1

Broccoli Bites

These Broccoli Bites are great for any holiday party and perfect for a variation on Hanukkah Latkes.

You can watch the recipe video here:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 organic eggs, large
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup gluten-free panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (or vegan Nutritional Yeast)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

  1. Steam broccoli just until fork-tender.
  2. Add broccoli, eggs, salt, bread crumbs and parmesan to food processor; blend until just finely chopped. Using 1 Tablespoon at a time, form into balls.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet. Drop balls of broccoli mixture into hot oil, fattening with a spatula. Cook both sides until crispy.
  4. Serve warm and enjoy!



Gluten-free Chewy Smart Life Granola Bars

This recipe is great for two reasons:

1) They’re a healthy go-to snack to get you through the holiday season. Snack on these healthy bars and avoid processed snack foods, cookies, and chocolates from your gift boxes.

2)They’re a great gift idea – you can make a batch and package in a nice glass container or bag and give to coworkers, friends, and neighbors with your holiday cards.  

Watch the recipe video here:

Ingredients

Coconut oil cooking spray, for the baking sheet

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups organic gluten-free oats
  • ¾ cup raw sliced almonds
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup unsweetened sulfur-free dried cherries

Wet Ingredients

  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with coconut oil cooking spray. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, line it with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Spread out the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and shredded coconut on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a large saucepan over low heat, combine the brown rice syrup, almond butter, vanilla, coconut oil, and salt and cook, stirring, until heated through and combined well using a spatula.
  4. Once the granola mixture has toasted, remove it from the oven, add the toasted sesame seeds, ground flaxseed, dried cherries, and toss to evenly combine. Using the foil as an aid, transfer the granola mixture into the large saucepan with the wet mixture. Mix well with a spatula to coat evenly.
  5. Once the mixture is well combined and slightly cool, pour the granola into the prepared baking dish and press it down firmly, to evenly distribute it in the dish. Let cool for at least an hour, or overnight.
  6. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.



10 Ways to Get More Plant-Based Protein in Your Diet

As one of three macronutrients, protein literally forms the building blocks of our bodies. Some of its roles include creating and repairing tissues, boosting energy, regulating hormones, and safeguarding a strong immune system by warding off illness and disease. 

Protein is so talked-up in the media and in marketing, many people worry that they aren’t eating enough of it. In actuality, most of us get enough or sometimes even too much protein in our diets! There is at least a little protein in many things we eat and we really don’t need a ton for our bodies to function properly. About 15% of daily calories from protein (50 grams for the average adult) will meet basic needs, but I believe eating as much as a third of your daily calories from protein is both safe and beneficial. 

Protein is used in many bodily functions including cell maintenance and repair, blood clotting and the production of antibodies. It is the primary component of many body tissues such as skin, hair, and muscle. We need the most protein when we are growing (childhood and pregnancy) and repairing (injury or recovery from intense strength training). Protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrates and helps increase feelings of satisfaction – aka my favorite word, satiety. 

Research from the Nurse’s Health Study shows the average American adult, aged 19 – 30, eats about 91 grams/day. So we’re eating enough of it; the struggle for most people is eating the best kinds of protein, and eating a little protein at every meal and snack rather than loading up at dinner. 

But protein can be easily found also in plant-based sources which are associated with long-term health and longevity, for some of you, it can be tough to get plant-based protein in your diet. Here are 10 easy and stress-free ways to get more plant-based protein in your diet:

1. Mix hemp hearts, which are a complete plant-based protein, into smoothies or toss them on top of salads, soups are wraps.

2. Love lentils! They come in several colors and can be used in salads, soups, or on top of roasted veggies.

3. Replace your rice with quinoa, another complete plant-based protein.

4. Enjoy edamame in salads, soups, and snacks. Like hemp and quinoa, it’s a complete protein and it provides 18-22 grams of protein per cup.

5. Enjoy chia seeds in puddings or oatmeal. These protein-rich seeds take any flavors you throw at them.

6. Toss your home-popped organic popcorn with nutritional yeast, a cheesy substitute for dairy that offers 8-10 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons.

7. Sneak spirulina into your smoothies.  It is an excellent source of protein plus an impressive range of vitamins and minerals. When added to a smoothie, it won’t change the taste and it will brighten your greens.

8. Replace store-bought chips or crackers with roasted chickpeas.  They are amazing over salads, soups, and stews.

9. Use unsweetened organic nut butter as a spread on gluten-free breads, wraps, crudité veggies, or fresh dates.

10.Use unsweetened organic soy milk for your smoothies or morning high-fiber cereal bowl.




How to Navigate Holiday Parties: Tips from Smart Life

Holidays are on the horizon, and the requisite parties and annual celebrations are about to commence. But this doesn’t have to mean ditching healthy eating and revoking wellness routines until resolution time comes in the New Year. There are easy-to-implement ways to successfully navigate holiday parties while having fun, making memories, enjoying the company, all while staying healthy! Here are my Smart Life tips:

Begin with a “pre-party”: Holiday pre-partying includes ensuring you are well hydrated and not showing up to parties overly hungry. Having a small, healthy snack before you leave home can offset the dive into the salty snacks like nuts, chips, and pretzels. When you do arrive, opt for healthier choices like raw vegetables with hummus and sparkling water with lemon. Should you choose to partake in drinking alcohol, make sure you’re keeping hydrated throughout the day. This can also help offset increased sodium consumption that’s common in holiday fare.

Be helpful and bring a dish: Offer to bring along a dish and make that a healthy option. This will give you a solid selection to choose from, but others will also thank you for it! Healthier dishes tend to offer lots of fresh colors, and you can be mindful of sugar, salt, and bad additives when choosing and making a dish. I love to offer to bring a healthy salad, a vegetable platter, or a simply cooked clean protein like baked salmon.

Once and done: Fill up one plate and be done. But know this up front—make your smart choices wisely knowing that this is the plan. Then make the best food choices from what is available, being aware that you are filling up your plate once. Remember to include lots of color and variety. It’s okay to enjoy some goodies —try small bites of one or two goodies and see if that fulfills you. Balance is key!

Liquid calories count: Whatever choices of beverages you choose to include, know that they count towards the “big picture” as well. If you are choosing to drink alcohol, know that lots of holiday cocktails are often full of sugar from fruit juices, soda, and liqueurs. Try to go for a simple glass or wine, or even a wine spritzer (half wine, half sparkling water). If you prefer hard liquor, mix it with sparkling water and a slice of lime or lemon.

Give yourself grace: Beating yourself up overindulging is never a helpful tactic. Fasting, over-exercising or other restrictive tactics to make up for what you may consider to have been poor choices lead to feelings of inadequacy and lower self-esteem. Instead, practice self-compassion and remember all the positive wellness habits you have incorporated into your lifestyle thus far. Attempt to get back into your routines as soon as possible after the holiday party season and remember that it’s the long-term practices you put into place that best benefit your well-being.

The Bottom Line

Health is a journey, not a destination. There will be bumps in the road, and yes, many of them can potentially come during holiday season. Remember that you are in it for the long haul, and this is just a different time to navigate. With the above suggestions, I’m confident that you can successfully navigate holiday parties this year and every year – you got this! And if you need some support in getting back on your Smart Life, reach out. I am here to give you the support you need.




Smart Life Guide to Alcohol this Holiday Season

Let me be clear and upfront: I am not encouraging you to drink alcohol if you haven’t been doing so already. But, if you plan to have a drink here and there over the holiday period, I thought I would let you know what the best and worst options are or how do alcohol the Smart Life way.

In the health community, alcohol is categorized from best to worst by gauging the amount of histamine released and the impurities it contains. In regards to impurities, the “smoother” the alcohol tastes, the better it is made. Remember the tequila shots we used to do in college? We had to get it down quickly to get over the awful taste. That was the “college” tequila – cheap and poorly made (but affordable). You can enjoy and sip a top-shelf tequila – it contains fewer impurities which will make it easier on your liver, thus I would call it a “healthier” choice with a lower chance for a hangover.

Histamine release will also contribute to how you feel; headaches, itching, rashes, ringing in the ears, and flushing are signs of histamine release which would also make you feel sick.

I’ve put this list for you here, to give you an idea of what might be best for you when you go shopping. 

BEST vs WORSE ALCOHOL:

BEST 

Liquor

  • Clear, unflavored vodka
  • Clear, unflavored gin
  • Silver tequila
  • White, unflavored rum

Wines

  • Biodynamic, no sugar (best)
  • Organic (just OK)

WORST

  • Beer (including gluten-free)
  • Cider
  • Cheap liquors
  • Conventional red wine
  • Conventional white wine

 I don’t have liquor brand recommendations, but I have come across great wine by Dry Farm Wines that the health community has given a seal of approval for a truly biodynamic, low histamine, and no-sugar (yes, this is correct, they ferment it until there is no sugar) wine selections of whites, reds, and rose. 




Thanksgiving Wild Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups organic wild rice blend
  • 1 small organic leek, chopped and rinse well
  • 2 organic carrot, grated
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup organic dried cranberries
  • 3 cups organic low sodium vegetable stock or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-6 sprigs of a mix of organic fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano 
  • Tbsp organic dried oregano
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste

Directions:

1. Heat up a large deep skillet or pot over medium low flame. Add a splash of water (or a drizzle of olive oil) and the chopped leeks. Saute the leeks with a pinch of sea salt until translucent.

2. Stir in the grated carrots, herb sprigs, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Add the wild rice mix and stir well to combine. Allow it to toast together with the aromatics for a couple of minutes.

3. Add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, then add the vegetable stock (or water). Stir and taste for seasonings. Add more sea salt to your taste if desired.

4. Bring the rice to a simmer, cover with a tight lid and cook on low flame for 50 minutes.

5. Turn off the flame but do not remove the lid. Allow the rice to sit covered for 10 to 15 minutes and continue cooking in its own steam.

6. Discard the bay leaves and the woody sprigs from the herbs. Use a fork and gently fluff up the rice.

7. Serve warm or cold garnished with more cranberries and more fresh herbs.




Holiday Gift List

This time of year is considered the season of giving and it got me thinking about how I can give gifts to my loved ones, and ALSO give back to businesses doing good.

After doing a little research, I thought that my findings might be useful for my Smart Life community, so decided to compile a list of gift ideas for this holiday season. The gifts themselves, are truly beautiful items, but the added bonus is that the proceeds from that gift go back to a charitable organization. I love this idea of double gifting – I hope you do too.

‘Give the Smart Life for 2023’ Gift Card $50-$250

The new Give the Smart Life for 2023 Gift Card can be used towards Private Cooking Classes, Food Shopping Tours and Private Coaching. Why not give the gift of Smart Life? We will donate 10% of all holiday purchases to Books for Kids. One thing I’ve loved doing more of in my business these past few years is giving back. Proceeds from many of my sales already go to Books for Kids, of whom I am a huge supporter and ambassador. Books for Kids is a library and literacy nonprofit organization that works to ensure that every child, from birth to kindergarten, is surrounded by books, has adults who read with them every day, and has access to high-quality early education.

Hand in Hand Assorted Bar Soap Set $19 

Made with rapeseed oil to soothe and moisturize skin, these organic soaps come in scents like cactus blossom and island mimosa. For every bar sold, Hand in Hand donates one bar of soap and clean water to a child in need.

Material The ReBoard $35

This cutting board is BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and made of excess plastic discarded by the kitchenware production kitchenware production process. The best part?  50% of the proceeds from the To Po-Po with Love colorway goes to Heart of Dinner.

West Elm Personal Best Ceramics Spoon Rest $32

This beautiful spoon rest ceramic will look good in any kitchen, supports a small local business and No Kid Hungry.

Parks Project National Parks Woodcuts 2023 Calendar $20

Even if your friends or family are not hikers or campers, they can still appreciate the bright, graphic wall calendar that supports the National Parks Conservation Association and its mission to preserve public lands for generations to come.

Parks Project Cropped Tank $46 & Parks Project Hiker Short $56

Parks Project’s goal is to protect and preserve parklands for generations to come by educating, advocating, volunteering, and activating park supporters to get involved in conservation. To date, Parks Project has contributed over $2,500,000 to help fund vital projects in national parks around the US and proceeds from sales go into these projects.

Lula’s Garden Jewel Garden $44

3 adorable succulents are planted in a box and ready to display. Each purchase provides 6 months of safe water for one person in the developing world through water.org.

Oleamea Organic Olive Oil Gift Pack $21

The perfect gift box for any foodie in your life, containing their Premium Everyday and Private Select olive oils. A percentage of all sales goes directly to The Conscious Kid, an organization dedicated to promoting positive racial identity development in youth.

Conscious Step Socks that Plant Trees $15

Certified Organic Cotton, Fairtrade and vegan socks, plus they donate a percentage of all sales to environmental solutions for a healthy planet.

Other great gift ideas we recommend include Blissy products and cookbooks! Think of these are ‘gifts of health’ for your friends and family – giving them a better nights sleep and better nutrition inspiration!

Blissy Silk Pillowcases, Sleep Masks and Hair Accessories

Go-To Dinners by Ina Garten

Vegan at Times by Jessica Seinfeld

I Heart Kosher by Kim Kushner




Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

Serving Size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Romaine or Iceberg leaves
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small Bell Pepper, sliced
  • Sprouts and Micro Greens

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp Sriracha Sauce (depending how spicy you want it)
  • 1 tbsp Vegan Mayo or 1/2 Avocado
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa as directed on the package.
  2. For the dressing, if you are using vegan mayo you can whisk all of the ingredients in a bowl. If you are using avocado, I recommend using a blender or food processor to get a creamy texture.
  3. Divide and arrange the quinoa, cabbage, bell peppers, sprouts, micro greens inside of the lettuce leaves.
  4. Drizzle the dressing on top and enjoy!

Recommendations: If you don’t like spicy foods, you can replace the Sriracha for Dijon mustard. Feel free to mix & match the veggies in this recipe for your favorite ones!




“General Tso” Sticky Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 package organic extra firm tofu, drained
  • 3 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch or Arrowroot (Arrowroot flour is a gluten-free substitute for cornstarch)

Sauce:

Whisk together:

  • 4 Tablespoons Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoon hot chili sauce or sriracha
  • 2 Teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • red chili pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove tofu from packaging, place on a plate and add plates on top to squeeze out all the water. Cut into cubes (1- 1.5 inches)
  2. Add cornstarch to a bowl, roll each tofu cube in it. 
  3. Heat oil on medium in non-stick pan, and once oil is hot, add tofu and fry until golden and crispy- about 6-8 minutes eat side, turning occasionally so all sides are crispy.
  4. Remove crispy tofu cubes to a plate with paper towels to get excess oil. Remove the pan from heat and clean off the excess oil.
  5. Return pan to the stove and pour in the sauce. Heat the sauce a little and add the tofu cubes. Stir until all cubes are evenly coated in the sauce. The sauce will thicken. 



Chickpea Patties with Tahini and Greek Salad Bowls

Chickpea Patties:

These chickpea patties are made with simple ingredients and easy prep. They are gluten free and dairy free. They pair well with tahini dressing and chopped vegetable salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce canned chickpeas rinsed, drained
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Hawaij spice (can replace with cumin)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (plus oil 1-2 to brush the pan)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, flour, nutritional yeas, parsley, cumin, salt, pepper. Add 3 Tablespoons water and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and use a masher to combine the ingredients until they are well blended. 
  2. Form 6 patties from the mixture.
  3. Heat a large pan with oil and add the patties. Cook until browned, 3-5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve with tahini or any other sauce of choice.

For Tahini:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tahini sesame seed paste (made from light colored seeds)
  • 3/4 cup cold water, or more for consistency
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp fine ground sea salt
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the tahini paste, water and lemon juice until creamy consistency. 
  2. Add garlic, salt and parsley and mix well together.

To serve, assemble 2 bowls with chopped romaine, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Add the patties and drizzle with tahini sauce.