DIY Facial Cleanser

From the time I was about twelve until just a few years ago, I used the same conventional face wash every day, twice a day. I loved it- it made my face feel clean, not too dry, and left a lovely tingle. As I became more conscious of what I put in and on my body,  I felt less comfortable with the knowledge that I was applying chemicals to my face every single day for years on end. 

And so the search began. I tried purchasing several natural facial cleansers, but none were quite right and often left my skin feeling too dry. I tried that whole wash-your-face-with-olive-oil thing, Just, no. More research, more experimentation, a couple weird concoctions, and finally- a natural and effective face wash that I can make quickly and inexpensively.

Here's a breakdown of each of the ingredients and why they're awesome for your skin:

Aloe vera: Aloe is probably most well-known for its ability to sooth sunburns, but you don't have to have a sunburn to benefit from this healing plant. Aloe is an anti-bacterial cleanser, soothes inflamed skin, and effectively removes makeup.

Witch hazel: Witch hazel is a natural astringent, meaning it removes excess oil, toxins, and dirt that are often the culprit of clogged pores. As it removes this dirt and oil, it also tightens pores which prevents future clogging. Like aloe, it's also great for soothing irritated and inflamed skin such as in the case of acne.

Tee tree oil: Tea tree oil is great for it's anti-bacterial and cleansing properties. It gives your cleanser a fresh scent and leaves you with that nice tingle that I loved about my conventional wash. 

Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil (which is actually a wax) is the perfect moisturizer for the delicate skin on your face, especially if you tend to be on the drier side. It contains very similar properties to the sebum that our skin produces, making it a great natural moisturizer. 

Chia seeds: Chia seeds are packed with nutrients that are healing not only when ingested, but when applied topically as well. The ground seeds provide a gentle exfoliation of the skin, removing dead skin cells and other dirt/oils. This ingredient also gives your cleanser its firm, gel-like texture. 

Convinced yet? I thought so. Here's how to make it:

Gather the following ingredients. Though the cost of all these things will initially be more than a single bottle of facial cleanser, you will be able to mix at least 4-5 batches, making it cheaper in the long haul.  

  • 1/4 cup witch hazel
  • 1/4 cup aloe
  • 1/4 cup jojoba oil (optional, but recommeded for dry skin)
  • 3-4 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 Tbsp. ground chia seeds. A coffee grinder works perfectly to get a nice fine texture. 

Stir all ingredients together in a glass jar, and let sit for about an hour before using to allow the chia seeds to gel. Store in a cool, dark place to protect the sensitive omega 3 oils in the seeds. To use, dampen your face with warm water and apply a quarter sized dollop of the mixture. Gently rub the cleanser over your entire face for a minute or two, then rinse well. 

Additional Tips: 

You may have to adjust the ratios of each ingredient according to your skin type. My skin tends to dry out easily, which is why I use so much of the jojoba oil in mine. You can use less oil if you have oilier skin. The amount of chia seeds can also be adjusted to create the desired firmness. The more liquid you have, the more seeds it will require to keep it from becoming too runny.  

Essential oils: feel free to include additional essential oils in yours, such as invigorating eucalyptus or calming lavender. 

Charcoal: One ingredient that I previously experimented with but decided not to include was activated charcoal. Charcoal is actually an excellent cleanser and provides many benefits to the skin, but as you might imagine, it creates a very black liquid and a huge mess every time I washed with it. More work than it's worth IMO, but you're welcome to give it a shot. 

My cleanser hard at work!

My cleanser hard at work!

Finished product- no makeup, no filter. (and a shirt change)

Finished product- no makeup, no filter. (and a shirt change)



Chocolate Chili Pecan Cookies (gluten free)

Sometimes I just want a cookie. Or three. I've been craving cookies this week, and since it's now September, my first instinct was to go straight for the pumpkin. I figured maybe, just this once, I could branch out and try some fall baking that doesn't include pumpkin. (Can that even be done?!)

And, let's be real- my blog is in no shortage of pumpkin recipes. Try some of these if you need a pumpkin fix:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie 

Paleo Pumpkin Pie  

Sweet and Savory Stuffed Pumpkin

Anyway, about the cookies. They are without pumpkin, but they are still perfectly autumn in every way. The fall flavors of chocolate, chili, cinnamon, dates, and pecans come together to create a deliciously warm and spicy dessert that is perfect for this time of year. Enjoy. 

Chocolate Chili Pecan Cookies

Makes: 12 cookies

Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup dates, pitted and packed down
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cacao
  • 1 1/4 chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Use a food processor or blender to mix the dates, eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla. You'll want your coconut oil to be melted but not hot, otherwise it will cook the eggs. Make sure the dates are blended well into the mixture, leaving no chunks if possible. 
  3. Stir all the remaining dry ingredients except pecans together in a mixing bowl. Add the wet mixture and stir well. Fold the pecans into the dough. 
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1.5" thick balls, and then flatten them into 1/4" cookies.
  5. For a softer cookie, bake for about 7-8 minutes. Bake for about 10 minutes if you like them a bit firmer.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool 3-5 minutes.

I've found that these little morsels pair wonderfully with a warm chai! 



Sweet and Savory Stuffed Pumpkin

I am kind of like a werewolf, minus the part about transforming into a hairy mystical creature under the light of a full moon. It goes more like this: when the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisp, I morph into a complete fiend for pumpkin. I cannot control myself, so I just roll with it.  So far this season I have made pumpkin maple bars, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, homemade pumpkin coffee creamer, and pumpkin spice smoothies (and that doesn't include the copious amounts of pumpkin items I've consumed that I didn't make myself). I had been debating which one of these I should feature on the blog, until last week I made a new dish that blew all the others out of the water. This one is sweet, savory, pumpkiny, has bacon in it. What more could an autumn-wolf ask for?!


Sweet and Savory Stuffed Pumpkin

Time: About 1 hour total

Serves: 2

You'll Need:

  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • 4-6 organic bacon slices
  • 1 cup chopped spinach or kale*
  • 1/2 cup chopped figs or dates*
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans*
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • salt to taste (optional)

*I like to use a food processor for chopping things. It's easier and faster than using a knife. 

Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut off the stem of your pumpkin, and then slice it in half. Scoop out the guts and seeds. Using a spoon is a nice idea for this, but you're probably gonna have to dive in with your hands. Hold on to the seeds and you can roast them later! Place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour.

In the meantime, mix together the spinach, figs, pecan, and spices in a bowl and set aside. Cut your bacon strips into inch long slices. In a pan over medium heat, fry your bacon pieces until desired level of crispiness. At this point you can drain some of the bacon grease if you don't want it in your stuffing. If you don't drain the grease though, I most certainly am not judging. Throw in your spinach mixture and saute with the bacon for another 60 seconds or so. Remove from heat, and when your pumpkin halves are done, scoop the stuffing into the center of them. If there is extra stuffing, eat it quickly before anyone finds out there was leftovers.

Creamy Sunflower Seed Dressing

Have you ever tried sunflower seed butter? With the rise of health foods also came the popularity of various nut and seed butters, including that of sunflower seeds. I bought some on a whim the other day and then was like, "wtf am I going to do with all this sun butter?!"

The answer: a creamy and delicious dressing that I am in love with.  The yogurt base gives it the perfect creamy texture and adds some protein and probiotics.  I've been using it on salads (with some fresh salmon on top!) and as a dip for carrots and snap peas. 


Creamy Sunflower Seed Dressing

Makes: about 6 oz. dressing

Time: 5 minutes


  • 1/2 cup cup plain yogurt (I used an organic Greek yogurt which makes it extra thick!)
  • 1/4 sunflower seed butter or tahini 
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until creamy. It should be about the consistency of ranch dressing. This dressing is delicious on salads or as a veggie dip. 

Fluffy Protein Pancakes (gluten free)

Last week I spent some time in Michigan so that I could "meet the parents" (eek!). For some unknown reason, it ended up being the week of pancakes. We ate more pancakes in that five days than I've had in the last five years! And I'm not talking about the healthy kind of pancakes, but the good ol' white flour and maple syrup kind. They were delicious. There. I said it.

I thought that once I came home I'd be all pancaked out, but turns out that's not the case! So, what did I do? Made some deliciously fluffy and healthy pancakes! These cakes are gluten free and packed with protein and healthy fats.

Fluffy Protein Pancakes

Makes: about 5 6" pancakes

Time: 30 minutes


  • 3 organic eggs
  • 1 cup organic cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup rice flour, quinoa flour, or chickpea flour
  • 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil, butter, or ghee plus a little extra for frying
  • pinch of salt
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until you have a smooth batter.
  2. Lightly oil a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Pour about 1/4 - 1/3 cup batter into the frying pan. The batter holds together really well so you can make the cakes as big as you'd like!
  4. Once the cake starts to bubble, flip it and cook for about another minute on the other side.
  5. Repeat until you've used all your batter. Top pancakes with fresh fruit, coconut cream, nuts, cinnamon, maple syrup, or whatever else you love on your pancakes!



Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries

Look me in the eye and tell me honestly that you wouldn't enjoy a giant pile of warm and spicy chili cheese fries right now. Ya, that's what I thought. You can't resist. 

I've been dying to create a healthy recipe for chili cheese fries, and I believe I've done it! Not only is this a nutritious meal packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and complex carbs, but it tastes incredible. Addicting, possibly. Proceed with caution...




Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2-3


  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1 can organic black or kidney beans
  • 8-10 oz. grass fed beef or organic tofu, crumbled
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Sea or pink Himalayan salt to taste
  • 1 batch Hatch Chili Queso
  • Toppings (optional) such as avocado, sliced onions, or sour cream.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes into wedges and mix them in a bowl with 1/2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil. Make sure each wedge is coated in oil.
  3. Spread the fries on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. 
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until fries are soft and lightly browned.
  5. While fries are baking, chop the veggies and add them to a fry pan with the beans, meat or tofu, spices, and 1 Tbsp coconut oil. (If using beef, you might want to brown the meat first and drain the excess liquid before adding in the other ingredients.)
  6. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the peppers and onions to be nice and tender. 
  7. If you haven't already, use this time to also make your Hatch Chili Queso
  8. Once the sweet potatoes are done cooking, layer the chili mixture and queso over your fries, and top with avocado, diced onions, or sour cream. 

Hatch Chili Queso (vegan, paleo)

Let's play a game of association. I say a word, and you say what immediately come to mind. Ready....


Super Bowl parties. Ball games. Mexican food. Comfort food. Satisfying. 

All of those are pretty positive associations. I mean, who doesn't love a good queso dip? And if you can have this delicious comfort food while still getting a boost of healthy fats, protein, and B vitamins, then I'd say that's a win on all levels.

I have experimented with various cashew cheeses, but this recipe has been my favorite so far. I just love the addition of the spicy hatch chilies! 

hatch chili queso 

Time: 2-4 hours to soak cashews + 5 minutes to make sauce


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 10 oz. can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos
  • 4-oz. cans of hatch green chilies
  • Water as needed 
  • Salt to taste
  1. Soak the cashews in water for 2-4 hours to soften them.
  2. Drain the water and put cashews in a blender with lemon juice, turmeric, yeast, salt, garlic powder, and just the liquid from the cans of tomatoes and chilies. 
  3. Blend until you have a creamy sauce. You may need to add water to create the perfect consistency.  You can also add olive oil to create a creamier sauce. 
  4. Transfer the mixture into a small bowl and stir in the hatch chilies and tomatoes. 

Serve warm with chips, veggies, or on my Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries!



Neuro-Nutrition: holistic support for depression and anxiety

Mood disorders like depression and anxiety are talked about very little for how prevalent these conditions are in the U.S. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, about 18.5% adults experience a mental illness in a given year, about 21.4% of youth (13-18 years old) experience a severe mental disorder, and about half of adults who have struggled with addiction or substance abuse also had a mental illness of some variety. 

The current go-to for treatment of depression and anxiety right now is usually a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Let me express right now that I believe that BOTH of those things can be very valuable, and they have been life-saving for me personally.  However, I also know that there are very powerful and proven nutritional therapy and lifestyle options to assist in treating these conditions. Let's take a peak....

Anatomy of the Nervous System: what affects your thoughts, mood, and mental health

The nervous system works in tandem with the endocrine system to govern our behaviors, state of consciousness, learning, emotional responses, motivation, memory, thoughts, and reasoning (Bauman, 2014). The main control center is the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. From the CNS branches the peripheral nervous system (signals from brain and spine out to muscles, skin, and glands), and autonomic nervous system (responsible for automatic processes such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and hormonal secretions).

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers responsible for communicating along these various pathways. They are what transmit signals between neurons (nerve cells). Most neurotransmitters are synthesized by amino acids, and are either excitatory or inhibitory- in other words; they either initiate an action within the body or prevent an action and are therefore calming. The neurotransmitters that are most prevalent in the body include:

  • · Serotonin: (inhibitory) Regulates appetite (reduces cravings), mood, pain threshold, sleep, sensory perception
  • ·GABA: (inhibitory) calming, inhibit action potential
  •  Glutamate: (most excitatory NT) enhances action potential, keeps us awake
  •  Dopamine: (Both inhibitory and excitatory) controls moto function, motivation, emotion, libido, “reward” system-the “addiction NT”
  •  Norepinephrine: (excitatory) drive, ambition, alertness, focus. Deficiencies often associated with depression, apathy, and lack of focus
  • Epinephrine: (excitatory) also known as adrenaline and raises heart rate and blood sugar, as well as prepares body for fight or flight.
  • Histamine: (excitatory) allergic reactions, wakefulness, regulates HCl secretions. Elevated histamine associated with deep depression and suicidal tendencies 
  • Acetylcholine: (excitatory) memory, learning, motor function
  • Endorphins: (inhibitory) pain reduction, pleasure

An imbalance in NT’s  can cause mental and emotional disturbances. The most common are depression and anxiety, but other nervous system-related issues include ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic inflammation/infection, fibromyalgia, headaches, metabolic syndrome, and neuropathy. Because of the complexity of the nervous system, thoughts, and emotions, one of the best nutritional steps to take toward mental health is to eat a balanced, whole foods diet.  .

Nutrition & Lifestyle Recommendations*

("D" indicates depression specific, "A" indicates anxiety specific, and "D/A" indicates useful for both.)

  •  Exercise: produces endorphins, a hormone that promotes a sense of calm and euphoria (D/A)

  • Avoid “brain toxins” such as caffeine, alcohol, toxic metals, stress, tobacco, sugar, aspartame, MSG (D/A)

  • Balance blood sugar by consuming regular meals and snacks which include 1-2 servings of both protein and fat. Also include a variety of fresh fruit and veg (D/A)

  • High tryptophan foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soybeans, milk/milk products, and cottage cheese can help increase serotonin levels in the brain.  (D)

  • Omega 3's: walnuts, fish, chia, flax, fish oil or krill oil supplements (D)

  • St. John's Wort: take 3 x daily at 300 mg (not to be used in conjunction with medication) (D)

  • Magnesium: dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, avocado (A)

  • Kava and/or passionflower (3-5ml 3 x daily) (A)

  • Vitamin B's and Folate: nutritional yeast, eggs, whole grains, dairy, organ meats (D/A)

  • 5-htp is a precursor to serotonin and is comparable to SSRI's in treating depression. Take 100mg in divided doses (mid-afternoon and evening) on an empty stomach. 5-htp can be increased to 300mg per day, taken in divided doses (mid-afternoon and evening). (D/A)

  • L-Tyrosine increases production of noradrenaline and dopamine, and can be taken alone or with 5-htp to treat mood disorders. Take 1,000mg in divided doses (morning and mid-morning OR mid-afternoon). L-Tyrosine can be increased to 8,000mg per day in divided doses (morning and mid-morning OR mid-afternoon). (D/A)

The exciting news is that nutritional therapy has been shown to be at least as effective as medication for many people, but without the side effects. Consult a nutritionist or holistic practitioner to find out how to address your imbalances with targeted amino and nutrient supplementation. 

*The above recommendations are general suggestions and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Make sure to consult with a physician or nutritionist before beginning nutritional therapy for mental disorders. Each individual is different in their needs for vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in order to get the best results. 


"Anxiety Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention." WebMD. Ed. Joseph Goldberg. WebMD, 8 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2015. <>.

Bauman, Ed. Therapeutic Nutrition. Vol. 2. Penngrove, Ca: Bauman College, 2014. Print

 "Mental Health By the Numbers." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI, n.d. Web. 14 July 2016. <>.

Pizzorno, Joseph E., Michael T. Murray, and Herb Joiner-Bey. The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2002. Print.


Healthy Italian Soda (sugar and dairy free)

When was the last time you had an Italian soda, if ever? I used to love sipping on them while on the job during my days as a barista. With access to many flavored syrups, I had the chance to try tons of flavors for my sodas; raspberry, vanilla, caramel, peppermint (yuck), and my favorite- hazelnut. The only problem with this delicious summery beverage is that its two main ingredients are sugar and cream. This is a winning combination for the taste buds, but not so much for your health. 

Usually I like to flavor my soda water with some lemon or lime, but yesterday I had neither of these. I can't possibly drink plain bubbly water, so my quest to find a way to flavor it with what I had resulted in this amazingly refreshing and healthy beverage. 

Healthy Italian Soda (sugar and dairy free)

Serves: 1 beverage

Time: less than 5 minutes


  • 12-16 oz cold soda water (I have a Soda Stream that I use, but any store bought soda water works as well)
  • 1/4 cup full fat or lite canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and/or hazelnut flavored stevia*

Mix all ingredients together in a glass and stir gently to preserves the bubblys.

*I used this liquid hazelnut stevia made by Sweet Leaf and it tasted AMAZING! Sweet Leaf makes a variety of other flavors that I haven't tried but would probably also taste delicious. 

Stay Healthy and Energized While Traveling

Have you ever felt like you needed to recover from a vacation?  Don't get me wrong, traveling is awesome, but sometimes you return home feeling the need for serious detox and two-a-days at the gym for a month. Been there.

As much as I love venturing away from home, travel can sometimes wreak havoc on the body. Traveling, whether for fun or business, usually means eating out, eating too much, stress, adapting to a different environment, sitting for long periods of time (flying or driving), and being out of your normal routine. Traveling often leaves us with less healthy options and little control over what goes in our body. This can leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, and tired when you're supposed to be having fun! I know what that's like, and I don't like it.

I refuse to stop adventuring, so I've experimented with some natural remedies to offset the negative effects of traveling. I've assembled my own "travel kit" of supplements that help keep me spunky and healthy while on the road. I also have many clients who travel for business and have found these to be extremely valuable. 

There are many ways to optimize your nutrition when eating out and exercising away from home, but that is a topic for another day. Today, I'm sharing with you my top supplements that are a must when traveling. Even when I'm out backpacking and camping I bring these gems with me, and it makes a world of difference. You may not need each one of them, but here are some suggestions for creating your own travel kit:

  • Multivitamin: It can be tough to stick to a nutritious diet while traveling, so it's a good idea to pack your daily multivitamin to make sure you're getting adequate micro-nutrients. This can also help boost the body's nutrient stores as it undergoes stress and changes in environment. 


  • Greens: Again, you never know what you'll be eating when you leave home. Some iceberg lettuce and a pickle might be the most veggies you can find. For this reason, I like to bring green powders to provide much needed alkalizing minerals. Most green powders include a blend of green veggies, spirulina, chlorella, and other phytonutrients that may be lacking in airport food. My personal favorite is the Amazing Grass brand. 


  • Adaptogenic herbs: Adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to any type of stress. Traveling can be stressful and tiring at times, and these herbs have a powerful effect on the nervous and endocrine system. Some of my favorites are ashwagandha, maca, ginseng, rhodiola, and holy basil. Rhodiola and maca are especially helpful in keeping energy high throughout the day. Look for a brand that is organic, and follow dosage recommendations according to product label. My personal fave is the Herb Pharm organic herbal tinctures. 


  • Digestive enzymes: This one has been a total life (and gut) saver for me! The changes in altitude when flying, paired with foods I may not normally eat can really upset normal digestion. And you know what that means....bloating, gas, cramps, constipation, or loose stools. Digestive enzymes occur naturally in our saliva and stomach acid, and they help break down foods for optimal absorption. Big meals, heavy foods, and stress can disrupt normal digestion, and taking enzymes before or after a meal will keep your GI tract running smoothly. 


  • Immune support: Whether it's sick kids on an airplanes or street food in India, there are plenty of opportunities to come down with a bug. Support your immune system by bringing along some Emergen-C, Airborne, or better yet Astragalus. Astragalus is another adaptogenic herb that supports a healthy immune system. 


  • Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is most widely known for its ability to bind to toxins and remove them from the body. It's so effective in doing this that it's actually used to treat overdoses and poisonings. If you know you're vacation is going to be of the partying sort, or if you're just not sure what's in the food you're eating, activated charcoal is a great addition to your travel kit. It can help minimize toxins in the body, prevent hangovers, and reduce gas and bloating. Activated charcoal is very dehydrating, so make sure to drink additional water when taking it! Also keep in mind that it can interfere with nutrient and medication absorption so avoid taking it with medications. 


  • Water: This one should be obvious, but I can't stress enough the importance of staying hydrated while traveling. Being in the pressurized and low-humidity environment of an airplane can cause dehydration as well as excess gas and bloating. Drink at least 8 oz. of water for every hour you're on a plane to keep you hydrated. 

Next time you plan to leave home, try throwing a few of these supps in your bag. You may be surprised at how they allow you to stay healthy and energized!

Happy traveling!


Bauman, E., Friedlander, J. (2011). Therapeutic Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.

"Does Air Travel Increase the Risk for Dehydration?" DripDrop. Drip Drop, 17 June 2014. Web. 02 June 2016.

"Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses & Benefits." Dr Axe. N.p., 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 02 June 2016.

Vroomen-Durning, Marijke. "Preventing Dehydration From Air Travel." Every Day Health Media, LLC, 5 Feb. 2009. Web. 02 June 2016.

Increase Energy, Stamina, and Libido with Maca

Increase energy, stamina, and libido.

Who could say no to that?!

I have been increasingly interested in the health benefits of maca root. Maca root originated in the Andes of Peru. It has been used medicinally for hundreds of years and is just beginning to gain popularity in the U.S. as a powerful super-food. Here's a few reasons why:

  • Maca is abudnant in amino acids, phytonutrients, healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. 
  • Maca is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the body adjust to any type of stress. It interacts directly with the hypothalamus which contributes to a greater sense of calm and well being. 
  • The combination of nutrients in maca regulates metabolism, therefore helping yousustain energy for longer periods of time.
  • Maca is known for its ability to increase fertility in both men and women. It also helpsboost libido and relieve uncomfortable symptoms of menopause and PMS. (I'm sold!)

The only thing that maca lacks is, well, good flavor. Imagine eating a spoonful of dirt and chalk; it tastes kind of like that. I made some apricot maca bars this last weekend to take on a long bike ride (energy & stamina - check!), and the sweetness of the apricots blends perfectly with the earthiness of the maca. They tasted too good not to share!

Apricot Maca Energy Bars

Makes: 6 bars
Time: 20 minutes

  • 1 heaping cup of dried apricots (organic and unsulfured if possible)
  • 1/4 cup maca powder
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. nuts or seeds (I used pumpkin seeds for mine)
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Parchment paper
  1. Process the apricots, maca, and cacao in a food processor or high powered blender until you have a sticky "dough". You may have to do this in 2-3 small batches to get it completely blended. 
  2. On a piece of parchment paper, use your hands to knead the seeds and nuts into your dough. It will seem like too many seeds at first, but trust me, it can be done!
  3. Place the parchment paper in a loaf pan and flatten out the dough so that it fills up the entire bottom of the pan. Do your best to smooth out any lumps or uneven spots. 
  4. Remove the paper from the pan, cut into 6 bars, and store in the fridge.

Hope you love them!


Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

One of the best parts about the coming of summer is the coming of fresh fruit. I'm not usually a big fruit eater, but as I explained in my last post, I have been trying out some new flavor combinations of foods I don't normally eat. This Roasted Beet and Pear Salad was this week's experiment. I didn't plan on sharing the recipe, but it ended up being so good that I ate it for three meals in a row! I am rarely able to eat the same thing that often, so I figured it must be a winner. 

Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

Serves: 3 servings

Time: about and hour to roast beets, 5 minutes to throw salad together


  • 2-3 medium sized red beets
  • 1 ripe pear
  • 3-4 cups organic arugula
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. balsalmic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • About 2 grilled chicken breasts (optional)
  • Glass baking pan or crock-pot

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel beets and cut into approximately 1/2 inch pieces. In a bowl, stir together the beets and coconut oil, making sure to coat each piece with oil. Transfer beets and oil to your glass baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork. 

Another way to prepare the beets in in the crock-pot. (This is what I did, and they turned out perfectly!) Melt the coconut oil in the bottom of your crock-pot, stir in the beets, and add salt. Cover and cook on medium heat for about two hours, or high heat for one hour.  

In the meantime, slice your pear and prepare chicken or other protein you'd like in your salad. In a large mixing bowl, combine, arugula, pumpkin seeds, pears, cheese, and chicken. 

As the beets cook, they will give off some liquid, including the coconut oil. Don't throw this out, as you'll use to make your dressing. Drain the liquid into a small bowl and add the balsamic vinegar to it. This will be your dressing. Feel free to add more coconut oil or even spices such as thyme or rosemary. Add roasted beets and dressing to the salad and give it a good stir. 


Cauliflower Waldorf Salad

Obviously I love to cook and invent yummy meals, but I really don't know much about the pairing of flavors. What I know about cooking is a result of experimentation, and lots of trial and error. 

In attempt to learn more about cooking, I recently bought The Flavor Bible (highly recommend it!).  Reading it is getting me so excited and inspired to try some flavor pairings that I would never have tried on my own accord. This Cauliflower Waldorf Salad came from the discovery that cauliflower pairs well with apples and thyme. Who would have thought?! So this is my first attempt at making a fancy dish that actually uses a bit of flavor science. 

Cauliflower Waldorf Salad

Serves: 2-3

Time: 20 minutes


  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower (I used Trader Joe's cauliflower rice. Best. Product. Ever.)
  • 1 medium sized apple, chopped. 
  • 3/4 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins or halved grapes
  • 1 tsp. thyme, preferably fresh
  • 1/4 cup organic plain yogurt
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  1.  Use a vegetable steamer to steam the cauliflower for 3-5 minutes. You want it to be soft but not mushy. If using cauli rice, heat in a saucepan with a splash of water for about 5 minutes. 
  2. While cauliflower is steaming, chop the apples and grate the peel of your lemon to make about a teaspoon of zest. 
  3. In a small bowl stir together the yogurt, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. 
  4. Once cauliflower is done steaming, place in fridge to let it cool. For faster cooling, run cold water over it for several minutes. If using the rice, you'll have to squeeze out as much water as possible using a cheesecloth. 
  5. Mix cauliflower, apples, walnuts, raisins/grapes and yogurt sauce in a medium sized bowl.  Your salad is now ready to devour, although I find that it tastes best when cooled in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. 

This elegant and slightly sweet salad tastes amazing with grilled chicken as a main meal, or by itself as a side dish.




Salmon Cucumber Rolls (gluten and grain free)

I LOVE sushi. LOVE it. I've never made it myself and I don't know if I want to. There's something mysterious and magical about sushi that I don't want to ruin by attempting to make on my own. Some things are best left to the professionals....

I have wanted to try some sushi-ish recipes, and Friday night "girl's night" was the perfect opportunity to do some experimentation. I'll admit, these beauties are a bit time consuming to make, but totally worth it. They are an excellent appetizer or snack for a party, or for yourself. (My girl's night ended up being cancelled, so I ate them all myself!)


Salmon Cucumber Rolls

Serves: 9-12 rolls

Time: 1 hour


  • 2 large organic cucumbers
  • 1 rip avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2-4 oz wild smoked salmon
  • Sesame seeds for topping


  1. Blend the avocado, garlic, and salt in a food processor or blender until you have a smooth puree. Place in fridge to cool
  2. Using a carrot peeler, peel the carrots and throw away the skin. Use the peeling to slice the carrots into thin shreds. This is time consuming, but it also the carrots to bend easily into the rolls. 
  3. Use the carrot peeler to create thin strips of cucumber. I find this works best if you hold one end of the cucumber and press down hard with the peeler as you drag it across.
  4. Lay the strips of cucumber out on a plate. Layer each one with avocado puree, carrot, and fresh cilantro.
  5. Roll the cucumber into a tight spiral, being careful to keep everything inside. Top with a slice of salmon and sprinkle with sesame seeds. If you put the salmon slice over the the end of the roll, it helps keep it together.

Serve as is, or dip in soy sauce, wasabi, or sriracha.  

Living in a Toxic World (without losing your mind!)

When I started my CNC certification program, I was SO excited to learn all the nutrition things!  As soon as I received my reading materials, I dove in headfirst.

In a month's time I had learned (in-depth) all about the dangers of preservatives, additives, chemicals, GMO's, commercial animal products, organic-but-yet-still-corrupt-farms, non-organic produce, tap water, trans fats, sugar, gluten, etc. etc....

I was so overwhelmed, and thought to myself, "Well if everything out there is so unhealthy, what the %@*& CAN I eat?!"

I drove myself crazy (as any health nut can probably relate) trying to research every animal that I bought and making all my own bread and salad dressings in attempt to avoid every possible toxin. Gluten? Out. Sugar? Definitely out. Tap water? Sill gonna drink it, but not without excessive guilt. 

Ugh. Do that for long enough and congratulations- you have the cleanest diet on planet earth, but not without a side cocktail of anxiety, isolation, and guilt. 

Don't get me wrong- we DO live in a toxic world, and the food we eat is not what it used to be. We DO have to bring awareness to what we put in our bodies. But I also believe that a super clean diet is not worth the neurosis that it sometimes costs.   

There is still that little voice of guilt in the back of my head sometimes that reminds me of all the imperfections in my diet. Especially being immersed in the health/fitness world, it's easy to get sucked into the latest "restriction" fad. Here are a few things that remind me to eat well but maintain sanity.

  •  Our bodies are designed to fight off pathogens and eliminate toxins. You don't have to "baby" your body by sheltering it from every possible bad food. In fact, our bodies learn to protect themselves by being exposed to small amounts of toxins and bacteria. 
  • There's no such thing as a perfect diet. Not only is it impossible to define, but it's just not realistic. Life happens. Cravings happen. Being human happens. Strive for consistency with eating well, rather than trying to get it right every single time. 
  • Stress about food is still stress. Excessive stress, whether psychological or physical, is at the root of countless health problems. If your strict diet is spiking your cortisol levels, it may not be worth it. I'm not suggesting that you swing the other way and eat whatever you want, but it may benefit you to find a healthy diet that is more manageable. 
  • (Debbie downer alert) All of us, at some point, are going to pass. Hopefully we all live long and happy lives, and a healthy lifestyle can assist in that. But no matter how clean our diets are, we will still age. We will still die. And even in life, we will still face disappointment, tragedy,  sickness, insecurities, and setbacks. Eating clean does not give us complete control over our lives or bodies, but sometimes controlling diet can feel like protection from this harsh world. 

As I mentioned above, I'm not suggesting you throw out all your healthy habits because it doesn't matter in the end. It DOES matter. But you also can't live in fear of food. You have to find that balance between "eating clean" and letting it go. I can't tell you what that balance looks like for you. You have to decide which healthy habits are worth the discipline and sacrifice, and which ones are just an attempt to control something and/or feed your own ego.  

Don't be afraid of the process. I'm still working on this one...

Gluten Free Crepes

I have always loved Valentine's Day, even during the years when I had no Valentine (which is most of my years). Even if you're single on V-day, there's still cards and candies and breakfast. BREAKFAST!

When I was a kid, my mom would make the same breakfast for my sister and I every Valentine's Day morning.  She would get up early and make the most deliciously thin homemade crepes with cream cheese and cherry pie filling. (You know- the sugary, syrup-y cherry pie filling that comes in a can. SO not healthy, but SOOOO yummy.) I loved those crepes. 

When I started cooking on my own, those crepes were the one of the first foods I wanted to learn to make. The recipe has always stuck with me, mostly because it's so simple. It's a 1:1:1 ratio of eggs, cups of flour, and cups of milk plus a pinch of salt.  It's now been many years since I've made them, as I don't bake with white flour anymore. I set out to find a gluten free crepe recipe that can contend with my mom's crepes, and I believe I've succeeded. Not only do they taste and feel just like the traditional crepes, this new recipe is just as easy as the old one.

Gluten Free Crepes

Serves: 6-7 crepes

Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1 cup rice flour (I tested this recipe with both brown and white rice flours. The consistency is about the same for both, but I prefer the flavor of the brown rice. The white rice flour made them taste very rice-y)
  • 1 cup milk (I used organic cow's milk because I wanted to stick as closely to the original recipe as possible. I don't know how a non-dairy milk would affect the flavor.)
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter, coconut oil, or olive oil for frying

Filling: This is the fun part because you really can put whatever you want inside your crepes. I used goat cheese with raspberries and blueberries. I also made a couple peanut butter banana ones. Needless to say they were both delicious. 


  1. Stir the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, and egg and stir well. Make sure there are no clumps of flour. 
  2. Heat a fry pan over medium heat with a bit of oil. 
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Immediately pick up the pan and swirl around the batter to create a very thin layer. Fry for about a minute on either side, or until lightly golden brown. If the batter is too thick and difficult to spread, add a Tablespoon or two of water. Repeat, 1/4 cup at at time, until all the batter has been used. 
  4. Roll the fillings into the crepes and enjoy!

Thai Kale Salad with Ginger Sesame Dressing

There are several things that may be a bit backwards about this recipe. First of all, it's below freezing and snowing here in Denver- so NOT salad season. Second, I don't think kale is considered a "Thai" food. But today in my kitchen we are making cold Thai salad with boatloads of kale.

Deal with it. 

I first made this dish on Friday to bring to a dinner party. It turned out so delicious that I made another huge bowl of it as part of my meal prep for this week.  So delicious in fact, that I'm craving it instead of comfort food on this blustery day. 

Thai Kale Salad

Serves: 4-6

Time: 30 minutes


  • 6 cups kale, rinsed and dried
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • Protein options: 1 cup shelled edamame or 8-10 oz firm tofu

Use a food processor to chop the kale into small pieces, about a cup at a time. Chop up all other veggies using either a knife or food processor. (I used a carrot peeler to shred my carrots. I was taking this salad to a dinner party and did this for a pretty presentation. Otherwise I don't recommend it, as it takes some time.) Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

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Ginger Sesame Dressing

Serves: 4-6

Time: 5 minutes


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 3 gloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, fresh or ground
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil (you can use olive oil if you don't have sesame)

Blend all ingredients except sesame seeds in a food processor. Pour dressing into a sealed container, add sesame seeds, and shake well. The dressing will naturally separate, so be sure to shake before using. 

Drizzle dressing over salad or toss everything together in a bowl. I haven't tried it warm, but my guess is that this combination would make an excellent stir fry as well. You know, that whole seasonal-eating thing. 


Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

So my sister says to me, "I've been putting oats in my smoothies these days."

And I'm like, "What?? You can't put oats in a smoothie." (I'm a nutritionist, so I know these things.)

But I thought...huh....maybe oats would be a genius addition to my morning smoothie. Complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein- I mean, why not?

And that's how the blueberry muffin smoothie happened. Not only did the oats give my usual blueberry shake an extra smooth and creamy texture, but it also made it taste more, well, pastry-ish. I'm hooked. 

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1 smoothie


  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 scoop/serving vanilla protein* (I used Tera's vanilla whey protein)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp of honey (optional)
  • Handful of spinach

*You can use another 1/4 cup of oats and a tsp of vanilla extract in place of the protein powder if you don't have it.

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. 

What are you favorite smoothie ingredients?

Homemade Healing Tonic

Do you remember that scene in The Lion King where Timon and Pumba roll over a log to uncover a slimy pile of slugs, worms, and beetles? Then they proceed to chow down on said bugs while Simba looks at them as though...well as if they've just eaten a pile of creepy crawlies. 

I immediately thought of this scene the first time I bought fresh turmeric, and for good reason. This root looks just like a fat orange caterpillar.  Or a pile of poo, you pick.

I bought this fresh turmeric recently for two reasons: one being that I've increased my training intensity by a lot (add marathon training to GST) and therefore need to up my recovery game, and also because I really dislike the way powdered turmeric tastes. (Like dirt.)

Why Turmeric?

In my last post, I talk a bit about turmeric and why it's a great dietary supplement for athletes. This root (especially fresh) is one of the most healing spices out there, and not just for athletes. Clinical studies have established the following health benefits of turmeric:

  • Anti-inflammatory: Turmeric contains powerful inflammation fighting properties that have shown to be as potent as anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. 
  • Antioxidant: The curcumin in turmeric is an extremely powerful antioxidant. So powerful in fact that curcumin helps the body destroy mutated cancer cells, preventing them from spreading and doing more damage. 
  • Detoxification: The benefit of consuming turmeric as an alternative to NSAIDs is that NSAIDs put extra load on the body's detox processes, while turmeric actually promotes proper detoxification. 
  • Good for your gut: Turmeric has shown to be an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and a preventative measure for colon caner. In one study, mice were given curcumin five days before being induced with colitis. The mice that had been given the curcumin not only showed minimal signs of inflammation in the colon, but also lost more weight than the control group. 

Kind of makes you want to eat some turmeric, right?!

Turmeric is often used in curries and other Indian dishes, and even a small amount is enough to gain the benefits. I've been enjoying a blend of fresh turmeric, ginger, and beets as a healing, detoxifying, and energizing tonic. The ginger in this recipe adds even more anti-inflammatory action, as well as stimulates digestion. It tastes great as a hot tea before bed or a refreshing post-workout beverage.  

Homemade Healing Tonic

  1. 15 oz. filtered water or green tea
  2. A marble sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  3. A piece of peeled turmeric of the same size
  4. 1/2 medium sized raw beet (optional)
  5. 1-2 Tbsp. honey (optional)

In a high powered blender such as a Vitamix or Nutribullet, blend the concoction until smooth. Serve as a cold juice or heat to make a tea. 

Healing tonic.jpg

Nature's Supplements for Athletes

As athletes we're always looking for ways to increase our performance and speed recovery time which is why there is such a big market for sports related supplements.

I see it everywhere.  Active people who can't fathom a workout without their fluorescent pre-workout drink, their BCAA's, their recovery shake, and their muscle milk. Or whatever- insert supplement here. Before you get your gym shorts in a bunch, understand that supplementation is not a bad thing. The problem lies in the quality of most of these substances. Many of these products are packed with caffeine, refined sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and other harmful and unnecessary fillers.  

So let's say you want to run faster, lift heavier, burn fat, and still eat as clean as possible. Not to mention avoid the unexpected bathroom breaks that your other pre-workout caused you...

When you break it down, the two main purposes of performance enhancing supplements are:

1. To help you perform better during your workouts

2. To recover faster so you can do it again

The good news is Mother Nature has some pretty powerful supplements of her own. These herbs and natural foods not only aid in athletic endeavors, but many of them also improve digestion, fight against cancer, and boost the immune system. The ancients would be so proud. 

top 10 food-based athletic enhancers.

  1. Raw beets: Beets have many nutritional benefits, but it is their high nitrate (different from sodium nitrite, which is a common preservative in processed meats) content that makes them a powerful pre-workout booster. Recent studies show that these dietary nitrates "reduce the oxygen cost" of exercise (source). In other words, it helps preserve your energy stores so you can make your energy reserves last longer. This is especially beneficial for endurance sports such as running or biking. Beets are also a natural vasodilator. In other words, they give you that "pump". Lastly, they contain easily digestible carbs as a quick energy source. Try blending or juicing half a raw beet into your pre-workout smoothie or beverage. 
  2. Turmeric: Turmeric is probably most famous for its ability to reduce inflammation, and for good reason. Studies show that the curcumin in turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties that are comparable to potent drugs, as well as common OTC ones such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  It can also help reduce soreness and DOMS. Try adding a tsp of turmeric to your post workout meal or shake, or supplement with 400-500 mg curcumin per day.
  3. Ginger: Ginger is another powerful anti-inflammatory, and the bonus of ginger is that it's spicy-sweet flavor blends much better with most juices, shakes, and smoothies. It also soothes digestion and reduces gas and bloating. This can be a huge benefit to those who sometimes experience GI discomfort during heavy workouts. (Runner's gut anyone??) Ginger, especially fresh and raw, is beneficial taken either before or after a workout.
  4. Cayenne and Paprika: The active property in both of these spices is called capsaicin. Capsaicin acts as a stimulant and can increase basal metabolic rate. It has also been shown to stimulate fat burning for energy. So although it may not taste best mixed in with your fruit smoothies, a shot of cayenne pepper before a workout can help boost blood flow and your body's fat-burning capabilities. 
  5. Rhodiola and/or Ginseng: Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the body adapt to stressors of any kind. Rhodiola boosts energy and performance not by stimulating the body, but rather by dampening the body's perception of pain, stress, and fatigue. Another bonus of this herb is that is has no known side affects or interactions with other drugs. Panax Ginseng is another adaptogen that is well-known for it's energy boosting properties. 
  6. Magnesium rich foods: Magnesium is one of the most widely used minerals in the body, and is also easily depleted quickly with stress and exercise. This mineral is sometimes referred to as a natural relaxer, as it eases muscle tension and can even aid in sleep. It is imperative that athletes get adequate magnesium, especially if they're experiencing extra tension or even spasms in muscles. Best sources of magnesium are sea veggies, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens, buckwheat, brown rice, figs, and avocados. For supplementation, 200-300 mg a day in glycinate form is ideal. 
  7. Antioxidants: As beneficial as exercise is, the process of converting energy in the body is very oxidizing. This oxidation process creates free radicals that are damaging to our cells. Antioxidants reduce the damage done by these free radicals. Include plenty of antioxidant rich foods in your post-workout meal, as well as all throughout the day. Some great sources are dark leafy greens, berries, green tea, cacao, and orange veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes. 
  8. Caffeine: Yup, caffeine. I hate to admit it, but many studies show that caffeine significantly increases athletic performance in many cases. Healthy individuals can boost their workouts with one to two cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverages before a heavy workout. Gulping down the Joe isn't for everyone though. It can cause GI discomfort and jitters, and shouldn't be a replacement for adequate sleep and rest. Check out my Brew or Not to Brew article for more advice on caffeine. 
  9. Omega 3's: Omega 3's are another powerful anti-inflammatory, as well as necessary for a healthy nervous system, brain function, and cardiovascular system. Most Americans are deficient in omega 3's, and can benefit greatly from supplementation. Athletes may especially benefit if they tend to experience achy joints or other inflammatory issues. Best sources of these fatty acids are flax seeds, walnuts, and fish such as sardines and salmon. If supplementing, take 1,000-2,000 mg fish or krill oil per day in divided doses. 
  10. Bone broth:  This stuff is liquid gold when it come to maintaining healthy joints, muscles, and digestion. Long-simmered bone broths provide easily absorbed minerals, collagen, protein, and glycene.  For more on the benefit of bone broth and tips on how to cook and store your own, check out this article

This is by no means an exhaustive list and doesn't discuss proper carbohydrate, protein, water, and electrolyte intake- all of which are also essential for optimal performance. These are supplement options to consider after you establish a generally clean diet with adequate macro-nutrients.

Need more guidance on nutrition that is right for your body? I'd love to chat with you! Holler here



Bauman, E., Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College, 2011. 

Murray, Micheal T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria, 2005.