Healthy Living

DIY Recipes: Because Who Wants to Consume Chemicals?

One thing that troubles me most is the amount of junk in our foods. Seriously, there are so many chemicals and preservatives in our foods that they are literally making us fat and sick. Some of these additives are so bad for you they are even banned in other countries (WHAT?! yeah, disturbing, right?).

Since I have become more conscious of the food I consume and how it affects my body, I have been paying careful attention to the ingredients of what I buy. Even better, I have been causing trouble by making my own, healthier versions of every day “essentials.”

DIY 1: Almond Milk (paleo, whole30)
I have recently become pretty obsessed with almond milk, thanks to my strong disbelief in soy products and the desire to avoid excessive dairy. I even use this stuff in my homemade lattes— just dump it straight into my nespresso and within a couple minutes I have almondy-latte goodness.

This is so easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Soak 1/2c of almonds overnight in water (I just fill up a mason jar and put them in there).
  2. Drain almonds, give them a good rinse
  3. Add 1c fresh water + almonds to a blender and give it a good whirl. I normally will let it go for about 45 seconds, give it a break, and then another round of 45 seconds.
  4. Strain your new mixture using a cheese cloth (good to make sure it’s at least doubled up) or using a nut milk bag (OMG I can’t wait to get one of these).
  5. ENJOY! Keep refrigerated. People say it lasts about 3 days, but I normally finish mine in that time, so I haven’t seen it go bad.

If you want to add some flavor, feel free to add some vanilla bean, blend in some dates for sweetness, and sometimes I add a hint of cinnamon to my lattes. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s carry on.

DIY 2: Mayonnaise (paleo, whole30)
I started making my own mayo when I did the whole30, and I don’t know why people don’t do this more. It takes literally 2 minutes and it is so much better than store bought, and so much healthier!

  1. Add 1/2c olive oil (light, not extra virgin), 1 egg, and a pinch of salt into a bowl (sometimes I also add about a teaspoon of dijon mustard)
  2. Stick an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend, especially if you like making soup!) into your mixture and turn that baby on. Leave it in there for 30 seconds and watch in amazement as mayo appears before your little troublemaking eyes.
  3. Enjoy on sandwiches, make your own chicken salad, or use however else you use mayo!

DIY 3: Chocolate Syrup (paleo if made with honey)
I am not going to lie— I love chocolate. And I love chocolate milk. And mocha lattes. Pre-whole30 I drank chocolate milk after every work out. I need to get back to that, but I am trying to reduce sugar. The point is, if you are going to consume chocolate syrup, make it yourself! SO delicious and no junk, and it lasts for months.

  1. Add these ingredients to a pot: ½c cocoa powder, 1c water, 2c sugar (I have used honey and agave instead as well), pinch of salt, 1/4tsp of vanilla
  2. Let pot boil.
  3. Store in fridge, and savor every moment.

DIY 4: Granola Bars (gluten free, dairy free if dark chocolate is used, soy free, paleo without substitutions/exceptions noted)
I love granola bars, but so often they are chock full of stuff I have never heard of. Why do I need soy protein isolate (which actually triggers my migraines) in a granola bar? The gig’s up, Quaker, these trouble maker does it herself.IMG_2858

  1. Add any types of nuts and seeds you like to a baking dish along with 2 cups oats, and toast them in the oven on 350 for 5 minutes. I generally use pecans or almonds, pepitas (spicy are good!), sunflower seeds. Feel free to add those extra healthy ones like flax and chia seeds too! You should have about 2 cups total of the nuts. You could even make these without oats if you are paleo.
  2. While those are hanging out in the oven, mix up the following in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off: 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, dash of salt, dash of vanilla, dash of cinnamon (optional). Sub more honey for the brown sugar if you are paleo.
  3. When both are ready, mix it up! At this point I also like to add chocolate chips and they melt through, so you only need about 1/4 cup or less. But that’s optional too!
  4. Spread evenly on baking pan on top of wax paper, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Have you noticed something here? All these recipes are super fast, and super delicious, and, dare I say, much better for you. I am not saying to eat mayo and chocolate syrup at every meal, but I do feel strongly that it’s worth doing some of these DIY for products you consume anyways because they don’t contain all the gunk you’d be contaminating your body with. Not to mention they all taste EXPONENTIALLY better and might even save you some cash. Everyone wins!

Let me know what you make, and how it turns out. Or what products you DIY/want me to figure out a recipe for. Let’s cause some necessary trouble to the food industry by refusing to consume the junk they are trying to feed us.

Healthy Living

Healthy and Easy Food Prep with Jenny

Last week when I launched my blog (thanks to all of you who read it so far!), my friend Jenny emailed me with the idea of cooking together. I was very excited because Jenny and I are always talking about healthy living and exchanging recipes, but Jenny doesn’t cook much. She asked me to come over so we can cook together and she can learn the ropes. I gave her some tips along the way, and I included some here too.

Of course I took her up on it! I have been cooking a TON because of the Whole30 detox program I am doing (I can only eat proteins, nuts, fruits and veggies, no juice cleanses over here– more to come on that) so it was nice to have company. Everything we made is Whole30 compliant.

Our first stop was Trader Joe’s. It is almost impossible to get affordable groceries living in NYC, so TJ’s is really the place to be. We stood in the line that wrapped around the entire store and shopped as we were in line. Here’s what we ended up with:

IMG_4747        groceries

Our Menu:

  • Salmon Burgers with Basil
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup
  • Mini Egg Fritatas
  • Sweet Potato, Carrot and Ginger Cakes
  • Cilantro Mustard Chicken

We did triage and decided to start by making the veggie broth for our soup, because that takes a while to simmer. Luckily we bought a mirepoix at TJ’s so we didn’t have to cut up all of our carrots, onions, and celery.

Tip one: Save time and make things easy for yourself!
If you can buy precut and it’s reasonably affordable, do it. It will make your life so much easier.

So we added our mirepoix to a pot, sautéed for a few minutes, added water, let that simmer for a while, then eventually added the broccoli and cauliflower, let it boil, and blended it all up with my immersion blender. We had some kale lying around, so Jenny threw that in– why not get even more greens? You could barely taste the kale anyways.

mire poixsoup with kale

We also got started early on the marinade for the chicken, so that could mariande for a bit. Jenny blended up some cilantro, mustard, lime, salt and pepper, rubbed in on the chicken and got that started. After about an hour we baked the chicken for 30 minutes to perfection.


I recently had an amazing salmon burger at Siggy’s Good Food which I wanted to try to recreate. I found a recipe online which required putting everything in a blender (weird, I know), so that’s what I did. Blended up the salmon, basil, some cashew flour, spices and an egg. Then pan fried them. Unfortunately these didn’t turn as good as Siggy’s, but they were still enjoyable.

Tip 2: Improvise with what you have and what you like.
The salmon burger recipe I found didn’t include fresh herbs, but I love basil and we had some extra, so I threw some in. Be creative! You don’t have to follow recipes precisely.

Lastly we also made super easy egg kale mini fritatas in muffin tins (just mix up some eggs, salt, pepper, throw in some sautéed kale, pop in oven at 350 for 25 minutes) for quick, on the go breakfasts, and some sweet potato carrot ginger cakes from Live Better Forever. I probably should have followed the recipe closer, but they still turned out well!

Tip 3: It’s easier to cook and eat healthy with friends.
Jenny and I had a really good time. We accomplished a lot cooking, made some great food, and got to know each other better. For example, I learn that Jenny roasts her own almonds– 10lbs at a time! Needless to say, they are quite delicious.

And, of course, we both left with half of this to last us for lunches this week:

final meal

Do you prep food on the weekends for the week? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments (top left of the post)!

General troublemaking

Let’s Cause Necessary Trouble

When my younger sister graduated from Union College in June, I had the privilege of hearing civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis convey his message to the graduating class about taking action, just as he so bravely did 50 years prior.

He urged them:

“You must leave here and get in trouble. You must get in good trouble, necessary trouble. You must help change America, you must help change the world. With your degree, you are prepared to go out there and speak up and speak out.”

Sitting in the rain, I promptly pulled out my iPhone and registered the domain What better way to describe the work I was interested in?

I loved Rep. Lewis’ message to the students, and it’s a mantra I try to live by. I try to inspire good, necessary trouble to help people understand their obligations to themselves, their communities, and the planet.

The truth is, I have always been a troublemaker. Constantly reminded by my wonderful parents (hi mom & dad!) that I didn’t outgrow the terrible twos until middle school, I have always seen the world out through a “heck no to the status quo” type of way. I think life is worth living in a way that makes sense to you and not the way that is predefined by anyone else. If you are unhappy with something, change it. If something isn’t working for you, come up with a solution. Be a troublemaker. It pays off.

So I am starting a blog about it. This may be a “typical” blog about a “typical” 20-something living in New York City, trying to build a career, find the love of her life, living out of a shoebox apartment, eat healthy, travel the world, take photographs, and find awesome people in a city full of so many it’s hard to know where to start. But it’s my story, and when I tell it, I hope it won’t be so typical. It’s just me, who I am, and what I believe.

I may write about my work with people who are starting businesses to change their communities and the world, I may write about healthy eating and living. I may write about social media, photography, or my love of Borat. I may write about the fabulous book club I am a part of, or the struggles of finding love in an overworked, overcommitted, and over saturated city. I may rant about consumerism and our role in creating a more sustainable planet. Or how diet soda is bad, and soy is worse, and how you should always make sure your instagram and twitter handles match for easy cross posting. I love chatting about entrepreneurship and the startup scene, the best apps that belong on your iPhone, and the best brunches you can find.  And I may feature friends and colleagues who you shouldn’t miss out on.

Only time will tell where this goes.

So these are my words for what they’re worth. Let’s make some trouble– necessary trouble.