Super Green Protein Cookies

So here's the deal…my kids like cookies.  I like cookies.  There was a 2-for-1 deal on spirulina, and alas….the Super Green Protein Cookies recipe was born.  

I should mention, my investigative 3-year old does always double-check, "These are healthy cookies, right mama?".  Yes, of course!  And they're GREEN!  These cookies will awaken the inner Hulk in us all.  They satisfy a sweet or crunchy tooth without sending your blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride.

Spirulina is what gives these cookies its color and is a type of blue-green algae that comes packed with protein, vitamins A, K1, K2, B12, iron, chromium, and maganese.  With that fresh-from-the-ocean smell and taste, it's best to keep portions small and include it in recipes in which it can be camouflaged (such as these cookies or a smoothie).

I used goji berries too, to add texture, sweetness, and plant magic, but feel free to substitute with raisins or omit altogether.  The green-red combo was really pretty though!  I'm thinking I'll have to repost this recipe closer to the holidays for the Christmas celebrators.  (Can someone remind me?  I've got that mommy-brain-sleep-deprived thing going on).  ;-)

The key to the perfect crunch is allowing them to bake until the edges are golden-brown and then being patient enough to let them cool down on a cooling rack (or some other place where the air can get all around).

This recipe makes about 24 cookies.  I've had a lot of inquiries recently about serving sizes (more information to come on that).  To be technical, 1-2 cookies is a good serving for most… per sitting.  So just stand up and sit back down to have more.  Ha!  Wouldn't it be wonderful if it worked like that?!?!

Let me know if you try these and what you think.  The million $ question…did your kids like them?

 

In good health,

Tara

Super Green Protein Cookies

Ingredients:

 

Dry:

1.5 cups almond flour

½ cup ground flaxseeds

3 T dried goji berries (sub: raisins)

1 T hemp seeds

1 T chia seeds

1.5 tsp. spirulina powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

 

Wet:

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

¼ cup honey

1 T vanilla

 

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.    In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir well.

3.    In a medium bowl, combine all wet ingredients and stir well.

4.    Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until dough is formed.

5.    On a greased baking pan, place tablespoon-sized balls about an inch apart.  Press down / flatten slightly with a fork.

6.    Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F – until the edges are golden brown.

7.    For best results (and crunch!), allow to cool 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Are you sure? Pediasure? That time when I disagreed with my kids' pediatrician...

I had an interesting experience at the pediatrician's office last week with my 1-year old.  Watch the video to find out what happened and what we plan on doing about it.

Have you ever disagreed with advice given to you for your child by his/her doc?  What did you say or do?

***Please note: I respect our pediatrician, her experience, her knowledge, and her kindness a great deal.  She's an amazing professional and mother, from what I can tell.  This in no way means that I have not or do not take other advice she gives.  However, I am very comfortable with the level of knowledge I hold in the field of nutrition.  I am also very aware of the alarmingly low amount of nutrition education given to doctors as they are coming up.  I hope that changes very soon.  Regardless, here I am trying to do my part - as a coach to my clients AND as a mother to my kiddos.  

When you know better, you do better.  Let's do better.

 

In good health,

Tara

27 Healthy School Snack Options

With our little threenager's impending entry into preschool, I was feeling relieved about the rumors (and downright claims) that this particular school program is known to be "strict" and "healthy" in their nutrition policies.

Awesome!  I got 99 worries, but a snack ain't one!  :-P

Then, this curious little packet arrived in the mail.  Along with doctor forms, emergency contacts, and mandatory meetings came a sheet claiming to educate parents, like myself, about what is considered a 'healthy snack'.  This…..THIS is what they wrote:

Hmmmm…..really?!?  "Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers", "animal crackers", and "graham crackers" made THEIR list!

Hmmmm…..really?!?  "Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers", "animal crackers", and "graham crackers" made THEIR list!

WHAT in the graham cracker did I just read?!?!  

A few of the items, at least, are in fact healthy.  However, my biggest problem with this list is that it comes from an authority that claims to have a superior understanding of what we *should* be feeding our children.  This means that some parents without much knowledge in nutrition may trust and follow these guidelines in hopes of nourishing their kiddos.  If goldfish and graham crackers are a healthy, everyday-type snack, what do they consider a treat?!

I do not judge others' decisions for what they feed their families, when, why, etc.  I like to believe that everyone is doing the best they know how.  I also believe this is one of my purposes in life - to help raise the bar.

After posting this list on social media a couple of weeks ago, some of you said you'd like to see me post a list of my own.  So, I am!

**The following list takes into consideration that most schools are tree nut and peanut free these days.  Although there are no overt peanuts or tree nuts in this list, many packages / ingredients will need to be double-checked to make sure they are in-line with your school's allergen policy.

Feel free to use these ideas however you see fit - to send in for snack, to combine and give as a quick meal, or just enjoy at home with your kiddos.  You will find some of these are meant to be paired together with other items on the list to balance it out, because….can you really eat hummus by itself?  ;-)  (Give me a spoon - I certainly can!)

  1. Dried chickpeas
  2. Cheese stick (organic, if possible)
  3. Fruit - apple, banana, fruit salad
  4. Sunflower seed butter
  5. Hummus
  6. Guacamole (with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice)
  7. Seed crackers (such as Mary's Gone Crackers brand)
  8. 100% whole grain crackers
  9. Raw veggies - peppers, halved grape tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, snap peas, green beans, halved olives
  10. "Chips" made from baked sweet potatoes, zucchini, beets, or kale
  11. Seaweed
  12. Homemade granola (99.9% of store-bought has added sugar)
  13. Apple "nachos" - include sunflower seed butter, hemp seeds, and coconut flakes
  14. Trail mix with just seeds and dried fruit (goji berries, raisins)
  15. Freeze-dried fruit
  16. Hardboiled eggs or deviled eggs
  17. Celery with sunflower seed butter or tahini and raisins ("ants on a log")
  18. Air-popped (organic) popcorn
  19. Seed pretzels (such as Mary's Gone Crackers brand)
  20. Yogurt (coconut or Greek - unsweetened and plain…send in fruit to dress it up)
  21. Applesauce (make yourself or buy organic with no added ingredients)
  22. Savory yogurt dip (add spices, herbs such as dill, etc.
  23. Chia seed pudding
  24. Brown rice cakes 
  25. Yogurt parfait - layer yogurt with fruit, seeds, granola, a layer of chia seed pudding, etc.
  26. A smoothie
  27. Small portion of leftovers or soup (a small thermos is helpful here)

As a special treat for holidays, birthdays, or other celebrations, consider sending in a homemade / healthy muffin or "cookies" such as those made from oats + banana.

Raw veggies are crunchy, colorful, and convenient little vehicles to get dips into little mouths.  :-)

Raw veggies are crunchy, colorful, and convenient little vehicles to get dips into little mouths.  :-)

I hope this helps!

 

In good health,

Tara

Acid Blockers - Helpful or Harmful?

Acid blockers are some of the most frequently prescribed medications for GERD / reflux / heart burn.  Do you or anyone you know take these?  Although they can be helpful in certain situations for certain people for a certain (typically limited) amount of time, this is not what is seen 'in the real world'.  Watch the video for some more information about acid blockers.  As always, be sure to discuss ANY changes to your medication with your prescribing practitioner beforehand.

What types of lifestyle changes may help with your symptoms?  Feel free to reach out to me for some more tips or strategies.

In good health,

Tara

Puffed Rice Treats

Puffed Rice Treats

Puffed Rice Treats

We set out on a mission to create something new for this weekend.  With out-of-state friends coming for a visit (and one with a peanut and tree nut allergy), we decided to venture away from our usual desserts which often have nut flour or nut butter in the mix somewhere.

After seeing the packaged version of this dessert on the store shelves, I decided I would try my hand at my own version.  Puffed brown rice with no other ingredients could work as the base and sunflower seed butter would help add flavor.  Honey seemed like the perfect option to sweeten and hold it all together.

My first trial-run came out great.  So, obviously, I switched it up the real deal.  (why?!?!)  Actually, I tried to cut corners and didn't freeze them long enough before cutting and they ended up being very crumbly - but still delicious!

These are a bit sweet for me, so I plan to make them again with a lot less honey as a better (and healthier) snack option.  They may get a bit crumbly again without as much honey sticking it all together, but I don't mind the granola consistency.

***Note: Make sure to get sunflower seed butter that's not made on shared equipment in a warehouse that also makes nut butters if you're cooking for someone with food allergies.  I'm sure you all know that already!  :-/  Luckily we looked over the package together first. Although they seemed to be a hit with most, our friend with the allergy was not able to try these.  What a silly mistake!  Ugh.  Live and learn.  ;-)

Puffed Rice Treats all mixed and ready to be compacted down a bit more and frozen for a little before cutting into squares.

Puffed Rice Treats all mixed and ready to be compacted down a bit more and frozen for a little before cutting into squares.

Puffed Rice Treats

(gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free)

 

Serves 16

 

Ingredients:

 

4 cups puffed brown rice

½ cup sunflower seed butter

½ cup raw honey

 

 

Directions:

 

1.    Pour puffed rice into a large mixing bowl.

2.    In a saucepan on the stove, bring sunflower seed butter and honey to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat.

3.    Pour sunflower seed/honey into bowl with puffed rice and stir well to combine.

4.    Spoon mixture into a pan (8x8 cake pan works well) on top of parchment paper.

5.    Using a spatula (or spoon), press down hard to compact mixture.

6.    Place in the freezer for 30-60 minutes.

7.    Remove and cut into 16 squares.  J

 

Do you plan on making these?  They come together in about 5 minutes.  Then just freeze for a bit and cut up into squares and you look like you've been working hard all day in the kitchen!

Let me know how yours come out.

 

In good health,

Tara

Need more veggies? Here are 8 ways to get them in!

"…but I don't like veggies!"

"My kids would never eat that!"

"The fiber…it's no good for my belly."

"I'm saving room for dessert."  :-P

No matter the excuse, most of us know that the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, bioflavenoids (words that just mean plant magic), fiber, and perfectly-slow-digesting carbs that come packaged in food we know as "vegetables" are really important to our overall health goals. 

So, put your big girl (or big boy) panties on and watch this video for 8 tips on increasing the amount of veggies you (and anyone you love or even mildly tolerate) consume in a day.

How do you make sure to get your leafy greens and rainbow-colored veggies in?

 

In good health,

Tara

Organic Landscaping - weeding through the options

Check out my latest video in which I am asking you for help.

Weeds, and lawns, and organic landscaping…oh my!

Just another decision to make in the "real world".  Another set of priorities to reconcile.  This is life!  We want our children to have a beautiful, lush lawn to run around on, get their fair share of grass stains on, play ball on, and take their obligatory prom pictures on.  We want to have BBQs, cookouts, and fun with friends and family.  We want to sit around the (baby) pool and under the shade while we take too many pictures on our kiddos.

AND, we want to do all of this without the use of industrial pesticides.  No Monsanto.  No Glyphosate.  No thank you!

So, where does this leave us?  What to do?  This is a real question!  Please weigh in and help us with our dilemma.

P.S. We live on Long Island (New York) and are open to both organic landscaping company recommendations and DIY options.

Thanks!

In good health amongst the weeds,

Tara

A letter to my kiddos on Mother's Day...

A letter to my kiddos on Mother's Day...

Dear Mags and Jags,

Tomorrow will be my fourth year as a mother on Mother's Day.  I want you to know that I waited (im)patiently for you for a long time!  I dreamed that you'd join us, Earthside, during so many long nights and even more days than I can recall.  

My life no longer resembles the life I had prior to 3.5 years ago.  I signed up for that. My career has drastically shifted, I have bags under my eyes, and my coffee is always cold by the time it reaches my lips.  It's hard to feel like a bada$$ - in business, in life - with various bodily fluids gripping onto my shirt threads.  There's 40,789 daily toddler questions and mysterious scratches on my face (didn't I just cut your nails?!)  Date night now consists of squeezing in 10 minutes of Shark Tank on the DVR before the first nighttime feeding.  That's right - hot dates over here in the Allen household.  ;-)

Then….THEN….the sleepless nights!

Sleepless on Long Island.

Sleepless in Love.

I signed up for this.

Ugh.  You know what?  The sleepless nights are HARD, but they're also WONDERFUL.  There, I said it.  This does not mean I can't use this against you in the future, by the way.  Certainly I should be able to squeeze an extra chore or 2 out of you both in the future, right?  Here's the truth.  I kinda, sorta cherish the sleepless nights.  (Shh - don't tell Daddy!)  There's something about the blanket of darkness and silence that calms my hyperactive monkey brain.  As I nourish your body with mine, my soul is overflowing with joy.  You see, I'm not counting the loads of laundry I didn't get to the day before or worrying about completing a client email in a few hours. I'm present.  I breathe you in.  There's this bond that's so overwhelmingly beautiful, it's bone-shattering (the other mamas will understand what I mean).

I signed up for this.

I literally signed up for all of this.

That first appointment I had with the fertility doc happened to fall on a hot summer day.  This was helpful as my tears were camouflaged by the beads of sweat.

I signed the consent forms - all of them - for every procedure, test, poke & prod.  I'd do it all again. Times a million.

I signed up to be your mama.  I'm a lucky, lucky mama.

Now that we're all here, I promise to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes on the stars - thanking them for the dream-come-true.  I'm not perfect (truly, I'm not!), but I promise to do my best - as humans do.  I promise to love you AND YOUR MOTHER.  You see, this business, the food I cook to nourish our family, the active lifestyle we lead…it's for you.  It's for us.  You deserve a mama that's here for you; a leading lady in your life ready to spring into action when needed or help support you through your childhood and adult challenges - changing careers, parenthood, filing for AARP.  Did I mention that I plan on being here for a while?  ;-)

M & J, tomorrow is Mother's Day.  You are 1 & 3 years old.  There may be a card for me, a brunch to celebrate me and the other special grand-mothers in your life, even a period of time in which you see me sit back for a few to take it all in.  Let me tell you a secret… I won't be celebrating me.  I'll be celebrating you.  I'll be thanking my lucky stars and wondering what I did to deserve the best.

Magnolia and Jagger, though I prefer "mama", it ain't so bad being your "mother" on Mother's Day.  Thanks for the title.  Thanks for the moments.  Thanks for the memories and laughter and hugs.  I definitely signed up for this.

In Joy,

Mama

It's Earth Day!

Whether you choose to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, and/or REPURPOSE today, it's a great day to take a step back and enjoy Mother Earth in all Her glory.  I'm looking out a big picture window right now watching the cold rain come down in New York, despite earlier reports of today being the dry & sunny part of the weekend.  Luckily, we had no specific outdoor plans and I can just enjoy the coziness and warm-fuzzies that I get on days like this.  Side note: I also LOVE to tell my toddler that it's good sleeping whether in hopes of a successful nap-time.  I'm still testing this theory out with her.  ;-)

Anyway, as the weather allows, I've been making more and more time to get outside with the kiddos.  We ALL need the fresh air, sunshine, and adventure that only The Great Outdoors can provide.  You know what I mean, right?  Of course there's the all-important Vitamin D that our body needs from direct sunlight on our skin, but it's more than that.  We now know that just getting the passing light of the sun in our eyes for a bit everyday actually helps us produce more melatonin at night (HELLO better sleep quality!), increases energy and productivity during the day, and helps to fight overall dis-ease.  Score!

Here's how we (myself + 1 year old + 3 year old) spent our outside time this week so far:

  • Pretty intense hike on the North Shore of Long Island.  Magnolia held her own, impressively.  Jagger enjoyed the babywearing vantage point.
  • A few walks in the neighborhood and to the park.
  • We stalked the ride-on cars and carousel at an outdoor "mall" when we had some errands to run.
  • Backyard bubbles.  Duh!  ;-)
  • Puddle-splashing happened.  And then, so did laundry.
  • We discovered a partially wanted and partially unwelcomed snail that seems to have made our driveway a nice home.  So of course my neighbors must not think I'm crazy for taking 3 minutes to find said snail before I move my car each time.  Hey, a pet is a pet!

That's it.  Nothing too crazy and we had a few rainy days that we did pick indoor activities.  Oh, and planted some herbs that we're (im)patiently waiting to sprout.  What can I say, eating from the Earth with the fam makes me happy!

How are you spending your Earth Day?  Any Spring cleaning or festivals or charity walks on the calendar?

 

In good health,

Tara

Banana Bread ---> grain-free, dairy-free

It's Spring break, Easter, and Passover all this week!  You may need a good dessert that doubles as breakfast and snacks for the kids this week.  It should hold up well in the freezer, be delicious, taste like a treat, and be nourishing to you, your kids, and your guests.  Am-I-right?!?!  

This Banana Bread was born out of the need to use up my mushy bananas.  I already have a freezer stash to use for smoothies and to make 'nice cream', so I wanted to make bread.  For us, it needed to be gluten-free, dairy-free, no refined sugars, full of healthy fat, protein, and fiber.  I'm fueling my busy & active body along with my family's.  And, with the things my toddler says on the regular, let me tell you, her brain is very happy with the kinds of fuel it's been getting!  ;-)  

Example from today:

Magnolia to Jagger:  "Jagger, please stop jumping in your crib.  We worked very hard for that bed and I wouldn't want to have to buy a new one and put it together again."

So, I'm sure your kiddos are just as hilarious - especially when they're getting in that good nutrition!  Leave me a comment and tell me what funny things they've said recently.  

And, make this bread immediately (if there are no egg or nut allergies in the house).  It's a good one to have on hand for a busy & special week like this one.

Banana Bread

(gluten-free, dairy-free)

 

Ingredients:

 

4 large eggs

4 bananas (ripe or overripe)

½ cup almond butter (sub: peanut butter)

4 T coconut oil, melted (plus extra to grease pan)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/5 cup hazelnut flour (sub: almond flour)

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

 

 

Directions:

 

1.    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.    Combine all wet ingredients in a blender.

3.    Add dry ingredients to blender and mix well.

4.    Grease an 8X8 cake pan (ok to use loaf pan, but cooking times will vary).

5.    Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).  Top of bread should be golden-brown and center should be set.

6.    Allow to cool before slicing and serving. 

Generational Health Gaps - and why we NEED to know!

We're at an interesting cross-roads in our health history as a species.  Yes, it's true that younger generations will be the first ever to have a shorter lifespan than their parents - on the whole.  Does that scare anyone?  As a mama of 2, I will be darned if I just let this happen without putting up a fight.

Here's the deal: earlier generations typically had a MUCH less toxic start to their life.  They only ate organically, because these neurotoxic pesticides weren't around generations ago.  There weren't any plastics, microwaveable dinners, cleaning products with 20 ingredients, etc.  Everything was more natural.

You and I may not have had the same start, but we are armed with knowledge now to make changes.  Remember, you vote with your dollar!  So just changing the food you eat and the products you use help to drive down the demand for the less-than-stellar options.  :-)

In good health, 

Tara

Spring is here - what should I eat now?

There may still be some patches on snow hunkering down here in New York, but the calendar has moved on.  Spring has SPRUNG!  Along with all of the extra cleaning, organizing, outside walks, and Summer vacation planning that people seem to always squeeze into the first week of Spring, we're usually ready to change up our food.  WIth lots of green and sprouts starting to come up this time of the year, Spring makes for the perfect time to introduce new greens into your diet.  When we are more conscious of eating in-season, we derive health-benefits from fresher and less pesticide-ridden foods, can enjoy locally grown plants, and save money (!) in the process (Remember that whole supply and demand thing from High School Economics class?).

The following is a list of vegetables that are in-season for this time of year here in the U.S.  Some of these grow year-round or are harvested during multiple seasons, so if you thought of any as Winter or Summer crops, you may not be wrong.  However, these are all great choices for *at least* March, April, and May.  

Pick up your favorites and maybe challenge yourself to try a new veggie every week or 2.  Let the Spring meal planning and cooking begin!

 

Artichokes

Arugula

Asparagus

Beets

Bok Choy

Broccoli Rabe

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Carrots

Celery

Chard

Chicory

Collard Greens

Cress

Dandelion Greens

Endive

Fava Beans

Fava Greens

Fennel

Garlic

Kale

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Lettuce

Mushrooms

Mustard Greens

Nettles

Onions

Parsnips

Pea Shoots

Peas

Purslane

Radishes

Rutabagas

Scallions

Spinach

Sprouts

Turnips

 

In good health,

Tara

Matcha 'Nice Cream'

St. Patrick's Day is next week and I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new and interesting green food ideas to make.  We're all Irish that day, right?  ;-)

With a couple of frozen bananas in my freezer that I wanted to use up, I had an idea...

But of course...Matcha Nice Cream.  This is a dairy- and gluten-free version of ice cream that you do not need an ice cream maker for!  And, get this…you only need 3 ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (cashew milk used here)
  • 2 T matcha (green tea) powder

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until creamy.
  2. Spoon into freezer-safe container.  
  3. Eat as is for a soft-serve consistency or freeze for 1-2 hours for a traditional ice cream texture.  If you're feeling fancy, use an ice cream scooper.

Enjoy this healthy sweet treat alone or with Leprechauns…whatever!  ;-)

In good health,

Tara

 

 

Caring for your body post-baby and beyond!

I couldn't bring you all to the Blossom Baby Expo this past weekend here on Long Island, so at the last-minute suggestion of my hubby, I recorded my presentation LIVE to bring to YOU!  ;-)

We spoke about nutrition, fitness, sleep, support, and stress - specifically targeted for postpartum women, but these tips will help anyone!  I stopped the video before the Q&A started, for the privacy of our awesome mamas.

Please share this with any of your pregnant or postpartum friends.  This time in your / their lives is simultaneously the most important and yet the most challenging time to turn inward and take care of your own body.  It can be done!  Watch to learn more.

In good health,

Tara

Marie Claire LIVE - Meal Prepping and Saving Money!

This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to share my top tips on lowering your grocery bill and eating healthy through meal prepping LIVE on Marie Claire.  Shout out to #TheFix host, Brittney Levine and videographer, Rosa, who were as sweet as can be!  We had fun and the time FLEW!  I want to share a couple more tips with you guys that I didn't get to mention in the shoot.

1) Choose the day and time you will be going shopping.  Avoid shopping while hungry or rushed. Those hunger pangs will steer you right towards the impulse buys at the check-out counter…not wallet- (or health-) friendly.  By choosing a time when you are a bit less rushed, you will likely take a few extra minutes comparing prices and nutrition labels…key items to be successful with your shopping trip!

2) Decrease food waste.  In your planning phase, make a "use first" column that includes produce and leftovers that may go bad in the next day or two.  Be creative and find ways to use up those items before making something new.  

3) If you can't use the seen-better-days food up in time, use your freezer!  Bananas freeze well and can be thrown into smoothies or banana bread.  Veggies can be pureed into a soup and frozen that way.  What about herbs?  Divide them up into ice cube trays with some olive oil (or whatever liquid you might use them with).  This is a great tip to help your groceries last a few extra weeks and months.

What are your favorite tricks to save money while staying healthy?

LIVE Meal prep show on Tuesday - Marie Claire

Meal prep your way to a lower grocery bill...

Are you looking to step-up your meal prepping game and lower your grocery bill while shopping for healthy food?

I will be sharing my favorite tips on this topic LIVE on Marie Claire's show, The Fix.  We will be coming to you from a grocery store in Manhattan.  Head over to the Marie Claire Facebook page this Tuesday, February 21st at 2PM EST and check it out!  Ask your questions or just come say hello.  I'd love to see you there!  Here's the link to their Facebook Live page.

Not able to make it at that time?  I will be posting the replay shortly after on my Facebook page, Tara Allen Health.

I hope you're all enjoying this holiday weekend and taking some tome to rest, relax, and breathe. :-)

In good health,

Tara

Stretch and Relax….and eat muffins!

You know what I love almost as much as helping people for a living?  I love, love, LOVE, the diversity in my days and weeks.  I enjoy working one-on-one with my clients, and then heading to a corporate wellness event.  With a parent expo, speaking engagement, and LIVE (what!?!?) show all coming up in the next week, taking the time to visit my friends at National Business Capital here on Long Island last week to STRETCH and RELAX came at a good time.  Besides, it was about 12 hours after the Blizzard and everyone's tired backs needed the break!

We started with a silly little game to warm up our bodies, minds, and hearts.  Followed that up with some deep breathing and full-body stretching.  Topped it off with healthy muffins for everyone…"You get a muffin, you get a muffin, YOU get a muffin too!" (in my best Oprah voice).

Thanks for having me back, National Business Capital.  You guys rock!

Tip for you all:  Take a few minutes extra in your warm shower.  As you're washing your body, take an inventory of how things are feeling.  What's tight, what's achy?  Then after you've shampooed (or do you shampoo first?  Hmmm), do a little self-massage on tight areas and practice some range-of-motion right there under the warm stream of water.  Your muscles will be looser and more forgiving when they are warm. Plus, it's a nice quiet place to get an uninterrupted minute or two.  Well, unless you have young children.  :-/  They follow us everywhere.  

Let me know how it goes.  Disclaimer:  NO slipping allowed!  We're not talking about big, sweeping movements that should leave you off-balance, but if you're a bit unsteady on your feet, do the stretching after the shower instead.

Happy Thursday, everyone.

In good health,

Tara

Red Velvet LOVE Brownies

February is in full swing as we are approaching the middle of the month already.  How?!?  With the famous groundhog forecasting 6 more weeks of Winter, I suppose we should've been expecting the blizzard we were met with today on Long Island.

Snow and all, February is a time for love, heart-shaped everything, shades of pink and red, heart health, and lots and lots of…chocolate!!

So, what if you're on a roll with upgrading your health so far in 2017, but still looking for something that looks and tastes like an indulgence?  What if you or a family member have some food allergies / sensitivities that prevent you from being able to eat most of the store-bought or homemade recipes out there?  I hope this Red Velvet Love Brownie recipe fills that void for you!

These bad boys are gluten-free, dairy-free, high in protein and fiber, and contain healthy fats plus a full serving of veggies.  They're chocolate-y, yet low glycemic…how's that for showing your heart some love this month?!

Black beans in brownies?!?!  Yup!  They work great for texture, color, and add lots of nutrition!  

Black beans in brownies?!?!  Yup!  They work great for texture, color, and add lots of nutrition!  

Beets bring the "red velvet" hint of color while adding a bit of subtle sweetness.

Beets bring the "red velvet" hint of color while adding a bit of subtle sweetness.

Brownie batter all mixed up.

Brownie batter all mixed up.

Red Velvet Love Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz) can of black beans, rinsed (BPA-free can)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup beets (sliced and cooked - either roast in oven or buy a jar)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened / dairy-free / gluten-free chocolate chips
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients in food processor, high-speed blender (keep scraping sides down), or with a mixer.
  4. Combine wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour into well-greased muffin tin or line with paper liners.  This makes adorable, round brownies with slightly crispy edges that are like getting the highly sought-after corner piece each time.  ;-)
  6. For the look pictured up top (with the heart in the middle), cut a beet slice into the heart shape and press onto top.  Other ideas for toppings include: chocolate chips, hemp seeds, walnuts, or anything else your creative mind comes up with.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes - until edges start to pull away from muffin tin and become slightly crispy.
  8. Share with your favorite people!
Little hands couldn't wait for me to finish the photo shoot.  ;-)

Little hands couldn't wait for me to finish the photo shoot.  ;-)

Red Velvet Love Brownies with various toppings. Pictured (starting top left and going clock-wise): Walnuts, chocolate chip and hemp seeds, heart-shaped beet, chocolate chip.

Red Velvet Love Brownies with various toppings. Pictured (starting top left and going clock-wise): Walnuts, chocolate chip and hemp seeds, heart-shaped beet, chocolate chip.

Alright guys…will you dare to try these?  It is definitely "different" to bake with black beans, but they taste so chocolate-y and are healthycome on now!  Brownies for lunch, anyone?

In good health,

Tara

Game Day Recipe

Whether you're hosting your friends and family or visiting someone else to watch The Big Game (a.k.a. Superbowl) this Sunday, there's a few things that remain top of mind on this not-quite-a-holiday holiday…football, half-time shows (wardrobe malfunctions?), commercials, and…FOOD!

What are you making?  What are you bringing?

This Crunchy Cauliflower recipe is perfect for Game Day.  It works as a snack, an appetizer, or a side dish.  It's delicious as-is, or can be paired with your favorite dip or sauce if you want to be fancy.  This recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, high protein, high fiber, and of course a serving of veggies!  And…it's toddler-approved (actually, toddler-obsessed!).

Crunchy Cauliflower Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Chop cauliflower into bite-sized florets.  Place in large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and paprika. Mix well.
  4. Add coconut oil and then beaten egg in the bowl with the cauliflower.  Mix well.
  5. Add dry mixture from medium bowl into bowl with the cauliflower and mix until evenly coated.
  6. Spread cauliflower evenly onto a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake 7-8 minutes, flip, and bake another 7-8 minutes.  The cauliflower should be crispy and a bit brown on the edges.
  8. Eat up!

Happy Friday, everyone!

In health,

Tara

DIY Clay Facial Mask

Sometimes we need a little clay in our lives.  This DIY clay facial mask costs about 30 cents per application.  It whips up in a couple short minutes and leaves the skin smooth and taut.  Hard to beat that, huh?

**Note: test this mask out on a small patch of your skin first to make sure you don't have any reactions such as redness or dryness before you apply it all over your face.

Ingredients:

  • 2 capsules activated charcoal
  • 1 teaspoon bentonite clay
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon water

 

Directions:

Mix well in a bowl and apply to your face with a brush or your fingertips.  Allow to dry (about 15 minutes) and wash off with a warm washcloth.  Apply your favorite, natural moisturizer.

Voila!  Soft skin!  What's your favorite natural DIY product?

In health,

Tara