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I don’t know about you but I love grocery shopping. I am always on a hunt for new healthy finds that I can incorporate into my daily eating routine. I can spend hours, yes hours, strolling through aisles, reading ingredient labels and comparing prices. I used to be convinced that healthy eating is almost impossible on a tight budget. Oh boy, I was wrong. Although a pack of Ramen noodles is more dense in terms of calories, an apple can provide the nutrients that your body needs and also keeps you full longer than a bowl of salty highly-processed food. Both are  equally cheap.

During my last grocery shopping trip I was looking for a new peanut butter to try with my morning oats. I went through a PB2 phase that didn’t last too long. I found it too expensive to use daily and it also lacked that creamy texture that I look for in PB. I reserved a powdered form for smoothies and baking.

I also tried almond butter which was amazingly delicious but a little too high in calories for my liking.

I finally found my favorite PB of all times: Dark Chocolate PB  from Peanut Butter & Co.

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This stuff is absolutely great! It reminds me a lot of Nutella but unlike the creamy hazelnut spread, this has a strong and filling properties of a nut butter.

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It’s only 170 calories per 2 Tbsp. I use 1 Tbsp in the morning which I find is enough to add that chocolate peanut peanut butter taste to my breakfast.

Granted, it is not as good for you as no-salt, no-sugar PB versions but I absolutely adore it.

One downside of my lovely find is the price. It is around 4 dollars so it is on a more pricey side; however, if you are a Nutella addict who is looking for rich-chocolate flavor in a nut butter, this PB would be perfect for you.

Another find comes from the granola bar aisle. I am not a huge fan of granola bars. I jumped on a protein bar bandwagon in the past but quickly found out that a 200 calorie tiny bar never satisfied my hunger. They were basically Snickers candies in trendy looking wrappers. Since I was waiting on my car to have its oil changed, I decided to revisit healthy snacks and here’s what I found:

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They are awesome! Although, at first, I wasn’t too keen on the slightly chalky texture, it grew on me and now Good in Natural are my favorite to-go snacks. I found them on sale for 69 cents so I stocked up on these goodies. There are between 220-230 calories each. Unlike other snack bars, these kept me full for almost 3 hours which I consider a great success. I am also very happy with their ingredients:

Gluten Free Rolled Oats, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Diced Soynuts, Raisins, Almond Butter, Organic Maple Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Dry Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted Almonds, Chicory Root Fiber, Chopped Walnuts, Diced Apples, Milled Flaxseeds, Sesame Seeds, Ground Cinnamon, Natural Flavors, Vegetable Glycerin, Soy Lecithin,Brown Rice Flour, Ground Nutmeg, Peanut Flour.

I don’t feel like I have to learn another language to understand the label. I am satisfied nutrition-wise as well:Untitled-6

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A Skinny Survival Guide for a Working Woman

A transition to the corporate world straight out of college is difficult, especially while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When I was a student, I used to manage to squeeze in my workouts in between classes, choose salads in dining halls and always carry a water bottle with me (that was after my fitness rebirth, just in case you wondered). Being a working girl now, I realized that maintaining an active/healthy lifestyle became is way more challenging. Not only do I spend 9 hours of my day in a cubicle, but also 1 hour in a car to commute. That’s 10 hours out of 24 of my body being stagnant! On top of a rapid transition into sedentary living, the break room in my office is always full of cookies, donuts, chocolate and other not-so-good-for you snacks. It took me a little while to come up with the best strategy to combat my new weekly routine.

Here are some rules that I live by Monday through Friday:

Snack wisely
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I always try to be armed with something to snack on at work. Otherwise, I would be automatically driven to all the treats provided by my company. I keep almonds or cashews at my desk at all times. Please note: nuts are very tricky; sometimes I have to remind myself that a can/bag is way more than one serving. I would recommend keeping individually sized packets so you don’t go overboard with snacking.
Lately I developed a strong addiction to grapes. I bring them to work in a zip-lock baggies and keep them handy when I am in a mood for something sweet. Way Better than M&Ms from a vending machine!

Breakfast is a must
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I rarely ate breakfast while in college. I always grabbed a large coffee and was fine until lunch. Now I noticed that if I don’t eat something within an hour of getting to work, I overeat for lunch and dinner. I usually go for oatmeal. It is fast and cheap and you can store it anywhere (I keep mine in my desk’s drawer). Half a cup of old-fashion oats, almond milk, 2tbs of PB2 and 2 tbs of sugar free Jelly and my tummy is full until lunch time. Sometimes I just make it with water and some peanut butter but recently I also experimented with Hazelnut butter. Verdict – equally delish!

Stretch
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Although I was used to sitting in class, my body was not nearly adjusted to spending most of the day on my butt. I ended up feeling stiff and lethargic. I try to take some time from my 1-hour lunch break and stretch (office yoga). It relaxes your muscles and helps you calm down when you’re on a verge of literally tackling a coworker! I sometimes like to go to a local park  during my lunch to stretch. It breaks up my day and refreshes my mind.

Work out after work

You’re probably thinking: “But I don’t want to work after work! What the heck!” I know, we are all tired, stressed and all we want to do is to sit down on a couch with a glass of wine and relaaaaax. But I do feel much better when I work out after work (or even before). You don’t have to kill yourself at the gym for hours. 30 mins of cardio and 15 mins of strength training is enough to make you feel physically productive. I am more of a leisure jogger than a runner. 5mph is enough for me to break into sweat provided that I stay on a treadmill for a while. If you don’t have time for a 30-minut cardio session, try doing intervals for 15 minutes. It’s great for your heart and gives you that I-worked-my-butt-off kind of sweat.
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Learn to say “no”
It was one of the most challenging things for me to learn about eating. I didn’t want to be that weirdo who’s always picky about food. I was afraid people would think that I was a food snob, too good to eat processed foods. However, after 2 or 3 times of politely refusing a piece of a leftover birthday cake, people got the point. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what they think, as long as you’re not an asshole about your choices. By “asshole” I mean that one annoying person who is constantly dieting and announces it to the entire world making everybody feel bad about their sugar affair. Simple “no, thank you. I am not hungry” is just enough. When people ask me why not, I always say that I don’t like sweets. A little white lie is not going to harm anybody, is it?

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Let’s talk nuts

I love healthy grocery finds and today I picked up these little guys:

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Let me tell you – they are phenomenal; slightly sweet with a potent flavor of coffee. I just couldn’t resist. There is, however, one downside – I can’t put them away! One serving (approximately 24 nuts) is only 160 calories. It sounds like a perfect work snack if you stick to small portions. So remember to count your nuts!

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