Interviews

Introducing…Health & Wellness Advocate Kristen Blake

First off, thank you to the BEAUTIFUL, brilliant, clean eating genius that is Kristen Blake for taking some time to talk with me about what makes her tick.

I “met” Kristen on Instagram (the starting place for all healthy relationships) when I read her idea to use frozen zucchini instead of frozen banana in a morning smoothie.  All the creaminess of the banana without the sugars.  Mind. Blown.  Especially after I tried this tip and it is amazing! (I cut the zucchini into thirds, use one third per smoothie and it’s perfect!).

After following her for a while I realized I wanted to know more!  She was generous enough to answer a few questions and share some pictures with me.  I think you will find her as inspiring as I do.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and where you live.

My name is Kristen Blake. I have 3 boys, ages 6, 8, and 10, and have been married to my awesome husband for 12 years. We have FINALLY settled down in beautiful West Linn, Oregon after moving around the country for the past 14 years while my husband played in the NBA and I must say, it feels good to be settled!

2. I saw that you studied at Institute of Integrative Nutrition, awesome! Tell us about that experience and some of your biggest takeaways.

I have absolutely loved my education from IIN. The topics we’ve covered have been so incredibly diverse that I feel ready and willing to tackle any challenge a client might present. There’s so much goodness that has come out of my experience with IIN it’s hard to pick just a few of my favorites but I think my two biggest takeaways are bioindividuality and the mind body connection.

Bioindividuality is the belief that every body is different and just because MY body does better on a grain free paleo diet doesn’t mean that YOURS won’t do better on a vegan grain rich diet. There are just too many differentiating factors in an individual’s body like heritage, genetic shifts in single nucleotide polymorphisms, intestinal permeability, whole blood histamine and more. Although we studied over 100 dietary theories at IIN, I love that they don’t preach strictly following one or the other, it’s really important to find what works for YOU and to listen to your body as it guides you.

The mind body connection is something I hesitantly avoided for years. Deep breathing and yoga seemed way too far out there for me. I’m a total science nerd and it all seemed far too “woo woo”. I’m so thankful IIN brought these two worlds together though and helped me to see the science behind the breathing and yoga and more. I feel so much more tuned in to this vitally important aspect of health and wellness thanks to IIN.

3. What’s a typical day of eating like for you, from sun up to sun down.

First of all, my life is busy, frantic and hectic at times so meal prepping and keeping it simple are vital for me! You won’t see me creating beautiful artisanal acai or veggie bowls to instagram any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I adore looking at them on other people’s feeds and love eating them….if someone else takes the time to prepare it for me! But I just don’t have time for a lot of extra steps. What you’ll see on my IG feed are practical, easy, simple meals.

I always start my day with a Bulletproof coffee, if you’re not familiar with it make sure you subscribe to my blog, I have a post coming up with the ins and outs of the perfect bulletproof coffee (perfect for YOU of course with lots of customizable options to fit your bioindividuality!). I use Brain Octane oil and a splash of coconut milk in my Bulletproof beans coffee. This gives me energy to get the kids up, dressed, fed and off to school and gets me through an early morning workout too! This is part of my intermittent fasting routine.

Next up, after my workout, I almost always have a smoothie, it’s just so fast and easy and I can drink it on the go. I use almond or coconut milk most often as a base and throw in whatever fruits and veggies I have on hand at the time from blueberries, avocados and strawberries, to kale, spinach and cauliflower.

Lunch is usually a giant salad of some sort. I always go for the darkest leafy greens I can find, you won’t see iceberg lettuce on my plate, and I pile it high with whatever veggies I have on hand. Sometimes that’s leftover roasted veggies form the night before, a glob of fermented cabbage sauerkraut I’ve made, anything really! Of course I add healthy fats too like olive oil, olives, nuts, and avocado to keep me full until dinner.

Dinner is usually a giant pile of steamed veggies, covered with grass fed butter or homemade healthy salad dressing and a small amount of fish, chicken, beef, eggs, or some other kind of protein. I love to play around with fresh herbs and spices to really add flavor as well as add phytonutrients!

4. You’re married to a professional athlete, does that affect how you feed your family? How you exercise?

About half way through my husband’s career we started to see guys around his age dropping like flies. It was sad and horrifying to see how rapidly their bodies were breaking down, rendering them unable to continue doing what they loved, and losing their jobs at the same time. I knew we needed to really kick it up a notch with the fuel we put in his body and luckily around that same time Dr Cate Shanahan was hired by the Lakers to overhaul their nutrition program. I was able to work with her on implementing her nutrition practices in my family’s lives and also helped to introduce it to the other wives as well. We gathered around the island in my kitchen in LA and had cooking lessons and meal planning sessions. She is an incredibly smart and talented doctor and I learned so much from her. Some of the key points from her work are to avoid inflammatory oils and processed foods and keep nutrients high from a variety of plants and healthy animals.

My husband had several freak injuries that year (one of them his arm got stuck in someone’s jersey and it ripped the ULC off the bone in his elbow) but he recovered at an incredibly rapid pace thanks to the nutrition program he was one (hint: bone broth was crucial in the recovery!) so we knew we were on to something.

All of the principals that work for fueling an athlete’s body apply to fueling the body of growing children so it was comforting knowing we were feeding the whole family the best way possible.

5. You gave me the best TIP I have ever received: using frozen zucchini instead of frozen banana in my morning green smoothies. Insane. I have been doing this ever since and feel like I have lightened my load! Do you have any other quick tips or tricks up your sleeve?

Try fresh or frozen cauliflower next – it’ll blow your mind too! And if you don’t do this already, load that smoothie up with spinach. It looks super green and creepy but you honestly won’t even taste it. Spinach is shockingly mild! I used to make spinach filled smoothies for my kids when they were tiny and called it “monster juice”, they thought it was so fun!

6. You have THREE kids, amazing. I have a nine month old who is just about perfect but I cannot imagine having two more running around. You’re my mama hero! How do you keep your kids on track with all the temptations to eat processed junk around every corner? What do you pack for them for lunch? Any special ways to get them their veggies?

It is no small task keeping our kids eating healthy, I won’t lie. All kids today are so pressured by marketing and their peers to eat junk, it’s certainly an uphill battle. For starters we keep no junk in our house, so that temptation is gone. Second of all I think education is key. I teach my kids that if something is florescent orange (like cheetoes and gatorade!) that means it’s full of chemicals. We talk about how that color doesn’t exist in nature and what God made is perfect for our bodies, and chemicals harm our bodies. I’ve also taught them how to read labels and again we discuss that if it’s a word we can’t pronounce, it’s a chemical and if you know what it is, it’s good. For example although I’m not a fan of any processed food I do occasionally let them have things like potato chips – but only the healthier version. I’ve found Honest Jackson brand has potatoes, coconut oil, and sea salt as their only ingredients. You can’t get a cleaner chip than that. For us one of the keys to keeping them on track is to occasionally give them treats like this…but a healthier version so they don’t go crazy and try to eat the dreaded cheetos their friends have at lunch!

7. Do you cook at home most nights? If so what are some dishes you prepare. When you dine out, what do you usually order to keep it clean?

Yes. I cook 99% of my family’s food. We very rarely go out to eat because it’s just too hard to find anything healthy out there! The biggest reason why is most restaurants cook with dangerous inflammatory oils (like canola oil). We certainly keep it simple around here but some of my family’s favorites are things you’d see on the kids menu at a restaurant, but made in a healthy way like grass fed burgers cooked in bacon fat, homemade french fries cooked in coconut oil, and my little one’s favorite is roasted broccoli.

8. YOU look fantastic! What’s your workout routine?

You’re too kind, thank you. I absolutely love working out, it’s my “me” time and my stress relief all rolled in to one and if I miss a day, it’s quite obvious. My husband’s been known to say “why don’t I take the kids to the park so you can go to spin class…you seem a little….stressed today” ha! I like to switch it up to ensure I’m not bored, and I’m hitting all the areas of my body. No one needs giant biceps and weak back muscles right?? I like spinning, running, pilates, kick boxing, barre and hot yoga. I work out 6 mornings a week, Monday through Friday I squeeze it in right after the kids go to school and before I sit down to get to work and Saturdays sometimes involve waking up insanely early to get it in before the kids wake up and we start our day of sports! My kids do basketball, baseball, soccer, track and karate so we’re always involved in some kind of sports on a weekend!

9. I have read a lot about you and know you’re a pretty awesome human. You find time to give back, think of others, and still be busy a wife and mom. Do you believe there’s a way to balance everything or are some weeks just better than others?

Thank you again – you’re very kind to say that! Giving back is a crucial non negotiable in my life. I’ve been incredibly blessed with this beautiful life and I adore giving back however I can. One of my favorite ways was when my husband and I traveled to Guatemala to build a well for a small village wracked with disease from drinking dirty water from puddles. It was so gratifying to be able to help and super fun to operate a drill rig!

I think my answer to that question though is yes and yes. You absolutely need to find a balance for things and find what works for you and what doesn’t but also some weeks that works and some it doesn’t! You have to give yourself the grace to say “you know what, I didn’t rock it this week, but that’s life, and that’s ok!”

Being a former gymnast myself I love what Jen Hatmaker said in her book “For the Love” about the balancing beam. You can’t balance EVERYTHING on the beam and you need to find out what you can carry while walking across that beam and what you can’t! Some things just plain ol need to come OFF the beam. If you try to juggle and balance everything, you’ll fall down and if you fall down, it all comes crashing down with you. She goes on to explain how social media has made it hard for us to figure out what to put down. We might follow one mom on Facebook that sews amazingly and one on instagram that cooks perfect meals and one on twitter that is a huge philanthropist and we TOTALLY FORGET that this is 3 different women and we try to be all three ourselves! It’s totally unrealistic. I try to follow that principal and realize where my strengths lie and where there don’t. And areas where I’m not as strong, or not feeling empowered or served by something, I just take that thing right off the beam!

10. Anything else you would like us to know?

My website is JUST finally now ready to go and launching so I’d love it if your readers could go check it out and subscribe to my newsletter and blog and stay in touch with me. I love to hear from people out there about what they want to learn more about so I can write specific blog posts to help them out!

They can follow this link to do just that!

Guys!  I told you!  She is my hero.  Kristen we can’t thank you enough and appreciate you squeezing us in somewhere between a workout, cooking up a healthy meal, or spending some QT with your gorgeous family.  YOU ROCK!

xoxo,

rachel dalton

Lynchburg Community Market Spotlight: Shirley Carwile

This is worthy of reposting!  Go see Shirley on Saturday for all your holiday needs.  

Every year for Christmas I like to get something local for my neighbors, friends, and family (and something that could work as a hostess gift at holiday parties).  Last year I got some beautiful honey from the market and attached a tag listing ways that Douglas and I like to use local honey in our kitchen (salad dressings, marinades, on a cracker with cheese, etc).  This year I was talking to the blondes looking for a new idea and Tiffany suggested I contact Shirley Carwile at the Lynchburg Community Market.

So I did!

shirley http://lynchburgcommunitymarket.com/%5B/caption%5D

And she’s the sweetest.  At her booth you can find jams, jellies, relishes, salsa, baked goods, even crafts and towels! She has been making these delicious creations for forty five years and selling at the market for twenty eight!  Incredible!  Go check her out, buy some jam, and learn more of her story. She was farm raised, has almost always had her own garden, and believes everyone should be able to have locally grown and home canned food. Her favorite thing about being at the market is the people!

Shirley is just one of many fantastic vendors you can meet and buy from at our awesome community market.  Go each week to try something new! Bread, cheese, produce, fruit, canned goods, sweets, chicken, eggs, anything you can think of!  Please support local farmers and creators whenever you can!

Thanks Shirley and the Lynchburg Community Market!  I know my people will be thrilled with their goodies from you this year!

xo,

rachel signature

Not Sure What or When to Eat?

Me neither!  But you and I have excellent health coaches at our fingertips (hey, Tiff and Mary!)  I’ve learned a lot from them plus taught myself some tips and I wanted to share them with you here.

what I eat in a day

Alaya’s recent post detailing what she eats in a day inspired me to start writing down everything I eat.  Again.  I did this a while back when I first met Tiffany and she was my health coach!  It’s actually a smart habit to get in to.  It can be tedious but it holds you accountable on so many levels.  I’m encouraged to start my with warm lemon water, consume enough of the right things, eat small amounts throughout the day, and keep a handle on my portions (I like to eat A LOT).

So here it is, a glimpse at a typical eating day for me.

Disclaimer: This is a day where I am able to eat my meals and snacks at home.  When I am on the go (which is often), obviously things look much different.  I always travel with bags of almonds, kind bars, Love Crunch granola, and small containers of organic hummus from Costco.

7:30a Warm water with the juice of a whole lemon and either Fire Cider or a splash of acv, a sprinkle of turmeric and cayenne.  This is not the most delicious of rituals but it’s an awfully healthy one.  It’s detoxifying, wakes me up after a long night’s sleep, and a great way to start taking in plenty of water first thing.  I use a stainless steel straw and sip from a heavy glass.

One of my favorite yoga teachers (hey, Carlina!) fasts most of the morning and I sort of adopted this idea from her.  I don’t fast but I usually don’t eat anything solid until lunch.  If I have time I make a homemade juice about an hour after my lemon water.  I like to make my own version of V8. Cucumber, tomato, spinach, jalapeno, carrot, lemon.  So good.  No time today so around…

10:30a I fix the BEC Green Smoothie.  I use a mix of kale and spinach, unsweetened coconut or almond milk and add camu camu powder, maca, flax, chia and a splash of ACV to the recipe.  It is SO good y’all.  I usually work out (TRX, yoga, barre or pilates) at lunchtime so this smoothie gives me energy and fills me up until I eat again, usually around…

BEC Green Smoothie

2:00p I often eat local eggs and avocado on Ezekiel bread for lunch but today it’s soup I prepared earlier in the week made of celery, kale, carrots, onions, garlic and white beans in chicken stock. Nut Thins are my salty, savory favorite snack and I always eat them with hummus about this time as well.  Protein and veggies at this point in the day help me prevent that 3pm slump we all dread!  Especially since I spend a lot of afternoons on my computer, researching and writing, I don’t want to get sleepy!

rachel slider

4:30/5:00p I have some Farmhouse Culture kraut about now because I love the taste, I am in need of a snack, and the benefits of this stuff are endless.  I also love Farmstead Ferments Garlicky Dill Pickles and they’re local!  If I need a little more I have some Skinny Pop and a clementine or two and then, time permitting, I love to take my dogs for a walk before it gets dark.

kraut-green

7:30/8:00p My husband and I both love Mexican so dinner tonight is a big bowl of homemade guacamole and roasted chicken seasoned with cumin to make burrito bowls alongside black beans, rice, cheese and salsa.

8:30/9:00p I know I know, we all know we aren’t supposed to eat this late but SOMETIMES I need a banana bowl.  Check it out, make it once and you will be hooked.

Sound good?  Gross?  Some version of this most days when I am close to home works well for me but a lot of evenings we are eating out or on the go. If that’s the case, I usually have fish, beef or chicken with as many veggies as I can add (especially brussels sprouts and cauliflower).  And if there’s a cheese plate on the menu, I have probably already ordered it.

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What I Eat in a Day…from a (OUR!) Personal Trainer

Guys!  This “What I Eat in a Day” post is provided by our bada$$ personal trainer and crazy hard (awesome) barre & pilates instructor Alaya Sexton.  She (with her husband) owns the best gym in town (Iron & Grace) with tons of offerings for all fitness levels.  She is also a great one to go to with questions on health and nutrition.  I love this post because as a super busy wife, mother, and business owner you’ll see that she still manages to make her family’s health a top priority as well as fitting in some personal time for self care. Take her cue and prep what you can, when you can.  Thank you so much Alaya for sharing with us, we are grateful to you (and so are our bodies!).

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Being a busy mom and co-owner (with my husband and father of our children) of Iron & Grace makes me strive for efficiency and presence in our lifestyle, as it is bustling….. I tend to prep food  on my evenings off and anticipate leftovers for easy lunch creating. I’m grateful for a love of cooking and for being raised in a macrobiotic kitchen by a trained chef.  I was exposed to foods of all cultures and given cooking skills at a young age.  I love to work creatively so I often am at a loss when someone says, “can you give me that recipe?” as I mostly throw things together.  That is what happened this morning…  

I thrive on ritual but accept the reality of the demands on my time, so it is a brief ritual, 20-35 {minutes} that kicks every day off upon rising. I always lift heavy on Thursdays and Saturdays but mix in my 20 minute daily workouts here and there throughout the week.  My pre-children ritual was to start my days with my own workout but these days, my daily ritual is more of a work IN, than a work out, I find it is what I need these days.  I LOVE Thursday mornings as they are generally chill at the Sexton house.

5:25am morning ritual– wake before the kids drink 20 oz of warm lemon water, then hit the cushion begin my meditation practice and then spend 2-5 minutes setting my intentions for the day.

6:00am I begin making lunches and breakfast

Today, I take  D, multi B complex, fish oil and L-lysine.

I am a bad vitamin taker, but knowing I have a grueling workout today I’m motivated. I’m further motivated by my massage this afternoon.

My husband is already at the studio teaching and Thursdays are my favorite day as I don’t have my first class until 9:30am.  Thursdays are also my heavy lifting day so lately, I try to make red meat on Wednesday and bring some with me. I generally keep my last calories of the day veggie based, and the kids are my dinner meat eaters.   My day is long and both Chad and I are at the studio for lunch and dinner. 

celery tomatoes

I used this combo (above) as my base for today’s lunches: marinated artichoke hearts, fresh basil, tomatoes, celery and golden balsamic vinegar, (fresh pepper and salt too) and turned it into a pasta salad for the kids (below) by dressing it with a mixture of marinara and mayo and vinegar and toss with leftover high protein farafelle. 

pasta

For Chad and I, it becomes a greens topper by adding roasted beets and sweet onions. 

beet

By 6:20am everyone’s lunches are assembled and ready to go, Stella is up and Brooks is stirring, so it is time to get started on breakfasts.  I wake up starving so I’ve already eaten a bunch of soaked almonds and picked at some grapes. Brooks and I eat eggs, turkey sausage and buttered ezekiel toast. Stella has peanut butter on her toast (she won’t eat eggs) and we all have some of our homemade kombucha.

kombucha

Many mornings the kids eat separately from me so I love our breakfast conversations on Thursdays.  Today we talked about camouflage and mimicry in the natural world- those 2 WARM my heart….!! Brooks chose to wear camo to school today, so he “won’t get found in hide-and-seek.”

8:00am Stella is out the door and I make a green smoothie for myself, Brooks and Chad. Here is what today’s has:

makes about 48 oz in the Vitamix

lots of deveined kale

about 2 TBS fresh ginger

about 2 TBS of chia seeds and flax seeds (really just to emulsify)

an apple 

a couple of celery sticks (from yesterday’s lunchbag) 

few sprigs of fresh parsley

4 small lemons (whole and peeled)

1 TBS of raw honey

1/2 c frozen mangos

water to fill the space between the veggies

6 pieces of ice

Food packed to the studio:

3 hearts of romaine chopped

brooks

{Plus} about 5 oz leftover steak with my new fave condiment, BS Grillin pepper relish made locally and bought at True Value (for me)

bs grillin

1 1/2 c tuna salad (for Chad)

my beet concoction

3 carrots

2 avocados

a lemon and a lime

about 2-3 cups of grapes

remaining soaked almonds

At the studio: rice cakes, peanut butter, raw almonds and hemp protein powder

9:30 teach TRX Pilates followed by 2 appointments

12:15 eat some salad, steak, drink the rest of my tea and munch on some grapes

12:40 Olympic lifting

I drink a hemp protein drink (Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Pro 70 is my fave) with coconut water during (about 20 g protein)

2:00-3:00 and 5:30-6:30 Helping people move better and get strong!

3:30- 5:00 massage

5:15 I am disappointed with my over-ripe (and inedible) avocado, but luckily Chad did not eat his… a little lemon and sriracha salt, and my snack is restored- yum!

I finish up my salad by about 7:00pm and stay at the studio till 8:30pm working.  

I’m STARVING by 9:00pm.  I generally try not to eat that late and the few walnuts I grab to push away the hunger just were not cutting it, so I made a serving of quinoa flake cereal (I throw 3 cloves and a star anise in the water) I eat it with little cinnamon, some leftover apple slices from Stella’s lunch, (finely chopped) a heavy TBSP of kerry gold butter and about a tsp of honey when I serve it and that was JUST what I needed. 

My husband and I get a chance to reconnect after the kids are asleep and I’m asleep by 11:30pm

Did I say I love Thursdays? To be fair, there is only a 90 minute massage once/month ;)

xo,

Alaya

IRON & GRACE 
Owners: Alaya & Chad Sexton
3831 Old Forest Road, Suite 13  
Lynchburg, VA 24501
http://www.ironandgraceva.com

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