Coffee Hacks for Gorgeous Skin

Coffee Exfoliator 3Hi friends,

Show of hands, who here likes to start their day with a good cup of coffee?

I’m going to imagine that most of your hands just shot up into the air.

Now, how many of you are trying to kick the habit?

There is so much debate whether coffee is a health food or the devil. I think it really depends on your consumption. If you are drinking 5 cups a day, then, yea you are probably dependent on it and all that caffeine can cause anxiety and mess with your sleep, but if you stick to one to two cups a day, there are a lot of health benefits to your daily cup o’.

Coffee 1Did you know that coffee improves brain function and contains a ton of antioxidants?

In fact, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet!

Coffee has been proven as a natural fat burner and a physical performance enhancer. (So, go ahead and have a cup 30 minutes before a workout.) Coffee also may protect against type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and is good for the heart.

Coffee Exfoliator 1So I think I’ve established where I stand on the coffee debate. I, personally have about 2 cups of coffee a day. There’s something comforting and ritualistic about making a cup first thing in the morning that I really enjoy. I also sip my coffee slowly so it usually lasts an hour or two.

Coffee Exfoliator 4The health benefits of coffee are impressive, but I like my coffee to do even more. (Call me an overachiever.) I’ve come up with some beauty hacks for coffee that have made an impressive difference in my skin over the last few months and I’m going to share them with you.

Coffee Exfoliator 6 To start, I used to dump the coffee grinds into the trash after I made our morning pot of french press, but I now save them to use in the shower as an exfoliator. The grinds are too rough to use on your face, but they are perfect for the rest of your body and in addition to leaving your skin super soft, the caffeine may help to smooth away cellulite. Not admitting I have cellulite, buuuut

(Did anyone else catch that unintended pun? I swear, I didn’t do that on purpose haha!)

Bonus: If you self-tan then you know that it’s a good idea to exfoliate beforehand, but any kind of oils or moisturizers in your exfoliator can cause streakiness. Coffee grinds are the perfect solution 😉

Coffee with GelatinMy second coffee hack has made a huge difference in my face. I used to have some faint fine lines on my forehead that I could especially see when I woke up in the morning. Not cool.

I had a container of gelatin that I had only used a few times. Gelatin is having a huge moment right now, and for good reason. I’ll do a whole post on it soon, but to abbreviate, gelatin is pretty much pure collagen and has a number of health and beauty benefits. It helps with digestion and is great for joints, skin, hair and nails. The usual way to ingest it is by making it into fruit gummies or marshmallows, but I found that to be a little time consuming, so it was hanging out in my pantry NOT giving me any of those benefits.

One morning I thought to add it to my coffee and it worked perfectly! It’s flavorless and undetectable and I seriously see a difference in my skin. I’ve been using it every day and those little lines are gone!

There’s one key step to follow when adding gelatin to coffee. The gelatin needs to “bloom” which just means in order for it to dissolve fully, it needs to be stirred into something cold for about 30 seconds. I add about a tablespoon to hemp milk, stir it and then add hot coffee.

Coffee and Gelatin 1There you go! I love these coffee hacks. They are things I can do every day to see a real improvement in my skin, they are quick and easy, and I get to feel good about my daily cup.

Where do you stand on the coffee debate?

Do you like these types of posts? I have some more beauty and health hacks to share if you do, so speak up in the comments below and let me know!

 

With so much love,

Sam

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 5Hiiii,

You see that up there? That’s something special, let me tell you. That there is the answer to Mondays, bad haircuts, and armpits in your face on a crowded subway.

I realize I reference the subway quite a bit. A lot of weird stuff happens on the subway. And, I can’t be sure, but I feel like NYC subways are one of a kind.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip BlondiesJust this past week I witnessed a man on a moving train, between the cars, bang on the door and yell at us to let him in. The door was locked so we couldn’t and he just got angrier and angrier and kept banging. The train pulled into the station and, sure enough the man stomps into our car from the open doors. Fuming, he pushed past a woman, set up a folding chair in the middle of the car and pulled out a large drum from I-don’t-know-where. He announced that he was homeless and asked if we could find it in our hearts to help him. He said, “God bless” and proceeded to play an aggressively loud drumbeat for the duration of our trip.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 1He was pretty pissed when no one opened their wallets for him.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 3Anyway, I’m getting sooo off topic. THESE BLONDIES!

So freaking good! Moist and tender, they pretty much taste like peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough. I won’t even suspend the surprise because you already know they’re made with beans! Chickpeas this time, along with flax seed for omega 3’s, oat flour for fiber, and chocolate…

Because, antioxidants.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 4Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Vegan, Gluten-free

Makes 12 bars

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp ground flax seed

2 tbsp oat flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soak the rinsed beans in water while prepping other ingredients. Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with coconut oil.

Add all ingredients except chocolate chips to a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips and pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and slice into 12 squares.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 2I’d take an armpit to the face for one of those.

 

Any scary or funny subway stories?

Brownies or blondies?

I can’t choose. I love them both 😀

 

Have a great rest of your week friends!

With so much love,

Sam

 

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Why Your Goals Aren’t Important, and What Really Is…

Hi my darlings!

Back in the day, I worked at Lululemon, and for anyone who isn’t in the know, Lululemon has a culture among its employees of fostering personal development. We had a library (i.e. bookshelf) in the break room full of books like “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” and “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t.”

We had team meetings and were encouraged to take “ownership” of certain tasks from dressing the mannequins to in-store events. We had weekend retreats that you got to go to if you were an A+ employee and workout challenges every month with a score board.

At the heart of everything we did were goals. If you have any experience with retail or commision-based jobs then you are familiar with goals: monthly goals, quarterly goals, yearly goals, mostly set by the higher-ups and placed on the employees shoulders to achieve.

At Lulu, we had sales goals like any other clothing store, but we were also encouraged to set our own goals. Well, not so much encouraged as expected to. Someone decided that it was imperative for everyone working at Lulu to set goals in a Personal, Work, and Health category and to have 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals for each. We were also made to date these goals and display them on a shelf visible to the entire store.

…No doubt this exercise came from one of the personal-development books on our library’s shelf.

Now I’m not knocking Lulu’s efforts to foster a certain culture. I’m all for personal growth and development. I read the books. I’m a fan of leadership, ownership and all the other ships. I just chose to cherry-pick the practices that resonate with me personally and leave the rest.

The problem I found at Lulu was that there was a certain underlying tension in the store. It felt like a need to do everything perfectly and to be 100% on-board with every method of achieving “Success”.

I went along with it because I thought I was supposed to. I made my 1, 5, and 10 year goals just like everyone else did. Some of those goals were real goals that felt important to me, but some of them I just filled in because I felt I had to.

I still have my framed goals in my childhood bedroom and I laugh at how silly some of them seem, like the one that says “I will be able to do 5 pull-ups by August 2011″…I wrote it because I couldn’t think of a health goal I wanted to achieve in one year and that seemed like a good one to fill in the blank line.

For some people it might be cool to be able to do 5 pull-ups, but it’s not really something important to me, so spoiler alert, I didn’t end up achieving that one.

Here is what I have since learned:

Goals are important. But the “why” behind those goals is absolutely essential. Without the “why”, goals have no meaning. The “why” is the fuel, it’s the spark, the gas in the engine of your goals.

Why do you want to achieve (________)?

Why is it important to you?

What will happen if you don’t go after this goal?

What will happen if you do?

If you want to achieve your goals, figure out the “why” behind them. Without the “why” your goals are like a car with an empty gas tank.

Since discovering the power of “why”, I’ve tweaked the questions I ask my clients. Before, I used to ask them to list 3 main fitness goals and I developed their workout program based on their answers, but I was only asking for half of the information I needed. Now, after I ask them their goals, I ask them why they want to achieve these goals.

That simple question has been a total game-changer.

I can see my clients go inside of themselves and dig deep for the answers, and what comes to the surface is much more honest than “tone up my arms” or “get a beach-body for summer”. Now I hear, “I want to feel confident for once in my body”, “I want to feel proud of myself.” “I want to live a long, healthy life.” “I want to see what I am capable of.”

So much juicier, right!?

Not only does this help me get a real, meaningful sense of what they want out of our sessions, it gets them to vocalize what is really driving them to make these changes.

Whatever your goals are, they are goals because they are just out of reach. If they were easy you would already have achieved them. It’s imperative to remind yourself when it feels hard and the motivation isn’t there, why you are going after these goals in the first place.

It becomes way to easy to let yourself off the hook if you don’t have a compelling reason to put in the effort, so please don’t short-change yourself. Give your goals power by figuring out the “why” behind them.

Write down however many goals you want to achieve right now. (None of this: You must have 1 health, 1 personal, 1 work for 1/5/10 years or it doesn’t count bullshit.) Write down what feels right to you and screw the rest.

After you have your goals written down, write all the reasons you want to achieve these goals. Use the questions above if you want as a guideline, but really think about why these goals are important to you and give them power by writing them down.

Put the paper someplace you will see it every day. You could tape it to your mirror if you want, or fold it up and put it between the sheets of your daily planner. You don’t need to take out a full-page add in the paper, or a freakin billboard for all the world to see.

This is for you and you alone. Do what feels right for you. These are your goals after all. They are your dreams and no one else will take care of them the way you will.

This is my favorite Ted Talk and the first place I heard of the power of why. I got so many “Ah-ha’s” from this video and I’m excited to hear if you do to. Tell me in the comments below!

It finally feels like Spring is here! Yay! Have a beautiful week!

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies

 

 

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 7Oh hey there,

How has your week been so far?

Let me tell you about mine. It’s been snowy, and also rainy, and then slushy. I think this is brownie weather.

I know, I know, all weather is brownie weather, but in the first week of March, when you can just see the finish-line of winter and without warning you get dumped on with a mix of snow and freezing rain, brownies are seriously a necessity.

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 5If you like a light, cakey brownie, this is not the brownie for you. If, however you are a super fudgy chocolatey brownie lover who also happens to adore coffee then keep on reading, my friend!

Oh, yea and they’re healthy. Did I mention they are healthy??

Are you really surprised?

I think you know me by now 😉

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 8And because you know me so well then you know this is where I ask you to trust me…

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 4I’m putting beans in your brownies!

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 2Yay! Healthy black bean brownies that are vegan and gluten-free to boot. And delicious.

Seriously delicious.

If you made my Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet Cake then you know how delicious beans in your baked good can be. If you haven’t tried it yet then these brownies will surely make you a believer.

High-fiber, gluten-free, and vegan. And don’t forget the chocolate.

It counts as a super food.

No really.

Plus, don’t brownies taste even better when they are guilt-free?

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 1Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies

Makes 12 servings

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed

4 tbsp water

1 tbsp coffee

2 tbsp ground flax

3 T melted coconut oil

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with coconut oil. Soak the rinsed beans in water while prepping other ingredients.

In a small bowl stir together water, coffee and flax and let sit for 5 minutes.

Drain beans and add all ingredients except chocolate chips in a high-powered blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Pour batter into the baking dish and top with chocolate chips. If desired use a spoon to swirl the chocolate chips down into the batter. Bake for 24-26 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container for a few days or in the fridge for longer.

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 6Almost makes you wish for more slushy days.

Almost.

Not really.

 

Have you ever tried black bean brownies? Anything special you like to do on rainy days? I park myself on my couch with a cup of tea and a fuzzy blanket. Mmm, so cozy!

 

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

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Three Ways to Know for Sure if You are Living Your Purpose

I’ve learned throughout my relatively short time on earth that life likes to leave us clues. It’s constantly leaving breadcrumbs on our path that, if paid attention to, will lead every one of us to what we are meant to do in this world.

If you hate flying then your purpose is not going to be becoming a pilot. It sounds incredibly obvious and maybe even a little bit dumb, but I use this example because I heard a woman voice this fear and it struck me so much that I never forgot it. She was scared that what the universe has in store for her isn’t going to be what she wants for herself. She was really conflicted and I can bet that if she has this fear then others do to.

Here’s the deal: The universe’s plan for you will specifically match up with your passions and talents. That’s why God gave you certain passions and talents in the first place. The exciting and beautiful thing about living your purpose is that when you discover it, it feels like everything is in alignment, because it is.

Paying attention during something that lights you up is one of the clues to look out for. Does the time fly? Do you find that ideas or actions flow effortlessly, almost as if they are coming through you and not from you? When you find yourself in “flow” you are synced up to the Universe. You are the filter through which genius flows. It’s like a holy download. It’s a natural alignment between your talents and God’s plan for you.DeathtoStock_SlowDown3

Even right now, writing this blog post I feel totally in my flow. I usually need to keep a few hours open in my day if I plan to write because I know once I start, time flies and there is no way I am paying attention to the clock. If I schedule an appointment too close to writing time I will totally miss it!

Here’s another clue to look out for:

After you finish something of value to you, do you feel even more energy then before you started? When I was in college, the majority of my classes were dance, so while other students were sitting at a desk for 5-6 classes a day, I was dancing for those 5-6 hours with rehearsals in the evenings and shows at the end of every semester. Looking back, I’m amazed that I had enough energy to study for my academics and bar tend on the weekends! That’s what happens when you are living in flow though. Your purpose feeds you and generates even more energy than you knew was possible.

These days my schedule is packed. I wake up early in the morning and am at Equinox by 8am. All day I am learning and taking on new challenges. I have classes, meetings, sessions and workouts. It’s a lot, but it’s fascinating. I love the field I’m in and I leave feeling great. After Equinox I often go to my restaurant job and whereas before, I felt tired and bored, lately I’ve noticed I’m in a great mood. I have tons of energy and I don’t feel nearly as run-down as I used to. It baffles me because my workload is at least double what it used to be. I’m doing things I love and that makes all the difference.

Another way to know if you are in alignment with your purpose is to pay attention to how you feel after you finish something. Do you feel a sense of peace, or even elation? After I write I often feel like everything is right with the world (or at least with my world). I feel a sense of peace and after I hit “publish” I feel like I’ve reached the top of a mountain. It feels like all of my effort lead me to this moment and my heart is lighter for having followed it.

Paying attention to your heart is a pretty good way to live. These days I try to stay away from things that my heart says ‘no’ to. More often than not, they end up being things that take my focus away from what I love to do. My heart saying ‘no’ feels like a heavy burden or a contraction instead of an expansion. I also pay attention to my energy. If I feel tired, sad, bored or lost for too long I take a look at what I am doing and if it is bringing me closer to my purpose or farther away from it. It’s usually the later.

I challenge you, as you go about your usual day, to ask yourself whether you feel your heart expanding or contracting. Are you using your inherent unique set of gifts in your work? If not, it’s your job to ask yourself these questions and discover what makes you light up. And then go do it. Because living your life on your terms, with joy, inspires others to do the same. And I will tell you a little secret. That’s my purpose.

What’s yours?

 

Happy discovering!

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

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Six Sneaky Uses for Hummus

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled EggsHi friends!

Have you ever taken those magazine quizzes that tell you what kind of food cravings you go for? You know, salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy… how am I always all of them??? What does that mean!? I’m gonna go with it means that I love food and I don’t discriminate 😀

I’m a lover, people.

Because I love all food, but I also love to feed my body healthy things IT loves, I have come up with some pretty sneaky tricks and tips to satisfy my salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy cravings…yes, sometimes I have all of them at once.

Don’t judge.

Hummus has become my best friend and my go-to when a creamy craving hits.

  • Hummus’s mix of protein and fiber keeps us fuller longer and may also contribute to weight loss.
  • The fiber in hummus keeps blood sugar levels steady which helps fight hunger cravings.
  • Hummus also contains a nice bit of iron which is a known energy booster (so, you may be motivated to hit the gym. Bonus!)

And here’s a benefit that I didn’t know about:

  • hummus contains omega 3’s which are good for your brain and also your mood, so you will be twice as happy because you are eating something delicious and it’s making you happier as you eat it!

Even though I adore hummus, it can get pretty boring as a plain ol’ veggie or chip dip, which is why I’m going to share with you my all time favorite ways to use hummus, no veggie stick or tortilla chip required.

two-ingredient salad dressingSalad Dressing: I’ve been making this two-ingredient salad dressing since high school and I still love it. Super simple, (what’s more simple then two ingredients!?) creamy, quick and delicious. I feel silly even calling this a recipe, but here ya go…

Two-Ingredient Salad Dressing

Makes 1 serving

2 tbsp hummus

1 tbsp balsamic

Mix together. Pour on salad.

That’s it!

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs 2Deviled Eggs: I can’t take credit for this one. My sweet, brilliant boyfriend came up with these when I needed a quick, healthy snack to take with me to work and I wasn’t excited about the mayo in traditional deviled eggs. He suggested hummus to replace the mayo and some sriracha for a spicy kick. They were phenomenal! True story: I packed up the ones in the photo for tomorrow’s afternoon work snack :)

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Makes 6 deviled eggs

3 organic eggs

2 tbsp hummus

1/2 tsp sriracha

cilantro garnish (optional)

Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add eggs to the pot and boil for 8 minutes. Cool and peel eggs. Cut in half and scoop out yolks, saving 2 halves. In a small bowl mash yolks, hummus and sriracha with a fork until smooth. Add a tsp of water at a time if mixture is too thick. Spoon mixture into eggs, top with cilantro leaves and serve.

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs 3Now that’s a real recipe.

Some other uses for hummus:

  • As a creamy pasta sauce. I’ll post a recipe soon, but I usually just make it up as I go. Some lemon juice, chili flakes and nutritional yeast usually make it into the bowl.
  • As a sandwich/bagel spread
  • In scrambled eggs
  • In chicken/tuna salad instead of mayo

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs 1Hummus is amazing.

 

Do you crave salty, sweet, crunchy or creamy. All of them like me?

Do you have a favorite way to eat hummus?

What are some healthy snacks you like to pack for work?

 

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

 

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The Wealthy Waitress: A Story About Emergency Funds

Hi friends!

I feel like I haven’t spoken to you all in so long even though it’s only been a week! I think it’s because without warning, I was thrown into Equinox Personal Training…training, haha and it’s totally upended my routine. Good thing I have an awesome planner to keep track of it all. If you look at the past weeks entries, a lot of stuff is crossed off and rearranged. It’s one big mess, but I made it work.

IMG_0373Pretty soon I’ll be sharing workout tips and maybe even some videos in my weekly posts. What do you all think? Would that be something you would be interested in? Also, any questions you have about fitness or health, feel free to email me at savvysexyself@gmail.com. Even if I don’t have the answer, I have access to the top trainers in the country (they are my co-workers. How awesome is that!?) and I am constantly picking their brains.

One of the first things I’ve learned, and a standard practice for all personal trainers is how to perform a fitness assessment. This includes testing blood pressure, body fat percentage, endurance and functional movement exercises to note imbalances and weaknesses. What this does is give us a clear picture of where each client is starting from so that we can create an effective, personalized  plan for them to reach their goals.

I couldn’t help realizing the similarities between a fitness assessment and my top tip for financial health.

I got a lot of enthusiastic feedback about my first  money post, and I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up post.

To recap briefly, the most important step to financial health is looking at where your finances are right now. How much money are you spending each month versus how much you are earning? What percentage of your spending is going towards rent, groceries, entertainment etc? How much debt do you have and what percentage are you paying in interest?

It sounds like a full-time job just to manage all of this and find the answers to these questions, but it’s really not. The beauty of the internet is that we have amazing resources at our fingertips so there is really no excuse. Sign up on Mint.com if you haven’t already, let it do the work for you and get familiar with where you are now.

You can’t move forward if you don’t know where you are starting from. It’s that simple.

If you have that step down, excellent! Now we get to talk about emergency funds. Yay, how exciting!

You probably know that you SHOULD have an emergency fund, but do you actually have one?

An emergency fund is different than a savings account. An emergency you don’t touch unless there is, well, an emergency. A general rule is to have 3-6 months of income saved up in case you lose your job. This is also where your risk comfort level comes into play. Do you feel uncomfortable with 6 months? Maybe 8 months feels better. Do you have a job that would take longer to replace?

What if you have debt that you feel you have to pay off first? In that case, aim to put $1,000 into an emergency fund. Leave it there and then go tackle your debt. Once you are in a good place, come back to your emergency fund and build up to 3-6 months worth. If you are wondering how I came up with this technique, I didn’t. Dave Ramsey, personal money-management expert has used it to get countless people out of debt.

You want to keep your emergency fund liquid, meaning somewhere you can get to it quickly. I keep mine in an online account that earns a tiny amount of interest, (bank interest rates are virtually non-existent these days though you can find some that offer 1-2%). If I need the money I just transfer it over to my checking account. It being online makes me feel like it is separate from my checking and savings, so I never feel tempted to dip into it unless it’s a real emergency.

This is a timely subject because we are coming up on good ol’ tax season. Btw, nothing makes you feel more like an adult than discussing your taxes with your friends, am I right?

So, last year I got a rude punch to the gut when I found out how much I owed back the government. I never owed before. I always received a return, but I knew 2014 would be different and I was prepared for it, I thought. I had asked the other servers and the managers at my restaurant what I should expect to owe and they all said around $1,500-$3,000. Naturally, I hoped for the lower end of that, but when I saw what it really was, I almost choked.

$5,000!

After I had a full-on freak out and realized that this was indeed real, I remembered my emergency fund and thanked my lucky stars that I had enough cushion saved up to pay this enormous sum and put it behind me. I didn’t have to dip into my checking account and I didn’t have to pay it down in increments. It was relatively low stress for what was realistically a high-stress situation.

And, what I learned next shocked me even more than that number up there: no one my age I spoke to said they would be able to pay off that amount. I was baffled to learn that many people don’t even have emergency funds!

Maybe part of it has to do with living in NYC. In a place where getting an apartment without a roommate is a marker of extreme career success and your commute is over an hour because you chose to use your prepaid metro card instead of taking a 20 minute, $20 taxi, I get that saving anything can seem close to impossible.

But, it is possible. It may be hard. You may need to cut down on some indulgences. You may need to start brown-bagging your lunch, but if a 20-something waitress living in NYC can do it, you can do it too. I promise you! And your 20’s is the time to start, if you haven’t already.

This is the foundation. This is your solid financial plan on which to build your wealth. If you skip ahead or leave these steps until “tomorrow”, you will never feel secure and financially strong. You will always be building on sand.

There are so many things I want to share about money:

  • The things you may be doing that you don’t know can hurt your credit
  • Sneaky ways to save without sucking the fun out of life!
  • How to tackle debt when you feel like you are drowning in it
  • How investing doesn’t have to be intimidating. Again, if a 20-something waitress can do it, you can to 😉
  • The importance of setting up your own retirement fund, even if your company provides a 401-K.

Would this be something you would be interested in? Any bullet point in particular you want me to cover? Any burning questions you have about money that I didn’t mention above?

Let me know in the comments below. Let’s start talking about money people!

Here’s to your financial health,

With so much love,

Sam

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Lightened Up Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

 

cauliflower mac and cheese 6Hi friends,

I’m back this week with my second cauliflower recipe in a row. This veggie just keeps amazing me! Like a baby that learns for the first time where his toes are and it’s the most exciting thing to a new momma, I just can’t stop showing off how incredibly talented and smart cauliflower is.

The winter in NY is really kicking it into full gear. It started a bit late, but we are definitely feeling the cold now. The last week has been all about chili, soup and mac and cheese. Anything to keep warm.

I’m a firm believer in eating for the seasons, and that goes beyond just eating root veggies in the winter and tomatoes in the summer. Where I live and what the season is determines, more often then not, what I eat and how I cook. I prefer to eat cool, crisp, simple meals like salads, gazpacho and raw foods in the summer and warm, slow cooked meals with lots of spices and warming ingredients in the winter.

There’s nothing better than an avocado shrimp ceviche in a tropical climate like Costa Rica. As much as I love it, ceviche would feel totally out of place and not really as satisfying in February during a snow storm.

I am definitely not saying that you should retire the salads until the temperature climbs above 60 degrees, but swapping some of your fresh produce for cooked may help you feel more nourished and satisfied during the colder months. cauliflower mac and cheese 1Warming foods don’t have to be heavy foods either. Roasted vegetables, spaghetti squash instead of pasta, lean meats, broiled fish and broth-based soups are all delicious, warm and hearty options.

Spices such as cayenne, paprika, turmeric and cinnamon are also an easy way to lend warmth to your meals.

Drinking hot water with lemon and ginger is a fantastic start to your morning-it’s both comforting and detoxifying.

And when the cinnamon in your coffee or the turmeric in your scramble is just no match for the sub-zero temperatures and your crappy apartment thermostat, make this mac and cheese. Soul-warming comfort food all the way.cauliflower mac and cheese

I realize that I ask you to trust me a lot on this blog. Do you?

I hope you do, because this mac and cheese is baby-learning-to-crawl incredible.

cauliflowerIf you haven’t figured it out already from the ginormous clue in the picture above, there is cauliflower IN the sauce… (Here’s where we find out if you really do trust me.) Not only is it in the sauce, the cauliflower IS the sauce.

cauliflower pureeAre you still here?

Yay!

Can I tell you that I barely ever make mac and cheese. I’ll eat a few bites here and there at a restaurant, but all of the butter, flour, milk and cheese keeps me from ever making it myself at home.

That changes today!

I had the idea to use cauliflower to replace the bechamel and it worked even better then I thought it would! The result is a lightened up, but still creamy, cheesy, gooey indulgent mac and cheese that wont leave you feeling like you ate a brick.

This mac and cheese is also super customizable. I used gluten-free pasta, not because I follow a gf diet, but because I wanted to experiment for you guys in case any of you do. Surprise number two: gf pasta tastes like regular pasta! I was not expecting that. I’m really glad I tried it and found out. I’ll definitely be cooking with more gf pasta from now on.

I’m also planning more flavor combinations for this mac and cheese. I see a mushroom thyme and smoked gruyere in my very near future.

You can use any cheese you like and the recipe will be vegan if you use a nondairy cheese. I added a bit of bacon crumbled on top. Since I took away a lot of the fat, starch and calories by using cauliflower I figured there was a little wiggle room for bacon. Isn’t there always a little wiggle room for bacon?

Yes. Yes, I think so.

cauliflower mac and cheese 5

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Serves 4-6

1 head of cauliflower (4 loose cups, chopped)

12 oz elbow pasta

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 small onion or 1/4 large onion roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar (I used Cabot Super Sharp)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

salt and pepper

Optional Toppings

For a crunchy crust: 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

To make it extra delicious: 2 slices of bacon

To make it extra cheesy: 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (sprinkle before topping with panko)

For extra flavor: 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

For a kick of heat: as much red chili flakes as you want

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tbsp of salt. Add cauliflower and cook for 8-10 minutes, just until fork tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to a blender. Bring water back up to a boil and add pasta. Cook 1-2 minutes less than package instructs. (It will continue to cook in the oven later)

If adding bacon, cook in a 10 inch oven safe skillet until crispy. Drain off fat (but don’t wipe out pan) and blot bacon with a paper towel. Crumble and set aside. Add onions and garlic to pan with s+p and saute 5 minutes.

To blender, add onions, garlic, mustard, paprika, cheddar cheese and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth, season to taste with s+p.

Drain pasta and rinse with cool water. Add pasta to the skillet and mix in sauce until thoroughly combined. Top with desired toppings and bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

cauliflower mac and cheese 4cauliflower mac and cheese 3I heart you, cauliflower.

 

What is your favorite wintertime comfort food?

Are there any foods you sneak veggies into?

 

With so much love,

Sam

 

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Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

 

cauliflower buffalo bites 1 Guys!

The Super Bowl is this Sunday! Did it sneak up on you like it snuck up on me? Okay, confession time. I look forward to the Super Bowl every year. I enjoy watching the game and having friends over, but I’m not really all about the game. (I don’t even know who’s playing this year). I am, however, all about the snacks! Is anyone surprised? I had made these cauliflower buffalo bites in December on a whim and thought, “Omg, these would be perfect for the Super Bowl, but how do I keep them under wraps until then? February is soooo far away.” I don’t like keeping things from my friends :/

Aaand, *poof* it’s February. Ironically I was about to share a different recipe today that also features cauliflower as the main ingredient and now I’m going to have to keep that one under wraps. At least I only need to wait until next week to share that recipe. And guys and gals, it may be the best recipe I’ve ever come up with. I’m serious.

Cauliflower is having a huge moment right now and I’m totally buying into it. It’s just so crazy versatile. Cauliflower’s neutral flavor makes it a perfect substitute for creamy, starchy things. You can’t exactly hide broccoli in mashed potatoes the way you can cauliflower.

Did you know that cauliflower is in the same family as kale, broccoli and collards? Obviously, vegetables=healthy things, but I was curious just how healthy cauliflower is and, whoa!

In a one cup serving:

29 calories

5 g carbs, 2 g fiber and 2 g protein

77% vitamin C

High in antioxidants

Anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, cancer-preventing

These cute little florets pack a serious nutritional punch!

cauliflower buffalo bites

cauliflower buffalo bites 4So these buffalo bites. So addictingly crunchy and full of flavor. I’m not going to tell you to forgo the wings (let’s be realistic here), but starting with these bites is a sneaky way to get your veggies in, and after all the buffalo-flavored goodness and cool blue cheese yogurt sauce, you may just be so satisfied you only reach for 2 or 3 wings over the course of the game.

That’s my secret to not over-indulging. I eat the veggies and other healthy goodies first and then allow myself one or two of the indulgent stuff guilt-free. I’m usually full by then so I don’t want more than that.

Make these, set them out with the other Super Bowl snacks and then come back here and let me know how they went over. Pawn them off as your own idea. You’ll definitely get points for creativity.

Cauliflower buffalo bites 2

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

Makes 6-8 portions

Adapted from Craftsy.com

1 medium head of cauliflower

1 cup rice flour

1 cup corn flour

1/2 cup milk of choice (I used hemp)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2/3 cup buffalo style hot sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:

1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt

3 tbsp crumbled blue cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped dill

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet  with parchment paper.

Wash and trim cauliflower into bite-size florets. Whisk the rice flour, corn flour, milk, water, paprika, salt, and pepper in a medium sized bowl until thoroughly combined. Coat each cauliflower floret with a thin layer of batter and evenly space on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, flipping half way through.

While baking, stir together the buffalo sauce and melted butter in a bowl. Remove cauliflower from the oven. Generously brush the top of each floret with the buffalo mixture. Place back in the oven for 15-17 minutes until golden and crunchy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before digging in.

To make the blue cheese sauce:

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until reaching your desired texture. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

cauliflower buffalo bites 3Can someone tell me who is playing, please?
 
 
Are you all on the cauliflower bandwagon?
If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, what kind of yummy snacks are you planning to serve?

 

With so much love,
Sam
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet Cake (Happy Birthday to Me!)

chocolate chip cookie skillet cake 6Hey there good lookin,

Oh, I was talking to you, but, yea I could totally see why you would think I was talking to that insanely delicious cake thing.

There’s a good reason for that dreaminess up there,….besides there always being good reason for chocolate chips and ice cream.

It’s my birthdaaaaay!

And in honor of my b-day I baked you a cake. Wait, no, I made you a cookie. Okay, SURPRISE! I made you both!

I love my birthday. It’s a perfect excuse to do whatever the hell I want, and, lucky for you, whatever the hell I want included making a, ready for it?…chocolate chip cookie skillet cake!

chocolate chip cookie skillet cake 3Alright, so I really made it for ME, but you should totally make it too. I wish I could convey to you how ridiculously delicious this cake is, but words just aren’t going to cut it. You really just need to experience the warm, chocolatey, cookie doughness for yourself…Okay, I attempted to describe it a little. I think I did pretty well :)

And, AND would you believe me if I told you this cake is healthy!?

IT’S HEALTHY!

You are going to have to trust me when I say that pureed chickpeas have the ability to taste freakishly like raw cookie dough. It’s true. I wouldn’t lie to you on my birthday.

Chocolate chip cookie skillet cake 2…or any day.

chocolate chip cookie skillet cake 1

The garbanzo beans create a rich fudgy texture and the oat flour happens to make the cake gluten-free. I use a lot less sugar than other recipes call for, but I use coconut sugar and maple syrup which both have a toasty, caramel flavor so you don’t really need too much sweetness. Plus the chocolate chips add a hit of chocolatey goodness. And chocolate=antioxidants. See, healthy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet Cake

Makes 8 slices
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
 
2 cans white beans or garbanzos (drained and rinsed)
1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup chocolate chips
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch cast-iron skillet, a pie dish or any other oven-safe 10 inch pan with coconut oil. Blend all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a food processor or high speed blender.
 
*Note: I use a vitamix which is a super high powered blender. If you don’t have a vitamix, a blendtec or something similar I would suggest using a food processor.
 
Mix in chocolate chips and spoon batter into the skillet. Bake for 35-40 min. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 8 slices. Serve with your favorite non-dairy ice cream.
 
Chocolate chip cookie skillet cake
…because I love you.
 
 
What do you like to do on your birthday?
Besides baking, I treated my hair to some highlights and went out for dinner with the chef. There may also have been a few glasses of wine involved ;D
 
Have you ever baked sweet treats with beans before?
Any other adventurous ingredients you like to bake with?
I’ve got many more up my sleeves 😉
Stay tuned!
 
xoxo,
Sam
 
 
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