Category Archives: Health & Wellness

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (vegan).

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

It’s fall which means all things pumpkin have made their way to the local grocery stores and coffee shops, and — if you’re like me — it has even invaded your kitchen, too!

Today I’m sharing a recipe I am loving that would be perfect for a fall potluck or just to have for a grab-n-go breakfast around the house. The whole wheat flour gives the muffins heartiness and the coconut sugar plus chocolate chips give them a perfectly balanced sweetness.

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (vegan)

Makes approx. 15 muffins

Ingredients — always use organic ingredients when possible!

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 1 ½ cups coconut palm sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sugar, ground flaxseed, melted coconut oil and spices. Slowly add the flour, baking soda and baking powder while stirring. Add the chocolate chips last. Pour mixture into prepared muffin pan lined with cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


NOTES: You could use a different sweetener (maple syrup, agave, or cane sugar) in place of the coconut palm sugar, but I opted to use coconut for this reason:

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “Coconut sugar is 70 to 79 percent sucrose and only three percent to nine percent each of fructose and glucose. This is an advantage, because you want to keep your consumption of fructose as low as possible, and cane sugar is 50 percent fructose.”

Coconut sugar has a taste similar to that of brown sugar and can be substituted for cane sugar in most recipes. Find it at your local Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or co-op.

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30-day vegan challenge.


Happy Monday! My apologies for the lack of posts lately, but you know my blogging style

Anyway, I’m taking a break from home / DIY posts today to talk about something on a different topic: veganism.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, it’s no secret that I am a vegetarian with a passion for healthy + organic living. I became vegetarian when I was 18-years-old after discovering the negative impact that consuming meat has not only on our bodies, but on the environment as well. Fast forward to today, seven years later… The several books I’ve read (i.e. Crazy Sexy Diet, Skinny Bitch, Eat Pretty, etc) along with the documentaries I’ve watched (i.e. Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Food Inc., Vegecated, etc) have supplied me with substantial evidence for why a plant-based diet is so beneficial for a variety of reasons. (I won’t get into those reasons, but I highly recommend reading or watching any of the titles listed above for a plethora of valuable information).

With all that info that I can’t “un-know” subtly taunting me at every bite of a grilled cheese or omelette, I can’t help but feel a tinge of guilt. While adopting a vegetarian lifestyle (with an emphasis on buying local and organic) has definitely been a step in the right direction for me, I’ve always had a nagging feeling I could be doing more. More for my health, more for the planet, more for the animals — and in that order. (To elaborate — environmental sustainability and compassion for animals is indeed important to me, but the ring leader in all of this is the health factor. Just read a few of these success stories and tell me you don’t feel compelled to eat a more plant-based diet…)

Which brings me to the root of today’s post: I am embarking on a 30-day vegan challenge. I read this book and tried the challenge earlier in the year but only made it just over two weeks. This time around I am aiming for the full 30 days (hence the public blog announcement for accountability…) and possibly even adopting this new way of eating permanently. Key word: possibly. Update to follow, post challenge.

I’m excited that a co-worker of mine has also decided to join me on this challenge and even my husband (a full-fledged meat eater) is giving it a go for one week! —> *impressed wife*

As for what I’ll be eating, I am keeping a daily food journal (let me know if you’re curious/interested and I can give brief week-to-week updates or an overall 30-day review) and I’m sourcing recipes from a variety of my favorite food blogs, i.e.: Minimalist Baker, This Rawsome Vegan Life, The Simple Veganista, My Whole Food Life, etc.,  as well as my go-to vegan cookbooks, i.e. Chloe’s Kitchen, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, and Oh She Glows.

What do you think — would you ever consider doing a vegan (or even vegetarian) challenge?


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oat pecan burger.

oat pecan burger

The co-op here in Rochester makes a mean oat pecan burger. It’s so good that I tracked down the recipe so I could make it myself! Aside from being able to make these whenever a craving strikes, I’m also saving money by making them at home. This is a hearty burger that both meat-eaters and vegetarians will love!

Oat Pecan Burgers (vegan, gluten-free)

Adapted from 3 Angels Fellowship

Makes approx. 7-8 burgers


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Bragg’s (liquid aminos) or tamari
  • 2 Tbs. + 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 Tbs. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats


  1. Place all ingredients into a large pot except the oats and bring to a slow boil.
  2. Stir in rolled oats and remove from heat.
  3. Let cool and shape into patties. Note: the cooling process takes about 30 minutes.
  4. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Once warm, fry the patties until lightly browned on each side.

Serve on a bun with your favorite fixins! I’m a fan of lettuce, organic ketchup and vegenaise (if you haven’t tried it, you are missing out!).

Sprouts, tomatoes, pickles and/or avocado slices would also be good options.

oat pecan burgers

oat pecan burger



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latest book buys.


I’ve been on a book binge lately. As in, I buy a book with the intention of reading it right away but somehow buy another before I even opened the one before that. Nonetheless, I am determined to read the last five I picked up before I buy any others and suppress my urge to have a “library room” like this

1) Eat Pretty — I’m convinced that what we put into our bodies has a definite effect on our overall appearance and well-being — skin, hair, nails, weight, etc. This book emphasizes just that and unveils the “beauty-boosting benefits” of various foods and also points out the ones that are inhibiting us from looking/feeling our best. In addition, Eat Pretty offers a handful of recipes and explores stress management, hormonal balance, and mindful living.  As if the content weren’t intriguing enough, can we talk about how cute that cover is?!

2) Folks, This Ain’t Normal — This particular book was selected as the April read for the healthy living book club I am a part of. Needless to say, I’m running a bit behind… whoops.  The book is based on the notion that farming (and our day-to-day living) is no longer simplistic and sustainable as it once was. The author talks about the importance of foods that are wholesome, seasonal, raised naturally, and procured locally. This is the kind of book that will leave a reader re-examining not only their diet, but how they spend their free time (i.e. electronics versus quality time with loved ones).

3) Clean — As if you haven’t already picked up on my love for books that focus on healthy living, this is yet another one that falls in that boat. Author Alejandro Junger talks about the solutions to the common ailments many Americans face today that come as a direct result of the toxic build-up in our bodies. Sounds interesting, right?

4) The Antelope in the Living Room — Now for a non-health-related book! I picked this one up after coming across a few positive reviews from blogs I peruse on the regular. Melanie (author) tells a light-hearted, honest story about the ups and downs of marriage from a personal stance. I’m only a few pages in but can tell it’s going to be a humorous and worth-while read!

5) The ‘Oh She Glows’ Cookbook — Okay, so this isn’t exactly a book that requires a whole lot of “reading” per say, yet I would still like to make a point to flip through every page and take note of the recipes I’d like to make in the near future. Angela, the author and blogger over at Oh She Glows, boasts a bounty of gluten-free, vegan recipes that will make you glow from the inside out. It doesn’t hurt that her pictures are amazing!

What books have you been reading (or meaning to) lately? Have you read any of the five that I mentioned?

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trail mix bars.

healthy trail mix bars

It’s a new year and if you’re like most people (myself included), you’re probably looking for ways to be healthier in 2014. Whether that means eating more greens or simply adding 10 minutes of walking to your day, I salute you for your efforts! Even the smallest changes can make a big difference over time. And on that note, today I am sharing a very easy and healthy recipe that you’ll no doubt find yourself making again and again.

trail mix bar ingredients
This particular recipe actually came about as a mistake. A few months back I was making a half batch of these PB chocolate chip chia bites, but I couldn’t get the mixture to form into balls. I didn’t want the ingredients to go to waste so I decided to pack it all into a pan and cut it into squares instead. The result? A delicious and healthy granola bar, which has since evolved into a “trail mix bar” through my experimentation with different ingredients and amounts. And really, that’s the beauty of this recipe — just so long you start with the right base (a proper ratio of oats, honey & peanut butter), the rest is up to you! I make a batch of these almost every Sunday and they serve as an on-the-go breakfast, snack, and even dessert throughout the week!

Trail Mix Bars (gluten-free, vegan option)

Makes approx. 9-12 bars depending on desired size

Ingredients — always buy organic when possible!

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar, if vegan
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs chia seeds
  • Other optional add-ins: pepitas, almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut, hemp seeds, flax seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, etc.

trail mix bar ingredients


Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pack mixture into a 8×6 pan and place in freezer for one hour. One mixture has hardened, cut it into bars and store in fridge or freezer. (If left out at room temperature, bars will become crumbly). Enjoy!

trail mix bars

Give this recipe a try — you’ll be glad you did!

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gluten-free pumpkin walnut muffins.

gluten-free pumpkin walnut muffins

I’m back with another muffin recipe! (Here’s the whole wheat banana nut one if ya missed it)

If you’re like me and lusting after all things pumpkin-packed right now in the spirit of fall (but still want to eat healthy), then be sure to bookmark (or pin) this recipe because it’s definitely a keeper!

Recipe adapted from Carrots ‘n Cake

Makes approx. 9 regular-sized muffins

Ingredients: — always buy organic when possible!

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs (flax eggs, if vegan)
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Pour mixture into prepared muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. (Insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin to make sure it comes out clean). Serve with pumpkin butter for a real treat. Enjoy!

gluten-free pumpkin walnut muffins

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whole wheat banana nut muffins.

whole wheat banana nut muffins

I’ve been on a muffin kick lately. Okay, who am I kidding? I’m always on a muffin kick. They make a great on-the-go breakfast or convenient afternoon snack, not to mention they pair perfectly with coffee — so what’s not to love? Oh I know, maybe that they tend to have a lot of oil, butter and/or sugar, making them not so healthy! But that’s not the case with this one. I adapted the recipe to make it friendlier on the waist line so you won’t feel bad eating three or four one or two. The best part? It’s just as delicious as the original version.

whole wheat banana nut muffins

Recipe adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

Makes approx. 15 muffins


  • 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted non-dairy butter
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 organic egg, beaten (or flax egg if vegan)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

*Adaptions to the original recipe include: reducing the sugar content by 1/4 cup, replacing regular butter with Earth Balance butter (I’d also be curious to how it would turn out if you used coconut oil), and swapping out all-purpose flour for whole wheat.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix butter into the mashed bananas.  Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla.  Add baking soda and salt.  Add flour and mix until just incorporated.  Fold in chopped walnuts.

Pour mixture into prepared muffin pan lined with cupcake liners.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. (Insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin to make sure it comes out clean).

healthy banana nut muffins


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PB banana ice cream + homemade magic shell.

vegan PB banana ice cream

It’s the weekend! What better way to savor the last of these hot summer days than with ice cream!

What if I told you that there is such a thing as HEALTHY ice cream (which I may or may not have made the past three consecutive nights…) I realized I should probably stop hoarding this delectable discovery and share with the rest of you.

So here it is:

For the ice cream:

  • 2 frozen bananas, chopped into rounds
  • 2 Tbs. organic peanut butter (I prefer the chunky kind)
  • 1-2 Tbs. almond milk (or milk of choice) to facilitate blending, if need be


Add ingredients to a food processor and blend until you reach a creamy consistency. The result will be similar to that of soft serve. If you prefer a firmer ice cream, place in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Serves two.

vegan pb banana ice cream

This recipe should have a tagline that says, “I can’t believe it’s not ice cream!” because you will seriously be fooled. If you want to spruce it up, you could swirl in nutella, cinnamon, or cookie bits. Another option is replacing the peanut butter for berries for a more sorbet-like treat. Or, you could be like me and whip up some homemade magic shell! Yet another noteworthy recipe I must share!

For the magic shell:

  • 2 Tbs. chocolate chips, or 1 oz. of your favorite chocolate
  • 1 Tbs. organic coconut oil


Melt ingredients together, either by microwaving for 30 seconds or stirring on the stove top. Drizzle on top of ice cream and watch it harden! Makes approx. 1-2 servings.

Give this recipe a try and you’ll be glad you did! You might even find yourself stockpiling your freezer with frozen bananas.

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life lately.

Happy Friday! I promised myself I would get back on the blogging bandwagon this week so here I am (thanks to those who have participated in my reader survey quiz by the way)! But before I start getting back to writing my normal posts that you’re use to, I figure two months off the blog grid deserves its own post about what I’ve been up to. I’ll try to keep this short…

First up, I’ll tackle the subject of health + wellness. I’ve recently been reading Kris Carr’s ‘Sexy Crazy Diet’ book which emphasizes a plant-based diet rich in vegetables as well as low-glycemic and raw foods. (This book really is worthy of its own blog post). Although I consider myself a pretty healthy eater, this book, alongside the Forks Over Knives documentary (you might remember my blog post making mention of that here), got me thinking I should really step up my game. I decided to go on a 2-week “cleanse” where I cut out all dairy as well as foods containing wheat + gluten. The cleanse resulted in the loss of a few pounds, clearer skin, no bloating and more energy. While I’ve since been consuming small amounts of gluten and dairy here and there, I would love to adapt a 100% plant-based diet down the road but I am taking baby steps for now. And in case you were wondering about some of the things I consumed during the cleanse, here are a few examples:

*My Pinterest boards are a great source for recipe ideas!

In addition to the clean-eating, I’ve been making it a point to do some form of physical activity for 30-60 min/day, 5-6 days/wk. This can be as simple as a brisk walk or something as strenuous as a long-distance run. However, biking has always been one of my favorite workout activities, so my husband was nice enough to buy me a new bike to replace the one I’ve had since high school, knowing it would get plenty of use. I went with a commuter-style since I’m not big into trail-riding nor road-racing and a lot of my biking is purely for transportation purposes (why drive if you can get to where you need to go by bike? Save gas/money and get a workout at the same time — win-win!) The 2013 Women’s Vita Base Mixte was a perfect fit for what I was after. (I also purchased saddle bags for the back for making small trips to the grocery store).

2013 Women's Vita Base Mixte Road Bike

Next on my list of items to mention is the newest member of our family as of three weeks ago: Paisley! She is a pure-bred yellow Labrador retriever now going on 10-weeks-old. Her daily routine involves sleeping, hiding underneath things, chewing whatever she comes across and getting into anything and everything she can. (Can you blame me for not making/having time to blog?) If you live in Minnesota or the surrounding area, we highly recommend the breeders at Welcome Home Labs.


Last but not least, a good chunk of my time has been spent in our [new] vegetable garden that we built this year. I won’t divulge too much because I could write a whole blog post about it (and will be doing so very soon), but I will say it has been a very rewarding experience being able to just go to the backyard to pick our very own homegrown produce!

vegetable garden

Well that’s it for now… I’d love to know what you have been keeping busy with this summer! Expect to see more posts from me in the next few days! Have a great weekend.

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summer reading list.

reading{original image source unknown}

reading list

summer reading list

 [ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 ]

Here are just a handful of the books I’d like to cross off my “to-read” list this summer. (You can see the full list here). What are some of the books on your summer reading list, or what are some of your recommendations?


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