The 3 Letter F Word

Three little letters, one of the scariest words in the English language: fat. This small word is the ultimate evil in nearly every diet in history. Low-fat, reduced guilt (any diet with the word “guilt” in it makes me ~cringe~, let’s stop this association between guilt and food please?? Cool, thanks xx), fat-free: all attempts to health-ify someone’s life. The logic is simple, but unfortunately, completely backwards and damaging: by not eating fat, you won’t get fat, sooo all of the problems are solved. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. I know, because I’ve been on both sides, and the fat free life is not the life you want to be livin’.

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I was vegan for about 2.5 years. After being vegetarian and lactose intolerant, it wasn’t a huge stretch and there was plenty of delicious food to continue enjoying. The first year was amazing but it led me into a cycle of restrictive eating where I ate limitless fruits and veggies, and very minimal everything else. I was tired, had mood swings and my body found many ways to tell me that something wasn't quite right. Then, after those 2.5 years, going into my sophomore year of college, I ditched the food labels (easier said than done, I’ll tell you that much) and the nasty side effects went away.

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Cut to this past April and I began to see similar signs. I was eating super clean (another tricky food word that too often means restriction disguised as health), seemingly the healthiest that you could possibly be. Except once again, my body was clearly telling me that something was wrong. So, I needed to figure out what was going on. It was at this time that I began finding bloggers like Lee (@leefromamerica) and Jeannette (@shutthekaleup) who dove into the hormonal aspect of balanced eating. They share the ultimate food and meal prep inspo, but one of the things that I most admired about them, was their full embrace of FAT. I mean, Lee’s most popular recipe is called “Coconut Fat Balls” (shared down below!). She’s not playing. As I watched these intelligent, healthy, strong, balanced, and ~happy~ women slather almond butter on toast, layer creamy avocado into their salads and dollop rich coconut yogurt on top of their smoothies, I reflected on my diet and realized the pattern I’d allowed myself to fall back into. I’d like to say that I immediately got up from my computer and sliced up an avocado, but that wasn’t quite the case. I’ve had a complicated relationship with food my whole life, so it took a little more coaxing and convincing.

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It started with a drizzle of flax oil on my salads, and then bit of coconut oil in my morning matcha and then I finally made the coconut fat balls (because with a name like that how could you not make them??). And now, I’m so happy to say that healthy fats are laced into every one of my meals. And no, I didn’t suddenly start gaining crazy weight (we all need to get over that, it’s not real). Instead, I now feel healthier and more grounded than I have in a long time, because, finally, my diet isn’t built on restriction. I eat whole, healthy foods that make me feel good. It’s as simple as that. My body immediately thanked me for these additions (the side effects washed away after only 2 weeks just proving that your body really knows what it wants) and, not that it matters at all, but I’m at the healthiest weight I have been in a long time. Sooo, long story short, I urge you to take a minute to look at your assumptions of fat. I’m not saying that you should go grab a cheeseburger and fries in the name of #health. But I would love for you to get rid of that fear that is too often tied with the extra bit of coconut oil that gets your fried egg so nice and crispy. It’s only going to make you healthier and happier. I promise.

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One of the misconceptions that I hate most is that fat is the root of all evil because it’s just not true. Grounding your diet in fear and complete restriction of any whole food will never be sustainable. In case you’re ready to make the plunge into the world of healthy fats, or just want to dip your toe in, here’s the perfect recipe to get you started. It’s adapted very slightly from Lee’s, but mostly I just wanted to share her unreal amazing recipe (go check her out, she’s a total rockstar and such an inspiration). 

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Coconut Fat Balls

1 c shredded coconut (flakes work too)

.5 c coconut oil, melted

.25 c coconut butter (other nut butter should definitely work, too, it’s on my list to try)

.25 c sunflower seeds

.25 c pumpkin seeds

.5 cup walnuts (holla @ omega 3s)

.5 cup almonds

2 T cacao nibs

1 T raw cacao powder

2 medjool dates (pitted)

.25 c unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or heavy duty blender and combine until it makes a sticky dough. Roll into preferred size and lay on a cookie sheet to freeze. After 30 mins (or once almost completely frozen), transfer to an air-tight container and freeze. 

2. To enjoy: let thaw for 5 minutes before eating for the perfect texture and flavor. 

I hope you all had the loveliest weekend filled with self care and healthy fats! If you try any of my recipes, let me know, I’d love to see and hear how they turn out. Also, I’m so excited to be exploring with this blog and have lots of ideas saved up to share. But send me a message if there’s something specific you’d love to see highlighted here. Always love to hear.

xx

Meal Preppin'

Welcome to fall, lovelies! I think we can all agree that summer ~flew~ by, but, and maybe it's because of this delicious weather we’re having, but the end of summer blues really hasn't set in. For me at least, it seems to have been replaced by an obsessive excitement for sweaters, squash and cool mornings. 

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It might also have to do with the fact that I’m heading into my final year of school and could not be more excited. The anxious/excited/stressed feelings previously associated with back to school is no longer there, leaving ample time to enjoy the most perfect time of the year.

But, for the sake of a theme, let’s get our minds in the back to school setting and talk about lunch & meal prep. I’ve never bought school lunch, so prepping something healthy and yummy has always been important to me. Today, I'll be sharing what’s tucked away in my tupperwares throughout the week.

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When I sit down to prep for the week, all of the magic happens on Sunday. I tend to carve out two to three hours for full on meal prep time (which does sound daunting, I admit). But, the huge upside to this is, you’ll only spend one minute a day during the week, so it really evens out and is way way more efficient. And it’s super fun. I get my latest Spotify playlist poppin’, open the window and get jamming with all of my ingredients. Meal prep is easily my favorite form of self care.

So, Sunday I get up, make my matcha, head to a yoga class and wander to the market, list in hand. For this week's meals, we’ll be making a mediterranean bowl loaded with whole grains, roasted veggies, beans and healthy fats. 

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First, the veg. Because we all like different veggies (or all of them in my case) pick what you like! I’d say pick three to four items. An sample list: two sweet potatoes, one head of broccoli, two summer squashes and two large beets (I’ll buy all of these at the farmers market. It supports local growers, is budget friendly and a much higher quality than the produce in the grocery store. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are both great options though, too). 

Next I pick a healthy protein. For the mediterranean vibe, I’ll get a container of hummus (the more minimal the ingredients the better. Some brands are loaded with fillers, look for one that just has the basics: chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and spices) and two cans of chickpeas. Other great options are tempeh, free range eggs (I often fry one to top my dinners) or some lean meat. Personally, I don't meal prep with meat, mostly because 1. I really don't know how to cook it super well, 2. It's expensive (beans cost ~nothing~ so they're hard to beat) and, most importantly, 3. Raw meat and I are not great friends (it's a tiny bit icky...). That said, you do you! A little grilled chicken would be absolutely delish with this combo.

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For the rest of the meal, I make sure to have uncooked grains in the pantry (I love bulgar and quinoa, but there are ~tons~ of other delicious and healthy whole grain options). I also make sure to have the right spices, this is what takes plain ol’ veggies to the next level. For this bowl, I’m going with salt, pepper, cumin, thyme and oregano or, you can find a blend that you like. I know this sounds like a lot, but these are all great staples that you’ll use again and again and again (promise).

And now, we prep. For maximum efficiency, meal prep is all about multi tasking. Let’s break it down into steps for the easiest execution: 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse all your veg and chop up into 1 inch pieces. 

2. One kind at a time, add chopped veg to a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and spice blend (a few shakes of salt, pepper and the spices from above that you picked as your faves). Mix it up well and spread on a baking sheet. 

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3. For roasting times, a good rule of thumb is, the harder the veg, the longer it should cook. For example, sweet potatoes can roast for almost 45 mins depending on how soft you like ‘em. Zucchini, on the other hand, can go for as little as 15 mins. With that in mind, pop the veg in the oven, set a timer, and let them work their magic (peeking at them every 10 minutes or so).

4. While the veggies cook, let’s make our grains. In a small pot, add one cup uncooked grain (I pick a 1:1 blend of bulgar and quinoa) and two cups of water (water to grain ratios will vary slightly depending on the type of grain, but a quick Google search will clarify for you). Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and lower to a simmer with the lid on. Let it cook for about 15 mins. You want all the water to be soaked up and cooked away, but make sure to take it off the heat before the grain burns. I tend to peek at the 10 minute mark.

5. In the same bowl you seasoned your veggies, add the two cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) and toss with olive oil and the same spices. Once your veggies are done, you can reuse the tray and spread the chickpeas on it. Roast chickpeas for 15-30 minutes. The longer they roast, the crispier they get.

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6. Once all of this is done, get your tupperware and divide it all up. I add about 0.5 cup of grains, one cup of veggies, 0.5 cup of chickpeas and a few spoonfuls of hummus, and voila! Whatever doesn’t get portioned up for lunches, I tend to keep in larger containers to heat up for dinners when I’m home.

And it’s as simple as that! With all the essentials, it’s a healthy, yummy, and easy meal to grab throughout the week. Something to note: I don’t get sick of eating the same meal every day. This can be tough for some, but remembering the ease and health of what you've cooked can really help. Plus, it can be jazzed up in a million different ways so you don't get bored week to week. Swap the protein for black & refried beans, cook some peppers & onions and season with paprika & cumin: burrito bowl. Or, for a fresh take, roast your veggies in rosemary & thyme and sear some tofu cubes, topping with a sprinkling of fresh greens.

I would love to hear if you try out my routine! Let me know your faves, or if you have any questions, I love talking meal prep. Hope you all have an amazing week!

xx

Banana Bread: Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Edition

Happy Sunday evening, lovelies! As a cozy way to ease back into this blogging space I wanted to take it back to one of my favorite recipes and one that I’ve been tinkering with over the past few years: banana bread. Wholesome, soft, slightly sweet and packed with as many mixins as humanly possible, banana bread is something that I can now just about make with my eyes closed.

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What’s so special and unique about this recipe is that as my diet and nutritional needs have shifted, so has the recipe. It’s based off of the banana bread my mom always made, one that my brother and I nibbled on, sliced into sticks and ate almost every day after school. As the just-baked smell wafts into the air and I (inevitably) burn my tongue on the chocolate, too impatient for the sufficient cooling time, it takes me back to my sun-soaked and cozy Vermont kitchen. As I began to explore the world of healthy baking, this was the natural choice to experiment with, swapping in vegan substitutions, fruits, nuts and vegetables (things get pretty wild) to find the perfect combo. 

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Through all of this, what has stayed the same is the focus on whole wheat flour, zero refined sugar (and reduced sweeteners in general) and all the random bits that I like to add in at the end (life’s too short for plain banana bread). Since I do like to change it up so often, I wanted to give you the blank slate recipe and then a pick-your-own-adventure of sorts so that you can make the perfect bread for every occasion. If you test it out, comment, shoot me a message or send me a picture, I’d love to see what you come up with! 

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The Basics: Makes one standard loaf or 12 muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 t salt

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

3 bananas

.5 cup raw honey or maple syrup

1 t pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 T coconut oil, melted

The Process: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard loaf pan (or muffin tin). I like to use a coconut or olive oil spray. 
  2. Blend wet: bananas, sweetener, vanilla, eggs and oil (or mix until well combined).
  3. Whisk dry: flour, powder, soda and salt. 
  4. Combine wet and dry, mixing until barely combined. Add mixins. 
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Bake for 50-75 mins (depending on mixins added, fruit tends to increase baking time over an hour). Remove from oven when an inserted knife comes out mostly clean, with just a few crumbs. 

And to jazz it up… (simply follow the above instructions and add/swap when needed)

Decadent & Chocolate-y

Sub .25 cups of the whole wheat flour for raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if that's what you have)

.5 cup chopped dark chocolate (I like 85%)

.5 cup chopped almonds 

.5 cup fresh (or frozen) cherries, chopped

.5 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Blueberry Walnut (pictured)

1 cup fresh blueberries (if frozen, thawed)

.5 cup chopped walnuts

1 t cinnamon

Carrot Cake

Replace the oil with unsweetened apple sauce

0.25 cup raisins (soaked in hot water for maximum plumpness)

0.5-1 cup grated carrots (depending on how veg-y you like your bread)

.5 cup chopped apple

1 t cinnamon

.5 t ginger

.25 t cloves

.25 t nutmeg

The Classic

.75 cup chopped dark chocolate

0.5 cup chopped walnuts

Hope you have a lovely rest of your (self care) Sunday, possibly filled with warm banana bread!

xx