Grocery Shopping – You’re Doing It Wrong

As adults, we look back at our schoolhood days and realize that there were so many practical things that our education should have taught us about the world. Rather than being taught about how to formulate a quadratic equation or an obscure battle in history fueled by the male ego, we should’ve also been taught about budgeting, the loan process, and I dont know, maybe how to properly nourish ourselves.

Once upon a time during my personal journey learning about nutrition, I came across an article about how to shop at a grocery store. It threw me off guard for a moment. I mean, you just go in and buy food right? How hard is that? But there is actually a strategy to it. Its been said that you should only utilize the outer aisles of the grocery store because that’s where the freshest food is. Think about it. The foods on the outside are dairy, meat, and produce. Everything that is highly processed lies in the inner aisles. When you think about it, it makes sense.

That information is still mostly true today, but as health and wellness are on the rise in America, there are loads more healthy options in the mix making shopping throughout all aisles more available, but a bit more tedious. Products practically scream at you from the shelves. “Hey you, yeah you! I’M FAT FREE!” “Don’t listen to him, I am ZERO SUGAR! Yeah, you like that, huh?” “Buy me! I’m ALL NATURAL! Who really knows what that means, but its the mystery and assumption that make it all the more fun!While these things may be true about a product, the target audience is the misinformed.

  • Fat Free: You need fat to fuel your body. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.
  • Zero Sugar: Even though there is no white sugar, there tends to be sugar alternatives and alcohols.
  • All Natural: This itself is a vague and enigmatic term. A CNN article called “What are natural flavors, really?” states that a product may list “blueberry flavoring”, but that doesn’t mean it comes from actual blueberries. It’s most probable origin is a chemical found in a laboratory.

That is just a sampling of how ingredients may read on any given item and with a grocery store having thousands and thousands of products, the process of eating healthier and cleaner is a bit overwhelming.

But alas, not all hope is lost! There are couple key things to keep in mind that will make the experience less daunting.

#1 – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, YOU NEED TO READ THE INGREDIENTS. I have wrote about this in the past so I wont reiterate much of it, but you can view the full post here. Here is an example: wasabi peas. Yes, it is a processed snack which shouldn’t be a prominent food source in your diet, but I would like to note marketing at its finest. At first glance, they don’t look that bad. Note the disclaimers on the front, their name, and also the coloring of the packaging. It seems like a healthy snack. They’re peas. They’re green, and they’re vegan!

Nowadays, almost everything makes sure that things like “vegan”, “gluten free”, “zero fat”, etc. are front and center. Companies know that these are food concerns for the general public, so they take the thinking out of it for you. They choose words and packaging colors that ALLUDE to health, but you need to read the ingredients.

The ingredients for this item lists: soy bean oil, two types of corn startch, sugar, glucose and artificial colors among other things. In summary, soybean oil is processed with chemicals, bleachers and deodorizers. Corn starch is linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, and more. It is also where glucose and fructose come from. The source of sugar is unlisted and it most likely bleached white sugar. For the last ingredient, I present to you this:

Artificial colors are made from petroleum and kids tend to be the most sensitive. They are mostly found in candy and commercial cereals so they are targeted more exclusively. Also, if you grow up eating these sweet treats, you are more likely to continue buying them as an adult. A customer for life. More information can be found here and here.

#2 – Mostly shop the Perimeter. Referring back to the map I posted earlier, sticking to the perimeter of a store is where you’ll find predominantly whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, land and sea meats. Just beware of the processed/cross merchandised items. Also, while things like rice, quinoa, beans, oats, etc. are found in the “land of the forbidden”, by reading the ingredients list, you can easily avoid consuming things that take turn a healthy food not-so-healthy. A side note: buying frozen fruits and veggies are a great alternative if your produce has already rotted by the time you typically get to it.

Below is an off-handed list of things I buy when I’m shopping (I still have to read the ingredients before they go in my cart, they’re sneaky bastards):

  • Ice cream alternative: frozen bananas with cinnamon, flax/chia seeds and honey sprinkled over it
  • Pasta brand: Ancient Harvest or Barilla lentil pasta
  • Snack option: Pita, hummus, and olive/sautéed veggie mix
  • Frozen brussel sprouts or broccoli with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Also peas with grass fed butter and Frank’s hot sauce
  • Mini carrots with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Butter – Kate’s butter or any grass-fed butter
  • Eggs – look for FREE RANGE -if you have the brand, choose Nellie’s.
  • Snack option: Vermont Village apple sauce. Mott’s is packed with high fructose corn syrup whereas Vermont Village brand has no additives.

When you eat whole, nutritious foods, you don’t really have to worry about how much you’re eating. There is less stress. Of course, if you overeat and stuff your face every-day-all-day in general, you’ll still gain weight. The cool thing about eating this way it that, as you fuel your body with legitimately healthy things, cravings for crap food fall to the wayside. The chemicals and such in a lot of our food are the culprits of triggering cravings and also, malnourishment.  Processed foods leech the nutrients FROM us instead of giving them TO us which causes us to crave even more of said items. It’s a vicious cycle.

An easy way to eat better is eating the rainbow!

Recently, I have seen more of a change to my body and mood as I have cut out foods that have more than one ingredient to them. I mean, I’ll mix foods together such as rice, beans, veggies, etc, but I’ve stopped getting food from the hot bar at work that is prepared with a paragraph of ingredients. Most importantly for me, I have switched my end-of-the-meal sweet treat to fruit- fresh or dried, it doesn’t matter if the fruit is free of additives.

Shopping healthy doesn’t just involve eating good foods, it also involves the house hold products we use, but we will save this for another time. Just remember products are designed to be the loudest, most colorful, and attention grabbing out there so we buy THEIR PRODUCT. The grocery store is a low-key battle ground- Hunger Games style.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Be mindful when grocery shopping. Be a detective of the ingredients that make up our food and “food”. In a day and age where we have unlimited information at our fingertips, it’s only right that we dig a little deeper to find out what is fueling our bodies and minds.

To read the full article on soybean oil, click here.
To read the full article on cornstarch, click here.

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

Green Vibrance – Amp Up Your Water

I am always looking for little ways to improve my overall nutrition that are easy and affordable. But, smoothies are a hassle and most of the time I don’t want to cook. Then, one day, the clouds parted and through the sunlit opening, a magical little packet called “Green Vibrance” descended from the heavens.

Green Vibrance is a plant based, vegetarian powder you can add to any liquid. And yes, if you are a smoothie person, you can add it to that too! This probiotic packet aims to fulfill the 4 cornerstones of health: nutrition, digestion, immunity, and circulation. Their long list of ingredients (a good long list) includes powders that support the skeleton, liver, and immune system. It also includes probiotics, enzymes, adaptogens, plant based micro-nutrients, grasses, and fiber. According to their website, Green Vibrance contains “approximately 70 ingredients and all of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics the body needs to grow healthier and stronger.” They do, however have a small disclaimer. “With our constant improvement of our Green Vibrance formula we detected a tiny quantity of soy and dairy, byproducts of the probiotics in our formula. While only trace amounts, we disclose each ingredient, even trace allergens, because you deserve to know. “

I was ecstatic to have discovered my new found love that doesn’t make your water taste like grass and sewage. Plus, it always makes me happier knowing that I am doing good things for my body and mind. (stay happy y’all!) But why even consume greens in the first place?

Growing up, we were always told to “eat your veggies so you can grow big and strong!”. Though it seemed like torture then, especially when cookies were beckoning you from the cabinet, it was pretty sound advice. According to, “people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.” In addition:

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
  • Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.

I’m all for lowered risk of chronic diseases and better bodily maintenance, sign me up!

You can find the packets and the powder at Whole Foods or, of course, on the internet. Personally, buying the big thing of powder is a waste. It would just sit in my kitchen with the million other things I’ve attempted to consume for my health. The individual packet costs $2.39, while a box of 15 costs $32.00. Pair a packet with a 1.5L of water (~$1.39) and it’s cheaper than coffee!  I really do recommend getting a large water bottle to dilute the powder so you can barely taste it. Because at the end of the day if its good for you, but it tastes bad, are you really going to drink it?

This is my favorite water :3

I try to drink it every day I am at job #1, which is about 4 days a week. I have gotten out of the flow of drinking it before and I do notice a difference in my overall energy and mood levels compared to when I’ve been consistently consuming it. I contribute it to both the packet and the water.

Side note: make sure you finish the water in 24 hours. It’s not a good time if it has been sitting there. Trust me. If 1.5L seems daunting, make it into a game.

Side side note: I did find the packets cheaper on this website. A box of packets is $26.79 compared to the market price of $32.00

Love and Light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Take A Break – Your Sanity Depends On It.

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. I work two jobs and just started taking self-defense classes. I really tried to, but with all that, the Easter holiday week, and a local strike that increased our business, I was burnt out. I wanted to run away. I wanted to just lay in bed and sleep forever. Those feelings usually signal that I need a break, time to recharge more than I usually do. But how do you do that when you still have to work, pay bills, and uphold commitments? I’ve discovered the answer is prioritizing.

Take a look at your week. Write it out. Mark down when you work, any necessary things- like picking up children-, and any social things going on. Now, take a look at how much time you can spend on yourself. How much is there? Is there any at all? MAKE TIME. Your health depends on it. Cancel anything and everything you can. Maybe that even means calling out from work for one day, or leaving early. You’d leave if you physically weren’t feeling well, right? Mentally feeling well is just as important.

If you’re the type of person who is recharged by social engagements, by all means, make contact with people you haven’t seen, and go out a little more than usual. If you’re the type of person who is drained by social engagements, cancel whatever isn’t necessary. If you’re dreading doing something or going someplace in this current moment, don’t go. Don’t worry if they’re gonna be mad or if you don’t want to disappoint someone. Your health is on the line and if they are truly your friends, they will know you and understand that you really just need time to yourself.

Also, be extremely kind to yourself, well always, but especially right now. You may already be on the verge of an outburst or a breakdown. If there is something you’ve been wanting to buy or a treat you’ve been craving, go ahead. I always feel like I’m reverting back to a child like-temper when I am overwhelmed with life- being extremely sensitive to everything. So treat yourself as such, and be loving and compassionate. Note that needing/giving yourself a break DOES NOT make you weak. In fact, it helps you become stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m spanning this post across all three of my categories because it really does affect how you stay happy, healthy and fit.

Stay Happy.
Taking a break from things is a necessity for your mental health! During last week, I found myself becoming short with people and just wanting to cry whenever anybody asked me anything. All I could think about was what I had to do when I got home, but when I got there, I would just put on Arrow and stay in bed. I knew that I hadn’t come up with two posts for last Wednesday. I had ideas, but when it came down to writing them, I had nothing. I was drained. I even started thinking “what if this happens all the time? Why did I start this blog? How am I gonna keep it going?” It snowballed and I started feeling ugly things. But in all actuality, that’s not truly how I feel about Cottontail Living, I love it. I love writing and sharing with you guys. It took a lot to be brave enough to not post anything- I didn’t want to disappoint anyone who reads my blog. I could not, however, ignore the fact that my energy wasn’t there in terms of writing. It was there when I took my self-defense classes.

I learned to go where energy flows and not to make myself do something because of a schedule I set up for myself. I really just wanted to attend my class and hang out with people. So, I suspended my writing and anything else with an approaching deadline and did those very things. And, I had such a great time. I followed where I was already putting my energy to and now I feel restored. Sometimes we set such rigid rules or routines for ourselves that we think they are permanent things in our lives that we HAVE to adhere to. Life is never like that, though. It is constantly fluxing and flowing, and just like that, we should learn to do the same. It’s kind of like the buildings they have where earthquakes are frequent- the structure sort of moves with the motion to minimize damage as opposed to a solid structure that can crumble under too much stress.

Stay Healthy.
Taking a break is also healthy for your body. A common thing with companies nowadays is to cut the workforce and put more responsibility on employees without proper compensation. This physically wears you down depending on how hard of a worker you are. Stress is contributed to so many health ailments such as weight gain, depression, heart disease-just to name a few. It causes such an imbalance to your thought process by putting stress on the mind and it can disrupt your eating habits. If you’re so busy, when you have a moment to eat it’s probably going to be something not so great for you. Stress and overwork can also disrupt your fitness routine. When you’re overwhelmed and work late every night, do you sacrifice sleep or fitness before the morning comes and you have to go back work again? But guess what, you’re only human! You need to establish and uphold boundaries so you don’t become miserable and get to this state in the first place. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to push past your limits just to be a good worker.

Stay Fit.
Believe it or not, taking a day, or a couple days not to workout helps you get stronger. You’re allowing your muscles and body to heal by giving them time to recover and grow. If you’re sore or even injured and you push through the pain, you do not help anyone. You especially do not help yourself. If you workout under those conditions, you’re stressing your body out more and causing further injury. Muscles don’t just change while you’re working out, what you do after the workout is just as important- even more so. Eating right, sleeping enough, staying hydrated are all key factors in healthy physical transformation.

Of course I say all of this within reason. Please don’t quit your jobs or not pay your bills or eat all the junk food in the world for a week. I am simply saying that there are moments when energy seems to come to a boiling point and our sanity balances on the precipice of “well” and “not well”. It is more than acceptable and understandable to just stop for a minute, an hour, a day or two days and just breathe.

In the words of Ariana Grande, “just keep breathin’, and breathin’, and breathin’.” Everything is always going to be okay. Life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced. All we can ever do is take it one breath at a time.

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

YouTube Dance Fitness

It’s not always about going to the gym, lifting weights, or doing traditional cardio. There are so many different types of fitness styles out there- you should never feel limited in your choices! People do a lot of sitting nowadays, but your body was made to move and move in so many different ways. And there’s nothing that makes people want to move their bodies more than music. That, or if you’re being chased by a dinosaur or something…

Music is fun. Dancing is fun. Both things have been around for hundreds of years- they’re celebratory things, and you have so much to celebrate! You’re alive! And I’m so happy that you are! More scientifically, dancing is an easy way to build up your cardio, boosts serotonin, and relieves stress. It also strengthens the muscles, improves coordination, and encourages a full range of movement.

There are many dance fitness accounts on YouTube. Below, I’ve shared my top 3 channels. I’ve watched these videos time after time and they’re always enjoyable. Most of the time they are recent songs like you hear on the radio. Just pick a song and follow along!

Refit is a great channel that has wide variety of songs that aim to instill positivity. They also have a mix of Christian music. This channel is great for any level of fitness. There are so many songs to choose from including modern hits as well as throwbacks.

The Fitness Marshall will definitely get you sweating. With more intense chorography style, this channel has all of the latest hits you’d find on the radio. You’ll feel like you’re going to the club rather than working out! Caleb Marshall is hilarious and full of high energy!

Shine Dance Fitness is a good mix between ReFit and The Fitness Marshall. The music choice includes hits as well as songs less commonly known. Regardless, this channel offers up a variety of movements that will make you feel badass.

Dance fitness is a quick way to get your heart pumping. Try doing a song or two for a great warm up before any other workout or just play your favorite song just for the hell of it! Reframe your mind when it comes to working out and move that body!

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Mango Butter – Your New BFF

What is that, you ask? My latest obsession and your new cosmetic best friend.

Mango butter comes from the de-shelled kernel of the mango tree. It is a semi-solid butter and turns to liquid around 84°f. BUT it is malleable enough that it warms up in your hands. It’s super hydrating and not greasy, like coconut oil. Mango butter is packed with vitamins A and E, essential fatty acids, and natural antioxidants. All of these fancy things help prevent sun damage, wrinkles, pimples, and also helps to heal dry, damaged skin. The best part is it only has one ingredient: mango butter. None of that filler that is found in pretty much any body care product! I recommend reading this article on The Best Organic Skin Care for more information.

I use it as a face moisturizer AND a body lotion. Being prone to extremely dry skin, this has been the only thing I’ve discovered that nourishes it. Once I started using mango butter as a face moisturizer, my face got the hydration it needed and I had fewer pimples- since apparently dryness was the cause of them in the first place. Many articles on the topic mention that it is easily absorbed. I have found this to be true for the most part- definitely as a body lotion- but make sure you use a thinner layer if you’re using it as a face moisturizer.

There are tons of DIY recipes you can find to amp mango butter up as a hair mask or moisturizer. But honestly, it can be too much work. It works just fine as is. 😉

If you’re interested in trying this versatile product, I recommend these:

Remember, in any product, whether it be food, cleaning, or cosmetic, its important to know where it is coming from (i.e small business or big corporation) and how the products are sourced (ethically or unethically). It should be good for you and the environment!

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

4 Week Workout Plan

Hi hi! Hope everyone is doing well 🙂

This week for our “Stay fit.” post is a 30-day workout plan! This consists of an assortment of Kat Musni’s and Kassandra Reinhardt videos! I figured since I’ve already introduced them in my previous two posts, it’d be fun to put their workout’s to the test! I’ve compiled a calendar that has a workout for each day. Feel free to modify. This is based on what I typically do. There are 3-4 days of strength training and 3 days of yoga. Please remember to always rest if you’re very sore! How you recover (eating clean, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep) is when your muscles really grow. So if you need to take more rest days, go right ahead! Listen to your body. Try not to take off more than two consecutive days as it makes it harder to get back into a routine.

Both instructors provide modifications in all their videos so you can do this at any level of fitness! The skeleton of this workout plan looks like this:

Monday: Lower Body
Tuesday: Total Body
Wednesday: Yoga or Rest
Thursday: Upper Body
Friday: Total Body
Saturday: Yoga or Rest
Sunday: Yoga or Rest

Post Workout:
It is ideal to consume something within at least 30 minutes after a workout. Make sure there is a mix of HEALTHY protein, carbs, and fats. I workout in the morning and it’s too early for me to eat without feeling sick, so I have a vegan Orgain Protein drink then eat something nutritious when I’m able.

I’ve found that Wal-Mart has the cheapest products and I get all my workout equipment from there. Kat uses dumbbells in all the videos I’ve selected. If you are a beginner, you may use water bottles, or just your body weight until you build up more strength. Kassandra typically uses yoga blocks and a strap. Yoga blocks are a good thing to have at any level of flexibility. For a strap, I honestly use my bathrobe belt. You can also use a regular belt. Below are links for dumbbells and yoga blocks. Dumbbells also come in 2lbs and 3lbs weights.

5lb dumbbell $4.43 per weight ($8.86 for pair)
10lb dumbbell $9.97 per weight ($19.94 for pair)
15lb dumbbell $14.75 per weight ($29.50 for pair)
Yoga blocks $4.99 per block ($9.99 for pair)

Week 1:
Monday – 30 Minute STRENGTH ONLY Lower Body Workout w/ Dumbbells!
Tuesday – 30 Minute FULL BODY Strength w/ Dumbbells Workout | Building Lean Muscle for Men and Women
Wednesday – Yin Yoga for Beginners – Full Body Stretch {35 min}
Thursday – 30 Minute GUN SHOW! | Upper Body Strength w/ Dumbbells Workout | Lean Muscle Building
Friday – 25 Minute Full Body STRENGTH ONLY Workout w/ Dumbbells | Build Lean Muscle at Home
Saturday – Morning Yin Yoga Class – Best Morning Yoga Stretches {30 min}
Sunday – Rest

Add ons:
-Try a 5 minute morning meditation after every workout session from Simple Habit or YouTube – 5-minute meditations. Your mind needs to be exercised just as much as your body and meditation or learning something new is the way to go.
-After each workout, in either a journal or in the notes on your phone, write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day!

Week 2:
Monday – 30 Minute Bootylicious + Lean Legs Workout | Lower Body STRENGTH ONLY Workout
Tuesday – 30 Minute KICK BUTT Full Body Cardio + Strength Home Workout
Wednesday – Yin Yoga for Deep Relaxation & Stress Relief – {30 min}
Thursday – 30 Minute Upper Body BLAST Workout – Strength with Dumbbells
Friday – 25 Minute Full Body Cardio & Strength Workout | WarrioRAWR Challenge Day 1
Saturday – Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder & Upper Back Tension Relief {30 min}
Sunday – Rest

Add ons:
-Want to learn a new language? Download LingoDeer and pick from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Vietnamese, or Russian.
Week 3:
Monday – 30 Minute Legs and Booty BURN Strength Only Workout | WarrioRAWR Challenge Day 10
Tuesday – 30 Minute Full Body Cardio, Strength & Abs Interval Workout | WarrioRAWR Challenge Day 8
Wednesday – Yin Yoga with Affirmations for Self-Love & Healing {30 min}
Thursday – 30 Minute GUN SHOW | Upper Body Strength Workout w/ Dumbbells for Men & Women
Friday – 35 Minute Full Body FUN Dumbbell Workout | At Home Cardio, Strength & Abs
Saturday – Yin Yoga for Back Flexibility {30 min}
Sunday – Rest

Add ons:
-Do you like to write? Spend 5 minutes a day writing something- anything at all!
-Do you like to read? On your rest day, set your alarm for 20 minutes and read that book you’ve had for months.

Week 4:
Monday – 30 Minute Legs & Booty Building + KILLER Cardio Workout | Strength with Dumbbells HIIT
Tuesday – 30 Minute Full Body Strength Workout w/ Dumbbells | WarrioRAWR Challenge Day 19
Wednesday – Yin Yoga for Hips – Beginner Yin Yoga Class {30 min} ft. my cat Cleo
Thursday – 30 Minute Upper Body STRENGTH Workout | Killer Arms Workout | WarrioRAWR Challenge Day 5
Friday – 30 Minute FUN Full Body Dumbbell Workout | Cardio, Strength, and Abs HIIT!
Saturday – Yin Yoga to Restore & Reboot – 30 min Yoga Class Stretches
Sunday – Rest

Add ons:
-Is there something new you’ve been wanting to try, but can’t make the time? Take a rest day and spend the 20-30 minutes from the workout trying that thing out. The key to wellness is having a healthy body, expanded mind, and an ignited soul!

If you end up doing this workout plan, please let me know how it goes! Also, as always, please reach out with any comments, suggestions, etc. 🙂 I’d love to hear from you. Take care and happy working out!

To view Kat’s channel, click here
To view Kassandra’s channel, click here

Ze ❤
**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eats – Plantains

“Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eats” is a series I am starting to share how you can eat well, simply, cleanly, and, cheaply.

I would like to start off by stating I do not care for cooking. I do not make meals that involve an oven, only a stove top. I am primarily vegetation (I’ll have meat if I’m craving it), but I’m totally content with eating loads of frozen veggies, fruits, and eggs. This all stems from me making quality things as simple as possible in my life. Not everyone is like this, I understand that. This post may be a good snack idea, rather than a meal, like I would make it.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with plantains. At my local grocery store, they are only 66 cents per plantain. Plantains are a starchier, not-as-sweet banana that you cook. They are green when they are unripe, which is best for frying and yellow with black when they are ripe, which is best for boiling and grilling. To prepare them, all you can do is boil them for 11 minutes, let them cool and, then, voila! You’ve got some foods. A friend of mine suggested serving them with a bit of sour cream. If you add that, the plantains ends up tasting more like mashed potatoes.

Health benefits of plantains obtained from

-Plantains contain high levels of vitamin C, (helps to keep your immune system stimulated and producing white blood cells)
-Plantains contain high levels of dietary fiber, (helps to optimize digestion and improves the nutrient uptake efficiency and balancing the bacterial levels in the gut)
– Plantains are packed with magnesium, (increases release of tryptophan and serotonin in the body, which can help people relax and sleep)
-Plantains are high in iron, (essential for the production of red blood cells)
-Plantains are packed with vitamin A, (improves eye health)

Here is how I prepare plantains:

1. Rinse off the plantain and dry
2. Cut into slices with the skin on and put them into a pot with already boiling water
3. Set the timer to 13 minutes
4. After 13 minutes, set plantains on a plate to cool and set a timer for 3 minutes
5. Once cooled, cut off skin and enjoy

Cost of Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eat:

2 plantains – $1.32
Green Valley Organic sour cream – $3.99
Total cost: $5.31+taxes

I plan to do more of these posts as a series to give people, like me, who would rather not spend time cooking, easy-to-make and nutritious things to eat. Let me know what you think and please feel free to share any positive suggestions or comments with me!

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Nutrition label hacks.

I would like to share a little bit of my journey toward health and wellness with you. I wasn’t really overweight growing up, because I was active. Regardless, I perceived that I was enormous because of societal standards, and not being happy with your appearance was the “normal” way to think. After the age of 13, I quit my 10-year dancing career. I thought that since I was entering high school, I was going to have all these friends and not have time for anything, but my social life. Long story short, I missed it very much and that’s how I started exercising. It was the easiest thing to bring into my life since I don’t like sitting still. Nutrition, however, was a whole other ballgame.

When I was younger, I did not eat well at all. I had cake and soda for breakfast and pretty much only consumed processed foods. It took a long time to get to where I am now- having a healthy relationship with food. I’ve come across articles that have stated the “recommended daily value” of vitamins and such is bogus, the “2000-calories-a-day” is a sham, and let’s not forget the “Oh, you thought this food was good for you? GUESS AGAIN!”. It’s no wonder how if you’re new to the world of eating better and leading a better life, you can get lost along the way. Everything seems so contradictory.

My goal here is to make people’s lives simpler and offer more palatable ways to incorporate wellness from a person who doesn’t like to go out that much or spend a lot of money. The nutrition knowledge I have is an accumulation of trial-and-error, sifting through loads of articles, things taught to me by YouTube fitness instructors, and more of the like. I’ve compiled a list of things that come to mind on a daily basis when picking out food.

1. Aim to eat foods with FIVE Ingredients or less.
2. Ingredients are listed from the most prominent ingredient first to the least.
3. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, neither does your body. (This one really resonates with me. It just makes so much sense!)
4. If food is processed, aim for less than 5 grams of sugar. If it’s a piece of fruit, don’t worry about it.
5. Sugar comes in a crap ton of different names: fructose, sucralose, maltose, just to name a few. Click here for a more comprehensive list.
6. Beware of serving sizes. Nutrition labels like to trick consumers by making it look like the information for the entire bag/package when it is really just for a portion.

These mostly apply to processed foods. Everything that comes in a package- even frozen veggies- has a nutrition label, but if you buy plain old frozen peas or frozen broccoli, it’s not much of a concern.

Everything that I share on Cottontail Living is what has work best for me, and I hope that, in the end, some of it may work well for you, too. If you would like to know more, please feel free to email me at or DM me on Instagram @cottontail_living

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**