Winter Wrap-Up + Snowday Cookies

It’s March and winter won’t let go! Yesterday we had ice and snow and today the snow has stayed because it’s so cold. That is not normal this time of year. It seems all I’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to stay warm! I’ve been gravitating towards warm, comfort foods and vitamin C packed citrus. (Oh and the snow day prompted me to bake cookies!)

My yoga student brought me some oranges and grapefruits fresh from an organic grove. I’ve been cutting way back on fruit since following my lean meal plan, but I couldn’t not try these. I split the grapefruit in half, sprinkled a small amount of brown sugar on top, and broiled for 3-4 minutes to let the sugar caramelize.

broiled grapefruit

It was so good and juicy! The oranges were like candy and I limited myself to 2 of those.

I’ve also been enjoying healthy bowls of food for simple lunches and dinners. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of this, he likes a knife and fork,  but I love the idea of throwing everything together in a bowl and sprinkling with nutritional yeast. It’s simple and easier to clean up. I start with rice or a grain, then add a protein, and top with cooked veggies. I’ve made this with tempeh and tahini and called it a “Buddha Bowl” 

Buddha Bowl

Lola got a spring haircut a bit too early. She is shaved down to a slick coat and it’s still pretty cold out, but I think she loves it- her energy level is way up and she’s acting like a puppy. She’s been curling up with us on the furniture whenever possible as if she knows how cute she looks.

Peke haircut

The ultimate snowy day activity for me is baking! I have not baked in a long time and yesterday it was so fun to make these chocolate chip/oatmeal/peanut butter cookies.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Recipe:
1/4 stick butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 peanut butter, 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, 2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut.

Mix all wet ingredients, add flour, coconut, chips and oats. Drop on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 375.

They are SO good and I love that there is no white sugar or white flour in them. Check out my other healthy cookie recipe for Tahini Cookies 

Enjoy!

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“Food is Fuel” Week 2

I am two weeks into my 6 week meal plan and I feel really amazing! I have lots of energy, I feel much stronger at the gym and I am still sleeping so much better. Have I noticed any visual changes yet? No, and that can be frustrating, but I am not the most patient person in the world. Ask my boyfriend if you don’t believe me.

I feel like I am feeding 4 teenage boys with all the cooking I am doing for myself.  I cook on Sunday nights and usually again on Wednesday. I am learning to add more sweet potatoes in my initial batch because they keep great in the fridge. Chicken breasts I only do 4 at a time, but then those are gone in 2 days.

grilled chicken breasts

I stocked up on tuna packets and make a lean salad with tuna, hard-boiled egg white, lemon juice, dill, and mustard. It’s pretty tasty and tangy.

My  breakfasts look like this:

healthy breakfast

Spinach and tomato omelette and bowl of oats with berries and cinnamon. Sometimes I put a dash of vanilla in the for flavor, but I am enjoying the pure flavor of the foods without a lot of seasoning. I started adding avocado slices for healthy fats and to keep me full feeling for awhile.

Packing my meals to go when I have to has not been a problem either. The biggest surprise was last weekend on my “splurge” meal when I was supposed to eat whatever I wanted. I didn’t really have a craving for anything in particular except I wanted to try a new ice-cream shop everyone loves. I have not eaten junk in so long that nothing else seemed tempting. All I really miss is my beloved honey and homemade sweet treats.

My mind is so focused on treating my body well and feeding it what it needs to perform that the ice cream didn’t satisfy me. I am moving so far away from emotional eating and learning how my body absorbs and uses nutrients that I am losing interest in giving it sugar, heavy cream, artificial flavorings or color.

My typical meals look like this:

healthy meal

A protein, a green veggie, and a starch. Plus lots of water throughout the day and herbal tea. No weight loss or loose fitting clothes yet but I am looking forward to noticing some changes in the next 2 weeks for sure!

Homemade Energy Bars

I haven’t bought an energy/power/protein bar from the store in years. OK, maybe a stray lara bar earlier this year because of an emergency, but that’s it. The marketing and packaging lead you to believe these bars are healthy and good for you, but one look at the ingredients and it’s obvious that’s not true. Check out the ingredients listed for the “Power Bar”:

GLUCOSE SYRUP, RICE AND SOY CRISPS (RICE FLOUR, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, ALKALIZED COCOA), CHOCOLATE FLAVORED COATING (SUGAR, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, COCOA, WHEY, NONFAT MILK, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR), WHOLE OATS (CONTAINS WHEAT), ROASTED PEANUTS, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, OLIGOFRUCTOSE (FROM CHICORY ROOT), PEANUT BUTTER (PEANUTS ,SALT), RICE CRISPS (MILLED RICE, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY), INULIN (FROM CHICORY ROOT), VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, AND LESS THAN 2% OF: CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SOY LECITHIN, SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT, GROUND ALMONDS, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), FERROUS FUMARATE (IRON), BUTTER (CREAM), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2).
That is not what I call healthy, clean, or powerful.
I made these oat-y, seed-y, fruity bars the other night from a recipe adapted from the kitchn. I changed it slightly because I wanted to add more ingredients.
Mix in a small saucepan: 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup brown rice syrup, 1/4 cup coconut oil. Stir well over low heat until blended.
brown rice/peanut butter
Remove from heat and add 1 and 1/2 cup apple sauce,  2 tablespoons ground flax seed (I used flax meal), 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well.
100_2977
In a separate large bowl combine:
3 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 pumpkin seeds
1/2 sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
oat bars
All of these dry ingredients can be adjusted to your taste. Be Creative! I chose to also add:

shredded coconut
cinnamon
cacao nibs
chia seeds
homemade granola bars
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread evenly in a greased  8×8 baking pan.
100_2983
Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.
chocolate covered granola bars
I wanted a little extra something on these so I melted some organic chocolate chips on top and spread with a knife. Not enough to cover them, but enough to get my daily chocolate fix in a healthy way! Check out my recipe for homemade protein balls here!
homemade energy bars

Snack Like a Boss

I am big fan of snacking. I sometimes create whole meals out of snacks. Truthfully, I think snack is a useless word. If you’re going to eat; eat, right? The food industry has created an entire market around “snack items” which I think is total bull****

The highly processed, sugar-laden, refined carbohydrates that they stuff in a colorful can or a bag and call “snack packs” are about as filling and nutritious as a foam peanut.  And yes, that includes packaged granola bars which are basically candy bars with fancy names.  I feel strongly about being tricked into buying small-sized items out of convenience that majorly lack nutritional value. ESPECIALLY because most snack items are marketed directly at kids.

Take charge and make up your own snacking rules! Slice and chop up some fresh fruit and veggies and store in the fridge for the week. Make them easily accessible by storing in clear containers in the front of the shelves. Use hummus, pesto, yogurt and nut butters as kid friendly dips. Try food items you wouldn’t normally consider snacks; 1/2 cold baked sweet potato, green smoothies, overnight oats, a pita stuffed with hummus and sprouts.

I made a meal out of this rice cake snack the other night by topping with hummus, cottage cheese, sliced avocado and a sprinkling of seasonings.

high protein rice cake snack

I know what you’re saying “Carole-Ann, rice cakes taste like foam peanuts,  they have no flavor, they are awful, blah blah blah” I hear your complaints, but does THIS look awful? Naturally salty, crunchy peanut butter topped with golden raw local honey oozing over the sides?

sweet treat honey and PB

Maybe you have to use your imagination and work a little harder to make rice cakes interesting but they are a great canvas for snack art.

I also love using whole wheat tortillas for quick small meals. I cut into half and fold into quarters. I packed this one to take to work with peanut butter, thinly sliced apples, and cinnamon.

peanut butter apple sandwich

It folds up neatly and is easy to eat without being too messy, unlike the honey dripped rice cake.

peanut butter apple wrap

Be creative- add raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds, sliced bananas, almond butter, etc.

My other favorite snack is baby carrots- either plain or dipped in hummus or pesto. My dogs love them too!

homemade pesto

Make your own “instant oatmeal” by packing whole oats, cinnamon, nuts, raisins, etc. into individual containers and take one out when you need some healthy carbs.  Here is a jar of overnight oats I prepared for a client. All she had to do was add almond milk and honey and refrigerate overnight.

overnight oatsEat when you’re hungry, forget about the correct “meal time” and feed your body what it needs. Don’t let yourself get famished between meals in the name of “no snacking”- that is counter productive to maintaining a healthy metabolism. But for the love of real food- please stay away from vending machines. Save your money and carry your own!

Patriotic Parfaits

I know I know, why didn’t I wait until the 4th of July for this post? Well, strawberries are in season right now and isn’t there a flag day coming up? So it’s still timely! I am in love with my new mason jars that my BF bought me. A whole case of these replaced my old drinking glasses that were caked with lipgloss. Gross.

I started with freshly-picked, juicy, local strawberries from the 12South Farmer’s Market

strawberries in mason jar

Add a layer of plain greek yogurt, it’s like thick whipped cream but not too sweet!

strawberries and yogurt

Spread homemade granola with almonds on top of yogurt-

yogurt parfait with granola

Top that with fresh organic blueberries. I got mine on sale at Whole Foods.

berry yogurt parfait

Another spoonful of yogurt-

yogurt berry parfait

And top with more berries and chopped walnuts.

Nuts, Berries, Yogurt parfait

I sprinkled mine with cinnamon and drizzled with local raw honey before serving with a long handled spoon.

I told myself I would just have a few bites because it was so much. That didn’t really come true.

Intuitive Eating vs Dieting

“Are you GF? Vegan? Do you eat meat? What about fish? Do you use dairy? Are you grain free?” There is an overload of food labels out there and everyone seems to want to claim a certain diet that fits into a neat little box with rules on how to be healthy. That is not always the best thing to do though. We all have different bodies and digestive systems, and our needs are constantly changing.  What works for one person may not work for another, or for that same person at a different time in their life.

I am an “Intuitive Eater”.  I listen to what my body wants/needs and I try to meet those needs in the best way possible. I don’t let myself get so hungry that I reach for anything to satiate me. I eat with my head AND my heart. I take my time to think about the process before making decisions around food or following someone else’s rules on eating. I’ve never been good with rules.

Try this the next time you are craving something: drink a glass of water, take some breaths, think about the hunger; where is it in your body-  is it emotional or physical? If it’s physical, ask yourself what would REALLY satisfy you, not just a quick fix, but a deep satisfaction. I promise if you practice this and have a good supply of real, whole foods available, your body will start giving you clues to eat healthier. The body knows what it needs for optimal health.

The best rules are the ones we create for ourselves

I am still more drawn to a vegetarian diet these days. I have had a bite of chicken here or there and a piece of fish every so often but for some reason my body is responding best to meat free. I’ve been making lots of grains, veggies, and wraps.

veggie wrap

I love these for lunch: WW tortillas, sliced carrots, tomatoes, baby spinach, avocado, cottage cheese, and sunflower seeds.

I also try to eat with the seasons when possible. I take advantage of local farmer’s markets and the offerings from local farms. Strawberry season is almost over and I am devastated. I am truly in love with local homegrown berries!

local strawberries

I would be lying if I said I don’t care about how my body looks as well as how it feels. Rumor has it there is a beach trip in my not too distant future and  I want to keep a lean, strong body that I work hard for. I’ve given up bread with breakfast to lighten my carb intake. I make egg whites with veggies, avocado, and cottage cheese with sunflower seeds.  I don’t even miss the toast with all this great protein.

scrambled egg whites, avocado

Weekday breakfasts are steel cut oats with fruit/nuts/local honey. But this Sunday I had my new waffle iron and couldn’t wait to make waffles!!! I used a 10 grain mix and added vanilla and coconut oil so they were sweet. I separated the eggs and frothed the whites so they had some good fluff to them too! My bf said “I’ve never seen anyone get so happy about a waffle iron”  Here is my first one with berries, bananas, walnuts, and greek yogurt:

belgian waffle

Sigh….such a beautiful way to start a Sunday. This one was definitely from the heart.

Weekly Nosh-Up

Happy Spring! I am enjoying the green grass and wild violets that have taken over my backyard and it’s been warm enough to go barefoot, which is my favorite thing in the world!

photo (11)

I had an interesting food week this week with lots of mini-meals and cravings for green vegetables and comfort food. I guess I was in need of all of it. I enjoyed warm steel cut oats in the mornings as it was still a little chilly here and I know when summer arrives I won’t want hot cereal much. But I also made overnight oats a few times with my new dried goji berries and raw pumpkin seeds. Goji berries are considered one of the superfoods because of all the nutrients and antioxidants in them. They have a slight tartness so they are good in recipes. See a list of more raw superfoods from David Wolfe here.

goji berries in oatmeal

I was also craving greens so I bought: Broccoli, shredded broccoli and carrots, baby bok-choy, kale, and brussel sprouts. I ate the kale and bok choy in coconut oil as usual and I roasted the B.Sprouts with a drizzle of olive oil and topped with slivered almonds. I noshed on them all week, hot and cold.

brussel sprouts w/sliced almonds

For the sweets I was craving, I swirled frozen berries, banana, honey, cinnamon and walnuts into some plain greek yogurt. This has become a daily ritual for me. I want to try shredded coconut in it soon.

berry yogurt swirl

I found some cara cara oranges and bought a huge bag as they are in season right now and won’t be back again until next year. These taste like CANDY to me, they are so hydrating too. I think the extra vitamin C has kept me from getting sick all year while most everyone else I meet has suffered colds or flu.

cara cara orange

Earlier in the week I attended a vegetarian dinner at a local university and got a lot of good ideas I want to try at home. I spent most of the meal trying to figure out the ingredients of what I was eating.

I also visited a new juice bar in my neighborhood (Finally!) called The Urban Juicer

The Urban Juicer

and had a yummy raw cacao powder smoothie. Cacao is another superfood so I guess I’ve had a Super week!!

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