happy halloween + healthy candy recipe
halloween is tomorrow and over the last few years, it’s become one of my favorite holidays. i usually know what i’m going to dress up as months and months ahead of time and I’ve gotten really into making/building my own costumes rather than buying something pre-packaged at the Halloween store… it’s more fun that way!
another thing i love about Halloween? the candy. duh. unfortunately, the typical halloween candy that you find in stores and probably remember eating as a kid is just… sh*t. sorry, there’s no way around it. so, instead of buying yourself an industrial sized bag of absolute garbage this weekend, you should try making your own healthy candy! the recipe below is incredibly easy to follow, takes about 10 minutes to prepare and is customizable based on what you have on hand/what you like. i can’t stand milk chocolate because a] it tastes like wax and b] it’s terrible for you, so I used dark chocolate [which actually has some health benefits when eaten in moderation] to make my own healthy versions of crunch bars, almond joys and chocolate turtles… with some other variations in there, as well!
for about 24 pieces, all you need is:
- 1 bag of vegan dark chocolate chips [i used these from enjoy life]
- your choice of fillings [i used pecans, almonds, and brown rice cereal]
- your choice of toppings [i used pepitas, coconut flakes, goji berries, caramel sauce, and fleur de sel]
there are just a few, really easy steps to this:
- line a cookie sheet with wax paper.
- place your fillings in little piles on the cookie sheet in whatever arrangement/combination you would like.
- using a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly, until fully melted and smooth.
- drizzle the melted chocolate onto your fillings, covering the piles completely and then add the toppings.
- place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before devouring… and be sure to share!
what are your halloween plans? what are you dressing up as?! i’m off to new orleans for the weekend… i’ll be sure to share the details of my trip [and my costume] next week.
first image courtesy of cute autumn
fall favorites: vegan apple crisp
apple crisp is one of my favorite fall dishes that i had never made myself… until this week! since i was an apple crisp rookie, instead of experimenting and creating my own recipe, i followed one from damy health that I found on pinterest [because where else do I find anything of value these days?] and just swapped out some of the ingredients to suit my preferences.
this is a vegan apple crisp that contains no refined sugar [just raw honey!] and can easily be made gluten-free if you just swap out the flour and oats for gluten-free variations. here’s what you’ll need:
- 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
- 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- pinch of ground ginger
- 4 tbsp. raw honey [or other natural sweetener of your choice]
- 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil [melted]
- pinch of salt
- optional: your favorite non-dairy vanilla ice cream
pre-heat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9×4 bread pan with coconut oil.
- in a large bowl, toss the apple slices with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and 1 tbsp. of the honey.
- place the apple mixture into the bread pan and bake for 10 minutes.
- in the meantime, mix the remaining honey, flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, coconut oil and salt together in the bowl.
- when the apples are done baking, remove them from the oven and sprinkle the oat mixture on top of them, distributing evenly.
- bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
- remove from oven and let cool [but not too much, this is best served warm!].
- place on serving dishes, top with a scoop of non-dairy ice cream and enjoy!
motivation mondays: week 8
welcome to week eight [eight?! i seriously cannot believe i started this series two months ago] of motivation mondays! i hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and is all rested up and ready for a new week… and a new month! november is on saturday?! how. did. that. happen?!
so, let’s get to it! i came across this little gem last night when i was trolling pinterest before bed [i know, i know, this is a terrible habit, but do you have a pinterest? it’s so addictive]… anyways…
this one really hit me. have you ever felt like you’ve been working so hard to get your sh*t together, have a plan and a goal in mind only to have that all just blow up in your face when life throws you a curveball? or have you ever just been in the middle of something and realized, “wow, i this is not what i want to be doing… like at all“? honestly, if this hasn’t happened to you, you’re probably doing something wrong [or just really lucky, i’m not sure which]. this one hit home for me for a few reasons.
i moved to new york about four and a half years ago knowing that i was going to work in fashion for some really trendy company and go to fashion week every season and walk around in fabulous, expensive designer clothes all of the time, drinking starbucks and getting drunk at fancy cocktail parties with other really fabulous people and be a workaholic and never leave new york. ever.
fast forward to the present: i currently do nothing related to fashion except go shopping and get dressed every morning [thank god], i’ve been to fashion week once and hated the pretentious atmosphere, i quit my job at a high end department store after two years when i experienced firsthand how truly awful it is to work in fashion and i have a serious love/hate relationship with new york to the point that i dream about moving somewhere new [specifically somewhere warm] every single day. i’m now working in a totally new field [that i love] and can’t wait to see where i go from here.
did i expect to hate working in fashion? nope. did i have a “plan b” just in case fashion wasn’t what i thought it would be? definitely not. did i figure it out anyways? yep. And i am still figuring it out every day. it’s a constant process. do i sometimes feel like i wasted four years in college getting a degree i have absolutely no interest in using? duh. do i wonder why i hung around in a job that i didn’t like for as long as i did? you bet. but here’s the thing i’m starting to realize… it’s not always about the time you “wasted” when things don’t end up how you thought they would. and that doesn’t just go for school or work… that goes for anything… friendships, relationships, projects, your morning commute, your dinner plans… because with a positive attitude, you can look at everything as a learning experience.
even if things don’t make sense or seem fair right now, walk away from whatever it is that no longer serves you and remind yourself that one day you will understand why it all happened. i know that personally, i spent two years in a job i hated because i made two of the best friends i have ever had in my whole life while working there. and i got a lot of free stuff and a sick discount, soooo it wasn’t a complete waste of my time.
so, how about you? have you ever had life just blow up in your face only to realize further down the road why it happened? i would love to hear about it in the comments below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
some fun things for you guys to check out on this monday morning…
this article from mindbodygreen about a former n.f.l. player finding his purpose after a huge setback. [see?! goes along with today’s motivation mondays theme!]
have you heard of suja juices? annie lawless, the founder, also has an awesome lifestyle blog, blawnde, that i’ve been reading religiously ever since i discovered it. i relate to her on many levels and love her lifestyle tips… she keeps. it. real.
october has me feeling all in the fall spirit, but rather than going with the traditional pumpkin carving this year, i’m going to try painting some pumpkins instead. these are just too pretty and i need them in my apartment now.
before i send you on your way, i want to make sure everyone saw this post from last week with a very special offer for my readers. if you’re interesting in working with a health coach, check it out!
coming up this week: another fall inspired recipe and a recipe for healthy halloween treats, just in time for all of the parties you’re headed to this weekend!
see you soon!
image courtesy of top it
eurotrip recap part 2: munich snaps + schloss neuschwanstein
hopefully you have had a chance to read my first eurotrip recap post [and if you haven’t, go check it out!] where i gave a rundown of my experience at oktoberfest, a.k.a. one of the most fun weekends of my life, and while oktoberfest was what brought us to Munich, we did have some time to explore the city beyond the festival grounds. below are a few pictures i took [not the best quality due to the high volumes of beer i was drinking] throughout the weekend while strolling around, taking it all in!
[augustiner biergarten, where we ate/drank one evening]
now onto day 4: after what was basically one of the craziest days of my life [see eurotrip recap part 1, day 3], we decided to take a day trip to schloss neuschwanstein, a castle in the mountains outside of munich that i have dreamed about visiting since i first saw pictures of it many, many years ago. i couldn’t wait to check this one off of the bucket list! i mean, it inspired cinderella’s castle, so like, what girl wouldn’t want to visit this place?! we booked a day trip through mike’s bike tours and had a great experience… the bikes were such a great addition [and a great way to get some exercise in on vacation]! the castle is absolutely beautiful and the history behind it is so fascinating.
to get to the castle we walked about 20 minutes up a hill from the village of schwangau, which is home to a smaller castle where king ludwig II [the king who built neuschwanstein] grew up and dreamed about the castle he would one day build in the gorge near his childhood home. honestly, the pictures don’t even come close to doing this place justice.
[biking in the countryside below neuschwanstein… felt like a fairytale!]
[my mom, my brother + myself with a castle just casually in the background. nbd.]
[how perfect is this view?!]
the last picture is the view of the castle from marienbrücke, a bridge that spans the gorge where neuschwanstein is built. directly behind me was a beautiful waterfall that feeds into the small creek below the castle. the bridge is not very big and was packed full of other people trying to take pictures and due to my extreme fear of heights [have i mentioned that before?] i couldn’t bring myself to hang around long enough to get a picture of that.
we did take a tour of the inside of the castle, which i definitely recommend doing. the interior of the castle was only partially completed because ludwig died mysteriously while it was being constructed, and the 14 rooms [of the total 200] that they take you through on the tour are the only ones that were completed before his death. it definitely left me with a little bit of an eerie feeling, walking through this gorgeous castle that was left unfinished under mysterious circumstances that are still debated to this day.
after our day at neuschwanstein, we arrived back in munich and headed to the train station to catch the night train to my new favorite european city [and topic of the next eurotrip recap post]… budapest!
quiz: do you need a health coach?
“health coach” is a relatively new term that’s becoming more and more mainstream every day. however, when i tell someone that i’m a health coach, 9 out of 10 times that statement is answered with, “a health coach? what’s a health coach?” it dawned on me that some of you reading my blog might not be familiar with what a health coach is either… and so, this post was born!
so, what is a health coach? the answer is actually pretty simple. i always describe a health coach as someone who works with clients to address their health concerns, help them establish goals related to their overall health and wellness, and then ultimately acts as an educator and support system as they make lifestyle changes and work towards their goals. in addition to addressing concerns around diet and physical health, a health coach will also look at other aspects of a person’s life, including relationships, work-life balance, physical activity, hobbies and spirituality, to see how these things might be contributing to their health issues.
as a health coach, i don’t push one particular diet, prescribe rigid diet plans, count calories or suggest that clients make dramatic lifestyle changes all at once. instead, i work with clients over an extended period of time [typically six months, but sometimes longer], looking at where their life needs balance and making suggestions for small, manageable changes they can make and stick to over time.
to give you an example, if a client tells me that their goal is to lose 20 pounds, the first thing i would look at is their diet. if there are major issues, like they eat mcdonald’s every day and drink soda with each meal, i’m not going to tell them to immediately stop eating mcdonald’s and drinking soda [even though they should] because even if they did this, it. would. not. stick. instead, i’d suggest that they try replacing one soda per day with a glass of water or, if they are feeling adventurous, a green juice. and then if that goes well, maybe we’ll try replacing one burger with a vegetarian sandwich and so on.
as they make progress, we’ll keep making small changes that they can maintain. and, best of all, i’m there to guide and support them throughout the entire process and hold them accountable. this approach might not get you results overnight, but it will get you results that last. it’s about creating a new, healthy lifestyle, not crash dieting, losing the weight you wanted to lose and gaining it back when you finally decide to binge on everything you have been depriving yourself of.
so, do you need a health coach? take this quiz to find out!
- do you have health concerns that do not require medical attention, but you don’t know how to address on your own?
- do you feel like you are constantly trying the latest fad diet, with minimal results?
- do you feel like you have made changes to your diet or routine that are supposed to make you feel good, but don’t?
- are you lacking balance in [any aspect of] your life?
- are you ready to make lifestyle changes to improve your health, but aren’t sure where to start?
if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, working with a health coach is something that will help you to reach your goals and live a happy, healthy, balanced life.
if you’re ready to take this step towards creating a life that you are obsessed with, email me at email@example.com. if you mention this blog post, you will receive one month of free health coaching [in addition to your free initial consultation] when you sign up for a 6-month program. not sure if working with a health coach is right for you? email me with your questions! i’d be more than happy to chat with you and see if this might be a good fit.
i can’t wait to hear from you!
image courtesy of steph brescia photography
motivation mondays: week 7
hey everyone, welcome to a new week and a new motivation mondays post! i hope you all had an amazing weekend and are feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on whatever this week throws at you.
over the weekend, my two best friends from high school came to new york to visit for the first time, so i spent most of the weekend playing tour guide [which is actually really fun] and saturday night my roommates and i finally celebrated our “new” apartment and threw a housewarming party [better three months late than never, right?]. i’m beat, but ready to get back into the swing of things and there’s no better way to do that than with some good energy and a positive outlook on a monday morning.
we all spend a lot of time thinking about the future. how we need this, want that, how life will be better when i can make this much money, lose 10 pounds, live here, go there. it’s not bad to have hopes and dreams and things to look forward to in the future [if you didn’t have them that would be an issue in itself], but when we spend so much time focusing on the “ifs” and “whens” we can lose sight of the only thing we really have, which is now.
your life now should make you happy and if it doesn’t, definitely figure out what you can do to change that, but find the good in what you do have, even if it’s something as simple as you morning cup of coffee, a friend that you can’t imagine your life without or your comfy, cozy bed that you get to crawl into every night. no matter what your situation is, what you’ve been through or where you’re headed, i guarantee that everyone has something they can be happy about. it’s 100% possible to be happy with what you have while working towards what you want.
it’s also really important to let go of the “shoulds”… i should be making more money by my age, i should be pursuing a career in this instead of that, i should go back to school… there is no “right” way to go through life and just because your parents expect you to do one thing, doesn’t mean you have to do it and just because your friend is a super successful c.e.o. of whatever company by age 30, doesn’t mean that you have to be, too. success looks different to everybody and again, there’s not one thing that you’re supposed to be doing.
so drop any notions of what you’re life “should” be and go after what you want and what makes you happy. whether that means going back to school to pursue a new career, quitting your job to travel the world for a year, volunteering for an organization that supports a cause you believe in or continuing to do exactly what you’re doing now… it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re doing what you want to be doing. anyone in your life who can’t support that can keep it movin’.
as always, i’ll leave you with a few things i’m diggin’ right now:
this list. especially numbers 1, 4, 9, 10, 15, 21, 23, + 37. [insert heart-eyes emoji here]
this english bulldog puppy. i mean come on.
this world map that my parents got for me to hang in my room… i can’t wait to start pinning!
how were your weekends? what’s up this week? would love to hear from you in the comments below! you can always email me, too! i respond to all emails directly and would love to connect. firstname.lastname@example.org is where you can reach me.
image courtesy of live life happy
healthy lifestyle staples: tongue scraping
okay, i know what you’re thinking. tongue scraping? is she serious? what even is that?! well, i’m 100% serious and after you read this article, i guarantee you’ll go buy yourself a tongue scraper and love it.
so, why is this a healthy lifestyle staple? tongue scraping, or jiva shodhana in sanskrit, is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is known for not only keeping your mouth extra clean, but can help to detoxify the entire body, as well. here are three great reasons to start using a tongue scraper asap:
- it improves oral health. because tongue scraping removes the bacteria that forms on your tongue throughout the day, it will ultimately leave you with fresher breath, less plaque buildup and healthier gums. it can also reduce your chances of getting cavities.
- it aids digestion. tongue scraping will clear up your taste buds so that you can really taste the food you are eating and begin the digestion process smoothly. digestion begins with salivation and if you can’t truly taste your food, your body won’t know how to properly begin to break it down, which can screw up the whole process. and no one wants that.
- it boosts your immunity. because the tongue is the first line of defense in your immune system, removing toxins and bacteria from it can prevent them from being reabsorbed into the body, which is especially important during cold and flu season.
i know that this sounds really weird, but give it a try. i guarantee once you start you will wonder how you have ever gone without doing it. it’s best to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, right after you brush your teeth. i personally use this tongue scraper by dr. tung’s. the stainless steel versions are preferable to the plastic ones and you can purchase one on amazon for around $5-$7.
image courtesy of the chalkboard
spaghetti squash with baby kale + pears
hapy friday, everyone! i hope you had an amazing week and are as ready for the weekend as i am! this post was not originally on the schedule for this week, but i received a spaghetti squash, among other things, in the mail from my parents early in the week [yes, that happened, they have a decent sized vegetable garden back in pennsylvania, which is pretty awesome], so i decided to do some experimenting and i wanted to share the recipe with you just in time for the weekend.
spaghetti squash is actually a lot easier to make than i expected it to be and the combination of flavors in this recipe is perfect for this time of the year. for two servings, you will need:
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1/2 c. whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 c. fresh baby kale
- 2 pears, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. crumbled pecans
- salt + pepper to taste
to prepare the squash:
- pre-heat the oven to 400°.
- cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- place both halves of the squash face down in a baking dish with about 1″ of water in the bottom.
- roast the squash for 45-50 minutes or until you can easily poke holes in it with a fork.
- remove from the oven and let cool.
- use a fork to shred the inside of the squash, placing the “spaghetti” in a bowl on the side and leaving about 1/2″ of squash inside the shell.
for the filling:
- add the ricotta cheese, baby kale, pears, salt and pepper to the bowl with the shredded squash and mix together well.
- scoop the mixture into the squash shells and place back in the baking dish [face up!]. you may want to line the bottom of the baking dish with aluminum foil.
- sprinkle the crumbled pecans on top and drizzle with toasted sesame oil.
- bake for another 15 minutes at 400°.
- remove from oven, let cool and dig in!
have a great weekend! tomorrow i’ll post that healthy lifestyle staples that i promised you on monday, so come back soon!
fall favorites: pumpkin pie milkshake
pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. i’m really loving how there is literally pumpkin flavored everything everywhere. i had a bunch of pumpkin purée left over from the healthy pumpkin spice lattes i made last week [did anyone give this recipe a try?!] and wanted to see what kind of a smoothie i could come up with that tasted more like a milkshake, but was still dairy-free and healthy. i threw some ingredients into my magic bullet, trial and error style, and what i ended up with was soooo good. it tasted so much like pumpkin pie that i had to double check to make sure that i had actually used pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling! i’m not kidding… that good. for one pumpkin pie milkshake you will need:
- 1 c. coconut milk
- 1/2 c. organic pumpkin purée [not pumpkin pie filling!]
- 1/2 of a banana
- 2 tbsp. almond butter
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- a few shakes of ground ginger
combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth, pour into a glass, and enjoy!
motivation mondays: week 6
wow, i can’t believe this series is already in its sixth installment… time goes by so fast these days it’s actually scary. i feel like it was just a few weeks ago that i was ringing in 2014, but in reality, the year is almost over already. seriously, where is the time going?
this weekend definitely went by too quickly. i ate at some awesome restaurants [mostly very unhealthy ones, but remember… balance!] and yesterday i ran my first half marathon, which definitely helped me justify all of the indulgent meals i consumed over the weekend! i needed to carb load to prepare for the race… right?
running a half marathon was something i decided i wanted to try to do about four months ago. honestly, if you would have told me at this time last year that i would be completing a half marathon ever in my life, i would have laughed at you. i never thought long distance running was something i could do. when i first started training, i wasn’t sure how i was going to do it, 13.1 miles?! that was crazy to even think about.
at first, my goal for race day was to finish, no matter how long it took, my only goal was to finish. walk it. run it. just finish. i started training and realized i was actually better at running than i thought i was, so i switched my goal to finish without walking at any time during the race. before i knew it, i was surprising myself with my times and setting the goal to complete the race in two hours. it seemed like a stretch, but i was gonna go for it.
i ended up really surprising myself, finishing the race in 1:53:17… almost seven minutes under my goal of two hours! what surprised me even more was that i still was able to do this despite some serious pain in my right knee and hip that started around mile ten. i managed to push through the last three miles without stopping to walk [i think my playlist really helped keep me going towards the end]. my friend, jenna, ran the race with me and also surpassed her goal, so we both felt pretty amazing post-run… and here we are!
we had our post-race meal planned for months to be at queens comfort in astoria. just take one look at that menu and tell me you don’t want to eat there. the menu was slightly different from what is currently listed on their website, but we all shared the atomic fireballs [deep-fried mac + cheese with sriracha and ranch] and capt’n crunch french toast balls for appetizers. i ordered the crispy pumpkin eggs benedict as my main course, which consisted of poached eggs layered on top of deep-fried pumpkin and fresh spinach on top of the most heavenly biscuits, all smothered in chipotle hollandaise sauce [pictured below]. out. of. this. world.
now that i’ve gotten that little half marathon recap out of the way, let’s get to this week’s quote for the motivation mondays series!
like i mentioned before, i surprised myself in so many ways yesterday. not only did i complete a half marathon, i ran the whole thing and beat my personal goal by seven minutes. i’m still in shock over what i was able to accomplish… and it feels great! i put the work in, trained as much and as hard as i possibly could and before the race, i just kinda let go of the anxiety about crossing the finish line in two hours and just did it. if i had been worrying the entire time i don’t think i would have done as well as i did.
we can plan and plan and plan our lives away, but sometimes just allowing things to run their course and releasing control can feel so good. of course, we shouldn’t apply this to every aspect of life, as there are definitely some things that require more attention than others, but if you’re a planner or someone who feels totally uncomfortable in situations where you don’t have control, letting go from time to time is something you should try.
letting go is really good for your mental health, especially if you suffer from constant stress and anxiety. it allows you to step back, take a deep breath and slow down your thoughts. then, you can put all of the energy you were putting towards worrying and stressing towards something more positive, like finishing a project you’ve been working on forever, spending time with friends you don’t get to see very often or just taking the time to take care of yourself. sure, you can do all of these things while worrying about something else, but you won’t get the same results as you would without the added pressure and anxiety.
when your life isn’t consumed with worry, you’ll find that you have so much more time in your day-to-day life to do the things you actually enjoy and want to do. worrying can take so much joy out of life and in the end, all of the worry in the world isn’t going to change the way things end up 99% of the time. in the end, you’re left with a lot of wasted time and energy, the side effects that stress and anxiety have on your body and mind and a situation that was going to end up how it was going to end up with or without you constantly obsessing over it. remember that old song, “don’t worry, be happy“? i think that guy was onto something.
a couple things i’m loving at the moment that i think you will love, too:
malala yousafzai being awarded the nobel peace prize at age 17. if you haven’t read her book, i am malala yet, stop what you are doing immediately and go do it. since reading her story earlier this year, she has been such an inspiration to me and is an amazing role model for people struggling anywhere.
this sundae from pure food + wine, an all raw vegan restaurant in manhattan. i ate here on saturday night and the food was good, but the desserts were out of control. i can say with absolute certainty that this is the best thing i have ever eaten.
thug kitchen’s new cookbook. i’ve read thug kitchen for a couple of years now [and it still gets me] and i’m so excited to buy this cookbook and “eat like I give a f*ck”.
coming up this week, i’ve got another pumpkin recipe in the works and a new edition to the “healthy lifestyle staples” series, so be sure to keep up so you don’t miss out on anything! how are you guys liking the motivation mondays series? is there anything else you would like to start your week off with besides a positive mantra and fun links to check out? maybe a new smoothie recipe or healthy living tip? leave a comment with any suggestions and i’ll see what I can do!
have an amazing week!
image courtesy of La Bonne Vie
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