A balanced diet is a Christmas cookie in each hand…

I believed I have put enough distance between myself and the cookie baking frenzy that led to intense teeth-brushings and cravings for tempeh, lettuce, and gallons of water.

It’s Christmas time after all. We must talk cookies.

This past weekend, the Christmas parties came a’calling and after a long week of finals, I was more than ready to release my baking fairy and be covered in stardust flour. Being the blogaholic, recipe hoarder that I am, choosing cookie recipes was a long and detailed process. I wanted to be sure I made just the right ones.

Thankfully, I hit on some winners:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Oh She Glows: Vegan, perfectly chewy and hearty — everything you want in an oatmeal raisin and so much more! I love the way this recipe incorporates ground toasted walnuts for rich flavor and added nutrition.

Gingerbread from Martha Stewart: A basic gingerbread recipe that I have found to be virtually fool-proof. Be warned that the yield is based on very large cookies; I doubled the recipe, and ended up with a whole ginger-army! I also reduced the amount of brown sugar by 3/4 with fine results. Gingerbread cutouts are so fun to decorate!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies from Elana’s Pantry. This recipe can’t get more minimalist with six basic whole-food ingredients and almost no work involved. Elena’s Pantry is one of my favorite resources for healthy dessert recipes I can feel good about eating and serving. No one would guess these scrumptious peanut butter pillows are gluten-free and vegan!

Toasted Coconut, Toffee, and Chocolate Chip Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod. The title alone had me falling for these cookie, hook, line, and sinker. Coconut, especially toasted, has my heart. I substituted butterscotch chips for the toffee bits, and whole wheat flour for white. These were delicious. I loved the different flavors and textures going on in these cookies. Party in my mouth. Mom, where did you hide those cookies??

I hope your Christmas season has been filled with yummy cookies and people to share them with. Platters of these cookies graced the tables of two caroling parties and one Sunday School Christmas party and were welcomed everywhere with welcome arms.. Even the “healthier” cookies were gobbled up happily. I looked on from a distance — my tummy already full of sampling the “Christmas cheer”.

My conscience simply won’t allow me to talk on about cookies without inserting my Dietetics-to-be voice (please, indulge me — I want to believe this semester of horror was not in vain!). This week, I’m sharing four helpful tips to “Eat Through the Holidays…Healthfully!” at Vibrance. Click on over and leave your cookie-eating/refraining strategies in the comments. I know I’d appreciate all the help I can get.

And so would this guy.

My inner vegetarian is seriously revolting against this.

After Christmas, it’s lettuce and tempeh for life.

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Make Time for Tempeh

I know it is a week till Christmas (eek!) and this should be a post of festive cookie recipes, but though that post will come, it is not this post.

Truth #1: I am not officially finished with the semester until Tuesday, so my opportunities to bake have been slim.

Truth #2: I did take some time off studying the past few days to do some baking, and, well let’s just say I went a little overboard. As in did not take a shower till noon today, I still have icing in my hair, and I’m pretty sure if I don’t bake again till Valentines Day, that will be just fine with me. (Don’t hold me to it, though).

Truth #3: After a few days of rolling in sugar and flour, the last thing I want to do right now is look at a bunch of pictures of cookies. That time will come. Right now, I just want to eat something full of nutritious and wholesome ingredients. Like Tempeh Quesadillas.

Stay with me, here. Never had tempeh? It’s time you met.

Tempeh is a superfood, made by fermented soybeans formed into a patty, similar in substance and nutrition to tofu. It is very minimally processed and so is rich in soybean nutrition: high protein, calcium, fiber, iron, and beneficial isoflavones. It has a textured, nutty flavor, but also quickly absorbs the flavors of the foods and spices it is cooked with. I have found it to be a very versatile substitute for meat — crumbled into chili or taco “meat”, grilled for a TLT (tempeh+lettuce+tomato), and now used in place of chicken strips in one of my old favorites, the quesadilla.

Tempeh Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 1/3 pkge tempeh
  • /2 green pepper, diced
  •  2 T. chopped onion
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. paprika
  • 1/8 t. garlic salt
  •  1 large whole wheat tortilla
  •  2 T. hummus
  •  1 T. low-fat cottage cheese
Directions
  • Slice tempeh into thin slices, about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add tempeh, peppers and onion to the pan and sprinkle with lime juice and spices. Saute, flipping tempeh for even cooking until it is lightly brown and vegetables are soft. Set aside in a dish.

  • Lay tortilla in the frying pan. Spread hummus across tortilla and spoon cottage cheese on one half of the tortilla.
  • On the cottage cheese side, spoon tempeh and veggies. Let tortilla heat a bit open-faced, about 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • With a spatula Gently fold the empty side of the tortilla over the vegetables and using the spatula edge, “seal” sides together.
  • Continue to heat, flipping quesadilla after a few minutes to brown both sides.
  • Serve warm with salsa, Greek yogurt, or guacamole.
This is not like your typical quesadilla — there isn’t even any cheese! But, trust me, it’s good. When heated, the hummus and cottage cheese get all gooey and delicious and the veggies and tempeh add wonderful flavor. As for nutrition? It’s hard to beat these stats:Who says vegetarians don’t get their protein? That’s 21g right there, as well as 10g fiber and high amounts of both Calcium and Iron.

Whether you eat meat or not, it’s good to expand your repertoire of healthy ingredients and experiment with a few new superfoods. The more nutritious variety available to you, the less you will find yourself reaching for the unhealthier options.

What did you say about Christmas cookies?

Come back soon. I’ve got to brush my teeth a few more times.

How to Cope: Peanut Butter Crunch Popcorn

There are certain words I never want to hear again: school, exams, due-dates, study.

There are other words I can’t get enough of: snow, lights, cinnamon, carols, and peppermint.

Every week, school has become more more unbearable. And now, here is the end. In a few days, the books will be laid aside for three glorious weeks. Christmas is so close I can smell it. Or is that my steaming Chai tea? No matter. Chai and Christmas are pretty much the same thing, anyway.

A few small things helped me make it through without totally losing my sanity.

High on the list were my study buddies. All throughout a long and tortuous semester of Biochemistry, the girls around my table kept me smiling. Four days a week we met together, shared anxiety over quizzes, gave each other pep talks, and  laughed over dumb lab mistakes, which were always mine, and shared pencils with those who packed mascara but forgot any writing instruments. Which, again, was always me. Always.

The day before exams, we met together one last time in the library for a real intense study session. So intense the four of us camped out at a table all afternoon and came prepared with nourishment, in the form of Christmas cookies, fruit snacks, and coffee. So intense I remembered to bring a pen. Unfortunately, I forgot paper but it all worked out because we ended up talking a whole lot more than writing.

I wanted to give my special friends a little token of appreciation. We’ve been through a whole lot together and I wanted them to know that no matter how horrendous the semester was, I was glad for the friendships that came out of them. I also wanted them to know that even though our paths were diverging, I was still going to think about them and pray for them.

So, naturally I made Peanut Butter Crunch Popcorn. It’s only fitting for the occasion, right? The perfect snack to accompany late night bonding times with the textbooks. The perfect sweetness and crunch to remember better times and get a taste of Christmas waiting on the other side.

And who am I kidding. It was finals week and I needed to extract myself from my studying “hole.” The kitchen is my choice coping mechanism. Nothing like getting peanut butter in your hair to relieve stress.

It's snowing popcorn!

Peanut Butter Crunch Popcorn
~
Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. natural, creamy peanut butter (no sugar added)
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. puffed kamut (optional)
  • 1 c. peanuts
  • 2/3 c. almonds
  • 1/2 t. salt (optional)

Directions

  • Microwave pop kernels using the paper bag method: In a small, lunch-bag style paper bag, pour about 3 T. kernels. Tightly roll over the top of the bag to “seal” and microwave about 3 minutes, or until popping slows (about 5 seconds between pops). Repeat until all the kernels have been popped.

(I used a trimmed TJ’s bag. Really, Joe, how do you not save my life?)

  • Spread popcorn out on sprayed cookie sheets to cool. Remove any unpopped kernels.
  • In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat honey, brown sugar, and oil. Bring to a slow simmer.
  • Remove pan from heat and immediately stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
  • Working quickly, stir popcorn, kamut, and nuts into pan and with a wooden spoon or spatula, mix to thoroughly coat popcorn.
  • Spread popcorn on to cooking sheets, breaking apart clumps. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Let cool at least 10 minutes. Popcorn can be stored in a airtight container

It’s all over today. I walked out of the classroom like I was walking on air. Then I came home and immediately pulled out the popcorn kernels. Lunch today was a pan of peanut butter popcorn and a bowl of broccoli. Yum, fiber.

Sometimes, you just got to do what you got to do.

Places I Love

Lately, I’ve been playing the game “Where I Wish I Was Right Now”.

I play it when I am sitting in my Biochemistry lab, trying to look intelligent while my partner does all the work. News flash: today was the last lab of the semester — and perhaps off my entire college career. I would be more than happy to retire my lab glasses forever.

I play WWIWRN (can I get that patented?) when I see things like this:

Yes that says, Exam, Presentation, Exam all in the last week of class.That’s when I wish for a magic carpet. Or a snow storm or anything.

Where are the places I love most to be?

  • By the fireplace in my PJs with the family
  • In the kitchen, baking cookies and listening to Christmas music
  • The Christmas tree farm where horse-drawn carriage take you to your tree and candy canes and hot chocolate await your return
  • Boston. It’s my favorite city. One day I want to live there.
  • On country roads in the early morning, my neon orange sneakers rhythmically pounding the pavement with cows and horses for company.
  • Anthropologie. I’ve actually only been in one store, but I’m on the website often enough for it to definitely make my list of wishful getaways.
And then there is this place:
Rebecca Florio@beccarosiefloRebecca Florio
I may be putting my reputation on the line, but yes, I count a grocery store as one of my favorite places to be.
Because it’s forty-five minutes away, it’s an all day event that only happens about four times away.
Because it’s TRADER JOE’S. The whole atmosphere is just happy.
Because it inspires snacks like this one:

That would be mini pretzels lathered in pumpkin butter and sunflower butter, topped with Ghiradelli chocolate chips. DO IT.

I came home with lots of goodies, the kinds of signature foods you can only find at TJ’s: the best hummus ever, cinnamon roll bread, sunflower butter, fruit bars, cereals, tofu. It’s like a bottomless treasure chest and I had to remind myself that we were driving a minivan, not a bus.

Mom and I were just heading out the door when she spotted the large bin of pineapples at an incredible price. It didn’t take much convincing for me to turn around and get back in the checkout line.

And it only took a day until the pineapple was put to good use.

I’m a big believer in eating food in season. It’s freshest, most natural, and supports local farming. It also inspires creativity. I could always use more of that.

Which means that if your toes are freezing off in the middle of December and you wish you were tanning on a Florida beach, you can still have your fruit salad. This is the kind that will make you want to pull up your toe socks, pour a warm cup of tea, and cuddle up by the fireplace.

Winter Fruit Salad with Citrus Honey Dressing

  • 1 small pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 3 medium pears, diced
  • 3 medium apples, diced
  • 1 pomegranate, peeled and seeded (I use this method)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. cinnamon
Directions
  • Cut fruit in bite-sized pieces and combine in a large bowl
  • In a small jar or bowl, combine honey, juice, vanilla, and cinnamon. Place the lid on the jar and shake, or use a whisk to thoroughly combine ingredients.
  • Pour dressing over fruit and stir to coat.
  • Refrigerate salad for at least 1 hour to let flavors develop.

Of course, now the fruit salad is gone and I’m wishing I had bough three more pineapples at Trader Joe’s.

As if I needed an excuse to take the forty-five minute commute twice in one week. Anyone up for a road trip?

Life in this Fight

The other day, a friend asked me what prompted my desire to work with eating disorders as a Dietitian (if I ever make it through college, that is!). I paused a moment before answering. Before telling the truth.

I don’t often tell people about my personal struggle with an eating disorder. It makes them uncomfortable and it is hard to explain all the emotions and pain that can be associated with food.

But it is an important part of my life that has shaped who I am and driven my goals for the future. I know I need to talk about it. To share what I’ve learned. To be honest with myself and acknowledge that this battle may never go away.

I tell myself it’s gone. After all, my weight isn’t dropping, I don’t measure salsa or count my carrots, and I don’t keep a meticulous food journal any more.

But it isn’t gone.

Everyday, I battle thoughts and habits of disordered eating. I think about everything that goes into my mouth. One day, I might feel free to eat what I want, but then I lie in bed condemning myself for “over-indulging”. I still categorize foods as “good” or “bad”, acceptable and taboo.

Eating in public stresses me out. People will see and judge what I eat, there will be no control over how things are made, there will be pressure to eat for social’s sake.

Everyday it is a fight. And I’m tempted to be discouraged, to throw up my arms and give up in the face of negative thoughts and the blunt reality of my weakness. I just want it to be over. Once and for all.

But, lately, I’ve come  to realize that may never happen. This fight may be here to stay.

We all have that struggle that, wish as we might, won’t leave. It may be anger, depression, finance trouble, painful relationships, communication problems, and the list goes on. It overwhelms us, binds our thoughts and exhausts our emotions. We experience victories but for there are also moments of defeat.

The truth is — painful as it may seem at times — there is life in the fight.

In the fight there is life.

When I’m tempted to rely on old restrictive habits, I need to exercise my mind to combat wrong thoughts and ideals that lead me to those habits. I can’t be passive — I’ll either cave in or I will meet the challenge head on to be stretched and grow stronger.

Instead of running, let’s embrace the fight. We can even learn to fight with joy.

Another vital thing I’m learning is to never ever fight on your own. Reaching out for the support of family and friends is one of the major pillars of my healing. Most importantly, it’s my faith in Jesus and His power that enables me to stop trusting in food, or exercise, or a thin body to make me happy. He takes away those desires by filling my heart with a desire for Him. He says, “he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35) and His Word gives me hope.

The powers of darkness and lies have been broken. So even though my daily battles with food may seem so strong, I won’t be overcome.

I don’t plan to sit back and let this battle knock me down. I plan to face each new day relying the strength of my mighty God, breathing deeply the freedom of truth, and prepare to fight.

And in that fight, I will live.

*read My Nourishing Story for more on my journey

So Much to Be Thankful For: Savory Bread Pudding

Yes, Josh, I’m looking at you.

I really am pretty blessed.

I have a family who sees all of my idiosyncrasies, meltdowns and bedhair, and loves me anyway.

A home where I am safe, cared for, and kept warm.

A professor who makes a last-minute decision to cancel class on Thanksgiving-eve.

The unexpected joy of spending the whole afternoon snuggled with sweats, blankets, and cranberry-pomegranate green tea because class was cancelled.

An entire weekend with no deadlines to spend with cousins, aunts and uncles and my grandpa.

A great big extended family who hugs, talks loudly, and eats well in the good old Italian way.

A Thanksgiving eve service that reminds me from Whom all blessings flow; that life is about much more stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie. Yum.

Friends who invite us for Thanksgiving dinner.

The excuse to bake Thanksgiving-y dishes all week long, because, well, we’ll be at friend’s house for the actual dinner and what’s Thanksgiving without a messy kitchen and leftovers?

The butternut squash and Brussels sprouts falling out of the fridge just as I was contemplating vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving dishes.

A healthy, hearty, scrumptious dish to help combat all the sweets and treats I’ll be consuming this weekend.

Savory Autumn Bread Pudding 
~ Serves 4 as a main dish

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and subed
  • 1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts, cut in halves
  • 1 large apple, diced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 T. dried rosemary
  • 4 pieces whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 1/3 c. milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 2 T. raisins

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange squash and Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake about 30 minutes, or until tender.
  • Meanwhile, saute onion in olive oil, salt, pepper garlic, and rosemary. Combine vegetables and onion in a medium casserole dish. Top with bread cubes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Pour mixtures over bread. Sprinkle raisins on top.
  • Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until egg is set.

This was baked alongside my sister’s egg-sausage-cheese-frenchfriedonion casserole. I’m thankful all our hearts are pumping.

Guess which casserole was licked clean within minutes? Apparently the beauty of Brussels sprouts is outshone by the glitz of cheese covered French-fried-onions. But I am thankful my family was considerate enough to leave me leftovers. What’s Thanksgiving without them?

Make it Better: Triple Chipper Oatmeal Cookies

At the ripe old age of nineteen, I’ve come to the realization that life is full of inconveniences. They’re unwanted, unplanned, and unavoidable. I have spent a lot of energy and time trying to remove them, but to no avail. So I’ve also come to the realization that they must be meant to be. Part of the greater good God’s working in my life (Romans 8:28). These everyday inconveniences can be opportunities to learn lessons and challenges to find and cultivate the good in “bad” days.

When you have a three hour lab that includes a two hour wait, when you and your lab partners are yawning at each other under foggy lab classes, turn it into a conversation opportunity. You may just make some nerdy new friends

When you are “feeling a bit out of sorts,” your throat is scratchy, and your nose is sniffly, turn your downtime on the couch to read that book you haven’t gotten around to.

When the weather keeps you inside from the run you were planning, turn on cheerful Christmas music and try a new workout.

When you’ve had a long rough day at school, use your car ride home to call your sister and plan a movie-popcorn night.

When you’ve stayed up late talking to a friend and your alarm goes off at 5:15am, be sure to cash your Dunkin Donut coupon in for a tall coffee

When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming. (That one’s from Winnie the Pooh. Go read him)

When you want to turn unhealthy sweets into healthy treats, be sure to make them 1)edible and 2)yummy. Just so you know, almond flour + oat flour is a magic combination.

And please, when you have three kinds of baking chips, be sure to use them all.

Triple Chipper Oatmeal Cookies
~ makes 6 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. coconut
  • 2/3 c. Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 1 egg (or 1 T. flax seed + 2 T. water)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. almond flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. butterscotch chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • To make oat flour, process oats (1/2 c. at a time) in a blender or food processor until ground into a fine powder. It should look something like this: 
  • Process coconut in a blender or food processor until very finely chopped. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat Earth Balance with sugar and baking soda until fully combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add almond flour, coconut and oat flour and mix well.
  • Stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips.
  • Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown

When you make six dozen cookies that combine oats, almond flour, and coconut, and when you are going to go all crazy in the baking chips department, be sure to eat them surrounded by friends.

I promise they will taste a thousand times better. And your day will be a thousand times sweeter.

Quick Eatz: Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of looking at life through lab glasses: 

In attempts to stay healthy during my hectic life, I have been drinking a lot of this:

and consuming far too much of this (which has nothing to do with healthy, but everything to do with the hectic life):

When I get a chance, I let out stress in a run. Fall morning runs are the best. Especially when run with a good friend who has an awesome sense of style:

 I’ve not been neglecting pumpkin, either. I’ve probably been through 6 cans in the past two and a half months. That’s almost a can a week!

Don’t judge, please. Instead, make one of these recipes and you’ll understand. I hope.

Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Honey Buttercream (Heather’s Dish). If the name alone doesn’t have you clicking over, let me tell you that this is one of the most phenomenal recipes I’ve made all autumn.  The buttercream alone is out of this world. I had to hold myself back from sitting down to a bowl of it and calling it lunch.

Pumpkin Molasses Cookie Dough Balls (Peas and Thank You). Soft and flavorful, these cookies didn’t last long!

Pumpkin Smoothie (Edible Perspective). Pumpkin makes such a creamy smoothie! I only wish I didn’t slurp through this deliciousness so fast.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip:

  • 3/4 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 3 T. almond butter
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1 T. maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender or in a medium size bowl until blended smooth. Drizzle maple syrup on top and top with chopped nuts or coconut before serving. Scoop up with graham crackers, pretzels, apple and pear slices, or pita chips.

In just over a week, it will be Thanksgiving. I can choose to be stressed out by the way time is whizzing by, or I can choose to embrace this season of gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for. I have a strong and loving family, I’ve been blessed with good health, I have the opportunity to be in college, taking classes (difficult as they may be) on the way to the career of my dreams. Most of all, my life is marked by the love and grace of God. Every day, His mercies are new. Great is His faithfulness. 

In this hectic life, filled with both joys and stresses, moments of peace and moments of frustration, I choose to give thanks.

Not Missing a Bite

Sometimes I feel sorry for people I see at the grocery store. I see them rushing past the produce aisles to filling their carts with frozen meals and pretty packaging of unnatural ingredients no one can recognize or pronounce. A little part in me grieves for the quinoa and almond butter and Brussels sprouts that sit overlooked in lonely shelves while the cutesy Pop-Tarts and Fritos are given all the attention. Sometimes I want to turn around in the checkout line and ask if anyone knows what they’re missing.

Yes, I realize this puts me at risk for appearing very strange. But I’m all right with that. I think. If taking a grocery trip for a single head of cauliflower is strange; if calling chickpeas a snack is strange; if getting giddy over a jar of sunflower of butter is strange — well, that is just the way I am.

Let me tell you what I think is strange. The other day, I overheard a fellow student bemoaning that she was looking forward to a leisurely lunch but accidentally slept in and didn’t have time to heat up her EasyMac. Instead she had to settle for a breakfast of Milky Ways. I thought of my pumpkin oatmeal breakfast and my packed lunch of yogurt, an apple, fresh and crunchy vegetables and hummus. The poor girl had no idea what she was really missing in her candy-bar breakfast.

One of the things I am most looking forward to as a future-Dietitian, is helping people see the beautiful delicious world of real food. To widen the horizons of their grocery list from the freezer and snack aisles to farmer’s markets and bulk food bins.

Hopefully, once preaching nutrition is my job, people will stop giving me sidelong glances and calling me “that strange health-nut” behind my back. But I really don’t mind, especially if being strange means heating Pineapple Cauliflower Rice in the school microwave after my friend’s EasyMac is well-congealed.

“Normal” people don’t know what they are missing.

Pineapple Cauliflower Rice

~ eight servings ~

Ingredients

  • 4 c. cooked brown rice
  • 2 c. chopped cauliflower
  • 1 t. coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 can (15oz) pineapple tidbits: drain and reserve juice
  • 1 T. ginger
  • 1/3 c. almond milk (or other milk)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, saute cauliflower in coconut oil until tender and slightly browned.
  • Pour 1 c. pineapple juice over cauliflower. Reduce heat, cover, and let cauliflower cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in pineapple tidbits, rice, and ginger. Let heat throughout, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour in almond milk and stir to coat rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you cook the rice beforehand, this meal is really as quick and easy as reheating a frozen pizza. It’s much more tasty too. I expected to be the only one eating this, but the first batch I made was gone in a day. The family loved it too (and they’re not strange).  

I kind of want to make a huge pot and hand out samples at the grocery store checkout line. 

Swap in Some Healthy

I’m up to my ears in papers, flashcards, and exams this week so things will be a little quiet around here. I haven’t even been able to take advantage of Thursday baking day or pajama day! Instead I’m eating cereal and grapes and buzzing on multiple cups of coffee. Classy.

However, if you have time to don your apron, I’m jealous don’t let me stand in your way. Pull out the bowls and measuring cups and get your baker on. But first, check out this post I wrote on Vibrance about making healthy (sneaky!) ingredient swaps.

When I first became more health-conscious and making changes to my diet, I assumed that my dessert days were over. It is a common belief that eating healthy means, “dieting” and that means cutting out sweets.

How un-fun. I quickly discovered that restriction is unhealthy and wellness means giving what body not only what it needs but also what it wants. True healthy changes will only last if they are balanced and can be incorporated into a realistic lifestyle.

For me, that means I needed to find a way to incorporate treats and sweets back into my life. And what I learned was that there are infinite ways to give favorite desserts a healthy makeover — making nutritious swaps without losing any of the deliciousness.

Click on over to read my favorite ways to Swap in Some Healthy.

And while you’re at it, does anyone want to send some chocolate chip cookies to this struggling student? Better yet, bring them yourself. It’d do me good to see a human face. I’ll swap you a cup of coffee.