Saturday, June 29, 2013

Put Your Best Face Forward

I'm about to get vulnerable with you. Don't worry I won't have you getting misty eyed, but I want to share a triumph and by doing so, share hope and knowledge as well.
I have breifly mentioned before, that since mid-highschool I have struggled with acne. And trust me when I say I've tried it all - from the basic clean and clear, to proactiv, to special order neutrogena. The skin care aisle was a familiar place for me.
 My freshman year of college I got desperate and went to the dermatologist. Still no result and although it was tempting, birth control was not an option for me. 
Nothing was working for me and let me tell you, it is a terrible feeling to be ashamed of your face. To constantly be worrying if your makeup is wearing off. To not want your picture taken, or your boyfriend to kiss your forehead.
At my worst, I was introduced to an esthetician who changed my life. 
She taught me the importance of what you put into your body.
Growing up my mom always ate a clean diet, and taught me how to do the same but now my diet became personal. 
There are lists all over the place about foods that are good for your skin such as {this one}, and they are awesome. It is super important to get all of the vitamins and minerals that your skin needs to thrive.
But the game changer that my esthetician taught me is this:
 The three big no-no's for acne prone skin.

1. Refined Flour/Grains

This includes typical white bread, and pasta. If you want to clear up your acne, eat only whole grains as much as possible. The more refined the grain is, the more inflammatory effect it has on our body. Refined grains increase keratinocyte production in the body which is often the root of an acne problem.

2. Dairy

Yes, I'm sorry. Milk, cheese, yogurt. It definitely has it's benefits, but clear skin is not one of them! Just like refined grains, dairy has an inflammatory effect on the skin, and milk is the worst offender. Not to mention all of the hormones that are in dairy these days. When I consume dairy, it's like I'm asking for a breakout.

3. Sugar
This one shouldn't surprise you, I think we all have heard that we need to cut back on the sugar intake. But did you know that we all have yeast living inside of us? It's a natural thing, in moderation but yeast feeds on sugar, and your sebaceous glands in your skin contain yeast. When the yeast feeds, it grows and has a little party on your face. I don't know about you, but thats one party that can hit the road!

Now obviously this isn't going to be a cure-all because everyone's body is different, but I have had such success that it would be selfish of me to keep it to myself. 
Keep in mind that in both photos I'm wearing makeup. The first photo is the summer before my freshman year in college, and the second is a month ago and exactly 2 years after the first.
You can see that by no means do I have perfect skin now, but I feel like I am looking at two different people. All that I changed was my diet.
I really hope that this helps someone out there who is struggling like I was!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bite Sized Quinoa Pizzas

There are a few key things I like in a meal - ease in preparation, nutritional value, and quality of leftovers.This recipe scores high on all counts, and I'm excited to hop on this muffin tin meal bandwagon with a recipe of my own. The star of the show is quinoa, making this dish lean protein packed, and if I did the math right only 2 grams of fat per serving. Ummm.. come to mamma! Printable Recipe Here!! 

To start off, you will need about 2 heaping cups of cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked) in a large mixing bowl.
This is going to be the meat of the meal. I used tri-colored quinoa but regular quinoa is fine. I just like to  mix things up sometimes.
Go ahead and press a garlic clove or two and if you're scared of vampires go for three.
Mix in two eggs
And add some grated cheese - mozzarella is the classic pizza choice, but you can use cheddar, pepper jack, fontina, whatever floats your boat!
I added about a teaspoon of oregano..
..and a tablespoon of basil. I wish I had remembered to pick up fresh basil, that would have been much better.
And for the heck of it add a few shakes of paprika followed with a pinch of salt and dash of pepper.
In the spirit of pizza, we've gotta add tomatoes! Dice about 1 cup's worth give or take. I've found that with tomatoes it comes down to personal preference.
And mix it all together. I also added a cup of frozen sweet corn to add a pop of sweetness to the bites.
This mixture amounted to about 9 regular sized muffin cups, and 20 mini muffins.
Go ahead and pop them in the oven at 350 for 12 minutes, or until you see the tops browning.
Serve warm with cheese and avocado on top, dip into pizza sauce or enjoy them just the way they are!
I will normally double this recipe, because it reheats like a charm, and they are perfect for easy lunches in a hurry or on the go. 
Let me know how you like them!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

No-Guilt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Are you ready for some cookies that will change your life?
Well, that may be a little overdramatic, but on days when I can't afford to give in to my sweet tooth and I'm dying for something good, this is the recipe I reach for.
 Even the picky eaters in my household can't tell the difference. 
I take that back — upon his first bite, my brother says, 
"You used whole wheat flour, didn't you? It's okay they're still good."
 If he only knew... 
1/2 Cup Applesauce or Coconut Oil 
(in place of butter)
3/4 Cup of Honey
(in place of sugar)
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Water
1/2 t. Vanilla
1 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup of Dry Milk Powder
1/4 t. Salt
1/2 t. of ground cinnamon
2 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup of Wheat Germ or Flaxseed
1/2 Cup of add ins
(chocolate chips, carob chips, raisins, etc.)

Beat together the wet ingredients. If you use coconut oil, then it might not combine completely. It doesn't look great but if that worries you then you can melt down the oil in the microwave for 10 seconds before adding it. 
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Then add the dry ingredients to the wet gradually, taking care not to overmix. Not the prettiest batter you've ever seen, but don't let that spook you. It will all turn out in the end.
Gently mix in the last few ingredients
And maybe a little more chocolate than the recipe calls for
Dollop teaspoons of dough on your cookie sheet, and stick them in the oven at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until they are slightly browned. 
Let them sit for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
I'd say let then cool before serving, but we all know cookies are best warm so eat up without a trace of guilt!

Stay tuned for more comfort food turned healthy - Follow me on bloglovin for more!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chocolate Carmel Coconut Macaroons

Hello my beauties!
Has it hit springtime yet where you are? I'm wearing shorts today and it feels so good!
If you happened to see my Easter post, or follow me on instagram you will have seen that I have been loving this new recipe, found over at The Craving Chronicles
Let's begin the play-by-play.
 You're going to whisk up 4 egg whites until they are nice and frothy.
And then add half of a 12-14 oz bag of sweetened coconut, and 7 tbs of flour.
 The consistency will be thick and sticky and will clump up when you stir it.

Then you're going to move to the stovetop.
 Silly me, I forgot to take pictures of this part, but you are going to melt 6 tbs of butter, and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large saucepan, stirring continuously. The sugar will dissolve, then the mixture will begin to turn a nice carmel color.  
 Once the mixture turns brown turn off the heat, and carefully add the other half bag of sweetened coconut, and 1/4 tsp of salt.  I say carefully because it might spatter from being so hot, so watch out.
If your mixture seems way too dry don't fret! I was tempted to add more butter because I thought that when I combined the mixtures, the macaroons wouldn't have enough moisture to hold together. Don't worry about it though, it'll all work out in the end.
 From here you are going to add the hot mixture to the egg mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well in between each addition. This is to prevent the egg from cooking, trust me nobody wants scrambled egg whites in their macaroons.
Remember when we were worried about the mixture being too dry? 
That seems silly now, look at how nice that is!
Now put some plastic wrap over the bowl and let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (up to a few days if you want to make in advance).
 And when you get it out you are ready to scoop onto trays covered with parchment paper.
Look how pretty. 
These little guys are ready to go into the oven at 350 for 12-14 minutes. 
 My oven is a little touchy, so for me it took more like 20 minutes. Just bake until they are browned to your liking.
 Mmmm I can almost smell then through the computer screen.
You may want to stop here, when I made these for my family, my grandma stole a few before I put the chocolate on them, she prefers them in the nude.
But if you're a chocolate addict like me you're going to let your nude macaroons cool completely before carrying on. 
 When you're ready, melt 6-8 oz of chopped dark chocolate with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil (optional). If you have it on hand, I feel like it makes the chocolate easier to work with.
Get your cookie trays with parchment (or wax) paper out, here comes the fun part.
 Mmmm I'm in love.
From here you can go as crazy or be as conservative as you'd like. 
Then leave them alone until they are hardened, or if you'd like to speed up the process stick them in the fridge.
 Then hide them in your pajama drawer... I mean share them with your loves ones.
For the original recipe check out The Craving Chronicles, this recipe won the key to my sweet tooth heart.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Recap

Hi all! I hope you had an awesome Easter weekend!  I know I did!
If you visited last week, you saw that I had high hopes for Sunday, and I am so happy to say that from the mimosa station to the dessert bar, my expectations were met!
We had fresh squeezed OJ and grapefruit, and not a bad selection of champaign if I do say so myself!
 The dessert bar was a huge hit - 
From left to right: coconut macaroons, carrot cake with cinnamon frosting, german chocolate cupcakes, and in front pastel colored meringues. 
All homemade. I was seriously worked on this for three prior to Easter, but it was so worth it.
My mom took this poor quality photo of me and my hunny. In all the craziness of Easter this is the only photo that we got, and he was being a goof ball. 
Of the 20+ family members over at the house, this is the only picture I have of human beings!
Oh well, at least we have memories...of watching Kevin Ware snap his tib-fib. 
Don't worry, I won't post a picture.
I am so proud of this cake, it was my second layered cake ever making and it didn't fall over!
I consider that a success.
 Mmm it was such a hit,  we only had a slice left. I got the recipe {here}, I recommend it to everyone, for all baking levels, it was so easy and turned out sooo good!!

How was your Easter celebration?