Tea vs Coffee

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I have recently started to take more of an interest in tea and am trying to cut back on coffee.  I only drink decaf coffee anyway (what’s the point, right?) BUT I happen to really enjoy the taste of coffee.  I absolutely love coffee with a little bit of frothed almond milk and some cinnamon.  I an constantly hearing negative things about coffee though and how the acidity is too harsh on your body so I am torn once again with what to do.  Since I feel that you can’t completely eliminate something simple and enjoyable like coffee, I decided to slowly cut back on it.  I was having two cups per day but am down to about one every other day.  I recently have become enthralled and quite frankly, pretty obsessed with tea.  There are so many varieties of tea and so many decaf options.  Another perk, there are an abundance of health advantages to certain types if tea, green tea in particular.  Here are some of my favorite teas:

Combining the two teas above is delicious!  

The picture above is from my honeymoon this past December in Paris.  We had coffee or tea about 6 times a day.  I love how much more popular small business tea and coffee shops are across the country but do see it gaining some popularity in America lately.  It is such a great part of the culture in Europe to stop your day, take a few deep breaths and sit to enjoy a warm beverage while escaping the hustle and bustle of what is going on around you.  There are some great tea and coffee shops around the Philadelphia area and even some free standing tea parlors that I have yet to check out.  Enjoy your weekend and take a few minutes to sip one of the delicious beverages above!

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Food Appliances

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I have become extremely dependent on several food appliances that I rarely used before I started eating a more plant based diet.  Now I find myself reaching for some appliances a few times a week when they were the dusty items on the shelf two years back.  Most of the items I didn’t receive until my bridal shower last October.  I always had them on my wishlist but figured I would wait until I could get the exact ones I wanted when I registered.  Below is a list of items that I don’t know what I would do without!

  • Food Processor Cuisinart 9 Cup Food Processor– I love my food processor.  I primarily use it to make hummus.  It is so easy to use and for cleanup.  I also use it to create nut butters such as almond, cashew and peanut.  I also like to use it for homemade applesauce.
  • Blender Breville Hemisphere Mini Blender– I have always used my blender for the occasional smoothie but now I use it everyday since I start my morning with my green smoothie.  I don’t have a vitamix (yet) but my little breville does the trick for now.  I just let it run for about 3 minutes to make sure all of veggies and fruit are completely blended.  I also like to use this for salad dressing.
  • Immersion Blender Cuisnart-My favorite appliance!  I use this for almost everything.  Cauliflower mashed potatoes, banana whips, salad dressings, all of my baking needs (as long as it doesn’t require a heavy duty mixer which in that case I use my trusty Kichenaid ) and acai bowls.  Not only is it so useful but its super easy to clean and store.  It also has a small price tag.  They have a bunch of different extensions but I usually stick with just the standard chop extension that it came with.

So tell me, what is your favorite appliance, anything I should add to my wishlist?

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Banana Whips

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About 3 years ago I was introduced to the second best healthy alternative (other than cauliflower mashed “potatoes” but more on that at another time), BANANA WHIPS!  They are sweet, satisfying and have the same consistency as soft serve ice cream.  I absolutly LOVE banana whips.  I was lured into the gimmicky machine to make a banana whip a few years back, the Yonanaza.  It was pretty good but didn’t get it the consistency I was really  trying  to achieve   I starting experimenting with different appliances.  I tried a food processor (not good at all), a blender (still wasn’t sold) , an immersion blender (good but not perfect) and then I nailed it.  The Cuisnart Mixing Bowl with the whisk attachment worked best.  It was also super easy to clean which is a huge perk.  It isn’t just about the appliance though, I realized, you need to have the bananas dethawed enough and ripe enough before you place them in the freezer.  I just kept playing around with the idea and perfected the ultimate banana whip.  Once my banana is pretty ripe (browning a little bit) I put it in a plastic bag and freeze it.  About a day or two later, I let it dethaw for about 20 minutes.  I left them n the freezeras long a week but I like when it isn’t too freezer burnt.  Once it feels like it is soft enough, I put it in the immersion blender and blend until it has the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  I get creative and throw in all type of toppings; peanut butter, carob chips, coconut flakes, granola, and sometimes even sprinkles.  It really satisfies the sweet tooth and is pretty much guilt free (minus the toppings).  You can also eat for breakfast if you like, what’s better than ‘ice cream’ for breakfast?  I just thought I would share my love of banana whips with all of you other bloggers.  Enjoy! 

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Creative Lunch Ideas

ImageWell I did it again, completely and utterly overindulged this Thanksgiving.  The good news is we finally finished the left overs from the night and are ready to get focused once again on the right choices to make in the kitchen.  I took time today to prepare and think about what I am going to eat during the day at work so that I don’t reach for the popcorn and holiday sweets.  Lunches can be very boring especially when you work full time and don’t have to time to really cook something up.  I only eat out once a week for lunch to save money so the other days I pack a lunch quickly in the morning or the night before.  Since I don’t like to eat meat before dinner time, a sandwich is not on my list for weekday lunch and salads seem to become very boring day after day.  I like to roast veggies on Sundays so that I can throw them in my lunch for the week.  Some meals that I I like to bring to work when I get sick of salads are quinoa, roasted veggies and walnuts.  I like to mix them all together and heat it up for about one minute.  I also like to bring lentils, guacamole and some roasted veggies.  You can also swap out guacamole for salsa if you are looking for a lower fat option.  If I have enough time on the weekends, I will sometimes make a big pot of vegetable soup or a vegetarian chili.

Do you have any other creative lunch ideas to share?

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Soup Weather

The days are shorter and the weather is very chilly in the Northeast.  This time of year, all I want to do is snuggle up under the covers at night with some type of warm beverage or food.  I am not always a huge soup fan but something about this time of year that makes me crave it everyday.  I have become much more comfortable in the kitchen lately and for me soup is always the easiest choice.  Since I try to eat mostly a plant based diet, cooking a soup is fairly easy and pretty satisfying as a dinner.  I don’t have a great sense of what spices to use in different dishes which has always steered me away from making soups.  I never know if I put too much salt or not enough pepper or if maybe I needed some spicy element to the base of the broth but I seem to get the thumbs up at dinner much more than I used to.  I must be doing something right!  Last weekend I made a tomato vegetable soup that was absolutely delicious and super easy.  It was enough for dinner and then a few lunches during the week as well.  I used some tips from other recipes to create my own rendition with the vegetables that I like and am used to eating in my daily diet.  Do you have any soup recipes to share or any tips on how to make a great soup?

Here is my Healthy Tomato Vegetable Soup recipe4728831413_80b8554acb_z

14 Ounces Canned Diced Tomatoes

3/4 Cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth

1 Cup Frozen Spinach

1 Cup Mixed Frozen Vegetables (whichever you like!)

4 Carrots Cups and Peeled

3 Sweet Potatoes Cut and Peeled

1 White Onion Chopped

1 Garlic Clove Chopped Finely

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon Oregano

Directions:

1.Heat the onions with vegetable for a few minutes.

2. Pour in the tomoto broth and all the vegteables.

3. Bring to boil and then let simmer for an hour.

 

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The Persistent Sweet Tooth

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I seem to have a sweet craving everyday lately.  Especially now that it is the holidays and there are sugar cookies, gingerbread cakes, all the delicious Starbucks beverages, pumpkin flavored ice-cream, dark chocolate bark–and the list can keep going!  Are you hungry yet?  I am, and once again, craving those sweets.  What do you do when you have that persistent craving whether it be sweets or salt?

I believe that if you have a craving, you need to satisfy it but only if this craving is every so often.  For me, I have been wanting the wrong things everyday and that is not a habit that should be honored and satisfied.  I like to treat myself to a sweet once a week to keep me in check. That doesn’t mean I go haywire and eat a whole cake but rather I take a cup of ice cream or a slice of cake.  What about those other 7 days?

Some foods that help alleviate that craving for me are naturally sweet foods such as any type of fruit but in particular apples.  I love the satisfying feeling an apple has because it takes a long time to eat.  I also will have a cup herbal fruity tea (Tazo Passion Tea is delicious).  If my craving just won’t go away, I will have one small piece of dark chocolate which is the better choice than any milk chocolate products.  I also cook up delicious banana cookies every week and bring some to work individually wrapped which helps with portion control.

Does anyone have any other tips that could help with the persistent sweet tooth?

Here is one recipe that helps me with my sweet cravings.

Banana Baked Cookies (yields about 12 small cookies)

1 cup of oatmeal

1/4 cup of almond meal

1/3 cup of protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)

2 tablespoons of carob chips

1 tablespoon of unsweetened coconut flakes

2 Ripe Bananas

1/2 cup of almond milk

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of almond butter

Directions:

1.  Mix with an immersion blender the banana, milk and almond butter.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.

4. Pour mixture into a pan that has been lightly coated with coconut oil.

5. Bake for 25 minutes.

6. Let cool, cut in small pieces, enjoy 🙂

 

**The picture above was from sweet tooth heaven!  My husband took our honeymoon this past December to Europe.  While we were in Paris we stopped into Laduree and spent some time tasting macaroons.**

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Holiday Eating

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With the holidays quickly approaching, I am hitting the gym more often and trying to keep it pretty strict with my eating since I know the next few months will be difficult to keep those extra pounds off.  Not only will there will be sweets, bulk food and delicious cocktails all around but it becomes very busy and makes it harder to go to the gym.  

My husband and I split time between our families for thanksgiving.  We go to his parents for lunch and then spend the evening with my family,  I get hit with two HUGE meals in one day.  Both of our families know how to cook so I am always tempted to just lose all control BUT I try my hardest to not over indulge.  A few things that I do so I don’t overeat is start with a salad.  I try to fill up on this so that when the main meal is being served I don’t go over board.  Once the main meal is served, I fill up my plate with a little portion of everything and never go in for seconds.  In between meals I usually don’t snack since I want to leave room (and calories) for dinner.  I also only have a few glasses of wine with dinner.  I have been doing this for the past two years and I seem to not have that after thanksgiving tired/full feeling like usual.  I still get to eat everything I want without feeling sick after and I also feel okay when I am shopping the next day 🙂 (sidenote: black friday is my favorite holiday –and yes it is a holiday).  

 

I am planning on making a quinoa salad this year for my dinner in hopes that some family members will choose thing over stuffing!  

Quinoa Butternut Salad 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Quinoa 
  • One butternut squash (roasted adn seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 cups of Kale (roasted and seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 1/3 Cup of unsweetened cranberries 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and serve either hot of cold.  You can also mix in some garlic.  Enjoy : ) 

 

What are your holiday eating tips?  I am always excited to hear other family traditions and tips for keeping fit during this time of year.  

 

The picture above is my dog Frankie from a few years ago on Christmas.  Not relevant but adorable.  

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