The Green Team Program

Hi Everyone!

Over the last month and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a nutrition and environmental sustainability class for kids in my community. Every Friday for 5 weeks, we met as a group to cook a healthy and fun recipe that complemented a specific lesson. Over the course of the program, the kids enjoyed making Apple Pie Smoothies, Pink Beet Hummus with Rainbow Veggies, Sandwich Sushi with Berry Kabobs, Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas, and Guacamole with Bell Pepper “chips!”

We focused on a variety of engaging topics that were relevant to the kids and encouraged them to make positive changes to their lifestyle. The lessons I developed included:

  1. Farm to Fork- where does our food come from?
  2. Eating a Rainbow- what types of foods fuel us the best?
  3. Thinking Outside the Lunchbox- how can packing lunches be more fun and why is it important to try new real foods?
  4. Sustainable Snacking- how can we reduce food and packaging waste?
  5. Globally Green- how can we do our part to care for the Earth we live in?

With the generous help of community volunteers, this program was a huge success and gave local elementary school students the opportunity to try a variety of new foods. Through fundraising and donations, I was able to offer this class at a low price to make it accessible to students of all income levels.

All of the kids also decorated and took home folders filled with all of the recipes so they can make them at home. Using pictures from the class and each of the recipes, I will be creating a cookbook to put into the school library so our community can enjoy it!

I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity to connect with kids in my community over a love for real food. As one kid said “I loved the Green Team. I tried lots of new foods and even made the apple pie smoothies for my family every day!”

The recipes we made:

Apple Pie Smoothies

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, sliced and cored
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 3 tbs whole grain oats
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • apple pie spice, to taste
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 tbs maple syrup

Steps:

First, wash your hands and collect all of your ingredients. Next, wash and safely slice the apple. Add it to the blender with the oats, spices, milk, yogurt, ice, and maple syrup. Blend 1 minute until smooth, and share with a friend.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans chickpeas
  • 2 tbs olive, avocado, or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
For honey cinnamon flavor:
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs sugar

Steps:

First, ask an adult to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas, and then dry them in a towel. Spread in an even layer with salt, oil (and cinnamon/honey if you’d like), and bake for 45 minutes until crispy. Let them cool for a couple minutes and you have a tasty, protein-packed snack!

Sandwich Sushi and Berry Kabobs

Ingredients:

Sandwich Sushi:
  • 2 pieces whole grain bread
  • Filling (nut butter, jam, avocado, or hummus)

Berry Kabobs:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • blackberries
  • raspberries

Steps:

For the sandwich sushi, roll out the bread with a rolling pin. Add in your choice of filling and roll up. Slice into bite sized pieces and pack for a fun lunch!
For the berry kabobs, wash berries well and serve on a toothpick for eating.

Pink Hummus and Rainbow Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 small pre-roasted beet
  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 pinches salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • multi-colored carrots
  • sliced cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • sliced broccoli
  • sliced bell peppers

Steps:

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, beet, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil. Blend until smooth and serve with veggies, pita bread, or whole grain crackers.

Guacamole and Bell Pepper “Chips”

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 3 tbs cilantro
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced

Steps:

To make the guacamole, use a fork to mash the avocados in a large bowl. Add in salt, lime juice, and garlic powder and mix. Then, fold in onion, cilantro, and tomatoes. Slice the bell pepper into long, 1/4-1/2 inch wide strips. Share the guacamole and pepper chips with a friend!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

Hi Everyone,

Just in time for fall, this pumpkin pie smoothie is the perfect choice for an on-the-go breakfast or snack. As the season gets busier and there’s less time for cooking up healthy recipes, this smoothie is my go-to for a pumpkin spice treat.

The added cauliflower in this recipe combined with the frozen banana make it a thicker smoothie that could even be eaten as a smoothie bowl! Sometimes, I love topping it with granola, almond butter, and coconut for some crunch. You can also use any milk of your choice, but I prefer oat milk for this recipe.

Feel free to add in extra spices or omit the maple syrup if you’d like! Share and enjoy this festive fall smoothie 🙂

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

Ingredients:
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbs pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup almond milk yogurt
Steps:

Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy!

Berry Collagen Energy Bites

Hey Everyone,

I’ve been really excited to share this new recipe for an on-the-go snack with all of you! As school and work pick up again, it’s important to pack whole, filling foods to fuel you throughout the day. On days where I forget to pack lunch and/or healthy snacks, I tend to feel more tired, unfocused, and sluggish, so packing snacks like these are the perfect option.

These bites are very versatile, and the recipe can easily be altered based on what you have on hand. So, feel free to use peanut butter or cashew butter in place of almond butter, any dried fruit you like, or even add some dark chocolate chips. While I use berry collagen, this can be a bit pricey, so feel free to omit it or use another protein powder.

So, what even is collagen? I like adding it to my smoothies and other recipes (like this one!) for an extra, natural protein boost. While most protein powders have a ton of unnecessary fillers, flavors, and sweeteners, collagen peptides have a mild taste that you can buy plain or with natural flavors, such as vanilla coconut or the berry one I like. The collagen is sourced from fish or hides, and is a 100% natural option that strengthens your hair, skin, and nails. Many brands, such as Vital Proteins and Ancient Nutrition, sell collagen powder, and though it can be a bit pricey, it’s rather reasonable compared to most protein powders on the market.

Of course, if purchasing collagen is out of the question for you, it can be totally omitted from this recipe. However, it’s a supplement that frequently goes on sale, so when it’s available, it’s a perfect add-in! Hemp and chia seeds are another great, cheap protein boost for recipes like these.

So, let me know your thoughts on these bites and stay tuned for more of these healthy back-to-school snacks + meal prepping ideas coming soon. 🙂 So grateful for you all!!


 Berry Collagen Energy Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup whole grain oats
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil
  • 2 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 2-3 scoops berry collagen
  • 1/4 cup dried berries

Steps:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until the mixture resembles a ball. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water. Roll into small bites and store in the fridge for up to a week!

 

The BEST Mocha Protein Smoothie

Hi Everyone!

We all hear about the many different kinds of protein powders and add-ins out there- whey, hemp, pea, and soy to name a few. But, rather than adding an unknown powder full of ingredients you’ve never used to your smoothie, why not just use what you have? Not only is this recipe much better for you than using an artificially flavored protein powder, but it’s definitely less expensive.

I share a lot of healthy breakfast recipes that are easy to make in the morning before school or work, because I think that starting the day with a good dose of nutrients really makes a difference. The great thing about this smoothie (though all smoothies are great as a morning energy boost) is how light it is. If you’re hungry in the morning, it’s easy to drink this smoothie with another breakfast item on the side, like oatmeal or toast with peanut butter and banana. Or, if you tend to not be so hungry early in the morning, like I am, this smoothie is a delicious way to wake you up with some protein, carbs, healthy fats, and a little caffeine to get you going.

For the coffee, you can use cooled, brewed coffee or make your own cold brew. I bought a mini french press for making individual cups of coffee that works great for cold brew- they are very easy to use! Many brands, such as Califia Farms, also sell unsweetened cold brew coffee at most grocery stores.

As far as the collagen in this recipe goes, you are totally free to leave it out or add it in for extra protein. On its own, this smoothie is full of protein and other nutrients, but the collagen adds an extra boost. I’ll explain the benefits of collagen further with a later post!

Typically, I pour this smoothie over ice because it does have a thinner consistency, similar to a latte drink rather than a thick smoothie. However, it’s plenty cold enough to drink without!

So, enjoy this mocha protein smoothie on those early summer mornings, and be sure to share some with a friend! Thanks for following along, love you all 💗


The BEST Mocha Protein Smoothie (serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup cold brew coffee
  • 1/4 cup oat milk or other milk of your choice
  • 1 tbs. peanut butter or other nut butter
  •  1-2 scoops collagen peptides
  • 1 tbs. cocoa powder

Steps:

Blend all ingredients and enjoy over ice or by itself!

My Take on Elimination Diets + What Your Body Really Needs

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m writing about a topic I’ve been really excited to share with you all for awhile- my thoughts on all the crazy elimination diets and how to listen to your internal cues. Usually, I like posting recipes, but as I’ve started to become influenced by other bloggers and people involved in this community, I’ve formed my own opinions based off of my own experiences and what has worked best for me! So, I’m going to start posting some more of these article-style posts, which will hopefully clarify some of the buzzwords in the health world and give you all some insight as to how it influences my opinions.

On platforms such as Instagram, many elimination or detox diets have become popular amongst bloggers and the food industry alike. As a promotional, attention-grabbing tool, many people advertise cleanse diets, most of which are short term diets lasting a couple weeks or less. These diets, such as juice cleanses or “tea detoxes,” fasting, and extreme elimination diets are portrayed as a solution or remedy for losing weight and becoming healthier. Using catch phrases and persuasive claims, many companies will attempt to sell you a cleanse, such as popular ones that involve drinking only protein shakes. Similarly, some bloggers or influencers will tell you that a celery juice cleanse, for example, is necessary after holiday eating.

From the messages and inspiration I’ve gathered in this space, I believe that these types of restrictive diets are unhealthy, not only for your body but for your mental relationship with food. In order to truly be healthy, you must be strong enough to fuel yourself with a variety of nutritious foods, rather than deprive your body of what it needs so you can achieve a particular weight or look. Essentially, many of these diets involve nearly starving yourself so you can “cleanse” your body.

Real, healthy food, in my opinion, meaning locally sourced foods that are rich in nutrients and made with just a few wholesome ingredients, are the best way to cleanse your body. In fact, rather than cleansing, I would think of it as resetting your body. When you feel sick, eat the foods that make you feel better. That’s all.

Food is something that’s supposed to be fun, and occasionally it’s important to enjoy unhealthy food here and there with friends. But, if you eat too many heavy foods one day and wake up feeling sick the next, don’t starve yourself. Instead, eat the hearty foods that make you feel strong and energized. For me, smoothie bowls or oatmeal always do the trick. Rather than an artificially flavored protein shake, I believe that whole foods will fuel and repair your body much better.

As far as elimination diets such as gluten free and dairy free diets go specifically, I think each person individually needs to make their own decisions based off of how they feel when they eat certain foods. Does whole grain pasta and bread make you feel strong and healthy? Great, eat it! Does whole milk yogurt keep you feel for hours? Add it to your smoothies! Vice versa, if a certain food or food group makes you feel sick, it’s okay to take a break from eating it for awhile. Personally speaking, I know that I’ve been taking a break from dairy because it’s hard for me to digest, while I still eat whole grains and gluten often.

So, really, my point here is to LISTEN TO YOUR OWN BODY. Don’t hop on the gluten free bandwagon because a model claims everyone needs to to be healthy, don’t “cleanse” yourself for days after indulging in some ice cream, and don’t ignore how you tend to feel after eating certain foods. Everyone is completely different, so it’s important to decide for yourself what makes you healthiest. As for me, I’ll keep blending up smoothies 😉

Thanks loves and please share with friends and family if you like what I have to say!

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Smoothie

Hi Everyone!

Smoothies are one of my favorite quick breakfasts- they give you a punch of nutrients to start off the day and leave you feeling energized and focused. Not to mention, they take all of 5 minutes to whip up, which is perfect if you’re late often (like I am). With the right combination of ingredients, you can have a perfect mix of flavors, and this raspberry almond one is one of the best.

The creamy texture of this smoothie from the greek yogurt, raspberries, and banana is absolutely perfect, and it can easily be made into a smoothie bowl by using all frozen fruit or adding it some frozen cauliflower for thickness (I promise you won’t taste it!) The added almond butter and collagen give this drink a protein boost that will stick with you in the morning, along with the iron-rich spinach.

The creamy, raspberry flavor of this smoothie is perfect for the winter months when you aren’t blending as many tropical flavors, and you likely already have the ingredients on hand. So, why not blend this up in the morning for a delicious breakfast you can look forward to starting your day with? 🙂


Raspberry Almond Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt)
  • 1-2 tbs. almond butter
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides
  • 1 cup water (or liquid of choice)

Steps:

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Perfect Post-Workout Chocolate Shake 

Hi Everyone!

For awhile now, I have been trying to come up with the best combination of ingredients for a smoothie with avocado. Avocado is the perfect source of healthy fats that keep you going along with energizing vitamins for the day, so naturally it’s the perfect smoothie add-in. However, every time I’ve tried making a smoothie with avocado in it, it turns out warm, too thick, and unflavorful.

Luckily, I finally found the perfect recipe- this chocolate shake! After lots of recipe testing, I found that this combination was my favorite by far- it’s the best mix of creamy, rich, and a cold, ice-cream like texture. Not to mention, it’s the perfect way to refuel after a workout, with protein, healthy fats, and a little bit of carbs!

The frozen banana sweetens this recipe naturally, but if your banana isn’t very ripe, you may want to add a date or spoonful of pure maple syrup into your smoothie. It also uses frozen avocado, which is important because that gives the smoothie a thick, cold taste that fresh avocado won’t! For the protein in this smoothie, I used collagen peptides, which I’ve mentioned loving before, but you can also feel free to use another unflavored protein powder.

Right now I’m in the middle of my swim season, so I love refueling after a tough practice or meet with this smoothie. This being said, it would also make a great, filling breakfast on the go.

So, enjoy this smoothie and let me know what you think!


Perfect Post-Workout Chocolate Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 frozen avocado
  • 1-2 scoops collagen peptides
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 2 tbs. raw cocoa powder (cacao)
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • handful of ice cubes (about 4-5)
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (I like oat milk for this recipe)

Steps:

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute, or until smooth. Add a little maple syrup or ice if necessary. Enjoy!

Creamy Dairy-Free Veggie Mac and Cheese + How to Healthily Enjoy the Holidays

Hi Everyone!

While the holiday season can be a fun time filled with friends and family, there is also an abundance of food that is typically out of your normal routine. My family has some delicious foods we make every year to celebrate Christmas, such as Monkey Bread, Twice Baked Potatoes, Snowball Cookies, and the annual Christmas Eve Italian dinner we have at our family friends’ house. It is so much fun to share these dishes with the people we love, and while it is important to enjoy these foods, it is equally as important to have a diet that incorporates what makes you feel your best.

Around the holidays, there is a sense of guilt around enjoying traditional Christmas foods. Instead of just focusing on those around you and indulging in some of your family’s once-in-a-while treats, many people feel the need to impulsively overeat in one day, with the intention of being “good” the next day. Instead of listening to how they are feeling, they choose to ignore this internal cue, resulting in an overbearing feeling of sickness and unhappiness.

If people instead focused on enjoying themselves during the holiday season and eating both healthy foods combined with some of the festive treats, they would feel better about themselves and have a healthier attitude towards food. Worrying about food never helps your health, and certainly doesn’t contribute to a positive relationship with yourself or with food.

If you’re anything like me, then after the holidays you might tend to crave hearty recipes filled with veggies. I typically am a little more sensitive to dairy, meaning that I avoid having excess amounts of it, so after all of the cheese and cracker appetizers of the holidays, I love making recipes such as this dairy-free pasta to refuel.

This pasta uses cashews as the base of the cream sauce to create a rich flavor packed with protein. It also adds in some extra veggies for both taste and nutrition, which you can customize based on your own preferences. This dish is perfect to whip up as an easy dinner or to share with others!

So, enjoy the rest of the holiday season, and eat what makes you feel good!

Dairy-Free Veggie Mac and Cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the cream sauce:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight (for easier blending)
  • 1/2 cup water (or more depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • Salt to taste

For the pasta:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes

Steps:

To start, add all ingredients for cream sauce to blender and blend until smooth and thick. In a medium skillet, mix pasta with veggies and cream sauce and heat until warm. Serve or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Healthy Cauliflower Fried Rice

Hi Everyone,

As winter approaches, it is a great time to test new recipes and experiment with adding your favorite ingredients to create your own healthy, unique dish. Lately, I have been on a cauliflower kick, and have loved using cauliflower in place of traditional starches I would use in recipes such as pizza, pasta, and rice. Not only is cauliflower almost identical in taste, but it also packs an extra nutrient punch into all sorts of recipes. It’s versatility makes it easy to cook with, and you can easily switch things up by adding new sauces, veggies, and/or proteins.

The other day when we were off of school, I wanted to make some kind of stir fry, but realized we were out of the typical ingredients I would use. So, I decided to make a homemade fried rice with similar flavors, and ended up coming up with this recipe.

This cauliflower fried rice tastes just like traditional fried rice, and can easily be customized with your favorite add-ins. So, please enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Healthy Cauliflower Fried Rice

serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen cauliflower rice (unflavored)
  • 2 tbs. water
  • 2 tbs. grass fed butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 tbs. chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs. chopped green onion
  • salt, to taste

Steps:

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add cauliflower rice and water. Once defrosted, add butter, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Add in chopped sugar snap peas, carrots, and onions, and crack both eggs into skillet. Continue to mix until evenly distributed throughout rice, and serve with green onion on top, Enjoy!

The Best Cauliflower Gnocchi

Hey Everyone!

Chances are, if you’re even slightly interested in the health food world, then you’ve heard about (or tried) the increasingly famous cauliflower gnocchi. This pasta-like phenomenon is definitely as good as the reviews say, and I have easily jumped onto this bandwagon.

One of the main reasons why this dish is so popular, in my opinion, it’s it’s versatility. You can cook up this gnocchi with some pesto, tomato, mozzarella, and drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a caprese version, mix it with some tomato sauce and basil for a true italian taste, or make it my favorite way, which I’m showing you here. After trying to find the absolute best version of this gnocchi that brings out all the best flavors, I found that this recipe I came up with was always ranked first.

While many might like this cauliflower gnocchi (I find it at Trader Joe’s) because it is gluten free and a lighter alternative to the traditional potato and ricotta gnocchi, I like the taste and simplicity it. This is the perfect side to whip up in a flash, or you can easily add in a variety of vegetables, chicken, or your favorite add-ins for a warm and filling meal.

They key to my recipe is actually not cooking the gnocchi like the package tells you! The first time I made this and was experimenting with a recipe, I cooked the gnocchi according to the directions and found myself with a soup-like, squishy consistency. If you try it this way, however, you’ll find yourself with gnocchi that has a golden crisp on the outside and a soft, doughy pasta inside.

So, let me know if you like this gnocchi as much as I do, and don’t forget to share with others! Happy November 🙂

The Best Cauliflower Gnocchi 

(serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi
  • 1 cup organic baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbs. water
  • 1 tbs. organic olive oil
  • 2 tbs. nutritional yeast (optional- dairy free cheese seasoning)
  • 2 tbs. fresh cheddar cheese
  • Sprinkle of Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning (optional)

Steps:

In a medium skillet pan, add gnocchi, water, and olive oil. On medium high heat, cook the gnocchi until defrosted and slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add in nutritional yeast, spinach, and tomatoes, and cook on a medium low heat for another 5 minutes, until slightly crispy and spinach and tomatoes are cooked. Sprinkle in cheddar cheese and mix until melted. After plating, sprinkle with Everything but the Bagel seasoning, if you’d like. Enjoy!