Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blame the BREAD! Recipe

I know that I haven't posted for the past two days, but I have a GOOD reason.
Blame. The. BREAD.

Some people blame the bread for their stomach issues, for their curvy booty, ext... however, I am blaming it for my lack of active blogging.

Allow me to explain.

Just as I am using my Holistic Meal Planning services as a way to raise funds for my fitness and health education, I also briefly sold homemade bread at my church for the same reasons, and had tons of orders to fill in time for Sunday! I passed them out today, and things went great. So now that I am not pounding flour about, I can use my hands to type up some posts!

I am still offering loafs for order, so if you are in my local area message me either here, from my email ( or my Facebook page!

These loafs are SO easy to make. They are not going to turn out like what you are used to in the store... this bread is MUCH heartier and dense, and depending on how you form it, it will not yield slices as tall. However I actually prefer it this way... I went a LONG time not eating bread due to the fact that you can hardly buy any kind from the store without preservatives and added fake sugars. I then went on to find Ezekiel, which I adored for quite some time... but then I realized how easy (and CHEAP!) it is to make my own, so that's how I roll now ;)

Now on to the recipe!! Thank you, Elise from Hungry Hungry Hippie, for inspiration for this.

Hearty Whole Grain Bread 
Yields 2 medium loafs 

1 1/2 cup WARM water
2 TBSP active yeast (1 packet)
1-2 TBSP Coconut Oil
4 1/2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1 TSP dry rosemary *
1 TSP dry basil *
Other desired dry herbs *
Salt to taste (optional)

*I used fresh herbs from my garden, and it turned out fine. I just am assuming most people have access to dry herbs rather than fresh.

1) Combine the warm water, yeast, and oil. Wait a few minutes and let the yeast 'froth', or get foamy.
2) Add the flour and knead your heart out! Because I had so many orders from church, my hands are raw from this... The flour and water should form a pliable dough. Make sure no flour is left, and it all is mixed well!
3) In a bowl greased with olive or coconut oil, place your ball of dough and cover. Let this rise for TWO hours in a WARM area.
4) After this first rising, the dough should have about doubled in size. Knead it down again, this time adding in your herbs.
5) At this point, you can either cover the dough and let it rise the second time for an hour, or you can cover and leave in the fridge to rise over night.
6) After the second rising, break the dough into two and form into "loaf" shapes (or whatever shape floats your boat... maybe next time I could try a heart or something neat?)
7) Bake in the oven at 450 for about 20 minutes, or until the top has developed a slightly hard crust/shell. You could poke it open a bit just to make sure it is done!
NOTE: I found that if anything, these loafs come out better under cooked than over. In other words, they probably need less time than you think! You definitely DON'T want stale balls of dough. I find that about 15-20 minutes is about perfect, leaving the center doughy and chewy.

So much bread I had to make. So much. 

I guess one of the REALLY GREAT effects of making 50+ loafs of bread in a matter of 48 hours is that your house smells flipping awesome. Downside though, having the oven on for so long in this Texas heat is a bit like self sabotage.

So there you have it folks... the reason my neighbors were probably salivating for a few days, why my hands are raw, and why I have made a mental note to thank the Lord for oven mitts instead of pot-holders (a burn or two will teach you quickly to cover your ENTIRE hand as it enters the mouth of the beast oven.) Oh, yeah! And also the reason why I've been MIA for two days.

Try this bread out! There is no way you can be disappointed. It can transform simple ingredients into sparklers in your mouth. Put honey on it as a treat, smear it in hummus, favorite...

Make it into a sandwich with AVOCADO. Oh my yummy yes.

Do you enjoy bread? If so, what store brands do you use, or how do you make your own?
What do you eat your bread with?


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Simple Shrimp Cocktail for Summer: Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Paleo Friendly

Growing up, one of my favorite restaurants to go to was a seafood place/oyster bar called "Aw Shucks".  The venue is small, and most seating is outdoors. I always was fascinated by the fact that you went inside (if you want to call it that- basically it is just where the cooks are!) to order your food, and when it is ready for you to get it, they call your name on a over speaker. Such great memories!

Image via 

An absolute STAPLE item that we always got was their shrimp cocktails. Such yummy things... baby shrimp mixed with fresh chunks of avocado, tomato, and cilantro, all in a wonderful tomato like juice. They were INCREDIBLE. So fresh, it seemed like you just wanted more and more.

Eventually we asked how they made their cocktails, and found the ingredients to actually be REALLY simple. My parents were overjoyed to be able to make one of our favorite things right at home! Since becoming healthier, there are a few items which I replace with better choices when I choose to make these. For example: for their cocktail "juice", they included ketchup (probably the kind from the store, full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup).

I thought these recipe would be rather fitting due to the yummy shrimp recipe I just posted! It is so simple, and the ingredients are actually quiet minimal in relation to the HUGE flavor it gives!

Simple Shrimp Cocktail for Summer
Yields 4 servings 

  • Eight large shrimp, cooked and broken into small bite size pieces 
  • 4 TBSP tomato paste 
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced 
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 medium onion, diced 
  • Pinch of salt and pepper 
1) In a large container, combine the tomato paste with the lime juice and water, and stir until liquidy. Add a bit more water if needed.
2)Combined the other ingredients into the container and carefully mix with a large spoon.
3) Dish out your cocktail in individual glasses, and enjoy! 

What are some of your favorite recipes using shrimp?
Do you have special memories with a certain restaurant, or food?

Try this recipe out and tell me what you think!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): What It Is + Workout!

I will be the first to admit that I will never, ever, be a cardio junkie.

If you aren't familiar with that term, basically a "cardio junkie" is a person-many times those who are new to their fitness journey, or someone such as a pro-runner or cyclist- who's workout routine consists solely or mostly of cardio.

I much rather spend time getting my heart rate up lifting weights than doing cardio, and some studies have actually shown that cardio is not needed in order to loose weight. However, I still find it useful to engage in cardiovascular activity for other reasons:
It works up a good sweat,
Helps release feel good hormones called endorphins,
Conditions your body (and mind, in some aspects!)
And yes, in some forms, helps to burn fat.

From the research I have done, and from a personal perspective, the most efficient form of cardio for overall body conditioning and fat loss is that of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

What is HIIT?
HIIT is basically training in "intervals": periods of intense, heart pounding work (such as sprinting, jumping, basically just going all out) that are done with all the effort you have, followed by shorter rounds of less vigorous active rest.
This differs greatly from the traditional "steady state" cardio, in which you remain at a relatively consistent heart rate for long periods of time (30+ minutes). Usually, HIIT only takes about 10-30 minutes at most, and is not done daily. However, results are quickly seen, and the benefits are undeniable.

Why Does HIIT work better than other cardio?
Steady state cardio usually keeps the heart rate at a constant... with HIIT, the heart rate will be much higher during the all-out bursts, than will lower slightly during the active recovery. This allows you to work at a more intense pace for longer bouts of time than steady state would allow.

HIIT also causes a reaction known as EPOC (post-exercise oxygen consumption), also known as the "afterburn" effect.

As described by
"When you work at a lower intensity (such as during a brisk walk), aerobic metabolism predominates.
Your body uses oxygen to break down carbohydrate and fat for energy. This is very efficient, but you can’t work at top speed. With aerobic metabolism, you gain efficiency but lose intensity...
On the other hand, when you work at a higher intensity (such as sprinting),anaerobic metabolism predominates.
Your body can’t get oxygen to where it needs to go fast enough. This is very inefficient, but it lets you produce short bursts of speed or high energy.
With HIIT...
·                      The higher intensity periods create a metabolic demand that is very effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning.

·                      The lower intensity periods let you recover and use the aerobic energy system."

This after burn can increase metabolism and cause more calorie burn for up to 24 hours after your workout! Steady state cardio, such as steady jogging, does not do this.

How do you do HIIT?
There are many variations on HIIT, from Tabata training to circuit training. Really, it is just about going back and forth from intense, all out bursts of activity, to lower impact active rest. For example, 30 seconds active and 10 seconds rest, repeated as many times as needed to reach the desired duration.

In order for HIIT to be effective, it is VERY important to give those intense bursts YOUR ALL. This way, you really do benefit from a cardio session lasting only 20 or so minutes. If you do not work your hardest while not in active rest, you might as well not have done the workout, for the results will not be what you are looking for... Yes, it is challenging... but isn't it so much simpler than spending an hour on the treadmill? Plus, the constant changing of intensities always keeps your interest!

Here is a staple HIIT routine that I will do before my lifting session. It is only 10 minutes, but is intense and gets the job done! Plus it can always be repeated to make it longer.

So...Why Should You Do HIIT?
To sum things up:

  • It gets the job done in a short amount of time, compared to that of long, boring steady-state cardio.
  • Constant change in intensity keeps things interesting
  • Overall fat burn in increased
  • You burn more calories after your workout, results of the "after burn" effect 
  • You become better conditioned and your endurance increased in a relatively short time span 
  • No equipment is required! Just look at the workout above... all body weight movements. Go for sprints around your neighborhood or track, use a jump rope, the possibilities are endless!  
What are your thoughts on HIIT, and how often do you do it?
Could you or anyone you know be considered a "cardio junkie"?

Share you workouts!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rosemary Garlic Grilled Shrimp...Paleo, Dairy Free, Sugar Free

One of my favorite things about summer is the ability to grill out! I guess you could grill out in the winter, if you wanted to freeze your booty off running to and from the grill and house... but what's the fun in that? The beauty of summer cook outs is the nice weather (or is there ever nice summer weather in Texas?!), the smoky smell of the food, and the company you can enjoy the outdoors with.

I have cooked out a few times since the weather has been warmer, and again planned to yesterday. A friend of ours just gave us a few pounds of fresh shrimp caught by the coast... I couldn't wait to cook it up! Even though I really love seafood, I almost never have the opportunity to eat it. so this was exciting!

I knew I needed to utilize my herb harden outside, so I came up with a marinade and ultimately, this recipe! Enjoy...

Rosemary Garlic Grilled Shrimp 

So delicious and light. It really is perfect for summer!

3 springs fresh rosemary ( You might be able to get away with a TBSP of dry if you dont have fresh)
Juice of 1 lime
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb fresh medium-large shrimp

1) Prepare your ingredients for the marinade!

2) Place your shrimp in a bowl near the sink and start de-veining and unshelling them (unless yours were bought with this already done)
Discard the vein and shell in a bag and place the fresh meat in a separate bowl.

3) Place your dry marinade ingredients in the bowl with your shrimp meat, and squeeze the lime juice over it.
Cover, and place in your fridge to marinade for about 4 hours (or overnight).

Now, here is when things went a bit awry for me. I guess since the hibernation months of winter (read: no grilling!), our gas tank for the grill has ran out. I found this out the hard way yesterday... walked outside, tried to torch that baby up... and after a few tries, I realized it was a lost cause. 

So there I was, marinated raw shrimp in hand, and no grill to grill it on! So what does this girl do?

This girl improvises, that's what. 

I had a bit of cleaning up to do afterwards (nothing bad), but the shrimp were fully cooked and honestly there wasn't TOO big of a difference... 

I actually do not know for fact if cooking these via stove top is hazardous in any way, so if you know more about why it could be bad, let me know. I did not see a huge problem with it, and no food got under the burner so I think everything was fine? 

Mmm. Look at those "grill" marks. I know, i'm so talented. 

But really, this recipe is super easy, and really tasty! Go ahead and try it out (hopefully you can use a real grill...) and tell me what you think.

Have you ever had to improvise when cooking?
What are your favorite ways to enjoy seafood?


Monday, June 24, 2013

My Love-Hate Relationship With BURPEES

I'll admit, that I actually don't HATE burpees... it usually just depends on the day, and most of the time I am totally down with the random 10 or so thrown into some HIIT.

Today, however, really pushed the boundaries on our relationship though. Our intense, love-hate relationship. There may even be some divorce paperwork in the works, who knows.

May I present to you, my workout from today...
Thank you CHAARG for this AWESOME workout!!

Yes, just LOOK at that thing. It says to do for time, so I honestly thought I could get through this once in about 20 minuets, count it as some cardio, and finish up with some strength training. HA, no.

One round took me about 40 minuets! And of course, being the overachiever I am, I did this routine twice today (second time included some weighted burpees!)

No, I do not work out for hours at a time. The reason I did this circuit twice was because I also used it while training some clients today... a teacher from my school and her poor husband whom I had not met until today! Talk about bad first impressions. Now every time he thinks of me, he will only remember my voice shouting "15 more burpees! Go!"

I had not done this myself yet and felt uncomfortable presenting a workout that I was not familiar with. So as a "warm up" (ha, yeah right) before class this morning I thought I would run through it and see how it would flow. I didn't realize how intense it was! Each round I did it just as shown, with the exception of hollow rocks- those are still pretty confusing to me, so I substituted with double leg drops with a hip lift at top. On my second go around (the one with my clients), I used weighted narrow squats and plie squats in place of the two different lunge sets, due to a previous injury my teacher had. Definitely felt a burn, especially on those triceps plank lifts! 

So I totaled my burpee counts today, with it coming out to 240 burpees. Whaattt?

I thought I would share with you some of the benefits of burpees:

1) They burn TONS of calories! Because multiple muscle groups are being used (legs, arms, chest, core), tons of calories are torched. High intensity movements like these burn fat more efficiently than steady aerobics and even lead to the "after burn" effect (in other words, you will continue to burn calories throughout your day after your workout).

2) They make you strong and conditioned. Again, burpees use almost every muscle group in your body.   If preformed correctly (especially if you add in variations found on this page- pushup burpees anyone?), you should be burning within a few reps. As with any exercise, with consistence you will become stronger and more fit. They also get your heart rate souring and really build your endurance!

3) They are FREE and PORTABLE. Who needs a gym for a burpee? There are no excuses for not being able to workout at home or on the go! Burpees are completely free (all you need is yourself) and portable (they can EASILY be done in a small room). They also are great to add in to nearly every workout, from intense cardio to heavy weight lifting. Throw in 10 or so after you complete a set of weights, or add them in the start or end to a workout!

For the record, burpees ARE modifiable. Instead of jumping into plank position, walk out. Or make it even simpler: start in a standing position, bend down into a squat and place both hands flat on the floor. Walk a single leg back, then return to squat position. Stand up, and repeat with other leg.

There is obviously tension in anyone's relationship with these grueling things... however, I really think that if you just get past the thought of "ugh, burpees", they can be a part of an enjoyable workout routine! Its kind of like leg day... you love to hate it. Or hate to love it.

What am I saying? No one loves leg day.

So what are your thoughts on burpees? What are the most you've done at once, how do you use them in a workout?
Do you have any favorite variations?

Id love to here your opinions!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why is Peanut Butter So ADDICTING?

Scratch that. Why is almond butter cashew butter walnut butter any flipping type of nut butter addicting?
Well, lets look at the facts here...

Nut butters are high in healthy fats, particularly the heart healthy mono saturated fats. Eating these fats have been linked to weight loss and a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Healthy fats in general are used to help our bodies absorb vitamins!

They serve as an excellent source of protein, great for anyone regardless if they eat meat or not. This goes to show that it IS possible to sustain a healthy, balanced diet WITHOUT the consumption of animal...a serving of peanut butter has up to 8 grams of protein!

They contain antioxidants. Roasted peanut butter in particular has over 22% more antioxidants than uncooked, and the same amount of substances that protect your cells as strawberries!

Could the reason so many find their selves drooling over the thought of this sticky stuff be due to the fact of a nutritional deficiency? Studies have shown that the body tends to crave food that contains a source it is lacking.

Whatever the reason, all I know is that I LOVE nut butters. I have yet to find something that they DON'T taste good with...

Example being:
Peanut butter and Jicama. Yeah, that just happened.

I mean, it wasn't THAT far of a stretch really... if you never have had a Jicama before, its slightly sweet and crunchy. Not so far from an apple, right?

Hey, don't judge until you've tried it. 

I don't always have to feel so weird when I form odd peanut butter combinations, because my best friend, Taylor, also has an undying passion for the stuff! Here are a few combos to check out if you haven't already, and I promise you won't be disappointed, no matter which nut butter you choose!

Sweet potato and nut butter
Oatmeal and nut butter
Frozen bananas and nut butter
Soup made with nut butter 
Ezekiel bread with nut butter
Carrots with nut butter
Healthy baked goods with nut butter  
And, ahem, Jicama and nut butter.

If I develop a peanut allergy any time soon, I think I really am going to be in trouble. I better go knock on my wooden kitchen table now, just to ensure that NEVER happens. Ever.

So, what do you think is the reason nut butters are so addicting? What is YOUR favorite kind, and how do you enjoy it?

Feel free to share recipes !


Friday, June 21, 2013

Home made RANCH dressing! Sugar Free, Paleo Friendly

So to redeem myself from yesterdays nasty looking pancakes...

Yes, I know they LOOKED like a pile of...well, a pile of something otherwise inedible. I am not sure if this is simply because my presentation skills (or, uh, pancake flipping skills?) aren't all that great, or if they were never meant to look pretty in the first place... but I PROMISE that they tasted otherwise. And after all, who cares what the food looked like once its happy in your tummy? ;)

But in any case, I thought that I needed to post another delicious recipe that actually had a decent picture!
I present to you..

Okay, I'm still no photographer, but at least its process right?

Ranch Dressing!
Home made ranch at that.

Home Made Ranch Dressing
1 cup non dairy mayo
1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk 
1/2 TSP lemon juice
1/2 TSP Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 TSP Thyme 
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/2 TBSP dried drill (or 2 TBSP fresh)
1/2 TBSP Parsley flakes 
Dash of cayenne
Dash of Paprika 
Salt and Pepper to taste 

1) Chop the clove of garlic
2) In a medium bowl or container (you see I used a mason type jar!), combine the mayo and coconut milk and mix until smooth.
  3)Add the chop garlic, the lemon juice, and the vinegar.
4) Stir in the rest of the spices, tasting near the end to make sure there are no adjustments needed.
5) Either serve right away, or store in the fridge and let marinade for a few hours! The flavor really grows this way.

I personally do not eat dairy (I am lactose intolerant), so this recipe really makes me happy. I missed the days when I dipped my veggies in Hidden Valley, or topped my salads with the stuff... how awesome is it that we can make our favorite foods in a healthy way? 

Try this out, and tell me what you think! I thought it was a relatively easy recipe. 

Feel free to comment and message me!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Protein Packed Banana Walnut Pancakes ! Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Flour Free

Perhaps I should have named these "ugly cakes" instead of "pancakes", just because the result didn't exactly look beautiful... however, these guys redeem themselves with their taste. Not to mention they are FLOUR LESS!

I got inspiration for this recipe by browsing around Pinterest . As a huge fan of simple recipes, this caught my eye... but when I saw that one of the main ingredients were eggs, I was a bit confused. Sweet omelets? Not really up my ally... but never the less, I gave it a try!

Now, cross my heart, you can not taste the egg at ALL in this! It does give it a more fluffy texture, but the nuttiness of the walnuts and the sweet banana really take lead here. I'm proud to be able to say that I'm getting in 12 grams of protein (before I even added my almond butter on top!) while my taste buds are thinking otherwise.

Super easy, healthy, and fun. Here we go!

Banana Walnut Pancakes 
Single Serving 

2 eggs
1 banana, yellow-ripe
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP nutmeg
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1/4 TSP vanilla extract (optional)
1 TSP coconut oil (for cooking)

 1) Combine all the ingredients into a medium bowl and mash! There will be a few small chunks of banana, but that just makes it more fun to bite into.

2) Heat coconut oil in pan until melted, then pour in mixture. You can either do this in smaller batches to form individual pancakes... or, do what I did, and dump the whole thing into it at once and break the large pancake apart once cooked. I know, i'm lazy creative.

3) These cook pretty quickly. I tried to use that rule my grandmother always said, that when you start to see bubbles from the other side of the pancake it is time to flip. I would just watch to see how yours is doing, and probably flip after about a minute or so.

4) Plate your lovely things (hopefully yours come out a little prettier than mine!), and enjoy with whatever
-healthy- toppings you desire! Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Being the nut-butter fanatic that I am, I of course topped mine with almond butter. (I HIGHLY recommend this by the way... the creamy, stickiness of the butter is so delicious with the fluffy, banana pancake!)

Almost like a banana loaf, or cake! Almost. ;)

So easy and yummy! Try it out, and tell me what you think.

How and when do you usually eat your pancakes?
What other recipes would you like to see?

Please feel free to comment, message me or share! :)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why The 80-20 Rule Just Doesnt Cut It

Please, before assuming that I'm a paranoid, extreme dieter hellbent on never eating dessert, just hear me out.
I know that for many, the rule of eating 'healthy' 80% of the time and letting the other 20% go to less than superior food choices works great. But for me, I find that this is not the right path to take. I admit that this may be due to the fact I can be an extremist at times, however I honestly think that I have legitimate reasoning behind my thought process here.

Why the 80-20 Rule Just Doesn't Cut It:

-Your Body Doesn't Recognize When It Is Receiving A 'Cheat' Food. Sure, in your mind you realize that you only are going to eat your favorite double chocolate chunk ice cream once a week. But does your BODY? No. Just because you can justify the reasoning in your mind, doesn't mean that automatically your metabolism then thinks "Okay, let's just let this gunk of processed chemicals pass through this body like anything else. I mean, its only this once." Your body is constantly using the food you put into it as fuel. With those valuable calories and nutrients, it repairs your muscles, builds your bones, makes your hair shiny. When its fed whole foods free of processes or otherwise unhealthy elements, all the vitamins, minerals, ext can easily be absorbed and utilized. When its given something not quite up to par, it is not like it can simply store this treat somewhere and not use it because its not the best choice of nutrients. (Actually, it may store it... In the form of pesky love handles). No, it is still going to digest the matter and use its properties throughout your system. How can it do anything favorable, make anything look and feel beautiful, when its given something with no nutritional value?
-The 20% Might Start Looking Like 50%. First off, I should say that this isn't always true for some. Some people REALLY do have total control and can limit their "treats" or "cheats" to only 20%. However, I think it is fair to say that for the majority, this is honestly a very hard task. Even without realizing it, we can start to justify getting these 'occasional' treats with the 80/20 rule, and before we know it, our small, special meals start to occur every day. This ultimately leads to a diet consisting of lots of "bad" foods!
-You Shouldn't Categorize Foods To Begin With. When you begin to put certain foods into groups such as "good" and "bad', you are only setting yourself up for disaster. People want what they can't have, and the thought that a food is off limits will only make you crave it more. Plus, this sort of thinking can lead to unhealthy, distorted eating habits and patterns. Instead of grouping foods off into what is a treat and what is not, I feel it is best to know what is NUTRITIOUS for our bodies, and view foods with the mind set of "What can this do to benefit my body?" instead of "So is this going to make me fat or not?". By doing this, you realize that the foods you think of as treats really have little nutritional value, and do not do your body any favors at all (see the first reason I just discussed). I feel that this is a humbling approach, because in order for us to see food as something more than just what tastes good and what doesn't is eye opening and allows us to think of what we put into our systems as fuel rather than taste bud pleasers. 
-Why Have These "Cheats" or "Treats" When You Can Make Them At Home, and Healthy? I frequently enjoy things that may seem like a dessert, or fattening food. However, I make HEALTHY versions of my old classics (home made ice cream, pies, 'fried' chicken), cooking them in a way that gives nutritious value to them so that I in no way feel guilty, or obligated to tell myself that was a "treat"! There are SO many recipes out there for healthy versions of your favorite things. Check out blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest (my favorite!) and there is no way to not find something scrumptious that makes your tummy AND body happy! Plus, making things yourself is not only fun, but saves money! 

What are your thoughts on the 80/20 rule? 
How to you approach the topic of "cheat" or "treat" meals? 

I would love you hear your thoughts and ideas, so feel free to comment and message me!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pumpkin Walnut Raisin Bars! With ALMOND BUTTER! Paleo, Dairy Free, Sugar Free

Ohhhh. The sweet, sweet goodness of pumpkin.
With walnuts.
Did I mention the fact that I just combined all these into a delicious, HEALTHY bar? I guess I could call them a breakfast bar, because I usually eat them as my first meal of the day. They could easily be used for a snack or healthy dessert though! I feel they are just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and keep you a happy camper without going over board on the sugar content, even though all sweetness in this recipe comes from natural sources.

But I havnt even told you the best part. Sure, the sweetness of the pumpkin and raisins mix fantastically with the savory taste of walnuts... but when you put ALMOND BUTTER on these babies? Man oh man.

I make these pretty frequently, and find that adding in some shaved carrot gives it an even nicer crunch. It is super easy to make with hardly any clean up, and quickly cooks (leaving a great aroma in the air, might I say!).

This is another example of the AWESOME items that are featured on my meal plans from Natalie Wester: Holistic Meal Planning. Check out my services and message me for more information So, drum roll please... here's the recipe for these guys... who, by the way, are Paleo friendly :)

Yields 6-8 bars
1 15 oz can pumpkin (be sure it isnt pumpkin pie filling)
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup walnuts, crushed
1/4 cup raisins
1 medium carrot, shaved
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP nutmeg
1/2 TSP ginger
1/4 TSP clove
1/2 TSP vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond milk (or other non dairy milk)

1-2 TBSP almond butter (or other nut butter of choice) for serving

1) Preheat oven to 350
2)Combine pumpkin, almond milk, eggs.
3) Add the coconut flour, baking powder, spices, raisins, walnuts, and mix well, making sure there are no annoying "patches" of dry ingredients.
4) Mix the shaved carrot and vanilla in.
5) The should form a more of a "dough" rather than a liquid-like batter. It should be easy to transfer it into a cooking pan (a medium sized brownie pan should work fine).
6) Bake for about 45 minutes, or until top is firm and a fork/toothpick comes out clean.
7) Let cool, then cut a bar in half. Place the nut butter on one half and top with the other half. Enjoy!

I usually just cover my pan with foil, and it lasts about a week in the fridge.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Natalie Wester: Holistic Meal Planning and a Recipe!

    As many of you knowI am a full time high school student that has been studying holistic wellness for the past few years and have big plans to get my holistic health certification. In my local area I have made customized meal plans for family, friends, and teachers using my knowledge of what I have already studied and am currently studying. All my clients are aware I am not *yet!* licensed, but are helping me out and trust my workmanship and current knowledge. I am trying to gain publicity as well as raise some funds so that I can continue with the fitness and nutritional education I need in order to get where I want. 
   Hopefully this blog can be a path through which I document my journey and gain support. I love to read other bloggers and do so religiously! So why couldn't I start doing the same?
  Recently I created my own facebook page for my meal planning services, Natalie Wester: Holistic Meal Planning. Check it out! I have been studying nutrition for years now and have helped clients who are simply trying to loose weight, or who have conditions such as diabetes. I advocate a down to earth, no nonsense approach to health and fitness and create my plans to be the most time efficient, tasty, and budget friendly as possible. Message me on my page or email me at for more information! 

  In the mean time... it's recipe time!! 

Summer Squash Lentil Stew 

This recipe is so easy, fresh, and light. Lentils not only are a fantastic source of protein, but are also easy to make and are relatively cheap! Topped with a bit of cilantro, I enjoyed a warm bowl of this under my ceiling fan in this blasted hot Texas weather, and still felt it was perfect for a summer day. Bonus points if you buy from a local farmers market!

Yields 4 servings 
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed 
1/2 pound lean ground turkey 
2 medium yellow summer squash, cut bite sized
1 medium zucchini, cut bite sized 
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced 
1-2 medium tomatoes, diced 
2 1/3 cup plus 1/3 cup (seperate) unsalted vegetable or chicken stock
2 TBSP unsalted tomato paste
1 TBSP Cumin
1/2 TBSP Chile powder 
1/2 TBSP Garlic powder
TSP Curry powder 
1/2 TSP Sea salt or other course salt 
Fresh cilantro to add in and to top
Black pepper to taste 

1) In a pan, add 1/3 cup unsalted vegetable or chicken stock. Once hot, add meat, and simple meat seasonings of choice (I usually add in the spices noted above, just in adjusted amounts.) Keep the spices simple, as you only want to slightly enhance the flavor of the meat and not overpower the flavor of the stew. 
2) Cook meat in pan until browned slightly, then set aside and cover.  
3)On medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of unsalted vegetable or chicken stock to a boil. Add rinsed lentils, let boil for about 2 minuets, then bring down to a roll and cover until veggies are chopped, usually about 10 minuets. 
4) In the mean time, chop your veggies! Once this is done, add the spices and all veggies but tomato to the lentil mixture and bring heat up so that the mixture is on a harder roll, or soft boil. This will soften the veggies, about 10-15 minuets.
5) Add the tomato, the 2 TBSP tomato paste, and the turkey meat with any liquid left with it, bring heat down again to a soft roll, and cover for another 10 or so minuets.
6) A few minutes before serving, toss in cilantro so that it can wilt in the heat. Mix it in, than serve with a bit of fresh served as a topping! 

This is a filling, low calorie meal that I would totally eat with a slice of home made bread. The time and effort needed are low, yet the results are incredible! 

For more recipes like this, check out my Holistic Meal Planning services! Tell me what you think, and any ideas, comments, or suggestions are totally wanted and welcomed!