Fun Tips, Nutrition

4 Homemade Nut Butters (and Their Health Benefits)

Nut butters make the perfect pre- or post-workout snack! Most nut varieties are packed with protein to promote energy and recovery. They can also help balance cholesterol levels and tend to be a good source of healthy fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), fiber, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals (these vary depending on the type of nut).

The problem with many store-bought nut butters is that they often contain additives, including excess sugar, sodium, and trans fats such as partially hydrogenated oils. When you make your own DIY versions, you can be confident about what you’re putting into your body — no surprise ingredients here!

Because nut butters are relatively easy to make at home, you can try several batches using a variety of your favorite nuts. Simply soak, dehydrate in the oven, and process until smooth. Then scoop a heaping spoonful onto yogurt and granola, dip apple slices or celery, slather onto a slice of whole-grain toast… there are so many ways to enjoy your daily serving of this healthy yet hearty food.

Here are a few favorite nut butter varieties beyond classic peanut butter. Happy snacking!

1. Almond Butter

Almond butter has been climbing the ranks as a popular peanut butter substitute for sandwiches, dipping, and even baked goods. In addition to its complex and creamy texture, it boasts loads of fiber, beneficial fats, protein, manganese, vitamins E and B, and magnesium. Almonds may also help control blood pressure and cholesterol and can be excellent sustenance for those looking to lose weight. This is one butter that packs a punch — both in flavor and health benefits!

2. Cashew Butter

Cashew butter is less common, but still a great option. Cashews contribute to bone health (courtesy of calcium and magnesium) and can also help lower blood pressure. Much like almonds, they can help curb your hunger with monounsaturated fats. They are also rich in vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

3. Pecan Butter

Pecans are practically nature’s multivitamin. They contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Fun fact: they are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut!

4. Hazelnut Butter

Hazelnuts are a great source of oleic acid, which lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol, plus vitamin E, flavonoids, and vitamin B, which supports proper energy metabolism.

Any of these nut butters are great choices before or after your workout in order to simultaneously fuel up on nutrients and curb your hunger. Sufficient vitamin and mineral intake is essential to ensure your body stays strong and healthy as you continue along your fitness journey. Consider these tasty treats for your active lifestyle!

Start Your Day and Fuel Your Body with These 4 Green Smoothie Recipes

Waking up and staying alert in the morning can already be a struggle. A cup of coffee or caffeinated tea can provide a short-term fix, but loading up on syrupy vanilla lattes and other processed sugars can end in a mid-morning energy crash. On the other hand, starting your day with a refreshing and nutrient-rich breakfast smoothie can keep you satisfied and naturally energized through lunchtime. Add a handful of greens and you’ve got a delicious opportunity to drink your veggies! All you need to do is grab your blender and a few additional fresh ingredients.

A serving of spinach in your smoothie can provide many health benefits courtesy of essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants including:

– Magnesium (bone and heart health, premenstrual syndrome relief)
– Iron (Energy and athletic performance)
– B2 (Energy and mineral absorption)
– B6 (Heart and kidney health, improved metabolism)
– Folate (Heart health, lower risk of depression and some cancers)
– Vitamin K (Bone, blood, and heart health)
– Vitamin E (Hair, skin, and blood health)
– Vitamin A/beta-carotene (Eye health and skin repair)
– Calcium (Strong bones, muscle and nervous system health)
– Potassium (Blood pressure, heart, muscle, and bone health)

And there are even more perks to keep you feeling (and looking) at your prime! To name just a few:

– Weight maintenance without going hungry (stay full on fewer calories)
– Antioxidants that keep your immune system healthySustained energy for workouts and day-to-day stamina
– Increased fiber intake for a happy digestive system
– Clearer, brighter skin

If you don’t have spinach on hand, you can also substitute kale in its place for many of the same benefits.

Convinced yet? Read on for four tasty and refreshing green smoothie recipe picks!

1. Low Carb Green Smoothie

Sync Fitness makes healthy eating less of a chore with our free e-book, 42 Delicious Fat-Burning Recipes (get your free download right on our homepage!). You’ll find dozens of breakfast, snack, and lunch and dinner entree recipes to complement your Sync boot camp or fitness program.

In the mornings, start with our very own low-carb green smoothie recipe. Blend coconut water, almond butter, wheatgrass, spinach, banana, low-carb chocolate protein, and ice and sip on 15 grams of protein with less than 200 calories. See page 10 of the book for complete measurements, nutritional analysis, and more details.

2. Tropical Green Smoothie

Add pineapple, mango, papaya, or guava (or all of the above!) to your blender with your favorite greens for a quick island getaway in the AM. This vibrant tropical green smoothie recipe relies on ripe frozen pineapple and mango chunks for a bright dose of fruity flavor (and for their anti-inflammatory properties plus digestive and immune system support).

3. Detox Green Smoothie

This Spring Detox Smoothie is packed to the brim with veggies for maximum nutrient power. Green tea adds even more antioxidants. Blend digestive superstars such as cilantro, baby kale, cucumber, avocado, ginger, and lemon, and throw in a hint of pineapple for just enough sweetness.

4. Berry Green Smoothie

Mixed frozen berries and sliced banana make this an accessible green smoothie for even the pickiest eaters. A scoop of natural peanut butter means additional tasty protein and flaxseed meal adds fiber and heart-healthy fatty acids.

Why Staying Hydrated Through Winter Is So Important to Your Health

People tend to think of dehydration as a summer issue exacerbated by seasonal heat. However, you can actually become dehydrated just as easily, if not more so, during the chilly winter months. Your body’s natural thirst sensitivity is lower in the winter, meaning you may not feel as compelled to sip water as you do during the summer. Combine that with dry air, from both outdoor conditions and indoor heaters, and you have increased potential for damaging dehydration. Proper hydration is critical, even when you may not feel the urge to have a glass of water. This is true for everyone, but becomes especially important for athletes and those who exercise.

Winter: The Perfect Storm for Dehydration

Winter conditions can be draining in many ways, and a reduced sense of thirst doesn’t help to restore your vitality. Believe it or not, sweat evaporates faster in cold air. The cold and dry winter air can also actively sap your skin of its natural moisture. Most of us bundle up to fend off the cold, which in turn adds weight that makes your body work harder during daily activity. This means even more sweat and more moisture loss. Poor hydration is a serial contributor to many health concerns, including fatigue, urinary issues, and decreased physical performance with longer recovery times.

How to Maintain Proper Hydration

If you’re exercising outdoors, wear several layers of clothing. This way, you can remove pieces as you heat up, reducing the amount of moisture lost to excessive sweating. In addition to staying on top of your daily recommended fluid intake, remain vigilant about drinking water and sports drinks to replace what you lose during exercise. Try drinking room temperature water, which can be easier for the body to absorb than cold beverages. Try to supplement your fluid intake by snacking on plenty of fruit, which can also provide a short-term energy boost from their natural sugars and carbohydrates. Milk (or even the occasional mug of chocolate milk or hot cocoa!) can provide your body with protein, some fat, minerals such as calcium, and vitamins such as vitamin D.

Finally, remember that both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, meaning they can contribute to dehydration. Take care to increase your fluid intake by one glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic drink you have. Your body will thank you!

Health-Conscious Holiday Baking Substitutions to Keep You on Track



The holidays are here, and families all over are starting to plan their Thanksgiving, Christmas, and miscellaneous winter holiday celebration feasts. Whether you’re hoping to add some healthier options to an ultra-rich and indulgent Thanksgiving table or want to make your Chanukah cookies healthier because of a family member’s dietary needs, there are a number of healthy, simple substitutions that can turn even the most decadent of holiday treats into healthier yet equally delicious alternatives!

From flour substitutions to reduce gluten intake and calorie count to saturated fat substitutions to maintain heart health, there are plenty of kitchen hacks to improve the dietary value of your seasonal baked goodies.

1. Replace 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of pureed avocado. This substitution works best in brownies and chocolate cakes. Once pureed, avocado has a very similar texture and consistency when compared with room temperature butter. Both ingredients contribute to the smooth consistency of batter, but while butter is a source of unhealthy saturated fat, avocado provides the “good” kind of fatty acids. By switching out the heavy butter with avocado, you can maintain richness and flavor while improving the nutritional value of your chocolaty baked goods!

2. Replace 1 cup of refined sugar with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. You should reduce the liquids that you add to the recipe by ¼ cup for every cup of applesauce used. This substitution is a vegan go-to, and can be used in just about any baked recipe. From oatmeal cookies to sweet breads, this sugar-cutting switch works wonders.

3. Replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of canned black beans. This substitution is best in brownies; it may not work as well in other dishes. It may sound strange, but it cuts gluten and calories while adding a punch of protein and fiber. You may notice a slight difference in texture, but it won’t impact the flavor much. It also adds extra depth to the color of the finished brownies.

4. Replace eggs with flax meal in water. This substitution works best in muffins, cakes, and cookies that rely on eggs for structure and consistency. Mix 1 tablespoon of flax meal (fresh ground is ideal) with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for five to ten minutes. This mixture can replace a single egg; adjust as necessary for your recipe. Store flax meal in the fridge to increase its shelf life, or grind whole flax seeds, which can store for longer, as you need them.

5. Replace 1 cup of butter with chia seeds in water. It’s important that this substitution not be used if you’re also replacing eggs with flax seeds. This substitution works best in muffins, cakes, and sweet breads. Unlike the flax seeds, the chia seeds aren’t ground into meal. You mix 2-3 tablespoons with 1 cup of water and let it sit for fifteen minutes. This mixture can replace 1 cup of butter. The chia seeds add potassium and a little extra protein to the recipe, while cutting out a lot of fat.

6. Replace 1 egg with a chia seed mixture. Again, do not use this substitution in the same recipe as a chia seed and butter substitution. This is a well-loved vegan substitution that works in just about any baking recipe. Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 1 cup of water and let sit for fifteen minutes. This mixture can replace 1 egg. Scale up as necessary to reduce fat and overall calories in your favorite sweet baked goods.

7. Replace 1 cup of oil or butter with 1 cup of mashed, ripe banana. This substitution works best in brownies, cookies, or basic sweet breads (hint: try it with banana bread!). The banana has the same consistency as room temperature butter, and instead of fats, it adds potassium, Vitamin B6, and extra fiber to your sweet treats.

3 Ways to Never Diet Again

img_5033I don’t believe in dieting. How about you? I would love to help you reframe your headspace around nutrition and dieting. It is one of my biggest passions.

Most women use food as a form of punishment and reward. Many of us have been doing this almost out entire lives. So, it can be really challenging go stop the vicious cycle that runs on repeat in our heads and in our habits.

At Sync Fitness, we talk a TON about mindset around food in our Total Body Transformation Program, so if you’re already signed up for that, you’ll get a lot of support in this area (if you’re not signed up, please join us!) I thought it might be helpful to give you a little sneak peek at some of the ways we talk about food in our programs.

Here are 3 practices ingrained in our Total Body Transformation Program to ensure you will never have to diet again. Ever.

1. Eliminate deprivation.
Most people think that to get results, it has to be really hard and really painful. Maybe you remove entire food groups or make solemn promises to yourself like, “I will never eat sugar again.” This is all well and good for a day or two. And then, failure… You eat the sugar. You hate yourself. You are back to where you started, but with a more damaged sense of self. You do this over and over – maybe every single Monday.

This is so damaging. It is hard on you physically, but it is emotional and mental TORTURE. You deserve so much better.

How about you work from a place of abundance instead of deprivation. “I can have allll the fruits and veggies and protein I want. I can eat so many things I enjoy. I can even have a little sugar or alcohol or bread here and there and still get the results I want. Nothing is off limits.”

See how different this is? It is entirely possible to get results without a deprivation based diet.

2. Only practice sustainable habits.
For the love of God, don’t stop eating carbs (or any other food group!) That is not sustainable. It is just a horrible way to torture yourself. Also, do not commit to eating the exact same boring, bland meals day after day just to see if the scale will move.

Practice habits that are enjoyable and sustainable. Make one new dinner recipe a week from your favorite healthy website (I love or

Allow yourself to have your favorite alcoholic drink 1-2 nights a week.

Learn how to healthify your favorite carbs (zoodles! cauliflower rice! spaghetti squash!)

Eat dessert. Not every night. But once a week or so – if that’s your favorite treat (I’d rather have wine, lol!)

Exercise 3-5 days a week. Not every single day. That is not sustainable. And you’ll likely hurt yourself.

So, choose habits that challenge you, but set you up for success. If you set yourself up to win and you will keep winning!

3. Do not rely on quick fixes.
Weight loss and fat loss takes time. Losing water weight can be fast. Losing muscle mass can be fast if you’re undernourished. Losing fat is a slow process where you must learn patience and self love. That is the only way to ensure long term success.

When you take baby steps every day, you form habits and results that will last a lifetime. If you read any stories of The Biggest Loser – Where Are They Now, almost all of them have regained their weight and then some.

Crazy intense programs do not work because they do not give you lasting results. They perpetuate that vicious cycle of using food and exercise for reward and punishment. That is a horrible way to live. Most of us have been there. I have – for decades. It sucks.

Along those lines, we do not recommend cleanses or detoxes. They are bright, shiny objects, I know. They guarantee amazing results. But here’s the thing… the weight you lose by only drinking juice for 3 days and not chewing one bite of food is water weight. You’ll also lose muscle. You will regain the weight as quickly as you lost it – AND – you will be angry, depressed, frustrated. Because, again, you have had a set back. This wrecks your headspace around nutrition – long after the the cleanse is over. Please, do not do it. (Also, you have a liver. It’s main job is to cleanse you. Every damn day.)

So, let’s make a pact. You in? Join me in NEVER dieting again. Your life will change, forever. You will probably fall in love with yourself, for the first time. It is the best journey.

If you’d like to take this non-diet journey, join us for our Total Body Transformation Program! I will teach you how to totally reframe your relationship with food and exercise, while getting you amazing results.

Warning: this program is only for people who are ready to amaze themselves, and cheer for themselves, and say, “Damn, I ROCK.” I’m not saying that will happen on Day 1. But it will happen. You ready?

xoxo, Sara

PS: if this email struck a chord with you, email me and let me know. I’d love to connect and support you wherever you are at.

Sustainable Snacking Habits for Real People

No matter how many easy tips and healthy eating suggestions out there, none of us is perfect and we can probably all admit to cheating on a diet and/or eating something that we shouldn’t at some point. That’s normal and okay! Beating yourself up about these ‘lapses’ won’t help you reach your fitness or weight loss goals, so it’s better to focus your approach on a more realistic plan. Here are some sustainable snacking habits for real people…

Go for variety, color, and freshness. Instead of spending tons of time reading food labels and counting calories, choose foods that are fresh and colorful, with plenty of variety. Try to stay away from processed and packaged foods, as they are likely to contain unhealthy preservatives and/or fats. Snacking on a rainbow of raw veggies or fruit will be far healthier.

Enjoy treats, but in moderation. If you designate your favorite (unhealthy) foods as off-limits, you’ll probably just crave them more. You can still enjoy the occasional dessert or junk food snack, but reduce your intake by limiting yourself to a smaller portion and less frequent indulgences.

Stay small and slow. Smaller portions are key to sustainable snacking habits. If it helps, pre-portion all of your food to ensure you don’t overeat. Never eat until you feel full, because it takes a few minutes for your body and brain to communicate — instead, stop before you feel full, and eat slowly by putting your utensils down between bites.

Drink lots and lots of water. Not only does water help you feel less hungry, reducing temptations to snack on salty foods, it flushes your body of waste and toxins. Dehydration will cause low energy, fatigue, and sometimes headaches, so drink about half a gallon (eight 8-ounce glasses) of water each day to keep from becoming dehydrated.

Looking for more info and tips for healthier eating overall? Check out this fantastic blog post!

Why Fat Shaming Has No Place at Sync Fitness

If you have ever joined in on one of our bootcamps, you know that we take a completely positive approach to fitness. We’re all real people with real body types, and lots of our members have had bad experiences with fitness and exercise. We strive to change that, making our bootcamp classes as fun and motivating as we can. There is absolutely NO fat-shaming going on here!

In our experience, fat shaming doesn’t encourage weight loss or a motivation to exercise; it creates a negative approach to fitness that is entirely counterproductive. Not only that, but one study found that fat shaming may actually lead to weight gain! “Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it,” said Sarah Jackson, lead author of the study.

There’s enough negativity about our bodies already. Many of our Sync Superstars came to us hating exercise, but wanting to do something to improve their health or achieve specific goals. Others joined a bootcamp because wanted to lose weight in order to feel happier when they look in the mirror. Regardless, we always want to encourage our members to love their bodies, because when they do, they take a healthier approach to their fitness. This blogger put it excellently: “There is no incentive to take care of a body you hate. How good I feel about my fat body is absolutely and inextricably related to how well I take care of it, from the food I put in it to whether I go see a doctor when there’s something wrong… If you want fat people—or any people—to treat their bodies well, then encourage them to love their bodies, no matter what they look like.”

The Sync Fitness perspective on fitness is for better health and wellbeing, not just weight loss. We love to celebrate our members’ victories—large and small. Sometimes, that includes meeting weight loss goals, but the everyday victories are usually things like being able to do another repetition of push-ups or taking on a more challenging pose for planks and succeeding at it.  

Sustainable Habits for a Fit & Healthy Spring into Summer

Whew! We’ve already had a scorcher with record-breaking temperatures on Monday, and it’s not even June! All of that lovely weather is probably going to get you in the mood to get into a swimsuit (or at least shorts) too cool off, but lots of us struggle attaining the beach bod we can be proud of.

The following suggestions and tips will help you get on the path with sustainable habits for and building a body you love.

Start small. Let’s be honest, doing a complete overhaul of your lifestyle and diet can feel challenging. And since we’re creatures of habit, it’s easy to fall back into poor habits. But if you can start with a small change and commit to it, such as skipping dessert or going for a 30-minute run/walk every day, you can tackle your habits one at a time for more success! The key is to stay active each and every day, even if every session is not hard core.

Mix it up. The best workout regimens include a mixture of cardio and strength-training exercise. The cardio improves your heart health while causing you to lose calories and fat from sweat, while the strength training increases muscle mass and tones your physique.

Focus on your food. A diet packed with protein is what you need for a slimmer, fitter bod. A healthy serving is 4-6 ounces – have some with each meal! Great sources are plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, meat, fish, tofu, lentils, nut butters, mixed nuts and quinoa. Your lunches are where the key is, here, since it’s usually the most rushed and easy to grab something unhealthy. Give yourself a chance here, with healthy lunches that you pre-pack the night before to help keep you on track. Change the way you think about foods, in general, and when most of your diet is packed with clean, healthy foods, it’s okay to have a ‘treat’ food once in awhile!

Find something fun. It’s difficult to do things we don’t enjoy, and although a lot of people feel intimidated by exercise, but it can be fun! Find physical activities that you enjoy, and make them the core of your efforts. This could include cycling, playing soccer, or fitness classes with a friend!

Get support and accountability. Sometimes a friend is all you need to help you reach your goals. Just in time for the advent of summer, we’re offering a special program with our Little Black Dress Project. It’s a four-week program with effective workouts, tips for improved eating habits, and strategies for wellbeing — all supported with inspiration, accountability and non-competitive motivation from trainers and other project participants. Early Bird registration lasts until April 25th, and the project kicks off on May 5th!

Celebrate with Healthy Options this Thanksgiving

The holidays are meant for gathering around the table, sharing traditions and great food with your loved ones. However, you can still celebrate and enjoy fabulous flavors of traditional foods, yet leave some of those unhealthy, empty calories behind and start new traditions in your kitchen. We have come up with some great twists on some old favorites as well as some completely new ones to explore.

Enjoy, celebrate and enjoy nutritious, healthy options this Thanksgiving!

  • – Sweet Potato Gratin is a fresh new twist on an old standby. High in dietary fiber, vitamin A, and easily prepared as a baked dish, this rendition is sure to please your loved ones and replace the old favorite.
  • – Lentil and Red Pepper Bake is a low calorie and high protein option that will also add some lovely fall color to your table…after all presentation is everything (after taste, that is!)
  • – Butternut Squash Soup makes a great starter side dish for your Thanksgiving table. Butternut Squash is higher in vitamin A than pumpkin as well as b-complex vitamins and a great source of dietary fiber.
  • – Roasted Brussels sprouts with Walnuts give you another high fiber dish and the walnuts add a yummy flavor. Brussels sprouts are also a high protein veggie option, one cup has twice as much protein as carbs and they are also high in B6.
  • – Green Beans & Pancetta with Whole-Grain Mustard Dressing is a great way to get your vitamin C and plenty of dietary fiber. This dish is much healthier and lower in sodium than the typical (ugh!) canned beans and soup recipe. Green beans are chock full of vitamin C and dietary fiber.

…Now get ready for some yummy Thanksgiving desert options!

  • – Pumpkin Pie with Rum is hard to beat for your traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Dark molasses for the sweetener adds iron and nonfat evaporated milk replaces the heavy cream and really cuts calories but no loss on flavor.
  • – Squash and Cheesecake Bars will give your typical pumpkin pie a run for the money in flavor, yet much less calories and lower sugar. The oats and low sugar graham crackers make a lovely, crunchy crust to the smooth squash.

Are you going to try one or two of these? Let us know how they turned out. Better yet, share with us some of your healthier holiday recipes!

Healthy and Easy Snack Options for Nutritional Success!

Focusing on fitness goals and keeping yourself disciplined in your workouts is fabulous and creating life-long healthy habits. But we all know that is just part of the equation. We know that weight loss/fat loss is as much as 80% dependent on what you put in your mouth. Make your efforts in workouts really pay off with healthy habits in your nutrition. Sometimes just a little bit of planning ahead and making sure you have low fuss but power-packed snack options is what gives you success.

We are including some great healthy and easy snack and breakfast recipe tips to incorporate in your plan and help you beat those tempting times during the day.

  • – Start your morning off right! These White Cheddar and Dijon Baked Eggs are easy to prep ahead of time and total time is 20 minutes. High protein and add any chopped veggies or meats that suite you.
  • – Satisfy your sweet and crunch cravings in a healthy way with this Strawberry-Avocado Salsa and Cinnamon Tortilla chips. The chips do great made in advance in an airtight container and the lime juice adds great flavor while keeping the avocado fresh.
  • – Another morning winner with these Caprese Baked Egg Cups to start your day with high protein. This recipe puts you garden bounty of basil and tomatoes to good use.
  • – Fabulous Greek Yogurt Smoothies abound here! Berries for antioxidant benefits, protein and good immunity boosting happening with lots of recipes to choose from.
  • – Snacks for on the go and to help you beat that afternoon craving are a good strategy for success. Try the Popcorn with Parmesan, Cucumber-Feta Bites.
  • – These Sweet Potato Breakfast Bars are good all day as a mini-meal replacement or in-between meal healthy option. Packed with protein and flavor, you can bake at the beginning of the week and have these to snack on or breakfast for the rest of the week.
  • – Almonds are one of the heathiest options to reach for with B12’s, calcium, and protein. Keep a small container of almond butter with you and some sliced apples for dipping and you have the cravings beat! Almonds are calories-dense, so be careful not to over-consume.

Give some of these a try and let us know what you think! And please share with us some of your tips that give you success and fight the cravings.