Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal Muffins

New Hampshire in January can be such a bummer. It’s cold, dark, and we’re all basically counting down the days until we’re back in shorts and flip flops (which oddly usually happens around 55 degrees). There’s a word in the Danish language called “hygge” (pronounced hoogah), which is essentially the art of being cozy and comfortable. It’s all about finding pleasure in mundane things like having dinner at home with friends on a cold night or hunkering down under a blanket during a snowstorm.

Think about all the things that make you feel cozy and warm…cuddling up by a fireplace with a good book, snuggling with a puppy, hot chocolate after a brisk ski session. Hygge means grasping onto those things and appreciating that warm feeling it gives you for as long as you need to…so basically until April. How smart is that though?! We’re all sitting around complaining and the Danish are like guys this is freaking awesome, here’s a cup of soup!

These muffins are my attempt at feeling the hygge. Anything pumpkin, cinnamon and apple always makes me feel cozy especially when warmed and served with hot cocoa or my morning coffee.

This recipe is gluten free, grainless and jam packed with superfood power. The pumpkin provides fiber and vitamins, while the oats and flax keep you full for hours. Plus you could easily add walnuts, raisins or pumpkin seeds to make it even more of a power muffin.

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Traditional oatmeal is awesome, but baked oatmeal muffins are like the quicker, hip version. They pack the same nutritional benefits, but you can eat one as you run out the door on the way to work, or pack one for a midday snack.

Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple, peeled and sliced

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together pumpkin, vanilla, egg, maple syrup and milk. In a separate bowl combine oats, flax, baking powder, salt and spices. Mix dry ingredients into wet and fold in apples. Drop into greased muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool and enjoy! Yields about 12 muffins.

My suggestion for consuming these blonde beauties is warmed and covered in peanut butter, cinnamon butter or even some cookie butter for a sweet splurge. And being cuddled up by a roaring fire with your favorite someone wouldn’t hurt either…Embrace hygge!

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Plank & Split Exercise

There’s something refreshing about being upside down. All day long we live our lives right side up, so when the opportunity arrises to get those legs in the air, it can be a really nice change of perspective. Plus being able to support yourself with your arms is a great core workout in itself.

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This exercise combo is something I use in my Jumps & Turns classes to get the kids to practice their splits and at the same work on core and arm strength. But it’s not just a dance exercise, it can be good for anyone who wants to work on their flexibility and core strength. You can modify the number of commandos and push-ups based on your ability.

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I would definitely recommend some dynamic stretching before attempting this combination, especially for your legs muscles and hips flexors. Dynamic stretching is active stretching, meaning muscles are repeatedly put through the range of motion. For example, bending over and touching your right toe, but lifting the right toe 8x while you’re in the stretch. This helps the blood flow to your muscles, warms your muscles and is proven to help increase performance compared to static stretching (no movement during stretch).

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Plank & Split Exercise

  • Start standing with your back to a wall
  • Walk your hands down your legs to touch (or reach for) the floor
  • Walk hands out to high plank and hold for 16 counts
  • 4 commandos (left arm down, right arm down, left arm up, right arm up)
  • Walk hands back to legs
  • Extend right leg up wall and hold stretch for 16 counts
  • Walk back out to plank (bring leg down as you go) and hold for 16 counts
  • 8 push-ups
  • Walk hands back to legs
  • Extend left leg up wall and hold stretch for 16 counts
  • REPEAT

planks and splits exercise

You leg may not look like this, and that’s OK! Hey, it might look even better, and that’s awesome! The goal is to try to get your hips as close to the wall as you can. The wall and your hands pushing on the ground give you the right leverage to really deepen that split and push your flexibility (safely of course).

And you might even find some new perspective while you’re down there. Just don’t look at your face if you’re looking into a mirror like I am…upside down face can be quite frightening.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

It’s National Peanut Butter Day! How could I not celebrate one of my all-time favorite foods? My favorite thing about peanut butter is the power it has to keep me full. I can wake up after a long night of teaching with sore muscles and a hangry belly and I know the only thing that can make me feel better is my good ‘ol whole wheat toast and peanut butter. The simplest complete protein on earth.

Long story short, we’re in love and there’s nothing that can tear us apart.

Except the other day I found this guy.
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In Home Goods of all places! Just sitting on the shelf, in the clearance isle, all by its lonesome.

Oh. my. g@d.

Walnut butter is the new peanut butter.

Except it’s definitely not. (But you should totally try it).

In honor of my beloved peanut butter I’m sharing a quick healthy dessert recipe adapted from the amazing Chocolate Covered Katie .

 

 

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 applesauce cup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together applesauce, peanut butter, vanilla, baking soda, flour, sugar and chocolate chips. Spread into 8×8 greased baking pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes. The bars will be very gooey when they come out! Let cool completely before serving.

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These bars are so incredibly ooey-gooey that you will think you have majorly messed up the recipe when they come out. But it’s OK! Just wait. They will set eventually, but will still be super gooey.

My preferred method to eat these is heated up (via microwave for about 20 seconds) with a nice dollop of vanilla frozen yogurt on top.

What’s your favorite kind of nut butter?

Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain

Portsmouth is one of my favorite places. It’s like this ever-changing mini city that is constantly evolving for the people that live and play there. When I was growing up there were about 3 restaurants and 2 stores worth visiting in downtown Portsmouth.

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Now it’s buzzing with culture, unique eats and thriving businesses. But still, one of the greatest things about it is that in many ways, it remains the same. The streets are brick and crooked, the buildings are quintessentially old, the stores are exceptionally quirky and the restaurants are continuously surprising and delightful.

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Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain was no exception to that. Probably one of the most unique cafes I have ever been in, Fezziwig’s is a must-stop for anyone visiting Portsmouth for lunch (or breakfast or dinner). This restaurant is a sister to its parent shop Pickwick’s Mercantile, a historically inspired shoppe that flawlessly depicts the merriment, peculiarity and charm of days gone by.

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The festive atmosphere of Pickwick’s seamlessly spills over into the cafe with costumed baristas and exquisite decorum. The elaborately decorated space transcends time and brings you to a fairy-tale place where everything has a little bit more wonder to it.

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And who doesn’t need a little wonder in their Sunday afternoon?! We certainly did, and girl talk and tomato soup was on the menu today.

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The tomato bisque I ordered was creamy and thick, with toasted croutons floating on top, just waiting for us to dig in. The turkey BLT was hearty and wholesome, with a salad and a crisp pickle on the side.

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This is not one of those cafes where you leave and you’re hungry 20 minutes later because your sandwich was made on tiny bread and had two lettuce leaves on it. This food is genuine good eats, and kept me warm and satisfied for hours.

I mean did we leave and go straight to Stonewall Kitchen for free brownie samples? Maybe.

But at least we had our salad first.

 

 

Running + Dance Playlists January 2017

Whether it’s cleaning the house, organizing my desktop or sweating it out at the gym, music is a huge motivator for me. And of course I have to have the hottest beats for my dance classes. Nothing like hearing the same songs during warm-up all year long to make you go crazy.

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I spend a lot of time curating my playlists because one of my biggest pet peeves is overplayed music. I CANNOT listen to Shut Up and Dance one more time, and yet, it used to be my favorite song. For a hot second that is. To me, as soon as a song is on the radio, it’s over for me.

Well maybe not that drastic, but it’s a slow downward spiral after that point.

My running playlist needs to be upbeat, positive and the more it can make me want to dance while running (although not recommended), the better. This is also the playlist I use for my jazz classes and warm-ups.

Running Playlist

My dance class playlists are split up into Hip Hop and Contemporary, mostly because those are two very different music categories. But it’s basically faster music that helps you get your swag on, and then slow chill music.

Contemporary Playlist

Hip Hop Playlist

Happy listening!

Sweet Potato Steak Fajita Bowl

Do you ever have one of those days when all you can think about is eating chocolate? Or a cupcake? Or chips?

Our bodies are actually programmed to crave certain foods for specific reasons. Usually because we are lacking certain nutrients in our diet at the time.

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Being aware of this can be key to understanding what your body actually needs, vs. what you think you need at the moment (ie. Chicken vs. an entire sleeve of Oreos).

There’s a few handy dandy charts floating around the internet that make it easy to see what you should eat based on what you’re craving.

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This recipe came out of one of those craving moments. All day I just wanted something sweet, so I came home, looked at what was available and whipped up a quick Sweet Potato Steak Fajita Bowl. Holy guacamole was it satisfying. And my sweet craving was gone.

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I used steak from our dinner the night before, but you could easily swap it out for some other meat like ground turkey, chicken sausage or tofu. The fajita (or taco in my case) seasoning is what does the trick and makes whatever protein you put it on oh, so, tasty.

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For those of us that are trying to stay away from gluten, the sweet potato acted as a bed for my sauteed ingredients, instead of rice or a tortilla.

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Sweet Potato Steak Fajita Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 a yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 an orange bell pepper
  • 2 large mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup cooked steak, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp McCormick Organic Fajita Seasoning Mix 
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
  • Chopped romaine lettuce for garnish
  • Sour cream for garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube sweet potatoes, spread on a baking sheet and mix with 2 tbsp olive oil, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onions, garlic, mushrooms and peppers in oil until soft. Add in cooked steak and season with fajita seasoning mix. Start layering your bowl first with roasted sweet potatoes then vegetable/steak mixture, then shredded cheese, lettuce and sour cream. Enjoy!

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Super quick, super easy, incredibly satisfying.

One quick meal planning tip for you – add a few more sweet potatoes to your recipe and save the leftovers for an easy and gluten/grain free side to your morning eggs. You will not even miss your toast, I promise.

 

 

5 Things To Make You Feel Healthier Right Now

You know what helps me get excited to get healthy? New cool sh$t. If I have a brand new 800 strap florescent pink sports bra waiting for me in my gym bag, I’m a thousand times more excited to hit the gym. New sneakers? Forget it, I’m a bouncing ball of joy on my way to the treadmill.

So  I’ve compiled a list of the new, cool stuff I’ve been sporting that is helping me feel or be healthier right now.

5 Things To Make You Feel Healthier Right Now

#5 PiperWai Natural Deodorant

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This stuff is the answer to my deodorant prayers. When I started learning about the negative affects of chemicals in conventional deodorants I went on a rampage trying to find a natural deodorant that worked and didn’t feel sticky and weird. One night I was watching Shark Tank and these women came on claiming that it was the next best thing and I immediately ordered one. Hold. the. phone. It worked! At first it was a little weird because you have to rub it on with your finger, but you get over it. The price is a bit high at $12 per container, but it’s worth knowing I’m not lathering terrible chemicals on such a sensitive area of my body.

#4 Corkcicle Water Bottle

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Everyone knows that drinking more water is better for your health, but sometimes it’s hard to remember to do it. For me, if I have a super cute water bottle staring me in the face, I will drink from it just out of pure attraction. Plus, this bottle keeps the water ice cold so it’s refreshing even if it’s been sitting at my desk for 8 hours.

#3 The Leaf

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This is like a FitBit, but is actually attractive to look at. The Leaf is also created specifically for women and not only tracks your activity and sleep, but also tracks your stress level and fertility. So cool! You can wear it as a bracelet, necklace or just clip it to your pants. It can also vibrate you awake if you so please.

#2 Nike AirMax FlyKnit Sneakers

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Cute on cute on cute. ‘Nuff said.

#1 UpTrak Standing Desk

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This standing desk has rocked my world over the past few weeks. I used to get really bad hip pain from sitting so long at my job. Now I can raise it when I want and lower it when I get tired. I thought I would stand all day long, but you actually have to slowly ease into it since sadly my body is not used to standing for long periods of time. But I’ll get there!

It’s funny how just a few items can make a big different in how healthy you feel or how motivated you are to get healthy. It just goes to show that shopping for new stuff is not all bad! Plus it’s good cardio 🙂

What things make you feel healthy?

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

The New Year is upon us and that means we all start to take a deep look at our lives and see what we can do better. I’m the first to admit that my pants start to feel pretty snug around the holidays and I may eat a few more (like 10) chocolates per day than usual.

Getting back to healthy eating can be hard, so I like to ease into it with nothing other than cookies.

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These Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies are vegan, gluten free, easy and help you use the inevitable rotting banana that has been sitting on the counter for 3 days and is really starting to stress you out.

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Now don’t let the word “vegan” deter you! Some people see the word vegan and start running for the hills…or to the nearest donut shop. I see vegan and I think “hey, that’s probably some pretty clean eats right there and will probably make me feel good.”And it usually does, so give vegan a chance.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 super ripe banana
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash banana in a large bowl and add vanilla. Chop coconut flakes and add to banana mixture. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and mix well.Form mixture into cookies and place on greased cookie sheet. Form mixture into cookies and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Flip cookies and bake for 5 more minutes. Let cool before eating so that they firm and set.

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These cookies are a perfect post-lunch snack when you’re reaching for something sweet. Swap the day-old office cake for these cookies for an extra energy punch to get you through the afternoon.

They are jam packed with healthy oils and antioxidants so you can feel good about your afternoon snack, instead of shameful and sad (we’ve all been there). Enjoy!