Sunflower Pumpkin Spice Oats

It’s the perfect breakfast on chilly autumn mornings! They’re creamy, vegan, and gluten free. They’re also nutrient dense with lots of Iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Quick Oats with Water

1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Purée

Dashes of Saigon Cinnamon, Allspice, and Nutmeg to taste

Sweetener of Choice (like maple syrup)

2 Tbsp Sunbutter

Directions:

Cook up the oats with water

Stir in the pumpkin, then spices, then sweetener, then Sunbutter

Enjoy!

No Bake Manuka Energy Balls

Are you in need of a nutritious and delicious snack for the whole family?! I’ve got you covered. These NO BAKE MANUKA ENERGY BALLS are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast, school lunch treat, or after school snack. Plus they’re all-around allergy friendly!

Ingredients:

1 Cup Sunbutter

1/3 Cup Manuka Honey

2 Tsps Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/4 Cup Salted Pumpkin Seeds

1/3 Cup Hemp Hearts

(I used the varieties linked!)

Directions:

Stir together the sunflower butter, manuka honey, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.

Stir in all of your remaining dry ingredients.

Roll into balls and enjoy!

(Leftovers can be stored in the fridge.)

Ratatouille-Italiana

Ratatouille Italiana

An Italian twist on the French classic, this dish is extremely versatile. It can be enjoyed on its own, over pasta, as a side, however you like! Plus it’s vegan, dairy free, and gluten free.

We personally loved it over pasta with sausage.

Ingredients:

1 white onion

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 eggplants

3 medium zucchini

1 jar Mezzetta Artisan Ingredients Italian Plum Tomato Marinara

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

cayenne pepper

black pepper

sea salt

Directions:

Dice the onion

Finally chop the garlic or use a garlic press

Peel & chop the eggplant into small cubes

Chop the zucchini into small cubes

Add the onion, garlic, and first 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent

Add in the eggplant and the third tablespoon of olive oil, then continue cooking until eggplant is soft

Add in the zucchini

Once the zucchini is thoroughly cooked as well, turn down your heat to low and stir in the marinara

Stir in the parsley as well as small dashes of cayenne pepper and black pepper, plus a pinch of sea salt to taste

Enjoy!

Chocolate-Chip-Nicecream

The Easiest Chocolate Chip Nicecream

Looking for the easiest way to whip up a satisfying non-dairy frozen dessert? I’ve got you covered. (Although let’s be honest, I’ve eaten this for breakfast too!)

Ingredients:

2 frozen/sliced medium-sized bananas

3 tablespoons chocolate chips (For this recipe I love the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini chips)

Directions:

Add your frozen banana slices into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy

Either pour your chips on top once in the bowl (what I do), or stir in to your liking

Enjoy!

Neapolitan-Ice-Cream-Smoothie

“Neapolitan Ice Cream” Smoothie

4 ingredients + High in Vitamin C & Iron

This frozen-yogurty smoothie tastes just like a healthy neapolitan ice cream! It only takes a couple minutes to blend up and is awesome for breakfast / a midday sweet tooth / or a healthy dessert.

Ingredients:  

1 cup greek plain nonfat yogurt

2 cups frozen strawberries

1/2 cup apple juice

1 drizzle (around a couple tablespoons) carob syrup (I use Australian Carob Company)

Directions:

Blend up the yogurt, frozen strawberries, and apple juice in a Nutribullet (or equivalent) until thick and creamy

Top with carob syrup

Enjoy!

Carob Frozen Yogurt

Made with 5 ingredients!

On weekends like this past one, where temperatures were over 100 degrees, you need an abundance of cold treats on hand.  I’m a huge frozen yogurt fan, but usually not a fan of the options available at my local stores.  They often contain a lot of gums which are difficult for someone with a sensitive digestion system.  The solution: 5 Ingredient Carob Frozen Yogurt!  

There is no ice cream maker required.  The prep only takes about 5 minutes!

Recipe makes about 2 servings

Ingredients: 

2 cups nonfat plain greek yogurt 

1/4 cup roasted carob powder (I use Australian Carob Company)

1/3 cup coconut sugar

around 3/4 of a small avocado

2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Blend up all of your ingredients in a food processor until smooth

Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe pan (around 9×9) and spread evenly

Cover with plastic wrap

Freeze for 1 hour

Remove from the freezer and evenly stir with a fork

Repeat for 3 additional hours

Let freeze for an additional couple of hours for a more solid consistency

Enjoy!

Vegan Carob Brownies

Vegan-Carob-Brownies_web2

Made with whole grains & healthy fats!

I’ve seriously been craving chocolate recently, but with my caffeine sensitivity it’s just not a practical choice in large doses. Too much chocolate gives me major jitters, bad skin, and messes with my sleep. Luckily, I really love baking with carob. It doesn’t replace the taste of chocolate, but it has a lovely roasted/sweet/nutty flavor that is unique, delicious, and really satisfies chocolate cravings!

Ingredients: 

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour (I used King Arthur)

3/4 cup Roasted Carob Powder (I use Australian Carob Company)

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Extra Virgin Avocado Oil

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 cups Cane Sugar

1 cup water

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°

In a large bowl, beat together your oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and water with a hand mixer

In a second large bowl, stir together your whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and carob powder

Pour the bowl of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

Use the hand mixer to combine until there are no lumps left

Pour the batter into a 9×13 baking pan and evenly smooth

Bake for around 22 minutes (I like mine fudgy in the center, but keep an eye on them and bake to your doneness preference!)

Let them sit for a few hours before enjoying for their consistency to be ideal

Enjoy on their own or with a scoop of ice cream!

Nut-Free Pesto

Nut-Free Pesto_web

It can easily be made vegan as well!

I absolutely love pesto. However, as someone with nut allergies, 9 times out of 10, I’m not able to eat it. Most restaurants and grocery brands make their pesto with pine nuts. This pesto is 100% nut-free, and can easily be made vegan if you leave out the parmesan or use a vegan alternative.

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)

4 cloves garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Wash and prep the basil leaves.

Combine basil leaves and garlic in a food processor, and then add in the oil to make it easier to blend until all of the oil has been added.

Add in sea salt and black pepper to taste and mix again.

Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese. (This can be skipped, or subbed with a vegan alternative.)

Add extra sea salt and black pepper if desired, but do a taste test first on your pasta or meal of choice and see what you prefer.

Enjoy!

Why I’m Not Currently Vegan

Why I'm Not Currently Vegan

Like many, over the years I have made the attempt to go vegan for the sake of the planet and the animals.  Many of my vegan readers have asked me why I personally did not stick with it.  Unfortunately, these are the 4 biggest reasons that a vegan diet has never been sustainable for me:

Skin

Eliminating animal protein majorly aggravates my skin.  I have genetic predispositions for acne, and already have to work quite hard to keep my skin clear, so anything that causes additional flare ups is an added stressor and a big no thank you for me 🙂

Digestion

There are many vegans out there who swear that cutting animal products is a cure-all for digestive issues. However, when I adopted a vegan diet, I experienced nothing but negative digestive side effects (that never affected me previously). Reintroducing animal products brought back my normal problem-free digestion.

Supplement Intolerances

When you go vegan, there are a number of supplements that are recommended. These can include B12, which can only be found in animal foods, and oftentimes Vitamin D and Calcium (depending on your specific deficiencies or diet shortcomings). I’m very sensitive when it comes to supplements. 99.9% of the time they lead to either severe nausea, stomach cramps, or intense headaches. I’ve also experienced side effects such as loss of appetite, rashes, and insomnia. Therefore, I personally need to rely on getting my vitamins from food sources alone.

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

I’ve had food allergies for all of my life. Many of these foods are unfortunately big vegan staples. A couple of main examples:
-Soy
-Tree Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Etc.)

Therefore, if I am in a position where the only options are packaged or takeout vegan food, 9 times out of 10 it includes one of those ingredients.

I’ll admit, I often feel guilty that I am not a vegan. With the environment in need of our assistance and the inhumane ways that so many animals are treated, I have tried to do my part in this way. Needless to say I still try my best to only purchase the most humane animal products such as eggs from the pasture, etc.

I do feel that my own health takes precedence. Every human body is incredibly different. Only you know what works for you, and I urge you to follow your own health journey outside of the influence of others.

I think it’s wonderful that veganism works for so many, because it can have great impacts on this planet and for certain people’s health. I know that there are many vegans who follow me, and to all of you I say: amazing. I hope you can understand the other side of the coin.

My Top 10 Tips for Better Sleep

Hormones and Sleep Disturbance

I’ve always been a finicky sleeper.  All the stars have to align just right for me to get a proper night of shut-eye.  I’ve never been able to sleep on a friend’s couch, on an airplane, or in a car.  Ironically, I’m one of those people who really needs a full 7-8 hours.

For those with similar struggles, I’d like to share my top 10 tips and tricks for getting the best possible sleep you can when outside circumstances are battling against you:

1) Cut Back on Alcohol 

Whether you’re a regular drinker or are like me and just enjoy a couple of drinks once in a while, alcohol is harmful to restful sleep.  Though people commonly report that drinking makes them feel sleepy or fall asleep faster, it actually reduces your REM sleep (rapid eye movement).  Not only that, but it can suppress melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycles.

For me, drinking alcohol actually produces an effect similar to caffeine where I feel wired.  Even 1 drink is enough to prevent a restful night.

You don’t need to ditch alcohol completely, but cutting back will absolutely make a difference.

2) Try Melatonin

I’ve found that taking it as a supplement on occasions when I’m foreseeing a restless night can be really helpful.  I take 1.5 milligrams right before bedtime. 

3) Listen to Your Food Cravings

If you’re feeling hungry right before bed, it really can be worth it to have a small snack.  Lying in bed with a grumbling stomach will keep you mentally alert and make it more difficult to rest.  Fun fact – Eating carbs specifically can boost serotonin and tryptophan.  These brain chemicals are involved in the quality of your sleep, and having enough of them should help you fall asleep faster.

4) No Blue Light Before Bed

Blue light throws off your circadian rhythm and suppresses your production of melatonin.  Luckily, this one is an easy fix! If you must be looking at a screen in the evening, turn your device to night mode, or get yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses.  They’re inexpensive and I guarantee they will help you sleep more restfully.  

5) Avoid Late Night Work if Possible

While making your own work hours can be great, if you’re a night owl like me, you might find yourself working into the wee hours.  The biggest downside to this is that you’re all fired up when you get into bed, likely still thinking about the work you were just doing.  If you’re able to conclude your work earlier in the evening, it allows you to choose an activity like reading a book before bed that will help your mind to quiet down.

6) Cut Back on Late Night Water

Too much water right before bed will have you getting up for bathroom breaks all night.  If it’s possible to cut back on your intake before bedtime, it can keep you asleep for longer stretches.

7) Keep it Cool

If you have control over your room temperature, keeping it cooler can actually help induce sleep more easily.  You should be able to fall asleep quicker and have better quality sleep overall.

8) Exercise!

On the days when I’m sitting at a desk all day, I notice a major difference in my ability to fall asleep.  I’m fidgety and restless.  On days when I exercise, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk, my nights are so much more restful.

9) No Caffeine Late in the Day

Did you know that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours?  I don’t consume much caffeine, but if you do, keep this in mind when you’re craving that afternoon coffee.  I’ve even seen that, in myself and others, even eating a moderate amount of chocolate in the evening can cause poor sleep.  So consider your desserts too!

10) Find Solutions to Quiet Your Mind

I am a classic over-thinker.  Worrying, planning, and dwelling in bed at night is NOT good for sleep!  If this rings a bell with you, try to focus on your breathing while falling asleep.  It can help distract from whatever you’re preoccupied with.

These changes have made such a huge difference for me.  Our bodies do so much important work while we’re asleep, so poor sleep is not something to be overlooked!