A Birthday Activity

Remember how I said the chocolate covered strawberry pie fueled my birthday activities? Well this is what I did on my birthday… 24 miles for my 24th birthday!

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A few weeks ago, some friends were half-jokingly saying I should do it because they knew of people that did. I had been thinking about it ever since, not really sure if I wanted to really do it or not. But I woke up on May 3 feeling great, ate some cake, and decided to give it a go! I left my apartment with some money, my phone, and my keys attached to my arm, figuring I wouldn’t be returning for a while. I didn’t necessarily plan on running 24 miles straight since I wanted to avoid injuries and didn’t want to be too tired to do anything for the rest of the week.

12 miles actually passed pretty quickly. My GPS watch died, so I decided to take my first walking break (luckily the FitBit was still counting miles for me). I walked and ran for the next six miles or so, then met some friends for a picnic and walked around a spring festival for another few miles. Then ran home again later! It took a few extra laps around the parking lot to watch my FitBit hit 24 miles. Surprisingly, I actually felt great. I took the day off from working out the next day, but I didn’t feel the effects throughout the week. If your birthday is on a weekend, try running your age! Spreading it throughout the day prevents you from being too sore to move for the next few days. Although next year I might become anything but American for the day so that I can switch to kilometers…

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pie

This year I made my own birthday cake. How else are you supposed to get exactly the cake you want if you don’t make it yourself? Having returned from Puerto Rico that week, I wanted to keep up with the vegan deliciousness. Also, after eating so many whole foods and no processed sugar, cake and ice cream even seemed overly sweet to me. After running some birthday stadiums that morning (day before my birthday to be exact…), I set to work making my basic pie crust and trying to decide what the best possible filling would be.

Complete with candles

Complete with candles

It didn’t take long for me to decide on some sort of chocolate (I remembered how good the chilled chocolate raspberry pie was). Instead of raspberry, this time I went with strawberries. In an effort to replicate the ice cream cake that I usually have, I used frozen bananas to give it a similar consistency. Then I went crazy with decorating! The end result was a creamy, chocolatey, strawberry-filled healthy birthday pie. Not too sweet and as light and refreshing as the Puerto Rican beach.

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            We were also celebrating my aunt and uncle’s birthdays (so naturally we each got our own cake), and my aunt’s cake followed a similar chocolate covered strawberry trend. But this was a rich, flourless chocolate torte with real chocolate covered strawberries on top. I’ll admit, it was pretty fantastic even though I wasn’t used to eating extremely sweet things again. Definitely worth the food baby.

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            The best part about having your birthday party the day before your actual birthday? You can wake up and eat leftover cake for breakfast! And that’s exactly what I did. My covered in almond butter made an amazing birthday breakfast. Perfect for fueling my birthday activities.

Oh yeah... I might have had some of this one too

Oh yeah… I might have had some of this one too

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pie

Toasted Oatmeal Almond Crust (recipe found here)

Filling

1-2 frozen bananas

½ cup frozen strawberries

4 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

Blend ingredients together and place in cooled crust. Freeze for about 10 minutes to harden slightly before putting on toppings.

chocolate

Toppings

Fresh strawberries (sliced)

Dark chocolate (melted)

Shredded coconut

Arrange strawberry slices on top of the chocolate banana mixture. Drizzle the dark chocolate over and sprinkle with coconut flakes. I also coated the crust with dark chocolate (highly recommended). Freeze for a few hours before serving. Enjoy for breakfast, dessert, or snack!

Life After Puerto Rico…

Yes life goes on after getting back from an amazing vacation. It’s always a sad first few days back in the real world!

It’s been far too long since I’ve been posting regularly on the blog… I sit here right now after my first full day of having no real plans since moving into my apartment over two months ago. And now that it is FINALLY nice outside, it’s hard to make myself be indoors while the sun is out. Since returning from Puerto Rico, I’ve tried to keep up with the active sunny lifestyle I led there. Oh yeah—I never posted about my last day! Every day was more amazing than the previous one and that day was no exception. We got taken to a beautiful beachside house for the day and did yoga on paddleboards in the pool. So much fun! I even surprised myself by being able to do tough balancing poses like headstands, the warrior poses, and wheel.

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Pool with the beach in the background

Pool with the beach in the background

Headstands

Headstands

I returned to Boston feeling lighter, happier, tanner, and extremely well nourished. We had a personal chef cooking for us, making amazing vegan and gluten free meals. She had a few dishes such as cookie dough balls, banana bread, gnocchi (made of yucca), and a variety of sauces that all of us were trying to dissect in an effort to be able to recreate them for ourselves. Banana fro yo every night too… I was in heaven in every possible way. Unfortunately she did not create a recipe book with every meal like we were hoping, but here are a few of her recipes on her website www.daphnecheng.com. And if you are lucky enough to be in New York (not something I would normally say… Boston is better in almost every other way!), I HIGHLY recommend getting a taste of her cooking.

I’ve had banana fro yo a few times and have managed to wean myself off of a sweet potato everyday (now just a few per week) since getting back. I don’t need to be in Puerto Rico to be blissing out! Although I definitely wouldn’t complain if someone gave me a free trip back… I want to jump off waterfalls again! And I’m obsessed with all things coconut after drinking the water with a straw and eating the fresh flesh.

Surfing!! … And a bit sunburned 

I am currently a bit uncomfortable in many ways–first of all, stuffed with a DELICIOUS vegan and gluten free feast. Sweet potatoes, gnocchi made with yucca, chimichurri, salad, lentils, squash, and topped off with a plantain pudding and banana frozen yogurt with cacao nibs. I will definitely round up some recipes to share later! And I am slightly sunburnt from surfing and walking on the beach all day. But it was all worth it and I am ready to go again tomorrow. Here is yoga on the roof and the view from the house!  

     

Blissing Out Day 1

It’s been too long since my last post! I’ve been cooking and busy, but let me show you where I am right now:  


On a yoga retreat in beautiful Puerto Rico! I will post stories upon my return, but for now I will share photos. Just finished a breakfast of vegan banana bread, coconut flakes, chia pudding, papaya and fresh local honey! Off to hike a waterfall!  

Coconut Cream Fruit Tart

This recipe has been in the works in my head for quite a while. I have always loved looking at fruit tarts in the grocery store and bakery, but they are such a disappointment whenever I actually try them. I don’t much care for pastry crust or custard, which already kills two thirds of it. Good fruit can usually make up for some bad ingredients, but in my experience, the fruit is too glazed over to be all that enjoyable. The ones that look the prettiest never taste the prettiest… On the other hand, throw a lot of brown-colored ingredients in a bowl, and it usually tastes pretty good!

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With this recipe, the look matches the taste. Brightly colored for Easter to match our flowers, it’s enough to brighten up any dinner or brunch table. flowersWith no added sugar, flour, or butter, it’s a light dessert or can even be part of your late-morning meal. I’ll admit, this was what I went for first on the Easter brunch table. It was pretty tortuous to have it sitting in the freezer just waiting to be eaten since the day before! Unfortunately (or fortunately for the sake of the tart), it’s kind of hard to break off a piece and still have it looking perfect when it comes time to eat it… I did eat the leftover coconut cream for dessert the previous night and definitely chomped down on the raspberries and kiwi as I decorated.

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Like the cinnamon rolls, this was also gone despite the vast quantities of other food at brunch.

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Coconut Cream Fruit Tart

Crust

3/4 cup almonds

1 1/2 cups ground oats/oat flour

2 tbs maple syrup

1 tbs coconut oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

1.Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and dough like. I also added in a dash of cinnamon for some extra flavor.

2. Press crust evenly into lightly greased pie dish. Poke a few holes with a fork so that it doesn’t puff up while baking. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool while you are making the filling.

Filling

Full fat coconut milk (canned)

Fruit for decorating (berries, kiwi, etc)

Drizzle of syrup

1. Do not shake coconut milk can. Open and scoop out the cream (it will be separate from the water). Whip in a high speed electric mixer to make light and fluffy, like whipped cream. Add in some optional maple syrup as sweetener.

2. Spread evenly over the cooled crust.

3. Decorate with your choice of fresh fruit, drizzle with syrup, sprinkle with cinnamon, and store in the freezer to firm before serving.

slice

Cinnamon Buns

I finally made them! With Easter brunch, I figured there was no better time than to finally make the cinnamon buns that I have always drooled over but never gotten around to making. The only problem this time was, what recipe to use? I have been pinning and bookmarking cinnamon bun recipes for months at this point. Would it be rustic cinnamon rolls for two (times five…) or the “best almond flour cinnamon roll biscuits”? I also had paleo pumpkin ones, candy cane frosted, or bananas foster cinnamon rolls. And then a recipe just called cinnamon rolls, no grains, gluten, dairy or refined sugar. I initially decided to do no extra flavors (although I can assure you, I will be coming back to that candy cane frosted recipe—it just may not be until next Christmas at this rate). Comparing the other recipes, I needed cinnamon rolls for ten, not two, so the rustic rolls were out. With the other ones, I didn’t really want to use 4 cups of almond flour (that gets expensive!) or 1 cup of arrowroot starch. So that left me with the regular cinnamon rolls. No fancy title or claims, but I can definitely attest to their deliciousness now!

It's Easter, so I had to include flowers

It’s Easter, so I had to include flowers

We had plenty of food for Easter, but these were gone immediately. I made them the day before, but stuck them in the oven and glazed them right before serving so they were still warm. I loved the honey and cinnamon filling. In my mind, it was perfectly gooey and sweet but not overly so. The recipe makes five cinnamon rolls or ten mini ones. The mini ones are the perfect bite size, so I would recommend those. Sometimes a huge cinnamon roll is a little much and often sends you into the food coma realm… But if you do make the big ones, you don’t need to feel guilty (or sick) about eating the entire thing! I also realized how satisfying it is to roll up dough and see it turn into a beautifully spiraled cinnamon roll. Maybe it will be enough to inspire me to continue on my cinnamon roll bucket list.

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Cinnamon Rolls recipe found here

2 cups almond flour

1/8 tsp sea salt

½ tbsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

2 tbs unsweetened applesauce

1 tbs unsweetened almond or coconut milk

1 tbs honey (in dough), ¼ cup honey (in filling)

1 tsp cinnamon (in dough), 2 tbs cinnamon (in filling)

2 eggs

4 tbs ground flax seed

  1. Mix almond flour, sea salt, baking soda and powder, and flax seed in a bowl.
  2. Mix in eggs and milk, then mix in applesauce, then mix in honey.
  3. Finally add in cinnamon and use your hands to form a ball of dough. My dough was pretty sticky at this step, so if yours is as well, add in some more flour of any type. I used coconut flour, but oat flour or more almond flour would work as well.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge to firm for about 20 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 350F, then lay a piece of wax paper down and spray with cooking spray or grease with coconut oil.
  6. Flatten and roll out dough with yours hands (it will probably stick too much to a rolling pin). Cut the dough into five strips.
  7. Drizzle evenly with the ¼ cup honey (I used a little less) and 2 tbs cinnamon.
  8. Start rolling each strip into cinnamon rolls. At this point you will have five big rolls, so you can either leave them like this, or cut them in half to make mini rolls.
  9. Place the rolls in a greased baking pan or in a cupcake tin and bake for about 25 minutes.  insta

Glaze:

¼ cup almond or coconut milk

3 tbs powdered sugar (or could also use protein powder)

1 tbs arrowroot starch (thickener)

Mix all ingredients together in a glass. If it is still watery, microwave for about 30 seconds. Drizzle over the cinnamon rolls before serving.

glazed

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Chai Spiced Almond Butter

Happy Easter weekend! I finally had some time to get back in the kitchen today and baked through all the top recipes on my to-do list, and then some. This recipe was actually a by-product, but I had the almonds, spices, and food processor out, so I couldn’t resist. Once the kitchen is messy, another little mess doesn’t make much of a difference. And my kitchen was definitely a mess this afternoon…

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I have a few surprises coming for Easter brunch tomorrow that I will post throughout the week. I don’t want to ruin any surprises beforehand, and I also need to take some action shots! I can’t post recipes before everyone has tried them! But I sampled my way through everything as I was baking, I can assure you that this week you will have something to look forward to. I haven’t really figured out what I’ll be eating for the rest of the week, but at least I have Easter brunch with my family and friends covered. So here is a little appetizer that you can snack on while you’re waiting for the rest to come. Spiced perfectly to spread on fruit, mix into oatmeal or smoothies, or just eat with a spoon. pic1

Chai Spiced Almond Butter

2-3 cups almonds

1 tbs cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp fennel seeds or anise

2 tsp cardamom

2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp coconut oil (optional, but prevents it from being too dry)

Directions: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to adjust the spicing a little. I felt like I added a pretty good amount of spice the first time (and that’s coming from someone who dumps cinnamon on everything) but wasn’t able to taste the chai, so I had to go back and add more. But overall, a delicious flavor combination that you can enjoy at any point in the day!

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(Healthy) Shrimp Fried Rice

I probably didn’t really need to put the parentheses in front of the title, but just in case you thought I was changing my focus… Here is the healthiest shrimp fried rice you will ever eat.

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After two weeks of beans and vegetables (even with very different tastes) and a lot of fried eggs, I was ready to move onto something completely different this week. It had to be something I could make a big batch of over the weekend, have plenty of vegetables, and enough protein to keep me satisfied. Stir-fried beans and vegetables were an easy way of fulfilling these guidelines, but now I’m ready for the next level! This recipe is not any more difficult than the others and requires the same equipment and steps but is more creative and exciting to eat (in my opinion). Maybe I was inspired by the three times I’ve been out for Asian food in the past two weeks (so much sushi!), or maybe it was because cauliflower rice kept showing up on Pinterest, but this is a delicious, healthy take on the traditional Chinese dish.

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So it’s not completely the Chinese dish… mostly because it uses cauliflower instead of rice. I think cauliflower succeeded at being rice better than it did at being pizza dough though! It is mostly just a vehicle to soak up the delicious flavors of everything else and has a consistency very similar to rice, so you barely notice the difference. Like everything homemade, this fried rice is much healthier than anything you would get in a restaurant, with just vegetables, shrimp, garlic, ginger, coconut oil, and coconut aminos/soy sauce. I just kept adding vegetables and ingredients and made a HUGE batch by the time I was finished. It actually didn’t even fit in the largest Pyrex container we had, so obviously that meant I had to eat the remainder. All I can say is, I can’t wait for lunch this week!

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As always, this is my recipe, but I encourage you to be creative and add whatever vegetables or seasonings you think would be best. Or just whatever you have in your fridge!

Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice

1 head cauliflower

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs fresh ginger, minced

2 tbs coconut oil

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 small yellow onions, chopped

large handful of kale, chopped

1 bag frozen peas (steamed)

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cayenne

salt and pepper

2 tsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

1 bag frozen shrimp, thawed

To make cauliflower rice: place cauliflower florets in a food processor or blender and pulse until cauliflower is in granules (it should look a lot like rice). Place in a medium frying pan on the stove to remove any excess water.

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  1. Heat oil, garlic, and ginger in a large frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Once it begins to sizzle, add chopped onion and let it cook until onions start to be translucent. Then add chopped celery, kale, ginger, cayenne, coconut aminos, and any other seasonings.
  2. Next add the peas (steam them first if they are frozen) and cook until all the vegetables are fairly soft and cooked through. Add the shrimp and continue to fry until shrimp is lightly browned.
  3. Lastly, add the cauliflower rice to the pan and mix all the ingredients together with a spatula. Fry until the excess water is removed and all the vegetables are nicely browned.
  4. Enjoy out of a pineapple half like the do in restaurants! Or be like me and sample, then put the rest in the refrigerator and have a great lunch all week.

    I'm ready for spring, if you couldn't tell

    I’m ready for spring, if you couldn’t tell