Its a snow day in New Jersey! Woot! I woke up around 7:00 and peeked out the window. Everything was covered with nearly a foot of white powder. I couldn't make out the difference between the street and the driveway. My heart did a little leap. Snow days bring me right back to grade school. My brother, sisters and I would wake up convinced that it snowed because we slept with our P.J.'s inside out. The 'Mente kids were single handedly responsible for getting all the schools in the neighborhood shut down. Coolest kids in town.
Last fall I (almost) completely kicked my (severe) coffee habit. Since, I've replaced it with Matcha tea. This morning, I'm cuddled up under a blanket, logging in to gmail to begin working from home and sipping on a cocoa matcha latte. Perfect way to start a lazy, snow day. Recipe below.
Add water and milk in a sauce pan.* Warm over medium heat. Sprinkle in matcha tea and cocoa powder. Wisk briskly. Add stevia and cinnamon and salt (if using). Continue to wisk until it boils. Immediately remove from heat. Do not bring it to a rolling boil or the milk will burn and curdle. (I've done it 100 times and it tastes gross).
*If you like a creamier latte, use more milk or all milk/no water. (Personally, I like a pretty even mix or just slightly more milk than water. Otherwise its too creamy for my liking. But its a personal preference. Play with the ratios until you find a consistency you love.
My good friend Sarah told me about these little chocolate balls of heaven and I couldn't be more grateful. First of all, the recipe takes under 5 minutes to create; a little assembling and no cooking. Secondly, they completely annihilate a chocolate craving AND they are 100% clean. Hellooooooo, a healthy-nut but hormonal woman's dream! PMS is real! Give them a try and let me know what you think. Best part: Even if you wind up eating the whole batch in one sitting (I won't judge), its not going to throw you into a tailspin.
Mix all ingredients well. Roll into balls. Place on a plate or cookie sheet. Eat like that or refrigerate or freeze for a few minutes. Makes about 6 balls. I dare you to try to NOT eat the entire batch.
I woke up looking de-bloated this morning. Looking lean but not shredded. Does that make sense?
I was very tired this morning and would have given anything to keep sleeping. Honestly, I think the fatigue has to do more with being my first week back in the gym. I was off for over ten weeks after surgery on my foot.
Also, I didn't sleep well. I was up every hour or so. It was insanely windy out and the noise kept waking me up. Usually, I can sleep through just about anything. My mother said she had a few similar nights when she was detoxing. I hope it passes quickly.
When I was asleep; however, I was having very vivid dreams. Good, not bad dreams.
A vegan, coworker-friend gave me some Indian lentil soup her husband made. I die. It was so good. 3/4 cup.
My brain wanted to go back to Cross Fit, especially because double-unders were written into the WOD. Love them. My whole, entire body was so sore that I decided to stay home. I did about 20 minutes of gentle yoga instead.
10:00 - Early for me but I was feeling extremely exhausted again.
.Sometimes the timing of things in life is so ironic, you just have to laugh. Its only been a few weeks since I resurrected my blog and feverishly began testing out new recipes, photographing and posting them. I've been on a Paleo diet for the better part of close to 5 years and have lived on meat and veggies to stay lean and healthy....or so I thought.
One night a few weeks ago, my mother told me she was starting a new diet. My beautiful mother was diagnosed with breast cancer over 7 years ago. She had a mastectomy, chemo, radiation and all of the terrible side effects that'll make me cry if I begin to list them.
Eighteen months later, she went into remission, her hair grew back and aside from a few scares due to increased tumor marker numbers, she went back to her normal pre-cancer way of life.
Two years ago, after a routine test, she got the call she'd been dreading (but expecting) for half a decade. The cancer was back. This time, it was in her hip bone. After a short stint on oral chemo that left her sick and frail, the Oncologist pulled her off the poison. Her tumor is slow growing and she's been containing it with monthly anti-estrogen shots.
It was President's Day Monday around 9:00 PM when she told me that she came across some studies of people curing their cancer with nutrition. MUSIC TO MY EARS!!!! She learned that eliminating all animal proteins and eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, beans seeds and nuts, had helped patients of all ages rid themselves of cancer; including brain and organ tumors.
That was all I needed to hear for the science nerd within me to go into research mode. I've spent hours reading and researching the benefits of eliminating animal proteins.
So sold, that I also got on board and so did the rest of the family.
I'm going to chronicle my journey as I transition from a low carb Paleo diet to a higher carb vegan diet.
Here's a confession: The former fitness model in me scared shitless of so many carbs. Its been burned into my brain that the way to stay lean is with low carbs. I know there will be an initial water weight gain from things like beans and possibly (gasp) oatmeal. Gluten free, of course (hey, you can take the girl out of the cave but you can't completely take the cave out of the girl).
Actually, while I'm on that train of thought, I am on a mission of obtaining optimal health, not to be trendy or just not eat meat. So, I will take the Paleo principles of not eating processed foods with me. My family has adopted the mentality of "if it comes from the earth, we will eat it." No "vegan chicken nuggets" or "McDonald's french fries" (bc they are not meat). Aye, aye, aye, the things that people on fad diets do. I digress.
I'm about a week and a half in and I feel great. I wish I thought to blog my experience sooner. To be completely honest, I felt like a complete fraud. I JUST published my healthy, Paleo blog and here I am cutting all the meat out of my life. AND eating beans. Double whammy.
Then, it dawned on me. Why not share the journey with you? The good, the bad and the ugly. I have been Googling everything from "Paleo vs. Vegan," "Weight Gain When Transitioning From Paleo To Vegan," "Low Energy and Vegan," "What Vitamins Do I Need When I Go Vegan" and so on. So many people have shared their experiences and it helped me tremendously. I'd like to return the favor.
To all of my hardcore athletes thinking about making the transition from Paleo to Vegan; here's my experience.
Day 1 & 2:
RAVENOUS! All I wanted was chocolate. I had a couple pieces of 100% raw, unsweetened cocoa with fruit to curb the cravings. Ate tons of veggies (raw and cooked), fruit, nuts and yes, chocolate.
Feeling good. TIRED at night. So bloated. Pretty bad headache at the end of days 4&5. In my head I'm going to gain weight but down 1 lb on the scale.
Cleared to workout and (finally) went back to Cross Fit. Got a headache around lunch. I knew I needed extra carbs so I had a HUGE helping of rice and beans for lunch. Was going to eat a bowl of mixed fruit pre-workout but was WAY too stuffed from lunch. Worst bloating so far. My knees, calves and ankles are huge. Ankles painfully bloated. Up a pound (but my body's normal set-point weight when I'm eating right and working out).
Workout: Torture. Hard to tell if it was from the diet because I've done NOTHING for 2.5 months. Horrible headache at the gym and conditioning is terrible. I swear I need to go back and see where I left half of my right lung. ;-) Exhausted at night and slept like a baby. ZERO cravings. Very full.
No headache but feelign just okay. I can tell I'm still adjusting. Another CF night so I ate a good amount of carbs on lunch (veggie soup with soaked chick peas). Ate an apple and some grapes with cinnamon pre-workout. It was still really tough but still a lot better than the first night.
I made Chickpea Masala for dinner and the entire family loved it.
Exhausted and ready for bed by 9:00. Fell asleep at 10. Slept terribly. There were "Wizard of Oz" type winds. Usually I sleep like a rock, through anything but between the noise of the wind and having to go potty, I was up nearly every hour. Is this diet related? Not sure.
SO bloated, I saw rolls in my "cankles" when I bent down for power cleans. Maybe I shouldn't wear capri workout pants this week. haha.
Two days before entertaining for a huge family party, I got a call from a producer. She asked if i was interested in a photo shoot of before and after pics of my abs. Of course I was in. It was just the motivation I needed to drop the winter fluff and quit drowning the stress of a few emotional weeks with awful food. I told her sure and asked her when, expecting her answer to be the standard four to six weeks.
She told me I had a week. A WEEK? After thirty seconds of internally freaking out, I decided I was up for the challenge. Carbs had to drop very low for the week -- which I only suggest for a quick, short term fix and never longer than a few weeks. Otherwise, you'll crash your metabolism and wind up rapidly gaining weight when you start eating normal again. Disclaimer over.
Back to the family party. I needed to come up with low carb recipes delicious enough that my guests wouldn't feel as if they were being deprived -- but that I could eat too.
This low carb, bacon wrapped asparagus recipe was the perfect appetizer. Recipe below.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees or warm grill.
Clean and remove the white tips from the bottom of your asparagus. Wrap each asparagus spear in bacon. Place each wrapped asparagus spear on a lined cookie sheet with the seams facing down. Season to taste. Bake or grill for 20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy. They are amazing right off the grill
I had two separate conversations with friends last week; both had to do with kale chips. One friend said she was dying to try them and needed a recipe. The other told me that her chips aren't ever chips at all. They turn into "dust" every time she tried to make them. The first time I tried I had the opposite experience. Mine turned mushy. With some trial and error, I was able to create the Goldilocks of kale chips -- not too mushy and not too dry -- just right. Here's the recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash kale. Let it dry completely (or you will wind up with mushy chips). I like to lay it out on paper towels. Once kale has dried completely, transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil and apple cider vinegar on top. Use enough to cover the kale completely, about 1-2 Tbsp each). Add salt, pepper and seasonings.
Massage oil mixture into the kale. You want to really work in the oil, try to get the "wrinkles" in each piece. Don't skip this step! The better you massage your kale, the better they will turn out. This is the trick to getting them crispy enough without them disintegrating and turning into green dust when you touch them.
Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This is another very important step and a trick to getting the chips crispy. If you layer, they will turn out mushy.
Bake until some chips are slightly browned around the edges but not burnt. Around 10-15 minutes.
*This is the basic kale chip recipe. You can also experiment with other seasonings like cayenne pepper, garlic, chili powder, soy free/gluten free soy sauce (coconut aminos) or for my non vegans and non paleo followers, Parmesan cheese. I sprinkled paprika on top of the chips pictured above.
When I was 16, all of my friends got jobs at the new "Pizza Hut" that opened in our hometown that summer. I worked at the "Dunkin Donuts" in the same shopping center. I'd like to say I worked there because I wanted to be my own person and wasn't a crowd follower but that couldn't be further from the truth. In actuality, I was agonizingly shy. Beads of moisture formed on my upper lip and my voice shook at the mere thought of waiting tables.
I loved working at DD. At the end of the night, employees could take home any left over donuts and throw away the rest. My friends would wait for me in the parking lot after waiting tables all night and I'd bring them garbage bags full of left overs. Anytime I see donuts, I think back to when I was the "donut fairy."
Today, I ran into "Michael's Craft Store" for some Valentine's Day inspiration. When I saw the donut pans, I knew they had to be mine. I have seen gorgeous pictures of Paleo donuts all over Instagram and Pinterest for ages but never got around to creating my own version. Today, was the day. I went back into donut fairy mode for my family. All these years later, they're much more healthy.
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, its perfect timing to whip up these heart healthy treats for everyone you love.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your donut pan (best one I've found here. Or, if you prefer silicone here.)
Mix all dry ingredients (flour and baking soda) in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients minus the eggs (maple syrup, extracts, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar). Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Beat egg whites until they develop a foam at the top. Fold the eggs into the rest of the batter.
Press batter into donut pans and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool.
In a sauce pan add cocoa powder, bakers chocolate, coconut oil and stevia. Put the heat on low and stir the chocolate mixture constantly until fully melted. Dip donuts in the glaze.
(Note: These donuts were decorated with sprinkles from the regular baking section of the grocery store. For 100% paleo decoration, mix coconut sugar with cinnamon or more cocoa powder and sprinkle on top while the glaze is still wet,
Recently learned fact: The Super Bowl is the second biggest day in America for eating. Can you guess what day earns the number one spot? Hint: I said in America. It's Thanksgiving. Our country is so over indulged.
My father -- who co-owns a pizzeria and a restaurant with my brother -- shared that tidbit of trivia with me. It may or may not have been in a slight fit of delirium after working 12 hours on "Super Bowl Saturday." That's not a typo, I am indeed referring to the Saturday before "Super Bowl Sunday;" when all of the enormous, game day orders flood his phone lines.
In honor of my dad, here's my modified, low carb, gluten free version of his favorite appetizer. Its another one I whipped together for the big game that took place the day after "Super Bowl Saturday."
Preheat oven to 325
Remove the mushroom stems and set them aside. Pour olive oil into a medium bowl. Toss the mushroom caps in the oil and set them aside.
Melt ghee in a warm skillet. Add garlic, onions, a dash of salt and pepper and cook until the onions become translucent. Add sausage meat (casings removed) and cook until the meat is browned. You'll want to continually break apart the sausage while its cooking, so it resembles chopped meat when its done.
Chop mushroom stems and pepper while the meat is cooking and add them once its browned. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add almond meal, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well then remove from heat.
Place mushroom caps on a baking sheet, fill each mushroom with "stuffing" and bake for 30-40 minutes (until the stuffing has browned).
Enjoy warm. Serve with Paleo ranch dressing.
It was a few minutes after 10:00 am on Saturday morning. "Can I get you a magazine," my hair colorist's assistant politely asked me. "Nah, I'm okay. I've got this," I replied as I pointed to my (legal) crack...err, I mean my cell phone. As I settled under the heat and my color began to "cook," it dawned on me that the following day was Superbowl Sunday. I was having family over AND I was a week away from a photo shoot. No starch, no dairy, no alcohol. I wanted to participate in game day festivities: eating, watching commercials, salivating for the halftime performance, taking bathroom breaks during the game, talking about the halftime performance and what they wore while getting "shushed" by the football fans in the room and well, more eating.
Ahhh....What was I going to make?
"Any low carb ideas for tomorrow?" I texted my BFF and my older sissy. Wow! They pulled through. Less than an hour later, I left the salon with fresh locks and inspiration for this new recipe.
Mix all dry seasonings together in a small bowl and set aside*.
Cut the steak into strips (about 2x6 inches) and rub with the seasoning. Set aside.
In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add peppers, onions and a little of your pre-mixed dry seasoning. Cook until the vegetables are slightly softened (4-5 minutes). Remove the pan from the head and let cool (another 4-5 minutes.
Place some of the peppers & onion mixture on top of a piece of steak. Roll it up and secure with 1-2 tooth pics. Repeat until you've rolled-up all steak strips.
Cook your roll ups on the indoor or outdoor grill (about 10 minutes) or bake in a 350 degree oven until your steak is cooked through. Serve with homemade guacamole (recipe coming soon). Enjoy!
*Store left over seasoning in an air tight container and save it for future recipes.
I woke up with a sore throat, itchy ears, pressure in my head and my eyeballs. Grrrr! As the day progressed, I felt worse. Now, let me interrupt myself to let you know that my immune system is stellar. Like freakishly good. Once I decided to get healthy, I worked had to keep it in tiptop condition. So, the second I feel slightly less than "good," I go into immune boosting overdrive. Confession: I kind of O.D. My family lovingly teases me that sometimes I try to do too much at once and I wind up with a stomach ache AND a virus. hah. However, ask me the last time I had the flu? I'll answer you honestly: I cannot remember. For all the skeptics -- God love ya -- no, I don't get the flu shot. More on that another time.
Naturally, I had to start all of my immune system boosting home remedies immediately. "I'm catching this cold in its tracks before it can catch me," I thought as I popped one of my trusty organic zinc tabs. I swear by them -- dissolve one in your mouth every 2 hours as soon as you feel something coming on and you'll kick it. If you do wind up coming down with the bug, I promise it will be significantly lighter in both duration and intensity. You're welcome.
I wanted soup but the last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work was to start cooking. When I'm already not feeling well, I don't trust getting it out. I quickly threw together this Paleo Italian Wedding Soup and added an egg drop for extra lean protein and good measure.
Here's the recipe:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium sized bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. Mix well (I kneaded the meatball mixture with my hands until it was mixed evenly). Roll meatballs to desired size* and drop onto a lined, lightly sprayed cookie sheet. (Cooking spray is full of chemicals and flame retardants. EW! So I use this handy piece of equipment). Bake meatballs for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.
*For reference, I rolled mine to the size of Swedish meatballs. That makes them easier to eat than trying to figure out how to cut them with a spoon. ;-)
While the meatballs are cooking, melt Ghee in the bottom of the (soup) pot. add garlic, onions and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until onions become translucent. Add carrots and celery. Cook for five more minutes. Add kale and cook for another 3 minutes, until it wilts. Add stock and spices. Add water until all of the vegetables are covered completely. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Adjust spices as necessary.
Optional: To thicken the broth and add more lean protein, you can add an "egg drop." Beat eggs in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Vigorously stir the soup until it is all moving in one direction. Slowly drizzle in the egg and gently stir with a fork until it forms thin strands.
Rosanne is a life coach, has her degree in Sports Medicine, is a former state champ and national level NPC figure competitor. As a foodie & lover of all things health & wellness she is determined to make the world a healthier place by sharing one fit tip at a time. She serves up real, easy to digest advice for real people.