kale & Chocolate will be giving away some great prizes to get your endorphins pumping! To enter, simply share your movement on instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges and tag (and follow!) @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley.

One Healthy Breakdown: movement is medicine, so get moving!

October’s Tiny Change: Eat Breakfast

OHH Intro: Breakfast is something OHH REALLY stands behind! No, not only on Sundays, but Every. Single. Day. It’s HUGE…and delicious! So, if you’re not a breakfast eater, take the next few weeks to become one (and, no, a cup of coffee does NOT count as breakfast, sorry people!) It may be easier (and yummier!) than you think after scrolling through Kale and Chocolate’s deliciousness below!)

If you’re just joining us, this post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! You can read about all the changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges, and don’t forget, there will be giveaways!

kale-and-chocolate-pb-j-oats-1Since October is my favorite month of the year and breakfast is my favorite (and most important!) meal of the day, I decided to turn our attention to how we take care of ourselves first thing in the morning. After all, it’s hard to feel amazing throughout the rest of your day if you’re getting up when it’s still dark and heading out the door on a cup of coffee and an empty stomach!

When we make the time to eat something nourishing and healthy first thing in the morning, we’re setting the tone for the rest of the day! We’re making ourselves the priority, not our schedules or our to do lists. We’re also balancing our blood sugar and metabolism, giving ourselves an energy source to draw on, and taking a few moments to center ourselves before we venture into the fray.

So with that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you navigate this month’s 12 Tiny Changes Challenge. Let’s do this! If you’re not eating breakfast:

1. Figure out why it’s not happening.
Do you dislike traditional breakfast food? Do you feel like you don’t have enough time? (Number one excuse!) Does eating early in the morning turn your stomach? Once you know your “why”, you’ll be able to make changes accordingly!

2. Try different dishes if you don’t like breakfast food.
You’re not actually required to eat pancakes for breakfast – or eggs or smoothies. Make your own rules! Or just move your breakfast from the sweet to the savory end of the spectrum. (It may also help reduce sugar cravings later in the day!)

sweet-savory-breakfasts-lg3. Prep your breakfasts ahead of time.
In September, our theme for the #12tinychanges was to devote a few hours to meal prep each week. When we think of meal prep, we’re usually focused on getting dinner on the table, but guess what? You can prep for breakfast, too! Make yourself one huge batch of overnight oats, pumpkin pancakes, breakfast quinoa, or berry good oat bars and eat them every morning. Chop and peel all your fruits and veggies so they’re ready for smoothies or whip up a big batch of chia seed pudding. You get the idea, it’s about setting yourself up for breakfast success!

4. If you truly can’t eat breakfast, then have a mid-morning snack ready.
There are a few people out there who really feel sick if they eat first thing in the morning. Try starting with a really mild, simple breakfast (like sprouted toast). If that doesn’t work, make sure you have snacks ready to go for when you do get hungry so that you’ll have energy to get through the day.

If you’re already eating breakfast every day, up your game! Breakfast Criminals has been a major influence and has inspired me to take my breakfast to the next level. If you, too, are already nourishing yourself in the morning, but you want to do even better, give these a try:

1. Double-check that your go-to breakfast is serving you.
Many of us (myself included) are creatures of habit. If you’ve been eating the same breakfast for years, why not make sure that it’s right for you? Who knows – maybe you’d have more energy and focus if you started your day with a protein-rich vegetable frittata, baked avocado with eggs, or seeded almond flour bread. Experiment with different types of breakfasts and take note of how you feel for the rest of the morning. Changing your breakfast can change your day, plain & simple!

2. Make your breakfast more interesting (and nutritious!)
If you’ve found a few breakfasts that are easy to make—and help you feel great—experiment with your faves. There are so many delicious, healthy ingredients that you can sprinkle over and stir into your oatmeal, smoothies, parfaits and more! You can see my long list of favorite nutritional boosts here. Have I convinced you? Breakfast can (and should!) be easy, energy-giving, and delicious. Happy breakfast-ing!

One Healthy Breakdown: let’s make this year amazing, starting with our morning meal!