Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Managing with a College Cafeteria... and defining Moderation.

Hello, all!!

Today, I decided I wanted to talk on the subject of eating healthy with a busy schedule and limited resources. But today applies mostly to college students and teachers.

Luckily, my college does indeed have a vegetarian cafeteria - but sometimes, I grimace at some of the menu items - fries, veggie burgers, processed-sugar-laden desserts, fattening, cheesy dishes... :-/

But I'm going to tell you right now that it IS possible to eat healthy at a college cafeteria - and it doesn't matter if it's vegetarian or not! Here are the things I've picked up so far in my personal journey:

* Stock up on fresh fruit - my cafeteria always has the same selection of fruit: grapes, bananas honeydew melon, and cantaloupe - and half of the time, the two melon varieties are tasteless (yet another reason why I choose organic and in season over store-bought). Therefore, I'm usually piling those grapes and bananas into my takeout box.
* Oatmeal is your best friend - My cafeteria also has a section for hot cereal. Usually it's oatmeal. Oatmeal is SO good for you, and what I love about it is that all of the toppings are on the side - including the cow's milk! Since I don't do the processed sugars, I usually put honey - a much better alternative - in my oatmeal.
* Scrambled tofu is not too bad - you know those mornings where you wake up and can't bear the thought of eating something sweet for breakfast - don't we all have those days? Well, if you're not against soy, try scrambled tofu out. I find it pretty tasty. I'm not sure this option is in every college cafeteria, since my college cafeteria happens to be vegetarian.

* Go for the steamed vegetables - yeah, sometimes they are buttered, so if you're vegan or lactose/casein intolerant, be careful with that. Usually, the broccoli doesn't seem to be buttered - well, at least in my cafeteria.
* Plain can be good! - my cafeteria usually offers some form of rice. When it's white rice, I pile that in my plate/takeout box with my steamed veggies. Sometimes they have a rice that has kidney beans mixed in - it's delicious! Experiment with the simple sides, people! You may be surprised at what the cafeteria has to offer.
* Go for WHOLE GRAINS! - whole wheat bread, whole grain oatmeal, whole grain cereals, you name it!
* Beans are the best! - eat up those legumes! They are full of protein and fiber, and are super duper heart healthy! Coming from a hispanic (I'm Cuban and Chilean), beans and rice are fantastic together!!! ;)
* Skip the condiments - most of the time, they are sugar-laden, genetically modified, and fattening.
* Avoid fried stuff - I never eat the fries at the cafeteria anymore - they are artery-clogging, fattening, and simply downright unhealthy! I know it's hard to avoid fried things at first, especially when you see someone else piling them into his/her bowl - but I promise it will get easier.
* Choose your soup wisely - I say this because many soups are cream-laden and overly stocked with sodium, which is not a heart healthy option. I suggest that you choose the soups that have clear broth and that are filled with veggies. If you're a meat eater, chicken noodle soup is much healthier than tomato bisque soup (a.k.a. cream soup with tomato flavor).
* Dessert is not necessary for every meal - and this is coming from a sweet tooth, so I do understand how hard it is to skip on dessert. I usually cope with this by either eating fruit or going back to my dorm room and eating a natural cookie or two (either homemade or from a health food store).

You may notice I didn't mention anything about salad - I'm not a huge salad bar fan at my cafeteria - it's always the same, and the dressings are filled with sugar - which frustrates me to no end. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE salad. It's just that my cafeteria's salad bar sucks, in my humble opinion. Oh, but there is one thing I like to do at the salad bar:

* Go simple with salad - in fact, don't even call it a salad. Pick your favorite vegetable in the salad bar - let's say... cucumbers. And pile those - just those - in your bowl. By just choosing one vegetable, you won't need dressing AND you won't have to eat a bland salad (there is nothing worse than a bland salad).

I encourage you to try these things - whether all at once, or slowly - I'll leave that to you. :)
I DO know that your body and your heart will thank you endlessly for your healthy food choices, both now and later. I also know that it will get easier to avoid the bad stuff - I know it's hard, and I know some of you believe in "moderation" of these things, but here's my philosophy:

Moderation is good - great, actually! But what's the use of moderating the things that are bad for your health? That's like saying, "I only do drugs once a week." Your body will still be damaged in the long term. That's why I gave up processed sugar and fried food for good - I don't want to eat something harmful "in moderation."

In my opinion, the moderation should come in our portion sizes. You see, I used to eat seconds, sometimes even thirds, at meals. But then I started listening to my body and realized that it didn't want this large amount of nutrients and energy all at once. Therefore, I simply lowered my portion size to what my body needed. Sometimes, I eat a lot because my body needs that energy. Other days, I skip dinner because I'm still full and satisfied from lunch.

Well, that's my advice for the day, ladies and gentleman. I hope it was helpful, and I wish you luck and success on your health journey ~

Much love,

~ Natalyn <3

Friday, November 23, 2012

Maple Apple Crumble Cake

I woke up this fine morning with a craving....

For something warm, maple-y, cinnamon-y, and tasty.

And decided to be a mad scientist in the kitchen today. Here are my notes:

And here is the result:

I know, that picture is kind of blurry, but hey! I was excited, so cut me some slack! 

Make sure that when you make this recipe, you use some authentic maple syrup - not any of that  "Homestyle Syrup" nonsense... no offense.

I also reccomend that you use this apple sauce, because it truly adds to the flavor of this cake. If you don't use this apple sauce, I recommend that you cut down to 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of 3/4 cup.

Lastly, don't be worried about the huge amount of cinnamon - I assure you, it will only add to the delicious flavor of this cake.

Well, without further ado, here is the recipe for the delicious Maple Apple Crumble Cake!

Maple Apple Crumble Cake
Dry Ingredients
* 1 1/2 cup almond flour
* 1/2 cup rice flour
* 2 Tbsp. oat flour
* 3-4 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 2 pinches ground allspice
*1/2 tsp. salt
Wet Ingredients
* 3/4 cup Trader Joes' chunky applesauce
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 1 minced green apple (just use a food processor)
* 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
* 2 tsp. alcohol free vanilla extract
Crumble Topping
* Oat flour (I used about 1/4 cup)
* Coconut sugar (as much as you want)
* Cinnamon (just for taste)
* Coconut Oil (not melted) - about 1 1/2 Tbsp.
* Maple Syrup (just a drizzle)
* Sea salt !!! (important)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a regular-sized, round cake pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together with a wire whisk. Set aside.
3. In a small mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients together.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined. Cake batter should be thick, thick, thick! 
5. Spoon cake mixture into pan, and spread evenly throughout. 
6. For crumble topping, combine dry ingredients with coconut oil, and then add a hint of maple syrup. Form into large crumbs with your hands, and then crumble the crumbs all over your coffee cake. 
7. Stick in the oven for about 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
8. Remove from oven and let cool for as long as you can manage. Garnish with sea salt.
9. Serve with your favorite coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. ;)

I hope you guys enjoy this crumble cake as much as my parents and I did! 

Much love,

~ Natalyn

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm back!!!! With a recipe!!!

Hello, everyone!!

I'm back! Not only as a blogger, but as a person with a renewed resolve to be healthy. If I continue to go on this subject, I can write a book!

Therefore, I shall change the subject:

This is my dog, Rocky. Well actually, he's my sister's dog, therefore he is my "doggie nephew". Hahaha! I crack myself up!

Anyway, as you can see, this dude LOVES persimmons. In fact, today, my mom found the biggest persimmon yet to appear on our tree, and that sneaky Pete dun' stole it! He even ate some of the leaves attached to it!

I guess I better put this persimmon pie far out of his reach:

More specifically, a raw persimmon pie with maple almond pistachio crust! Ooh la la!  

And boy, was it tasty! 

The crazy part about this pie is its magical properties. You see, I'm a major sweet tooth, and this pie satisfies it even though it's only slightly sweet. 

Ok, ok, I've rambled enough. Onward to the recipe!!!!! 

Makes about 4 super mini pies, but depends on the cookie cutters you use. For me, it made two because the music note cookie cutter is HUGE!!

Persimmon Pie with Pistachio Maple Crust
* 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
* 1/4 cup almonds
* 2 dates
*pinch salt
To add later:
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1 tsp. maple syrup

*note* do not soak any of the crust ingredients. Only soak when I say to soak!

* 1 hachya (soft) persimmon
* 1 fuyu (hard) persimmon
* 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 30 min. or so, and then rinsed before adding.
* 2 dates, soaked for 15 min.
* Juice of 1/4 lime *optional*
* 1/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I used coconut vinegar, but either way it will probably taste the same).

To make the crust: 1. In a Vitamix dry blender or food processor, blend all crust ingredients except for vanilla and maple syrup. Blend until crumbs are very fine. Then take that mixture and put it in a bowl. 
2. Add in the vanilla and maple syrup, and mix until very well combined. 

To make the filling:1. Place all filling ingredients into your regular Vitamix blender until smooth and creamy (may take quite a while).
2. Set aside. 

Now it's time to assemble!!1. Use your favorite cookie cutters of choice. Press crust at bottom of cookie cutter - to this to your desired thickness. 
2. Spoon in the filling. 
3. Place in the refrigerator for a couple hours or overnight.
4. EAT!!!!! :)

I hope all of you have a wonderful thanksgiving's eve! ;)

Much love,

~ Natalyn 

P.S. I might get my hair cut soon!! :O Woohoo!!