Friday Five: Healthy Snack Obsessions

Hi. How are you? Welcome to Friday Five. I’ve been listening to a lot of Podcasts lately so I thought that would be a good way to intro this post. If it was really a podcast I’d talk for like, 20 minutes about some bullshit before I start actually talking about the thing you want to hear.

Anyway, this is Friday Five. It’s new. I wanted to have a place where I could shout-out random stuff I’ve been into lately so this is it. Sometimes it’ll be food, sometimes TV, sometimes cosmetics, maybe sometimes it’ll be something you don’t expect like my five favorite cannibals or five of the best public restrooms in Chicago, who knows?

Today it’s food. Specifically, healthy snacks. Tony and I have been on a fitness kick since about April, and ever since we started using MyFitnessPal to track what we were eating we realized we were eating like two dumpster rats. So I’ve been on the look out for snacks that fit my super unscientific criteria of:

  • not a lot of sugar (<10g)
  • not too many carbs (I don’t really know what this means)
  • not too much fat (again, no idea what that means)
  • protein
  • not popcorn, because popcorn makes me fart

So here are five snacks I’ve been digging lately:

1. Munk Pack Vegan Protein Cookies

If you’re portion controlling be aware that one cookie = two servings, but on run days all 360 calories are exactly what I need. These are a little harder to find than Len and Larry’s vegan protein cookies, but I prefer them if for no other reason than the ingredient deck is short and simple. They’re also a little lower in sugar and carbs than Len & Larry cookies. I’ve tried all of them and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip is my fave. Your best bet is to grab a 6-pack on Amazon, hopefully they offer a variety pack soon.

2. Candy Bar Smoothie 

Yeah, that’s right. My own friggin’ recipe and you know what? It’s goooood. Whip one up when you’re craving a bowl of ice cream and you’ll be surprisingly satisfied. Add a scoop of your favorite vegan protein powder to this and it’s a complete breakfast.

3. Teff & Almond Butter Cookies 

Dude I’m so spoiled to live so close to Oromo Cafe! Their pastry case is filled with all these nutritious, vegan and gluten-free treats – and don’t get me started about the house-made pistachio milk. But my favorite nom is the Teff & Almond Butter Cookie. It’s just sweet enough to hit the spot, with a soft, crumbly texture that just begs to be eaten slow and savored. I couldn’t find an exact match online, but these Peanut Butter Maca Cookies sound pretty dope, too.

4. Ziyad Dark Chocolate Dates

These are also delicious, but I forgot about them until I wrote all this other stuff. Oops.

Hey – yeah, I could make these myself. Easily. I can also walk next door to the international market and buy a bag for $6 so don’t vegan-shame me. It’s an almond, wrapped in a date, wrapped in vegan dark chocolate – basically a vegan turducken. Throw some coconut oil in there and it’s what vegans are made of. These little gems are only 45 calories each, and under 3g sugar. They’re a little bigger than a bite size candy bar, and to these vegan tastebuds, they taste just like a Snickers bar.

5. Nachos, Kinda 

Guess what I found out? My Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce recipe is healthy AF! It makes about three cups, which is about 12 servings, each of which is only 106 calories and 1g fat – but 7g protein! Yeah bitch, you can eat nachos alllllll day. Ok so tortilla chips maybe aren’t the best, but you could swap in some gluten-free bean chips or shoot, just dump it over your favorite nacho toppings and eat it with a fork, who needs chips? I’ve been using this recipe as salad dressing because nacho cheese > salad dressing forever and I keep some in the fridge whenever I feel like having a savory snack – it’s pretty rad with baby carrots!

OK dudes, that concludes my first Friday Five, I hope you liked it! I think next week I might talk about TV shows I’ve been binging on lately, but feel free to request topics in the comments!

Please note: This is NOT a sponsored post, I purchased and used these products and this is my honest opinion of them. Some of these links are affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase I might earn the smallest amount of money imaginable.

Vegano Italiano: Spaghetti With Pureed Tomatoes Recipe

In Italian cooking, there is beauty in simplicity. Zucchini blossoms dusted with parsley, salt, flour, and fried until crispy. Fresh, crusty bread swirled in olive oil. Salty olives roasted with garlic and rosemary. A perfectly ripe cherry tomato dipped in salt.

My mom’s stories about my great-grandpa Teno’s onion sandwiches with black pepper and mayo set the stage for my life-long love of those simple pleasures. When you let fresh, seasonal ingredients do the talking you don’t need any fancy tricks or frills.

For those reasons, I was excited to get my hands on Rosalba Gioffré’s Vegano Italiano: 150 Vegan Recipes from the Italian Table. The recipes are divided into seasons, so you can skip right to your current season and cook with the ripest, freshest ingredients. Summer happens to feature lots of veggies and herbs that many of us have growing in our backyard (or in my case, back porch) gardens.

For this recipe, pluck those vine-ripe tomatoes, basil and green peppers or chili peppers and enjoy this simple meal that celebrates the summer’s bounty.

Published with permission from the author and publisher. Please note that some links on this site are affiliate links, andI could earn money if you click them and make a purchase.

Spaghetti With Pureed Tomatoes

By BakeandDestroy Published: August 7, 2017

  • Yield: 4 Servings

In Italian cooking, there is beauty in simplicity. Zucchini blossoms dusted with parsley, salt, flour, and fried until crispy. Fresh, …

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put the tomatoes, a few leaves of basil, chili pepper, salt, and plenty of oil into a blender. Blend on the highest setting until you have a red sauce. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the whole clove of garlic.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot - be sure to salt the water. Drain when al dente, and toss it in the tomato sauce.
  3. Add more basil and olive oil, toss, remove the garlic clove, and serve.

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    Current Fave Vegan Hair Care Products

    I’ve written a few posts about my favorite vegan and natural skin care products, and I even wrote about my favorite natural remedies for stress. So I figured name-dropping some of my tried-and-true vegan hair care products only made sense to do. Please note that these are products I’ve used on my own hair, which is naturally very straight, color-treated, but generally healthy. If you have textured hair I can’t make any promises, but I can direct you to The Sistah Vegan Project for some of her favorite products.

    Wash

    I’m not going to lie, I’m a real shampoo tramp and it’s hard for me to be loyal to just one. However, I received a set of EVOLVh UltraShine Shampoo and Conditioner in my Petit Vour box a while back and actually repurchased. Those of you who receive sample boxes know that it takes something special for that to happen. Obviously I like that it’s vegan and cruelty-free, but I also thought the shampoo did a good job of removing product and sweat without stripping my color-treated hair.

    When I’m having a little Lush splurge, I always grab a bar of New Solid Shampoo. I’m obsessed with all things clove, so this spicy scented bar smells good enough to eat. P.S. If you know of ANY clove beauty products please tell me in the comments. I’ve started making my own at home because there is a serious clove shortage in the beauty world. Solid shampoos are cool, just remember to make the lather in your hands and then rub that into your hair – don’t rub the bar on your head or you’re going to damage your do.

    My fave solid shampoo from Lush

    Another request – if you have a dry shampoo you love I want to hear about it. My hair is so fine and dark I’ve never found one that doesn’t show. I’ve also been told by my stylist that the best way to use it is on clean hair – kind of like putting deodorant on clean pits. That way it can absorb oil as your scalp makes it, rather than trying to sop up oil that’s already there. I’d love to hear your tricks if you have them!

    Hair Color 

    My hair is box black and has been for years (this is my natural color if you’re curious). If you want to go the totally natural route, henna is a great, but messy option. You should know, however, that once you’ve used henna on your hair you pretty much have to grow it out because it goes insane when you try to lift it – and yeah, you can lie to your hairdresser about that, but they’ll find out soon enough when you have some kinda clown massacre under those foils.

    If you’re looking for something natural (aka a color that could feasibly grow from a human head) you’ll find options in your local Whole Foods Market or health food store, I’ve personally never used those as I mentioned, I go for vampire black. For that, Arctic Fox’s Transylvania is a great semi-permanent option. Not only is Arctic Fox vegan and cruelty-free, but they also donate 15% to help animals (read more). It’s a little messier to use than what you might be used to – so buy a hair color mixing bowl and a brush, and be sure to rub some coconut oil on your ears and around your hairline so you don’t dye your skin. It’s really inexpensive, creates less waste than boxed hair color, and like I said, no bunnies were harmed, so I think it’s worth a little effort.

    My hair is Black No. 1… I really just wanted a reason to put this picture of Peter Steele on my blog.

    To keep my blue-black looking sharp between coloring, I use Overtone‘s Extreme Blue daily conditioner, and once  week I throw on the deep conditioning treatment. (Use my affiliate link for $10 off your first $30+ purchase.) Overtone is cool because if your hair is light, you can actually color your hair with it, and you can use it to tint medium shades. For dark hair like mine, I use it as a toner. As I mentioned, my hair is blue-black, but dark purple is also a nice tone to use with black hair. It’s a quality conditioner, to boot, so your hair will feel great. Do be aware that it can stain your hands, so keep a pair of plastic gloves in the shower.

    Treatment

    I mentioned Overtone’s weekly conditioning treatment in the paragraph above – that’s an easy way to keep my color fresh and give my hair some love. In a pinch, I also sometimes wet my hair, apply coconut oil, top it off with a plastic cap (real talk, I never have one, so I end up with a Target bag on my head) and let it sit for 20 or so minutes before shampooing it out. I’ve also massaged straight avocado into my hair – this is actually a good use for avocados that are too ripe to eat. Why waste them?

    There are two other products that I use religiously to treat my hair. One is Hair Revive Oil by French Girl Organics – another company I discovered in my Petit Vour box. I actually just read their instructions and realized I have been using it incorrectly for years, but it works for me so whatevs. I put literally ONE DROP in my hands and rub it on the ends of my dry hair – then whatever is still on my hands gets smoothed over the crown of my head where all my frizz lives. I’ve had so many friends tell me how soft and shiny my hair looks and this is 100% why. I’ve had one 2oz bottle for more than a year now so it’s well-worth the $38 investment.

    This stuff is magical.

    I noticed that my stylist always uses leave-in conditioner on my hair before she blow-dries it and I always thought it was overkill since we obviously just conditioned it when it was washed. But, I couldn’t deny that it was always smoother and less frizzy when I left her chair than when I do it at home so I grabbed some Giovanni Direct Leave In Treatment Conditioner at Whole Foods. I just use a little bit on my wet hair whenever I wash it (which is not suuuuper often) and it helps keep it smooth and prevents tangles while I blow dry.

    Styling

    I realized after I created this category that I actually only own one styling product because I have a super low maintenance bob. That’s Max Green Alchemy Texture Paste, if you’re curious. Otherwise I just smooth on some French Girl Organics Hair Revive Oil and I’m done. But, if you need more product to make your hair big, smooth, curly, bouncy, or what have you, some good brands to check out include:

    Also, don’t be shy when you’re visiting the salon – tell your stylist you don’t want to use products containing silk, collagen, keratin, or beeswax and request that they use synthetic brushes. More and more high end styling products are going vegan and cruelty-free these days so it shouldn’t be tough for them to accommodate and if it is, see if you can bring your own products for them to use.

    Finally, see if there are any cruelty-free salons in your area – lots of salons are starting to set themselves apart in this way. In Chicago we have Starship Salon, Black Hearts Hair House and Fix Hair Studio, just to name a few.

    Your Turn

    So those are my favorites – I’d love to hear yours! Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget – if you have hot tips for using dry shampoo or know of any great clove-scented cosmetic products let me know!

    Disclaimer: Please note that I purchased all of the items mentioned here, and did not receive any of them for free, nor did I receive compensation for this post. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase, I will earn a commission.

    Frugal Vegan: Sweet Potato Breakfast Boats Recipe

    I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’d love to go vegan but it seems expensive. I get it – if you were to load up on cashew cheese, fake meats from the frozen aisle, or just go to restaurants all the time it really would be. But shop the produce aisle, and keep a couple of staples on hand and all of the sudden you’re eating vegan for just a few bucks a meal.

    In their new book, Frugal Vegan: Affordable, Easy & Delicious Vegan Cooking, Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee of Well Vegan show you how it’s done. This cookbook features tips for smart shopping, and creative recipes that call for inexpensive ingredients that pack a flavorful, and nutritional punch.

    I’ve mentioned a few times before my struggle with breakfast. I’ve overcome the battle to find something healthy and easy by just doing some prep work on Sunday night. You could easily prep the filling for these Sweet Potato Breakfast Boats ahead of time and then just throw them together on weekday mornings.

    From Frugal Vegan by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Allie Lehman

    Please note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you click and make a purchase.

    Sweet Potato Breakfast Boats

    By BakeandDestroy Published: July 23, 2017

    • Yield: 2 Servings

    From the author: Sweet potatoes are a delicious and versatile, yet often overlooked, breakfast food. They can stand in for toast when sliced thin, cooked on a cast-iron skillet and topped with avocado, and they offer a healthier way to do hash browns. Here, we make them into boats we can fill with our favorite toppings. We went with a Southwest theme for this recipe, but you can really use anything you have sitting in your pantry or fridge. Chickpeas, broccoli, bell pepper, spinach—get creative!

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Using a fork, poke holes all around the sweet potato. Place it on a paper towel or microwave-safe plate and microwave for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
    2. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then, with the fleshy parts facing up, cut a slit lengthwise down the middle of each half. Use a couple of forks to split open the sweet potato halves so you’re left with little pockets.
    3. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the cumin and cayenne. Then, fill each sweet-potato boat with the avocado, followed by the black beans, corn and salsa. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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      Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Quick and Easy Pad Thai Recipe

      Celine Steen is a vegan dynamo. Not only is she a prolific cookbook author and recipe developer, but she’s also styled and shot the photos for some of your favorite vegan cookbooks, including my own. I can’t believe it’s already been four years since we exchanged hundreds of emails about culinary triumphs such as Taco Lasagna, but somehow she’s gone on without me.

      smoky kale

      Also in this book: Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle

      Her new book Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes with a Kick is filled with recipes that deliver on the title’s promise. This one is for all the folks who think vegan food is one-note, bland, and no fun. This one’s for the vegans who long for those smokey, spicy, sweet, sour flavors you can only get when you do it yourself.

      I decided to share this recipe in particular because Thai food offers all of those bold flavors – spice, sweet, citrus, herb – but typically draws its salty umami from fish sauce. Celine solves this problem with a fish-free sauce using Mushroom Dashi, shiitake powder and tamari. You’re going to end up using it on everything.

      Mushroom Dashi Recipe (Yield:1 ½ cups mushroom dashi, 6 oz rehydrated mushrooms)

      • 1 oz organic dried shiitake mushrooms
      • 2 cups cold or room-temperature filtered water

      Lightly brush your mushroom caps clean with a pastry brush or mushroom-cleaning brush. Place in a large bowl or a glass measuring cup (such as Pyrex), and cover with filtered water until fully submerged. Stir gently to make sure all mushrooms will be hydrated. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator overnight.

      The next day, line a fine-mesh sieve with a paper towel to catch impurities. Place the sieve on top of a bowl or glass measuring cup. Gently squeeze the mushrooms over the dashi container to get extra liquid out.

      vegan chili

      Also in this book: Citrusy Pepper Chili

       

      Alternatively, the quick method is to use warm water and soak the mushrooms for 20 minutes until they are soft without being mushy. For best results, choose the overnight version. The longer the soak, the more flavorful the dashi.

      Store the dashi in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store the rehydrated mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

      Fish-Free Sauce Recipe (Yield: ¾ cup sauce)

      • 1 ½ cups (355 ml) Mushroom Dashi (see above) or water
      • 2 tsp (3 g) dried shiitake powder
      • 2 tsp (12 g) smoked sea salt
      • 4 tsp (20 ml) reduced-sodium tamari
      • ½ roasted nori sheet

      Place the dashi, shiitake powder, salt, tamari and nori in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook until reduced to about half the original amount, about 45 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed. Strain the nori and store the cooled fish-free sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Stir or shake before use, depending on the container used.

      Reprinted from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes with a Kick By Celine Steen, published by Page Street Publishing. Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking, I might earn a commission.

      Quick and Easy Pad Thai

      By BakeandDestroy Published: July 16, 2017

      • Yield: 3-4 Servings

      OK, Celine admits that some of the elements of this dish do take some time to make, but she thinks once you've made them and tried them, you'll always have some on hand. Thereby making this a quick dinner you can throw together.

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. Garnishes: Serundeng, lime wedges, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced scallions, reduced-sodium tamari
      2. In a medium bowl, whisk the dashi with the sugar to dissolve the crystals. Add the fish-free sauce, lime juice, vinegar, tamarind, garlic, ginger and chile. Whisk to combine and set aside.
      3. In a large pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the tempeh and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
      4. Adjust the heat as needed and stir frequently. Add the cabbage and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer for a few minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly and the cabbage is just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and stir to coat the noodles well.
      5. Serve with garnishes. Leftovers are even better, so the dish can be made ahead of time and reheated gently on the stove.

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        Interview: Vegan Pro-Wrestler & Author Austin Aries

        I’m gonna talk about Austin Aries in a sec. But first, let’s talk about me. When I was pitching the idea for my cookbook, the one question every publisher came back with was, “What do vegan food and pro-wrestling have to do with each other?”

        When I finally found a publisher that got it, it was time to promote the book. Often times my intro on the afternoon cable news segments went something like, “Her name is Natalie Slater, and she’s here to show us what on earth vegan food and pro-wrestling have in common!”

        I dunno, to me it’s always made perfect sense. Professional wrestling has always been for weirdos, outsiders and drama queens and what is veganism if not also a safe haven for people who look at the world a little differently than everyone else?

        So when people started talking about this vegan guy in the WWE, Austin Aries, I was a lot less curious about where he got his protein than I was about how he put up with answering the same stupid questions over and over again. Is wrestling fake? What would you do if you woke up on an island that had nothing to eat except pigs? What do you eat, like, tofu and stuff?

        Aries’ first book, Food Fight: My Plant-Powered Journey from the Bingo Halls to the Big Time just dropped in June, and I had a chance to chat with him about dumb questions, the specific struggles of a Midwestern vegan, and what the difference between plant-based and vegan means to him. His book answers a lot of questions non-vegans are bound to have and will have long-time vegans nodding in agreement. You can grab a copy here!

        Thanks SO MUCH to my friend Matt Barnette for editing this video – check him out on YouTube!

        Friday Five: Fave Natural Remedies for Stress

        Hi. I’m Natalie. I am the oldest child, I was raised Catholic, and I am Type A AF. So yeah, I’m familiar with anxiety.

        Before we get too far into this post I want to be clear that none of my recommendations are meant to treat severe anxiety and/or depression, nor do I wish to make light of those issues. This post is for people who occasionally find themselves overwhelmed or stressed and need more than a cup of chamomile to calm their nerves.

        Obviously before I start inhaling or ingesting anything, I first try to remedy the source of my stress. If I’m anxious about an event because there’s so much to do, I ask for help. If I’m worried about something I can’t necessarily fix (for instance, freaking out that all of my friends’ vaguebook statues are about me because they all secretly hate me) I talk to someone I can trust until it’s out of my system. If I’m overwhelmed at work I try to break my big projects into smaller ones, etc. But sometimes I’m just kind of freaked out about a bunch of things and I don’t want to talk about it. So that’s where these other options come into play.

        These are all methods and products that I have used and benefitted from. If you have your own recommendations I’d love to hear them in the comments section.

        Magnesium

        When I first started researching natural remedies for stress, I noticed one ingredient that kept popping up in every stress support supplement – magnesium. Turns out magnesium can suppress ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) – “stress hormones” – in the brain. Some of the most magnesium-rich foods are vegan – spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans – but there are also lots of supplements available. I keep a magnesium supplement (that also contains B-vitamins and Valerian root) on hand for hectic days.

        Turmeric

        I was on a juicing kick for a while, and I liked to add fresh turmeric because the curcumin it contains is a natural anti-inflammatory. Later I also found out that it can also have antidepressant and antianxiety effects. However, it is a hot mess to juice at home and scrubbing yellow stains off my counter does nothing to improve my stress levels. So, I keep Turmeric Liquid Drops on hand and just throw a couple of droppers’ full into smoothies and other recipes like this Golden Milk Smoothie Bowl.

        Kava

        A friend of mine recommended keeping kava kava tincture on hand for bad days, so I grabbed a bottle at Vitamin Shoppe and gave it a try. Folk tales say that Kava Kava was given to people who were to be sacrificed in order to calm them down, and after trying it a few times I believe it. The tincture I tried was too intense for me – it tastes like tree bark, and it has a syrupy consistency so it’s hard to mix into anything less thick than a smoothie. These days I prefer Kava Stress Relief Tea – it’s blended with cinnamon and other spices so while it’s not delicious per say, it tastes better than the tincture, but it’s still very potent. Fair warning: kava affects people in different ways, so try it sometime when you don’t have anywhere to go. It might make you sleepy, it could upset your stomach, and some people have said it makes their mouths go numb.

        Essential Oils

        I’m not an essential oil expert (my friend Jessica is, follow her) so I’m not going to go nuts here. But, I have tried aromatherapy and essential oils in various ways and found it to be beneficial. The mellowest way to use essential oils to combat stress is aromatherapy – I do this using a USB Essential Oil Diffuser. There are fancier and more expensive diffusers, but the one I use is small so it sits right next to my laptop and blows lavender essential oil directly at my face. My desire to spray this in my mouth and up my nose lead me to looking for more direct ways to benefit from essential oils.

        My nail salon uses aromatherapy, and their amazing Wednesday mani/pedi deal was my first experience with topical essential oils. They basically slather your hands and arms in lotion, splash on a few drops of your choice of oil (tips for doing this) and massage your stress away. This inspired me to make temple balm for Tony to help with headaches, and variations for myself for anxiety. Applying essential oils to your skin is often the most effective ways to reap their benefits.

        The final frontier for me was actually ingesting essential oils. It’s generally considered safe to put a few drops of your favorite essential oils in water, but I think it’s gross and I just can’t do it. Then my little sister got a MONQ Aromatherapy Inhaler and let me try it. MONQ combines blends of essential oils with vegetable glycerine, all packed into a little cigarette-sized package. You inhale it into your mouth (not into your lungs) and then blow the vapor out your nose. It’s sort of like having a diffuser that you put in your mouth, which as I stated previously, is pretty much what I do anyway.

        MONQ actually sent me a set of their personal diffusers and I’m going to be shooting a video with Jessica the oil lady soon, so if you have any questions about essential oils or MONQ be sure to leave them in the comments or hit us up on social media so we can answer them.

        Diet and Exercise

        Listen, this weekend I laid in bed eating vegan mac n’ cheese and watching Claws. I am no Bad Ass Vegan when it comes to nutrition and fitness. But, anecdotally I can tell you that I joined a gym three months ago, and made some small adjustments to my diet (focusing on nutrient-dense ingredients, cutting back on sugar) and I have not had to take Kava or any of the other more intense supplements since.

        Nutritious snacks don’t have to suck – click to get the recipe for these blueberry muffin balls.

        There is extensive evidence that suggests even a small amount of physical activity (a 10-minute walk) can help reduce stress, and prevent anxiety disorders. I personally have found solace in the gym because it’s unadulterated me time, and I found a good no-judgement gym – but, it’s not for everyone. But, even if you hate the gym, and it’s too cold to take a walk, there’s a physical activity most people can agree on – sex. Yep, sex. Even, ya know, by yourself, can help you to better cope with stress.

        If you’re a stress-eater like me, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you’re eating because a brain under stress signals your body that you need more nutrients to cope. The bad news is, most of the time we reach for foods that are actually deficient in the nutrients that can help you combat anxiety. Look for foods rich in magnesium (spinach, almonds, avocado). Omega-3 fats (spinach again, walnuts, soybeans), and B vitamins (there are lots of types so read this). So you don’t have to become a raw vegan, but like, swapping in a spinach salad with avocado and walnuts for lunch once in awhile can actually give your body what it needs to deal with stress. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to get a good overview of what I’m eating in a day and I find it really helpful, but you could also informally journal what you’re eating every day and how you feel to see if changing your diet helps you.

        Meditating, Weed and Other Stuff

        I asked people on Instagram what they did to relieve stress and anxiety and a few things came up over and over: yoga, meditation, and weed. I can definitely say I have seen all three of these work for other people, just not me. Mostly because I am v. jaded and cranky. But the point is, what works for your friends might not work for you, but you should keep trying things until you find something that does. I rolled my eyes about essential oils until I finally tried them, so maybe I’ll end up not hating yoga someday too.

        Hopefully I offered a few suggestions you haven’t tried yet – let me know in the comments!

        When all else fails, cuddle a dog.

        Sources:

        Magnesium: Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill

        Turmeric: Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trialCurcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders

        Essential oils (aromatherapy): University of Maryland Medical Center write up on the benefits of aromatherapy 

        Exercise: Exercise for Stress and Anxiety

        Sex: Sexual Experience and Stress Hormones 

        Nutrient dense diet: Diet and Stress

        Please note: I received some of the items mentioned in this post in exchange for my review, but I only wrote about items that actually worked for me and I would recommend to others. Additionally, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking them I could earn a small comission.

         

         

         

         

        Vegan Cheese: Spicy Quinoa Queso Recipe

        Vegan cheese really freaks non-vegans out. It’s a phenomenon that has always cracked me up a little bit. “But, what is it made from?” they ask, faces shriveled with disgust. Uh, it’s not made from a cow’s lactation? It’s made from nuts and vegetables, you friggin’ weirdo. I have conquered some of the greatest cheese skeptics – including my own siblings – with a delicious vegan cheese sauce. My brother happily ate second helpings of my vegan mac n’ yeast, while my sister marveled that my Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce was made from cashews.

        So whenever I have a chance to check out a new vegan cheese cookbook I’m stoked, and I was especially excited to receive Jules Aron’s Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious Plant-Based Recipes because she’s a certified health and nutrition coach. Cheese with nutritional benefits? Even better.

        But wait… because it gets even more exciting (for me). There is a flipping quinoa cheese recipe in this book, you guys! It’s like the most vegan vegan thing that ever veganed and I love it! If you follow me in Instagram you know I’m up to my elbows in I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa at all times and I love putting it in absolutely everything from cookies to bread to chili. So obvs I wanna put quinoa in my cheese.

        Bonus: Toasted Quinoa is pre-washed, so you can skip that step, and it already has a nice nutty flavor, so if you want to skip the flax seeds in this recipe and add a little nutritional yeast for B-12 you can. This is a nice little base recipe that you can jazz up with yellow mustard, chili peppers, you name it.

        This recipe is being shared with permission from the author. I was given a review copy of this book, but this is not a sponsored post. Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I might earn a laughable amount of money from Amazon.

        Spicy Quinoa Queso

        By BakeandDestroy Published: June 19, 2017

        • Yield: 2-3 cups

        Use this cheese sauce as a dip, or try it over steamed veggies or basked potatoes.

        Ingredients

        Instructions

        1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions.
        2. Transfer quinoa to a blender, add the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Serve warm.
        3. Will keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

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          Guilt-Free Nice Cream: Mango, Berry and Lime Nice-Cream Slice Recipe

          Dude, I’ve been pretty upfront about how I feel about bananas. (They are gross.) But, this negative opinion is solely based on the texture which I find to be slimy and mushy. I like how bananas taste, and I really like how versatile they are in vegan recipes. So, it kinda shocked my husband when I rode the Nice Cream wave, but I am a wild, mysterious woman and he should know that by now.

          Margie Broadhead has stepped up the Nice Cream game in her new book Guilt-Free Nice Cream: Over 70 Amazing Dairy-Free Ice Creams. This book is so cute you’re going to want to put it on display in your kitchen, and the recipes inside go way beyond the old blend a frozen banana and call it ice cream shtick.

          I chose what I thought was the most over-the-top creative recipe in the whole book to share with you. Just look at these things and tell me you don’t want to serve these at your next party. I also fully support Margie’s suggestion of eating these for breakfast, because how awesome of a way to start your day would that be?

          Ingredients:

          1 handful of fresh raspberries, to fill

          For the base:
          75 g (2 1/2 oz / 3/4 cup) rolled oats
          4 pitted Medjool dates
          1 tbsp desiccated coconut
          1/2 tbsp maple syrup
          1/2 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder or cocoa powder (optional)

          For the lime nice-cream layer:
          1 banana, peeled and frozen
          1/2 ripe avocado
          zest of 3 limes
          125 ml (4 fl oz) freshly squeezed lime juice (about 5–6 limes)

          For the raspberry nice-cream layer:
          1 banana, peeled and frozen
          125 g (4 oz / 1 cup) raspberries, fresh or frozen
          1 tbsp coconut yoghurt or tinned coconut milk, chilled (thick part only)
          2 tbsp almond milk

          For the mango nice-cream layer:
          1 banana, peeled and frozen
          160 g (5 oz / 1 cup) mango chunks (about 1/2 mango)
          1 tbsp coconut yoghurt or tinned coconut milk, chilled (thick part only)
          2 tbsp almond milk

          Toppings:
          freeze-dried raspberries
          raspberry powder
          crushed pistachios

          Recipe excerpted with permission from Guilt-Free Nice Cream by Margie Broadhead, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $19.99 hardcover. Please note that links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking them I could earn a comission. I was given this book to review, but this is not a sponsored post.

          Lime Nice-Cream Slice

          By BakeandDestroy Published: June 11, 2017

          • Yield: 6 Servings

          From the author: This may not look like your average breakfast but to be honest, there is nothing average about this. Creamy, yet refreshing, bursting with goodness and as pretty as a picture. Obviously you can enjoy this any time of the day, but I do love it for breakfast. Whip this up for a lovely summery morning and enjoy a great start to the day.

          Ingredients

          Instructions

          1. Line the inside of a 21 x 11 x 7 cm (8 x 4 x 3 in) loaf tin with cling film (plastic wrap).
          2. Blend the ingredients for the base together in a food processor, and press into the bottom of the lined loaf tin.
          3. For the lime layer, blend together all the ingredients to form a thick and creamy nice cream. Pour into the prepared tin, on top of the base. Pop in the freezer to firm up for 20 minutes or so, then scatter over the fresh raspberries.
          4. Blend the ingredients for the raspberry nice-cream layer. Spread this over the fresh raspberries in the tin and freeze for another 20 minutes to firm up.
          5. Repeat with the mango layer, blitzing all the ingredients together and then pouring into the tin, on top of the raspberry nice-cream layer.
          6. Once all the layers are assembled, stick 6 lollipop sticks into the loaf at equal intervals and sprinkle the surface with the freeze-dried raspberries, raspberry powder and crushed pistachios.
          7. Leave in the freezer to firm up for a good couple of hours. When ready to serve, slice into portions and enjoy.

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            Instagram Story: Pride Month for Parents

            I’ll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn about literally everything in the world. So, what I discuss in this video might not be news to you. In fact, I hope it isn’t. But, if you’re a parent and you consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQ community, this might be something you hadn’t considered…

            P.S. I realize I used the word “choose” in this in the context of whomever a person might choose to love. Being gay, of course, is not a choice. That’s definitely not what I meant when I said this phrase.

            As always, the opinions I express in my videos are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any employer or clients of mine.

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