Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rice Crispy Treats

I know, right?  More rice crispy treats?? Well, I purchased gluten-free brown rice cereal and I realized it is way more fun and tasty to create a bar out of it than eat it blandly in a bowl.

Check out my previous post if you still don't care much for pumpkin: it is so good for you!  So is cinnamon, for that matter.  This recipe is easy, tasty and sneakily healthy, like so many of my "desserts" are.  While my husband pointed out that I haven't had a real rice crispy treat in years and that they cannot truly compare, I disagree.  Because these rice crispy treats taste great and yet still provide nutrition through healthy ingredients to fuel you on your day or workout, they win over a traditional buttery marshmallow dessert, hands-down.  Plus they are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and corn-free for those of us with extreme sensitivities.  Perhaps best of all, they are very fast and simple to make.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rice Crispy Treats

1/3 cup sunflower seed butter or almond butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Red Ape cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lucuma powder* optional
sprinkle of sea salt
3-1/2 cup brown rice cereal (I used Erewhon for this recipe)

organic local raw honey

organic sunflower seed butter


1.  Heat seed butter, honey, pumpkin and water together in a saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat after it bubbles and gets pretty liquid-y.  Stir in vanilla, then cinnamon and lucuma.

2.  Pour over brown rice cereal, then pack mixture into a lined or greased 8" pan.  Freeze 15 minutes to firm up before cutting and serving.

Why add lucuma powder?  You can reduce sugar or sweeteners in recipes by adding lucuma.  Lucuma is a great natural sweetener.  If you add lucuma to this recipe, you can even increase it to 1 teaspoon and reduce the honey to 3 to 4 tablespoons. Lucuma is a dry and starchy fruit native to Peru, and has a low glycemic index despite its sweet taste, and it has high amounts of beta-carotene, iron and vitamin B3.

By the way, most of these ingredients are found on; they have tons of organic ingredients and ship in one day, which is hard to beat.  If you sign up through this link, you'll receive a $10 off coupon, and when you're order ships, I'll get a $10 coupon too--it's a win-win for both of us, and I'll have a reason to buy even more delicious organic ingredients to play with.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pumpkin & Gratefulness

Be Grateful

If you've ever practiced being grateful in a tangible way, such as writing down on paper several things you are grateful for, or writing a handwritten note to acknowledge someone and express your gratitude, then you know how rewarding this can be (for both the giver and recipient).

I am grateful for so many things, but often moments or things (especially the little stuff) slip by unnoticed.  When you are being grateful, you are being present.  I challenge myself and you to write down every day for a week what you are grateful for, and see how it affects your mood or outlook.  If you can, try to do this in a space without distractions.  Be still in nature, or keep a journal by your bed to record these things that you are thankful and grateful for in your life.  Focus only on that task; set the cell phone or laptop aside and put pen to paper.

If you have access to healthy foods, then there you go: there's one!  I am so incredibly grateful to have access to whole, nutritious ingredients and the tools and capability to prepare my own, nourishing food that sustains me on my runs as well as my daily routines. If you've read my previous posts and recipes, you'll notice I am a pumpkin fanatic--not just during the holiday season, but year-round.

Hopefully, you'll be grateful for this fab treat that is delicious and packed with pumpkin-y goodness.  If you're not a pumpkin fan yet, keep this in mind: pumpkin is an extremely nutrient-dense food and contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories.  Here's just a few specific goodies in pumpkin:

  • Beta-Carotene: an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in the body.  Foods such as pumpkin rich in beta-carotene may protect against asthma, heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer and delay body degeneration associated with aging.  
  • Fiber and Potassium: The Fiber, Potassium and Vitamin C in pumpkin all promote heart health. Increased potassium has been linked to a reduced stroke risk.
  • Iron: consuming iron from plant sources such as pumpkin may help boost fertility according to Harvard Medical School Health Publications. 
"Consuming one cup of cooked, canned pumpkin would provide well over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 20% of the daily value for vitamin C, 10% or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese at least 5% for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. (1)

Sounds good to me!
pumpkin cranberry clean eating cookies

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies
Flourless Gluten-free Cookies with no oil or added sugar

Yields 12

healthy no sugar added cookies


¼ cup organic coconut oil
3 tablespoons raw honey
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup apple juice-sweetened cranberries (or raisins)
1-1/3 cup gluten-free oats
¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup ground chia seeds
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup (heaping) pureed pumpkin
2 eggs (or chia "eggs" or egg replacement of your choice)

  1. Melt coconut oil and honey in the microwave or stove top.
  2. In a large bowl, mix seeds, cranberries, oats, coconut, and spices and salt.  Stir in pumpkin and eggs, and add coconut oil honey mixture.
  3.  Divide into 12 cookies, bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cool 3 minutes on a wire rack, then enjoy!

fresh healthy gluten-free pumpkin cookies

These make an excellent breakfast choice as well.  Alternate options are to omit the honey and add in semisweet or nondairy chocolate chips, or any other dried fruit.  You may also use almond flour in place of the coconut flakes if you prefer.

A sneak peek into my workstation: recipe testing and developing while watching "Once Upon A Time."  Yay for Princess Anna!

MNT. August 30, 2014.  What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin.  Available at: Accessed April 24, 2015.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Natural Flavors on Project Underblog

My friends have heard my strong opinions on hidden ingredients in processed foods many times before, yet my hope is if enough people are aware of this issue and contacting food companies and the US Food and Drug Administration, then we can bring about the bans on certain ingredients that should have been in place a long time ago, and enforce full disclosure on what is actually in those "artificial flavors" or more unsuspecting, "natural flavors."

For a recent article I wrote for the online publication Project Underblog, please read it HERE.

I'd love to hear your feedback!  I personally am very disappointed when I purchase something organic and "healthy" such as Honest T brand's plain unsweetened teas, only to contact the company to find out they use corn-derived natural flavors in their "just" green tea.  While some people might find this "plant-derived natural source" simply fine, those of us with actually allergies to corn do not appreciate this sneaky tactic.  In my opinion, they should be legally obligated to write "contains traces of corn", etc.  Almost anything can be snuck into foods as long as they remain a small amount. Soy, corn or more disturbing: insect-derived colorings, MSG and even secretions from a beaver's rear end (sorry, I know.  But it is used in some "natural" raspberry flavorings, for example).  50 to 100 or more ingredients may be included in "natural flavors" and clearly they may involve ingredients you'd rather not ingest. (1)

Dishonest Tea with corn-derived ingredients

"Just" Green Tea: I contacted the company and had a representative inform me they use corn-derived "natural flavoring" to help it stay fresh, though other companies have managed to produce great organic teas without this additive.

Companies I love and trust include Red Ape Cinnamon and Wild Friends: they have simple, organic ingredients with nothing sneaky tacked onto the end of the ingredient list.  My inability to safely eat most processed foods is largely why I started making my own clean energy bars and snacks: it is rare for me to be able to eat a bar or portable snack that I didn't make myself.  Side note: packing an individual serving packet of sunflower seed butter or mushing a large dollop onto a piece of saran wrap and making your own little "energy pouch" is messy, but delicious on a long trail run.

Wild Friends Organic Seed and Nut Butters
simply sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, maple syrup and sea salt.

Red Ape Cinnamon Organic pure spices

Bonvie, Linda. Jan 12, 2012.  "Natural" Can Run the Gamut from Bugs to Beavers.  Available at: Accessed April 27, 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Runner Bar & PiYo

Ok, I'm just out of catchy names, so here you are: The Runner Bar.  Fueling carbs and protein and healthy fats all combine into a chewy yet crispy rice texture to fuel you on your long workout.
If you read my previous post, you'll know there's also some ingredients that may help promote infertility including dates, iron from pumpkin seeds and complex carbs such as quinoa and brown rice.  If you'd like even more protein and essential fatty acids, toss in some chia seeds!

I must admit that a Runner Bar for breakfast and a PiYo workout is a fabulous combination.  When I decided I wanted something a little gentler than Insanity but that would still give me a good workout yet with a larger focus on leaning and toning muscles and increasing flexibility, I settled on giving PiYo a shot.  I'm so glad I did!  The teacher is startlingly good: I love her personality, which usually is the reason I get bored with workout DVDs.  I like it when a teacher is actually entertaining and the time flies by.

As a certified yoga instructor (I've taught Vinyasa and Power yoga on and off for about 3 years), I'm happy to report that the PiYo instructor, Chalene Johnson, actually knows what she is talking about and has great cues, without it getting boring.  Basically, if you like aspects of yoga, and aspects of Pilates, but classes are usually too boring or repetitive for you: you'll love PiYo.  The workouts are unique, they fly by and are actually fun without draining you physically.  I've tried three of the workouts so far and love them.  So if you''re interested in trying them with me or incorporating a new workout into your routine, especially on non-running days, I highly recommend it!  I'm hoping to get my friends locally on board to come over for a PiYo workout sometime.  I'm thinking PiYo, gentle stretching, tea: my kind of girls' night!

PiYo workout: fun combination of yoga and pilates

Back to the bar.  I think what sets this one apart from some of my other recipes is the slight crispness of the brown rice cereal.  I'm happy to report that even after three days chilled, they are still crispy and possibly even more amazing than on day one.  I know I say every recipe is my new favorite, and this one is no exception.

The Runner Bar
yields 9-12 little bars


1 cup dates
1 cup crispy brown rice cereal
1-1/4 cup cooked quinoa, chilled
1/3 cup protein or superfood powder*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup Wild Friends Maple Sunflower Seed butter*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

*I used my favorite superfood powder and sunflower seed butter, but alternate options are listed below!


1.  Soften dates in water; pat dry and food process until chopped up.
2.  Mix cereal and quinoa, protein powder if using (totally optional: I used chocolate vegan Shakeology, but hemp protein powder works good too, though you'll likely want a sweetener.  You can always omit the powder and use 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds instead) and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.
3.  Heat Wild Friends Sunflower Seed butter or nut or seed butter of your choice mixed with 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (if you're using unsweetened protein powder you may want to increase the syrup to 1/3 cup) and once warm and bubbly, add in vanilla and sea salt, then add that combined mixture into the large bowl with all the ingredients.

4.  Press mixture into a 8" or 9" square pan lined with wax paper and chill 1 hour to set; cut and serve.

5.  Cut and wrap extras and keep chilled for up to 12 days or at room temperature for about 3 days.  These make great portable snacks and breakfast on the go, too!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Progess, rather than Perfection

Maiah and Zeke
If you don't have a dog, volunteer at a shelter or walk with a friend who does.
They really do make great best friends! 

Whether you're browsing my site for a clean eating treat recipe or seeking out a health or wellness tip: thank you!  Thank you for taking the time to visit my site, and thank yourself for taking a moment to seek out material to further you on your journey to an active healthy lifestyle.

If you're looking for a healthy treat recipe, stay tuned for my Runner Bar post coming up soon: this seriously good energy bar has healthy carbs, fat and ample protein and is sweetened with goodies such as dates and a touch of maple syrup.

OK you caught me: I considered calling it a Fertility Bar, but that sounds disgusting and only for women.  This yummy bar has ingredients that may help with fertility, but whether you're hoping for a baby or looking to fuel your run, it is a healthy way to treat your body and provide energy and nourishment.  So check back soon for that post!

As you may know from previous posts, I struggle with fertility and some past disordered eating and am still on my journey accepting my miscarriage and trying to stay in a positive place to keep trying.  With tools such as prayer, community and yes, therapy, I feel like I'm on the right track.  There are so many ways to find acceptance with your body, and it is a little cheesy, but it is absolutely a journey.  I face setbacks all the time, but remind myself that the goal is progress, not perfection.  There is no perfect body, no perfect life: life is meant to be imperfect, and my huge focus is to be happy and confident with where I am this moment.

"I'm in [this] earth suit that we call a body, but it does not define me." This quote by Jessica Raymond make me laugh at first.  I had to go back to listen to the episode again (number 5 on her podcast, the Recovery Warrior Show).  At first I could only picture the scene from Men In Black referring to the "Edgar Suit" (if you don't know what I'm talking then here you go: the Edgar Suit Clip), but when I got serious and really absorbed what she was saying, it hit me.  This is so true: why do most people let their bodies define them?  Losing 5 pounds or having a slimmer waistline might give you a temporary confidence boost, but it won't change who you are.  And being happy with who you are--not just your physical self--is what I believe to be an important key to overall confidence, happiness and wellbeing.  Thanks for bearing with me as I get a little hippie on you (I am from Oregon, after all).  I would love your feedback if you'd like more of these style posts, but if all you want is recipes and more recipes, then I encourage you to click over and look through my previous posts!

I woke up early this morning to do a PiYo workout (more detailed review coming soon) and absolutely loved it.  I had to be mindful; at first I wanted to do a high intensity workout (or HIIT training as most people seem to call it) but when I forced myself to stop, take a moment for prayer, stretch, and then start a short 25 min PiYo lower body workout, I realized I am in love with the feeling of gentle exercise, too.  There's a time and place for a long run or intense sweat sesh, but it's not every day.  I'm giving up keeping my body in a constantly stressed state, and committing to working in more gentle yoga and Pilates into my routine.

I hope you too can find ways to relax and destress when you need it, and I don't mean just by zoning out in front of the TV.  Sit down and breathe for 20 minutes, doing nothing but sitting: no phone or writing or anything.  Then try 30.  (Warning: if you're an always on the go or perfectionist-type, this is hard).  Get up and walk your dog or with a partner.  Call a friend.  Listen to an inspiring podcast.  Stretch and move.  Clean, garden, bake: do something that inspires and relaxes you and fills you with confidence.

Check back for my next delicious recipe (here's a little preview for you) and do something good for your body today!

Runner Energy Bar
The Runner Bar: Unbelievably good!  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chocolate Matcha Smoothie

This recipe is featured in my Princess Fit ebook (sign up with your email address over on the right, in the sidebar for freebies such as my ebook!)

It's a smoothie made with tea, and is a great option to start your day.  Tea has so many healthy benefits...I could ramble on for awhile, but here's a brief outline for you: Tea contains catechins (compounds which may reduce cancer risk and heart disease)(1) and polypherols, which may  subsequently lower the risk of heart disease(2).
Green tea is strong in its link to fighting tumors and enhancing the immune system (because of higher higher catechin content) and black tea is suggested to help blood pressure and hypertension because of the antioxidants and high levels of polyphenols.  Tea may slightly increase the metabolism as well and is antibacterial, which may help prevent cavities by reducing cavity-causing bacteria (3).

So, whether you prefer white, green or black tea, you'll be reaping the benefits.  Herbal teas are a great non-caffeinated option, and I have to tell you that peppermint tea mixed with chocolate is absolutely heavenly.  I love Matcha green tea for its' rich and unique flavor, but feel free to experiment, and let me know your tea of choice!

green tea smoothie with green dress

Chocolate Matcha Smoothie
serves 1


3/4 cup water, tea or nondairy milk
1/4 cup brewed tea or Yerba Mate, chilled
1 cup crushed ice
1 scoop chocolate vegan protein powder
1-1/2 tsp unsweetened matcha powder
2 tablespoons frozen avocado
1/3 banana


Blend all ingredients together, adding a little more ice or water as needed until desired consistency is reached.

*For a mocha version, use cold-brewed coffee in place of the liquid tea.  This is also amazing.

matcha powder and cold brewed coffee
shoutout to Vitacost organic Matcha tea and Stumptown Cold Brew for a winning combo!

Find unsweetened Matcha powder at natural grocery stores, Asian markets or online.
This yields one tea-infused breakfast shake!

Smoothies are also a great light meal option before going out to dinner or to a party to limit overindulging.  Don't go to an event starving; keep your choices healthy and smart.  

(1) J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Apr; 25 (2): 79-99
(2) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 6, 1698S-1702s, June 2000
(3) Eric Chan, Eu Ying Soh, Pei Pei Tie, and Yon Peng Law. Antioxidant and antibacterial properties of green, black, and herbal teas. Pharmacognosy Res. 2011 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 266–272.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Quinoa Brownies

Quinoa Clean Eating Brownies

Clean Eating Allergen-Free Quinoa Brownies

Quinoa Brownies

Though I often invent my recipes on the fly, I must admit to finding a quinoa brownie recipe on Pinterest and then tinkering until I developed my own cleaner, healthier version of several recipes I found online so that I could enjoy a couple little squares while on my 21 Day Fix (no boring clean meals for this baker).
I love treats, and this quinoa brownie recipe satisfies my dessert cravings as well as my hunger.  Seriously, I ate some the other afternoon and was couldn't even eat dinner, which is usually a good thing for me, as portion control is my biggest struggle.  When my hunger is fully satisfied with a nutritious and filling treat, I couldn't be happier.  So hopefully you too get great satisfaction from this brownie recipe packed with protein (yes quinoa is a complete protein, hurrah!) and nutrient-rich quinoa.

Quinoa Brownies:
a soy-free nut-free dairy-free dessert
Yields 9 big brownies

Quinoa Brownie on Plate

1-1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 chia "eggs" or real eggs
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
sprinkling of nondairy chocolate chips, optional for topping

1.  Cook quinoa: cook about 3/4 cup quinoa with 1-1/2 cups water (you'll likely have a little extra) about 20 minutes on a stovetop, the last 15 minutes of which you'll cook it on low, simmering and stirring until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.

 cooking quinoa

2.  Mix 2 TBSP ground chia seeds in 6 TBSP water if using chia "eggs" (omit this step if using regular eggs).  Preheat oven to 350F.
3.  Blend all ingredients in a food processor, saving 1/4 cup of quinoa to add last, pulsing just slightly to maintain a little texture, or puree until completely smooth if desired.
4.  Line a 8" or 9" square pan with parchment paper and spritz with coconut oil.  Pour batter in and if desired, sprinkle 2 TBSP of nondairy chocolate chips on.

Quinoa Brownie Batter

5.  Bake for 38-42 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out pretty clean.  Let cool 10 min on a wire rack before cutting into 9 to 12 squares.  Store covered, chilled.

Quinoa Brownie, chilling

amazing quinoa brownie squares