Quinoa Blueberry Walnut Muffins

The beginning of the semester is always hectic: adjusting to a new schedule, figuring out which professors allow for snacks (and the ones who don’t…yes they exist!), etc. can be overwhelming. I baked up these hearty, grain-free muffins packed with healthy fats and protein to keep me full during  my first days back. I’ve been popping one or two before my early classes and they’re not only insanely delicious, they also keep my stomach from grumbling halfway through lecture. The addition of quinoa flour packs a plant-based protein punch and gives the muffins a moist yet firm bite. Try it out for yourself!

Recipe:

1.5 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/5 cup quinoa flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
splash of vanilla
pinch of baking powder
sea salt

Mix all ingredients together (I used a food processor) except for the blueberries and the nuts. Once the batter is well-mixed fold in the remaining ingredients. Bake in a muffin tin at 350 for abut 25 minutes!

Cashew Cream Cauliflower Rice

It’s almost like risotto…ALMOST. Either way it’s out-of-this-world satisfying. Think rich and creamy, hearty, cheesy…okay okay, just make it. I’ll be honest and say that cauliflower rice never satisfies me. But ever since I made up this recipe awhile back I haven’t NOT had a bag of this riced veggie in my fridge for when the craving hits.

Recipe:

Cashew Cream: blend 1/2 cup soaked and drained cashews, sea salt, 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup almond milk until thin and place in fridge to settle overnight.

When ready to assemble, throw about 4 tablespoons into some cauliflower rice on the stove and cook the mixture into the rice until soft!

Vegan White Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

The ONLY reason I didn’t make curry today was because I ran out of coconut milk. A tragedy in disguise because it led me to make chili instead. This *glorious* chili, because I used roasted Japanese sweet potatoes in it. Roasting them before and adding to the pot at the end makes every bite of potato taste so hearty and creamy. Ahhh, I can’t put it into words. Let’s just say this will be happening A LOT more this winter season.

 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 can rinsed and drained black beans
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • sea salt
  • cumin
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Japanese sweet potato (diced into 1 inch chunks)

Set the oven to 350. Toss potatoes in a generous amount of oil and sea salt. Roast on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for about 30 minutes or until soft. While those are roasting, sauté the onion in oil, sea salt, and cumin. When browned, toss in carrots and cook until soft. Once fragrant, add beans, tomato puree, vegetable stock, and more seasonings. Bring heat to medium low and cover the lid partially. Stir every 10 minutes for a half hour. Once the potatoes are roasted toss them in the pot and mix together, cooking for another ten minutes before taking off the heat. Serve hot or store in the fridge for 4-5 days!

The Period Problem

 

i got my first period a week after i graduated eighth grade. i was late, but i was relieved. my two best friends at the time had been rolling up to homeroom with tampons spilling out of their backpacks since the summer before sixth grade. i always felt out of place when they’d insist we all make a trip to the bathroom during recess to “clean up”. i’d always just brush my hair and wait outside the stall. feeling young, ignorant.

so when it happened, i was over the moon. i felt like i had finally caught up, finally got it right.

only to get it wrong.

a few weeks passed and it didn’t come back. my mom wasn’t alarmed. i just got it, it’s normal not to be regular. right. normal. okay, good. it was reassuring to know that everything was fine.

but, it wasn’t.

now we’re a few weeks out following my first period. we’re also rapidly approaching the eerie beginnings of my eating disorder. at this point i’ve just began “dieting”. what did this mean for me? religiously keeping track of every morsel that went into my body, and then religiously burning every morsel away. i was restricting and exercising twice a day. i was losing weight and getting smaller. my friends and family were commending my hard work.

this became my life until my senior year of high school. throw in a few near death experiences, inpatient stays, refeeding pursuits…you get the picture. for over four years i put my body through absolute hell. i deprived it. i burned it out. it could barely support me breathing, walking. it couldn’t have been bothered with my period.

a stable menstrual cycle is an indication of a happy and healthy body. i remember reading once that if you haven’t gotten a period in 3 months, you should see a doctor. what did that mean for me, who, at the time of reading, was years beyond this warning. 3 months? try 3 years.

when i finally committed to recovery, i had a lot on my plate (literally and figuratively)! the absence of my period constantly lingered in the back of my mind. i knew i needed to fix it. i had no idea where to began. the doctors on my outpatient team consistently promised that once i returned to a healthy weight and body fat percentage and maintained that, then my period would return.

i trusted them. but their hypothesis proved false.

in my years spent in good, stable health, i was luckily able to alleviate various physical and mental health problems that were triggered by my restrictive habits. but my period, that was stubborn.

last year, i realized i could no longer rely on a faint hope that “it’ll come back soon”. i needed to act. fast. this had gone on for far too long. my body needed me.

i spent hours every night after a full day of classes and homework, burying myself deeper and deeper in research. i joined forums, signed up for email subscriptions, read books. i was determined to naturally and lovingly call my cycle home. i had read plenty about the pill and decided it wasn’t for me. my body didn’t need a pill to mimic my cycle. my body needed MY CYCLE. and i was going to get it just that.

below are a few steps i took toward restoring my cycle. to note, i am at a healthy weight and body fat percentage for my height (confirmed by medical professionals). after implanting this routine for about 4 months, i saw the results i was looking for.

**it’s EXTREMELY crucial to note that i am in no way a medical professional qualified to diagnose or provide medical advice. i’m simply sharing my experience and what worked for me. i also don’t believe that these few things alone helped restore my period, but i can never know for sure, so i’m sharing them here!**

Supplements and Herbs:

  • Vitamin C: this one has very little scientific research. it’s more of an “urban legend” type of thing, but i began adding it to my supplement routine. it is thought to possibly elevate estrogen levels while lowering progesterone levels. ive been taking this one!
  • Chaste Tree Berry (aka Vitex Berry): i’ve taken vitex berry in pill form in the past but wasn’t consistent with it. i actually came across this Hormone Balancing Elixir  while doing research and was so intrigued that i ordered a bottle right there. every morning i drink a glass of warm water with apple cider vinegar, lemon, cinnamon, and about 10-12 drops of this elixir. i also use it in my nightlight tea (more on that below)

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  • Ginger and Cinnamon: again, not tons of scientific evidence for these, but these two are believed to induce blood flow in the uterine area and, well, get things moving. they’re also great for digestion and bloating. every night before bed i have a hot mug (okay, usually 2) of ginger tea with a tablespoon of honey and a splash of lemon. i use cinnamon in my morning ACV drink (above, also great for digestion!) and in my oatmeal. 
  • Gelatinized Maca Powder: of all the supplements i’ve learned about, maca seems to be the most promising for period help. of course this one product alone won’t cure anything, but i strongly believe incorporating it daily has helped me among other things. this adaptogen supports the endocrine system and regulates/balances hormones, which is key to regular periods. i prefer the gelatinized powder because this form is easiest for the body to digest. my favorite way to enjoy this adaptogen is to add one tablespoon of the powder to my oatmeal each morning. it has a maple, caramel-like flavor that makes eating it actually enjoyable. if i don’t have oatmeal that day, i’ll use it in a mug of hot chocolate or other blended hot drink of choice.
  • Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwaghanda: more adaptogens. i take these two because they are said to have relaxing qualities. they are best known for reducing stress and alleviating anxiety. since putting any kind of stress on the body can create difficulties in regulating a period, it’s important to take care of your hormones and reduce stress as much as you can manage! i use the vita cost brand for these two. 

Lifestyle:

  • More strength training, less cardio: in recent months, i’ve actively focused on more body weight and weighted workouts. i adore my cycle classes and runs, but in hindsight i believe them to have been deterring my cycle. over the past 4 months i’ve taken more rest days while taking on more low-intensity workouts on the days i am active. i feel stronger and no longer burnt out. oh, and my period’s back, so i think that speaks volumes on that end.
  • Tracking: i recently read Woman Code by Alisa Viti and it was extremely insightful in terms of what steps to take in order to maintain a regular cycle. i downloaded the app MyFlo in order to track my cycle in it’s 4 stages (i highly recommend reading the book or at least googling a bit to gather a better understanding of all 4 stages of the menstrual cycle)! at each point, there are different foods to eat, exercises to do, and overall tips to follow to function to the highest degree at that point in time. tracking my cycle in the app has granted me feedback at each point that has been very helpful.

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again, i am in no way a medical professional qualified to grant advice on a medical level. this is just a look into my recent experience in restoring and regulating my cycle after losing it for FOUR YEARS to my eating disorder. no one thing listed will magically solve your problems. the best thing you can do is seek medical help and guidance as well as educate yourself about what you can do right now. this routine seems to have worked for me, but i believe the best thing i have done for myself is never giving up hope. keep strong, keep believing you can, and keep loving your body so that it can love you back. our faith is healing!

 

 

Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies (Grain-Free)

I feel like I’ve typed the word “craisin” 900 times in the past few days. Make that 901 now. But you have to understand that they’re just THAT good. I tossed them in a grain-free cookie dough batter and haven’t looked back since. Or up, from my plate, because I’ve just been inhaling these. If I ever properly utilize a grocery list maybe I’ll remember to put pumpkin seeds and oats on there so I can stuff those in here too.  Guess that means I have to make them again…

 

chocolate chip craisin cookies:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of baking soda
  • sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil2
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar3
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 cup craisins 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. set aside. in a separate bowl using a hand mixer, beat the coconut oil, sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and egg until well combined. slowly stir in the dry mixture. fold in the craisins and chocolate chips. roll dough into balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 and let cool completely before storing!

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

The magic of a food processor is that there’s barely any clean-up and everything comes together in minutes. Imagine if you could throw homework in there and it would be finished in minutes. Plus there would be no clean up (you know, the usual blood sweat and tears that go into each study sesh? Just me maybe). Anyway I’m home for a few days and my family has stockpiled a massive pile of ripe bananas so I’m working my way through them. Here’s a winner from the process.

Grain-free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 ripe banana
  • vanilla extract
  • pinch of baking soda
  • sea salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pulse in half of the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into a parchment paper lined loaf pan. Top the batter with the remaining chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

 

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Vegan Red Veggie Curry

I’ve been going through full fat coconut milk like it’s water, except it’s anything like water because it’s unbelievably rich and creamy and everything I’ve ever aspired to be. I guess. Anyway, here’s yet another cozy bowl for this season of comfort because I literally don’t have enough in my arsenal. Inspired by my undying love for Indian food and my excitement when I found tandoori seasoning at Whole Foods yesterday.

Vegan Red Veggie Curry

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 can rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (i used thai kitchen brand)
  • sea salt
  • cumin
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • punjab red tandoori seasoning (i used urban accents brand)

Sauté the onion in olive oil and spices. One soft toss in carrots and cook until soft. After a few minutes add in the red curry paste and mix around. Pour in the coconut milk, vegetable stock, peas, broccoli, and chickpeas. Bring heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower to a simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes half covered with stirring every 10 minutes (you’re cooking down the liquid until i’ts mostly absorbed. Cook until thick and continue to add spices as needed!