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This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, grain-free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan.

I absolutely love roasted vegetables. Cauliflower provides a great source of Vitamin C, which boosts immune function, as well as Dietary Fiber, which helps in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The basic roasting technique in this recipe can be applied to any root vegetable and seasoning options are up to you, although salt, pepper and olive oil is simple and delicious.

I like tossing leftover roasted veggies with fresh spinach, leftover cooked grains (such as brown rice or quinoa), and a simple Dijon & lemon vinaigrette. By adding nuts, seeds or beans to the mix, you can get extra protein in as well.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Heads of cauliflower
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Turmeric
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 2 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Yellow mustard seed
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425° and place a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven while it’s preheating.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse cauliflower and cut into pieces (any size you like, just make sure they’re consistent in size).
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil and all spices.
  4. Toss cut cauliflower in the spice oil and use your hands to make sure the spice oil is distributed evenly.
  5. Remove heated baking sheet from oven and spread the cauliflower evenly on the sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with Lentil Dal, or on its own with brown rice, chopped fresh spinach and chickpeas for a complete meal.

Happy Roasting!

-Holly

If you’re like me, long-term meal planning is typically something reserved for party planning only. Although I make my weekly shopping list, which may even include some specialty items from a recipe I’ve wanted to try, I tend to go for the same staple items and whatever is in season at the Farmer’s Market. By the end of the week I find myself standing in front of an open pantry, searching for inspiration to utilize the remaining produce in my fridge.

At this point I am always grateful for the following “must-have” pantry items. With these items on-hand, delicious and healthy meal options are only minutes away. No need call in take-out or dig out that frozen pizza in the back of your freezer.

Here’s a list of pantry necessities that can lead to a multitude of yummy, healthful family meals.

Dried Cranberry HeartDried fruits

Cranberries, Raisins, Dates, Blueberries, Apricots, etc.

Keep a stash of any one or more of these dried fruits in your pantry to add to salads, rice dishes, homemade trail-mix/energy bars/recovery bars, chicken salad and more.


Health Benefits: Great sources of fiber and vitamins.

AlmondsNuts & Seeds

Almonds, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Flaxseed, etc.

As with dried fruits, nuts and seeds add texture and flavor to salads, grain dishes, and snacks. They’re also great additions to sweet treats and desserts, like Raw Brownies!

Health Benefits: Excellent source of protein and nutrients as well as providing heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

QuinoaWhole Grains

Quinoa, Brown Rice, Steel-Cut Oats, etc

Whole grains provide a filling and delicious base to any meal. Cook grains in large batches and use throughout the week in salads, soups and side dishes such as this Quinoa and Green Bean Salad.

Health Benefits: Whole grains are made up of complex carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates give our bodies the FUEL we need, the energy that most of our body systems need to function.

Black Beans
Beans & Legumes

Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, etc.

I like to buy these items in bulk (dried) and prepare large batches at the beginning of the week. They can be an excellent side or as part of any main dish. Beans and lentils lend themselves to a variety of flavors and uses—Get creative and see how other cultures utilize these power foods! Beans and legumes are must-have items for vegans, who rely more heavily on them for adequate daily protein intake. Check out our featured recipe for Lentil Dal.

Health Benefits: Loaded with protein, fiber and minerals.

Cocoa NibsOrganic Dark Chocolate Chips or Organic Raw Cocoa Nibs

These little morsels of rich, deliciousness have saved me from over-indulging my sweet-tooth many a time. When purchasing the chocolate chips, be sure they are organic with NO added sugar. As a satisfying addition to trail-mix, or melted to make these yummy Chocolate Apricot Nut-Bars, dark chocolate chips are a crave-curing go-to. For an even healthier alternative, try using organic raw cocoa nibs. This superfood can be used just as chocolate chips are!

Health Benefits: Rich in antioxidants, organic dark chocolate helps protect and repair your cells from damage by free radicals. Organic raw cocoa nibs are full of antioxidants as well as flavonoids, amino acids and magnesium helping improve mood, reduce anxiety, increase energy levels and reduce symptoms of PMS.

 

These are the absolute essentials that I keep my pantry stocked with regularly.  When you’re either feeling creative, or just desperate, having a well stocked pantry can make all the difference in the world.

For more advice on Building a Natural Foods Pantry, 101Cookbooks.com has some great tips.

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

PB Raisin Recovery Bites

I am so excited about these recovery snacks! Made with all-natural ingredients, these bites contain the necessary protein and carbohydrates required to increase recovery and protein synthesis post-workout. Be sure to ingest this snack within 90 minutes of a workout for maximum benefits. For best results, consume within 30 minutes of activity.

Not only are these bites delicious, but cost-effective as well. What you would normally pay $3-4 per serving for at the store, you are paying less than $1 for by making your own. And you know EXACTLY what the ingredients are! No unnecessary additives in these bites!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~24 bites (at approximately 1.5″x1″ size)
  • Prep Time: ~10 minutes
  • Notes: Feel free to experiment with ingredients

Ingredients

  • ~12 organic Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ¾ cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 Tbsp organic ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp hemp protein powder
  • ¼ cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp organic creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup organic raisins

Preparation

  1. Remove pits from dates, set aside.
  2. Add walnuts, oats, ground flaxseed, hemp protein powder and peanuts to food processor.
  3. Add dates to food processor two at a time, processing for only a few seconds each time. Try to avoid over-processing, as the mixture will become oily from the nuts.
  4. Add peanut butter, coconut oil and honey, process for for a few seconds until combined.
  5. Add coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins, process for a few seconds until combined. Feel free to mix by hand to avoid breaking the seeds.
  6. Test the mixture. Take ~1 Tbsp full of mixture and press it between your fingers. It should stick together nicely. If mixture seems dry, feel free to add in additional peanut butter, coconut oil or honey. If the mixture seems too wet, add in additional oats.
  7. Dump mixture from food processor onto cutting board and flatten by hand (or use wooden roller). Be sure to firmly press mixture into one large, flat slab. Cut the bites into desired size (~1.5″x1″) with pizza cutter or knife and store refrigerated in tupperware container. Wax paper can be used to separate layers of the bites inside the tupperware to keep them from sticking together while refrigerated, but is not essential.

I hope you enjoy these recovery bites! They will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, but feel free to store them in the freezer as well! I prefer to eat them when they’re a bit softer, so I’ll take them out of the refrigerator a few hours before my workout. This leaves them at the perfect temperature for consumption after my evening activities. They also make a fabulous dessert! These PB Raisin Recovery Bites are rich in natural sugars, protein, fiber and omega 3s. Enjoy!

And for a delicious pre-workout snack to load those glycogen stores, check out my Almond Coconut Raisin Energy Bars.

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

I’m a big fan of natural energy/granola bars, but I’m not a fan of paying high prices for them. The ones I like the best—the ones that are the healthiest and taste the best, seem to be so pricey at the store! Especially when you eat one every day. $3-4 a day for an energy bar? No, thank you. So I decided to start making my own. I can now control the ingredients and the specific amounts of those ingredients, really making these bars something that I think are delicious, while providing my body the nutrients it needs for pre- and post-workout snacks. All without spending a bajillion dollars!

I was paying $3-4 per bar when I purchased them at the store. By making my own, I now spend less than $1 per bar. Much better! I even started cutting them into bite-sized pieces, making them last even longer! I have several different versions of these bars—this is the first of many!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~8 bars (depending on size)
  • Prep Time: ~10 minutes
  • Notes: Feel free to experiment with ingredients

Ingredients

  • ~18 organic Medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 1 Tbsp raw almond butter
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil
  • ⅛ cup sunflower seeds (raw, hulled)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp almond meal
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp brown rice syrup (or agave nectar)
  • ¼ cup organic raisins

Preparation

  1. Remove pits from dates, add to food processor.
  2. Add rolled oats, and process for just a few seconds to combine the ingredients without over-processing.
  3. Add walnuts and almonds, process for a few seconds.
  4. Add almond butter and coconut oil, process for a few seconds.
  5. Add ground flaxseed (yay for fiber and omega 3s!), almond meal and coconut flakes, process.
  6. If “dough” seems dry, feel free to add in additional almond butter or brown rice syrup/agave nectar.
  7. Stir in raisins by hand.
  8. Remove “dough” from food processor and flatten by hand (or use wooden roller) onto a cutting board. Cut the bars into desired size (either “bars” or bite-sized pieces), and store refrigerated in tupperware container. Wax paper can be used to separate layers of bars inside the tupperware, to keep them from sticking together while refrigerated.

I hope you enjoy these energy bars! They will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, but feel free to store them in the freezer as well! I prefer to eat them when they’re a bit softer, so I’ll take them out of the refrigerator in the morning, leave them out during the day and eat them before my evening workout! They’re also great for breakfast, or for a quick pick-me-up snack during the day! Heck, they even make a good dessert! They are rich in natural sugars, protein, fiber and omega 3s. Enjoy!

Finally! The holidays are over, you’re full swing into your new year’s resolution… and then it arrives… Superbowl Sunday. The first “holiday” of the year, synonymous with laziness and an overindulgence in food and alcohol, here to test your willpower. Maybe for you, it’s no big deal, but for the majority of Americans, this is the biggest day of the year. After all, the Monday following the Superbowl has the highest number of people call in sick, more than any other day of the year!

So what is your plan for the big game? Lots of chips and queso? Wings and beer? If you’re wondering how you are going to get through this game without falling off the wagon entirely, hep is here! You can absolutely stay on track with your healthy resolutions without depriving yourself of a good time. And let’s be honest, avoiding the guilt and bloating that accompanies overindulgence isn’t half bad either!

The Playbook:

  • Get some exercise in before the big game. If you are not currently exercising, a nice walk will do just fine. If you are engaged in a regular workout program, go get in a killer workout! Keep in mind, however, just because you exercise does not mean you can eat whatever you want. Nutrition is a bigger piece of the weight loss/health puzzle than any of us realize. If you work out every day, and eat shit… you will not lose weight. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Okay, you might lose a little, but you’re definitely not on a path to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Eat in moderation. What?! Moderation?! On Superbowl Sunday?! Yes. You’ll feel better afterwards, I assure you.
  • Moderation applies to alcohol as well as food. If you’re going to drink beer, choose a light beer instead of a dark, heavy beer. After each beer, have a full glass of water. Before you go to bed, drink another.
  • Bring your own snacks to the party. If you’re going to be the guest at a party, offer to bring some snacks. Chances are good they will have plenty of snacks already, but chances are better that they will involve chips and salsa, queso, pizza rolls, and other processed crap. So bring some carrots, some hummus, apple slices and peanut/almond/cashew butter, cucumbers, zucchini (are you catching on to the raw veggie trend?), raw nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), even pretzels are better than pizza rolls!
  • Cook a healthier version of your favorite recipes. Instead of ordering pizza, try making your own, and load it with veggies! Possibly even leave off the cheese. Yes, I’m serious, and yes, it’s still considered “pizza.” You’re just living outside the box, that’s all! Here are some ideas.
  • For heaven’s sake, say no to soda. ‘Nuff said.
  • Before you eat anything, ask yourself if you’re even hungry, or if you’re eating “just to eat”. Humans need food to survive, but we’ve made it so much more than that. The Superbowl party should be about the game, friends, family and good times, which doesn’t mean leaving the party 7 lbs. heavier than you arrived.

Remember, you are the only one in control of what you do or don’t eat. Every decision you make regarding your health, wellness and happiness are yours, no one can take that away from you. So enjoy yourself on Sunday, but don’t use the Superbowl as an excuse. If you decide you’re going to indulge, decide what you’re going to indulge in before you get there and how much you are going to have, then stick to it! Don’t ever let your hunger make the decision for you, since when you’re hungry, you’re likely to settle for less than nutritional food. And worst case scenario, if you do overindulge, all is not lost. Don’t beat yourself up over it, guilt is a stressor, which leads to increased cortisol levels, which leads to belly fat, so that’s not going to help at all. Just move on from it, and get right back into your healthy routine the next day. If you slip up, realize that you are human, and fix it. Now if you’re “slipping up” frequently… that’s another issue.

Peace, love and football,

Melissa

I’m an avid watcher of The Biggest Loser TV show. Although it can be incredibly frustrating to watch at times, I love seeing these people transform their lives. They start out as these incredibly sad, broken people, and through time they are on the show, they begin to find themselves. They end the show with smiles you can’t wipe from their faces and an undeniable healthy glow.

Although their individual stories may differ, they have one thing in common (besides being overweight), and that is how they got to be overweight and sick. In the second week of the show, the contestants sit with a doctor and their medical conditions are discussed. They all end the same way, the contestant is in tears saying “I don’t know how I got here.” It’s really very heartbreaking. The truth is, it’s very clear how they “got there,” they just aren’t able to see it yet. In reality, even the tiniest decisions you make every day are what gets you “there,” it didn’t happen overnight. However, most of the contestants are in denial and aren’t ready to take responsibility for their actions. It is their own actions that got them “here,” but many fail to see it for many weeks. It is a true turning point when you see these people start to “get it.”

The way many people think about food is what begins their path to self-destruction. “It’s only one donut;” “I have been really good today;” “I worked out this morning;” These are dangerous ways of thinking. It is difficult for many people to draw a definitive line once these statements begin. It’s also difficult to keep track of how often you’re using them as excuses to eat something you know you should not. Instead of thinking about this donut as a reward for a good workout, think about what type of food your body requires to rebuild and repair the muscles you’ve broken down. The answer is probably not a donut. Or maybe you haven’t worked out yet. Instead of thinking “It’s okay, I am allowed to eat this donut because I’ll work it off tonight,” think about what type of food your body needs to fuel it through a good, hard workout. Again, probably not a donut. I will get more into what to eat before/during/after workouts in future posts, but a major shift in thinking is required first.

Another issue with this last statement is the word “allowed.” In this country, we typically treat the foods that are killing us as rewards. What would you say if after a workout I said “Great job today, now you are allowed to eat foods that will eventually kill you”? You’d look at me like I was crazy, right? Well, that’s essentially what is happening. Foods such as ice cream, candy, donuts and other pastries, fried and fatty foods, etc. are deemed as “treats.” How are people so shocked that childhood obesity is at an all-time high? Or that for the first time in history, our children will not outlive us. Are you ready to bury your child? Harsh, I know, but this HAS to be addressed. Our kids get all their homework done on time, or receive excellent grades on their report cards, and to reward them we give them foods that not only will make them sick eventually, but are also incredibly addicting. We try so hard to teach our children to stay away from drugs, but do you know how many “drugs” or chemicals are in processed foods like cheese puffs, doritos, oreos and other snacks they consume every day? These foods are manufactured to be addicting, and it works! If you offer your child one of these snacks, will they turn it away and ask for carrots instead? Probably not. We have to teach them how to make healthy foods something they’ll actually want to eat. But again, that’s another post.

In short, if you want to make changes to your body, you’ll first need to make changes to your mind. When you start to look at things like donuts and candy as things that make you sick, you start to want them less and less. The more sweets you eat, the more sweets you will crave. Don’t give in to those sugar cravings, it’s bad news! As you begin to eat healthier, you will begin to crave healthier food. Think about food as fuel, and that will help aid your shift in thinking. This will take time, so be patient with yourself. If you slip, ask yourself why, don’t ignore your actions, deal with them. You shouldn’t abandon your goals altogether because you “slipped”, nor should you beat yourself up about it, but you absolutely cannot ignore it. Ignoring the bad choices we make during the day is exactly what will get you “there.”

Peace, love and healthy thoughts,

Melissa

Raw nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and healthy fats. But if you’re watching your calories, you’ll have to watch the amount of nuts you consume, as they’re fairly high in calories. A 1 ounce serving is a good amount for a snack. If you don’t have a scale handy… I mean, come on, who does… The amount of nuts that fit on a 3″x3″ piece of paper is about a 1 ounce serving. That’s about 24 almonds, 35 peanuts or 49 pistachios. At 1 ounce of almonds, that’s about 163 calories. Happy healthy snacking!