Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Tahini Cookies 🍪

Do you miss chocolate chip peanut butter cookies? Well, with peanuts out-of-the-picture for many school kids (and adults), what can we do instead? Tahini to the rescue!

What is tahini? It’s sesame seed paste that is a great source of protein, healthy fats, and is reminiscent of peanut butter’s taste. With the 90% chocolate chunks and lower amount of maple syrup, this struck us a “healthy cookie” (i.e. not very sweet). Also, amaranth is a come-back grain (really a seed) after a rather sordid history of being banned because it was considered blasphemous (it also strengthened the people to fight against the invaders). Feel free to use chocolate with a lower percentage of cacao and a little more maple syrup, if desired, to fit your sweet tooth.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 11 minutes

Servings: 12

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini

3 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1 cup amaranth flour (for extra protein; or use gluten-free flour of your choice)

3 tbsp gluten-free oats

1/3 cup maple syrup

1-2 tbsp water (if batter becomes too thick)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium mixing bowl, combine tahini with maple syrup and vanilla. then add in amaranth flour, gluten-free oats, cinnamon, and salt. Mix and then add chocolate chunks. If batter is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of water or maple syrup (for those who want this sweeter). Scoop onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 11 minutes. Cookies should be chewy and look underdone in the middle (they are vegan and perfectly safe to eat this way). Let set and cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!

Review: True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio

It was another hot day in Phoenix when we first went with our friend to True Food Kitchen. Because we were both dietitian-foodies, we had tried all sorts of local restaurants and smoothie shops…but this restaurant was different. We found out that it was created by our long-time hero, integrative physician Dr. Weil. The food was authentically good – healthy and delicious (so nice when we don’t have to choose between the two). It’s fresh without trying too hard.

During one of our last visits to the Arizona True Food Kitchen, we expressed to our waitress how Columbus could be a great place for another location. When she returned, after speaking with her manager, she told us that there was one on the way. We could scarcely believe it. So we rather (im)patiently waited. And waited some more. AND THEN…

It looked like our wish was about to come true. We mentally planned a jubilant parade through Easton to celebrate the opening.

But you all know what happened. Covid. So another year of waiting.

It was a moment of absolute glee when we were able to visit last week. Did we go a bit overboard? Yes. After hours of wistfully looking at the menu and planning, we were finally able to pick up a rather gigantic order so that we could try nearly everything, and report to all of you. Ah, the things we do for love & food.

Their fall menu had just come out; here’s what we ordered and recommend:

The Butternut Squash Pizza. Oh my goodness, the pizza. There is an evening we’ll never forget that took place in Akron, Ohio. We gathered with a group of friends at Vegeterranean (R.I.P. 2011) and, in one of the best decisions of our life, ordered a butternut squash pizza with carmelized onions and balsamic vinegar. It was so very good, we rather desperately wrote down the ingredients and then stored it in our recipe binder, with the hopes and plans of recreating it. Alas, it has not yet happened and the restaurant is no more. Buuuut….remember this moment from Ratatouille?

True Food’s pizza transported us back in time, while keeping our taste buds mindfully primed for the next exquisite bite. (Vegan and can be made gluten-free)

Grass-fed burger – this was for Mr. Chef, but we’ve had it before in the past and remember the deep, umami flavor from the carmelized onions, parmesan, and mushrooms.

Squash soup. This one was a great surprise! Sometimes squash soup can be a bit boring, but this was anything but bland. The blend of spices in the hot soup conjures up hygge-inspired evenings cozied up with blankets, a warm fire, and company of a loved one.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole. This was another favorite from the AZ location and last week we froze it to keep as a meal for when we weren’t wanting to prep dinner. That evening came and the dish reanimated very well after a proper defrosting and cooking. Definitely recommend. (Vegetarian, gluten-free)

Side of Sweet Potato Hash. This order included what looked like overly-roasted spuds and yet the insides were a bit tougher and undercooked. Having had this side before at the other location, we’re not giving up and will order it again.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Hands-down a winner. The miso sesame vinaigrette, along with the mushrooms and chili threads, created a savory appetizer.

Tuscan Kale Salad. We forgot to order these without breadcrumbs so Mr. Chef was the lucky recipient of both salads. His review: “it had a tangy, citrus-y dressing and if that weren’t enough, it had parmesan cheese on top. The kale itself is good, so it’s a bit like gilding the lily.”

Desserts

Flourless Chocolate Cake. Back in the day when eating gluten-free wasn’t very cool and restaurants pretty much had only baked goods with regular flour, this dessert was a gold mine. We ordered it every.single.time we went. All you need to know is that it contains chocolate, caramel, and ice cream. This dessert is all that and a sprinkle of cacao nibs. (Vegetarian, gluten-free)

Squash Pie. The flavor was very good and reminscent of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. The crust was crisper and the portion more generous than anticipated.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. Gluten-free & vegan, cakey and chocolately. We ordered a half-dozen. Only one survived past Day 3.

While we haven’t seen old favorites, such as Kale-aid juice and the Inside-out Quinoa burger yet, we’re thrilled to see what each season will bring to the menu of True Food Kitchen.

Our aim, despite our perhaps rather obvious obsession with this place, is to provide a balanced review. If you like what you’ve read, take a little trip over to 4052 Worth Ave at Easton Town Center. There’s a good chance you’ll catch us leaving there with a pizza.

Sleeping Better, Together in September

“Wake me up when September ends” – Green Day

While the song is about grief, and we don’t desire to hurry this month along, it makes us think about how most of us struggle with getting enough sleep. So, today we are going to get serious about sleeping better, all together, in September.

Kids are back in school, and, for most of us, the summer activities are dwindling down. The sun is setting a bit earlier and now is one of the best times for us to follow the natural rhythm of the season by getting to bed a wee bit earlier.

The problem is, even if we know we should prioritize sleep, there are a couple tricky things that get in the way. Here are some common issues and ideas to help thwart them:

  1. The ‘Gremlin’ or ‘Inner Child’. This one got us good over the past weekend. It was date night and Netflix paraded a German post-war mystery/thriller show in front of us. Why not give it a try? Turns out that it was a series and, as our normal bedtime rolled around, the Inner Child trickster was all ready to protest “but I don’t wanna go to bed! I want to see what happens AND I’m learning/practicing my German AND tomorrow is Sunday so I can sleep in…” on and on, the rationalizations went. Long story short, staying up until 3am not only messed up our sleep but the tired, slow, foggy thinking and lack of motivation to do anything the next day led to more of the same on behavior on Sunday night. Thank goodness we got back on track on Monday. How to solve this: the first step involves awareness that the voice in your head is one of your inner child or gremlin. How will you be able to tell? Well, generally the thoughts you’ll have are about very short-term, false pleasure and how you “deserve” to do, or eat something. There’s a ton of rationalizing and usually done in a way that fools you into thinking the bad choice is a benefit (i.e. “I’m learning German with this show!”). The inner child doesn’t care about tomorrow’s hangover – it’s all about getting the candy, staying up late, partying and playing NOW – without evaluating potential consequences. Whether it’s with sleep, food choice, or something else, evaluate where the gremlin or inner child tends to pop up for you.

2. Rely less on Willpower and more upon Routines. The former you can only do for a certain amount of time until it either becomes a habit or falls apart. Routines can help create easy, automatic behaviors – just like brushing one’s teeth doesn’t require as much will to execute as it is just following part of the morning or evening ritual. When we turn off our devices at 11:30pm and expect good, deep sleep we are skipping the transition time our brains and bodies need to make before going to sleep. By creating an effective bedtime routine, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re moving into restorative, restful sleep time and you’ll likely see an improvement in both quality and quantity of sleep. Stay tuned for our bedtime routine in a future blog.

3. Don’t “Should” yourself – be Realistic. You might have ideals of going to sleep at 9pm and getting up to be a productive, early bird at 5 or 6am; however, it’s important to be realistic about your evening activities and how late they run (this is why our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise didn’t work out so well). If you’ve been a night owl for most of your life, part of it could be genetics or your particular cronotype (and is unlikely to change), or you’re going to need to set up some small improvements first (e.g. going to bed at 12:45am instead of 1am). When you put the kids down for bed, do the hours afterward get stretched out as you enjoy some much-needed alone or self-care time? Don’t give up your me-time; adjust the dial a bit and consider watching one or two episodes of your favorite show instead of four before bed. You don’t have to sleep when your kids do, but if you stay up too late, no one will be happy the next morning.

4. Track your Progress and Celebrate your Wins. Remember how the teacher would give you a gold star for reading a book and after 20 stars you got a reward? We can do the same thing for ourselves by tracking and celebrating our own progress. One of the best tools we use, and share with clients, is our Habit Tracker. With a simple sticker or “x” you can see how many days out of the month you had enough water or sleep, got in some exercise or meditation practice. Consider tracking ONLY sleep for this month, in order to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a simple prompt “in bed before 11pm” is a place to start tracking your success this month. Celebrate as you see the row of stickers or “x” marks build and reflect to see how the habit has served you (e.g. more energy, etc) well. This will help reinforce the change you’re making.

Let’s create a movement to reclaim our rest as we all sleep better, together, in September.

Recipe: ‘Nacho’ Average Nachos

nachoaveragenachos

These nachos don’t follow the bell curve to the top. Oh no, they are at the tail end in the small, exceptional A+ pool. What makes them more amazing than ‘average’ nachos?

They are, perhaps surprisingly, dairy-free. They are also a good source of fiber, thanks to those black beans, AND they utilize cilantro, rather than more salt, to create a tasty and craveable meal. Ready to give it a try?

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Servings: that’s up to you, it fills an entire sheet pan 😀

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

Ingredients

1/2 bag of organic tortilla chips

1 cup black beans, canned

1/2 cup of salsa

1/2 bag of Violife shredded cheddar

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp jalapeño, diced (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tortilla chips on baking pan and top with black beans and non-dairy cheese. Place in oven and bake until heated through and cheese has started to melt, about 6-7 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings of salsa, cilantro and other desired toppings such as diced jalapeño. Enjoy!

Is it Laziness or Rest?

Sometimes we can’t escape it either – the whispers of shame saying, “you’re being so lazy; you haven’t done _x_ in _y_ days.”

In the equation, “x” could be any activity and “y” can be any duration of time. Filled in, this could look like anything from “you haven’t vacuumed in over a week!” or, more recently and very apropos to this article, “you haven’t written a blog in over 20 days” and even “you said you were going to get started with daily yoga like over a month ago” (sometimes the shaming voice sounds like a Valley girl). Whether you call it “gremlin voice,” “inner bully,” or something else entirely, we all have it and oftentimes the negative voice has a loudspeaker and commands our attention, while our “inner best friend” voice gets drowned out.

We teach our clients all about this, and we practice awareness of these two forces ourselves. So, when the inner bully voice recently came booming into our thoughts, accusing us of being super-lazy by not writing a post in our usual time frame, we thought this was the best opportunity to explore the the truth and to let our inner best friend voice weigh in.

The gremlin voice will tell you all sorts of lies and typically either push you to over-compensate, over-perform, over-do anything (and consequently burn out) OR it will paralyze you with why-bother or ‘Eeyore thinking’, overwhelm and perfectionism.

The first step we take is to evaluate whether the accusations are true. In this case, we did an exploration into what “lazy” and “rest” actually mean. Here’s what we came up with:

The definition of lazy is “unwilling to work or use energy.” Laziness can look like staying in one’s bathrobe all day and watching hours of TV. Laziness can have you feeling stuck, mired, and doing lots of passive activities or staying ‘busy’ while ignoring the larger results you want or need to accomplish. This results in feeling like you’re not moving forward in your life (and perhaps even feeling like you’re moving backward). Laziness also drains your energy and can feel like giving up and quitting, avoiding the challenges in work or life. It is not useful to us and is not a characteristic you want to embody. Lastly, laziness also does not not help us produce desired results in our life.

Rest is not laziness; it is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” In a word, it is restorative – and when you’re done resting, you feel energized and revved up to go. Adequate rest can help prevent burnout and will help you move forward in a ‘juicier’ state of being. Rest is useful, necessary, helps you recover from illness and produce desired results in your life. Here’s the rub…HOW you rest, and whether the rest occurs BEFORE or AFTER an important activity, matters.

Not wanting to do something is normal – and is part of the human condition. The feeling can exist; however, the difference is whether we still proceed to do the hard things in our businesses and our lives, or lay around watching Netflix and not produce the results we want in our work and relationships.

One of the best things we’ve done in recent years is calendaring our week with REST first. After that, we schedule the activities to get us the RESULTS we want. We desire to be proficient with our time and work against Parkinson’s Law. The alternative, we’ve found, is that we get distracted with Facebook or social media, only to find that we spent 8 hours on something we could have done in one hour. Keep in mind too – procrastination is the result of perfectionism and produces stress as we make ourselves do something.

Produce or create, then rest. Repeat and harvest the results you want – whether it’s completing marathon training or writing a book.

Examples of rest:

  • finishing a blog post or podcast and then sitting on the couch to watch a favorite show
  • running a few miles and then taking a nap
  • cleaning the house and then soaking in the tub with a good book

What all of these have in common is that there is a sense of accomplishment and feeling of having earned a reward, this rest, after completing a task. The rest activity is enjoyable and restorative.

Contrast this with examples of laziness:

  • avoiding homework by watching YouTube makeup tutorials
  • shopping online instead of cleaning the house in preparation for guests coming over
  • playing video games for hours while your essay for business school is due tomorrow

What these have in common is that the activities aren’t truly a form of rest because there’s the background voice of “you should do your project/homework/cleaning…” and after we’re done with the YouTube videos or online shopping, we quite often don’t feel better or fueled-up for the activity we need to do. We might just act only under time-pressure of now having a few hours to write the essay before it’s due. This is common in people who claim, “I do my best work under pressure”; however, in this case, the end result is feeling worse and drained.

The best way to overcome laziness is to acknowledge that we don’t feel like doing the activity that needs to be done, and doing it anyway.

If we aren’t intentional with our rest, it can become laziness. The place to aim is somewhere in the middle of these two – work hard and rest (and play!) when we need to.

Bottom line: do you feel restored or drained after your version of resting? Do you feel like you’re producing your desired results? These will be your clues as to whether rest or laziness is involved. Commit to resting well – in a way that feels restorative, earned, and in a way that takes care of you.

Client Spotlight: Morgan Metcalf

Early in our work together

“I wanted to tell you that I spoke to a dietitian within my network plan and it was night and day. You are incredibly knowledgeable and professional. You have so much to offer to your clients. You can tell that you are very passionate about what you do : )”

Later in our sessions

“I have confidence in what foods I can eat that are nutritious, feel good for my body, and reduce bloating.

 I feel like I can be totally honest with you and that you believe in me that I can continue to make progress. No matter how many falls I have. I feel like you understand humanness and our imperfectness while still encouraging progress. And that helps me feel confident that I can get back to the place of eating healthy and feeling well.

How have I benefited from our work together? This answer changes on a daily basis because I change from day to day. I think overall acceptance, with the mindset of knowing I can achieve goals when I’m motivated and ready. 

I really enjoyed working with you. You are a kind, knowledgeable, and empathetic person. You really are a good person and someone that I am grateful for having in my life.” – Morgan Metcalf, client


It’s clients like Morgan that reinforce the importance of how we help people transform their lives. A boot-camp-style, intimidating, aggressive energy might help *some* people create change, but we find that the approach that works long-term is one of grace and guidelines, not strict rules or commands.

Through our work together, Morgan’s digestive issues have mostly gone by the wayside, except for when an offending food is ingested. The food sensitivity test showed her a number of rather surprising results and she has implemented the protocol we designed for her unique body.

We are really proud of Morgan and are excited to hear how she does into the future!

Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Smoothie 🍒

Boy have we missed juicy organic cherries. Now that we were able to procure some from the local grocery store, we combined our love of this fruit with another favorite food, chocolate. Like many of our recipes, we try to avoid added sugar – even too much of the more natural, healthier kind- so adjust to your sweet tooth accordingly. Give this cherry chocolate smoothie a try!

Prep time: less than 5 minutes

Servings: about 4, makes ~64oz

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

4 cups non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut from Elmhurst)

1 cup swisschard and/or kale

1 cup cherries (fresh or we used frozen too cool this drink down even more) and 1 cup blueberries

2 tbsp cacao nibs

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp beet powder (optional)

4 medjool dates

2 tbsp almond butter

4 tbsp shredded coconut

Instructions

Add all ingredients into a 64 ounce blending container and then blend. You got your veggies in, congrats! Enjoy 🙂

Health Trends & Predictions 🔮

We’ve been approached by a couple of companies this week to consult about health trends and the future of nutrition and wellness. Would you like to take a peek into the now and what’s to come? No crystal ball nor clairvoyance needed.

#1 – Personalized medicine and nutrition. We’re all so used to customizing our license plates, shoes, clothes and the like…and when it comes to health and dietary advice we know there’s no-one-size-fits-all. What works for a celebrity, your best friend, or even cousin may not work for you. We all want to know what we should be eating to best fuel our bodies for performance, heal our guts, and be genetically appropriate to help prevent cardiovascular disease or even improve our memory and brain health. Enter food sensitivity testing and DNA testing to fill a gap in the market that helps figure out the best foods to avoid, and incorporate, for your unique body.

#2 – CBD products. Many of us are interested to see what CBD can do for our pain, our poor sleep, and even to help with anxiety. From gummies to tinctures and pain patches, there’s a lot of research and people experimenting on themselves with these substances to alleviate health issues.

#3 – Herbs & Botanical Medicine. Plants have been used to help our species deal with all sorts of maladies since time immemorial. During the Middle Ages, folk healers were called upon to help people in the community with their health issues. However, sharing generations of herbal knowledge was parti-cu-larly dangerous during this time as a church in power not only had strict roles for women, but also condemned the pagan practice of herbalism. This sent herbalism underground and it nearly died out. Fortunately some pioneers in the 1960’s and 70’s brought this ancient knowledge back into ‘mainstream’ attention. Depending on the plants used, and the knowledge of the herbalist, this can be an effective, low-cost option, and generally one without so many of the dangerous side effects mentioned in pharmaceutal drug ads.

#4 – Plant-based diets and Intuitive Eating. There are many specialty diets floating around these days: keto, gluten-free, low FODMAP, vegan, paleo…and interest in plant-based eating is growing. Whether for health, animal or environmental reasons, many people are looking to incorporate more plant-based meals. Meatless Mondays are a good start, if that’s something of interest to you. Intuitive eating, or mindful eating, really is different than just letting your inner two-year-old run your diet. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings around your meals and after. How do you feel physically after your meal? How full or stuffed are you and what does that feel like? Part of Intuitive Eating is about slowing down, which creates a little bit of tension in a world that seems to demand that we eat quickly while we do any other number of activities – including driving, working, or watching TV.

#5 – In, out, and all-around Health & Wellness Changes. A typical progression when making healthy changes is starting by changing what one is putting into their bodies – mainly their food and drink. After having spent time reading through ingredients lists on food, the next common change is that people will take a look at their personal care products and/or cosmetics – the ingredients put on the body (which, of course, get absorbed through the body’s largest organ, the skin). The next progression tends to look more at changing the environment closest to one’s individual bubble – such as the home – and then thinking more globally. This could initially look like changing the cleaning products used in the house and adjusting laundry detergents, fragrance sticks and plug-ins, or water quality. Thinking globally, one might start looking the company practices behind their favorite coffee, chocolate, and more to see if they value fair trade practices, organic or sustainable farming practices.

While some of these are certainly not new, they were definitely more fringe ideas back a decade or so ago. Which ones do you think will trend into the future? What are some other changes you anticipate seeing in health and wellness?

Recipe: Easy Breezy Basil Pasta

As many of you have probably heard us say, we love food; however, what we don’t love is spending an hour preparing each meal of the day. Sometimes we just need a lunch or dinner to fit 3 requirements: to be nutritious, delicious, and quick. This meal checks all of the boxes and more – it’s gluten-free and plant-based (vegan even). After the early days of taste-testing gluten-free pastas (mostly with dismal results), we are deeply in love with Banza pasta – it provides about 14 grams of protein per serving, about double that of regular pasta, and is made from chickpeas. *Italian chef’s kiss* You’re welcome in advance 😉

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

Prep time: 15 minutes total

Servings: about 2

Ingredients

1/2 box Banza Cavatappi

1/2 package Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella , chopped or shredded

2 cups tomato sauce

2 tsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

Boil water, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until desired firmness. While waiting, heat chosen tomato sauce on low and add nutritional yeast, dried oregano and rosemary, and garlic powder. Thinly slice fresh basil. Once pasta is done, drain and place on plate with tomato sauce , vegan mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil on top. Easy chickpeas-y meal. Enjoy!

Recipe: “The Blood of Care Bears”

In the quest for unending youth and beauty, legend has it that Countess Elizabeth Báthory would bathe in the blood of her human servant girls (over 600 are said to be victims of this female serial killer).

What have we done to the cherished Care Bears of your childhood? Worry not – Cheer Bear, Bedtime Bear, Good Luck Bear, and Love-a-lot Bear have not been mammocked or torn asunder. Their plush limbs have not been forced through our juicer; however, the color you see may belie that.

Thus, we have named this drink “The Blood of Care Bears” (though, as you’ll see, we much prefer the youth- and energy-enhancing properties of food). Your quest to become an enchantress can begin with your shopping cart.

Sidenote: juicing fruits and vegetables leftover at the end of the week is one of our favorite strategies to help prevent food waste, which is a major problem here in the U.S.

Have fun with it!

Prep time: 10 minutes for rinsing produce, chopping (if necessary) and set-up of juicer

Servings: about 2, 16 oz glasses

Ingredients

4 small beets

1 heart celery

1 whole cucumber

1/2 bunch of parsley (optional)

4 carrots

1-2 pears (depends on level of sweetness you desire)

1″ ginger root (it has some kick!)

Instructions

Remove seeds from fruit. With juicer set up, follow manufacturer’s directions for inserting fruits and vegetables carefully. The order recommended is generally softer produce followed by harder produce (so ending with ginger and beets). Juice until your heart’s content or you run out of produce. Fresh juice is best consumed immediately after juicing, though it may last 24-48 hours in the fridge.