Saturday, June 21, 2014

RECIPE: Parsley Pesto Chicken

I’ve been horrible about posting during this Whole Life Challenge. We’re already in the final week, and I’ve only posted three times! Ugh. Sorry about that. I swear, I’ve been meaning to post more—and guess what? That parlays perfectly into the final lifestyle challenge, which begins today: Complete something you've left undone. So, at long last, I’m posting this amazing recipe that I’ve had typed up and ready to share for several weeks now: Parsley Pesto Chicken. It comes courtesy of my teammate, Karen Harper, and it’s dangerously delicious. (Dangerous because the pesto is so tasty—almost cheese-like—that you’ll want to consume more of it than you perhaps should.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

RECIPE: Taco Salad Six Ways

We’re big fans of Mexican food around our house—but when we go out for a meal, it tends to involve a whole lot of cheese, tortillas, chips and all sorts of other things that aren’t exactly Whole Life Challenge compliant (like, um, margaritas—rocks, salt please!). To satisfy most of those cravings at home (alas, no margaritas or cheese), I came up with a recipe that’s super easy to customize according to what each family member can have. The beauty of this is that you can adapt it to any Whole Life Challenge level, as well as make it Whole 30 compliant, Paleo, vegan/vegetarian and even kid-friendly. It also doesn’t require firing up the grill or turning on the oven—which is a welcome relief in the hundred-degree temperatures we’ve had here in the Los Angeles area lately. The recipe below is perfect for Advanced Whole Life Challenge players, but here are some variations:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

RECIPE: PALEO-M-F-G Chocolate Cupcakes

Okay, I’m not going to lie and tell you that this is a healthy recipe. But I will tell you that it’s probably the healthiest (and most obscenely delicious) version of a chocolate cupcake you’ll ever try, thanks to all the good-for-you ingredients (high-fiber coconut flour! Raw cacao powder!) and absence of crap (refined flour and sugar!). It’s also Whole Life Challenge Advanced Level Compliant (and Paleo, for those of you in that camp). The recipe is essentially a modified version of my fabulous teammate Xen Buchanan’s Clean Banana Nut Muffins, which I blogged about during the last challenge. You simply replace the cinnamon and nutmeg with a heaping dose of cacao powder and wind up with what amounts to a decadent chocolate-walnut muffin (the walnuts are of course optional). To kick it up a notch and make it a seriously over-the-top dessert, I mixed up a batch of the Rawtarian chocolate frosting that I recommended in my Chocolate Fudge recipe a while back.

Monday, May 5, 2014

RECIPE: Gazpacho

The Whole Life Challenge has started again, and that means I’m going to be posting new recipes, along with other random thoughts on health and fitness if/when they occur to me! During the last challenge, I enjoyed a whole lot of hot soups—and I’m still planning on having quite a few of them. But now that it’s spring (almost summer!), I’m also excited to explore some cold soup options—and so today, I decided to throw together a big batch of gazpacho. I know a lot of people feel like gazpacho is nothing more than salsa under another name, but I find that if you add the right kinds of ingredients, seasonings and garnish, and puree it just enough, it makes an amazing (and seriously filling) meal. It’s also great if you’re trying to keep your calories in check. I garnished mine with avocado (next time I’m going to add even more!) and had a hard-boiled egg on the side for some extra protein. Best of all? This baby is 100 percent Advanced Rx compliant (and also vegan). Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Taking Control

When I talk about the Whole Life Challenge, the first thing people typically ask is how much weight I lost while doing it. It’s a valid question. I mean, weight loss was definitely one of my goals when I signed up back in January—and it will be one of my goals when I do the challenge again (because although I dropped about 8 or 10 pounds last time, I’ve still got quite a few more to lose). But there’s so much more to the Whole Life Challenge than losing weight, and there are so many reasons I decided to do it before…and I’ve decided to do it again.

Here’s the deal: I was not in a good place at the beginning of this year. I’d spent at least two months in what I considered to be a pretty deep depression. I had my good days and my bad days, and I was still functioning for the most part—but the truth is that I felt like my life had spun completely out of control (which is not a good thing for a control freak). I felt like a failure in almost every way and was walking a dangerous, self-sabotaging path that included eating all the worst kinds of foods, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, abandoning all efforts to be physically active, and allowing a defeatist attitude to completely overtake me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

RECIPE: Strawberry Banana Smoothie

A lot of people have a tough time figuring out easy meals to make while they’re doing the Whole Life Challenge, especially at breakfast. They seem to think that an egg with fruit or vegetable combo is their only option. But that’s so not the case! There are all kinds of things you can have. Some of my favorites include an apple with peanut butter, one of those awesome Clean Banana Nut Muffins or a simple fruit smoothie.

I used to make this strawberry banana smoothie all the time with regular milk and Greek yogurt—but substituting in almond milk and cutting out the yogurt makes it 100 percent advanced level compliant and just as delicious (especially if you use homemade almond milk). Of course, it’s not very high in protein when you cut out the dairy—which may concern some people at the start of their day. The good news is that if you’re playing at the beginner or intermediate level, you can add a bit of Greek yogurt to this for a protein boost and extra creamy goodness. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Maintenance Mode

It’s been a full ten days since the Whole Life Challenge ended, and I have to say I’ve learned some surprising things in that short period of time. My husband and I decided that we would take these ten days to just live our lives without any rules or restrictions—to see which habits that we acquired while on the challenge stuck, and which ones fell by the wayside. So, you want to know a bit more about my surprising lessons? Well, okay then!

The first surprise: Dairy is not my friend. When I had some Greek yogurt, I got all this annoying allergy-like phlegm in my throat. (Tasty, right?) Also, I no longer like milk in my coffee. I was seriously so looking forward to not having to make my own almond milk until the next challenge but after trying a cappuccino made with milk last week? I went right back to soaking my nuts! (Er…you know what I mean.) And no, I don’t want to buy the almond milk they have at the store. It doesn’t taste anything like the creamy, delicious almond milk that I make—and besides, the store-bought stuff has crappy artificial ingredients in it. I am finding that I can tolerate, and very much enjoy, a small amount of cheese (or, okay, a giant mass of it on top of a pizza or nachos). But honestly? I definitely don’t need it so it will be a rare indulgence rather than an everyday one.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

RECIPE: Zucchini with Meat Sauce

OMG, you guys! Today is the last day of the Whole Life Challenge! I can’t believe it. The time has seriously flown by and it really hasn’t been all that challenging. Well, okay, that’s a lie. There have been quite a few challenges—but most of them have had to do with the amount of grocery shopping, food prep and dishes involved. The great thing about all that shopping and food prep is that I’ve discovered—and even created—all sorts of delicious, advanced level recipes, and now I’m going to share the big winner as far as my family is concerned: Zucchini with Meat Sauce.

I’m telling you, the picture doesn't do it justice. This is quite possibly the most delicious meal I’ve ever made. At first, I was just baking the zucchini in the oven, which is extremely tasty, but over the weekend I finally got a Spiralizer (actually, I got what I believe to be a cheap imitation—next time I will get the Spiralizer) and made noodles out of the zucchini. I swear, the texture added an entirely different dimension to this dish. Like I said, the contraption itself is kind of flimsy, and not super easy to use, but the results are so awesome that I think I’ll just deal with the downsides (and, you know, get a better model next time). I mean, seriously, how gorgeous are these?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Fries

Since I’m doing the Whole Life Challenge at the advanced level, I’ve pretty much gone without any starches or grains for nearly eight weeks now (except for on those three, count ‘em three, cheat days). The only starch you are allowed to have at the advanced level: Sweet potatoes. I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of this particular root vegetable, but when they’re the only starch you can have? Instant fandom! In fact, I’m not quite sure why I was such a sweet potato basher before. They’re actually pretty damn delicious—when you puree them in soup, bake and butter them (yes! You can have butter on the Whole Life Challenge, even at the advanced level!), or cook them up in the oven as fries (or chips).

I do realize fries and chips are so easy to make, you almost don’t need a recipe, but I’ll walk you through the process anyway. It’s mostly about using the right amount of oil (olive is fine but I recommend coconut—the perfect complement to the sweet potato flavor) and seasonings (I like them with nothing but pink Himalayan salt, but I know others like them with garlic powder, pepper, paprika…and you could also make them more dessert-like with a touch of cinnamon—no sugar though!), and baking them at the right temperature for the right amount of time. On that note, especially if you go the chip route, be sure to keep a super close eye on them. I tried to make a batch the other day and nearly burned the house down! Seriously, I’m surprised the fire department didn’t come with all the smoke I created. Eeep. Also note that the fries don’t really crisp up completely—although chips will, especially if you let them sit and cool for a bit. Alright, then. Here you go!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Staying on Track

The Whole Life Challenge is drawing to a close (only 8 days left! How did this happen?!), and that has been freaking me out a little bit. The crazy thing is that, unlike other fitness programs I’ve attempted in the past, I’ve hardly even noticed how many days I’ve been doing this thing—I’ve just been focused on each day as it comes, and sticking to the rules as best I can. But now, the husband and I are starting to think (and worry, to be honest) about how many healthy new habits we’ll be able to maintain if we’re not checking in and tracking our progress each day. The fact is, there have been times that we’ve focused on eating a certain way (e.g., a 3-week vegan cleanse) or doing a specific workout (e.g., P90X), and as soon as the determined duration (and, well, determination) ends, we go right back to our old habits in a big, bad way.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

RECIPE: Sweet Potato, Carrot and Coconut Soup

The other night, it was getting close to dinner time and I still hadn’t figured out what I was going to make for the family. I know it’s important to plan meals ahead of time when you’re doing the Whole Life Challenge but it had just been one of those days (you know, a Wednesday). I didn’t want to make the usual meat and vegetables. I wanted something hearty, but still Whole Life Challenge compliant. That’s when I remembered that a friend who’s been doing Whole30 (partly because I’ve been raving about the Whole Life Challenge) had sent me links to a few awesome-sounding recipes. There was one in particular that I definitely wanted to try: SweetPotato-Coconut Soup, from Jan’s Sushi Bar (it’s not a restaurant—it’s an amazing, healthy-eating, mostly Whole30 compliant food blog). So I looked up the recipe and yup, it sounded delicious.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Less Junky Junk Food

Okay, so I know one of the primary goals of The Whole Life Challenge is to focus on eating fresh, clean, wholesome and minimally processed foods—and I’ve definitely been striving for that, I swear. But as anyone who’s been doing this for the past five-plus weeks (and/or for more than one Challenge) knows, there are times when you just want to reach into a bag or open up a container of something for a quick food fix.

Oh sure, you could roll with something non-compliant and lose a point, but guess what? In addition to the old, tried-and-true nuts and dried fruit (and LaraBars, which I don't really like since I started making my own), I’ve discovered a few packaged foods that will satisfy a craving (and/or need for speed) while being one hundred percent compliant. (Incidentally, as I'm sure you've noticed, most allegedly "healthy" packaged snack foods on grocery store shelves are loaded with non-compliant ingredients, from artificial sweeteners to all kinds of other garbage.) So, I figured I’d compile a list of a few of my favorites—all A-OK at the Advanced Level. If you have a favorite to add to the list, please do so in the comments. (Just make sure to note if it’s compliant at the advanced, intermediate or beginner level.) Here you go:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Having a Cheat Day (The Wrong Way)

Since starting The Whole Life Challenge over five weeks ago, I’ve been feeling pretty freaking awesome: Happier and more energized, productive and comfortable in my own skin (and clothes!). But the past few days things took a nosedive. Not only have I been in a complete brain fog, I’ve been moody (okay, bitchy as hell—sorry, family!) and had a monster headache and upset stomach. I used to feel this way a lot and wasn’t sure why, but this time the reason is pretty obvious.

So, here it is: Over the weekend, the husband and I decided to use some of our copious Whole Life Challenge bonus points for a cheat day. We're both tied for first place, along with a couple other people on our team (or teams—I’m on two different ones), having had almost all perfect days since we started. So we figured, what the heck? Let’s go totally off program—at least the nutrition part of it—for a day. Fact is, a lot of experts say it’s a good idea to have a cheat day every now and then. However, there is a right way and wrong way to do a cheat day and unfortunately we went the latter route. I mean, the alcohol, the dairy, the gluten or the sugar might have been fine if we’d picked one or even two of them. But alas, I had all of the above, and in excess. I guess you could say I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl. Clearly that needs to change.

Friday, February 14, 2014

RECIPE: Chocolate Fudge

Okay, so today is obviously Valentine’s Day—which isn’t really something I care all that much about. I mean, yes, I’m all for love and romance but I think most of us know it’s basically a fake holiday designed to boost consumer spending more than anything else. It’s also a day when a lot of people, particularly kids, consume excessive quantities of sugar. (My friend Stacy Whitman over at School Bites has been trying to do something about this by creating a Candy-Free School Valentine Pledge. I guess it may be a little too late to sign, but check it out anyway!)

Personally, I like to indulge in a bit of chocolate—not just today but most days. (I know, I’m such a female cliché that way. But dark chocolate/cacao is good for you. Study after study confirms it.) I was even thinking about getting my favorite—See’s Candy—and sacrificing a point or two on the Whole Life Challenge as part of a Valentine’s Day treat tonight. But then my 8-year-old son, of all people, asked if there was a way for us to have a chocolaty dessert while still sticking to the Whole Life Challenge rules.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

RECIPE: Chocolate Berry Super Smoothie

I know a lot of people who are extremely into green juices and smoothies. I also know plenty of people who are seriously skeeved out by them. I fall somewhere in between the two: While I appreciate that they’re good for you and an effective way to boost your intake of healthy produce (especially green, leafy vegetables), I don’t find them particularly tasty or satisfying. However, I’m still interested in the idea of blending up a drink that packs in at least a serving of leafy greens—because, honestly, I have a tough time getting enough of them in my diet. I think it has something to do with the fact that they usually need to be chopped and/or cooked or mixed up with other stuff in a salad, which often sounds like too much work.

Anyway, a friend recently forwarded this Choclate-Covered Cherry Smoothie recipe to me and I thought it looked…interesting. I wasn’t really expecting it to taste like chocolate-covered cherries, let alone good, but I had the ingredients handy and it was most definitely Whole Life Challenge compliant. So I figured I’d give it a go and, surprise! It was really, really good! It was so good, in fact, that I made another the next day. Then, the next day, when I ran out of frozen cherries, I decided to make it with frozen blueberries instead—and I liked that even more!

Monday, February 10, 2014

RECIPE: Cauliflower Soup

Have you noticed that health-conscious foodies are going kind of crazy for cauliflower lately? Especially if they're trying to avoid starchy white foods like potatoes, rice and flour tortillas, it's like cauliflower is the second coming. "OMG," they'll exclaim, "you can whip it up like mashed potatoes! You can rice it!" Some say you can even transform it into tortillas (with mixed results, based on the reports I've received).

But I've always been a fan of the cauliflower. Growing up, my momwho was a gourmet chef (okay, not professionally, but she did study at Le Cordon Bleu)used to make cauliflower cheese for us on a semi-weekly basis. Of course, she would drench the hell out of it—coating the otherwise healthy vegetable in buttery cheese sauce and crispy breadcrumbs. Yes, it was delicious. But here's a healthy newsflash: You really don't have to douse cauliflower in dairy to achieve a creamy consistency. Even when pureed with nothing but water, the texture is decadent enough that you might think it’s got cream in it.

Of course if you want to make this recipe even richer, you can certainly use butter in place of the olive oil, or even add a bit of coconut milk (it will still be completely Whole Life Challenge, Advanced Rx compliant). But this version is super simple and a great vegan soup to boot. It’s also high in vitamin C and fiber, which makes it a perfect dish when you’re feeling under the weather (as my son and I were today). I won't say it's quite as indulgent as my mom's cauliflower cheese, but it's definitely a tasty dairy-free alternative.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

RECIPE: Chicken Lentil Coconut Curry

My family loves Indian food (yes, even my 8-year-old son!), and especially chicken coconut curry. I’ve been working on ways to recreate, perhaps even improve upon, the curry we get from our local restaurants—and last night I think I finally did it! This is one hundred percent Whole Life Challenge advanced Rx compliant, and can be modified a variety of ways depending on your dietary preferences.

For instance, you can use ghee or coconut oil in place of the olive oil to make it even richer. Or, you can swap in garbanzo beans or another meatless option of your choice for the chicken to make it vegan. If you don’t like coconut, you can of course leave the coconut milk out (I would probably replace it with a compliant vegetable broth or more diced tomatoes to ensure enough liquid), but it’s worth noting that there really isn’t an overpowering taste of coconut once all the flavors blend together. You can also serve this over brown rice (intermediate level compliant if you’re doing the Whole Life Challenge). I recommend letting this simmer for at least an hour—but the longer you leave it, the more delicious it gets. It’s the perfect meal for a cold winter’s night. If you love curry like I do, give it a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 7, 2014

RECIPE: LaraBar Bites

About a year ago, well before I did The Whole Life Challenge, I was already trying to look for minimally processed foods to feed my family, and was especially dismayed at the long list of artificial crap in almost all of the supposedly healthy “nutrition” bars we were used to eating. The one brand that didn’t contain a ton of added sugar and other awful ingredients? LaraBar. Honestly, most of the flavors contain a mere four or five ingredients—and virtually none (except those containing chocolate chips, as far as I can tell) has added or refined sugar of any kind.

This is why LaraBars are a perfect grab-and-go snack when you’re doing The Whole Life Challenge. Again, not all of the flavors are completely sugar-free, so they’re not all compliant, but many of them are—including my favorite flavor: Coconut Cream Pie. However, as much as I love LaraBars, the more I thought about how few ingredients there were, the more I wondered if I could just make them myself. So I did a quick online search and behold! There were a ton of websites sharing their recipes. Coming in at the very top of my “Coconut Cream LaraBar Recipe” search was a site called My Whole Food Life. The recipe looked awesome so I decided to give it a try and OMG was I glad that I did. These things were like coconut crack. Almost too good—and, I hate to say it, a billion times better than the store-bought LaraBars. They’re also crazy-easy to make. If you want to check out the recipe, click here. (Note: My Whole Food Life also has recipes for a ton of other LaraBar flavors that I have yet to try, plus plenty of other recipes that are Whole Life Challenge compliant!)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Is Coconut Oil Really Good For You?

In the nearly fifteen years that I’ve been writing about health and fitness, I’ve seen a lot of nutrition trends come and go (and occasionally come back again). There was the fat-free craze, which backfired in a whole host of ways. (Hey! Licorice is a fat-free candy! These cookies taste like cardboard but have no fat! That means they’re good for you…right? Um, no.) Then there were the low-carb/high-protein diets, which were discredited by a lot of experts but are now sort of back in sleek new (or, really, incredibly old) Paleo packages.

There have also been countless super foods, from chocolate to chia, kale to quinoa, touted for their health-boosting benefits—and some of the evidence is certainly compelling. Coconut oil* is another recent addition to this list, and a lot of people (including plenty of fans of The Whole Life Challenge) have eagerly embraced it. However, it’s also been met with scrutiny, especially because of its saturated fat content. So what’s the deal? Is it a miracle cure for all that ails you, a sensationalized jar of snake oil or, even worse, a heart attack waiting to happen? I’ll admit that I’ve been consuming a fair amount of it myself since starting The Whole Life Challenge, so I decided to take a look at the science behind the health claims. Here are some key facts worth considering:

Monday, February 3, 2014

RECIPE: Simple and Speedy Vegetarian Chili

When you're doing The Whole Life Challenge, cooking can take up a huge chunk of time. This chili, however, does not. It's vegetarian (vegan, in fact!) because I like it that way, but it would certainly be WLC compliant if you added in some browned ground beef or turkey. I've been making it for years now, and my husband and son love it (as do I!). You can serve it as-is or over brown rice (WLC compliant at the intermediate level), as well as garnished with some cilantro or onion or even a dollop of Greek yogurt (again, intermediate level compliant).

I used to feel weird about making a meal almost entirely from cans (and if that bothers you then you can certainly chop up your own tomatoes, and soak and cook dry beans!). But ever since discovering the truth about BPA in the canned goods that I use, I can now make this stuff without feeling the least bit guilty (and while saving a whole lot of time in the process). Anyway, give it a try and let me know what you think. (Note: I know my food photography blows. I'll be working on that in the months ahead!)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

3 Ways to Boost Your Water Intake

Most people have a hard time drinking enough water. Just like eating healthy foods and exercising, it's something they know they need to be better about but they just can't seem to do it. I'm no exception. Most days I barely manage to drink one full glass (about 16 ounces), even though I know all the benefits: It helps to curb appetite, makes your skin glow, keeps you from getting constipated (you can get especially backed up if you're having a lot of fiber but not increasing your fluid intake!).

That's why the first lifestyle requirement of The Whole Life Challenge was such a good one for me (and a lot of other people too). For the first two weeks of the challenge, if we didn't have 1/2 ounce of water for each pound of our body weight (so, divide your weight by two and that's how many ounces you need daily), we lost 1 point that day. I set out to get a perfect score for every single day of this challenge, so not meeting my water goal was not an option!

Friday, January 31, 2014

RECIPE: Homemade Almond Milk

Let me start by saying I've never been a big fan of dairy substitutes. I don't drink a ton of milk, but I absolutely love cappuccinos made with our Nespresso machine, and nothing I've bought in the store has frothed up or been anywhere near as delicious as cafe au cow. So I had resigned myself to the fact that I'd be switching to green tea for the duration of The Whole Life Challenge. I was, however, planning to buy almond milk for my husband, who would be doing the challenge with me, and who does enjoy almond milk, especially in his smoothies and cereal (puffed brown rice is compliant at the WLC intermediate level!).

Alas, when I reviewed the labels on each and every container of almond milk at the store, I discovered that even the unsweetened varieties contained ingredients, such as cargeenan and guar gum, that aren't allowed on The Whole Life Challenge. So I turned to my group members to see what they suggested. One person said I should buy made-to-order almond milk from a local grocer, but when I saw the price ($16 a quart? I'm sure it's delicious but are you effing kidding me?), that option was off the table. Then, another member* suggested making the almond milk ourselves. His recipe sounded simple enough, so I decided we'd give it a go. And guess what? Not only was it easy, it was unbelievably delicious—so much better than the cardboard-flavored fluid from the grocery store—and better still, it steamed up flawlessly for my morning cappuccino. Plus, we had leftover almond mulch that we could use in other recipes (like homemade LaraBars)!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Concerned About Toxic Cans?

I was the deputy editor of Natural Health magazine for over a year, where I spent a lot of time researching the health hazards of Bisphenol A (BPA). It was during my time there that I learned BPA was present in the lining of a whole lot of canned goods. Does that mean I stopped buying canned products? Um...not so much.

The thing is, I make a lot of meals with crushed tomatoes and legumes (I'll be sharing some of those recipes with you soon, since they're all Whole Life Challenge compliant), and cooking is time-consuming enough without having to slice and dice and soak and boil. That said, I did start to pay attention to which companies were making an effort to eliminate BPA in their products. Topping the list were Eden Foods and Muir Glen. Unfortunately, these companies are often pricier than a lot of otherswhich is why I was so relieved when a member of my Whole Life Challenge team shared a letter from Trader Joe's (where I buy a lot of our food) assuring consumers that there was no BPA detected in a long list of their products. If you'd like to read that letter, you can find it at this awesome BPA Free Canned Food blog, here. Bonus: This blogger has contacted a ton of other companies, including Amy's and Whole Foods, about the BPA in their cans and you can find their responses at the above link as well.

Bottom line: It is possible to simply pop open a can and still eat clean. Hooray!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RECIPE: Clean Banana Nut Muffins

One of the best things about doing The Whole Life Challenge so far has been discovering all the amazing, healthy recipes people share with each other. Yes, the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning (hey! cleaning!) can be overwhelming at times. But it's worth it when you're putting your health first...and when the results are this ridiculously delicious. Seriously, when I first saw this recipe I thought there was no way they'd taste like real banana-nut muffins. I could not have been more wrong. These babies are moist and every bit as good as (if not better than) the ones I used to make that were loaded with flour, sugar and more sugar. Pretty amazing for baked goods that are Whole Life Challenge compliant at the advanced level, not to mention gluten-free (and Paleo, if that happens to be your dietary preference)!

The sweetness in these comes from nothing more than the bananas and dates, and the moist and buttery taste is courtesy of coconut oil. (Don't complain to me about the saturated fat! I've read a ton of research on coconut oil and will write more about its many health benefits in a future post.) If you want to make these vegan, I've been told you can substitute 1 cup applesauce for the 6 eggs, but I haven't tried that yet. (If you do, please report back with your results!) I have baked eggless cookies using a baking soda-water substitute for the eggs, but I'm not sure if that will work with these since you're using coconut flour instead of death flour (seriously, you know that refined white stuff will kill you, right?). Incidentally, coconut flour has a phenomenal nutritional profile (hello? 3 to 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, depending on the brand!) and creates a much better bread-like texture than almond flour, in my opinion. ALSO NOTE: I usually halve this recipe and get about 9 muffins out of it, which winds up making the serving size slightly smaller (and therefore each muffin lower in fat and calories). Anyway, here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Here I Go Again

As a magazine editor and freelance journalist, I've been writing about health and fitness for nearly fifteen years. Does this mean that I'm healthy and fit? That would be a big hell-to-the-no. Fact is, eating right and exercising on a consistent basis have always eluded me. I'll find a diet or workout that I love and do it for a few weeks (or, if I'm feeling really motivated, a few months). But then I'll promptly fall off the wagon and undo all my hard work. I swear, I've been losing and regaining the same 20-40 pounds for the better part of my life.

A few weeks ago, my weight was back at an all-time high (or close to it). My body mass index (BMI) put me at dangerously close to obese. (Curious to know what yours is? Check out the National Institutes of Health BMI Calculator here.) My waist measurement was also off the charts, which was sort of a shock because I always thought it was just my hips that were too big. Not only was I feeling hideous and uncomfortable in my own skin, I was worried about my health. (I mean, hello? I lost my mom to breast cancer four years ago, and I can't help but think that her obesity contributed to her mortality.)