Sweet Potato No Bake Cookie Dough

If you know me well, then you know I have an obsession with sweet potatoes. To me they are the ultimate comfort food and I could honestly eat one every day (some weeks I do!) They are high in fiber, vitamin A, and are the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Like I said, the ultimate comfort food. I feel like there are two people in this world: people who like sweet potatoes and people who don’t like sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. My husband claims they aren’t for him. I guess opposites really do attract 😉

One of my favorite things about cooking is sneaky healthy foods into whatever I’m making and tricking my husband into liking them. Sneaky I know. I always add an extra scoop of greens into his morning smoothie, or an extra dash of turmeric to his ground beef tacos. In all honesty, I don’t just do it to be sneaky, I do it so he too can enjoy the benefits of healthy food. Also, my husband is very picky so a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

I felt like I hit another home run when my husband went up for seconds after I took the cookies out of the oven. When I told him the main ingredient was sweet potatoes he didn’t even complain. He just grabbed another one off the plate. So if you are a lover of sweet potatoes, or you are a picky eater, I would say this edible no bake dough as well as the cookies are for you. Enjoy.

 

Edible Sweet Potato Cookie Dough (I also baked them into cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Organic Japanese Sweet Potato (I can’t stress enough to get this kind!)
  • 1/4 Cup Bob’s Redmill Coconut Flour
  • 3 Organic Medjool Dates
  • 1 packet (1 T) Organic Stevia
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 T honey
  • A dash of sea salt
  • Collagen Powder (optional) – you can use my code “loveyourgut10” for 10% off Further Food!
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil

 

Dough Directions

  • Cook your sweet potato until it is very soft. Let cool
  • Put all ingredients in bowl/blender/food processor and blend until soft
  • Add chocolate chips and blend
  • Eat it!

Cookies

  • Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees F

How to Eat Your Way Through the Holidays

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? You can just feel it in the air (literally). The temperatures are dropping, the holiday decorations are out, and the Christmas songs are on the radio. What is not to love about the holiday season, right? Let’s not kid ourselves though. The sun is now setting around 4:30 pm, Christmas cookies have never looked better, and comfort food is calling your name. This is a time of year that is filled with so much joy, but also a lot of anxiety because as much as we all want to stay warm, we don’t need to add an extra layer for the winter. In a previous blog post I wrote about not living in the moment and enjoying situations because I was too afraid of the unhealthy choices I would make. The holidays only come once a year. This is a time for celebration, love and joy. Don’t let the fear of food get in the way of living in these moments! I have created a little list of tips that help me during this time of year, and I hope they help you as well. I hope in my heart that you truly enjoy the holiday season, are surrounded by people you love, and remember what the true meaning of the holidays is all about.

My Holiday Tips and Tricks

  1. Never go to a holiday party hungry
    • As much as you want to “save calories” (plug: don’t count calories. It doesn’t work! What are they anyway??? 😉  you may end up being so starving that the cream cheese puff on the appetizer table MUST go into your stomach this minute! When we are hungry we often times make irrational, in-the-moment decisions that we end up regretting later. Before a get together, I make sure I have something in my stomach. Whether it be a protein smoothie, bowl of veggie soup, crackers and hummus, it is always good to have something to hold you over.
  2. Workout in the Morning
    • Even if you aren’t a morning person, I would suggest switching up your workout routine to the morning. Because the sun sets so early, all possible motivation for getting your sweat on is pretty much gone (at least it is for me). I have found in the winter I have more energy and I start my day off with a more positive attitude if I get a good sweat in in the morning. I often do a 20 – 30 minute HIIT routine in the morning to avoid waking up extra early, and then go for a walk (inside on the treadmill, sigh) after dinner. Breaking up my workouts like that allows me to still feel active during the day when all you want to do is snuggle up by the fireplace.
  3. Avoid Sugar During the Week
    • Life is all about balance, am I right? Notice how I didn’t say “eliminate sugar during the week” ? Save the sugar intake for your weekend glass of wine or sugar cookie at the cookie exchange. If you focus on avoiding sugar during the week your body will have time to cleanse itself and not intake too much sugar each week. I personally know some people who allow themselves one “cheat day” a week. This isn’t something I do, but if it works for you do it! I try to just enjoy everything in moderation, but whatever your body responds best to is what you should practice.
  4. Volunteer
    • There are so many amazing ways to volunteer throughout the year, specifically during the holiday season. Not everyone is surrounded by friends and family, a warm home, and a delicious meal on the table. Take the time to give back to others in need, and reflect and give thanks for what you have. Sometimes it is helpful to put life into perspective. It makes eating that extra cookie not seem so bad compared to what others deal with on a daily basis.
  5. Love Yourself
    • I am stating this with zero scientific evidence. This is honestly just a personal opinion so take it or leave it. I truly believe that our body responds to the energy we put out. If I feel disappointed in myself for not working out enough, not eating well, or my jeans feel too tight, I swear my body responds. Don’t be too hard on yourself any day of the year. If you love your body, it will love you right back. Stress gives off cortisol which completely messes up our blood sugar levels and hormones. Love yourself. Thank your body for everything it does for you every single day. Celebrate that you don’t look like everyone else. You are unique. You are beautiful. You are you.

 

Happy Holidays. Love your Gut.

Rachel

Life’s too Short – Eat the Gelato.

I am sitting on my couch at 5:00 in the morning ( #jetlag ) reflecting on the last two weeks. My husband and I just returned from our Italian vacation and just like every incredible experience, it now feels like it was all just a dream. We explored 4 different cities in about 12 days and basically only had each other the entire time. We went on morning walks, ate every meal together, navigated the confusing European metro system, and grew our marriage to a whole new level. This is and probably always will be one of my most favorite memories I have shared with my husband. Through the good, the bad, and the jaw dropping “is this really real” moments, we did it together and enjoyed every second.

Throughout this entire trip I kept thinking about how important it is to truly make memories. It is often extremely hard to live in the moment and savor memories as you go through life. Everyone has their reason for distractions or reasons why they can’t fully embrace moments. Some may have a running list of all the other things they think they “should” be doing at that time, others may be distracted by the dinging of their cell phone, and some may not have enough time during the day to put aside doing something they love. This is extremely sad for me to admit and putting it down on paper makes me immediately want to delete it and brush it to the side, but for me, food is what has always halted me from truly making memories. When I was in college I would often not join in on the fun night out because I was worried about how many calories I would consume or the workout I would probably then miss the next morning. When a friend wanted to go to lunch I had to make sure the restaurant had something healthy on the menu and wouldn’t allow myself to indulge. I would get so anxious preparing and analyzing the situation as it related to the food I would consume, it completed detracted from the actual experience I could have enjoyed. As I said, I wish this wasn’t the case, but I say this because I am sure there are some of you reading this who can relate. We all have things we need to work on and you are not alone.

As I have gotten older I have tried to truly embrace making memories and not letting food get in the way. I no longer want to look back at situations that could have been a wonderful memory and regret not fully letting myself enjoy it. Preparing to go to Italy with my husband was a little intimidating considering the vast amounts of wine, food, and limited exercise I knew we would be facing. Let’s just say when you are in Italy you don’t just have one glass of wine with dinner. You also have a glass for lunch. And maybe even a cup of gelato in between J Before our trip I told myself I would not let the “fear of food” get in the way of this once-in-a-lifetime experience I would have with my husband. We both knew we probably wouldn’t go back to Europe until our future kids who we don’t have graduated from college (oh boy) so I knew I needed to soak up every moment that this beautiful country and culture had to offer. And you know what, I did. And you know what, this morning I am sitting here with my mug FULL of bullet-proof coffee waiting for my husband to wake up so I can blast the blender filled with my superfood smoothie ingredients, and I feel full. Not full in the sense of my stomach is full (I am actually hungry, I hope he wakes up soon so I can eat!) but my heart feels full. Some of my favorite memories were sitting near Lake Como drinking a glass of wine with my husband and dipping my crusty bread in the extra virgin olive oil while discussing our future dreams, plans, and goals, all while living in the moment and soaking in the beautiful scenery around us. When my husband asked if I wanted to get gelato after dinner (numerous times – well, let’s be real, every night!) I would say yes and ask to sample every flavor. I did get a sinus infection and a tummy ache but that’s a whole different blog post ( #dairyproblems ) The point I am trying to make and I hope comes across in this post is that life is too short to let distractions get in the way of making memories. When you think about one single day in your life compared to the vast amount of days ahead, it is just a sliver in time. Eating a little too much at dinner or drinking that extra glass of wine truly won’t even make a difference in the long run. Life is all about balance. When you give in to your cravings and let yourself truly live and enjoy what’s in front of you, your body will thank you. A few days ago I was drinking wine and eating gelato in Italy. This morning I am drinking bulletproof coffee and my superfood smoothie. Life is all about balance and is too short not to make memories. Love your body, love yourself, love your gut.

What Does Health Mean to You?

What does being healthy mean to you? Does it mean enjoying a well-nourished breakfast or reaching your 10,000 steps per day? Or is it losing 5 pounds, eating enough avocados, or getting your daily dose of vitamin-D? As “healthy” and self-rewarding as all of those things may be, to me, health is so much more. For years I have struggled to define the true meaning of health in my life. I used to think being healthy meant watching what you eat and making sure your favorite pants never felt too tight. I used to think the epitome of health was reflected by how you looked on the outside, completely disregarding what was happening on the inside. I focused too much on the appearance of health that I never stopped to think about how healthy I actually was.

Good health isn’t just about food or calories. It isn’t just about fitting into your skinny jeans or crushing your favorite spin class. Good health is about loving yourself and embracing who you are and what you were meant to do in this world. You can be as thin and as active as your heart desires, but if you don’t love yourself and exude that love to others, you aren’t truly fulfilling a healthy life.

I believe we all have a purpose in this life and each and every one of us is on this earth for a reason. We are all blessed with special gifts, and these gifs should not be wasted or sidelined because we are focusing on things that don’t truly matter. We are meant to love, encourage, embrace, and celebrate our own personal victories as well as the victories of others. We are meant to pay it forward, spread joy, and lend a helping hand to those in need. We are meant to support each other through the good times and bad, and put others before ourselves. Self-love and spreading love to others is the most rewarding act you can do for yourself and someone else. To me, that is what health is. When we can let go of our regrets, our competitive natures, our jealous envies, that is what good health is. When we can put others before ourselves, take risks, and give thanks for each and every day; that is what good health is. When we can let go of trying too hard, trying to replicate someone else’s life, and stop and smell the roses, that is what good health is. Our body runs and relies on our emotions, and our emotions can completely determine how healthy we are inside and out. Our body knows when we feel doubt, shame, envy, and discouraged. Our bodies want us to love, give, and rejoice.

I am the first one to admit that I am not always good at practicing what I preach. But I acknowledge that each day is a gift, and I want to make the most of it. When we stop trying so hard to reach ultimate health, we can achieve it more easily. When we stop taking ourselves so seriously, and decide to start each day with a grateful heart, we can achieve optimal health. We have been giving one body, one mind, and one heart. Spread joy, love and good health.

 

Ground Turkey Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Pesto Glaze

When it comes to healthy eating, the term “comfort food” doesn’t have to be eliminated from your weekly meal prep inspiration. These ground turkey stuffed sweet potatoes are the perfect mix of comfort food meats clean ingredients. You can even make them in large quantities to have for multiple meals throughout the week. I would say that is a win, win…win! If I could choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, I would probably choose sweet potatoes (haha) and I am actually 100% serious! They are full of fiber, vitamin A, are best served warm, and you can do SO many different things with them! I added goat cheese, cilantro and pumpkin seeds to this recipe to help compliment the creamy texture of the sweet potatoes, add a little kick, as well as an extra crunch. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did 🙂

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb. organic hormone/antibiotic  free ground turkey 
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Fresh garlic (add as much as you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 T coconut aminos

Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • Garlic
  • Lime Juice
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Option to add Further Food Collagen Powder!

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Bake sweet potatoes for 30-40 minutes, until soft
  3. In a separate bowl, combine goat cheese, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds
  4. While the potatoes are baking, brown the turkey with fresh garlic, coconut aminos, and a splash of lemon juice
  5. Once potatoes are done, cut them in half and scoop out insides into the bowl with other ingredients
  6. Add in cooked ground turkey and mix well
  7. Scoop the mixture back into the sweet potato halves and place back in the oven for 5 minutes
  8. For the cilantro sauce, combine all ingredients into your food processor and mix until creamy
  9. Once the sweet potatoes are done baking, drizzle the sauce over the potatoes, top off with avocado, and serve

 

 

I Ate Fat and Lost Weight

For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to eat healthy and take care of my body, but something was always missing. As my education of our food system has grown, I have slowly redefined what I consider healthy over the years and as a result have made those changes throughout my diet. When I was in high school I would eat everything low fat, low calorie, and low protein. I loved eating the “100 calorie pack” cookies for my dessert after lunch because why not? They are only 100 calories so you don’t have to feel guilty eating them, right? I watched my calorie intake, tried to make good choices, but I still felt like I was in a “fog”. I’m sure many of you know what fog I am referring to. My energy was lacking and I just simply never felt good. But I couldn’t put my finger on it as to why.

Right before I went to collage a holistic nutritionist told me my body was extremely sensitive to gluten and dairy, and suggested I remove them from my body. In fact, she suggested everyone remove  them from their body because humans simply don’t need cow’s milk, and gluten is not technically wheat, but a filler our food system uses to produce cheaper products in larger quantities. I thought her way of thinking was fascinating so I decided to do my research and I have not eaten gluten or dairy ever since. I slowly started to feel better, I had more energy, and I started losing weight. Once I realized how quickly I could lose weight by removing these foods from my life, I took things to the next level and avoided many other essential food categories from my diet and simply lived off of fruits and vegetables. As you can guess, I still felt the fog and along with that came weakness, anxiety, depression, and irregular blood sugar levels. It truly is amazing how essential diet is not just to our gut but our brain as well.

It took me awhile to get my feet on the ground after this, but over the past 3 years I have dedicated by food education to learning about how to eat to prosper my health and to fuel my body. We only get one body so why not fuel it like a well-oiled machine?

My quest to fuel my body for the ultimate health hasn’t been an easy one. From removing so many key nutrients from my diet during collage, I completely wrecked my hormone and cortisol levels, so trying to get them back on track hasn’t been a walk in the park. It has taken me almost 2 years to finally regulate my periods again. The fogginess I was so used to experiencing was still not going away and I still lacked a lot of energy. I couldn’t help but wonder what else I was doing wrong. I was trying so hard to make the right choices with food, household products and body products, but why did I still not feel like myself?

Then I purchased Body Love on Amazon and everything was put into perspective. Fat. No matter how healthy and careful I was trying to be, fat was still something I was afraid of eating too much of, and as a result my body simply was not getting enough of it. Kelly, the author of Body Love, believes that if we provide our body with enough fat, fiber, protein and greens our body should function to its full potential and our blood sugar will regulate. If we don’t eat enough of these essential 4 ingredients during each meal, our blood sugar will quickly drop and we will experience brain fog and exhaustion about 2 hours after we eat. That happened to me constantly. Like clockwork, about an hour or two after I would eat lunch, I would become exhausted, dizzy, and feel like I couldn’t function until I had a snack. The snack would help for about a half hour and then I wouldn’t feel well again until I ate dinner. This was my body trying to tell me my blood sugar levels weren’t regulated, and my brain begging me to give it more fat. So finally I listened.

Every morning I put a hefty tablespoon of coconut oil along with ½ tablespoon of Brain octane into my morning smoothie. That is a lot of fat! Two years ago I would have been convinced I would gain weight instantly if I did that. For lunch and dinner I fill my plate with healthy proteins, organic greens, and LOTS of avocado. I feel satisfied, I have an abundance of energy, and guess what…..my jeans are looser! I am not one to weigh myself because I don’t think a number on a machine should define your happiness, so I do the jeans test! I can’t tell you how good it feels to put on my pants and finally have them feel GOOD! All I can say is I would like to credit that weight loss to all the healthy FAT I am eating during the day! Fat is good, people. Don’t be afraid of it. Sugar and unhealthy fats such as canola oil are what will make you fat, but that is a whole different blog post.

I hope my story brings you clarity, and if you can relate, know that it will get better. We live in a world where there are too many opinions on what is healthy and what isn’t, so it seems nearly impossible to know if what you are doing is considered healthy for your body. My best advice to anyone is listen to your body. Eating low carbs, low protein made me feel like crap so I knew I had to make some changes. Eating healthy fats at every meal has made me feel like a completely different person so that is what I am going to stick to. Eat so that when you are done it feels like your body is rewarding you and not asking for more from you. Love your body, love yourself, love your gut.

Sweet Potato, Avocado, Gut Friendly Ice Cream

Who says ice cream can’t be gut healthy? During the summer I always crave ice cream, however dairy and my stomach just don’t get along. Luckily there are so many great dairy alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk that are more easily digestible and have added health benefits, so you no longer have to say good bye to your favorite ice cream treat or feel guilty for loading up on sugar. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean sacrificing the foods you love. It simply means educating yourself on how you can incorporate healthy foods into your diet while also feeling satisfied. I am currently following Be Well By Kelly’s Fab 4 meal plan where you aim to incorporate fat, protein, fiber and greens in every meal, so I tried to stick to that motto when creating this ice cream. There is zero guilt involved when consuming this ice cream because it is loaded with healthy ingredients, good fat, and whole foods that will make you feel satisfied with every bite! I also used Further Foods Collagen Peptides for added gut benefits and glowing skin!

What is collagen, you may ask? Collagen is the protein found in your skin and connective tissue, and can be consumed from foods like bone broth and meat. When our body is low on collagen our skin can become “saggy”, our nails become brittle, and many people experience stomach and digestion issues. I have always been one to struggle with bloating, poor digestion and dry skin as a result from my hypothyroidism, so collagen has been a huge benefit for my overall health. Since I have started taking collagen daily, my hair is shinier, my nails grow uncontrollably, and my gut and digestion have healed. Do you ever wonder why some people just have a “glow” to their skin? It is because they are eating a healthy diet and consuming foods high in collagen to give them that youthful glow. I live in Minnesota and have struggled with dry skin during the winter months for years, and this was the first year that my skin felt smooth and youthful, even when the below zero temperatures rolled in.

One of my favorite things about collagen is you can literally put it in anything and not taste it. I have a picky husband who definitely notices when I try to “hide” vegetables in his meal, but he has never noticed the extra collagen peptides I load into his morning smoothie! I put collagen in my morning coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, even soup! When that “3:00 pm slump” comes along I sometimes make a turmeric latte and add my Further Foods collagen peptides for a boost of protein. Heck, you can even put it in a glass of water if you don’t have time to get creative.

Need I say more? Use my code “loveyourgut10” for 10% off your purchase of Further Foods Collagen and get excited to feel more energized, lose weight, and beat your sugar feelings because you feel SATISFIED! That is the goal, right?

Now, back to this delicious ice cream. You are about to read the ingredients and you might think I am crazy for what is inside. Sweet potatoes and avocados in ice cream? Say what?! Just trust me on this. The sweet potatoes and avocado make it extra creamy, the cacao powder gives it that chocolate taste while also boosting your energy, and the coconut milk blends it all together while also giving you the healthy fat your body craves. And when you are done making it and want to eat the whole thing, don’t even worry about it! This is a zero guilt ice-cream, remember? Enjoy 🙂

See what’s inside below:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 whole avocado
  • 2 scoops collagen powder (use my code loveyourgut10 for 10% off Further Foods collagen powder!)
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder (I really enjoy the Thrive Market brand)
  • 2 packets of organic stevia or 3 dates
  • 1/2 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 2 ice cubes

 

Directions:

  1. Steam both sweet potatoes in the oven or microwave until very soft
  2. Add all ingredients in your food processor and blend on high for 1 minute until very creamy
  3. Place mixture in a container in your freezer and stir every half hour until it freezes to the consistency of your liking
  4. That’s IT! Enjoy 🙂