Easy Peasy Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Gluten Free Lemon Bars, gluten free dessert, lemon bar, easy dessert

Perhaps due to the recent glimpses of spring or maybe there’s an internal lightening and brightening occurring as I shake off the winter season, but the past few weeks, more so than usual, I have delighted in bright colors. Bold ensembles, taste-the-rainbow bowls of greens and grains, you name it.

I’ve have been drawn to lemon everything. Sliced lemons in my water, as decor for my tablescape, in my essential oil diffuser, and in my desserts!

Ever since I was a kid, I have L*O*V*E*D lemon bars! For me, it was like bright lemony sunshine in a dessert. The tangy sweetness has always been my favorite flavor profile, but lemon bars have not been amongst my adult baked goods.

I (mistakenly) thought they would be too much work, the crust in particular. After embracing a gluten-free, low sugar lifestyle, I favored muffins and breads as my creative comfort zone until a recently-inspired excursion to the grocery store.

During this spark of epicurean insight, I decided I would not be outwitted by a made-from-scratch gluten-free crust. I bought one 🙂 Storebought gluten-free crusts can be just as delicious as homemade and a heckuva lot easier!

After preparing the crust as its instructions directed, I poured in the lemon filling, baked for a quick 20, and enjoyed for days! Low sugar and refreshing offering just the right tanginess and perfect as a stand-alone dessert or topped with whipped cream or coconut cream, it’s become a daily staple! Try it out, make it your own, and share your style with us!

Easy Peasy Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Yields 4-6 squares

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups monk fruit extract granules, sugar or sweetener of your choice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice of ~4 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon peel grated
    Pro tip: Grate the lemons before you juice them.
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbl gluten-free flour
    I have accidentally forgotten the flour, and they still turned out well. If you’re going grain-free with your crust, you can skip the flour and still have a delectable dessert!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray a 9×9 baking dish with nonstick spray.
  3. Press the glutenfree crust into the baking tin or baking dish of your choice, shaping a little bit of the crust up the sides.
  4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, stir together all of the filling ingredients until smooth.
  6. Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. It may split like a pumpkin pie does, or you can insert a fork or knife to check. When the utensil comes out clean, you’re ready to go!
  7. Let cool on the counter for one to two hours, or as long as your self-control allows 🙂
  8. Cut into squares and top with powdered sugar, whipped cream or coconut ice cream, if desired.
  9. Best to store the squares in the fridge if you’re not immediately serving or plan to have leftovers.
  10. Enjoy!

We love seeing how you make our recipes your own. Share with us on social media or share this recipe with a friend looking for a light, healthy treat!

All the best for your health and happiness,

 

 

 

Eat Out A Lot? Always on the Go? Five Easy Tips to Still Eat Healthy

Entertaining, eating out in restaurants and grabbing grub on the go can derail even the best laid plans for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.

I can totally relate to the effort and time it takes to stay on-track!

I travel A LOT.

I eat A LOT… and I eat in certain ways because of preference and necessity.

When I’m running around or on the road (as anyone who knows me, road tripped with me or follows me on Instagram can attest), I try to prep ahead of time and bring meals and snacks. A LOT of snacks.

Sometimes, though, it’s not enough! I may have an impromptu session or a lunch meeting with a Client or colleague, during which I want to eat with them as part of that time together.

In those instances, I rely on tried and true tricks to make the most of the menu! Many restaurants have expanded their menus to include healthy options making it easier, too!

Your Five Easy Menu Modifications (+ a few extra hints!)

✔Put your dressing on the side & dip your fork instead of ordering dressing on the salad. Similarly, forgo cheese, mayo, sour cream and aioli or get it on the side for better portion control.

✔Skip the croutons, too, and the bread or tortilla in favor of whole grains, like rice, or lettuce wraps.

✔ Opt for chicken or fish over beef.

✔Go for grilled over fried.

✔Ask for steamed vegetables without any butter instead of French fries; if you opt for the fries, add veggies to the meal however you can, like an extra side salad or lettuce on the sandwich. SKIP THE GUILT!

✔ Always let your waiter know if you have food allergies, too. They’ll be much more mindful about your order and even guide you towards healthier options that fit your needs!

✔Keep learning how to make simple easy substitutions that work for you and you’ll achieve & maintain your health or weight goals for life!

Do you make the menu work for you and your health? Let us know, and if you have a friend or two who could use a few tips to revive their resolutions, share this post!

To your greatest health & happiness!

 

 

 

Savor the Super Bowl Party with Smarter Snacking

Who’s ready for some Football?! And beer! And cocktails! And snacks! (and the inevitable hangover… no?)

Parties are one of the biggest potholes on the road to sticking to healthy habits, especially Super Bowl parties.

The rich noshes, flowing booze, and partying late into the evening often brings a blurry, foggy, sluggish Monday morning. (We’d love to say it’s because we danced so hard during the half-time show, but let’s be real. It was the salt, snacks, scotch and sleeplessness. The bloated, thick-tongued, puffy-eyed version in the mirror probably agrees it wasn’t your breaking it down to Justin Timberlake that left you in this condition 😉 )

Without giving up any street cred or socializing time, use our favorite healthy tricks to indulge and enjoy and still feel good on Monday morning!

Healthy Tricks for Super Bowl Soirees

Our favorite spread – all the colors of the rainbow, filling and delicious!

1. Eat before you go. Curb your appetite for fried foods and rich dips with greens, protein and healthy carbs. Try a salad with protein, loaded sweet potatoes, or hummus with veggies and a hardboiled egg.

2. Bring the snacks you want to eat. Lighter fare and lighter mixers (see #5) offer you options that suit your needs and helps others have alternatives, too. Have you heard a hostess turn down more food that s/he doesn’t have to prepare?

3. Choose dishes with the fewest boxed or bagged ingredients and go easy on breaded or battered hors d’oeuvres in favor of baked, steamed, raw, etc.

4. Have smaller portions of richer menu items and heavier cocktails and beers.

5. Go easy on sugar and sweets, including desserts and cocktail mixers. Try water or club soda instead of regular soda, juices, etc.

6. Alternate a glass of water with each cocktail and know your limit. Call an Uber or a friend to drive you home, if you’re over served.

7. Stop eating at half-time. Give your body a break from food before bedtime to allow for better quality sleep, which staves off a hangover and also prevents sluggishness (and cravings for sugar, caffeine and snacks) tomorrow.

8. Set your intention and expectation to get back into the healthier swing of things.  Give yourself a break on Monday, eat as clean as you can, drink plenty of water (non-sugary coffee drinks if you need a boost) and go to bed early. You’ll be back slaying workouts and the world’s problems by Tuesday, no doubt!

We’d love to hear your go-to Super Bowl party tricks in the comments below, and share these Super Bowl (and anytime) party tips with like-minded friends who could use them by forwarding this link!

Cheers to your indulgence, health & happiness!

How To Enjoy Health & Holiday Spirit This Season

Ah, the holidays! Trimming trees, decking the halls, shopping ’til you drop and traveling home for Christmas. With social engagements and soirees galore, time flies during the holiday season – a mere four to six weeks depending on how you slice it – and there’s never enough time to get it all done, let alone take care of yourself, so you can be your merriest! Sleep, exercise and eating healthy take a backseat like your narcoleptic uncle at the kids’ Holiday nativity play.

What if you could stay on-track this holiday, enjoy without going off the rails, and skip the crash dieting come January 1st?

Try a few of these hacks to keep your health and your holiday spirit intact this season!

Holiday Health Hacks

Eat before you go out.

Think about what happens when you arrive in front of food when you’re famished.

You eat everything.

You naturally gravitate towards the most satisfying. It’s biology; your brain seeks out the fastest energy, which likely equates to the most calorie-dense, least nutritious options. Pies, cookies and casseroles are way too enticing to pass up at that point. Now consider that it takes your brain about 20 minutes to recognize you’re full (even longer if you’re at all sleep deficient). By that time, you’ve had a second plate and are feeling pangs of guilt and acid reflux!

To prevent overindulging, have a snack or light meal before you show up. Keep snacks at work or in your car to ensure you have options available.

Bring your own healthy snacks, sides, desserts and cocktails with you when you can. 

Arriving with gluten free goods, colorful steamed veggies, a bottle of champagne or your favorite salad in tow ensures a few healthy options that you’ll enjoy are among those available at the party.

What host or hostess ever turned down contributions to the tablescape?

Eat your last meal three hours before bedtime. 

Giving your body time to digest and burn through that last meal aids in sleep, cellular repair and weight management. If your body’s resources are devoted to digesting your food, you miss out on the other important functions that take place during this critical time, like removal of waste in the brain, storing of memories and information and detoxification.

Get enough sleep!

During the holidays (or any peak season), you’re managing more responsibilities, expectations, demands on your time and energy, let alone traveling. You’re going to be stretched more thinly and more depleted.

Be sure to get enough sleep! Listen to your body for signs you need more Zzzz’s, like sugar cravings, lower tolerances for annoyances and stress, munchies, reduced control of your emotions (quicker to yell or cry than normal).

Take care of yourself! If you have any questions on how to navigate healthy habits this Holiday, drop us a line below, and feel free to share this article with your friends and family who need helpful hints, too!

Cheers to your health and happiness this Holiday and all year!

Three Healthy Holiday Tips You Can Start Doing Today

Healthy Holiday tips and tricks, healthier habits, health, lifestyle healthy lifestyle

We are now embarking on Holiday Season! Thanksgiving is next week! It feels like this year has flown by, doesn’t it?

From family gatherings to office parties to shorter days and cold weather comfort foods, temptation abounds, and we can easily lose sight of our healthy intentions amidst all the excitement and expectation of the season!

Not to worry! We’ve got a few tips to help you stay on top of your health this holiday, starting today!

Tip #1: Set Your Intentions with Healthy Holiday Goals

As you go through your day, take note of how you want to feel this holiday season. How do you want to describe the last few months of 2017 when you look back on it next year or years after? Is it saying no to foods you don’t really enjoy so that you can prevent weight gain? Is it spending more time with close family and friends? Or taking more pictures to document the memories? Whatever your heart’s desire for this holiday, set the intention today.

Why this works?

You get clear and convicted before the hubbub distracts you and pulls away mental resources. The act of simply setting a goal makes you more likely to achieve it, and writing it down increases your likelihood of success by 42%!

Consider your intention like a compass for how you can stay healthy this holiday season.
 

Tip #2: Eat Cleaner Now

Any of the intentions you set above will be more successful if you’re feeling well, have energy and are clear headed. Your food choices make a huge difference in mental clarity and physical energy.

Why this works?

The brain gets wired by food additives, emotional eating patterns and biology to crave certain foods. The best way to crave something tomorrow is by eating it today.

Begin reprogramming your brain and your biology before you hit a time of heightened stress. When you are in those more stressful scenarios, your brain doesn’t have the capacity to be as effective in forming different habits. Laying the groundwork before you hit holiday peak time sets you up for success!
 

Tip #3: Establish Exercise Routine Today

Much like food and drinks play a part in keeping your stress managed, your brain firing on all cylinders and your body fueled for fun and frivolity, so does exercise! Find a few pockets of twenty minutes throughout the week when you can be more active.

Why this works?

Twenty minutes a few times a week catalyzes weight management, overall physical health, stress management and mental well-being. Start today! Whether before work, during a daily conference call or after dinner, seize the opportunity to be more active. Walking counts! So does holiday shopping, washing the car or even vacuuming.

Do the best you can to make the most of the time you have and start now by making small shifts that lead to long-lasting benefits!
 

Up next…

We’ll share healthy holiday tips for the kitchen, holiday parties and even managing family dynamics and social pressures! As always, we love to hear from you – what are your favorite tips and tricks to stay healthy and happy during the holidays?

 

Choose a Smarter Snack! Sweet, Spicy, Homemade Applesauce

gluten-free, low sugar, high fiber, homemade applesauce

Fall brings many seasonal delights, like PSL’s (OK, pumpkin spice ANYTHING!), hay mazes, apple picking and delicious spiced sweets and treats.

A better way to snack (and use the fruits of the apple picking outing) is our *NEW* All-Natural Homemade Applesauce! Low in sugar, yet naturally sweet, this chunky applesauce is a smart snack with fewer calories and more nutrients than other ubiquitous fall sweet treats like cookies and pies! With seasonal spices, like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, you can indulge in the season without overindulging!

Sweet & Spicy Applesauce

Serves 4 heartily

Ingredients

  • 4 medium apples of any variety (preferably also organic), peeled
  • 1 medium apple of any variety (preferably also organic), unpeeled
  • 1/3 c water (more if needed)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: 2 Tbl brown sugar, maple syrup, date syrup, etc

Directions

  1. Cut apples into rough 1/2-inch chunks.
  2. Add to a two-quart pot or larger.
  3. Add all ingredients to pot.
  4. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally to avoid burning or sticking.
    Note: If you added any sort of sugar, you will need to stir every few minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Serve!

As many of our dishes, this treat can be served for breakfast as a stand-alone dish or atop oatmeal or yogurt or as a snack! (We have a couple of clients who add a small dollop of Cool Whip and call it dessert!) Anytime you choose to enjoy, it’s a bowl of deliciousness!

How do you satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy sweets? Share your ideas with us below!

Upgrade the Candy Bowl with Healthier Halloween Treats

bowl of halloween candy, healthier halloween, halloween candy

Halloween marks the beginning of the Holidays! Sure, Thanksgiving is the heavier kick-off to the Season, but Halloween marks the beginning of the teeter-totter of balancing your health goals with the onslaught of temptation of sweet treats, shorter days, sleepier bodies and sluggish feelings.

Want to keep your health goals in check, and maybe uplevel the neighborhood Trick-or-Treating? Try these healthy swaps!

Instead of candy, try…

  • Small boxes of raisins
  • Individually-packaged dried cranberries
  • Fruit strips, like these
  • Mandarin oranges, like Halos or Clementines
  • Packages of pretzels
  • Granola bar bites
  • Mini bottles of water
  • Plastic rings in the shape of spiders, skeletons and the like!
  • We had one client who passed out quarters, half-dollars and rolls of pennies instead of candy!

To mitigate the possibility of higher costs for these healthier options, shop sales and bulk stores, like Costco and BJ’s. It’s well worth it to share healthier options and you certainly won’t feel as guilty when you sneak some treats from the pile 🙂

How do you make Halloween healthier? We’d love to know! Share your ideas with us below!

We’re Loving Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens

Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens in Vanilla - nutritional benefits, low sugar, high protein, vegan, green powders, organic

A key to the success of a healthy lifestyle is making meals and concocting snacks that are tasty and as packed with nutrients as you possible. Making your recipes work for you means you’re nourishing your body and mind without depleting your precious physical and emotional energy. One way to do this is to through smoothies, which is why you see the onslaught of smoothie recipes on this site and in our social feed.

As a nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free practice, we are always on the hunt for vegan protein without nuts or soy that can be integrated into a variety of meals and snacks, like – you guessed it – smoothies!

A veteran dilettante of vegan protein powders, we were thrilled to see the repackaged and re-formulated Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens during a foray of shopping to restock our own inventory!

Raw Protein & Greens Powder? Here’s the scoop #punintended 🙂

  • HIGH PROTEIN: 20 grams of raw organic plant protein from Organic Peas and Sprouted Organic Grains, Seeds and Legumes plus 6 organic greens and veggies
  • POST WORKOUT RECOVERY: Help your muscles recover with a clean nutritional shake powered by organic protein and nutrient-rich organic green energy
  • GREEN SUPERFOOD DRINK: This delicious vanilla protein powder is power-packed with green energy from raw, organic greens and green juices
  • PROTEIN POWDER WITH PROBIOTICS: Tasty, smooth protein shake with 1.5 billion CFU probiotics and 13 non-GMO enzymes for easy digestion
  • VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER: Organic, gluten free, vegan, dairy free, soy free, Informed Choice Certified (Trusted by Sport), non-GMO whole food protein

Our Take

The vanilla flavor is subtle and not too sweet. The smell and flavor is almost identical to the Garden of Life Raw Vegan Protein Powder we’ve grown to love with only a subtle earthy smell, attributed to the greens. The relatively high vegan protein content has additional benefits of sprouted greens and grains and is organic, as well, with low sugar (<1 gram). Even with the sprouted grains and legumes, this protein powder is gluten-free and gentle to digest for those with aversions to beans.

It’s a perfect add-in to protein pancakes or to a variety of smoothie flavors/recipes with its low glycemic index (you know how we’re off the sugar wagon!), added greens (like alfalfa, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrot and beet – yay!) and versatile vanilla flavor.

One last note: The probiotic content was not a strong selling point because we supplement gut flora with a high dose of probiotics via capsule. Because of the way we use protein powder, which includes smoothies as well as baked goods, the probiotic power is diminished significantly; even used in a smoothie, we can’t vouch for the healthy bacteria making it to the small intestine intact because we haven’t seen or performed the research. If you’re looking to increase your healthy gut flora through Garden of Life products, try probiotic capsules, like these, or explore fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, or low sugar kombucha.

Let us know how you get more from your smoothies with added greens and protein!

As always, wishing you a week of greens, grace and gluten-free goodness!

What the Health and the Keto Controversy

What the Health and the Keto Controversy - making sense of two very different lifestyles and how to make better diet and lifestyle choices

With the recent release of What the Health, aka “The Health Film That Health Organizations Don’t Want You To See,” healthy eating by way of veganism has experienced a rise in attention, specifically within certain social circles and demographics (Netflix is the primary viewing venue).

Friend groups and communities are atwitter over the science and positions explored in the film, and the conversations have incensed many due to the data revealed and what it means to their lifestyle choices or because of the confusion and frustration generated by trying to apply yet another batch of science and expert opinions to an already mixed bag of seemingly conflicting information in the world of health and wellness.

In this post, we explore two primary at-odds lifestyles and offer perspectives and guidance to empower you to follow the path that best suits you. 

First, What The Health!? and Veganism

Veganism, or the practice of eating only non-animal products, has, for years, been touted as a surefire way to lose weight, lower cholesterol and slow aging. In the Middle and Far East, for centuries, practicing veganism is common due to the moral, ethical, and spiritual pillar of the regions to “do no harm.”

Domestically, many celebrities, doctors and industrial leaders have emerged as vegans, and we, the viewing public, have observed the benefits of the vegan lifestyle as they unfolded in that individual’s life as documented through the lens of the camera, social media, USA Today, etc..

All indications point to veganism is The Way!

Here’s where it gets controversial.

Despite these incredible success stories that we’ve seen with our own eyes and the scientific findings cited by vocal vegans and What The Health, arguments that favor the veganism movement can be disproven by other science, research, medical and scientific journals and health experts.

Case in point, the ketogenic lifestyle.

Keto.

As we discussed earlier this month, is a diet globally recognized for centuries for its anti-aging, disease reversing, cancer preventing benefits (among other heroics). The foundation of the keto lifestyle includes a certain cadence of eating, which simulates fasting and subsequent benefits,  and a diet comprised of a high ratio of protein and fats and lower percentage of calories from carbohydrates than the Standard American Diet (SAD, an acronym that is both entertaining and accurate).

Modified keto, for example, may include a diet of 60-70% of calories derived from protein and fats (including saturated and unsaturated) with only 30% or less of calories derived from complex carbohydrates (i.e nothing processed and no sugar). Some keto’ers also shy away from grains, beans, soy, corn, etc., due to the high carbohydrate content and effect on blood sugar, which throws the individual out of a ketosis state, thus undoing the chemistry that yields the incredible benefits.

Protein and fat sources for many followers of the keto diet include animal products, yet, due to the individual’s unique metabolic make-up and how the individual metabolizes carbohydrates using insulin, many keto’ers base a large portion of the diet on plant-based eating, i.e. vegetable-heavy.

It’s Getting Hot in Here.

The conundrum we face are two very different diets, both of which tout health benefits. One is entirely animal-product free, and the other – in many cases – promotes the consumption of high-quality animal products.

You can see how these two dynamics are at odds with one another, and how the confusion and overwhelm accompanying the effort to make sense of them as a consumer can be significant!

Layer on top of any confusion the emotional charge we inject into our relationship with food and the deep ties to our identity that develop in relation to our food choices, lifestyle and the ethics, beliefs and mores therein, and you’ve got a hot button topic that triggers some internal moral dilemmas and very passionate discussions.

What’s Our Take?

As far as we’re concerned, any catalyst, be it a conversation, documentary, book, article, Ted Talk, etc. that activates an authentic, respectful conversation among communities and an inward assessment of one’s health, lifestyle and holistic wellness is a good thing.

Any proponent of a whole food, clean-eating, know-where-your-food-comes-from way of life? Also, a good thing.

Any wake-up call to ask deeper questions, fuel optimal wellness and make intentional, mindful choices? DEFINITELY a GREAT thing.

If you find yourself curious, or even enraged, by What The Health or Keto, and the science, ethics, or the arguments of each, then consider it your wake-up call.

Lean into this conversation vs. throwing in the towel. Casually explore various diets and lifestyles, and shift your mindset into thinking of it as a fun exploration. How you’ve eaten in the past may not be where you want to go in the future, and that doesn’t mean you’ve been fooled or failed! It means you now have different information you’re using to perhaps make different choices.

How to truly know what is best for YOU?

Some people’s constitution and metabolisms need higher levels of protein and fat and opt to include animal products as a manner to supplement those needs. Others have food allergies that preclude them from going all-in on a certain way of eating. Other people’s ethical beliefs trump all else, and they opt to forgo animal products or other food groups.

Every body is different, and therefore, every diet must be different, even if slightly, and that’s OK.

Select one of the diets or lifestyles that have caught your attention or that most closely aligns with you, and test it out for three to six months. Changes take time. Observe your energy levels, food cravings, blood work numbers, fit of your clothes, joint flexibility, mental clarity, emotional resilience and tolerance as indications that you’re on the right track or need to adjust your approach.

The Bottom Line

There is no one diet that – when followed identically across a population without some level of modification – is right for everyone.

Do what is best for you! Take what you can from the diets and lifestyles that you explore, apply them to yourself, observe the results over time and modify where needed. Speak kindly to yourself as you explore a new way of eating. Stay open to the experience and share what you observe with your friends and family; get them in on it, and support one another on your unique journeys to your best selves!

As always, we love hearing from you! Drop us a line to let us know which diet or lifestyle impassions you, how you found your way to better health and we’ll cheer you on! A rising tide lifts all ships, and our community is on the rise with you!

Wishing you a life of greens and grace and all the goodness!

The Cherry Cordial Smoothie | A Delicious Recipe!

gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan protein smoothie with cherries and coffee

Wow, this smoothie. It’s so good, it can easily be misconstrued for dessert! Particularly if you freeze it and serve it as such 🙂 Nothing like a delicious finish to a meal that also packs a punch of antioxidant goodness for your whole body! The coffee and sweetness of the cherries offer a richness to the flavor that is satiating and indulgent. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or even dessert!

Cherry Cordial Smoothie

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup frozen, pitted cherries
  • 1/4 banana
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  • 2 Tbl of avocado
  • Optional: cacao powder, maca, ground flax seeds
  • Toppings: chia seeds, granola, seeds, etc. Go nuts! #punny

Directions

  1. Blend.
  2. Serve.
  3. Enjoy!

Tell us about your favorite smoothie! Share your ideas below on how you improve your desserts to get a gentle sweetness without a sugar overload!

Wishing you a life of greens, grace and gluten-free goodness!