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    I’m a Vegetarian and My Boyfriend Isn’t. Here’s What I Make in a Week

    Cooking is my love language. Some people give gifts and some people write love letters, but I cook. Though my boyfriend knows a thing or two about roasting veggies and makes a mean pasta sauce, I like to do the cooking because it’s the way I take care of the people I love. It’s an activity I look forward to all day long, and let’s be honest, I’m just way better than he is (he’s better at doing the dishes, so win-win!). However, every meal I make is vegetarian. I’ve never eaten meat in my life (nope, not once!), so I wouldn’t even know what to do with a chicken breast, and I couldn’t tell you the difference between an oyster and a clam. My boyfriend grew up on chicken wings and steak, so I knew his adjustment to my plant-based lifestyle would not necessarily be seamless. 
    While every relationship is different, having dinner is something we like to do together. Eating together is our special ritual; I like to cook for him, and we hang out in the kitchen to catch up on our days. While many couples prefer to eat separate meals (especially when they have different dietary needs), I’ve found ways to make my cooking style work for both of our preferences, so I recorded my meals through an entire week of dinners from Sunday to Thursday (you best believe Friday is reserved for sushi takeout!). Read on for my tips, tricks, and recipes for cooking dinner as a vegetarian for my meat-loving boyfriend. 

    Sunday: Pasta Night

    My boyfriend and I are both Italian, so pasta is the natural go-to in our house. Seriously, there have been weeks where we have same kind of pasta every single night. It’s a good Sunday meal because it’s easy, simple, and delicious. Plus, whether or not you eat meat, everybody loves pasta, right? For plant-based options, I use quinoa, brown rice, or chickpea pasta, or I’ll make spaghetti squash. As for sauce, I love a homemade pesto or quick marinara, but I’ve also been known to get adventurous by adding avocado or hearts of palm to make a vegan “pasta alfredo” (at this point, my boyfriend has stopped asking what’s in the sauce). Don’t forget a simple side salad!  

    Monday: Korean Savory Pancakes

    The secret to getting your significant other to eat less meat? Get adventurous. Since I love to cook and try new foods, I make sure to experiment with different flavors and learn about different diets I would not otherwise be exposed to. In other words, my boyfriend is never bored. I was inspired by a recipe from Bonberi of bin dae tteok, or savory mung bean pancakes, which is a traditional Korean dish. Due to lack of time, I replaced mung beans with chickpea flour (very untraditional) and put together these delicious and dip-able pancakes in under 20 minutes. Trust me, he’s not missing his steak dinners. 

    Tuesday: Fried Egg Tacos

    Pro tip: If you live with someone who has totally different dietary preferences, taco night is the way to go. They’re easily customizable, and all you have to do is prepare a few different toppings and a couple of different fillers. I’ll fill mine with veggies and beans, but my boyfriend can add any kind of meat to his if he’s craving some extra protein. Another favorite hack is to top quesadillas or tacos with a fried egg for extra flavor and protein. I love using eggs for dinner as a protein we both can eat. 

    Wednesday: Blue Apron Meal for Two

    And now for my best cooking-for-two-different-diets hack: Blue Apron. Let’s be honest, yes, I love cooking, but I don’t always have time to meal plan, grocery shop, and DIY an entire meal from scratch. I think of Blue Apron as an investment in our relationship because we both can get what we want. Sometimes the vegetarian option is so delicious and filling that my boyfriend doesn’t even realize there wasn’t any meat. But when he is craving some chicken, steak, or seafood, Blue Apron offers the ability to have two separate proteins for the same recipe, so I’ll add tofu and he’ll add pork—no separate meal required. 
    Sign up for Blue Apron to get up to 14 free meals!

    Thursday: Asparagus Soup

    Some nights, I cook something that may not be filling enough for my boyfriend, so he’ll plan ahead to make his own meat if he wants something extra. Tonight, I was craving soup (it was a rare occurrence, I swear), so I prepared a thick asparagus soup and topped it off with pumpkin seeds and toasted baguette. Bonus life hack: Throw any soup into the blender, and it’ll immediately taste richer and creamier, even if it’s totally vegan. While that was enough for me, my boyfriend roasted some chicken for himself to eat with the soup. Bottom line is, if you have a meat-loving significant other or your roommate is fully plant-based while you can’t give up bacon, any vegetarian main meal can be turned into a side dish for a meat-lover. 

    Super Simple Vegetarian Trader Joe’s Recipes
    that anyone can make!

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    I Ate Only Recipes From This Insta-Famous, Plant-Based Cookbook for One Week—Here’s What Happened

    You should know that I’ve been a major stan of the wellness company Sakara since I first found their website in college (spoiler alert: the branding is good). If you’re not familiar, Sakara is a plant-based meal delivery service, line of products, and lifestyle brand dedicated to making plant-based eating easy and helping people use food as medicine. As a wellness editor and holistic health coach, I have a lot of thoughts about how the wellness industry needs to change, like, yesterday (read: damaging diet culture, chemical-filled foods that pass as “healthy,” and an oversaturated supplement industry). Sakara has been one of the brands that, in my opinion, has always done it right. So when the founders released a cookbook, Eat Clean, Play Dirty, I ordered it as fast as I got my hands on a copy of Breaking Dawn when it came out in 2008 (since then, I’ve switched to #TeamJacob, thank you very much).
    I’m a fan—nay, a worshipper—of a good wellness cookbook. I read them before bed as if they were novels and study them as if they were textbooks. “Extra,” maybe, but I do all the work so you don’t have to. I went through this one in literally three days and loved that while it was recipe-based, the cookbook took a holistic approach, acknowledging that food is only one piece of the cauliflower-based pie. “Lightwork” suggestions were sprinkled throughout the beet burgers and chickpea scrambles, ranging from writing a note with an affirmation to stick on your mirror to turning on your favorite song and practicing being silly. Not only is this the most lovely addition to any cookbook I’ve ever read, but it also made my week way more fun. Read on for what happened when I spent an entire week eating clean and playing dirty (or, you know, cooking only recipes from this Instagram-favorite cookbook). 

    First step: meal prepping
    The first step, of course, was to grocery shop and prep a few basic ingredients for the week. Here were a few things on my grocery list that have most certainly never been on it before: a jar of roasted red peppers, scallions, raw beets, coconut meat, daikon, and kabocha squash. Despite being a bit intimidated by daikon, I successfully completed the grocery list and prepped a few items for the week ahead. The key to eating healthy, whole foods (with less-than-simple recipes) is to prep what you can in advance. I made a few sauces (like a vegan Green Goddess dressing made with avocado) as well as prepped some grains (a couple of the recipes I was making called for rice, but I used quinoa just because I prefer it). I also prepared and roasted beets in parchment paper and washed and dried all the produce. 

    Yes, I did DIY my own sauces
    My first reaction was that many of the meals were actually pretty simple, even if they seemed intimidating, thanks to DIY sauces or sophisticated ingredients. All of my lunch recipes took less than 20 minutes to prepare. I loved that I wasn’t eating basic salads or simple protein and steamed veggies—these foods had flavor. One of my favorite lunches of the week was actually pretty similar (in terms of structure) to a quinoa bowl in my typical weekly lunch rotation. However, the simple addition of roasted and seasoned green beans made a huge difference in flavor (I would’ve normally microwaved green beans or just added raw veggies), but the biggest game-changer was the sauce. 
    Let me go off about the sauces for a second: Whoever said plant-based eating does not have drool-worthy flavor has not tried any of the sauce recipes in Eat Clean, Play Dirty. The Green Goddess that I was so obsessed with was super easy to make; it was basically scallions, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, basil, and mint, all blended together in my Nutribullet. It was creamier and tastier than any Caesar dressing or non-vegan Green Goddess sauce I had ever had. Another favorite sauce from the week was a “cheese” sauce, AKA a creamy spread made with roasted red peppers and tahini I made for tacos (see below), but I straight up ate the leftovers with a spoon because it was that good. Lesson learned: Homemaking your own sauces is so much simpler than you think and worth the cleanup or prep. Plus, veggies taste better when they’re blended. 

    “Plant-based” isn’t as scary as it sounds
    Another lesson: Beets are shockingly easy to cook with from scratch and wildly delicious when they’re roasted. If you’re like me and have only really eaten beets in raw form (like a beet salad), know that they are freaking delicious and savory when you roast them in the oven with some olive oil and cumin *chef’s kiss*. Thanks to the helpful insert in the cookbook, I also learned that beets are rich in enzymes that are programmed to seek out damaging toxins and then neutralize and eliminate them (delicious and detoxifying? Yus please!).
    In general, a lot of the recipes or items I was intimated by turned out to be pretty easy to work with. FYI: Plant-based doesn’t have to mean difficult or bland. I cooked most of these meals for my boyfriend (who has never met a buffalo wing he didn’t like), and he didn’t think twice about eating totally plant-based meals because I don’t even think he realized he was. Turns out, when he’s eating flavorful and delicious meals, he doesn’t really question what’s in them. 

    While Eat Clean, Play Dirty is technically a plant-based and vegan cookbook, it definitely doesn’t feel like you’re taking away anything. The book is full of sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, desserts (more on that below), and it all looks so delicious, you forget that it’s leaving out some of your favorite foods, whether it’s chicken, brie cheese, or sourdough bread. A lot of nutrition cookbooks first focus on what not to eat or what to cut out, or they have a limited amount of healthy fats or portion sizes to restrict calories, so I love that Sakara fits so seamlessly with my own personal beliefs of adding as many whole foods to your plate as possible rather than taking away or limiting.

    The goal of eating should be adding in as many nutrients as possible
    The recipes may not be five-ingredients-and-under kind of simple, but I loved getting out all my veggies, grains, and flavors to marvel at how many nutrients I could fit into a meal. For example, the delicious little Rainbow Wraps above contained seven different whole foods in a small little package (and would’ve contained eight if I didn’t forget to buy the strawberries the recipe called for). Maybe our goal with food shouldn’t always be easier or less; maybe the goal should be to nourish our bodies more. 
    Even the desserts were full of nutrients. TBH, I was pretty intimidated by the Sexy Cinnamon Rolls (I did not know what psyllium husk powder was and also could not find coconut palm sugar at the store), so I opted for these Seed Butter cookies that were fairly simple and took me under 10 minutes to assemble. Spoiler alert: If you were wondering if sunflower seed butter was a thing and if it could turn into cookies (as I know you were), it is and it can! If oat flour, seed butter, and honey can turn into delicious, decadent cookies, you can do anything. 

    When all was said and done (and by that I mean the week was over and my fridge was completely empty), I truly felt the most nourished I had in a long time. After being used to the same basic recipes over and over again, my week with Sakara reignited my love for cooking and my passion for wellness—I wasn’t just going through the motions. Every day, I felt excited to cook and even more excited to eat.

    Here’s What I Learned:
    1. We can all be salad girls
    I’m traditionally not the type to eat salads for meals. A side salad or starter, sure, but I never felt satisfied enough and typically crave something warm, a little tastier, or more filling. But after trying a variety of salads with additions like roasted tamari mushrooms or a creamy Green Goddess dressing, consider me an official convert. Basically, if you “don’t like veggies,” you’re not doing veggies right. I lived a lot of my teenage and young adult life thinking I wasn’t going to be one of “those girls” who ate salads for meals, called their diets plant-based, and said no to cheese or pasta (like that’s possible?). But ever since I proudly chowed down french toast sticks and spaghetti marinara (at the same time, yes, it has happened) in the high school cafeteria, I’ve learned that we are all “those girls;” it’s just about finding the foods that not only make us feel good but taste good too. Trust me, you won’t miss nacho fries or Dominos pizza when you’re shocked at how delicious a roasted red pepper “cheese” sauce tastes. 

    2. You can do hard things
    OK, so this is a Glennon Doyle quote that is meant to apply to actual life problems, but I think it can be applied to cooking my way through the Sakara cookbook too. No, many of the recipes were not “simple,” but I quickly learned that they were doable. Even complicated chutneys were a few basic ingredients mixed together in a bowl. Not to brag or anything, but I did DIY a vegan cheese, bake nutseed-based cookies, roast a raw beet, and make my own curry. And guess what? I did it during an extremely busy work week when my dog also happened to have severe diarrhea for about three days (sorry if that was TMI, but I just wanted to paint the picture that I didn’t have all day to twiddle my thumbs while waiting for the oven timer to go off). Bottom line: Dishes you never thought you could make might be more achievable and simple than you think. I can do it, and you can too. 

    3. Romanticize lunches
    Yes, I’m good at eating my veggies and pretty much only cook plant-based meals, but I typically rotate between the same lunches. Read: avocado toast, a quinoa bowl with some basic veggies and coconut aminos, or a salad wrap. Lunch has historically been about convenience and what’s in my fridge. But this week got me to realize how much better I felt when I took time to make my lunches feel special. Blending herbs into a delicious homemade dressing or roasting veggies with fresh spices not only made my lunches taste more delicious, but it also reminded me that every chance I have to eat is a chance to make my life a little more special. I’m big on romanticizing the little moments in life, and this was my reminder to romanticize lunch too. Catch me spending my lunch break DIYing sauces and blending gourmet soups from now on. It’s well worth the time and effort. 

    4. Trying new things is a healthy eating hack
    The biggest lesson I learned after this week is to become more adventurous in the produce I can cook. Roast a beet? Never thought I’d do that in my life. Purchase and cook chard? Astonishing. Rather than sticking to the same grocery list of produce (spinach, berries, avocado, repeat), I feel much more confident in my ability to pick out what’s in season or try a new veggie and figure out a way to make it delicious. Also, that aforementioned basic meal rotation? Consider it a thing of the past. Trying new flavors, foods, and recipes are not only the way to keep cooking interesting but also the most enjoyable way to eat healthy foods that make your body feel good. 

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    Matcha Is Not Just a Trend: Here’s What You Should Know About It

    Move aside, espresso! Whether matcha is a new ingredient you spotted at Starbucks or a longtime staple in your household, this superfood packs some serious benefits that many Everygirl editors have experienced for themselves. FYI, matcha isn’t just a trendy caffeine craze taking over coffee shop menus and health food store shelves; it has roots in ancient Chinese and Japanese history. The powerful powdered tea is said to have originated in China (over 4,000 years ago!) before making its way to Japan and becoming a key part of tea ceremonies for thousands of years. With a history like that, you know it’s gotta have the health benefits to back it up.

    In this article

    What is matcha?
    “Matcha has been an all-star for centuries and was traditionally used in Chinese medicine,” explained Shizu Okusa, founder of Apothékary, a brand of plant-based medicine supplements based in Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Japanese Kampo Medicine. “Matcha is made from green tea leaves that are grown in the shade to avoid direct sunlight. This process increases the content of nutrients, including amino acids and antioxidants, and is rich in chlorophyll.” In other words, it’s a powdered, more concentrated version of the green tea you’d find as loose leaf or in a tea bag, giving it a bright green hue, earthy taste, and high levels of antioxidants. 

    What are the benefits?
    “Matcha is known for boosting the metabolism, sharpening cognitive function, and basically keeping you on your A-game,” Okusa said. Yes, matcha is known as a coffee alternative because it contains caffeine, but the effects are very different. According to U.S. News & World Report, matcha gives you a calmer, more sustained energy, whereas coffee can make you feel jittery or leave you with that dreaded caffeine crash. Every body is different, so it’s important to experiment for yourself, but if you’re experiencing negative symptoms from coffee, like energy crashes or trouble sleeping, matcha might be a good alternative. 
    Beyond the caffeine, matcha itself is a powerful health food. It contains a high amount of antioxidants (one study found the number of antioxidants in matcha is up to 137 times greater than in other types of green tea. That’s a lot of antioxidants!), can help boost brain health, and may help promote heart health. Traditionally, matcha was seen as having energetic benefits as well. “This powerful superfood contains both Yin and Yang aspects by increasing energy while promoting calmness,” Okusa explained. 

    How to DIY Your Own Matcha at Home
    Matcha is a simple ingredient to incorporate at home, and even DIYing a frothy matcha latte is just as doable as brewing a cup of coffee. The traditional method is to put matcha and hot water in a tea bowl and whisk with a bamboo whisk, called “temae” (or a procedure for making tea). Also, be aware that matcha has not only been used for health benefits or as a delicious morning beverage, it also has important ceremonial ties. A tea ceremony is a Japanese ritual based on principles like hospitality, minimalism, and simplicity. To honor the tradition (and reap the benefits), view making and drinking matcha as an opportunity to take a pause from busy life rather than just a quick caffeine fix. Try a few minutes of meditation while drinking or share a cup of matcha with a friend. 
    If you prefer something a little frothier or sweeter, try adding your favorite latte sweetener, like honey or stevia, and whatever milk or creamer you prefer after whisking the hot water and Matcha powder together. Think of the whisking process like your machine making coffee or espresso. You have to fully blend your coffee before adding milk or sweetener, right? The same goes for matcha. Whisk with less hot water if you want to add more creamer to make a latte (think: similar to an espresso shot). Alternatively, whisk with more hot water if you want a thinner consistency. Pro tip: Matcha also works in baked goods too. 

    Try it:

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    5 Ways to Eat More Vegetables (That Aren’t Just Eating More Salads)

    It’s the topic you’ve pondered since your mom tried to bribe you to eat broccoli when you were a kid: how to eat more vegetables. We all know that spinach, red peppers, and Brussels sprouts are good for us, but what’s a girl to do when spicy vodka pasta exists in the world? The answer: a few easy tips and tricks to sneak more in. Veggies are not just something we try to eat because we’re supposed to but because nutrients in vegetables can help us feel our very best. And feeling our best doesn’t have to mean eating boring salads or entirely transforming our diets. Read on for five easy tips that make eating more veggies a breeze. 

    1. Get your meals delivered
    TBH, the hardest part about eating your veggies is making the decision to. When you’re at the grocery store or planning out recipes for the week, it’s easy to stock up on frozen pizzas or plan for tasty pasta dishes without thinking of fitting in fresh produce. Plus, we all know the produce section can be overwhelming AF (sorry, how many kinds of squashes are there?). The fix: Get your meals delivered. Blue Apron offers wellness options like vegetarian, 600 calories or less, WW-approved, and carb conscious, so you’ll have veggie-loaded dishes that you didn’t have to think about prepping or grocery shopping for delivered to your doorstep. The best part is that you’ll be cooking with a wider variety of veggies that you never would have thought to cook for yourself (I just made a recipe with kohlrabi and shishito peppers for the first time this week, thanks to Blue Apron!). 
    Get 8 free meals and free shipping when you switch to Blue Apron!

    2. Add leafy greens to two meals a day
    You get it at this point: What can’t leafy greens do? Since leafy greens pack a whole lot of health benefits, one of the simplest ways to eat more veggies is to add greens like arugula, spinach, and kale to at least two meals a day. Try making a side salad with dinner or adding it to your smoothie in the AM. If you’re bored with the same old salad or smoothie, there are lots of tricks and tips to incorporate greens into the meals you love. For example, replace a wrap with a collard green or bib lettuce, make a pesto sauce out of kale, or add spinach to your omelet.

    3. Eat the rainbow
    Incorporating reds (tomatoes, apples, red pepper), oranges (sweet potato, butternut squash, tangerines), yellows (spaghetti squash, bananas, corn), greens (leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, zucchini), blues (blueberries, blackberries, blue potatoes), and purples (purple cabbage, eggplant, grapes) is the easiest—and prettiest—way to ensure you’re getting an abundance of phytonutrients and the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. As an easy hack, try to add at least three different colors to each meal or keep in mind each color of the rainbow while grocery shopping.

    4. Try one new food every week
    While having a go-to grocery list is necessary for us busy people (and my other lazy people out there), it doesn’t always set you up for the most inventive meals. Challenge yourself to try one different veggie that you’ve never tried before. Maybe you saw a delicious butternut squash recipe and have never cooked butternut squash, or maybe you saw beets at the grocery store and want to Google how to prepare them. Or perhaps you came across a new leafy green at the farmer’s market that you’ve never tried but want to eat. Trying (or cooking) something new will make your meals more exciting, and having a wider variety of food means a wider variety of nutrients. Plus, you might like something so much that it ends up on your go-to grocery list. 

    5. Add them to sauces, soups, and smoothies
    A truth that will inevitably change your life: You can add vegetables to just about anything you’re going to blend. Even your strawberry banana or peanut butter and chocolate smoothie could get a major upgrade with some spinach or cauliflower without a difference in taste. Beyond just smoothies, you can toss a wide variety of veggies into sauces or soups to not only make them more nutritious but also to make them more flavorful or creamy. A butternut squash soup tastes decadent even without cream, and arugula adds a peppery element to cauliflower or broccoli soup. For sauces, add spinach, kale, broccoli, or even beets to pesto, purée carrots or red bell peppers and add them to a marinara sauce, or make a creamy sauce a little healthier by including cauliflower or hearts of palm.

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    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    Is a Pre-Workout Supplement Actually Necessary? We Asked the Experts

    So the last thing you want to do after a long day is work out. The supplement industry knows that. Pre-workout supplements are no longer reserved for bodybuilders or professional athletes; just a quick scroll through “What I Eat in a Day” videos on TikTok or the #fitspo hashtag on Instagram might be enough to make you feel like you’re missing out on a workout staple. But what’s really in all those powders and drinks, and do they really make a difference? Honestly, I have no clue, so I did what any good wellness editor would and went to the experts. If you’ve ever been confused about the endless world of supplements or asked yourself if a lack of a pre-workout drink is the reason you’re not seeing results, this one’s for you. Read on for my deep dive into pre-workout supplements and find out what the experts have to say.

    In this article

    What is a pre-workout supplement?
    While there are hundreds of brands and types of products intended to be consumed before a workout, it turns out most of them share the same basic ingredients intended to benefit energy, endurance, or results. “Pre-workout supplements often contain ingredients like amino acids, vitamin B, caffeine, and creatine,” explained Dr. Eva Gamallo RMT, MD, a medical consultant for Sensible Digs. In summary, the purpose is to maximize the time you spend at the gym by increasing benefits and results. “Pre-workouts are a combination of biochemically active products designed to improve energy, focus, blood flow, and energy to muscles and enhance recovery potential,” explained Dr. Shaffer Mok MD, a gastroenterologist and medical adviser to Sovereign Laboratories. Many people take them purely for energy (especially early-morning gym-goers), while weight-lifters and marathon-trainers take them to speed progress. So can a powder or liquid shot really help us reach our fitness goals?

    Does taking a supplement before a workout really make a difference?
    The short answer: maybe, maybe not. While there are many studies that conclude that individual ingredients commonly used in pre-workout supplements might increase performance (for example, caffeine has been shown to potentially increase speed and power output), there’s not enough research on the supplements themselves, so athletes, trainers, and doctors are left to their own personal experience and research. “There is still limited data on how these common ingredients may benefit athletic performance, so there’s an ongoing debate among experts (about) whether or not they actually make a difference. Some advocates swear they improve energy and have fitness benefits, while others believe in dangerous effects of taking these supplements,” Dr. Gamallo explained.

    What are the potential harms?
    If I haven’t already stated this enough, here’s a quick reminder: With any vitamin or supplement, it’s important to do your own research and talk to your doctor before trying for yourself. Here’s the reason why: Many experts I spoke to believe many of these products could have potentially harmful ingredients. “These dietary supplements are not always closely regulated, and many contain artificial sweeteners,” Dr. Gamallo said. Dr. Mok agreed, pointing out that even if a product doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, an unnatural or excessive dose of common “good” ingredients can have a negative effect. “Be wary of high doses of caffeine in unnatural sources, as it can significantly alter your sleep (at any time of day), which is the most critical part of any exercise regimen.” 
    Plus, pre-workout supplements were intended for major athletes or serious marathon runners. Not to undermine your workouts (trust me, a hot yoga class or HIIT session is tough as hell), but if you’re not routinely pushing your body to the point of exhaustion or working out for a couple of hours every day, you probably don’t need a pre-workout supplement and may not even notice a difference, since a healthy body should give you all the endurance and energy it needs for a standard workout sesh. “If you’re a recreational exerciser and are just working out to stay in shape, you probably don’t need a pre-workout,” said Ashlee Van Buskirk BSN, a personal trainer, health coach, and founder of Whole Intent. 

    The verdict
    Some experts I talked to add a scoop of powder (like Vital Proteins) to their water before a workout and feel a difference in energy levels, endurance, or speed, but most declared pre-workout supplements are unnecessary at best and harmful at worst. To determine what’s right for you, talk to your doctor and experiment to find what’s best for you. “A lot of training is psychological,” said Jake Harcoff MS, CSCS, TSAC-f, CISSN, head coach, and owner of AIM Athletic. “If pre-workout use helps you get in the gym more consistently, feels good for you, and is something you’ve discussed with your doctor, it might be worth sticking with.”
    The point that I believe is most important is that a healthy body shouldn’t really need a pre-workout supplement. If you’re lacking energy or feel like you can’t challenge yourself during workouts, a supplement is not the answer. “The key is understanding your body,” said Serena Poon, a celebrity nutritionist and wellness entrepreneur. “A lack of energy during workouts could be caused by an array of factors and may not be something that can be fixed with supplements.” In other words, if your workouts are lacking, look into your overall diet, sleep quality, vitamin levels, gut health, recovery days, and stress levels before opting for a pre-workout supplement.
    Still swear by your pre-workout mix or dying to try the new supplement your favorite fitness influencer posted about? You know what to do: Talk to your doctor. Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy, a primary care doctor at Doctor Spring, explained that he doesn’t personally recommend pre-workout supplements to patients, but if a patient wants to try a product, they’ll take a look at the ingredients together to decide if its right. “I explain each ingredient and the possible implications, and then let them decide on their own if they want to continue using it (with precaution, of course).”

    More options to boost your workout beforehand
    While experts disagree on pre-workout supplements and not enough research has been done to either fully support or discourage them, there is something every expert can agree on: the benefits of real, whole foods. “In my opinion, the best way to attain the benefits of pre-workout supplements is by eating a nutritious and balanced diet with the same active ingredients found in supplements.” Dr. Gamallo said. Try pregaming workouts with whole foods that contain the same ingredients supplements offer, like coffee and tea, which contain caffeine to increase energy and alertness during exercise, or watermelon, which contains L-citrulline, an amino acid commonly used in pre-workout supplements that increases blood flow in tissues for better muscle performance.
    Likewise, Dr. Tripathy recommended water (duh!) because staying hydrated will help with recovery, and natural drinks like coconut water can help replace electrolytes lost through sweat. Poon also said to never underestimate the power that good ol’ fashion carbohydrates can bring to your workout. “Carbohydrates store in your body as glycogen, which is your main power source for exercise,” she explained. “Eating a small meal that contains carbohydrates, such as a piece of whole-grain peanut butter toast or a banana can help boost your energy for your workout.” Bottom line: Sure, pre-workout can be super beneficial in getting the most out of that gym time, but it doesn’t have to be from a supplement. 

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    We Asked Experts if Aphrodisiacs Actually Work

    “How can I improve my sex drive?” is the question heard around the world and frequented on Google searches. One of the most common answers is, of course, the mystical “aphrodisiac.” It’s like we’re all having sex life FOMO, thinking there’s some pill we can take or food we can eat to achieve that “mind-blowing sex” we all hear so much about. As a nutrition nerd myself, I have a lot of questions about whether or not food can truly boost libido—basically, I want to know if we should be buying oysters and dark chocolate in bulk. Since there’s so much controversy over the topic, I grilled sex and nutrition experts to find out what aphrodisiacs really are and if they work. Spoiler alert: The answer might surprise you. And on that cliff hanger, read on for my deep dive into aphrodisiacs and a few key takeaways that can help you improve your sex drive. 

    What really are “aphrodisiacs?”
    So you’ve heard the word before, but who came up with the idea that food can help you have more (and better) sex? Turns out, aphrodisiacs have a long history and are certainly nothing new. Herbs and spices (like basil, mint, and cinnamon) were used in ancient and medieval times as “love potions,” and legend has it that Aztec ruler Montezuma II drank more than 50 cups of chocolate before “entertaining a woman” (sign me up for the chocolate—no entertaining necessary!). Plus, the word itself comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Many cultures around the world have a long history of using foods and concoctions to enhance sexual desire.
    Beyond the ancient legends, aphrodisiacs have been talked about in recent history as a supplement or food that can help boost desire, drive, or pleasure. “Aphrodisiacs refer to substances such as food, drinks, drugs, or medications we put into our bodies with the goal of facilitating sexual arousal and desire,” explained Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at The Kinsey Institute. Aphrodisiacs have been used to describe foods that are pleasurable and therefore stimulate other pleasure in the body (like chocolate), ingredients that ignite the senses (like spices and herbs), or foods that are said to contain nutrients that actually spark or increase arousal (like oysters). So is there any truth to the ideology that’s been around for thousands of years?

    Source: We Vibe | Unsplash

    Do aphrodisiacs work?
    The short answer: maybe, maybe not. Of the experts I talked to, most agreed that there is not enough evidence to back up the fact that figs can turn you on or strawberries can help you have a better orgasm (sorry room service, but we’ll still take the champagne!). “There is little scientific research to support that aphrodisiacs benefit an individual’s sex life,” said Dr. Azza Halim, a board-certified anesthesiologist and physician. “There’s a lot of debate about whether aphrodisiacs actually work as intended,” Lehmiller agreed. “The evidence is scarce and more research is needed. The data we have suggests that some aphrodisiacs don’t work at all, others do, and others only work due to placebo effect.” In other words, stay tuned. More research needs to be done on if foods can have a libido-boosting effect, and the research so far is not enough to confirm or deny. 
    But what I found really interesting was that many experts focused not only on if aphrodisiacs work but also why we’re looking to aphrodisiacs in the first place. After all, libido is a vital sign—a low sex drive could be the body’s way of communicating that it needs something. Therefore, the question is not just how can we improve our sex drive, but why is our sex drive lacking in the first place? Dr. Halim recommends always speaking to a medical professional if you’re experiencing low sex drive, since it can be caused by a multitude of factors like medications, poor body image, hormonal changes, and stress.
    “Several aspects of a woman’s life may have an impact on her sexual desire,” agreed Dr. Tara Thompson PharmD, a pharmacist, medical advisor, and sexual health educator. “Menstrual cycles, hormonal contraception, breastfeeding, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal states can send the libido packing. Lifestyle changes, psychological difficulties, relationship problems, and switching or discontinuing medications may also keep sexual feelings at bay.” Sure, the idea of aphrodisiacs sounds sexy and alluring, but think about it: We shouldn’t need to improve our sex drive if it’s healthy in the first place. “Aphrodisiacs are not a quick fix or instant solution to low sex drive,” confirmed Lovneet Batra, a celebrity nutritionist and author. Bottom line: We don’t know much about whether or not foods can truly boost desire, arousal, and pleasure, but we do know that low levels or lack of desire, arousal, and pleasure should be treated at the root rather than opting for a “boost.”
    So with the lack of research around aphrodisiacs and the focus of treating the root cause of a low libido, it may not be the best idea to buy asparagus or cinnamon in the name of having an orgasm. However, experts agree that there are lessons we can take from aphrodisiacs that can help you make the most of and tap into the sex drive you already have (after you talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing low libido, of course). Below are some of the things I learned from talking to experts about aphrodisiacs that might actually help your sex life. 

    Source: Christina Rumpf | Unsplash

    5 ways to make “aphrodisiacs” work for you:

    1. Personalize and define your own aphrodisiacs
    We can redefine the word to be less about “oysters contain zinc which boosts blood flow to genitalia” or “chocolate turns on pleasure signals in the brain” as we’ve typically talked about aphrodisiacs and turn it into what makes you turned on instead. Sex doesn’t always have to be so scientific—it can be (and should be) as simple as what feels good to you. “Aphrodisiacs can be less generalized and more customized to the individual, based on their past experiences and psychology,” suggested Dr. Jared Heathman MD, a Houston-based psychiatrist. “A meal prepared like the food at someone’s wedding reception can stimulate subconscious thoughts and emotions that put someone in a pleasurable mood.”
    Think about what tastes and scents are pleasurable to you or spark a pleasurable memory. Maybe a glass of red wine tastes (and smells!) decadent, or a tropical fruit like papaya and mango remind you of that steamy vacay you took with your significant other when you were first dating. Basically, use your senses more regularly and indulge in the things that bring you pleasure, and your sex life will follow suit. 

    2. Eat an overall healthy diet for a healthy libido
    So here’s the good news if aphrodisiacs are still alluring to you: It can’t hurt to incorporate foods considered “aphrodisiacs” like pomegranates, dark chocolate, watermelon, and artichokes into your diet. Whether or not they boost sex drive, they’re still good for you. But technically, any whole foods like fruits and veggies can be good for the libido since a healthy libido is a sign of a healthy body. “Any food that increases your health in general can help with sex drive,” explained Dr. Carol Queen PhD, Staff Sexologist at Good Vibrations. “Your diet plays a large role in your sex drive,” agreed Heather Hanks MS, a nutritionist based in Michigan. “Eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods (such as fruits and vegetables) can help regulate hormones and reduce inflammatory symptoms and conditions that may reduce sex drive.” In the end, any foods that are good for you are good for your libido too. 

    3. Focus on the nutrients
    Another interesting thing I learned is that oysters or chocolate are not magical foods put on this earth to make you horny (sorry ’bout it!). Instead, certain foods are considered aphrodisiacs only because of the vitamins and nutrients they contain. “Honey is known as an aphrodisiac because of its high content of vitamin B, which is essential for the secretion of testosterone. Oysters are a clichéd aphrodisiac because they contain zinc, which is necessary for the production of testosterone in men and prolactin in women,” explained Candela Valle, resident nutritionist for MYHIXEL. 
    “Bananas have a high level of B-vitamins and potassium, and pomegranate is rich in Omega-5s and antioxidants that are good for hormonal balance,” Batra added. Why does this matter for your libido? Because knowing that it’s the nutrients rather than just magical superfoods tell us that an overall healthy diet with a variety of fruits and veggies will give you the needed amount of antioxidants and nutrients to keep your sex drive healthy. The “aphrodisiac effect” actually comes from healthy levels of vitamins and minerals, not from specific foods. If you’re lacking or deficient in any of these, talk to your doctor about supplementing or changing up your diet rather than loading up on one food. 

    Source: Charisse Kenion | Unsplash

    4. Be aware of the power of the mind
    Let me rant about the concept of the “placebo effect” for a sec. “Placebo” has gotten a bad rep these days. We use the word when referring to being tricked into shelling out $$$ on trendy wellness supplements, to define the “sugar pill weeks” in a birth control pack, and to explain why we feel better after only one Advil (everybody knows taking one Advil is like having just one bite of cake: It does nothing). We also use it when questioning if aphrodisiacs truly work or if they’re “just placebo.” But I don’t see placebo as meaning failure; it’s actually proof of how powerful the mind is. In other words, if you eat spicy food and have passionate sex afterwards, does it really matter if it’s physical or psychological? To be frank, what matters is that you had passionate sex. 
    “The power of belief is strong, so if you take something you think is an aphrodisiac and you believe it will affect you a certain way, it just might.” Dr. Lehmiller agreed. Essentially, if you something (whether it’s a food, outfit, or playlist) makes you feel more sensual, who cares why? I say screw the science and lean into whatever makes you feel good. 

    5. Be intentional about habits and rituals (they can have an “aphrodisiac” effect too!)
    It’s time we stop defining “aphrodisiacs” as just food and supplements and instead start looking at how habits and rituals can increase our sex drive too. “Certain healthy habits can not only affect your mood, but can also be advantageous to regulate sexual activity,” Valle said. In short, anything that makes you feel happy and good is also doing something for your sex life. For example, regular exercise, actively managing stress, getting regular check-ups with your doctor, and prioritizing self-care are all habits we know can improve libido, simply because they work to treat or prevent common causes of low libido like stress, feeling disconnected from relationships, or chronic symptoms in the body.
    I’ve learned a lot from the many different opinions from various experts, and I think the bottom line is this: A healthy sex life is actually not a mysterious legend we constantly have to be searching for. It’s truly as simple as taking care of our bodies and leaning into what feels good for each of us. Whether or not dark chocolate and red wine are part of that is completely up to you. More

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    7 Hacks That Have Transformed My Cooking Routine

    I’m a firm believer that when it comes to cooking, you either love it or loathe it, and that’ll never change. For most of my life, my feet were firmly planted on the side of hating cooking—that is, until I started relying on cooking hacks that would easily transform raw ingredients to a meal on a plate.
    Unless I’m cooking with friends or family, 99 percent of the time, I want to get it over with as quickly and efficiently as possible. I envy people who enjoy chopping and grating and treat cooking like the ultimate form of self-care—I’m just not one of them. So instead of forcing myself to be, I use a few go-to tricks to make homemade meals in a way that doesn’t make me feel like it took all day.
    Ready to transform your cooking skills? These are some hacks I use in the kitchen that have transformed my cooking experience from dreaded to enjoyable.

    1. I treat myself to Blue Apron

    One of my biggest issues with cooking used to be that I would eat the same five or so meals over and over again. Even if they’re five meals I really like, it quickly gets boring and makes the cooking process feel redundant. To curb kitchen boredom, I’ve turned to Blue Apron to push me out of my comfort zone and introduce me to new, delicious meals.
    With up to 35 meal options available each week, there’s something for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions or taste preferences. If there’s something about the recipe you don’t like or can’t have, you can add, swap, or upgrade your ingredients to make it perfect for you.

    My favorite part of Blue Apron is how much it’s made me look forward to cooking. The parts I don’t like (last-minute grocery store runs and searching the aisles for hard-to-find, expensive sauces I might not ever use again) are already done for me , and I can truly look forward to having a well-made, delicious meal that I can make in my own kitchen. None of them are too difficult or time consuming, since most of the recipes can be prepared in under 35 minutes. If I’m busy or out of town, Blue Apron is flexible and allows me to skip weeks or change my plan with zero hassle. Blue Apron’s meals have taught me to enjoy the process of cooking, and it spices up my weekly meal without takeout or delivery fees.
    Get 10 free meals and free shipping when you switch to Blue Apron!

    2. I turn to my air fryer to do the heavy-lifting

    There’s nothing that I use in my kitchen more than my air fryer. I’ve always been a bit weird about meat, and while I’ll eat it, I absolutely hate preparing it. With my air fryer, I can season my meats and veggies however I want. Then I toss it in, and it does everything for me, leaving me with the perfect crispy-but-tender results every single time. From homemade french fries to baked oats, my air fryer makes delicious foods like a little chef who lives in my kitchen and makes everything just a bit better than I can. 

    Compact Air Fryer
    I have a small kitchen, and this is the air fryer I bought to save space. I absolutely love it and find that despite it’s smaller size, it does the job just as well as my parent’s larger, full-size one. I’ve recommended this to just about everyone who will listen.

    3. I freeze my herbs

    It took way too long to realize that the reason my cooking was so underwhelming was because I wasn’t using enough spices and herbs to give it flavor. To solve this problem, I started growing a few of my own—basil, mint, and cilantro—on the windowsill in my apartment to always have access to a few fresh ones. To make sure none of my precious harvest ever goes to waste, I regularly trim them and keep what I’m not using in Ziploc bags in my freezer. That way, I always have them ready to add to soups, sauces, and smoothies—no trip to the grocery store necessary, and no waste in sight. 

    4. I pay attention to the order I measure ingredients in

    One of the least beloved parts of cooking is obviously the cleanup process. I used to measure my ingredients any which way, but now, I pay close attention to the order so cleaning up isn’t so tedious. 
    When I’m using wet and dry ingredients, I measure the dry first to make sure I’m not putting dry ingredients into an already-wet measuring cup where they’ll be sure to stick. If I’m using any sticky ingredients (like honey or agave), I’ll measure the oily ones first, which helps the sticky ones slide right out when it’s time to wash dishes.

    5. I prep sauces and dressings in bulk

    While I’m not opposed to using pre-made dressings and sauces, I usually like knowing what’s going into mine to avoid any unnecessary additives. I often turn to a few easy, go-to combos—like mayo and sriracha or olive oil and lemon juice—to top off my meals.
    It isn’t difficult to reach for a couple of different bottles, but when you’re doing it every day, it can add to the headache of cooking. For sauces and dressings I use multiple times a day, I’ve started making them in bulk and keeping them in glass jars in the fridge to speed up the process. I’ve noticed that when I’m hurrying to throw together a meal during my lunch break or at night before a workout, this little change makes all the difference.

    6. I shortcut halving produce

    Cutting produce like cherry tomatoes or small potatoes can feel tedious, so when I do need to do it, I place them between two plates, then hold the top one down and slice through the middle. It makes the entire halving process take less than 10 seconds, and anything that speeds up chopping is an immediate yes from me.

    7. I pre-prep smoothie ingredients

    I drink a smoothie almost every day, most of them a mix of both fresh and frozen ingredients. Rather than pulling them all out every day, at the start of each week, I throw single-portion ingredients into plastic baggies (which I keep to re-use every week) and put them in the freezer. Then when it’s time to make my morning smoothie, all I have to do is grab the baggie and put the ingredients in my blender with some almond milk, and I’m good to go. 

    An Editor Shares the 6 Easiest Meals She Makes on Repeat

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    13 Health Experts Share Their Favorite Salad Recipe

    You might hear “salad recipes” and think of dull greens and boring veggies. But this roundup is not about lackluster healthy food. No, this article is for those who don’t particularly like salads, who don’t believe anything healthy can also be delicious, and who are struggling to keep up with a healthy diet. You see, the true experts know that the key to staying healthy is not to force yourself to eat the same dull foods like chicken and broccoli or—you guessed it—a plain salad.
    The actual key to sticking to a healthy lifestyle is to turn good-for-you foods into delicious meals that you’ll crave all the time (read: “Salad Pizza”). I quizzed some of my favorite nutritionists, doctors, and all-around wellness gurus for the salads that not only pack a nutritional punch but are also so good that they can’t get enough. Read on for some much-needed salad inspo. Your meals are about to get so much more green.

    1. McKel Kooienga, MS, RD, LDN, Author and Founder of Nutrition Stripped

    “My favorite go-to salad is my Eggs, Beans, and Greens Salad Bowl. Salads can easily be unsatisfying or leave you hungry. This salad uses my Foundational Five system for creating a balanced meal, ensuring you’re consuming the nutrients you need to support digestion, steady energy, sound sleep, clear focus, and long-term health. What I really love about this salad (aside from how easy it is to make) is the homemade dressing, which brings it all together in a really flavorful way. Get the full recipe here.” 

    2. Berrion Berry, Period Educator, Practitioner, and Founder of The Flo Academy

    “I’m obsessed with Caesar salads, but they’re not always the most nutrient dense, so I’ve jazzed it up to be a lot more Flo-friendly and liver-loving. Instead of a traditional romaine for the base, I like to use kale (hot tip: massage the kale to make it easier for digestion). Swap the croutons for roasted chickpeas, add nutritional yeast for cheese, and top with your dressing. I like a dairy-free caesar dressing made with Dijon mustard, lemon, water, and tahini. Mix it all together and it’s the best of both worlds: classic but packed with nutrients.
    You can also do a lot with a Caesar salad to make it your own. For example, I have recently been adding Loona Seeds (which are perfect for seed cycling) and it’s taken my salads to the next level. Click here for the full recipe.”

     
    3. Dr. Mona Vand, Pharmacist and Digital Creator

    “Whether you’re fully plant-based or not, getting in your raw greens just does the body (and skin) good. I have a sour palate because I grew up eating Persian food, which includes a lot of lemon, lime, and sour flavor. So this salad has a salty and sour taste–it’s so yummy! Find the full recipe here and my favorite salad dressing here.”

    4. Dr. Alejandro Junger MD, Cardiologist and Best-Selling Author

    “The Superfood Rainbow Salad is perfect for summer! It uses a rainbow of colors and is so fresh. Try this salad on its own, or pair with your favorite protein. For the full recipe, click here.”

    5. DJ Blatner, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and NOW Wellness Expert

    “My favorite salad is a salad pizza with lemon-flax vinaigrette dressing. This super summery salad pizza is made with thin raw zucchini, arugula, tomato, fresh basil, and ricotta cheese and topped with lemon-flax dressing for a dose of healthy vegetarian omega-3 fats. Whatever salad doesn’t fit on the pizza, I eat on-the-side. For the full recipe, click here.”

    “This refreshing Cucumber and Hijiki Salad is a delicious alternative to the traditional seaweed salad. It contains hijiki, which is black seaweed that is used in many Japanese soups and salads. Hijiki is revered in Japan as a food that enhances beauty and adds strength and shine to your hair. It’s the most mineral-dense of all seaweeds, and the highest in iron and calcium. I love this salad because it’s easy to make, highly nutritious, and has the most yummy crunch. You can make it with dried hijiki, one large cucumber, half a red bell pepper, and green onions. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, finely minced ginger, olive oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper for the dressing, and enjoy!”

    7. Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN, Health Coach and Founder of BZ Nutrition

    Source: The Infatuation
    “My favorite salad is the Insalata Verde from Via Carota in the West Village, NYC. It’s such a simple green salad, and yet, it is so flavorful and filling. I always aim to have 2-3 cups of green veggies (raw or cooked), so this salad does the trick, and it is packed with filling fiber to keep me satiated. The variety of greens contain extra hydration (especially for hot summer days) and are a great source of folate for any mommas-to-be. Thanks to this NY Times recipe, I can recreate the salad at home.”

    “This Crispy Buffalo Chicken Salad combines a few of my favorite things: buffalo sauce, fresh veggies, and cilantro ranch. I love this salad because not only does it feature some of my favorite flavors, but the air fryer chicken nuggets add the protein content that takes this salad to the next level. Salads that keep you full for a few minutes are a thing of the past: with the protein from the chicken nuggets, the healthy fats from the avocado, and the fiber from all of these delicious vegetables, this salad will have you feeling fueled up and energized for hours.
    To make, toss air fryer chicken nuggets with buffalo sauce, and then combine chopped romaine, cabbage, carrots, diced celery, and avocado. For a dressing, pulse together Bolthouse Farms Ranch Dressing and cilantro into a food processor until well-combined.”

    9. Maya Feller MS, RD, CDN, and Cookbook Author

    “I love this salad because the pairing of sweet, sour, and tangy flavors of in-season ripe tomatoes with peach and strawberry is just perfection. It’s also quick and easy to prepare, and bursting with nutrients. Find the full recipe in my book, The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life.”

    10. Dr. Steven Gundry MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Best-Selling Author

    “A Green Mango Lectin-Free Salad is so fresh and tangy, and has a delicious vegan salad dressing. Once you make this salad, you’ll never go back to boring old lettuce and ranch dressing again. For the full recipe, click here.”

    11. Megan Roosevelt, RDN and Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl

    “Caesar salad is one of my favorite salads, thanks to the the crunchy romaine and flavorful dressing. My go-to recipe has a delicious brazil nut dairy-free parmesan and a creamy egg-free Caesar dressing. Click here to check out the recipe!”

    12. Dr. Poonam Desai

    “I love what I call a ‘balanced’ salad, which includes veggies, protein, carbs, herbs, and even fruits. I do about 8-12 veggies (kale, spinach, onions, sugar snap peas, radishes, fennel, celery, carrots, beets, broccoli, tomatoes, avocados, etc.), a protein (chickpeas, lentils, bulgar wheat, tofu, etc.), carbs (like sweet potatoes or quinoa), herbs (dill, parsley, mint, basil, etc.), seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sunflower, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds), and fruit (strawberries, dried cranberries, oranges). Many store-bought dressings have added sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives, so I like to make my own. My go-to dressing is simple: apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a dash of celtic sea salt, and a little black pepper.”

    “This Warm Salmon Citrus Salad is one of my absolute favorites because hits all three of my salad criteria: balanced nutrition, full of hearty textures, and packed with flavor. It’s a great balance of proteins, fiber, and leafy greens. You get high-quality protein from both the salmon and edamame to keep you full and satisfied for hours, and, once you cook the salmon, the salad comes together really quickly. It’s also versatile enough for those who are vegan, too: swap in tofu using the same marinade or take it out completely since the edamame has enough plant-based protein. For the full recipe, click here.” More