why you shouldn't exercise to lose weight

Last week, I was scrolling through the Cupcakes & Cashmere weekly links when I saw one for an article about why people should stop blaming carbs for making them fat. Since I'd just written this post about carbs, I was intrigued and clicked through. It brought me to Vox, which is a site that posts ideas/opinions backed by actual science.

Although sites like Pop Sugar and Refinery29 are fun to browse, their advice and opinion pieces aren't always backed by much. I found it really refreshing to be reading something that had actual evidence behind it, so I started down the Vox rabbit hole of articles. One in particular I found especially interesting. It was all about the scientific connection, or lack there of, between exercise and weight loss.

The conventional formula we've always been told is diet + exercise = weight loss. But what if that's wrong? What if exercising actually won't help you lose weight? Well that's exactly what certain scientists have observed and come to believe.

The article points to how small a portion of daily calorie burn exercise actually accounts for, and how difficult it is to create any significant calorie deficit through exercising to back their claim. It was well written and easy to understand, so instead of recounting it, you can just check it out here. The video at the top sums it all up nicely.

I'm not going to lie though, my mind was a little bit blown, especially since it totally explained some of my own experiences. Just a couple months ago, I decided I was going to kick my exercise routine into full gear. Orange Theory, a high intensity interval class, had just opened a studio down the street from my office and was offering discounted memberships. I took full advantage and attended their hour long, butt busting class six days a week for two months straight, fully expecting to be in the best shape of my life by the end of it.

Well that far from happened.

It turns out, I actually gained weight instead of losing any. It could have been muscle mass, but I wasn't noticing any difference in the way I looked and neither were my friends or family. I couldn't understand how I'd been killing myself six days a week for two months and had no physical results to show for it. After reading this article, I feel like I've figured it out.

This new info isn't a free pass to throw your running shoes out the window or cancel your gym membership though. Exercise is still one of the number one ways to increase your lifespan and improve your overall health. It's also important for maintaining weight loss, even though it's not the golden ticket for getting there.

I'm far from swearing off exercise all together, but this newfound knowledge has allowed me to take a more realistic approach to working out. Like maybe killing myself in the gym six days a week isn't necessary? And if I happen to miss a workout for whatever reason, it might not be the end of the world. Revolutionary right? Maybe you knew that all along, but in a city where there's an exercise studio on every block and Equinox ads on every corner, it's easy to fall into that extreme of a mindset. This article was a great reminder to always seek balance.

lemon edamame crisps

Hello healthy snacking.

With Fall almost here and back to school season in full swing I feel like healthy snacks are on everyone’s mind. I love that within the last couple of years, we’ve moved away from 100 calorie Cheez-It snack packs that leave you starving on empty calories, and over to whole, unprocessed foods that provide real energy. But in 2016, I think we’re realizing more than ever that a bag of plain almonds just isn’t cutting it. We deserve more. We deserve snacks that are truly delicious, that we look forward to just as much as we would any meal, and that are easy to grab and go as we move about our hectic lives…

…Well, hello lemon edamame crisps. Isn't this convenient. 

Edamame has long been celebrated as one of the most nourishing foods in the world. Eating edamame has been linked to lower blood pressure and inflammation, increased bone density, and reduced risk of depression and diabetes. Edamame is also an amazing source of complete protein, with just one cup containing a whopping 17 grams. It’s basically the most perfect snack food ever, and this recipe takes it to a whole other deliciousness level.

These crisps are made with just 5 ingredients. The edamame is coated in heart healthy olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of garlic powder, drizzled with tamari or soy sauce, and then doused in vibrant lemon. The real secret here is that we don’t just use the juice of the lemon; we grate the zest over the top too to really amplifying the brightness. 

Not only will these fuel any busy day, they make the perfect snack for an at home happy hour and look impressive as an appetizer for entertaining guests. Add them to your snack game arsenal, and you'll be like, "Almonds, who?"

- 2 cups fresh or frozen & thawed edamame, shelled
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- Juice & zest of 1 lemon
- Flaky sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add edamame, olive oil, tamari, and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to coat. Spread edamame out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, watching carefully towards the end - they can burn easily. Sprinkle with lemon zest and enjoy immediately for optimal crispness or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature once cooled.

weekly find: the best foam roller

The major question when planning a spa day is always: massage or facial? For me, the answer is easy. Although I know facials are generally more beneficial in terms of getting tangible results, which is important to consider when you’re shelling out over $100 for a 50 minute service, it’s just too difficult to say no to the relaxational bliss you experience while getting a massage.

However, as a 20-something-year-old living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, my budget for any sort of spa service is slim to none. Manicures and pedicures have even gone out the window since moving here. Instead, I “invested” in some $2 files and buffers, cuticle cream, upped my Essie game and now replicate the experience at home, which actually yields similar results.

I took what I learned from that and applied it to massages.  Although nothing can replace the divine relaxation and indulgence you feel when getting a massage, you can work out some major muscle tension all on your own with a foam roller.

I’ve tried a bunch, and this one from Amazon is my absolute favorite. The bumps are specifically designed to work as a massage therapist’s fingers would, finding knots and applying the right amount of pressure to roll out tightness. The compact size is also ideal for storage and still provides enough surface area to target all the major areas; and not to mention it’s super affordable.

Since buying it, one of my favorite things to do at the end of a long day is search for a YouTube video that shows how to target a certain area that’s especially been bothering me, and roll it out while watching some trashy reality TV. Not quite the same as going to a swanky spa with lavender rose water and aromatherapy, but does the trick nonetheless.

Shop the Item Here: Master of Muscle Foam Roller available on Amazon
Price: $23

the best garlic bread

Get ready for your kitchen to smell incredible.

One of my favorite things to make for dinner is this broccoli soup from Deliciously Ella. It’s super bright, fresh, and full of veggie goodness, the only problem is it isn’t always enough to fill me up.

Sometimes I would make roasted veggies or a side salad to go with it, but neither really seemed fitting. I knew I wanted to pair it with something super easy though, so I wasn’t stuck in the kitchen forever making two major meal components, and suddenly garlic bread hit me.

Perusing Google for a good recipe, I was amazed by the huge variation in ingredients and techniques used for something that seemed so simple. Many of them looked overly complicated or a bit unappealing. Especially the ones that used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. Why? Just, why?

I set out to make the ultimate garlic bread recipe of my own that was truly delicious and easy to make. I started with the Harvest Multigrain Batard from the fresh bread section of Trader Joe’s. This is my all-time favorite bread. It has a delicious, nutty flavor and I love that you can see the seeds and grains when you cut into it. 

I then combine some melted Earth Balance, which is vegan butter you can find at any grocery store, fresh garlic, parsley and nutritional yeast for some cheeziness. If you're not into Earth Balance, I'm sure this would also work well with olive oil. I haven't tried it yet, but I'll experiment and let you know!

The whole thing, including bake time, takes about 15 minutes and the result is oh-my-gosh good. Enjoy it right away or toss it in the freezer to heat up for future nights your craving something to go along with your soup, salad, pasta, or all on it's own.

- 5 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan butter)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 lb loaf of bread (I used Harvest Multigrain Batard from TJ's)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt Earth Balance in the microwave for about 20 seconds in a small bowl. Add garlic, parsley, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise and spread garlic butter evenly on the two halves. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes then toast under the broiler for about 2 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Serve immediately or freeze once cooled.

i tried carb cycling, and this is what i thought...

I first heard about carb cycling a few months ago when Stassi had Scheana as a guest on her podcast, Straight Up with Stassi. Scheana gave carb cycling a try after her trainer recommended it, and ended up dropping around 30 pounds off her already trim frame in two months. This got me curious. I'd been feeling a little stagnant with my exercise and meal routines, so I figured I’d give it a try and see what happened. Although carbs have been a hot topic when it comes to losing weight for a long time, trying out carb cycling for just a few weeks gave me complete clarity on the carbs vs no carbs debate.  

Why Do People Think Carbs are Bad?
Eating carbs raises the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, resulting in your body producing insulin, which then helps convert glucose to glycogen. Your body can only store so much glycogen, resulting in the excess being converted to and stored as fat. Additionally, glycogen tends to make muscle tissues hold onto extra water, meaning the number on the scale may go way up after eating carbs simply due to water weight.

What is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling consists of alternating carb intake on a daily basis. There are several different forms of the diet, but the one I did involved including a small list of carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, etc) in your diet on one day, followed by very minimal carbs for two days, and then a carb day again, repeat. Although you’re not instructed to count calories, being conscious of portion sizes is expected. The high carb days are meant to refuel muscle glycogen, while the low carb days are supposed to improve the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel.

My Experience
When it comes to what worked, the list is pretty minimal. The diet eliminated any excess water weight… and that’s about it. I didn't lose very much weight nor did I notice a difference in the way I looked, however I did notice a big change in the way I felt. My mind was super fogy on the low carb days, making it difficult to really focus on anything, and I was constantly irritable, to the point where people noticed a change in my attitude.

These side effects aren't surprising considering how important carbs are for overall your health. Your brain specifically needs the glucose from carbs to function properly; without it, you can't think, learn or remember things as easily. Carbs are also the number one source of energy for your body, which explains why I felt so sluggish on low carb days.

For me, cutting carbs out felt completely unnatural and like I was depriving myself of something my body truly needs. Although I do agree that not all carbs are equal, any meal plan that tells me I need to cut out carbs like quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice for 5 out of 7 days a week, isn't one I'd listen to again.

mixed bean & sprout salad with herb vinaigrette

This might sound a little strange.

But I prefer the smell of fresh herbs to fresh flowers. Have you seen those basil plants they sell at Trader Joe’s? They seriously get me every time. I’ve bought five of them. No, not all at once. And no, my apartment isn’t brimming with beautiful basil plants. Quite the opposite.

The problem is my thumb is far from green, in fact, it’s very, very brown. I’ve killed just about every plant I’ve ever had. I know this about myself, and yet every time I see one of the basil plants at TJ’s my mind is transported to a rosy fantasy of having this gorgeous, divinely smelling basil plant sitting on a sunny windowsill in my kitchen. Although, I don’t even have a windowsill… issue #2.

So I grab the plant and place it in my cart, justifying the purchase by thinking about how much money I'll save by growing my own basil. What comes next is pretty routine. The plant sits on a shelf in my kitchen and I pick from it when needed, it seems healthy and happy and I’m pretty sure this time is going to be different. But the leafs never grow back and one day the stems are brown, drooping downward, and on the verge of attracting fruit flies. I toss it, mourn my inability to keep anything alive...and then buy another. I’ve done this five times. None have survived.

Luckily, I haven’t let this affect my love of fresh herbs. The basil, parsley, cilantro combination in this dressing is incredibly bright and vibrant. When it's mixed with the sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and beans it makes the perfect summer salad that's so good, I might be up for round six. 

Ingredients (Serves 2):
For the Dressing:
- Small handful cilantro
- Small handful flat leaf parsley
- Small handful basil
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
-  Juice & zest of 1 lemon

- 2/3 cup black olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 3 cups sprouts
- 2 cups mixed chickpeas, white beans & kidney beans, drained and rinsed

To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth. To assemble the salad,  add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, sprouts, and beans to a large bowl and mix together. Finish by dressing with herb vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

5 tips for eating vegan/vegetarian at restaurants

Becoming a vegetarian at the age of eight in a family full of meat-eaters gave me an early start at developing skills for eating out. Now, as a 26 year old vegan living in San Francisco, you'd think I'd have several friends who also avoid meat and dairy, making eating out a no brianer. I'm actually the only vegan/vegetarian in my group of friends, including my boyfriend, so my skills have only been further fine tuned. These are five tried and true tips for eating vegan or vegetarian out at restaurants that will help you avoid any potentially awkward situations and the dreaded hidden meat.

1. Review the menu ahead of time. So this one might seem like, well duh, but I felt like I needed to include it for those of you who are really new to the game. The majority of restaurants have a website you can visit to read their menu, and if they don't you can often find it on Yelp. Knowing what you're working with will ease any anxiety because you can spot the vegan/vegetarian options ahead of time and arrive already knowing what you want to order. The following tips address what to do if there aren't any clear meat/dairy-free options on the menu for you. 

2. "I don't eat meat/dairy." Jack always laughs at me when I say this to servers but it's very effective. When you're asking for substitutions or accommodations with menu items, it's important to specifically let your server know that you don't eat meat and/or dairy/eggs so they take your requests and questions seriously. It's not uncommon to ask for, say, the roasted brussels sprouts without the crumbled bacon on top only to have it arrive with bacon all over it. Or even worse, be told the soup of the day is vegetarian only to find out it was made with chicken broth. Servers are trained to be sensitive to allergies, so explicitly saying you don't or can't eat meat or dairy cues a similar response to saying you're allergic to peanuts, for example, resulting in much more trustworthy dishes. 

3. Avocado, avocado, avocado. But really...when is avocado ever not the answer? If I see a dish that looks delicious, but has meat or cheese as one of the main elements, avocado is often what I'll ask for to replace it. This works especially well in salads but can be used in many other instances as well. I love this substitution because avocado is also an expensive ingredient, so you don't feel like you're getting short changed, and for the obvious reason - avocado makes everything better.

4. Discover the secret menu items. Just because you don't see any items on the menu that are vegan/vegetarian right off the bat doesn't mean you're SOL. Take a steak house for example. To the untrained eye, dining at a steak house for a vegan/vegetarian seems like a recipe for disaster. I won't lie, it would not be my first choice of restaurants to go to, but if you've been invited to a friend's birthday party or company function, for instance, and there's really no way around it, you can easily get a delicious meat-free meal out of it. Restaurants, like steak houses, that don't list any vegan/vegetarian entrees on their menu 9.99 times out of 10 do have a mean veg option, all you have to do is ask for it. When the server comes around to you, say "I'm vegan and don't eat meat/dairy, what are my options? Can the chef make a veggie platter for me?" Believe it or not, they get this request a lot and will likely jump at the chance to accommodate you.

5. Supersize me, please. It's not uncommon for a menu to have several veg appetizer and side options, but when you scan down to the entrees it's meat, meat, fish, meat. Not a problem. Another tactic that I employ regularly is to ask to have one of the vegan appetizers or sides entree-supersized as my main dish. You can even order a few different appetizers or sides and ask that the restaurant put them all on the same plate so you don't feel like the odd one out. This type of request is a whole lot easier to ask for then, "I'll have the Chicken Parmesan but, can you use eggplant instead of chicken? And can I sub a side salad for the cheese?" It's also a lot easier for the kitchen to accommodate, meaning drama-free dinner for you and your fellow guests. 

sesame sriracha cashews

Major snack attack, you guys.

Lunch is behind you, and you've got a few hours to go until dinner...but you're starving. Cue the multiple choice question:

You need a snack, which one should you choose?
A) Raw Almonds
B) Chips
C) Carrots
D) Wait for dinner

What's the correct answer? None of those options sound that great do they? The answer is actually secret option E) None of the above. What's wrong with raw almonds? Nothing really...that is, if you actually enjoy eating raw almonds. They're healthy, which is great, but not exactly satisfying, so it's all too easy to grab more than you need and before you know it, your snack has turned into a mini meal.

And chips? Pretty self explanatory. Chips are delicious in the moment but they're not exactly rich in nutrients, likely leaving you still hungry and even more lethargic than you felt pre-snack.

What about carrots? Similar to raw almonds, carrots are healthy but not very satisfying both in the flavor and fullness departments, leaving you hungry and still on the prowl for something delicious.

Waiting for dinner is also not a great option when you're really starving since you'll likely feel grouchy all afternoon and set yourself up to overeat when you do sit down for dinner. Which brings me to the correct answer: E) None of the above. Because what you really need is a snack that's delicious, satisfying and healthy; we'll throw in easy to grab-and-go for extra points. These Sesame Sriracha Cashews hit all the marks.

They're full of protein and healthy fats, which hold you over until dinner, and are so deliciously crunchy, sweet and salty, you'll be completely satisfied with just a small handful. They're also super simple to make, require only five ingredients, and store well in a zip lock bag so you can make a big batch and enjoy them throughout the week. Snack attack crisis averted.

- 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1 lime
- 3 cups raw cashews
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using raw honey, melt it in the microwave for about 20 seconds until it's liquid. Combine Sriracha, honey and juice of the lime in a large bowl. Add cashews and toss to coat.

2. Spread the cashews in an even layer on a large baking sheet. You will have excess sauce left over in the bowl, do not throw away but just set to the side. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

3. Remove the cashews from the oven and pour them back into the bowl with the remaining sauce. Stir to coat before spreading the cashews back onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seeds and return to the oven for about 10 minutes. Spread the cashews out onto a a large sheet of parchment paper to cool completely before serving.

Honey's Adoption Story

My cat, Honey, turned 5 last week! If you follow along on Instagram or snapchat (sprinklesandsat), you know how obsessed I am with her and when you hear her adoption story (and see her baby pictures) it’s easy to understand where it all began. So in honor of her birthday, I thought I’d share it with you all.

It was the summer before my senior year of college. For most of my life, I thought I wanted to be a therapist (I’m now in marketing, so that didn’t quite pan out), so at the time I was studying to take the GRE to apply to graduate programs. I was beyond stressed spending every day of my summer in the library taking practice test after practice test and visiting home, which was just an hour away, when I got the chance.

As a volunteer at the ASPCA, my mom would often take newborn kittens home to foster until they were old enough to get adopted. That summer, when I was home visiting one day, my mom got an email from the ASPCA saying they had a newborn kitten that needed a foster home... or else… Basically saying she would be euthanized if no one came to get her. My mom’s heart broke and she jumped in the car right away to go pick her up.

Having had pet cats and foster cats running around my family's house growing up, we all know that certain cats are special. It’s a bit difficult to explain exactly what I mean by that, but I think it boils down to certain cats having more human qualities than others and just a unique connection or bond you feel with them (if you have a special pet, you know what I mean). They’ll greet you at the door when you get home instead of running and hiding under your bed. They can tell when you’re upset - my mom once had a cat that would lick the tears of her cheeks when she cried. They’ll follow you around the house just because they want to be near you. These aren’t typical personality traits of cats, known for their independence.

When my mom walked in the door holding Honeycomb, who looked like a tiny grey dust bunny of fuzz, in the palm of her hand I thought she was the cutest kitten I’d ever seen. Throughout that day, as I got to know her sweet, mellow personality I realized without a doubt I'd found my special cat.

The only problem was that I still had a year left of college and there was no way I could have a kitten living with me in a house with seven other girls. So, naturally, I got to work begging my parents to take care of her for my final year so I could take her in as my own cat when I graduated.

My parents were less than enthusiastic about my plan. They already had two cats of their own and, my dad especially, did not want to take care of another.* They told me there was no way. This, on top of the stress I was under studying for the GRE, was heartbreaking. I knew she was mine, I was sure of it, but there wasn't much I could do.
I drove back to school that day feeling like I'd left behind my companion and didn't know when I'd come across another special cat I had that strong of a connection with again.

It wasn't until a few days later, when I was studying in the library at school, that I got a call from my mom telling me they'd changed their minds and would take care of Honey for my senior year. She told me she knew what it felt like to find your special cat, and she didn't want me to lose mine. I had to rush outside because my excitement was no where near library level.

Today, Honey is such an important part of my life. She makes it possible for me to live alone and yet never feel lonely. She helps out with recipe shoots (pic below). And cuddles up with me every night. Thinking about her possibly being euthanized that day if my mom hadn't gone and gotten her is unbelievable and such a great reminder to always adopt rather than shop, because really she rescued me and not the other way around.

*At the end of the year, my dad had fallen in love with her so much, he threatened not to give her back to me.

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