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.

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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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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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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Whole30 Five Day Meal Plan

Your guide to tackling a week on Whole30!

I am SO incredibly excited to share something with you all that I have been working on for over the past few weeks. As you all probably know by now, I just recently completed Whole30. In my pieces on both my blog and Mindbodygreen, I make it very clear that my number one tip on how to survive Whole30 is meal prepping. Many people respond to this statement saying they don’t know how to meal prep because they don’t know what to make, they don’t have the recipes, or they are overwhelmed in a grocery store trying to make sure they buy the correct amount of food. Well, friends, I am here to help. Behold, my five day Whole30 Meal Plan. This pamphlet contains a meal plan schedule for Monday-Friday with individual recipes for each meal and, most importantly, an organized master grocery list.

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My Thoughts on Doing Whole30 the Second Time Around

How Whole30 was so Different the Second Time

About exactly one year ago I embarked on my first Whole30 challenge; overwhelmed, intimidated, curious, and weirdly excited. What initially began as a way to hopefully get some answers to some gastrointestinal issues, turned into a much more insightful experience. I learned a lot about myself and my eating habits, specifically that I had a full-blown granola addiction and that I was consuming more sugar than I liked to admit. As outlined in the piece I wrote for Mindbodygreen, I learned that meal prep is an absolute must, you may not need alcohol as much as you think you do, you must listen to your body, and some other important lessons. Fast forward to a year later and I was ready to tackle the Whole30 challenge for the second time around, expecting it to be not too different than the first run. However, now after completing this second go, I am surprised to look back and assess how different these two sets of thirty days were for me.  What was so drastically different? Continue reading “My Thoughts on Doing Whole30 the Second Time Around”

Sweet Potato Crusted Salmon with a Veggie-Packed Salad

If you follow me on Instagram (which I hope all of you do!!), then you know that whenever I am in Florida it is an absolute must that I have my favorite meal: sweet potato crusted salmon from the Food Shack. I don’t know why I never thought of doing something so brilliant, but ever since I had it a few years ago I can never get it off my mind. Finally, after 3 years of claiming I would do so, I have officially created a recipe in my kitchen for my own version and I can safely say it is BOMB. With a few extra steps, you too can be enjoying this incredibly crunchy exterior yet perfectly cooked salmon.

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Vegetable Ribbon Noodles with Meat Sauce

A weeknight Whole30 staple

Let me start right off the bat by saying in no way, whatsoever, is this meal replacing a delicious bowl of gluten and cheese filled spaghetti and meat sauce from your favorite Italian restaurant. Also, before the naysayers come at me about how quickly this meat sauce is made, this is not your grandmother’s Sunday sauce; this is a quick meat marinara sauce that does not take much time but still tastes delicious. Now that we’re on the same page, let me show you how to make a delicious and fast Whole30 approved dinner that you can surprisingly pull together with some potential staples lying around your kitchen (or am I the only one who regularly has zucchini and sweet potatoes on hand and ground beef in my freezer?).

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Chicken Vegetable Instant Pot Soup

Thanksgiving leftovers transformed to chicken & vegetable soup

If you’re like my family, as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over everyone immediately grabs a Tupperware and begins fitting as much food as possible into their dedicated “leftovers bin”; fighting for that last bite of stuffing or spoonful of sweet potato casserole. This year, I made it easy for the rest of my family, and took myself out of the fight declaring I only wanted to take one thing home, something that absolutely no one else was eyeing: the turkey carcass. Yep, that’s right, I wanted the bones. So much so, that I even traveled back to NYC with them in a Ziploc bag (I know, seriously a psycho move). BUT, the week prior I made turkey stock with all of the turkey bones leftover from my Friendsgiving meal and it truly was better than any bone broth I had ever tasted (fully tooting my own horn) and it was garlic & onion free. This is huge for all of my low FODMAP friends out there. So, instead of elbowing my sister over the white turkey meat, I grabbed my bones and headed back to my apartment where my instant pot resided. As expected, the turkey stock turned out magnificently. So tasty, in fact, that I may begin eating turkey instead of chicken just so I can store the bones for my next batch of broth. Either way, I had vats and vats of turkey stock to put to work; one can only fit so many mason jars in her refrigerator. As I felt a cold coming on, I knew what I was prepping for my weekday lunches: homemade chicken vegetable soup. It was insanely easy, cooked itself (not kidding), and is now officially going to be on my meal rotation all winter. Bless you, turkey, for giving me so much to love over the past two weeks.

Recipe