Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

Hi Everyone!

It’s officially that time of year… pumpkin everything season! Every year around September, brands of all types began selling their version of a pumpkin spice product, some good and some definitely not. While I definitely have my favorites (pumpkin pie Perfect Bars YUM), it’s important to watch out for what’s actually pumpkin spice and what’s hiding behind a name.

Not only has Starbucks hopped on the train of pumpkin spice flavoring, but so has everything from crackers to almond milk to goat cheese. However, many of these brands use artificial pumpkin flavoring, and have no actual trace of real pumpkin in them. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have real pumpkin, not only because it tastes better but also because it’s better for you!

Fall is the perfect time to make simple and delicious snacks and treats to share with others, and these energy bites are the perfect choice. They are a great addition to your morning yogurt bowl or with some fruit on the side for breakfast, or you can grab a couple in between activities for a quick pick-me-up. Yum!

These can also be made with or without chocolate chips, and the addition of collagen peptides make these bites a great source of protein and boost for your hair and skin. 

So, without further ado, please enjoy making this delicious snack and happy fall! 🙂


Spiced Pumpkin Chip Energy Bites

Makes 10-12 Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup organic canned (or fresh mashed) pumpkin 
  • 3 tbs. powdered peanut butter (preferably unsweetened- I like Crazy Richard’s)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2/3 cup whole grain oats
  • 1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides (optional)
  • 2 tbs. softened coconut oil
  • drizzle pure maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Steps:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and chop until smooth. Roll into bites or other desired shape and refrigerate for up to one week. Enjoy!

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My Review of 100 Days of Real Food On a Budget + Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites!

Hi Everyone!

Today I am so happy to share with you that one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Lisa Leake, has come out with her newest cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget. Lisa is such an inspiration to me and so many others, and as I have shared before, she is the perfect role model for the real food community and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to be one of her cookbook ambassadors! She is so passionate about spreading her love of real food and showing others how easy and delicious it can be, which is amazing. Congratulations, Lisa!


This is her third cookbook and I love it just as much as her other two, if not even more! If you haven’t checked the other books out, her first cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food, perfectly describes her family’s journey towards cutting out processed food and has several delicious recipes and kitchen staples, and her second book, 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous has all of kinds of recipes and tips to make eating and cooking real food fun and easy. Her newest cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget, focuses on budget-friendly ways to cook real food dishes, which is so helpful and perfect for anyone looking to make eating whole foods easy and less expensive. Sign me up! 🙂

Real food can seem expensive, but with Lisa’s new book, you can easily navigate any grocery store to choose the best options for you without breaking the bank. Each recipe in her book is just $15 or less to make and there are $100 weekly dinner meal plans for each season included as well. Not to mention, there are helpful resources in her book such as a supermarket price comparison chart, packed lunch ideas for both kids and adults (my personal favorite), and general tips for buying real food on a budget. Her recipes are made up of blog favorites and new additions that you will love making, many of which can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and/or nut-free. There’s truly something for everyone in this incredibly creative and practical cookbook and guide to real food!

100 Days of Real Food on a Budget is available to order today, August 14th, so go pick up your copy and get cooking! In the meantime, I am going to share with you one of my favorite recipes in Lisa’s new book, the Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites. You all know that I’m a huge fan of fast, easy, delicious snacks on the go and these bites are perfect for the end of summer and back to school! So, enjoy this recipe and the many others you will receive if (when!) you order Lisa’s newest book, and please don’t forget to share your glowing reviews of 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget with others. 🙂 Thanks foodies, stay tuned for more great recipes and tips coming soon!

Refreshing Mint Cacao Smoothie

Hi Everyone!

I hope you’re all having a great summer and have been able to escape the heat. This summer I’ve been working outside as a lifeguard and it can get pretty warm out, but I’ve been loving ice cold smoothies to cool down! It’s no secret that I am already a smoothie lover (who isn’t?) but summertime smoothies are by far the best. After all, you can’t beat a nutrient packed drink full of all the vitamins you need for the day that also tastes great!

Mint and chocolate are both a classic and decadent combination that is perfect for warm weather. When you combine the cool zing of the mint flavor with the rich dark cocoa, you are left with a delicious treat. So, I decided to make a healthy version of the original mint chip milkshake that still taste out-of-this-world (you can even add less liquid to make your own mint chocolate ice cream!)


In addition, this particular smoothie has frozen cauliflower as a great addition! While this may sound strange, it has no taste in the smoothie and gives it a thicker, more milkshake like texture. It also can easily be dairy free for those with allergies!

So, please enjoy this recipe, and let me know what you think! I hope you all have a healthy and fun summer, stay tuned for lots of new content coming soon. 🙂

Refreshing Mint Cacao Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana (preferably organic) 
  • 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower (riced is easiest)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut yogurt (or other yogurt of your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Leaves of 1 1/2 bunches of mint
  • 1 tsp. cacao powder 
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides (optional)

Steps:

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend on high until you reach a thick and milkshake-like consistency. Enjoy!


Morning Matcha Smoothie 

Hi Everyone!

Today I am excited to share a recipe for an energizing and refreshing smoothie with you- my morning matcha smoothie. 🙂 This drink uses matcha, a type of green tea, as its key ingredient, to add a boost of caffeine that won’t make you crash and a nice flavor. Matcha, which has become increasingly more popular in the health food industry in the past few years, is a great substitute for coffee as it is high in antioxidants and promotes relaxation. While I have been enjoying matcha tea lattes (recipe coming soon!) the warmer weather has been great for these smoothies.

Now, you all know how much I love to blend up smoothies for a quick breakfast with a nutrient punch, and as summer gets closer and spring schedules become busier, this is the obvious choice for a healthy breakfast or meal on the go. While I love my Raspberry Almond Breakfast Smoothie (recipe on the blog!) and other favorites, this matcha smoothie is a great way to switch things up. The addition of a frozen banana adds creaminess and natural sweetness, and the cinnamon adds a nice flavor boost to balance out your blood sugar.

So, without further ado, please enjoy this morning matcha green smoothie and stay tuned for more refreshing summer recipes coming soon!


Morning Matcha Smoothie
Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt 
  • 1-2 tsp. matcha green tea (I find mine in packets at trader joe’s) 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp. honey (optional)
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides (optional)

Directions:

To make, simply add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy! 

Cracking the Cooking Code: Low-Fat and Fat Free

Hi Foodies!

To finally continue this series, “Cracking the Cooking Code,” I thought I’d explain reduced fat foods and why I don’t believe foods that are fat free or low fat are the healthiest choice. There are a ton of misconceptions that marketers would like shoppers to believe, and often most diet recommendations even suggest low-fat and/or fat free dairy products and other packaged foods. So, why wouldn’t foods with less fat (with the exception of meat) be better for you?

The explanation is actually more simple than one would think- taking naturally occurring fat out of food is a form of processing it, and when the fat is taken out, the flavor tastes much different. This causes manufacturers to then add excess sugar and salt to compensate for the decrease in flavor, which drastically lowers the nutritional value of the food. The extra sugar and salt is the real cause of health problems such as obesity, not the natural fat in food.

In fact, healthy fats are a necessary energy source with lots of health benefits, such as stabilizing blood sugar. When people purchase reduced fat foods, they are actually harming themselves more than helping. If you think back to years ago when low fat foods were not as readily available, health issues, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, were not as common. The presence of these illnesses is directly related to the processed food we consume today. 

So, next time you are grocery shopping, remember that you can benefit from eating food like it was naturally created. Whether it is labeled as low fat, fat free, or reduced fat, unprocessed foods are always the healthier option. 

Thank you, and please feel free to share with others! 🙂 

My Fun Cooking Class Experience

Hi Everyone!

In the last few days, I had the opportunity to have a personal cooking class with a local healthy chef, Leslie Cerier. My grandparents, who thoughtfully take every grandkid on a special trip of their own, asked me about what experience I’d like to have, so of course I was interested in going to a personal cooking class and learning about some more fun and healthy recipes!

Leslie is a vegetarian chef and blogger (her website is found at http://www.lesliecerier.com)  who loves making clean and creative recipes, and in our class, we made 3 different dinner dishes. All of them used intriguing new ingredients I hadn’t experimented with much before, so it was fun to give them a try! Though the cilantro hemp seed pesto quinoa pasta was my favorite of the three, the moroccan sweet potato and carrots with lentils and the asian arame salad were delicious. 

Working with and learning from people with passions similar to mine around my community is such a great experience, and I was so lucky to have the opportunity to meet Leslie and learn from her expertise. Not only did I learn to cook with new ingredients (such as arame, a type of sea vegetable) but I had the chance to share my ideas about real food with Leslie and hear about hers! If you have the chance to connect with other local foodies, I would definitely recommend it.

Please feel free to check out the pictures I took of our creations and visit Leslie’s website (using the link above). Thank you and keep cooking and connecting with others!
Asian Arame Salad


Cilantro Hemp Seed Pesto 


All Our Dishes!

Almond Butter “Cookie Dough” Energy Bites

Hi Everyone!

You all know how much I love making energy bites, as they are the perfect homemade on-the-go snacks. The varieties are endless, and lately I have been loving this recipe I concocted. 

One day after school, I came home and was hungry for a snack, so I decided to experiment with some almond energy bites. After a few rounds of testing, I came up with a “perfect batch”- this exact recipe!

So, if you’re looking for an easy, healthy, snack that seems indulgent but is full of nutrients, this is the perfect choice. I hope you all are having a good winter, and stay tuned for more healthy and delicious recipes! 

Almond Butter “Cookie Dough” Energy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup organic almond flour 
  • 1/2 cup organic rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup organic almond butter 
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil
  • 2 tbs. honey or pure maple syrup 
  • 2 scoops vital proteins collagen protein 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped extra dark chocolate 

Steps

In a food processor, mix the almond flour, collagen, and oats until fine. Add in the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate and chop until smooth and a ball is formed. Add in the chocolate for a few quick pulses, and roll or cut into desired shapes before refrigerating. Enjoy within a week! 🙂