Friday, March 28, 2014

Gluten-Free Banana Bread!

I really need to post a dinner recipe soon, but forgive me for not being able to wait to share this! I have been craving banana bread for MONTHS. It is one of my all-time favorite sweet treats. This recipe happens to be gluten-free, and while I have no dietary restrictions against gluten, I can appreciate the dramatic caloric deficit that cutting out gluten products can provide.In general, eating gluten-free can be a hold easier on your body than most people realize. So for me, whenever I can cut out gluten, I do :)

That being said, I have been researching an alternative to homestyle, "fattening" banana bread. Traditional recipes are filled with a whole mess of flour, butter, and sugar that I want nowhere near this body of mine. I finally found a recipe that seemed to have everything I was looking for! I mixed it up a little bit to make it my own, and here it is!

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups of almond meal* or almond flour*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil 
  • 3/4 cup of coconut sugar (you can also use brown sugar)
  • 3 medium-sized extra ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

* The only difference between almond meal and almond flour is the consistency of each. Almond meal has larger flakes of shaved almonds, whereas almond flour is a very fine powder.

** The recipe I used called for regular oil, but I used coconut oil because I thought the sweeter taste would complement this recipe well. Using coconut oil also saves some of those pesky calories ;)

The whole time this was baking, the rich aroma of cinnamon and vanilla wafted through my entire house. I almost couldn't let it finish baking, it smelled soooo good!

This recipe is so simple and I'm thrilled with how it turned out :) Enjoy!!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oh, where to begin...

It has been so long since I last posted! I have been so overwhelmed with, well- life! I moved into my own apartment and got an awesome new job, so I am there about 6 days a week. I've also been working out a lot, trying to get into the best shape of my life. Also, this may come as a huge surprise to most people (including myself!), but I am actually RUNNING my first ever HALF-MARATHON in only 2 days!!! This comes as a surprise because I've never been huge into running. I've always said that if you see me running, you should too because something is definitely chasing me ;) All jokes aside, I am so excited to finish strong and bask in the glory of running 13.1 miles! Wish me luck!

I'm still in San Diego, and very happy down here. I've lived here just over a year and it has finally begun to feel like home. I feel so blessed in my everyday life. I've missed writing though! I think of this creative outlet of mine very often, about what I want to post about next and share with all my lovely readers. How crazy is it that this silly little blog has been viewed almost 2,400 times?! And all over America as well as Europe and even Asia. I just really wanted to send a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported me in this passion of mine. It means so much that people actually care what I think. I do it all for you all, in hopes that you'll be able to enjoy your life and diet to its fullest potential. That being said: I'm back! Thanks again for the support and let's get some yummy recipe ideas posted, shall we?!



Monday, November 4, 2013

Healthy Substitutions-The Only "Diet" You Need

Healthy alternatives are seriously the only way I get through life on a diet. Okay that's a little dramatic, but seriously! I will never be one of those people who sacrifices all enjoyment and flavor in my diet just to be a few pounds thinner. That's not what life is about. The best part is that you don't have to lose all fun in life just because you're trying to be healthier! Nutritious alternatives can sometime be even better than the real thing! Plus you will feel so much better afterwards, so it's a win-win. Substituting healthier foods for the more fattening foods can be overwhelming at first, I know this better than anyone. But luckily I started this trick a while ago and I'm here to help you through this process!

Starch/Carbohydrate Substitutions

  • Instead of white rice, use quinoa. Commonly thought of as a grain, it is actually an edible seed that is packed with nutrients and lots of protein. It's also gluten-free! You can make it into ANYTHING!! Quinoa is one of my favorites because that it is so incredibly versatile. It's one of my staple foods, I would say I eat it 3 days out of the week.
---Brown rice is another good alternative!

  • Instead of regular pasta, always try to find WHOLE wheat pasta, or if possible, brown rice pasta. I use brown rice pasta and it's so good! No weird consistency or texture. You can't even tell that it's not regular pasta. They also make quinoa pasta, which I have not yet tried, but I'd be interested to know how it is :)

  • Bread: can't live with it, can't live without it. For starters, always choose "whole grain," as I stated earlier. A lot of companies will label their food "multigrain," to try to make consumers believe they are selecting more nutritious options. Multigrain doesn't mean much; it simply means that more than one type of grain is used. Whereas with whole grains, every part of the grain is used. Whole grains contain nutrients and fiber that are essential to the body. 

  • Potatoes: everyone loves them, I know. And myself included! I wouldn't be American if I didn't ;) Potatoes are low in cholesterol and high in potassium and vitamin C. They are a starch, yes, but not necessarily a bad one. This vegetable is packed with complex carbs, which release slowly in the body for a steady flow of energy dispersed over a long period of time. The problem with potatoes is not the potato itself- but rather the way they are both prepared and eaten. Most people either fry their potatoes or top them with butter and sour cream. Next time you eat a potato, cook it in the oven and top it with salsa and steamed broccoli. Seriously amazing.
  • Another yummy alternative is a baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon, organic honey, and shaved almonds. 

 So there's my list of substitutions! Anything else you'd like alternatives to? 
The list goes on and on so let me know if there's anything else I can add :)

A typical shopping haul. Trader Joe's saves me!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

In my opinion, fall is the most incredible time of year. Crisp nights and flushed cheeks, crunchy golden leaves, and a couple of the best holidays around. My personal favorite part is when I get to bring out my fall wardrobe. I mean, hello- boots and scarves everyday?! Yes please. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I seriously adore anything pumpkin. It might be a slight obsession. Pumpkin you-name-it, I love it ;) That being said, I figured I would take advantage of the season and squeeze in as many pumpkin recipes as I can. Bear with me! ;)

This one's for all my lovely bakers. I saw this recipe online somewhere, but when I made it, it was just too bland and boring for my taste. I doctored it up a little bit, and the end result was delicious. These cookies are paleo- if you are not familiar with it, the paleo diet is basically one that excludes all refined sugar, dairy, grain, or legumes of any kind. These cookies also happen to be low-carb, so eat up ;)

These were so easy to make and were rich and comforting. 
I baked them on a chilly fall night and they were perfection.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Next, simply mix all these ingredients together:

  • 3/4 cup of creamy almond butter
  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 5 tbs of coconut sugar
  • 3 tbs pure, organic maple syrup 
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tbs of pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp of pure, organic vanilla extract

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper
(or Trader Joe's coconut oil spray if you have it.)

Scoop tablespoon-sized spoonfuls onto paper and sprinkle a pinch of coconut sugar on top. Cook 11-13 minutes or until you notice the edges turning golden brown.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Me Up

I'm pretty sure everyone in the world looks forward to the same thing come September: the arrival of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte aka THE NECTAR OF THE GODS aka liquid crack. Haha just kidding (not really though ;) Seriously, to say I am addicted would be an understatement. That being said, Starbucks is an expensive habit to support! I decided to try to come up with a way to make this delectable drink at home, hoping to save myself the hefty $4/cup asking price. Also, did you know that a grande (medium-sized) PSL from Starbucks contains 380 calories and 49 grams of sugar?! Holy no thank you... I would rather stuff my face with a Krispy Kreme donut. Remember, you should always aim to eat most of your calories- don't waste them on sugar-filled drinks.

Here's what I did:

 First, just brew a regular pot of coffee 
(I use Folgers house blend.)

◊   In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine:

◆   1/3 cup of milk of your choice 
(I used almond milk, but any kind will work.) 
The thicker the better. I recommend either 
vanilla almond milk, 2% milk, or for best
results, whole milk or heavy cream. 
I just couldn't afford the calories :(

◆   3 tablespoons organic canned pumpkin 
(you can get this at Trader Joe's for only 99 cents!)

◆   3 tablespoons of organic coconut sugar 
(regular cane sugar will also work, I just prefer 
coconut sugar because it is unrefined and 
lacks artificial sweeteners.)

◆   1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract

◆   1 tablespoon of cinnamon

◆   1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice

◊   Scoop 2-3 tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture into your coffee. 
How much you use will depend on your desired level of flavor.

◊   This recipe makes enough for about 4- 8oz. servings

And that's IT! So simple right? The best part about this recipe is how flexible it is. You can seriously add or subtract any amount of ANY of the ingredients to achieve your desired end result. I played with mine a little and don't be afraid to do the same! I've always liked my drinks on the sweeter side- rather than enjoy a bitter cup of black coffee. No thank you. 

*** If you're interested, you can also make a healthy whipped cream
 out of coconut milk! Just put a can of coconut milk in the fridge 
upside down overnight. This is important because it will 
allow the solid cream to rise to the top. In the morning, scrape
 that top layer off and whip it up with 2 teaspoons of your choice 
of sweetener. You can use agave, stevia, or coconut sugar 
if you have it. If not, regular sugar will work just fine :) ***

Enjoy you little pumpkin lovers! 
Thanks for reading! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hi everyone!

WELCOME TO MY BLOG! AHH! I'm so excited about this and I hope that you are as well :) I have been wanting to do something like this for months and I'm so happy it has finally come full-circle. At first I was embarrassed and figured no one would read anything I posted, but when people started to value my ideas I thought I might actually have something! I figured I should probably do an introductory post so that you guys know who these crazy ideas are coming from. Some of you I grew up with, some of you I am close friends with now, and maybe some of you I have never even met! Whatever the story be, I am so happy for you to join me on this adventure!

My name is Heaven and I'm 21-years old, living in sunny San Diego, CA. My passion in life is food- plain and simple. I love to eat and I can probably eat more than your 200-lb linebacker brother. No shame in my game. That being said, I have an equal passion for fitness. Although it doesn't seem like those two would go together well, let me tell you- I am happier and more balanced than I've ever been. I am all about healthy alternatives without sacrificing flavor. Through this blog I hope to help you all on your road to health. I did it, I've done it, and I'm STILL doing it!

I'm looking forward to sharing recipes with you (some that I have created myself, some that I have gotten from others) and also workouts that I am loving at the moment. I do have a gym that I attend 6-days a week; however, I also like easy, quick at-home workouts, so hopefully those will be beneficial to some of you and I will be able to provide a little something for everyone.

Being that I am a poor college student living away from my mother, you will also find some incredible home remedies on here. I'm into trying new things and learning for myself how well things do or do not work. Unfortunately, I am the opposite of a craft queen so you won't find many art projects on here :( Sorry! Mostly I'll be sharing face masks that I make myself, etc.

I will accept your questions happily! I can't promise that I will have half the answers you'll need- but I do promise to try my hardest to find an answer with you.

Thanks so much for reading!