balance, breakfast, dessert, easy, gluten free, health, pumpkin, quick, recipe, smoothie, vegan

Fall in love with Pumpkin

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Ok, so I know I don’t have to sell anyone on how awesome pumpkin is, it’s easily the most popular fall flavor, we find it in lattes, muffins, patches, skincare and basic hashtags all over instagram. Aside from being trendy, pumpkin is actually super good for you.

Pumpkin is packed with fiber which helps you feel fuller longer so adding this tasty member of the squash family to your oatmeal, smoothies or even soup is a great healthy choice. They are also packed with vitamin C to help you fight that fall cold and full of beta carotene and antioxidants to help lower blood pressure and even improve eyesight. we often think of bananas when we think of potassium, but pumpkin also boasts this nutrient helping you recover from those tough fall runs in the rain.

Give this delicious smoothie a try the next time you want a pumpkin drink, it’s vegan, gluten free and full of fiber and vitamins. For an extra boost add your favorite plant based protein powder.

Perfect Pumpkin Smoothie

½ cup pumpkin puree

½ banana

⅓ cup oats

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 ice cubes

1 cup nondairy milk

 

If you just can’t get enough pumpkin, you may want to try a pumpkin body scrub. Penelope and the Beauty Bar in the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Seattle has a full body polish or foot scrub and massage to take your pumpkin pampering to the next level. Pumpkin is great for the skin because of all of it’s fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids which are often found in high end skin products. The vitamin C and A help sooth skin and boost collagen production to help prevent the signs of aging.

I checked out their food scrub and I have to say, even though my tootsies are tucked warmly away inside my boots this season, they are so incredibly smooth and soft. I walked away from my scrub feeling so relaxed and refreshed, my technician did an amazing job and my feet smelled amazing afterwards.

The benefits don’t stop there, you can make pumpkin lotion, lip balm and even face masks.

If you are interested in a DIY version, give this one a try from One Green Planet

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup organic canned pumpkin (or homemade pumpkin puree)

  • Mix sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon together. Mix with pumpkin. Put on skin, scrub in circular motion, and rinse. All smooth and clean!

 

Hope you have fun this fall and find a new way to enjoy our favorite fall flavor – let me know your favorite unique ways to use pumpkin! #squashgoals

balance, breakfast, brunch, dinner, easy, health, quick, recipe, tips

How to Meal Prep Like a Boss

Summer has finally arrived in Seattle, which means we are busier than ever, and staying on track and eating healthy can be difficult. I get it – you’ve got parks to visits, kayaks to float in and microbrews to drink in the sun. That’s where a little planning and prepping one day a week can make a big difference in your life. If you are busy, want to lose weight, eat healthier or just like to get all your cooking done at once, this is the way to go.

It can seem daunting at first to plan that far ahead (I know it was for me) but hopefully these tips will help make it easier and get you going towards successful meal prepping.

Start Simple
This isn’t really the time to start eating crazy foods you aren’t used to, at least for the first few weeks. Think about putting together foods you already like and know how to prepare, this will save you time to begin with.

Master Breakfast
If you already eat oatmeal, try doing overnight oats. I love oats because they are high in fiber, and can be super nutritious for a filling and healthy breakfast. If you’re more of an egg person, you can prep the veggies for a scramble or omelette ahead of time and throw them in the pan in the morning with some already beaten eggs and whip up a breakfast in just a few minutes. Better yet, bake egg muffins all at once and have breakfast all week.

Shop Smart
Don’t head to the store without a plan, you run the risk of roaming the aisles and buying foods that don’t really go together. Plan out what you’re going to have for the week and make a list to take to the store, you’ll save time, money and sanity.

Be Snack Savvy
Pre-packaged minimally processed bars like Kind and RX make great snacks that take absolutely no work. If you’re looking for more whole food options, buying things in bulk like string cheese and hard boiling a bunch of eggs ahead of time are great to grab on the go.

Get Freezin’
Making large batches of food ahead of time and freezing them is a great way to save time. You can throw tomorrow’s dinner in the fridge to thaw before you head to work and come home to a dinner that will require a few minutes in the microwave. Or, if you’re into smoothies, try making homemade smoothie kits of frozen fruit and veggies and then after a workout or whenever, throw it in a blender with your milk or water of choice and you’re good to go.

Choose Grains Wisely
Pick grains you can use for multiple meals and cook a big batch on Sunday. Quinoa is great for breakfast in place of oatmeal, or you can throw it into salads for extra protein, or serve your fish or chicken for dinner on top of it.

Spread Your Food Out
On a sheet pan that is. Roasting veggies and protein in big batches in the oven is a super easy way to prepare a lot of food at once. You can throw these in salads, or use them for low maintenance dinner ideas.

Slow It Down
If you have a slow cooker- bust that thing out! You can make all sorts of food in your slow cooker, and it doesn’t just have to be soup. You can make quiches, oatmeal bakes, lasagna, enchiladas, roasts, the sky’s the limit. Set it to go before you leave work, come home to a delicious meal you can reheat all week.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and prep yourself for a week of healthy eating and spend less time in the kitchen. If you are looking for or in the need of some awesome meal prep ideas then make sure to check out my pinterest board.

balance, breakfast, easy, fitness, health, quick, recipe, running, snacks

Hidden Veggies

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Smooth Moves

Got someone who just doesn’t get enough veggies? Or just want to add more veggies to your diet without effort or even really tasting them? I’ve got the perfect solution for you- smoothies!

Smoothies are my favorite go-to for a quick breakfast or after a workout when I don’t have time to throw something else together. When putting together a smoothie, it’s important to consider all of the elements that make up a balanced meal, including healthy fat, protein and fiber. Without all of these, you are at risk of spiking your blood sugar quickly which can sabotage weight loss and cause you to be hungry again soon and reach for something else.

The rules I like to follow when I make a smoothie are a 1:2 ratio of fruit and veggies, for every fruit serving, I include 2 servings of vegetables, and include fat and protein.

Pick 1 fruit, 2 vegetables, 1 liquid, 1 fat, 1 protein, 2-3 ice cubes = your complete smoothie.

Here are some of my favorites :

Fruit :

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or mixed berries
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 packaged unsweetened acai puree

Veggies :

  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1-2 beets
  • 1/4-1/2 sweet potato

Liquid :

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk or regular milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut water
  • 1 cup cold water

Fat :

  • 1-2 tbsp nut butter
  • 1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw nuts
  • 1/4 avocado

Protein

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop plant based protein powder
  • 3 tbsp powdered peanut butter

 

Be mindful of portion sizes and remember, if weight loss is your goal or even maintenance, a smoothie is a great option, but not in addition to all of your regular foods, otherwise you’ll have a caloric excess. If you are trying to gain weight, increase protein and fat content and consume in addition to your regular diet.

Happy blending, you’re only limited by your creativity, I promise you won’t even know the veggies are in there and can get 1/2 of your servings of both fruit and veggies in one smoothie!

Let me know what you’ve tried!

 

balance, brunch, easy, gluten free, quick, recipe, snacks, vegan, vegetarian

Tropical Oat Bars

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Sometimes, you want to eat seasonally, like enjoying ice cream in the summer to beat the heat, or cozy up with a hot bowl of soup in the winter to warm up. And sometimes, it just gets so damn cold that you decide to protest the weather and fantasize about a dreamy tropical getaway and have to make some snacks that help you do just that.

I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but I almost always go refined sugar free in January as a body refresh and reset. I do pretty well at resisting the baked goods during the holidays but even I occasionally find myself indulging in more than my fair share of homemade cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie and holiday cookies. I am a firm believer in enjoying your food always and embracing the treats of the season are a part of enjoying time with family and remembering traditions. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a break from it all come January.

Going refined sugar free works really well for me, I work well with boundaries and telling myself that I am not having something is often easier than I will eat less of something.

I love snacking on whole foods when I’m running between school, work or just heading to a workout, but many bars you find in stores are loaded with extra sugar or just weird ingredients. That, and I can make my own bars in about 15 minutes for a lot less.

Here are some tropical banana, oat, toasted coconut and almond bars that are naturally sweetened, full of healthy fat and fiber to help get you through these long, dark winter days. You could always add some dried pineapple or mango for an extra tropical feel, just make sure your dried fruit doesn’t have any added sugar.


 

Tropical Oat Bars

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Total Time : 15 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 cups oats (I used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free)

1 cup roasted and unsalted almonds

1/2 pepitas

1 cup banana chips

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions :

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil, maple syrup and honey over heat on low until simmering.
  • Spread oats and coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes (watch to make sure they don’t burn)
  • When oats and coconut flakes are done, mix in a  bowl with almonds, pepitas and banana chips and cover with oil and syrup mixture.

 

 

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  • Mix to combine and pour into 9X9 baking pan.
  • Place in refrigerator until solid, slice and enjoy. Store in refrigerator.

 

 

breakfast, easy, gluten free, quick, snacks, vegan

Maple Pumpkin Granola (GF, Vegan)

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I have been ready for fall for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the sunshine and warm weather as much as the next person, but not all the time. There is something so comforting about the changing leaves, a slight chill in the area and the coziness of drinking a cup of tea and baking on a Sunday afternoon when it’s grey out. I also think that pumpkin is an underrated squash that only really gets hype around Halloween and Thanksgiving and love using it in all my cooking, including both savory things and sweet.

I’ve been craving some hearty granola, but most of the stuff you buy in the store has a lot of sugar and is highly processed. I wanted some granola that had all of the flavors of fall I love so much, but without the refined sugar. My criteria also included something with healthy fat and lots of plant protein.

Enter my maple pumpkin granola. It’s sweetened with a little maple syrup and some apple juice, pecans and pumpkin seeds for crunch, raw pumpkin for some yummy pumpkin flavor, flax meal for heart healthy omega 3’s and coconut flakes for something a little different.

I am so happy with how this granola turned out, my kitchen smelled amazing  and I could hardly wait to sample this when it came out of the oven. Not only is it delicious but it far exceeded my nutritional criteria and contains vitamins A and C, healthy fat, lots of protein, fiber and iron. I hope you will love this just as much as me, this was so easy to throw together in a few minutes and enjoy all week as breakfast or just a tasty snack.


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Maple Pumpkin Granola

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Bake time : 45 minutes

Ingredients :

2 cups raw oats

2/3 cup raw pecans

2/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (can also use raw)

1/3 cup unsweetened raw coconut flakes

1/3 cup flax meal

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup apple juice unsweetened

2 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 cup raw pumpkin

Instructions :

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix.

Combine apple juice, maple syrup and pumpkin in medium size bowl. Microwave coconut oil to melt and add to remaining wet ingredients.

Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat.

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Spread on a large cookie sheet to cover. Bake for 20 minutes and stir. Bake for additional 20-25 minutes until golden brown and remove from oven and allow to sit and cool.

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Enjoy with almond milk or over yogurt or just by the handful which I ended up doing because it was too delicious to not snack on!

easy, gluten free, quick, snacks, vegan

Easy Energy?!

What? It’s that simple? Well, sort of. Choosing to put good fuel into your body will keep you going and help you tackle those meetings, your workout, and anything else that comes your way. A little planning will help you continue to stay on track no matter how busy, and these bites are just the thing for that! Whether I’m running to school, work or just a workout when I want something slightly sweet but also nutritionally balanced, I reach for these. They take minutes to pull together and are the perfect balance of protein, heart healthy omegas and fiber to help you feel full between meals and feel satiated! Enjoy!

Date Almond Bites 

Prep Time : 1 hour | Cook time : 10 minutes

Ingredients :

1 cup oats

10 dates

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions :

1. Combine oats, cinnamon, chia seeds and coconut flakes in your food processor. Pulse until oats have broken down and you get a meal that looks like this.

2. Add dates and almonds to your food processor and continue to pulse until mixture begins to come together.

3. Your mixture will begin to ball up in your food processor, when this happens, pause and scrape down the sides and continue to pulse until it resembles this.

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4. When you get the mixture, dump out your food processor and roll into 1 inch size balls and store in the fridge. When you need a quick snack grab a few and take them with you. Hope you enjoy!

dinner, easy, quick, shrimp

Simple Lemon Pasta With Shrimp

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Sometimes you just want a super simple dinner, no frills, nothing crazy, just some delicious eats. While I love meal planning most of the time, there is a wonderful freedom about looking in your fridge and pantry and throwing together something with what you have already. In my case it led to this really simple pasta that we loved!

We’ve previously established a shrimp passion in our house and it had been a while since I pulled these babies out of the freezer. Not only are they super delish but they are also a powerhouse of awesome stuff you need! They are super low in calories, high in protein and a great source of iron and omegas, who doesn’t want that?

I love the bite of the arugula in this dish works really well with the lemon and shrimp, its light, refreshing and filling without weighing you down.This comes together super quick so if you’re feeling extra lazy or running late, it’s the perfect dish.


Simple Lemon Pasta with Shrimp, Tomatoes and Arugula

Prep Time : 5 minutes | Cook time : 15 minutes | Serves 2

Ingredients : 

4 oz whole wheat spaghetti

20 large shrimp (we like to use a lot)

2 lemons

15 grape tomatoes

1 large handful or arugula

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Lemon pepper

Instructions : 

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1. To assemble lemon sauce, squeeze juice of lemons into a mason jar or bowl.Zest one lemon and add with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Shake or stir to combine, taste and set aside.

2. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss with shrimp, add salt and lemon pepper to taste. Set aside.

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3. Bring water to boil on stove, salt the water, add pasta and cook to al dente.

4. While pasta is cooking, halve your tomatoes and set aside with arugula.

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5. When pasta is done, drain pasta and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water and add back to pasta.  Heat skillet with remaining olive oil and add shrimp to cook on medium high until pink, approximately 4-5 minutes.

6. When shrimp are done cooking, add to cooked pasta. Throw in your chopped tomatoes, a big handful of arugula and pour in your lemon olive oil sauce. Toss all ingredients to combine and enjoy! I threw some lemon zest on top to make it extra lemony and it was great.

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This was so good we went back for seconds but it was even better the next day for leftovers. Eat up!