Toasted Coconut Date Bites (aka “Healthy Donut Holes”)

Toasted Coconut Date Bites (aka “Healthy Donut Holes”)

Back when the boyfriend and I first went paleo (almost a year ago) we had to break our sugar addictions cold-turkey. We had NO IDEA how much sugar was in EVERYTHING we were used to eating!

Sugar is a sneaky little demon (read: drug) that has been dressed in various alternative names to trick consumers into thinking they’re not eating as much as they are. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of all the alternative names for sugar as an ingredient:  barley malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane juice crystals, dehydrated cane juice, dextran, dextrose, diastase, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice, glucose, glucose solids, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, sucrose, mannitol….

Okay, you see what I mean now? That wasn’t even everything on the list! And yes, some forms of sugar are better than others. And yes, sugar IS naturally occurring but it is also chemically made, so choosing something made with natural sugar (example: cane sugar) is always a better choice than chemical (example: maltodextrin…ew)!

Finding alternative, healthier sweets was a challenge at first. Ask Paul about my beginning stages of paleo baking and he’ll inevitably bring up my WORST concoction: Sand Brownies. Sound yummy, right?!

Sugar-free baking can be a frustratingly hit-or-miss affair. But after a year of tweaking this recipe right here, I’m proud to say that these are a smashing success!

Finally, don’t you just hate when recipe blogs drag on and on about their personal story of how they baked the perfect cookies and you’re like “Dude come on…I just want the damn cookies!”  Yeah, I don’t want to be that blog. So without further adieu, here are your Toasted Coconut Date Bites, friend.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Walnuts
  • 1 cup pitted Dates (about 10 dates)
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • Pinch of salt

 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a cookie baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a dry skillet, toast shredded coconut on medium heat until lightly brown, set aside.
  3. In a food processor: pulse and blend walnuts and dates into a rough dough (about one minute)
  4. Add remaining ingredients (reserving ½ cup of the toasted coconut on a plate for later)
  5. Blend for another minute or until sticky “paste” dough forms
  6. Use a spoon to scoop dough out and roll between hands to form a ball** then roll ball into the reserved coconut flakes to coat evenly.
  7. Place ball on cookie sheet (Note: these won’t rise or expand much, so make balls the size you want them to be when they’re done!) Continue for remaining dough.
  8. Place in oven and cook for approximately 12-13mins, or until the balls begin to split open a little.

Allow bites to cool on cookie sheet before consuming – I know it’s tough, but cooling allows them to fully solidify!

**Dough is incredibly sticky! If you’re finding that too much of the dough sticks to your palms, have a cup of water nearby and lightly coats your palms enough to keep dough from sticking. If dough is REALLY sticky, you could also through it into the reserved toasted coconut shreds and THEN roll it into balls, coating it a 2nd time with coconut for looks.

 

I hope you all love this recipe as much as we do! They can be a labor of love, but it’s so worth it to know that you’re getting yummy, natural sweetness without any of the nasty chemicals!

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement in the comments below!

With love and support,
Miranda

Eating (Good) Fat Does Not Make You Fat!

Eating (Good) Fat Does Not Make You Fat!

Somewhere down the line we all got told that if we eat too much fat in our diet, we will become fat ourselves. That’s why “fat-free” everything – yogurt, soda, milk, salad dressing, you name it – exists. But if everyone is so conscious of consuming less fat…why is obesity still such a major issue in our country?

Did you know that roughly 50 years ago called the “Sugar Research Foundation” (aka, the sugar companies) funded research that downplayed the health risks of consuming sugar and “highlighted” the risks of consuming fat.

The researchers aimed to “refute” the claims that increased sugar consumption was correlated to an increased risk of heart disease.

[Hmmm…..now…..why would the sugar company want you to think fat was bad??]

Of course, the Sugar Company’s  funding of this “research” was completely hidden from consumers, but all the while it was their intention to convince the American public that fat was the leading cause of coronary heart disease.

You see, one of the magical things about good, saturated fat is that it provides a rich taste and consistency. If you remove fat from the food, something has to replace it.

That something?

S-U-G-A-R…

As a result, America’s per capita sugar consumption increased by a third.

The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look at peanut butter: one jar of regular, one “low-fat” and compare the sugar content.

I’m not telling you all this to scare you, but to educate you. Navigating the supermarket shelves can be overwhelming and time consuming when you have to read every label on a box or can….

So here is a chart I made for quick reference when it comes to understanding which fat is the RIGHT fat to use (or avoid at all costs!)

Fatty Coffee = Healthy Coffee

Fatty Coffee = Healthy Coffee

Let’s talk coffee….do you have your morning cup with you? You may want to finish it before continuing to read…

Firstly, a few of the health benefits of coffee other than the main reason we all drink it (energy, duh):

  • Coffee contains massive amounts of antioxidants (actually, most people who consume the traditional “American Diet” get more antioxidants from coffee than fruits and veggies combined….)
  • Why do we care about antioxidants?????
    • Our bodies are under constant attack by reactive molecules called “free radicals” (from pollution and chemicals, mostly).
    • These molecules have unpaired electrons that can damage important cell structures like proteins and DNA.
    • This is where antioxidants step in. They donate electrons to the free radicals, effectively disarming them.
    • This is believed to be protective against aging and many diseases that are partly caused by oxidative stress, including cancer
  • Coffee is good for the liver
  • Coffee contains the antibacterial compound trigonelline, which may help reduce dental cavities
  • Research is drawing a strong correlation between coffee and the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Coffee contains several important nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin (okay, in relatively small amounts…but we’re Pro-Coffee here!)

Alright, you get the point, coffee is GOOOOD and good for you. But here’s the catch

Most people aren’t drinking the RIGHT coffee.

The quality of your coffee should be a major priority and here’s why:

  • Coffee has some of the highest levels of pesticides of any food (if not organically grown).
  • Pesticides have been linked to endocrine disorders, cancers, and neurological disorders
  • And because many coffees are imported, the USDA has limited control over the types and amounts of pesticides used…ew.

Choosing ORGANIC coffee is a no-brainer (and seek a “Fair Trade” brand if you can as well! Because sustainable agriculture is cool y’all)

Additionally, what makes our coffee typically not-so-awesome, is all the crap we dump in our mugs along with it (no judgement, I used to be the same way)

  • Artificial sweeteners simply can’t be broken down by the body the way real sugar can, it adds to the chemical load of the body and converts into poison during detoxification
    • Tip: switch to Stevia!
  • Non-dairy creamers…. Oh boy, don’t get me started…
    • Typically made with partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), corn syrup, canola oil, artificial flavors and colors, etc…basically a storm of unwanted chemicals, yay!
    • Might not contain lactose…but it WILL contribute to the body’s inflammatory process, please avoid!
  • Flavored creamers – essentially chemical nightmares that smell delightful! I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say they contribute to overall systemic inflammation…
    • Hint: if you don’t know what a chemical is on the package, it’s probably because they don’t want you to know (ps. Dipotassium phosphate is a fertilizer used to prevent clumping…YUM!!)

Okay, my goal is not to scare you away from drinking coffee, I would never. But I can show you a better way…

Introducing, Superfood Coffee! (aka “Bulletproof Coffee” with a twist!)

This coffee can be made two different ways, either using ORGANIC coffee of your choice (preferably fair-trade and shade-grown) or using Four Sigmatic Mushroom coffee (more on mushroom coffee and why it’s awesome below)

The main concept of this coffee is to provide sustainable, long-lasting energy from caffeine, as well as the health benefits from the coffee bean, without any crash or residual negative effects (anxiety, jitters, “caffeine high”).

When we consume traditional coffee with it’s high levels of caffeine and sugar, our blood sugar spikes like a rollercoaster because our liver releases glycogen. Now, the pancreas wants to balance this spike out so it secretes insulin in response to the increased blood sugar. This gives us the “crash”. A crash often brings our blood sugar too low and leaves us craving sugar or another carbohydrate to bump the glycogen level back up. You can see how this is stressful for the poor liver and pancreas, right?

 

So how do we avoid all of that stress and turn regular coffee into Super coffee?

FAT! – Good, hearty, healthy saturated fats!


I could write a whole post (and probably will) about why fats are NOT the enemy we have been trained to believe they are. We NEED fat in our diet, and generally, the more the merrier if it is the RIGHT fat:

  • Ghee – clarified butter, which means that the milk solids and water are boiled out of butter and separated, leaving only the fat content. It is widely used in India, as ghee does not need to be refrigerated!
  • MCT Oil = medium-chain triglycerides – a form of saturated fatty acid that has numerous health benefits, ranging from improved cognitive function to better weight management (think: uber concentrated coconut oil)

Ghee and MCT are the backbone of amazing fatty coffee. Their dense nutrients allow the body to absorb the caffeine more slowly and sustainably, avoiding the peaks and valleys of the blood sugar rollercoaster.

Now, if you just started throwing ghee and MCT into your coffee, that would help, but it probably wouldn’t taste awesome. And I want you to LOVE this coffee as much as I do. So here is my own personal recipe [Video instruction below]

  • Freshly brewed organic coffee (only fill the cup a little over half full)
  • 1 TBS Collagen peptides
  • 1 TBS Ghee (I use 4th&Heart from amazon.com)
  • 1 TBS MCT Oil
  • 3-5 drops Stevia
  • ~½ cup Almond Milk (can also use whole fat creamer is lactose is tolerable)

**Combine ingredients in blender and mix for 5 seconds. This is essential to combine MCT oil, which will otherwise float – like oil on water. You’re left with a frothy, deliciously healthy latte!

Okay, and as I promised, here’s a bit about the Mushroom coffee I drink….

What are two things that can ruin a perfect cup of morning coffee? For me, it’s the crazy coffee jitters – everything is going fine and then suddenly I’m clenching my jaw like a maniac – and the impending crash!  I know it’s coming in an hour or two to zap all my newly found energy and zest for life. These downfalls led me to give up the stuff completely. The relationship was toxic, I loved it, yet it seemed to hate me and my body.

I missed it though, the smell, the taste, and the warmth as it filled my body with happiness. Nothing could ever quite replace it…

Until I found Mushroom coffee! Yes, it’s real coffee.Yes, it has mushrooms in it. And yes, it is life changing. Utilizing concentrated extract from powerful mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi, and more, Four Sigmatic figured out how to take coffee to the next level.

Take for instance, the cordyceps mushroom, it is only found high in the Himalayan Mountains and has been harvested for thousands of years ever since Tibetan herdsmen noticed an increase in stamina and vigor in their Yaks after the animals ate the tiny mushrooms. Mushrooms have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years because of their ability to kill bacteria and viruses, but finally we have a way to enjoy their benefits every day in a delicious latte!

Ps. They also make hot chocolate that helps with sleep and non-caffeinated “mushroom elixirs” that you can enjoy at any time of day!

 

5 Ways The Sauna Will Improve Your Health

5 Ways The Sauna Will Improve Your Health

If you’re anything like I once was, the word “sauna” likely conjures up a rather unpleasant image in your mind: a steamy box full of sweaty, creepy strangers draped in wet towels.

Ew. No thanks.

When I was in college everyone would crowd the sauna on Sunday morning to “sweat out their hangovers” (terrible idea, by the way) and all I can remember is how their sweat smelled like stale beer. Okay, enough with the grimy imagery already.

Well I’m here to welcome you to the New Age of Sauna-ing. Forget the hot coals and steamy strangers. The modern sauna boasts incredible healing capabilities far beyond the traditional sauna, all in your own private hot box.

I formally introduce you to INFRARED SAUNAS!

So when I typically explain saunas to newbies, I say something like this:

“Imagine the traditional sauna as an oven which heats the air in order to cook the food. Now imagine the infrared as the microwave which penetrates the food and uses waves to heat the food from the inside out…”

Now, this isn’t ENTIRELY correct, but it’s serves as a nice metaphor for the sake of explanation. Let’s break down the real differences between the traditional sauna and the infrared real quick.

Traditional:

  • Heats rocks to heat the air in the sauna to ~185-190 degrees
  • Water on the hot rocks creates steam to increase humidity (and temperature) in sauna
  • Takes approximately 30-40 minutes for sauna to reach “therapeutic” temperature
  • Start perspiration as soon as entering the sauna because the air is significantly hotter than your body temperature.

Infrared Sauna:

  • Infrared light is the same lightwaves that come from the sun, without the UV rays (so you’re not going to get a tan, sorry)
  • Uses infrared lamps to project electromagnetic radiation (sounds dangerous, but this is the same technology that keeps newborn babies warm in neonatal beds).
  • Infrared heat penetrates body more deeply than hot air.
  • Can produce a more vigorous sweat at significantly lower temperature
  • You can use it as soon as you turn it on (though most people wait ~10 minutes until it reaches 100-110 degrees)
  • Doesn’t heat the air, still comfortable to breathe and not stifling.
  • Receive benefit from only 10-20 mins use

But what are the actual benefits to using a sauna in general?   Glad you asked…

1. Sweating = Detoxing

The most obvious side-effect of time spent in a sauna is the fact that it makes you sweat. A lot. Which is awesome and so good for you. The skin is the largest detoxifying organ that the body has, but if you’re not sweating regularly, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to remove toxic build up in the body.

We absorb toxins daily. Through the foods we eat, pollution in the air, coming in contact with lead and other heavy metals (ps. aluminum is in a lot of antiperspirant deodorants), medications, chemicals in our hair and beauty products, and the list goes on and on. Unless we run to the hills and grow our own food and breathe through a gas mask, there really isn’t much we can do to avoid these “toxins”. However, we CAN and definitely SHOULD do what we can to help the body get rid of them.

*Also, the effects of detoxification are accelerated when the sauna is used after a massage because the massage works to stir up the toxins in the lymph system and the sauna can quickly release them through the skin! Many of my clients take advantage of this combination by requesting a sauna appointment when they book their massage. I take care of scheduling the sauna for them as well as turning it on and setting it up while they get dressed after their massage!

2. Immune function

When the body gets sick, one common response is to create a low-grade fever to heat up the internal temperature of the body. The rise in body temperature triggers the generation of a particular type of white blood cell (lympocyte…in case you were wondering, but we won’t go into the details here). White blood cells are “the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders.”

Native Americans, ancient Asian traditions, and Scandinavian cultures have harnessed this knowledge for thousands of years by using sweat lodges and saunas to increase their core temperatures and activate the immune response. Infrared saunas have the added benefit of increasing the core temperature without having to increase the surrounding air which leads to a far more comfortable experience than sweating it all out in a crowded lodge.

3. Pain Management

One of the most common reasons that people who exercise continue to exercise even when they don’t want to is because their body is releasing endorphins (those “feel good” hormones) when they exert energy and sweat. One major benefit of those endorphins, besides getting that “runners high” is a decrease in pain throughout the body. This is because “endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain”. As if that isn’t good enough, endorphins also leave you with feelings of euphoria, suppress the appetite, release sex hormones, and enhance the immune system.

Also, simply by warming the body temperature (especially during our brutal winters) the collagen that makes up our tendons, fascia, and other connective tissue becomes more loose and can move more easily. Think of it like gum, which can become hard as rock when cold, but loosens right up and becomes pliable when heated. This is what happens in your joints!

4. Decrease heart disease

A 10-15 minute sauna session can increase the heart rate and promote cardiovascular conditioning similar to that of aerobic activity, like running on the treadmill, but without the physical exertion or stress on the joints. How? When the core temperature rises, blood vessels in the body dilate (vasodilation), which then triggers a physiological response of increased heart rate, metabolic rate (yeah, faster metabolism!), and cardiac output. This minimal stress on the cardiovascular system trains the heart to pump oxygenated blood more efficiently throughout the body, and the blood vessels become more pliable from continual contraction and expansion.

*** Now, I will say, I believe that everyone can benefit from a little extra cardio training in their lives, BUT PLEASE consult with your physician and/or cardiologist if you have ANY existing or previous heart conditions! *****

5. Better skin

Sweating is one of the best ways to open and cleanse your pores. No fancy scrub or face mask will ever be able to penetrate your pores as effectively as sweating will, because sweating will clean them from the inside out! When you sweat you literally have to push all of the dirt and oil out of the pores in order for the sweat to come out!

Other than simply cleansing the beautiful skin you have, infrared light from saunas penetrate into the subcutaneous layer of the skin where it can increase the production of collagen and rejuvenate tissues. This eventually decreases the appearance of wrinkles because wrinkles appear when the skin starts losing collagen naturally over time.

Finally, studies have shown the pH balancing effects of using an infrared sauna over time and “infrared is the only known efficient treatment for psoriasis and eczema and other dry skin conditions.”

 

 

Essentially, all I’m trying to say is that no matter who you are, if you have a human body and mind, you can benefit from using our amazing infrared sauna! Try it out for yourself. Did I mention that our sauna is private AND that we provide towels for you to use free of charge??

Go here to book your personal sauna session now!

 

I Don’t Want To Feel Better.

I Don’t Want To Feel Better.

I would like to start off by telling you a little story:

I didn’t sleep great last night.

Now, I could blame it on the cat for making noises all night, or even the air conditioner being too loud, but the truth is that I ate half a pint of ice cream right before bed. At least it was almond milk “ice cream”….so that’s basically healthy, right? To be fair, it is sold in the “healthy food” section of Hannaford.

Okay, I knew it wasn’t the best thing for me and I knew so much sugar that late at night would probably keep me up, but still, I kept eating (all while watching the new documentary on Netflix called What The Health, mind you…talk about mixed messages.)

As you can imagine, waking up wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I laid in bed instead of working out and scrolled through instagram instead of meditating. Finally getting up, I remembered that it was Thursday, which for me typically means 7:00 am “Sunrise Yoga”.

Immediately my lazy inner self rolled its eyes at my trying-to-do-right conscious self for even considering such a ridiculous request.

Then suddenly, to my amazement, a single thought crossed through my mind: “I don’t want to do yoga was because it will make me feel better.” 

What?

Don’t we always want to feel better? Isn’t it the goal to be the best version of ourselves every single day? Why would I want to stay stuck in a slump when a quick yoga class could pull me right out of it?

I toiled over this perplexing concept throughout the entire yoga class (yes, I went). Only barely going through the motions, I was consumed in trying to figure out this all too common human experience. And truthfully, I only went to class to test what would happen if I rebelled against the way my subconscious wanted me to behave.

If you’re still with me, let’s break this down together:

  • Why would I want to continue feeling bad when I could easily gain more energy and turn my day around by literally walking upstairs into the yoga studio (I have zero excuses that normal people have, seeing as how I live in the yoga studio…ugh, I miss the easy excuses.)
    • I knew that yoga would make me feel better.
      • Why wouldn’t I want to feel better?

We can come up with excuses all day long, but when we sort through the lies we tell ourselves, there is always a single truth.

And today that truth was that I didn’t want to let go of the tired slump that I was in because by staying tired I would have a way out. I would have an excuse and a reason not to work hard today. And mostly, at the end of the day, if I didn’t “do my best” then I could chalk it all up to not sleeping well as my reason why.

Its a safety net.

This, my friends, is a defense mechanism and a ego protector. What it all comes down to is the ego not wanting to get hurt. The ego is so terrified of failing that it will come up with every excuse possible to make sure it has a safety net always there to catch it’s downfall.

By making the decision to tell my ego to shove it and to go to yoga anyways, I was taking a risk that I would no longer have an excuse to fall back on if I didn’t “succeed” today (whatever that word means to me).

We all have a fragile ego, whether we’re able to admit it or not. And the truth is that it gets stronger the more you ignore or deny it.

So what do we do about it?

In my ice cream example there was only one trick that I was able to use to beat my ego in the battle for control…

Recognizing my thoughts.

By becoming aware of the subtle ways in which the subconscious attempts to override my conscious mind (when my body acts on autopilot), I am able to notice how I am behaving while it is happening (sometimes).

This may not seem like a major feat of any kind, but trust me, most of us run on autopilot all day, every day. We react to our environments (especially if they’re always familiar) in predictable ways, running through the motions of our lives in a similar fashion every day.

Behaving in this way creates a dangerous situation where we don’t actually have control over how our subconscious is controlling our body, since it is simply reacting to the environment, storing data for future use, and making decisions for us. It is only with practice of becoming aware of our thought processes that we can override our subconscious and ultimately rebel against the stored behaviors that no longer serve our highest good.

So you may be wondering, what does this all mean? And seriously, what the heck does it have to do with massage?

What I am hoping that you will get out of this story is an awareness of the automatic processes that occur in our subconscious mind that dictate much of what we do in our lives. And with that awareness begin to shift those unconscious thoughts over to the conscious part of your mind where they can be monitored and CHANGED.

The more frequently the same neuron pathways are fired (aka, the more frequently you react the same way to the same stimulus) the stronger those pathways become. Eventually, without conscious monitoring, subtle back road pathways that once we’re a concern turn into major 4-lane highways that dictate much of your behavior.

I could probably write a whole other post just about how our thoughts create our reality…and maybe I will someday, but for now I will just leave you with a few directions: the next time you notice yourself behaving in a way that you’re not a fan of (fighting with your spouse, feeling anxious, being stubborn, lying, cheating, eating unhealthy food, drinking uncontrollably, etc.) take two minutes to recognize the behavior and then try to trace it back to why it is that you’re feeling that way. What is the true underlying cause? Is it fear? Is it a lack of self-love? Whatever it may be, just be aware that all of our behaviors are a combination of learned responses to stimuli and they can be changed, but first, they must be acknowledged.

Truthfully, this isn’t about getting a massage. I’m not using this story as some hidden message to convince you to get more massages. But, while we’re on the topic, I will say, massage strengthens the mind-body connection and increases you’re ability to become attuned to what you’re feeling in your body and your thoughts associated with those sensations. For instance, noticing that you’re clenching your jaw or tensing your shoulders when you drive.

***If you would like deeper insight into this topic including step by step instructions of how to meditate in order to become conscious of your unconscious thoughts and behaviors, check out the book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. I promise that it will change your life for the better.

Your Body Will Thank You.

When was the last time you paid attention to all the incredible things your body does for you on a daily basis? For all it does, doesn’t it deserve a break? A chance to rest, repair, and recharge so you can continue being incredible? I think so too. I’d love to see how I can help you.