Pecan Crusted and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are my jam- my yam jam

pecan crusted and roasted sweet potatoes
I’m Back!

Hello- it has been awhile! I was traveling for a few weeks with hubs (recap post to come!) and recovery took longer than expected this time around. Jet lag was rough and I didn’t get back to my regular work outs and eating until last week. While I continue to eat healthy post- vacation, I also realize that the Europeans are really doing it right in a lot of ways. Now, that is not to say that I am eating a pastry, espresso and a cigarette for breakfast as  the French do but I am moving our household to be a little more “carb friendly” following our trip. Expect a few more posts on homemade pasta, bruschetta and pastries to come. For now, sweet potatoes!
This week, I am all about getting back on track so I wanted to share this delicious recipe for roasting sweet potatoes that I have been throwing in to everything from salads to protein bowls to eating with a fork straight out of the fridge… they spice up a staple for me and add a little zing to whatever you might have on your meal prep list for the week. I roast a big batch on Sundays and use them all week.

pecan crusted and roasted sweet potatoes

The Recipe

Pecan Crusted and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to your taste)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. peel and chop sweet potatoes and put in a bowl
  2. in a food processor or blender, combine pecans, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, salt and pepper and pulse until fine
  3. coat sweet potatoes with olive oil
  4. add pecan mixture and stir to coat
  5. line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and put sweet potatoes in one layer on the sheet
  6. roast at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes

 

Easy + Healthy Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Is there a calendar out there on the internet somewhere for all the national food holidays? I am certainly not complaining about them all- just want to make sure I am keeping up! Today we celebrate one of my long time loves- peanut butter. Would you believe me if I said that I used to eat Eggo waffles with Skippy peanut butter and syrup every. single. morning. of my elementary, middle and high school days. And not the good quality syrup either, it was the sugar water Mrs. Butterworths kind. If you knew my mom you would really be shocked about this.

healthy homemade peanut butter cups

These days, I still eat the same amount of peanut butter but in a very different way. For one, I love my artisinal peanut butters like Wild Friends, Nutzo, Spread the Love to name a few. I still love peanut butter and syrup as you will see in this recipe but now I try to use the good stuff and I don’t eat it for breakfast… usually.


healthy homemade peanut butter cups

This super easy recipe calls for:

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • peanut butter (as little or as much as you would like)

 

healthy homemade peanut butter cups

To make, simply:

  1. blend cocao powder, coconut oil and maple syrup in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. line your muffin (mini or regular) tin with liners
  3. cover the botton of the liner with chocolate mixture
  4. cover that layer with peanut butter
  5. cover that layer with more chocolate (if you want to make them absolutely beautiful, freeze each layer for at least 20 minutes in between- I did not have the patience for this)
  6. placed the finished product in the freezer for 30 minutes and enjoy!

(store in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer)


healthy homemade peanut butter cups

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

I love coffee. But that alone won’t sustain my energy throughout the day.  As much as I need enjoy my one cup of coffee, I also know the importance of sustainable energy for my work day, work outs and adventures. I also know that this doesn’t have to be hard whether you are a 12 hour shift nurse, a yoga instructor, a mountain climber or a data analyst. Below are my recommendations for small changes that can have big results when it comes to sustaining your energy all day or giving you a boost right when you need it.

1. Move

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Get moving! There is no better mid morning or afternoon pick me up than getting outside even if its just for a 10 minute walk. Take the time to catch up with a co-worker, make a phone call or do a walking meditation. If you can’t get outside because of the nature of your job or weather, you can get creative- walk around your office, get up to talk to a co worker, take the long route to the restroom.

2. Use Essential Oils

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Citrus and peppermint essential oils are great for energy- you can diffuse them in your home, office or car using a simple diffuser. If you don’t have a diffuser,  put a few drops on your hands, rub together and inhale. Do this whenever you need an energy boost or to increase concentration.

3. Drink Water

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Drink water. Not a whole bottle in 5 minutes after you read this.  Drink it in small amounts all day, every day. Add lemon or lime or fruit or whatever you want to do to make it more enjoyable for you.

4. Eat Balanced Meals and Clean Snacks

Healthy meals and snacks are essential to avoid crashes and eat food that fuels your day and your work outs. Eating the right foods for your body and activity level is essential to maintaining a healthy energy level. Below are a few ideas:

Breakfast

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Overnight refrigerator oats

easy, delicious and nutritious and can be made to accommodate any dietary restrictions 

Oatmeal

easy to make in the morning and can include added protein, veggies or fruit

Paleo Pancakes

for a fancy but filling breakfast without the added junk. These are a Sunday morning staple in our house

Lunch

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Mediterranean Salad

easy to throw together and full of nutritious ingredients 

Power Bowl Lunch

roast veggies, cook any protein and add a grain and you are all set

Dinner

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

this easy paleo recipe is hubs go to and we love it!

Use the crock pot

some of my favorite meals come from “setting and forgetting” the slow cooker 

Snacks


5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

I love to snack. My favorites include veggies and hummus, fruit and nuts, or yogurt and granola. Most of the time, I am not home when the craving strikes so I keep a bunch of snacks at work and in my car. My current grab and go favorites are GoMacro bars. Their new line of bars called Thrive bars are gluten free, non-GMO vegan, low sugar and organic which means they fit basically any dietary needs and are great fuel for your day or work out.

5. Sleep and Meditate

5 Ways to Keep Up Your Energy Without the Crash

Get some sleep. No matter what you do to fuel your day, nothing compares to getting good quality sleep and enough of it. I bring essential oils back when it’s time to go to bed and diffuse lavender right next to my bed. I will also be (another) annoying person who says no screens before bed. Having set time to relax and unwind with a book or meditation (I love the headspace and buddhify apps- see my post on that here) is so important for the next several hours of your sleep. Following all the tips above especially eating well and moving during the day can also set you up for great sleep at night.

Okay, what am I missing here? What do you do to fuel yourself for the day? Any recipes, tips or tricks?

 

Turmeric Latte

Turmeric Latte

aka Golden Milk Latte

golden milk latte turmeric

Have you seen turmeric everywhere? Here in LA we have it in coffee shops, on ice cream cones, in skin care products and in all the juices. Turmeric has been noted for years for its anti-inflammatory benefits both in our bodies and on our skin.  Recently, main stream media and health enthusiasts have made turmeric a top wellness item of 2017.

I have been adding turmeric in to almost all veggie and meat dishes because it adds a nice flavor and health benefits to every meal. My favorite way to enjoy turmeric is with a golden milk latte because it is warm and cozy and you can change the flavor to suit your taste. Below is the way I like to make it!


golden milk latte turmeric

Golden Milk (Turmeric) Latte

Ingredients

  • 8 oz of non dairy milk
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder or 1 large tbsp grated fresh turmeric
  • cinnamon
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • honey or agave
  • grated ginger (optional)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat milk, turmeric and cinnamon in a small saucepan
  2. Add coconut oil and sweetener and heat thoroughly
  3. You could stop here! This is delicious on it's own with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
  4. For a slightly sweeter drink, allow milk to cool slightly and add to a blender with dates and blend thoroughly. This will also make the latte extra foamy.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.balancebride.com/golden-milk-turmeric-latte/

What other turmeric recipes do you love?


Recipe: Valentine Superfood Chocolates

Happy Valentine’s Day!

These are healthy and delicious candies to make for your Valentine or Galentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! I was lucky enough this year to celebrate Galentine’s Day this year with an amazing group of bloggers who made all kinds of health(ier) and delicious treats. Everyone made something unique and delicious. We were out of town the days leading up to the party so I wanted to make something super easy and no-bake. I also wanted to make something bite sized that would look pretty on a Valentine plate.

Thank goodness for my friend Rachael (Sweat and Repeat LA) who takes amazing photos and also for Whitney (To Live and Diet in LA) who hosted us in her beautiful home.  

Ingredients:

  • one large dark chocolate bar (17 oz) I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut shavings

To Make:

  • line mini muffin tin
  • melt chocolate with a double broiler or with a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water
  • fill each muffin tin half way with chocolate
  • put almonds on top of chocolate and pour more chocolate on top
  • top with pomegranate and almonds
  • put in the fridge until hard and store in an air tight container

p.s. you can add any other type of nuts, fruit or toppings that you love

p.p.s. these are also perfect for the Bachelor

Oh yes and don’t forget to snap a picture and share with your love or your friends!

Imperfect Produce: Ugly Fruits and Veggies Delivered


Imperfect Produce is a produce delivery service that sort of works like an animal rescue organization. There are fruits and vegetables that aren’t “pure bread” and have something ugly or “wonky” about them that prohibit them from getting in to the super market.

This could be because the product is too big, too small, or too ugly or because there was an overabundance or the market changed their mind. This produce would go to waste if it weren’t for Imperfect Produce. They go in a rescue these fruits and veggies and find them a new home- yours!

When I got my box, I was so surprised to see that most of the produce looked like something I would certainly purchase from the store or at a farmers market.

How it works:

Order your box to be delivered (current delivery in Bay Area and Los Angeles). You choose between Regular Mixed Box, Organic Mixed Box, All Fruit or All Veggie.

The cost depends on what size you order and where you live.

Small Boxes range from $11-$17 and include 7-9lbs of produce

Medium Boxes range from $14- $24 and include 11-13 lbs of produce

Large Boxes range from $20- $43 and include 23-25 lbs of produce

This is what was included in my box:

The company is so cute with its marketing (see above photo) and have a great mission to decrease waste and hunger. They send a card that asks you to take a picture with the “wonkiest” piece of fruit or veggie you have in your box and post a photo and they will donate 5 pounds of food to a food bank.

They also share great tips for storing all the fruits and veggies.

Even better- there are recipes for how to use most of the veggies they send! Yay for new recipes and fun new ways to use the vegetables in my kitchen.

Head over to www.imperfectproduce.com to find out if they deliver to your neighborhood!

Building the Perfect Oatmeal

How to Build the Perfect Oatmeal

Imagine yourself waking up on a lazy Sunday morning- maybe it is snowing or raining outside and you just made a cup of coffee. You want to eat something nutritious, delicious and warm. You don’t want eggs. You want to just throw a lot of things in to a bowl and you want it to be good. Enter oatmeal. You can literally put almost anything in or on oatmeal and it will be good. BUT it is important to know the basics to build the best warm, nutritious and delicious bowl.

Perfect oatmealStep One: Pick your oats

Gluten free? Steel Cut? Zoats? Instant? Old Fashioned? This is all about preference, dietary needs and texture. Choose whatever works for you and then move on to step 2. For add ins, I like hemp hearts. flax seed, chia seeds, collagen peptides, apples or shaved zucchini. You could also add in frozen fruit like blueberries before you cook the oatmeal or add fresh berries on top (see step 3.)

Perfect Oatmeal

Step Two: Cook

Cook either on the stove or in the microwave depending on what you chose in Step One above.

Stove:

  1. Spray the inside of the pot with non stick spray.
  2. Fill with water and oats.  3/4-1 cup of water per each serving of oatmeal. Boil water.
  3. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and stir frequently until oats reach desired fluffiness.

Microwave:

  1. Fill microwave safe bowl with oats and water.
  2. Heat on High for 2 minutes. Stir and heat for another 1 minute.

perfect oatmeal

Step 3: Toppings

Do whatever you want here. Literally, whatever you think sounds good. I recommend:

  1. A nut butter- almond, peanut butter, sunflower. My favorites are Spread the Love, Wild Friends and Nutzo.
  2. Fruit- berries are a perfect topping but bananas and other less likely fruits work well too. I like persimmons , mango, coconut and figs. Dried fruit is another great topping option.
  3. Crunch- almonds, pecans, granola, hemp hearts.
  4. Other- yogurt, chopped up protein bar, cinnamon, brown sugar, jam, turmeric or other spices. 

I would love to know in the comments if there is anything else you like in your oats?

Mindfulness in 10 Minutes a Day

If you pay attention to health and wellness at all, I am sure you have seen that mindfulness is a hot topic especially in the past year. I have been interested in this idea for quite awhile and have talked about making it a part of my daily practice for the same amount of time.

In graduate school, I learned a lot about mindfulness and I even took a whole course at the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA while I was getting my MSW.  I encourage the patients and families I work with to practice mindfulness to help with pain, anxiety and depression. My mom is a big believer in mindfulness as well and has integrated a mindful awareness in to her life to help her chronic pain. But despite being a self-proclaimed believer in mindful meditation, it was not something that was a part of my daily routine.


What I Learned:

The idea of doing something new indefinitely is scary- so, I told myself I would start with 30 days and see how it goes. This is what I learned:

  1. It is difficult to find 10 minutes per day- okay, it really is not at all difficult but it feels like it. It is literally 10 minutes out of 1,440. Its no time at all so how do you find it? Mark it on a calendar, set a reminder, do it right when you wake up so nothing else can get in the way.
  2. I never regret meditation. I liken it to working out- do I always feel like doing it? No! When I do it do I always feel better, accomplished, healthier, etc? Yes!
  3. While I am only meditating for 10 minutes per day, it has created a more mindful approach to daily life for me. That being said, meditation is not magic. It is called a meditation practice because it certainly takes time, dedication and practice. However, adopting a 10 minutes per day approach can lead to a variety of health benefits.
  4. There are so many tools out there to help you!

There are a few really great tools out there to help you get started.

  1. The Headspace App. This app starts with “take 10” which is 10 days of mindfulness practice that help you learn how to meditate, how to be mindful and what the benefits are. They app also has animations that illustrate mindfulness which help it make a whole lot more sense. Lastly, the app lets you set reminders and mindful moments to sneak mindfulness in each day no matter where you are. Mindful
  2. Buddhify. This is mostly what I used during my month of meditation. I love this app because it has meditations for every situation. For someone just starting out who might not love the idea of sitting on a cushion and meditating quietly, this app is perfect. Mindful
  3. MARC– UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has a list of guided meditations on their website. You can find them here.

  4. Books! I love the Headspace Guide to Meditation by Andy Puddicombe who is also the creator of the app. 

Guided meditation classes. There are many of these available in Los Angeles through Classpass or individual studios. Some include The Den Meditation and Unplug Meditation

I encourage you to try it for a week or month and stick with it as best you can. Look for more posts on mindfulness coming up.

 

Thinking of Detoxing? Read this First.

It’s January- shouldn’t I be “detoxing?”

detox

When I used to think “detox” a lot of images and ideas would come to mind- juice cleanse, lemon water and cayenne pepper, removing toxins, flat belly in 3 days- basically all quick fixes to get you where you want to be fast.

When I did the Whole 30, people continuously called it a cleanse or detox and I would get so annoyed because of the negative connotation I had with the word detox and everything I described above. When I really started thinking about it though, the Whole 30 was pretty much exactly what my preferred definition of a detox is- it is filling your body with whole foods and eliminating food that doesn’t serve our overall health to make us feel good.

I don’t believe in a “clear history” button- I believe what we put in our bodies impacts us no matter how we flush it out but I do believe in a good detox or reset that allows us to get started or increase the momentum toward our health and fitness goals. In addition to detoxing our bodies, eliminating negativity and cultivating a positive environment can do wonders for our overall health so be sure to consider this as a part of your healthy lifestyle!

detox

A detox doesn’t have to mean less of everything- a detox should include more:

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • proteins like chicken, fish, lean meats or eggs
  • water- try it infused with fruit or cucumber to make it more exciting!
  • self- love
  • mindfulness

In order to feel your best, a detox should encourage you to have less:

  • dairy like milk, coffee creamer, yogurt, cheese
  • wheat like bread, cookies, cake, pasta
  • sugar- that includes artificial sweeteners
  • alcohol (I know)
  • self- criticism
  • stress
Try some of my very favorite clean eating recipes:

Clean Breakfasts

Paleo Sushi

Green Curry and Cauliflower Rice

If you can spend a few days or a week eating whole, unprocessed foods I believe that your energy, mood and skin will improve,  your clothes will fit a little better without feeling deprived.  I even think you will feel good enough to get started on a consistent workout routine to keep you feeling motivated and energized. Find whatever detox means to you- whether it is strict clean eating, eliminating soda, quitting fast food or meditating for 5 minutes each day or putting your phone away at 8pm and just do it. I promise it will be easier than drinking cayenne pepper and lemon water. 

detox

 

Brunch Series: Paleo Pancakes

Paleo Pancakes: Happy New Year!

paleo pancakes

I love brunch. I love making it, I love sitting down to eat it with a hot cup of coffee at home on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I love it so much that I am starting a brunch series which basically just means I will post more brunch recipes which hubs is pretty stoked about because he gets to eat more brunch!

paleo pancakes

Most of the time, I eat breakfast (which is definitively NOT brunch) in the car or at my desk. On those days when we sit down and really enjoy brunch, I want to make sure it is delicious and indulgent but does not make me want to spend the whole day on the couch.

These pancakes are made in a blender in 5 minutes or less and you can add any other fruits or veggies you might want to experiment with. I add apples but they would also be good with zucchini, banana, added almond butter, etc.

I love these pancakes because 1. they are pancakes and 2. because they go perfectly with coffee 3. hubs loves them 4. you can add anything to them 5. they are easy to make 6. they are delicious! 7. you can cut them in to shapes for all holidays (see photo below)

paleo pancakes

Recipe

Brunch Series: Paleo Pancakes
Recipe type: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo
Cuisine: Brunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 small
 
These delicious Paleo pancakes are perfect for a healthy yet indulgent brunch.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional, but helps for rising)
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¼ cup packed almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 apple shredded or chopped
  • anything you want for toppings. I like sauteed apples, yogurt, berries and honey.
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in to a blender or food processor.
  2. Do not put the flour in first or it will get stuck in the bottom and you will have very thin pancakes... (speaking from experience)
  3. Heat coconut oil in a non stick skillet
  4. Pour pancake mix on to skillet and cook pancake until starts to bubble then flip
Notes
If you do not regularly eat a paleo diet, these ingredients might seem overwhelming but you can buy almond flour, arrowroot powder and coconut flour in stores. Trader Joe's has all 3 but you can also order them on amazon or through an online merchant like Thrive Market.

PS I am doing a giveaway on instagram this week! Head on over to enter @balancebride