Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cookies for Breakfast-(Gluten,egg,dairy and nut free)

As allergy moms, we have to learn how to re-feed our families from scratch.  Ten years ago, this was not a simple task as we did not have the explosive array of allergy free items we have today.  However, just because we have more extensive choices, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.  In fact, I have noticed that the preponderance of allergy items is snack food, cake mixes, cookies, etc… Moreover, I found it curious that many food allergy parents such as myself, were actually gaining weight, probably because we were always baking for our kiddos so they wouldn’t feel left out at school, family events, birthday parties and playdates.  While I felt good about being able to provide these tasty alternatives, my fitness and nutrition goals were less than stellar and in need of an overhaul.

As a trainer and nutrition consultant with a lot of experience in limited diets, I am constantly trying to create healthy alternatives that won’t break the caloric bank, provide nutrition, and are kid and adult approved.  These breakfast cookies do just that. They are chock full of whole grain, fruit, oats, seeds, healthy fat, and my beloved dark chocolate.  They are great with a yogurt for brekkie, or a midday snack, not to mention a great post workout carbohydrate. As with any food, no matter how healthy, moderation is always key!!

Lightly Sweetened Brekkie Cookies-Makes approximately 24

1/3 cup coconut oil* (you can use canola if you don’t have coconut, but honestly the coconut oil kicks the taste up a notch).

¼ cup sugar of your choice (reserve ½ tsp. for sprinkling)

½ TBSP quality vanilla extract

1 tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)

2 small or 1 large overripe banana

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (oat flour if making it gluten free)

1 tbsp wheat germ or golden flax meal (wheat germ is not gluten free, but flax is)

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds (I used SuperSeedz-they are gluten,, nut, egg,dairy free)

2 tbsp. dark chocolate chips (Optional)  (I used Enjoy Life 69%)

¼ cup raisins

2 cups oatmeal (whole rolled oats. You can use minute oats but they wont be as hearty. If using gluten free oats, I suggest you either use minute oats or pulse the rolled oats a few times as they can be a bit chewy in my experience)

Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheet with parchment

Mash banana with a fork.

Melt 1/3 cup coconut oil and place in large bowl

Mix coconut oil, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and banana and whisk until smooth and the color of caramel.

Add flour, wheat germ (flax) baking soda, baking powder, salt, choco chips, raisins and pumpkin seeds and mix until stiff dough.

Add oatmeal and incorporate into batter

Use a small scoop to form cookies and then flatten with bottom of a glass or hand.Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. sugar on the tops

Bake approximately 12 minutes-if you want them darker, bake 1-2 minutes longer.
Cool on rack. Freeze.

A Few Notes
Coconut oil- In addition to being the darling of the oils these days, it lends a light buttery taste to baked goods. Be sure you measure it out after it’s been melted in order to get the right amount. If you don’t like coconut oil, good ole canola will work too.

Sugar-At the end of the day-sugar is sugar and one has to use it wisely.  The nice thing about these cookies, however,  is that even though they have some sugar, it is far less than what is in the average breakfast cereals. Also, there is a nice amount of fiber in these cookies, which means that whatever sugar from your cookie won’t send you or your child into a sugar high/crash spiral.

Here's a trick-when you sprinkle a little sugar on the tops, that's the first thing your tongue registers as sweet, so you can lower the overall amount that goes into the cookies. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fifty is NOT the New Forty

I am the first to admit, I hate aging. My feet are achy as soon as they hit the floor in the morning, my back sporadically hurts, and my knees sound like a bowl of rice krispies. Throw in some hot flashes for good measure, thinning eyebrows, and more grays than I’d like to admit. Yep, sounds like 50 is off to a great start. Nevertheless, when I backtrack to the shadow of my former, younger self, I realize that 50 definitely has its merits.

The Twenties

 I use to roll my eyes at women in the salon who were getting their hair colored and I adamantly swore I would go natural when the time came. Of course, when the grays started to come a little more fast and furious than I would have liked, I went straight to the colorist. Clearly, my twenty-year old self had no idea what lay ahead.  While the twenties were fun, I always felt like something bigger yet inaccessable lay ahead. Being on the cusp of creating a life for myself was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I worried about career choices and independence. Still plagued with PRTD (post residual teen drama) I obsessed about what ifs, why don’t they like me, why aren’t they calling me which would be the equivalent of why didn't they text me back in today's scenario.
The Thirties
My thirty self didn’t really think about age.Thirties were the beginning of my life, marriage, new house, and I was way too absorbed in processing these huge changes.

The Forties
Ahhh, the 40’s. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t love my forties so much. Most of the physical changes I complain about started back then and took nearly a decade to resolve. I also didn’t like that I was on the other end of the spectrum at the OB/GYN- emphasis on the GYN because OB didn’t apply anymore. My kids were getting older, my face was stating to show signs of aging and if my night cream could talk, it would say, “what the hell happened?” Emotionally, forties is a crossroad for many. Some have mid- life crises and I am no different. My writing was stalled, I had no career, my kids didn’t need me as much and I knew that college was looming in a few short years. Fifty was creeping up and always taunting me in the background like an invisible forcefield. I didn’t want to be fifty. The number itself represented my life being half over, glass half empty. I desperately wanted to accomplish something big before AARP invited me to the party and my daughter went away to college.

The Fifties

Here I am. Fifty isn’t so bad. In fact, I would venture to say, it started out way better than the decade before. Whoever coined the phrase 50 is the new 40 was probably a 30 something bemoaning the fact that they too will one day be 50 and needed to justify the aging process.I know I clung to adages like that one. I came to 50 kicking and screaming, but now that I’m here, I’m actually okay. In the first few months of being 50, I published my children’s book and started a new career in fitness and nutrition. Fifty is truly the crossroads, where many decide to change for the second act of their lives.

Fifty represents clarity. I look at my daughter and all the teen angst, insecurity and drama that goes along with it. I see myself at that age, and wish she would believe me when I tell her that at some point, none of it makes a difference. I am the ghost of the future telling her, in real time, but I suppose she has to follow her own chronological journey. But if she took one thing away from my experiences, I wish it to be the fact that we don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like us and that we should be busy loving the people who love us. There’s a 50ism for ya.

Here’s the thing. Why can’t 50 just be the new 50? Truthfully, the 50-year old’s of today, are very different than the generation of 50’s before us. It’s true. I am a very different 50 than my mother was. There is more available to us now than ever before. We have access to so much abundance regarding healthier food, information, safer hair color and way better moisturizers. We choose differently in terms of careers, life choices etc.  So, why can’t the age of 50 be the new standard? Why do we have to quantify it by trying to be the people we were in our 40’s? 

I’m not glossing over the fact that aging isn’t easy. Fifty represents menopause, colonoscopies, shingles, cholesterol, osteoporosis, and the depressing list goes on. But more often than not, I feel like the same fun person I was in high school but with better fashion sense and wisdom, so I try to focus on that, and not what my bloodwork reveals (event though I get mad every time).

We all want to feel relevant but there is a reality that no matter how good one feels about oneself, there are going to be times where we are aged out of a job, or the checkout kid calls you “mam!” UGH, I hate the mam, but what should they call you?  “Hey sexy, you want me to bag those apples for you?” That’s even worse. So, mam it is.  We are a youth obsessed society and admittedly, when I see an upcoming, youthful actress- I sardonically think, “well one day you will be old.” I know, totally immature, but c’mon you think it too.

So, the point is, it’s okay to want to look better, we all do. There is no judgement if you color your hair, or get Botox, if it makes you feel better, then so be it.  But, at the end of the day, your chronological age is only going up and nothing can change that.  We can complain, even vent, but wishing for the days of yore as opposed to making our present the best it can be is soooo 40’s.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dessert Shouldn't Hurt-Allergy Free (gluten, nut, dairy, egg free ) Decadence that Won't Break the Caloric Bank!

No matter if you celebrate Valentines day or not, these desserts won't break your caloric bank and have a nice antioxidant punch from the berries and the dark chocolate. They are great anytime and are dairy,egg, gluten and nut free. 


Dessert #1-CHOCOLATE STUFFED RASPBERRIES (Approximate Calories 100)
20 Raspberries
20 Dark chocolate chips-roughly one tablespoon
Stuff individual raspberries with chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Chunks)

Dessert #2-VALENTINE FRUIT SALAD WITH CHOCOLATE SHELL DRIZZLE (Approximate Calories: 140 per cup)
1 Blood Orange, or Cara Cara
20 Raspberries
2 Tbsp. chocolate chips
½ tsp. coconut oil

Divide orange and raspberries equally between two goblets/wine glasses.
Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave (approximately 1 minute)
Stir until combined.
Drizzle over fruit.
Place in freezer for 2 minutes-chocolate will become a hard shell.

Dessert#3-FROZEN CHOCOLATE CRANBERRIES (Approximate Calories 210)
½ cup frozen cranberries
2 tbsp chocolate chips
½ tsp. coconut oil

Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave (approximately 1 minute)
Stir until combined.

Stir cranberries into chocolate and place in freezer for cranberries with a chocolate magic shell.