Sweet Potato Toasts

Innovative Gluten Free Breakfast

Sure, there are some good gluten free toasts out there, but let’s be honest, some are pretty disappointing. As a sweet potato addict (seriously, I think I have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner), I am always looking to find ways to include them in all of my meals. So, when I was at my parent’s house sans any good GF bread to toast for breakfast, in went the sweet potato slabs. Holy moly was I pleasantly surprised. Beginning to wonder what other life hacks I am missing out on… Continue reading “Sweet Potato Toasts”

What “Balance” Means to Me

In collaboration with Sweats & Balances

This post is in response to @sweatsandbalances’s question of what the term “balance” means to me. Check out the piece on their site also!

In today’s world, where the health & wellness movement has taken the forefront of attention, it is nearly impossible to read an article or listen to a podcast without hearing the trigger-word “balance”. It is sometimes being used as a filler to umbrella describe feelings, emotions, or situations that one struggles to fully explain. Some may use the term balance to describe having a kale smoothie for breakfast and a cheeseburger for lunch, or to kick ass in Soul Cycle class one day and then veg out on the couch the next. The term has almost become a noun we use to justify our actions; “hey, it’s all about balance, right?”

The actual definition of balance is “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” That second part of the definition carries so much weight that we often times overlook. Balance is what keeps us standing and from falling; balance is what keeps us sane; balance is what allows us to (hopefully) remain calm. For me, balance has taken on a new meaning in my life. During my first few years in corporate America, balance meant making sure I was able to run a few mornings a week, trying to eat a salad every once and awhile, and making up for my lost sleep on the weekends. Unfortunately, that “balancing act” didn’t do my body too well. At the time, I didn’t realize that balance meant more than the distance on a treadmill, the food I was putting into my mouth, or the hour on the clock. Although I was attempting to live a so-called “healthy” lifestyle, I felt completely out of whack.

After a slew of digestive issues forced me to begin cooking my own food and get creative in the kitchen, I found my passion. I never knew how much I loved cooking, especially for others, and that there was so much emotion inside of me that I had locked the door on for so long. With this realization, I began Freckled Foodie. My life then became a totally different balancing act: wearing the masks of two seemingly opposite people. During the day, I was working on the trading floor in a loud, competitive, curse-word filled world (no hating on anyone else, I was probably the worst) where I was eating lunch in front of my computer screen still working in between bites. Once I left the office, I was focused on trying to expand my side business of Freckled Foodie and practice everything I preached: healthy eating habits, preparing my own food, meditating, and a well-versed exercise regimen. Throughout it all I tried to consistently remain the friendly, driven, and loving person I strive to be; but damn it was difficult. To fit all of the things I wanted to do in to my day (aka “balance”), I was waking up at 4:20 AM. Was it doable? Yes, I’d like to think I was able to do both efficiently. But, was I feeling as fulfilled as I knew I could? No. It was time for me to choose one of these aspects of my life and throw myself into it fully. As you may have guessed already, I chose Freckled Foodie. By choosing one side of the see-saw of my corporate / blogger world, I guess you could say I was about to throw my life for an “imbalance”.

Now, as my own boss and someone who is trying to find regularity in this new unseen world, balance means something different to me. It no longer has to do with offsetting a dessert by having extra greens the next day (although, the more greens the better in my opinion), or running one more mile since majority of tomorrow will be spent in a bar. Instead, balance now focuses on doing the things I love instead of the things I’m viewing as semi-punishment to “indulge” in something that has been labeled as not as great. Balance means giving myself the opportunity every single day to do something I enjoy; whether it be sitting on my couch and reading for a half hour, enjoying a nice cocktail on my roof, or turning off my phone and spending time with someone I love. Balance also means being okay with putting myself first every once and awhile. Balance is accepting that some mornings when I plan to go for a long run, I may start, realize my legs are dead, and decide to go for a walk instead; news flash – that is totally okay and still great. Currently, my definition of balance is doing more of what you love. Yes, that may sound conflicting to the definition of trying to even two sides of a scale when I am telling you to heavily pour yourself into one, but we so often deprive ourselves of the things we love without realizing that this is really just evening the weight out.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

To fill any craving of childhood

Ever since saying hello again to my dessert addiction post Whole30, I have been craving oatmeal raisin cookies. Unsure why, but I legitimately couldn’t get them off my mind for three days straight. Instead of filling this need for sweets void with more chocolate and my freezer full of DF VL ice cream, I decided to give my heart what it wanted. It was time to create a GF & DF oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Good lord, what the F took me so long!? These delicious pillows of heaven seriously satisfied my craving and then some.

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Why I Quit my Job on Wall Street to Place a Bet on Myself

Hands down, the most memorable and remarkable college course I took was “Women in the US Criminal Justice System” my senior year. The class took place in the recreational center of the local prison in our college town. Yes, you read that correctly; the course met once a week for 3 hours in the women’s minimum-security section of the correctional facility. No, we were not teaching the inmates, we were all, in fact, students. When we entered the so-called “classroom”, we were all equals; the college students referred to as “outside students” and the women living in the jail referred to as “inside students”, never once using the word “inmate” or “prisoner”. (I know you’re probably wondering right now why the heck I am telling you about this class in a blog post promised to discuss quitting my job on Wall Street to pursue my passion in the kitchen, but stick with me here.) At the end of the semester we were required to write a paper reflecting on what we learned from this experience. As incredibly moving this course was for me, and as much as I learned about the criminal justice system, I walked away from our last session with the realization that the inside and outside students all shared one thing: the fear of the unknown.

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Roasted Lamb and Full Cauliflower

How to wow a crowd

Believe it or not, this was one of the first meals I cooked after my concussion. This whole roasted cauliflower, which is inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in NYC (ABCV), has been on my “recipe to-do list” for an incredibly long time. I was sitting on my couch with my mom when she mentioned her and my dad were going to stay over for dinner followed by her asking, “what should we order in?” As someone who loves to cook for those I love, and have always promised my dad for a home cooked meal after work one day before his commute home, I finally had the opportunity at my fingertips.  It was finally time to cook my parents a delicious and impressive meal in my own kitchen. Although I had just suffered a pretty serious concussion and was still unable to turn on majority of the lights in my apartment, which also showed me how magnificently calming a dimly lit home can be, cooking was the one thing I was most definitely capable of.

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Gluten Free Five Day Meal Plan

Your guide to tackling a gluten free lifestyle!

Everyone loves bread; pizza is notoriously one of the tastiest foods out there. However, some of us, unfortunately, have celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, or have been tasked with an elimination diet. Cutting out gluten can at first be pretty depressing. How the hell am I going to attack and eliminate this beast that is such a staple in the American diet!? Fortunately, as this “lifestyle” has become more prevalent, there are a ton of great options out there in both restaurant and grocery stores. Also, that is why I am here to help; providing you with a 5-day plan of gluten free meals with corresponding recipes and a master grocery list.

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One Sheet Pan Salmon & Vegetables

Guaranteed easiest clean up

We have a general rule in our apartment that if one person cooks, the other cleans. Since I typically am doing the former, Joe is often times the person manning the sink after we finish up our meal. With the constant flow of recipe testing that goes down in our kitchen, I am often questioned how it is possible that I dirtied so many dishes. If you have ever tried to create a recipe, or you are like me and decide to somehow use every bowl, plate, or fork in your cabinets, you get what a shitshow your kitchen can look like after the fact. In order to avoid this situation, and really just make Joe a happier human, I started creating “one sheet pan” dinners. The main requirement of these meals: once done cooking, the only dirty dish (other than those you ate on) is the baking sheet. These recipes are proving to be delicious and, not surprisingly, incredibly easy. I now know what Joe is going to request for every dinner from here on out…

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What I Learned from a Month of Healing

This is a pic from after this morning’s run. It was, for me, a slow-paced 2.5 miles. A run I typically would’ve considered a “waste of time”. But not this time! This photo and run exemplify so much more than the time or distance will ever show; it is my first time feeling like myself and finally being able to run in over 30 days. One month ago, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. It still sounds crazy to say out loud (or type) – how the hell does that happen!? For those of you thinking to yourself, “by crossing the street while fixated on your phone without realizing a car is coming”, I hear you. However, I was not on my phone. In fact, I had the walk sign and I still looked both ways before crossing the street. Turns out, unfortunately, you can’t control everyone else around you. After spending many more hours than I would’ve liked in emergency rooms over the two days following the accident, I was fortunately released with a healthy physical body but a bit of a bruised-up brain; diagnosed with a concussion. As someone who unfortunately has had her fair share of concussions (this whole failed attempt at a back h andspring on cement floor in 6th grade really seems to keep biting me in the ass), I thought I knew what was ahead of me. A bit of light sensitivity and nausea and a few days of headaches. I thought to myself, “okay, so you have to stay inside the rest of the weekend and just relax, you can do that.” Boy was I in for a surprise.

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Vegan & Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins

The foolproof way of eating cake for breakfast

I’m back on my muffin kick and I’m not mad about it! Every Easter (and now somehow almost every holiday) I am responsible for one thing in my family’s household: carrot cake. Each year I’ve slowly evolved it into a healthier and healthier version without anyone noticing a difference in taste. In fact, each year my sister becomes more and more obsessed. Since my family will be traveling for the first time on this year’s Easter, I needed to find a way to make this carrot cake breakfast approved so that my family (aka sister) could enjoy her favorite creation of mine throughout the week. My solution: carrot cake muffins. Oh yea, that just happen to be vegan, gluten/grain/dairy free, sweetened only by maple syrup, and BOMB DOT COM.

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Banana Almond Butter Tahini Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

The best vegan dessert I’ve ever had

This past Sunday I found myself cooking up a storm in my kitchen for majority of the day (putting all the finishing touches on my Whole30 5-day meal plan) and when it was all said and done and I sat down on the couch to unwind, I immediately began daydreaming of new dessert creations. With a few hours to spare before dinner and a running imagination that just wouldn’t sit still and relax, I got up, went back into my kitchen, and assessed what ingredients I had on hand. After realizing I had majority of my favorite things (banana, almond butter, tahini, and chocolate chips), I decided to combine them into the best vehicle possible: a skillet cookie. Being that I am currently dairy & gluten free and that eggs right now don’t seem to be working too well with my stomach, I slowly realized when I popped this baby in the oven that this recipe is actually vegan. While I spent a few minutes questioning who the heck I have become, none of that mattered once I took a bite of this baby. Plus, I happened to have just purchased a pint of Van Leeuwen vegan ice cream (chocolate and mint chip) so I knew I was just about to elevate this to the best (and first?) fully vegan dessert I probably have ever had.
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