Nutrition, health and motivational resources to uplift and educate you

September 20th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

I long to be inspired.

Brilliant minds, nature, random acts of kindness, new ways of thinking, and cutting edge research all absolutely fascinate me.

Yes, I am a curious one for sure. 

My favorite time of day is early morning when I venture outside to be in nature and, well…seek inspiration. Sometimes it happens on its own, as if I’ve tapped into something that was just sitting patiently, waiting for me to witness it—such as dew drops resting on thousands of blades of delicate grass, the sun shining through a foggy mist, or a mourning dove cooing away in a majestic oak tree above. My mind is fresh and open, and I am like a fully inspired sponge, ready to soak up any bit of wisdom I can glean from my surroundings.

Another source of inspiration and education is through the wise and generous teachers I’ve stumbled upon over the years. It’s during my time in nature, while plugging into these intelligent minds, where I get my best ideas: Concepts for my weekly blog post, new book ideas, and even books that I’ve read upon the recommendation of the teacher, that literally changed the course of my life. 

When you are open to being inspired, your life will change in unthinkably amazing ways too. 

I read a lot, but the conduit that serves me equally well is listening to my favorite teachers through podcasts on my iPhone. A podcast is an audio show spread across a series of episodes. It can be downloaded from the Internet and listened to either on a computer or your smartphone. To listen to podcasts on your mobile device: iPhone users can download the free Podcast app and then search for podcasts; other devices can access podcasts via free or low-cost apps such as Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Google Play. 

Here are some of my go-to podcasts that I think you will really like:

Podcasts for when I want learn the latest in NUTRITION and HEALTH: 

  • Bulletproof Radio: 
    Get the latest information about biohacking as host Dave Asprey interviews expert guests about hacking life so you can kick more butt everyday! Dave is also the inventor of Bulletproof Coffee— a tasty coffee beverage that combines MCT oil and grass fed butter. 
  • House Call with Dr. Mark Hyman:
    A place for deep conversations about the critical issues of our time in the space of health, wellness, food and politics. 
  • JJ Virgin Lifestyle Show:
    Provides valuable, easy-to-implement strategies to help you eat healthy, turn back the clock, and become your healthiest, most vibrant self. 
  • Revolution Health Radio:
    Debunks mainstream myths on nutrition and health and delivers cutting-edge, yet practical information on how to prevent and reverse disease naturally. 
  • The Mastering Blood Sugar Podcast:
    Learn how to use a low carb, real food diet, lifestyle changes, and functional medicine to master your blood sugar and reverse type 2 diabetes. 
  • The Model Health Show:
    Author and nutritionist Shawn Stevenson breaks down complex health issues and makes them easy to understand and overcome. 
  • The Tim Ferriss Show:
    Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek. In his show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use. 

Podcasts for when I want to feel INSPIRED (which is everyday!) or to get out of a funk. These are also very helpful if you are in a melancholy mood or negative space that you can’t seem to shake: 

  • Dr. Wayne W. Dyer:
    This show explores the power we have as individuals to create and manifest events in our lives. Hear lively discussions on how you can move past fear and into love.
  • Hay House Radio:
    Features expert authors in the fields of health, self-healing, motivation, spirituality, positive psychology and personal development.
  • Oprah’s Master Class:
    Hear the greatest life lessons of some of the most respected and renowned actors, musicians, public figures and athletes. Handpicked by Oprah, these luminaries reveal their lives with candor and insight—in their own words. 
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations:
    Awaken, discover and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you. Hear Oprah’s personal selection of her interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts. All designed to light you up, guide you through life’s big questions and help bring you one step closer to your best self. 
  • The Ziglar Show:
    Why do some people achieve and succeed and some do not? We are all capable of more. Listen and get massively awakened, inspired and equipped to move beyond your current reality. 

Go ahead and explore! Then pick your favorite podcast and listen to it while exercising, driving, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or sitting under a tree with your favorite beverage. 

There is so much to be learned from others, but you have to be open, willing and ready to receive their gifts. Are you ready to grow and become an even more well-rounded, inspired human being? I’m telling you, life gets better EVERY day…once you allow. 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin

You’ve probably passed this nutrition powerhouse hundreds of times as you pushed your grocery cart down the baking aisle. 

Canned pumpkin isn’t just for making pies my friends, in fact the possibilities are endless!

Pumpkin happens to be a great source of fiber and vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting vitamin. One serving of canned pumpkin offers your body 380% of the daily value for vitamin A and 4 grams of fiber.

Beware! Don’t be fooled into purchasing “Pumpkin Pie Mix”, which is made with added sugars.

Here are a few ideas for sneaking canned pumpkin into your meals:

  • Mix one cup of pumpkin into three cups of marinara sauce to cut back on sodium.
  • To thicken your smoothie, add 1/4 cup of pumpkin and blend.
  • Stir a couple tablespoons of pumpkin into a half-cup of applesauce for a different flavor.
  • Add it to your pancake mix!
  • Make a batch of Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins (see this week’s recipe pick below!)

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins (flourless)

 

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Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins (flourless)

September 19th, 2018 | no comments

If you liked my recipe for Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins from last week, you’ll adore these muffins too! They sport the same fudge-like texture (thanks to the addition of beans) and are also gluten and dairy-free.

This recipe uses gluten-free quick oats vs. quinoa flakes, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) vs. bananas and pecans vs. walnuts. In addition, it uses pumpkin spice, which is essentially a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins pair nicely with a veggie-loaded omelet or as an afternoon treat with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee (just sprinkle a few dashes of pumpkin spice into your coffee grounds before brewing). What a nice change of pace from plain old regular coffee!

Another shout out to Katie (www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com), as this recipe is modified from her Pumpkin Blender Muffins. 

Print Recipe
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins (flourless)
A bean-based, flourless, and gluten/dairy-free muffin that pairs nicely with a veggie-loaded omelet or as an afternoon treat with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee (just sprinkle a few dashes of pumpkin spice into your coffee grounds before brewing). 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Breakfast, Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree I like the Farmer's Market brand
  • 1 15-oz can Cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup + 2.5 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free quick oats, dry
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Course Breakfast, Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree I like the Farmer's Market brand
  • 1 15-oz can Cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup + 2.5 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free quick oats, dry
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line nine muffin cups or grease with coconut oil.
  2. In a food processor, blend pumpkin through baking soda until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl and stir in pecans.
  3. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups and smooth the tops with a butter knife. Bake 20 minutes. They will look underdone, but will firm up if you let them sit for 20 minutes or so.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 muffin): Calories: 195; Total Fat: 9 grams; Saturated Fat: 0.8 grams; Sodium: 180 mg; Potassium: 230 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 25 grams; Dietary Fiber: 5 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 20 grams; Sugar: 10 grams (9 grams added sugar from maple syrup); Protein: 6 grams

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Common breakfast mistakes (and how to fix them)

September 13th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

 

Growing up, breakfast in my house consisted of cereal with milk, maple-flavored Cream of Wheat, or toasted Wonder Bread (yikes!) with grape jam and a glass of juice. It’s no wonder my energy level took a major nosedive by 9:00 a.m. 

Here’s what was going on in my body after eating such a highly-refined carbohydrate breakfast:

Melanie ate breakfast → Her body digested the food, breaking down the carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) → Her blood sugar spiked → In an effort to lower her blood sugar levels, Melanie’s pancreas pumped out a rush of insulin to clean up the glucose and store it in her body cells → Her blood sugar dropped rapidly, along with her energy level → Her hunger level quickly returned → She craved (and ate) more highly refined carbohydrates → The cycle repeated itself.

If you typically eat a highly-refined carbohydrate breakfast, I’m afraid you’re leaving a ton of energy on the table. I should also mention that because insulin is a fat-storage hormone, your high-carb breakfast is likely causing you to store body fat! 

Sometimes you just don’t know how good you could be feeling. How could you? As human beings, we grow accustomed to feeling a certain way (tired, achy, inflamed, etc.) and then convince ourselves that this is the best life has to offer. I think that’s plain nonsense. We can all feel the effects of healthier food choices.

So what’s the answer? Rethink and reduce the source of your breakfast carbs and then add in some healthy protein and healthy fat!  

See if you are making any of these common energy-zapping breakfast mistakes. If so, try the “fix” and see how much better you feel.  

 

MISTAKE FIX
Toasted white/wheat bread or bagel with jam or cream cheese EZEKIEL SPROUTED BREAD with fresh ground almond/peanut butter or mashed avocado
Cereal with milk COOKED QUINOA topped with fresh berries, a handful of nuts/seeds, a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup, and a splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk
Yogurt parfait with sweetened yogurt, fruit and granola SIGGI’S PLAIN ICELANDIC YOGURT (full-fat!) topped with fresh berries, pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup
Pancakes drenched in syrup FIBER-RICH COCONUT FLOUR PANCAKES with PEANUT BUTTER & RAW HONEY SYRUP
Blueberry Muffin BANANA WALNUT BREAKFAST MUFFIN paired with a hard-boiled EGG and a mug of GOLDEN MILK

Store-bought smoothie
(Note: many have between 50-130 grams of sugar. Yikes!)   

Follow THESE INSTRUCTIONS for making your own breakfast shake! Recipe included.
Not eating breakfast!

Note: I’m not talking about a planned intermittent fast here. I mean you’ve convinced yourself you are “too busy” to eat breakfast (PS: no you’re not!)

Grab an ORGANIC APPLE, pair it with a tablespoon or two of fresh-ground NUT OR SEED BUTTER (almond, cashew, sunflower, pecan, or peanut butter), and serve it with a hard-boiled EGG.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Walnuts

All nuts offer health benefits, but walnuts are the crème de la crème!

They are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, powerful antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium. Because of their unique nutrient-profile, they aid in maintaining a healthy heart and sharp brain, normal blood sugar, and healthy body weight. 

Another juicy nugget about this amazing nut…they just happen to improve sperm quality too (just in case you’re interested).  

Here are 10 easy ways to fit more walnuts into your daily routine:

  1. Stir a small handful into cooked quinoa and enjoy for breakfast (see above)
  2. Blend a handful into your smoothie
  3. Mix into plain yogurt and top with berries (see above)
  4. Eat a handful for a snack
  5. Toast and mix into vegetable dishes
  6. Toast and toss on salads
  7. Make Walnut Taco “Meat”and enjoy in place of ground beef on Taco Tuesdays!
  8. Add a handful to your popcorn 
  9. Bread your fish or chicken with finely chopped walnuts. See this recipe for Walnut Crusted Lemon Chicken Piccata
  10. Incorporate into homemade muffins— try this week’s recipe pick for flourless Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins (flourless)

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Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins (flourless)

September 13th, 2018 | no comments

This muffin isn’t the typical crumbly, sponge-like muffin…so if you’re looking for that, you won’t dig this recipe. Because it’s made with beans (yep!) it has a dense, fudge-like consistency that is actually quite decadent! And instead of flour, it calls for flaked quinoa— an ancient “grain” that’s actually a seed.

Enjoy a Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffin for breakfast, paired with a hard-boiled egg and a mug of Golden Milk, or with a tall glass of my Gut-Loving Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie.

I adapted this recipe just slightly from www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com. Thank you for this amazing creation Katie!

If you are on the fence about beans and quinoa in your muffins, give it a try anyway; I think you’ll like it.

PS: These freeze really well.

Print Recipe
Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins
Because these muffins are made with beans (yep!) they have a dense, fudge-like consistency that's actually quite decadent! And instead of flour, the recipe calls for flaked quinoa— an ancient "grain" that's actually a seed. A gluten-free, dairy-free recipe the whole family can enjoy! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18-20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes I like the "I Heart Keenwah" brand
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 medium banana, overripe (about 1/2 cup)
  • 15 oz. can Cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup nut butter almond; pecan; walnut; peanut; sunflower; cashew butter (Any one will do; just make sure the only ingredient is the nut/seed. Salt is OK.)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18-20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes I like the "I Heart Keenwah" brand
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 medium banana, overripe (about 1/2 cup)
  • 15 oz. can Cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup nut butter almond; pecan; walnut; peanut; sunflower; cashew butter (Any one will do; just make sure the only ingredient is the nut/seed. Salt is OK.)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line nine muffin cups or grease with coconut oil.
  2. In a food processor, blend quinoa flakes through cinnamon until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl and stir in walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups (don’t overfill or they will rise and then sink in the centers) and bake 18-20 minutes. They will look underdone, but will firm up if you let them sit for 20 minutes or so.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 muffin): Calories: 190; Total Fat: 9 grams; Saturated Fat: 0.7 grams; Sodium: 150 mg; Potassium: 215 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 24 grams; Dietary Fiber: 5 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 19 grams; Sugar: 10 grams (8 grams added sugar from honey); Protein: 6 grams

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Are you always hungry? There’s hope.

September 6th, 2018 | no comments

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When you eat a meal, the expectation is to feel satisfied and for hunger pangs to disappear.

  • But what if that doesn’t happen?
  • What if you never feel full?
  • What if you feel the urge to snack all day long?

Setting out on a journey to healthier eating is a beautiful thing, but often the motivation to continue fizzles out. And it’s not because you stopped caring about yourself, but rather, your body feels hungry and your cravings are out of control.

When I was suffering from binge eating disorder, I never felt full. And I mean never. It didn’t matter how much I ate, my body always wanted to keep on eating. This was a foreign feeling to me, one I couldn’t wrap my head around.

 

Then I learned about a little hormone produced by our fat cells called leptin.

 

It’s a pretty powerful hormone too, one that controls appetite by regulating your brain cells that tell you how much to eat. It also plays a role in weight control.

In a nutshell, lots of leptin tells the brain that we have plenty of fat stored, which sends the signal to stop eating. Low levels of leptin tell the brain we are at risk of starvation and hunger and cravings kick in.

Where this whole system goes a bit haywire is when leptin is being produced in ample amounts, but the brain doesn’t “see” it, creating a condition called leptin resistance.

So what does this really mean?

The brain mistakenly thinks it’s starving and therefore turns on the signal to eat more and expend less, creating the perfect environment for weight gain and making it nearly impossible to shed body fat. What’s worse, the very process of losing weight reduces leptin, so your brain attempts to hold on to body fat by increasing appetite and hunger, while decreasing metabolism. How frustrating!

This invisible, vicious cycle is likely why we blame ourselves for lacking willpower. Only, it has nothing to do with willpower, it’s your body biologically calling out for food.

If what you just read sounds like a carbon copy of your struggles with weight loss and food cravings, please know it’s not your fault.

Diets high in sugar (particularly fructose) and processed foods promote surges of leptin, which overtime, can create leptin resistance. These diets also compromise the integrity of the gut, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

To regulate leptin, getting back to the basics is in order

This means doing the following on a daily (yes, DAILY!) basis:

  1. Fill your plate with Earthfoods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados.
  2. Eat plenty of healthy fats like coconut and olive oil.
  3. Include a moderate amount of healthy protein, such as beans, lentils, tempeh, organic free-range eggs, wild salmon, organic free-range chicken, and grass-fed beef.
  4. Get a daily dose of probiotic-rich foods and supplements to keep the good bugs growing and the bad ones at bay. 

Remember, what you feed your body most, it will crave!

You deserve to have the craving needle move in a favorable direction, so stop counting calories and start putting the good, whole foods in and before you know it you’ll be begging for broccoli over burgers. Really.

PS: A good way to begin can be found in this week’s recipe pick of Easy Grilled Salmon (over greens & sprouts) drizzled with Primal Kitchen Dressings (see below). 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Primal Kitchen Dressings & Marinades

I’m a big fan of simple dressings and marinades. Give me a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a few cranks of Himalayan sea salt and pepper and I’m a happy girl. 

Sometimes it’s nice to give the tastebuds something different to sing about. I tend to stay clear away from the salad dressing aisle because most of the household-brand dressings (you know what I’m talking about) are filled with vegetable oils, added sugar, and even preservatives. 

Note: You should NOT be using vegetable/seed oils like canola, soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils for dressing your salads or marinating meats or fish (or really for anything!) because they are pro-inflammatory, meaning they induce inflammation in the body.  

Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings and Marinades have it going on! Made with avocado oil, organic herbs and spices, and free of added sugar and preservatives, you are sure to find a flavor you will adore. Check out all of their varieties HERE!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Easy Grilled Salmon (over greens & sprouts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Easy Grilled Salmon

September 6th, 2018 | no comments

I shied away from cooking fish for years because I thought it was too complicated. Boy was I wrong! 

Gone are the days of eating salmon and other deliciously nutritious fish in restaurants alone. Today, we grill, bake, and broil fish on a regular basis and I can’t believe how simple it is (so much easier than chicken!).

This recipe for grilled salmon uses five simple ingredients: salmon, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and fresh lemon. I rubbed each salmon fillet with the olive oil, salt and pepper and then sealed them in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for an hour or so to marinate. 

I served the salmon over a bed of greens, roasted veggies, and broccoli sprouts, sprinkled with a touch of Parmesan and asiago cheese and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I always like to top my salad off with a crank or two of Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Just a note: be careful not to cook your fish too long, otherwise it will be dry and lose its natural flavor. Follow this recipe and you’re golden!

Print Recipe
Easy Grilled Salmon
Gone are the days of eating salmon and other deliciously nutritious fish in restaurants alone. Today, we grill, bake, and broil fish on a regular basis and I can't believe how simple it is! This recipe for grilled salmon uses five simple ingredients: salmon, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and fresh lemon. I rubbed each salmon fillet with the olive oil, salt and pepper and then sealed them in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for an hour or so to marinate.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Passive Time 60 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 4- 8-ounce salmon fillets choose wild salmon or farm-raised Verlasso salmon
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut into four wedges
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Passive Time 60 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 4- 8-ounce salmon fillets choose wild salmon or farm-raised Verlasso salmon
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut into four wedges
Instructions
  1. Rub both sides of salmon fillets with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Massage the seasonings into the fish and then seal in two ziplock bags. Refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. Preheat grill to 450 degrees. Place marinated fish on grill, skin side up. Make sure you leave enough space between each fillet.
  3. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes or until the fish releases easily from the grill with a flat spatula. Flip salmon carefully with spatula and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and allow to sit for about ten minutes, as residual heat continues to cook the meat, and the internal temperature will continue to rise. NOTE: If you spot little white beads on the surface and sides of the salmon, you've cooked it too long.
  4. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each fillet and serve over a bed of fresh greens, roasted veggies and broccoli (or alfalfa) sprouts!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 475Total Fat: 32 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Sodium: 425 mg; Potassium: 0 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 0 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Net Carbohydrates: 0 grams; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 45 g

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Today is my birthday…here’s what you can gift me (it’ll only cost you 5 minutes!)

August 30th, 2018 | no comments

Mel as a baby (check out those cheeks!)

Plus:

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Today I turn 43.

Another year has passed; a few more gray hairs than last year (magically disguised thanks to Brad, my wizard of a hair stylist); a new ache in a joint or muscle; a fresh little crease under each eye. Hey wait a minute, I swear those weren’t there yesterday, I said upon noticing them for the first time.

With each little change I witness, I smile and think to myself: I am not this wrinkle; I am not this gray hair; I am not…this body. 

You and I, we are so much more than this suit of skin, bones and blood we wear. We are:

Love in human form.

Divine creatures full of endless light.

Miraculous bundles of wonder.

Unimaginable possibility.

It’s a common belief that our state of health is dependent upon what we choose to eat and drink, our level of physical activity, and a twist of genetic fate. While those are certainly contributors, there’s a missing piece to this equation: how you see yourself.

I mean really see yourself.

Forget about what you see in the mirror. When the dust settles after a busy day and you take a moment to breathe…can’t you feel it? Even if just for a moment, can’t you get a faint whiff of who you really are? 

I don’t think you realize how amazingly divine and perfect you are. I see it in you, every time we meet. I can hear it in your voice and feel it emanate from your eyes. In the words of poet and writer Shane Koyczan: If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror, look a little closer, stare a little longer”

No, I promise you aren’t exempt. You just forgot.

Take another breath…there it is. The gap, the momentary pause where you just are. Look a little closer, stare a little longer…it’s there.

I don’t plan on leaving this earth anytime soon and I hope you don’t either, but of course, that’s not up to us. So often I hear stories of people who’ve lost loved ones before having the opportunity to share how much they meant to them. But what about the person who passed? Did they miss their opportunity too? Quite possibly.

That’s why I am taking this opportunity in today’s post to tell you how glad I am that you are in my life. 

We may have only met once (or maybe not at all), but there is a reason we are connected here. I don’t know exactly what it is and I’m not trying to figure it out. It may seem silly to some what I am about to say, but I don’t care: I love you. Not just you, but the deeper You.   

In celebration of my birthday, I’m only asking for one gift:

Take a few minutes to yourself today. Close your eyes and just breathe. Feel into the true essence of You. What do you see? Who do you see? 

When you are done, just send me an email (melaniejatsek@gmail.com) so I know you did it. Enter the subject: Melanie’s Birthday Gift. That’s it! You don’t have to write another word unless you feel moved to do so. Please, do this for me on my birthday.

With so much love…

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Almond Flour

Almond flour is a fabulous gluten-free alternative to wheat-based flour and can be used in baking, as a breading for chicken and fish, or mixed into the dough of your favorite energy bite recipe.

The only ingredient listed should be: Blanched Almonds. Blanched simply means the skins have been removed. 

You can very easily make your own almond flour by processing whole blanched almonds in a coffee grinder or food processor to create a fine powder. Process any longer than that and you’ll wind up with almond butter…which isn’t such a bad thing. If you happened to have an apple or banana nearby, it’ll make a great snack!  

To make approximately one-half cup of almond flour, use 1/3 cup of blanched almonds.

Try almond flour in your next recipe! It can be used to make pancakes, cookies, muffins, breads…and cake! See this week’s recipe pick for: Tiny Double Chocolate Birthday Cake + Pink Sprinkles 

Note: In baking, although you can substitute almond flour for wheat flour in a one-to-one ratio, you will have to add a binding agent, such as an egg.  

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Tiny Double Chocolate Birthday Cake + Pink Sprinkles 

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Tiny Double Chocolate Birthday Cake + Pink Sprinkles

August 29th, 2018 | no comments

I love cake. Frosting? Even better! I felt inspired to make a tiny layered chocolate cake for my birthday and add some fun pink sprinkles too.

You know me- this isn’t some cake out of a box. Actually, it’s just as easy and, although it’s not a “healthy” cake, it’s quite an upgrade from your traditional cake loaded with crappy chemicals (that’s an industry term 🙂 ) and slathered with trans fat-laden frosting. 

The cake is made with almond flour and the frosting…well, I lied a little bit, the frosting is on the healthier side because it’s made with avocado, coconut oil and raw cacao powder, and sweetened with pure maple syrup. Shhh…don’t tell anyone. I swear they won’t know it used to be green. For the sprinkles, I just tossed about a half cup of unsweetened coconut flakes in the food processor with half of a strawberry and processed until the flakes turned pink. Then I let them sit out to dry for a bit. 

Happy birthday to me! 

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Tiny Double Chocolate Birthday Cake + Pink Sprinkles
I felt inspired to make a tiny layered chocolate cake for my birthday and add some fun pink sprinkles too. The cake is made with almond flour and the frosting made with avocado, coconut oil, raw cacao powder and pure maple syrup. 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
  • 3 tbsp. grass fed butter Kerrygold
  • 2 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup super-fine almond flour Bob's Red Mill
  • 1 organic, free-range egg, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder Navitas
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pink Sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup organic, unsweetened coconut flakes Let's Do Organic Coconut Flakes
  • 1/2 medium fresh strawberry, stem removed
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
  • 3 tbsp. grass fed butter Kerrygold
  • 2 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup super-fine almond flour Bob's Red Mill
  • 1 organic, free-range egg, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder Navitas
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pink Sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup organic, unsweetened coconut flakes Let's Do Organic Coconut Flakes
  • 1/2 medium fresh strawberry, stem removed
Instructions
Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2-four ounce ramekins with coconut oil.
  2. Place butter, honey, and chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds, then stir until smooth. Cool completely (you can place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to speed up the process).
  3. Add almond flour, egg, vanilla, and salt to cooled chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Spoon batter into prepared ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and gently remove by turning ramekin upside down on a clean plate.
Chocolate Frosting
  1. Process avocado in food processor until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape the sides with a spatula.
  2. Frost the top of one cake with a thick layer of frosting. Place remaining cake on top and frost the top and sides of entire cake. You will have about half leftover, so just store remaining frosting in refrigerator and have a spoonful here or there for a sweet treat.
Pink Sprinkles
  1. Add coconut flakes and strawberry to a food processor and process until flakes are pink. Sprinkle all over top and sides of frosted cake!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 400; Total Fat: 28 grams; Saturated Fat: 13 grams; Sodium: 175 mg; Potassium: 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 35 grams; Dietary Fiber: 6 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 29 grams; Sugar: 26 grams; Protein: 6 grams

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It’s already in you

August 23rd, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

 

Faced with a block of marble and a vision, Michelangelo, the famous Italian sculptor and painter of the High Renaissance said:

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

The first time I heard this statement it brought me to tears. Since then, every time I stop to reflect on it, I am moved to my core. I think about us. You, me, the woman I met after one of my speaking engagements— we are all such brilliant human beings, with power and potential far beyond our wildest imaginations. 

We all have a statue inside of us just busting at the seams to be revealed. What does yours look like? Come on, I know you see it. You can visualize it so clearly because it’s already in you. It is you. 

So what’s holding you back from chiseling away at the stone you’ve allowed to form over your magnificence?

  • Is it too difficult? Give it a little elbow grease! You can do it…because you’ve done it before. What was it that lit the fire under your ass last time?
  • Are you afraid? As author Susan Jeffers said (and the title of her internationally renowned book): Feel the fear and do it anyway! Once you take that first scary step, you realize the fear was totally unfounded; a phantom you created in your mind, perhaps to keep you small? 

On playing it small, Michelangelo offered these wise words: The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.

It all begins with a choice. Just one single choice. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just higher than before. So you ate pizza for dinner last night. Who cares! What will you choose to eat today? For your very next meal?

Now get to chiseling, you magnificent creator…and set yourself free!

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Nutritional yeast

I promise it’s not gross. In fact, it’s quite the little flavor-enhancer, lending a savory, cheesy, nutty flavor to your favorite foods. Made by culturing yeast for several days in a nutrient growth medium (often glucose from beet molasses or sugarcane) and then deactivating it with heat, just like sauerkraut and other cultured foods, the final product contains no sugar.

Unlike baker’s yeast, which is a live active yeast used for helping baked goods rise, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is consumed for its nutritional content. Full of B-vitamins, minerals and complete protein (8 grams per 1 1/2 tablespoons), nutritional yeast is a wonderful addition to a vegan diet. 

How can you use it?

  • Sprinkle it on fresh popcorn and cooked veggies
  • Use as a base for dips and dressings
  • Add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie 
  • Add it to soups, sauces and baked foods. See this week’s recipe pick: Spicy Vegetarian “Meat” Loaf!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Spicy Vegetarian “Meat” Loaf (hubby’s favorite)

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Spicy Vegetarian “Meat” Loaf (hubby’s favorite)

August 23rd, 2018 | no comments

Looking for a nutritious and delicious alternative to animal protein for your meatless Monday meals? I think you’ll find this recipe to be fun, flavorful and versatile. And talk about a nutrient powerhouse! You’re getting fiber and protein from red lentils, B-vitamins from nutritional yeast, and omega-3 fats from ground flax seed. 

  • Add a slice of Spicy Vegetarian “Meat” Loaf to your salad
  • Serve it alongside roasted veggies, eggs, or Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
  • Or just grab a slice for a snack!

Don’t like spice? Simply remove the cayenne pepper!

I like to bake two loaves at a time, store one in the refrigerator and freeze the other for a quick meal solution. 

Print Recipe
Spicy Vegetarian "Meat" Loaf (hubby's favorite)
Looking for a nutritious and delicious alternative to animal protein for your meatless Monday meals? I think you'll find this recipe to be fun, flavorful and versatile. Plus, it's loaded with fiber, protein, B-vitamins, and omega-3 fats. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes (to boil lentils and bake loaf)
Servings
slices
Ingredients
  • 2 cups red lentils, cooked (about 1 cup dry) I like Bob's Red Mill brand
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats, dry
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast Bragg or Red Star brand
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 large organic, free-range egg, whisked
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 8 oz. vegetable stock or water
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes (to boil lentils and bake loaf)
Servings
slices
Ingredients
  • 2 cups red lentils, cooked (about 1 cup dry) I like Bob's Red Mill brand
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats, dry
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast Bragg or Red Star brand
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 large organic, free-range egg, whisked
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 8 oz. vegetable stock or water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Place all ingredients except vegetable stock into a bowl and mix until well-combined.
  2. Add the vegetable stock and stir thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into a loaf pan and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until firm and slightly browned.
  3. Cool slightly, flip pan over onto a cutting board to release the loaf. Cut into slices and serve.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 150; Total Fat: 3 grams; Saturated Fat: 0.3 grams; Sodium: 90 mg; Potassium: 420 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 23 grams; Dietary Fiber: 9 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 14 grams; Sugar: 1 gram (0 grams added sugar); Protein: 10 grams

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