Monday, February 28, 2011

Low fat, Tahini-free Hummus

Hi Friends! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekends!

Hummus is one of my all-time favorite foods. However, tahini (sesame seed paste) bugs my stomach. Apparently, I am allergic to sesame seeds, and I know that this allergy isn't uncommon. While store-bought hummus is very convenient, it almost always contains tahini, so I just make my own hummus!

Low Fat, Tahini-free Hummus
-1 can Garbanzo Beans, liquid reserved
-2T fresh Lemon Juice
-1 clove Garlic
-1/3t salt + ¼ tsp pepper (or to taste)
-½T Olive oil
-1/2 tsp Cumin
Makes about 1 cup

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. In a blender or food processor, combine garbanzo beans, cumin, lemon juice, garlic, oil. Add the reserved bean liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until there is enough liquid needed to fully combine the ingredients. Blend until smooth.

*Note: I recommend peeling the "skins" off the chickpeas. Although this is time-consuming, it results in a creamier hummus.

Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities?

What is your favorite way to eat hummus? Crackers, baby carrots, cucumber slices, in a salad, I'll use any food as an excuse to eat hummus!

xoxo Tina

Friday, February 25, 2011

Satisfying cravings

Happy Friday!

My boyfriend is obsessed with Mexican food. Although he is Italian and loves his pastas, he can eat burritos every single night of the week (I've seen him do it too). I on the other hand, am not really a fan of Mexican food, but surprisingly I have been in the mood for it lately.

My version of a taco(less) salad:
In the mix:
-Red onion
-Black bean
-Topped with homemade guacamole
-Cumin salad dressing (apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil + cumin)

I made the guacamole lower in fat by replacing some of the avocado with edamame. This also adds some extra protein.

Healthier (and vegan) quesadillas:
Brown rice wrap filled with organic refried pinto beans, black beans, about 2 tablespoons of salsa and cumin plus a side salad with shopped baby carrots, tomatoes & leftover guacamole.

What is your favorite type of cuisine? I love Mediterranean food since it is what I grew up eating, and I am also a big fan of Asian cuisine.
Has your taste changed from when you were younger? Mine definitely has! I use to eat processed foods and fast food, basically JUNK! Now I love natural, whole foods. Everything else just doesn't appeal to me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crazy Sexy Diet

Hello health nuts!

I recently finished reading the Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and wanted to give a little summary and my opinion of the book.

“Health is more than the absence of disease; it is the presence of vitality.” There is no better quote to summarize my definition of health.

The Crazy Sexy Diet is a low-fat, vegetarian or vegan diet that focuses on low-glycemic whole foods to balance the ph of your body and reduce inflammation.

Low-fat: This aspect of the diet took my by surprise when I initially read it. From the get go she states the diet is low-fat, however no where in the book does she say to avoid fats. In fact she emphasizes the importance of Omega 3's to reduce inflammation. In addition the recipes contain nuts, seeds and oils, so I don’t consider it to be actually low fat, just an “oil change” from bad fats to healthy fats.

Alkalizing: She encourages us to consume 60-80% alkaline foods and 20-40% acidic. If you are wondering which foods are acidic and which are alkaline, there is a handy chart you can check out here. Basically, fruits and vegetables are alkaline and all processed, refined food are acidic. However, healthy foods such as olive oil, beans and grains are considered to be acidic, but that doesn’t mean we should not eat them! 20-40% of our diet should comprise of these foods. There is such a thing as too-alkaline, so it really is about finding the balance.

Anti-inflammatory: Many medical professionals are beginning to acknowledge how much damage inflammation causes in the body, stating that it is the "root cause of all disease." Dr. Andrew Weil, has a an anti-inflammatory food pyramid and Kris also addresses the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet and suggests using foods like turmeric, ginger, garlic and olive oil to cool inflammation in the body.

Low Glycemic: Eating low glycemic foods will help control and stabilize blood glucose levels, preventing insulin resistance, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. (Personally, I take the GI with a grain of salt. I mean, a Snickers bar has about the same glycemic index as cooked carrots...)

For those who are up to the challenge, she provides guidelines for a 21 Day Cleanse which involves eliminating or avoiding the following foods:
-Processed, refined and high glycemic foods
(She recommends that everyone experiment with a gluten free diet since many people find that it causes them a lot of digestive problems)
-Animal Products
-Chemicals and toxic products (She recommends using natural skin care products)

Emphasize the following:
-Green drinks and smoothies (preferably, you would consume only these until noon for optimal detoxification)
-Raw or lightly steamed veggies
-Juice fasts
(1 day a week for further detoxification)
-Prayer and Positive Affirmations
-Yoga and Meditation
-Dry brushing and Sweating
to help remove toxins
-Supplements and Superfoods

What I loved about this book:
-I have said many times that I believe health is all-encompassing, it is not simply what we eat or if we exercise. It is mind, body and spirit, and I love that Kris addresses that in this book. She acknowledges that our health is impacted not only by what we consume physically (food and drinks), but also by what we consume figuratively (our thoughts, ideas, emotions, etc).

The Negatives:
-While this book is filled with tons of great information, it can be a bit overwhelming for those who are not familiar with this type of lifestyle. In addition, with all the different diets, detoxes and cleanses, there is so much contradictory information that as an audience it is so easy to get confused. In the book Kris recommends consuming only raw veggie juices until lunch. You may read this book and think “Green juice for breakfast? Aren’t I suppose to ‘eat breakfast like a king?’” Well, to each his own. Our bodies are all unique so you have to find out what works best for you.

While none of the information in this book was new to me, or something I have not studied before, her spunky, funky, positive attitude made the book a fun read!

What do you need to detox from?
-Junk foods (soda, candy, sugars)?
-Negative thoughts?
-Energy-suckers? (The type of people that always seems to put you in a funk when you are around them?)

Everyone has a different idea of what it means to detox or cleanse. I have tried juice fasts, elimination diets and an unsuccessful master cleanse (I attempted to start after a night of drinking, yes this was my pre-health counselor days!). I did not do any of these for weight loss, I did them to try it and see how I felt. I am the type of person that likes to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I personally feel that if done correctly and for the right reasons, cleansing can be an important part of good health. How do you feel about detoxes? Have you done a detox before?

xoxo Tina

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recent Whole Foods Buys

Happy President's Day! I hope everyone has the day off today! Does any one else get the feeling that Mother Nature lost her mind? I cannot believe there is snow on the ground right now! Hopefully we get back to that beautiful spring weather soon!

Yesterday I made the trek (about a 30 minute drive) to Whole Foods and bought some goodies! Typically I buy about 80-90% of my food from Trader Joe's or the regular local supermarket and the rest of my food from one of the two health food stores that are close-by. One is a small health store/vegan deli and the other is a all-natural supermarket called Wild by Nature. It's very similar to Whole Foods, expect it is a little smaller and doesn't have quite the selection as Whole Foods does. When I do make the drive out to Whole Foods I only buy items that I can't find at any of the stores close to me, since Whole Foods can be a tad expensive.

Here is what I left with:

-Nature's Path Love Crunch Granola [I've been dying to try it after seeing it on several blogs!]
-Living Harvest Brand Unsweetened Vanilla Hemp Milk
-Pacific Foods brand Carrot Cashew Ginger Soup [I've had this soup before and it is amazing.]
-Wildwood Brand Organic Sprouted Baked Tofu [Teriyaki flavor, Trader Joe's makes their own version of this which I buy as well.]
-Bulk bin Rolled Oats
-Theo Organic Dark Chocolate [which someone already tasted ;)]

I had a square of the Theo dark chocolate last night after dinner, and while I like the fact that it is organic and has a high cocoa content, I still prefer the taste of my Green & Black's! I love their 70% dark chocolate because it isn't as bitter as most other dark chocolates.

I buy the original unsweetened Hemp Milk at either of the health food stores by my house, but they don't carry the vanilla unsweetened, so I get a few cartons whenever I go to whole foods.

Here are a few of the frozen items I purchase for my lazy, 'I don't feel like cooking' days:

-365 Vegan, Gluten free Roasted Vegetable Pizza
-Soy-free & Gluten-free Vegan burgers
[a new-to-me item!]
-Frozen Kale

When I don't have the time to make home-made ones, my go-to veggie burgers are Amy's California burgers, Sunshine burgers or Wildwood/Trader Joe's Tofu burgers. However, I am always up to try a new one! These new Vegan burgers I picked up have great ingredients:

I love the fact that these are all ingredients I recognize and have in my pantry/fridge. No additives! When buying packaged goods, I go through a mini checklist to determine how healthy or processed it is.

The vegan roasted vegetable pizza seems very similar to Amy's veggie pizza which I love, except the 365 brand has less calories, so I decided to buy it and give it a shot!

This morning for breakfast I knew exactly what I wanted:

I love granola that is filled with clusters, so when I opened the box you can imagine what a happy girl I was to see this:

Literally, a bag of the world's largest clusters. Now I know why they call it love crunch! Although I barely saw any dark chocolate chunks or raspberries (unless they are all hiding at the bottom), this granola was still really good! When I checked out the nutrition label before purchasing it I was surprised to see that it was lower in calories than most other granolas. A serving = 3/4 cup which is 260 calories. I've seen other granolas with the same calories for only 1/4 cup. However, once I measured out 3/4 cup it turned out to be several huge clusters, so it actually is around the same calories as regular granola if you break the granola boulders apart.

What is your favorite Cereal or Granola? Although I like them, I typically don't buy cereal or granola simply because they don't fill me up the same way that oats do. When I do buy them, I look for cereals with low-sugar, high-fiber and all-natural ingredients. Ezekiel sprouted cereals are one of my favorites.

Have you purchased any new health food items lately?

Where do you buy your hard-to-find health food goodies? Do you have a local health store or a Whole Foods close by?

xoxo Tina

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekend Eating Habits

Happy Friday!!

I am loving the beautiful weather we are having! The sounds of birds chirping when I wake up is a sound I really missed! I love that spring is approaching!

For many people weekends result in eating "naughtier foods" (as I like to call them) and eating more in general. Going out to restaurants can result in higher calorie meals or foods you wouldn't normally have if you had cooked at home (bread with butter, wine, desserts, etc). Also, you may be less motivated to get some exercise in over the weekend. I know the weekend is a time to relax after a hard week, but that doesn't mean we should let all our hard work at the gym or healthy eating all week go to waste!

If you know you are going out to dinner, plan ahead by make smart choices throughout the day. Load up on veggies, fruits, high-fiber and lower calorie meals so you have some calories to spare at dinner. I talked about how making healthy choices when eating out in this post.

If going to the gym over the weekend, really doesn't appeal to you, find an activity you enjoy. Working out shouldn't be torture; try yoga, going for a walk, hiking, biking, etc, anything to get your body moving and your heart rate up!

If you are going to drink alcohol, try not do it on an empty stomach, and make sure to drink PLENTY of water before, during and after. Alcohol leads to dehydration and hangovers (bleh!). I rarely drink and when I do, I am a two-sip sally. I usually can't handle more than 2 strong drinks. When choosing an alcoholic beverage I try and avoid all the fruity drinks because they are filled with sugar and calories!

My go-to alcoholic beverage of choice:
1 shot vodka, or more if you can handle it ;)
club soda (If making the drink at home I use the all-natural flavored club sodas)
splash of fruit juice (cranberry, pomegranate, orange juice-etc)
squeeze of lemon or lime

By using club soda as the filler instead of the fruit juice you dramatically cut the carbs and sugars. If you happen to wake up with a hangover and start craving heavy, greasy diner food, try my hangover cure smoothie recipe instead to rebalance and rehydrate your body.

Practice moderation. Try and eat the same amount (volume) of food as you normally food, but if those foods happen to be richer. Your body doesn't know the difference between a Saturday or a Wednesday, so just because it's a weekend, this doesn't mean your appetite suddenly increases.

Do you feel like your eating and exercise habits change over the weekend? Sunday is usually my day off from the gym anyway, but if my body is well-rested and I am up to it, I will still try and get a workout in. My eating habits are consistent all week long, but some weekends I will be in the mood for some sweets, which I satisfy by baking some healthier desserts at home.

What are some of the ways you keep yourself motivated to stay on track over the weekend?

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
xoxo Tina

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

Hello friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend and a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Yesterday my boyfriend completely surprised me with a special date he planned! He was suppose to have off from work yesterday, but last minute had to go in a take care of something. Which I didn't mind because I had a meeting in the morning anyway, so I figured we would both be done nice and early and would be able to spend the rest of the day together. Before we parted ways I made him his favorite vegan french toast for a special v-day breakfast, which he loved as always, and I had my chocolate strawberry smoothie.

My meeting went great, and I was home nice and early, waiting for him to get finished. Well, he took much longer than we both had anticipated, so I was planning on just cooking a nice dinner for us at home. Well, you can imagine my surprise when he finally walked in the door and told me I had 20 minutes to get ready cause we were taking a train into the city (Manhattan) for dinner reservations! I was shocked because my boyfriend isn't the type to plan things and also shocked that he thought I could be ready in 20min!! I'm a girl after all! ;) Lucky for him, I was already showered and ready and just needed to get changed.

When we arrived into the city he brought me here:

Candle 79 is a vegan and organic restaurant that offers amazing local and seasonal foods. I have been here once before, and have also been to their sister restaurant, Candle Cafe, so I knew we were in for a treat!

Our reservations we at 5pm, and luckily we arrived 20 minutes early because it wasn't before long that a long line of people began to form outside the door!
Upon being seated we were presented with their Valentine's Day menu:

A choice of soup or salad, an appetizer, and entree and dessert.
After ordering they gave us a sample of a crispy wonton topped with coconut cream and a black berry.

I'm not sure what the sauce was, but this was delicious!
We both chose the soup instead of a salad. It was a saffron red pepper soup with vegetable dumplings.

It was an adult version of tomato soup with crispy veggie filled dumplings. Very delicious! For my appetizer I chose the grilled artichokes, asparagus, grape tomatoes, hearts of palm and picked red onions with a basil-pine nut pesto.

I love pesto so this dish was perfect for me. The artichokes were perfectly cooked and seasoned. Although I did push the pickled red onions to the side!

Tom opted for the grilled portobello with crispy polenta, tofu cheese and spinach on a tomanesco sauce.

We tasted each other's dishes and really liked both. I've had their crispy polenta here before and it was just as good as I remembered! For our entrees I rolled with the pumpkin seed crusted seitan over quinoa vegetable pilaf, sauteed chard, grilled chayote squash over a tomatillo avocado sauce.

The seitan and quinoa were delicious, but the sauce really threw me off. There was a ton of fresh cilantro in there and it was very overpowering, so I avoided the sauce and enjoyed the other components of my meal. Tom chose the house made tortellini with seasonal vegetables in a saffron-cashew cream.
He said he liked it, but it wasn't the best he has had. I didn't try the tortellini because I'm not a big pasta girl, but I tasted the sauce and some of the veggies on the bottom and it tasted pretty good.
For dessert they gave us a small menu with four desserts to choose from: Warm chocolate cake with candied ginger ice cream, Vanilla Flan, Mixed Berry crumble or an Ice cream Sampler. We both got the warm chocolate cake, but asked for french vanilla ice cream in place of the candied ginger.

Warm chocolate cake with chocolate fudge, vanilla ice cream topped with candided walnuts. HOLY YUM.
We both joked that we could have had four courses of just this!
Clearly, we hated it. All in all the meal was delicious!

I am so blessed to have Tom in my life! He always puts up with my crazy antics, health food obsessions and type-A personality. I am always the one planning things, so it was such a treat to have him make the plans and surprise me. It was such a great Valentine's Day!

Picture courtsey of LIRR

Hope you all enjoyed your Valentine's Day/Weekend! <3>
What was the highlight of your weekend?
xoxo Tina

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Healthy Valentine's Day Recipes

Hello friends! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

I've always said that Valentine's Day is just an excuse to eat chocolate and yell at your significant other if they forget to buy you flowers, and I am perfectly okay with that. So bring on the Hallmark holiday! I don't know what my boyfriend has planned for Valentine's Day, but I plan on showing him I love him the best way I know how: filling his belly with delicious and healthy foods. I want to share some of my favorite Valentine's day recipes with you all! They are sweet and delicious while still being healthy (and vegan).

Sweet breakfast for your valentine:
Best Vegan French Toast
adapted from Engine 2 Diet
1 banana
½ cup milk substitute of choice (rice, coconut, almond, hemp, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4–6 slices whole grain or sprouted bread
Combine the banana, milk substitute, vanilla, and cinnamon in a blender. Pour this batter into a shallow dish or bowl.
Dip the bread slices in the mixture and cook in a nonstick skillet on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
Serve drizzled with pure maple syrup

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie:
1 cup milk of choice (almond, hemp, rice, etc)
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1T cocoa powder
*To turn this into a protein shake you can add 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder and reduce the cocoa powder to 1/2T. This also tastes just as delicious without the banana!
Blend and enjoy!

Classic Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
1lb. fresh strawberries
1/2 cup (4 oz.) dairy-free dark chocolate chips or bar broken into pieces (My favorite organic chocolate brands are Green and Black’s, Dagoba, and Tropical Source. Look for a cocoa content of 70% or higher.)

-Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or wax paper.
-Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
-Dip the strawberries halfway into the melted chocolate, then carefully transfer them to the baking sheet and let cool.
Makes 12 servings

Chocolove brand chocolate bars are not only delicious, but also contain a love letter inside each wrapper making them a great gift for a loved one! I especially love their orange peel dark chocolate flavor.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Did you celebrate early?

What are your favorite Valentine's Day recipes?

xoxo Tina

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Supplement Reviews

Happy Thursday! The weekend is almost here!

Swanson Health Products was nice enough to send me some supplements to review. Upon telling them that I was a vegetarian, they were very understanding and made sure that the products they sent me were all vegetarian friendly! I was so impressed by how nice they were to cater to my dietary needs!

These are the goodies I received from them:

Here are my opinions and reviews of these products. I want to premise by saying, I am 100% honest in my opinions and I am EXTREMELY picky when it comes to supplements and brands. I find that many brands put health claims as marketing tactics and once I read the label, I find that their products are of very low quality. I am a stickler for products that contain zero fillers and GMO's.

Stress Shield by Country Life: This product contains Vitamin C, which is known to help control Cortisol levels (cortisol is the stress hormone), B vitamins and Folic acid. In addition, this product contains:

Ashwagandha: for stress, insomnia and fatigue

L-tyrosine: an amino acid which is needed for the production of dopamine and epinephrine, and thyroid hormones

Ginseng: for energy, vitality and stamina

5-HTP: for mood elevation, depression and panic attacks

This product is very well-rounded. I actually think that it would be great to take before a workout as well. It has been said that Vitamin C is said to help you burn more calories during your workout and the B vitamins and herbs help boost your energy. This isn't a product I would take daily, but I would definitely take it when I need an energy boost or a mood lifter!

Barlean's Greens Powder: Despite the fact that I eat plenty of vegetables, I still like using greens powders for the same reason I take a multi-vitamin, to cover all my bases. This greens powder contains Organic Barley, Wheat and Oat leaves/juice, Spirulina, Flaxmeal, Chlorella, Sea Vegetables, Spinach, Parsley, Astragalus, Schizandra, Acerola Cherry, Green Tea extract, Curcumin extract as well as digestive enzymes. While greens powders are definitely an acquired taste, Barlean's is one of the better tasting greens powders I have tried. I have been using Pro-Greens for the past several months and it is the kind of powder you NEED to mix with juice or a smoothie to drink. Barlean's on the other hand has a somewhat fruity flavor and they added stevia so it is pretty bearable on its own mixed with water. For those who want to ease into green drinks, I would definitely start with Amazing Grass or Emerald Greens chocolate greens powders. They are tasty!

Greens Foods brand Organic Chlorella Powder: Chorella is a single-cell algae that many consider to be a "super food." It is said to aid the body in the detoxification of heavy metals. In addition, it is very high in nutrients like Chlorophyll, B vitamins, Protein, Vitamin C, Iron and Beta Carotene. One serving (one teaspoon) has 62% of your daily requirement of vitamin A (beta carotene) and 130% of vitamin C! I love adding it to my shakes or smoothies because I can't taste any difference in flavor. For the past 2-3 years I have included "super foods" like Chlorella and Spirulina in my daily routine and will continue to do so.

The last two products are digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes aid your body in the digestion process. I cannot begin to tell you how many of my clients would complain of digestion issues, in fact, I use to be one of them! More and more people are getting diagnosed with IBS and other digestive disorders. In my opinion there are many changes that can be made to really help clear up a lot of tummy troubles. Taking digestive enzymes is like giving your body back up. I intend dedicating an entire post on digestion so look out for it!

Digest Basic by Enzymedica: I have purchased Enzymedica products before and have some to really trust this brand. They guarantee that their products have "absolutely no fillers." In addition this product was marked "Vegan & Kosher," which some brands do not clearly label and then I have to do research and play guessing games to figure it out. This products contains all the essential enzymes needed to break down plant-based foods, which is great for vegetarians and vegans. They recommend taking 1 capsule with every meal to help digest.

Garden of Life Ultimate Digestive Enzymes: This is the mother of all digestive enzymes! Like I said before, I do my research when it comes to supplements, and I haven't seen such a complete product before! This particular product contains a broader spectrum of enzymes and in higher amounts than the Enzymedica product. I also like that they added Ginger root and Turmeric root extracts, which are known to aid in digestion as well. Prior to receiving this supplement I had been using Doctor's Best brand vegetarian enzymes, which were the best, most complete enzyme product I could find, but this Garden of Life product definitely gives my old enzymes a run for their money! I think I have a new go-to product.

Most of my supplement purchases have been from due to reasonable prices and free shipping on orders over $40, but I may start getting some of my supplements from Swanson because their prices are also very reasonable and they have good deals and promotions. Thanks Swanson for sending me these awesome products! Also, if anyone is interested in reviewing Swanson's products, contact Ben (

Have you tried any of these products before?

Are you picky when it comes to supplements?

Which of these products do you think you could benefit most from?

xoxo Tina

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vegan Cowboy Cookies + Healifying recipes

Happy Friday! I am glad the weekend is finally here!

I have a delicious recipe to share with you all. These are without a doubt my FAVORITE cookies, ever. Quite a bold statement, I know. Oatmeal, walnut, coconut, chocolate chip cookies are better than plain chocolate chip. There, I said it.

Vegan Cowboy Cookies:
Adapted from the recipe in this book.

Makes 11-12 larger cookies (you can easily double this recipe, but prepare to have your will power tested.)

-1c. Quick cook Oats
-1c. Flour (I used gluten free oat flour)
-1/2 tsp Baking soda
-1/4 tsp Baking powder
-1/4 tsp Salt
-1/4c. non-dairy Milk (I used hemp milk, but you could use any milk of your choice)
-1/2T ground Flax seeds
-1/3c. melted Coconut Oil (I used 5T coconut oil + 2T applesauce to cut some of the fat)
-1/3c. Sugar (I used organic evaporated cane sugar)
-6T firmly packed Brown Sugar
-1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
-1/2c. shredded unsweetened Coconut
-1/2c. semi-sweet vegan Chocolate Chips
-1/2c. chopped and toasted Pecans or Walnuts (I had pecans, so that is what I used)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together melted oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half. Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the coconut, chocolate chips, and toated nuts.

4. For each cookie, drop about a 1/4 cup of dough (about the size of a golf ball) onto cookie sheets. The dough will be sticky and thick. Leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie. Flatten slightly with moistened fingers or the moistened back of a measuring cup.

5. Bake for 14-16 minutes until edges start to brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.

*Tip: When using coconut oil, you have to melt it first and be careful when mixing it with cold ingredients, like the non-dairy milk, because it will start to solidify again and you will have tiny coconut oil pieces. To avoid this I mix my ingredients on the stove of my pre-heating oven because it is warm and keep the oil melted.

These are seriously heaven. They are much healthier than your average cookies, but without sacrificing the taste.

How I "healthify" recipes:
~I never use white flour. For all of my baking, I use gluten free oat flour. It works perfectly.
~I never use white sugar. My natural sweeteners of choice are pure maple syrup, agave, raw sugar or sucanat.
~I choose healthier oils and cut some of the fat. Coconut oil works great and replacing some of the oil with applesauce helps reduced the fat and calories in recipes. However, if you substitute too much, the cookies will become too cake-like, so only replace some of the oil like I did in this recipe. When baking brownies I replace some of the oil with canned pumpkin.
~I used dark chocolate chips (60-70% cacao) when I can find them.

If you try this recipe, let me know how much you love them! ;)

What is your favorite cookie?

What are your favorite ways to "healthify recipes?"

xoxo Tina

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Importance of Vitamin D

Happy Tuesday! I hope every one is doing well!

Supposedly there is more snow coming! In fact, I see that some of you have already been hit! I have been snowed in more days this year than I can count! Which is why I was not surprised to find out that my vitamin D levels were slightly low when I had my blood work done last week. Luckily, everything else came back perfect, but now I have to make sure I am getting sufficient amounts of this important vitamin.

Many Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and only recently are studies showing how important Vitamin D truly is. Vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, obesity and even cancer.

How to get it: Food sources of this particular vitamin are limited, the best source of this vitamin is from the sun. However, during the cold winter months, it is more difficult to get your daily dose when you are trying to stay warm inside. Therefore, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter.

How to find out if you are deficient: Have your doctor check your 25 OH vitamin D levels. This is done through a simple blood test and will give you a better idea of how vitamin D much you need to supplement with. According to the Vitamin D Council, blood levels should be between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

How to supplement: Vitamin D3 is said to be the best form because it is the form that is most easily absorbed by your body. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, taking it with food that contains some fat will may also help the body absorb it better.

Follow up: Have your levels rechecked every few months so make sure your levels are sufficient.

Do you supplement with Vitamin D?

When was the last time you had your blood work checked?

xoxo Tina

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. This information is based on research, my education, and my personal experience only. You should always consult your before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.