If This Is Your First New Year Not Setting a Weight Loss Resolution...

If This Is Your First New Year Not Setting a Weight Loss Resolution...

If this is your first time going into the new year without any resolutions to diet or attempt to shrink yourself in any way, you might be experiencing something that feels like a sense a loss. There’s a lot of letting go that comes with ditching dieting, whether it’s clothes or relationships with certain harmful people. It’s normal really normal to have mixed feelings. Read this post for a journaling prompt to complete if this is your first new year not setting a weight loss resolution, so you can focus on what quitting dieting is creating space for.

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Five Thoughts {Including Holiday Diet Talk and Baking Inspiration}

Five Thoughts {Including Holiday Diet Talk and Baking Inspiration}

Sharing five thoughts from the week, including tips for handling holiday diet talk, two articles that gave me hope for humanity, holiday baking inspiration, a fun and inexpensive idea for entertaining, and a discussion of how you would like to celebrate the holidays if you were OK with your body.

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How to not freak out about food on Thanksgiving

How to not freak out about food on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about food, but with all the mixed messages about overabundance and restriction coming from diet culture, it can be a stressful day of eating. Learn strategies for not freaking out about food on Thanksgiving so you can fully enjoy yourself and celebrate the holiday without feeling guilty about eating.

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High Protein Cranberry Apple Oatmeal

High Protein Cranberry Apple Oatmeal

Don’t skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning! Start off your day with this high protein cranberry apple oatmeal. With whipped eggs added to your oats, it adds satisfying protein and a fluffy texture. Naturally sweetened with banana.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie Parfait

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Parfait

In charge of dessert for Thanksgiving? Headed to a Friendsgiving potluck? Whip up this vegan pumpkin pie parfait! The bottom layer is a buttery whole grain crust, then topped with creamy pumpkin coconut filling, and served with a dollop of coconut yogurt, drizzle of maple syrup and crunchy toasted pecans! 

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Coconut Almond Macaroons, Three Ways

Easter is less than a week away so I’m excited to be partnering with one of my favorite brands, Bob’s Red Mill, for a sweet treat that’s perfect for sharing this Sunday!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Easter. It all started off great because, you know, being a kid...candy…what could go wrong? Oh, only MY MOST TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD MEMORY. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, and considering I did wear big purple glasses through elementary school, you know I had many traumatic memories.

The Great Easter Outfit Fail of 1991 began when my grandpa and his lady friend came to visit for the holiday and decided to gift me a new Easter outfit. By early 90s nostalgia standards, it was glorious. Matching floral print pants and shirt, but instead of normal pants, it was a pair of long stretchy shorts with a thick floral ruffle at the end, and instead of a normal shirt, it was a crop top, off the shoulder three-quarter sleeve top with, obviously, more floral ruffle on the sleeves. Being a gift, I was forced to wear it. Although in my parent’s defense, I had zero sense of style and there’s a strong possibility I thought I looked fabulous.

It was until I arrived at our neighborhood clubhouse for their annual Easter egg hunt and saw my friends, in their cute and very normal Easter dresses I realized I looked like a huge dork. The other clue was when they burst into laughter at the sight of me. My memories after that are pretty fuzzy, probably buried in my subconscious, but I’m pretty sure there were tears involved. And I know there’s at least one picture of me holding my Easter basket with a huge pout, which is probably floating somewhere around the internet in meme form.

Now that I know how to dress myself as an adult (#winning!), I haven’t had any outfit related disasters. But being born on April 4th and getting married on March 31st, Easter always has a way of interfering with birthday or anniversary celebrations. And when it comes to birthday/anniversary vs. Easter, Jesus wins.

Hopefully I don’t sound like too much of a Debbie Downer on Easter, because we really do have wonderful celebrations every year at my mother-in-law’s house. We still get Easter baskets because we are 30 going on 9. Except mine is always full of dark chocolate and cooking gadgets, as it should be. That Easter bunny knows me well! Then we all sit down to a delicious Southern meal, followed by a dessert we are way too stuffed to eat more than a few bites of!

I made these Easter macaroons for that exact reason. After a day of candy and Easter ham and biscuits, no one is in the mood for a heavy dessert, but Easter without a cute spring inspired dessert would be a crime! These pastel macaroons will look so pretty as part of your Easter spread, and they have just a hint of sweet that’s perfect after a heavy meal. The whole batch has only ¼ cup sugar, relying on the natural sweetness of coconut.

So here’s a macaroon question for you all. Why are there two very different types of cookies, both called macaroons? There’s the pure shredded coconut cookies then those very pretty and dainty filled macaroon cookies (which always disappoint me because they look much better than they taste). These obviously are a take on the former.

I made these with a mixture of shredded coconut and Bob’s Red Mill almond flour to make them a bit lighter and more cookie-like. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour is my favorite brand of my favorite gluten free flour to bake with. It’s made with blanched, whole almonds so there’s no dark bits of skin then extra finely milled so it’s super soft. You can use it for lighter baked goods like cakes, pancakes and biscuits and it won’t have that grainy consistency you get with other almond flours/meals. Plus, being made with almonds, it's a rich source of vitamin E, manganese and monounsaturated fats. Grab a coupon for Bob's Red Mill here so you can try it yourself!

Feel free to experiment with different types of zest and freeze dried fruit to create a rainbow of colors. I think it would be cute to make a batch of all pastel macaroons with freeze dried blueberries, strawberries and mango! Just be careful not to let them overbrown or they’ll lose that pretty color – keep a close eye on them in the oven and you may want to check on them a few minutes before the end of baking.

Coconut Almond Macaroons, Three Ways

Makes about 40


Lemon Macaroons:

  • Zest of 2 lemons


  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk


  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with a little coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix coconut, almond flour and sugar. Add eggs and stir to combine. Divide dough evenly between four bowls.
  3. To make the lemon macaroons, stir in the lemon zest.
  4. To make the chocolate macaroons, stir in the dark chocolate, cocoa powder and almond milk. Add a little more almond milk if needed to combine.
  5. To make strawberry macaroons, place freeze fried fruit in a plastic bag. Crush with something heavy (I used a meat mallet) until it's a flour consistency. Add to dough with almond milk, adding more almond milk if needed.
  6. Scoop tablespoon sized dollops of dough evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes, checking a few minutes before it's supposed to be done to make sure it's not browning too much. Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Store covered at room temperature a few days, then transfer to the refrigerator.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole with Cornbread Crust

This Southern black-eyed pea and greens casserole with cornbread crust will ensure plenty of prosperity in the New Year! Enjoy it vegetarian or flavor with a little bacon for luck. 

Wow. In just a few short days, we'll be saying goodbye to 2015 and ringing in a new year. Is it just me, or has this year flown by? Or do I say that every year, completely forgetting the speed at which 365 days passes?

How are you feeling about the New Year? I find most people fall into two camps: excitement or dread. Excited for all the opportunities and experiences that await, or dread for the pressure to come up with an epic, life changing resolution, all while coming off a Christmas cookie (or champagne) hangover.

If you fall in the latter group, be sure to check back here on Wednesday, when I'm sharing my strategy for creating a non-resolution that truly can transform your life over the course of a year. But also, please know I'm a huge fan of starting resolutions/non-resolutions somewhere around January 5th or so. Give yourself some time to breathe after the hectic pace of the holiday season. It's hard to think about what's truly important in life when your brain just wants to focus on post-Christmas sales, which sparkly dress to wear on New Years, and sleep.

Let's save that mental energy and instead think about something a little less exhausting - food. Growing up, I don't know if  we had a traditional New Years food, but since Scott and I started dating 10 (!!!) years ago, I've cooked a Southern New Years feast complete with black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and pork. Down here, we believe black-eyed peas bring prosperity, greens bring money, pork brings progress (because pigs root forward when foraging, obviously), and cornbread brings gold. Apparently, us Southerners are quite focused on getting rich. Whether the meal actually brings riches or not, who knows, but either way you get a tasty feast.

I like to have fun with the tradition, every year creating a new dish with the same basic elements. Since our tastes lean more plant-centric (and also because I have no clue how to cook a pork roast), I like to use a little bacon for flavoring and greens and black eyed peas as the main ingredients. We've done everything from New Years soups to black-eyed pea patties served over a mess of greens!

Last year I made this casserole to share on the blog, but didn't make enough cornbread to cover the top. Whoops! It was so tasty, I had to attempt again! This is kind of like a Southern version of a tamale pie, with a crispy cornbread topping over a casserole of baked greens, black-eyed peas in a molasses-sweetened tomato sauce. I kept it vegetarian this time, but for New Years, I'd flavor the greens and beans with a couple slices of bacon or stir in a little leftover ham from Christmas.

Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole with Cornbread Crust

Serves 6

Feel free to saute 2 slices of chopped bacon with the onions and garlic to flavor (and for luck!).



  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch collard greens or kale, stemmed and leaves chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 14-ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

Cornbread Topping:

  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups buttermilk or kefir
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. First, cook the black-eyed peas. If you remember, soak them in a big bowl of water overnight/all day (I never remember). Place peas in a large pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour until tender, but not falling apart. Taste a couple to ensure doneness. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. When ready to cook casserole, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and red pepper. Saute until tender, about 5-7 minuets. Add greens and water. Stir, cover and cook 10 minutes until greens are tender. If starting to dry out, add more water. Add tomatoes, molasses, dijon, hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, stir to combine, and pour into large casserole dish. Let sit while you make cornbread topping.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the cornbread together. In a medium bowl whisk the egg, buttermilk, and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Whisk in scallions and parsley. Pour cornbread batter evenly over the casserole, spreading with a spatula to even. Place in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes until topping is browned and cooked through.

More lucky recipes for the new year:

Black Eyed Pea Patties with Hoppin' Collards
Black Eyed Pea Patties with Hoppin' Collards
Collard Green Salad with Beets, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread Croutons
Collard Green Salad with Beets, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread Croutons
Cornbread Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing
Cornbread Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing

Dark Chocolate Dipped Chai Almond Cookies

Lightly sweetened and made with whole grains, these dark chocolate dipped chai almond cookies are the perfect addition to your holiday baking! 

It's the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas cookie time!

Ever since I was a kid and would count down the days until snow covered oreos were available, Christmas cookies have made me crazy happy. Although who are we kidding, cookies make me crazy happy year round! Candy and cakes do nothing for me, but cookies are everything.

When it comes to holiday baking, I tend to get delusions of grandeur. I think I've read too many issues of Southern Living, because I dream of making all my friends pretty little boxes filled with homemade and healthy holiday cookies. I pulled it off one year for my coworkers and it quickly turned into an all night affair! Maybe I'll attempt again when I retire :)

This year I wanted to whip up a batch of cookies to bring to a holiday lunch with my officemates. These were very loosely inspired by my memories of an Italian bakery we used to go to growing up in New York. I would stare into the glass case filled with dozens of kinds of cookies and basically turn into Veruca Salt, begging my parents 'I want them ALL!'

(Timeout. Just as I was writing this, Scott walked in the door with a box of Christmas cookies from a coworker. Universe, sometimes you are awesome).

Anyway, I remember this one buttery, crumbly, barely sweet almond cookie that was dusted with powdered sugar. Another one I loved was this sweet butter cookie dunked in chocolate. This is kind of a hybrid of the two. I don't remember anything with chai tea, but I like chai tea, so lets just throw it in there for giggles. 

What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Leave a comment or a link below! 

Dark Chocolate Dipped Chai Almond Cookies

makes about 30


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup turbinado or brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (or dairy of choice)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • The contents of 2 chai tea bags, finely ground (you could use a coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a large standing mixer, mix coconut oil and sugar on high speed until fluffy and fully combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add egg, almond milk, vanilla extract and blend until combined, scraping down sides if needed. Slowly mix in whole wheat flour, almond meal, chai tea powder and salt while mixer is running on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add chopped almonds, mix on medium-high speed until combined, then set aside.
  3. Using a tablespoon measure, form balls of dough. Place evenly on a large, greased cookie sheet (they won't spread much) and press down lightly to flatten. Bake 20 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Remove cookies from oven and let cool. Once cool, heat chocolate chips and oil in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stopping to stir between each interval, until smooth. Dip cookies in chocolate, then place on a sheet of parchment paper over. Carefully place cookies and parchment paper in the refrigerator to harden. When chocolate is firm, store cookies in a container with a lid in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

More holiday baking inspiration: 

Gluten Free Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies
Gluten Free Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies
Gluten Free Nutella Blondies
Gluten Free Nutella Blondies
No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies
No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

Chestnut Soup

Not sure what to do with all those chestnuts you roasted over an open fire? This rich and creamy chestnut soup makes a stunning and festive appetizer for Christmas or a seasonal weeknight main.

Chestnuuuuts simmering in an open pot...

^^^ See what I did there?? ???

This bowl of creamy chestnut soup will give you all the Christmas feels...and probably get that song stuck in your head for the next 72 hours. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Is there anything that evokes a sense of nostalgia more than food? And I could use a little extra holiday nostalgia this year. It really doesn't feel like Christmas, and not just because it's almost 80 degrees out. Since we left for Hawaii on Thanksgiving, we kinda missed the whole kickoff to the holiday season. Not that I'm complaining. If you can't have stuffing, the best sushi in Hawaii ain't a bad second place.

It hit me a few days ago that last year was probably my last 'normal' Christmas. You know, the kind where the entire family is together, you're in the house you grew up in, and even though you're in your thirties, you're still treated as the kid. The hubs and I both come from families where Christmas is a huge celebration and since our parents live too far apart to do both houses in one day, we switch off years. Two years ago, I thought it would be really hard spending my first Christmas away from my family, but after staying up late drinking wine together, wearing matching PJs (yes, really), it felt like home.

This year, we're just doing a small Christmas since everyone just got back from Hawaii and my sister-in-law's wedding, and sadly, we won't have the whole family together either. And next year, my parents are planning on moving, so I have no clue where we'll be celebrating it. Then of course, my siblings will probably start having kids and (prepare yourself for some serious brattiness), Christmas will start revolving around them. As we were decorating our sad looking tree because (more brattiness ahead), the hubs made me get one small tree instead of two big trees, we realized pretty soon, it might just be us for Christmas. Now we're trying to think of traditions for just the two of us. Help wanted! Please comment with any ideas!

Recognizing my need for some Christmas spirit, I've decided to fully commit my kitchen to only baking Christmas cookies until December 25th. Kidding! But I am whipping up all the seasonal fare, despite the t-shirt and shorts weather outside.

Chestnuts seem like such a Christmas-y food, even though I had only had them chopped up and tossed into Thanksgiving stuffing. That was, until I tried this incredible chestnut soup when I was in France last year. Thick and rich with a unique, nutty flavor, topped with a savory whipped cream, I seriously still have dreams about that soup!

Isn't it funny how nostalgic, comfort food can instantly transform your mood? Comfort food gets a bad rep, and certainly emotional eating on the regular is a problem, but sometimes food can provide you with you the comfort you need, whether you're struggling through, real or imaginary problems (like being a brat about Christmas). The smell of chestnut soup simmering in the kitchen definitely made me forget about the lack of snow anywhere on the east coast!

This soup would make an elegant appetizer for a holiday meal, or serve it as a main course, paired with whole grain bread and a small cheese board, or paired with a hearty salad. For this recipe, I used precooked chestnuts from Trader Joe's, but feel free to roast your own if you feel so inclined!

Chestnut Soup

Serves about 4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 13 ounces pre-roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • ¼ cup half and half or heavy cream
  • Grated fresh nutmeg, for serving
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley or chives, for serving


  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add celery, onion, and carrot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Uncover and add chestnuts and red wine. Simmer 5 more minutes. Carefully remove bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half and half or cream.
  3. Divide soup between bowls. Garnish with grated fresh nutmeg, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh parsley or chives.

10 Creative Uses for Thanksgiving Leftovers


Are you knee deep in pies and stuffing and dirty dishes yet? I certainly hope so, because tomorrow is Thanksgiving!

As discussed in last week's post on how to eat normally on Thanksgiving, the idea that indulging on turkey day has any lasting consequences is totally misplaced. Thanksgiving is for celebrating food, not fearing it.

Buuuuuut, when Thanksgiving is extended another week because you've got so many leftovers, that may start to take a toll. Rather than living off mac & cheese and stuffing for the next week, I like to freeze some of my leftovers for later while incorporating others into vegetable-centric meals the rest of the week.

Here are 10 creative uses for Thanksgiving leftovers:

LEFTOVER TURKEY NOODLE SOUP // Literally, the only reason we make turkey.

STUFFING MUFFINS // Scoop stuffing (or mac & cheese) into lined muffin tins and freeze. Once frozen, place in a zip top bag, press out all the air and store in the freezer. Now you've got individually portioned side dishes you can defrost and reheat in the microwave as needed!

VEGETARIAN SHEPARD'S PIE // Use leftover mashed sweet or white potatoes to make a topping for vegetarian shepard's pie, with a filling made from lentils and meaty mushrooms.

CRANBERRY PARFAITS // Top plain yogurt with a dollop of cranberry sauce, a drizzle of honey (if needed) and chopped nuts. If you've got spiced nuts leftover, even better!

TURKEY AND WILD RICE SALAD WITH TART CHERRIES // Bonus - there's cranberry sauce in the dressing!

BUBBLE & SQUEAK // A popular British dish designed to use up extra roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes, two things you might have in abundance the day after Thanksgiving ;) Mix vegetables in to mashed potato, bind with egg and a little flour, then pan fry and serve with a side salad. If you don't mind the awful pictures from my early days of blogging, here's a recipe for ratatouille inspired bubble and squeak you could easily adapt.

POTATO MASH WITH KALE, WHITE BEANS AND GRAVY //  Use leftover mashed potatoes and gravy to make this comforting meal in a bowl!

BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND BROWN BUTTER PASTA  // We never have any Brussels sprouts left, much to my dismay. But if I did, you know I'd be whipping up this pasta!

FROMAGE FORT  // We always serve a plate of various cheeses for an appetizer on Thanksgiving, and despite my best attempts to polish it off, there's always leftovers. Since we always tailgate for our rivalry game that Saturday and I don't feel like cooking/shopping, this would be an easy way to use it up.

TURKEY & SWEET POTATO QUESADILLAS  // After Thanksgiving, my taste buds are definitely craving spice. Enter Mexican food.

Bonus idea: give it all to me!!! We're off to Hawaii for my sister-in-law's wedding and leaving on Thanksgiving, so instead of turkey and dressing, we have plans for Vietnamese food (naturally). I will gladly take all your leftovers off your hands when I return!

Maple Miso Brussels Sprouts

Maple Miso Brussels Sprouts

These easy maple miso brussels sprouts are exactly what your Thanksgiving Day menu needs! With only 6 ingredients, the sweetness from the maple syrup combined with the savory miso paste, makes these maple miso brussels sprouts the perfect side dish for any meal!

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