Monthly Archives: June 2015

Strawberry Basil Avocado Toast

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I saw this recipe on the blog Love and Lemons and was verrrry intrigued by it, so I decided to add a couple of things to it and try it out!  I must say – I wasn’t disappointed in the least.  In fact, it’s almost midnight and I’m tempted to get up and make this RIGHT NOW.

This was such a great, refreshing, simple snack and could also be a great appetizer.  She did a little different from me and I think she probably made it more savory, so make sure to check out the original recipe.  I think I might have to try out the original myself tomorrow!

This can be lunch, an app, dessert, a snack…  so many things!  Simple, easy and delicious!!

Ingredients:

  • sliced strawberries
  • drizzle of honey or maple syrup
  • toasted bread (pictured: Trader Joe’s sprouted bread)
  • ripe avocado
  • fresh basil
  • chia seeds
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread. Slice your avocado in half and then spread it onto the bread.
  2. While the bread is toasting, slice your strawberries.  (option to drizzle with balsamic and let sit for a few minutes as well).
  3. Top toasts with basil, strawberries, a sprinkle of chia seeds and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Vegan Lentil Walnut Tacos with Cashew Cream

 

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Taco Tuesday?!  Or…tacos every day!!  Yes, please! These are guilt free, tasty, FULL of healthy goodness, vegan, all natural…  need I go on?  I also find it hilarious that the “meat” on this taco actually LOOKS like taco meat.  Yet another added bonus.

I found the original recipe on Oh She Glows, and basically used the same recipe, but different lentils, and I added a few things.  Feel free to add onions – I only use green onions, but you can add onions into the peppers/garlic mix too.  Also, the cashew cream is in place of sour cream, and is REALLY good.  You can use it a lot of other ways as well, so make it!  I used Oh She Glow’s exact recipe, and the link is below as well as the recipe.

This is one meatless recipe where you won’t miss the meat!!  Delish!

Ingredients:

FOR THE LENTIL-WALNUT MEAT (MAKES 2 1/2 CUPS):
  • 1 cup pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil  
  • 2 tablespoons water
FOR THE TOPPINGS/WRAPS:
  • 1-2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (I used one, but next time I will use 2 for ample leftovers)
  • Cashew Sour Cream (see below for link)
  • Diced tomatoes or salsa
  • Green onion & fresh lime juice, for garnish
  • lettuce wraps (large romaine, Iceburg, or Butter lettuce leaves)
  • Other topping options: Sliced avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, etc.

Directions:

  1. Toast the walnuts: Preheat oven to 300F. Add walnuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10-13 minutes, watching closely, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat and add in 1-2 tbs of oil.  Add the garlic in.  When it becomes translucent, then add the peppers and mushrooms.  Cook the garlic and peppers over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, reducing heat if necessary and stirring frequently, until cooked through.
  3. Prepare the taco meat: Add 1 3/4 cups cooked lentils (you’ll have some leftover) and all the toasted walnuts into a food processor and pulse until chopped (make sure to leave texture). Stir or pulse in the oregano, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Stir in the oil and the water until combined.
  4. Prepare the rest of your vegetable toppings and wash + dry the lettuce wraps.
  5. Assemble: Add a large lettuce leaf onto a plate, top with taco meat, sauteed peppers + mushrooms, and the rest of your desired toppings.
  6. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in sealed containers to be enjoyed the next couple days. The cashew cream will keep for at least a week in the fridge. Use sour cream leftovers on sandwiches, wraps, stirred into salad dressings, on vegan nachos, or with chili or soup.

Homemade Vegan Sour Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water, as needed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight or for 8 hours if you have the time.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews and place in the blender.
  3. Add water, lemon, vinegar, and salt. Blend on high until smooth. You might have to stop to scrape down the blender now and then or add a touch more water to get it going.
  4. Once it’s super smooth, it’s ready! Transfer into a small container. The cream will thicken up as it sits.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/02/05/my-favourite-vegan-chili-with-homemade-sour-cream/#ixzz3dwdyj8aa

Client Spotlight – Brande Thomas Kicked Cancer’s A$$

 

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Brande Thomas.

I hear her name and I think of words like BRAVE, STRONG, A FIGHTER, A MOTHER, A WIFE, A SURVIVOR…  And those are exactly what she is.  I am in awe of her strength to say the least.  I’ve never met someone so determined and with such a positive attitude in the face of adversity.  Wait until you hear her story…

She started training with me in prep for her big 4-0, and little did we know that she would get some news along the way that would cause a slight bump in the road, but NOTHING that would slow this amazing woman down!

I got a call from Brande one afternoon in early November… I was driving back from Belle Meade and her message said to call her back.  I immediately called, and she said, Megan – I have breast cancer.  I started crying.  I HATE cancer, and have lost a few people close to me, and to hear that sweet Brande was going to have to deal with this disease broke my heart.  That being said – she made it seem like it was just one more thing she had to deal with and conquer.  Typical Brande. 🙂  Cancer – NBD.  See why she ROCKS?

Brande is a beautiful, thoughtful spirit with a heart made of gold plated steel, I think.  She is one of the most thoughtful and amazing people I’ve ever met, but her strength is second to none…

Brande had a lot of opportunities to back out, use excuses like chemo and cancer (she calls them the “c words”) to get out of workouts, and I’m sure many other things, but she never, and I mean NEVER once used that excuse for me.  I even gave her an “out” saying that if she needed to cancel last minute – she wouldn’t be charged, and I gave her 4 free sessions for each of her chemo treatments.  There was never one excuse, one complaint AND all of her freebies were quickly used up!

As you read below – you’ll see how she continued coming to her sessions a few days after chemo, was back in the saddle 3 weeks after a double mastectomy, and what I thought was hilarious – was I would text her after surgery or during her chemo, and I would immediately hear back from her!  2 hours after a double mastectomy – she was texting – all good, I’m fine!!  And most people complain about a headache or allergies…

We can all learn something from Brande, as I did along the way…  A positive attitude will get you FAR.  You rarely see this lady without a smile on.  (As you’ll see below her chemo picture – and she’s STILL smiling!)  Complaining and the “woe is me” attitude does nothing for you.  I firmly believe that her attitude, strength, determination and her want to stay active and “normal” throughout her treatments – are what helped her recover so quickly.  Brande, thank you for being a pillar of strength and an inspiration to me and to so many.  Thank you for your heart, your willingness to fight and work hard and never give up!  You truly are the epitome of the word strength.

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Here are some of questions that I asked Brande about her experience and journey dealing with breast cancer…

-When did you find out about your diagnosis?  What was your reaction?

I discovered the lump myself over Halloween weekend in 2014.  I quickly visited my OB/GYN and had a mammogram at Centennial Imaging. On November 12th, upon reading my mammogram, a radiologist and Dr. Ben Furman repeatedly expressed their concern over the findings.  I still remember looking at the clock in the imaging center as I walked by thinking “It’s 2:12pm on November 12th and I have breast cancer.” That was before anyone uttered the words.  The looks on their faces and the amount of times “concerned” was used in a sentence was enough to alarm anyone.  In a few short days, we biopsied the mass and the following week the doctor finally said Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. My immediate instinct was a double mastectomy-there was no question.  I did not want to deal with this again. 

-What was your plan of action/treatment?  

On December 11th, I was scheduled for surgery-a double mastectomy-29 days after my diagnosis.  It was the holidays and with 2 small children, I was determined not to miss an activity.  Within 3 weeks, I was back to work and doing as much as I could. 

Once pathology came back in December, it was determined that I had a 2 cm mass (the size of a small grape) that was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my left breast.  The size of the mass and my age determined that I should now see a Medical Oncologist.  So in January, we met with Dr. Nancy Peacock at TN Oncology.  She confirmed what Dr. Furman had suggested-4 rounds of chemo (taxotere and cytoxin), 3 weeks apart followed by Tamoxifen for 5-10 years.  

I also got gene tested for BRCA- and thankfully that came up negative.

-What was the hardest thing about the whole process/treatment?

  • The fear of the unknown.  My blood pressure was through the roof before my first infusion and surgery. In my mind, chemo is a terrible experience in a depressing room followed by nausea and not being able to do anything.  None of this was true for me.  They provided plenty of nausea medicines.  The nurses at the hospitals and infusion centers were amazing.  
  • Losing the hair. I cried over my long red strawberry blonde hair more than my diagnosis.  After my surgery, I could cover up the mastectomy but when you lose your hair, it screams to everyone, “I have cancer; I am pitiful; feel sorry for me”.   I used Penguin Ice Caps and Ashley Smith (love her!) to save as much hair as I could during the process.  No one can make you understand how you feel when hair starts coming out in massive amounts. On day 15, just as predicted, hair starting falling out. Within a week, my sweet husband finally cut it short and I got out the sassy wig that my friends and oldest daughter had help me pick out at Brentwood Wig Shoppe. We named her “Stella” – it helped the kids make light of the situation. In the meantime, as I tried to hold on to my hair, the whole team at Elan Germantown were instrumental in cutting my hair to my chin, picking a wig with me, and giving the wig a trim to fit my face.  Thanks to Jacki, Adam and Kayce! 
  • Mourning the loss of losing a body part.  There was no question in my mind about what to do when I was diagnosed.  But I discounted the feminine factor of my 39 year old, 2 kid droopy breasts.  Even after my reconstruction is almost complete, I am still very aware of my body and the fact that it does not look the same at all-clothes fit different, body movements change, etc.  

-What part did fitness play in your treatment and recovery?

I had started training with Megan with my 40th birthday in mind.  Little did I know that God was preparing me to be able to keep going during surgery and chemo.  Dr. Peacock told me to do as “much as you feel like” in between treatments.  I was determined for my life and my family’s life to change as little as possible.  Working out made the biggest difference!  I would do a chemo treatment on Thursday, workout on Friday, feel tired on Saturday, nap until 1ish on Sunday then go to Barre3 for a good sweat.  I continued to go to Barry’s Bootcamp, Shed, and Barre3 as well as train with Megan 2 times a week.  

IMG_3782I am a firm believer that while my workout regime did not get me to my Smokin’ Hot body I was looking for by June 7th, it did help me keep going.  I went to California with my children on Spring Break, I went to the Jason Aldean concert with my friends in February, I also attended the Kenny Chesney concert in March on the day of my last treatment, I went on a girls beach vacation–all while doing chemo.

 

-What advice would you give to women either dealing with breast cancer or how to prevent?  

First, listen to your body.  As soon as I found the mass on the weekend, I went to the doctor that Monday.  If you have a history in your family, push for a mammogram.  If they find a suspicious spot to watch, push for an ultrasound.

Second, listen to others if they notice something.  I had melanoma 5 years ago.  My wonderful aesthetician, Beth Morrell at Elan found it.  When she said go to a dermatologist, I did.  

Finally, use the network of breast cancer survivors and patients out there.  Unfortunately there is way too many of us.  But without that support system, you have a much harder road ahead if you are diagnosed.  I still keep in touch with women I have never met face to face.  We check on each other via text, share side effects, ask what to do.

-How has going through all of this changed you? What are the positive things you’ve learned from this?  

Humility

My personality is to control all things- in December, after much pressure from 2 wonderful friends, I had to let go.  A signup genius was created to bring food around the clock.  People picked up my children and had them for play dates everyday making sure they were fed, bathed and had homework done.  I have become much more humble from this experience.  I was amazed at friends, friends of friends, family members, and people I did not know that came to help no matter what. 

Positive Attitude

Another thing I learned was that more than half the battle was in my attitude.  You have to stay positive through the process.  I made every doctor finish our appointments with something good to say.  You have to share what you learned from the process.  I met lots of women that were further into their journey and doing 6, 8 or more rounds of chemo or having to do many more surgeries than I was.  

Love

I also learned what a deep love I have for my children and husband.  While you know this, you do not really know how special they are until something like this is placed in front of you.  I am now 40 years old, and have been married for 17 years, dating for 6 before we were married.  We were in our groove before my diagnosis.  Now, we tell each other exactly how important the other is each day.

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-What’s your plan from here on out to stay cancer free?

I am currently reading the Pink Ribbon Diet.  I am terrible at eating regimes, but would like to try to focus on my diet as much as I can.

Continue to workout and stay strong!

I’ll finish this blog with some of Brande’s favorite cards that she received during treatment that stayed on her mirror.  Now, THIS is a positive attitude!!

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Chia Jam Oat Crumble Squares

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I can’t tell you how many batches of homemade jam I’ve made lately…  Okay, well, yes I think I can.  4 batches in the last few days.  Obsessed much?  Yes.  I love this stuff!  And between making breakfast protein cookies and these guys – I just can’t quit.  The jam is such a fresh, beautiful way to get a touch of sweet without the sugar additives.

I found this recipe on my new favorite vegan blog – Oh She Glows!  You’ll be hearing a lot of that lately.  I adapted it a bit trying to eliminate the maple syrup and use dates instead.  It’s definitely a bit more savory if you use the dates and almond milk but you can use a dash of maple syrup and just try to cut down on that sweetener a bit.  If you want it sweeter – use the syrup and you can add one more date to the mix!  If the batter isn’t sticky and thick enough then add a little more maple syrup or almond milk to help bind it together.  Sometimes with the dates, you’ll end up with a consistency that is more oats and flour.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and make it to your liking!

For the jam – you can reference my jam recipe here.  I’ve used a lot of different fruits this past week – strawberry/blueberry, peach/blackberry, raspberry/blueberry…  I’ve found the key to eliminating the sugar is to use a tart berry like a raspberry or strawberry with whatever else you use.  That tartness gives it a bolder flavor and you can use water to thin it out and make the jam instead of maple syrup!  Calorie savers!!

Go make these.  Just do it.

OAT SQUARES:
  • 1 chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds + 4 tablespoons water)
  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (more or less depending on consistency) or almond milk 
  • 2 dates pitted 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt

Directions:

For the chia jam – follow the directions according to the link!

  1. For the oat squares: In a small mug, mix together the chia seeds and water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until thickened.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the melted oil, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and vanilla. When the chia egg has thickened, stir that in too.
  3. Process the dates till they reach a paste.  And add the other wet ingredients to the mixer. Stir or process in the rolled oats, almond flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt until the mixture comes together. It will be quite sticky, but this is normal.  *If it’s not the right consistency and isn’t “sticky” then add in a bit of maple syrup or a touch of almond milk.
  4. Spoon 2/3 of the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and press it down to spread it out evenly. Use a pastry roller to roll it out smooth into the corners. I repeat: the dough will be very sticky!
  5. When the chia jam has thickened and cooled, pour all of it on top of the oat mixture and spread it out evenly.
  6. Take the remaining 1/3 of the oat dough and crumble it evenly on top of the chia jam.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered, until the topping is lightly golden.
  8. Place pan directly on a cooling rack for 20-30 minutes and then carefully lift out the square and place directly onto the cooling rack until completely cooled. Slice into squares.
  9. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

Tip: To make oat flour, add the 1/2 cup of rolled oats into a high-speed blender and blend on high until a flour forms. You can substitute this with 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of oat flour if desired.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/09/09/raspberry-chia-seed-jam-oat-crumble-squares-vegan-gluten-free/#ixzz3d2ceQQ86

Raspberry and Blueberry Chia Seed Jam and Flourless Thumbprint Banana Protein Breakfast Cookies

IMG_3664I don’t think you’re ready for my jelly.  No, really, I don’t think you are.  It’s so good!

I just discovered how to make chia seed jam with all of the fresh berries I’m getting from the farmer’s market, and I’m a little obsessed.  How will I ever buy jam or jelly from the grocery store when I’ve discovered how easy it is to make my own?!  Answer: I won’t.

Aside from how easy it is to make you’re own jam, there is so much you can do with the jam once you’ve made it.  It’s such a brilliant natural sweetener!  I found the recipe for the thumbprint cookies on Oh She Glows – an ah-mazing vegan site!  If you’re a lover of healthy food, check out her blog. I made a couple of adjustments to her recipe to add protein.  Oh so good is what I call this one!

I happened to find the chia seed jam on her site as well, so I’m sharing that recipe below.  From that recipe, I’ve started to venture out and make some other jams – today I make fresh peach and blackberry jam…OMG.  I’ll share that with you guys soon.  Until then – do yourself a favor and go make these!

RASPBERRY CHIA SEED JAM (MAKES 1 CUP)

Ingredients:  

  • 3 cups frozen or fresh raspberries and blueberries 
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or to taste (this is optional) or WATER
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. For the jam: In a medium pot, stir together the raspberries, syrup or water, and chia seeds until combined. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the raspberries break down and the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes, until cool.

FLOURLESS THUMBPRINT BANANA BREAKFAST PROTEIN COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 cup mashed ripe banana (3 bananas)
  • 2 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 scoop of Vega vanilla protein powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 8 teaspoons jam
  • Peanut butter (or almond or sunflower seed butter), for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, add the oats and pulse until a coarse meal forms (see picture in blog post).
  3. In a large bowl, mash the banana. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the jam and nut butter. The mixture will be very wet and dense.
  4. With a retractable ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop the dough into 8 mounds. The cookies do not need to be spaced far apart on the baking sheet as they don’t spread out. Press your thumb (or small spoon) into the centre of each cookie to create a well. Fill each well with 1 heaping teaspoon of jam.
  5. Bake cookies at 350F for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are slightly firm, but soft and doughy in the middle. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack for 10 minutes or so.
  6. If desired, serve cookies with your favourite nut or seed butter. They also taste great with a pat of coconut oil or vegan butter!

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/10/24/flourless-thumbprint-breakfast-cookies-vegan-gf/#ixzz3ch8VcPPY

 

 

Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls

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Craving sushi?  Now you don’t have to go pay $10 plus for a roll!  You can make them quick and easy for lunch or dinner!  This would be such a fun date night too to do with your partner.  The combinations of what you can put in these things are endless.  So, go stock up, have some fun and make some sushi!

It’s definitely recommended to have a little sushi kit with bamboo mats to roll them up in, but I didn’t have any of that and just went for it.  Not exactly picture perfect, but super tasty!

Ingredients

  • Nori sheets
  • kale
  • diced carrots
  • avocado
  • cucumbers
  • lemon
  • tahini or hummus

Directions

  1. Lay out the nori sheet on a clean surface.
  2. Spread tahini over 1/4-1/3 of the sheet at the top.
  3. Dice the cucumbers into small sticks.
  4. Line up other veggies so that it’s easy to roll all turning the same way.  Drizzle with a bit of lemon.
  5. Roll and cut with a sharp knife. (The sharper the knife, the prettier they will look!)
  6. Serve with coconut amines to dip.  Enjoy!

Vegan Protein Bars

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These things are SO good.  I don’t think I can make them again and keep them in my house because I find myself walking by the fridge getting a bite, and then a few minutes later… I find myself right back there.  And then that happens again, and maybe again.  🙂  Oops.

I found the original recipe and adapted it from one that I found on Popsugar, and from what I’ve found, you can get creative with these and try different nuts, additions and toppings.  I also doubled the original recipe so that I’d have some to share and some leftovers.  Nobody was mad about that.  I’m only mad that I don’t have any more of these things right now!!!  Hmmm – I wonder if I have enough almonds to make some more today…  🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • dash teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 5 scoops plant-based vanilla protein powder (I like  Vega Performance Protein)
  • 3-4 dates
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
  • coconut flakes (optional)
  • have some coconut or almond milk on hand

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare an large casserole dish by lining with parchment paper or cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor, pour in the almonds and the sunflower seeds and the salt. Process until you have almond butter, several minutes.  *If it’s too thick and not turning to butter – add in a little vanilla or almond milk.
  3. Add the dates, oats, protein powder, and maple syrup, vanilla and process until smooth.
  4. Press mixture into the pan using the back of a spoon or your hand.
  5. Place chocolate chips in a small glass bowl, and microwave until melted. Drizzle chocolate over the bars, and sprinkle coconut.  Allow to set in the fridge for 20 minutes before cutting.
  6. Store uneaten bars in an airtight container in the fridge.