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Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 4Hey there friends!

Spring is HERE! And you know what that means, right?

Girl Scout Cookies!!!

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 6I have been looking forward to girl scout cookie season ever since I was a girl scout myself. My parents always went a little nuts and bought, I’m not joking, 21 boxes of cookies. Is that too many? That seems like too many, buuuut if I’m being real, it also doesn’t sound like enough. I mean, girl scout cookie season only comes once a year, so you really do need to stock up.

Vegan and Gluten-free SamoasThose girl scouts really have their business model nailed. A scarcity-based and time-sensitive sales strategy that causes a nation-wide frenzy. Sounds like Wall-mart during Black Friday. Could you imagine if those little Girl Scout pitched their tents outside of Wall-mart during Black Friday!? I shudder to think. That sounds more violent than a Donald Trump rally held on the Mexican border.

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 1Wait. How did Donald Trump end up in a blog post about cookies??? Ugh, don’t even get me started. He is everywhere and I don’t want to add any more attention to that crazy oompa loompa, so let’s get back to talking about all things pleasant and cookie-related, shall we?

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 2Ahh, yes. I already feel better. Girls Scout cookies are such a nostalgic part of childhood and I absolutely love that you’re never too old to get excited about them.

Of course, since I am older now I am much more aware that eating a cookie from each box (ie: 5 cookies) may not count as a well-rounded meal. Though points for variety, right?

So I thought it would be fun, and necessary for my waistline to recreate my absolute favorite Girl Scout cookie, the Samoa with better-for-you ingredients. I couldn’t call these healthy per say, but they are ten times better than the real thing.

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 3These are honestly my favorite cookies that I’ve ever made. They taste just like the original-so decadent, lots of different textures going on with the crumbly cookie, gooey caramel and slight snap of the chocolate coating. The cookie also contains a touch of salt which I LOVE with anything sweet or chocolaty.

There are four components to this recipe: the cookie, caramel, toasted coconut and chocolate coating, but I promise, all of them are super simple to prep and are totally worth it when you put them together.

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 7

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 8 Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 9

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas

Makes 12 cookies

Almond Cookie

Based on Chocolate Covered Katie Tagalongs

1 cup almond flour

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

Set oven to 325 degrees. Combine first three dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla in a separate small bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry and stir very well, breaking up any clumps.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto baking sheet and pat into a circle. You should get 12 cookies out of the dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.

 

Coconut Caramel

1 can coconut milk

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredient is a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally for a total of 30-35 minutes, stirring more frequently towards the last 10 minutes.

Take off the heat and allow to cool.

 

Chocolate Drizzle

1/3 cup 60% dark chocolate chips

1 tsp coconut oil

Microwave chocolate chips and coconut oil for 15 second. Stir and repeat until completely smooth.

 

Toasted Coconut

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Place coconut in a small pan over med-high heat. Occasionally stir the coconut in the pan until it becomes toasty and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Samoas

Take one cooled cookie and turn it over. Using a spoon or knife spread a thin layer of melted chocolate over the bottom of the cookie and place back on the baking sheet, chocolate-side up. Continue coating all of the cookies. Pop the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes to set the chocolate. Using a spoon, place a dollop of caramel on the other side of the cookie and spread almost to the edge. Repeat with all other cookies. Sprinkle on the toasted coconut. Using a spoon, drizzle the remaining chocolate over the cookies and allow the chocolate to set. Store cookies in a closed container.

Vegan and Gluten-free Samoas 10I deserve a badge for these.

 

Which girl scout cookies are your favorites?

I didn’t try Thin Mints until I was in my late teens. Somehow I was convinced I didn’t like chocolate and mint together. My only regret in life.

 

With so much love,

Sam

Comparison’s a Bitch-How to Put Her in Her Place

Comparison is an act of violence against the self ~Iyanla Vanzant

Comparison is a nasty little bitch. Once she sees the fear in your eyes, she knows she’s got you and she curls her lips up in a ruthless smile. Comparison fights dirty. She sneaks up behind you and clutches your hands behind your back so it’s impossible to do your work, injecting needles full of self-doubt straight into your veins, quicker than heroine and just as deadly. She snarkily whispers heady sentiments of how easy it would be to just give up. You’re wasting your time. So many others are doing it better than you. You don’t have what it takes, over and over again until all you can hear is the dull roar of her incessant voice.

She doesn’t stop there. Comparison feeds on inspiration, your inspiration. She sucks dry your creativity and is still famished after all she has taken. You know comparison has got you when a deep impenetrable cold freezes you to your spot. If you make any move at all, it may be the wrong one and you will crack into a million tiny shards too small to fit back together.

Just when you think she’s had her way with you and there can’t possibly be any more, with her icy long fingers she plants something small in your heart- a seed of fear, and if tended to and cared for, as it grows it will feed on the nourishment of your heart and leave a hollow shell where hope and spirit once dwelled.

There is only one way to kill comparison-cut off her source of sustenance. Put your head down and push away everything that feeds her. She’s not going to be happy. She will rage against you and reveal her wretched truth. She can’t survive without you. If you ignore her, she ceases to exist. If you commit to your purpose no matter what, she loses her hold on you. Her fingers become too weak to bind your hands.

Stay on your path and don’t look left or right. Comparison is lurking behind every tree and she wants you to notice her. The beginning of your path can’t be compared to the middle of another’s. This simple truth will keep her at bay.

And if you really want to get rid of her for good, take a look at the early work of someone you admire. Whether it be art or business, sports or an empire, everyone begins at the beginning. SAMSUNGGo back to your hero’s first unsteady steps and take comfort in realizing that we all start off on our journey uncertain of the way.

You can see only your hero’s back because he is ahead of you on the path, but you can bet he met comparison just where you are meeting her now. If you keep on you will catch up and you will leave her behind. Up close she is a seductress, a tempting destroyer of potential, but every move you make towards your purpose puts miles between she and you. The further away from her you get, the clearer you will see that she is just fear in a clever disguise. Fear will take many forms if you chose this journey. Comparison is only one of them. If you meet her, smile because you are on the right path. You only have to walk right by her and keep on going.

 

…A bit heady, but I hope you understand. Comparison gets all of us at one point or another. Two surefire ways to rid yourself of comparison are to stop looking at whatever is making you feel inadequate, and to look instead at the early work of someone you admire. This keeps me going every time I feel comparison creeping up on me. Give it a try and let me know in the comments below if you have any tools you use to keep the bitch in her place 😉

*Update:

  • I just discovered a super cool website that archives websites and their changes over the years, so you can literally go back and see how your favorite bloggers, business owners or companies started out! A lot of those early sites are pretty jenky!
  • And one of my personal favorites is going to your favorite role model’s youtube channel and changing the search to “oldest to newest” and checking out their first videos. More often then not, they are nowhere near as polished and professional as they are now.

I’ll be back next week with a light and fluffy post (It’s my birthday and I have a recipe for you!)

 

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Number One Tip to Strengthen Your Financial Health

Hey there friends,

It’s officially one week since 2015 began and, so far it’s been a fantastic year ;D I’ve had two whole days off with the chef. He usually only has one day off and he surprised me Sunday night by telling me he had Monday off too! I also had an interview with Equinox. They are super speedy over there! I sent my resume Tuesday, they responded Wednesday and I had an interview Friday! There are a few more hoops to jump through before I officially become a trainer so fingers crossed!

And on Monday I had a lovely Starbucks date with one of my very close friends, Nicole.

starbucks coffeeStarbucks, you so faaancy!

One of my commitments this year is to spend more time with my friends, We all live a bit away from each other and we’re all so busy. Time flies and suddenly it’s been months since I’ve seen any of them :/

So on our date, Nicole and I got to talking for a very long time about money. It’s a subject I am very passionate about, but I never realized I have so much to say about it.

Financial health is just as important as physical health. If you don’t have a plan or just flat out avoid it, you are never going to build financial strength. It’s like working out. You aren’t going to wake up one day and suddenly be able to do ten push-ups. You have to work up to it and you have to do the daily work to get there. You are not going to wake up one day with no debt and have the funds to buy a house or whatever else is on your dream list.

I spend a lot of time researching, reading and learning about finances for my own personal benefit. I think it’s fun :) (This is where you judge me as crazy.) That’s okay, because my research is going to benefit you. I don’t know everything about money and I won’t pretend to. What I have learned however, I will share with you here. Heck, I’ll even share my mistakes in the hopes that I can help you avoid them.

One of the first and absolute best things I did was to put everything having to do with my finances in one place. I was tired of jumping from my student loan website to my credit card website to my checking account website. I asked myself, “Is there a place I can go to see all of this information in one place?” Turns out, there is!

Mint.com is a free and secure website where you can manage all of your finances from one place. (Just to be clear, this isn’t an endorsement. I just really love this service!)

Once you add your accounts to Mint, you can see it all on the Overview page. I use it for my checking, savings, investments, student loans and credit cards. You can set budgets and personal goals. You can even track your income and your spending and see exactly where your money is going each month/year/or day if you want to.

Mint Overview

screenshot via

Mint will alert you to upcoming bills and even suspicious activity. I had some fraudulent charges on my debit card about 6 months ago that I caught in less than 2 hours thanks to Mint.

They have even added a new feature so you can learn your credit score for free!

I feel much more in control of my money thanks to this site. I have personal goals I am saving for and I am paying off my student loan faster than I ever would have. Mint shows you how much you lose to interest the longer you take to pay loans off. That really lit a fire under my butt!

I can’t say enough good things about Mint.com. It’s so simple to use, it’s given me a crystal clear view of all of my finances and a solid game plan for saving for my future.

Finances, savings and debt may not sound like the sexiest subjects, but strong finances are just as sexy as a strong body. When you can confidently say that you are in good financial shape you really do walk around a little bit taller.

So get that sexy butt over to Mint.com, check it out and see if it’s for you.

 

Any personal goals you are committing to in 2015?

Any other tools you use to manage your finances that work great for you?

Let me know in the comments below!

Have a great rest of your week!

Sam

 

 

 

 

Barre and Bars + Recipe!

Hey beauties,

Yesterday morning I rushed to a class at Exhale in the Flatiron district, only to discover that they didn’t have my name down. Tuns out I had booked the class in the Meatpacking district! I wish I could say this was the first time I made this mistake :/ But the people at Exhale were so nice and let me take class there anyway. I jumped in expecting a barre class and instead got a class called Core Fusion Extreme. Holy crap, it was extreme! The class consisted of plyo moves and intervals at different stations around the room and the only rest we got was 10 seconds to get to the next station. The teacher was the perfect mix of no bullshit and inspiration that I really appreciated. She wouldn’t let us quit and I’m feeling the effects EVERYWHERE today.

Moral of the story: Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you have to be ready, and more important than that, willing to go with it. You’re not always going to get what you want, but you will always get what you need. And sometimes what you get is better than what you wanted in the first place 😉

I thought today would be a good day to do another Good~Better~Best segment. And this one includes a recipe!

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Today I want to talk about bars. Bars are a great, convenient way to refuel after a workout or get a snack in when you are on the go, but a lot of bars on grocery store shelves are no better than candy bars. Sugar content is in the double digits and the ingredient list may as well be in Swahili, what with all the artificial ingredients and additives. So I’ve picked out my Good~Better~Best options that I personally reach for when I’m in need of a quick, nutritious bar.

 Good~Think Thin High Fiber + Protein Bars

Full disclosure-These bars are delicious, they have a good mix of protein and fiber (13g/5 g) and are low in sugar (2 g). They are also gluten-free. If it was only about nutrition stats and taste, these bars would win a gold star, BUT-and this is a big but (see what I did there? :b) the ingredient list is what keeps this bar in the Good category. It’s not as bad as reading Swahili. It’s closer to reading Spanish. All of the ingredients are pronounceable, but I don’t like that a lot of them are isolated from their whole food sources (whey protein isolate, malitol, calcium calceinate). I have to admit that I reach for them from time to time, which is why they land in the Good category, but I don’t recommend them if you have the option of one of the next featured bars.

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Better~Kind Bars

These bars are having a moment right now. I’m seeing them everywhere and it’s no surprise why. Kind bars are gluten free, non-GMO and all natural. You will never find an artificial anything or word you can’t pronounce in their ingredients. Well, except maybe quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) I was saying “Kwi-NO-uh” for years haha!

Anyway, these bars are packed with nutritional superstars-nuts, coconut, dark chocolate, spices and just a touch of honey to bind it all together. The protein and fiber content is great (around 7g for each) and the sugar content is low (around 5 g) as long as you stick to the nut and chocolate based bars. Most of the fruit based bars have anywhere from 12 to 16 grams of sugar, which isn’t terrible if you’re refueling after a workout, but is still a little high for my liking.

My favorite flavors include Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Chili Almond and Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond. We buy the Costco-sized box of Kind bars because we go through them so quickly.kind bar

Best~Homemade Protein Bars!

The only bars that trump Kind Bars are the ones you make yourself! Making your own protein bars is a lot easier than you may think. You control what you put into them, how you want them to taste and what good-for-you ingredients you want to add. No oven needed and they freeze well too. They are also easy to adjust to your specific needs. I’ll make a lemon ginger cherry version to combat workout soreness and speed recovery, a maca coconut caramel if I’m exhausted and suffering from adrenal fatigue, or a chocolate coconut almond version when I’m having an It’s-my-day-off-and-I-want-something-indulgent-and-I’m-not-sharing-with-anyone kind of day ;D

protein bars

 

 Chocolate Coconut Almond Protein Bars

Makes 12 bars

1/2 cup protein powder (I use vanilla sunwarrior)

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp ground flax seed

1/2 cup almond butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp almond milk

1/3 cup chocolate chips

1/2 tsp coconut oil

3 tbsp shredded coconut (optional)

Lay parchment paper in a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with edges hanging over the sides. Mix first four (dry) ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add in next five (wet) ingredients and stir until incorporated. The batter should be the consistency of raw cookie dough. If too dry add a few more tablespoons of milk. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and press down until even. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave at 10 second increments until completely melted and smooth. Spread chocolate in an even layer over the dough and, if desired, top with shredded coconut. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Lift out of the baking dish by parchment edges and cut into 12 bars. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.protein bars 1

Ever go to a class expecting one thing and got something completely different? What did you do!?

If you give the recipe a try let me know what you think in the comments! I always get a kick out of people trying the recipes I share 😀

Enjoy the rest of your week!

~Sam

 

How to Do Gratitude Right…Because Chances are You’re Doing it Wrong

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~David Steindl

One of my favorite things to do is ride the subway. That’s kind of an odd statement, especially if you’ve ever play-enacted a sardine in a can during rush hour, or had the heel of a street performer come within an inch of your face while he’s attempting gymnastics on a moving train car, but let me explain.

I think of the subway as this “in-between place”. There are very few distractions and for that reason it’s one of my favorite places to think.  If you sit still (if you are lucky enough to get a seat) and look at all the faces around you, you can see such diversity, so many walks of life that have come together in one place, at least for one moment. It’s a perfect place to practice seeing everyone as one entity. It’s a great place to practice loving everyone and it’s a really great place to practice forgiveness.

A week ago I was riding the subway and I remembered that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. I got to thinking about oneness and gratitude and a wild idea crossed my mind. I was born into a middle class family in suburban Long Island…that wasn’t the wild thought: this was-If we are all one, then I could have been born anywhere as anyone. I could have been born in the slums of India, or the Alaskan wilderness. I could have been French or German or Polynesian. It may seem silly, but if you really think about it, it’s kind of trippy. We all could have been born into completely different situations.SplitShire_9954

And in that moment I was extremely grateful. I was grateful for my life, my home, my opportunities. If I had been born into any other situation I would find gratitude as well, but I think that too often it’s easy to get caught up in what we don’t have. For that particular moment I was so grateful for what I do have.

It’s almost too easy to focus on what we don’t have and as a result we find ourselves living in an “If, Then” world.

“If I get this job, then I will be happy.”

“If I get this house, then I will be happy.”

“If I lose this weight, then I will be happy.”

One of my favorite authors and the leading expert on self-love, Robert Holden says it best. “Some people chase happiness and some people chose happiness. It all depends on how much time you want to save.”

Isn’t that great!?

It’s so true, and the same goes for gratitude.

Like happiness, gratitude isn’t found outside of us. It doesn’t appear when we get what we think we want. We have to exercise it like a muscle. We have to find it in every day situations…like riding the subway.

Gratitude is a direct path to happiness. I’ll take it one step further and say that gratitude is a direct path to joy.

I realize that the subjects I love to write about are often a bit up in the air, and I am a pretty grounded person, so I always want to leave you with an actionable takeaway that is both grounded and practical.

To cultivate gratitude, there is no better technique than journaling. And you may have heard of writing down 5 things you are grateful for every day. You may even have tried it, but what if I told you that you are doing it wrong?

There is a powerful, proven method that has been found to be extremely effective at cultivating gratitude. To do it, pick one thing you are grateful for. Now, write 5 sentences detailing why you are grateful for that particular thing. As my girl-crush Marie Forleo puts it brilliantly, “the dividends are in the details.”

downloadJust writing 5 things you are grateful for is too vague.

“I’m thankful for my parents.”

When you write WHY you are grateful, you have a much more powerful experience of gratitude.

“I’m thankful for my parents because they always encouraged me to reach for my dreams.”

“They taught me every lesson they thought would help me succeed in life.”

“They loved me even when I was a moody, devil-of-a-teenager.”

“They gave me things that they never had in life.”

“They showed me what a strong, loving 45 year marriage looks like.”

Much more powerful.

So give it a try.

Gratitude is the simplest and the most powerful tool I know to transform your life. Make it a daily practice and watch what happens. I guarantee that the quality of your life will instantly improve, and the best part is that more grateful you are for the things you have, the more things to be grateful for enter your life.

Let me know what you are grateful for in the comments below, and be specific!

Have a safe and very happy Thanksgiving everyone!

xoxo,

Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good~Better~Best: Milk Alternatives

Hey loves,

These days my personal training textbook doesn’t leave my side. I really wish it was lighter! I’ve been studying wherever and whenever I can-on the subway, at home. In fact, I’m at work right now. My shift starts in an hour and I’m taking a break from studying to write this post.001

I’m not worried about passing, but I know the more prepared I feel, the less nervous I will be come test day.

I came across some interesting information while studying that I thought I’d share with you. Apparently exercise only accounts for 20% of our daily energy expenditure. About 70% goes to resting metabolic rate, which is energy expended during rest and used for things like circulation and tissue repair and the last 10% goes towards digestion.

I find this interesting because it goes with my motto of living by the 80/20 rule. In this case, 80% of your weight-loss comes from diet and 20% comes from exercise.

I think a misconception that a lot of people fall victim to is the notion that if they work out hard then they’ve burned off a huge amount of calories and they have a free pass to eat a ton later.

The fact is that no amount of exercise will make up for a shitty diet. Think about it this way: a pound of fat consists of 3,500 calories. Running a marathon burns approximately 2,600 calories. Would you rather run a marathon or eat a little cleaner? Which seems easier?

Another 80/20 rule I subscribe to is eating healthy 80% of the time and leaving 20% wiggle room for treats and unplanned indulgences. For some people, this means eating clean all week and treating themselves on the weekend. I personally can’t wait for the weekend. For me, it means the majority of my meals are squeaky clean and I enjoy a cookie or piece of chocolate with my coffee in the afternoon, or some ice cream for dessert.

It’s all about finding what works for you.

 

Now, onto the first installment of Good~Better~Bestrp_PicMonkey-Collage-1024x1024.jpg

Today we’re talking milk!

In recent years there has been a big shift away from cow’s milk because of its health implications. The majority of people cannot digest cow’s milk properly and it is one of the top food allergens along with wheat and corn. If you notice you get bloated or gassy after eating dairy products you may have a problem digesting it. There is also evidence that milk actually leeches calcium (which is alkaline) from our bones to balance out its acidic structure. It’s been shown that nations with the lowest cow’s milk consumption also have the lowest osteoporosis reports. Go figure!

As an added bonus, many people who quit the cow’s milk lose the bloat around their middles!

Nowadays there is a plethora of cow’s milk alternatives. For the sake of this segment I’m going to focus on three.

Soy milk~Almond milk~Hemp milk

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Photo credits (almond milk): Fitnessista

*Go with unsweetened, unflavored for all milk alternatives

Good: Soy milk is a creamy delicious alternative and not too intimidating a leap from cow’s milk. I drank it for years before finding my new favorite (spoiler alert: it’s the one in the “Best” category)

Benefits of Soy Milk:

  • Lower in sugar than cow’s milk (7g vs 12g)
  • Contains good plant fats. Mostly unsaturated with zero cholesterol.  Soy milk has been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol and raise HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Good bit of protein and fiber (8g protein and 2 g fiber for a 1 cup serving)

Cons:

  • Controversial-some studies state that soy milk contributes to breast cancer and others say it prevents it
  • On the “Big-8” list of top 8 food allergies
  • 94% soy in USA is genetically modified. Look for a non-gmo label and organic to avoid this

Better: Almond milk has become very popular in recent years. I love almond milk for it’s nutritional profile and use it everywhere I would normally use milk except in my coffee. I find that almond milk alters the taste of coffee in a weird way. I mention it because that is my experience, but a lot of people don’t find that to be the case so its worth trying for yourself.

Benefits of Almond Milk:

  • Even less saturated fat than soy (none!)
  • Supplies 25% of your vitamin D and 20% of your calcium daily recommendations
  • Supplies 50% of your vitamin D and 100% of your B-12

Cons:

  • Also on the “Big-8” food allergen list under “Tree nuts”
  • Less protein and fiber than soy (1g each per 1 cup serving)
  • Tastes funny in coffee (personal experience ;b )

Best: Hemp Milk has my heart forever. Nuts are nutritional stars, but seeds are superstars and hemp seed is the Whitney Houston of the nut and seed category. It also tastes just as creamy and delicious as soy milk minus the controversy!

Benefits of Hemp milk:

  • Contains all 10 essential amino acids
  • 46% of RDA of calcium and 25% of RDA of vitamin D
  • 5 g of protein and 1 g of fiber per serving
  • Ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (3:1)
  • Contains vitamins A, E, B-12 and folic acid, and is rich in magnesium, potassium, iron and magnesium
  • Contains anti-inflammatory agents
  • Allergen free! no soy, dairy or tree-nuts
  • Tastes great in coffee! 😀

So there you have it. Any of these milks are great alternatives to cow’s milk, so pick one that intrigues you and try it out. My goal with this segment is to encourage small steps towards overall healthy habits and to make certain foods seem more approachable. Case in point: I’m an adventurous eater and I was afraid to try hemp milk! I only recently gave it a try and was surprised to find I absolutely love it! So start where you feel only slightly uncomfortable and go from there.

Have you tried any of these milk alternatives?

Which one would you be willing to try?

Is there a milk alternative that you think trumps hemp milk!?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

Happy Experimenting!

Sam

Good~Better~Best

Hey guys,

Oomph! I tried a new workout studio yesterday called BodyBurn and I am seriously feeling it today! This workout is no joke! All of the moves are done on a pilates reformer-type machine which has a stable platform, a moving platform and cables, so in all of the exercises you are either pushing or pulling while also trying to keep your balance. My favorite were the planks. We kept our feet on the moving platform and our hands on the stable one and we pulled our knees into our chest and twisted right to left. It was a killer! I’ll definitely be going back when my soreness to go away. Should take about a week 😉

My dad called me a few days ago to ask my opinion on what kind of sweetener he should buy at the grocery store. He often calls me for nutrition advice. So far I’ve gotten him and my mom to switch to organic cold cuts and eggs, almond milk instead of cow’s milk and almond butter instead of Skippy peanut butter. Any healthy swaps I can influence my parents to make I count as a win.

I’m a big fan of little swaps. They make a huge difference to your diet without making you give up your favorite foods and drinks. I also realized that all of the big upgrades I’ve made to my diet started with little swaps. I began experimenting with whole wheat flour in my baking. Back in the day, swapping half whole wheat flour for AP flour was a big deal, and now I’ve upgraded to oat flour, coconut flour and even protein powder in my baked goods.

Introducing new foods to your diet can sometimes seem daunting and everyone has to go at their own pace to make lasting changes which is why I thought I’d introduce a segment on the blog called Good~Better~Best.

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Every week I’m going to focus on one food group and how each upgrade will improve your diet. It’s up to you and your comfort level where you want to start and how slowly or quickly you want to progress.

We all have strong beliefs about food (once upon a time I thought peanut butter would make me fat. Ha!) and sometimes it’s scary to try new things so I’m going to break things down and hopefully, get rid of some of the mystery surrounding certain healthy foods.

Here’s a preview of some of the foods I will cover:

  • Milk
  • Pasta
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Bars
  • Meat
  • Dressing

What do you guys think of this segment? Any food or drink I didn’t list that you would like me to cover? Let me know in the comments.

I apologize for this post being so short and sweet. My personal training test is in a few weeks so it’s crunch time and I’m hitting the books day and night. I might have a surprise for you all once I pass so stay tuned!

Have a great day!

 

If You Want Your Man to be More of a Man, Be More of a Woman

It seems like every woman these days considers herself a Type-A personality. We’re driven by this desire to seem superhuman and self-sufficient. It doesn’t help that our society celebrates a perfectionist, overachiever mentality. Though it is our fault that we feed into it like a Kardashian rerun marathon.

I’m completely guilty of running myself into the ground in an attempt to “do it all”. I remember when I turned 14 I was so excited to get my working papers. In high-school I stressed myself out so much over maintaining good grades, while keeping up with all of my extracurriculars and dance that I ended up in the hospital with a stomach ailment. I was out of school for a week and when I tried to go back too soon, just sitting in the classroom triggered my anxiety and I was back home before the end of 1st period.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from that little episode. In college I worked Friday afternoons to Sunday nights as a bartender and after school days I was a telemarketer for the school’s donation center. After graduating from college I worked four jobs. Four jobs! I had a color coded schedule with 30 minute increments so I knew where to be on what day at what time.

But this post isn’t about the problem with our success-driven production-valued society. It’s not even about being overworked. What I really want to talk about is what happens as a result of this hyperactive go-getter mentality. Specifically in regards to our romantic relationships, or lack there of.rp_SplitShire_IMG_1143-1024x682.jpg

I’m sure you are familiar with the terms masculine and feminine, but you may not be aware that these terms describe very real, specific energy and that there is an entire field of study on the effects of masculine and feminine energy.

To brief you on the subject, we all have masculine and feminine energy within us, no matter if you are a man or a woman. The masculine is action orientated. It’s the “do”, “go”, “produce” energy that fires you up. The feminine is creative, intuitive, and gentle energy that lends space to let things happen. It’s also restorative. By the way, we need both!

I know all about masculine energy. I ran on it all through my formative years. I had no idea about the feminine and if I did, I would never have believed how important it is. After all, the masculine gets shit done! What does the feminine do? It allows things to happen. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Turns out the feminine is just as important as the masculine. The feminine is creativity, renewal, compassion, connection. It balances the masculine and compliments it.

If you need a visual, imagine an all-male house party. Men acting stupid, crashing into each other, yelling, chugging beer, making a mess and farting. Ew! Now, think about what happens when you add a group of women into the mix. It’s a little cleaner. It smells a little better and it’s a little less aggressive up in there.

The imbalance arises when so many of us, especially women spend way too much time in a masculine state. We don’t know how to disconnect, we take work home with us and we even date with masculine energy. We pursue instead of letting ourselves be pursued. We plan the dates, we dominate the conversation. We want to show how strong and independent we are. But it’s a double-edged sword. By constantly demonstrating our strength and independence and proving we’ve got everything covered we leave the man wondering, “What can I contribute? She’s got this. She doesn’t need me.”

A mans deepest desire is two-fold: to feel needed and to make a woman happy. The greatest thing you can do for a man is ask for his help. Now, that in no way means you need to act helpless. This isn’t about dumbing yourself down and it isn’t about deceit.

Making a conscious decision to slip into your feminine energy around a man benefits you as much as him. When you are in your feminine energy, you provide an open and judgment-free environment where a man feels safe to express his feelings.

What woman has ever said, “I wish my man would stop sharing his feelings so much.”!?

Men want to be heroes. It’s in their nature. Men love a successful strong woman, but they also want to feel that a woman needs something from them.

In order for a man to be a hero though, someone has to let him be a hero. And if a woman keeps shooting down a man’s efforts, he is going to feel emasculated.

I pushed away plenty of men by making them feel not needed. My thinking was that my time was valuable and if they were really worth it, they would wait for me and not get in the way of my success. Only when I realized that my behavior was emasculating and I made space for a man, did a truly great one enter my life. He didn’t get in the way of my success. He supported me by providing a safe place for me to land. A man sees himself as a protector and a provider and a woman want’s to feel safe and secure. When a man and a woman are allowed to be in their true nature, both parties feel like their needs are being met.

If you didn’t figure it out already, the masculine and feminine have to do with testosterone and estrogen. A man produces about 16 times more testosterone than a woman which is why he can do “masculine” all day long and it doesn’t wear him out. When a woman does masculine all day long she becomes exhausted because it is not her natural state.

There’s a place and time for women to be masculine: at work, in positions of leadership, in a kickboxing class. The key is knowing when and how to switch it off.

55H                                                 Too much testosterone

Something I was made aware of recently that I find to be very cool is there is an enzyme located in the brain that converts testosterone to estrogen, and women can access it by simply making the conscious decision to slip into the feminine.

Luckily, it is very easy to do so and it often involves doing things that we women love to do anyway: Do something that feels indulgent. Paint your nails, watch TV with a cup of tea under a blanket, take your time applying your makeup before going out at night, savor a piece of chocolate. It’s even as simple as taking a few deep breathes before you walk in the door after a long day at work.SplitShire_9434

You may find that you’re not so exhausted anymore. You have more energy to do the things that matter to you. If you have a significant other, pay attention to how being in your feminine effects him. He may start acting a hero and even fix a few things around the house 😉

If you are dating, experiment with slipping into your feminine and see what kind of attention you get. I can bet you will find men to be more attentive, intrigued and generally in awe of you without being able to pinpoint why.

We live in a society where masculine energy is the standard if you want to be a successful, accomplished adult and that is perfectly fine. I’m not about to stop going after what I want and working hard to achieve my vision of success. We only run into trouble when we devalue and suppress the feminine. Until we recognize the importance of the feminine and the balance between the two energies, we will continue to run on fumes and wonder why we are so frustrated and tired.

After all, being a woman is exhausting enough let alone also trying to be a man.

 

Anyone else have trouble turning off their masculine energy at the end of the day?

What do you like to do to relax and treat yourself?

Do you notice you feel more feminine after doing those things?

 

 

 

 

Party Fails and Killer Cocktails

Something happens to me when the seasons change. Maybe it’s something in the weather, but I get a sudden stroke of inspiration and I need to throw a party. I cherish my time with friends and family and I love making my home warm and welcome to everyone, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I often just need a bunch of people to eat my food, drink my cocktails and in general, use as guinea pigs for my party ideas. Somehow I don’t think they mind 😉

So this past weekend I threw a Fall-themed party. On the menu: Lentil soup with chicken sausage and chili fusili, crusty bread with lemon thyme butter, smore’s with homemade marshmallows and assorted flavored chocolate bars, and bourbon apple cider cocktails. I envisioned us all huddled together on the roof deck warming our hands around our bowls and dunking crusty bits of bread into the soup, sipping cinnamon-laced apple cider libations and licking marshmallow fluff off of our fingers after toasting them over our (my landlords) firepit.

That all happened, mind you. Well, more or less.

My sisters called me when they got to my door, but my phone never rang, so after 20 minutes of standing out in the cold they left for a bar across the street. When their call finally came through, they gave me a hard time and said they would be over after they finished their beers. Fair enough.

It was too windy to eat outside so we settled for my couch and a football game.

The soup was everything I dreamed of and the chef had the brilliant idea to put out balsamic and truffle oil cut with olive oil on the table with the thyme butter. A mason jar of maldon sea salt completed the spread.

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Because it was so windy outside, the fire pit wouldn’t light. We did get to huddle together though. We huddled around my stove to toast our marshmallows over the gas burner.

Moral of the story: Throwing a party is tougher than it looks. You try to plan your ideal scenario and more often than not, it doesn’t go the way you hoped it would. That doesn’t mean the party is a failure. It really just means you have to be willing to go with the flow and laugh at the things that go wrong.

That said, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error and I’ve figured out a few secrets to throwing a great party.

  • I always like to make a signature cocktail. It’s a great conversation starter and your guests will feel like you went to a lot of work for them. Also have beer and wine available for variety.
  • Pair your drink options with the food you will be serving. Because it would be weird to offer margaritas with Italian food. When in doubt, red or white sangria goes with most everything and can be made ahead in large batches.
  • If your guests ask if they can bring anything never say no! They will feel obliged to bring something anyway and will now have to guess what you might want or need.
  • Take care of the main course and dessert and let your guests handle the appetizers. This goes with the tip above. Have a friend who makes killer guacamole? Ask them to bring it and have someone else supply the chips.
  • Have one interactive element to your party. This time I had smore’s for dessert where everyone chose their flavor of chocolate and assembled their own treats. At a recent brunch party we had a DIY mimosa bar with different juices and garnishes like blueberries and peaches. It adds a wow factor and something fun for your guests. Get creative!

My Fall-themed party was a lot of fun regardless of a few things not going according to plan. One thing that went over better than expected, however was this cocktail!

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Bourbon apple cider! If you haven’t guessed already my favorite season is Autumn and this drink is perfect this time of year, what with the cinnamon and the apples. You know you have a winning cocktail when you’ve just finished passing them around and the first person you gave one to asks you for another because they’re already done. Oops!

This bourbon apple cider cocktail was such a hit, I’m sharing the recipe with all of you. A delicious cocktail recipe is reason enough to throw a party, right?

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Reason enough for me!

 

 Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

1 part bourbon

2 parts apple cider

2 parts ginger ale

3-4 drops angostura bitters

3-4 drops lemon juice

1 apple slice for garnishing

1 pinch of cinnamon for garnishing

Optional: pomegranate arils or cranberries

Combine the bourbon and apple cider and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When ready to serve, add ginger ale and pour over ice. Add bitters and lemon juice and garnish with an apple slice. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Notes to take your cocktail to the next level:

  • Buy your apple cider at the local farmers market if you can. The fresher, the better.
  • Use a good ginger ale with pronounced ginger flavor. Try not to use a generic soda brand.
  • Don’t stress if you don’t have bitters. They enhance the cocktail, but they won’t be missed.
  • Grating fresh cinnamon over the cocktail will impress your guests and give it an extra special touch.
  • Sprinkling pomegranate arils in your cocktail gives it a festive flair. Take it one step further by making pomegranate or cranberry ice cubes and adding one to each drink.

Pomegranate or Cranberry Ice Cubes

Boil water in a tea kettle or sauce pot. Let water cool. Add 6-8 pomegranate arils or 2-3 cranberries to each cup of an ice cube tray. Fill with water and freeze. Use one cube to top each cocktail.

*Boiling the water removes impurities and creates clear cubes better to see the garnishes through.

 

Do you throw parties for reasons other than holidays or birthdays?

Would you like me to post my lentil soup recipe next week? It was pretty phenomenal if I do say so myself 😉

Have a great Thursday everybody!

 

 

Love Your Flat Sexy Stomach

Hey there my loves,

I have a treat for you today. I’m going to share with you my number one way to get, and keep a flat tummy!

But first, I have a question for you…

How’s your poop?

Lol, so this obviously isn’t going to be a heartfelt post about loving who you are, but it is going to be about something that will make you feel really good about yourself.

Come on now, be super honest. Don’t you feel great after a good poop? I do. No shame. I poop every day and I can tell you, I get super cranky if I skip a day.

Kidding aside, paying attention to your poop will tell you everything you need to know about your digestion and your digestion is the key to your health and getting a trim, tight tummy you feel confident about.

So how do you improve your digestion, you ask?

There are many ways, but to keep it simple I’m going to focus on an easy, effective method that’s going to give you immediate results.

Eat. Fermented. Foods.

Fermented foods should be a part of your diet just as much as fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. They are full of gut-healthy probiotics and good bacteria that keep your intestinal flora balanced and maximize the absorption of nutrients in your food. Fermented foods should be an every day requirement.

There are so many different kinds of fermented foods, you can really pick your favorites, or like me, make sure you have a bunch of different kinds in your fridge at one time for variety.

Here are some of the most common types:

Sourkraut

Kimchi

Pickles

Yogurt

Kefir

Miso

Tempeh

Kombucha

All of these fermented foods will deliver good-for-your-tummy probiotics, but my top three for ease of use, effectiveness and taste would have to be kimchi, saurkraut and kombucha.

Kimchi

Kimchi may seem intimidating, but once you taste it I think you will change your mind. Kimchi is made from cabbage so it has a great crunchy texture and a pickled, spicy, slightly garlicky flavor. Any kind of egg dish topped with kimchi is delicious. You can also add it to sandwiches or stir-fry. You can find kimchi in any specialty grocery store or Asian market.

Saurkraut

Most people grew up eating saurkraut on their hotdogs or alongside pork chops, but did you know you were eating something super healthy!? Well, almost. Commercial, processed saurkraut isn’t the good stuff I’m talking about, but look no further than good ol’ Trader Joes to find raw, naturally fermented saurkraut. A great sandwich topper and slaw-enhancer, I’ll be completely honest-I snack on saurkraut straight out of the jar while making my eggs in the morning. The chef thinks it’s gross, but you only need 1 tablespoon a day so I’m not shoveling it in, and I prefer to do my bathroom business in the morning so it works great for me :b

Kombucha

Probably my favorite fermented food, you don’t have to figure out what to do with kombucha. You just drink it. Easy, peasy.  Kombucha tastes like a tangy, effervescent slightly sweet tea, which is exactly what it is. You can find kombucha in most bodegas, grocery stores and markets nowadays, but a typical 16oz bottle will run you about $4. I prefer to make my own homemade kombucha. That way I can make multiple jars that end up costing pennies.

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Making kombucha at home is a pretty simple process as long as you follow a few rules:

1. Make sure your tools, jars and anything coming in contact with the tea and scoby (the culture used to ferment your tea and turn it into kombucha) are clean and sterile.

2. Only use wood or plastic tools. Metal will weaken the kombucha and it won’t ferment properly. I learned this one the hard way 😉

3. Most people are afraid of brewing their own kombucha because they are afraid it could go bad or moldy without them knowing. You will know if your kombucha is bad! You will see blueish green moldy spots on your scoby. If that is the case, throw out the batch and start again. In all my years of brewing, I’ve never made a bad batch of kombucha.

You can find a scoby on the internet or sometimes at farmers markets. I got mine on Etsy. The scoby was free with $6 shipping. Pretty sweet if you ask me! The scoby itself was organic, thick and the seller had great reviews.

Once you have your scoby, you can get to brewing!

1.) Start by boiling 10 cups of water. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of sugar and 8 tea bags to the water. Any plain black or green tea works. I use Lipton black tea. Simple and cheap.

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2.) Let your tea come to room temperature before adding it to a 1 gallon glass jar. Add the scoby and the starter liquid it came packaged in. The scoby may sink to the bottom or float on top. Either is perfectly fine.

3.) Cover the opening with a paper towel or cheesecloth and a rubberband. I like to write the date with a marker on the paper towel so I can keep track of how long my tea has been fermenting. Find a dark place to keep your brew where it won’t be disturbed.

4.) Check the kombucha after 7 days. There will be a baby scoby floating on top by now. It should look like the momma, but it will be a little thinner. Use a plastic spoon to taste the brew. If you would like it stronger, leave it for a few more days and check again. Keep checking until you’ve reached the flavor you want.

5.) When you like your brew, transfer it to glass jars and seal with lids. Save 2 cups of kombucha and submerge your scoby in it to keep it for your next batch.

6.) One more step! Place your kombucha back in it’s fermenting spot and leave it for 1-2 days. This develops carbonation so your kombucha will be refreshingly fizzy :)

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There you have it! I like to throw away the oldest scoby after 2-3 times, but you can reuse the baby ones or gift them to friends. Maybe make sure they know about kombucha before handing them a bag of liquid with a beige thingy floating around in it, haha!

I hope I cleared up a few things about fermented foods and maybe encouraged you to give them a try. Eat them on the regular and I know your tummy will thank me :)

Do you already eat fermented foods?

Which are your favorites and how do you like to eat them?

Anyone else going to admit they feel great after a good poop? ;D