6 Healthy & Delicious Holiday Recipes

The holiday season is finally here and so are all the cravings for classic holiday treats! I know it can be especially hard to stay on track around this time of year, and while it's totally ok to treat yourself to a few of your favorites, I decided to round up some upgraded holiday treats for you to enjoy. Remember it’s not about depriving yourself of your favorite foods– it’s about fueling your body with nutritious foods that taste delicious and make you feel good from the inside out! Weather you're spending the holidays with family or celebrating by yourself, I've got you covered with these delicious healthy holiday recipes that you're sure to love. With everything from baked goods to eggnog to fun activities and potpourri, there's a recipe for everyone.

Craving a chocolatey, delicate dessert? This Paleo Pecan Pie is sure to satisfy your cravings:

This chocolate pecan pie is crazy delicious and guaranteed to make you want seconds. Plus, it’s made of quality, whole food ingredients.

What you’ll need for the crust:

3 cups almond flour

6 tbsp ghee, melted

For the chocolate layer you’ll need:

1 cup canned coconut milk

10 ounces dark chocolate (about 2-3 chocolate bars)

For the pecan layer you’ll need:

1 can full fat coconut milk

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup whole pecan

½ cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp sea salt

 

What to do:

1- Start by heating 1 can coconut milk & coconut sugar over high heat in a saucepan for the pecan layer, stirring often.

2- Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Then, allow to cool for 40 minutes while preparing the crust.

3- For the crust, mix the almond flour and melted ghee until combined.

4- Once combined, pour the mixture into a pie dish and flatten into a crust. Once crust is formed, bake for 10 minutes at 325F. Set aside and let cool. Once cool place in the freezer for 10-20 min.

5- While crust is cooling, melt 1 cup of the canned coconut milk with the dark chocolate and stir until smooth.

6- Pour the chocolate layer into cooled pie crust and freeze for at least 30min-90min.

7- Take the cooled pecan filling (coconut milk + coconut sugar) and whisk in 1 egg at a time followed by the vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon and chopped pecans.

8- Pour the pecan filling over the frozen chocolate layer and bake for 50-65 minutes at 350F.

9- Allow pie to cool, top with more pecans & the place in freezer once it’s completely cool.

10- Enjoy!

If you're a fan of cobbler, you're going to love this super delicious Paleo Blueberry Cobbler:

I love a delicious baked good every now and then, and this blueberry cobbler is the perfect treat for colder weather. Plus, it’s so easy to make and much healthier than store-bought cobblers you’ll find at the grocery store.

 

What you’ll need:

4 cups blueberries

4 tbsps maple syrup

1/2 cup plus 1½ teaspoons tapioca flour

½ cup almond flour

2 tsps baking powder

3 ½ tbsps almond milk

3 ½ tbsps melted coconut oil

3 tbsps coconut sugar

2 tsps vanilla extract

 

What to do:

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2- In a bowl, combine the blueberries, syrup, and 1½ teaspoon tapioca flour.

3- Grease a casserole dish with a light coat of coconut oil spray and pour in the blueberry mixture.

4- In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour,  ½ cup tapioca flour, baking powder, almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar.

5- Once smooth, scoop the mixture on top of the blueberries and spread with a spatula.

6- Bake for 30 minutes.

7- Let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

 

Looking to balance out the sweet stuff? Try these simple Fruit & Veggie Platters and dip recipes:

While I definitely enjoy plenty of the sweet stuff, I also love bringing fruit or veggie platters to events to help balance all of the delicious, sugary goodies that we’re enjoying. These tasty dip recipes come in so handy around the holidays and are the perfect treat to serve with your favorite fruits and vegetables.

 

For the Pesto Dip (vegan):

2 cups spinach + 1/4 cup basil

+ 1/4 cup parsley + 1/2 cup pine nuts + 1/2 cup nutritional yeast +

3 cloves garlic + 1 tbsp lemon +

1/3 cup olive oil + sea salt + pepper

 

Yogurt Dip:

2 cups unflavored plain yogurt + 2 bananas +

stevia

 

What to do:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor & enjoy!

Love a good mug full of warm, sweet drinks this time of year? You're going to love these upgraded favorite hot drinks:

While of course enjoying the standard versions of these holiday drinks as a treat is totally fine, I thought I’d share these upgraded recipes so that you can enjoy them more regularly and from your own home. With these, you can enjoy all of the holiday-spice goodness of a peppermint mocha, eggnog, or hot chocolate without the filler ingredients and all the added sugar.

Eggnog

Here’s what you need for the Eggnog:

8-12oz unsweetened almond milk

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp nutmeg

Cinnamon to taste

 

What to do:

1- Beat the egg yolks, maple syrup, and almond milk in a separate bowl

2- Heat the mixture on the stove over medium heat and whisk regularly until it reaches 160°(the temperature that is safe to eat eggs at). It shouldn’t boil. If it boils, remove to an empty burner and keep mixing.

3- Once it reaches 160°, pour into a blender.

4- Add the vanilla extract and spices.

4- Blend and sip!

 

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Here’s what you need for the Hot Chocolate:

8-12oz unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp chocolate protein powder (I prefer the taste of plant based protein in this recipe but whey should work fine too)

1 tbsp chocolate chips

 

What to do:

1- Heat the almond milk on the stove.

2- Add the hot almond milk and rest of ingredients to a blender.

3- Blend and enjoy!

 

Peppermint Mocha

What you need for the Peppermint Mocha:

8-12oz unsweetened almond milk⁠

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 instant coffee packet or espresso shot⁠

1/4 tsp peppermint extract⁠

1/2 Tbsp MCT oil or coconut oil⁠

Stevia to taste

 

What to do:⁠

1- Heat the almond milk on the stove.⁠

2- Add the hot almond milk and rest of the ingredients to a blender.⁠

3- Blend and enjoy!

Want your home to smell warm & cozy? This holiday potpourri recipe smells amazing and is so easy:

Potpourri is an easy and natural way to make your home smell delicious AF, plus it can be a great way to use leftover peels, herbs, etc. The best part about these recipes is that you can add in extra peels, spices, and herbs that you may have on hand to make it your own and they take less than 5 minutes to prepare.⁠

 

What you’ll need for the Holiday Potpourri:⁠

-1 orange, sliced (or orange peels)⁠

-1 cup cranberries⁠

-4-5 cinnamon sticks⁠

-2-3 rosemary sprigs⁠

-1tbsp ground cloves

-2 tsp nutmeg⁠

What you need for Fresh Lemon Potpourri:⁠

-2 lemons, sliced⁠

-3-4 rosemary sprigs

-½ tbsp vanilla

What to do:⁠

1- Combine the ingredients for your selected scent in a large pot.

2- Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil.

3- Once boiling, bring potpourri down to a simmer for as long as you want. Enjoy!

Looking for something fun and healthy to do over the holidays? I got you covered! Not only is this idea super cute but it’s very practical:

I've shared this fruit tree with my friends in years past and it was a total hit! It’s very easy to grab the fruit off the toothpicks and of course aesthetically pleasing.

 

What you need:

1 pineapple

1 pear

1 wooden shish kebob skewer

Pack of toothpicks

Star cookie cutter (or if you’re skilled, you can just cut it in a star shape)

Strawberries

Purple grapes

Green grapes

Kiwis

Blackberries

(Option to add other fruits like oranges etc - have fun with it!)

 

What to do:

1 - Slice off the edges of the pineapple & the top. Cut an extra top slice for the star (make sure it’s thick enough so the star isn’t flimsy).

2 - Trim the top off a pear and use the shish kebob skewer to connect the pear and pineapple.

3 - Prepare the colorful fruit. Cut the tops off of strawberries and cut kiwis into slices.

4 - Use toothpicks to stick the fruit around the pineapple and pear. Use a toothpick to stick the pineapple star on the very top.


Healthy Breakfast Recipes to Start Your Day Right

One of the best ways to set the tone for your day is having a tasty and nutritious breakfast! Not only will a hearty breakfast keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day, but the right flavor combinations can put you in a great mood and help get you excited to eat more healthy meals throughout the day. Something as simple as eggs with sautéed vegetables could satisfy your needs and cravings, but even if you’re not a fan of eggs there are so many high protein, lower sugar ways to start your day or healthy alternative ways to start your day! That's why I'm sharing a roundup of my all-time favorite healthy breakfast recipes that you'll love along with some things to keep in mind when choosing your breakfast.

When You're Tight on Time in the Morning...

breakfast vs. breakfast

Something to keep in mind when you're crunched for time in the mornings is the power of plain, whole foods. I know it can be tempting to reach for a cereal and  juice that claim to be full of fiber and other nutrients, however it's so important to read the labels and know what you're actually getting. Most of the time these foods are just highly processed sugar bombs with a tiny bit of fiber or nutritional value. When it comes to juice, eating whole fruit is a much better, lower calorie and higher fiber option than fruit juice. While you could easily drink 11.5 oz of orange juice, you most likely would not eat 3.5 oranges in one sitting (the equivalent in calorie amount).⠀

So with that in mind, if you've been looking for some healthy recipes to get you excited about breakfast, I've got you covered. Keep reading to get the full breakdown of my go-to delicious and nutritious breakfast recipes:

 

If you crave sweet foods in the morning, you're going to love these 5 Ingredient Pancakes:

I love upgrading a classic food like pancakes with healthier and simpler ingredients! Coconut flour, used in this recipe, is a great alternative to white or wheat flour because it’s high in fiber, protein and healthy fats. Coconut flour is also low in sugar and digestible carbs, and has a low glycemic index. All around wins!

What you need:

(Makes 4 pancakes)

1 ripe banana

4 large eggs

1/8-1/4 cup water

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

*stevia if you like it sweeter*⠀

What to do:

1 - Mash the banana with a fork

2 - Whisk eggs and combine in a bowl with banana, coconut flour, baking soda and the optional stevia

3 - Mix well then add an 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup water depending on desired consistency

4 - Heat a pan with some oil or non toxic spray oil

5 - Using a 1/4 cup, scoop pancake batter into the pan and shape into a circle. Cook for about 2 minutes each side on medium heat. (I covered pan with lid too)

6 - Repeat for 4 pancakes total

7 - Enjoy with berries or maple syrup.

If French Toast is more your vibe, I've got you covered there too: 

Who says French Toast can’t be a nutritious experience? I made some changes to the traditional recipe so you can enjoy it at home with better ingredients!

What you need:

(makes 2-3 servings)

2-3 pieces sprouted bread

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1-2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp ghee

1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

toppings of choice

What to do: 

1- Mix the eggs, almond milk, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and cinnamon in a flat wide bowl.

2- Soak one piece bread in mixture for about 2 min each side.

3- In a hot pan, add 1/2 tsp ghee.

4- Add the soaked bread. Cook for about 2 min each side and repeat!

5- Top with leftover maple syrup and toppings of choice.

 

Short on time in the mornings? These overnight oats are prefect for grab and go breakfasts:

Overnight oats aren’t just tasty, they also make the perfect nutritious breakfast, especially if you are short on time in the mornings. I love that you can mix and match flavors, milks, and toppings to make each batch your own and they typically take less than 5 minutes to make.

What you’ll need for each recipe:

Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter
½ scoop chocolate protein powder
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup old fashioned oats
½ banana
1 ½ tbsp peanut butter
Chocolate chips

PB&J
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup old fashioned oats
Stevia
¾ cup raspberries
2 tbsp peanut butter
2-3 strawberries (optional)

Peach Blueberry Pie:
1/2 c rolled oats regular
¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 c diced peaches fresh or frozen
½ cup blueberries
½ tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon⠀
1-2 tsp maple syrup

Chocolate Cherry Coconut:⁠
¾ cup rolled oats
⅔ cup coconut milk ⁠or almond milk
Monk fruit⁠
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder⁠
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut⁠
½ cup frozen cherries⁠
¼ cup chocolate chips

What to do:⁠
1- Combine oats, seeds, & all liquid ingredients in a bowl (including sweetener)
2- Add in your berries, nut butters, chocolate chips or coconut flakes.⁠
3- If making pb & jelly, mash up the raspberries on a plate and set aside.
4- Stir oat mixture to combine and scoop into a mason jar.
5- Add layers and toppings.
6- Store in the fridge and eat when ready!

Here's another delicious make-ahead breakfast idea to save you time:

Yogurt parfaits aren’t just tasty and aesthetically pleasing, they also make a nutritious breakfast, especially if you are short on time in the mornings. I love that you can mix and match layers and toppings to make each batch your own and they typically take less than 5 minutes to make!⁠Feel free to add some monk fruit, stevia or honey to the yogurt if you like it even sweeter.⁠⠀

What you’ll need for each yogurt parfait:⁠

Chia Seed Berry Blend
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
1/3 cup raspberries⁠
1/3 cup blackberries⁠
1/2 tbsp chia seeds⁠

Chocolate PB Banana
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
½ banana⁠
1-2 tbsp peanut butter⁠
1 tbsp chocolate chips⁠

Cinnamon Apple Pie
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
1/3 cup old fashioned oats⁠
1 apple, chopped⁠
1 tbsp coconut oil⁠
cinnamon to taste⁠

Blueberry Pistachio
½ cup Greek yogurt⁠
½ cup blueberries⁠
1-2 tbsp pistachios⁠

What to do:⁠
1- Pour a thin layer of Greek yogurt into a jar.⁠
2- If making the berry blend, mash up the berries on a plate and set aside.⁠ If making the cinnamon apple pie, cook the apple, coconut oil, and cinnamon over medium heat for 5 minutes.⁠
3- On the second layer, add in your fruit, nut butters, seeds, & chocolate chips one layer at a time.⁠
4- Scoop some more Greek yogurt on top of your previous layer.⁠
5- Add remaining layers and toppings.⁠
6- Store in the fridge and eat when ready!⁠

Prefer a savory, high-protein breakfast? Check out this combo:

I love finding new ways to prepare eggs since they're such a high-protein, nutrient dense food. These egg cups are so easy to make ahead of time and you’ll be full for hours with nutrients in the bank. Each egg cup is 114 cals, 8g protein, 3g carbs, 6.5g fat and I usually have eat least 2, if not 3. A quality protein shake with some healthy fats and greens, Greek yogurt with fruit, chia seed pudding or even a clean protein bar are some good examples.

What you'll need:

10-12 eggs

1/2 cup tomatoes

handful of sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup red onion

cooked ground turkey crumbles

1 cup kale

olive oil

sea salt

What to do: 

1- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.

2- Spray your muffin tray with olive oil or cupcake liners.

3- Pour the eggs about halfway into each cup.

4- Add the rest of the ingredients in each cup.

5- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

6- Enjoy or save in the fridge for later!

 

As always I hope these are helpful! Let me know which combo is your favorite in the comments!

Xx,

Amanda


Drinks to Love & Drinks to Minimize

One thing that we all have in common in the need for hydration. While we all know that water is the name of the hydration game, there are a lot of other drinks out there that can have benefits, and some that simply claim to. That's why changing what you drink is one of the most foundational swaps you can make to help elevate your overall health and aid with weight loss. Not only can it be a great way to cut back on sugar, but incorporating certain drinks can even elevate your health and provide essential nutrients.
I want to prevent you from making the same mistakes I did so I thought I would share some drinks to incorporate more of, and some to minimize. It's important to remember that while it’s totally great to treat yourself to fun drinks, make sure what you’re drinking on a daily basis is nourishing you, not depleting you.

So without further ado, here are 5 Drinks to Love & 5 to Minimize:

Drinks to Maximize:

Water  should always be a priority on your list because even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function plus trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals. I always start my day with anywhere from 16oz-32oz water since you essentially wake up dehydrated from the night. If drinking enough water is not a habit for you yet, try setting reminders on your phone to drink every 2 hours or keep a full bottle at your desk!⠀⠀
Protein shake- a shake that is low in sugar can be an easy & convenient way to hydrate, get in more protein, and have a healthy snack.⁠ Feel free to add your own fruit at home since that’s the good kind of sugar paired with fiber.
Kombucha (Lower-Sugar) - is a fermented tea that contains live bacteria found naturally in your gut. Taking in these probiotics can support & even help out the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your GI tract. If you're sensitive to caffeine, just be mindful that it does contain some caffeine so you may want to avoid it in the afternoons and look for a brand that isn't packed with sugar.
Herbal Tea- Has been around for hundreds of years & isn't not going anywhere. There are a slew of health benefits associated with many herbal teas, making them a good choice if you're looking for a refreshing drink other than water. (Note: "fit tea" is not an herbal tea.)
Coffee- A hearty cup of joe contains a small amount of vitamins and minerals, is high in antioxidants, and is linked to a reduced risk of many diseases. It contains caffeine which is a stimulant that can disrupt sleep and cause problems for some people. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to opt for decaffeinated coffee, which uses solvents to extract the caffeine from coffee beans. However for most, caffeine can cause a short-term boost in energy levels, brain function, and even exercise performance.
Actual Green Juice- Can be a great way to pack in extra nutrients and have a tasty snack. All of the fibrous pulp is removed in the juicing process, leaving behind just the liquid from the fruit/veggies. Because of this, juice can be easier to digest and have more concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals than a smoothie. However, juices made of mostly fruit with few vegetables can be packed with sugar. Fruit juices lack fiber to help slow the absorption of sugar and can raise blood sugar levels quickly, so it’s definitely better to juice mostly vegetables along with maybe one fruit to get the most nutrients or use a high quality green juice powder like my favorite, Organifi Green Juice. If you'd like to try it for yourself you can even use my code MEOWMEIX for a 15% discount.

Drinks to Minimize:⠀⠀

Sodas- Are packed with sugar and can be highly addicting. They also contain all kinds of artificial filler ingredients, food dyes, and more. Even just swapping one soda a day for a healthier choice like water can do wonders for your overall health.
Fruit Juice- The juicing process removes the fiber from the fruit and acts similarly in your body to other sugary drinks. Juicing yourself at home can be better, but can still raise blood sugar levels quickly, so it’s definitely better to avoid fruit juices on a regular basis.  ⠀⠀
⠀⠀
Fake Green Juices- There are many “green juices” out there on the market now that are either mostly concentrated fruit juices or have other filler ingredients. That huge amount of sugar will lead to a a blood sugar spike and crash later, especially due to the lack of fiber. The way these “green juices” are processed strips the fruit of many of it’s beneficial vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients.
Store-Bought Smoothies - Like the fake green juices, these are sugar-bombs in disguise. If you find yourself in the mood for a refreshing smoothie, you can try making one at home with ice, water/coconut water, your favorite fruits and veggies, and even protein powder if you want.
Frappucinos - are basically sugar with a side of coffee. With a whopping 61g sugar, your standard frappuccino could easily be mistaken for ice cream. Of course treating yourself to a sugary drink like that on occasion wouldn’t be an issue but I want to make sure you’re making the smart choice on a regular basis! Stick to black coffee with almond milk and stevia/monk fruit for a much more nutritious and equally delicious drink on a regular basis.
Hope you found this helpful!
Xoxo,⠀⠀
Amanda⠀⠀

Breaking Down the Egg

Whole eggs are one of the most nutritious and versatile foods you can eat! Remember when we used to be afraid of egg yolks? I am so glad that we’re past that stage overall. While egg whites and egg yolks have different nutrient profiles, they can both be a great part of an overall healthy diet and can be incorporated in many different ways. That's why I'm breaking down the egg white vs. whole egg debate and sharing 6 of my favorite ways to eat eggs.

Egg Whites vs Whole Egg

Egg whites overall are a lean source of protein and can be good to incorporate if weight loss if one of your goals. However many of the nutrients actually reside in the egg yolk. Whole eggs contain all of the vitamin A, D, E & K. Whole eggs are also full of protein, choline, antioxidants, omega 3’s, and they contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies need! Additionally, they have a higher amount of B6, B12 and folic acid compared to their egg white counterparts. That’s why it’s a good idea to not skimp on the yolk too much.⠀⠀

If you want to add more volume to a meal, a nice trick is to do an omelet with 1-2 whole eggs + 2-3 egg whites (you can use the egg white cartons if you want to reduce waste). This way you get the best of both worlds!

Not only are eggs great because they’re packed with nutrients, but they’re also extremely versatile and taste delicious at any time of the day. That’s why I’m sharing my 6 favorite ways to eat eggs, breakfast lunch or dinner.

 

6 Ways to Eat Eggs

1- Bake egg cups in a muffin tin with your favorite veggies, high quality meats, or cheeses. ⁠⠀
2- Boil and add them to your go-to salad. Not only do eggs provide a good amount of protein, but they taste great with all kinds of fresh veggies.⁠⠀
3- Scramble them in a pan and eat with your favorite breakfast sides (or any sides really). ⁠⠀
4- Make an omelette! You can also have fun with it and add vegetables and high quality cheeses. ⁠⠀
5- Cook an egg sunny side up and pair it with any type of vegetables, rice, etc. The runny yolk creates a delicious sauce that adds tons of flavor!⁠⠀
6- Make eggs in purgatory by cooking the eggs in marinara sauce and topping with fresh basil leaves

Note: Many cultures have different variations of this dish, but the southern Italian variant is called Spicy Eggs in Purgatory. Similar dishes are Shakshouka (Middle East/N. Africa), Huevos Rancheros (Mexico/Southwest US), & Huevos a la Flamenco (Andalusia). Each of these is spiced/flavored slightly different.⁠⠀

 

Now if you’re wonder how to boil the perfect eggs, follow the instructions closely below:

1 - Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover them with cool water by 1 inch.
2 - Cover the pan with a lid and bring water to a rolling boil over high heat.
3 - When the water has reached a full boil, set a timer for the desired time and keep it full boiling the whole time.
4 - Immediately place the eggs in an ice water bath once they are done (this helps ensure they come out easier to peel too!)

Timing:
Soft boiled - 2 minutes
Medium boiled - 3-5 minutes
Hard boiled - 6-7

I hope you found this helpful! What’s your favorite way to egg?⁠

Xoxo,
Amanda


healthier peanut butter and jelly

How to Upgrade a Childhood Classic: PB&J Sandwich

This blog is proof that you can make healthy upgrades to some of your classic favorite foods. There’s something about a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich that brings back so many childhood memories! And while it’s totally okay to treat yourself to the classic version occasionally, there are also some easy swaps you can make if you want to enjoy a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich more regularly at home. That’s why I’m breaking down the original version and sharing some tips for how to upgrade a classic into a more nutritious but equally delicious sandwich.

For the Bread:

White breads like wonder breads are stripped of much of their nutrients, can be bleached and often contain added sugar. Try to opt for sprouted, whole grain bread when you can (Ezekiel is one of my fav).

For Picking Out a Peanut Butter Brand:

Not all brands are created equal - make sure to check nutrition facts and ingredients. Even some brands of peanut butter labeled “natural” will still include added sugar. I usually opt for brands which ingredients include simply just “peanuts” or “peanuts, salt.” The same goes for other nut/seed butters if you prefer a different flavor.

For the Jam Portion:

I love using fresh fruit instead of jam when I can. Mashed raspberries, strawberry slices or even banana slices are some great options. There are plenty of fresh fruit that taste great on an upgraded peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I thought I’d share 6 of my favorite fruits to add:

 

For the grape sandwich- Cut the grapes in half. Spread natural peanut butter on both sides of the bread and lay the grapes down flat. Close the sandwich and enjoy.

For the peach sandwich- Slice a fresh peach. Spread peanut butter on both sides of the bread and add your peaches. Close the top and eat it!

For the banana chocolate chip- Cut the banana into thick slices. Spread natural peanut butter on both sides of bread and lay the bananas flat. Top with a handful of chocolate chips, close the sandwich and dig in.

For the raspberry jam- Mash fresh raspberries to create a “jam” or use my raspberry chia seed jam recipe below! Spread peanut butter onto the bread, add your chosen mixture, and close it. You’re good to go!

For the kiwi sandwich- Cut a kiwi into thick slices, then cut each half into another bite-sized half. Add the kiwi to your bread and peanut butter and dig in.

For the blackberry jam- You can mash the blackberries by themselves or sub blackberries in my jam recipe above!

If you aren't a fan of having whole fruit on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there are also plenty of ways to create your own upgraded jam at home. Highly processed jellies can be loaded with sugar and made with high fructose corn syrup so I also included an easy, alternative recipe for homemade jelly that you’ll love, with simple ingredients!⁠ Note: I used raspberries, but you can easily sub in your favorite fruit of choice.

 

What you need for the the raspberry jam:⁠

3 cups raspberries

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp lemon juice⁠⁠

What to do:⁠

1- Bring the raspberries, water, syrup, and lemon juice to a boil.

2- Mash the berries using a fork.

3- Reduce the heat to a simmer for 9 minutes.

4- Stir in the chia seeds and cook for another 9 minutes.

5- Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

6- Store in a sealed jar in the fridge!

Additionally, there are some better berry preserves out there that at least contain less additives than Smuckers, if you really prefer to go that route.

Which one is your favorite version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Xoxo,⁠

Amanda⁠


8 Naturals Ways to Support Your Immune System

Supporting your immune system is one of the most crucial things you can do for your overall health. However, I'm here to say that you don't need to rely on tons of supplements everyday in order to support a healthy immune system! Many supplements and products in the grocery store claim to help boost immune health, and while a small percentage of of those claims may even be true, simple lifestyle adjustments are the best thing you can do to give your immune system a leg up. It may seem like it requires an overwhelming amount of hard work to feel your best, but it's actually much more simple than you'd think.
 
That's why we discuss all things immune support in our recent podcast episode, Science Backed Ways to Support Your Immune System. In the episode, we take a deep dive into how the immune system functions, ways to support it naturally, and so much more so that you can feel 100%.
immune system

Because it can play such an important role in overall health, I want to share a few of our top tips for strengthening your immune system:

1- Get adequate sleep.

Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep are more likely to get sick. Sleep strengthens T-cells, which are a type of immune cell that fights against regular pathogens. While it varies, most adults should get at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night, so if you have trouble sleeping, that's definitely something you'd want to figure out. Simple adjustments like limiting screen time before bed, getting blackout curtains, and taking melatonin can make a big difference. Inadequate sleep may even increase your risk of getting sick, so match sure to catch your zzzz’s.⠀

2- Eat your veggies.

Eating an array of colorful vegetables provides a wide range of essential micronutrients and fiber which supports a healthy gut & can help build up your microbiome all which supports a healthy immune system. Additionally, the antioxidants found in vegetables can help decrease inflammation, which can contribute to illness. Some even contain high amounts of nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold.

3 - Minimize your consumption of highly processed foods.

While you should definitely enjoy your favorite treats in moderation, minimizing the amount of highly processed foods you consume can help lower inflammation caused from many additives, filler ingredients & added sugars. Additionally, added sugars in excess can play a role in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease all of which can suppress your immune system and increase risk of getting sick.

4- Focus on eating mostly whole foods.

Whole foods provide a wide variety of health benefits. A diverse diet can help lower your chances of a micronutrient deficiency which can have a negative impact on your immune response. One of the best ways to support your immune system is to consume a wide variety of nutrient-packed whole foods like legumes, nuts/seeds, healthy fats, etc.. Additionally, shopping for produce that is in season can be a fun way to try new foods and ensure that you'e getting a variety of nutrients.

5- Get some daily movement in.

Exercise and movement, for many different reasons, support overall health, which supports a healthy immune system and metabolic health. Moderate exercise can also reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. Just keep in mind that too much prolonged intense exercise can sometimes have the opposite effect and end up suppressing your immune system, so be sure to not over-do it.

6- Manage your stress.

 Chronic stress can promote inflammation and reduce your immune system’s ability to fight off antigens. If you have trouble relieving stress, try adding in relaxing elements to your routine like meditation, epsom salt baths, journaling, etc.. that will help your body relax into parasympathetic mode and support a healthy immune system.

7- Stay hydrated.

Water is a key foundation to overall health, which includes supporting a healthy immune function. Not only does it help you feel full and energized, but staying hydrated can also help your body naturally eliminate toxins & other bacteria. Drinking water throughout the day is a simple way to prevent dehydration and help support your immune system.

8- Wash yo’ damn hands.

Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do when it comes to supporting your immune system. Many germs that contribute to illnesses are spread from surfaces to people so it's always a good idea to wash your hands frequently, especially after you've been outside of the home. A drop of soap diluted in water is sufficient to rupture and kill many types of bacteria & viruses so remember to wash your hands thoroughly.
All of these steps will support a strong immune system and not only help you not only avoid getting sick, but feel your best for whatever life throws at you. If you want to learn more about the different ways to naturally support your immune system, check out our latest Master Your Health podcast where we take a deep dive into to Science Backed Ways to Support Your Immune System on Apple Podcast (Click here for Spotify | Click here to listen on Android).
Hope these tips are helpful!
xx,
Amanda⠀

Why Fruit Juice Isn't Usually the Healthiest Choice (& Some Better Options For You)

Why Fruit Juice Isn't Usually the Healthiest Choice

I want to clear up some confusion around fruit juice! While indeed the ingredients are better than a sugary soda, your blood sugar still goes for a wild ride when you consume these sugary drinks. This is because fruit juice lacks the fiber that comes with eating the physical fruit. The fiber found in whole fruit helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar in your bloodstream. While whole fruit will lead to a more steady and slow release of sugar, fruit juice will lead to a much larger spike and crash.
Fruit juice is also much easier to over consume! It takes handfuls of fruit to create enough juice to drink, which maintains all of the sugar and removes the fiber. Due to the lack of fiber, you won’t feel quite as full. While eating something like 5 oranges in one sitting would be very difficult to do, drinking 16oz of OJ (the equivalent in sugar and calories) is very easy to do.
Commercial fruit juice is also often pasteurized, causing it to lose some of the vitamins & minerals present. Pasteurized juices have been heated to high temperatures for a short time in order to kill any bacteria or other microorganisms that may be present but this in turn also kills some of the beneficial compounds.
When it comes to drinking juice regularly, it's a more nutritious choice to go for a vegetable juice that maybe has 1 fruit present since vegetables aren't nearly as high in sugar as fruit. Vegetable juices taste delicious AF and are packed with an array of beneficial nutrients that you wouldn't normally get in a single meal (if you need some inspiration for homemade juice recipes check out my blog post).

Why You Should be Wary of Fake "Green Juices"

If you don't have a juicer (or the patience for the cleanup that it takes) then you may be tempted to opt for a bottle of "green juice" from your supermarket. However it's important to know that while they may seem like a good choice, most bottled "green juices" are either mostly concentrated fruit juices or have other filler ingredients. Here’s a few reasons why that’s an issue:
1- That huge amount of sugar will lead to a a blood sugar spike and crash later, especially due to the lack of fiber.
2- The way these “green juices” are processed, strips the fruit of many of it’s beneficial vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients.
3- The amount of greens & nutrient-dense foods is lacking in these commercial juices compared to the amount of fruit juice incorporated.

Some Better Juice Options

I know from my personal experience how frustrating it can be to find out that a product isn't what you thought it was, especially when it comes to your health. That's why I'm such a big advocate of healthy on-the-go juice options like Organifi! All of their products contain research-backed, whole food ingredients that will actually benefit your health. And a huge added bonus is that their juices don't require any messy cleanup.
Now here’s why I’m truly a fan of Organifi Green Juice and excited to be a partner:
1- The beneficial ingredients are extracted in a way that keeps many of the beneficial vitamins, nutrients & minerals intact.
2- There are no fillers & all ingredients are organic.
3- Their green juice includes research-backed ingredients like ashwanagda, spirulina, chlorella, +more.
If you’re looking for a green juice that supports your overall health & immune system, look no further. Check out my partner Organifi, and get 15% off with my code: MeowMeix.
 
Xoxo
MeowMeix aka Amanda

Don't Fall for Marketing: How to Outsmart Food Brands

When it comes to making food choices, you want to know exactly what's what, right? Well the same should go for these processed food items. The truth is that many food companies nowadays like to make their products sound better than they actually are, with many claims on the front of the package in hopes that you won’t read the ingredients or you will be thrown off by all the buzz words they throw at you. It’s crazy how much marketing can shape and mold our opinion of certain brands. Let’s be real - it’s because marketing works! However, it is becoming increasingly important that we become conscious consumers and really start to question if brands actually live up to the stories and claims they put out there.⁠ That's why I wanted to share some tips to help you shop smart and look for quality products rather than junk food that likes to pretend it's health food.  

If you've been following me for a while, then you know that I am a huge advocate for eating more whole foods and less processed foods overall. This is because the added sugar in many of the processed foods today come with little-to-no added nutritional value and lack the proper fiber that helps your body release and digest the sugars at a more steady pace instead of a huge spike.⁠ In contrast, natural sugars like those found in real fruit and other whole foods are often paired with fiber, vitamins & minerals. Plus, the sugar added to processed foods makes them more addicting and easy to overeat compared to fruit which is much more filling so it's important to know when you're eating natural sugar and when you're eating processed sugar. 

And of course it's totally great to treat yourself to processed sugars in moderation, but just knowing when candy is candy and consciously choosing to eat it can help you make intentional decisions to better your health. A good general guideline to help find a healthy balance with more processed foods is the 80/20 method, which is when you eat about 80% whole foods and 20% fun foods. Everyone is different and won't be exactly the same (I personally stick to more of 90/10) but this method can be helpful to find a good balance.

Here are a few things you can look out for to help you avoid accidentally mistaking junk food for a healthier choice:

1- "Buzz words": These are phrases or words placed on the front of the package that are popular and make the product seem much healthier than it is. A few examples of buzz words/phrases are: "No preservatives", "Gluten free", and "Made with real fruit!". All of these make the product seem like a more nutritious choice but when you turn around and look at the ingredients it is full of added sugars, artificial flavors and coloring.
2- Ingredients that you don't understand or don't recognize (you can always do a google search to double check): When you're trying to pinpoint the quality of a product the most obvious place to check is the list of ingredients. I suggest avoiding anything with a long list of chemical ingredients because they're almost never derived from whole food ingredients. A couple other common ingredients to avoid are: high fructose corn syrup and food dyes.
3- Cartoons & colorful imagery: Of course there are some great whole food options with colorful packaging, but oftentimes the marketing for highly processed foods is geared to draw in children with bright colors and imagery. So while it's not an exact science, just make sure to double check the ingredients on these type of products.

So with that in mind, let's look at some examples of how a food company might try to use marketing to trick you:

They're obviously trying to sell this as a "Healthy" Fruit Snack.


When looking at the front of these popular fruit snacks, they seem great. They're "gluten free, fat free, made with real fruit, 100% vitamin C, no preservatives" and "Fruit is their first ingredient"! However when you turn it around and really look, the first ingredient is fruit puree, followed by corn syrup, sugar, artificial flavors, red 40, blue 1, and even carnauba wax which is often used on cars. None of these ingredients will benefit your health-- trust me.

Some Better options:


As you can see, the ingredients in better fruit snacks are simple - just fruit which hasn’t been stripped of it’s fiber like in the Welch’s “fruit snacks”. Obviously, whole fruit is best option when you have access to it and it will contain the most phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals still intact from the fruit.⠀

Similarly, here's a look at some popular drinks:

"Great for athletes" or "great for kids"


It's pretty easy to see here that most of the ingredients in these drinks are artificially derived and packed with sugar. The Hawaiian Punch for example is pretty much just water & high fructose corn syrup with food dyes - yikes! Less that 2% is made from real fruit juices yet the company happily displays all the wonderful fruit on the front of the package.⁠⠀⠀

As for Gatorade, the amount of marketing tying that brand in with pro-athletes is unbelievable. They tout the benefits of "electrolytes" and claim it's the best option after exercise.

Better options:

A more simple choice like water or coconut water that is full of natural electrolytes and natural sugars is much better than all the filler ingredients and blue food dye.⁠ If you want to add flavor to your water you can get creative by adding ice, fruit and herbs

So the takeaway here is that it's totally ok to indulge in your favorite treats, but just be aware of the fact that they are indeed treats. I hope that these tips help you on your health journey!

Xoxo,
MeowMeix aka Amanda


6 Health, Nutrition, & Wellness Influencers In The Black Community to Follow Right Now

While there are many different ways I'm showing my support for the black community, one of the things I'm doing proactively is elevating black voices and creators on social media platforms by not only following their accounts, but also highlighting their pages to all of my audience. I have promoted many of these influencers and health gurus in the past but I thought right now would be a great time to highlight them to you in case you missed it! You will also find some new faces in here.

I truly believe diversity and equal representation in the food, health & nutrition space is a must. That's why I've put together a list of 6 influencers in the health and wellness black community to follow and support. Whether you’re looking for new recipes to try, general health tips, or workout information, there's an influencer on this list with helpful info for you. Between their high-quality content and aesthetically pleasing photos, your feed is about to burst with flavor and personality!

 

#1 - Creator of the Model Health Show Podcast & Bestselling author of #SleepSmarter, Shawn Stevenson

Shawn Stevenson is a nutritionist/health guru who hosts "The Model Health Show"- one of my all-time favorite podcasts about health and fitness. I have looked up to Shawn for a long time. Nerd alert, I even printed his podcast logo to put on my desk as a reminder to strive to be as genuine and helpful as he is. I love that he breaks down complex health issues and makes them easy to understand and shares helpful information about all kinds of topics. You can follow Shawn's Instagram for more details.

#2 - Dietitian sharing delicious, easy vegan recipes & wellness tips daily, Catherine @PlantBasedRD

Catherine is a Dietitian that shares yummy and easy plant-based recipes and wellness tips everyday on her page. Her recipes make eating more whole foods fun and delicious! Catherine's flavorful recipes are packed with a wide variety of simple ingredients and other nutritious whole foods which make healthy eating exciting; I truly had a tough time picking my favorites when scrolling through her feed. Check out her page @plantbasedrd here. 

#3 - Graphic artist and content creator spreading impactful and positive messages, Oh Happy Dani

Danielle Cooke aka Dani shares all kinds of awesome, colorful graphics and is a wonderful voice for positive change in the world! While I haven’t met her in person, I have loved following her account and learning from her beautiful and informational posts. If you're looking to incorporate more positivity in your life (who isn't?!), give @OhHappyDani a follow.

#4 - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + Recipe Developer, Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN.

Marisa Moore is a registered dietitian nutritionist who posts all kinds of healthy and vibrant recipes on her page! I love that she switches it up in her recipes and uses a wide variety of ingredients to make them even more fun and nutritious. If you're looking for some creative healthy-cooking inspiration her page is perfect for you!

#5 - Recipe developer and epic food content creator, Kevin Curry @FitMenCook

Kevin shares tons of fun, healthy and delicious recipes on his page as well as on his youtube. I love how he combines simple, whole-food ingredients to make a wide variety of flavorful meals that are full of nutrients. If you like to get creative in the kitchen, his Instagram page @FitMenCook is perfect for you.

#6 - Women’s health dietitian, Valerie Agyeman, RD aka @flourishheights

dietician

I can't believe I just found Valerie’s account but love all the tips she shares! Her easy-to-follow graphics make it perfect for anyone wanting concise but fun wellness, healthy & nutrition tips. She really brings the science to the nutrition space while also making it easy to understand.

I hope you found this blogpost inspiring! Let me know what other content creators you love in the space.

Xoxo,
MeowMeix aka Amanda

nutrient dense shelf stable foods

15 Nutritious, Dry Whole Foods with a Long Shelf-Life

During this time of social distancing, it can be tempting to stock up on highly processed food items that won’t expire for years in order to avoid the grocery store - but there are also plenty of more nutritious, whole food options with long shelf lives that will keep you on track with your goals and satisfy your taste buds. 

While of course fresh produce is always a great choice, it isn’t always accessible so I wanted to share some other nutritious food choices that have a longer shelf-life.

There are such a wide variety of healthy, shelf-stable foods available that won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on anything. From salty foods, to sweet and savory, here are 15 nutrient-dense dry good items to keep on hand: 

 

Olives - are a great low carb fruit that last for many months at a time (typically 12-18 months), have a high fat content and are full of powerful antioxidants. Olives also are a good source of nutrients like iron, calcium, copper, and vitamin E. Additionally, you can eat them in many different ways like in salads, tapenades, on sandwiches and more.

 

Seaweed - is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes like soups, sushi, salads, smoothies, and more. It contains an amino acid called tyrosine, a concentrated source of iodine, and is a good source of omega-3 fats. Seaweed is also a good source of folate, zinc, sodium, calcium, vitamins A, C, E and K. The salt is seaweed helps preserve it, and it can stay fresh for up to 2 years. 

 

Goji berries - contain all eight essential amino acids and are packed with fiber, which will help slow the raise of your blood sugar. Goji berries are also full of antioxidants like zeaxanthin and can stay fresh for up to a year, if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They can be used to add a sweet flavor to a wide variety of healthy meals like oatmeal, smoothie bowls, toast, and more! 

 

Wonderful Pistachios - are a good plant-based protein snack because they contain 6 grams of protein per serving. They also contain healthy fats and fiber to keep you fuller for longer throughout the day. Pistachios also have a long shelf-life, meaning that they stay fresh and delicious for long periods of time. For me personally, one of my all-time favorite salty snacks and long-term partners is @WonderfulPistachios.  

 

Sweet potatoes - are a great shelf-stable root vegetable that can stay good for about 3-5 weeks when stored in the pantry and up to 2-3 months when kept in the fridge! They can be orange, purple, or white and are a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C, manganese, and antioxidants that promote gut health. I love to bake sweet potatoes in the oven and stuff them with other nutritious ingredients like corn, beans, and onions, or even almond butter and berries when I’m craving something sweet.

 

Quinoa - is high in protein, fiber, magnesium, vitamins B & E, iron, and potassium. Quinoa is extremely nutrient-dense and contains all nine essential amino acids, large amounts of flavonoids, and multiple antioxidants. Uncooked quinoa will last for up to 3-4 years if stored correctly. 

 

Steel cut oats - are the most unprocessed form of oats compared to rolled or quick oats that can last for over a year when properly stored. They are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins, beta-glucan and antioxidants. Steel cut oats can be paired with a wide variety of flavors to satisfy any craving you may have while still providing tons of nutrients.

Beans - are a good source of protein that is also high in folate and fiber, which can help slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Dried beans can last indefinitely and canned beans can stay good for years, making them a great shelf-stable item to keep on hand. Additionally, most kinds of beans contain all of the essential amino acids and can be used in tons of recipes, since they easily absorb and taste delicious with various spices. 

 

Brown rice - contains both the bran and germ which provide fiber and several vitamins and minerals like manganese and magnesium. It is also a good source of antioxidants as well as the anti nutrient phytic acid that may offer some health benefits. 

 

Green tea -  is a hydrating drink that is loaded with antioxidants and it’s dry leaves can last for up to many years. Green tea is rich in polyphenols and great for reducing inflammation. It also contains multiple antioxidants that may help protect against cancer. I love to drink green tea with an apple or other healthy snack in the morning to help prepare for the day. 

 

Bone broths - can last for up to 3-5 years and are rich in minerals that help strengthen your bones. They also are low in calories, contain vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids, and can be used in other recipes as well for added flavor and nutrients. Bone broth also supports healthy digestion and helps to fight inflammation. 

 

Garlic - is extremely nutritious, low in calories and rich in multiple nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and more. It has been shown to  boost the function of the immune system, improve blood pressure, and even lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Fresh, whole garlic tastes great with almost any type of dish and can last for up to 3-6 months.

 

Whey protein powder - is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids. Depending on the kind, it can last for up to 16 months, it is quickly absorbed from the gut and usually easily digested. Just keep in mind that whey does contain lactose, so if you have trouble digesting dairy you may want to avoid this kind of protein powder and opt for a pea protein instead. 

 

Lentils - provide a good source of protein, fiber, folate and manganese. They can benefit gut health, improve bowel function, and help with digestion. Lentils can be paired with a wide variety of flavors making them a fantastic staple for your pantry. Dried lentils can stay good for up to 2-3 years.  

 

Dried dates - will last for up to 6 months in an airtight container, and a year if stored in the fridge. They are incredibly nutritious and are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth if you have cravings. Dates also contain important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However it’s important to keep in mind that their calorie content is higher than most fresh fruit since it is dried, so you’ll want to eat them in moderation. 

 

Shoutout to @functional.foods for the inspiration for this post. 😁

 

Xoxo, 

MeowMeix aka Amanda