Friday, August 28, 2015

Have Your Chocolate Cake and Eat it Too!

It's no secret that I love Dr. Joel Furhman's book, Eat To Live.  He advocates what he calls a nutritarian way of eating, in other words, eating the foods that have the most nutrients per calorie. What this means is basing your diet on plant foods: vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds.  A little meat once in a while is ok, but if your goal is being as healthy as you can possibly be, Dr. Fuhrman recommends avoiding animal products altogether.

Avoiding animal products presents a problem to those who love to bake, and to those who love to eat what is baked!  The following recipe solves that problem.

I haven't made this cake yet, but I assure you it is in my future, and I've heard some amazing reviews of it!


  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups pitted dates, divided
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup shredded beets
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
  • 4 tbsp natural nonalkalized cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw macadamia nuts or raw cashews
  • 1 cup vanilla soy, hemp or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup Brazil nuts or hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla flavor


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flours, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. In blender or food processor, puree 3 cups dates with the pineapple, banana and apple.

Slice remaining 1/2 cup dates into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. In a large bowl, mix sliced dates, beets, carrots, zucchini, cocoa powder, currants, walnuts, water, vanilla and flour mixture.

Add the fruit puree and mix well. Spread mixture in a 9.5-x-13.5-inch nonstick baking pan. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Or to make individual servings, bake in muffin tins lined with paper liners. Reduce cooking time to 20-25 minutes.

For the chocolate-nut icing, combine the remaining ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Place a dollop over warm cake and serve or spread on cooled cake.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Simple, 3-Part Formula for Eating Healthy

I've been reading Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live, and it is the plan he presents in his book that I have been basing my diet on lately.  And I'm really loving it!  He advocates what is called a "nutritarian" diet, or basically eating high-nutrient foods and avoiding low-nutrient ones.  High-nutrient foods are whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.  Low-nutrient foods are meat, cheese and other dairy products, animal products, oils and highly-processed foods like white bread, for example.

On the surface, this may seem like a difficult way to eat, and for those of us (myself included) who were raised on hamburgers and sugary breakfast cereals with milk, it can be a challenge at first.  But the reality of it is, it is actually quite simple.  If it's highly processed, avoid it, and if it's natural, eat it.  It can take a little time to get used to, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, and you eventually PREFER to eat this way because you'll be losing weight so easily and feeling amazing!

You may be wondering, isn't this the same thing as a vegetarian or vegan diet?  It can be, but not necessarily.  You can still eat small amounts of meat and other non-plant foods, as long as you're making 90% of what you eat be plant-based.

When I say "diet," I don't mean a temporary way of restrictive eating to lose weight.  What I'm referring to is a different definition of the word, as in the food a person eats every day and for life. And I'm not saying eating meat is "wrong" or anything like that.  What I am saying is that the most nutritiously-dense foods on the planet are plants, and that's what I recommend we should eat most of for optimum health.  As a disclaimer, I'm not a doctor or dietitian, but I have spent a large part of my life researching and practicing different ways of eating, and so far this has been the best one I've found.  Now, my personal daily eating habits are a little different than Dr. Fuhrman's, but the basis of it is the same.

The formula is very simple; fruit for breakfast, salad with beans for lunch, and salad and two cooked veggies for dinner, fruit for dessert.  You can also add other things like mushrooms, quinoa and whole grain rice and nuts and seeds, but you'll want to limit these.  But that's basically it!

I'm still in the process of learning about this way of eating, but am enjoying every  minute of it!  If you're interested in learning more, please let me know!  You can ask questions in the comments below, or you can contact me here.

What do you think about the idea of a nutritarian diet?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

6 Easy Steps to Get Started Eating Clean

Getting started eating clean can be a little daunting if you've never done it before.  In the past, I really, I mean REALLY wanted to eat clean, but it seemed so hard!  What I did without realizing it was, over the years, I gradually added more and more clean foods to what I was eating.  Now looking back, that was much more manageable than making huge changes all at once.

If you think it might help you to take some "baby steps" toward clean eating, here are some tips for you.  Do each one for a week or two, then move on to the next one.

1. Start with something easy, like bread.  Simply switch your white bread with 100% whole wheat bread.  Make sure it says "100% Whole Wheat" on the package, or it may actually be white bread in disguise. 

2. Replace sugar and/or artificial sweeteners with something natural and low-calorie.  I like using stevia and monkfruit sweetener.  They are both calorie-free and natural.

3. Instead of eating your sugary cereal for breakfast, try oatmeal.  Use stevia or a little honey to sweeten it.  You can add raisins to it, or even baking cocoa or bananas.  If you don't like oatmeal, try making your own granola or healthy breakfast cookies

4. Try herbal tea or fruit-infused water instead of soda.  There are so many different varieties of herbal tea, you're sure to find one that you love.  You can sweeten it with stevia and even add ice for a refreshing drink with zero calories.  You can easily make a pitcher of fruit-infused water and drink as much as you want throughout the day.

5. Replace your afternoon packaged snack with a healthier option.  Instead of heading to the snack machine or reaching for cookies, make your own No-Bake Snack Balls.  These are really delicious, and much lower in calories and high in nutrients, unlike what you'll find in the snack machine.

6. Cook one healthy, clean meal a week.  Try one new meal that you think you and your family will like, then maybe next week add another one. You can gradually increase how many clean dinners you make, and eventually you will be mostly eating clean.

This is by no means a complete list of how to eat clean, but it is sure to get you started.  I plan on future posts that will give you even more tips

Let me know how your efforts go, and if this list helped in the comments section below.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Absolutely Delicious Clean Vegetarian Burritos

I recently made the decision to cut back on factory-produced meat and animal products.  I'm not really going vegetarian, because I'm still occasionally eating meat and eggs and fish, but I'm taking steps toward mostly eating animal products that are "cruelty-free."  So when my family has, say, tacos and burritos, I make my own animal-friendly version.  But don't be fooled by it being labeled "vegetarian"--this burrito is every bit as flavorful as its ground-beef counterpart!  I'll bet even die-hard meat eaters would fall in love with this one!


1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 cup frozen mixture of chopped onions and bell peppers (or you can use fresh)
1 cup home-cooked black beans (or you can use canned)
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup already-cooked brown rice
1 Tbsp cumin (adjust to taste; I personally LOVE cumin, so I add more!)
2 tsp dried cilantro (or 4 tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Salt to taste


Heat a skillet (I prefer an iron skillet) with the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and pepper mixture and saute until soft.  Add the rest of the ingredients and and cook until heated through.

Wrap it up in either a low-carb or whole wheat tortilla or a large lettuce leaf and enjoy!


If after adding the spices the mixture seems too dry, try adding a little water.

After wrapping it up in the tortilla, I like to put it back in the skillet and toast each side for a few seconds.  Talk about YUM!!

Do you have any clean and delicious vegetarian recipes?  If so, share them below, or let me know what you think of the one above!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Clean and Easy Coconut Snack Balls

Y'all, I came up with this recipe yesterday because I was hungry for a snack and wanted something sweet but wholesome.  So I threw a few ingredients together that I had in my pantry, and let me tell you, they are DELICOUS!!  

1/2 cup ground oats (I make my own by grounding old-fashioned oats in a blender)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I found some that is organic at Aldi!)
2 TBSP unrefined, cold press coconut oil (I also found this in organic at Aldi)
2 TBSP chopped nuts of your choice (I used pecans)
2 TBSP honey

Mix all ingredients together and then form them into about 7 or 8 balls, then store them in a baggie in the fridge.  

Tip: If the mixture is too dry, try adding a little more coconut oil or honey.  If it's too moist, add a little more ground oats.

I'm thinking of adding either some semisweet chocolate chips, or breaking up a really dark chocolate bar for even less sugar.  

If you try this recipe, come back and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why You Should Be Drinking Water Every Morning

Just want to share with y'all a detox drink I started drinking yesterday morning, and plan to drink every morning.  Drinking water first thing in the morning is such a good thing to do for your health!

 Let's look at some of the benefits:

  • Renews Your Cells
  • Boosts Your Metabolism
    • Helps You Lose Weight
    • Purifies Your Colon
    • Cures Illnesses and Diseases
    • Balances Your Lymph System
    • Makes Your Skin Glow!
    Why is drinking water first thing in the morning so beneficial?  Well, first, our bodies are 70% water, so it just makes sense that we need a lot of it.  At night, we go several hours with no food or water, so drinking lots of water when we first wake up replenishes our bodies and gets everything moving.  It begins to purge toxins from our blood, renews our cells and balances our lymph system.  It also makes absorption of nutrients easier, and boosts your metabolism, a key factor in helping us lose weight!

    Speaking of weight loss, this is one reason I'm starting to drink my detox water every morning.  I love my sugary treats, and tend to cheat more than I should. I workout hard almost every day, and I sometimes sabotage all that hard work by eating what I shouldn't.  So I decided to get really strict and try the morning detox thing.  Here's what I did yesterday:

    • Drank my "detox tea" (recipe below) first thing in the morning.  I didn't drink it all at once, but sipped on it through the morning.
    • Ate half a banana and a few walnuts
    • Did my 21 Day Fix Yoga Fix workout
    • Had a Shakeology smoothie (recipe below)
    • Made another cup of detox tea, slightly different recipe (below)
    • I know I had a snack later in the day, but can't remember now what it was!
    • Ate a chicken breast and spinach for dinner
    • Ate dinner before 6 pm, and no eating after 6
    • Sipped on the rest of my detox tea until bedtime
    After that routine, I woke up this morning and had lost a pound!  Awesome!!  I drank lot of plain water in addition to my detox tea as well, and made sure I got plenty of protein and veggies.  I didn't starve myself, and avoided sugar and too many carbs, and saw results!  Shakeology helps a lot with that, since it contains 40+ super foods and protein.  

    To be clear, I won't be following this plan all the time, but just when I've backslid some, just to get myself back on track.  After that, I'll add back in my steel cut oats and more fruit, etc.  

    Morning Detox Tea

    1. Brew 2 green tea bags for one and a half minutes in about 12 oz of water.
    2. Add a TBSP of honey, juice from a slice of lemon, and either a piece of fresh ginger or a half a tsp of powdered ginger.
    3. Mix it up, then add water and ice to make yourself a big glass full.

    Afternoon Detox Tea

    1. Brew one or two herbal tea bags (I like Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice, but any flavor you like is fine) in 12 oz of water.
    2. Add a TBSP of honey, juice from a slice of lemon, and either a piece of fresh ginger or a half a tsp of powdered ginger.
    3. Mix it up, then add water and ice to make yourself a big glass full.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    You Don't Have to Give Up Baking!! Make Your Treats Healthier with These 7 Substitutions

    I personally love to bake!  But sugary and fatty baked goods don’t  go along with a clean eating lifestyle.  But rather than give up one of my passions, I’ve come up with some substitutions for the occasional healthy treat!

    1)      White Flour: You can substitute whole wheat flour for white flour in most recipes.  There are different kinds of whole wheat flour, and my preference is what is called “white” whole wheat.  It still has all the fiber of regular whole wheat flour, but is made with a lighter, softer variety of wheat.  I automatically use this now in all my breads and cookies, with the exception of French bread, which I only make very occasionally.  You may notice a slight difference in texture when switching to whole wheat flour, so you could start by substituting only half, and then work your way up to substituting all of it. Tip: You may need to increase the liquid slightly in your recipes, as whole wheat flour tends to be a little drier than white flour.

    2)      Sugar: Unsweetened applesauce makes a great substitute for sugar!  You can replace it cup for cup. Tip: If your baked items don’t end up as sweet as you’d like them, you can also add in a little stevia.

    3)      Eggs: Two egg whites can be used in place of one egg in baking recipes.  Tip: I would recommend using a combination of whole eggs and egg whites for the best results.

    4)      Sour Cream: Use non-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and you decrease calories significantly, while also increasing protein significantly!  Tip: Greek yogurt can also be used in cream-based soups, dips and salad dressings, and instead of mayo in tuna, chicken and egg salads.
    5)      Heavy Cream: You can use evaporated skim milk in place of heavy cream in baked goods. Tip: Add vanilla extract for extra flavor.

    6)      Butter: Pureed avocado makes an excellent substitution for butter in baked goods!  It has a lot of fat like butter, but the healthy kind! Tip: Be sure avocado is blended well for the best results.

    7)      Oil: Pureed fruit can be used instead of cooking oil in baking. Tip: Unsweetened applesauce is a convenient way to add pureed fruit to recipes, and it has a mild flavor, so you won’t notice it as applesauce in the final product.

    Try these substitutions the next time you’re wanting a treat!  It should help you to stay on track knowing you can have your cake (and cookies and muffins…), and eat it too!

    Saturday, June 6, 2015

    How I’m Fighting the Aging Process, and How You Can Too!


    My sister and me.  

    In about 3 months, I’ll turn 40.  It’s not unusual, though, for people to think I’m in my early thirties, or even 20-something!  I mean, I’ve had people look at me in total shock when I tell them my age.  It actually happened just yesterday when a woman, who is 35, thought I was for sure younger than her! 

    My sister actually gets similar reactions, so maybe some of it is genetics, but I think there has to be more to it than that. I don’t say this to brag about myself, but I’ve just been thinking about it lately and wondering what it is about me that I seem younger than I am to other people.  I know women everywhere want to stay young-looking and are constantly looking for ways to turn back the clock.  So I’ve come up with a few tips based on what I do that might help.

    1)   Eat Clean  While I haven’t always done this, it has recently become a focus of mine.  I had some weight left over from my last baby, and finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t that healthy of an eater.  So I changed it.  I started eliminating junk food from my daily diet.  Replaced white flour with whole wheat flour, replaced sugary cereals with oatmeal sweetened with stevia, replaced milk with almond milk.  Instead of crackers, I now eat a handful of nuts, and instead of candy, now I eat fruit.  I’ve added more vegetables too.  I try to fill up half my plate at dinner time with veggies and then a fourth with meat or other protein and another fourth with a whole grain. When you’re not eating clean, you’re loading your body with foods that are stripped of essential nutrients, like antioxidants.  By switching to more whole and natural foods, you naturally get those antioxidants that help slow the aging process.

    2)      Stay Active  I also recently made working out a priority.  Just about every day I’m doing something to be active.  I usually do a workout video in my livingroom, but sometimes I mix it up with a run outdoors and weight-lifting session.  Exercise is critical in staying young.  The less you move your body as you age, the less you’ll be able to move it, and the typical issues of old age will start to set in.  I’m not saying that by working out you’ll avoid all the issues of aging, but you can definitely avoid or reduce your risks for a lot of them.  For example, by lifting weights, not only do you keep muscles strong, but in the process of lifting, your bones are also strengthened, helping prevent osteoporosis.  And strong muscles means you’ll be able to do things for yourself instead of relying on others.  Also, regular movement increases circulation, which benefits your body in so many ways!  Your heart will stay healthy, your mind will be clearer, you’ll have more energy—and the list goes on and on…

    3)      Use Natural Ingredients  I realized that I really don’t use a lot on my face.  I know some women use lots of cleansers, toners, firming creams and moisturizers, and anti-wrinkle creams, etc. on their faces in an effort to stay young looking.  I don’t know if these products work or not.  I’ve tried some of them, but never used them consistently enough to prove if they did anything to make my skin look younger.  Honestly, I normally just wash my face with a wet washcloth, gently scrubbing to exfoliate.  Once in a while I’ll mix up some honey and sugar or olive oil and salt and do some deeper exfoliating.  After washing my face, I moisturize it with a commercial moisturizer that has oatmeal on it, a store brand of Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.  I use the store brand because it’s a lot cheaper.  I also use this to moisturize my entire body.  I like it because it is fragrance-free and with the oatmeal, it seems to calm irritated skin, like after I shave my legs, or after exfoliating my face.  For wrinkles around my eyes, I use a little vitamin e oil.  I also use this on my lips instead of lip balm. It’s really smooth and moisturizing, and I think it helps prevent wrinkles around my lips.

    4)      Avoid Wearing Heavy Makeup   I know it might seem counterintuitive, but the fact is, as we age, if we pile on the makeup, it simply makes us look older!  Think about it; the makeup settles into our fine lines, emphasizing them.  And if you’re putting on dark eyeliner and eyeshadow, it’s going to do the same thing to the eye area.  I do use makeup, but have never been a fan of an extremely obvious, “made-up” look.  I use Mary Kay’s liquid foundation, which of all the ones I’ve tried, it goes on the smoothest, especially when I use the special brush Mary Kay has just for applying it.  I like to use a white or light colored eyeshadow because I like the way it brightens my eyes.  I like a dark brown eyeliner by Mary Kay (no, I don’t sell Mary Kay, but I do happen to love their makeup!), and a black, waterproof mascara.  Mary Kay makes really smooth cream blush, and I like to use a color that matches the natural undertones in my skin.  Oh, and I use a little eyebrow pencil to shape my eyebrows a little, but mostly to fill in my left eybrow because I have a scar running through it.

    In short, use makeup just to enhance your natural beauty, and don’t put it on so much on that it’s the thing people notice about you.  I promise you, no one will look at you and think, “Wow, her thick layers of makeup make her look so young!!”

    5)      Have Your Hair Dyed  No, this is not a “natural” thing to do, but it is one of the top things you can do to stay looking young.  And I highly recommend not doing it yourself from a box, but instead go to a professional.  They’ll be able to do different highlights and lowlights to make your hair look more natural. 

    6)      Have a “Young” Hairstyle  Now I don’t necessarily mean wear pigtails, but I what I do mean is style your hair based on what’s current.  There are few things that age you faster than living in 2015, but having a perm and a pouf from the 1980’s!  Look at current magazines to get ideas for hairstyles and talk to your hairstylist and they’ll be able to help you find a style that fits you.

    7)      Dress Like You Care  Ladies, DON’T LET YOURSELF GO!!!  I can’t stress this enough.  You are so wonderful, and so important, and so WORTH it to dress in a way that shows confidence in your own beauty!!  It makes me sad to see women who I know are about my age, but put us next to each other, and you would easily think they were 10-15 years older than me. I’m not telling you to dress like your teenager, but please dress in a way that flatters you.  Avoid “mom” jeans, the ones with the super-high waist and are tapered at the bottom.  Instead go for a mid or low-rise jean with a little flair at the bottom or even “skinny” jeans.  These are so cute with a pair of flats, and in the winter I love to wear my skinny jeans with boots!  T-shirts are fine for busy moms, but at least go for fitted ones that flatter your shape, and not the shapeless ones I see so often on women that look like they were made for their husbands!

    8)      Be Young at Heart  If you’re going to truly defy aging, you have to play the part and be young at heart!  Instead of slipping into “serious mom mode,” relax and have fun!  Of course, as moms we absolutely have our responsibilities, but let’s not forget what’s most important in our lives.  It’s not our career or how much money we make; it’s our family and friends.  Make time for them, and make time for yourself, to do what you like to do.  Go on a bike ride with your kids, make an appointment, not with a client, but with a friend to have coffee or lunch.  Go on a vacation, or just stay home and relax on the weekend.  Enjoy your life and fill as much time as you can with laughter and fun.  Out of all the other things, this is probably the most important as far as staying young.  It’s the one thing that will leave a lasting impression on others and allow you to affect others in a positive way.

    In short, I don't feel almost 40, so I'm not going to act almost 40!  I'm acting the way I feel, which is about 25 (or younger!lol)

    I hope these tips help you to defy aging in your own life.  There’s nothing wrong with growing older in years, because a lot of good things come with being alive for longer, like wisdom and self-confidence.  I just believe we can make our older years just as wonderful, if not more wonderful than our younger years by taking care of ourselves.

    Mine's about 25! What's the age YOU'RE sticking with??!

    Sunday, May 31, 2015

    Hi and welcome to my Fitness and Freedom website!  This website is dedicated to my mission of helping as many people as possible find the satisfaction of eating clean and getting fit that I've found, as well as sharing the most amazing career opportunity I've ever seen. As a fitness and nutrition coach, I'm here to serve you, to offer you support and encouragement on your journey to being healthier.  I do this through online accountability groups, challenge groups, tips, etc., and I'm also going to have occasional giveaways and contests!

    I recently started this exciting adventure of coaching others, and in the process, it has helped me tremendously to stick to my own goals.  I hope you'll visit this site often and come to think of it as your source for nutrition, fitness and a healthy life style.

    Here's to success!  Success in a healthier lifestyle, success financially, and success in whatever it is you're trying to achieve!