Escaping the Cold with Tropical Bread (Vegan Coconut Banana Bread)

I think everyone got a taste of the cold this past weekend, even being down South I saw a dusting of snow! I took the homebound days as time to rest, relax, and spend time with friends. I am lucky that most of my friends are within a mile radius on my college campus–so no driving necessary. I got busy in the kitchen and put my new Artisana Coconut Butter to good use!

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I had a few bananas lying around so banana bread was a must. The coconut butter gave a light coconut taste with an amazing richness. Of course I had to taste test the butter before adding it, and I must say it tastes divine on its own! I can’t wait to come up with more recipes using it.

Ingredients:
2 Bananas (medium sized)
1 packet Artisana Organics coconut butter
1/2 c Better Body Foods Coconut Flour
1/4 c Tigernut Flour (could sub with almond flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 c water
1/2 bar high quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a small loaf pan
  2. Mash banana
  3. Add coconut butter to mashed banana and mix well then add water and mix thoroughly
  4. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  5. Chop your chocolate into your preferred size (I like a mix of chunks and slivers!)
  6. Add wet to dry ingredients and stir until just combined
  7. Mix in chocolate chunks (I prefer a dark chocolate, check your labels if you want a vegan bread!)
  8. Spoon mixture into pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
  9. Enjoy!

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How do you use your coconut butter?

What makes you happy? Do that.

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It’s easy to make excuses during busy times,  but if exercise makes you feel good and is part of your self care then do not neglect it! Exercise should not have to be a chore, and if it is, then you need to keep searching for the activity that is right for you. I was an athlete from the time I was little through most of high school, but when I came to college it took me about a year to find an activity that I could stick with and truly enjoy.

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 I take thirty to forty minutes to do Blogilates, whether before or after my classes for the day. I make it a part of my schedule that is just as important as attending class or brushing my teeth. I feel healthy and it centers me. I feel strong and centered, which enhances every aspect of my life. Taking the time to turn my mind off and focus on the physical feeling of challenging my body is refreshing and is the ultimate form of self-care, at least for me it is.  Self-care isn’t selfish; find what brings you that feeling and prioritize it. Love yourself. I feel like we often glorify suffering and being overly busy and stressed, but why? Is it helpful? No. Does it make us happy? Definitely not. Be a rebel–take some time for you.

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When you want to Netflix binge, but also learn something…

I love reading, but after a long day of classes full of reading I sometimes feel exhausted. Or my eyes feel exhausted really. On nights like these I often watch a Netflix documentary…here are some of my favorites!

Miss Representation: A thought-provoking documentary that investigates how the media portrays women and how this portrayal leads to low self-esteem, mental illness, and body image distress. It includes interviews with a wide range of players in the media industry and promotes dialogue surrounding gender equality, body image, and wellness.


Food, Inc.: A dark look into our food industry that exposes the practices of the American food system. This is a great overview of the many problems that exist within our nation—from food security to food production. This documentary is a great catalyst for discussion of individual changes and population-level changes that could promote improvement to our health and our environment.


A Place at the Table: This documentary takes a fresh look at food insecurity in the US. During the holidays, there is an added awareness of hunger and increased donation to food pantries, but this film provides a greater education of how hunger impacts individuals across the nation year round and the implication it has on health and wellbeing.


Rich Hill: This film takes a glimpse into the lives of young teenagers in a poverty-stricken, rural town by the name of Rich Hill. Although it is hard to watch at times, it shows the resiliency of youth and families in the face of systemic poverty and lack of access to health care. Although it is a heavy film, it leaves hope and prompts conversation on the role policy change can improve the lives of individuals.

 
The House I Live In: This prize-winning Sundance documentary showcases the effects of current drug policy in America. The film takes a very raw look at the individual experience of substance abuse, selling drugs, and prison experience. The film analyzes a prejudiced system that perpetuates a cycle of sending African American men to prison and exposes the inherent discrimination across numerous levels of legal implementation.

That Sugar Film: A horrifying analysis of added sugar within even “healthy” diets. The documentary is similar to Super Size Me, and follows one man’s experience as he increases his sugar consumption. It is a shocking look at how sugar has infiltrated foods world-wide and the health implications of this shift. Available on Amazon Prime until January 29, 2016.

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Ted Talks: If you only want to watch a few minutes of a show, then Ted Talks are the perfect option! Ranging from about ten to twenty-five minutes, there are hundreds of interesting options from Mark Bittman’s opinion on America’s food habits to Kelly McGonigal’s discussion of “How to Make Stress Your Friend.”

All of the above movies are available for instant streaming on Netflix. Happy watching!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally featured on the Center for the Study of Human Health blog.

 

 

 

Balance–is it worth it?

I can only speak for myself, but balance has never been easy. I am either all-in or completely uninvolved, and I am typically the “all-in” type. This personality is certainly not conducive to the ideal of balance that I often strive to attain. This makes me wonder whether balance is always right for everyone. There are certain times in life when balance is not possible: right before an exam, moving across the country, getting married, having a baby, during a health crisis. These events often punctuate our lives, yet we idealize balance.

I am a proponent of doing whatever is best for you as far as lifestyles go. Choose healthy activities that bring you joy, foods that nourish your soul and your tastebuds, and plenty of self-care (whatever that may mean to you). Balance is certainly not easy, and it is never “done,” which is so frustrating for those of us who adore crossing items off our to-do list (me! me! me!).

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I got the chance to try Three Club Nutrition Sun-Chia-Chip-Bar recently and I absolutely love the bar! It tastes like you are eating sunflower seed butter straight out of the jar. Although I frequently opt for high-protein bars with lower sugar content, this bar has a healthy balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein. This is an easy balance that tastes great!

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Stats: 190 calories, 9g fats, 18g carbohydrates, 12g protein

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At the end of the day, I think one of the easiest ways to attain balance is through the food we eat. It is not about balancing “unhealthy” and “healthy” foods, as my fellow blogger The Healthy Helper often addresses, but about achieving the balance of the foods we want to eat with the foods we need to maintain health. Fortunately this bar lets you achieve both!

How do you seek balance in life? Do you value balance?

Vegan Bacon and Special Spices

I am stuck on two of my favorite way to prepare eggplant–they’re that good. I am not afraid to admit to undying affection for this veggie; it is superb and completely underrated. It can be a crust for “pizza,” a “noodle” in lasagna, even french toast (<–trust me, it is not gross and even my mom liked it).

The only difference between my two favorite eggplant dishes is the seasoning. Both are cooked the same way for about the same amount of time.

Middle Eastern Eggplant:

1 large purple eggplant
2 tsp sumac (an amazing spice)
3 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1 packet stevia (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
2) Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil
3) Chop the eggplant into 1 inch cubes (leave the skin on–that’s the most nutritious part!)
4) Toss the cubes with the lemon juice and then add the sumac. If necessary, add another teaspoon to make sure the cubes are evenly coated.
5) Roast for approximately 15-25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and checking occasionally.
*I recommend adding stevia because it cuts the bitterness that eggplant can sometimes have!

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Vegan “Bacon” Eggplant

3 tbsp maple syrup (regular or sugar free)
3 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 large purple eggplant

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
2) Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil
3) Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay them on the cookie sheet.
4) In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, liquid smoke, pepper, and salt.
5) Use a small pastry brush (or your *clean* fingers) to coat each slice in the mixture.
5) Roast for approximately 10-15 minutes, flipping the slices over at about 7 minutes.
6) Enjoy!

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Linking to Sprint 2 the Table

 

Also, big thanks to the Fit Foodie Mama for the Meatless Monday link-up!