Coconut Cherry Muesli

Coconut Cherry Muesli

Coconut cherry muesli is super easy and budget friendly to make! Made with oats tossed with dried cherries, shredded coconut, almonds, and cashews with oats. Enjoy it by itself with milk, or mixed with yogurt and topped with berries and honey for easy overnight oats. Packed with fiber for a filling breakfast!

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Coconut Ginger Date Oatmeal

Coconut Ginger Date Oatmeal

This creamy coconut ginger date oatmeal is made extra delish with coconut milk, making a dairy free and vegan breakfast that's packed with whole grains! Sweetened with an easy date syrup so it's no added sugar! With all the whole grains and healthy fats, it makes a satisfying breakfast that's perfect for cold weather months! 

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Formula Meal: Freezer Smoothie Bags

Formula Meal: Freezer Smoothie Bags

Learn my trick for making a smoothie in less than 2 minutes! Freezer smoothie bags are perfect for a quick breakfast, snack or post-workout replenishment. Make a few different ones and store in the freezer so you've got tons of options for different flavors. 

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Food Rx: Red Velvet Smoothie

This vibrantly hued red velvet smoothie can help boost your endurance during a workout, thanks to a surprise ingredient - beets! 

A couple months ago, I committed to my friends, family and the entire internet to running a half marathon next year. As someone who hasn't run more than 3 miles since high school, this was either a powerful, exciting and inspiring commitment that will show me what I'm really made of....or a totally boneheaded move. Only time will tell.

As I've started to wean myself back into running, I've been trying to eat a runner too, getting plenty of healthy carbs before my runs, increasing my protein intake a bit and including more endurance boosting foods in my diet.

One of those endurance boosting foods? Beets! I know, a smoothie isn't exactly the place you'd expect to see beets, or want to see beets for that matter. But trust me on this one, chocolate and beets are a natural pair (please see these chocolate beet cupcakes). Plus, both work together to improve endurance and blood flow to muscles during your workout. Head over the Healthy Aperture blog for the recipe to make this red velvet smoothie with beets!

Healthy Skin Carrot & Citrus Juice

This weekend I taught a smoothie workshop for an awesome group at the Pure Barre studios in Greenville, SC. The topic was definitely well received. I get questions about smoothies almost as often as questions about carbs, popular diets and the latest topic on Dr. Oz. The people are hungry for smoothies!

Whenever the topic of smoothies comes up, so does the topic of juicing. "What is juicing?" "Do I really need a juicer?" "Is it healthier than a smoothie?" "Why on earth does it cost $10 at Whole Foods?"

Here's my take:

Overall, I'm team smoothie. As a general rule of thumb, I like to feel full and satisfied when I eat. Weird, I know.

There are some downsides to juicing. Without the fiber in fruit, juices have more of a glycemic effect, especially if using mostly fruit. It's also expensive to do regularly, especially when you see how much produce goes into one little glass of juice.

However, juicing does have it's benefits. It's a great way to use up fruits and veggies that have been hanging around too long or an overabundance of summer produce. I often juice as a way to squeeze in extra nutrients to prevent myself from getting sick. For my clients with digestive illnesses like Crohns or Celiac, it's a source of easily digestible nutrients their body so desperately needs.

I like to think of juice as a supplement rather than a meal or snack. It's a way to strategically get the specific nutrients your body needs. Going for a long run? Beet juice would do your body good. Want to boost your iron intake? Throw in some greens with lemon to aid in absorption. Coming down with a cold? Throw a knob of immune enhancing fresh turmeric or ginger.

I created this juice as a supplement for my skin, to help calm breakouts, reduce redness and improve elasticity. There's actually a (kind of) funny story of how it came to be.

Early last year, my normally clear skin started breaking out, horribly. Like, worse than middle school. After reading this article, I put two and two together and traced it back to when I started putting pure lavender oil on my pillow at night. Apparently, my skin is sensitive to lavender, which is was my favorite scent. Probably why I had it in just about everything - laundry detergent, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner.

Needless to say, when I rid my house of lavender, my skin cleared up pretty quickly. But whenever I accidentally come in contact with it (pretty frequent since it's a common ingredient) I break out. To give my skin some TLC, I started whipping up a batch of this juice packed with beautifying produce. Here's a look at what's inside:

CUCUMBER // I'm sure you've heard of putting cucumber slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness, but eating/drinking cucumbers is beneficial for skin as well. Cucumber is a rich source of silica, a mineral needed for healthy connective tissue and skin elasticity.

CITRUS // As we all know, citrus is a rich source of vitamin C. The vitamin is needed to produce collagen, which gives skin it's elasticity. It also helps to reduce redness associated with breakouts.

CARROTS // Carrots contain vitamin A, a vitamin which plays many roles in maintaining skin health. It promotes cell turnover, decreases acne, and prevents wrinkles.

TURMERIC & GINGER // Both ginger and turmeric, which are related, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to calm a breakout. Both also improve blood circulation, giving your skin a healthy glow.

While drinking a glass of this doesn't immediately turn me into a Neutrogena model, I do notice my skin looks calmer, less inflamed and with better tone. Even more important for healthy skin is to stay well hydrated, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, incorporate fermented probiotic foods and to limit sugar and dairy, both of which are linked to acne.

Any tricks you use for healthy skin? 

Healthy Skin Carrot Grapefruit Juice

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large cucumbers

  • 2 large carrots

  • 2 grapefruits, peeled

  • 2 navel oranges, peeled

  • 1-inch nub of fresh ginger

  • 1-inch nub of fresh turmeric

  • 1/2 lemon

Instructions

  1. Juice all ingredients in a juicer. Pour into two glasses and serve or store in a sealed mason jar until later.

Sexy Strawberry Cream Vegan Milkshakes

Wanna guess my favorite kind of smoothie? One that's really actually a milkshake.

What, did you think I was going to say a kale smoothie?? Pffffttt!

But before we get to this amazingly creamy, dreamy milkshake/smoothie hybrid, I should probably explain why I'm sharing this luxurious treat when everyone in the world is searching for salads and green smoothies. Today, the Miyagi of the dietitian blogger world, Regan Jones (of Healthy Aperture, Blog Brulee, RDs for Disclosure and Recipe Redux fame) turns forty. She has done so much for her fellow dietitian bloggers, and in the process, gaining the respect and admiration of her colleagues. And for that, a whopping forty of us got together to throw her a virtual birthday party by sharing healthy cocktails or gluten free desserts in her honor!

Cue the confetti and champagne toast!

I've said it before, but one of the best things about becoming a blogger was  joining this incredible community. It would be easy for us to view each other as competition, bash and belittle each other, but instead we support, uplift and help each other grow and succeed. Regan is a huge reason for this, really setting the standard for how to treat others within our community. She works with brand contacts to create sponsorship opportunities for us smaller bloggers. She's developed an entire recipe sharing network through Healthy Aperture to highlight the healthy food blogger. She spent an entire year organizing Blog Brulee, an inspiring blogging conference that we all agreed, did so much more than teach us about photography and search engine optimization (although it did that too!). Regan is funny, bossy (in a good way!), motivated, enthusiastic, creative and talented...it's no wonder we all love her so!

Plus, she even shared one of my all-time favorite blogging tips - how to make food look sexy, hence the title.

Regan, wishing you the happiest of birthdays! Thank you so much for all your support and for welcoming me into this community with open arms! The inspiration I gained at Blog Brulee helped make 2014 the best year yet, and I wish the same for you in your fortieth!

Now, on to this milkshake. Err, smoothie. Because ingredient-wise, it has absolutely nothing in common with a milkshake. However if you factor taste and creaminess, it's got everything in common with a milkshake.

Frozen bananas are the secret to getting that milkshake consistency. The creamy, sugar dense fruit not only sweetens the smoothie, but makes it thick and creamy. I added macadamia nuts for even more creamy, fatty mouthfeel. Plus, I love the rich flavor it gives along with the coconut milk.

I used unsweetened coconut milk, the thinner kind they sell by the soy and almond milks. You could use canned coconut milk, which would make it pretty thick, but hey, when has anyone complained about their milkshake being too thick?? Considering the amount of coconut used in the recipe, canned coconut milk would make it a bit of a calorie bomb. A delicious whole food calorie-bomb...but a calorie bomb nonetheless.

To save time, you could skip making the strawberry sauce and blend frozen strawberries into it. But, we know how Regan likes her food sexy, and what's hotter than swirls of bright red, vanilla-scented strawberry bits running through a creamy, white base? Not much. Not much at all.

Sexy Strawberry Cream Vegan Milkshakes

2 servings

Ingredients

Strawberry Sauce:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon honey

    Shake:

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 2 medium frozen bananas

  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts

Instructions

  1. Place strawberries, vanilla and honey in a small pot on medium heat. Bring to a simmer. mashing with a potato masher or the back of a spoon as the juices release. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove and set aside to cool.

  2. Add coconut milk, bananas and macadamia nuts to a blender. Blend until smooth.

  3. Divide strawberry sauce between two glasses, Top with milkshake. Swirl together a bit with a spoon and enjoy!

Fig and Hazelnut Yogurt Cup

Fruit on the bottom yogurt is packed with a shocking amount of sugar. This homemade yogurt cup is made with a quick fig jam, topped with creamy vanilla scented yogurt and crunchy hazelnuts. Sweetened only with fruit and no added sugar! 

For those of you who want to enjoy a cup of flavored yogurt without tons of added sugar, you'll love this simple trick. Cooking fruit to concentrate it's sugars forms a jam that perfectly sweetens plain yogurt. All you need is a little lemon juice to bring out the flavor. I make a big batch and store them in mini mason jars for a grab and go snack. I used figs since I had a few frozen ones leftover from my mom's fig tree, but feel free to experiment. I love blueberries and walnuts with a little cinnamon and pineapple with macadamia nuts makes a great tropical mix.

Fig and Hazelnut Yogurt Cup

serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh figs
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cups plain organic Greek yogurt (I like 2%, whole, or homemade)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted

Instructions

  1. In a small pot, heat the figs and lemon juice over medium heat. Smash the figs with the back of a spoon to release some of the liquids. Cook 10-15 minutes until thickened and syrupy. Once at desired consistency, set aside to cool.
  2. Mix the yogurt and vanilla extract together.
  3. When cooled, spoon the fig mixture in the bottom of six small mason jars. Top each with 1/2 cup yogurt and hazelnuts. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Quinoa Tahini Bar

Anyone who has lived with me, worked with me, or just spent the day with me, is well aware of my reliance on snacks.When I come to work each morning, it’s never without the world’s largest lunch box filled to the brim with random containers of food. What can I say, I like to eat. I eat my snacks right on the dot, at 10 am and 3:30 pm. If I go more than 30 minutes past my scheduled snack time, I’m stricken with a major case of hanger (hungry-anger for those of you not familiar with the term).

I like to treat snacks as mini-meals, full of nutritious, whole foods that will satisfy until mealtime. My secret to a filling and nutritious snack? Pair one serving of a high fiber carb food with another serving of a food that contains fat and/or protein. The high fiber carb keeps blood sugar levels stable and the fat/protein keeps you satiated until your next meal.

The easy version – just eat one serving of food from two different food groups.  You'll almost always end up with the right combination.

Some of my favorites:

  • Slices of avocado on ak-mak or wasa crackers drizzled with sriracha (or hot sauce if you forgot to hoard it for the impending sriracha shortage)
  • Tortilla chips topped with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, microwaved for a minute and served with salsa
  • A baggie of unsweetened whole grain cereal, nuts and dried fruit
  • Popcorn drizzled with a little honey or maple syrup and tossed with toasted walnuts, almonds or coconut flakes
  • Sardines (yup!) on rye crackers
  • Plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruit or all-fruitjam
  • Microwaved baked potato chips with yogurt dip
  • Celery sticks spread with cream cheese and chopped black olives (fancy pants ants on a log)
  • Homemade tuna or salmon salad in whole wheat mini-pitas
  • Fresh fruit with peanut or almond butter
  • My favorite snack - leftovers!

Lately, I’ve been really into homemade energy bars, which are generally simple to make and portable. I used to think I hated granola bars because all the store-bought versions I tried were so syrupy sweet.  Since starting to make my own, I've changed my mind. 

The quinoa bars I'm sharing with you today are just lightly sweetened with dried dates, my favorite new sweetener to cook with. Dates impart a rich, caramely flavor, but are a rich source of fiber, iron, potassium, selenium, and vitamin A.

You could boost the nutrition of these bars even more with all sorts of healthy add-ins – cacao powder, maca powder, flax seeds or chia seeds would all work beautifully.

Quinoa Tahini Bar

Makes 10

Adapted from Peru Delights.

Ingredients

  • 12 chopped dates
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa

Instructions

  1. Add first five ingredients to a food processor. Blend until you have a mostly smooth paste. Add the quinoa and blend until just combined.
  2. Scoop paste out of the food processor and into a medium baking dish. Press down with wet hands to spread it out evenly and smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Once firmed, cut the bars into rectangles and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Cantaloupe Aguas Fresca

 Cantaloupe aguas fresca is a light and refreshing summer beverage, naturally sweetened with cantaloupe juice instead of sugar! 

If you feel like getting fancy, try my aguas frescas, a drink I love to make in the summer with fresh, ripe melon. Aguas frescas translates to fresh waters. Most recipes call for juicing the fruit or blending and straining it, which is much too labor intensive for me. Since melons are nice and watery, you can simply throw it into a blender. Plus, you don't lose the fiber this way. You could even add chia seeds and let it sit for a few minutes to make a chia fresca.

Cantaloupe Aguas Fresca

Makes 4-6 glasses

Also delicious made with watermelon or a really sweet honeydew.

Ingredients

  • 1 cantaloupe

  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime

  • Fresh mint leaves

  • Seltzer or coconut water

Instructions

  1. Cut the cantaloupe in half. Scoop away the seeds and discard. Cut away the rind and cut the melon flesh into cubes. Place in the blender. Add the lemon or lime juice and blend until pureed.

  2. Place 5-10 mint leaves in the bottom of a tall glass. Smush them lightly with a muddler to release the mint essence. Fill the glass with ice. Fill it halfway with melon puree. Top off with either seltzer or coconut water. Serve immediately, garnished with additional lemon, lime or mint if desired.