Monthly Archives: May 2016

Fig energy bites

Recipe: Fig Energy Bites

I first made these divine energy bites with Mickey, the creator of the AutoImmune Protocol. I was surprised at how just a few ingredients could pack such a flavor and texture punch. Since making the original recipe, I’ve experimented with adding additional spices and using different dried fruits.

Apricots are a perfect variation to this recipe. You could use half figs and half apricots, or do one batch with figs and another with apricots. You’ll never get bored! Cardamom also tastes great with these. It’s one of my favorite spices and I definitely add it to anything sweet that I make. Like cinnamon and vanilla, it adds a little extra sweetness without any sugar. Cinnamon and cardamom are also good for digestion. Cardamom is said to help eliminate gas and bloating, while cinnamon helps us digest fats by increasing enzyme activity in our bodies. Cinnamon may also lower blood sugar and it’s anti-inflammatory. Now that’s as good a reason as any for adding cardamom and cinnamon to our food!

These energy bites are also great for a quick snack, dessert or pre-workout treat.  Hello versatility! There’s lots of good fat in them from the coconut oil, and fiber from the dried fruit and coconut. The combination of fiber, fat and sweetness will help keep you satisfied longer without spiking your blood sugar (I’m sure we’re all familiar with the quick surge of energy we get after eating something sweet, that’s followed by the strong desire to take a nap).

Fig Energy Bites

INGREDIENTS

2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened)
2 cups dried figs (unsweetened and unsulfered)
1/3 cup coconut oil
a pinch of salt
a dash of cinnamon and/or cardamom
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Make sure to remove any pits, seeds or tough stems from the figs or apricots. Roll into balls and store in the fridge. Because of the coconut oil, energy bites kept in the fridge will have a creamier texture. Room temperature energy bites will be a little more oily.

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goals

From Resolutions to Results: 5 Simple Steps to Make Your Health Goals Stick

It feels really great to set a goal, but the trouble is that a lot of us set goals and come no where near reaching them. Did you know that it’s estimated that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Years resolutions? If you’re someone who wants to set a goal and see results, check out this 5 simple tips to help you get there.

Selection

Make sure your goal is important to you. It’s easy to get caught up in what we’re supposed to be doing. Everyone has an opinion – our parents, significant other, the internet, and our doctors. But that’s not going to cut it. Reaching a goal only works when it’s personal.

Small Steps

When we set a goal, we tend to jump right to the end result. It’s great to know where you want to go, but don’t forget that reaching that end goal is the result of accomplishing lots of smaller goals. Each time we accomplish a small goal, it helps us see that we are capable and gives us the confidence to keep pushing forward.

SMART Goals

SMART is a great acronym for goals that are Specific,  Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time bound. Making sure your goal is SMART is a great way to increase your chance of success. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic and time bound. And there’s a good reason it works! If you can’t see what the end result of what your goal looks like, it’s not going to happen. Ask yourself, how do I know if I’m making progress toward that goal? When do I want to accomplish it by? For example, maybe you want to exercise more. It’s a great goal, but it’s not SMART yet. How often is more? How will you do it? When will you do it? Where? Doing cardio at the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 45 minutes after work is a way more doable and clearer goal. That also means that it’s way more likely to happen.

Stop Making Yourself Wrong

Most people want to be perfect. It’s official. The good news and the bad news is that none of us are. No one reaches their goals in a straight line. Anytime you set a goal, there will be a time when you fall short, when old patterns get the best of you. The question is whether you keep going or get stuck in making yourself wrong and feeling like a failure. If you keep going, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal. If you give up because you think you’ve failed, then you have failed. Failure is rare. Giving up is way more common.

Share and Get Support

Sharing and getting support are important steps to create accountability around your goals. When we tell someone we’re going to do something, we are way more likely to do it. And, when we tell people what we’re up to, they tend to get inspired. At the very least you’ll cheer you on, but they may even surprise you and join in. Sharing and getting support is a great way to have some fun and to create a safety net while working toward your goals. It’s a win-win situation all around.

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Samantha's Veggie Curry

Recipe: Samantha’s Super Simple Veggie Curry

I love curry, especially Thai curry. It’s heavy on veggies and has so much flavor! Making veggie curry from scratch can be time consuming, and eating out can be tricky for those of us with dietary restrictions, allergies or watching or sugar and salt intake. Plus it’s just way healthier and less expensive to make your own food (if you need some encouragement, check out this post).

So, this week I did something I don’t usually do. I cooked with store bought curry paste. Thai Kitchen makes green and red chili curry paste, and they’re actually delicious and made with real ingredients. The ingredients for the green curry paste that I used for my veggie curry are galangal (Thai ginger), lemongrass, green chili, garlic, kefir lime, salt and shallots. There are no preservatives or sugar and it’s vegan, paleo and gluten free. Not bad! It’s great to have around the house for those days when you want a hit of intense flavor without putting in a ton of work.

I also love this recipe because it’s so satisfying after a long day. The veggies in this dish provide about 14 grams of fiber, or 7 grams per serving. Similar to coconut oil, coconut milk is a great source of healthy fat. And, fiber and fat are a magical pair. Together they keep us full and satisfied. The sweetness of the coconut milk and carrot in this veggie curry also satisfies my sweet tooth, while the heat from the ginger and chili revs up digestion.

Keeping pantry items like coconut milk and curry paste on hand is also a great way to be able to make a quick, healthy and flavorful meal when you don’t have a lot of time. As a health coach, I always encourage my clients to keep some fun pantry items stocked up for days when getting to the grocery store isn’t going to happen. Having a few quick meals you can make with whatever you have on hand is a great way to avoid the temptation to order out. And our bodies and pockets will thank us.

And remember, recipes are great as guides, but don’t need to be viewed as a rule book. This recipe would be great with collards instead of kale, or with some bell peppers and broccoli. Frozen veggies also work well, just adjust the cooking time so they don’t get soggy. Tofu, beans or chicken could also be added for some extra protein. The most important thing is to have fun with it and enjoy!

Samantha’s Super Simple Veggie Curry (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, paleo)

Ingredients

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 inch ginger peeled and diced
  • 3 cups green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups kale, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 whole dried red pepper pod
  • 1-2 tsp green Thai curry paste
  • 1/2 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 carrot, cut into rounds
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Put coconut milk, chili pepper, Thai curry paste, salt, red pepper and ginger in a pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to bring liquid to simmer.
  2. While coconut milk mixture is heating up, chop your veggies (I use pre-chopped kale, don’t worry, it’s not cheating).
  3. When ready, add the green beans and carrots. Cook about 7 minutes.
  4. Add kale, cook an additional 3-5 minutes, until done.
  5. Add zest and juice of the lime, adjust seasoning and serve.

Serve over rice or quinoa.

Enjoy!

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Avoiding Getting in The Kitchen? These Mindset Shifts May Be Just What You Need

As a health coach, chef, and someone who has gone through my own health struggles, I’ve seen that learning to cook is one of the most important things a person can do for their health. It can be intimidating, and there’s lot of reasons not to do it. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of buying prepared foods and eating out. If that’s what you want to do, that’s totally cool. But, I have a feeling that if you’re reading this, you know that it’s not the best option for you.

In case you need some more convincing, here are some of the reasons cooking is so important:

  • When you eat out, you never know what it is in your food or how it has been prepared. You can get a basic idea, but you can’t see what’s happening in that kitchen.
  • It’s less expensive. The cost of eating out or ordering take out can pile pretty darn high. Just look at how much you spent on eating out in the past month. You can make great meals for yourself at a fraction of the cost.
  • Prepackaged foods are often high in sugar and salt. These foods are highly inflammatory and contribute to our countries epidemic of hearth disease, diabetes and other ailments.
  • For me (and I know it’s not everyone, but I have faith that you can get there!), cooking is therapeutic. It’s a way to focus the mind and to feel connected to what is nourishing your body. Many people view it as a form of meditation and a way to decompress.
  • It’s a great creative outlet. If you’ve seen Instagram or Pinterest, you also know it’s a form of art. It can be a fun way to express your creativity and make something beautiful.
  • If you are dealing with any sort of health issue, food literally can be your medicine. If you learn how to use it properly, you can improve almost any health issue dramatically.

If you have the desire to cook, but feel overwhelmed with the idea, here are my words of wisdom:

1. Cooking is a learned skill.

First of all, I hear ya, I really do. I was in the same boat at one point. Cooking, just like anything else, is something you have to learn. A lot of us weren’t taught how to cook by our parents. And unless we went to culinary school, we weren’t taught in middle school, high school or college. The first step is to realize that cooking is a learned skill like any other.

2. You’re not going to be great at it right away.

Well, some of you may be, but for most of us there’s a learning curve. There are endless possibilities with cooking. I remember when I started getting into gluten free baking. At first, I was really terrible at it. I had no idea what the difference was between coconut powder or coconut flour. How was I supposed to know? The first few times you try something new you might screw it up. Just like if you try skiing for the first time. You will probably fall a few times before you get the hang of it. Be easy on yourself and don’t give up!

3. Keep it simple.

Steaming veggies or making a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa is a great place to start. Experiment with one or two different spices and play with different styles of cooking like boiling, steaming, braising and roasting. You don’t have to be fancy about cooking. The simplest foods are often the best.

Remember, no one was born knowing how to speak, walk or cook! You may not know how to cook now, but that means nothing about the future. It’s your choice.

So, what next?

  1. Go to the supermarket and pick up one new food (preferably a vegetable!).
  2. Look up some a simple recipe or just experiment. If it tastes bad, you’ll know what not to do next time! Remember, it’s all learning.
  3. Check out Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram and find some feeds that inspire you to try new foods and preparations. You can find me @simplysamanthanyc. Try one new thing per week or month. There’s no need to rush.
  4. Find some short cooking videos on YouTube. You can learn about so many things, from raw food to Indian cuisine! If you find yourself really liking it, enroll in an online class or public class at a culinary school. If you feel like you need a little more help, think about a private class.
  5. Enjoy! If you’re not enjoying your food, start over. Food is meant to nourish us, from start to finish.

Sending you lots of love.

Samantha

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