Smashed Cucumber Salad with Spicy Goat's Yogurt Miso Dressing

Summer is here. It's hot. It's humid. It's time to make like a cucumber and coooool. 

I've got the perfect summer salad for you to do just that. It's savory, crunchy, creamy, and a little spicy. The best part is that it takes minutes to throw together, and it's best when consumed by the pool (or the beach). 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, smashed with a rolling pin
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons goat's milk yogurt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon miso paste
  • salt and red pepper flakes to taste
  • water if desired to thin
  • optional: garnish with toasted sesame seeds and/or avocado

Method:

  1. Smash the cucumber - don't be shy! Put your apron and splash boots on because it can get a little messy.
  2. Slice the radishes, tear the mint, and add them to a bowl with the smashed cucumber pieces.
  3. Add goat's milk yogurt, toasted sesame oil, miso, and red pepper to a small bowl, and whisk. Adjust seasoning and consistency (with water) as desired, and drizzle over the cucumbers pieces. 
  4. Top with toasted sesame seeds and/or avocado, and enjoy! 

 

This post was sponsored by The Village Bakery

Wasabi Salad

If you received my April newsletter, you know that this a time of major transition in my life. I’m graduating from college tomorrow, and moving to New York to attend culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute. I could not be more excited about this next chapter in my life! That being said, I don’t want to leave Rhodes yet. I’ve been so lucky to make incredible friends during my four years. Rhodes was the only school I applied to, and I never looked back. It has been four years of ups and downs, but I will forever be grateful for all the lessons I learned and memories I forged with my friends along the way.

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I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because I have to go to Baccalaureate soon! This recipe is inspired by a salad that my mom and I had at Zuma in New York after a brutal day of apartment hunting. It sounds glamorous and exciting and fun to search for apartments in Manhattan, but let me tell ya, it’s anything but. It’s an incredibly fast and stressful process, and I am so relieved that it’s over.

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Back to the salad… it’s simple, quick to throw together, and easily customizable. The best part is the wasabi dressing. Its pungent spice isn’t like fire from a chili. It adds a subtler, sinus clearing heat like horseradish or a good mustard. The wasabi is blended with cucumber to cut into the heat a bit, so while your sinuses will be relieved from the pollen induced stuffiness, you will be simultaneously refreshed by the coolness of the cuke and the brightness of lime. Every bite of this salad contains the crunch of napa cabbage, creaminess of avocado, and refreshing spice from the wasabi dressing. If you can't get your hands on watercress, don’t worry about it. Some additions that would pair nicely are blanched asparagus, sweet peas, shaved carrots, or edamame.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and stick around! There will be many more recipes coming here in the coming months. Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter (bottom of the sidebar on the right of your screen) if you don’t want to miss any new posts or updates!

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Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 head napa cabbage
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 head watercress
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 cucumber
  • avocado to garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 2 cups cucumber (peeled)
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • juice and zest from 1 lime
  • 1.5-2 teaspoons wasabi powder
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Wash and chop all the salad ingredients, and place in a large bowl. 
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender, and blender on high until well combined and smooth. *If you don't have a high powered blender, soak your cashews for a few hours. Adjust seasoning as necessary. 
  3. Toss the dressing into the salad, top with avocado, and serve immediately. 
  4. Enjoy!

 

 

Massaged Kale Salad with Fennel Pesto

It's here again, my good pal fennel. I just can't get enough!

Today I'm sharing a recipe that might be my mom's favorite thing I've ever created. She would not stop bragging about how much she loved it last week. We massaged it into kale for a salad, and it truly was divine. Lightly wilted kale popping with peppery and nutty flavors from the pesto with just a hint of spice and the brightness of fresh lemon. It's perfect for any family gathering or as an easy meal prepped lunch. 

 When the Mississippi River sunset lighting is just right...

When the Mississippi River sunset lighting is just right...

While I was preparing the salad last weekend, my dad looked at me a little perplexed, and asked what I was doing to the kale. With hands covered in Fennel Pesto, buried deep in a bowl suitable for a cow's lunch, I answered, "I'm massaging it!" Even more confused, he asked my why. 

Kale is known as a bitter, tough, superfood that only the uber health conscious (or trendy) consume these days. While it might be difficult to consume raw, I highly encourage incorporating kale into the routine. In my opinion, it's an incredibly versatile green that works great in soups, salads, smoothies and sautés. Massaging kale in salads is an easy way to experience the deliciousness and versatility of kale. To massage kale, you simply add a bunch of kale greens (I prefer mine chopped), stems removed, into a large bowl, add a pinch of salt, lemon juice, and olive oil (or a dressing or sauce like Fennel Pesto), and rub it into the greens. Gently squeeze and spread the dressing over the kale leaves, and you will notice the kale shrinks and becomes a darker green hue. By massaging kale, you break down its tough cellulose structure, making it much easier to chew and digest (not to mention the bitter flavor also dissipates with a good ol' rub down).

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So here's the recipe to my Fennel Pesto. I hope you enjoy it in massaged kale salads, pastas, pizzas, with crackers or raw veggies, or by the spoonful! 

Ingredients:

 Served with carrot ribbons lightly sautéed in olive oil with a pinch of himalayan salt.

Served with carrot ribbons lightly sautéed in olive oil with a pinch of himalayan salt.

  • fronds and stems from one fennel bulb

  • 1/2 shallot

  • 1-2 cloves garlic

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds (optional)

  • juice from one lemon

  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Add fennel, shallot, garlic, pine nuts, and hemp seeds to a food processor, and blend until very finely chopped. 
  2. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and blend again until smooth and creamy. 
  3. Enjoy!

 

Raw Carrot Cake Bites

My family observes lent in some capacity every year. We treat it as a time of heightened awareness and gratitude to reflect on the sacrifice Christ made to save us from our sins. God is so good. During the forty-day period, we each choose something to “give up.” My dad almost always gives up fried food and chips, my mom and I usually set a fitness goal and cut out something like sugar, and my brother’s sacrifice is different every year.

We take advantage of this religious observance to force ourselves back into healthy habits. New Years resolutions have been thrown to the wayside, but lent comes in just in time to save us from our unhealthy habits. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so 40 days is twice as good right?

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When I was in sixth grade, I gave up soft drinks. This was a significant feat because just as any other child my age (or honestly any other person eating according to the Standard American Diet), I was addicted. Both of my parents drank multiple diet cokes a day, and when we ate out at restaurants my brother and I would beg our parents for a soda. Diet Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, or if we were feeling fancy, a Shirley Temple. I knew they were not good for my body, but I still loved them, and my goal for lent was to make it really hard. I got through the forty days, and I lost my desire for soft drinks altogether. Seeing my friends and parents ordering them at dinner did not affect me at all. I was perfectly satisfied with my water (or occasional lemonade).

I have not consumed a soft drink since 2008 (excluding the occasional cocktail mixer). You could say this was my first conscious experience changing my taste buds. I thought it was pretty cool, and I desperately wanted my parents to try cutting soft drinks too. (After years of trying to get them to satisfy their caffeine craving elsewhere, they now enjoy coffee, matcha, tea, and kombucha. Rarely do they sip the notorious diet coke. My brother is a different story, but he’s 18. I think he’ll learn eventually.)

This year, my mom asked me what I was giving up about a week before lent started, and I was clueless. I hadn’t even thought about it yet. My first instinct was to give up chocolate because it’s my indulgence. If I’m being 100% honest with you, I have at least one piece of chocolate a day. Sometimes I eat more than I should, which is why I thought I should give it up, but I decided that instead of cutting it out completely I would consume it mindfully. For the most part, I’ve succeeded. Some days I crave a piece of chocolate in the afternoon and/or after dinner, and other days I don’t. In the past on the days that I don’t crave it, I often eat it anyway, just out of habit. I’ve stopped doing this. Several times during this season of lent, I’ve gone up to a week without any chocolate at all. When I get a craving, I try to investigate it before I indulge. Am I reaching for the chocolate out of boredom or habit? If yes, I try to keep myself busy on another task to curb the desire. If I still want it later, or if the answer to that question is no, then I’ll enjoy a square.

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What did I actually choose to give up though? Nothing. I guess you could say mindlessness, but I still have a long way to go. I wanted to use this season of lent to help myself form a new habit of gratitude and mindfulness. My main goal was to keep a gratitude journal: write at least one thing at the end of each day for which I’m grateful. I tried to make each one unique to each day, and I’m excited to say that I succeeded. I have over 40 days of entries (I started a little early), and I hope to continue. I wanted to start a gratitude journal because I easily get caught in cycles of negativity and complaining. If you know me, you know what I’m talking about (especially you, mom). Obviously I’m not particularly proud of this aspect of my personality, which is why I have been seeking to change. My dad always says, if there’s something you don’t like, change it. He also always reminds me to “major in the majors,” which basically means to focus on the important things in life and don’t get caught up in the small things that really don’t matter at the end of the day. It’s his way of reminding me to keep everything in perspective, and stay positive. Gratitude journaling is something I wanted to start for a long time, but never quite got around to it. Lent was the perfect push.

If you want to get started, but don’t know where to start, don’t worry – it’s easy!

Here are the steps:

1.     Find a notebook and a pen.

2.     Decide what time you want to write everyday.

The second step is deceptively crucial. Excuse my cliché, but consistency is key when forming a new habit. It took me a long time to finally get started because I wasn’t strict enough with myself. It wasn’t until I forced myself to write something down every night before I went to sleep that I got into the habit. Now, if I don’t do it, I have a harder time falling asleep until I remember to write something down. Some people journal first thing in the morning and others do it at night. I might experiment with the times that I journal over the next few weeks to see which I prefer. My instinct was to start at night, when they day is fresh on my mind, but I would like to try journaling in the morning.

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That’s it. You’re ready to start gratitude journaling. I hope that it brings you awareness and positivity. Here are a few of the things I wrote down during lent. I hope this helps inspire you to start gratitude journaling. It is easy and rewarding. It hasn’t made me an exceptionally positive person overnight, but it has made me more aware of the things that make me smile everyday.

February 13

Today I am grateful for my parents. They are taking me out to one of my favorite restaurants for Valentine’s Day. They are the best valentines.

February 17

I’m realizing with this journal that I have so much to be grateful for (duh) – big and small. I knew this would happen, but I have still had a hard time starting. I think the habit will finally stick. Here are a few things from today…

Good conversations with teammates

Coconut yogurt because it’s so creamy and delicious

When Coach Clary makes us laugh

A solid golf shot on real, green grass

March 2

Today I’m grateful for Charlie’s performance in the school play. It brought us all so much joy. He’s a natural!

March 16

My professor – she is unbelievably supportive, kind, and encouraging of my writing

I GOT ACCEPTED TO NGI (culinary school)!

March 25

My fans (haha) – Mom, Dad, Papaw, Mary, Hamp, and Nancy all came out to watch me play my last tournament in Memphis. These people are amazing – I am so blessed.

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Now that it's Easter weekend, and lent is over, here's a recipe for the perfect, easy bunny-themed treat: Raw Carrot Cake Bites.  

Ingredients:

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  • 1/4 cup dried apricots (8 or 9)
  • 1 cup nuts (I used 1/2 almond, 1/2 cashew)
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 Tablespoon orange zest (about 1/2 one navel orange)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1.5 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • pinch salt
  • optional: 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Soak the dried apricots in hot water while you prep the rest of the ingredients (5-10 minutes). 
  2. Add nuts and coconut to a food processor, and blend on high for 30 seconds, until broken down but still slightly chunky. 
  3. Add all other ingredients except coconut oil and chocolate chips, and blend until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. 
  4. Once a batter has formed, stream in coconut oil on low speed. 
  5. Stir in chocolate chips last, if using. 
  6. Scoop into balls. You can either refrigerate or dehydrate the balls. Dehydrating will yield a more dry and firm ball, while refrigerating will yield a moist ball. If you chose to dehydrate, do so at 125F for 6 hours, or overnight. The longer they sit in the dehydrator, the dryer the balls will be. 
  7. Enjoy, and have a Happy Easter!

 

 

Fennel Frond Dip

Do you love fennel as much as I do? Probably not... I have been putting fennel on everything recently, and I think this strange craving stems from the oncoming spring. My body is ready for more raw, cool foods in this season. In addition to its mildly sweet flavor and satisfying crunch, fennel boasts some impressive health benefits. It's a natural diuretic, stimulates digestion, and relieves intestinal cramps and bloating. Since I've been using so much fennel, I found myself tossing some fennel fronds in the trash. Tossing any food makes me cringe a little because food waste is a massive problem in our modern world.

 Served with  Simple Mills crackers . 

Served with Simple Mills crackers

According to the USDA, food waste in the United States falls between 30-40% of the food supply, which equates with 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food (as of 2010). That's a lot. My goal is not to make you feel guilty for throwing away a rotten apple that was pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten. I simply want to call attention to this issue because I find myself throwing away perfectly good parts of certain vegetables, like fennel fronds. There are a plethora of uses for fennel fronds, from a garnish on fancy restaurant dishes to a simple dip, or an extra pop of flavor in a sandwich or salad. 

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One of my goals is to reduce my food waste, and I try to do that through my cooking. I want to learn how to use and appreciate every part of a plant so that nothing goes to waste and everything tastes delicious! Here's a recipe for Fennel Frond Dip that utilizes the flavor packed leaves on a bulb of fennel. It's slightly spicy, light but filling, and absolutely mouth watering, perfect for an afternoon snack or gathering with friends!

Ingredients:

  • stem and fronds from one fennel bulb
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or almonds)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch salt

Method:

  1. Combine fennel, walnuts, garlic, and shallot in a small food processor, and blend until well chopped. 
  2. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, and blend again until well combined. 
  3. Serve with veggies, chips, crackers, or whatever you want! 
  4. Enjoy!

End of Winter Orange Crisp

The end of winter is here, and I am enthused. Are you?

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This winter has been long and rainy. I miss seeing the sun in Memphis. The few days we've had of sun and blue skies brought energy and good moods. The weeks of cold, rainy, grey skies brought gloom. On these grey days I have a hard time maintaining a good attitude. I've been going on walks, taking my vitamin D supplement, and keeping a gratitude journal every day, but sometimes I get so deep in a slump that I cannot muster the strength to climb my way out. 

The idea for this orange crisp popped into my head on a grey day when I was feeling tired and unmotivated. One of the things I love about winter is buying citrus. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits of every shape, size, and variety make a mountain on my counter. With this recipe, I decided to utilize the seasonal citrus to create a sunshiny dessert sure to pull anyone out of a weather related mood funk. So give it a try, and let me know what you think. Act fast to get the last of the citrus before their season is over!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 oranges (I used three different varieties, but you can use whichever you prefer.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • 3 Tablespoons oats
  • 3 Tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, and grease 8' cast iron skillet with ghee.
  2. Cut the peel off the oranges and cut into circles or supreme. 
  3. Toss orange pieces with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coconut sugar, and a pinch of salt, then layer them in the skillet. 
  4. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a fork or your hands until well combined.
  5. Crumble the oat mixture over the oranges, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the topping looks golden. 
  6. Enjoy!

5 Go-To Sauces

Creamy Tahini Dressing

We celebrated my 21st birthday at Nobu in London, where I studied abroad last summer. I ordered the avocado salad because duh... I wasn't expecting my favorite part to be the dressing. I begged the waiter for the recipe, and he told me the ingredients. Five simple ingredients whisked together for the smooth, nutty dressing. When I got home, I recreated it but added garlic for little extra tang and sweetness. It's perfect on anything and everything... I'm not kidding! I love it over roasted beets (or any other vegetable) with a sprinkle of microgreens or drizzled over blistered shoshito peppers.  

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup smooth tahini
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (one small lemon)
  • 2 Tablespoons tamari
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • water as needed

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a small food processor, and combine. If you don't have a food processor, mince the garlic, and whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Add water one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved. 
  3. Enjoy!

Miso-Herb Vinaigrette

I love keeping a couple versatile salad dressings in the fridge to keep things interesting throughout the week. I love simply tossing my greens with olive oil and lemon juice, but sometimes it's nice to have an unexpected flavor kick. Miso offers a deeply satisfying umami element to this herb-loaded dressing. It's light, flavorful, and versatile - perfect for any salad or bowl!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon miso paste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sprigs fresh basil
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a small food processor and blend until the herbs has been chopped finely and well incorporated. Thin with water as needed.
  2. Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Coconut Milk

Indian spices have been my go-to recently. With these cold, rainy weeks (not just days...weeks) in Memphis, I love coming home to a warm grain and veggie bowl elevated with all the coziest, nutritionally rich Indian spices. This sauce is great to make ahead and keep in the fridge. It will become thicker in the fridge, but will liquefy as you warm it. (It's also great served straight from the fridge.) The spices are packed with antioxidants and support digestion. It's not spicy, but feel free to add red pepper flakes to taste.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon turmeric powder (or 1 Tablespoon fresh turmeric)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger (or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of 1/2 a lime

Method:

  1. Begin by toasting coriander, cumin, mustard, and fennel seeds over a pan on medium heat until they become fragrant (about 3 minutes).
  2. Add the coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, warmed seeds, and lime juice to a high speed blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Enjoy!

Spicy Cashew Cheese Sauce

This sauce is perfect for tacos, buddha bowls, pizzas, anything! It takes minutes to whiz it up, and it's foolproof. The base of this recipe is just cashews, water, and nutritional yeast, making it easily customizable. If you don't want it spicy, just leave out the cayenne. Feel free to add your favorite spices and create your own favorite flavor combo! 

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Ingredients:

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  • 2/3 cup cashews (If you're not using a high speed blender like a Vitamin or Blendtec, you should soak them for a few hours.)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (I added this for color)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne (you can omit if you don't like spice)
  • sea salt to taste

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and whiz away! After about two minutes, you'll have a beautiful, flavorful, velvety smooth, cheesy sauce. 
  2. Enjoy!

Sweet n' Spicy Squash Cream

Slightly sweet and nutty, this sauce is great on top of bowls, pizzas, roasted veggies, and so much more! It's simple with only five ingredients, and requires minimal effort. The result is an extra flavor kick you'll want on repeat!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked 2+ hours)
  • 1/2 cup roasted acorn squash (cut in half, rub flesh with avocado oil, place flesh sides down on baking tray, roast at 400F for 30 minutes)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (could omit or increase depending on your spice preferences)
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional for a cheesy flavor)
  • water as needed
  • sea salt to taste

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender, and whiz away! It should take 3-5 minutes, and you'll probably need to scrape down the sides. Add water one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Add to a bowl, salad, pizza, etc.
  3. Enjoy!

Cozy Hot Chocolate

If you know me or have read this blog, you might have caught on to the fact that I'm a chocolate addict. I try to deny it and I try to avoid it, but I always find myself perusing the chocolate aisle at the grocery store (usually Fresh Market for Hu Kitchen chocolate) or whipping up my own chocolate bars at home. I don't eat a lot of it, just a square or two after a meal, and it is unbelievably satisfying. Of course there was a time in my life when I would binge on chocolate, but I've been trying to eat mindfully for a while now, and I'm beginning to feel like I'm succeeding! I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that working toward being mindful and balanced isn't a never ending process because it is just that - it is work, and it can be very hard at times.

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I recently read Jordan Younger's book, Breaking Vegan, and I was surprised by how much of it resonated with my own relationship with food. My personality is pretty extreme: I go all in or all out at just about everything I do. I'm extremely competitive with myself, and I've dealt with health issues that have forced me (for better and worse) to view food differently from the "average American" consuming the Standard American Diet of processed foods. I'm endlessly grateful for all that I've learned (and continue learning) on my health journey, but I want to achieve food freedom. I do not want to be scared or intimidated by food. It's hard to find balance when constantly obsessing over food in an unhealthy way. My IIN Health Coach Training program is also hugely emphasizing balance and experimentation. It's crucial to find what works for each individual because every person is unique. Sounds cliche, I know, but bio-individuality is a real thing. 

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I hope to build a career around food and wellness, so it's time that I acknowledge the issues I've had with food so I can move past them. I want to obsess over beautiful and healthful creations, not what I will or will not eat at the next meal or how many calories are in that brownie. I want to help people maneuver their journey towards health and wellness. There's so much more to this story, and I'm probably going to share something more creative soon, but please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you want to talk about your own journey or if you have any tips and tricks for finding balance; I'm all ears!

 Blueberry Banana Bread from  RachlMansfield

Blueberry Banana Bread from RachlMansfield

I hope you enjoy this recipe for a Cozy Hot Chocolate. It's great for winding down at night, or treating yourself in the afternoon. Silky smooth, velvety chocolate warms the body and soul on these (hopefully) last few wintery, rainy days. 

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Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 Tablespoon both cacao and carob powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • optional: 1 teaspoon cashew butter (extra creaminess), reishi, lion's mane, cordyceps, ashwagandha, maca, etc.

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined. (One of my favorite kitchen appliances is my Vitamix, find the best kitchen products at https://www.village-bakery.com/)
  2. Pour mixture into a small pan or pot and warm over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. 
  3. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

 

This post is sponsored by https://www.village-bakery.com/.

 

Valentine's... or Galentine's?

Will you be spending Valentine's Day with a special someone?

I don't have plans for the 14th, so I guess it'll be spur of the moment (lol). To be honest, I'll probably watch a cheesy rom com (some of my favs are Notting Hill, Pretty Woman, and Dirty Dancing)... or maybe an episode of Chef's Table - I have no complaints! 

The 13th, though, will be spent with my Galentine. My mom is my role model and best friend. We are extremely close, and I cannot imagine a day without her. She's the person to whom I know I can vent and complain, and she won't stop hanging out with me (at least most of the time). She's seen my best and my worst, and always catches my typos. She knows how to cheer me up and pull me out of a funk. My mom is way cooler than I'll ever be, and she inspires me every day. My mom is my best friend, my favorite, and my forever Galentine. We haven't made firm plans, but I'm hoping she'll come watch a movie with me this week... I'll have the treats ready!

Raw Chocolate Coconut Truffles

This treat is chocolatey, coconutty, and the perfect treat to meal prep if that's your thing. They take about 10 minutes to whip up, and you make homemade coconut milk in the process... That's a win win in my book.

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup desiccated, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2.5 Tablespoons cashew butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 2.5 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons cacao butter (or coconut oil) melted
  • 2 Tablespoons cacao powder
  • pinch of salt

For the Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 2 Tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. To make the coconut milk, add coconut flakes and water to a high speed blender. Blend on high for about 2 minutes, then strain through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Store the milk in the refrigerator, and place the coconut pulp in a food processor. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor with the coconut pulp, and process until a dough has formed. 
  3. Scoop out into balls (I used a cookie scoop), and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or plate that you can fit in your refrigerator. 
  4. To make the glaze, simply whisk all ingredients together, and either drizzle over the balls or dip the balls to cover completely. 
  5. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!
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Chocolate Banana Skillet Brownie

This one is a winner. I used green banana flour for the first time, and I absolutely love the texture. Green banana flour has some pretty awesome gut health benefits, too. It's full of prebiotic fiber, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. This skillet brownie is the perfect way to show your favorite people and their gut bugs some love!

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Ingredients:

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  • 1/4 cup green banana flour
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or coconut nectar, agave, or honey)
  • 1 overripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons nut or seed butter of choice (my favorites are cashew or almond)
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of chocolate chips or chunks (I like Enjoy Life)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Add add dry ingredients to a small bowl, and whisk.
  3. Add all wet ingredients to a medium size bowl, and whisk until fully incorporated. 
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and stir until a uniform batter has formed. Fold in chocolate chips at the end. 
  5. Pour batter into a 6.5 inch cast iron skillet. (You can definitely use another size pan, just know that the it will effect the size and thickness of the brownie.)
  6. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Enjoy!

For the Strawberries...

Ingredients:

  • one cup of chopped strawberries (or any other berry)
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • optional: sweetener to taste (maple syrup, agave, honey)

Method:

  1. Add everything to a small pot, and heat over medium until the berries become soft. 
  2. Simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. 
  4. Enjoy!
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Vanilla Mousse

This recipe happened thanks to my wise, creative mom. I wanted to make sure I had you chocolate haters covered with a delicious vanilla dessert, but I couldn't decide what to make. I wanted to keep it simple and easy, and my mom suggested mousse. Here ya go mom! This one is a real winner, and probably what I'll be indulging in (except it's so not unhealthy) on Valentine's Day! This recipe also works deliciously as a cake frosting or whipped topping. 

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Ingredients:

  • cream from 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon agave (or maple or honey but note that agave is the most neutral tasting option)
  • 2 Tablespoons cashew butter (macadamia or sunflower seed butter would probably also work) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional but adds vanilla flavor)

 

Method:

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  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl (with or without stand mixer) and whip it up until it's nice and creamy.*
  2. Serve it immediately as a "whip," or let it set in the refrigerator for at least an hour for a more firm, mousse texture. 
  3. Enjoy!

*Note: In creating this recipe and others this week, I had really bad luck with my coconut milk. Sometimes as you mix or whip, the oil separates from the milk, which causes lumpiness and not a very smooth flavor. If this happens to you I am so sorry! As far as I know there is no way to guess which can is better than another. If you know anything about this coconut milk mystery please comment or email me! Also, don't let this side note frighten you. This coconut milk separation has only happened to me a few times, but unfortunately most of those times happened this week. 

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I hope you all have a beautiful, lovely Val- or Gal-entine's Day full of special time with your loved ones and lots of yummy treats! If you need more inspo, check out this older recipe for Tahini-Maca Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

 

Singbean Market

I am *singing* the praises of my friends at Singbean Market because they are changing the way I get my produce forever! 

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Do you prefer to get your produce, meats, cheeses, eggs, and bagels at the Farmer's Market? I know I do (except I only buy produce cause I'm living that plant based life)! I love the Saturday Farmer's Markets in Memphis, but with my crazy golf schedule, I'm often out of town on Saturdays. This is a bummer for me because I love supporting our local farmers, and I love walking around the market to see what's fresh and in season. 

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This is where Singbean Market comes in to help. Every week they post the available produce, meats, cheeses, eggs, and bagels on their website. They open for weekly orders on Saturday at 12:00 noon and close Monday at 10:00pm. You simply head to their website, browse the various market goods you want, add them to your cart, and check out. They will deliver, yes deliver your fresh farmer's market items to your door or to Trolley Stop Market (pick your preferred method at checkout) on Wednesday. Pretty much ideal am I right? You don't have to worry about making your farmer's market haul last all week, and if you can't make it to the market you can get it delivered to your front door on Wednesday! 

I've ordered from Singbean several times now, and every experience has been perfect. The produce is fresh and delivery on time. What's better than produce that was picked a few hours before you eat it? (In my opinion, nothing!) While I won't stop going to farmer's market when I'm in town, I will definitely be ordering my goods when I'm out of town or if I need more produce to get me through the end of the week. 

This week I ordered beets, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, carrots, red leaf lettuce, and spicy micro greens. Here's how I cooked these amazing ingredients! I hope you enjoy, and check out Singbean Market! 

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Coconut Miso Risotto with Fresh Ginger and Wilted Spinach

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice (I used 1/2 cup wild rice and 1/2 cup local brown rice)
  • water or broth to cook the rice according to package instructions
  • 1 can coconut milk (just the cream*)
  • 2 Tablespoons miso
  • 1.5-2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger

Method:

  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions. 
  2. While the rice is cooking, add the coconut cream*, miso, and ginger to a small bowl and mix together. 
  3. When the rice is cooked, stir in the coconut cream mixture, and cook on medium-low until desired consistency is reached.
  4. At the very end, fold in the fresh spinach and stir in until wilted. 

*To get coconut cream, leave the can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least an hour, and do not shake. 

Curried Beets

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 small beets, or 2-3 large

  • olive oil

  • curry spice mix

Method:

  1. Wrap beets individually in tin foil, and roast in the oven at 400F until tender when poked with a fork. This should take 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of your beets. 

  2. When the beets are tender, unwrap them from the tin foil and let them cool a bit before peeling. The skin should come off fairly easily, and you shouldn't need to use a peeler. 

  3. Chop the peeled beets to 1/2 inch cubes, and add them to a bowl. 

  4. Drizzle beets with olive oil, and sprinkle in curry seasoning and salt. Start with a teaspoon of seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt, adjust as needed. 

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Crispy Shiitake Bacon Bits

Ingredients:

  • shiitake mushrooms

  • high heat oil - avocado or grapeseed

  • salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (or 400F is you're roasting the beets at the same time).

  2. Slice shiitakes thinly, spray with oil, and sprinkle with salt. 

  3. Spread the pieces evenly on a parchment lined baking tray, and cook them for 15 minutes, or until crispy. 

I hope you check out Singbean, and enjoy their services. It's so important to eat locally and seasonally, and they are helping make it easy!

 

All About Matcha

With the temps reaching the single digits it's definitely time to warm up your morning routine. I love starting my day with a warm beverage... especially matcha! 

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I do not drink coffee. I gave it up over a year ago because my hormones were way out of balance, and one cup of coffee would send me into an anxious tizzy, and I would have the strangest hot flashes. Not pleasant. I love the taste of coffee, so I was sad about cutting it out but I knew it was necessary. At first I turned to yerba matte, which is another great alternative that I love it more than ever after visiting Argentina, but more on that in another post. After a few months of yerba matte, I went old turkey and cut caffeine completely for a couple months. This was a great decision for me because now I'm very sensitive to caffeine and I know I don't need it every day. I drank a lot of herbal coffee as a way to trick myself into thinking I was having caffeine while also enjoying the coffee flavor that I craved. After a few months off caffeine, I decided to give matcha a try, and I love it!

I get asked all the time what is matcha? It's simply green tea leaves that have been ground into a powder. Since matcha is made up of the entire leaf of green tea, it contains about 10 times the amount of caffeine as well as exorbitant amounts of antioxidants. It also contains fiber and chlorophyll. Pretty awesome right?

So now that you know what matcha is, here's where I'll tell you how to use it. Matcha powder can be mixed with pretty much anything... warm water or milk for an energy boost, processed into raw truffles, balls, and bars, or baked into pancakes, cookies, cakes, muffins, you name it! Here are some of my favorite matcha beverages.

Simple Morning Matcha

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Ingredients:

(serves one)

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 16 ounces water (no hotter than 175F)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut butter (or 1/3 cup plant based milk)
  • optional: 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (I prefer local honey)
  • optional: 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla or cinnamon

Method:

  1. Heat water to 170-175F. Matcha is delicate, and will burn if you use water hotter than 180F. Burning the matcha destroys its beneficial antioxidants and chlorophyll. I use an electric tea kettle on the 175F setting. 
  2. While the water is heating, add all other ingredients to a blender. (Do not use a blender with a complete seal like a nutribullet or Ninja single serve cup. Since air cannot escape, it will cause pressure to build up from the steam of the hot water and will be incredibly difficult to open. Once you get it open, the contents will splatter... trust me I've made this mistake and it was a mess. I use my Vitamix to blend my matcha.)
  3. Add the water to the blender and blend for one or two minutes on medium high. 
  4. Enjoy!

Adaptogenic Matcha Latte

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Ingredients:

(serves one)

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 16 ounces water (no hotter than 175F)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut butter (or 1/3 cup plant based milk)
  • 1 teaspoon maca
  • 1/2 teaspoon ashwagandha
  • optional: 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (I prefer local honey)
  • optional: 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla or cinnamon

Method:

  1. Heat water to 170-175F. Matcha is delicate, and will burn if you use water hotter than 180F. Burning the matcha destroys its beneficial antioxidants and chlorophyll. I use an electric tea kettle on the 175F setting. 
  2. While the water is heating, add all other ingredients to a blender. (Do not use a blender with a complete seal like a nutribullet or Ninja single serve cup. Since air cannot escape, it will cause pressure to build up from the steam of the hot water and will be incredibly difficult to open. Once you get it open, the contents will splatter... trust me I've made this mistake and it was a mess. I use my Vitamix to blend my matcha.)
  3. Add the water to the blender and blend for one or two minutes on medium high. 
  4. Enjoy!

Peppermint Mocha Matcha Latte

Ingredients:

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(serves one)

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 16 ounces water (no hotter than 175F)
  • 1/4 cup plant based milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon cacao powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cacao butter

Method:

  1. Heat water to 170-175F. Matcha is delicate, and will burn if you use water hotter than 180F. Burning the matcha destroys its beneficial antioxidants and chlorophyll. I use an electric tea kettle on the 175F setting. 
  2. While the water is heating, add all other ingredients to a blender. (Do not use a blender with a complete seal like a nutribullet or Ninja single serve cup. Since air cannot escape, it will cause pressure to build up from the steam of the hot water and will be incredibly difficult to open. Once you get it open, the contents will splatter... trust me I've made this mistake and it was a mess. I use my Vitamix to blend my matcha.)
  3. Add the water to the blender and blend for one or two minutes on medium high. 
  4. Enjoy!

Golden Hour Turmeric Matcha Latte

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Ingredients:

(serves one)

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 16 ounces water (no hotter than 175F)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut butter (or 1/3 cup plant based milk)
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch black pepper
  • optional: 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (I prefer local honey)
  • optional: 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla or cinnamon

Method:

  1. Heat water to 170-175F. Matcha is delicate, and will burn if you use water hotter than 180F. Burning the matcha destroys its beneficial antioxidants and chlorophyll. I use an electric tea kettle on the 175F setting. 
  2. While the water is heating, add all other ingredients to a blender. (Do not use a blender with a complete seal like a nutribullet or Ninja single serve cup. Since air cannot escape, it will cause pressure to build up from the steam of the hot water and will be incredibly difficult to open. Once you get it open, the contents will splatter... trust me I've made this mistake and it was a mess. I use my Vitamix to blend my matcha.)
  3. Add the water to the blender and blend for one or two minutes on medium high. 
  4. Enjoy!

Matchacolada

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Ingredients: 

(serves two)

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut cream
  • 3 ounces rum
  • 6 cubes pineapple
  • 16 ounces coconut water
  • 2 teaspoons matcha
  • ice as needed

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth (a minute or less).
  2. Enjoy!

 

Super Seed Muesli

The first time I heard of muesli was a few years ago when I saw it popping up on the shelves at the grocery store. I didn't understand it because it said it contained oats, but you were supposed to serve it like cereal.... I just stuck to regular oats and granola. Little did I know that this is one of the most delicious and versatile breakfasts ever AND it's easy!

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Muesli is everywhere in Europe. When I studied abroad in London, it was in every grocery store and on the menu everywhere that served breakfast. I had it for the first time at Raw Press, and it was delicious! It's essentially the equivalent of overnight oats. Muesli is usually based around oats, but also contains nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. It can be served like cereal with milk poured over it or like overnight oats that have been soaked. You can eat it at room temperature, cold out of the fridge, or even warmed on the stove. 

When I saw Loni Jane's recipe for SUPERFOOD Burcha, I had to try it. It's loaded with seeds that have been soaked overnight (so they're easier to digest). I made a few small changes, and I've been eating this Super Seed (oat free) Muesli almost every day for the past couple weeks! It's easy, satiating, and delicious. Try adding different fresh or frozen fruits, or different flavored nut milks (check out this post on Nut Milk Four Ways)! Feel free to also add oats; I try to limit my consumption of oats because I'm sensitive to most grains. 

Ingredients:

 Super Seed Muesli mixed with  Pistachio Cardamom milk .

Super Seed Muesli mixed with Pistachio Cardamom milk.

  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut chips 
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried mulberries

Method:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl or storage jar. Store in the fridge. 
  2. When making one serving, mix 2/3 cup seed mixture with 2/3 cup liquid (nut milk, coconut water, water, etc.). Add whatever spices and fruits suit your fancy! I love it with blackberries, cinnamon, and maca. 
  3. Enjoy!

Nut Milk Four Ways

It's a New Year! Are you implementing any new habits or mindsets? If you're thinking about reducing or cutting your dairy consumption, look no further for healthful, easy, and delicious milk alternatives!

Cutting dairy out of your life is a big deal. I remember drinking 3 glasses of milk a day growing up. The breakfast staple at my house was a bowl of cereal (usually cinnamon toast crunch) with skim milk. As I got older, my taste for milk decreased dramatically. For some unknown reason drinking milk from a glass started to gross me out a little. It never bothered my brother, though... he still drinks a glass of milk with almost every meal. When I was in high school, we discovered that I was actually allergic to milk. We simply started buying soy or almond milk to have with our morning cereal (my brother still drinks cows milk though). I had a lot of fun after this diagnosis parusing the aisles of the grocery store on the hunt for the newest variety of nut milk. I've had friends tell me that they prefer almond milk or cashew milk to cow's milk! I'm telling you, you aren't missing out on anything with plant based milk! It's easy to find hemp, flax, soy, oat, almond, hazlenut, cashew, and many more nut and seed milks now. These are great for convenience, but I prefer to make my own nut milks now. 

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When I tell people that I make my own nut milks, they look at me like I'm crazy. "How do you do that?" I promise it's easy!

I recently ordered a new nut milking bag, and when my mom saw the unopened package she inquired after the contents. I enthusiastically told her that I ordered a new nut milk bag, she just smiled and laughed. 

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Making nut milk is unbelievably easy and cheap. It requires minimal ingredients, steps, and minutes. For standard, plain nut milk you simply soak one cup of nuts overnight. In the morning, rinse them and add them to a high speed blender with 3-4 cups of water. You can also add any spices or sweeteners that suit your fancy. Blend the nuts and water for 2-3 minutes on high, and strain through a cheesecloth or nut milk strainer. Some nuts and seeds (cashews and hemp seeds) don't need to be strained. Store your milk in the fridge for up to 5 days!

Below are the recipes for four specialty nut milks. 

Golden Brazil Nut Milk Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brazil nuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • slice of fresh ginger (about a quarter of an inch, more if you like it a little spicy)
  • 1/2 date
  • 2 cups water

Method:

  1. Soak nuts overnight. Blend everything in a high speed blender for 2-3 minutes. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, and store in the fridge for about 5 days. This milk is delicious when served warm. 

Green Almond Milk Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almonds 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina
  • 1/2 date
  • 2 cups water

Method:

  1. Soak nuts overnight. Blend everything in a high speed blender for 2-3 minutes. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, and store in the fridge for about 5 days.

Vanilla Cashew Milk Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 date
  • 2 cups water

Method:

  1. Soak nuts overnight. Blend everything in a high speed blender for 2-3 minutes. Store in the fridge for about 5 days.

Pistachio Cardamom Milk Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pisatchios
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 date
  • 2 cups water

Method:

  1. Soak nuts overnight. Blend everything in a high speed blender for 2-3 minutes. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, and store in the fridge for about 5 days.
  2. Enjoy!

5 Running Tips That Got Me Through My Sixth Half Marathon

I stand with about fifty other fourth grade girls at the starting line. We gently sway and stretch as we await the gun. Dread, anxiety, and nerves fills my stomach like a boulder. I don't have high hopes. POP! and we're off. I see the other girls in our matching red and blue uniforms spring to the front of the line and disappear behind a sea of multicolored jerseys. Meanwhile, my legs drag me to the middle of the pack. We pound across fields and through narrow paths in the forest. I focus all my energy on avoiding the stumps; hitting and sliding along the hard, dry dirt leaves a mark. I know from experience. Halfway through it's as if someone strapped weights to my ankles. I cannot go further. I cannot speed up. Girls are passing me left and right while I huff and puff and push my legs to keep moving. Finally, I see the finish where my parents and coach are waiting. They're yelling at me to finish strong and speed up, and I try, but I feel like I'm going to collapse. 44/50. Back of the pack as usual. This was the story that unfolded every week at my cross country meets. 

When I was growing up, I played every sport known to man: soccer, basketball, golf, cheerleading, softball, track, horseback riding, tumbling, and cross country. I was that kid who after being put in the game for three minutes was begging the coach to bench me, and after about five minutes on the bench, I was begging to go back out again. I was impatient, but I was also anemic and I didn't find out until I was eleven. My parents both played sports growing up. My dad played golf in college and his dad was an all star basketball player in college. My brother and I watched as our mom constantly trained for the next half or full marathon. 

My parents signed me up for cross country when I was in fourth grade, and I hated it. I am a very competitive person, so coming in around the 44/50 mark every race shot my confidence and endlessly frustrated me. We only had to run two miles through the woods of Shelby Farms Park, but somehow I could not make it through the race without stopping to walk. In the car on the way home, my parents would always encourage me, but they also said they knew I could do better.  Two years later, we found out that I was anemic. After taking an iron supplement for a few months, I didn't mind running. I even voluntarily joined the track team at my school a year later. 

Running the 800 at a track meet or even two miles at practice is VERY different from running a half marathon, though. My sophomore year of high school my parents signed me up for the St. Jude Half Marathon without consulting me. I tried to get out of it, but they thought it was time. My mom had been running long distances for years, and even my dad had started doing the half. They would wake me up at 5:30 or 6:00am to go for runs before school. The day my dad did his longest run, my mom forced me to go with him, and my brother rode circles around on his bike for 10 miles. I thought I was going to die. When race day came, my mom and I stuck together the whole way, finishing in around 2:20. Crossing the finish line was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had, and I knew I had to run it again next year. Finishing a half marathon is an incredibly rewarding experience, but running through the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital campus brings tears to everyone's eyes. We run for the kids. We run for a cure. Danny Thomas put it the best when he said, "No child should die in the dawn of life." We fight cancer with every step.

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I finished my sixth half marathon this year (the 2013 race was canceled due to an ice/snow storm). Running long distances has changed my life. Its a great way to decompress after a long day of school or work, but its also a great way to start the day. I've never followed a training schedule for the half marathon, but I am an avid runner. My times have improved significantly since my first race; my personal best is 1:56, and I'm hoping I can get that down next year if I actually follow a training schedule (I say this every year lol). I've learned a lot about running since my days on the cross country team. Here are my tips and tricks to start running. 

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1. Stretch

Everyone knows it's important to stretch after a workout, but it's even more important to stretch before. You need to warm up your muscles before you work them. Stretching before a run or any kind of workout will aid with muscle soreness and tightness the next day. To be completely honest, I've never been good about stretching. It was only last spring that I started stretching before almost every workout. I still don't do it every time, like when I'm running late for Orange Theory or trying to squeeze in a short run before golf practice, but I notice a huge difference when I do. If you don't use one already, invest in a foam roller. It will change your life. Not only can you roll your legs, but I love rolling my back after long days of studying. My favorite foam rollers are the NextRoller and the Infinity Ball by Nextrino

In addition to stretching, having a little help in cooling my muscles and joints post-workout has recently helped me a lot. I put NextRelief cooling serum around my knees, hips, and on my calves after long runs to soothe my muscles and joints. This stuff really works wonders! 

2. Be Patient

Don't go out on your first run expecting to go 6 miles effortlessly. When I take breaks from running, I usually push myself to go 2.5-3 miles. Sometimes it's hard, and that's okay. You have to listen to your body if it's begging you to stop. When I don't feel like running or doing any kind of strenuous cardio, I'll go on a long walk and listen to some music or a podcast. Be patient with yourself as you build up to longer distances. You will get there, but it takes time and commitment. 

3. Distract Yourself

If you get bored running (like I do), make sure that you're listening to something you care about and enjoy, like a friend, podcast, or playlist. Personally, I don't love running with other people because I like to dictate my pace and route. When I run with friends, I talk too much and have a hard time running because I start breathing too hard. Even though the running isn't as good, running with friends is a great way to connect with people and distract yourself from running. The best things I've found that help me escape the boredom are podcasts and good music. Listening to a topic that intrigues me completely distracts me from what I'm doing, and most of the time I learn something too. 

4. Get Lost

In addition to listening to something interesting, changing your route keeps your runs feeling new and exciting. If I'm being honest, I do not like running in my neighborhood. Of course I loved it when I first moved here, but after running the same 2-3 mile loop several times a week for a couple months I got tired of it. My favorite place to run in Memphis is downtown. With the new Big River Crossing, Tom Lee Park, and Main street, I never get bored. Every time I run downtown I try to do something different, but I usually start by going across the river. The view is too cool! There's something about running next to the river that makes the run even more invigorating than usual. I feel the same way running in the mountains. I love the trails at Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch, and Beaver Creek that weave in and out of the aspens, looking down into the valley. Running in a place you think is beautiful, exciting, or energizing can be a huge motivation.

Running is also a great way to get to know a new city. My favorite way to explore a new city is to run through the streets. I've encountered the most beautiful sunsets on my runs in unfamiliar cities. 

5. Cross Train

Running is great, but you're going to find that cross training will help you run longer distances faster and with more ease. It's crucial to have a strong core to support your upper body during long runs. HIIT workouts like Orange Theory, weight lifting, and stability work like yoga and pilates make a huge difference in my ability to run long distances. My favorite classes in Memphis for cross training are Orange Theory, Inferno Hot Pilates, and yoga at Midtown Yoga and Bikram.

I hope these tips and tricks help you get out there and pound the pavement! As always, I would love to answer any questions, and I want to know which tip you like the best!

 

This post was sponsored by Nextrino

Nut Free Fat Balls

Lee From America created a recipe that has taken the health and wellness world by storm. Her fat balls are great for balancing hormones and keeping energy levels stable because they balance blood sugar by incorporating more healthy fats. A diet that's moderate to high in fat and lower in sugar helps stabilize blood sugar, and in turn keeps hunger at bay. There are studies coming out now that demonstrate how a diet higher in fat leads to longevity. Ultimately, only your body will know what kind of diet is right for you, so listen up!

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I pretty much always have a batch of these balls in my freezer for pre and post workout and study snacks. I also love having a couple of them in my golf bag during tournaments. They're great for getting sustained energy quickly. These balls are great to take on the go, but if they are not stored in a refrigerator or freezer, they will be soft and won't hold up the ball shape. 

Here's the recipe for Lee's fat balls that I've adapted to be nut free. One of my best friends is allergic to tree nuts, so we made these balls free of cashews and almonds.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon maca
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup tahini (smooth)
  • optional: honey, dates, or other dried fruit to taste
  • optional: add your favorite spices 1/2-1 teaspoon at a time until desired flavor is achieved (some of my favorites are cardamom and peppermint)

Method:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until a dough forms.
  2. Roll dough in 1-2 Tablespoon sized balls.
  3. Store in freezer or fridge!
  4. Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving: Grateful for Family

Thanksgiving: a holiday reserved for celebrating food, family, and gratitude. The coziest time of year when the fall air is as crisp as the sunset colored leaves on the ground. Ahh I cannot wait! 

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My family always spends Thanksgiving in retreat mode. We snuggle up under blankets by a fire in between walks (and meals) through rural Tennessee fields. This time spent with family is so precious to me. We get to catch up and tell stories and play family games into the early morning hours. The best part is when we, like every other family on this day of gratitude, gather around the table to share food and memories. 

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This year, my mom gave me the task of preparing several vegan and gluten free dishes. She asked specifically for a whole roasted cauliflower for the "meat" of the dinner. I told her I would also make a crisp slaw and lentil "stuffing." I stepped out on a limb with dessert this year, and the result is unbelievably delicious. 

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My great grandmother is 97, and her health has started to deteriorate. This has been difficult for everyone. My great grandmother has lived a long life. She is full of sass and grit. She's endured a lot in 97 years. Born in 1920, she grew up in rural Tennessee during the Great Depression and World War 2. That's not to mention various family conflicts and crises. She's also had a life full of joy and love. My grandmother and her three living brothers all have children and grandchildren, so my great grandmother has 12 great grandchildren. When I was young, we would go visit my great grandmother and she would almost always have a fresh, warm, chocolate fudge pie waiting. It was my favorite. Gooey in the center, crisp on the top with a flaky crust, one bite and I was in heaven.

I haven't had this pie in years, but when I was talking to my grandmother on the phone a few days ago, I asked her to send me the recipe. She was surprised by this, and said, "You know it has butter and eggs in it." I told her I just wanted to see it. My goal was to make it "Maddie friendly" so everyone at Thanksgiving could partake in delicious pie and memories of our visits to great grandma. I had to do a significant amount of research to figure out how to replace the eggs and margarine. We all know pie is not complete unless you have the perfectly buttery, crumbly crust, and let me tell you, I nailed it with this recreation of my Great Grandma's Chocolate Fudge Pie. Thanksgiving gatherings usually call for pecan, apple, or pumpkin pie, but this year our family's dessert pays homage to our beautiful, strong matriarch. The lessons we have learned from her are beyond counting, and the love she has bestowed on every one of us exceeds measure. This year I'm thankful for the memories I have with my great grandma and for the time I get to spend with the rest of my extended family remembering the beautiful times we've spent in our rural Tennessee paradise. 

Below are the recipes I created for our Thanksgiving dinner this year. I hope you enjoy them, and share them with your loved ones during this special holiday season. 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

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Ingredients:

  • one whole cauliflower
  • 1-2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin and paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, salt, and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • one yellow onion 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Remove leaves, rinse, and dry cauliflower.
  3. Add all spices (including garlic) to a cast iron skillet, and warm over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Add warmed spices to a small bowl, and mix in oil. 
  5. Place cauliflower in the cast iron skillet and cover in spice/oil mixture. Make sure to cover the bottom.
  6. Chop the onion, and place in skillet with cauliflower.
  7. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until tender.
  8. Enjoy!

Black Lentil "Stuffing"

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Ingredients:

  • one delicata squash
  • brussel sprouts (one package)
  • one cup dry black lentils
  • 10-15 medium sized shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado oil

Method:

  1. Start by roasting squash and brussel sprouts at 400F. Lightly cover both the squash and brussel sprouts in avocado oil. The squash should be tender (15-20 minutes), and the brussel sprouts crispy (35 minutes).
  2. Cook lentils according to package instructions.
  3. Chop onion, mushrooms, celery, carrots, garlic, and sage.
  4.  Add onions to a pan with one tablespoon of avocado oil over medium-low heat, and caramelize the onions. Cover pan with a lid, and stir every five or so minutes until onions have become golden and fragrant. 
  5. Add sage to the onions and cook for 5 minutes. 
  6. Add carrots and celery to onions and sage and cook until vegetables are slightly tender. 
  7. Finally, add mushrooms and garlic, and cook until everything is tender, about 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
  8. In a large bowl, add sautéed and roasted vegetables and lentils. Mix together and serve warm. 
  9. Enjoy!

Crisp Fall Slaw

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Ingredients:

The Vegetables...

  • one small head broccoli
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 medium carrots
  • one apple
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 purple cabbage
  • parsley (to finish)

The Dressing...

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon oil (avocado, olive, grapeseed, etc)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Method:

  1. Chop all the vegetables and the apple into small pieces. I recommend using a mandolin for the apple, red onion, celery, carrots, and purple cabbage. Add all chopped ingredients to a large bowl.
  2. Add all dressing ingredients to a bowl, and whisk until smooth. 
  3. Pour dressing over the vegetables, and toss until everything is coated. 
  4. Store in the refrigerator. This slaw is best served after 12-24 hours. 
  5. Enjoy!

Simple Cranberry Sauce

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • juice and zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Simmer until all cranberries have burst, and it looks like a smooth sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

Great Grandma's Chocolate Fudge Pie

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Ingredients:

For the crust...

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  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo (or chickpea) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut oil *not melted*
  • 4 Tablespoons ice cold water
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar

For the filling...

  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup evaporated coconut milk*
  • 3 Tablespoons cacao
  • 1 Tablespoon lucuma
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons kuzu

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350F. 
  2. Add the flours, salt, and sugar (if using) to a medium bowl. Whisk dry ingredients to combine. 
  3. Add the coconut oil, and mix into the flour mixture with a fork until a crumbly dough forms. 
  4. Add the water and continue to mix the dough with a fork until incorporated. 
  5. Put dough in a greased pie pan, and bake for 15 minutes. 
  6. For the filling, beat flax eggs, evaporated coconut milk, vanilla, and kuzu (before adding kuzu, make sure you grind out the clumps with the back of a spoon or with a mortar and pestle).
  7. Next, add applesauce, cacao, lucuma, and coconut sugar, and beat again. 
  8. Pour filling on top of baked crust, and bake for 20 minutes, until firm.
  9. Enjoy!

*To make evaporated coconut milk, add a can of coconut milk to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 35-45 minutes, until about half has evaporated. Store in the refrigerator. 

Acorn Squash Soup

It's finally cooling down outside, and I'm warming everything up inside. I'm honestly not a huge fan of winter because I hate being bone-chillingly cold. Fall is by far my favorite season. I'm hoping that these mild temperatures continue for a while! 

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One of my favorite ways to warm up on a crisp fall day (or extremely cold winter day) is with soup. Squash soup is one of my favorites because it's easy and it tastes like a decadent bisque. This version of Acorn Squash soup is perfectly thick, creamy, healthy, and easy...only three ingredients!

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Ingredients:

  • one acorn squash
  • cream from one can of coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Method:

  1. Cut the acorn squash in half, rub the flesh sides with a little avocado oil, and place the two sides face down on a baking tray. Roast the acorn squash at 400F for 30 minutes.
  2. Scoop out the flesh of the acorn squash and add it to a high speed blender with the coconut cream and vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.
  3. Optional: Top with crispy mushroom "bacon" (thinly slice and coat shittake mushrooms with avocado oil and salt and roast at 375F for 30 minutes, until crispy).
  4. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Coconut Butter Cups

Happy Halloween! 

I've been posting a lot of dessert recipes lately, but don't worry. I've got some great savory Thanksgiving ideas coming your way very soon! I'm getting ahead of myself... it's not time to get ready for Thanksgiving until after Halloween, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than with my Pumpkin Coconut Butter Cups???

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I celebrated Halloween (twice) over the weekend. One day I dressed up as peanut butter and my friend dressed up as jelly (basic foodie costume I know but it was awesome). The second night, my group of friends dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz, and everyone unanimously agreed that I should be the Wicked Witch of the West *insert shrugging emoji* 

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If I'm being completely honest, I haven't bought candy to put on my front porch tonight (I will be spending Halloween in the Library working on a research paper). Last year I intermixed candy with tangerines, and surprisingly, everything was gone from my bowl! I thought the candy would be gone, but the oranges would be left behind, but thankfully, I was wrong. I may grab some fruit (nature's candy...duh) to put out, or I may be a scrooge and leave all my lights off while I type away in the library. 

Thankfully, I made some of these Pumpkin Coconut Butter Cups to share with my family and friends as a fall inspired Halloween sweet treat. I haven't tried the Eating Evolved Pumpkin cups, but I love their coconut butter cups. Their cups were the inspiration behind my cups, and this recipe is pretty spot on. Melt in your mouth homemade chocolate with the slightly sweet, malt, crumbly, pumpkin-y center is the perfect Halloween treat that will keep your paws out of the bowl of candy full of questionable ingredients. 

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Ingredients:

For the Chocolate:

  • 1 cup cacao butter
  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • sweetener (maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, honey, etc) to taste

For the Pumpkin Coconut Butter Filling:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tablespoons sweetener (maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, honey, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

Method:

  1. To make the chocolate, add cacao butter to a double boiler (I just put a metal bowl over a pot of water) and melt at medium heat. Once cacao butter is melted, add cacao powder and sweetener, and mix well.
  2. To make the filling, melt coconut butter on medium heat over a double boiler. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  3. To assemble, put a thin layer of the chocolate on the bottom of muffin tin liners (recipe yields 12). Set liners in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. 
  4. Next, add about a tablespoon of the pumpkin coconut butter filling on top of the chocolate layer. 
  5. Finally, top the filling with another layer of chocolate. 
  6. Allow to set in fridge or freezer for about an hour. 
  7. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bar

I'm one day late for National Pumpkin Day, but I'm coming at ya with a delicious treat! Of all the delicious foods and flavors, pumpkin is definitely worthy of its own day. I can't get enough pumpkin in the fall, and I'm always sad to see it replaced by mint during the holidays. It's a delicate flavor that's warm and comforting and perfect for crisp fall days. 

 I made this for my friend's birthday, so I topped it with  Minimalist Baker's Cashew Buttercream Frosting .

I made this for my friend's birthday, so I topped it with Minimalist Baker's Cashew Buttercream Frosting.

Testing recipes with pumpkin the past month and a half has been a bit of a challenge. It's hard to balance it's heavy moisture, and surprisingly difficult to achieve the perfect pumpkin flavor. I posted a version of this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bar on my instagram a few weeks ago because the flavor was too good not to share, but the texture needed some major tweaking. So here it is, the perfected Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bar in all its cozy, pumpkin-y, chocolate-y glory. 

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Ingredients:

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  • 1/4 cup sunflower butter*
  • 1/4 cup tahini*
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 Tablespoons oat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks

*you can replace these with your favorite nut or seed butter(s)

Method:

  1. In a bowl, mix all wet ingredients (sunflower butter, tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin) until well combined. 
  2. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. 
  3. Add dough to a parchment lined (or coconut-oil greased) bread pan. 
  4. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. 
  5. Enjoy!
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