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!

Runners’ Power Granola

If there’s one recipe I knew I needed to have in my arsenal, it was a good homemade granola recipe. It’s the stereotypical “healthy crunchy” food, I know, but such a fun staple to keep in the house. I love it for breakfast as much as I do for afternoon snacks over yogurt.

We don’t eat cereal or granola regularly, because most brands you find in the supermarket are super processed, low in nutrients, and filled with sugar. I’m constantly amazed by how much sugar even the so-called “healthy” brands have.

But I love the crunch and heartiness of a good “real foods” granola, and so I was determined to make my own. My version is packed with whole grains, lots of nuts and seeds, and no-sugar-added dried fruit. This recipe is the result of lots of research and testing, and I can assure you — it was so worth the wait! This is my holy-grail granola recipe — great for hungry, active people who need lots of nutrients and good food on the go.

If you try it, let me know what you think! I’ve been giving this to everyone I know by the jarful!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup quinoa, uncooked, rinsed
  • 1 cups raw almonds, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, plus more for greasing
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried cherries
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried blueberries
  • ½ cup almond butter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325º F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats through flaxseed, and stir thoroughly so everything is mixed well.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil and honey and heat until the coconut oil is melted. Whisk the mixture to form your “glaze.”
  4. Pour glaze over the grain and seed blend, and stir until all dry ingredients are evenly coated.
  5. Spread mixture onto the lined baking sheet, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and golden.
  6. While the grain and seed mixture is in the oven, lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 11″ rectangular baking tin with coconut oil and set aside.
  7. Remove mixture from the oven, let cool a few minutes, and then toss with dried cherries and blueberries. Next, stir in the almond butter and mix thoroughly — again, making sure nearly all ingredients are coated. Use your hands if needed.
  8. Press mixture into the baking tin and let sit covered for a few hours or overnight, until hardened and all the flavors have melded together.
  9. Enjoy!

Perfect Gluten-Free Blender Pancakes (gf, df)

What are your qualifications for the “perfect” pancake? Sometimes I like a thicker, more hearty, and “cakier” whole grain pancake with lots of texture. I do like an ultrathin, crepe-like ‘cake. But if we’re talking holy grail, you-can-only-eat-one-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of pancake, mine, hands down is: lightly browned and crispy on the outside, but where the inside melts in your mouth.

Today I’m sharing my go-to “perfect pancake” recipe. You can whip these up on a weekend morning in a snap, thanks to an easy trick — you combine all ingredients in a blender and can spoon onto the frying pan directly from the canister. You only dirty one blender and one pan, so clean-up is super easy.

These pancakes are naturally gluten-free, but: 1) They’re so tasty and light that I’m not sure anyone would notice the difference, and 2) They’re so wholesome and clean that everyone would benefit from eating them.

They’re also extremely customizable! The recipe base uses bananas, which not only lends natural sweetness but also provides a vehicle for some amazing flavor combinations. Some ideas:

  1. Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Chip – Pictured, from this past weekend. Add fresh or frozen blueberries and dark chocolate chips to your batter.
  2. Blueberry Lemon Cake – Add blueberries, a squeeze of lemon, and some fresh lemon zest to the batter, with more zest and blueberries to top.
  3. Strawberry Shortcake – Add sliced or freeze-dried strawberries to the batter, and drizzle the cooked and cooled pancakes with either a cream cheese or melted coconut butter frosting.
  4. Salted Dark Chocolate Chip – Add dark chocolate chips to the batter. Top cooked pancakes with thick, flaky Maldon sea salt for a salty-sweet flavor combo.
  5. Banana Walnut – Add a handful of raw walnuts to the batter and pick up on the mashed banana flavor already in there.

Recipe serves 2 people, or 1 hungry athlete.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Coconut oil for greasing the pan
  • Real maple syrup for serving

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except coconut oil and maple syrup in a high-speed blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
  2. Meanwhile, grease a frying pan or griddle with coconut oil. Heat griddle until your coconut oil begins to shimmer and pop lightly. If your coconut oil begins to smoke, your heat is far too high!
  3. Stir in any mix-ins to your batter, then use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to spoon onto the griddle.
  4. Keep a close eye on the underside of your pancakes. Once lightly browned and crispy, flip! Don’t press down on your pancakes after you flip, as you want them to remain as light and fluffy as possible.
  5. Once cooked evenly on the opposite side, remove from heat, let cool, and serve with real maple syrup.

Raspberry Double Chocolate Muffins (gf, df)

I love Valentine’s Day. It might be my second favorite holiday behind Christmas. Is that a crazy thing to say? I can’t help it — I love red and pink, I love roses, I love the thoughtful gift giving and romance. I love seeing people in love. So — like the people who keep their Christmas lights up long after Christmas has passed, I’ll post another Valentine’s Day-themed recipe after February 14th.

These muffins are decadent and delicious but healthy enough that you can eat one (or two) for a daily mid-morning or afternoon snack. They have no refined sugar, are packed with whole grains, and are gluten- and dairy-free.

And really, I think those who love Valentine’s Day, those who loathe it, and those who only like it for the half-priced chocolate the next day can all agree… there’s really no bad time for fudgy chocolate-raspberry baked goods. Enjoy!

Dry ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups oat flour
  • ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa poder
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 ¼ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup melted and cooled coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips

For topping

  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • More dark chocolate chips
  • Coconut butter, warmed so that it’s nice and drippy

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients one at a time and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Fill muffin cups ¾ of the way full. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips and 2-3 raspberries on top of each muffin cup.
  5. Place pan in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes. When ready, the muffins should have risen, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins should come out clean.
  6. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle with melted coconut butter.

Dreamy Creamsicle Immunity Tonic Smoothie (veg, df)

Cold + flu season has hit our area really hard, and after coming down with three separate bugs since this fall, I’m trying to be more proactive about building up my immunity.

Enter my new go-to smoothie: packed with Vitamin C in the form of whole fruits (no processed, sugary fruit juice), probiotics from coconut yogurt, and extra hydration from coconut water, this drink is a super-potent immunity tonic that will build up your body + help ward off sickness. It’s also great for nipping things in the bud when you feel something coming on.

And the best part — it tastes just like the creamsicles you ate growing up!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 whole navel oranges, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions: Combine ingredients in a high-speed blender in the order listed (ice first, vanilla extract last). When peeling your oranges, try to remove as much of the white pith as possible, as this will make your smoothie bitter. Blend until frothy, and serve immediately for maximum freshness.

Tahini Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Banana Bread (gf, df)

A thick slice of warm banana bread + a cup of coffee is the ultimate comfort food (in my mind), and in the winter even more so. And the best part — a hearty banana bread base pairs well with so many different flavors, so the possibilities are truly endless! For now — I’m drooling over this loaf, which marries nutty tahini with the sweetness of dark chocolate chunks and the saltiness of coarse sea salt flakes (which, by the way, is my latest baking obsession. #seasaltoneverything).

This loaf will probably definitely not last a week in our house… it’s that good. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 large super-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour, which uses a chickpea flour base (You can use spelt or white whole wheat flour if not gluten-free, but I’ve only tested it with this flour.)
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks, plus a few more for topping
  • 1 less ripe whole banana for topping
  • Small handful flaky sea salt for topping

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a loaf tin, and set aside.
  2. Whisk together olive oil, tahini, honey, coconut sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Stir in mashed banana.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients until just fully combined — do not overstir.
  5. Fold in the dark chocolate chunks — again, being careful not to overstir.
  6. Pour mixture into loaf tin. Top with a whole banana, sliced lengthwise.
  7. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As soon as you remove banana bread from the oven, sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt, then leave to cool.
  8. Cut into thick slices, and enjoy warm with a cup of coffee!

How I Became a Morning Runner + How to Build Effective Habits

Good things about being an adult: Your own house, your own rules. You make your own money. You can drink wine whenever you want.

Bad things about being an adult: More responsibilities. Less time. Less tolerance for drinking as much wine as you want…

Being an adult runner means you’re choosing to make running a priority when you have a million other things you could be doing instead. The laundry won’t do itself,  the dishes aren’t going to get washed on their own, kids (if you have them) need constant attention. But still, you carve an hour or two out of each day for something that others might consider “frivolous” and “unimportant” — because it’s important to YOU.

The biggest way I’ve been able to carve out time to running, which is important to me, is to switch to morning workouts.

Why I switched to running in the morning:

  • The morning is my time. Getting it done first thing, before the day has started, gives me the least chance of interruptions, distractions, or things “coming up” at the last minute.
  • Running in the morning gives me more energy and makes me less stressed for the day ahead. I notice a HUGE difference in my energy levels, concentration, and mood on mornings I run, vs. mornings I don’t. I am a much happier, nicer, and more productive person with a boost of endorphins — and also just having invested time in ME before I’ve had a chance to give to anyone else.
  • Running in the morning helps me make better decisions later in the day. When your first choice of the day is a good one, it creates positive momentum for the rest of the day. When I run first thing in the morning, I am more motivated to make a healthy breakfast, keep my house clean, be more ambitious and proactive at work. And even if nothing else goes well that day, I can take comfort in knowing I did at least one good thing.

My best tips for becoming a morning runner:

  1. Success happens the night before. When you run early in the morning, you set yourself up for success or failure by what you do and don’t do the night before. The night before I always lay out everything I need to get out the door — from my Garmin, to my phone pouch, to my house keys, full outfit, socks, and sneakers. I put everything in my bathroom so I don’t wake my fiancé as I’m stumbling around getting dressed. When I wake up, I don’t have to think about anything — I’m just on autopilot.
  2. Set your alarm on the other side of the room. This helps eliminate the delirious snooze hit. Once you get up to turn off your alarm, you’re already out of bed (the hardest part!).
  3. Get enough sleep the night before. Obvious — yes. But it can be a struggle getting to bed at the time you need to in order to wake up early. Especially initially. Here is my best tip for making that happen: Almost everyone has a smart phone today — and your smartphone has alarm apps! Use them to their full potential! Think about what an alarm does — it disrupts you from your current state. I like to set a couple of alarms the night before (on auto-repeat for each weeknight, so that there’s no excuses) as check-ins for where I should be in my nightly routine. It’s a great way to pull yourself off the couch if you’re struggling to get up and get moving. And it’s a great way to pull yourself away from any task you’re in the middle of. I usually set one alarm to start my “wind down” routine at night (AKA, disconnect from social media, or finish doing the dishes, and start getting ready for the next day). Then, I’ll set an alarm at the time I actually want to be in bed by. That’s my hard stop. Lights out.
  4. Halfway dressed, and you’re halfway there. A tip I had heard when I first started experimenting with morning running was to wear your workout clothes to bed. To me, sleeping in a tight sports bra is very uncomfortable. And I do love wearing real pajamas. So I compromise. I’ll wear my running bottoms to bed, and a comfy pajama top. It’s only one less step I have to do in the morning, but oddly, having that one layer already on seems to make such a difference.
  5. Build a practice. Create a routine, and cues. Take inspiration from yogis who don’t call their yoga a “workout routine”, but rather a “practice.” Develop a morning routine that can become your own form of practice. Once you go through a routine enough, it almost becomes meditative. You should have a super specific item-by-item list of what each step in your routine looks like. This takes a little work upfront, but the payoff is always having a plan and never having to wonder what you need to do next to get yourself out the door. Throughout your routine, set external “cues” for yourself — which are key for building habits. The act of brewing your coffee. Lacing up your shoes after putting on your clothes. Maybe you read the newspaper, or a book, while you drink your coffee. Maybe you spend a few minutes jotting down your goals for the day. All of these are tangible experiences that, once repeated day in and day out, will signal to your brain that it’s time to go running.
  6. Consistency is everything. Nothing works unless you’re consistent with it. The same thing goes with building habits. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on it the next day. No guilt. No overthinking. No deep-seated feelings of anger or shame. Don’t allow yourself to get into the mindset that you need to wait until next Monday, or next month, or the start of the next year, to “start over”. There is no starting over, really. Keep putting in the work, forcing consistency when necessary, and know that over time it will become so ingrained that not running in the morning will feel like forgetting to brush your teeth!