Homemade Applesauce

file_004If all the fall apple picking leaves you with more apples than you know what to do with,
put them to use with this easy, yet decadent homemade chunky applesauce. Low in sugar, but big on flavor with a hint of sweetness, you can eat it by itself, use it to top your oatmeal  (or pancakes!) or enjoy with a dollop of your favorite whipped topping. (One friend suggested using it as apple pie filling because it was so tasty!) The secret ingredients are a Granny Smith apple and … Chinese Five Spice, a blend of cinnamon, anise, fennel, cloves, and <gasp> pepper!

However you choose to indulge, you can do it without the guilt with this one!

Homemade Applesauce


  • A variety of 5-6 apples, including one Granny Smith (for tang)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 Tbl. Chinese five spice
  • 3 Tbl. date sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  1. Peel the apples.
  2. Core, then coarsely chop.
  3. Place all the ingredients into a pot on the stove on medium heat, cover and cook until soft (about 25 minutes).
  4. Stir occasionally to ensure the applesauce doesn’t get too hot or stick to the bottom; if it sticks, add a little more water and stir.
  5. If you want a smoother consistency, put into a food processor or blender after it cools  and blend until you reach your desired consistency. Make sure the applesauce has cooled though!
  6. Enjoy!

So easy! Put all your ingredients in the pot.



Five Tricks for Outsmarting Office Sweets & Treats

file_000-2Birthdays. Client dinners. Corporate Announcements. Lunch meetings. Vendor treats. National Donut Day. National Sundae Day… Sheesh! How often we get surprised by sweets at the office! (And we’re approaching on Holiday Season – oy vey!)

From your wellness to your waistline, indulging every time one of these “special” events pops up derails you from your goals, detracts from your results, and decreases your motivation.

Here are few tricks and techniques to help you sidestep office sweets and treats and stay the course to your most vibrant self!

  1. Eat enough protein (& early enough in the day).
    • Getting sufficient protein early enough in the day and throughout the day will keep your blood sugar stable,  your energy level even, your mind focused, and your resolve strong, so you can more easily say no to the simple sugar rushes of cookies and cupcakes.
    • Experiment with the amounts of protein in your snacks and meals to figure out which keep you satisfied and powered up for the day.
    • For a few ideas for balanced snacks, check out this post about tasty snacks that pack in protein without breaking the bank! (There are also a few other tips in there to help manage sugar cravings and blood sugar.)
  2. Keep fresh and/or dried fruit (or dark chocolate!) at your fingertips.
    • When you get a hankering for sweets, having a naturally-sweetened “goodie” will offer you an alternative to the processed one, so you can stay on track when the sugar monster strikes
    • You can also keep a few pieces of very dark chocolate nearby; the higher the cacao, the less sugar it contains and the more rich and satisfying it will be; aim for 70% cacao or higher.
  3. Exercise as close to daily as possible.
    • If you’re putting in the work (and workin’ it!) on a daily basis (or as close to daily as you can), you’ll be less likely to let even a minor temptation knock you off your game
    • Remember the work you’ve been doing and ask if it’s really worth it to indulge in that cupcake.
  4. Set the timer.
    • Cravings last fewer than five minutes (usually about three). When the craving strikes (or the donuts/cupcakes/red velvet cake appears on the breakroom table), take a walk, make a cup of coffee or tea and sip it slowly, take a Twitter break and read positive news that delights you, doodle in your notebook, journal your feelings, talk to a coworker, etc.
    • Devote your attention away from the “trigger” for a good 3-5 minutes. Breathe. Repeat.
  5. Tune in.
    • When you do feel a craving come on without a cake walking by, take a moment to clue yourself into what could be triggering your craving, such as stress, feeling tired or overwhelmed, etc.
    • Taking care of your mental well-being is KEY to optimal physical well-being. Unpacking why you’re craving sugar in the first place – whether physical or emotional – is a powerful tool. (See item #4 above.)
  6. *Bonus Points: Read about the havoc that sugar wreaks on your body
    • Knowledge is power, and empowering yourself with info about the impact that sugar has on your body is the strongest motivation to steer clear. For instance, did you know that sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine? From accelerated aging to hormonal effects to gut imbalance, sugar is not the best copilot on the ride to better health!
    • If you have more information, you’ll make better decisions!
    • A few interesting resources that are packed with info and will also keep your interest are:

The Blood Sugar Solution, by Dr. Mark Hyman (His website is here, too.)
Sugar Coated, a documentary; found on Netflix
Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr (an all-around fave of mine for all things healthy and crazy-sexy! Her website is found here.)

Italian “Fried” Cauliflower

This recipe is one of my absolute favorites! It’s been in the family for a few generations, if you can believe it, and it’s remarkably easy, gluten free and healthy! (No, really.)


  • One head of cauliflower
  • Italian seasonings of your choice; I enjoy:
    • 1 Tbl of basil
    • 1 tsp of oregano
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2-3 garlic cloves minced
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour or gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbl Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cooking Tools:

  • Multiple mixing bowls
  • Mid to large size frying pan
  • Tongs (a fork will also do!)
  • Whisk (or another fork)


  1. Heat half of the oil in the pan on medium heat.
    Watch the oil; you do not want it to burn!
  2. Chop (or break) the cauliflower into medium-sized florets and steam.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the Italian seasonings. Include the Parmesan, if you’d like.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the salt and pepper with the flour.**You are now going to start dipping the cauliflower into each of these mixtures then “frying.” To make it easier with less clean-up, set up your bowls near the stove and put them in this order: cauliflower // egg mixture // flour**
    File_000 (1).jpeg
  5. Test the pan to make sure it’s hot by sprinkling a little water into the pan. If it doesn’t sizzle, turn up the heat then check again in 1-2 minutes; once you hear a sizzle when dropping in water, you’re good to go!
  6. Fork each cauliflower floret, coat in the egg mixture, then coat with the flour or breadcrumbs. Drop into the pan.
  7. Using the tongs or fork , turn the cauliflower over once it’s browned and crispy on one side. You may only need to turn it twice; other times, you’ll need to turn it 3 times to make sure you get all the sides.
  8. Repeat for each floret; put as many in the pan as you’d like leaving enough room that they aren’t on top of each other.
  9. Once all the florets have been fried, plate and serve! They are delicious as a side item, or just on their own at any time of the day. (Even breakfast!)
  10. Enjoy!

A few other tips:

  • If you’re looking to cut carbs, you can skip the flour/breadcrumb step and, instead, steam the cauliflower florets, put into a pan and pour the egg mixture over them. Let it sit for a little bit until the egg sets, then flip them (either individually or as an omelet.)
  • You can also follow steps 1-6 above, but then bake in the oven at 350 until browned if you’d prefer rather than frying.

We’d love to hear how you enjoy and any tweaks you try to make this your own recipe! Leave your comments below!

Buon appetito!

Out & About @ Bistro on Main in Highlands, NC

File_002I have been traveling a bit more lately, particularly taking road trips, and what I have come to love about North Carolina in these recent travels are the many healthy options available in seemingly small towns that offer both experience delicious cuisine and gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free options.

The most recent of these road trips took me to Highlands, NC, an absolutely darling town amidst waterfalls and gorgeous mountain views, and, as it turns out, the location of a quaint bistro tucked inside a local historic boutique inn, The Inn on Main Street.

After walking through the charming streets (and one of us checked Yelp), we landed on Bistro on Main (which had great Yelp ratings, in case you were wondering🙂 ). The patio offered a wonderful view of a sunset to complement the yummy noms we enjoyed al fresco.

Something unique about Bistro on Main is that it has quite the array of appetizers, salads and entrees that would appeal to almost anyone, regardless of dietary style or preference, which is quite impressive considering the menu is simply one page!

Every item that we ordered, from the craft cocktails to the fare itself, we raved about. If you’re in Franklin, Cashiers or even in Atlanta, just looking for a fun day trip, definitely make the trip to Highlands!


A Quick Snippet of the Menus @ Bistro on Main.


Ginger Lemon Drop Martini with a slice of candied ginger! Very delicious, a little sweet. The bartender kindly made the next round specially for me with more spice, less sweet. 


Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer (NOT gluten-free) and the Lemon Basil Crab Cakes, which were simply DI-VINE! 


Lightly blackened North Carolina Mountain Trout with spicy green tomato-cilantro salsa, rice and broccoli. So, so good! 


A wonderful, wondrous view of the sunset as we wrapped up our celebration dinner in Highlands. Simply spectacular. 

Easy, Inexpensive and Healthy Snacks for On-The-Go


No more vending machine snacks!Does this sound familiar? It’s late morning or that ever-delightful mid-afternoon slump time, and you’re hungry. You do a vending machine drive-by and grab some chips or peanut butter crackers to quell the hunger pangs. … Or how about that time when you snagged whatever you could find in the break-room that was leftover from a lunch meeting earlier in the day? #HelloCookies

Afterwards, you probably felt icky… not just from the lack of nutrients of which you’re in dire need, but also from the side of guilt that went along with it. You deserve better!

To help take some of the work out of figuring out healthy alternatives that require minimal prep time, here are some low-maintenance, healthy snacking options for you busy bees!


Veggies + Hummus
Think baby carrots, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash, sliced cucumber with a few tablespoons of any variation of hummus will do! Even edamame or homemade black-eyed pea hummus (for you overachievers) serves as a nutrient-dense option for curbing hunger. The crunch is also satisfying, and you won’t miss the chips!

Tuna/chicken/”egg” salad + veggies
This one is a favorite of mine. Homemade tuna salad + carrots, cukes, even pickles satiates me for longer than veggies on their own b/c of the protein from a healthy homemade tuna salad that can be tossed together in seconds. If you’re vegan or partial for chicken salad, there are other options that you can make quickly at night or over the weekend, so you have convenient, healthy choices throughout the week!

Fruit slices + nut butters (or go nuts and do veggies, too!)
Peanut butter, almond butter, even nut-free sunflower seed butter or tahini (my fave!) is delish with a tart apple or crunchy pear. If you’re a fan of the crunch, like I am, include some celery sticks, as well (see above note about the satisfaction of crunching)! If you find yourself needing healthy snacks multiple times a day, then consider including this option among others vs. relying solely on nut butters to satisfy you. The higher calorie/higher fat content, when overeaten, may cause weight gain.

Fruit slices + single serving of cheese wedge
Similar to the fruit and nut butter option, fruit with a serving of soft cheese, like Laughing Cow, offers sweetness or tang with crunch and protein in one compact, nutritious dose! With the single serving of cheese – if you’re into that sort of thing – you may find you have more portion control (and, subsequently, have confidence that you can make healthy choices), which will certainly satisfy and motivate you on your road to good habits!

Yogurt + berries (easy on the sugar and additives)
For the dairy-friendly folks, unsweetened Greek yogurt, for instance, is a lovely, nutrient-rich option. Sweetening with berries gives you a burst of antioxidants and natural sugar, so your blood sugar stays relatively stable, meaning you won’t crave sweets or chips later. If you are dairy-avoidant, try goat milk yogurt or soy yogurt. Again, use moderation because many of these yogurts have added sugar, which will encourage you to crave sweets later in the day.

Other grab-and-go options include:

  • A handful of nuts (see above note on using moderation)
  • One or two string cheeses
  • Steamed edamame, which you can find in the freezer section and steam the night before to eat at any temperature when you get the snacking bug
  • Yogurt with granola (light on the granola to keep the fat and sugar content lower; less than 1/4 cup)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Raw veggies
  • …Any combination of the above!

If you’re a road warrior and looking for healthy tips and tricks, check out this post.

The important thing to all snacks (anything you put in your body, actually) is to pay attention to how you feel after you consume it. Did a combination keep you full or not so much? Did your nose start running or your tummy feel strange within a few minutes of having a yogurt? Tapping into your body’s signals will help you navigate the road to YOUR optimal well-being, so you can choose the snacks that will work for you. Every body is different, and only you can be the expert on what your body needs, what foods make you feel your best, how often you need to eat, and how much is right for you!

Happy snacking!

Apples, Edamame, tomatoes!

Out and About @ Cooks + Soldiers

Cooks + Soldiers, Cooks & Soldiers, Gluten Free dining, Atlanta gluten free restaurants

We ventured out the other night to celebrate a recent promotion (woot, woot!), diverting from our usual “celebratory” faves in favor of trying a new place. As you have probably learned, finding a foodie-worthy restaurant that also offers gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack!

Thankfully, Atlanta’s restaurant scene is evolving (and quite quickly, too!), and Cooks + Soldiers is among the trendsetters.

Unique for serving traditional cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, C+S is located on the Westside of Midtown. Its menu is comprised of pintxos, similar to tapas, and asado, meaning “grilled” or “barbecue”, and its name is inspired by the annual Tamborrada festival of San Sebastian in January, during which, for 24 hours, the entire city is awash with the sound of drums. The adults, dressed as cooks and soldiers, march in different companies across various parts of the city. The passion and tradition of the event from which the restaurant takes its name is evident in every detail.

The dining room is reminiscent of a gentleman’s establishment from a different era: warm, rich and inviting, yet subtle and minimalist. Not trying too hard. Just genuine and authentic. The patio is simply decorated for al fresco dining.

Even though the fertile lands of the Spanish Basque region yield many grains, the cuisine itself is not very grain-based, nor is the C+S menu, which made it easy for us to try a variety of traditional dishes . The servers and staff also delivered allergy-free recommendations with flair and whimsy, enhancing the entire experience to a new level. (Never did they offer up a super pricey alternative, either. So refreshing!)

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you must take a look at their wine list! It goes beyond what I’ve seen in many Atlanta restaurants, particularly those wines offered by the glass. We tried a sparkling pinot noir wine, a cava made from the pinot noir grapes, that was unlike any other, as well as a Riesling blend that was simply decadent!

A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!

A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!


Gambas y Pulpo, gluten free restaurants in Atlanta, tapas, atlanta, cooks + soldiers, cooks and soldiers

Gambas y Pulpo (sans toasted bread for this girl!)


Roasted cauliflower,  Azalorea Erreta, gluten-free restaurant in atlanta

The absolute pièce de résistance. Azalorea Erreta. Cauliflower steak with cauliflower, capers and carrot chicharrón. We ordered seconds.



Cauliflower ice cream, glue free restaurants in atlanta

Cauliflower ice cream with a gentle sweetness + a hint of anise. Unexpectedly delicious!

From the ambience, to the greeting, seating, and serving staff, to the chef, to the meal, itself, each interaction was a consistently delicious and jovial experience. I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a fine, fun place to celebrate a special occasion, entertain clients, or simply enjoy a glass of wine. After such a five-star experience, I’m certainly planning to join them again!

Cooks + Soldiers
691 14th Street NW
at Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Tel. 404-996-2623

A Beginner’s Grocery List for Healthy Habits

There’s something about Spring that revives enthusiasm for healthier habits, particularly around eating for vibrant, radiant health!

The sun-filled days are longer. Sundresses beckon. Bikini season is almost upon us, and of course, feeling good is important regardless of the time of year (ok, ok, bikini season is a mild motivator ;))! Like any season, though, we still only have so many hours in a day, and the biggest challenge may be eating right during the week when both time and energy wane.

The key? Keeping a well-stocked kitchen.

I have a standard grocery list of the basics that I get almost every trip, which I’d like to share with you below. Feel free to use it as a basis for creating your own list of basics that will make eating clean a quick and easy no-brainer! Although I mention organic for a few of the items, do what your budget will allow. Stressing over finances while in the frozen food section isn’t healthy for anybody, so take this list as a thought-starter, and make it your own. One helpful hint, though, is to stop on the perimeter of the grocery store for the healthiest items, with a few exceptions being the frozen food aisle for frozen fruits and veggies (which are just as healthy and nutrient-rich as fresh), and the natural food section (which, if you shop at my grocery store, is in the middle of everything – there goes the perimeter idea!) However you shop, enjoy the experience!

The SnR Basic Grocery List

  • Organic Berries.
    I use these as dessert, in smoothies and in cereal. I even like snacking on the frozen kind. Vary your colors to maximize the health benefits. An easy way to do this is by buying what’s on sale each week. Stores often rotate their promotions. Another hot tip: buy organic at Costco or Sam’s. You can get a huge bag at a great price.
  • Organic Apples + Pears.
    photo 3 (3)

    Apples! #nomnom

    I love to snack, and when you eat as many salads as I do, you need some variety. Apples and pears satisfy both!  Whether sliced with a nut/seed butter, baked as dessert, chopped and dropped into a salad, or eaten as-is, they make flavorful, crunchy additions to a meal for a surprise sweetness without too much sugar. For other tips on which fruits and veggies to buy organic, check out The Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.

  • A Variety of Greens.
    My faves are organic spinach + baby kale blends and organic romaine. I’ll mix all of them together for a snazzy salad, or drop the spinach/kale blend into the mixer to add some superfood punch to a smoothie. Sautéed spinach and kale also add a lot to a rice bowl or taco night. (And are easy to sneak in if you have veggie-averse family members.)
  • Brown Rice + other Whole Grains.


    Where to begin! I LOVE brown rice. I eat it – and its cousins, Red, Black and Green – almost every day. From rice bowls for lunch or dinner to rice pudding for breakfast, I rely heavily on this complex carb. It’s super versatile, and you can cook a lot of it on Sunday and have a base for meals throughout the week. Mix in different sauces or salsa’s, or toss with a scrambled egg and leftover veggies, and you’ve got yourself a slew of dishes with only a little upfront effort.

  • Sweet potatoes.
    In the Varsity League of meal basics, sweet potatoes are definitely in my starting line-up. They can be a fun add-on as a hash to any dish, or roasted and used as a taco shell or base for taco salads. I’ve even been known to bake one in the microwave and eat it like an apple as my mid-morning snack.
  • Other Roast-Worthy Veggies.
    Roasted veggies are also a must-have for me. I love raw and sautéed, too; there is just something about roasted veggies that I can’t seem to get enough of! They are so easy and can be a great snack, side item, or main course as a base for veggie or rice bowls. My fave combo are onions, garlic (yes, garlic!), zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli. Roasting in the oven takes about 20 minutes and adds texture and color to any salad or rice bowl! The leftovers can be used in a veggie scramble the next morning or even simply as an afternoon nosh.

    photo 3 (4)

    Roast your veggies for a fun, colorful add-on to a basic pasta dish or rice bowl.

  • Clean Protein Options.
    Wherever you fall on the meat-eating scale, getting enough protein – whether animal- or plant-based – is key. I’m a pescatarian for the most part, so the majority of my protein comes from fish, eggs, and plant-based options. With any protein source, though, the key is buying the best quality you can. There are a lot of hidden ick-factors in non-organic, non-grass-fed beef, dairy, chicken and eggs, so it’s worth the splurge to trade-up to better quality.
    Since I base so much of my diet on fish, I tend to buy frozen fish, like Mahi, Ahi Tuna, Salmon and Cod, so I can freeze it and have options without making a trip to the grocery store. I may even mix it up and use shrimp or scallops! I love using the Monterrey Bay Seafood Watch app to find the most sustainable sources.
    Frozen fish is easy to defrost by moving them from the freezer to the fridge when you leave for work and sautéing or broiling for an easy dinner. Make leftovers your breakfast or lunch the next day, and you’ve saved yourself the time and energy of preparing another meal!
  • Healthy Fats.

    Salads are an easy way to add in healthy fat by adding avocado or drizzling olive oil as dressing.

    My faves are olive oil, avocados, and tahini. Those of you with few restrictions in
    your diet can also enjoy a variety of raw nuts in whole grain cereal, dropped into yogurt, added into salads, or as part of your banana bread. Enjoy fat in your diet! It’s key for brain and body vibrance and overall well-being and longevity!
    I aim for 1-2 tablespoons with every meal, which is the right portion for me to feel satiated, curb sugar cravings, and see benefits to my skin. Experiment and see what works for you!

  • Spices!
    oh my goodness, spices. I LOVE them! From basil to oregano to garlic to turmeric to cinnamon to cayenne to cardamom to black pepper, I heart spices! They are an easy way to mix up a rice dish or filet to give you a variety of epicurean experiences without too much extra work. Whether fresh or dried, sprinkle it in, and you’re good to go! (Tip: If you’re using older dried spices, you’ll need about double the quantity to equal the flavor of  the fresh.)

Herbs and spices add pizzazz and variety!

Here’s the simplified list for your printing convenience; choose the items you’d like to try, and the next visit, mix in others!

SnR Basic Grocery List


  • Berries
  • Apples + pears
  • Spinach +/or kale
  • Romaine
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Avocados


  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Whatever else you like!

Oils + Butters 

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Tahini
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter


  • Eggs
  • Frozen fish (use your app to check which are best)
  • Organic, grass-fed, beef, chicken, etc

Other items

  • Brown rice
  • Black rice
  • Green rice
  • Red rice

As always, we love hearing your feedback and what works for you (or doesn’t)! Drop us a line below with your stories and tips!