Smoky Bacon Potato Leek Soup

Dear bacon lovers,

I have found your new favorite soup.  This dish is one I will long for all Spring and Summer as I wait for the return of soup season. The combination of seasonal vegetables with the smoky spices and bacon create a heavenly aroma that’s equally as delicious.  I guarantee you’ll be hooked.  Serve to your whole family or dinner guests this holiday season.

Ingredients

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-3 pieces bacon, chopped

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into medium-size pieces

-1 large leek or two small leeks, tops removed, white parts sliced width-wise

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-2 dried bay leaves

-1-2 teaspoons paprika (I eyeball it)

-1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika (I eyeball it)

-1-2 teaspoons salt and pepper

-1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon thyme leaves

-4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

-1 tablespoon heavy cream

-chives for garnish (optional)

-croutons or crushed cheesy crackers for garnish (optional)

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I crumbled these on top and they were delicious

Instructions

  1. Heat large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil.  When hot, add onions and bacon, and cook until browned. Add some paprika, smoked paprika, and pepper.

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2. Add the leeks, potato, garlic and thyme.  Sprinkle with more paprika, smoked paprika, pepper, and this time some salt.  Cook five minutes.

 

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3. Pour broth into the pot and add bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until  the vegetables are soft.  Remove the bay leaves and let the soup cool for at five minutes.

 

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4. Transfer to a blender (in batches if necessary) and add the cream.  Blend until smooth. Serve in bowls and garnish.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Stay warm this Fall with my new favorite soup!

butternut-squash

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

-1 butternut squash

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-1 small Granny Smith apple, chopped

-1 small Gala apple, chopped

-5 thyme sprigs

-2 tablespoons butter, melted

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

-salt and pepper

-4 cups chicken broth

Instructions:

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  

2.  Place squash in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes so that it’s softened and easier/safer to cut.  Remove both ends of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise.  Peel the tough, outer skin and remove the “guts” from the inside of the squash.  Continue to cut the squash into smaller, bite-size pieces.

3.  Place the squash in a bowl with the melted butter and thyme leaves, then generously salt and pepper.  Place on the lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The squash should be tender enough to pierce with a fork at the end of cooking.

4.  When the squash has cooked for 20 minutes, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and optional sugar (generally I wouldn’t recommend sugar, but since this is a lot of soup, it’s hardly any sugar per serving).  Add the apples, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. 

5.  In batches, add the cooked squash and onion/apple mixture to the blender along with a cup of chicken broth with each batch.  Blend until smooth.  Continue to add the squash, onions, apples and broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with thyme.  Enjoy!

Nourishing Beef Bone Broth

You can roll your eyes at the bone broth trend all you want, but the truth is, there’s a reason bone broth restaurants are popping up in major cities and making headlines. While I enjoy bone broth, it feels silly paying $5 for a cup of straight broth, and truth told, with this recipe I can make it better myself at home (and it’s not hard!).

Why drink bone broth?

Bone broth is essentially an anti-aging tonic.  It’s full of pure nutrients and minerals straight from the bones of animals, like chickens, beef, pork, turkey, or lamb, simmered for hours with water and roasted vegetables.  Unlike regular broth which is made with just the bones of animals, bone broth usually calls for some meat on the bones during the cooking process. Grandmothers have been making it for ages, swearing that its healing properties aid the body’s immune system and gut, alleviate inflammation and joint pain, and make skin soft and hair shiny. It makes perfect sense considering bone broth is rich in many important nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, protein, collagen, gelatin and glycine.  Drink it regularly to aid your body in good health!

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Making bone broth is easy enough. It’s recommended to use a mix of bones with and without meat, and choose bones from organically-raised animals only.  You don’t want to extract any potentially harmful additives that could’ve been given to the animals. Same goes for the rest of the ingredients in the broth.  This recipe is for beef bone broth, but you’d essentially do the same thing with this recipe as you’d do if you were using bones from a different animal.  If you so desire, which I highly recommend, you can add your favorite herbs or spices to the broth too to make it more flavorful.

Ingredients

-4 bones beef bones (aim for a mix of bones, some with a little meat and some without)

-1 yellow onion, quartered

-1 leek, chopped

-2 medium carrots, chopped

-2 celery stocks, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

-2 bay leaves

-2 tablespoons peppercorns

-1 tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt or regular sea salt

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place chopped onion, leek, carrots, celery and garlic into a roasting pan along with the beef bones.  Roast for 15 minutes, take out and toss the veggies, then roast for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off.

2- Fill a large stockpot with about 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, apple cider vinegar, and roasted vegetables and bones with any juices and scrapings from the roasting pan.  Add more water to the pot if the water doesn’t cover the bones all the way. Optional- add herbs or spices.  I added a mix of Italian herbs.

3- Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, and cook with the lid ajar slightly. Simmer for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours, occasionally skimming the foam and excess fat from the top with a spoon or lettuce leaf, if you have one. The longer you let the broth sit, the more flavorful it will be.

*Note- do not leave the house with the stove on or leave it on overnight while you sleep. You can always continue to simmer it the next day.

4- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Discard the bones and vegetables by straining the broth with a fine-mesh sieve into a large container. I then transferred the broth to a glass mason jar and made sure to skim the rest of the fat off the top.

Store the broth in the fridge for up to five days and up to six months in the freezer.

Cheers to good health!

 

 

 

 

 

How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

Exotic Tagine with Spices Recipe

This recipe is for those nights when you want to eat something satisfying and healthy, but have too much on your plate to put too much thought into a meal. Although it’s not a traditional African tagine recipe, it shares some of the elements of one and holds up great as leftovers for a few days. You can go totally meatless with this dish and add extra vegetables, but I’ve made it with ground turkey on one occasion and with ground pork on another and liked both these too. I recommend any of these options. Flavoring is the name of the game with this dish, so make sure your spice cabinet is well-stocked. I tend to eyeball with most spices, and I welcome you to do the same.f167d4cb-14f2-4838-8be7-3dd3da36899e.jpg

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

-1 lb. ground turkey or pork

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, chopped

-1 tablespoon of each of the following spices: garlic powder, onion powder, ground turmeric, paprika, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground coriander, cayenne, salt, and ground pepper.

-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

-1 cup uncooked jasmine rice or cous cous

-1 1/2 cups water or broth

-optional: raisins or golden raisins

Instructions

1- Set oven to 400 degrees F. On the stovetop, heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add about 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Next, add the onion, the fresh garlic, and meat to the skillet. Add all of the spices to the pan, mix in with the meat and onions, and cook until the meat is browned.

2- Add the uncooked rice, chickpeas, and water/broth to the skillet. Add a little more salt, mix together, then place in the oven covered for 40 minutes.

3- That’s it, food is ready! BE CAREFUL after removing the skillet from the oven. It’ll be HOT and I totally burned myself!

Enjoy your meal 🙂

The Importance of Your Poop

Even though it feels a bit embarrassing to post about poop, there’s no denying that our bowel movements are extremely important. If you want to know what’s going on with your body and your health, then start by looking at your poop.

Let’s begin with the gut. The gut is the body’s second brain. In fact, it actually sends messages directly to our brain up top. It impacts mood, digestion, the immune system, and even how you think. While thought processes like writing or math are up to the big brain, the Enteric Nervous System (ENS), which runs down from our esophagus to our stomach, small intestine and anus, is comprised of 100’s of millions of neurotransmitters that affect mental state and contribute to certain diseases in the body (source: John Hopkins). This network of neurons is similar to those found in the brain and act as a complex circuitry allowing the gut to think independently, learn, remember, and even experience gut feelings. 80% of cells from the immune system are located in this digestive tract, so it makes sense that the colon can dictate your overall health.

Because of the impact your gut health has on mood and overall health, many gastrointestinal disorders like Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome stem from issues in the gut. When you poop, you eliminate toxins, and when you don’t poop those toxins build up and can contribute to disease and illness. Constipation can be caused by a disease, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or from something like stress or poor diet.

Are you pooping enough?

Your poop can tell you whether your body is properly absorbing the nutrients that you consume. Ideally, you should poop between 1-3 times every day, but no more than 5. If you’re pooping five or more times daily, this is likely diarrhea and can be dehydrating. Many people refer to having regular bowel function as being “regular,” but regular really means easily passing soft yet well-formed bowel movements anywhere between 1-3 times a day to 3 times a week (source: continence.org).

The type of poop you make is quite important. Thankfully, there is this handy dandy poop chart to help you identify your stool category according to research by the University of Bristol:

If your poop most closely resembles types 1-3, this indicates constipation. Types 3-4 are ideal; 5-7 indicate diarrhea.

What can you do to become a “regular” and healthy pooper?

If you’re not a category 3-4 pooper, then I have some tips for you!

If you really want to give your colon a good cleanse, try a colonic. Colonics cleanse your colon by flushing the large intestine out with warm water via the rectum in order to remove waste and exercise and hydrate the colon (source: SF Colonics). Some places that do colonics will even sell add-ons with the colonics, like coffee enemas or vitamin B implants.

Diet can play a huge role on gut health. Try adding more fiber to your diet since fiber gets waste to move through the intestines. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, and I highly recommend my Daily Green Smoothie for a powerful dose of fiber and vitamins needed to cleanse the body of toxins. I also suggest taking a daily probiotic and digestive enzymes. Probiotics can come in the form of food or supplements, but basically, probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to proper gut function and good health. Digestive enzymes will help you get the most from the nutrients in your food by breaking the food down into more digestible components. Even if you’re someone who eats well all the time, if you don’t have enough digestive enzymes you will not absorb all the good nutrition from your food (source: Whole9). Stress, low stomach acid, aging, and inflammation all are very common occurrences that can deplete levels of digestive enzymes.

Because of the direct link between the gut and colon, constipation or diarrhea can signal something stressful going on, whether it’s something emotional buried deep or something going on presently, like a big presentation at work (source: Harvard). To reduce stress, I can recommend a number of therapies which I’ve tried. These include health coaching, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, emotional freedom technique, or yoga. There are many ways to reduce stress on your own too, like breathing exercises, regular physical activity (but tailored to fit your body’s needs), essential oils, or a good ole’ warm bath.

I have worked with many women who suffer from chronic constipation. In fact, chronic constipation is a large, somewhat unspoken epidemic. I work with these clients to improve diet and lifestyle and to identify areas of stress or emotional trauma in their lives. If you’re someone suffering from gut problems, or if you would just like to improve your overall health, please set up a complimentary consultation with me so we can review your health history and discuss how health coaching can best help you.

I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

 

 

Chinese Green Beans With Pork

San Francisco is a city rich in culture and diversity, which is one of the greatest reasons why I’m obsessed with this city. Because I grew up in a densely Asian-populated neighborhood, my comfort foods have always been any kind of Asian dishes. I love the flavors and smells and have luckily found that many Asian dishes are fairly simple to replicate at home.

My friend and I made a stir-fry dish the other night with green beans, minced pork, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms that we put over rice. It was incredibly easy to make and had the same flavors as the food I’d buy at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood where I grew up. Although we ate this dish with rice, I think it would also go well in lettuce cups for a lighter version, or even with noodles. I found the recipe on Tasty (accompanied by a straightforward cooking demo video), but my friend and I switched the recipe up a bit to make it our own. Here is our version:

c9aaa16c-cf47-4392-a960-e259bc575268.jpgIngredients

-1 lb. ground pork

-1 lb. green beans

-4 cloves garlic, diced

-4 scallions, chopped

-4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped

-1 tbsp chili sauce

-dried red chili flakes (optional)

-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

-1 tbsp rice vinegar

-1/4 cup sesame oil

 

Instructions

1- In a wok or large pan, heat the sesame oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the string beans and cook until blistered. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2- Add more sesame oil if necessary to the pan. Add the scallions and garlic about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and ground pork. Once the pork has browned, stir in the chili sauce and add the red chili flakes. Then add the green beans back to the wok or pan and stir all together.

3- Add the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Serve over rice or with lettuce cups, or just on its own. Enjoy!

 

My Daily Green Smoothie Recipe

I’ve been a longtime fan of morning smoothies, but I’ve recently discovered a new smoothie that has instantly become my morning addiction. I drink it every day and enjoy the process of making it in the morning before my workouts. This green smoothie works wonders for the body and mind and is packed with nutrition. It has protein, fiber, important vitamins and everything you need to look and feel your best. After just a week of drinking it, I noticed improvements in my skin and energy levels. My digestion improved too, and I started having less unhealthy food cravings. 

Remember, everything in the body is connected. Your gut, colon, and brain all effect each other, so if you feed yourself nutritious foods your gut will be healthy, which also means a healthy colon and brain (aka, better digestion and prevention from illness). Please feed yourself good foods, like this smoothie, and your whole body will thank you!

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I like to switch it up slightly, but I typically add the following foods to my daily green smoothie: purified water, banana, green apple, green pear, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, chia seeds, hemp seeds and bee pollen.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale and romaine, are a good source of protein, as are chia seeds, hemp seeds, and bee pollen. You could absolutely add in different greens or fruits, or even add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. To make things easier with this smoothie, you can also make some extra and store it in a glass container in the freezer for later use. Otherwise, this smoothie will last covered in the fridge for two days.

The other thing I like about adding greens to my smoothie is that you get the most from your greens this way. Normally, aside from not eating enough vegetables during the week, most people don’t chew their food enough, which means they don’t absorb maximum nutrients. The nutrients in the vegetables are stored in the cell walls of the plant cell, so the blender will do a more efficient job of breaking these down. A Vitamix or powerful blender will really be best for making this smoothie smooth and creamy like it should be.

I encourage you to drink this smoothie and make it part of your morning routine!

Ingredients (makes 1-2 glasses)

– 1 1/2 cup cold, purified water

-1 banana

-1/2 green apple

-1/2 green pear

-1-2 celery stalks

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful romaine

-1 handful kale

-a squeeze of lemon

*optional: handful chia seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, or any other favorite superfood, herb, or protein powder

*For a smoothie with less sugar, remove the banana and pear, and just use the green apple.

Instructions

1- Pour water into the blender, followed by the spinach, romaine and kale. Blend until smooth.

2- Add the celery, pear and apple. Blend.

3- Add the banana and lemon. You can also throw in any optional seeds or foods, then do a final blend. Enjoy!

 

 

How to Win the Never-Ending Battle Against Late Night Snacking

Fighting off late night munchies can be a true battle. No matter how big of a dinner you eat, sometimes it’s too difficult to say “no” to snacking before bed.  If you are trying to sleep better or lose weight, avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise the food you eat will store as fat, rather than being processed or burned off (source: Dr. Hyman). If you struggle with late night eating, try these tips to curb bedtime snacking.

1- Eat breakfast. Having breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, but not just any breakfast. Having a high protein breakfast will keep you satiated longer and energize you throughout the day. If you eat late, you might not be hungry enough in the morning to get the right breakfast you need to power through your day, so it’s important to break this cycle.

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2% Greek yogurt with fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and bee pollen = lots of protein!

Some of my go-to, protein-packed breakfasts might include chia seed pudding, eggs (with the yolk!), a smoothie with proteins such as almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greek yogurt, or protein powder. I also like to add green vegetables to my breakfasts whenever possible. A meal like any of these really gives you the brain power you need, but also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the morning. When my blood sugar levels take a dip, this is when I find myself so starved I’ll reach for anything in sight, no matter how bad it is for me. Eating some protein and healthy fats with every meal really makes a difference in your overall energy and health, versus eating no breakfast or something lacking in nutrition, like cereal or a bagel.

2- Drink water. When we are dehydrated, sometimes our minds will interpret that as hunger. Try drinking water when you feel a late night craving come on before you head to the kitchen for some snacks. I like to infuse my water with cucumber, lemon, fresh herbs, or berries. I find that I can drink much more water when I’ve infused it, especially with my favorite, cucumber.

3-Eat mindfully. Eating too quickly doesn’t give the body enough time to realize it’s full. Practice chewing your food and remember to breathe while eating. The more you chew your food, the more the food is broken down, which means it digests more easily in the stomach. This is a pro tip for weight loss!

4- Turn off the tv and go to bed! It’s really easy to eat mindlessly when eating while watching tv. On occasion, if it’s getting late and I find myself getting hungry again after dinner, I will actually just send myself to bed. If I continue to stay up, then of course I’m going to get a snack to fuel me. Try having that glass of water instead or some warm almond milk or tea, then hit the hay.

5- Identify areas of your life that may be out of balance. Snacking is often triggered by emotions. Think, for example, about the image of a girl (or guy) shoveling ice cream in her mouth after a bad breakup as an example. Whatever the trigger may be, even if it’s just craving dessert after dinner out of habit, try to identify what could be causing you to have unhealthy cravings. This may not even apply to food; it could be some sort of substance abuse too. Think about the quality of all your relationships, career, spiritual practice, finances, home environment, or exercise routine. How satisfied are you in each of these areas of your life? If any aspect of your life is missing or unsatisfactory, it’s possible that this could be causing you stress, which can then lead to late night binge eating or unhealthy habits. Once you’ve identified what’s stressing you out, take measures to make improvements and reduce any stress.

Here is an exercise for you to try to find balance that I use with my clients throughout their program. This is called the Circle of Life (source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition). On the circle there are a number of important categories listed, each one representing a major aspect of life that contributes to overall mental and physical health. Being satisfied in each of these categories is extremely important for living a well-balanced life.

Here’s what to do. Place a dot in each category of the circle. The closer your dot is to the outside of the circle, the more content you are with that area of your life. And the closer your dot is to the inside of the circle represents less satisfaction with that category. When you are done connect all the dots and see what areas of your life need nourishment. If your dots create a perfect circle when connected, then you should be living pretty much stress-free.

circle of life color

6- Identify your food sensitivities. We are typically allergic or sensitive to the foods we crave the most. For many people this is gluten or dairy. Experiment with an elimination diet, or just try removing these two food groups and/or sugar for a few weeks and see if you feel any improvements. After a few weeks of eliminating certain food groups, gradually add back one food group at a time for a few days to see if any symptoms (maybe even some you weren’t aware of before) return. Other foods that tend to cause sensitivities or allergies are corn, soy, alcohol, sugar, red meat, processed foods, or nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, etc).

If you have experimented with these tips and are still finding yourself reaching for the cookies before bed, then replace those temptations with healthier options. I can recommend peanut butter with green apple, chocolate chia seed pudding, roasted salty chickpeas, or black bean brownies.

Please leave other suggestions in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in talking about how a health coach can help you eat better and improve your overall health, sign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me!

Guilt-Free Chocolate Banana Avocado Cookies

Apologies, these cookies photograph like moose poop, but I promise they are amazing!FullSizeRender.jpg

I have a dangerous sweet tooth, especially for chocolate, and sometimes my go-to tricks to suppress my cravings just don’t work. It’s moments like these that I find it necessary to have two foods on hand, an avocado and a banana, so that I can quickly whip up a guilt-free dessert. I have another two desserts I love, my raw chocolate mousse and ,  that can be made with avocado and banana instead of using ingredients like sugar, milk or butter. The other thing I love about my raw chocolate mousse and these delicious chocolate cookies is that they take less that 15 minutes to make. Can’t beat that.

So these cookies were my first attempt. They came out delicious, but a little thin and gooey. Didn’t bother me one bit, but if you’re a burnt cookie lover, then maybe try baking yours longer than 12 minutes. These would actually pair incredibly well with vanilla ice cream, but since we’re being healthy, maybe make some banana ice cream instead or pour some almond milk over the cookies and eat with berries, or just enjoy the cookies on their own… you decide 🙂

Ingredients

-1 banana

-1 ripe avocado (but not brown on the inside)

-1 egg

-1/2 cup dark cacao powder

-1 scoop peanut butter (optional- I used Earth Balance peanut butter with coconut oil)

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-dark chocolate chips to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start by placing banana chunks and the avocado flesh in a food processor and mix. Next add the egg, baking soda, peanut butter (optional), and cacao powder. Continue to mix.
  3. Toss in some chocolate chips (also optional). Scoop the mix into balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm.

 

I adapted this recipe from Paleo Leap and made it my own.  I hope you enjoy!