Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 Tips to Eat Mindfully...and Spinach Breakfast Cookies!

This healthy cookie recipe is absolutely delicious!  I encourage you to try it for an easy snack or treat, but more than that, today I encourage you to practice mindful eating.

What is mindful eating?  It is what it sounds like! Eating with a presence of mind, savoring the flavors of your dish and eating without distraction.

Here's some tips to keep you mindful as you eat to avoid overindulging and only consuming what your body needs:

1.  Sit down to eat.  (So don't hover over the sink or munch as you drive if you can!)  Sit down in a regular eating spot such as a kitchen table, and let it just be you and your plate.  No distractions--no magazines, books, tv or computer!  Or smartphone--you know that counts.  Focus on eat bite and savor the flavors slowly.

2.  Take a moment to appreciate what you are eating--the ingredients, where they came from, the work you or someone else put into preparing that food.  Pause.  Taste.  Think.

3.  Did I say savor?  Savor.  Taste each spice, each flavor.  Try to distinguish the different textures and tastes culminating in that food.  Look at it.  Notice smells.  Appreciate it for the nourishment it is providing your body.

4.  Listen to your body.  Eat slowly and when you begin to satisfy your hunger, ask yourself if you actually need more, or are still hungry.  Identify what food makes your body feel best and most energized, and try to eat that way as much as you can.  What does your body seem to perform the best on?  What foods make you feel and look your healthiest/sleekest/happiest self?

5.  Be grateful.  Be grateful for the food and for your health.  Whether through prayer or a moment of quiet, acknowledge the great gift it is to have access to healthy food, and to be able to make healthy food choices.  Thank your body.  Be proud of yourself, and don't be too hard on yourself!  Allow yourself the occasional treat and when you've overindulged, take a deep breath, drink water, and set an intention to be more mindful at the next meal.

These are just a few of many ways you can practice mindful eating.  Make eating a pleasurable experience--not a hurried scarf-fest of whatever is quickest/easiest.  Make an effort to plan and prepare meals ahead of time if you often find yourself in a rush.

There are so many quick, easy meals to make that will nourish your body!  Here is a simple breakfast cookies that is good to enjoy as breakfast, snack or treat anytime.  Enjoy, and remember--eat mindfully!

Spinach Breakfast Cookies

Often in the mornings I want to start with something sweet.  More specifically, the sweetness of fruit.  And though fruit is a great dessert substitute or snack, it's not exactly a complete meal.  Even though I come in the door from a run almost always fantasizing about a crisp apple from the icebox, there is usually a little voice in my head whispering "protein might be a great idea right about now." So with these little breakfast cookies, snack, or fueling light meal, I created the ultimate runner's treat: Spinach Breakfast Cookies.

They quite are delicious despite the obvious vibrant green bits of spinach.  You can't actually taste the spinach, which is awesome because with these cookies, you're packing in extra nutrients without even noticing.

For a more uniform/hidden spinach appearance, you can use your food processor for this recipe.  I was in a hurry (post-run craving to eat. food. now), so I opted for a simple one-bowl method.  It's fast, easy and amazing.  Nondairy mini chocolate chips are totally optional; obviously it'll be a tad healthier without.  But if you're allowing yourself a treat and have nondairy chocolate chips on hand, you may want a sprinkling. Or omit them for a much cleaner version!

Banana Spinach Cookies
yields about 10 little cookies


1 cup spinach, ripped into shreds and "massaged" to break them up a little
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 teaspoon Red Ape cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg whites
1 banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
optional: 1/4 cup mini nondairy chocolate chips


1. Rip and squeeze spinach until it's pretty wilted.  Throw all ingredients into a bowl, making sure banana is mashed well.

2.  Spritz a cookie sheet with nonstick spray (I use olive or coconut oil) or spoon batter onto a nonstick baking mat.
3.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until cookies are set and slightly golden, with darker edges.  Let cool a minute or two and enjoy!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Red Ape Cinnamon!

I'm excited to announce the start of Running Girl partnership with Red Ape Cinnamon!  Organic Red Ape cinnamon is my go-to cinnamon in baking, and is featured in many of my recipes including my Cinnamon Bun Bites, a clean eating cinnamon roll-esque mini bar.

Since delving into Sports Nutrition, I've really come to admire the health benefits of incorporating cinnamon into a healthy diet on a regular basis.  Just 1/2 teaspoon a day added to smoothies, tea or coffee, quinoa, etc. may help with digestion 4, acne 3, allergies, and infections.  Cinnamon energizes, reducing cravings (cinnamon has compounds that improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control 1 ) and has anti-bacterial/anti-fungal properties 2.  So many benefits from a delicious spice!  The Red Ape Cinnamon comes with a wee wooden spoon in each jar as well, making that half teaspoon feasible, and fun.

Red Ape in particular is a company I'm proud to represent with my baked goods.  They are on a mission to save the apes!  5% of their profit gets donated to save the orangutans and their habitat.
They also package their cinnamon spices and now coffee at The Pearl Buck Center in Eugene, Oregon, which creates job opportunities for those with disabilities.  For a great video about Pearl Buck and their work for Red Ape, check it out here!

Here too is a Benefit Breakfast for the Pearl Buck Center with Red Ape owner Dan Vishny:

I'm delighted to create more products incorporating Red Ape Cinnamon!  Have a great day, and don't forget to shake, sprinkle and smile!

My current favorite snack?  1 teaspoon Red Ape cinnamon mixed into 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce to form a "sauce" to coat berries: cranberries, wild blueberries and raspberries is my current favorite combination for an antioxidant boost

* I am not paid by Red Ape!  They are generous enough to give me some products to try...and in turn, I will share the recipes with you!

Research and references:
(1) Anderson, RA. Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity.
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center Study Available at: Accessed February 27, 2015.
(2) Md. Mahfuzul Hoquea , M. L. Barib , Vijay K. Junejac , and S. Kawamotob. Antimicrobial Activity of Cloves and Cinnamon Extracts. Available at: Accessed February 27, 2015.
(3) Chase, Brad.  Progressive Health. Cinnamon for Acne.  Available at: Accessed February 27, 2015.
(4) Godiyal, Sandeep. Natural News.  Cinnamon Indigestion and Digestive Health.  Available at: Accessed February 27, 2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flourless Chickpea Blondies

flourless chickpea blondies

Want to find a way to incorporate your favorite seed or nut butter (such as my Espresso Seed Butter)?
This blondie recipe is easy, and pretty quick.  You can add chocolate chips if you want a more traditional blondie appearance or a more decadent taste, or omit the chips for a cleaner, healthier version (it's sweet enough as is in my opinion!).

This blondie is healthier and more filling than a traditional blondie, thanks to fiber and protein (not to mentions tons of nutrients and vitamins) in the chickpeas (or garbanzo beans if you prefer).
Depending on your nut butter or seed butter as well you'll be adding healthy fats and protein.  I adore the texture of pureed beans and desserts--they help lend that butter-like creamy melt-in-your-mouth quality.

Today's workout was a 11 mile run, and I don't like the idea of rewarding hard work with food (for some, that is a dangerous cycle!) but it is nice to replenish and fuel up with a protein-packed treat.

This recipe yields 9-12 little bars and is a healthy alternative to a processed granola bar or protein bar.  I do highly recommend enjoying treats on occasion as deprivation is never fun and rarely successful. What better way to satisfy a sweet tooth than a refined-sugar free, filling and nutritious option?  If I can leave you with my best health and wellness tip, it is this: move a little every day and enjoy some homemade clean eating!

Flourless Chickpea Blondies

chickpea protein blondies: gluten-free and vegan


1 can garbanzo beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Espresso Seed Butter or nut/seed butter of choice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

chickpea blondie ingredients
you can add a dash of sea salt if your nut/seed butter and beans do not have salt


1.  Puree all ingredients until smooth.

rinse chickpeas and remove the skins

2.  Pour into a lined or greased 8" square pan.
3.  Bake at 350 F for 22-26 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick is clean.

4.  Cool 15-20 minutes on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chocolate Espresso Seed Butter

Espresso Seed Butter on rice cake with banana: Clean Eating Treat

Shakeology Espresso Seed Butter: sunflower seeds, shakeo, espresso & vanilla
sunflower seeds, Shakeology, espresso, vanilla and sea salt = amazing!

Shakeology Espresso Seed Butter

Note: this makes a giant jar!  Halve the recipe for about 18oz of protein-packed caffeinated goodness

Shakeology Espresso Seed Butter


4 cups sunflower seeds, roasted
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
2 scoops chocolate vegan Shakeology
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)
3/4 cup to 1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Sea Salt


1.  If using raw sunflower seeds, roast organic raw sunflower seeds in the oven by baking for 25 to 30 minutes on a cookie sheet at 325 degrees, stirring often.

Alternately, use roasted sunflower seeds such as Trader Joe's.  While this is the faster option, I prefer the taste when I buy and roast organic raw sunflower seeds; and even at Whole Foods, it is cheaper when buying from the bulk bins.

2.  Grind coffee beans into a fine powder, or use instant espresso powder.

finely ground coffee beans

finely ground espresso for espresso seed butter

3.  Grind seeds in a large food processor.  Add in the other ingredients, adding the oil and water a little at a time.  Coconut oil may be omitted, but it will be chunkier and harder to spread.  Note: you may have to mix it for several minutes before the desired creamy texture is reached.

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
totally optional: 1/8 tsp or dash sea salt

Done!  If I may suggest an amazing snack: Shakeology Espresso Seed Butter spread on a brown rice cake with banana slices.  Better than any dessert or breakfast: filling and energizing!

Approx. nutrition value per tablespoon:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 30.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 84
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6 g
9 %
Saturated Fat 1 g
6 %

Cholesterol 0 mg
0 %
Sodium 17 mg
1 %
Potassium 1 mg
0 %
Total Carbohydrate 3 g
1 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g
1 %
Sugars 1 g
Protein 5 g
10 %

1 %

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Regaining Health & Wellness

This is a hard post for me to write only because it is extremely personal.  I want to share my story however, because it may help others get through what is a often secret, yet unbelievably common experience for women.

In early November, I lost a baby at 10 weeks.  I was confident I was going to reach the safety of the 12 week mark.  We had heard the heartbeat at about 7 weeks, and had cried with joy at the clear, strong sound that meant our weeks of injections and fertility appointments had succeeded.

When we went for the next appointment, we were blindsided.  The heartbeat we had heard before was gone, and we were met with a heartbreaking silence.  The fetus had stopped developing at 8 weeks, but my placenta was still growing, and my pregnancy symptoms had continued, lending me to believe I was still pregnant.  My coworkers and friends that saw me daily had even begun commenting that I was "showing."

After surgery to remove the fetus and placenta, I was at an extremely low point.  My husband and I were devastated, and I felt that my body had completely failed us.  Despite my doctor's insistence, I couldn't help but think it was entirely my fault.

Outside of immediate family, close friends and coworkers, nobody had known I was pregnant, and I was left with about 10 pounds of extra weight from fertility treatments and my brief pregnancy.  I felt unattractive and apathetic for days, but with the support of my husband and family and closest friends, I was able to gradually get back to my routine and add fitness back to my shattered life.

My hormones and thyroid however, took much longer to get back to normal, and I couldn't drop the last 8 pounds.  Though I took several days to feel hopeless and stuck in my unfamiliar body, with the encouragement of my husband and family I gradually began to run again, and incorporate the same things I'd always enjoyed physically before.  With every day that I made myself move a little more, and eat a little healthier, the better I felt.  Initially I had latched on to wine and sugary treats post-surgery, and I had felt like I "deserved" those extra snacks for what I had been through.  It took me awhile to realized what I deserved was to feel good again, and the only way to achieve that was to treat my body to good, whole foods and nutrition.  Combined with getting out more and exercising when I did opt to stay indoors with yoga or Pilates or a workout online, I felt not only my body change but my emotional health as well.

Some of the changes in my body took a long time to ebb away, and I found solace in articles online, and in the support of those closest me as I fought the frustration and sorrow.  With clean eating, regular workouts, and a shoulder to cry on, I gradually felt like me again.  Within several weeks, I was back to my pre-baby body and weight, and finally felt good physically.  As I write this, I'm finally in a good place--I've accepted that my body may or may not be able to conceive again, and I'm loving how I look now.  I feel stronger and leaner, and hope that I can inspire women in a similar situation, and women and men in any situation where they don't feel their best.  Eating clean and working out isn't just a temporary fix; it's a way of life that we can all benefit from.  That's not to say there isn't room for dessert or the occasional junky snack, though.  The occasional treat is great.  In fact, once you start eating clean, healthy desserts are what you'll crave anyways.

Just move a little every day, and acknowledge your body for what it is capable of.  Treat it well.  An overall commitment to leading an active healthy lifestyle with healthy food is what keeps me at my best, and not only physically, but emotionally and mentally too.  My body's wellbeing seeps into other area of my life, and I find that I am a happier, more confident person when I prepare a clean meal or go for a run, or emerge from the pool with my old lady aqua-jog belt strapped around my waist.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story, and I hope you or someone you know in a similar situation can find solace from my words.  In my experience, eating clean and staying active has changed many other venues in my life--my confidence and overall wellness as well, and I know it can for others, too.

My tip for today is hug those you love and thank your body by planning a clean eating meal, and get moving!

Running Girl

P.S. Here's a sneak peek of a no-bake cookie recipe coming up soon.  It is definitely one of my best yet!  Best of all?  It's great for a balanced hormone level.  I have PCOS and hypothyroidism and have learned to really focus on foods that are good for optimal hormone levels. Clean protein, healthy fats and healing spices are phenomenal for helping hormones, and this anti-oxidant packed treat has all of the above!  Once you start eating cleaner, treats like these that still make you feel good after you eat them will be even more desirable.  I promise!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

No-Bake Cacao Seed Bars

Cheers to the weekend!  I developed these bars during a post-run mid afternoon slump when I was craving something sweet.  I'm on Day 6 of my Day 7 Eating Clean Challenge, and instead of abandoning my thus-achieved efforts, I wanted to reward myself while still staying on track.

Even better?  Enjoying one of these tasty morsels after Insanity's Insane Abs.  Oh Shaun T.  I love you and hate you.  But one of these for a light dessert is just what my body wants.

No-Bake Cacao Seed Bars
yields 9 bars

For an easy, decadent weekend treat without breaking your eat-clean commitment, reach for a saucepan, a spoon and an 8" pan.  There, you have all the items you need!  Through in the clean ingredients below (maple syrup is totally optional) and you have a nutritious, easy bar that you can stash in the fridge or freezer to enjoy as desired.  


1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter)
2 TBSP pure maple syrup (unless your nut butter has any added sugar)
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 TBSP raw cacao powder
2 TBSP raw cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Melt sunflower seed (or nut) butter and maple syrup (optional) and coconut oil over medium-high heat, stirring.

2.  Remove from heat and stir in all other ingredients.

3.  Press into a wax or parchment paper-lined 8" pan and chill.  Cut into 9 bars and enjoy!

Nutritional breakdown below!

Nutritional Analysis:

Calories: 232
Fat: 17g
Potassium: 66mg
Carbs: 16g
Sugar: 3g
Protein: 6g

Monday, February 2, 2015

Vanilla Chia Protein Bites

I was craving a treat but wanted something that would keep me satisfied for hours and thus: the Vanilla Chia Protein Bites were born!  Eat a few, and you'll have 9g of clean protein.  It's a great pre- or post-workout snack or meal replacement.  I made these with a vegan vanilla protein powder, but feel free to use any flavor or brand you prefer.

Vanilla Chia Protein Bites

1/2 cup gluten-free oats
6 tablespoons vegan vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons psyllium husk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2-1/2 tablespoons nondairy mini chocolate chips
water, as needed

1.  In a bowl, combine the protein powder, chia seeds, psyllium, and cinnamon.

2.  Add the bowl contents to a food processor along with the oats, and grind as you drop in the sunflower seed butter, coconut milk and water as needed.

Optional: Add chocolate chips and pulse a few times before rolling into 1 to 2 tablespoon-sized balls.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 60
Carbs: 6g
Fat: 3g
Protein: 3g
Sugar: 2g