Creamy Cashew Tomato Sauce (vegan, gf, df)

Pasta dinners: The perfect summertime solution. Dinner is on the table in 20 minutes, there’s little clean-up, and everyone is happy and full. We do some type of Banza pasta almost every week now, and in my constant quest to find sauces that keep it interesting and satisfying, I created this one. Behold — a creamy vegan tomato sauce that comes together in one blender and under a few minutes. It’s packed with nourishing ingredients like cashews, tomatoes, basil, spices… but tastes rich. Try it for your next past night and thank me later.

Makes enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (no salt or sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2-3 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • Generous pinch salt and ground black pepper (each), to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil, either via stovetop or electric tea kettle.
  2. Add into a high-powered blender or food processor, along with rest of ingredients.
  3. Blend until smooth and creamy!

6-Ingredient Crispy Chickpea Patties with Dill-Yogurt Dressing (vegan, gf, df)

A couple of weeks ago on my Instagram stories I asked what recipes people wanted to see more of. A recurring theme quickly emerged: you wanted “fast”, “easy”, “prep-ahead”, “one-bowl”, “one-pan”… etc.

These Crispy Chickpea Patties not only fit the bill, but they’re fresh and full of light Spring flavors, while still being hearty enough to keep you full all afternoon or evening. You only need six ingredients to make them (not counting salt, pepper, and olive oil for frying… but you should have those on hand already). AND, you’ll only dirty one bowl and one pan to make them. They come together in under half an hour and are delicious served with a super easy Dill-Yogurt Dressing.

Ingredients:

Chickpea Patties

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 heaping tbsp minced garlic
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for frying

Dill-Yogurt Dressing

  • 1 cup dairy-free yogurt (I like this cashew yogurt and this coconut yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp sea alt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill

Instructions:

  1. Drain chickpeas and either mash by hand with a potato masher, OR toss into either a high-speed blender or food processor. Pulse for just 10-15 seconds, until chickpeas are mashed but still retain a good texture. If a few chickpeas are still whole, that’s great.
  2. Transfer chickpeas to a large mixing bowl, add in remaining ingredients (except olive oil), and combine.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and once the oil starts to shimmer, add in your patties. You can either use a 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup measuring cup to evenly form your patties, depending on how large you want them to be. Make sure they’re packed in tightly, so that they hold together while cooking. Cook until crispy and golden brown on the bottom, and then flip.
  4. While patties are cooking, whisk together ingredients for the Dill-Yogurt Dressing in a small mixing bowl, let sit for 5-6 minutes, and then serve dolloped on top of the patties.
  5. Enjoy!

Blueberry Chia Race Weekend Power Pancakes (vegan, df, gf)

These pancakes are everything you want on a race weekend or in preparation for going long. They’re power-packed with antioxidants from blueberries, potassium from bananas, healthy fats from olive oil, chia seeds, and almond flour, and hearty, slow-digesting carbs from oats.

(Did you know chia seeds are a superfood for runners? See here, here, and here for more.)

They’re satiating enough to keep you full for hours (and help build glycogen stores), but they’re also incredibly energizing, and light enough to leave the breakfast table feeling good — not weighed down.

And did I mention they’re delicious?! By now you should know that my favorite type of pancake is slightly crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth in the middle. These certainly fit the bill. If you want them extra crispy, try greasing your pan with coconut oil instead of cooking spray.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup your favorite gluten-free flour blend (I swear by Bob’s Red Mill, which uses chickpea flour as a base)
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, start by mashing your ripe bananas together with the baking powder.
  2. Add in salt, cinnamon, and your wet ingredients (vanilla, oil, and almond milk). Stir until well-combined.
  3. Next, stir in your chia seeds. Mix until well-incorporated with the batter and let sit for 5-10 minutes — the chia seeds will work its magic.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients one at a time — until incorporated but not over-stirred. You want the pancakes to remain as light and fluffy as possible.
  5. Lastly, stir in the blueberries.
  6. Grease a griddle or large frying pan, bring to medium heat, and cook up the pancakes until just browned on the outside. Flip, repeat, and serve with vegan butter (or coconut oil) and real maple syrup. Enjoy!

The Best Nutrition Changes I Made for Body Comp, Performance, and Happiness

I think that everyone — but especially women — go through a unique relationship with food over the course of their lives. Today I’m sharing the changes I’ve made over the past several years that have had the biggest impact on my body composition, performance, and happiness.

Could I be leaner than I am right now? Yes. Do I want to be? Yes, because I’m always working to improve myself — but not by much. Whereas in the past, I thought skinniness = happiness on an infinite ascending curve (where happiness increases as skinniness increases, and there is no endpoint), I now have a clear sense of where my “healthy median” is: where I feel energized day-to-day, I’m not hungry all the time, I can recover well from training, and my hormones are functioning at healthy, happy levels. I try not to stray too far above or below this set point.

Also — Note that I listed three things in the title, and the most important of those is without a doubt happiness. If the way you’re eating is consistently detracting from your happiness, and if the way you’re fueling isn’t consistently making you feel good… you probably need to make some changes of your own.

My best changes from the past several years

1. I stopped being afraid to eat more. I stopped calorie counting many years ago, but for me, I still had some picture in my head of what was and wasn’t a reasonable amount for me to be eating (???!). I had to completely throw out the drawing board and write a new one. I once had a nutritionist tell me that at 5’8”, my body is a “stretch limousine, not a taxi cab.” Things that you have to take into consideration when deciding how much food is right for you:

  • Your activity levels – Including and outside of exercising. If you have a more active day job, or more active weekends, for example, you need to take this into account. If you’re a fidgety person who hates sitting (like me), you need to take this into account. (Google “NEAT.”) If you’re running 40-60 miles a week, or if your mileage has just jumped up, you need to take this into account.
  • Your height and weight – Larger people need more fuel. It’s science. Even if you are larger for your frame but trying to lose weight, your starting energy expenditure is going to be higher than someone who is smaller and of the same frame size. So take this into account and don’t make drastic cuts. The same thing applies if you are tall and thin. Your body needs more fuel than someone who is 4” shorter than you, just at baseline.
  • Your metabolism – There’s a lot of mixed research on metabolism speed, but from my personal experience amongst teammates and friends, I do think metabolisms vary. In college I had a friend of almost the exact same height and of a similar build. We were running similar mileage and doing the exact same workouts. But she ate like a bird and I was always starving. I think that as adults, most people can identify whether they’re someone with a “fast”, “slow”, or “normal” metabolism. I’ve had a fast metabolism since I was young, and my mom and brothers are the same way. I would encourage you to resist comparing the amount of food you need to what others are eating, as bodies are so individual.

2. I started frontloading my calories. This has made a HUGE difference in the way that I fuel. Step 1a was eating more overall, and step 1b was redistributing my calories. Before the cycle would look like this – Start the day eating the way I “thought” I should be eating. End up hungry an hour or hour and a half after eating. Have a massive blood sugar drop around 2 PM. End up at the mercy of my low blood sugar, sometimes making poorer food choices, and all of the time consuming the majority of my calories in the second half of my day. Now, I eat proactively instead of reactively. I always have a very big breakfast plus a mid-morning snack when needed, and I’ve made my lunches more hearty. As a result, I feel much more well-fueled. I’m eating the majority of my calories during the time of day I’m most active (and need them the most). Come dinnertime, I’m not eating a massive meal, and afterwards, I’m satisfied and not having crazy cravings.

3. I stopped depriving myself. No foods, except what I’m allergic to, are off limits to me. I don’t believe that “fit people” only eat protein, brown rice, and vegetables. Fit people eat all foods, they just prioritize foods that are good for their body and make them feel good.

The other side of this: when you prioritize fueling your body with healthy, from-the-earth and –farm ingredients, your taste buds start to change. In turn, you start craving low-nutrient foods less. It takes trusting your body to realize that allowing yourself to eat “bad” foods does not mean your body is going to want “bad” foods all the time. Now, I honor whatever cravings my body has, I enjoy it, and I move on. I don’t say “I shouldn’t eat that” and I stand up for myself when people say “You’re really going to eat that?!” Eating junk food no longer turns into a weeklong downward spiral of despair, self-hatred, and overeating/trying to compensate. It has taken me a lot of years to get to this place, but it’s been so incredibly worth it. Fight against diet culture, stand up for yourself, and start honoring your body’s cravings instead of fighting against them. A great book on this topic is Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom Forever.

4. I started eating more fat. This was a huge dietary change I made after my freshman year of college, which was disastrous for me running-wise. Eventually I’ll dedicate a whole separate post to this (because I feel so strongly about it!), but simply put: FEMALE RUNNERS NEED FAT!! When most people try to “diet” or even “eat healthier”, fats and carbs are two of the foods that are usually first to go. But fat is so important not only for appetite regulation (eating too low fat of a diet will make you hungry all the time, and can give you crazy sugar cravings especially), but it’s also incredibly important for female hormonal health. A good training diet is plentiful in healthy oils, avocados, natural nut butters, fatty fish, egg yolks, etc.

5. Non-nutrition-related… I started consistently strength training. The famous longtime University of Colorado coach once said that strength training is even more important for females than it is for males – because of hormones, bone health, and body composition, and I can’t agree more. Research shows resistance training:

  • Improves bone density
  • Improves hormonal health (in both males and females… but in different ways)
  • Changes body composition in favorable ways, even in otherwise active people
  • Creates resistance to injury
  • And so much more

Since committing to lifting more consistently than ever before, I’ve watched my body undergo changes I’m really proud of, and without having to make any crazy changes to my diet. I can eat more at rest (muscle is active tissue and actually burns calories, whereas fat does not), my abs are tighter and more toned despite not doing a ton of targeted “ab work”, my legs are more shapely and defined, my back and arms are more developed, and my waist has actually shrunk. My body is not perfect by any means, and I still have a lot of things I want to improve, but noticing all these changes has been fun. The benefits of lifting will also become a separate post at some point!

I want to know: As you look back on the past several years, what are the best changes you’ve made for your body and happiness?!

The Best Places to Eat & Run in Boston

I’m so excited to team up with Christie Wang of @fitwithchristie on Instagram and the blog at https://www.christiewang.co/blog for this post! Christie is a Boston-based Pilates instructor (she’s incredible), and has been living in the city for the past seven years. I’m just an hour south of Boston in Providence, RI and despite having a city of my own, drive up to be in Boston just about as often as I can.

As lovers of all things food AND running, we combined our knowledge to create a list of the very best places to eat and run in the city. For all those coming into the city this weekend for the Boston Marathon, good luck, and we hope you get to soak in all the city has to offer!

Best Places to Eat – Daytime:

Tatte – This could just as easily fall into the “Best Cup of Coffee” category as in the “Best Places to Eat” category. Tatte is a Boston staple with the most beautiful of interiors, European-quality baked goods, and menu items that are just as good (try their shakshuka — they’re famous for it!). Check their website for locations, as they have a couple cafe locations throughout the city.

Flour Cafe – Another Boston cafe staple, Flour is famous for their sticky buns. Beyond just sweets, we’d recommend the hearty sweet potato sandwich and soups. They also have several locations throughout the city.

Jugos Supremo – Jugos’ flagship location, attached to the train station, has long been a staple for commuters and people new to the city. The convenience can’t be beat, and you can get ridiculously fresh juices, smoothies, bowls, toasts, and other healthy take-away goods. Now, they have a second location, Jugos Supremo, with an expanded menu that includes sit-down items such as more elaborate toasts, egg dishes, even Belgian waffles. You can expect the freshest fruits and vegetables, all local ingredients, and the fact that all their nut milks are housemade.

502 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118

– Mother Juice – Just a couple blocks from the Boston Marathon finish line, you’ll want everything on Mother Juice’s menu. It is totally plant-based but could convert even the biggest meat-eating skeptics. Try their big salad bowls (pictured below: BBQ Chickpea), smoothies, overnight oat bowls, and energy balls.

291 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

Eataly – A great post-race option right next to the finish line, Eataly has several mini-restaurants within it (for incredible salad, pasta, bread, and wine). Plus, shop their selection of meats, cheeses, and baked goods to bring home.

Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

FoMu – For the BEST vegan ice cream, in flavors such as Bourbon Maple Walnut, Magic Bar, Salted Caramel, and Sweet Lavender. FoMu has locations in Allston, Jamaica Plain, Fenway, and the South End.

Best Places to Eat – Pre- or Post-Race Dinner:

Myers and Chang – Located in the South End neighborhood, just a few blocks away from the finish line, this Asian fusion restaurant offers a popular Dim Sum brunch on weekends and Cheap Date Prix Fixe on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Expect flavorful Asian style dishes presented in a “small plates” format.

1145 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118

Citrus and Salt – A “coastal Mexican” foodie paradise that has Instagram-worthy cocktails. Their Sunday brunch is a fan favorite. If you have a big appetite, try the waffle tacos! If you’re just stopping by for drinks, get margaritas and a whole vat of their guacamole – it’s that good.

142 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116

Lolita – Another incredible Mexican restaurant in Boston, you can expect free chips and salsa at the start of your meal and cotton candy to finish things off with a sweet touch. The spicy cucumber margaritas are my favorite.

In Back Bay and the Seaport

Pammy’s – This Italian inspired restaurant is in the heart of Cambridge. People love it for their hearty pastas and incredible cocktail selection.

928 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

Oleana – Oleana is on the fancy side but, it’s worth the reservation (usually booked a few weeks out on a weekend night). It’s a very vegan friendly Mediterranean style restaurant. You can either order everything in a small plates, shared fashion or go with their incredible tasting menus (opt wine pairings). I’d highly suggest the veggie tasting menu. If you have any dietary restrictions, just let them know and they’ll happily adjust. As a bonus, if you love sweets, go for their well known Baked Alaska.

134 Hampshire St, Cambridge MA, 02139

Best cup of coffee:

Dunkin Donuts may well be the official coffee chain of Boston (locals are fervently loyal), but don’t let that stop you from experiencing a city that has an incredible coffee scene. Here are our picks for the best cups in Boston…

Pavement Coffeehouse – A local Boston brand. Try one their specialty lattes for something fun (they carry oat milk, which we love), or a pour-over for something classic. They also have great bagels and light bites.

With locations in Allston, Berklee, Boston University, Fenway, Symphony, Newbury, Brighton, and Harvard Square

Caffe Nero – The best of European coffee in Boston. Come for the gorgeous, moody vibes and great espresso.

They have locations all over the city. Check their cafe map here to find the closest one near you.

Gracenote – Super cute decor and delicious, artisanal coffee tucked in the Leather District of Boston. A must-stop if you’re in the area.

108 Lincoln St, Boston, MA 02111

Ogawa – Created by Japanese coffee artisans, Ogawa is distinctly unlike any of the other coffee spots on this list. Stop in for something different, and to try all the matcha-flavored things. They also have a full food menu if you want something more than just a light bite.

10 Milk Street, Boston, MA 02108

Blue Bottle – There are only a few locations of Blue Bottle in the world — this is a must-stop! Try their signature New Orleans iced coffee.

Located right in the Prudential Center (by the Boston Marathon finish line), but also has locations in Harvard Square and the Exchange

Best places to run:

– The Charles River – You can find a great full map of the river here. To run the Charles, just pick two bridges and make a loop. The Charles loop “unofficially” ends at the Museum of Natural Sciences, and you can take the river all the way out past Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and into Watertown and Newton.

– The Common – Try the long hill for hill sprints or hill reps. It’s about 1 mile to cover the whole diameter of the common and the “big hill” closest to Beacon St is .25 miles, for reference! This is one of the only “big hills” in the Downtown Boston area so, you’ll catch many of the run groups doing hill repeats here on any weekday night.

– The Emerald Necklace – This pathway starts in Fenway and spits you right at Jamaica Pond.

– The Chestnut Hill Reservoir – Affectionately called “the Res”, it’s a beautiful 1.5 mile path right off of Boston College’s campus.

– The Newton Carriage Trails – Run the toughest parts of the Boston Marathon course along the beautiful carriage roads of Newton. You’ll pass some of Boston’s most beautiful homes and get some hills in to boot.

Have you ever been to Boston before? Do you have any favorite spots you think we missed?! Would love to hear in the comments!

Soft & Chewy Chunky Monkey Cookies

Yet another healthy snack for your arsenal — these Soft & Chewy Chunky Monkey Cookies are high in fiber, healthy fats, and flavonoids (along with all the other good things) found in high-quality dark chocolate.

If you like crumbly cookies, these are not for you. If you love soft and chewy cookies, you will LOVE these! This recipe makes a big batch to get you (and friends) through a full week. We usually pack 2 per day for our afternoon snack, and we find they hold us over perfectly until dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium super-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup natural almond butter *See notes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • 1 medium less-ripe banana, for slicing on top

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed banana, almond butter, almond milk, and vanilla, and stir until smooth and well-combined.
  3. Next, add the oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until well-incorporated.
  4. Fold in the dark chocolate chips and walnut pieces. Dough will be thick and sticky.
  5. Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to divide the batter into cookie-sized mounds on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with more chocolate chips and walnut pieces, and press a banana slice into the top of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a baking rack.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes: Almond butter should be the natural, drippy kind (AKA not the consistency of a processed Jif or Skippy peanut butter). Don’t use the hard, crunchy almond butter at the bottom of the jar.

Zesty Lemon Blueberry Balls (gf, df, vegan)

It’s no secret we like energy balls around here. I always make a big batch of some kind of healthy snack for us to have on-hand for the week, and that snack is usually either a: banana bread, muffin, or energy ball. (Have you tried my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Energy Balls yet?) Dark chocolate chips somehow manage to find their way in almost all of those, but a couple weeks ago I decided I wanted a different flavor combo and started recipe testing these babies.

These energy bites are so soft and light that Ryan says they taste like cookie dough. I would call them somewhere between a blueberry muffin and a lemon poppyseed muffin. The lemon is zesty and bright but understated. It’s not overwhelming and is the perfect compliment to the blueberry muffin flavor. I think you’ll enjoy these!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 ½ cup raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried blueberries
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice (~ the juice from 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor or high-speed blender, add oats and pulse until finely milled.
  2. Add cashews and pulse for 3-7 minutes or until you’ve achieved a thick, creamy consistency. (Be patient — this will take far longer than you think!)
  3. Add coconut flour and coconut sugar and pulse one more time — this time until just combined.
  4. Next, spoon the mixture out of your food processor blender and into a large mixing bowl. Add in almond milk, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, and stir.
  5. Add in dried blueberries and stir again.
  6. Dough will be sticky. You can either roll as is (wetting your fingers as needed to form the balls and preventing them from sticking), or you can chill batter in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour and then roll.
  7. Roll dough into approximately 1″ balls, and enjoy!