It’s Time for Pumpkin Everything!

It’s still in the 90’s here at the beach and I’m still wandering around barefoot, but my social media has gone crazy for FALL and with that, pumpkin EVERYTHING! It seems that every fall there’s more and more products featuring pumpkin, and everyone, just literally, eats it up!

Fortunately, when products contain actual pumpkin (not just those flavorful spices) is really can boost our nutrition! Pumpkin offers many health benefits and is very versatile when meal planning. It can be used in baked goods, soups, sauces, pies, and even pancakes and waffles. While some fabulous kitchen lovers may find it a joy to pick a fresh pumpkin and do the scooping and cleaning for fresh pumpkin puree for their recipe needs, canned puree is readily available for the rest of us in the grocery store.

Now-Is pumpkin a vegetable or fruit??? Although it comes from the squash family, pumpkin is biologically considered a fruit! It has incredible health benefits that liken it to a vegetable however. One 50 calorie cup of pumpkin has almost two and a half times the amount of vitamin A our body needs in one day! It also contains Fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamins B2 and E, and even iron. Pumpkin seeds offer even more nutrition like protein, vitamin K, magnesium, and even more iron! Pumpkin is considered a superfood because of its high levels of antioxidants that help reduce the risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease. The huge amount of vitamin A, and vitamin C in pumpkin can help boost the immune system and fight off illness and infection. Pumpkin also helps with better eyesight, healthier eyes, and even better skin!

As we move into fall and “pumpkin season” it’s important to point out-many of the pumpkin flavored treats we get so excited to partake of do not actually contain real pumpkin:( They also usually contain large amounts of sugar, fat, and empty calories, so be sure to keep that in mind as you treat yourself. For a yummy and super healthy pumpkin treat at home, try these muffins made with almond flour and canned pumpkin. The almond flour adds a super boost of nutrients like protein and vitamin E while adding a sweeter, moister, nuttier taste. Be sure to use canned pumpkin-not pumpkin pie filling!! Enjoy!! Happy Fall!

Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour

Heat oven to 350 F

Line muffin tins with cupcake papers

Ingredients

~In large bowl-MIX

1 ½ cups blanched almond flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ teaspoon baking soda

~In small bowl-MIX

4 large eggs

¾ cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl, wet ingredients in small bowl. Fold wet ingredients into dry, stir until combined. (you can mix in nuts, dried berries or raisins for an added treat ~add ½ cup if desired)

Pour evenly into muffin tin and bake for 20-22 minutes until evenly cooked through. Cool, and enjoy!

Calories 133

Carbs 11 grams

Protein 5 grams

Fat 8g grams

(nutritional info not including any add ins like nuts)

Super Sweet Potatoes

When it comes to sweet potatoes, I think most people instantly think of Thanksgiving dinner-but this amazing superfood definitely deserves to show up on your menu more often! Sweet potatoes are super filling, packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, and can be prepared in a variety of ways to please even the pickiest eater. You may be thinking that sweet potatoes are a cold weather food, but I’ve added a yummy, cold, summer salad recipe starring sweet potatoes at the end of this article!!

Sweet potatoes are a root veggie that can be found in bright colors like orange and purple, as well as white. One cup of sweet potato is only 180 calories, and offers incredible amounts of vitamin A, C, and B6, as well as potassium, manganese, copper, and niacin. Along with this power punch of vitamins comes 6 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber with only the slightest trace of fat. These amazing potatoes are absolute superfoods with so many benefits-they contain high levels of antioxidants that can protect our bodies from free radicals. Free radicals in our bodies cause inflammation and lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and even aging. The fiber in sweet potatoes helps with digestion and aids in gut health and healthy gut bacteria-leading to better immunity. Sweet potatoes are also packed with beta carotene to keep our eyes and eyesight healthy!

When buying sweet potatoes, look for potatoes that are smaller in size for a sweeter taste and creamier texture. The thicker the skin of the potato-the sweeter and moister the potato will be! Choose potatoes with firm, smooth, unblemished skin for the highest quality. Make your dishes more colorful and festive by choosing potatoes in different colors!

Get sweet potatoes into your diet in a myriad of ways: serve up sweet potato chips or fries, mash into super sweet potatoes, bake and add your favorite toppings, or even puree them and add them to baked goods for an extra punch of both flavor and vitamins. You can also add sweet potatoes to salads for a sweet and healthy boost-check out the recipe below!

Summer Sweet Potato Salad

5 cups sweet potatoes  chopped into small pieces

½ tbsp olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

3 oz baby spinach chopped

¼ cup red onion diced

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

¼ cup dried cranberries

1 tbsp lemon juice

½ avocado chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400F

Toss sweet potato pieces with olive oil and ½ tsp sea salt. Bake 30 minutes-flipping halfway through-until done.  Cool potatoes.

Mix spinach, onion, dried cranberries, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice in a large bowl, stir in potatoes, and add avocado. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Store in fridge and serve cold.

Serves 4

Summer Means Watermelon!

It’s finally summertime in my little corner of the world, and I could not be happier! Although I live in rather warm and mild climate of southeast North Carolina, I found this winter to be rather brutal and was counting the days until summer while glaring at my winter coat hanging in my closet for several months. I’m definitely a warm weather kind of gal!

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies that show up in produce stands alongside my local roads. Freshly harvested strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes warm in the sun and make the air smell like sweet, sweet summer-it’s impossible not to buy them! The warm weather makes me crave meals made with lighter, fresher foods, and fruits are so sweet and ripe they taste like candy. One of my favorite fruits is watermelon, and everything about it-the taste, the smell, the joy of biting into it as the juices dribble down the chin-just screams SUMMERTIME!

Watermelon is not only a sweet and awesome summer treat, but a healthy addition to our diet! The word “water” is not just by chance-this fruit contains 92% water and helps keep us hydrated on hot days. This water content also make this delicious food super low in calories. A full cup pf watermelon contains about 50 calories and offers nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Watermelon is an antioxidant, which means it helps fight free radicals that can damage the cells of the body and lead to heart disease, cancers, and diabetes. The amazing fruit also contains and amino acid called citrulline which can improve exercise performance, aid in reduced muscle soreness, as well as lower blood pressure. Watermelon also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as lycopene-which benefits the eyes. The vitamin C and A found in watermelon make this food skin healthy, and the high water content along with a small amount of fiber aids in digestion. This fruit is truly a body healthy choice!

When choosing a watermelon, pick one that is uniform is size, with a dark and dull coloring on the rind. Look for a melon that is heavy for its size-this means a higher water content and more sweetness. Check the “field spot” on the melon for the brightest yellow or orange color possible. The field spot shows how long the melon was on the vine and lying in the field-a white field spot means the melon is not yet ripe. Check the webbing or “sugar spots” on the melon-if they are large and long, the melon should be very sweet.

Serve watermelon by the slice, or in cubes with any meal for a refreshing side. Watermelon can also be added to any type of salad for a sweet crunch. Serve watermelon cubes with feta cheese or even prosciutto as an appetizer or snack. Get super creative and add watermelon to salsas, pickle it, or even try grilling it with your favorite spices! Add watermelon to your infused waters or follow the recipe below for a tasty frozen sorbet.

Watermelon Banana Sorbet

(makes 4 servings)

2 cup of cubed fresh watermelon

2 large bananas-frozen and cut into small chunks

1 tsp fresh lime juice

Place everything into a blender or food processor and pulse on high until smooth and creamy

Place into a covered container or ziploc bag-try to remove as much air as possible to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Freeze for 2-3 hours and enjoy this creamy, sweet, cold treat!

Amazing Almonds

Almonds are crunchy, tasty, filling, and absolutely packed with superfood benefits! I keep individual serving packs of almonds in my pantry for a grab and go snack on busy days, or for when I just need a little protein boost before or after Pilates class. Just a single 1 ounce serving satiates my hunger and fulfills my need to crunch on something while providing me with so many great nutrients. How can you beat that???

The most popular form of almonds is unshelled, and either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted. We can also find almonds used in SO many products in our grocery stores like almond milks, almond butter, and almond flour, with each of these products offering their own healthy benefits and many uses.

Considered a superfood, these yummy nuts are an antioxidant-which means they can protect your cells from damage that leads to disease and aging of the body. These amazing nuts also help with lowering blood sugar, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels! A single serving of almonds contains 6 grams of energy producing protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat-9 of which are heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Almonds also contain a high amount of vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, and a good amount of cooper, phosphorus, and vitamin B2. That’s a LOT of GREAT nutrition coming from a small handful of food! Bonus-if you’re concerned about your calorie intake, it’s important to note: 10-15% of the calories in almonds is NOT absorbed by the body! And the protein and fiber content in almonds has been known to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time-therefore capable of helping you reduce your calorie intake!

There are so many ways to add this incredible power food to your diet. Consider sprinkling slivered almonds into your cereals, yogurts, salads, or oatmeal. When baking, use slivered almonds in muffins, breads, cakes, cookies and brownies. When preparing meals, add slivered almonds to rice pilafs and omelets. Using almond milk and almond flour in place of cow’s milk and wheat flour in your recipes will add protein and nutrients to everything you prepare, and almond flour is gluten free! *If using almond flour to replace wheat flour in your favorite recipes, start with a 1:1 ratio and know that because almond flour contains a bit more moisture, you made need to add more to get the right consistency for your recipe. When I use almond flour and almond milk in my recipes, I find that my foods are a bit more moist, and have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. One of my absolute favorite go to recipes is my low carb pancakes-and the recipe is below. I prepare these weekly, keep them in my fridge, and simply heat and eat. They are SO SO good!!! 

A fun fact about almonds: 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California! Other countries that produce almonds are Spain, Iran, and Morocco-but Cali wins as the biggest producer in the world with over 500 miles of farms-mostly family owned!

Be sure to keep some almonds around for a healthy heart boosting snack-even better-grab some almonds dipped in dark chocolate and get even MORE healthy benefits from your snack! If you’re looking for a yummy way to add these nutrient packed nuts into your diet, give my favorite recipe a try:

Low Carb “Pancakes”

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup almond milk

6 tablespoons melted butter (must be cooled)

3  1/3 cups almond flour

6 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or Monk fruit sweetener

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease 11X17 inch baking pan-or muffin pan (I use the “all edges” brownie pan from Pampered Chef) *Makes 12 servings.

Combine eggs, almond milk, cooled melted butter, and vanilla extract in a blender and blend until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, sweetener, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the blender, blending and scraping sides of blender until all ingredients are well blended. Let batter sit briefly until thickened.

Pour batter into greased baking dish and spread evenly, or scoop by 1/3 cup each into muffin tin. (I use the Pampered Chef brownie pan with the 12 individual cups)

Bake 13-17 minutes until edges are golden brown and centers are firm to the touch. Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool. If using a baking dish, cut into 12 even pieces.

These can be refrigerated for up to a week in a Ziploc bag. Simply heat for 30 seconds in the microwave and serve.

Serve with butter and your fav low carb syrup, or with berries. *My son eats them with peanut butter.

Nutrition:

Cals.  130

Fat 11 grams  Sat 4.5 grams

Carbs 8 grams  Fiber 1 gram

Protein   5 grams

Healthy Treats for You and Your Sweet

I hope you had a chance to check out the Superfood Super Sunday healthy snack recipes I posted for Super Bowl Sunday! Super Bowl Sunday is followed up with that awesome day of LOVE, Valentine’s Day-or, for some of you, perhaps you’ll be celebrating the joy of your female friendships with Galentine’s Day! Either way, I’ve got you covered with some super yummy, yet super health sweet snacks to celebrate with! Share your love of yummy, healthy treats with someone you love this holiday-or just enjoy them while treating YOURSELf-after all SELF LOVE is the BEST LOVE!

Check out this superfood, super healthy treats and be sure to share the recipes with friends! Happy Love Day!

Low Carb Strawberry Banana Cake

4 small ripe bananas

1 cup wheat flour

½ cup buckwheat flour

¼ cup coconut oil

2 tbsp. stevia/xylitol or Swerve

1 egg

1 tsp. baking powder

10 strawberries, halved

Pre-heat oven to 350°F Directions: 

Peel the bananas and place them in a food processor or high-speed blender. Mix until smooth. Add in the egg, oil and sweetener, then mix again. Next, add in the flours and baking powder, and mix until a smooth batter is formed. Transfer the batter into a greased or silicon cake tray.  Place the halved strawberries on top and bake for around 60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and cooked through.

Serves 16

Nutrition per serving:

104 cal  5g Fats 16g Carbs  2g Protein

HEALTHY FERRERO ROCHER

Ingredients:

1 cup + 12 hazelnuts

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

2 tbsp. agave syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

2 tbsp. dark chocolate chunks

Directions:

Add 1 cup of hazelnuts into a food processor and blitz until chopped into tiny pieces.

 Next, add the cacao powder, agave syrup, vanilla extract, sea salt and chocolate. Pulse until all the ingredients start to stick together. If the mixture is too dry, add 1-2 teaspoon of water.

 Roll the mixture into bite-size balls and insert one hazelnut into the centre of each ball.

 Serve right away or store in the fridge for later.

Nutrition per 1:

91 cal    8g Fats 6g Carbs    2g Protein

Dark Chocolate Banana Bites

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

⅓ cup natural peanut butter

½ cup dark chocolate chips

2 tsp. coconut oil

Directions:

Peel and slice the bananas. Line a tray or chopping board with baking paper. 

Place about ½ teaspoon of peanut butter onto the banana slices and top with another banana slice to make a little ‘sandwich’. You should be able to make around 30 sandwiches.  

 Place the bananas on the prepared baking paper and store it in the freezer for about 1 hour. 

Next, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave or using the water bath method.

 Once the chocolate is melted, dip each frozen banana sandwich into the melted chocolate so that half of it is coated.

 Place the chocolate covered sandwiches back on the baking paper platter, and into the freezer for another 15-20 minutes.

 Once the chocolate is set, you can transfer the bananas into a container and store in the freezer for up to 1-2 months. 

The longer the bananas stay in the freezer, the harder they will get. So remove them from the freezer for about 5 minutes before eating.

Nutrition per 2 bites:

99 cal   6g Fats 12g Carbs    2g Protein

Superfood Super Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and in my family-that means HOLIDAY! As a child this was always one of the biggest days of the year in my house as we also celebrated my football obsessed dad’s birthday on the same day. The amount of food bought and consumed was ridiculous! We usually started off the day with a huge breakfast, and about 2 hours later the table and countertops in the kitchen would be completely covered with lunchmeats, chips, cookies, various chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, and brownies. My father would cook his yearly kielbasa sausage and sauerkraut in the crockpot, and the stove top would be covered in hotdogs, chili, and all the fixens. Beer, wine, and mixed drink rounded it out for this all day feast-which also ended with birthday cake. Needless to say, many people left our house with tummy aches over the years, but they always returned for another crazy football feast.

Super Bowl Sunday is thought to be the second highest food consumption day of the year, right after Thanksgiving. Some online articles suggest that the average viewer eats almost 11000 calories on that day, with the most popular foods being pizza, wings, chips and dips, deviled eggs, chili, and hotdogs. Men’s Fitness magazine stated that American’s drink 345 million gallons of beer each Super Bowl Sunday! This is, of course, considered a holiday for many, and it’s perfectly ok to splurge on occasion, but if you are thinking about keeping focused on your health goals while enjoying this year’s big game (or any big event with food!) this article is for you!

Consider this average list of consumption during a regular sports party:

2 slices of pepperoni pizza

6 wings

Nachos with cheese and toppings

Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)

4 cookies

2 beers (only 2!)

2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day! (I can attest to this…I once threw a vacuum cleaner off an upstairs balcony after a loss-and my dad was famous for breaking doors after bad games….mediation has helped!:))

Having a great time and enjoying great food while ALSO sticking to your health goals is completely possible. It can easily be done by making a plan, sticking to a few guidelines, and having a few good recipes for tasty, healthy party food.

When I approach a day that revolves around food, I like to go in with a plan. I start my day with a super healthy, filling, but light breakfast like oatmeal and fruit. I focus on getting my exercise for the day in before game time, and drink as much of my water as possible. It’s important to get something healthy and nutritious into your stomach BEFORE showing up where there is lots of party food!

The guidelines I follow and lay out for my clients in any situation that involves an “all day” food situation are as follows.

-Stay hydrated! Keep drinking that water. If you chose to drink alcohol, match each drink with an equal amount of water. This will flush your system, as well as help avoid overindulging and getting a hangover.

-scan the food offerings and make a plan: what will you enjoy as your actual meal? What will you snack on? What will you indulge in for dessert? When will you eat these foods?

-remember portion control! Take small amounts of the foods you want to enjoy and be sure to put them on a plate and actually take time to enjoy them. And, to remind you and ME-potato chips DO fit on a plate and it’s a great way to eat only a serving size! (I’m a chip girl-just don’t let me stand by the bowl!)

~always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

~choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog and consider skipping the cheese.

~cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

~use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

~make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime.

~instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits.

~do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week. And check out the recipes that follow this article!

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

~make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

~get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, and halftime. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard. And don’t forget to get up and dance during that old school halftime show!

~have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

 Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time.

GO TEAM!

Check out some of these healthier choice recipes for your game day, and be sure to check out these awesome DIP recipes as well!

Healthy Deviled Eggs

Make your deviled eggs with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and turn your deviled eggs into a superfood explosion! These are packed with protein and super yummy!

 Ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs, cooking the yolks well (leave in hot water for 13 minutes)

Plain whole milk Greek yogurt

Dijon Mustard or your other favorite spiced mustard

Salt and pepper

Favorite spices-paprika, cayenne pepper, or try a Maryland favorite-Old Bay for a yummy twist

 Directions:

Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a small bowl. Place egg whites on a serving dish.

Mash egg yolks with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients until it is smooth and to your tasting and texture.  

Spoon mixture into egg whites, or for a fancy decorative look, use an icing bag with a tip and squeeze into whites.

Sprinkle with paprika or old bay, or use another topping as desired-bacon bits, relish, hot peppers. 

Keep chilled until ready to serve and enjoy!

Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

1 lb.  zucchini

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 egg

1 tsp.  milk

4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 430°F . Cut zucchini into fry-like pieces. 

Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with the milk. Season with salt, pepper, add the crushed garlic, oregano, and thyme. Mix well.

On a separate plate, have your breadcrumbs ready. 

Grease a large baking tray with 1 tbsp. of olive oil. 

Dip the zucchini in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs and place on the baking tray. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the fries 2-3 times during this time, drizzling them with the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil. 

Season with salt and serve.

Nutrition per serving: Serves 4

177 cal     12g Fat. 14g Carbs   5g Protein

Veggie Chili Salad

Ingredients:

14 oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained

7 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed, drained

1 red bell pepper, sliced

bunch coriander, chopped

5 oz.  hot salsa

Directions:

Rinse the black beans and corn under cold running water, rinse thoroughly and drain well. Slice the pepper into small strips. Chop the coriander coarsely.

Mix the beans, corn, pepper and coriander with the salsa in a medium bowl. This salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serving suggestions:

Guacamole Baked Tortilla chips Veggies

Nutrition per serving: 4 servings

 144 cal    2g Fats 28g Carbs     8g Protein

Healthy Holiday Food Hacks and Facts

As I stated in my last post, the average Thanksgiving Day dinner intake, according to The Calorie Control Council, is around 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. And that doesn’t include our drinks, appetizers or leftovers, or our sampling of food. That’s SO much food! (If you missed my crazy Thanksgiving food video, watch it HERE) While Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and I believe whole heartedly in enjoying everything in moderation, I thought I’d use this week’s post to provide some healthier alternatives to the typical fare served at this American feast. Whether you pick just a few to give your holiday meal a healthier and lighter edge or use these to give your everyday meals a healthier kick is completely up to you. It’s always nice to know some simple tricks to change up your meals to get less fat and more nutrition.

Turkey is a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, and it’s a healthy choice! 4 oz of turkey has 120 calories, a whooping 24 grams of protein and is very low in fat. It’s high in vitamins B3, B6, B12, magnesium and potassium. If you are a fan of dark cuts of turkey, or the skin of the turkey you will eating a bit more fat.

Use turkey leftovers in salads, soups, curries, and sandwiches for healthy meals in the days following the holiday for extra protein packed meals.

Potatoes are my absolute favorite holiday food, and I’m pretty famous for mine! Potatoes are loaded with nutrients like fiber, vitamins C and B, potassium, magnesium, niacin, and folate when eaten with the skin. Peeling potatoes reduces the nutritional value. Potatoes are also rich in antioxidants, and colored potatoes (red or purple) offer even more nutritional value.

I don’t cut any corners with my mashed potatoes on holidays because we eat them so rarely. If you’d like to cut down on the amount of fat in your mashed potatoes, try using less butter, and either skim milk or chicken broth instead of full fat milk or cream. If you’d like to get that extra punch of nutrition, consider mashing your potatoes with the skins still on them. And be sure to go easy on adding gravy!

Sweet potatoes Are known to be superfoods! However, adding all the sugar, butter, and marshmallows can turn this holiday dish into a dessert food rather quickly.  Sweet potatoes provide 400% of daily vitamin A, and provide high amounts of B, C and D.  This antioxidant food boosts brain, heart, and even reproductive health, and can help control blood sugar levels. If you want to make delicious sweet potatoes without all the sugar and unhealthy fats, consider replacing the butter with coconut oil, and using unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Walnuts or almonds can be used in place of pecans for a healthier nut choice.

Squash is super healthy, with butternut being the best. This low-calorie superfood is packed with vitamins A, C, E, B1, B3, B6, and tons of minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and folate. Great for bone health, eye health, immune function, and tissue repair. Try adding some squash to your plate this holiday season for a colorful and healthy change.

Greens make a super healthy addition to any meal. Kale, collards, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, watercress, turnip greens are all fantastic choices. Greens are super super low in calories, high in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

Cranberries are low in calories, and a superfood with vitamin C, E, K1, and many minerals. They are 90% water when served fresh, but when canned add another 24 grams of sugar to your meal. To make cranberry sauce without the added sugar, try using stevia and orange juice to sweeten your berries.

Grain bread with olive oil dip and seasonings I love bread and staying away from the rolls is a huge feat for me at most holiday meals. To add a little health to your holiday breadbasket, consider using a chewy whole grain bread with a side of olive oil for dipping. Add seasonings to your oil and heat briefly to get the infused flavors in each bite. The whole grains will up your vitamin B, and olive oil is one of the most nutritious fats, as well as having anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Brussel sprouts are low in calories and high in anti-inflammatory properties. They also offer vitamin k for bone and blood health and contain healthy fatty acids which boost brain health.

Green peas contain almost every vitamin and mineral! They are high in fiber and antioxidants and help regulate blood sugar as well as aid in digestive health and immune function. Be sure to get these green jewels on your plate this holiday!

Sauerkraut  was a huge family favorite when I was growing up in Maryland. This food made from fermented cabbage is a probiotic that aids in digestion and improves gut health. For the healthiest version of this tangy dish, avoid canned versions as they are super high in sodium. 

Pomegranates are considered one of the most nutritious fruits on earth – and they are sweet and delicious. Pomegranates are high in fiber, offer protein, and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium. They have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. The juice may cut your risk of heart disease.

Pomegranates also help lower blood pressure, can ease arthritis pain, and are great for brain function. They can also help with workout/athletic performance and fatigue.

Nuts although high in fat, 1oz of most nuts contains 170 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams of fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse can reduce free radicals that cause cell damage and can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. When choosing nuts, keep in mind that a serving is only 1 ounce, and for most nuts that is less than a palmful.

Cocoa for a hot holiday drink consider a cup of real cocoa! The properties in cocoa aid in maintaining blood sugar, can reduce bad cholesterol, support brain and heart health, and   can even aid with depression. Look for cocoa made with dark chocolate with 70%cocoa solids and little added sugars. To give your cocoa a holiday flair, consider adding some peppermint.

Peppermint Mint adds holiday flavor to many of our treats, and it’s super soothing to our stomachs! Mints, like peppermint, can help relive headaches, can boost energy and concentration, and have even been known to relieve symptoms of allergies. Mint provides antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

 Pumpkin is a super popular holiday flavor that seems to show up EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING! When choosing pumpkin for your recipes, be sure to purchase plain pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is super filling and low in calories while high in vitamins A, C, B2, and E. Pumpkin also offers minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and copper. It’s great for vision, lungs, heart, skin, and can help lower blood pressure.

I’ve added an amazing Pumpkin Cake recipe (below) for you to try and enjoy this holiday season!  Only 5 healthy ingredients and super easy! Enjoy!

I hope that you got some great nutritional info, as well as tips to get you in a healthy state of mind for the holiday season. For more great tips on surviving the holidays and staying in great health, download my free Holiday Guide! And, if you find yourself nervous about how you will approach and navigate your health during this holiday season or are looking forward to making awesome changes in the wonderful new year of 2022, I SO encourage you to get in touch with me and invest in your health and well-being NOW. As a coach, I can motivate you, keep you goal oriented, develop strategies to get through tough situations, help with managing stress, controlling sugar cravings, balancing hormones, finding the right exercise and eating plan, and guide you as you invest in the most important asset you have-YOUR HEALTH.  Let me, help you, be the BEST you, and live your BEST life! I look forward to hearing from you! Contact me!

Easy, Tasty, Healthy Pumpkin Cake

Serves: 8.

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 50 mi

Ingredients:

3 eggs

¾ cup (150g) coconut sugar

1 cup (230g) pumpkin puree

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup (125g) self-rising flour

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar.

Beat with a hand mixer for 5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and has tripled in volume.

Add the pumpkin puree and cinnamon and beat until everything is well-combined.

Sift the flour into the egg mixture and very gently fold, making sure that you do not deflate the eggs.

Grease an 8-inch (20cm) diameter cake pan and pour the batter into it.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool, then slice and serve. Store this cake in an airtight container.

Nutritional Info

154 kcal   2g Fats   34g Carbs  3g Protein

Take a Bite into Great Health with Apples!

For many of us, it’s fall, which means apple season! As I packed my pantry bag this week to travel to Monday Night Football in Baltimore (GO RAVENS!) I was sure to throw in a few apples. Apples are truly one of the healthiest and easiest foods to keep on hand-no matter where you are or what you are doing! We’ve all heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and there is some real science behind the saying!

No matter what type of apple you eat (there are over 7500 varieties, 2500 different types of apples are found in the US alone!!) you will get some excellent nutritional benefits along with a sweet, juicy, crunchy, treat. There are SO many different types of apples you could eat one a day for 20 years and never eat the same kind twice! Because they are so portable, and don’t require refrigeration or preparation, they are perfect for traveling and busy lifestyles.

As I did a little research on this popular fall fruit, I learned some interesting facts. Did you know????

~The apple is a member of the rose family

~it takes the energy of 50 leaves to produce one apple

~apples range in size from as small as a cherry to the size of a grapefruit

~the largest apple ever produced was over 3 pounds

~in Chinese culture the word for apple is “ping” which also stands for peace.

~the average apple has 10 seeds

~top producers of apples are China, US, Turkey, Poland, and Italy.

~Apples were planted by Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

~apple juice is one of the most popular juices in the US

Apples are truly a nutritional marvel, with so many benefits for the body. Here’s just a few facts to get you thinking about grabbing an apple as you go about your awesome busy life!

Packed with nutrition!

The average apple is about 100 calories, and is full of great vitamins like C, K, A, E B1, B2, and B6. Eaten with the skin on, the apple gives us a great amount of fiber as well. Because apples are small, fresh, and portable, this makes it the perfect healthy snack!

Good for elimination and bowel health

One apple with its skin contains 4 to 5 grams of fiber – the most important nutrient in keeping your bowels working like clockwork. Fiber helps with constipation, and an ingredient found in apples called pectin has a congealing effect to also help with diarrhea. Pectin is considered a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are a healthy gut food.

Keep your body young.

Apples contain polyphenois, which has an antioxidant effect on the body. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from aging, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. When scientists compared a 1,500-milligram vitamin C supplement to one small apple, the results were astounding – the antioxidant values were equal. That means a fresh apple has more than 15 times the antioxidant power of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Apples also contain magnesium and potassium that help regulate your blood pressure and keep your heart beating steadily, and it’s the flavonoid quercetin, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that protects your artery walls from damage and keeps your blood flowing smoothly. Apples are also linked to better brain health and mental clarity.

Excellent For Weight Loss Efforts

Because apples are high in both fiber and water content, they are very filling. In studies, people that snacked on apple slices before meals ate fewer calories and felt fuller for longer periods of time!

Protects your Bones and Joints.

Eating fruit is a great way to maintain bone density and decrease the risk of arthritis. The high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in apples promote bone health, and the trace mineral boron found in apples aids in joint health.

Be sure to buy apples that are unbruised, firm, and have good color. Take them out of their plastic bag and store them in your refrigerator – loose in the produce bin or in a paper bag is best. And since they will absorb odors, keep them away from strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions. If you have an opportunity to visit an orchard and go apple picking, I highly recommend doing so-there is nothing like the taste of an apple pulled directly from the tree!

For a special treat, try baking apples for a healthy and incredible smelling dessert or snack. Just core your apples and place them in a greased baking dish. Add a bit of apple cider or juice to the dish, and sprinkle the apples with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, or apple pie spice. You can also fill the hole of the apples with oats, nuts, or raisins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, checking with a fork for softness. Top with a dash of yogurt or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

If you are looking for more easy superfood recipes, be sure to check out my 5 Ingredient Superfood Cookbook! It contains power food recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and snacks. Get yours free here!

I’d love to help you with your health and wellness journey! If you are interested in a 30 minute conversation about your goals, please reach out!

Healthy Choices When Dining Out

For many, life is beginning to look a bit more “normal” after too many months of 2020, and that may mean more dining out with family and friends. One of the biggest questions I hear from my friends and clients these days is how to navigate a fun meal out without overdoing it or falling completely off of their health goals. As we move into cooler months, with less cookouts and BBQ’s, and more opportunities to dine out, I thought this might be a great topic to address.

Who doesn’t love dining out? Having someone wait on you, cook for you, and the chance to order dishes you might never prepare at home! Being able to relax and just enjoy good food and company without the worry of shopping, cooking, or cleaning up-so much fun! But for many that are trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle, dining out can bring many challenges. Portion sizes are usually massive, ingredients tend to be super rich, and we truly have no way of knowing exactly what, and how much, we are consuming.

The first thing to remember when dining out is to focus on enjoying your food and company without over-indulging. Pay more attention to your companions and savoring every bite, and you will find yourself more relaxed, and more mindful of what you eat. Dining out should be more about experiencing all of your senses-the different tastes, the aromas, the music, the lighting, and the mood-and less about filling your stomach. Relax, discuss the foods, try bites of different foods, and be fully aware of everything around you.

Plan Ahead

Fortunately, most restaurants offer their menus for online viewing and ordering. Take advantage of this by looking at it the menu ahead of time and coming up with a game plan for how you will order and eat. This can remove the stress of trying to come up with the perfect plan while others are talking or discussing what they might order.  Have a back up plan as well, just in case a menu item has sold out or isn’t available. Plan your meal based on a healthy protein source, veggies or salad, or even a healthy soup to begin your meal. Avoid the breadbasket, and ask to have your soup or salad brought before the entrée.

Don’t Starve Yourself!

Heading into a restaurant with an empty stomach and uncontrollable hunger is NOT a good idea! I’ve known many people that decided to not eat all day so that they could indulge at a dinner out, and it never goes very well. Plan to eat small, balanced meals throughout the day to avoid a situation in which you are hungry, cranky, and not thinking clearly. This can lead to overeating, and even binge eating.

Avoid “Bad” Words!

When deciding on your meal of choice, try to avoid the “bad” words. These words include “deep fried”, “rich”, “buttery”, “creamy”, and “battered”, just to name few. Instead, look for words like “fresh”, “farm grown”, and “lean”. Knowing the proper language can make choosing a meal so much easier.

Balance Your Plate

Be sure that your plate includes many colors, and a variety of nutrients. Base your meal on a healthy protein, and fill the remainder of your plate by ordering fresh veggies and a healthy grain like a rice dish, sweet potato, or baked potato. Ask for toppings, dressings, sauces, and condiments to be on the side so that you can control how much is on your food. *Did you know? Many restaurants use over 3 tablespoons of butter when serving a baked potato???? That’s 300 calories and 36 grams of fat in just a topping!!!!

Consider ½ To Go

This is one of my favorite tips for eating out! I’ve done this many times, and I’ve also had many times that I wished I had done so!

Ask for half of your meal to be placed in a carry out container before it even comes to the table. Portions are SO huge, and most can easily be divided into more than one meal-take half for lunch the next day! This allows you to focus on conversation and company, without the sudden realization that “Oh, NO, I ate ALL of it!” I have found myself in this situation-stuffed uncomfortably, barely realizing I was eating, and not feeling great after-even into the next day. I LOVE having leftovers for lunch the next day-and leaving dinner without feeling stuffed.

Share Treats

Because dining out is an experience that is to be enjoyed, be sure to indulge in small amounts of yumminess! Have a small taste of the appetizers, try a side portion of a new item on the menu, and yes-grab a fork and share the dessert! Everything is allowed in MODERATION!! Taste, enjoy, roll your eyes back in your head and say, “Ohmygosh, that is SO good!” But do it in moderation!!!

Make the Toast

Alcohol is a HUGE conversation with clients these days-absolutely HUGE. Due to that, I have done a great deal of research on the subject, and come up with a list of “healthier” drinks to avoid high calorie and high sugar intake. Sugar content in many alcohol beverages is super high, and I have found that for many that focus on healthy eating, the sugar hangover can be worse than the average alcohol hangover-even in small amounts of indulging. To avoid this, focus on spirits with low sugar content like tequila, vodka, and gin, and be sure your mixer of choice is not full of sugar as well. Avoid simple syrups and pre-made mixers, and focus on fresh juices or sugar free sodas. Keep in mind-alcohol slows your metabolism, and processes in the body AS a sugar.

Most importantly-stay hydrated! For each alcohol-based beverage, have a glass of water. You will thank me in the morning!

Be Mindful and Enjoy

Dining out is a fun activity that should be enjoyed completely and fully. Keep this in mind, plan and order carefully, and relax and enjoy! I truly believe that while our nutritional intake should be a clean as possible much of the time, food can also be an adventure of tastes that should be relished. Keeping the adage “everything in moderation” completely applies here. Be mindful of your meal and your company, embrace all that comes with it, and enjoy without overdoing.

If you’d like more info about finding your perfect, personalized health plan or reaching your goals, I’d love to help you on your journey! Let’s talk!

Also, make sure to download a free copy of my e-book, The BeeWell Guide to Clean Eating to get you started!

The Magic of Blueberries!

For many of us, it’s blueberry season! I just got back from the grocery store with some, and was inspired to write about them! These indigo-colored berries are sweet, long lasting, and versatile. They are a great way to jazz up salads, smoothies, yogurt, pancakes, or waffles. Not only are they tasty and easy to snack on, but they are powerhouse superfoods with a wide range of benefits. Here are just a few magical benefits of the super sweet “candy of nature”!

High in nutrition

Blueberries are very nutritious. A cup contains four grams of fiber, 36% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin K, 24% DV of vitamin C, 25% DV of manganese and 15 grams of healthy carbohydrates.

Low in calories

Although they are high in nutrition, they are low in calories. One serving of 148 grams of blueberries only contains 84 calories.

King of anti-oxidants

Blueberries are often referred to as the king of antioxidants. They contain a high number of flavonoids that reduce the risk of various types of diseases and illnesses like cancer and heart problems. 

Promote anti-aging

Daily consumption of blueberries reduces the risk of DNA damage and the development of anti-aging symptoms.

Fight various diseases and illnesses

Blueberries can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improve your memory and other brain activities.

Workout partner

Blueberries are great for restoring and repairing muscle damage after hard workout sessions. Add a handful of them to your post-workout protein shake or smoothie.

Help in losing weight

The fiber in blueberries helps you feel full, satiates cravings, and provides you with loads of long-lasting energy. Whip up a smoothie or throw them into some Greek yogurt to help keep your snacking healthy.

Healthy digestion

Having a handful of blueberries as a dessert after your meal will help to improve your digestion and will save your body from disturbing illnesses like constipation.

Promote clear and glowing skin

Blueberries promote clear skin. The high levels of vitamin C help reduce the damages of smoke, pollution and built up makeup. Try a blueberry facemask at home to help your skin regain its glow. 

Have luscious locks

The vitamins and nutrients in blueberries can help restore the luster and shine of your hair. You can even crush a handful of blueberries and add them to your hair oil as a hair mask. Apply, let sit for a few minutes, and rinse. Your hair will feel amazing.

You are strong when your bones are strong

Blueberries contain magnesium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus that promote strong, healthy bones. Daily consumption of a handful blueberries may help repair damaged bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

SO GOOD!

Blueberries can be adding to almost anything-throw some into yogurt, on top of your cereal, into salads, or mixed right into your protein pancakes or waffles. They add a sweetness that allows you to reduce the sugar in man recipes!

To get a super powerful morning or post workout kick, try making a power smoothie with blueberries as the star!

Allow yourself to be creative, use your favorite add-ons, and make this a power filled addition to your daily nutrition!

Start with your favorite milk-almond, oat, it’s your choice! Add in some spinach or kale (I promise-you won’t taste it!!), perhaps a scoop of your favorite protein powder, and a handful of blueberries and blend! To add more nutrition and power to your shake, try adding some greek yogurt, chia seeds, or flax seeds. For a little added sweetness, try adding half a banana to this. YUMMY! If blueberries are not in season where you live, frozen blueberries work just as well, and make give your smoothie an extra creamy and milkshake type of texture and taste.

If you’re looking for ways to clean up your diet, find the right nutrition for your lifestyle, learn how to reduce stress in your lifestyle, or gain focus and motivation to make healthy choices in your life to live the best life ever, please feel free to connect and set up a personalized plan just for you. You can also follow me on IG for daily inspiration, tips, and freebies.

Be blessed and BeeWell!