Wake-up with Pre-Workout Chia Shots!

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Wake up with determination.


Go to bed with satisfaction.



I’ve always been a morning person. I was that girl who signed up for those dreaded 8:00 am classes in college and gladly took an internship which required me to get up at 4:30 am everyday during the summer and senior year (I worked for a morning show at a TV station and I LOVED every second of it).


Yes, Some may call me crazy.

But I prefer to call it dedicated :) .


Fast forward a few years later and I’m still exactly the same. I’m very particular about what time I get up in the morning and I even set my alarm on the weekend (I consider sleeping past 7:00 am late– for me at least!). I’m suppose this is because I’m super particular about how I like my day to pan out–i.e. I’d rather tackle my errands and responsibilities as early as possible so that I have more time to relax (and blog!) later in the day as opposed to rushing around trying to get things done before bedtime. It probably doesn’t surprise you, then, that I was also the girl who finished her papers/projects days before they were due. No all-nighters in the library for me! I know. SUCH a dork.


I find that the same level of particularity can be applied to workout schedules–people tend to be either morning workout warriors or late night sweat sesh gurus. Some people like to hit the gym after dark to work off the stress of the day while I love to get in a hardcore workout first thing in the morning (shocker, I know) because I believe it sets a healthy tone for the rest of my day.


The problem with this?



During the week, I get up at 5:00 am and I’m at the gym by the time it opens at 5:30. The last thing I want to do that early in the morning is eat, but halfway through my morning spin class… I’m always absolutely starving. Ironically, however, breakfast is my absolute favorite meal.  I find nothing more relaxing than waking up on a weekend, making a hot cup of tea, catching up on the news and preparing a healthy breakfast before I hit the gym. I’ve also noticed that when I eat a nice substantial meal… that’s when I get in my very best workouts. Still, during the week, it’s been difficult for me to make this happen.


If there’s one thing I know, it’s that people and breakfast are weird. For example, my boyfriend could be running 30 minutes late to work but he’ll still find a way to sit down to eat a bagel with cream cheese and leisurely drink two cups of coffee every. single. morning. Me on the other hand? I’ll spend the extra time doing my make-up, whipping up lunch, or ironing an outfit while I scarf down a handful trail mix and make a run for the bus. I also have a friend who prefers to eat an entire dinner and then go for a nice long run. The mere idea of running on a full stomach nauseates me, but it works for her. The real trick is finding what works (and feels) best for you. I clearly needed to find something that worked for me and my early morning workout routine, so that’s when I started brainstorming….


What can I eat first thing in the morning that’s easy on the stomach yet provides enough energy to power me through a workout?


Enter Chia Shots :)




Now, if you’re a frequent reader of my blog you know exactly how I feel about the powerful little guys known as chia seeds (you can read all about them plus get a pretty delicious recipe in my post here). To make a long story short, they’re amazing! Don’t believe me? Just check out all of these fabulous health benefits they have to offer below:


  • They deliver the max amount of nutrients with the least amount of calories.
  • Chia seeds have 2x the protein of any seed or grain.
  • They have 3x as much iron as spinach.
  • Chia seeds increase stamina and energy over long periods of time (they are becoming a favorite among marathon runners!)
  • They can aid in weight loss (chia seeds absorb up to 7x its weight, and expand to curb appetite/make you feel full).
  • They are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA.
  • Chia seeds can reduce overall cholesterol and increase good cholesterol (HDL)
  • They are heart-healthy in that they have one of the most concentrated sources of Omega-3 than in any other food (even salmon).
  • They also contain high amounts of Omega-6 (both Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids cannot be made internally and must be obtained through diet).
  • They contain the essential minerals such as sodiumphosphoruspotassium (2x as much as bananas), manganese, and calcium (5x more than in milk!).
  • They are FULL of antioxidants (3x as much as blueberries!).
  • Chia seeds have 11 grams of dietary fiber in one ounce (the soluble fiber improves digestion and helps to reduce glycemic spikes)
  • They do not need to be ground like flax seeds in order to reap their benefits.
  • Chia seeds have a long shelf life and do not spoil as quickly as other seeds (like flax-seed).
  • They soothe heartburn and calm the digestive system due to the gel-like substance they form when mixed with a liquid (this is especially helpful for people with IBS).
  • Chia can relieve itchy skin (in oil form)
  • They can help to balance blood sugar/prevent glucose spikes


Sounds like the perfect powerhouse food to me!



Now, I will be honest– chia seeds can take a little getting used to. When soaked in liquid, they expand up to 7x their weight and develop a gel-like coating. The consistency reminds me of tapioca pudding (I grew up eating tapioca and rice pudding, so it has never bothered me that much). Don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to reap the benefits of chia seeds if you don’t love the texture in a pudding form (blended into a smoothie, sprinkled over a salad, mixed into my Weekend Workout Oatmeal–don’t worry, recipe to come!), but I urge you to give the soaked version a try– when you discover how great you feel after eating them you won’t be turning back :) . PLUS, the best part of all is that you can mix this recipe up the night before, toss it in the fridge, and voilà! It’s ready for you in the morning before you head to the gym.


Now you can have a quick and tasty-pre-workout snack that will power you through your gym sesh!


Pre-Workout Chia Shots




  • 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk (add more or less milk depending upon how thick you want the consistency of the chia shots– i.e. do you want to drink it or eat it with a spoon like a pudding)
  • Slightly under 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or almond extract)
  • 1/2 packet of stevia
  • Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
  • Optional: Add in some powdered peanut butter or cocoa powder (to taste), raisins, a spoonful of granola, a few chocolate chips, a drizzle of 100% maple syrup, or a some slices of banana.



  • Measure out chia seeds in a small glass, mug or bowl.
  • Pour almond milk over the chia seeds.
  • Add stevia, your extract of choice, and any other fun surprises you might like. Mix well.
  • Chill in the fridge overnight (just give the chia pudding a good stir before you eat it in the morning) or wait 10 minutes and mix well if you want to eat it right away.
  • For an actual “chia shot,” pour chia pudding mixture into shot glasses and shoot em’ back! (Actual shot glasses are totally optional– feel free to use a spoon if you’d like :) ).
  • Follow these chia shots with a small, healthy breakfast post-gym and you’ve set the groundwork for a nice, healthy day!
  • Note: Of course these shots can be eaten any time of the day for a healthy snack or even for some protein-rich post-workout fuel. And if you’re looking for a more substantial snack, breakfast, or a healthy dessert– simply double up the recipe for a bigger bowl of Chia Power Pudding.

So eat up early birds!


And never go hungry during a workout again. 


Cheers to that! ;)




Healthfully Yours,


Ashley Michelle






Taking the First Steps to a Healthier & Happier YOU!

Photo Credit: www.etsey.com



Plato was onto something.


Smart guy.


As mentioned in my earlier post about New Year’s Resolutions, when it comes to tackling your goals (whether it be a promotion, fitness regimen, healthy eating plan, or a home-decorating project) if you carefully (and willingly!) set the right framework from the very beginning, you are destined to achieve success. For example, how many times have you woken up and proclaimed “I’m going to eat healthy today!” only to crumble under the pressure of a fresh-baked cookie or those doughnuts at your morning meeting? Oh, and that extra glass (or two, or three?) of wine at happy hour? Yes. they count! (You drink. You crumble ;) ). If you make the decision to be healthy the moment you wake up (even before you get out of bed!)…you are that much more likely to stick to healthy choices all throughout the day.


Now you already know how I feel about being perfect–as in there’s NO such thing!–but if you’re looking to be the very best you can be in 2013 there are ways to set yourself up for success, boost your heath and immunity, help you make better decisions, and get yourself on that path to being fit and fabulous whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, or somewhere in between. Over the next few days I’ll be posting healthy lifestyle tips and tricks (and a few fun and healthy baking swaps!) that will gently keep your resolutions on track through for the rest of this month and into the month of February.


Tips and Tricks for Healthy Eating


1. Make a grocery list before you go shopping.

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We’ve all been there. After the gym you run to the grocery store because you’re already out of the house, only to realize that after an hour of spinning and ab exercises, you’re ravenous and searching for the cookie aisle! Suddenly there’s a bar of chocolate, a bag of chips, and a pint of rocky road in your cart and you have no recollection as to how they got there. (So much for the fresh fruit, raw almonds, and quinoa on your list!) Let’s avoid this little snag, shall we? Now, if you just take a few minutes to sit down, write a grocery list, and plan out your meals for the week– you’re actually forced to be conscious of your food choices (again, like a journal, it’s the whole visual thing). Once you’ve made your list—DON’T STRAY unless you absolutely have to (like if Whole Foods is having a sale on raw kale chips. Then, that’s perfectly justified ;) ).


2. Plan out/pack your meals ahead of time

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I can’t stress enough how important this step is! Just like I mentioned above, planning out your meals ahead of time helps to keep you in check, but actually preparing your meals ahead of time is the real secret to success. I like to prepare the more difficult/time-consuming meals and wash/cut my produce on a Sunday night or immediately after I go grocery shopping so that I have healthy snacks and easy-to-put-together meals on hand at all times during the busy work week (my go-to’s are hearty soups, salads, veggie sticks, pineapple, cantaloupe, cucumber slices, quinoa,  brown rice, lemons, tofu etc…). Before work, I’ll slice up an apple for a healthy mid-day snack, make tea or hot lemon water in a travel mug (this also saves you Starbucks $$$!), and pack a handful of raw almonds for munching at my desk. The point is, if your fridge is full of good-for-you snacks and easy meal prep, you’ll feel more guilty picking an unhealthy option.

3. Load up on fruits, veggies, and other “clean” foods

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Think of your body like a car. If you filled it up with dirty, sticky, cheap gasoline and oil…it wouldn’t  run very well would it? In fact, if you neglect you car and don’t fill it up with the things it needs, the car will keep breaking down, cost more in repairs, and eventually die. Your body is just like a car or machine. When you fuel it with powerful, clean, fuel (like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein) as opposed to packaged, processed, refined, cheap, fat and sugar filled junk…you can expect your body to function a heck of a lot better (think more energy, less time spent at the doctor’s office, less weight, better skin/hair/nails, sharper mind and a happier disposition all around). When was the last time you ate an apple and thought “Man…I really wish I didn’t eat that apple. Now I feel so awful and tired!” Oh, you’ve never said that? My point exactly ;)


4. Eat “power foods”

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There’s been a lot of hype about “super foods” in the heath industry over the past few years. While some of the hype out there is true (super foods with antioxidants are great for fighting cancer!), the crazy weight loss claims of other super foods should have you second-guessing their promises (raspberry ketone craze anyone?). That’s why I prefer to call my version of healthy super foods “power foods,” because that’s exactly what they do because they have the richest amount of nutrients and phytochemicals, the least amount of calories, and the most health benefits. Check out my list of power foods below that will get you geared up and ready to go no matter what time of the day:


Power Foods

  • Acai Berries
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Bell Peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brown Rice (in moderation)
  • Carrots
  • Chia Seeds
  • Coconut oil**
  • Dark Chocolate! (in moderation!)
  • Leeks
  • Pomegranates
  • Red Wine(ONE glass a day)
  • Seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Spirulina
  • Sweet potato
  • Tofu
  • Tomato
  • Turmeric
  • Quinoa (in moderation)
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Edamame
  • Flaxseed/Oil
  • Garlic
  • Goji Berries
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Onions
  • Shallots

** Coconut oil is criticized for being high in saturated fat, however, not all saturated fat is created equal. It’s not hydrogenated (like most sat. fats), is made up of MCFAs which are broken down & easily digested/metabolized by the liver for immediate energy. It’s also stable enough to withstand the heat of cooking (other oils oxidize), and is believed to boost metabolism (the body can readily use this fat for energy rather than storage).


5. Limit/avoid purchasing & eating  processed foods

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Do you feel like being productive or going out for a run after you gorge on fast-food, a slice of pizza, or a package of cookies? Probably not. You’d probably like nothing more than to fall asleep on your couch in the fetal position while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians reruns. So what happens when you eat all that junk at work? Do you find yourself dozing off in your afternoon meeting? Like I said above, you body runs best on good-quality, clean, natural foods. And that means you brain does too! So skip that processed junk food at the office– you’ll be more way more productive with your days if you can think clearly.


6. Read nutrition labels!

(Photo Credit: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com)


This little detail is SO vital, yet many people don’t do it! In fact, a recent study done by the Journal of American Dietetic Association showed that only 9% of people check nutrition labels, and only 1%  check the labels for all of their components.  So many products out there claim to be healthy on the outside…but turn over the package, read the label and you’ll realize even some of those healthy buzzwords on the  like  ”natural,” “vegan,” “gluten-free,” and “organic” can still be fooling you. You want to watch out for sodium content (daily recommended value is less than one teaspoon a day), sugar content (less than 10% of your daily calories–or none–unless from natural sources like fruit), fat content (watch out for that saturated fat–keep it to at most 7% of your total daily calories– and check those ingredients for  heart-healthy fats like omega-3s), and carbohydrate content (look for dietary fiber–shoot for 20 grams of fiber per day for women and 30 grams for men– and keep all carbs whole grain!). Check out step by step instructions on decoding nutrition labels here.


7. Watch out for sneaky sugar!

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This goes right along with the above recommendation to check those nutrition labels– but because it’s so important I wanted to address it on its own. Sugar is everywhere…and if you’re not careful it can crop up in some unexpected places (condiments, granola bars, cereal, bread,  juices etc…). And just because the sugar is natural or organic (like maple syrup, honey, molasses) sugar calories are sugar calories no matter how you swing it. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tablespoons–or 30 grams– of sugar per day for women, but I’d  actually aim for even lower.  In my last post I explain in greater detail why sugar is addictive .


8. Purchase a BPA-free water bottle

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DRINK WATER!!! Aside from the fact that your body needs water to efficiently burn fat,  flush out toxins, keep your digestive system regular, and keep your muscles primed for exercise– water is vital to your healthy eating efforts. Did you know that more times than not, when you think your hungry…you’re actually thirsty? So before you go grabbing for that jar of almond butter…grab a glass of water instead! If 15-20 minutes go by and you’re still hungry, go for a healthy snack with some protein and whole grains to fill you up.  Don’t love plain water? Toss a few slices of cucumber, lemons, oranges, or limes into your water bottle for a natural flavor boost!


9.) Know your “cheat” foods

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Okay, so it’s totally fine to have a treat every now and then IF that’s what it truly is—just every now and then. Dessert and treats are perfectly acceptable (I like it just as much as the next girl!) just as long as you know when to put the lid on your that tub of ice cream and save the rest for later. And (while I hate to put complete restrictions on any food) if you just can’t handle having something in the house without devouring the whole thing in one sitting, then maybe it’s time to limit the amount of times you purchase that particular food. For the beginning stages of your healthy-eating-habits-overhaul it may be a helpful choice. After a while, you can gradually introduce the item back into your diet. Another option? Purchase individual serving sizes of your “cheat” foods, or portion out your own snack packs of granola, trail mix or whatever you’d like. The individually packed treats tend to be a bit more expensive than the real deal, but if that’s what keep you from eating more than one serving, it’s well worth it.


And there you have it! You’re now on your way to being a healthier and happier you! :)


Please remember…no one  can (nor should they try to) overhaul their entire lifestyle in a day. It takes patience, energy, and time to form new habits. Sadly, there’ no magic number of days it takes to form a habit–the 21 day myth isn’t 100% accurate– but it certainly gets easier doing any new routine if you stick with it for a couple of weeks). Just trust me, and more importantly…TRUST YOU! And whatever you do, don’t forget…


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 Healthfully Yours,


Ashley Michelle




Let’s Chat!


When the going gets tough, and you’re ready to give up or give in (whether it be on healthy eating, an exercise regimen, a project, schoolwork etc…) what helps to keeps you motivated?